Piero Scaruffi(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"
A Neuroscience of Myths
Noam Chomsky argued that brains are "pre-wired" for learning language. Circumstances will determine which particular language you will learn, but the reason you will learn a language is that your brain contains a "universal grammar" that is genetically prescribed. The structure of the human brain forces the brain to learn to speak.
Dreams seem to be the antichamber to learning, whereby the brain processes experience and decides what has to be stored for future use. Again, this depends on the genetic programming of the brain. What is learned depends on the structure of the brain, which in turn depends on the genetic program that created the brain, which in turn was determined over millions of years by evolution.
Basically, it looks like brains learn what they have been programmed to learn by evolution. Human brains have been programmed by evolution to learn some things rather than others.
If this is true, then myths could have a simple explanation: they are the simple ideas that the structure of our brain can accommodate.
The universal archetypes envisioned by Jung and Campbell could well be predispositions by all human brains to create some myths rather than others, just like, according to Chomsky, all human brains inherit a predisposition towards acquiring language.
If myths arise in the mind because the brain has been programmed to create them, then, to some extent, we think what we have been programmed to think.
Down this path of genetic determination of our beliefs, one could wonder if genetic differences between the races can account for slightly different behavior. Do Italians speak Italian and French speak French because their brains developed in slightly different ways over thousands of years of independent evolution? Did Arabs develop Islam and Europeans Christianity because their brains are slightly different, and the myths they can create are slight variations of the myth of god?
How plastic is our mind, and how strong is the hand of fate?
Back to the beginning of the chapter "Dreams" | Back to the index of all chapters