Muths Of Cultures And Civilizations Essay

1403 words - 6 pages

From before the dawn of civilization as we know it, humanity has formed myths and legends to explain the natural world around them. Whether it is of Zeus and Hera or Izanami-no-Mikoto and Izanagi-no-mikoto, every civilization and culture upon this world has its own mythos. However, the age of myth is waning as it is overshadowed in this modern era by fundamental religion and empirical science. The word myth has come to connote blatant falsehood; however, it was not always so. Our myths have reflected both the society and values of the culture they are from. We have also reflected our inner psyche, conscious and unconscious, unto the fabric of our myths. This reflection allows us to understand ourselves and other cultures better. Throughout the eons of humanity’s existence, the myths explain natural phenomena and the cultural legends of the epic hero have reflected the foundations and the inner turmoil of the human psyche.
Over the recent centuries, the definition of myth has decayed into a word synonymous with falsehoods and lies. This idea of myths being completely false and therefore useless is a fairly modern one. To combat the rise of empirical science in the 1900s, theologians brought the idea of wholly literal, fundamental religion into being to combat ideas that did not perfectly align with the tenants of the religion (May 24). This was the final death blow to the idea of the metaphysical myth that was already wounded from thousands of years of being denounced as pagan or barbaric. The rise of empirical science also lent to the decay of the meaning of myth. Science was able to explain the natural world far better than a myth ever could; however, it lacked the metaphysical aspect. Due to these rising ideologies, myths have come to be known as falsehoods. However, this should not be the case and is not the case.
Myths are true. This claim would sound absurd to the modern human due to years of the idea of myths as a falsehood being ingrained in our minds. However, that idea is hardly correct. Truth, being subjective, is what the believer chooses it to be. Unlike facts, which describe the basic world, truths describe the inner psyche and the view outward into the world. To say that Osiris was resurrected by Isis would be true even though it may not be factually correct. In the same way, to say that Osiris does not exist would also be true. While facts do not change, truth changes with belief. While most do not and should not believe in the literal myth, the metaphysical truth found in myths and ourselves is hard to deny.
Myths are analogies. The foundation of myths is the taking of a metaphysical concept and personifying it. The most basic form of the mythopoeic analogy is a is to b as c is to x where a, b, and c are mundane ideas and x is a metaphysical concept (e.g. Zeus is to us as a father is to his son) (Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space 57). Myth as metaphor is true. While the gods and monsters may not exist, the...

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