In the second section of the article, Ong defines myth first as a religious story circulated by people who do not really understand the truth (a definition Ong rejects because of its shallow, judgmental nature), then as a historically untrue story with unusual characters (another definition rejected because of its simplicity). Ong accepts, however, a third definition of the word (a story "dealing with truth by indirection") but finds a fourth definition (the "nonexplicit complement" attached to an expression, where the complement is "considered as forming a whole") most acceptable because of its complexity. In summary, myth is what is implicit or supposed in an explicit, stated concept.
Having established this definition of myth, Ong compares, in the third section of the article, the work of the philosopher with that of the myth-maker. Unlike the philosopher, who is concerned with increasing the amount of explicit concepts, the myth-maker focuses on the implicit, a manner of thinking that some see as a method of avoidance. Ong argues, however, that the myth-maker expresses an understanding that truth can occur through methods other than explicit concepts. In fact, Ong reminds readers, one of the most powerful tellers of truth, Christ, sometimes employed the manner of the myth-maker rather than that of the philosopher.
In section four of the article, Ong moves into a discussion of the connections between myth and philosophy, theology, and literature, which he sees as occurring in the relationship between potency and act (or between the material and the abstract, as he discusses in other articles). Ong warns readers not to approach connections between myth and the various disciplines through an idealist approach, in which everything becomes too abstract, and in the fifth section of the article, he shows how looking at metaphor, symbol, and image as the connections between myth and literature keeps one from abstracting the connections too much.
The problem with abstracting these
connections too much, Ong explains in the last section of the article,
is that one risks the chance of making myth "sterile," and even an "elaborate
hoax." This is what happened in Nazi Germany, in the Soviet Union,
and even in America when a "cult of myth" caused people to adopt the racist
ideas of the Ku Klux Klan. Myth's real purpose, Ong asserts, is not
to provide a haven from explicit statement but to serve as a reminder that
all truth cannot be found in those statements: truth can also be
found in the implicit.