Chapter

Introduction

E. J. Michael Witzel

in The Origins of the World's Mythologies

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780195367461
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199932047 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367461.003.0001
Introduction

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This introductory chapter explores the definition, scope, and past investigations of myth: a “true” narrative that tells of cosmology and society as well as of the human condition and that is frequently employed to explain and justify social circumstance. Worldwide similarities between individual myths are habitually explained by diffusion or by common human psychic traits (Jungian archetypes). However, the current Laurasian proposal supersedes these approaches as it involves a whole system of myths, notably one characterized by a narrative structure (story line) from the creation of the world to its end. The Laurasian scheme also supersedes the Jungian proposal because the actual formulation of myths and their arrangement in a complex narrative system are located on higher planes than that of the archetypes. The artistic arrangement of myths in Laurasia (and beyond) is explored and traced back in time to the Mesolithic or Upper Paleolithic period. Finally, the history of the Laurasian scheme is sketched, from the Paleolithic until today.

Keywords: myths; comparative mythology; Laurasian mythology; Jungian proposal

Chapter.  15732 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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