Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Study of Myth

Myths are tales sacred or religious in nature social rather than individual or anecdotal in subject matter and concerned with the origin or creation of phenomena whether natural ,supernatural or socio-cultural.Myths may be acted out in particular rituals.Myths and rituals share common symbolic elements and are complementary aspects of creative and religious expression.


Boas saw myth as a repository of information about culture and culture traits as well as a guide to regional relations between groups.

Malinowski saw them as a charter for social action.Rationalizations used to explain and justify what people do,their customs and behavior.

Claude Levi-Strauss who initially studied law and philosophy did fieldwork among the Bororo Indians.According to him,myth is a type of thought an example of universal,structural principles that underlie all human cultural and social systems.Myth is used to reflect on and symbolically mediate or resolve universal and culturally specific contradictions or oppositions.

Oppositions are binary- death/creation,maternal/paternal,raw/cooked.Myths endlessly combine and recombine the different symbolic elements.The different versions of myth demonstrates  constant creation and modification of mythical knowledge and thought.For Levi Strauss the essence of culture is structure,each culture having its own configurations or structures.These structures exist as part of a worldwide system of all possible structures founded on the psychic unity of mankind.

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