The Disenchantment of the World and the Religion vs. Science Divide: An Enlightenment Reading of Weber
Weber’s sociology of culture distinguishes between two different cultural conditions: enchanted and disenchanted. In the enchanted cultural condition, charisma or “extraordinary powers” (SR, 2) are thought to be inherently present in all empirical phenomena. Charisma is “either a gift that inheres in an object or person simply by virtue of natural endowment” or it may be “artificially produced in an object or person” that already contains a dormant germ of it through some ascetic or preternatural regimen (SR, 2). It is of little consequence whether this extraordinary power is “actual, alleged, or presumed” (SPWR, 295)—these are all modernist value judgments. The fact is that, for the individuals living in the enchanted cultural condition, this supernatural power permeates the natural world and it is very real. This is so much the case that, for the individuals concerned, the attainment of their material and ideal needs depends on the direct manipulation of and interaction with charismatic persons, objects, entities, and so on. In the enchanted cultural condition, the relationship between “supernatural” charisma and the “natural” empirical world can be described as one of complete symbiosis.
KeywordsScientific Rationalism Rational Thought Practical Rationalization Empirical Reality Natural Causality
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