David HarveyCity University of New York, USA
RECEPTION THEORY: A variant of reader response theory that emphasizes how each individual reader has a part in receiving (i.e, interpetting) the text. German scholar Hans-Robert Jauss in the late 1960s was the primary advocate. The central concern in this theory is called a "horizon of expectation," i.e., that a reader's experience of textual meaning will dramatically alter depending on the time and place of the reader. This idea contrasts radically with the New Historicists or biographical critics who argue that textual meaning will dramatically alter depending on the time and place the author wrote the work.) is available here.
An example of a legend is the tale of Atlantis.
While Proudhon undoubtedly had important things to say, there are dangers of viewing him as representative of some perfected social anarchism. He had a weak grasp of political economy, did not support the workers in the revolution of 1848, was against trade unions and strikes and held to a narrow definition of socialism as nothing more than the association of workers mutually supporting each other. He was hostile to women working and his supporters campaigned vigorously in the workers commissions of the 1860s in France to have women banned from employment in the Paris workshops. The main opposition came from the Paris Branch of the International Working Men’s Association led by Eugene Varlin who insisted upon women’s equality and right to work (Harvey, 2003). Proudhon’s book, Pornography: The Situation of Women, is, according to his biographer Edward Hyams, full of “every illiberal, every cruelly reactionary notion ever used against female emancipation by the most extreme anti-feminist” (1979: 274). OK, so Marx was no saint either on such matters. Both anarchism and Marxism have had and continue to have a troubled history on the gender question but on this topic Proudhon is an extreme and ugly outlier.
Let me first make clear my own position. I sympathize (but don’t entirely agree) with Murray Bookchin, who in his late writings (after he had severed his long- standing connection to anarchism), felt that “the future of the Left, in the last analysis, depends upon its ability to accept what is valid in both Marxism and anarchism for the present time and for the future coming into view” (Bookchin, 2014: 194). We need to define “what approach can incorporate the best of the revolutionary tradition – Marxism and anarchism – in ways and forms that speak to the kinds of problems that face the present” (2014: 164).
"Similar myths exist in everyculture.
Surely some myths were concocted by soma-intoxicatedshamans, but perhaps others were devised by thoughtful scholars and mysticswho intentionally chose mythology as a vehicle for passing on their revelations.
"Myths representforces in the psyche and the world.
But some authors have arguedthat mythology is actually a sophisticated means of labeling and studyingpsychological dynamics -- a means which is as cultured and insightful asthat of modern psychology.
"Mythology is avalid way to look at the world.
Wecan envision the advice given by a Roman priest in a counseling session witha person who, for instance, was experiencing problems due to a lack ofself-discipline.
These sages might have realized that myths are:
While reading Plato's cave as an allegory of education is a common interpretation, some philosophers (especially medieval readers) often took a more mystical approach to the Greek text, interpreting the cave as the material or physical world, while the shadows were mere outline of a greater spiritual truths--hidden and eternal beyond the physical world. C. S. Lewis coopts this idea in The Last Battle, in which the characters discover after death that Narnia has merely been a crude approximation of heaven, and the further they travel in the "onion ring," the larger and more beautiful and more true the inner rings become.
"Can we use mythology inpsychology?
Survival in the discipline was an issue. Having pushed the door open we had somehow to keep it open institutionally in the face of a lot of pressure to close it. Hence the founding of the Socialist Geographers Specialty Group within the Association of American Geographers. Given my situation, in a university that was ruthless about publication, the only way to survive was to publish at a high level. And yes I will here offer a mea culpa: I was from the very beginning determined to publish up a storm and I did emphasize to my students and all those around me who would listen that this was one (and perhaps the only) way to keep the door open. It was more than the usual publish or perish. For all those suspected of Marxist or anarchist sympathies, it was publish twice as much at a superior level of sophistication or perish. Even then the outcome was touch-and-go, as the long- drawn out battle over Richard Walker’s tenure at Berkeley abundantly illustrated. The Faustian bargain was that we could survive only if we made our radicalism academically respectable and respectability meant a level of academicism that over time made our work less accessible. It became hard to combine a radical pedagogy (of the sort pioneered by Bill Bunge in the Detroit Geographical Expedition) and social activism with academic respectability. Many of my colleagues in the radical movement, those with anarchist leanings in particular, did not care for that choice (for very good reasons) with the result that many of them, sadly, failed or chose not to consolidate academic positions and the space that we had collectively opened was threatened.