Mind/Culture: Seven Ways of Looking at the World

The following pages have been drawn from a previous manuscript. These seven themes explore the heart of my view regarding the noosphere. The full manuscript can be explored in the Documents section of this website. 1. Evolutionary perspective. Evolution is described as “an unfolding, opening out or working out; process of development, formation or growth” (Friend & Guralnik, 1957, p. 504). The human quest is embedded in the unfolding of evolution. Not only is the past of humanity best understood as a vast web of evolutionary processes, the future of humanity will be in keeping with evolutionary principles, through innumerable cultural elements defined and guided by the human mind, and its creativity. A small sample of works is included below, to illustrate this thematic element. Although these works represent a coherent point of view, it is not necessarily the dominant, conventional point of view. To clarify, the dominant viewpoint is that evolutionary process is the unfolding of random events, thereby a developmental sequence of accidents. Intention or purpose in evolution is referred to as ‘teleology,’ and is rejected by the dominant viewpoint. One reason the antiteleological school may hold for rejecting purposeful direction in evolution may be that a teleological explanation is an intellectual disguise for religion per se. Lively intellectual debate is currently waging regarding the relationship (if any) of spiritual matters to scientific analysis. This debate is not new, but the character of the debate is new. Over 50 years ago Teilhard de Chardin (Catholic theologian and respected palaeontologist) provided a modern shape to the argument in his highly contentious book, The Phenomenon of Man (1951). Teilhard de Chardin’s work is one of the 10 selected samples setting the intellectual climate for this work, particularly as it applies to the human mind and the evolution of culture. (a) John Gribbon (1981), Genesis: The Origins of Man and the Universe. As a cosmologist, Gribbon attempts to embed human evolution as a feature of the universe as a whole. (b) Sir Fred Hoyle (1999), Astronomical Origins of Life: Steps Towards Panspermia. Life as we know it may have evolved uniquely on earth or it is

argued by Fred Hoyle and others that life forms are an integral aspect of the universe at large; terrestrial life is not a unique exception. (c) James Lovelock (2000), Gaia. This work postulates that the troposphere, even the earth as a whole, is a self-managing, self-regulating evolutionary system involving a teleological point of view. (d) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1951). The Phenomenon of Man. The teleology embedded in this work is overt. In addition to the evolution of the geosphere and biosphere, there is that which he terms the noosphere. The noosphere is the realm of the human mind and the culture it produces. (e) Irene Elia (1988), The Female Animal. This work looks at evolution through a female paradigm as a counterbalance to the male paradigm. Elia’s effort is to chart life generally, and culture specifically, through understanding of the biosphere and roots of culture in the biosphere. (f) Richard Leaky (1977), Origins. This author sees contemporary, highly developed human societies as an overtly traceable manifestation of human culture at the most elemental stage. (g) Elizabeth Wayland Barber (1994), Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years. Barber sees cultural evolution as a teleological unfolding of basic female roles throughout ancient societies and into the societies of today. (h) James Frazer (1981; originally published 1890), The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore. The teleology in this work is primarily concerned with the magical, spiritual, and formal religious expression of human culture, as well as the centrality of such expression in the human quest throughout human society. (i) Daniel Quinn (1999), Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure. This work focuses on the techno-economic engine of development, which informs and shapes society as a whole and the elaborate web of relationships among the societal elements.

(j) David Herbert and Colin Thomas (1997), Cities in Space, City as Place. The evolution of the human mind and its created culture has resulted in urbanization and the unbelievable implications for the human quest. A grand strategy for survival is tied to city life as it has been in the past, as it is now, and as it will be through the coming generations. 2. Non-cumulative ideas and cumulative ideas. Cumulative means “accumulated, increasing in effect, size, and quantity, etc. by successive additions” (Friend & Guralnik, 1959, p. 359). Cumulative can be applied to such areas as techno-economic systems--systems accumulating skills, which lead to more elaborate ways of survival, from one century to another, or one generation to another. A simple example of this might be the cumulative process of building on the experience of planting using a digging stick, to inventing a plough, to moving from a horse to a tractor, to the myriad harvesting inventions and innovations pulled by the tractor or by more sophisticated engines. Non-cumulative, NOT accumulated, not increasing in effect, size, and quantity, etc. by successive additions, is illustrated in such societal traits as social ethics and standards. To illustrate this thematic element this will use the work of British philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead. Two of Whitehead’s books relevant to this section of the chapter are Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect (Whitehead, 1990) and Adventures of Ideas (Whitehead, 1972). Emerging from his argument is a useful paradigm, with implications for the way we understand ideas, and the means by which ideas are at work in the human mind, and ultimately, in the social order (Whitehead, 1972). Although Whitehead (1972, 1990) does not use in any overt way the terms cumulative and non-cumulative, his paradigm can be conceptualized as a notion of ideas, to which the terms ‘non-cumulative’ and ‘cumulative’ can be applied. Whitehead discusses the difference between science and art, truth and beauty, and the way in which societies have developed through time from simple to complex social orders. Besides approximating nature ever more closely, his historical development of scientific insights and principles also allows the human mind to intrude on nature, allowing for human control. Although he does not talk about technology as such, his view of science and the

layering of knowledge through time provide for the growth and expansion of technological control. In the 10,000 years of human history from ice age to space age, humanity has learned to intrude on nature through technology, by a controlled understanding of the principles derived from science. In Chapters 2 and 5, Whitehead (1972) develops the notion of ideas in two rather different ways. On the one hand, ideas are discussed in terms of the intimate, barely conscious, emotionally rich, and commonly held perceptions. The cultural ethos of this idea matrix shapes and propels the dogmas, sentiments, morals, and ethical imperatives of a given society by way of an historical continuity of great depth and longevity. In a parallel argument he discusses ideas as the governing agents of social institutions and societies as expressions of deliberate, purposeful, and highly conscious policy webs. In this sense, ideas become part of the governance of society and the effort to guide the direction of society through more formal social instrumentalities. To turn to the realm of non-cumulative ideas, they tend to provide normative, aesthetic, and spiritual symbols which shape the governance of society, without implication of a cumulative process in the sense of science and technology. Noncumulative ideas can be seen to provide the glue that holds society together for society’s very survival. Whitehead (1972, 1990) uses the terms ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ in a greatly expanded form--far beyond the connotation of these two terms used in common parlance. For him, the spiritual, the aesthetic, and the normative are every bit as important as science, yet quite different from science. Whitehead’s work has also provided some useful conceptual tools vis-à-vis such notions as symbols and ideas. As illustrated through Whitehead’s work, cumulative and non-cumulative ideas will be a recurring thematic element throughout this work. N.B. A few further comments about Whitehead. Even though the edition of the book, Symbolism used for this work was published in 1990, Whitehead’s lectures contained in the book were delivered in 1927. Whitehead, it would appear, clearly anticipated the current intellectual climate pertaining to such matters as the nature of ideas and hence of symbols and the interplay of the human mind with the self and with the environment.

These lectures clearly delineate a recursive conception of this web of causative relationships along with an elaborate array of intertwining influences. A mathematical term, recursion means to use the problem itself as party of its own solution. A simple illustration of this might be sending a one-line memo, asking staff to shorten memos. Whitehead (1972, 1990) does not use the term ‘recursion,’ yet it seems to be a most appropriate term for capturing the sense of his model of causation and the interplay between the emic reality and etic reality. This concept of recursion will recur from time to time throughout this work. For the purposes of this work, ‘emic reality,’ ‘etic reality,’ and ‘reality tunnel’ will be defined as follows (Wilson, 1986): EMIC REALITY: the unified field made up of thoughts, feelings and apparent sense impressions that organizes our inchoate experience into meaningful patterns; the paradigm or model that people create by talking to each other, or by communicating in any symbolism; the culture of a time and place, the semantic environment. Every emic reality has its own structure, which imposes structure upon raw experience. ETIC REALITY: the hypothetical actuality that has not been filtered through the emic reality of a human nervous system or linguistic grid. REALITY TUNNEL: an emic reality established by a system of coding, or a structure of metaphors, and transmitted by language, are, mathematics or other symbolism. (p. ii) 3. Gemeinschaft and gesellschaft. This thematic element has its roots in Ferdinand Tönnies’ (1957) work, Community and Society [Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft] (originally published in 1887), delineating a pair of concepts particularly useful in the understanding of cultural evolution from the ice age to the urban age. In German language general usage, gemeinschaft means community, whereas gesellschaft denotes company or corporation. For use in this particular work, these two elements are distinguished as follows: Gemeinschaft is an association of individuals having sentiments, tastes and attitudes in common; fellowship. It is a society or group characterized chiefly by a

strong sense of common identity, close personal relationships, and an attachment to traditional and sentimental concerns. Gesellschaft is an association of individuals around the pursuit of a common goal, for example, an entertainment or business goal; or for intellectual or cultural purposes. Gesellschaft is a society or group characterized chiefly by formal organization, impersonal relations, the absence of generally held or binding norms, and detachment from traditional and sentimental concerns. Over the last 10,000 years, the style of human relationships has shifted from a social order almost completely dominated by gemeinschaft interchange, to today’s urbanized/mechanized societies, largely dominated by gesellschaft relationships. Members of gemeinschaft social groupings give and receive obligations and responsibilities without overt statements about reciprocity. Their social entities include kinship grouping, intimate local groupings, communities of common interest, and relationship defined by implicit sentiment. Gesellschaft social organizations, on the other hand, manifest a more formal style of relationship, contractual, and relatively impersonal. Corporate, governmental, educational, and other bureaucracies are largely defined and sustained by a gesellschaft-style of interaction and mutual commitment. During the last century, social scientists have employed the terms gemeinschaft and gesellschaft to examine two specific social aspects: styles of organization and quality of interactive behaviour. These two aspects of societal elements are enacted very differently when viewed in informal and formal structures. Five thousand years ago, formal government, commerce, professional military, and stratified religious organizations constituted a relatively small percentage of the total societal population, essentially concentrated in larger population centres. In today’s society, however, such formal social elements are the very essence of city and urban life, which occupy a huge percentage of today’s total population. The view of this work is that the modern city and the nation-state are made possible, in large part, by the invention of gesellschaft-style organizations. Although the informal gemeinschaft organizations are not absent from today’s societies, they are no longer the dominant mechanisms for shaping and defining everyday life. Later in this work, the argument will be made that a grand strategy

for survival requires serious attention toward rearranging social elements, such that there is an approximate balance between a gemeinschaft-style of social elements and a gesellschaft-style of social elements. 4. Guardian syndrome and commercial syndrome. Since the city-state was invented 5,000 years ago, the central requirements of society have generated the need for two substantially different cultural systems to coexist side by side. Jane Jacobs (1992), in her book, Systems of Survival, calls these two systems the commercial syndrome and the guardian syndrome. The biological term ‘syndrome’ means “a number of symptoms occurring together and characterizing a specific disease” (Friend & Guralnik, 1957, p. 1479). It is interesting that Jacobs chose this name, rather than such possible alternative names as mindset, paradigm, worldview, or other comparable terms. Jacobs (1992) sees these two syndromes, guardian and commercial, as essential and necessary types of cultural ethos of society, yet mutually incompatible as behavioural systems. Under each syndrome Jacobs lists 15 sub-functions, arranged in pairs between the two syndromes. This is most assuredly NOT a good list/bad list. Rather these two sets of 15 functions are both essential for managing the total society and its sub-parts. Each organizational element of society must commit itself to one syndrome or the other, but not to both. Jacobs argues that if both become co-mingled in a single organization, the resulting hybrid is a social monster. Jacobs regards this elaborate web of social functions as deriving their legitimacy from a sub-structure of moral/ethical requirements. Jacobs believes that both organizations and society also tend to get into dysfunctional difficulty when they fail to honour moral/ethical requirements. At this point it would be well to present Jane Jacobs’s syndromes in her own words (Jacobs, 1992, pp. 22-23):
THE TWO MORAL SYNDROMES

Commercial Syndrome

Guardian Syndrome

Shun force Come to voluntary agreements Be honest Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens Compete Respect contracts Use initiative and enterprise Be open to inventiveness and novelty Be efficient Promote comfort and convenience

Shun trading Exert prowess Be obedient and disciplined Adhere to tradition Respect hierarchy Be loyal Take vengeance Deceive for the sake of the task Make rich use of leisure Be ostentatious

Dissent for the sake of the Dispense largesse task Invest for productive purposes Be industrious Be thrifty Be optimistic Show fortitude Be fatalistic Treasure honour Be exclusive

Jacobs (1992) sees as the essence of human society the human trait of modifying nature by making things and trading things. It should be mentioned, though, that trading can be subverted by ‘taking’ rather than trading, as is the case in raiding by tribes or the colonizing situation of ‘taking’ resources for the benefit of the colonizer country. The many organizational elements of society must contribute in an effective way to the marketplace, since social survival itself depends on a healthy marketplace. The more elaborate the society, the more elaborate the organizational elements that interrelate for the purpose of commerce. According to Jacobs (1992), a society that treats the total fabric of commerce in an equitable, honest, and

flexible fashion will enjoy social good health and a better long-term position visà-vis its societal neighbours. The guardian syndrome is more than the management of military and government, although these are guardian functions. The objective of the guardian function is to maintain the continuity, territorial integrity, and political stability of the society. The guardian function is not more important than the commercial function, nor is it less important. A healthy society must respect this function and sustain it with a sense of equality and justice. If the guardian syndrome should subvert its moral/ethical requirements, the resulting social dysfunction could threaten the existence of that society in any long-term perspective. This work will draw on Jane Jacobs’s ideas to identify how education fits in the dynamics of the post-industrial society. 5. Education as an institutional bridge. From elders to parents to children, a society flows through time, renewing and reshaping itself. Every society must provide for a web of processes which introduce each new generation into the adult context, with all of its complexities. As a social formal institution, education provides such a mechanism. Education must draw on the gemeinschaft lifeblood of a society by adding skills, talents, and capacities that will serve each new generation in the process of becoming competent and capable adults. The hazard faced by education in complex, secularized societies is the conversion of educative processes from a gemeinschaft cultural ethos to a gesellschaft cultural ethos. If education is seen as a formal organizational instrument, then, by definition, it belongs to the realm of gesellschaft-style relationships. However, it bridges the gemeinschaft-style relationships characteristic of the family and related social entities. Therefore, the challenge for educational institutions in advanced societies is to maintain the intimate, emotionally rich, and personal educative experience, while preparing for the skills and knowledge requirements of sophisticated science and technology, as well as for the complexities of adult life. In her 1994 book, Peripheral Visions, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson argues that the educative process in simpler, more traditional societies tends to

reflect tradition for sustaining social cohesion in a fundamentally gemeinschaft type of cultural ethos. In complex, secularized societies, cultural tradition and social cohesion suffer at the hands of complex, impersonal forces that tend to force the educative process into a style which is more instrumental, depersonalized, fragmented, and more devoid of moral/ethical imperatives. Bateson (1994) explores such issues through her formal and informal studies of four very different societies: Israel, Iran, Philippines, and U.S.A. Primarily concerned with the child-rearing and educative processes of society, Bateson’s book is quite explicit regarding child rearing and education as a quintessential gemeinschaft style of social relationships and the underlying normative order. The family, the neighbourhood, and the immediate community are collaboratively engaged in formal and informal efforts to provide continuity in introducing the new generation into society, through a web of traditional practices, as well as through close adherence to emotionally rich folkways and mores. If the total society is to survive, its subcomponents of family, neighbourhood, and community must coherently renew themselves generation by generation. If infants and children are to be integrated into society with purpose, value, and meaning, then child rearing and education must enrich, define, and guide the existential connection of each cohort of children with the essential cultural ethos of their society. Bateson (1994) offers a counterpoint to the observations made above. When addressing the problems of complex, secularized societies, she sees the childrearing and educative processes in a far more complicated context: The quality of improvisation characterizes more and more lives today, lived in uncertainty, full of the inklings of alternatives. In a rapidly changing and interdependent world, single models are less likely to be viable and plans more likely to go awry. The effort to combine multiple models risks the disasters of conflict and runaway misunderstanding, but the effort to adhere blindly to some traditional model for a life risks disaster not only for the person who follows it but for the entire system in which he or she is embedded, indeed for all the other living systems with which that life is linked. (p. 8)

Bateson (1994) also offers a powerful insight regarding the power structure of a society vis-à-vis threats to learning and subversion of knowledge, clearly noting that abusive power can do far more damage than to pervert learning. Such aberrant power can threaten the very survival of a society. We reach for knowledge as an instrument of power, as an instrument of delight, yet the preoccupation with power ultimately serves ignorance. The political scientist Karl Deutsch defined power as “the ability not to have to learn,” which is exemplified by the failure of empathy in a Marie Antoinette or the rejection of computer literacy by an executive. Ironically, in our society both the strongest, those who have already succeeded, and the weakest, those who feel destined for failure, defend themselves against new learning. (p. 75) In the last three chapters, Bateson (1994) explores some fundamental problems of early education. She argues that in North America formal education and even parental instruction tend to discount or ignore the powerful learning experiences which happen at almost a subliminal level, and which concern an almost endless stream of implicit connections made while learning language or even learning behavioural styles. She argues that instead of honouring the implicit and nearly subliminal, we focus on explicit, particularized, disconnected, and decontextualized aspects of instruction. In perceiving education as amassing units of fact disconnected from context, the more subtle and creative mental processes are devalued or ignored. Education is also instrumental in bridging several crucial societal elements. Later in this work a good deal more will be said about education as an institution. It should be emphasized that the educative process is, to a more or less formal degree, an ongoing involvement through the lifecycle. Furthermore, it can be argued that the institution of education, when coupled with the institution of health, provides a compound vehicle for investing in the vigour and well-being of society. The relationship between these two institutions can be seen as a conjugal one; that is, to be truly effective and truly enriching to society, education and health must be married seamlessly. This conjugal relationship will be explored to a greater degree later in this work.

6. Investment in human capital. The skills, talents, and capacities of the human population constitute the truly fundamental wealth of a society or any of its subelements. This is known as human capital. Ideas are to human capital what money is to financial capital. The renewal of ideas intergenerationally has the potential for accumulating through time as cumulative ideas. For example, ideas which pertain to tools and technical skills can be sequentially improved upon, thus gradually expanding human control in a broader societal and environmental context. Logic, mathematics, experimental science, and theoretical analysis are examples of some of the more academic expressions of creative ideas lying within the human mind. This work will use the concept of a ‘master idea,’ since master ideas can and do provide the creative and cumulative cultural vitality of human organizations, at both macro and micro levels of activity. Although the term ‘master idea’ has at its core something of the notion of weltanschauungen, translated roughly as ‘worldview’ or cultural ethos, this work will explore a slightly different focus of master idea, as outlined by the following two scholars. Both Arnold Pacey (1992) in The Maze of Ingenuity and Theodore Roszak (1986) in The Cult of Information explore this term, each in his own way. Although they both use for their analysis the words ‘master idea,’ the meaning ascribed to the term by each of them is different in both emphasis and scope. The concept of master idea possesses an inchoate understanding of an explicate order emerging out of an implicate order. This emergence might metaphorically be compared to the sex gametes of an elephant upon fertilization giving rise ultimately to a five-ton adult. In short, DNA is the implicate order and the adult elephant is the explicative order. Pacey (1992) used the concept of ‘master idea’ to analyze the techno-economic explosion of Western Europe from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Age. In Pacey’s perception, the formative essence of the master ideas involved in this revolution were focused in the practices and beliefs of the Cistercian monasteries, socially potent during the late Middle Ages. This time in history brought Christian theology and classic philosophy together in a way that allowed an innovative explosion from 1100 to 1300. By 1600 the divine and mystical dimension was greatly eroded, leaving the universe as a machine to be understood as a mechanic would understand a machine. The emergent master

ideas and grand strategies of western and northern European societies rushed forward during the 1500’s, and by the middle 1600’s truly anticipated the great European revolution, which not only swept Europe, but ultimately radiated around the world. Although the refugee scholars of Byzantium and the Renaissance scholars of Italy and Spain had launched this process, by the middle 1500’s important innovators in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, Sweden, and England gave the process new direction and new energy. The master idea behind the scientific and technological revolution of the 17th century, therefore, was an extension of a much earlier idea that the universe was a vast, elaborate machine. A century ago Max Weber wrote the famous book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber, 1930). Although Weber did not use the term ‘master idea’ as such, his delineation of the Protestant ethic constitutes a master idea, as Pacey (1992) would describe it. Furthermore, in Weber’s treatment the Protestant ethic constitutes the implicate order out of which emerges the explicate order which Weber calls ‘the spirit of capitalism.’ Whether implicitly or explicitly, this paradigm, or similar ones, have been a lively part of Western scholarship for several generations. In Theodore Roszak’s (1986) treatment of the ‘master idea’ concept, the focus shifts from the broad historical and societal perspective offered by Pacey (1992) to a focus of greatly reduced scope. In chapter five of The Cult of Information, Roszak (1986) launches a sophisticated criticism of traditional empiricism and its pervasive articles of faith that facts speak for themselves and ideas are byproducts of data. He sees information and data as decoration to the pursuit of ideas. He even makes the argument that too much information can subvert the thoughtful process of education by sabotaging a clear understanding of ideas. Roszak (1986) understands the job of education to be an inquiry into ideas and thoughtful reflection about these elemental constituents of culture. In his analysis, the individual and personal educative process is much more central. He sees the master idea as a mental filter which selects, shapes, accepts, rejects, or develops incoming information. Wilson (1986) uses the term ‘reality tunnel.’ To extend this comparison, master ideas are the core elements in one’s emic reality, which mediates the

understanding of the etic reality. According to both Wilson (1986) and Roszak (1986), the human mind cannot escape its own filtering processes. Even though the term ‘reality tunnel’ as used by Wilson and ‘master idea’ as used by Roszak may seem to elicit different imagery, the difference is more about imagery rather than about any substantive difference. The image to be drawn from ‘reality tunnel’ may appear to some as a metaphor of constriction and limitation, as well as one of directional focus, whereas ‘master idea’ may elicit a metaphoric image of directing energy and therefore an energized focus. These two concepts are substantively contiguous. In both cases the focus is on the personal, the contemporary, and the way in which the mind filters input, by virtue of previous convictions, values, and experiences. These ideas hark back to some of those expressed earlier by Mary Catherine Bateson (1994). 7. Adaptive weltanschauungen. Joseph Campbell (Campbell, 1988) explores three big questions: 1. What is our relationship to the divine order? 2. What is our relationship to the natural order? 3. What is our relationship to each other? He used folklore as a device to answer these three questions haunting the human condition. Although widely regarded as a folklorist, Joseph Campbell’s (1949, 1988, 1999) body of work went far beyond the charting of folklore. His life work gave powerful demonstration that the mythic themes emerging out of a vast body of folklore provide universal insights into these questions, regardless of the complexity of the society or the particularities of social institutions. In his book, The Power of Myth, Campbell (1988) explores mythology as a generative and creative force in human life. The cultural ethos of a society and generative energy propelling the society have always been defined, shaped, and energized by powerful mythic themes and the heroes who personified those themes. Campbell’s considerable body of work focused on myth, and the notion of hero as the organizing principle for all societies, pre-literate, feudal, industrial, or informational. These mythic themes attempt to bring the theological, ideological, and technological aspects of society into a cultural ethos which will provide meaning and direction.

The following five quotes have a voice of intimacy and informality. This is because Campbell’s work is a personal and informal companion piece to a TV series of interviews with Bill Moyers. This voice enriches the very insights provided by the excerpts. Although not an adequate exploration of Joseph Campbell’s contributions, these statements do reveal a mind which regards inquiry as a dance with the mysterious. There is not a hint of positivist thinking in Campbell’s work, yet his scholarship is rigorous and his insights are profound. The first quote provides a powerful, existential insight, with enormous implications for marketplace and academy alike. People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonates within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. (Campbell, 1988, p. 3) It would seem impossible to live or study without confronting the mysterious or the dark dimensions of doubt. Campbell recognizes this most human condition and again offers an existential insight which strikes a chord of hope and illumination. One thing that comes out of myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message to transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light. (Campbell, 1988, p. 37) In the following quote, Campbell’s famous notion of bliss possesses some powerful implications for humanistic research as well as for life outside the academy. If you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. (Campbell, 1988, p. 91)

The fourth excerpt offers a sharp insight into the second great question for mankind mentioned above: “What is our relationship to nature?” Today’s ecological crisis offers a dark backdrop to this eloquent insight. Myths of the Great Goddess teach compassion for all living beings. There you come to appreciate the real sanctity of the earth itself, because it is the body of the Goddess. (Campbell, 1988, p. 165) Whether pursuing humanistic research or a monastic calling, mystery confronts us over and over again. In humanistic research we have the option of regarding mystery as an enemy to overcome, or as a dimension of the mind which can inspire and enrich. The next statement provides sharp focus on this matter. Anyone who has had an experience of mystery knows that there is a dimension of the universe that is not that which is available to his senses. There is a pertinent saying in one of the Upanishads: “When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain you pause and exclaim, ‘Ah,’ you are participating in divinity.” (Campbell, 1988, p. 207) One of Campbell’s most famous books, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Campbell, 1949), discusses Campbell’s thoughts about mythology--as modern scholars tend to perceive it. This brief excerpt captures the direction of argument throughout the book. Mythology has been interpreted by the modern intellect as a primitive, fumbling effort to explain the world of nature (Frazer); as a production of poetical fantasy from prehistoric times, misunderstood by succeeding ages (Muller); as a repository of allegorical instruction, to shape the individual to his group (Durkheim); as a group dream, symptomatic of archetypal urges within the depths of the human psyche (Jung); as the traditional vehicle of man’s profoundest metaphysical insights (Coomaraswamy); and as God’s Revelation to His children (the Church). Mythology is all of these. The various judgments are determined by the viewpoints of the judges. For when scrutinized in terms not of what it is but of how it functions, of how it has served mankind in the past, of how it may serve today, mythology shows itself to be as amenable as life itself to the

obsessions and requirements of the individual, the race, the age. (Campbell, 1949, p. 382) In the last section of the book, entitled ‘The Hero Today,’ Campbell (1949) concludes his discussion with a note of deep pessimism, as well as a speculative note of optimism. In many ways this section pulls the threads of the entire book together, illuminating the rest of the work and propelling the reader toward a further examination of myth and its place in society, whether ancient or modern. In agrarian and pre-agrarian societies which spanned the globe before the modern era, the mythic themes generated by religious practices and beliefs, the normative themes of aesthetic expression (poetry, drama, etc.), and the celebratory rituals which brought to life the ancestors and heroes of the society gave to the polity purpose, value, and meaning for life, both individual and collective. For such societies, mythic themes provided the psychic energy for coping with the vagaries of the environment and the threats presented by external societies. In short, the mythic themes provided the specific cultural ethos for a specific society to cope with the challenges which threatened the very survival of the society. If the symbols and rituals shaped and directed by the mythic themes worked as survival strategies, then the society could anticipate an integrated continuance of its selfhood into the foreseeable future. If, however, the mythic themes failed to provide a cultural ethos supporting survival, then obviously the society faced disaster either environmentally or militarily. Indeed, many polities throughout human existence have failed the test of imminent threats to survival. For the past 500 years the rapidly spreading techno/economic revolution with its supporting scientific disciplines has uprooted myth and religion in a profoundly disruptive fashion. Consequently, societies of the 20th and 21st centuries face problems of survival in a very different emotional/mythic weltanschauungen (worldview). The explosion of science, as Campbell (1988) sees it, has shattered the mythic themes and dogmatic principles, once so useful to coherence of society and to meaningfulness of life. Out of this emotional/mythic rubble must come new

mythic themes congruent with the 21st century and the insights which science offers. According to Campbell, the mental health of any society still requires an appreciation of mystery and a psychic connection with the cosmos, providing a vibrant sense of purpose, value, and meaning at both individual and societal levels.