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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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Introduction: Rebels as Demons in Ancient Chinese Myths

Extract

In the following pages various accounts of mythology and theories of myth are set forth and critically treated. Various kinds of myths are recounted and discussed; these are the healing myth of the Chukchis, and their creation myths, creation myths of the Pawnees, the Eskimos* and Yukagir, the Gilgamesh poem of the Babylonians, and the myth of the drunken goddess of the Egyptians in ancient times; the myth of the law, of the book of Daniel, myths of ancient Greece and China, myths of modern science, and allegorical myths of art.

The discussions of the theories of myth have been arranged in a chronological order which has been honored as much in the breach as in the observance; these theories are often as wonderful as the myths themselves. Figures prominent at a given time have been brought together and their leading ideas about myth discussed, together with the ideas of their chief antagonists and followers. The principle of selection in this case is the survey and critical treatment of the most prominent idea in the discussions of myth in recent decades. Looking backward ←1 | 2→from the perspective of these discussions, one gains two impressions. The first is that there is a high degree of concentration of the attention on certain aspects of myth by the specialists. The second impression has been that writers about myth at a given time have kept some important idea about their subject in view and have excluded others. My purpose is to...

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