Myth and Perception
Rich Theory is largely concerned with the various myths associated with mathematics. This index page records references to the word myth.
In common usage, "myth" is generally associated with fantastic tales or with outright falsehoods. I tend to use a slightly altered definition. The Wikipedia article on Myth pulled 6/13/2009 states:
"Myth is derived from the Greek word mythos, which means 'word of mouth.'"
When I use the term myth, I am referring to what people tell each other about an event, and not the actual event itself. I use the term to emphasize what we know about a subject may or not be true. For example, what we know of Socrates is myth. What we know of Socrates may or not be true.
Myth in Perspective
In the theory of perspective we learn that we only see a small portion of reality. Even worse, the capacity of our minds is limited; Our minds filter out most of the information that we receive.
The perception we have of reality is inherently limited.
To fill in the gaps, people lean heavily on the stories that other people tell them. The storytellers are limited in their capacities. Storytellers embellish or omit details to emphasize points.
Myth is not simply created for the purpose of lying or deceiving people. Myth is often created by the process of determining which information is relevant.
Myth and Lies
It is true that there are many people who lie and there are many politically minded individuals who are actively engaged in mythmaking for political ends.
Telling the difference between those myths that are the result of intentional deceit from those that arise from the need to reduce data into consumable bytes of information would require a magical ability to read another person's motivations.
Fiction and Speculation
Speculation is an important part of science, logic and mathematics. Many intellectual pursuits begin by defining a set of premises, then following the premises to their logical conclusion.
A large number of writers have discovered that is easier to follow the logic of ideas in works of fiction. Readers can often find grains of truth in works of fiction.
Separating Truth from Myth
When reading history, there is great value in trying to separate truth from myth. However, one must realize that the nature of space and time along with the limitations of our minds means that we will never complete the task.
There will always be an element of myth in the way we think. A statement like "Beware the consul of Dionysus" involves a mythical character. There is truth that one should avoid making important decisions while intoxicated.
One should avoid the absolutes of demanding that every word spoken must be a demonstrable truth or the absolute that everything known is myth.
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- Myth in the Making (added 2008-06-21 by kd) This blog post discusses the "Myth" chapter in Rich Theory.
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