Myths, it is often said, are more than false stories: they disclose alternative worlds. Yet from the perspective of most modern philosophy, the belief in mythic worlds is still seen as primitive and inadequate. When most formal approaches to the study of myths leave questions about their possible validity in the shadows, in what sense can we then claim that our myths might be true? If even 'rational' thought is informed by myth, are scientists, politicians and philosophers mythic thinkers? And if there are truths that are best expressed in stories, should philosophers themselves become myth-makers? Against a dualistic popular understanding of myths based either upon their concrete cultural functionality or upon their aesthetic and merely illusory status, Thinking Through Myths: Philosophical Perspectives embraces an intuitive and inherently radical balance between the factions. Eight outstanding essays, from Robert A. Segal, Pamela Sue Anderson and Milton Scarborough among others, deconstruct perennial problems of rationality, imagination and narrative to trace the influence of myth in our own beliefs, origins and potential futures.
Including analyses of myth in primitivism, feminism, metaphysics and environmentalism, Thinking Through Myths attempts to reconcile the opposed claims of pragmatism and beauty, calling for the acknowledgement of myths in everyday experience, the restoration of wonder to thought, and the 'mythical' redefinition of truth into new possibilities for expression, representation and justice.
Kevin Schilbrack is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Wesleyan College, Georgia. A graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, he has a long-standing interest in the interaction of metaphysics, logic and belief.