Chapter Two

  • Henry Tudor
Part of the Key Concepts in Political Science book series (KCP)


I have voiced doubts about the thesis that myths have a life of their own and that their meanings and purposes can be established in abstraction from their particular historical context. At the risk of being tedious, I shall pursue this point a bit further, for it lies at the heart of many theories which nowadays dominate the study of political myths. Of these, the most common is the view that a myth is primarily a psychological phenomenon. Tucker, for instance, argues that Marx’s vision of the class struggle is nothing but a projection upon the outside world of a psychological conflict which actually took place within Marx himself; and ‘this is the decisive characteristic of mythic thought, that something by nature interior is apprehended as exterior, that a drama of the inner life of man is experienced and depicted as taking place in the outer world’.1 Similarly, Norman Cohn sees in the millennialist movements of the Middle Ages the projection of a paranoia that has its source, ultimately, in the breakdown of trust between father and son.2 Interpretations such as these owe their general inspiration to the work of Freud and Jung and their particular methodological assumptions to the Freudian theory of dreams.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Robert C. Tucker, Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx, Cambridge University Press, 1964, p. 219.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium Paladin, London, 1970, PP. 84–8.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Revised 2nd Edition, Hogarth Press, London, 1949, p. 82.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    C. G. Jung & C. Kerenyi, Introduction to a Science of Mythology Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1970, pp. 99 ff.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    C. G. Jung, Collected Works trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd Edition, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1969, Vol. ix, Part I, pp. 3–4. See also Ibid., pp. 42 and 66.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    R. Chase, Quest for Myth, Baton Rouge, 1949, pp. 94–5.Google Scholar
  7. R. M. Dorson, “Theories of Myth and the Folklorist”, in H. A. Murray (ed.), Myth and Mythmaking, New York, 1960, pp. 80–3.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Les Fonctions Mentales dans les Sociétés Inférieures Paris, 1910, p. 1.Google Scholar
  9. Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1968, pp. 15–18.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    Bronislaw Malinowski, ‘Myth in Primitive Psychology’, in Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co., New York, 1954, pp. 146 and 101. See also pp. 125–6 and 137.Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    Bronislaw Malinowski, A Scientific Theory of Culture Galaxy Books, New York, 1960, pp. 39 and 83.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    Clifford Geertz, ‘Ideology as a Cultural System’, in D. E. Apter (ed.), Ideology and Discontent, London, 1964, p. 56.Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    Ernest Nagel, The Structure of Science Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1971, PP. 402 ff.Google Scholar
  14. 30.
    E. R. Leach, Political Systems of Highland Burma, G. Bell & Sons, London, 1964 p. 278.Google Scholar
  15. 31.
    Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1968, pp. 21–2.Google Scholar
  16. 33.
    Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics ed. by C. Bally & A. Sechehaye in collaboration with A. Riedlinger, trans. by W. Baskin, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1966, pp. 6–17 and 77.Google Scholar
  17. 38.
    Roman Jakobsen, ‘Retrospect’, in Selected Writings, Vol. x. Mouton & Co., ‘S-Gravenhage’, 1962, p. 637. For an introduction to the work of the Prague School, see Josef Vachek, The Linguistic School of Prague, Indiana University Press, Bloomington & London, 1966.Google Scholar
  18. 39.
    Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans. Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest Schoepf, Allen Lane the Penguin Press, London, 1968, p. 33.Google Scholar
  19. 45.
    Lévi-Strauss, ‘The Story of Asdiwal’, in Edmund Leach (ed.), The Structural Study of Myth and Totemism, A.S.A. Monographs, Tavistock Publications, London, 1967.Google Scholar
  20. 47.
    Lévi-Strauss, Mythologiques: Le Cru et le Cuit, Plon, Paris, 1964, p. 20.Google Scholar
  21. 51.
    G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, trans. with introd. & notes by J. B. Baillie, 2nd edition, London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1949, pp. 212–13.Google Scholar
  22. 52.
    H. W. Bartsch, Kerygma and Myth: a Theological Debate, London, S.P.C. K., 1953, p. 47;Google Scholar
  23. R. Guenon, Apercus sur l’Initiation, Paris, 1964, pp. 121–4.Google Scholar
  24. 53.
    Mircea Eliade, Myth and Reality George Allen & Unwin, London, 1964, PP. 5–6.Google Scholar
  25. 55.
    Gaster, ‘Myth and Story’, Numen, I, 1954, p. 186.Google Scholar
  26. 56.
    M. I. Finley, ‘Myth, Memory and History’, History and Theory iv, 1965, pp. 281–302. Finley argues that, in myths, we find expressed a practical attitude to the past. Myths contain a memory of men and events which are remembered only because they have some practical relevance in the present. However, by being so remembered, they cease to be historical men and events and acquire the timeless quality which, according to Finley, is the mark of a true myth.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pall Mall Press Ltd London 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Tudor
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DurhamUK

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