Myth & Ideology & Truth

Somniferum (2453mauri@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU)
Fri, 12 Apr 1996 01:32:33 EDT

I think I detected a thread running through Wednesday's discussion about
myth/ideology/religion that's been stringing us along. Here are some of the
points where I noticed it surfacing:

Richard Calo wrote-

"I have referred to the mind in several of my postings. My concern has not
been with whether a religion is true but a mythology false, but with the
nature of the mind that determines which is which."

Douglass St.Christian added-

" i do not see how any definition which distinguishes between some category
of things we know and things we believe [ things we think we know??? ] can
avoid reproducing and universalizing our own epistemological and
philosophical peculiarities...."


" i can't think my way around an altered definition [of belief] that would
make it work in any generalized way...which is not to say that beliefs
don't happen outside the tradition from which we draw the concept...only
that any definition needs to be based on demonstrating their presence,
rather than assuming their universality...."

Jana Fortier wrote-

" haven't you guys ever heard of multiple truths? how do you think we all
teach anthro when there's a million origin stories out there? of course
they're all true, because they're all subjectively defined truths."

Brian Michael Howell opined-

"if the notion of "correctness" is thrown out the window then you do not
have "multiple truths" you have no truth at all."

And John Pastore responded-

"Truth, whether singular or plural, ethnocentric, ethnoeccentric, or
even ethnomorphic, is still (as I think it always has been and always
will be) a semantic blank --and that's the only truth I have ever been
able to come up with."

I wonder if all of these aren't premised on our own mythical conception of
truth itself. All of us seem to believe unquestionably in the existence of
truth even though none of us has ever isolated it. Is this our religion (or
"epistemological and philosophical peculiarities")? Do other cultures
believe in truth such that they anguish over whether what they or their
associates know/believe is empirically true? Why do so many people not of
northern European descent seem to have no problem believing in, say, Legba,
penicillin, Jesus Christ *and* spiritists? Does such a believer categorize
his or her beliefs according to which are true and which false?
I wonder if, as John Pastore suggests, truth were just a "semantic blank"
it would have quite the vigor it seems to. I suspect that it is somewhat
less ethereal than this, and that it does operate according to identifiable
"myth models," which is to say that this operation is culturally rather
than biologically or universally determined.

--Marcus Aurin