The Uses of Myth for Scientific Education, The Case of Cosmology and Mythology

Dillingham, Theodore C. (2001) The Uses of Myth for Scientific Education, The Case of Cosmology and Mythology. Doctoral thesis, Pacifica Graduate Institute.


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The questions that cosmology seeks to answer are those same questions about the mysteries of the universe that myths have spoken about since antiquity. The basic desire to understand the origin of the universe is equally fundamental in the earliest astronomical, philosophical, and mythic narratives. This work shows how mythic stories can be used as a tool for educating nontechnical audiences. By means of a re- mythologizing of the relationship between Western science and myth, the shared philosophical legacy of both becomes apparent. This review of the history of science, philosophy, and mythology thereby presents a perspective that is pro-mvth and pro­ science at the same time. By differentiating the mythic perspective and the scientific perspective, the reality of the non-oppositional intimate relationship one has with the other is clarified. Cosmologists have long known that 96Fr of the universe is invisible to human sensing apparatus. They call this unseen visible element, the stuff that holds the universe together, ""dark matter."" Coining the phrase ""the speed of dark.” this dissertation metaphorically illustrates the power of myth, like the power of dark matter, to inform and direct human inquiry into the origins and destiny of the universe. Myth is imagined psychologically to operate at the speed of dark, faster than the speed of light. The unseen visible aspect of myth is shown as the desire of humans to know the origins of creation and the ultimate destiny of the universe. This work examines the rich legacy inherited by contemporary scientists from ancient mythic philosophical traditions. Traces of Aristotle and Thales are seen clearly in the questions that current cosmologists explore today. The variety of answers to these questions displays the equal influence of myth on ancient inquiry and contemporary scientific theoretical development. By examining what myth does, rather than what myth is. the work weaves together a story of mystery and discovery that is currently the realm of cosmologists. Myth itself is distinguished from the multitude of myths or mythic narratives. Myth is shown to fuel human desire to glimpse the known, the not known and the unknowable.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2017 08:56
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2018 09:11

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