The concept of “mythical thinking” has already existed for more than a hundred years. A very compact survey that includes only the most important points and representative names seems to be both interesting and instructive.
Already at the beginning of the 19th century the studies of Creuzer, and later the work of his opponents, especially that of Lobeck, set forth one of the most important problems in the investigation of myth: how did the people among whom myths existed, treat all the strange and even savage things — from the point of view of an educated European — which those myths talked about? Did they take them seriously? Did they believe in their literal meanings? If not, then a myth is to be understood as a sort of allegory. That was the path that Creuzer followed. He considered the ancient myths to contain religious-philosophical teachings in allegorical form. In spite of Lobeck’s convincing criticism, the “mythological school” (Max Mueller, A. Kuhn and others) which dominated the scene in the middle of the 19th century, continued to interpret myth as allegory․