Joseph Campbell's Interpretation of the Garden of Eden Myth

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's second hypothesis - the bicameral mind, specifically the subtopics of the implications of the bicameral mind theory for religion, neurotheology, and the origin of religion.
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Joseph Campbell's Interpretation of the Garden of Eden Myth

Post by ignosympathnoramus »

I recently watched the documentary "Joseph Campbell: The Hero's Journey" and was struck by a possible correlation between his interpretation of Christianity and Jaynes'. At around 20 minutes in Campbell discusses Christianity as being "basically a religion of exile," which seemed remarkably similar to Jaynes' interpretation of religion: a nostalgic longing for the direct apprehension of god; a longing for the days when god walked in the garden with us, when "He-who-is could be seen and talked with like another man" (OC p299).

Campbell explains that in Buddhism various "gods" are depicted, like the intimidating door guardians often seen in sculpture, but that these are not gods that were worshiped, but are rather symbols for the fearful, grasping ego, which stop the person from entering the garden where the Buddha sits silently under the Tree of Life. Campell goes on to suggest that Christianity is a "religion of exile" because it was the Christian god who placed those same door guardians (the angel with the flaming sword) in front of the gates to Eden, effectively exiling man from both the peace and safety of Eden as well as from direct communication with god.

Anyway, I just wanted to see if others have noticed a correlation between Campbell and Jaynes. Also, has anyone analyzed Buddhism from a Jaynesian perspective; that is, analyzed it as a response to the disappearance of the gods? Could it be that Buddhists have partly succeeded in entering a prior mentality (entering Eden) but, just like Christians, can no longer walk with and speak directly with god, and that this informs their position on self: "not-self" (Pāli: anatta; Sanskrit: anātman)?
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Re: Joseph Campbell's Interpretation of the Garden of Eden M

Post by shrimperdude »

I may be getting slightly off-topic here, but here goes.

Finding uses for those teachings contained in Bible Stories(I think there are a large percentage of thoughtful readers who will agree that the authorship was motivated by a desire to teach useful techniques) that directly relate to our problems with understanding & healthfully reacting to our emotions, getting REAL control over our actions and understanding better the consequences of same & determining the boundaries of our ability to communicate with creative powers and avoiding dangerous self-delusion with regard to others and groups of others claiming to have found such pathways seems to me to be a reasonable use of one's time, especially since there is such a huge segment of society(our neighbors and friends) indulging in just this type of inquiry(& self-delusions).

I don't feel that Jaynes was unjustified in using Bible stories to depict a recent bicameral state. I do, however, feel that Jaynes totally missed the boat when it comes to what rabbis have been saying[for several centuries] about the psychological meanings & content of some of these mythical passages.
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Re: Joseph Campbell's Interpretation of the Garden of Eden M

Post by dj57627688 »

Yes, Joseph Campbell is fascinating. I think that the concept of Gods being our alter-egos is obviously nothing new and I'm sure Jaynes would have acknowledged same. I think one of the most illuminating observations, for me, from Campbell was that Christ is but one of a succession of Demi-Gods having been conceived of a virgin (or other mortal woman) by a God appearing in a non-human form, the resultant child having been given various super human powers and otherwise the subject of a level of scorn...

Surely this image permeates Western mentality, or Ancient menality in any case and I wonder that the image is indeed a metaphor for our own Western civilzation in that we have a "God" who is in fact one of us - this being a strong correlation to the concept of self-awareness...
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