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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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The Black Tide: Mysticism, Rationality, and the German Occult Revival

The Black Tide: Mysticism, Rationality, and the German Occult Revival

(p.179) Chapter Seven The Black Tide: Mysticism, Rationality, and the German Occult Revival
The Myth of Disenchantment

Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm

University of Chicago Press

"The Black Tide: Mysticism, Rationality, and the German Occult Revival,” shifts the focus back to the German-speaking world. It begins with Sigmund Freud’s references in The Interpretation of Dreams to a “brilliant mystic” named Carl du Prel. It explores one of Freud’s interlocutors, the German-Jewish physician Max Nordau, who theorized his own conception of degeneration alongside a broader contention that modernity led to irrationalization and mysticism. The chapter then shows how conceptions of magic and spirits haunted the German reception of Immanuel Kant and became entangled with the history of academic philosophy and psychoanalysis, and their counterpart constructions of noumena and the unconscious. It explains how Arthur Schopenhauer came to theorize the efficacy of magic and demonstrates the importance of “mysticism” as a vanishing mediator between a philosophy dedicated to exploring reason’s limits, and a psychoanalysis focused on the roots of irrationality. It then explains why Freud polished Frazer’s narrative of disenchantment into a developmental theory even as he began his own exploration of an occult terrain. Thus, it explores how Freud projected his own taboo desires onto the figure of the savage.

Keywords:   Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schopenhauer, Max Nordau, Carl du Prel, philosophy, Germany, Occult Revival, Immanuel Kant, Psychoanalysis, Magic, unconscious

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