cultural rationalization and devaluation of religion

In social science, disenchantment (German: Entzauberung) is the cultural rationalization and devaluation of mysticism apparent in modern society. Max Weber uses the concept of disenchantment to describe the character of modernized, bureaucratic, secularized Western society, where scientific understanding is more highly valued than belief, and where processes are oriented toward rational goals, as opposed to traditional society where for Weber "the world remains a great enchanted garden."


  • Apparently the rise of consciousness is linked to certain kinds of privation. It is the bitterness of self-consciousness that we knowers know best. Critical of the illusions that sustained mankind in earlier times, this self-consciousness of ours does little to sustain us now. The question is: which is disenchanted, the world itself or the consciousness we have of it?
    • Saul Bellow, "A Matter of the Soul" (1975), in It all Adds Up (1994), pp. 75-76
  • “Well, Lord, is the soul the same as the body, is the soul one thing and the body another?”
“I have not declared that the soul is one thing and the body another.”
“Well, Lord, does the Tathāgata exist after death?” …
“I have not declared that the Tathāgata exists after death.” …
“But, Lord, why has the Lord not declared these things?”
“Potthapada, that is not conducive to the purpose, not conducive to Dhamma, not the way to embark on the holy life; it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. That is why I have not declared it.”
  • [Cervantes'] work was not intended ... to become merely a criticism of out-of-date chivalry, but also to be an indictment of the world of the disenchanted, matter-of-fact reality, in which there was nothing left for an idealist but to dig himself in behind his idée fixe.
    • Arnold Hauser, The Social History of Art and Literature (1951), as translated by Stanley Godman, p. 399
  • Because of the way that myth takes it for granted that miracles are always happening, the waking life of a mythically inspired people — the ancient Greeks, for instance — more closely resembles a dream than it does the waking world of a scientifically disenchanted thinker.
  • The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world. Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental.

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