The Thresholds of Mythology (Audio: Lecture I.2.1)
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.
Running time: approx. 60 minutes