7. Myth and Science: Their Varying Relationships

Explaining Myth - Robert A Segal

Robert A Segal [+-]
University of Aberdeen
Sixth Century Chair in Religious Studies University of Aberdeen


This chapter discusses the range of views on the relationship of myth to natural science over the past 150 years. In the nineteenth century, as typified by Tylor and Frazer, myth was deemed the primitive counterpart to science, which was assumed to be largely, if not entirely, modern. Myth did the same thing: it either explained or controlled the physical world. Myth and science were mutually exclusive. In the twentieth century myth and science were deemed compatible: either myth was not about the physical world, or it was not a means explaining or controlling the physical world. At the same time there have been varying alternative positions, which I work out. For example, Claude Levi-Strauss deems myth primitive science itself and not merely the primitive counterpart to modern science. Karl Popper deems myth, itself non-scientific, the source of modern, scientific theories.

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Segal, Robert. 7. Myth and Science: Their Varying Relationships. Explaining Myth. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2021. ISBN 9781781798645. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=37561. Date accessed: 24 Jun 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.37561. Oct 2021

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