Elements of Mythological Consciousness in Modern Culture

Elements of Mythological Consciousness in Modern Culture
© Photograph by Tijana Moraca

Diffusion areas of the cultural and society social life leads to a gradual loss of the judging possibility, evaluating or distinguishing both the phenomena in private and social life, and thus highlighting their properties and characteristics.

There are two contradictory tendencies of the current state in society: on the one hand, the results of scientific research give an opportunity to understand the laws of nature more and more, and researchers, engineers and other specialists specializing in special skills and knowledge form a certain social group or even a social class; On the other hand, the processes of diffusion in social life lead to the formation of a class of ordinary people whose consciousness can be characterized as mythological. Although it is certainly possible to imagine a specialist in nuclear physics, seriously reflecting on the fate, drawing ethical attitudes from fantastic films, etc.

The fundamental feature of the mythological consciousness is not the ability to abstract, to the idealisation, “a cursory glance at the facts of mythological consciousness shows that this consciousness does not know any dividing lines at all, for the empirical concept and empirical-scientific thinking are simply necessary. First of all, there is no reliable line between the perception of “represented” and “real”, between desire and fulfilment, between image and thing”.

From the point of view of linguistics, myth is a word. The book by Roland Barth ‘Mythology’ is a vivid illustration of this approach. On expressive examples from different spheres of life in society (French), Bart shows the diversity of the manifestation of mythological consciousness in modern times.

Valuable in this analysis are just examples of mythological consciousness, rather than the subsequent conceptual interpretation of myth. The myth is not just a word. To describe the myth by means of signs, to separate the form from the meaning and to trace the very form-formation, which depends, however, from the concrete historical conditions, means to deconstruct the myth, missing the most essential in it.

Since the myth can only be a word, it means mythology is one of the communication forms. Linguistic reductionism, which is widespread in modern humanitarian knowledge, arose from the lack of proper philosophical substantiation of the subject. And in consequence of such reductionism, R. Bart does not distinguish myth as a type of consciousness, from the illusion that arises in the public consciousness as a result of illegitimate transfer of meanings from one area really or representable to another, on the basis of the propensities or whims of subjects of social actions.

Such illusions, although they play an auxiliary role in the functioning of society, giving the chance to somehow explain the world, or rather the habitat, for the ability of subjects to orient themselves in this environment, however it has nothing to do with myth as an original form of consciousness that determined, at one time as a truth, world and public rules, and the causes of world evil, lies and even death.

One of the first attempts to comprehend mythology was realized in the philosophy of the Neoplatonist, which combined the old and the new, the old naive mythology, with the help of new sharp methods of thought-dialectics. The new Neoplatonist syncretism of the mythology, the new subjective attitude of the world and the dialectic of Plato and Aristotle is one of the most remarkable phenomena in world culture.

Are not we also facing the task of creating a new syncretism, or, more precisely, are we forced to create such syncretism? After all, the situation in the world partly resembles the state of the Roman Empire of the period III-IV centuries: the crisis social structures, the growth of individualism or subjectivism, a vague and bleak picture of the future, and in general the disintegration of established forms of social relations and even culture in private life.

Even more striking is that in our time there is also a current of thought that performs functions similar to Neoplatonism — this is the flow of traditionalism, which attempts to restore or restore the original tradition that existed before the era of humanism in the West, and in the East, is still present.

As the example from history shows, at such a time the tendencies that previously were in a passive, unobtrusive form and did not play any tangible role in the socio-cultural space are radicalized. However, what syncretism of which areas of culture and society can we talk about? Can the association be expected between the religious mythological East and Latin America and between the West and North America? The East needs technology and a rational economy, and the West needs a living worldview.

Thus, we are talking about the syncretism of myth, faith and reason, reason. The education that can arise is rationalized mythology — as in Neoplatonism, this is the foreshadowing of a new stage in the history of culture.

Myth increasingly penetrates into rational spheres, rationality becomes a new way of treating myth.

Myth is a qualitative relation to the world, and therefore all interpretations of what is happening in the myth have a structural form, and not a functional one, as in the theoretical mind.

At the risk of continuing the analogy, we can say that the West is lifeless, but the East is powerless, the West is formal, and the East is rich.

“The actual contradiction between East and West is based on the fact that the East affirms the unconditional superiority of speculation over action, and the modern West, on the contrary, is the superiority of action over speculation”. In this sense, a contradiction can be designated as a struggle between time and space, an action is the conquest of space, speculation is a striving for an eternal presence, or a movement toward a state of immutability, so time is something fundamental, and space is external.

Thanks to technology, the West has learned to accelerate time, but not how not to be present in time.

The criterion for speculation is truth and freedom, the criterion for action is good. But has the tradition decayed in the East itself, have not the metaphysical doctrines of the East turned into petty superstitions of the majority? If so, then only the restoration of the past awaits us, the emergency is no longer a utopia, but a retrocopy, as forced forms of generating at least some senses.

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