Origin Myth - Essay by Thunderdude - Anti Essays

For example, interpreted myth as an attempt at a literal explanation for natural phenomena. Unable to conceive impersonal natural laws, early humans tried to explain natural phenomena by attributing souls to inanimate objects, giving rise to . According to Tylor, human thought evolved through stages, starting with mythological ideas and gradually progressing to scientific ideas. Not all scholars, not even all nineteenth-century scholars, accepted this view. claimed "the primitive mentality is a condition of the human mind, and not a stage in its historical development."

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The basis of modern visual storytelling is rooted in the mythological tradition. Many contemporary films rely on ancient myths to construct narratives. is well-known among cultural study scholars for "reinventing" traditional childhood myths. While many films are not as obvious as Disney fairy tales, the plots of many films are based on the rough structure of myths. Mythological archetypes, such as the cautionary tale regarding the abuse of technology, battles between gods and creation stories, are often the subject of major film productions. These films are often created under the guise of , , and tales.


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A few radical philosophers like of Colophon were already beginning to label the poets' tales as blasphemous lies in the 6th century BC; Xenophanes had complained that Homer and Hesiod attributed to the gods "all that is shameful and disgraceful among men; they steal, commit adultery, and deceive one another". This line of thought found its most sweeping expression in 's and . Plato created his own allegorical myths (such as the vision of Er in the ), attacked the traditional tales of the gods' tricks, thefts and adulteries as immoral, and objected to their central role in literature. Plato's criticism was the first serious challenge to the Homeric mythological tradition, referring to the myths as "old wives' chatter". For his part Aristotle criticized the Pre-socratic quasi-mythical philosophical approach and underscored that "Hesiod and the theological writers were concerned only with what seemed plausible to themselves, and had no respect for us ... But it is not worth taking seriously writers who show off in the mythical style; as for those who do proceed by proving their assertions, we must cross-examine them".


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Finally, despite the differences between daily life, fantasy andmythic stories (including legends and miracle tales), they have several things in common. These common features of all stories sometimes make it difficult to tell when a story deals more with fantasy or mystery then daily life. Acknowledging the characteristics that all stories share is thus an important first step to moving beyond similarities to the uniqueness of the three types of stories. Most obviously, it is human beings who develop and transmit all three types of stories in their families and communities. All three types also clearly draw on similar narrative techniques to describe characters, situations and events. More subtly, all three types of stories implicity and/or explicitly encourage certain typesof human actions.I intend the final points made below to invite you to go beyond such stereotypes. The first emphasizes the uniqueness of myth thinking in contrast to the reflection that informs the telling and hearing of other types of stories. The other three points stress features of mythic thinking that apply also to the reflection inherent in daily life and fantasy stories; but people often forget such features when speaking of mythic stories. I refer to these points alphabetically as the "ABCs of myth" to help you remember them throughout the course, as a supplement to the three points of the triangular spectrum introduced above.Campbell's contribution was to take this idea of archetypes and use it to map out the common underlying structure behind religion and myth. He proposed this idea in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which provides examples from cultures throughout history and all over the world. Campbell eloquently demonstrates that all stories are expressions of the same story-pattern, which he named the "Hero's Journey," or the "monomyth." This sounds like a simple idea, but it suggests an incredible ramification, which Campbell summed up with his adage "All religions are true, but none are literal." That is, he concluded that all religions are really containers for the same essential truth, and the trick is to avoid mistaking the wrappings for the diamond.