Myths their meaning
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Myths & Their Meaning. Part I: Theory and Method. What are we asking?. Do myths have meaning? Must we read myths as having meaning? Myth and Theory ( Myth , 10) Can theories explain myth? Do we need theories to explain myth?. 2. 2. Cilicia. Lycia. Europa ’ s sons & lover.

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Myths & Their Meaning

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Myths their meaning

Myths & Their Meaning

Part I:

Theory and Method


What are we asking

What are we asking?

  • Do myths have meaning?

  • Must we read myths as having meaning?

  • Myth and Theory (Myth, 10)

    • Can theories explain myth?

    • Do we need theories to explain myth?

2

2


Myths their meaning

Cilicia

Lycia

Europa’s sons & lover

Europa’s

brothers


Theories about myth

Theories about myth

  • Scientific

  • Philosophy

  • Psychology, sociology

  • Literature

  • Religion and ritual


Three questions myth 2

Three questions (Myth, 2)

  • Three questions

    • Origin

    • Function (“need”)

    • Subject matter (“referent”)

  • Definition of Myth

    • A story (narrative, plot)...

    • ...about something significant...

    • ...in which the main figures are personalities.

5


The myth of adonis

The Myth of Adonis

  • Descent from the Gods

  • The wrath (anger) of the gods

    • Aphrodite against children of Cinyras

    • Artemis against Adonis

    • Aphrodite against Smyrna (“weeping” myrrh)


The goddesses in the myth

The Goddesses in the Myth

  • Aphrodite: sexual passion

  • Artemis: hunting

  • Persephone: underworld, cycle of spring and fall

8


Adonis in ovid

Adonis (in Ovid)

  • Myrrha encased at the end of her pregnancy; weeping

  • No conflict among the goddesses for Adonis

    • Venus

    • Meets Adonis as young man, not baby

9

9


Myths their meaning

  • Causality

    • X causes Y

    • “laws”? (fixed connection)

  • I know whereever there is Y, there has been X prior to it


David hume on causality

David Hume on causality

  • I don’t see causes

  • Events coincide

  • They do so “most” of the time


Myths their meaning

  • X ➵ Y

  • X ➵ not Y

  • Not X ➵ Y

  • Not X ➵ not Y


Myths their meaning

.5%

< 20%


Has humanly produced carbon emissions caused global warming

Has humanly produced carbon emissions caused global warming?

  • Not merely: is there global warming since humans have been around?

  • But: has there global warming without ACP?

  • Has the rate of global warming significantly increased since large-scale carbon emissions have occurred?


Myth science 1

Myth & Science (1)

  • Myth is really scientific

  • “creationism”, Feng shui, yoga

  • “true” vs. “modern”

    • “rationalizing” [pp. 11-12]

15

15


Myth science logic 2

Myth, Science, Logic(2)

  • “Primitive science”

    • “pre-”scientific explanation for events

    • Mythic and scientific explanations cannot be held simultaneously

  • Logic

    • Is myth a way of thinking or doing?

    • Is myth logical or non-logical?

16

16


Theories 1

Theories (1)

  • Tylor

    • myth literal, but primitive, reading of physical events

    • if primitive, ➛animism

    • if modern, ➛philosophy

  • Frazer

    • myth explains the ritual, that effects events

18

18


Theories 2

Theories (2)

  • Malinowski

    • myth happens when primitives can no longer control the world

    • reconcile to world

  • Lévy-Bruhl (25)

    • myth as “participation mystique”-- pre-logical

    • Do we feel connected to universe?

    • Detachment ➛ science or philosophy

19

19


Religion vs science theoretical distinctions myth 32 33

Religion vs. Science: Theoretical Distinctions (Myth, 32-33)

  • Religion

    • Horton: “closed” and uncritical

    • Popper: dogmatic

  • Science

    • Horton: open

    • Popper: second-order

  • Do open societies have myths? Are scientific theories myth-like?

20

20


Myths their meaning

Tylor: science and myth are incompatible (pp. 17-18)

21

21


Myth science personality cont

Myth, science, personality (cont.)

  • Are personal causes empirical (31)?

    • although not scientific (Horton)

  • Is science better“truth”?

  • More effective“truth”

  • How do we explain the continuing co-existence of myth and science (24)?

21

21


Is myth philosophical

Is Myth Philosophical?

  • Paul Radin: yes: “ultimate components of reality”

  • Cassirer: no: myth emotional, “atavistic”

    • Myth deals with non-controllable world

  • The Frankforts: philosophical vs. “mythopoeic” thinking

22

22


Plato against myth 1

Plato against Myth (1)

  • Gyges’ ring

  • The traditional view of the gods and human action

  • What shapes human character: the gods or deeds?

  • Fate (Anthology, 366-7)

  • Ritual

23

23


Plato against myth 2

Plato against Myth (2)

  • Myths give a “bad image” of the gods (Anthology, 364-5)

  • What is this image (365)?

  • How does Plato know this is “bad”?

24

24


Plato anthology 365 6

Plato: Anthology 365-6

  • God is good

  • How does Plato know this is true? 366 top

  • Contrary to the myths

  • What is his motivation?

25

25


Philosophy beyond myth classical mythology ch 4

Philosophy beyond mythClassical Mythology, ch. 4

  • Muthos and logos (Plato)

  • A myth about myth

  • Allegory and Mythology (p. 64)

26

26


Allegory

Allegory

  • Moralizing myth

  • “meaning something other than what is said”

    • Moral metaphors (##54, 69)

    • “Scientific” metaphors (#56)

  • Is there a truth to the story?

27

27


Myth and the human sciences

Myth and the Human Sciences

  • How do myths help us interpret the human condition?

  • The Oedipal Myth (Apd M6; Hyg. 66-68)

    • Kingly son separated at birth

    • Attempt to avoid awful destiny

    • Ends up fulfilling destiny

    • Murders father; incest with mother

28

28


The oedipal myth 2

The Oedipal Myth (2)

  • Maimed

  • Natural disasters

  • Savior become enemy

  • Cycle of “dysfunction”

    • Laios’ kidnapping of Chysippus

29

29


The oedipal myth 3

The Oedipal Myth (3)

  • Fate

  • Oracles create the problem they try to stop

  • “Whom am I?” What is his role in the drama?

30

30


Freud and rank

Freud and Rank

  • Oedipal myth interpretative key

    • “vents Oedipal desires... (Myth, 94)

  • Is Oedipus a hero” (Rank)?

    • Victory over fate

    • Gaining infantile desires

    • Does it hinder development or enable (98, 100)?


Joseph campbell

Joseph Campbell

  • Myth of the hero

  • Adult, not childhood identity

  • Basic pattern of “monomyth”: separation–initiation–return

  • What does the hero discover?

32

32


Alternative myths for psychology

Alternative myths for psychology

  • Jung: Puer-archetype vs. Hero

  • Antigone: ethics, gender equality

  • Cupid and Psyche

    • Awakening of the “Soul” to “Pleasure”

33

33


Final questions on psychology

Final Questions on Psychology

  • Which comes first, the myth or its interpretation?

  • Is the myth exhausted (fully disclosed) in the interpretation?

  • How do we know what myth to use?

34

34


Myth society malinowski

Myth & Society: Malinowski

  • “Unpleasantries” & “impositions”

  • Structures embody the system of social relations

    • Necessary to order

    • Ritual enacts

  • Control: science & myth

35

35


Myth society ren girard

Myth & Society: René Girard

  • Society constructed in violence

  • “scapegoat” chosen to end violence

  • Myth justifies projection of guilt on the sacrificial victim

  • “Villains” and Heroes

36

36


How myths work

How Myths “work”

  • Classical Mythology, pp. 28-32

  • Architecture of Palatine Hill

    • Where Rome was founded

    • Portico of the Danaids

    • Cybele: ecstatic sexuality/castration

  • “Myth works relationally” (38) = “context” (32)

37

37


Myth and literature

Myth and Literature

  • Why tell stories?

  • The Grail myth: mystical oneness

  • The Hero myth: suffering–redemption

  • Story = narrative ?

  • Story vs. Philosophical “essence”?

38

38


Finding kernals of truth

Finding “kernals of truth”

  • CM, 16: are stories always biased-- do they always have an agenda?

  • Does myth have a common plot (Myths, 88)?

  • What does the plot tell us?

  • Why tell a common story in so many variations?

39

39


The europa myth

The Europa Myth

  • Classical Mythology, ch. 1

  • See p. 7

  • Roman imperial mythology: unified Europe

  • What part of the story do you focus on?

40


Development of myth santa claus

Development of myth: Santa Claus

  • Retelling old stories in new ways

  • St. Nicholas or Odin?

  • Christian charity or gifts at “Yule”?

  • “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (1823); The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902)

  • Thomas Nast (1863); Coca-Cola (1930s)


Myth and literature summary

Myth and Literature: Summary

  • Self-conscious story, defines how community thinks of itself (Classical Mythology, 29)

  • Which narrative does one identify with?

  • If all myths are stories, are all stories myths?


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