Two Meanings of Disenchantment

Philosophy and Theology 17 (1-2):51-84 (2005)
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Abstract

Although the primary meaning of Max Weber’s concept of disenchantment is as a sociological condition (the retreat of magic and myth from social life through processes of secularization and rationalization), as Weber himself makes clear in his address, “Science as a Vocation,” disenchantment can also be a philosophical act: an unusual form of moral discourse that derives new ethical direction out of the very untenability of a previously robust moral tradition. The philosophical variant of disenchantment is significant both because it contradicts numerous elements of the sociological version and because it suggests there are forms of cognition unique to moral philosophy (insofar as the derivation of a moral teaching from the very absence of one is foreign to both a religious and ascientific mindset).

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