Myths and Mythologies: A Reader

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In all cultures and at all times, humans have been telling stories about who they were, what the world and human life is about. To the insider, myths may contain Truth (with a capital 'T'), revelation and the 'history of ourselves'; whereas to the outsider it may be considered anything from folly and pre-logical mentality, to neurotic, infantile and 'wishful thinking'. Such judgements aside, myths tell us about human creativity, the impact of narrativity on human ways of understanding, on cultural epistemologies and the many ways of 'world making'. These issues also spark considerations concerning the linguistic and philosophical notions of meaning and truth and the peculiarities of religious language. The controversial issue of myth has been studied from many different angles. In this volume the contributions are edited according to their theoretical perspectives: 1. philosophical, 2. psychological, 3. sociological, 4. semiological and 5. cognitivist, all with introduction by the editor. This volume will be an indispensable tool for anyone with a serious interest in this field of study.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jeppe Sinding Jensen is Associate Professor in the History of Religions and Coordinator of the Religion, Cognition and Culture Research Unit (RCC) at Aarhus University, Denmark. His publications include The Study of Religion in a New Key (Aarhus University Press, 2003), Syncretism in Religion: A Reader (edited with Anita Leopold, Equinox Publishing, 2004) and Myths and Mythologies: A Reader (Equinox Publishing, 2009).

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Table of Contents

Introduction I. Philosophical approaches to the study of myth Introduction Lucien Levy-Bruhl, 'The transition to the higher mental types' from How Natives Think Susanne K. Langer, 'Life-Symbols: The Roots of Myth' from Philosophy in a New Key Ernst Cassirer, 'The place of language and myth in the pattern of human culture' from Language and Myth Karl Popper, 'The Worlds 1, 2 and 3' from 'Indeterminism is not enough: An afterword' in The Open Universe John R. Searle, 'Language and Social Reality' from The Construction of Social Reality II. Psychological approaches Introduction Friedrich Max Muller, from Comparative Mythology Bronislaw Malinowski, 'Myth in Primitive Psychology' from Magic, Science and Religion Sigmund Freud, 'Introductory lecturers on psycho-analysis' Mircea Eliade, 'Cosmogonic Myth and "Sacred History"' from The Quest III. Sociological approaches Introduction Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss 'Conclusion' from Primitive Classification George Dumezil 'The Gods: Asir and Vanir' from Gods of the Ancient Northmen Mary Douglas 'Primitive Worlds' from Purity and Danger Pierre Clastres 'What Makes Indians Laugh' from Society against the State IV. Semiological and narratological approaches Introduction Claude Levi-Strauss 'Overture' from The Raw and the Cooked Marcel Detienne 'The Myth of 'Honeyed Orpheus' from Myth, Religion and Society Roland Barthes 'Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives' from The Semiotic Challenge Roy Wagner 'The Theory of Symbolic Obviation' from Lethal Speech V. Cognitivist approaches Introduction Edwin Hutchins 'Myth and experience in the Trobriand Islands' from Cultural Models in Language and Thought Bradd Shore 'Dreamtime Learning, Inside-Out: The Narrative of the Wawilak Sisters' from Culture in Mind Jerome Bruner 'The Transactional Self' from Actual Minds, Possible Worlds Andy Clark, 'Language: The Ultimate Artefact' from Being There VI. Modern Myths and Mythologies

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