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Old June 7th, 2009, 10:56 AM   #1
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What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


"... what is myth to-day is often history to-morrow." -- Lewis Spence, translator, July 1908

"History is more or less bunk." -- Henry Ford, entrepreneur, May 1916

"Many myths contain accurate or reasonable statements about past events, while all historical sources, both primary and secondary, originate in a given cultural milieu and are influenced by cultural practices and beliefs. Because of this, it can be said that all historical accounts, whether Aztec, European, Chinese, or Fijian, are to some extent 'myths' (see Sahlins 1983)." -- Michael E. Smith, historian, 1984
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Old June 7th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #2

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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Myth is more readily believed by the masses than the actual, rather mundane, history. Question someone about Alfred the Great, and the only bit they'll remember is him burning the cakes. Canute is remembered for "failing" to turn back the waves. Nero for "fiddling" whilst Rome burnt. Nelson for putting his blind eye to the telescope. Francis Drake for playing bowls when the Armarda appeared. Etc.

There may be some truth in these stories, but like most modern learning, these are mere mental shortcuts- a snapshot- of history. And like the camera, they can and do lie.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:16 PM   #3

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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Science is from a Greek word meaning knowledge.
In the modern sense 'science' is knowledge that is verifiable.
That should take care of the definition of science.

The word 'mythology' does not lend itself as easily to understanding for scholars offer varying definitions for the word mythology. Modern scholarship has settled on six that are worth serious consideration. Although Spence is an entertaining writer and has some interesting ideas he lacks the requisite depth to be included. His idea of preservation of rite is not even his but a misinterpretation of Durkheim. But enough of the irrelevant.
Here are the six approaches to myth.

First there is our old friend James Frazer. He interpreted myth as a primitive, fumbling effort to explain the world of nature.

Second: Max Muller interpretated myth as a production of poetical fantasy from prehistoric times which was then misunderstood by succeeding ages.

Third: Emile Durkhein considered myth as a depository of allegorical instruction to shape the individual to his group.

Fourth: Carl Jung saw myth as a group dream, symptomatic of archetypal urges within the depths of the human psyche.

Fifth: Ananda Coomaraswamy felt myth was the vehicle through which man passed on his profoundest insights.

Sixth: The Church which sees it as God's revelation to His children.

Which one of these did you pick? Did you have a favorite?
The correct answer is: all of the above. Each is like one of the six blind men and the elephant. Each has their judgment and their judgment is true according to their ability. Each judgment having been scrutinized in terms not of what it is but of how it functions, of how it serves. This most beautiful of metaphors serves not only to teach us about the limits of individual perception but the acceptance of not knowing; to keep an open mind but not so open that the brain falls out. If you can wrap you mind around that then perhaps a career as a mythologist is for you. In so far as myth deals with knowledge it is a science but it would be a grave error to think it total science.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:27 PM   #4
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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
Myth is more readily believed by the masses
No doubt. Gravitation and uniformitarianism being contemporary examples. But that doesn't answer the question.

Quote:
than the actual, rather mundane, history.
All history on Earth is mundane. But there is absolutely nothing mundane about extraterrestrial history.

Quote:
Question someone about Alfred the Great, and the only bit they'll remember is him burning the cakes. Canute is remembered for "failing" to turn back the waves. Nero for "fiddling" whilst Rome burnt. Nelson for putting his blind eye to the telescope. Francis Drake for playing bowls when the Armarda appeared. Etc.
Sounds like the typical mainstream myths that mainstream historian and scientists believe but still doesn't answer the question.

Quote:
There may be some truth in these stories, but like most modern learning, these are mere mental shortcuts- a snapshot- of history. And like the camera, they can and do lie.
That doesn't answer my question. The question is what is the difference.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #5

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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


There is definitely a difference between the two, but what it is precisely depends upon one's definitions of them.

History would be Calvin Coolidge was a president of the US. Myth would be the adventures of Paul Bunyon. But, again, it depends upon one's definitions.

One could avail himself of a dictionary.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:34 PM   #6
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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedro View Post
Science is from a Greek word meaning knowledge.
In the modern sense 'science' is knowledge that is verifiable.
According to that definition most so-called "science" is a myth.

"As is well known in all sciences there have been many important events which have not left any trace." -- Hannes O.G. Alfvén, physicist, 195

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That should take care of the definition of science.
I didn't ask about science.

Quote:
The word 'mythology' does not lend itself as easily to understanding for scholars offer varying definitions for the word mythology.
Is there anything that lends itself easily to understanding for scholars? Not in my experience.

Quote:
Modern scholarship has settled on six that are worth serious consideration.
I'm not very impressed by modern scholarship.

Quote:
Although Spence is an entertaining writer and has some interesting ideas he lacks the requisite depth to be included. His idea of preservation of rite is not even his but a misinterpretation of Durkheim. But enough of the irrelevant.
Here are the six approaches to myth.

First there is our old friend James Frazer. He interpreted myth as a primitive, fumbling effort to explain the world of nature.
Frazer is an absolute moron in my opinion. That's how I would describe science.

Quote:
Second: Max Muller interpretated myth as a production of poetical fantasy from prehistoric times which was then misunderstood by succeeding ages.
Another antisemite who doesn't believe in Egypt, the Pharaohs, or Troy.

Quote:
Third: Emile Durkhein considered myth as a depository of allegorical instruction to shape the individual to his group.
Sounds like a precise definition of mainstream science.

Quote:
Fourth: Carl Jung saw myth as a group dream, symptomatic of archetypal urges within the depths of the human psyche.
I haven't seen any evidence for that.

Quote:
Fifth: Ananda Coomaraswamy felt myth was the vehicle through which man passed on his profoundest insights.
This is no doubt absolutely correct.

Quote:
Sixth: The Church which sees it as God's revelation to His children.
Meh.

Quote:
Which one of these did you pick? Did you have a favorite?
Ananda Coomaraswamy. Sounds like a genius. Thank you so much for sharing I really appreciate it.

Quote:
The correct answer is: all of the above. Each is like one of the six blind men and the elephant. Each has their judgment and their judgment is true according to their ability. Each judgment having been scrutinized in terms not of what it is but of how it functions, of how it serves. This most beautiful of metaphors serves not only to teach us about the limits of individual perception but the acceptance of not knowing; to keep an open mind but not so open that the brain falls out. If you can wrap you mind around that then perhaps a career as a mythologist is for you. In so far as myth deals with knowledge it is a science but it would be a grave error to think it total science.
I don't buy that because it violates the law of contradiction. If the sky is blue, it cannot be not blue at the same time and in the same respect.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:34 PM   #7

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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Total Science View Post
That doesn't answer my question. The question is what is the difference.
Seems that you didn't read my post.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedro View Post
Seems that you didn't read my post.
That quote was in response to Black Dog not to you. It seems you didn't read my post.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 02:00 PM   #9

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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


It seems you didn't read Black Dog either.



Let's see how the sociopath responds to that. My money is on the pseudo clever.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 02:06 PM   #10

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Re: What's the Difference Between History and Myth?


Effective immediately, Total Science's posting privileges have been revoked in all forums except Speculative History. I am moving this thread to Speculative so that he may continue the debate with anyone who is still interested.

Last edited by Pericles; June 7th, 2009 at 02:30 PM. Reason: fixed a spelling mistake
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