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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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9 Myths and Universals

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The notion that there are universals, whether of culture or of the mind, whose experience is supported by the evidence of myth, has been propounded variously by Schelling in the past century, and more recently by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Henri Bergson, and Ernst Cassirer. These universals are abstractions, existing apart from the world that we see and hear. They are sometimes thought to be the product of the human mind; yet at other times they are thought to be the product of a mind which exists independently of our own. Myth is conceived to be a universal category, in the sense of a pre-logical mentality active in all the humankind, whether literate or not; this mental capacity was propounded in a law of mystic participation in the myth and totem by those who believed in them. It is supposed that there is some sort of mind which is without logic. We judge it by its effects, inferring that it exists by the statement in which the mind’s holder or embodiment claims, “the totem of the clan is I, I am the grub, or the bird.” The pre-logic is proposed as a prior state, which may be understood to be either prior in time or prior as a logical presupposition. The judgment that the pre-logical mind exists is further made by its effects in the world of our senses, by the narration of the myth, the statement of the belief in the totem, or the acting out of the rite. We...

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