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Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture with Dr William Pawlett

Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture with  Dr William Pawlett

Schelling, Bataille and the Philosophy of Mythology with Dr William Pawlett, on Tuesday 24 May 2022, from 5 pm to 6.30 pm. 

Millennium City Building (room: MC401), City Campus.

Refreshments will be available from 4:30 pm.  



What is myth? What makes myths so powerful and enduring? What is the relationship of myth to society and politics? Have modern societies lost the power to create myth?

A philosophy of mythology can help us address these questions by examining two very different philosophers, Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854) and Georges Bataille (1897-1962), both of whom attempted to understand the dynamic inner core of myth. Both sought to grasp the inner meaning or generative force of myth.

For both thinkers, this core concerns the sacred, understood in very different ways.

For Schelling, a German Idealist and Romantic, myths enact nothing less than the progressive revelation of God to human consciousness in a slow passage from the primeval deities of earth and underworld, through to the amorous and duplicitous gods of the Greek pantheon, then to the emergence of morally just and protective gods. The final universal form of spiritual community is realised in secular democracy, so ending the mythological process. Yet for Bataille, a French Modernist, the German Idealists’ figure of God endures as a mythological entity obscuring much of the dynamic force of the sacred from which myth is generated. Further, the sacred force of myth continues to be present, in diluted, disavowed, or perverted form, in all modern social and political formations, from the liberal democratic mainstream to the fascist nightmare.

The talk will reflect on Bataille's unique attempt to establish a community with mythic rites to counter fascism through a re-activation of the sacred core of myth in the modern world.


Dr. William Pawlett is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Media in the School of Art, University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of Jean Baudrillard – Against Banality (Routledge 2007), Violence, Society and Radical Theory (Routledge 2013) and Georges Bataille – The Sacred and Society (Routledge 2015).

The lecture is adapted from his new book Myth, Society and Profanation (Routledge 2022).

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