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Book: How to Do Things with Myths

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

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44968


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.

Chapter Contributors

  • Ivan Strenski ([email protected] - istrenski) 'University of California Riverside (retired)'