Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths

Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths

Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths

Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths

Synopsis

Hatab's work is more than an interpretative study, inspired by Neitzsche and Heidegger of the historical relationship between myth and philosophy in ancient Greece. Its conclusions go beyond the historical case study, and amount to a defence of the intelligibility of myth against an exclusively rational or objective view of the world.

Excerpt

This book is an interpretive study of the historical relationship between myth and philosophy in ancient Greece from Homer to Aristotle. A number of conclusions are drawn which go beyond the historical treatment, however, and which speak to the general question of truth by defending the intelligibility of myth against an exclusively rational or objective view of the world. I argue for a pluralistic conception of truth, one which can permit different forms of understanding and which surrenders the need for a uniform, or even a hierarchical, conception of truth. The historical displacement of myth at the hands of philosophy is the setting for this argument. Rationality and science emerged as a revolutionary overthrow of myth, but that insurrection is not beyond criticism because myth presented a meaningful expression of the world which was different from, and not always commensurate with, the kind of understanding sought by philosophers. Consequently, the idea that philosophy “corrected” the ignorance of the past or represented “progress” is unwarranted. Furthermore, philosophy developed out of mythical origins and continued to exhibit elements of myth. One important conclusion will be that although myth and rationality are not identical, they often overlap; and even when they do not overlap, it is not an eitheror situation. Much truth is shown in myth, and the historical connection between rationality and myth only adds to the need for a conception of truth that goes beyond traditional philosophical assumptions.

This investigation has some relevance for contemporary thought, both inside and outside of the discipline of philosophy. The historical study is meant to address current intellectual and cultural problems and to complement some recent responses to those problems. Within the bounds of this study such implications are tentative and provisional; some are threaded throughout the text or prepared more deliberately at the end of the book. Here I can offer some hints which are meant to stimulate further inquiry after the book makes its case. For philosophers and students of philosophy this study offers an analysis which relates philosophy to prephilosophical culture; such analysis provides a supplementary background for important trends in contemporary thought. In particular I am referring to trends which challenge strict distinctions between fact and value, fact and interpretation, science and non-

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