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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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Editors’ Preface


Cyril Levitt and Sabine Sander

The publication of Myth and Ideology is the fifth by Peter Lang of works by or about Lawrence Krader1 (1920–1998), the last four under the aegis of The Lawrence Krader Research Project at McMaster University. Krader’s formative years were spent at the City College of New York (CCNY) as a student of philosophy (1936–1941) which included a year (1939–40) of study with Morris Raphael Cohen and Rudolf Carnap at the University of Chicago.2 It was upon his return to City that Krader made the acquaintance of Franz Boas whose influence in part led him to study anthropology after his return from serving in the US Merchant Marine during World War II. Having worked as an assistant to Karl August Wittfogel at the University of Washington in the late 1940s, Krader entered the doctoral program in anthropology at Harvard University focusing on the Altaic speaking peoples of the Central Asian Steppes. His many field expeditions to Soviet Central Asia (he was the first Western anthropologist allowed to conduct field research in that part of the world in the 1960s) allowed him to observe the customs of the indigenous populations and the telling of their myths. In this he was following in the footsteps of Vladimir G. Bogoraz3 and Waldemar Jochelson4 who had done pioneering work among the peoples of Eastern Siberia, some of it in conjunction with the work of Boas in British Columbia. Krader’s ethnographic research and writing on Chukchi...

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