French Connections: Durkheimian Ritualism Replaces Müller’s Hegemony of Myth

How to Do Things with Myths - A Performative Theory of Myths and How We Got There - Ivan Strenski

Ivan Strenski [+-]
University of California Riverside (retired)
Author of 15 books and more than 100 academic articles on religion and political issues like gift, sacrifice, freedom of religion/religious freedom, religious nationalism, French Catholic integralism, post-revolutionary French Jewry, divine right of kings, Ivan Strenski is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. His most recent books are Muslims, Islams, and Occidental Anxieties: Conversations about Islamophobia (2022), a history of the study of religion from the Renaissance to the present-day, Understanding Theories of Religion (2014) and Why Politics Can’t Be Freed from Religion: Radical Interrogations of Religion, Power and Politics (2009), Arabic translation (2016).

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Durkheim’s sociological approach started a critique of Müller’s hegemony of myths, partly by exposing its Protestant theological biases. Notably, Müller’s mythophilia was well-received by the Liberal Protestant anti-ritualist leadership of the French “sciences religieuses,” like Albert Réville. Durkheim and some Jewish scholars battled Réville by arguing for ritual over against myth. Ritual was an elemental social reality; it ‘peopled’ religion. It made religion come alive. Along with Jewish scholars like Sylvain Lévi, the Durkheimians viewed ritual as more than dramatizing of myth but, in effect, as liturgical agents making the gods real to believers.

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Citation

Strenski, Ivan . French Connections: Durkheimian Ritualism Replaces Müller’s Hegemony of Myth. How to Do Things with Myths - A Performative Theory of Myths and How We Got There. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2024. ISBN 9781800504776. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44968. Date accessed: 15 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44968. Sep 2024

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