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Fact and Legend

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Fact and Legend
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Anachronous RexLeague LegendUser avatarPosts: 2008Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:07 pmLocation: Kansas City, MO Gender: Male

Post Fact and Legend

While brainstorming ideas for the new science sticky a thought came to mind that, while it probably doesn't belong in that particular thread, is still quite frustrating, and I now seek to learn if my League comrades think so as well.

There is an idea, rarely expressed as such, but nonetheless prevalent in society and amateur historical circles, that all legends are at least in some respect derived from actual historical events or observations.

This idea has gathered such tremendous force behind it that now I can scarcely mention Noah's flood without hearing of the Black Sea, cyclopes without hearing of mammoth skulls, Atlantis without hearing of Knossos, and - in more academic schools - Amazons without somebody bringing up Hittites (allegedly the Mycenaeans thought they were girly because they shaved.)

As though these explanations were proven facts.

As though ancient peoples lacked the imagination to conceive of a one-eyed giant on their own; or ponder after a thunderous deluge what might occur if the rain did not cease to fall.



While I do not oppose speculation on principal, the common acceptance of what is - in actuality - merely cleaver guesswork, is at best troubling; at worst, this actively encourages pseudoscience by creating an environment in which any intelligent-sounding hypothesis may be taken seriously.

Your thoughts comrades?
Our prefrontal lobes are too small. Much too small. That's a problem of the birth canal, I'm very sorry to say for those that like their birth canals... tight.
-C. Hitchens.
Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:36 pm
lrkunUser avatarPosts: 3831Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:37 pmLocation: R. Gender: Tree

Post Re: Fact and Legend

My hypothesis in this case is based on how ideas are formed.

Ideas are formed from that we can sense. This is from the environment which acts as a stimulus. How we perceive this stimulus will give rise to our understanding of the fact or event.

In the case of one who experiences a fact or event.

Let us suppose A sees the skull of a mammoth. Not knowing any term for it, he decides to call it a cyclops, because the skull has one huge hole in the center. He assumes that it is a one eyed monster, because a skull ought to have two eye sockets.

Let us suppose that A has no means of sharing this information to others, except through oral communication. For the purposes of passing stories, he then creates a fantastic story which illustrates this creature, i.e. myths.

Let us suppose that A told B this story, in doing so, B who did not see the skull or understood the information second hand will perceive it in accordance with A's fantastic story.

Let us suppose that B tells others, then it follows that the perception of others will change, depending on the source of information.

As generations pass, the origin of the story can be traced to that mammoth skull as we know of today. It also shows that one's perception of things can be changed, because of second hand knowledge and lack of means of proper storage of verbatim information.

-oOo-

It can be observed from my illustration that myths can either come from existing facts or a combination of existing facts which creates the imaginary creature. It is based on real things or a combination or chimera of existing things.

Further illustration:

Pegasus - rinocerous or a horse plus the wings of a bird.

Giants - now supposing your small in height let's say 4'2''. When you see a person from another land. Let's say a viking. Then said viking could be considered a giant.
Unsupport unthink.
Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:03 pm
Anachronous RexLeague LegendUser avatarPosts: 2008Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:07 pmLocation: Kansas City, MO Gender: Male

Post Re: Fact and Legend

No one is denying that these are plausible explanations.

What I object to is the idea that, because they are plausible, they must be true; and that every legend must be based on such misapprehension. Is it so hard to believe that ancient peoples could be creative?

I also, though I didn't mention it in the OP, detect a certain amount of ethnocentrism in these explanations; especially with regard to the Greeks and the Bible. It's almost as though people reluctant to believe that these groups would have bought-in to the crazy ideas prevalent in 'lesser' tribes without such misunderstandings (nobody seems to think that anubites were a case of mistaken identity); but perhaps I'm merely imagining this.
Our prefrontal lobes are too small. Much too small. That's a problem of the birth canal, I'm very sorry to say for those that like their birth canals... tight.
-C. Hitchens.
Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:28 pm
lrkunUser avatarPosts: 3831Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:37 pmLocation: R. Gender: Tree

Post Re: Fact and Legend

Anachronous Rex wrote:What I object to is the idea that, because they are plausible, they must be true; and that every legend must be based on such misapprehension. Is it so hard to believe that ancient peoples could be creative?


It is also possible that they made everything up, depending on their intent.

Ex. If one views religion or myth as a form of moral code, then it follows that a smart person could make up a story that would show the cause and effect of a certain event.

-oOo-

Farmer Deity

Ex. Daikokuten 大黒天 or Daikoku 大黒 is widely known in Japan as the happy-looking god of wealth, farmers, food, and good fortune, although in earlier centuries he was considered a fierce warrior deity. The oldest extant image of Daikokuten in Japan is dated to the late Heian period (794-1185) and installed at Kanzeonji Temple 観世音寺 (Fukuoka prefecture). The statue depicts the deity with a fierce expression, reminding us of his Hindu origin as a war god, as does the late-Heian sculpture of Daikoku at Kongōrinji Temple 金剛輪寺 (Shiga prefecture), which shows him dressed in armor.

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/daikoku.shtml
Unsupport unthink.
Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:42 pm
RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Fact and Legend

You could always cite as examples some stories that definitely did not have any real basis and were pure creativity, like Prometheus stealing fire.
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:30 pm
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Fact and Legend

This was touched on here a bit too.

I completely agree with you. I rather like the idea that misconceptions can arise through storytelling through the ages. I don't believe all the stories and allegories through history were meant to be interpreted as truth, but somewhere along the way someone took them literally.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:30 am
AmeristPosts: 73Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:34 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: Fact and Legend

People submit this a lot. The problem isn't its persistence as a hypothesis, but its often tried ubiquity as acceptable without evidence. The promotion of this hypothesis as acceptable may stem from the high number of folklore stories that arise with "explanatory" natures, like the Elephant's Trunk or why the river is deep, et cetera; however, it tends to fall down when a piece of legendary folklore, or epic tale about the gods doesn't explain anything and instead revolves around human ego drama. :D
Vex's Arsenal Volume 1: THE BYZANTIUM OUTCAST (ebook) - In Phoenix, when you buy things at yard sales, you never know what you'll get.
Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:23 pm
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