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 II.1.1 -
The Function of Mythology
by Joseph Campbell
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Lecture Description

"...the origin of the mythological symbols is not pseudo-scientific, pseudo-historical. They spring from the psyche. They are not the consequence of observations, they are the consequence of observations misinterpreted through projections from the human psyche... the imagery of myth is the imagery through which our own nature, our own conscious nature, communicates with our consciousness, and they have in the past, when the symbols have been received simply and naively without criticism, operated to keep the conscious programs and life in touch with the unconscious motivations, but when these symbols are removed, as they have been for us, there takes place a disconnection." -- Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell provides a detailed explanation of the four traditional functions of mythology. He shows how myths put us in touch with the richest dimensions of our lives, even as our inclination to interpret them literally -- that is, as scientific or historical facts -- disconnects us from their true power. Campbell then argues that, if myths are to continue to fulfill their vital functions in our modern world, they must continually transform, evolve even as the world does; for our older mythologies, untransformed, simply do not address the realities of contemporary life.

Track Listing
1. Misinterpreting Our Mythological Heritage
2. Mythological Symbols: Their Origin and Purpose
3. The Impact of Space-Age Imagery
4. Awe before the Great Mystery: Mythology's First Function
5. Shiva & Kirttimukha: Life Lives on Life
6. Affirming or Negating the Horror of Existence
7. Correcting the World: Our Zoroastrian Heritage
8. A Coherent Cosmological Concept: Mythology's Second Function
9. No More Horizons in Our Unbounded World
10. Validate a Specific Social Order: Mythology's Third Function
11. Our Rapidly Changing Social Orders
12. Guiding a Person Through Life: Mythology's Fourth Function
13. An Anecdote about Gurus
14. Different Laws Govern Psyche, Society, and the Stars
15. The "God Idea" Today
16. From Horizon-Bound Cultures to Global Civilization
Lecture Details
  • Date: August, 1969
  • Venue: The Esalen Institute
  • Location: Big Sur, CA
  • Archive Number: L267
Previous Release History
  • Previously Issued as part of: World Mythology and the Individual Adventure
  • Publisher: Big Sur Recordings
  • Recorded by: Paul Herbert
  • Release Date: 1973

Go to the Collected Lectures Main Page  |  See the other lectures in Volume 1