The return of the mythic II

Cassirer says that we are in a world founded on myth. Yet it seems that the foundational myth here is precisely that we are in a world. It is for this reason that, contrary to Gabriel’s claim, scientism is not opposed to myth insofar as the certainty of knowledge, as a disposition already contained in perceptual experience, is not a value added from an otherwise naïve reception of un-comprehended or un-interpreted qualia. Hegel had made this point clearly in the opening sentences of the Phenomenology and, as the first chapter shows, only in the silent preparation for the divine, tarrying with the experience of death, does consciousness encounter the disparity of the “said” and the “meant” in language. It is here that Gabriel is most certainly wrong in his contrast of Hegel and Schelling: “whereas Hegel tried to uncover the necessity of the content of mythology (of art, religion, history, etc.), Schelling insists on the necessity of the form of representation which cannot be sidestepped … There is no absolute content prior to the mythological form”. Hegel and Schelling are una voce at least on this point. We experience the meaning of language in our very being-in-the-world prior to the movement of thought which, however, is precisely the original experience that we can never recover or remember: “mythology as an attempt to overcome the amnesia of Being, as vanquishing the pure facticity of the world, relieves me of a situation in which I must acknowledge myself as an accidental divinity …” (Kolakowski).

But, if this is the case, then the strictly unthinkable unity of sense and being cannot itself have being, i.e., there is no unity of thought (or, mutatis mutandis, reflection) and being (this is the case for both Schelling and, despite Gabriel, Hegel as well)—if this were not the case, we could not explain the fact of mythology anthropologically nor philosophically—that there should be myth at all. Or, we might go even further: if language is ineliminably metaphorical, this is because the Word is the manifestation of mythology (Hegel, Barthes).

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One thought on “The return of the mythic II

  1. Pingback: For the love of the world | Preludes and Refrains

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