Mythopoeic thinking, as suggested by Henri Frankfort with his daughter Henriette Antonia Frankfort in the 1940ies, is an hypothetic phase of human thinking preceding modern thought. There was an “mythopoeic” phase, according to this proposition, in which humanity did not reflect on generalisations or impersonal legislation: instead people saw each occurrence as an act of will from a particular person. The old tendency to create myths, which represent occurrences as the deeds of God and Spirit, is allegedly explained in such a manner. In 1976, Julian Jaynes proposed in the context of bicameralism a physiological motive for this.
Mythological means ‘making myths’ (from the Greek muthos, “myth” and poiein, “making”). A group of Near East specialists employed that term in their book The Ancient Man intellectual adventure, The Intellectual Adventure of the Ancient Man: An essay on speculative thought in the Ancient Near East. Two experts, Henri Frankfort and Henriette Groenewegen-Frankfort, claim in this introduction that mythophoeic thinking is a separate phase of human thinking, essentially different from contemporary science thinking. The Frankfurs argue that mythological thought was tangible, but contemporary thoug was personified.Mythopoeic thought Mythopoeic thinking suggested Henri Frankfort daughter Henriette Antonia Frankfort 1940ies hypothetic phase human thinking preceding modern thought There mythopoeic phase proposition humanity reflect generalisations impersonal legislation people occurrence person The tendency create myths represent occurrences deeds God Spirit allegedly explained manner 1976 Julian Jaynes proposed context bicameralism physiological motive Mythological making myths Greek muthos myth poiein making group Near East specialists employed term book The Ancient Man intellectual adventure The Intellectual Adventure Ancient Man essay speculative thought Ancient Near East Two experts Henri Frankfort Henriette Groenewegen Frankfort claim introduction mythophoeic thinking separate phase human thinking essentially contemporary science thinking The Frankfurs argue mythological thought tangible contemporary thoug personified Mythopoeic thought hypothetical stage human thought preceding modern thought proposed Henri Frankfort wife Henriette Antonia Frankfort 1940s According proposal mythopoeic stage humanity terms generalizations impersonal laws humans event personal This thinking supposedly explains ancients tendency create myths portray events acts gods spirits physiological motivation suggested Julian Jaynes 1976 form bicameralism The term mythopoeic myth making Greek muthos myth poiein group Near Eastern specialists term 1946 book The Intellectual Adventure Ancient Man Essay Speculative Thought Ancient Near East republished 1949 paperback Before Philosophy The Intellectual Adventure Ancient Man book introduction specialists Henri Frankfort Henriette Groenewegen Frankfort argue mythopoeic thought characterizes distinct stage human thought differs fundamentally modern scientific thought Mythopoeic thought Frankforts claim concrete personifying modern thought abstract impersonal basically mythopoeic thought pre philosophical modern thought philosophical Because basic contrast mythopoeic modern thought Frankforts term mythopoeic thought synonym ancient thought general CharacteristicsAccording Frankforts fundamental difference attitudes modern ancient man surrounding modern scientific man phenomenal ancient primitive man Thou modern man sees impersonal objects ancient man sees persons According Frankforts ancients viewed didn terms universal laws Modern thought reduces chaos perceptions order typical events place universal laws For river rises spring Suppose spring river fails rise case modern thought doesn conclude laws nature changed searches set fixed universal laws explain river risen cases case Modern thought abstract unifying principles diversity contrast Frankforts argue primitive mind withdraw extent perceptual reality Mythopoeic thought doesn unifying principles diversity individual events concrete abstract takes individual event face When river rises year fails rise year mythopoeic thought doesn unite events common law Instead river rise refused rise And law governs river behavior river simply refused rise failure rise choice The river gods angry choosing withhold annual flooding Thus mythopoeic thought ends viewing entire personal event Tolerance contradictionThe Frankforts argue mythopoeic thought explains tolerance contradictions mythology According Frankforts theory ancients didn unite experiences universal law individual experience face Therefore experience developed myth experience developed myth worrying myths contradicted The ancients descriptions natural phenomena mutually exclusive For ancient Egyptians creation myths The loss mythopoeic thoughtAccording Frankforts ancient Egyptians Mesopotamians Frankforts area expertise lived wholly mythopoeic Each natural force concept personal viewpoint Egypt Mesopotamia divine comprehended immanent gods nature This immanence multiplicity divine direct result mythopoeic thought step loss mythopoeic thought loss view divine The ancient Hebrews step doctrine single transcendent God When read Psalm heavens declare glory God firmament sheweth handiwork hear voice mocks beliefs Egyptians Babylonians The heavens psalmist witness God greatness Mesopotamians majesty godhead highest ruler Anu The God psalmists prophets nature transcended nature transcended realm mythopoeic thought The ancient Hebrews major event divine However divine single myriad spirits natural phenomenon Moreover didn divine nature divine force law natural events Some Greek philosophers Instead event developed notion impersonal universal law finally abandoned mythopoeic thought postulating impersonal laws natural phenomena These philosophers scientific today rigid standards hypotheses based assumptions empirical data However mere fact looked apparent diversity individuality events search underlying laws defied prescriptive sanctities religion Greeks broke mythopoeic thought CriticismReligious scholar Robert Segal pointed dichotomy personal impersonal view absolute Frankforts distinction ancient modern thought Any phenomenon surely experienced Thou pet patient Furthermore Segal argues embarrassingly simplistic ancient Near East wholly mythopoeic Hebrews nonmythopoeic Greeks wholly scientific Mythopoeic thought ZodiacPage