Mythos and Logos

Eye of Ra

There are two forms of knowledge: logos and mythos. From an old post of mine, based on Karen Armstrong’s division of knowledge:

Mythos: “myth”, from greek musteion – to close eyes or mouth. Myth as a mode of Knowledge was rooted in silence and intuitive insight, and gave meaning to life, human existence, but cannot be explained in rational terms. In the premodern world, mythical knowledge was complementary to logos.

Logos: “word” or rational, logical, scientific discourse

Both were essential and complementary ways of arriving at the truth for each had its area of competence. Myth was regarded as primary, for it dealt with the timeless or constant elements of human existence. Myth was about the origins of life, the very foundations of culture and the most essential nature of human mind. However, myth has little to do with practical stuff, or anything other than the meaning of life. If people cannot or do not find significance in their lives, despair is the result. The mythos of a society is the context that makes sense of the daily life, and points at the eternal and universal. Moreover, myth is rooted in unconscious. The various stories of myth, which were not meant to be taken literally, was ancient psychology. All these stories of heroes in the underworld, in labyrinths, and fighting monsters, was the premodern way of dealing with the obscure realm of unconscious, which is completely inaccessible to rational investigation, but had profound effects on experience and behavior. Since myth is absent in modern society we instead developed the science of psychoanalysis to deal with our inner world. Continue reading Mythos and Logos