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In the beginning of the textbook, the authors point out many insights/views on why myth is created, ranging from psychological ways to cosmological ways of explaining myth. One that catches my interest is the Aetiological view of why myth is created. This view involves myth being created to explain the origin or cause of some fact or custom in the physical universe. This means that myth is created to explain a fact or custom of a culture to help the audience better understand. It involves cultures using myth to present the current scientific views of their culture at that time, concerning where natural phenomena and customs are derived from – it is giving an explanation/cause. An example of myth being used this way would the African creation myths. The authors call these myths “how and why” stories as they explain how the world came to be as it is now and how death was brought to the world. Instead of explaining like many of the other myths how the universe itself was created, these African myths focus more on how the world came to hold the customs it has now and how death was brought upon humans. This to me, unlike most of the other myth we have looked at is a way of explaining how humans once made, shaped the world into what it is today. It gives the readers a better glimpse into why certain customs and beliefs were made and held in certain cultures. Viewing a myth as an Aetiological explanation is very hard as many of the creation myths we have looked at don’t explain the cause of certain customs or scientific facts. They instead focus on how the gods created the universe and eventually humans. 

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One thought on “The Aetiological Function of Myth

  1. I agree that by looking at the Aetiological function of a myth you can get good insights to that particular culture. Each culture is ruled by the technology of its time, in other words they are a product of their time and environment, and in many ways myth is the best way to understand their world.

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