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Myth and Ideology

Edited By Cyril Levitt and Sabine Sander

This posthumously published work by Lawrence Krader surveys the study of myths from ancient times (in classical Greece and Rome, Egypt, Babylon, Akkad, Sumer, China), in the Biblical traditions, of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australia, and from Northeastern and Central Asia. It also covers the various approaches to the study of myth in Europe in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and the Romantic movement in the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth century; it discusses evolutionist, structuralist, hermeneutic, and linguistic approaches. The book covers on the one hand the treatment of myth from the inside, that is from the experience of those committed to the myth, and on the other the perspective of those ethnologists, philosophers and other students of myth who are outsiders. Krader takes up the theme of esoteric and exoteric myths as he rejects some of the assumptions and approaches to the study of myth from the past while singling out others for approval and inclusion in his general theory of myth. The book includes a discussion of myth in science and in infinitesimal mathematics. It also considers the relationship between myth and ideology in the twentieth century in relation to politics and power. It both incorporates and broadens Krader’s theory of nature as a manifold consisting of different orders of space-time which he developed in his magnum opus Noetics: The Science of Thinking and Knowing.

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Foreword

Extract

Mayán Cervantes

Lawrence Krader was an exceptional man. I had the good fortune to work with him and share some 3 years of his life—from 1979 to 1982. Over these years, I came to know him, love him, and respect him deeply as a teacher, as a philosopher, as a thinker, as a scholar, as a human being. He spoke six languages fluently and had a workable knowledge of many more. He had a deep knowledge and appreciation of art, music, literature.

Guillermo Bonfil, Director of the CISINAH (Centro de Investigaciones Superiores del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia), convinced Krader to come to Mexico and live here, so a group of professors could learn from him and with him. I was one of the privileged few he invited to work with him. Only a few of us endured the rhythm of the work, the extensive readings and the intense reflections needed to approach and understand his theoretical proposals, his critical positions which were so innovative and, at times, incomprehensible—at first.

The very topic of this book shows that Krader was a very open-minded thinker, for he chose a complex and slippery subject, myth, as the object of study, a “bricolage” in its form and substance. Myth, he wrote, “is unsystematic, fantastic, mystical, utopian, and without autonomy for it is bound to the people and the traditions from where it comes.”←xi | x→

This novel approach led him...

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