Understanding disenchantment

Akeel Bilgrami in The Immanent Frame:

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 07 07.44 Jane Bennett’s sympathetic yet critical commentary on my essay ‘What is Enchantment?’ (published in the volume Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age) describes the notion of disenchantment that I present as primarily addressing the theological displacements that emerged with the rise of the new science. Her own work, she says, offers a quite different focus, one of a mood or affect that ‘circulates between human bodies and the animal, vegetable, and mineral forces they encounter.’

I don’t doubt that this interesting focus is quite different from mine, though I think it would be wrong to represent my view as being focused on the theological. In my analysis, the theological had only a central genealogical role to play in the process of ‘disenchantment’. But, I had argued that the fallout of the theology—once the theological transformations were exploited in alliances forged between established religious interests, commercial interests, and the mandarin interests of organized scientific bodies (such as the Royal Society)—was impressively diverse, ranging from transformations in political economy to political governance and, further yet, to the mentalities of human culture in its relation to the natural world. So the focus, if any, on the theological was intended wholly to emphasize that, unlike purely materialist accounts, I was following more refined Marxists like Christopher Hill, who had written of the importance of the conflict of religious ideas in shaping the period of history in which I had invested my genealogical efforts.

More here.

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