“the disen-chantment of the world”

Posted: December 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Courtesy of Rhyd Wildermuth 

“The second assumption running through modern European political thought and the social sciences is that the human is ontologically singular, that gods and spirits are in the end “social facts,” that the social somehow exists prior to them. I try, on the other hand, to think without the assumption of even a logical priority of the social. One empirically knows of no society in which humans have existed without gods and spirits accompanying them. 

Although the God of monotheism may have taken a few knocks—if not actually “died”—in the nineteenth-century European story of “the disen-chantment of the world,” the gods and other agents inhabiting practices of so-called “superstition” have never died anywhere. I take gods and spirits to be existentially coeval with the human, and think from the assumption that the question of being human involves the question of being with gods and spirits.”
–Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe

My reply:

Monotheism as a social structure — that is, a “religious” idea found within the context of the society — versus polytheism as an extra-social structure — outside of society, “of the wilds” — is a thing I’ve argued. I’ve not read this passage and find support within it. I go further and say that any “god of monotheism” is itself also “of society”, e.g. as tangible as its parent society, rather than that which parents societies.

The gods of polytheisms cannot die in this way. They exist outside of human society, expressing Themselves through it as a parent through a child, as They do through Their devotees, Their priests, Their oracles, Their prophets, Their pariahs, Their workers of ecstasy and Their mad artists and rogue ritualists.


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