What is “Mythos” and “Logos”? | Mythos/Logos
Unlike 'mythos', 'logos' must relate exactly to facts and correspond to or Muslim fail this crucial test if they becomes theologies of rage and. This unit will introduce the concepts of Mythos and Logos, show how they are be able to explain in much more detail in the tests) and logos is evidence-based .. be more liberal, social relations will be more harmonious, whatever religions. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories--Ethos, Pathos, Logos. Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal.
Jung was a close colleague of Freud -- in fact, Freud himself considered Jung to be his theoretical heir, thus casting himself in a father-like role with Jung as the crowned prince of psychoanalysis.
With Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex, he should have known better, for their Oedipal rivalry led to a harsh and traumatic split. Jung, it seems, had gone too far afield in his reconceptualization of Freud's original insights. Yet, these very insightful innovations of Jung were truly brilliant, foreshadowing the "third force" movement in psychology. In many ways, Jung can be considered the 'father' of humanistic and transpersonal psychology.
Along with Freud's "personal unconscious," Jung felt that he had discovered evidence for a "collective unconscious" shared by all human beings. While the personal unconscious is organized by complexes i. Joseph Campbellinfluenced by Jung, traced archetypal patterns in the mythologies of all cultures. Jung, in general, placed less emphasis on the sexual drives, since he felt the unconscious is driven by the process of "individuation," a drive toward wholeness and balance between the contrary forces of the psyche through the "transcendent function.
However, Jung also felt that the unconscious holds the potential for evil as well as good. To understand what that means, imagine that there are two identical countries, Mytholia and Logoland, separated by a range of impassable mountains. At the time our story begins, Mytholia and Logoland both exist as what we would now call "ancient" societies. Both practice slavery, both oppress women and minorities, both had only the most rudimentary technology and both have medicine that is much more likely to kill you, than to make you better.
As the story begins, Mytholia is a completely mythos driven society. The only kind of explanations that are ever offered for any kind of phenomena are mythos explanations. Mythos has a rich mythology, with deeply satisfying stories to account for absolutely everything that anybody ever observes in the world. Logoland, on the other hand, adopts a logos driven society. Only logos type explanations are ever accepted. If there is no adequate, checkable explanation available, the citizens of Logoland insist that the phenomenon in question is unexplained, and wait for someone to come up with a good checkable explanation.
In Mytholia, they practice mythos, and in Logoland, they practice logos. Now let us suppose that we go away and drink coffee for a thousand years. What do we expect to find upon our return?
Will Logoland be like? And what of Mytholia? The state of Mytholia, actually is pretty easy to predict. It will be exactly like it was a thousand years ago, in every important respect. Oh, probably the population will have increased, unless there was a famine, or a war, or a plague. Certainly, the technology and form of life will be the same, which means that the same groups who were being impressed before, will be impressed now, and medicine will still be lethal.
Logoland, on the other hand, is harder to protect. What would a completely rational society be like? Well, the technology will be better, the medicine will be better, the laws will be more liberal, social relations will be more harmonious, whatever religions there are will get along with each other, and people will live better, longer, and like their lives more.
Just so long as the political will exists to make things better, the people of Logoland will have had the ability to make things better. And that stuff adds up.
Make no mistake, just about everything that is truly good about modern society has come from repligious and non-religious people applying logos. Philosophy is not just about explaining different doctrines. It is also about developing criticisms of doctrines, and logically determining whether or not the criticisms are valid.
Just as scientific theories are developed, confirmed, criticized and often discarded on the basis of valid criticism, philosophical doctrines are developed, criticized and, depending on the validity of the criticism, either discarded or accepted until the next criticism comes along. For the rest of this essay, I want to discuss two criticisms of logos. It's not that I think that they are particularly good criticisms.
It's that I want you to be able to understand the way philosophy works, a one of the most important features of philosophy is that any doctrine can be criticized at any time. Just like scientific theories, philosophical doctrines are held tentatively. This means that a philosophical doctrine is only accepted until a good reason to discard it comes along. Which means that, like scientific theories, the best you can say about any philosophical doctrine is that it is currently the best logically supported one out there.
We are now going to consider two criticisms of logos. I find these criticisms easier to discuss if I talk about them in terms of logocentrism. Logocentrism does not seek to ban religion, nor does it seek to keep religious people out of public life.
Rather, it insists that government decisions, and public funds should only be allocated on the basis of theories supported by logos thinking. Logocentrism also says that public education should teach logos, and not promote mythological thinking. Logocentrism fundamentally advocates basing society on an understanding of the world that is developed entirely through the process we call logos, which also includes respect for individual decisions and acceptance of differing personal beliefs.
Ethnocentrism The ethnocentrism criticism holds that Logocentrism is just another form of ethnocentrism. This criticism says that, when I say that every society should organize itself on the basis of an understanding of the world that is developed through logos, I am being ethnocentric.
That is, I am doing no more and no less than telling members of every other culture in the world that they should give up their own cultures and adopt my Judeo-Christian based, consumer oriented, liberal democratic, capitalistic, European-style culture. The just-another-mythos criticism holds that logos is nothing more than a rather poor-quality mythos. This criticism holds that when I promote logos, I am merely offering people an alternative mythological understanding of the world that offers them absolutely no advantages over other forms of myth, and which is considerably less satisfying and useful than most.
Ethnocentrism is a very serious charge to level at a doctrine. European ethnocentrism, as it was practiced in the 19th and early 20th centuries, has done enormous harm to the world. Many countries around the globe are still struggling with the long-term effects of colonialism, which was carried out under the ethnocentric assumption that European culture was better than any other, and that European elites were more deserving of control over the resources of the world than the people who happen to be living among and above those resources.
At the very least, to accuse a doctrine of being ethnocentric is to accuse it of being profoundly disrespectful to the values and lifeways of others. As far as I can see, the ethnocentrism criticism relies on the fact that most advocates of logocentrism are members of so-called "Western" culture. Indeed, some people believe that Western culture is characterized by logos, and will refer to the logical way of thinking as "Western science.
What I am calling "Logocentrism" would be a form of ethnocentrism if it was true that there was nothing in Logocentrism but Western cultural values, and Logocentrism included all Western cultural practices. For Logocentrism to be a form of ethnocentrism, it has to be true that logos is just another word for Western culture.
But this is very far from the truth. Logos and Western culture are two very different things. It is true that some people in the West advocate logos, and it may also be true that Logocentrists form a larger proportion of the population in the West than they do in other areas. But this does not mean that Logocentrism is the same as Western culture, and nor does it mean that non-Western cultures are not themselves logocentric.
Western culture includes a large proportion of people who still indulge in mythological thinking in many areas of their lives. There are many people in the United States who work very hard to cause the state to impose their brand of religion on other American citizens.
There are many people in the United States who makes serious decisions on the basis of astrology, or other contra scientific practices. Furthermore, there have always been plenty of people outside the West who used logos. Any honest history of civilization will recognize the scientific and philosophical accomplishments of non-Western cultures.
Therefore, anyone who promotes logos will have to promote it, and defend it, as much inside the West as outside. And anyone who promotes logos outside the West will not be telling anyone to do anything new or different, but will rather be urging the local people to do more of something some of them are doing already.
It is definitely true that some people promote Western ethnocentrism under the guise of promoting logos, but these people are not promoting logos.
Mythos & Logos: Two Ways of Explaining the World | Journey to the Sea
I have heard that the Dogon people of West Africa once believed that humans were descended from monkeys, but that Western missionaries told them this must be false because the Bible said otherwise, thus ethnocentricly promoting a Western mythos against what might very well have been a local example of logos.
The are also stories of missionaries promoting their religion by predicting eclipses, and providing penicillin to local people. The missionary who who consults an almanac created by astronomers, or purchases penicillin invented by medical science, and then falsely claims that these benefits are fruits of his superior religion is not just attacking logos, he is fraudulently appropriating its fruits to deceive people into accepting his own mythological system.
Gods become physical laws, trees and flowers become particles and waves, and heroes become pathetic imbiciles battered around by forces they still don't understand. Jung and Strauss seem to see science as dropping the bottom out of the world, leaving everyone rootless, confused and fearful.
Logos would indeed be just another mythos, if it were the case that the unseen entities appealed to by logos functioned exactly the same way as the unseen entities appealed to by mythos. If logos was just another mythos, it would certainly be a very unsatisfying one.
I should imagine that very few people are able to gain a sense of meaning and purpose from reading scientific theories. And people who need to feel a sense that they can rely on an eternal truths will be very unsatisfied with the way science keeps changing his story. People who enjoy gaining a sense of their place in the world from hearing stories about how gods and demons created the world will not be happy with scientific explanations of those things, particularly since those explanations get more complicated and less comprehensible every year.
But nobody has ever said the logos was intended to provide these kinds of satisfactions. Religion already does a good job at this for those who need it. No, Logos is intended to provide a deep and potentially usable understanding of the laws that govern the universe.
Logos gives us the ability to change the materials of the world into forms that satisfy our needs and desires. Logos, in the form of philosophy, also gives us the tools to figure out what are our most important needs, and which desires we have a right to satisfy. Mythos cannot do this. It is true that mythological thinkers make many, many, many pronouncements about what human beings really need and what desires they should have.
But when these claims are based purely in mythological thinking, they are always unfounded. So it is therefore false in two ways to say that logos is just another form of mythos.
First, it is false to say that logos has nothing that mythos doesn't. Logos gives us the ability to actually understand and manipulate our world and ourselves. Mythos cannot possibly provide that. Second, it is false to say that logos is a form of mythos at all. Logos is not intended to provide a spiritual satisfaction of a sense of meaning in the world. Many people seek both scientific and spiritual understanding, and many of our greatest scientists were also deeply religious people. Atheists who are scientists do not turn to science for a sense of something larger than themselves, rather they believe that they do not need such stories to get along in their lives.
Comparison of The Two Criticisms The two criticisms are very similar. The ethnocentrism criticism points out that logocentrism is basically a product of European culture, whereas other cultures tended to think in different, more mythological ways. The criticism claims that, since no culture is better than any other, it is wrong to say that logos is a better way of thinking than the mythos ways nonwestern peoples generally used.
Review Exercise Write down the following questions on a piece of paper. Then turn off the computer, put away your book and notes, and answer the questions in your own words as best you can. In your own words, what is Mythos? In your own words, what is Logos? How are the similar? How was Thales different from previous known thinkers?
How can Mythos provide a sense of meaning to human life? How can Mythos provide a feeling that the world makes sense? What is Jung and Levi-Strauss' criticism of Logos? If there's any questions you can't answer from what's given in this page, please email me or post a question in the FaceBook group.
Answer these as well as you can based on your understanding of the above. Does Mythos involve logical analysis, observations or deductions? Does Mythos admit the possibility that its explanations could be wrong? Does Mythos give explanations whose accuracy can be checked?
Does Mythos give us a way to progressively improve our understanding of the universe? What two things can be done with logos that can't be done with mythos?
Do Jung and Levi-Strauss think that logos is essentially different from mythos? In your opinion, do philosophers agree with them?
Do Jung and Levi-Strauss think that logos is in all respects superior to mythos? What do they think about logos and our actual impressions of everyday experience? Do Jung and Levi-Strauss think this relationship between logos and experience is a good thing? What does it mean to "deny the reality" of something? What do they think it denies? What do think is achieved by postulating things like atoms, electrons and neutrons?
What does it mean to "mystify" something? Is mystifying something a helpful thing to do? Do Jung and Levi Strauss think that logos is inherently different from, or superior to, mythos? According to other critics, what has happened to Western science? What do these other critics think of logos's claim to superiority over mythos? Is it a good thing? Consider the following statements. Logos is better than mythos because it produces knowledge that we can use to make human life better.
Logos produces information about the real forces of nature and the real properties of materials. This information can be used to produce advances in industry, agriculture and medicine that have saved or improved the quality of millions upon millions of lives.
Thus logos is analogous to mathematics, in that it is a universally applicable way of looking at quantities that allows us to understand and deal with the world much better than other ways of looking at quantities. Logos is a radically different way of doing things. Logos explanations appeal to natural objects and forces whose behavior can be predicted. Logos explanations often allow us to make predictions about future events in specific circumstances.
These predictions can be checked. If we are acting according to logos, we will discard those explanations that fail to produce accurate predictions. Mythos explanations cannot be checked because they do not produce predictions. Logos explanations are thus something like mathemetical calculations in that they can be worked out and then checked against the real world to see if they worked.
Thus logos is radically different from mythos. Logos is a way of thinking that is effective in all times and places. The fact that it is promoted and valued in the West is irrelevant. While it may have been invented in Europe, it can be, and has been, used by people of all times and all cultures.
Some Westerners may think that logos makes the West superior to other cultures, but this is not true because people in other cultures are just as capable of using logos, and besides, the West has plenty of myths of its own. In this respect, logos is like mathematics, which was invented by the ancient Greeks and Arabs. To say that math is superior to random guessing is not the same as saying that the ancient Greeks and Arabs were better than the rest of us.
Mythos is better than logos because scientific and philosophical theories are simply too abstract to do justice to the sensuous features of everyday existence. We must deal with a world of sunlight, trees, buildings, thunderstorms and people, but all science gives us is photons, osmosis, valence, low-pressure systems and cognition. Logos is thus akin to the gibberings of a madman, a collection of arcane and meaningless phrases, flung together in nonsensical order.
Such incredibly complicated wriings are not worth reading because, even if they could be deciphered, the meanings derived from them would be of no earthly use in our lives. What modern people call "logos" is not radically different from old-fashioned mythmaking. Instead of the gods, demons, and spirits of the old myths, the new mythmakers invent new invisible and intangible entities like "electrons," and "strong nuclear force" which they plug in to the new myths in the places that used to be reserved for gods.
Thus a logos explanation works exactly like a mythos explanation, and logos is just another kind of mythos. Logos is thus analogous to any mythological scheme, such as Greek Mythology, for instance. The electromagnetic force in logos functions exactly the same way as Zeus in Greek Mythology, nuclear fusion plays the same role as Prometheus, nonlinear thermodynamics plays the part of Eris, the war god's little sister, and so on. The idea that logos is a better way of thinking than mythos is no more than Western ethnocentrism in action.
Logos is thus exactly like Christianity, which was illegitimately held to be superior to the native religions of non-western peoples. Just as non-westerners were persuaded to give up their own perfectly valid religions for Christianity on the basis of this false claim of superiority, non-westerners are now being persuaded to give up their own perfectly valid folkways for this alien and wholly western way of logos.
Now answer the following questions. Which statement criticizes logos as just another form of myth? Which statement defends logos against that criticism? Which statement argues that logos is inferior to mythos? Which statement defends logos against that argument? Which statement claims that logos is a form of ethnocentrism? Which statement defends logos against that claim? For each statement, determine if it gives an accurate picture of what logos is, and what logos can do.
For each statement, determine whether or not it gives an accurate picture of what mythos is, and what mythos can do. In your opinion, is logos significantly different from mythos?
In your opinion, which has done more for human life, logos or mythos?
In your opinion, is logos, in itself, a form of ethnocentrism? One great danger with online courses is that students can "click-through" the course without studying the material. Without a conscious effort to study the material away from the computer, students risk fooling themselves into thinking they're doing well when in fact they're merely memorizing words and phrases without truly understanding anything.
To ensure a deep understanding of this material, it is important to take the time to do paper-and-pencil study of this reading. So far in this unit you should have created a set of notes based on your answers to the reading questions, your musings over the thinky questions, and your own ideas. Now it's time to deepen your understanding by taking a quiz. It's important that you do this activity before taking the online practice quiz.
That quiz is multiple choice, and so it doesn't require you to compose your own answers. Instead it sets the much shallower task of recognizing riight answers embedded among wrong answers.