Eliade on Myth and Science

Robert A. Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In contrast to nineteenth-century theorists, who set myth against science, Mircea Eliade, like other twentieth-century theorists, sought to reconcile myth with science. For both Bronislaw Malinowski and Eliade myth is, to be sure, an explanation in part, but the explanation is only a means to a nonscientific end rather than the end itself. By contrast to Malinowski, Eliade, like Edward B. Tylor and James George Frazer, assumes that primitive peoples have just myth and not also science, so that the issue of the compatibility of myth with primitive science does not arise. Eliade ventures far beyond Malinowski, not to say Tylor and Frazer, in making myth universal and, as presumably is the case for Malinowski, not merely primitive. Neither Malinowski nor Eliade challenges Frazer’s and especially Tylor’s literal reading of myth. By contrast, Malinowski and Eliade reconcile myth with science by recharacterizing the function of myth.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMircea Eliade
Subtitle of host publicationMyth, Religion, and History
EditorsNicolae Babuts
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages12
EditioneBook edition
ISBN (Electronic)9781351505185
ISBN (Print)9781412852999
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Mircea Eliade
  • sacred reality
  • myths


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