What is Mythology For

What is Mythology For - 4. The Psychological Function : to...

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What is Mythology For? According to Joseph Campbell, world-renowned expert on comparative mythology, there are four chief functions of myth. In his book Myths to Live By , he states them as follows: 1. “The Mythical Function : to waken and maintain in the individual a sense of awe and gratitude in relation to the mystery dimension of the universe, not so that he lives in fear of it, but so that he recognizes that he participates in it, since the mystery of being is the mystery of his own deep being, as well.” 2. The Explanatory Function (my term, not Campbell’s): “to offer an image of the universe that will be in accord with the knowledge of the time, the sciences and the fields of action of the folk to whom mythology is addressed.” 3. The Ethical Function : (my term, again)”to validate, support, and imprint the norms of a given, specific moral order, that, namely, of the society in which the individual is to live.”
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Unformatted text preview: 4. The Psychological Function : to guide him [the reader], stage by stage, in health, strength, and harmony of spirit, through the whole foreseeable course of a useful life. [. . .] Its first function is to foster an unready psyche to maturity, preparing it to face its world. [. . .] The next function, accordingly, must be to help the ready youth step out and away, to leave the myth, this second womb, and to become, as they say in the Orient, twice born, a competent adult functioning rationally in his present world, who has left his childhood season behind. Finally, if the child is given a sound imprinting of childhood myths, . . .when the time came for this backward, downward plunge [into old age and death], the scenery down there would have been a bit more familiar....
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