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Robert G.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hey all, I'd like to start a thread setting out as best we can the assertions and assumptions that underlie Campbell's work. These claims can be either explicit or implicit. I'd like to have a kind of wikipedia-like process to come up with these statements and their best formulations. I'll keep an edited listing here at the top of the thread of what seem to me to be the clearest and most useful statements (yeah, I know, but it's my idea <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif"> ). Anyway, I hope that some of you will find this interesting and help me out, I think it will be really useful for me and hopefully others as well.

NOTE: This is not the place to debate the truth or falsity of any of these statements, only whether or not Campbell makes them. Please take such debates to other threads. Thanks!
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Here are some related claims that I think Campbell is making:
2/20/07
A functioning mythology can be defined as a corpus of culturally maintained sign stimuli fostering the development of a certain type, or constellation of types, of human life.
Primitive Mythology, p. 48
2/20/07
There exist universal, essential structures of the human mind which respond to certain "symbolic" images and narrative structures.

2/18/07
There exist universal, essential, nonhistoric (unconditioned?) structures of the human mind which respond in stereoptyped ways to certain "symbolic" images and narrative structures.

This is an empirical claim.
2/18/07
Humans may experience these structures as revealing transhistorical atemporal meanings.

This is an empirical claim.
2/18/07
These structures and meanings reveal existential, transhistorical truths about (aspects of?) the nature of reality and the human condition as such.

This is a metaphysical claim.
2/18/07
Such experiences (revelations?) have greater validity and are more "true" than others.

This is an ontological claim.
What do you think?

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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Interesting idea, Robert.

You might want to adjust that first assumption, however:
Robert writes:

There exist universal, essential, nonhistoric (unconditioned?) structures of the human mind which respond in stereoptyped ways to certain "symbolic" images and narrative structures.

This is an empirical claim.
I'm not debating whether or the assumption is true or not, but it's not an assumption underlying Campbell's work.

Joseph Campbell seems to make an opposite claim:
As it turns out, we have found it impossible to determine any sterotyped images in the human psyche. For our discussion, then, we will have to assume there are no sterotyped innate releasing images in the human psyche of very much significance. The imprint factor is the dominant one.

So then the question comes. Why is it that there are univeral symbols? One can see in the mythologies, in the religions, in the sociological structures of every society the same symbols. If these aren't IRMs (imprint releasing mechanisms), built into the human psyche, how did they get there?

Since these symbols don't arise from inborn mechanisms and can't be culturally transmitted (cultures vary so widely), there must be some constant set of experiences that almost all individuals share.

As it turns out, these constant experiences are the period of infancy. They are the experiences of the child's relationship to (a) the mother, (b) the father, (c) the relationship of the parents, and finally (d) the problem of its own psychological transformations. These universal experiences give birth to the Elementargedanken, the unchanging motifs of the world's cultures.

Pathways to Bliss, p. 49
Seems to me we aren't talking about a stereotyped response - and, considering these are shaped by childhood experiences (and every childhood, though parallel, is unique), can we call these unconditioned?

If you're speaking of archetypes (as the structures of the human mind), Campbell posits a complex range of responses to these archetypes, running the spectrum from extremely positive to catastrophically dark, rather than a flat, canned, stereotyped response.

That doesn't necessarily invalidate your other claims - but i believe the first needs some tweaking to be accurate.

I have trouble with the fourth claim as well:
Such experiences (revelations?) have greater validity and are more "true" than others.

This is an epistemiological claim.
I neither argue nor agree with the claim, as i'm not sure what you mean.

"Such experiences"

- experiences of what ... "the structures of the human mind"? -

"have greater validity and are more 'true' than others"

... "than others"? other what? Other experiences of structures of the human mind? Or maybe experiences of things that aren't structures of the human mind - like bread and salt and sex and Star Wars movies? What type of experiences are you comparing the experience of "structures of the human mind" to?

And i don't know what you mean by "greater validity" and "more'true'" (though i appreciate your recognition of the fuzziness of "true" by enclosing it in diacritical marks). I haven't a clue what the comparison is to, other than some vague "others" - and i have no idea what you mean by "validity" or "true". As used here, these are wide open terms, and certainly can't be said to be an underlying assertion or assumption when we have no idea what you or Campbell might mean by the terms.

Again, i'm not disagreeing with you, but merely seeking clarity. I like the idea, but i'm a bit fuzzy on what you're saying.

However, here's an underlying assertion i read into Joseph Campbell's work:

The Universe is a conscious entity, both as a Whole, and in each and all of its parts.

Might be just as vague (what, after all, does "conscious" mean?), but i believe that's key to Campbell's vision of the Perennial Philosophy.

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Post by ThisAmI » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I think Campbell also assumes his hermeneutics are sufficient to support his conclusion concerning the universality of symbols. His methods very often lead to widely inferential conclusions and, dare I say, dogma. For example, on page 48 of 'Thou Art That' we find the following paragraph:

"Jesus dies, is resurrected, and goes to Heaven. This metaphor expresses something religiously mysterious. Jesus could not literally have gone to Heaven because there is no geographical place to go. Elijah went up into the heavens in a chariot, we are told, but we are not to take this statement as a description of a literal journey.

These are spiritual events described in metaphor. There seem to be only two kinds of people: Those who think that metaphors are facts, and those who know they are not facts."

Despite my sympathy for this position, I find Campbell guilty of dogma to the same degree as those he criticizes here. I think it is primarily due to this assumption that Campbell is not well received among academia. I do not find Campbell's method to sufficient to support his conclusions. Perhaps he feels all his readers will make the same leap of faith that I have.

As to Robert's post and Bodhi's reply concerning "more true," unfortunately I think the preceding quoted paragraph bears out what Campbell's thinks of what is "more true." Certainly he is saying that a metaphorical interpretation of religious doctrine is not only THE way to approach this material, but he also believes that it was never intended to be interpreted literally. Again, I'm sympathetic to his position, but I feel compelled to acknowledge the weakness of that position as "correct" to the exclusion of any other approach. The universality of symbols MAY be right. It may also be right that the "crafters" of those symbols fully believed in their material Truth and it may also be True that some did indeed mean for these stories to metaphorical. The point is that we don't know and will never know until we can interview the dead. Campbell seems convinced that we can know based on his method. That is an assumption which I find weakens his position as a scholar.

I still think he's the finest post-modern Jungian-mythologist we have!


P.S. I need some formatting tips!!!


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An archetypal image operates like the original meaning of idea (eidos): not only 'that which' one sees but also that 'by which' one sees.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

There exist universal, essential, nonhistoric (unconditioned?) structures of the human mind which respond in stereoptyped ways to certain "symbolic" images and narrative structures.

This is an empirical claim.
Bodhi, my apologies for the confusion. Your quote is on point and one I've frequently used myself. However, what I was trying to get it is not that Campbell claims there are stereotyped behaviors in response to what he calls "archetypes," but that there are universal stereotyped experiences in response to them. My interpretation is that Campbell is claiming that, although the meaning and interpretation given to these experiences may be historically conditioned, the experience itself is not. For example, the experience of ecstasy of a paleolithic shaman is supposed to be the same as that of a modern. Ancient Greeks had the same experience of death and rebirth as 21st-century Eastern Orthodox Christian. And, most importantly to me, that the experience of "transcendence of self" that is mediated through these images is universal, nonhistoric, and essential.

I have to add that I think that Campbell was deliberately limiting his discussion in the lecture that is the basis for your quote, The Joseph Campbell Audio Collection: Society and Symbol
Now let me just say, since we do have to move rapidly, that in the matter of the human psyche it is almost impossible to determine any stereotyped images. That is to say, in our discussion here we will have to assume that there are no stereotyped releasing images in the human psyche (bolding mine) of very much significance at any rate.
This carries forward the limitations expressed in The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology
Therefore, though respecting the possibility - perhaps the probability (bolding mine) - of such a psychologically inspired parallel development of mythological imagery as that suggested by Adlof Bastian's theory of elementary ideas and C.G. Jung's of the collective unconscious, we cannot attempt to interpret in such terms any of the remarkable correspondences that will everywhere confront us (p. 48 ).
Primitive Mythology was published in 1959. I have not been able to determine when Society and Symbol was recorded. It seems to me that Campbell was aknowledging the difficulty of demonstrating the existence of the archetypes, but that he assumes that they exist. In other lectures, Campbell asserts that there are such things as the archetypes of the collective unconscious. I cannot source this exactly right now (I will get the exact quotes and sources later)[I doubt I really will actually, I tried a bit today but really don't have the time], but he says something to the effect of "What has convinced everyone, at least everyone that I know, that there are such things as the archetypes, are the experiences of LSD." I think this is much more of a piece with his overall position on the existence of archetypes.

In Primitive Mythology he states
Our science is to be simultaneously biological and historical throughout, with no distinction between "culturally conditioned" and "instinctive" behavior, since all instinctive human behavior is culturally conditioned, and what is culturally conditioned in all of us is instinct: specifically, the CEMs and IRMs of this single species (p. 48 ).

Now it must have occured to the reader during the preceeding review of a series of imprints that, although a number of the images discussed are no doubt impressed upon our "open" IRMs from without, certain others can be the products only of the nervous structure itself (p75).

PS - ThisAmI, formatting tips may be found here.
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks, Robert - that is a helpful clarification, and strikes me as a fair statement.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks, I'd like to reword that one though (and I haven't forgotten the other claim either, I agree it really needs help). Perhaps a better statement would be
There exist universal, essential structures of the human mind which respond to certain "symbolic" images and narrative structures.
What do you all think?

In the meantime, here's another
2/20/07
A functioning mythology can be defined as a corpus of culturally maintained sign stimuli fostering the development of a certain type, or constellation of types, of human life.
Primitive Mythology, p. 48

This is both an empirical claim and a definition.
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Post by noman » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

It is a challenge to simply state Campbell’s assertions and assumptions without judging those assertions and assumptions. Great question.

My approach is a little different than Robert’s query into depths of the universal psyche as stated or implied by Campbell. Campbell was deep, make no mistake, but his popularity is a result of taking immense, mind shattering ideas, and bringing them to the level that common folk, like myself, can understand.
P2 Hence the scientist, the scientific psychologist, feels himself on very dangerous, very uncertain and ambiguous ground when he ventures into the field of folklore interpretation. The discoverable contents of the widely distributed images keep changing before his eyes in unceasing permutations, as the cultural settings change throughout the world and in the course of history. The meanings have to be constantly reread, understood afresh. And it is anything but an orderly work—this affair of interpreting the always unpredicted valued his reputation would willingly throw himself open to the dilettante. Hence the following book.

The dilettante – Italian dilettante (present participle of the verb dilettare, “to take delight in”) - is one who takes delight (diletto) in something. The following essays are for those who take delight in symbols, like conversing with them, and enjoy living with them continually in mind.

- The King and His Corpse, Heinrich Zimmer, Edited by Joseph Campbell, (1948)
So as a professed dilettante, I will address this question of the assertions and assumptions that underlie Campbell's work? It is a wonderful question. Here are my divine nine:

1.) Myth is vital to the health of our individual lives and the health of our society.


A society cannot exist without a supporting myth. Though many a modern skeptic tries to deny its necessity, myth is as vital to us as the air we breathe.


2.) All mythologies contend that there is an invisible plain that supports the visible.

I’ve never heard of a culture with out some sense of the spiritual, even our own. Campbell understood the necessity of the spiritual as part of the human condition, regardless of our wealth of knowledge and technological prowess.

3.) The Monomyth

Though there are certainly vast differences between different mythologies from different eras, we can still see common characteristics and universal motifs such as the Hero Cycle that shows itself again and again throughout the mythologies of he world.

4.) There are four functions of myth in any given society.

It doesn’t matter what the society you are investigating. The 1st and 4th functions of myth are universal. The 2’d and 3’d are specific to the culture. These four functions are instructive from an anthropological point of view.

5.) Rites are an enactment of myth.

In no society, have we seen the lack of rituals of some kind, the repetitive action in support of the myths, an expression and profound reverence for what is sacred.

6.) ALL of our mythologies are archaic.

I sound like a broken record in these forums saying this. But in playing favorites we sometimes forget; saying one mythology is wrong – or this or that mythology is best – or the right way – NO. All of our mythologies are archaic. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at them, and appreciate them, and understand them on their own terms - and perhaps extract from them those elements that are useful to us in our own journey or useful in the construction of a new mythology. But never to say – that this or that mythology from the past is the light and the truth and the way – because - all of our mythologies are archaic.

7.) Mythology should be read metaphorically not literarily.

When appreciating the myths of old, we must not concern ourselves with the literal interpretation of myth, but appreciate the profound and universal wisdom of these stories.

8.) Shamans (modern Artists) are the legislators of myth.

Appreciate not only the value of shamans/artists, but their necessity. They are not the mentally ill or the socially dysfunctional – but are a vital force of society, consorting with the supernatural, acting as mediators between the ordinary and the divine, not to be considered outcasts but celebrated, respectable, and a complimentary force in the social structure.

9.) Mythology without borders.

The only mythology that will work in the future is one that knows no borders - of class - of race - of nationality - of gender or any other lines that one wishes to draw. There can be no in-group out-group mentality anymore. Never must we say, ‘we are better than those people’, because those people are as much a part of us as our kin. We are, or ought to be - one world – under Gods – indivisible – with liberty and justice for all.

And all nine of these assertions and assumptions could well be discredited, having little or no support through logical reason, or as being both unproved and un-provable. That’s why I say Campbell was not just a studier of myth – but also, a mythmaker.

- NoMan


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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Noman, great post! I was so taken with the thought of doing a sort of analytical breakdown of Campbell's work that your more organic type of summary or synthesis was a complete surprise, and actually made me smile while I was reading it <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif"> To me, it looks like what you've done is to apply Campell's own approach to myth to his work ... it gives a good contrast with my more dry approach, and I think illustrates really well some of the disconnect between Campbell and professional scholars of myth (not that I'm claiming scholarship for myself!) - they were actually doing and talking about different things! I think Campbell would say that your divine nine are exactly right.

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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Here's another
2/24/02
Although the archetypes of the collective unconscious, as put forward by Jung, have not and perhaps cannot be demonstrated, they probably exist.
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I'm enjoying this unfolding conversation - unfortunately the daily demands of mundane reality have kept me from participating as much as i'd like on the boards this week, and seem slated to do the same next week as well, so i'm trying to squeeze in a few posts before the world wakes up this Sunday morning ...

I suspect you can be more definite in that last statement, Robert. Campbell is a precise writer who chooses his words with care; hence, the assumptions and assertions underlying his work seem more likely to peek through the spoken word - that body of work i call "oral Campbell," transcribed from lectures or interviews, as opposed to "written" Campbell, the heavily researched, exhaustively footnoted, and consciously crafted classics.

Hence, in Myths to Live By, essays transcribed from lectures delivered in the Cooper Union series, Campbell clearly asserts:
All my life, as a student of mythologies, I have been working with these archetypes, and I can tell you, they do exist.
And, as cited in "Mysteries Sacred & Profane," the most recent PC essay, Joe tells Sam Keen that the archetypes of the unconscious "are as real as tables and chairs."

That's why he was so fascinated by the work of Dr. John Weir Perry and Dr. Stanislav Grof - their independent scientific work (particularly Grof's, conducted under the most rigorous scientific standards, collecting data and observations from thousands of clinical sessions), performed without knowledge of Campbell's work, demonstrated the existence of universal archetypes in the collective unconscious (or a common structure to the human imagination, in different words).

Campbell blossomed after retirement from Sarah Lawrence. His workshops with Perry and with Grof at Esalen and elsewhere offered an opportunity rarely afforded university instructors: Joe was able to see the archetypal motifs he'd observed in myth (and in his own life) applied in the lives of others in crisis - taking these concepts out of the study and into the street, so to speak. Seeing these energy-evoking and -affecting symbols work in real lives further affirmed for him the power of myth.

Hence i think it's safe to strengthen the wording in that last assumption.

I like the contrast between your approach and Noman's, which are nevertheless compatible - and, indeed, complementary - to one another ... adds flesh to the bones.

Noman - might your first premise, combined with your sixth, suggest yet another Campbell observation relevant to the contemporary world?

Keep up the good work,guys - not only is it interesting, but you seem to be having fun (which to me is what makes it so - as i tell my students, interesting people are people who are interested ...)

namaste
bodhi


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Post by noman » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Although the archetypes of the collective unconscious, as put forward by Jung, have not and perhaps cannot be demonstrated, they probably exist.
- Robert G.

All my life, as a student of mythologies, I have been working with these archetypes, and I can tell you, they do exist.
- Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By, (1972)
I was looking for that very quote in response to Robert’s last stated Campbell assumption.

But when it comes to archetypes, I think its better to squabble over definition rather than whether archetypes actually exist. I know that sounds like a Yogi Berra statement. If something doesn’t exist it doesn’t need a definition.

But the word archetype is a word in our language and it refers to something – and even if that something is an impression it is still a real impression. No one can actually prove with hard science that a thought exists. But we can still talk about thoughts as if they ‘are as real as tables and chairs’.

With that in mind, I’m trying to examine this question of assumptions and assertions from Roberts angle. I had to look at a conversation Robert and Bodhi had in a previous thread on the same issue.
http://www.jcf.org/new/forum/viewtopic. ... 6&start=30


This is the way Campbell’s ideas on archetypes and myth have formed in my mind.
Archetypes are generated in three ways:
1.) IRMs
2.) Imprints
3.) Life Experiences

Animals have both IRMs and Imprints.

Humans have both Imprints and Life Experiences, but no IRMs.

Since Imprints early in life and Life Experiences are similar in all cultures throughout history, they are responsible for Bastian’s ‘Elementary Ideas’ and Jung’s ‘Archetypes’ of the collective unconscious.

Archetypes make up some of the elements of myth.

Myths can enrich one’s life, and the life of the community.
Campbell was not a neuroscientist. And even a neuroscientist today could not tell us to what degree the physical brain, and to what degree the experience, prenatal or otherwise is responsible for our ideas. I think Campbell would concede that we just don’t know.

However, Campbell would not have conceded the possibility that all archetypes can come from life experiences alone, without any imprints. People have been aware for some time that a child has to learn language when they are tots or they will never get it. You can’t take a twelve year old who has never been exposed to language and teach them to speak – ever. That’s a lot like Campbell’s description of imprints.

Noam Chomsky and others have pioneered the theory, now widely accepted, that all human beings are born with an innate sense of the rules of grammar. It’s not the type of grammar we learned in primary school but something much more fundamental. It’s come to be known as UG for universal grammar. And it has been shown that young children use these rules in a way that could not possibly have been learned by mimicking – that somehow they have an innate sense of grammatical structure that the particular language they are learning ‘adheres to’ or is ‘built upon’ if you will.

One way to understand UG is to look at how a young child uses grammar at the higher level of English grammar. A child will say ‘sheeps’ for many sheep or ‘he buyed it for me’ or ‘she finded my toy’. Their language logic circuits don’t allow for irregular verbs or exceptions to the rules of making nouns plural. It may take a while for a child to get the words in the right order, but once the rules are ‘imprinted’ its effortless.

So we adults might say, ‘The boy bounced the ball. The ball bounced.’
Using a logic far beyond us, a child might say, ‘The boy kicked the ball. The ball kicked.’

We know that a ball can’t ‘kicked’. Something had to kick the ball. There has to be a cause and effect relationship. But the child’s attorney would ask us how a ball could bounce by itself. Doesn’t something have to cause the ball to bounce – even if it’s the pavement?

These logic rules are so boldly imprinted in the child, trying to adjust them is futile.
P280 Indeed, when fussy parents or meddling experimenters do provide children with feedback, the children tune it out. The psycholinguist Martin Braine once tried for several weeks to stamp out one of his daughter’s grammatical errors. Here is the result:

Child: Want other one spoon, Daddy.
Father: You mean, you want ‘the other spoon.
Child: Yes, I want other one spoon, please, Daddy.
Father: Can you say “the other spoon”?
Child: Other…one…spoon.
Father: Say…”other.”
Child: Other.
Father: “Spoon.”
Child: Spoon.
Father: “Other…Spoon.”
Child: Other…spoon. Now give me other one spoon?

Braine wrote, “Further tuition is ruled out by her protest, vigorously supported by my wife.”

As far as grammar learning goes, the child must be a naturalist, passively observing the speech of others, rather than an experimentalist, manipulating stimuli and recording the results. The implications are profound. Languages are infinite, childhoods finite. To become speakers, children cannot just memorize; they must leap into the linguistic unknown and generalize to an infinite world of as-yet-unspoken sentences.

- The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, Steven Pinker, (1995)
These examples are about English grammar. But these researchers claim that UG operates the same way,and that it is both natural and universal.

I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to believe that what is true for language is probably true for other cognitive abilities such as the creation of archetypes. It doesn’t mean the archetypes are present in the second and third trimester but there has to be a certain predisposition of the brain and mind working in conjunction with life experiences to produce those thoughts we call archetypes of the collective unconscious.

* * * * * * *
Noman - might your first premise, combined with your sixth, suggest yet another Campbell observation relevant to the contemporary world?

- Bodhi
Yes, well, I could add number ten: modern society is sick – but that’s too pessimistic to say straight away. I know, I’m not supposed to be judging here, only stating what Campbell assumed.

But when I composed this list I started with a super seven, then went to an elite eight, and then a divine nine. I don’t have a superlative, alliteration, or rhyme for ten. It would just have to be a list of ten. So I’d rather just leave it be and let number ten be a suggestion. <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif">

But a man who doesn’t have to worry about number or superlatives is Robert A. Segal. I have to admit, even if I can’t always agree with him, that he has a keen analytical mind. He is capable of distilling ideas from thinkers like Jung and Campbell. I came across something I posted in the thread mentioned earlier in this post. It seems appropriate to this discussion. I reformatted it into a list to have a better look.
P265 In summary so far, Campbell vaunts a number of bold claims about myth but fails to substantiate any of them. He asserts that:

1.) myth, correctly understood, provides an antidote to the turmoil of modern society, but he fails to prove that the degree of turmoil in modern society is unprecedented

2.) that modern society is in turmoil because modern man finds life meaningless

3.) that modern man finds life meaningless because he has no myths

4.) that myths alone give meaning to life

5.) that modern man has no myths because his belief in science precludes his acceptance of them at the literal level

6.) that the real meaning of myth is not, however; literal but symbolic

7.) that the symbolic meaning of myth is psychological

8.) that the psychological meaning of myth is Jungian

9.) that when this is understood, myth accommodates science and so is acceptable to modern man

10.) and that when accepted, myth gives meaning to life and can thereby allay the turmoil of modern society.

- Robert A. Segal Sacred Narrative Edited by Alan Dundes (1984)
What follows is my interpretation of how I think Campbell would respond to Segal’s list.

Number one is Bodhi’s suggestion for my list – that society is sick. That’s not a bad place to start, for Campbell’s philosophy. But I might suggest that Campbell would claim that all societies are ‘sick’ to a certain degree and myth is always the panacea. Though we live in unprecedented times - the ‘turmoil’ does not necessarily have to be unprecedented.

I don’t agree with number four, that Campbell would claim that myths alone give meaning to life. But Campbell would contend that they are the most important factor.

Number five is half true. Science interferes with the old mythological system. But we do have some myths.

For number six, there really is no ‘real’ meaning to myth or correct meaning, but symbolic interpretation is the preferred choice given the alternative.

Number seven begs me to ask the question, how could a symbolic meaning not be psychological?

I don’t know enough about psychology to answer number eight.

But number nine and ten I think Campbell would accept as is.

- NoMan




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Post by Robert G. » Tue Mar 27, 2007 7:31 pm

The first post on this page is not correct, it should be the sixth one. This
Bodhi_Bliss wrote:Thanks, Robert - that is a helpful clarification, and strikes me as a fair statement.
should follow this
Robert G. wrote:
There exist universal, essential, nonhistoric (unconditioned?) structures of the human mind which respond in stereoptyped ways to certain "symbolic" images and narrative structures.

This is an empirical claim.
Bodhi, my apologies for the confusion. Your quote is on point and one I've frequently used myself. However, what I was trying to get it is not that Campbell claims there are stereotyped behaviors in response to what he calls "archetypes," but that there are universal stereotyped experiences in response to them. My interpretation is that Campbell is claiming that, although the meaning and interpretation given to these experiences may be historically conditioned, the experience itself is not. For example, the experience of ecstasy of a paleolithic shaman is supposed to be the same as that of a modern. Ancient Greeks had the same experience of death and rebirth as 21st-century Eastern Orthodox Christian. And, most importantly to me, that the experience of "transcendence of self" that is mediated through these images is universal, nonhistoric, and essential.

I have to add that I think that Campbell was deliberately limiting his discussion in the lecture that is the basis for your quote, The Joseph Campbell Audio Collection: Society and Symbol
Now let me just say, since we do have to move rapidly, that in the matter of the human psyche it is almost impossible to determine any stereotyped images. That is to say, in our discussion here we will have to assume that there are no stereotyped releasing images in the human psyche (bolding mine) of very much significance at any rate.
This carries forward the limitations expressed in The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology
Therefore, though respecting the possibility - perhaps the probability (bolding mine) - of such a psychologically inspired parallel development of mythological imagery as that suggested by Adlof Bastian's theory of elementary ideas and C.G. Jung's of the collective unconscious, we cannot attempt to interpret in such terms any of the remarkable correspondences that will everywhere confront us (p. 48 ).
Primitive Mythology was published in 1959. I have not been able to determine when Society and Symbol was recorded. It seems to me that Campbell was aknowledging the difficulty of demonstrating the existence of the archetypes, but that he assumes that they exist. In other lectures, Campbell asserts that there are such things as the archetypes of the collective unconscious. I cannot source this exactly right now (I will get the exact quotes and sources later)[I doubt I really will actually, I tried a bit today but really don't have the time], but he says something to the effect of "What has convinced everyone, at least everyone that I know, that there are such things as the archetypes, are the experiences of LSD." I think this is much more of a piece with his overall position on the existence of archetypes.

In Primitive Mythology he states
Our science is to be simultaneously biological and historical throughout, with no distinction between "culturally conditioned" and "instinctive" behavior, since all instinctive human behavior is culturally conditioned, and what is culturally conditioned in all of us is instinct: specifically, the CEMs and IRMs of this single species (p. 48 ).

Now it must have occured to the reader during the preceeding review of a series of imprints that, although a number of the images discussed are no doubt impressed upon our "open" IRMs from without, certain others can be the products only of the nervous structure itself (p75).

PS - ThisAmI, formatting tips may be found here.

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Robert G.
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Post by Robert G. » Wed Aug 01, 2007 5:54 am

I just wanted to close out this thread (for now), I've really lost interest in this once I realized that I was mostly interested in pinning down where Joe was making assumptions and normative judgements unsupported by the evidence. It seems a bit pointless on this site, and a daunting task timewise (good for someone's PhD perhaps :lol: ). Anyway, since I read Douglas Allens' Myth and Religion in Mircea Eliade I saw that the work done on Eliade was largely applicable to Campbell and others whose scholarship had much in common with that of Frazier.
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