Mythology vs. Philosophy
“Mythology, in other words, is psychology misread as biography, history, and cosmology.”
― Joseph Campbell
“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by mean of language.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Mythology is a collection of myths and fables.
Mythology from the Greek ‘mythos’ (for story-of-the-people), and ‘logos’ (for the spoken story of a people) is the study of sacred fables of a culture known as ‘myths’. Myths are believed to be true stories and are generally regarded as the factual account of history. Fables are the false stories and are generally regarded as the fictional account of history.
Both myths and fables have passed on from generation to generation, and have evolved to take multiple versions and have taken different narratives. The supreme characters in mythology are the supernatural powers like gods & goddesses. Through these invisible characters there is a visible attempt to explain the evolution of the origin of the world and secrets of the universe.
Philosophy is an anthology of mystery and science.
In ancient times people’s knowledge of the world was considered to be highest form of knowledge i.e. the wisdom. This was referred as philosophy. As this knowledge became clearer to the humankind it got gradually classified into separate categories. In this way newer form of disciplines like mathematics, physics and medicine evolved out of philosophy. Hence, many regard philosophy as the mother of all sciences.
This idea was aptly expressed by Rene Descartes, who compared philosophy to a tree with metaphysics as its roots, physics as its trunk and all the other sciences comprised in three main disciplines of medicine, mechanics and ethics as its branches.
The idea of philosophy has been to expound the universal principles of existence of universe and the expansion of humanity. The role of an astronomer who studies the position, movement and origins of celestial bodies to that of a biologist who studies the structure, function and evolution of human body and both are deeply guided by experience, observation and experiment.
The basic question that keep haunting us profoundly intriguing is how the philosopher studies his subject.
In order to know both the material and spiritual aspect of life, the philosopher uses his psychological power to digest the data provided by each stream of science separately and the flow of culture as a whole. In other words the nuanced experiences of life i.e. one’s own life and that of the society. From time immemorial philosophy has been understood as a desire for the highest knowledge, as distinct from the forms of applied knowledge. The thinkers of ancient times sought a deeper understanding of the world that would replace the archaic image produced by myth and legend.
Philosophy was exploring the same set of problems as that of mythology i.e. the origin of the world to the secrets of the universe to the human and nature relationship to the explanation of beauty and truth. With the passage of time philosophy, however, took a different approach to these problems.
Mythology continued to see any form of action from that of basic in terms of imaginative images to that of supernatural power. On other hand philosophy evolved as the idea of a universal cosmic reason as the law i.e. the real logic of things and events. Although philosophy immensely contested with mythology for a pretty long time and in some forms of idealism, it still continues to be a captive of the mythological idea.
Every society and culture has some form of mythology and philosophy.
Mythology tries to answer the fundamental aspects of tradition and beliefs. Philosophy tries to answer the fundamental nature of knowledge and reality.
In the ancient time it was largely believed that with the limitation of science, the purpose of a myth was to give the society with a truth for the people to interpret.
In modern times with the evolution science it is the logical offshoot of philosophy i.e. science providing the truth to the people with any scope for interpretation.
Mythology makes our traditions and Philosophy breaks our boundaries of reality, creating a wonderful world for us that of myths and truths.
Nihar R Pradhan