THERE – Theory and Empiricism of Religious Evolution: Foundation of a Research Program

5. Evolutionary Foundation of Systems Theory (fn)

Then also a differential term for ‘myth’ should synchronically be available. The term λόγος cannot yet be used for it; the explicit distinction between μῦθος (myth) and λόγος (logos) becomes only apparent during Classical Greece; cf. Burkert (1979, 3): “Every tale has a basic element of póiesis, fiction. ¶ Myth, then, within the class of traditional tales, is nonfactual storytelling. This keeps us close to the sense of the Greek word mŷthos as contrasted with lógos: lógos, from légein, ‘to put together,’ is assembling single bits of evidence, of verifiable facts; lôgon didônai, to render account in front of a critical and suspicious audience; mŷthos is telling a tale while disclaiming responsibility: ouk emòs ho mŷthos, this is not my tale, but I have heard it elsewhere. Just by disregarding the question of truth one may enjoy myth, or wonder, and start thinking.” The same applies for other terms opposed to myth, such as ἱστορία (history) and ἐμπειρία (empiricism). The meaning of the term myth is derived from these later terms. However, the epistemological value of scientific theories of myths is not denied by this (Segal 2010).

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