Joseph Campbell and Postmodernism

Joseph Campbell believed that "...each of us has an individual myth that's driving us, which we may or may not know." This forum is for assistance and inspiration in the quest to find your own personal mythology.

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richard silliker
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Post by richard silliker » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:28 pm

It is all about influence, is it not?

RS
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Post by Clemsy » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:47 pm

Why bother betting with the currency of a bankrupt nation?
Well, cuz, right now it can still buy me a frosty pint of beer, and if I had that Franklin the drinks would be on me!
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Post by Evinnra » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:51 am


Fear not, Eva - you haven't offended me. If anything, I am amused and intrigued.

Of course, you are free to believe your views about yourself, as I am free to subscribe to my own personal philosophy - nothing wrong with that, or with disagreeing about it (another example of postmodern logic, Noman might say).

However, examples abound in yours and Noman's remarks of what you both have described as postmodern thinking. Noman seems comfortable admitting that, so I'll point out a few examples in your remarks that lead me to that observation, starting with this sentence:
I would think that a postmodernist is a person who is happy to leave questions open without so much as attempting to find resolution
You might think that, but this is an opinion, not a fact, even though the rest of your argument assumes this assumption is proven fact. From your contributions to this thread, I understand that you think postmoderns believe opinion is as good or better than a fact. Frankly, I've been studying this issue in depth for a few years, and I believe your assumption is mistaken, so that argument doesn't carry much weight for me - but then, I could be mistaken.
This is very good of you Stephen to come straight to the point of contention on this thread. :D Indeed, I am under the impression that postmodernism could be described as being an attitude to knowledge and a strikingly ambivalent attitude at that. It can not be argued that the attitude to knowledge previous to postmodernism was strictly dogmatic, for we have ample evidence that people in the past did question their own assumptions and tested their theories by putting them into practice What both NoMan and my self were angling for on this thread was some references to clearly worded statements, a coherent theory of how things are in reality according to postmodernist thinkers, but we have not received answer to our request as yet. Therefore, I am at ease even if you say my statement is merely an assumption. :wink: I don't believe I ever claimed that postmodernists think an opinion is as good or even better than a fact. Fighting this point would be ignoratio elenchi.I clearly stated that in my opinion postmodernism is old sophistry in new rags, it is definitely evil, as postmodernism seems to me to be about not having an opinion, in case said opinion should get attacked by a well stated counter argument. Based on the fact that absolutely any statement can be undermined and dismantled the postmodernist attitude to knowledge - I believe - is to have power by using camouflage. It is the power of those who hide behind bushes with a weapon in hand, waiting for the next victim. Using camouflage is a well known method of hunters but this act alone does not signify real power, if power means responsibility and care for what we are capable of overpowering. Knowledge is power, having the power to overcome a belief (knowledge) is mere sophistry IMHO.

Then there is this passage of yours from several days back:
If the term philosophy meant using one's mind then Jaques Derrida was a philosopher. However the word philosophy means the love of wisdom, hence Jacques Derrida is merely a 'thinker'. Like Nietzsche. Nietzsche wasn't a philosopher but his ideas made a gigantic impact on the twentieth century. Thinkers were influential in all ages, for instance in the Scholastic era - the time when cathedrals were built - was heavily laden by the human desire to 'reach up', to somehow join the mundane human experience with glorious heavenly perfection. In comparison to these noble philosophers, priests monks and nuns who taught in the Scholastic era it does not even seem right to call Derrida a philosopher. Why? A mere process of deconstructing does not qualify for 'loving wisdom'. Can we call the person who merely demolish a building a builder? S/he might be a builder IF s/he has the intention to build something new after demolishing a building, but if all s/he does is blowing buildings up, well s/he is not a builder.
This absolutely fascinates me, for you reject the long accepted standard of what philosophy is, a standard accepted for centuries by all philosophers, and taught for centuries in all philosophy courses (a surprisingly apt example of deconstructionism on your part!). In brief, philosophy has long been recognized as the "investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods" and divided into branches that include logic, ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, and metaphysics.

These are the values on which philosophy has been based for milllennia. This conception of philosophy goes back to Aristotle, and is one that Plato and Socrates would be comfortable with - but you toss all that out based solely on the etymology of the term - a technique for which Derrida is well known - rather than over 2500 years of actual practice.
If it is fascinating to you that I can simply refer to philosophy as the love of wisdom, instead of seeing it for what it had always been taken for; an investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, then you did not quite understand my intent of emphasising the etymological meaning of the word. In fact I have always thought the same as everyone else did, that philosophy is an investigation and people investigate because they love to know.
Therefore, it should follow that Philosophers are the lovers of wisdom, not the lovers of sophistry. How can I distinguish between loving wisdom and investigating reality? Easy. If my investigation gives me a negative answer - nothing can be known, as all is a soical construct - I am none the wiser. If my investigation takes me to the realisation that some things can be know but these things are further analysable I am wiser. I have established the limits within which I can work/think effectively. Hence the example I mentioned with the builder being not a builder if all he does is demolishing buildings. You find it fascinating that I rather call a humble brick layer a builder rather than call a demolishion expert the same? I was not being obnoxcious in disliking a definition of philosophy, I had a very good reason for prefering one description over any other and I even attempted to examplain my choice with the builder metaphore in the very same paragraph.

It was throught provoking how you relied on proving you point to me by reference to past experience and common sense understanding of the word philosophy. This is not a postmodernist method of finding truth by analysiis, iIt is the method of a rational - or rather an empiricist - thinker. Your appeal to what is the actual use of the word was thoughtprovoking especially for me, because my particular experiences in my particular life. As a young girl I was quite taken by the activity of mulling over why things happen and how do we know what is truth. I wanted to learn philosophy, even paid for some expensive academic books from the little money I had, until the day I happened to come across an article that explained how current academia in philosophy is all about deconstructing what we already know. I was devastated. If all I can learn by studying philosophy is how to deconstruct the claims of others, then what is the point in studying philosophy? I don't fancy my self to be a destructive force , why would I need such devious power in my hand? It was not until I turned fourty and realised that real philosophers do not take postmodernism all that seriously, that I could throw my self into this activity of learning with enthusiasm. :)
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Post by jonsjourney » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:55 pm

I don't fancy my self to be a destructive force -evinnra
Fancy it or not you, in the act of living, are a destructive force. :wink: Even a Jain monk destroys. The only way to not destroy is to cease being, right? And even at the moment that you cease being, you may yet destroy as the physical body falls down upon that which is still alive. But...this is the moment of creation, right?
From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity. -Edvard Much
It is the denial of what we are in reality in favor of what we think we should be, based on old ideas, that continues to foster perpetuating beliefs that perhaps should have been discarded a long time ago. The ultimate paradox in life, and so therefore in philosophy, is that destruction is the first act of creation. I would think that this metaphor would bring forth the image of Christ on the cross as quickly as any other image.
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." -Douglas Adams
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Post by Neoplato » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:25 pm

I think the point is that although my existence is dependent upon destruction (and/or consumption), we as human beings don’t have to willfully participate in the act of destruction.
Infinite moment, grants freedom of winter death, allows life to dawn.
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Post by jonsjourney » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:44 pm

I think the point is that although my existence is dependent upon destruction (and/or consumption), we as human beings don’t have to willfully participate in the act of destruction. -Neo
Exactly the point. The either/or way of thinking limits potentiality. Including the idea that postmodernism is either good, or bad. :wink:

Life is far too complex for absolutes and black and white declarations...as has been proven throughout history. Please note: This statement should not be considered absolute or black and white.
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." -Douglas Adams
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:12 am

Neoplato wrote:I think the point is that although my existence is dependent upon destruction (and/or consumption), we as human beings don’t have to willfully participate in the act of destruction.
Hmm. At first I was going to correct your statement Neo, but by re-thinking it I decided you are right.

In fact my original thinking was not about being willful in participation of life that feeds on destruction of life, rather it was about the human ability to do good. On second thought, I realised how insightful you are AGAIN! 8) . We can make little bits of good and willing it is all that matters to the whole of the One.
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Post by Neoplato » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:25 am

Evinnra Wrote:
We can make little bits of good and willing it is all that matters to the whole of the One.
:D BEAUTIFUL! :D
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:32 am

Neoplato wrote:Evinnra Wrote:
We can make little bits of good and willing it is all that matters to the whole of the One.
:D BEAUTIFUL! :D
* Taking a deep bow * Thank you :)
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:00 am

noman wrote:
From where the sun now stands, I will post no more (in this thread), forever.

- NoMan

* * * * * * *

I don't think Chief Joseph is going too far....

- Clemsy
LOL

The sun has not moved in a Copernican sense. Therefore, I not speak with forked tongue.
:lol: Really? Who would have thought :wink:



I don’t take the story too seriously. Who knows how drunk the aide was when he said it, or how sober Suskind was when he recorded it? But it does illustrate how far we’ve gone into this world of a complete lack of concern for reality. And it isn’t simply a two way split. Ever since the 60s we’ve been fragmenting into more and more ‘realities’. It’s almost as though America is trying to find its way back to a state of 500 nations.

I’m trying to organize this to find the point of disagreement between Bodhi and I.
I believe:

1.) There has been an increasing fragmentation of “reality” or “truth” since the 60s.
2.) That it is in part the result of mass communication, a personalized selection of information, and personalized selection of people who share the same info and opinions.
3.) That this situation is unhealthy for two reasons:
...........a.) The lack of respect for objective reality, when one has to deal with objective reality.
...........b.) The general mistrust in a culture with many different competing “realities”.
Surprise, surprise, I agree.

To remedy the unhealthy situation all we need to do is make it clear for the rest of humanity that postmodernism is effectively over. Neo-rationalism has arrived, we are brave enough to state an opinion even if it gets slam dunked by some die hard relativists.

You've a voice try understand it,
Make a noise and make it clear,

....

We not gonna sit in silence,
We not gonna live with fear,

(John Farnham, 1988 )
* just singing to my self * by the way, this is one of my favorit songs. :) worth listening to it in its entire length, the bagpipes at the beginning are awesome :!:
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
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Post by S_Watson » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:32 am

In a "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoon in the early 1990s, Calvin tells Hobbes he's going to invent a new philosophy so he can become famous and make lots of money. His new philosophy has some ridiculous name like "Super-trans-mogrification-ism". But then he tells Hobbes,

"I was going to become a radical deconstructionist, but my Mom wouldn't let me."
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Post by jonsjourney » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:24 pm

"I was going to become a radical deconstructionist, but my Mom wouldn't let me." (Calvin & Hobbes cartoon) -S_Watson
That is fantastic. The infantile drive to hang on to old ideas as a means of reaching conclusions about new questions and problems is expressed perfectly there. When all else fails, go back to the comfort zone...back to the bosom where it is warm and safe. There are not too many hero's hanging out there.

Here is a little quote I found in a book by Jiddu Krishnamurti...
Mere reformation of the present structure of society, without altering fundamentally our relationship, is retrogression. A revolution that maintains the usage of man towards an end, however promising, is productive of further wars and untold sorrow. The end is always the projection of our own conditioning. However promising and utopian it might be, the end can only be a means of further confusion and pain. What is important in all this is not the new patterns, the new superficial changes, but the understanding of the total process of man, which is yourself. -Jiddu Krishnamurti in On Relationship, pg. 46.
The ability to move beyond the mistakes of the past is made far more difficult when we hang on to the ideas that created the problems. Does a clean slate remove the ground of all being? For some....it appears to be so. But each moment in time is a new moment. The past is a memory, the future is a projection. The present is reality and what often colors our experience are the conditioned memories that lead to false projections.

While standing (as the Captain) on the deck of the sinking Titanic, we can ruminate over the impossibility of the fact it is sinking while examining the schematic drawings that brought forth the vessel, or telling ourselves that the seas were calm and clear of apparent dangers. The iceberg whose greatest mass was unexposed in the darkness of the water cares very little about schematics and the wishful and delusional thinking of human desires as it tears a hole into the hull. Traditionally, the Captain goes down with the ship, perhaps taking these delusions to a watery grave with them. Unfortunately, the Captain also received a revelation about the nature of sailing the ship across the northern seas in cold weather and that knowledge could have helped to serve future voyages, but as they held onto their tradition of going down with the sinking ship, the information is lost and the message is never received.

Is the Captain who perishes, along with the information, a hero because of the choice to go down with the ship? Or would a hero break with traditional thinking in an effort to help prevent the suffering of future passengers? The ability to question established beliefs and systems is the lifeboat here. It may not be a sufficient vessel to ferry the masses from point A to point B, but it is a vessel with value, at least for the short-term survival of the captain.
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." -Douglas Adams
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Post by noman » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:37 pm

…or would a hero break with traditional thinking…

- JJ

JJ – Pomo is not about a break with traditional thinking. It’s about a break with thinking – period. It’s about knowing there is no provable connection between language and reality. Postmodernism is about giving up. Once you understand this you have two options. You can say nothing and be inconsequential.
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

- Ludwig Wittgenstein
Or you can say anything and be inconsequential.
I've always found much of postmodernist thinking a lot of masturbatory nonsense.

- Clemsy
And it makes no difference where one is on a political spectrum. That’s why BodhiBliss called Evinnra and I absolutists and postmoderns (when postmodernism is often associated with relativism and pluralism.) And I think he’s right from a postmodern perspective. Postmodernism is about crossing the threshold of differentiation and sanity. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all postmodern together. Everything is possible and nothing is possible. It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. Ahhh, but the divine wisdom it. And why not just let the nukes fly.


- NoMan
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Post by romansh » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:11 pm

noman wrote: It’s about a break with thinking – period. It’s about knowing there is no provable connection between language and reality. Postmodernism is about giving up. Once you understand this you have two options. You can say nothing and be inconsequential.
- NoMan
Again I'm not exactly sure what pomo is ....
But in the scientific (real or outside of the illusion of our minds) world there is no such thing as proof. Does this mean science is pomo? If not does this mean this aspect of pomo is in alignment with science? I don't see the problem in not "knowing".

Do post modernists give up? I would guess some might and some don't.
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Post by bodhibliss » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:00 am

romansh wrote:
Again I'm not exactly sure what pomo is ....
But in the scientific (real or outside of the illusion of our minds) world there is no such thing as proof. Does this mean science is pomo? If not does this mean this aspect of pomo is in alignment with science? I don't see the problem in not "knowing".
There is certainly a resonance between postmodern philosphy and contemporary sciences - particularly particle physics, chaos theory, and the emerging science of complexity. There is the same sense of smokiness - vague, paradoxical, counterintuitive, difficult to pin down and contrary to traditional "objective" reality. I have heard more than one critic lambast postmodernism and quantum theory in the same breath - and I've had exchanges with several who oppose postmodernism and take refuge in "empirical reality", and admit they feel threatened by chaos theory.

How can order spontaneously emerge out of chaos (though that's where just about every creation myth begins)? How is it possible that this solid hardwood desk at which I sit is over 98% empty space, and is comprised of billions of mesons, muons, pions, and other quantum particles flashing into and out of existence billions of times every second? How can light be wave and particle - two mutually exclusive states - at once? How can there be supraluminal (faster than light) communcation between two photons distant from each other in time & space?

And yet empirical science is demonstrating exactly that, unsettling though it may be.

What exactly is postmodern is as difficult to nail down as what exactly is a quantum particle - but for the latter, we don't turn to the critics of quantum science, but to the physicists themselves.

Ironically, I have yet to hear exactly what books of postmodern thought those criticizing it have read (e.g., anything by Derrida ... or just about Derrida?) Most discussion in this thread seems to quote people who oppose postmodernism and use it as a pejorative (e.g., who defines what a postmodern anthropologist is? Seems like it's the critics - or did "postmodern anthropologists" label themselves.). There is often a tendency to discount arguments one disagrees with by claiming one's opponent is a pomo thinker

I do think much of this is a tempest in a teapot. I embrace the world in which I live, the bad with the good, the sorrow with the joy - but I don't know any philosophy that is all bad or all good (distinguishing, of course, between philosophy and behavior).

As Joseph Campbell says, every act has light and dark consequences. Eating a steak may be experienced as good by me, but I doubt the cow concurs. The best we can do, in Joe's words, is lean towards the light ...

I'm definitely tilting - hope it's in the right direction.

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