Can Folklore Trump the Rational?

To the Fantastical Thinkers:

Two months ago I asked the group for topics and two people expressed they would like to talk about the power of folklore and how it can communicate truths that are often more significant than anything we can get from the reasoning that we are so in love with as philosophers.

Many in our group might find this to be a pretty big change of pace, but admit it. In between the lines of some of these stories we enjoy listening to again and again, there are potentially powerful connections that really tickle our rational bone in ways it is not often tickled. Sometimes the things it tickles really can create understandings comparable to the things we learn in philosophical inquiries.

Though I have no precise agenda for this and will take up any suggestions as I organize things, we will certainly go into some academic stuff like comparisons between myths, folklore, legends and their connections to the spiritual; the power in spoken versus written sources; and how these things evolve and attain their power.

We certainly will work in how these alternate sources fit into our traditional rational paradigms. A consideration of the images in Plato’s and Nietzsche’s worldviews might slip in there somewhere. Let’s face it. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra and its myth creations, destructions and deconstructions, though they might lead us astray, are something we need to keep in the backs of our minds.

But if you could spend some time coming up with a favored folk tale or legend others might not know about, there could be some fun telling a few of these while going into how it touched you and wherein its power lies.

I would like you to consider seeing something before coming and we can talk a bit about it. There was this amazing Norwegian horror film that came out in 2010 called Trollhunter and is available on-demand through Netflix. It tells a tale similar to The Blair Witch Project where some kids discover by accident this character who leads them into this dark unknown forest where an entire universe of traditional Scandinavian troll myths emerge and connect. For me, I was enchanted and mystified as I learned in fantasy about this troll and that troll and how each story goes well beyond its literal telling. The birth of legends … how intoxicating!

I know this topic may be a little troubling for some of our usual suspects, but please think about giving it a try. It couldn’t hurt and I guarantee I can make it a fun evening.

Dork

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  • bob h.

    Good session

    1 · February 19, 2013

  • Evelyn

    Wide-ranging, subtle, warm-hearted discussion

    1 · February 19, 2013

  • Bob M.

    I found this to be very good, wide-ranging discussion of the roles of folk narrative in conveying ideas and values. For me the high points were when people shared their own stories.

    1 · February 19, 2013

  • A. Colin F.

    great discussion - next time, I take the contrary view!

    February 18, 2013

  • bozak

    February 18, 2013

  • A. Colin F.

    Let's make sure we know our definations! "In philosophy, rationality is the characteristic of any action, belief, or desire, that makes their choice optimal under a set of constraints.[1] It is a normative concept of reasoning in the sense that rational people should derive conclusions in a consistent way given the information at disposal. It refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons to believe, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action. However, the term "rationality" tends to be used differently in different disciplines, including specialized discussions of economics, sociology, psychology, evolutionary biology and political science. A rational decision is one that is not just reasoned, but is also optimal for achieving a goal or solving a problem."

    February 18, 2013

  • A. Colin F.

    The term "mythology" can refer either to the study of myths (e.g., comparative mythology), or to a body or collection of myths (a mythos, e.g., Inca mythology).[1] In folkloristics, a myth is a sacred narrative usually explaining how the world or humankind came to be in its present form,[2] although, in a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story.[3] Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form".[4] Myths typically involve supernatural characters and are endorsed by rulers or priests. They may arise as overelaborated accounts of historical events, as allegory for or personification of natural phenomena, or as an explanation of ritual. They are transmitted to convey religious or idealized experience, to establish behavioral models, and to teach.

    February 18, 2013

  • A. Colin F.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fo...­

    Folklore (or lore) consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, stories, tall tales, and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics, and people who study folklore are sometimes referred to as "folklorists". there is a continuum between folklore and mythology. Stith Thompson made a major attempt to index the motifs of both folklore and mythology, providing an outline into which new motifs can be placed, and scholars can keep track of all older motifs.
    Folklore can be divided into four areas of study: artifact (such as voodoo dolls), describable and transmissible entity (oral tradition), culture, and behavior (rituals).

    February 18, 2013

  • Bob M.

    Consider this from J-F Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, at xxiii? "Science has always been in conflict with narratives. Judged by the yardstick of science, the majority of them proved to be fables."

    2 · February 13, 2013

  • Brent

    My first thought when I saw "Trollhunter" was a guy stalking Facebook posters, lol!

    February 12, 2013

  • bozak

    Okay so I'm coming to my first meet up and I'm wondering what's it going to be like. So I look to the side of one of the meet up pages and it says "what it's like to meet up." So I give it a play and about 6 or 7 people in this lady says, "it's a godsend." Pretty funny?

    February 7, 2013

    • Brent

      God didn't send me, lol!

      February 12, 2013

  • Brent

    Hopefully my kidnicious visitor(s) are all gone and I shall excite y'all with my presence again - or at least keep a seat warm.

    February 10, 2013

  • bob h.

    I like to philosophize with a hammer

    February 6, 2013

    • Bob M.

      Just be sure to move your thumb on the downstroke

      February 6, 2013

    • bob h.

      Sorry, somebody said Nietzche

      February 6, 2013

  • Evelyn

    To me, this topic is about the power of story and its role in our lives. We tell stories to know ourselves, to know others, to know what’s important in life. If you want people to remember something, put it in a story. Folklore, myth, fable and early and modern tales…they all explore human challenges and concerns. Great stories both delight and teach. They’re much clearer and more memorable than rational discourse. Why is that?

    1 · February 6, 2013

    • bob h.

      As you have said, there are 2 kinds of intelligence. Eq and Iq. Each responds to a different sort of discourse.

      February 6, 2013

  • Bob M.

    How can we know whether folklore can "trump" the rational without knowing the rules of the game? Folklore, of course, is entertaining and includes nuggets of folk wisdom. Perhaps the following question is a useful way to begin: Do the telling of tales offer occasions for teaching and learning that are in some ways intellectually richer or more effective than rational discursive approaches to teaching and learning? As Dale notes, Plato and Nietzsche, among others used tales to teach.
    I watched "Troll Hunter" and am confounded by what to make of it.

    February 6, 2013

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