Between sacrum and profanum. The problem of myth in the works of Mircea Eliade and Leszek Kołakowski
Keywords:Myth, Leszek Kołakowski, Mircea Eliade, sacrum, profanum, religion, human being, sacral order
In 1966, two thinkers – Mircea Eliade and Leszek Kołakowski – independently of each other carried out a comprehensive analysis of the mythological sphere of human life. Each became an important researcher in the philosophy of culture and religion not only in his own country but also in the world. In their view, myth serves the human being to explain the existence of the world, of which we remain a constituent element, or it serves as a defence against the destructive influence of the Enlightenment heritage. Rationalistic anthropological concepts abolish boundaries that make it impossible for human beings to orient themselves axiologically, while myth sets strict boundaries between what is good and bad in human conduct. Myth is a response to transience, fear, uncertainty and human despair in the choice between individual freedom and autonomy and acceptance of and submission to the sacral order. Both Eliade and Kołakowski consider myth in relation to the tension between sacrum and profanum. They refer to the same concepts in their research to explain what myth is. The aim of this paper is to answer whether they interpret in the same way what myth is and what its significance for human existence is.