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The enchantment of modern life (2001, Princeton University Press) 5 stars

It is a commonplace that the modern world cannot be experienced as enchanted--that the very …

What is magic? It is a power to create whose mechanism can never be fully understood. For Paracelsus, the primary site of magic was external nature: there the Satyrion root and divine mingled and spawned the impossible reality of a materialized spirituality. [...] Things are different in a Kantian world. Kant saw how easily the theology of Paracelsus--which wove the natural, the divine, and the human too tightly and too smoothly--could be attacked on Newtonian grounds and, more disturbingly, how much this susceptibility to skepticism fostered religious disbelief. Kant's response to this moral danger was firs to divorce the sensible world from the transcendental realm and then to allow only mini-encounters between them. Kant separated physics from metaphysics and tried to limit metaphysics to questions of the mind and its transcendental needs, but he did not give up on magic in doing so. Instead, he shifted its principal locale. Kantian magic occurs only fleetingly and ambiguously in nature itself--nature does offer tantalizing threads of connection to the supersensible, but they are fragile and thin. The primary venue of enchantment has become interior to the self, in an imperious "reason" and the "subjective necessities" it spawns.

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