MD Defining the mythos

From: Paul Turner (
Date: Mon Aug 11 2003 - 13:15:44 BST

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    In the “myths and symbols” post you said:

    “The aborigines engage in mythical thinking supported by ritual as
    opposed to logical thinking supported by measurement of displacements
    in time and space. Mythos vs. logos. Or, groupthink vs. autonomous
    individual. Or, social values vs. intellectual values.”

    I said:

    “the best description of the mythos is a collection of intellectual

    This obviously needs further expansion, so here is a start.

    In ZMM Pirsig describes the mythos
    “The mythos-over-logos argument points to the fact that each child is
    born as ignorant as any caveman. What keeps the world from reverting to
    the Neanderthal with each generation is the continuing, ongoing mythos,
    transformed into logos but still mythos, the huge body of common
    knowledge that unites our minds as cells are united in the body of man.
    To feel that one is not so united, that one can accept or discard this
    mythos as one pleases, is not to understand what the mythos is.
    There is only one kind of person, Phædrus said, who accepts or rejects
    the mythos in which he lives. And the definition of that person, when he
    has rejected the mythos, Phædrus said, is "insane." To go outside the
    mythos is to become insane.” ZMM p351
    In Lila he notes the following:
    “If the baby ignores this force of Dynamic Quality it can be speculated
    that he will become mentally retarded, but if he is normally attentive
    to Dynamic Quality he will soon begin to notice differences and then
    correlations between the differences and then repetitive patterns of the
    correlations. But it is not until the baby is several months old that he
    will begin to really understand enough about that enormously complex
    correlation of sensations and boundaries and desires called an object to
    be able to reach for one. This object will not be a primary experience.
    It will be a complex pattern of static values derived from primary

    Once the baby has made a complex pattern of values called an object and
    found this pattern to work well he quickly develops a skill and speed at
    jumping through the chain of deductions that produced it, as though it
    were a single jump…in a very short time it becomes so swift one doesn’t
    even think about it….only when an “object” turns out to be an illusion
    is one forced to become aware of the deductive process” …In this way
    static patterns of value become the universe of distinguishable things.
    Elementary static distinctions between such entities as “before” and
    “after” and between “like” and “unlike” grow into enormously complex
    patterns of knowledge that are transmitted from generation to generation
    as the mythos, the culture in which we live.” Lila p.138
    The mythos is the “universe of distinguishable things” stored in
    “complex patterns of knowledge that are transmitted from generation to
    generation” by each society. The deductions based on an immediate
    apprehension of value made as an infant and subsequently affirmed or
    denied by society constitute our static reality, this is reaffirmed in
    “The Metaphysics of Quality agrees with scientific realism that these
    inorganic patterns are completely real, and there is no reason that box
    shouldn't be there, but it says that this reality is ultimately a
    deduction made in the first months of an infant's life and supported by
    the culture in which the infant grows up.” SODV
    So to expand my definition slightly– the mythos is the collection of
    socially learned or approved intellectual patterns of value. As a
    consequence, I think that associating the mythos solely with social
    patterns seems to miss some of the key points made by the MOQ.
    Just a start of course, what do you think?

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