The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Citation of Books Detail

Click here to return to the main list

Author QuotedJoseph Campbell
Title QuotedSymbol without Meaning
Date (Year/Month/Day)1962/08/30
Imprint[S.l.] : [s.n.]. 1957
QuotationInteresting hypothesis of Joseph Campbell in Eranos Jahrbuch XXVI, p. 430 ff. That the mandala appears at end of hunting societies. Because in the primitive bushman type society the individual has in himself all he needs, he knows the whole culture, and is not a fraction of his society. Where agricultural society comes into being, the individual has a specialized function, is a fragment, and is under stress until he can "realiz" his relationship to the whole. He does this by means of symbols. This agricultural society goes back 8,000 years, while man has been on earth for 600,000 years. And we are now entering an industrial age (since 200 years!!) in which symbols of agricultural society break down. The highest concern of all mythologies and ceremonials, ethical systems etc. has been to suppress manifestations of individualism, "by compelling or persuading people to identify themselves not with their own interests, intuitions or modes of experience but with archetypes of behavior and systems of sentiment developed and maintained in the public domain." p 448 ....
Quotation SourceTurning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years. The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 4, 1960-1963.; Edited by Victor A. Kramer. / San Francisco : Harper Collins. 1996, p. 240-41
Letter to 
Link to Merton's Copy  

(If there is a link above showing up as a number, click it to open another window with a full text version.)