2024 Annual Seminar - (Dis-)Enchantment in Religion and Ethics
The interplay between enchantment and disenchantment in the realm of religion has been a topic of profound interest and scholarly investigation throughout history. This seminar explores the dialectical relationship between enchantment and disenchantment in the context of religious beliefs, practices, and experiences. Enchantment refers to the mystical, awe-inspiring, and transcendent aspects of religion that evoke a sense of wonder and connection to the divine, while disenchantment denotes the rational, secular, and critical approach that challenges the supernatural and magical elements of religious faith.
Through an interdisciplinary lens, the seminar delves into the historical, sociological, and psychological dimensions of this dialectic. Historically, various religious traditions have embodied both enchanting and disenchanting tendencies, reflecting the shifts in societal values and epistemological paradigms. Furthermore, sociologically, the concept of enchantment has been linked to the cohesion and solidarity within religious communities, while disenchantment often emerges as a response to modernity and its rationalizing effects.
The seminar also examines the psychological dynamics underlying the enchantment-disenchantment dialectic. Human nature seems predisposed to seeking the numinous and the extraordinary, contributing to the perpetuation of enchanting elements in religion. However, cognitive dissonance and the emergence of skepticism may give rise to processes of disenchantment, leading individuals to question or even reject once deeply held religious beliefs.
Additionally, the seminar highlights the role of technology and globalization in shaping the enchantment-disenchantment dialectic. Advances in communication and access to diverse perspectives have facilitated the spread of both mystical and rational ideas, intensifying the clash between traditional enchanting religious practices and secular disenchanting influences.
The seminar posits that enchantment and disenchantment in religion are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary forces that fuel the evolution and transformation of religious beliefs and practices. Acknowledging and embracing this dialectical relationship can foster a more nuanced understanding of the complexities inherent in religious experiences, paving the way for respectful dialogue and tolerance between individuals and religious communities with divergent perspectives.