Does the Worship of Gaia Bring Myth Back to the World?
Nov 18, 3:30 pm
“Does the Worship of Gaia Bring Myth Back to the World?,” a lecture by Dr. Robert A. Segal, University of Aberdeen
Location: Knight Library Browsing Room
“Does the Worship of Gaia Bring Myth Back to the World?”– Theorists of mythology in the nineteenth century, such as E.B. Tylor and Sir James Frazer, assumed that myth could not be dislodged from the physical world and therefore could not be saved from science. Modernity, which was equated with the acceptance of science, made it impossible to retain myth in the light of science. By contrast, theorists of the twentieth century–Malinowski, Eliade, Bultmann, Jonas, Camus, Freud, and Jung–saved myth from science either by removing myth altogether from the physical world or by removing myth as an explanation of the world. It was now possible for moderns to retain myth alongside science. The question for the twenty-first century, as this lecture explores, is whether myth can be returned to the physical world, but in a way still compatible with science. This presentation considers one well-known case: that of Gaia, or the earth. When characterized as a living entity and as a living thing that regulates itself, Gaia becomes a god–and on scientific grounds. In this case, now myth and science may become one.
Robert Segal is Sixth Century Chair in Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Previously, he was Professor of Theories of Religion, Lancaster University. His training is in religions of the Greco-Roman world, but he has specialized in modern theories of myth and of religion. He has authored more than one hundred scholarly articles and written or edited sixteen books, including Myth: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies (4 vols; Routledge, 2007), The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion (Blackwell 2006; revised second edition in progress), Myth: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford 2004), Hero Myths: A Reader (Blackwell, 2000), Theorizing about Myth (University of Massachusetts Press 1999), Jung on Mythology (Princeton and Routledge, 1998), The Myth and Ritual Theory (Blackwell, 1998), The Gnostic Jung (Princeton and Routledge, 1992), and Joseph Campbell: An Introduction (Penguin rev. 1990).
This lecture is sponsored by the Folklore Program, the Ira E. Gaston Bequest, the Oregon Humanities Center, the Department of English, the Classics Department, the Department of Philosophy, the Humanities Program, Religious Studies, and the Environmental Studies Program.