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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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4 The State as Myth and Myths of the State: Hegel and the March of God through the World. Hobbes, Leviathan and Behemoth


The Chinese myths in traditional times were transformed by the literati into an element of the religion of the state. The cult of Confucianism was another part of that official religion, the ritual of which was part of the governmental service. Confucianism had myths of the master Confucius; many of the literati in the service of the state had no supernatural cult but had a creed of their own in which Confucianism was supreme. They believed in his doctrine of state service as the social task of the superior man, as they believed in the superiority of that doctrine, and of their own superiority in terms of their cult and cult figure. Their myths were in this respect without supernatural beings. What has just been said of Confucianism is a one-sided expression of the doctrine and is not meant as an exposition of it.

Max Weber in his “Introduction” to The Sociology of World Religions distinguished between Confucius and Confucianism, writing, “In the absence of all metaphysics and almost all residues of religious anchorage, Confucianism is rationalist to such a far-going extent that it stands at the extreme boundary of what might be called a ‘religious’ ethic. At the same time, Confucianism is more rationalist and sober, in the sense of the absence of all non-utilitarian yardsticks, than any other ethical system, with the possible exception of Jeremy Bentham’s.” The sinologist Herrlee G. Creel has applied the qualities of utilitarianism, ←225 | 226→rationalism and sobriety of Confucianism to...

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