Discussion following H. Oosterling's lecture

Witte wonders if the myth of the Dogon of Griaule is a good example of an African myth. There is still a discussion going whether this is a European or an African one! Is it possible to compare the Oedipus complex and the African myth? The Oedipus complex is explained as a force in the society explaining motives and desires. This leads to some kind of historical explanation of how we structure our reality. If, to make the comparision, the Dogon myth is cut loose of the rest of the African society, of religious rituals, and of the way people see values in their local society, and in this way only has to inform us on how people construct their reality, on a very abstract level, what then do you want with this confrontation? What is done with the myths?

Oosterling replies, that the factual social practices and the philosophical forms are interrelated. They live by each other. On the other hand he does not think there is a confrontation. He tries to explain that, in a way, by analysing our own culture as a result of traumatic historical events, we come to the conclusion that there is something lacking. We cannot find a key to master those problems. By looking at other cultures, non Western cultures, we find, that, in a way, there are proposals for functions that we cannot recognize in our own culture anymore, like the ritualising of things. The moment we recognize rituals, it becomes possible to use them in a more explicit way, and perhaps it will be possible to use them in a more explicit way, and perhaps it will be possible to give room to something we cannot dominate or control. Socially, not individually this could possibly be controlled, structured.

According to Dupré we touch here a problem of Western history, that within the field of science, not only science is produced, but also myth. Then we have the vital question to answer in what sense is this myth that comes together with science, identical or similar to the myth we get to learn in the mythologies of traditional cultures? Dupré thinks that, because of this we have to make a distinction between myth and mythology. In the context in which we find ourselves, mythology has disappeared in many ways, and so we actually are in a situation where the big advantage of mythology as a means to intensify self reflection has disappeared. African cultures have an advantage situation in this respect. Now Dupré asks what the meaning of the distinction he introduced could be.