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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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1 Myth in Classical Antiquity: Plato and Aristotle and the Myth of the Ancient Wisdom. Cicero, Sallustius, The World as a Myth


Plato had recourse to myth in the exposition of his philosophy. His myths were in part derived from popular traditions of ancient Greece but were revised for his own purposes. The traditional religious myths of Greece had been recorded in Homer and Hesiod in earlier centuries. But doubt about a literal belief in the gods of Homer was expressed by Herodius and others; the popular religious practices and beliefs in Orphic, Dionysiac and Pythagorean cults, the cult of Pan, and the politico-religious cults of the Amphictyonic and other Leagues went in several directions, having a partial contact with the Homeric tradition. It is doubtful, therefore, whether out of the gods of Homer and Hesiod there had been fashioned the “accepted religion” of all the ancient Greeks in Plato’s time, or even the accepted religion of all the Athenians, as Ludwig Edelstein thought. But he is surely right in contending that Plato and certain other philosophers and poets, Euripides in particular, were dubious about the Homeric pantheon and that to Plato even the myths about them were impious and erroneous. Mythology was not to be discarded but criticized and refashioned. Plato’s theology began with the divine nature of the good and its opposition to evil, falsehood and error. His mythic creations were re-creations, recounting in stories the destiny of human life, the sources of our troubles, and their settings in nature and in human history. There is teleology of being, action and thought. ←17 | 18→Plato added tales, inventions, and mythical...

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