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    On the myths of Logos and the logic of myth
    In this annexed posting, a coup d'œil is cast at the conflict between Mythos and Logos as being essential to a understanding of how the secular, atheistic, natural sciences is capturing the spotlight and forcing off the social scene the myth in the form of Logos. This debate has continued under a call for a narrative, a reclaim of Mythos, addressing that which we feel is "missing from a completely rational understanding of reality".

    The problem, however, is not very clear and it is not evident what can be meant with a call for Mythos. We can get help in solving this entanglements by asking what Logos actually is and how we are to understand the apparently sudden appearance of this mystical stranger that surfaces as a contrast to the old, and all too familiar Mythos. We must in this way force ourself to see beyond the immediate utility of Logos in the modern society and look more closely at the presupposed concepts of it. Many of the characteristics of Logos is widely known and have been discussed in the philosophy of science and through several attempts of social diagnostics. What is not so common is to analyse these characteristics precisely within the symbolic realm that is Mythos. We are therefore going to give an account of some of the most important of these concepts and we will see, I expect, that the problem pointed out by obvious and later by rene is not that which we first thought, but is essential in quite another realm. But first, let us take a look at the Mythos in itself and its relationship with Logos.


    The myth is composed of many different parts and plays widely different roles in a society. It can be that of legitimizing some social construction, to attribute a character or quality to a particular phenomenon or to present ethical or other kinds of motivations for a certain behaviour. The myth can be that of Jesus being God's son, tortured and killed for the eternal and final redemption from the intrinsic sinful way of mankind or it can be that of Oedipus, caught up with his destiny, being violently forced by his own ignorance to kill his father and marry his mother. The myth can be that of the teleological constitution of nature, postulating the ideal, or even the myth of the absolute and inviolable human rights. Whichever myth we take and whatever role we suppose the myth to have there is one thing that combines them in their "being myths", namely their ability to establish concepts from nothing.

    Let me explain this point. The role of the myth, in every form, is to construct a (not necessarily single) concept from which we are to understand reality or at least at part of it. The myth pretend in this way to be a singular point of leverage, a stable point from which any thing can be moved, but a point which is not preceded. If it were, it would not never be a point of leverage. This can be the concept of salvation, destiny or any ethical foundation. If we use obvious' notion of a narrative, that is a construction of a story, this same point can be put in the following terms: the reality needs, in order to be reality, to be constructed as a sense. The reality qua reality is put into words, images or sound and in this way summoned to life. I hope that we now have succeeded in outlining our idea of the myth. However, as our main problem here is not that of the myth but of the Logos, we should now look more closely at it.


    As obvious himself points out: while the myth is equipped for the "utterance" of reality, true or not, the rational Logos is occupied with the truth by showing us that which is true. Let us therefore, before we continue, direct our attention towards two essential aspects of Logos, to cast some light on our current question.

    1. The first problem that presents itself is closely related to our idea of truth: objectivity. For is it not so that truth is a result from any investigation that is profoundly and sincerely objective?

    The objectivity of the natural sciences has been contested before but remains nevertheless a big problem, and it is not easily solved. We see for instance that the project The Total Library, even in its title and project description, implies the objectivity of the sciences. It does this precisely with the idea that the "complete quantity of human knowledge" is growing toute vitesse through a cumulative process. This is the idea, though rarely uttered, that the human knowledge is progressing and is directed, through the tryings and failings of the sciences, towards an ideal, complete knowledge. Let us continue to the second aspect of Logos.

    2. This problem is, as far as I can understand, that which is vaguely outlined in both obvious' and renes postings. It follows practically from the the first point, the idea of a cumulative knowledge, that Logos can solve any problem. That is, we redirect our attention from the deductive method of the sciences to the rationality of Logos that plays a great role in our social arrangement. Increasingly the societies obtains a technocratic attitude towards the social problems of our time - they can, and will, be solved if we only give the expertise the time and resources. In other words, the influences on society that is not based on this expertise is something that blocks our rapid advance.

    Already pointed out, a great problem arises from this arrangement, namely that of alienation. This phenomenon appears when the Logos, the instrumental rationality, begins to govern our lives rather than being to our help. We become slaves under the rationality rather than having Logos as a slave of humanity. This is evidently a problem that Logos itself cannot solve. A call for Mythos as a "way of looking at things" is presented.


    But what does this "call for Mythos" means? As we underlined in the introduction this appeal is not what it seems precisely because we only know have a more thorough understanding of the concepts of Logos and Mythos. Let us now, at last, look more closely at the relation between these concepts:

    The character of the Logos can be even clearer if we contrast it to that of Mythos. We said earlier: "while the myth is equipped for the "utterance" of reality, true or not, the rational Logos is occupied with the truth". But the problem that for so long has been hidden in the opposition of the two contestants becomes now evident and clear for any reader, for what is more of a utterance of reality than the truth? If we look at the two aspects of Logos pointed out in II. we see now clearly that these are precisely that which characterizes the Mythos: a construction of a reality through the rational myth of truth.

    What, then, can the call for Mythos possibly be? It seems now that the problem of Logos is not simply a problem of Logos, but of the construction of Mythos. It seems that it is for the debating parts the ethical values, our intrinsic humanity and our social, interpersonal relationships that are at stake, put at risk by Logos so unwilling to make compromises. However, it becomes now clear that these aspects of human life is in fact endangered but has been so for a long time, if not forever. Not necessarily through the alienation rationale, but through other means, this is precisely the danger of the will to dominate that should be the investigated.

    obvious points out that "If Space Collective can redefine, then it can build from scratch". How this reconstruction can be performed is now our question, how we can "look at things differently".

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    Rourke     Wed, Apr 2, 2008  Permanent link
    I think you've hit on a crucial point here, a point which philosophically is amongst the most interesting in all of human thought.

    Without getting into an even more detailed account of what the problem is, it must first be acknowledged that we, the collective few who mediate this webspace, are far from likely to be able to quash a problem of reference which lies inherent in all Western models of reality. The Western concept of reality has been built, from scratch, on conflicting and infinitely refering postulates that lend the examination of those postulates an impossible character. The forms of language, of logical thinking that we use to examine the problem, are actually themselves the problem. Hence we stretch out our tendrils looking for varying models, perhaps from Eastern traditions or perhaps from exotic languages which appear to posit a reality of such vastly different composition as to be indistinguishable from our own. But in the end the problem remains, and will do, until the models we use to examine the problem are composed from outside it, looking in. A seeming impossibility.

    I tend to think that the way the internet has evolved will, in time, allow varied models to construct themselves that we may refer to in our quest for a new genus of thought. Could it be perhaps that it is not what we think and ponder on this website which matters, but how we form what we think and do, how we interlink it and allow it to bubble and evolve into forms of its own devising?

    I am not suggesting that some higher intelligence exists, or will ever exist, at the core of Space Collective, what I do think it is crucial we become aware of is the forms our meaderings take and the links that bind them beneath the surface. Space Collective is already growing into an interlinked web of projects about thought, language, perception, form, space, time and consciousness. We should let the model, the web of ideas itself, come to exemplify the new mode of thought we long for. How this will happen, I know not, but here's to setting our sights high enough. Form is as important, if not more so, than content in matters related to consciousness and reality. Can Space Collective become the mythos of itself?