Myth and Mind: The Origin of Consciousness in the Discovery of the Sacred

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Abstract
By accepting that the formal structure of human language is the key to understanding the uniquity of human culture and consciousness and by further accepting the late appearance of such language amongst the Cro-Magnon, I am free to focus on the causes that led to such an unprecedented threshold crossing. In the complex of causes that led to human being, I look to scholarship in linguistics, mythology, anthropology, paleontology, and to creation myths themselves for an answer. I conclude that prehumans underwent an existential crisis, i.e., the realization of certain mortality, that could be borne only by the discovery-creation of the larger realm of symbolic consciousness once experienced as the sacred (but today we know it as "the world" – as opposed to our immediate natural environment and that of other animals). Thus, although we, the human species, are but one species among innumerable others, we differ in kind, not degree. This quality is our symbolically enabled self-consciousness, the fortress of cultural identity that empowers but also imprisons awareness.
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First archival date: 2015-11-21
Latest version: 3 (2019-05-11)
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On Punctuated Equilibria.Eldredge, Niles & Gould, Stephen Jay

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Beyond the Circle of Life.Nixon, Gregory (ed.)

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2010-04-30

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