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Modes of FaithSecular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief$
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Theodore Ziolkowski

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226983639

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226983660.001.0001

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The Hunger for Myth

The Hunger for Myth

Chapter:
(p.147) Chapter Seven The Hunger for Myth
Source:
Modes of Faith
Author(s):

Theodore Ziolkowski

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226983660.003.0007

The nineteenth century has rightfully been called historiography's “Golden Age.” During this period, history invaded every field of academic thought—philosophy, theology, law, and the natural sciences. The works of Thomas Macaulay and Theodor Mommsen enjoyed an unprecedented public success. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, this euphoria was beginning to wane. In 1872, Friedrich Nietzsche struck a blow against academic history in his “Untimely Thoughts” on “the use and disadvantage of history for life.” If history holds no lessons to replace religious faith, where are we to turn? Nietzsche hinted at one direction in his comments on “monumental” history. Findings of positivistic biblical history persuaded many theologians at the turn of the century to concede some of the power of religion to myth. In nineteenth-century Germany, an entirely different meaning emerged, known by the Greco-Latin vocables as Mythus or Mythos, which appears to have a unique connection with conservative political thought—in particular, Italian fascism and German national socialism—and explicitly played on religious associations, offering itself as a substitute for lost faith.

Keywords:   history, Friedrich Nietzsche, lost faith, fascism, socialism, myth, Germany, religion, religious associations

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