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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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4 Myth of Another Time and Space: Buber, Otto, Cassirer, Langer, Jensen


The approach to myth as an ideal realm which is apart from the phenomena of our concrete experience, which is in a direct relation of being, which is genuine, pure, and real in itself, was expressed in ancient and modern times; this approach to myth has had its advocates in the twentieth century.

Martin Buber1 distinguished between myth and legend. In pure myth, being is undifferentiated; the hero and the god are not in the relation of I and Thou. The god in pure myth does not call; he begets and sends forth the begotten. The god of the legend calls to him the prophet or the saint. The legend is the form of I and Thou, the caller and the called.2

Walter F. Otto considered that myth has a world of its own; this world is the world which myth tells about, and it is other than the world of myth which we write about. It is there, it is real; it is other than poetry, philosophy or history, all of which have another reality. He further developed this point in his treatment of “Language as Myth.”3 Thales held that the world, which is all there is, is full of gods. Man is the speaking being; speech in its original state is thoroughly mythical, and bears witness to the truth of the words of Thales, who belongs to a primordial, prescientific state of mind and speech of the human being. Otto wrote that speech...

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