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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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6 Winnebago Trickster Myths: Radin, Malinowski, Kluckhohn


Myth is a product of people who live in space and time, not in isolation, but in the world. Myths have their geography, and their history, changing with the times, with the lives of the people, and in turn changing the popular perceptions of the events and the times. Raymond Firth, whom we refer to elsewhere, brought out this aspect of myth. No people, however remote they may appear to be from us, is without its history or apart from history. The peoples of Northeastern Siberia did not live in isolation but had contacts with peoples in other parts of the world. Their shamanism is of the same general kind as the shamanism of the Eskimos*, the Tungus-speaking peoples, the Yakuts, the Buryats, the ancient Mongols and Turks. Their myths have many themes in common with those of the American Indians, among them being the theme of the trickster, Raven. We will see the trickster appears among the Pawnee Indians of the American Plains, and among the Winnebago Indians to the east and north of them. The Chukchis had many cult practices in common with their neighbors and with peoples far to the south of them; they imbibed the intoxicating mushroom in their myths; that mushroom, or its congeners, was part of many cults in northernmost and southernmost Asia. They are in history and have their history.←137 | 138→

These perspectives toward history and myth appear to be obvious today, warranting no justification, but such a view was...

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