Forms of Knowing and Spiritual Activity: Myth and Mythology
Why do we try to understand myth?
Why do we want to perceive the essence of myth and religion, analyse their content, compare forms, and study their origins? We should not treat myth, prehistoric religion, and mythological poetic tradition of the old with positivist or Marxist condescension. Ancient spirituality is not just humanity’s “infant identity”; it is not just a primitive pre-class communication form of describing the world based on handmade artifacts. It seems to hold the key to the mystery of the origins of man as both a natural and supernatural being.
Myth and religion have accompanied people throughout human history. Mythological-religious consciousness is the oldest and most integral form of viewing the world; it is the first experience humans had of understanding the world and themselves. Religion acts as the most powerful force in the social, political, and cultural life of society. Religion underlies motivation of people whose activity and attitudes compose real historical matter. Not less than seventy percent of the five plus billion people living today profess a religion, and are members of a church or cult. Therefore, in order to understand modern social-political and cultural processes we must know the basics of religious history and philosophy.
Learning about historical and cultural phenomena of mythology and religion enriches people spiritually. Knowing main lines in classical (Greek and Roman) mythology is an integral part of good education because it lies in the foundation of modern European culture.
Any modern person, who professes the ideology of universal human values, democracy, humanism and freedom of conscience, must be able to distinguish between a multitude of religious faiths, cults and teachings, as well as various religious ideals and values.