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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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Introduction to Part III. Theory of Myth

Extract

Some general trends in the development of theories of myth are lasting and constant, others, after making their appearance have fallen away, and a third group of theories come and go in a tidal movement. That myth is an oral expression which is anonymous and popular has been recognized since the time of classical antiquity and is either explicitly stated or tacitly assumed in most modern theories of myth.

The main points to be developed here will be supported by references to myths, and at the same time by references to those who have written about the subject, particularly in the twentieth century. The myths we will refer to are the ancient and those which are alive among us. They are sacred and secular, traditional and novel, taking the forms of narrative in prose and poetry, and the expressions of symbols and laws. They represent our notions of how things came to be the way they are, and the way they ought to be; they give expression to our prospects of hope and of fearful doom. Those who have treated myth in our century fall into two great camps. The one considers myths which come from oral traditions; if they then take up the myths from written sources, it is by analogy to the unwritten; the themes of these myths are predominantly sacred, often ancient and supernatural, and are usually narrative in form. The other camp treats of myth which is secular, related to our current concerns and...

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