When I read Shakespeare or Sophocles I feel like I am getting a glimpse into a

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When I read Shakespeare or Sophocles I feel like I am getting a glimpse into a powerful mythical dimension of fate and synchronicity that those writers seem to have a masterful vision of. However, the mythical dimension of life is more often associated with revealed religion (ie. The Bible, The Vedas, etc) than it is with philosophy. What philosophers have dedicated a central part of their philosophy to explicating those underlying forces of life that are dealt with indirectly in the works of great literature such as Sophocles and Shakespeare? (Aristotle doesn't get deep enough for me but he seems agree that tragedy is about the interconnectedness of forces, Hegel is too hard to read although his ideas about Tragedy being about the conflict of irreconcilable "rights" seems somewhat compelling, Nietzche's take on Greek tragedy confuses me because he is considered an atheist but I don't see how atheism gels with his assertions about Apollonian and Dionysian forces at work in tragedy, Freud sees Oedipus in terms that are fascinating because he sees underlying forces within the psyche as driving Oedipus's journey but he never connects those forces explicitly to a larger picture ) So who else writes about the mythical dimension of life from a philosophical vantage?

You have asked: who else writes about the mythical dimension of life from a philosophical vantage [point]? Ralph Harper would be good to check out (try his book Sleeping Beauty). He does some interesting philosophical and theological work on fairy tales, but his work does bear on what you might call the mythical (deep use of symbolism that resonates with the kinds of material you would find in the (highly recommended) The Oxford Companion to World Mythology (OUP, 2005)). Richard Wollheim might also be good. His writing is difficult (but not as challenging as Hegel!); you might check out The Thread of Life and The Mind and Its Depths. Jonathan Lear is also a contemporary philosopher who is sensitive to mythology (he combines philosophy and psychoanalysis). The philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch might also be interesting, as she defends a fairly optimistic, contemporary, secular form of Platonism which may be seen as anti-tragedy. Check out her books The Sovereignty of the Good (1970) and The Fire and the Sun (1977). Actually, Plato himself may be read as replying to Homer (e.g. in the Ion and Republic) and in offering a counter-mythology (the myth of the cave and the myth of er).

Although Mircea Eliade was not a philosopher, two of his books are philosophically very interesting: The Myth of the Eternal Return and Patters of Comparative Religion. There is an interesting Freudian reading of myths in the classic The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettlheim, but this may have the same limitation you note with reference to Freud himself. Though in fairness to Freud, I think he does connect his work on Oedipus and other myths with a bigger picture; this can be seen in his tragic naturalism as outlined in his 1930 book Civilization and its Discontents. Erich Auerbach was also not a philosopher, but what he has to observe in his book Mimesis; The Representation of Reality in Western Literature is quite fascinating philosophically. Have a go with the first essay, "Odysseus' Scar," and if you like it, keep going!

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