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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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5 Myths of the North Pacific Peoples: Boas, Bogoraz, Jochelson. The Myth of Asdiwal/Asihwil. A Creation Myth of the Chukchis


The ethnological contribution to the scientific study of myth has often provided the standard in the twentieth century by which the contributions of the other disciplines, such as philosophy, psychoanalysis, and classical studies, have been measured. Not only have the raw data of the study of myth been taken from the ethnological field work; not only have the Homeric and other myth traditions of antiquity been incorporated into the ethnological field; not only have a number of terms of ethnological provenience, such as mana, taboo, and totem been taken up in other fields, but above all, the relation of myth to ritual, to custom, and to religion as a kind of social practice has been taken from the ethnological writings; theories of myth have been propounded insofar as they have made sense to ethnologists.

Wilhelm Wundt1 opposed all those who sought a symbolic or rationalist interpretation of myth. He held that myth animates the objects as an immediately given actuality. The original creations of the mythmaking fantasy are interpreted not as merely subjective representations but as the objective content of our perceptions. The primitive dreams that the soul of someone far away appears to him, whereby he explains his dreams. The dreamer believes in the objective reality of the apparition, which is the double of the distant kin or neighbor. Myth ←107 | 108→goes a step further, Wundt held, and does not animate the objects of our experience alone, but also personifies them.

Franz Boas collected...

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