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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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2 Myth as the Myth of Others: Biblical Myth. Myth of Gilgamesh

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It is sometimes held that one’s own beliefs and traditions are not the subjects of myths, which are expressions of the beliefs and traditions of others. The writers of the Enlightenment began to examine the Bible as they did other myths; Louis de Jaucourt cautiously separated his treatment of myth and fable from those who would have regarded Scripture in this light, whereas Voltaire plunged into this work, taking up a theme out of the Bible under the heading of Fable. This attempt at a probe was soon buried under the handling of myth by the romanticists, philosophical idealists and historians, Friedrich Creuzer, Friedrich Schlegel, Ferdinand G. Baur, G.W.F. Hegel and Friedrich Schelling, who took up the ancient Greek and Egyptian traditions as mythological subjects. The officials, literati, scribes and bureaucrats of ancient China treated myth as the historical and moral components of the ideology of their imperial cult; they would not allow that there were any mythical elements as such in their ideology but gave to all of it an explanation of a kind called Euhemerist (by European historians) insofar as it appeared to be mythical.

Anton van Dale, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, and others wrote of the myths of the pagans, not of Christian myth, but criticized the beliefs of Christianity shared with those of pagans on grounds of magical and superstitious elements in both. Voltaire, Holbach and Herder began to write of fable ←73 | 74→and myth in the Judaeo-Christian religion. J. Alberto Soggin1...

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