Joseph Campbell Foundation - The Collected Lectures

From the Star Wars trilogy to the Grateful Dead, Joseph Campbell has had a profound impact on our culture, our beliefs, and the way we view ourselves and the world.

Provocative and exhilarating, the approx. 90 titles that will ultimately comprise The Collected Lectures of Joseph Campbell offer a glimpse into one of the great minds of our time, drawing together his most wide-ranging and insightful talks.

Always at his best as an impromptu speaker, Campbell shines in these recordings, both as a scholar and as a master storyteller.  

What's Old Is New Again!


Though the thirty lectures that comprise the bulk of Series I were previously released on cassette and CD, we are working with Roomful of Sky Records to digitize and remaster these classic recordings, optimizing them for today's higher quality consumer audio equipment.

At the same time we are preparing for the staggered release of Series II & Series III, featuring previously unavailable recordings of sixty additional lectures! Though the Collected Lectures are designed so that offerings fit within the context of a themed volume, each selection is able to stand alone.

Each talk purchased through this page generates income that helps maintain JCF programs.

Lecture Details

Lecture I.2.1 -
The Thresholds of Mythology
by Joseph Campbell
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Lecture Description

"The first function [of mythology] is to reconcile consciousness to existence or to reject existence. The second function is to present an image of the universe through which the sensed meaning, or power, or nature of life will be rendered. The third function is to validate and maintain a certain given moral order, and it is here that the mythologies differ greatly from one place to another. And the fourth and final function is to harmonize and deepen the psyche -- the psychological structure and experience of the individual." -- Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell first discusses the four functions of a viable mythology, then the fundamental difference between mythologies that affirm existence and those that reject it. With this review, he provides not only a basis for a philosophy of mythology, but also a metaphor for the crucial decision each individual must make as well: namely, whether to be reconciled with -- or to withdraw from -- life in all of its terrible glory.

Track Listing
1. The Three Basic Attitudes of Myth
2. The Four Functions of Mythology
3. Elementary and Folk Ideas
4. India and China: the Two Great Eastern Domains
5. The Levant: Birthplace of High Civilization
6. Europe: an Accent on the Individual
7. The Warrior Influence of the Indo-European and Semitic Peoples
8. The Impersonal Cycles of the East
9. The Personified God of the West
10. The East: Religions of Identity
11. The West: Religions of Relationship
12. The Levantine Religions in Europe: God vs. Man
13. The First Threshold: from Dependency to Responsibility
14. The Latter Thresholds: the Loss of Powers and Death
15. The Stages of Life: India
16. The Stages of Life: Dante
17. Nietzsche's Three Transformations of the Spirit
Lecture Details
  • Date: November 3, 1967
  • Venue: The Wainwright House
  • Location: Rye, NY
  • Archive Number: L172
Previous Release History
  • Previously Issued as part of: The Joseph Campbell Audio Collection, Vol. 2
  • Publisher: HighBridge Audio
  • Editor: Mark Watts
  • Release Date: 1997 (cassette); 2002 (CD)

Go to the Collected Lectures Main Page  |  See the other lectures in Volume 2