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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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3 Esoteric and Exoteric Myth: Bella Coola Myth. The Myth of the Drunken Goddess


Myth is a human social phenomenon; it is variable, widely distributed in ancient and modern times. Many peoples among whom myths have been collected have quite divergent ideas about what myth is, or what the outsiders might call it. The myths of a people include expressions of their worldviews, and in certain cases represent an attempt at synthesis of the view of the people, bearing on what is known and what is unknown in their depiction of nature, the place of their own society and of the humankind in the natural world, and the place of other kinds of beings in it. Myth is not only an account of the known by the unknown, it is also an account of the unknown by the known. All or most human beings are able to imagine fantastic beings, combining the features of one entity with the faculties of another, giving a tree the ability to see things, and a fish the ability to talk. Most, if not all human beings have a capacity to speculate about the origin or cause of things, going beyond the known or probable to a source or beginning that is unknown, filling in the known by the speculative. Again, many of us put these combinations of the known, the unknown, the imagined, speculative and fantastic into a narrative sequence, whether in prose or poetry, which is handed on, becoming an element in the traditions of a social group. Some of these elements enter into the sacred lore,...

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