From Magic to Myth
Eliade’s Shift in Scholarship
What happened in this field of the study of religion with the emergence of Eliade’s scholarship in European languages was no less than a paradigm shift, from a field dominated by a monotheistic propensity, coupled by a Hegelian vision, to one that takes much more into consideration Hindu thought and primitive or archaic religion, filtered as they were by Hindu concepts such as Brahman, atman, and maya, and by Orthodox Christianity. Confronting the developmental understandings of humanity and religion, both the general one in the form taken by Hegel and Hegelians and the one in the scholarship of religion as found in James Frazer’s opus, Eliade was more concerned with turning his gaze to the past and to origins rather than to the future or the end. Eliade did so in order to retrieve some allegedly repressed forms of religion, which were presented as resisting the addition of later layers. This is the case with his paying attention to the pre-Arian culture in India that impacted the Yoga techniques, the premonotheistic religion among the Israelites, and the Romanian pre-Latin and pre-Christian Dacian religion, which were integrated in what he called cosmic Christianity. These examples seem to me quite important since they constitute a pattern that tries to illustrate the vitality of neglected cultures among which Eliade finds a common denominator, and that common denominator ← 241 | 242 → serves as raw material for building up his archaic pre-Socratic metaphysics, and his claim of its...
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