A central characteristic of modernity is the argument that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic but in this compelling book, Josephson-Storm argues that this narrative is wrong. The 'myth' of rational modernity was formed in the nineteenth century in the midst of a spiritualist craze, and he shows that many pioneers of rational science were not only aware of occultism but were themselves deeply enmeshed. Impressively researched, the book reveals the esoteric interests of a wide range of important thinkers, such as Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Max Weber. Original and persuasive. The Myth of Disenchantment sheds a new light on Victorian scientific culture, and forces us to understand how profoundly esoteric ideas have influenced social life more widely.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017. Paperback, xiv 411 pages. New.