Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Dragons Actually Exist

Before you look at my title and say “this isn’t philosophical” let me tell you….Dragons aren’t philosophical.

But the concept of a dragon’s existence is. While we’re talking about dragons, let’s throw in harpies, shape shifters, sea serpents, and giant birds, since a myth is a myth. How did they all come to be mentioned, in every nation and culture, if those people were oceans apart?


Did mythological creatures really exist thousands of years ago?


The thing that piqued my interest on this topic was brought up on the tumblr website, where I saw a text post written by someone who mentioned that, “why does every culture have some version of a fire-breathing lizard that flies, even if those cultures have never had contact with each other before?”, (regrettably I can’t find this post, since it’s been awhile but, if I find it, I’ll link it.) Some of you may think, “ah, yes, WELL, the dinosaurs-,” and will continue scrolling, and the rest of you, who possess imagination and like to have fun, will think “now, you do have a point; how did all these countries end up with a similar idea?” There are many different ways to approach this subject, and one of them is what we talked about a few days ago in class: collective unconsciousness. And no, I am not talking about us all laying on the ground, oblivious to our surroundings. I’m talking about all humans sharing a deep connection to one another, somewhere in the untouched spaces of the mind, that all makes us think or react a certain way. (Check out Samson’s post if you want to know more!)

I’ve always loved dragons, ever since I was a kid. I would draw them on the sides of my tests, scribble them on my walls, buy books about them, play fantasy games. It makes life interesting and exhilarating to think about mysterious beings that could have possibly existed thousands of years ago. Aren’t aliens the same? Little green men and big oval eyes? They could be out there right now, walking around on Tattooine, and we could have no idea.

Just as some kind of analytical technique is needed to understand a dream, so a knowledge of mythology is needed in order to grasp the meaning of a content deriving from the deeper levels of the psyche….

The collective unconscious — so far as we can say anything about it at all — appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious.

We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, which original chaotic forms were organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious, introspective perceptions of the activity of the collective unconscious. Just as the constellations were projected into the heavens, similar figures were projected into legends and fairy tales or upon historical persons.

As I mentioned in the above paragraphs, this matter also relates directly with collective unconscious. Possibly in the far, far past, a creature was formed in the crevices of the mind, a figment of the imagination, composed of all the horrible and bad things in the world, and there, the name “monster” was stuck on to it, doomed to walk around the boogey man corner of Halloween town, scaring children forever and ever. If I say the word monster, what comes to mind exactly? Something with sharp teeth, scales possibly and claws, glowing eyes…. a tail. Sound familiar? Yeah.




What Makes a Hero? | An introduction to the work of Joseph Campbell


From Wikipedia, here is an introduction beyond the components of the Monomyth presented in the video:

As a strong believer in the psychic unity of mankind and its poetic expression through mythology, Campbell made use of the concept to express the idea that the whole of the human race can be seen as engaged in the effort of making the world “transparent to transcendence” by showing that underneath the world of phenomena lies an eternal source which is constantly pouring its energies into this world of time, suffering, and ultimately death. To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution which lies in the metaphors found in myths. These were statements that pointed beyond themselves into the transcendent. The Hero’s Journey was that story of the man or woman who, through great suffering, reached an experience of the eternal source and returned with gifts powerful enough to set their society free. As this story spread through space and evolved through time, it was broken down into various local forms (masks), depending on the social structures and environmental pressures that existed for the culture that interpreted it. The basic structure, however, has remained relatively unchanged and can be classified using the various stages of a hero’s adventure through it, stages such as the Call to Adventure, Receiving Supernatural Aid, Meeting with the Goddess/Atonement with the Father and Return. These stages, as well as the symbols one encounters throughout the story, provide the necessary metaphors to express the spiritual truths the story is trying to convey.

I think there is an interesting overlapping with our recent reading about Nietzsche’s notion of Self-Styling, explained here by Cameron Afzal

Self-styling compliments a naturalistic outlook, it doesn’t destroy it. Art will not replace religion, but it can provide partial cures for the nausea we are exposed to in a world of honesty and nihilism. While it may seem to be opposed to naturalism, self-styling is indeed the most pragmatic way to balance aesthetic satisfaction and naturalistic affirmation without compromising a scientific perspective by purporting to represent the self and the world as they exists, only as we might imagine them to be. 

What do you think Nietzsche would make of Campbell’s Monomyth? Or Campbell of the idea of “self-styling”? Are these two sides of the same coin, so to speak?