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The Myth of DisenchantmentMagic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences$
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Jason A. Josephson-Storm

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226403229

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226403533.001.0001

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Revenge of the Magicians

Revenge of the Magicians

(p.41) Chapter Two Revenge of the Magicians
The Myth of Disenchantment

Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm

University of Chicago Press

This chapter takes as its starting point various figures—from Giordano Bruno to Isaac Newton—who have been blamed for the rise of instrumental reason and the disenchantment of nature, and it demonstrates their respective magical projects. It then recovers two moments often seen as the watershed of modernity—Francis Bacon’s formulation of the scientific method and the French philosophes’ publication of the Encyclopédie—to demonstrate that neither embody the disenchantment usually attributed to them. In so doing, it separate the putative “birth of science” from the death of magic, and shows that the enlightenment project was initially articulated not in terms of a confLict between religion and science or faith and reason, but as a divine science. Nevertheless, it sees in both movements the roots of occult disavowal in the myth of modernity as the end of superstition.

Keywords:   Francis Bacon, Denis Diderot, Isaac Newton, History of science, Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution, superstition, the birth of science, natural magic, Occult

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