WE ARE HOMO MYTHICUS
We human beings are the sole species on Earth who can tell stories about ourselves and who possess a powerful drive to “figure” out answers, by means of metaphor and myth, to essential questions such as Who we are, Why we’re here, and What it’s all about.
We are Homo sapiens to the extent that we are wisely conscious in our quest for knowledge to answer our essential questions (sapience meaning wisdom). But we are more exactly Homo mythicus in that we settle for approximate but consoling fictions (i.e., good stories) about our place in the cosmos, rather than for absolute knowledge—which, so far, eludes us. “Give me a good myth!” we cry out.
Thus human intellectual history comprises an anthology of inventive fictions depicting our best guesses about the nature of the cosmos and our place in it.
Granted, our ever-refining and revealing sciences do now yield us vast information and powerful conceptions we call “objective knowledge” about the universe. But when it comes to the Big Picture and the Ultimate Questions, we still turn to myth and story to satisfy our cosmic longings for a Theory of Everything and for answers to our deepest human questions.
“What then are the myths you live by?” is a fundamental question to ask of yourself, your culture, and your era.
But keep asking, because the answers are changing: our myths are shifting.