Mythopoeic Thought - The Term

The Term

The term mythopoeic means "myth-making" (from Greek muthos, "myth", and poiein, "to create"). A group of Near Eastern specialists used the term in their 1946 book The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man: An Essay on Speculative Thought in the Ancient Near East, later republished as the 1949 paperback Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man. In this book's introduction, two of the specialists, Henri and Mrs. H.A. Frankfort, argue that mythopoeic thought characterizes a distinct stage of human thought that differs fundamentally from modern, scientific thought. Mythopoeic thought, the Frankforts claim, was concrete and personifying, whereas modern thought is abstract and impersonal: more basically, mythopoeic thought is "pre-philosophical", while modern thought is "philosophical." Because of this basic contrast between mythopoeic and modern thought, the Frankforts often use the term "mythopoeic thought" as a synonym for ancient thought in general.

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