Myth and Modernity: Postcritical Reflections

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This book surveys selected modern theories of myth from philosophy, religion, anthropology, sociology, and psychoanalysis to demonstrate a common commitment to a dualistic ontology and/or epistemology. With help from the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michael Polanyi, the author proposes a new theory of myth that goes beyond these dualisms. It argues that although the Enlightenment sought to banish myth, it was itself animated by myths that it could neither recognize nor accredit. Moreover, it argues that myth is a primordial, articulate grasp of the lifeworld and is essential for providing a fundamental orientation to all human activities, including theorizing. The myths of Timaeus and Genesis are shown tacitly to shape modernity's most sophisticated theories in science and philosophy, including the criteria for truth.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Modernity and the Crisis of Myth 1
Ch. 2 Modernity on Myth 9
The Nature of Modernity 10
Modernity and Myth 12
Max Mueller: Myth as Explanation for Aryan Metaphors 14
The English Anthropologists: Myth as Animism, Totemism, and Magic 15
Bronislaw Malinowski: Myth as Social Charter 17
C. S. Lewis: Myth as Fable and Fact 18
Ernst Cassirer: Myth as an Organ of Self-Revelation 20
Claude Levi-Strauss: Myth as Mediator between Culture and Nature 21
Rudolf Bultmann: Myths as Possibilities for Human Existence 23
Sigmund Freud: Myth as Repressed Libido 24
Carl Jung: Myth as Archtypal Meaning 24
Problems with Modern Myth Theories 26
Ch. 3 Myth at the Margins of Modernity 33
Myth at the Margins of Modern thought 33
Mircea Eliade: Myths as Collective Participation in Common Symbols 33
Taylor Stevenson: History as Myth 34
Michael Novak: Myths as Guiding Images, Symbols, and Values 35
Myth at the Margins of Scientific Thought 37
Harvey Cox: Genesis as the Disenchantment of Nature 37
Stephen Toulmin: Myth as the Misuse of Scientific Results 38
Michael Foster: Myths as Determinants of Scientific Method 39
Langdon Gilkey: Myths as Multivalent Symbols of the Transcendent 41
Edward Maziarz: Myth and Science as Formal Symbolic Structures 43
Ch. 4 Myth in the Heart of Modernity 47
The Timaeus 48
Genesis 51
Timaeus versus Genesis 53
Big Bang versus Steady State Cosmology 54
Essentialism versus Existentialism: Anthropology 56
Phenomenology versus History of Religions: Methodology 58
Covering Law versus Continuous Series Explanations: The Logic of Scientific Explanation 60
Myth versus History in Barthes' Structural Linguistics 63
The Tacit Dimension 66
Timaeus versus Genesis in Historical Perspective 71
Ch. 5 Toward a Postcritical Understanding of Myth 75
Contemporary Physics and Cartesian Dualism 76
The Wave-Particle Dualism and Scientific Representation 76
The Uncertainty Principle 77
Goedel's Proof 78
The Phenomenological Turn 79
The Nature of Myth 84
Myth and Truth 106
The Truth of Myth in General 107
The Truth of the Timaeus and Genesis 113
Ch. 6 Epilogue 119
The Visual Imagination 119
Naming the Nomad 125
Notes 135
Index 145
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