Demythologizing

Some therorize about the end of philosophy because they have lost the meaning of philosophy. Philosophical problems arise and develop as an attempt to understand and explain the whole, that is, the totality of things, or at least as the problematic of the totality. Philosophy remains such if and only if it searches for the perspective of the meaning of the whole. On the contrary, the sciences have arisen as rational considerations restricted to the parts or sectors of reality. They have an elaborate methodology and technique of inquiry that changes in function of the structure of these parts, and their value resides in these parts, and hence they are not of value for the whole of reality.

But what purpose is there to philosophizing today, in a world in which science, technology, and politics seem on the whole to divide the power, in a world in which the scientist, the technocrat, the politician become the new magicians moving all the levers? The purpose, in our judgement, remains always the same for philosophy as it has from its beginning, the aim of demythologizing. The ancient myths were those of poetry, of fantasy, of imagination; the new myths are those of science, of technology, and of ideology, that is to say, the myths of power.

Certainly the task of demythologizing is more difficult today than it was with the ancients. The new myths of today are constructed by reason itself, at least in great part, since science and technology would seem to lead directly to the triumph of reason. But it is a reason that, once it has lost the meaning of the totality, the sense of the whole, risks losing even its own identity.

Giovanni Reale – Preface to A History of Ancient Philosophy

Published by Diogenes

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