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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 to Part II. Modern Studies of Myth: Bachofen, Tylor, Müller, Frazer


In the empirical study of myth, our own belief is set aside; the myths are not our own but those of others, whether they are the objects of belief, faith and credence in our own society, or in some other. The students of myth in the Enlightenment began to regard our own myths as an object of study and of scepticism. Mythology is in this case not a body of myth but a matter of its collection and scientific analysis. Myths are studied in relation to society, history, psychology, to the human sciences generally, to the natural sciences, and to myths of our own and of others. There is no category of the myth or the mythical; myths have no original or pure form but are variable from one people to another, and from one period to another. Myths are not fantasies but expressions of what we know and do not know, in varying combinations.

Some writers in the last century began to explore myths by means of symbols. There was no general agreement on the definition of myth or symbol, yet a common method was followed. Myth was analyzed into symbols, which were its constituent elements. Symbols were also commonly regarded as a human expression in language, art, and religion. Myth and symbol were seen as both processes and products of human fantasy, imagination, intuition, and creative powers generally. Myth and symbol constitute a system with a vocabulary and grammar peculiar to them. This notion is widespread...

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