Eliade Mircea - Cosmos and History - The Myth of eternal Return

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113 E4-2C Eliade $1.35

62-16766

62-16766 113 E42c Eliade $1.35 Cosmos and history.

COSMOS an d

HISTORY The Myth of

the

Eternal Return

MIRCEA ELIADE TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY WILLARD

R,

TRASK

HAEPER TORCHROOKS Harper

&

Brothers

*

Publishers

*

New York

COSMOS AND HISTORY Copyright 1964 by Bollingen Foundation Inc. Brothers 1959 by Harper Copyright Printed in the United States of America

&

Att rights in this book are reserved. part of the book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in, critical articles and reviews. For Brothers information address Harper 49 East BSrd Street, New York 16, N. Y.

No

&

This translation of Le Mythe de Veternel retour: archetypes (Paris, Librairie Gallimard, 1949) was originally published in 1954 by Pantheon Books under the title The Myth of the Eternal Return and is reprinted by arrangement with the Bollingen Foundation. et repetition

Library of Congress catalog card number: 59-6648

TO Tantzi

in

AND

Bratus Coste

Memory of our Evenings at the Chalet Chaimite

PREFACE TO THE TORCHBOOK EDITION I

AM

delighted that this

in the

Harper Torchbook

given

me

book

be republished series, especially because it has

little

is to

the opportunity to restore the original

title.

The manuscript that I began in May, 1945, was headed Cosmos and History. It was only later that I changed its title to Archetypes and Repetition. But finally, at the suggestion of the French publisher, I made Archetypes and Repetition the subtitle, and the book was published in 1949 as The Myth of the Eternal Return (Le Mythe de reternel retour). This has sometimes given rise to misunderstandings. For one thing, the archaic ideology of ritual repetition, which was the central subject of my study, does not always imply the "myth of the eternal return. "

And

then too, such a

title

could lead the reader

suppose that the book was principally concerned with the celebrated Greek myth or with its modern reinterpre-

to

by Nietzsche, which is by no means the case. The essential theme of my investigation bears on the image of himself formed by the man of the archaic societies and on the place that he assumes in the Cosmos. The chief difference between the man of the archaic and traditional societies and the man of the modern societies tation

with their strong imprint of Judaeo-Christianity lies in the fact that the former feels himself indissolubly connected with the Cosmos and the cosmic rhythms, whereas the latter insists that he is connected only with History. Of course, for the man of the archaic societies, the Cosmos Vll

PREFACE TO THE TORCHBOOK EDITION too has a "history," if only because it is the creation of the gods and is held to have been organized by super-

natural beings or mythical heroes. But this " history " of the Cosmos and of human society is a "sacred history,"

preserved and transmitted through myths. More than that, it is a "history" than can be repeated indefinitely, in the sense that the myths serve as models for ceremonies that periodically reactualize the tremendous events that occurred at the beginning of time. The myths preserve and transmit the paradigms/ the exemplary models, for all the responsible activities in which men engage. By virtue of these paradigmatic models revealed to

men

in mythical times, the

Cosmos and

society are

periodically regenerated. Later on in this book I discuss

the effects that this faithful reproduction of paradigms and this ritual repetition of mythical events will have

on the religious ideology of the archaic peoples. It is not difficult to understand why such an ideology makes it impossible that what we today call a "historical consciousness" should develop. In the course of the book I have used the terms "ex-

emplary models," "paradigms," and "archetypes" in order, to emphasize a particular fact namely, that for the man of the traditional and archaic societies, the models for his institutions and the norms for his various categories of behavior are believed to have been "revealed" at the beginning of time, that, consequently, they are regarded as having a superhuman and "transcendental" origin. In using the term "archetype," I neglected to specify that I was not referring to the archetypes described by Professor C. GL Jung. This was a regrettable error. For to use, in an entirely different meaning, a term that plays a role of primary importance in Jung's psychology could lead to confusion. I viii

need

PREFACE TO THE TOBCHBOOK EDITION scarcely say that, for Professor Jung, the archetypes are structures of the collective unconscious. But in my

book I nowhere touch upon the problems of depth psychology nor do I use the concept of the collective unconscious. As I have said, I use the term "archetype," just as Eugenio d'Ors does, as a synonym for "ex-

emplary model" or "paradigm," that is, in the last analysis, in the Augustinian sense. But in our day the word has been rehabilitated by Professor Jung, who has given it a new meaning; and it is certainly desirable that the term "archetype" should no longer be used in its pre-Jungian sense unless the fact is distinctly stated. An author is seldom satisfied with his work ten years after finishing it. There is no doubt that, if I were writing this little book now, it would be very different. Yet such as it is, with all its faults of commission and omission, I still consider it the most significant of my books and when I am asked in what order they should be read, I always recommend beginning with Cosmos and History. To some of the problems treated in it I have returned ;

in

my later publications, especially in Images

(Paris, 1952) and Mythes, reves

et

et

symboles mysteres (Paris,

A

new presentation of archaic mythology periodi1957). as "sacred history" is outlined in my reactualized cally recent book on initiations, Birth and Rebirth (Harper, 1958).

MIBOEA. ELIADE

Department of History of Religions Federated Theological Faculty University of Chicago

November, 1958

IX

FOREWORD

not feared to appear overambitious, we should have book a subtitle: Introduction to a Philosophy of History. given For such, after all, is the purport of the present essay; but

HAD WE

this

with the distinction that, instead of proceeding to a speculative analysis of the historical phenomenon, it examines the

fundamental concepts of archaic societies societies which, although they are conscious of a certain form of "history," make every effort to disregard it. In studying these traditional societies, one characteristic has especially struck us: it is their revolt for a periodical against concrete, historical time, their nostalgia return to the mythical time of the beginning of things, to the

"Great Time." The meaning and function of what we have called "archetypes and repetition" disclosed themselves to us only after

we had

perceived these societies' will to refuse con-

crete time, their hostility toward every attempt at

"history," that

is,

at history not regulated

dismissal, this opposition, are

autonomous

by archetypes. This

not merely the effect of the con-

servative tendencies of primitive societies, as this book proves. In our opinion, it is justifiable to read in this depreciation of

history (that

is,

of events without transhistorical models), and

in this rejection of profane, continuous time, a certain meta"valorization" of human existence. But this valoriza-

physical tion is emphatically not that notably philosophical currents istentialism "historical self,

which certain post-Hegelian Marxism, historicism, and ex-

have sought to give to

man," of the man who

within history. xi

is

it

since the discovery of

insofar as he makes him-

FOREWORD

The problem of directly approached set forth certain

governing

of archaic societies. this

field

history as history, however, will not be in this essay. Our chief intent has been to

It

lines of force in the speculative field

seemed

to us that a simple presentation of

would not be without

interest,

especially

for the

and the means philosopher accustomed to finding his problems classic of texts in the of solving them philosophy or in the situations of the spiritual history of the West. With us, it is an old conviction that

Western philosophy

"provincializing" itself (if

by jealously isolating

dangerously close to the expression be permitted): first

itself in its

own

is

tradition and ignoring,

for example, the problems and solutions of Oriental thought; second by its obstinate refusal to recognize any "situations" except those of the man of the historical civilizations, in defiance

of the experience of "primitive" man, of man as a member of the traditional societies. We hold that philosophical anthro-

pology would have something to learn from the valorization that pre-Socratic man (in other words, traditional man) accorded to his situation in the universe. Better yet: that the cardinal

problems of metaphysics could be renewed through a knowledge of archaic ontology. In several previous works, especially in our

we

attempted to present the of course, principles of this archaic ontology, without claiming, to have succeeded in giving a coherent, still less an exhaustive, Traite

d'histoire

exposition of

des religions,

it.

This study, likewise, does not attempt to be exhaustive. Addressing ourselves both to the philosopher and to the ethnologist or orientalist, but above all to the cultivated man, to the nonspecialist,

often compressed into brief state-

duly investigated and differentiated, would dea substantial book. Any thoroughgoing discussion would

ments what,

mand

we have

if

have entailed a marshaling of sources and a technical language that would have discouraged many readers. But instead of furnishing specialists with a series of marginal xii

comments upon

FOREWORD their particular problems,...

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