From: Steve Peterson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri May 02 2003 - 18:55:37 BST
Hi, David and Sam,
>> I (i) don't think it's
>> possible to think without an underlying mythology (meta-narrative, final
>> vocabulary, whatever) (ii) think that science operates within a mythology
>> which is largely unacknowledged (iii) think that the Christian mythology,
>> for all its faults, is superior to the scientific one (more precisely, it
>> is superior to Modernism).
It's interesting to see one of DMB's heroes (Wilber) take on another of them
(Campbell) on this issue. (I only wish Wilber would read Pirsig.)
"Since [Joseph] Campbell's aim is to prove that science and reason are in no
sense "higher" than "real" mythology, he begins by pointing out that even
the worldview of science is actually a mythology. If he can do this
successfully he will have put science and mythology on the same level. He
proceeds to outline four factors that all mythologies have in
common...[These are, "to reconcile waking consciousness to the world as it
is", "interpret a total image of the same", "the validation and maintenance
of a social order," and the psychological function surrounding "individual
orientation and integration."]...and of course, defined in this way, science
or the scientific worldview [modern worldview] does indeed perform all four
functions of mythology.
But then, adds Campbell, science of course does some other things that
mythology per se does not, such as spectacular discoveries in evolution,
medicine, engineering, and so forth.
In other words, rationality/science does everything myth does, plus
That, of course, is the definition of a higher stage."
[A lower level transcends but includes a lower one.]
> I agree that we shouldn't single out science or scientists - but that is in
> fact my point. I am objecting to the (Modernist/SOM) claim that science is
> cognitively superior to mythology. That claim lacks self-awareness about the
> mythology within which science itself is embedded. My view is that "science"
> is transitive across different mythologies (assuming that science = level 4
> and mythology = level 3).
Because reason transcends, includes, and negates myth, it is a higher level
You could of course still argue that Christianity includes reason. I think
that Christianity within a rational worldview includes reason, but
Christianity as a modern institution has not properly negated its mythic
roots. It is not completely differentiated from myth. It is embedded in a
lower level and will not reach its potential until it denies the literal
truth of its claims about Jesus.
But when Sam says that science "lacks self-awareness about the mythology
within which science itself is embedded" I agree. Science also has not
properly negated its mythic roots and is thus somewhat embedded in myth.
Neither science nor religion will be truly free of myth until they see their
metaphysical claims as metaphorical.
Science has made far more progress toward differentiating itself from myth
than Christianity has because of its demand for evidence. "The pencil is
mightier than the pen." Religions tend to use ink (and sometimes blood).
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