Why a Good Story Must Be Archetypal and Why Modern Storytellers Must Lie About It

Der Supermensch.

Der Supermensch.

A Fascist Called Superman

At the highly liberal Salon.com, contributor Richard Cooper is criticizing the superhero trend in movies. The superhero, Cooper says, is “essentially a fascist concept.” Superheroes are the worshipped strong leaders who by their innate superiority rule over the weak-willed masses and fight their enemies with force and often cruelty. At the same time Cooper acknowledges that he enjoys this genre,

…why can’t I stop watching these movies? Because my imagination is shaped by superheroes: fights and chases are iconic, mythic triggers for me.

He ends the article with a wish that someday there will be a more liberal superhero who uses his intelligence rather than force and who reforms society rather than conserves the established order. Like Recycle Woman or Organic Food Girl?

Archetypes – The Elements of Stories

Don’t get me wrong; I recycle and I eat a fair amount of organic food too, even kale. That’s my choice. But when it comes to storytelling, we don’t have as much choices as we might think. Stories in all known cultures and in all historical records, sometimes going back thousands of years, display certain common elements. Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung was among the first to discover this and he called these universal elements archetypes. In his book Man and His Symbols, he describes the archetype of the hero like this,

The universal hero myth, for example, always refers to a powerful man or god-man who vanquishes evil in the form of dragons, serpents, monsters, demons, and so on, and who liberates his people from destruction and death.


These hero myths vary enormously in detail, but the more closely one examines them the more one sees that structurally they are very similar. They have, that is to say, a universal pattern, even though they were developed by groups or individuals without any direct cultural contact with each other—by, for instance, tribes of Africans or North American Indians, or the Greeks, or the Incas of Peru.

And it’s not just the hero; there is a whole bunch of archetypal characters and motifs that can be found all over the world as well as in extinct cultures, such as the Wise Old Woman, the Trickster, the Flood, to mention a few. Jung concluded – quite correctly I believe – that the reason why these characters and motifs are so similar across different cultures must be that they are a part of innate human nature.

Two Kinds of Human Nature – Traditional and Modern

So it seems like archetypes are something like hardwired predispositions, and that a good story is one which will resonate with this wiring. But this begs the question: why is Cooper and people like him dreaming about stories that aren’t archetypal and don’t resonate within us? Well, obviously his political views contrast with the archetype of the hero. Even though he appreciates the “mythic triggers” of the archetype he is still dreaming of something else. The question then becomes why does anyone have political views that, at least in part, go against their nature?

One explanation could be that he and his ilk represent a different kind of human nature. Personality psychology has shown that there are plenty of individual and group differences. One such difference, perhaps the most important, is the variation on a dimension of traditional versus modern. This dimension has been explored by among others social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in the context of his Moral Foundations Theory, although he usually talks of conservatives and liberals instead. According to Haidt, we base our moral judgments on six moral foundations – Care/harm, Fairness/cheating, Liberty/oppression, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion and Sanctity/degradation, but we vary in how much we rely on the different foundations. He found that traditional people – non-Westerners, conservatives, children, uneducated and lower class people – rely on all these foundations fairly evenly, while modern people – Westerners, liberals, adults, educated and upper class people – are much more limited to mainly Care/harm and to a lesser degree Fairness/cheating and Liberty/oppression.

What Haidt says about these foundations is essentially what Jung said about his archetypes – that they are not a matter of choice but a part of human nature, an innate way of thinking, although Haidt clearly states that the moral foundations are a product of evolution.

Another version of the traditional/modern dimension is presented by blogger hbd* chick, who distinguishes between clannish and modern peoples, a difference that she theorizes is based on inbreeding. The clannish peoples are those who have been inbreeding for a long time and live in extended families where everyone is closely related. This means that they can pass their genes to the next generation through close relatives to an extent that others for obvious reasons can’t. So an inbred clan of highly interrelated people will display a huge amount of group loyalty, not just for the closest relatives but for the entire clan – and that in a nutshell is what clannishness is. And since they do everything together that naturally leads to a conservative and traditional lifestyle with little or no individualism that could threaten the group coherence.

At the other end of this dimension we have those peoples who have outbred for a long period of time and for this reason become less interested in family and instead more individualistic, but also more inclusive and civic-minded since the view more people as ingroup members. These modern peoples are most notably those of Northwestern Europe and their descendants.

Both moral foundations theory and the theory of clannishness suggest that the modern person is partly detached or elevated from his innate tendencies. The moderns in Haidt’s theory have to some extent abandoned the three moral foundations that most of us view as the most traditional, old-fashioned or even primitive – Loyalty, linked to the tribal or outright clannish behavior, Authority, linked to the idea of innate superiority, and Sanctity, the foundation linked to religious belief. In a similar way, we find that the peoples who have outbred for a long time have weeded out the genes responsible for familial altruism and evolved into (relatively) free thinkers. These peoples started the Enlightenment and to this day democracy and human rights are strongest in their nations.

The Modern Storyteller

Now, given that a modern person is partly freed of moral foundations and clannishness, it would make sense to argue that such a person is also partly freed from his archetypal predispositions too. Because archetypes are so intertwined with these concepts it would be impossible to disentangle them from each other. The archetype of the hero alone incorporates many of the traits and concepts that the traditional/modern dimension is based on. He clearly represents Authority, but also Loyalty/Clannishness as the person who unifies the group, and Sanctity as he is often a half-god.

This means that if the modern person is relatively free from conventional morality and clannish/tribal tendencies, he is also less prone to archetypal thinking, which should make him a pretty poor storyteller.  And yet the film industry is full of modern people. How can that be given that film is the prevailing art form for storytelling? Short answer is that they are bound by the laws of the free market which forces them to make archetypal movies. But there was a brief period of time when modern people were dominant in Western culture – the 1960s and 1970s – and they could do pretty much as they pleased. They made arty, existential, surrealistic and generally experimental films. Given the amount of modern films created during this period the film studios no doubt thought it was the next big thing. But like any stories that lacks that archetypal magic, they appealed to the critics – a group that is clearly modern – but they were never a big hit with the broader audience. This is well illustrated in the IMDBs rating of the top 250 movies, as you can see from this chart,


The overall trend is towards increasingly better movies. This inflation is most likely because anyone can vote and most people have short memory and live in the moment – a lot of those who vote have probably never seen a movie from the 1930s or 1940s. But even so, we can see how the films of those modern decades rate lower than the surrounding decades. The same effect can be found in the critic-based ratings of Rotten Tomatoes top 100.

Rotten Tomatoes

Critics have better memory so there is no inflation here, and as I said before, they are also more modern than the regular audience – and yet they too show a similar dislike for the movies of the 1960s and 1970s.

Modern Frailty and Charades  – Spoiler Warning for The Kids Are All Right (2010)

So the modern people of the film industry were left with no choice but to go back to making archetypal movies. And somehow they manage that pretty well. This may seem illogical but it illustrates another important aspect of the traditional/modern dimension – while traditional people are stable (rigid or stuck in their ways you could say), modern people are imbalanced. This is because being traditional is relatively easy – you rely on your traditions and the social support of your group. Being modern means you have to make your own decisions with no traditions to guide you and with little or no advice from like-minded people. In reality, this often fails and the modern person is constantly falling and when he does he falls back into some form of traditionalism. One example of this is the rich feminist who insists on gender equality but marries one of the very few men who is richer than her. Another is the multiculturalist with a recurring daydream of having a Black friend, but who pays good money to live in a White neighbourhood. They are usually in denial about these regressions into traditional living and will perform rituals and charades to convince themselves that they are true to themselves.

These charades naturally find their ways into the movies too since they enable film makers to make good movies while maintaining a positive self-image. A great example of this is the movie The Kids Are All Right (2010), written and directed by archliberal Lisa Cholodenko. The movie begins with a modern family of two lesbian mothers who have one biological child each, both from the same sperm donor. And so the film unravels without any reference to their biological father because the modern view is that blood is not thicker than water? No, the kids look up their father and the whole movie is about the dynamics and conflicts between him and the family. And then, right at the end of the movie it is as if the director suddenly remembers that she is a modern person, and makes a scene in which Nic, one of the lesbian mothers, argues with the biological father, Paul, and tells him that the children are not his and that if he wants a family he should get his own. And as soon as Paul is out of the picture Cholodenko hastily wraps things up since the archetypal energy is gone. Audience captivated, self-image preserved, mission accomplished. The critics, who share the director’s predicament, were even more enthusiastic than the regular audience. It was a complete success – except for those last minutes after Paul has left and that energy is gone but a scene or two are needed for a proper ending.  Everyone knows the movie is over and yet it’s just awkwardly hanging around. Or put differently: being modern.

No wonder these guys need therapy. Or superman,

44 Responses to Why a Good Story Must Be Archetypal and Why Modern Storytellers Must Lie About It

  1. JayMan says:

    Hence the magic of John Williams?

    But then, we all know who Superman really is (especially as depicted in Man of Steel), yet another well-known archetype.

    Great post!

    • Staffan says:


      I’m not sure William’s music is archetypal (or what that would mean) but it has the same powerful energy that archetypes have so it’s easy to see how it lends itself to these types of movies. The film industry no doubt got that from Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, which seems to be the first time anyone combined archetypal stories with big romantic music. So Cooper is not entirely wrong about the fascism. This sort of energy can sweep people off their feet, and not necessarily in a good way.

  2. strombolix says:

    This idea resonates a bit with Kanazawa Satoshi’s Savannah Principle, that smarter people handle evolutionarily novel things better than dumber. That dumber would rely on evolved patterns of thinking. You + HBD Chick would add to that, ‘and ways, clan, culture’.

    • Staffan says:

      Yes, although I’d call the moderns freer rather than smarter. East Asians have higher IQs than the peoples from Northwestern Europe but the are still fairly traditional.

      That’s not to say this freedom is just a curiosity or something to make weird movies with. I think Kanazawa is on to something. Being able to respond with conscious thought and deliberation must be a very powerful adaptation compared to relying on tradition and behavioral traits that evolved in the pre-modern environment.

  3. Constant warfare with limited populations and resources against numerically superior forces tends to individualism and experimentation.

    Superheroes anyway are not fascist but libertarian. A marriage of Scots Irish individualism and Jewish-Italian-Irish Catholic angst and wish fulfillment. Superman lives as ordinary Clark Kent, Batman is all about personal revenge, ditto blind Daredevil and dead man walking Punisher.

    • Staffan says:

      Libertarians? They are even weirder than regular moderns. The hero archetype is universal and timeless; libertarians are almost exclusively confined to America where they count some 10 percent of the population by the most generous estimates. That doesn’t make any sense.

      • Matt says:

        I’d answer that by asking how popular comic book superheroes really are…? Not very. the percentage of comic books that transform appealing as films is low, and this is probably because, as much as they would look like fodder for special effects and action, they may be are created and marketed to appeal to odd personalities. So they may appeal to Libertarians, but Superman is of a different ilk, remastered to appeal to average personalities.

        Also re: the critics list, OK, you could associate periodisation with archetype free modernity, but if you look through the list, do films like “Man on Wire”, “Waste Land”, “Poetry”, “Aruitemo Aruitemo”, “56 Up”, “The Invisible War” (as new films) really strike us as archetypical, rather than complex and elusive and frequently documentaries? Also, critical behavior may have changed over time (laws of the free market aka laws of shilling out to an increasingly centralised studio system).

      • Staffan says:

        The percentage of comic books that make good movies is a somewhat shaky measure. How many novels make good movies. How many film scripts? And which superhero would appeal specifically to libertarians? I think Sisyphean’s idea that the trickster is more appealing to them makes more sense.

        You can always find films that break the pattern – in both directions, most of the popular movies from the 1960s was distinctly non-modern stuff – but look at the big picture. Sure critics can have changed over time, catering more to financial interests today. But they may also be a little less pretentious than their colleagues from the 1960s and 1970s. The point I’m trying to make is that if everyone who is in some way into film gives you a low rating, it’s because you lack lasting power.

      • Matt says:

        To honest, I’m not a major comic book fan who might be able to say. Superheroes in comics in general seem to be in some kind of conflict with their societies, to be self reliant on only themselves and people in relationships they’ve made for themselves. I’m thinking of the X-Men and so on, who seem to be much more popular among comic book fans that Superman and Spiderman and so on. The more straightforwardly Libertarian superhero interpretations seem the product of the rising income inequality late 1970s – 2010s period though.

        I still find it quite odd to point to recent films being more successful with critics than 60s – 70s films because they’re more archetypal, and then when we actually look at the recent films they prefer from the list (and that was a representative sample, not just specific counterpicks!), they don’t really seem archetypal at all… The recent films that are liked by critics do not seem experimental rather than well crafted, but that’s a different matter than relying on character archetypes, more to do with skilled characterisation and insight, technique, etc.

        Staffan, one element I was wondering is what you thought of Razib Khan / Robin Hanson’s thesis that modernity and liberalism is a return of egalitarian forager models of socialization, suppressed by Malthusian dynamics and low wealth during the pre-industrial farmer expansion phase, but which we are now rich enough to enjoy? E.g. free love rather than arranged marriage, etc. These bloggers have a number of other examples.

        It’s kind of the opposite of Kanazawa’s model, where liberalism and modernity are the result of weird, new evolutionarily novel thinking that requires high iq and cultural learning (or specific adaptations). Instead, high iq leads to both wealth and the ability to question of pre-modern structures, which leads to a relaxation of behavior away from “unnatural” pre-modern behavior imprinted by cultural authority and towards the species evolved norm of modern behavior.

        The fact that modernity has an appeal to people from divergent cultural contexts as they become wealthier is one line of evidence for the Khan-Hanson model. Another point is how more palatable modern liberal folk find the behavioral norms of small band societies (e.g, views on property, cultural control of child, relatively levels of societal violence than Europe etc.) compared to Western and Eastern pre-moderns (although there are some periods they can empathize with).

      • Staffan says:

        I think the self-reliance is inevitable because a hero who is dependent comes off as weak. A truly libertarian superhero would be more individualistic and that inevitably lowers his popularity. So the hero will not be a libertarian, but the libertarian will often insist that he is the hero regardless, like in Atlas Shrugged.

        I think the recent films critics prefer may be a bit inflated of short memory similar to the regular audience. As you can see there is a complete lack of modern type movies from the 1980s, 1990s and even early 2000s.

        I’m not familiar with the Khan/Hanson theory but I will look into it.

    • Sisyphean says:

      Would that be why every libertarian I’ve ever known loves the Joker so much? Libertarianism strikes me as a low empathy intellectualism. Ayn Rand was clearly a psychopathic personality.. but that’s fine, so am I. I’m just on the higher empathy side. I’m not saying one is necessarily better (though obviously Ayn would, she had many choice words for anyone who disagreed with her) What’s funny to me is that this pattern of intellectual disagreement goes way back in the modern/out-bred individuals. There’s a reason why the Catholic church is still THE Catholic church yet protestantism instantly exploded into hundreds of varieties that continue to subdivide to this day. Moderns are individualistic, ornery, intellectually diverse people who are unlikely to ever agree on anything. That’s the blessing and the curse. Blessed with the ability to adapt, to think outside the box to create new technology, new art, new science, new forms of government, cursed to constantly be at odds with each other, while the more inbred eye their achievements hungrily.


      • Staffan says:

        Yes, the Joker, or Trickster as the archetype is called, is a much better match for a libertarian. That’s the ultimate individualist and unlike the Hero a disturbing character. Not sure I’d call Rand a psychopath though. I suspect she is some kind of aperger-type person, the nerdy rather than geeky type. They can be very low-empathy intellectuals. And oddly childlike.

      • Zarove says:

        I don’t think that quiet orks as an explanation. Beign a Theology as well as Psychology student I’m sometimes bashedfor focusing on Reliion, buthey, its what I do. With that said, there is an image of the Catholic Churh as some sort of unwavering and unaltering Institution that has no adaptability, that seems to be referenced in your post. However, while I am not a Catholic, I will defend them by saying this is clearly not so. The Catholic Church does adapt tot he Times and does prodice new Art and new Sciences and new Ideas, they just have to be rooted in the Deposit of Faith. (Faith is not beleif without evidence, despite what Dawkins et all say.)

        I mean, look at the Modern Novos Ordo Massem, or Vatican 2 for example, the Catholic Chruch did reform to meet modern standards.

        Instead, I’d argue that modernism is itself less about adapting and coming up with ways to cope with a changign world, and sometiems exists to introduce Changeforthe sake of Change. This leadsto more instability than it has leadto prfit. Indeed, I’ve been critical of themodern Myth of Democracy beign Freedom, precicely ebcause I dotn see Dmeocracies as building up social unity liek they claim, oreven providing individualism and freedom, since Democracy is by definition majority Rule and in the end collectivism. Individualistic Ideals clash with Majoritarianism far mroe than they do an inherant Heirarhcy, which we imagine as producing Uniformity but often doenst.

        But I digreess. Ithink the Superhero can be Libertarian, but the reason he’s not is because the writers dont tend to intentionally create the Superhero with Political Overtones. Sure, there are exceptions liek V in V for Vendetta, who was mroe ofan Anti-Hero than a Superherp, but most of the Tiem the Superhero just existsto embody ourown Ideals. Ithink subconciosuly we all know we dont want a True Libertarian Society, even kot Libertarians dont really want that and instead haveexpectatiosn on howsociety “Should” be, and the Superhero is built aroudn that.

        Well, that and our social expectatipns.

      • Sisyphean says:

        @Zarove I wasn’t necessarily saying the Catholic church is unchanging merely that it still exists as a large singular entity with many adherents. I would further wonder that it may represent a framework where one can conform to a set of ideals rather than a place where a person can show how their ideals differ from those around them which is what I see with a lot of protestantism: boundary setting. ‘We’re different from them because we believe X and they believe Y’ Protestants seem to be looking for reasons to be different where Catholics don’t as much. Now I’d argue this isn’t so much that the ideas behind protestantism created this situation, rather I suggest that the people who were attracted to a world in their own image founded protestantism and those who weren’t interested in rocking the boat, who were more socially motivated, they remained behind in Catholicism. It makes me wonder whether psychotic/narcissistic/antisocial traits aren’t some of the defining features of the Western European ‘Moderns’


      • Zarove says:

        Sisyphean- Re Catholisism, I see, Imisunderstood then. Though I’d also defend Protestants to some extent, as not all Protestants want to simply show off their differences either. I mean, when’s the last Time we saw that from an Anglican?

        I think though that you are correct when it comes to some Churches, and that some Protestant Churches in general do seem to emphasis their differences between themselves and the world they lvie n, and even other Chruches, some even goign so far as to denounce the others as False Teachers, though this is just an irretating minority.

        Most Protestants as individuals really don’t concern themselves about which Protestant Church someone goes to, only if they go to Church, and in fact, most Protestants do not care if the peopel attend a Catholic Church these days. Most accept Catholics now, though there is still a sizable minority that rejects Catholsiism outright.

        Still, I live in the SOuth in the US nowadays and have seen peopel who attend Baptist Churches speak well of Preachers from Methodist Cruches, and so on, so I think that the average Mindset in the Protestant World is that these Cruches are different institutions with the same basic messag and you oick the one you like best, kind of like a Country Club.

        But there are, especially in the Hardline Baptists, Evangelical, and Pentecostal movements ( A sort of odd thign happened in that they act as a sort of Movement in conjunctiion with each other now) Churches that lash out at others and have basically defined themselves base dont he conflict with, and rejection of, the teachings of others.

        I have been mocke dmy whole life for beign a Monarchist, but that’s OK, since I think the real p[roblem comes from the same ideal that gave Rise to Democracy, and that is that we should be suspicious of Authorities and demand Change. I don’t think Democracy brouth this abotu so much as it is a consequence of this mentality though, btu still, modern Western Valeus see’s the Revolutionary as a Hero toppling a Tyrannical evil Heirarchy. It’s even worked its way into our popular myths liek Star Wars, in which the Evil Emperor is felled by a band of Rebels. to us, the Government is Evil and our Heroes ourge us of this Evil by takign up arms agaisnt them. Often this is mroe figurativethan literal, but basicaly, we’ve bought the Rebel Myth. The thign is, Rebels tend to promote themselves with Emotional appeals and denunciations, which is what Martin Luther himself did when he called the Catholci CHurhc the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Anti-Christ. While Luther’s Theological disagreements may have been worth talkign about, and I can see why peoopel woudl fidn them Valid and ask for a discusion on it, Luther opted to shout hsi message with vitriol agaisnt those who critisised him, which I think lead to many of the problems he faced, and which ingrined the ideal in peopels Minds that Rebellion and Anger are good. Besides, the type of Change you want is quicker and easier if yo use those methods. But, what’s to stop yoru followers from turnign on you usign the same emthods once they dotn get their way? After all, you apealed to their emotions and their desires, and they weren’t convinced of your beleifs based on Rational Argumentation, an idnt internalise them as their own Ideals, instead they followed you because they got mad at the other guy and hated him. They also hate Authority, and now yiou are the Authority.

        Whatever peopl think of Demcoracy as an indpeendant Idea, the fact that our Modern Democratic world was broguth abotu by Rebellion and that we have internalised Rebellion as a good thing means we won’t evwr build a society that is cooperative and pqceful so long as we cling to these ideals, withotu at leats a massive reformation in our thinkign regarding the soil in which we grow our Democracy, that is. We spent too much Time hatign the Government, and too much Tiem dividing into political prties and hatign each other, to really build a socially harmonious state, and in the end this began with the Protestant Reformation, much o the CHagrin of Atheists like Harris or the late Hitchens. Had ti nto been for Protestantism, modrn Democracy woudl likely not have emerged. But neither wudl the idea rhat I shoudl kill you because your “The man:” and in the way of me and my angry mob gettign what we want.

        Afte 200 Years, though, it seems we have settle dinto a more peaceful existance, and it seems also that while society is still dvided and angry, at elats we arent killign each other, and have learnd to cooperate to csome extent. SO I suppose the moern Angry Protestants are a sort of Relic of the Past, revising liek a Phoenix to burn the world.

  4. Sisyphean says:

    Yes! This resonates with me so much. I can’t tell you how much I rage about the silliness of the superhero movies, yet I too have dutifully purchased quite a few of them to watch and re-watch but not because I love the heroes. What’s fascinating about these archetypal stories is that you don’t see intellectual, thinking people, modern people in the parlance of this post, until you look at the villains. Lex luthor, superman’s arch nemesis is a self made man, a genius who constantly tries to use his wits to defeat his godlike adversary but always falls short. The Joker is Batman’s greatest nemesis and who is he but a miscreant, a man who questions the merit of society itself. And on and on we see comic book villains are thoughtful, intellectual, willing to question society, willing to shape it to their own ends rather than meekly accept a role as a cog somewhere, essentially, they think like some of the most modern outbred people think, especially those like myself who are touched with the weird (benign schitzotypy).

    Interestingly the point of a lot of these stories is that tradition, loyalty and honor trump, Intellectualism and weirdness. Superman always wins, which is comforting to see for the great lump of humanity though possibly at odds with reality. Loyal hard workers, even highly intelligent ones are a dime a dozen these days but weirdness, creativity, curiosity these attributes are highly in demand, they drive innovation in every industry not just the arts.


    • Staffan says:

      The hero must win because he represents the values of the community. But the trickster/villain is often depicted as dynamic and exciting. Perhaps as a way of saying “stay in your place, but leave a little wiggle room.”

  5. ZARVOE says:

    Please go with me on this, I have a point to make.

    A few months ago, or perhaps over a Year, I don’t recall as I’m often too busy to respond to these postings, you were talking about Atheists and how many in the New Atheism hated Religion, but how this movement took on the hallmarks of Religion they hated. . I posted that I don’t see the distinction, and also don’t think the New Atheists, or any Atheists, are Truly non-Religious. Of course you disagreed, but it is the subject of my Masters degree. I don’ think how modern society tries to define Religion is accurate, as I don’t’ see Religion as this one thing that exists, and that some people have and others don’t. I argue instead that Religion is just a word we use to Describe our beliefs about how the world works, where we came from. Who we are, how we relate to this world, what the meaning of it all is, and how best to live. While in modern Arguments people like to say I’m confusing Philosophy and Religion, I’m really not, I’m saying that there is no Real Distinction, and Historically people didn’t make these divides until much later anyway.

    To me, the New Atheist is a Religion. I don’t mean that Lack of belief in gods is a Religion, and in fact have noted that Atheism is not defined as a Lack of belief but s belief. Still, I’m not calling belief that the are no gods a Religion in its own Right either. However, Theism is not a Religion. No one is “just a Theist”, as there are other beliefs added. I also noted that Theism covers a wide range of belief systems, and concepts about gods, such as how many there are, and if the gods were emergent in the Universe as products of it or created it.

    But beyond that, when you look at the Religion most criticised by “New Atheists”. Christianity, you find more than just talk about God. In fact, most of Christianity is Moral Theory. While talk on who God is and what kind d if Nature he has, as well as talk of Heaven and Angels and Demons and Hell, do exist in Christianity, so does discussion of Sin, and far from the simple Caricature, Sin is not just disobedience to God but doing something wrong. As a consequence, even those who say they do not belief in Sin do, because they tell people what is an is not morally acceptable according to their beliefs, they just don’t call it Sin because thy associate Sin with Religion and think of themselves as not having a Religion. But in practical terms, its still the same thing.

    So why bring all this up now on an article on why we love Superheroes? Well, because it reminded me of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With 1000 Faces”, this discussion, and Campbell, as many will know already, dealt in Mythology and an explanation of Religion. his book became very popular and influential, and even swayed a Young George Lucas and was one of his inspirations in creating “Star Wars”, and many of the core ideas still float around Pop Culture. Academical;l however many of his ideas have been largely replaced, being superseded by newer ideas. However, Campbell’s central thesis has not been discarded by modern Academics, and in fact is itself rooted in Jungian Psychology. While I myself do not share all of Campbell’s ideas, I do think he was on mark by explaining how Religions stick with us by stellated us an Archetypical story that speaks to us on a basic, inherent level.

    As such, I’ve noted, getting back to my original points, that much of the Expectations of the New Atheism, for example, play out like the ideals of other Religions. For example, the New Atheism has a great, evil, Tyrannical force, Religion, with a prominent, central evil, the Christian Church, that holds us back from the Ultimate good, Science, Reason, Freethought, and Liberty. However, while Science and Religion are inherently Hostile forces, Science, being the Light of Truth, always defeats Religion, which retreats as Science advances. Once day, in the Future, everyone will abandon the evils of Religion, which in the past bought us the Dark Ages by sweeping away all the Science and Philosophy of the Ancient Romans and Greeks and produced 1000 years of stagnation and Misery, and will instead usher in a New Golden Age of Scientific Discovery and Moral Perfection in which hatred, wars, and division are defeated.

    However, before that wonderful world of Progress and Science builds for us a Utopia, there will be a great conflict in which Religion will be destroyed once and for all. Some imagine it as an actual violent conflict, while others see it as intellectual. However, it is agreed that if Religion is allowed to take hold again, we will be thrust back into the sinister Dark Ages.”

    All social problems will be fixed and everyone will live in Prosperity and Harmony. You see, Religion causes wars, and division, and hatred,s, and without it we will embrace each hoer as brothers. We will live as one. It’s like the John Lenin Song “Imagine”.

    To me, tis story isn’t much different from Evangelical Christians talking about Jesus and Christianity begin the Light of Truth, and how forces of evil, such as the Babylonian Mystery Religion originally founded by Nimrod and his wife Semiramis, brought about the Dark Ages, and have even built, in some variations, counterfeit Christianity in the form of the Catholic Church.

    Or more generally, about the Future. In most telling I’ve heard, there will be a Third Temple built in Jerusalem, and the Church will be Raptured, and after that a Time of Great Evil will emerge called The Great Tribulation. ( some argue the Rapture will happen in the Middle of the Tribulation and others after, but that’s not as common in Popular Culture.) This Time will be a Time when Satan rules the earth personally after taking over a Human Body and becoming the Anti-Christ, and will proclaim himself to be God after recipient a mortal wound but rising from the Dead. He will then be rejected by the Jews, who will then be attacked as the Anti-Christ, now Sovereign of the whole world, moves to Destroy Israel. But at the Last Minuet, Israel will be Saved as Jesus Christ returns to Earth with his Saints, and will end the Final Battle of Armageddon and the ntoss Satan in a Pit for 1000 Years. He will then set up his Physical Kingdom in Jerusalem and reign for 1000 Years.

    Both stories are essentially Messianic Deliverances from a Great Evil, contain a Great Struggle against a force that is Greater than Human, and good persevering over Evil.

    It should be noted for fairness that not all Atheists agree with the Neo Atheist story I told above, not do all Christians adhere to the Rapture. I used them only as popular ones we’ve all heard, and that we are familiar with, not to implicate everyone.

    Still, the point is, while he exact terminology and events differ, the general story is the same.

    And to me, that;s what Religion is. Religion is a Set of Beliefs about how the World Works, but the Human Mind processes information, or at least the normal Human Mind processes information, better if it is made “Real” by a story. This is why Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, and other Great Teachers have in the past used Parables, and why Aesop’s Fables remain relevant years later. We love Stories, and stories that embody concepts and teach us a moral lesson are invaluable ways in which we can understand complex ideals hat otherwise would be difficult for us since they’d exist in only Abstraction. No, we don’t like abstraction, we prefer the Story. In academic terms, this is Mythology. I hate using the term though as in most peoples Minds, the term “Mythology” means “A story that isn’t True”. In this context though, a Myth is simply an explanative Story that transcends its subject matter and Historical setting to convey Greater Truths or to embody Higher Ideals. A Myth can be a True Story.

    In fact, I have argued in the Past that Real Events like the American Revolution or World War 2 have become Myths. While these events actually happened, in our Minds they have transcended mere History and become something far Greater. To us, they represent Ideas and Concepts we would hold in Abstraction, to us, they embody the basic Philosophical Understanding we have of how the world works,and how society should or does work.

    Hitler is the Anti-Christ. Hitler is the Ultimate embodiment of Evil. The Nazi’s are the Highest form of Evil. In Movies, Television, and Books, ever since World War 2 Villainous Armies are often modelled after the Nazi’s, and evil Leaders after Adolph Hitler. Hitler is no Longer Human, he is the embodiment of Hatred, and cruelty, and Evil. He is, in a sense, the Son of Satan, he is to us the Anti-Christ. He represents Evil to us.

    One can argue that, as a matter of Historical Fact there have been worse Dictators, such as Stalin, or Mao, or Pol Pot, but when all is said and done, no one has captured the Imagination like Adolph Hitler, who years later is still remembered as the Greatest Evil the world has ever known. He;s so Evil that people are compared to him often to show them as Evil. Indeed, there’s even a Law that says that as an Internet discussion progresses, the likelihood of someone comparing someone else to Hitler grows. It’s called Godwin’s Law.

    Hitler is our go to guy for Evil. He is Satan incarnate, or at least Satan’s Son. Hitler is the Anti-Chist.

    In the same way, America, and now the World, loves Revolutionaries This largely traces back to the 18th Century, hen the American Revolutionary War was Fought. The story of how the evil British King, George the Third, had abuse the Colonies, heavily Taxed them, forced them to house soldiers, and was just all around tyrannical, to the point when noble, pure-hearted men, rose up and said “no more!”, and the Colonists joined them, standing in Unison to overthrow this Evil, and to not only gain independence, but to overthrown even the System of Monarchy, which itself is inherently evil and Wrong, and give us a Republic, in which Democratic Ideals stand, and in which we have Liberty and Justice and Prosperity, is a well known Story. It’s also highly inaccurate as Sign George wasn’t the Tyrant he is made out to be and America’s Founders wee far less morally pure, but like how Hitler is exaggerated in our Minds and the Details lost, so too are the Details of the American Revolution lost to us. We just recall the story of how poor farmers rose up and defeated the Mightiest Empire in the World, and how they did so in the name of Freedom, overthrowing an unjust Tyranny and giving the world a New System of Governance which ensues our Freedom.

    It’s pretty well an unquestioned Story by Americans and has been embraced h world over, and contrary to how TEA Partiers see it, is a bit popular hit with Left Wingers and Socialists in Europe.

    To me, the Stories I presented about World War 2 and the American Revolution are the same kinds of stories as the Future Expectation stories of the Evangelical Christians and the New Atheists. They don’t so much exists to tell us about the Past, or to tell us the Future, but to inspire us and to embody the Ideals which we are supposed to hold to.

    For that matter, even just the life of Jesus, and how he was born to a Virgin named Mary, in a stable because there was no room in the Inn, and how he grew and taught in the Temple, preaches, was crucified for our Sins even though he knew no Sin, and Rose from the Dead, only to ascend to Heaven and offer us Eternal Life is the same. So is the Life of Buddha, and Muhammad.

    Instead of seeing Jesus’ life as “Religion” and the American Revolution as “History” or “Politics”, I see hem as essentially the same, as mythologies that define how we understand the ideals we hold to, as embodiments of Philosophical Conceits and Aspirational Hopes that define what we believe and why. They serve the same function, with the divide between them being culturally imagined.

    Which is Kind of what I think the Superhero speaks to. All of these stories contain something Primal, that speaks to us as Humans, but they also serve to embody our present Ideals. That’s why Batman in 1938 did not act like Batman in 1950, and lets not forget how different Adam West’s 1960’s comedic Batman is from Tim Burton’s or how different Burton’s is from Nolan. ( And West’s is even farther removed from Nolan’s.)

    The Truth is, Archetypes are Skeletons, on which we build a mythos around. The Mythos embodies sour Ideals and Principles, but he core remains the same.

    The problem Richard Cooper is having is that his ideals really don’t’ fit the core, but that can still speaks to him. But I think a large part of why is because Humanity has an odd ability to think Abstractly, but dispassionate abstract Philosophical ideals just don’t resonate. Instead, we tell stories that embody the principles of the Ideals to “Make them Real”. Even if the story is Fictional, it shows how the Ideals would play out in “The Real World”. But our Ideals as to what the World should be like, and our innate understanding of what we are, in fact, really like don’t always Mesh. We should comes to terms with that and ask ourselves some hard questions.

    Its like how we all now, culturally, that Democracy is the best form of Government there is, but objective studies show that Voters rarely make informed decisions, preferring to vote base don slogans, catch phases, talking points, or worse, just how the Candidates look. Democracy is actually a slow, irrational Governmental form, but we hold to it, and tell stories about how life would be like without it, and case those worlds as Dictatorships.

    He have been Free Societies that were not Democratic, and often Democratic Societies are not Free, but our stories reflect Democracy as Freedom.

    That;s because our stories tend to be simple. Granted there are complex stories, even stories that are praised for their complexity, but in the end he stories hat endure and stay with us and that we get the most immediate gratification of are the stories in which thee is a clear cut good guy and a clear cut bad guy. Usually the bad guy has Henchmen too. The White Hat cowboy against the Black Hat Cowboy, as it were, and perhaps Black Hats gang.

    The stories are, a their core, the same, and simple.

    Archetypes are the Skeletons on which our stories are built. But I’d contend that our Ideals as a Culture and as individuals are part of hat too, but they have to be form fitted around that Skeleton. Sometimes, the Core Skeleton doesn’t fit perfectly our Ideals, but they have to to make the story interesting. Otherwise, we loose interest.

    But at the same Time, our stories aren’t really about people at all, but Ideas and Principles. When we see the White Hatted Sheriff gun down the Black Hat Gang, then have a final, inevitable confrontation with Black Hat, we aren’t watching a man shoot down 12 guys then have a final showdown with one other man and kill him, we’re watching the ideas hose men represent. In that sense, it’s not people getting hurt or killed, but ideas, in a symbolic Fashion, being hut or killed. e]e see the people who disagree with us killed on screen, thus showing us how our own ideals and values are superior. ( I do know that there are stories in which the good guys loose, but I’m being General here., and specifically about Superheroes, who tend nto to loose.)In that way, I think Richard Cooper should take heart. He isn’t betraying his Liberal Sensibilities, he’s simply watching the Ideal Hero who represents the Highest Virtues our current society Holds defeat bad guys who represent either the disruption of those Ideals, or contrary ideals. He’s seeing those Ideas be beaten or be killed, not People.

    And in the end I think tat is he True Power of Myths.

    • Sisyphean says:

      Agreed, I tend to think of the New atheists the same way: worshipers at the sacred alter of science. Me thinks they doth protest too much. If you’re an atheist and content with yourself, then you don’t go around trying to forcibly convert others, you just live. Or at least, that’s what I do. Interestingly (and anecdotally) some of the biggest fans I know of superheroes are otherwise completely rational scientists. I don’t get it… The villains are where it’s at.

      Of course, Batman and Superman may be the most popular among the masses but they are far from the only choices available in the new ink pantheon. Those of us interested in nuance in their stories and fallibility in their ‘heroes’ have more than enough meat to sink our pointy teeth into, heck the watchmen was even made into a movie.


      • Zarove says:

        I should add to this qonderful psot that the New Atheists dont relaly care about Science, just the idea of it, and most dont even bother to learn it. Plus, the whole “Science VS Relgiion” Canard is easily disprioven by the fact that most “Religious people” dotn hate Science and many Devout Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, and other Relgiiosn work in the Sciences and are respected. I just think they bought into their own hype.

        That said, this wouldnt be an Internet post withotu trollign so… Neener Neener boo Boo you liek Watchmen? Lame! Spioder-man is way better!

        But I do agree with you, tyhr Villains were far mroe interesting in most sgories than the Heroes, and this is especially True both of the older stories, when the Heroes were cardboard cutouts with no emotion who robotically did “The Right Thing”, and nowadays when they have so much personal Drama you think yoru reading a Soap Opera half the Time.

    • Staffan says:

      “I argue instead that Religion is just a word we use to Describe our beliefs about how the world works, where we came from. Who we are, how we relate to this world, what the meaning of it all is, and how best to live.”

      I think you have this backwards. Religion is a word we use for belief in a higher power of some otherworldly origin. Various philosophies, morals and storie follow from such beliefs. One way in which we have learned to understand the world better is by making these distinctions – cow and milk are not the same. To reintroduce this confusion with the argument that no one made this distinction before is dubious and relativistic, kind of like saying that in order to understand an idiot you need to think like an idiot.

      I can agree that we understand the world using archetypes and a case can be made for religion (as defined by a dictionary) being archetypal in nature. But that doesn’t make all mythological thinking religious in nature.

      And Cooper should not take heart. Superman is not a symbol of his values. That violence is not symbolic; it’s visceral. He is enjoying a savannah fantasy, as perhaps Kanazawa would say.

      • Zarove says:

        The thign is, Religion didnt originally mean beleif in a Higher Power. For most of the History of the word, it was based mroe on Ritual Observance than actual beleifs. If we went by the Roman Religiare, or the continuance of the term in Romance Languages, the term simply doens’t mean one beleives in a Higher Power. It wasn’t until the 1300’s in English that it even began to be used sometimes to mean this.

        But even today we hear about Religions that are Atheistic. May mistakenly think all of Buddhism is, for instance, and the Truth is there are Atheistic forms of Buddhist Religion, but Buddhism, een godless Buddhism, is still classified as a Religion. So are the Atheistic versiosn fo Tao, and Atheistic versions of Confusianism.

        Heck, if you read the original Humanist Manifesto written in 1933 ( Or at leats ratified and signesd then) you will see a surprise, that Humanists originally understood Humanism as a New Religion. They even expressly call it this in their own Manifesto. It wasnt until later on that “Secular” Humanists insistd their version of Humanism was not Religious, even though it didnt really differ from Regular Humanism, and not until even mroe recent years that Humanism itself was said to be “A Philosophy, not a Religion”. To me that’s just a talkign point though, and a semantic differencd to back up a sophist argument.

        Indeed, just read the Manifesto, it openmly declares Humanism a New Relgiion, all while denouncing Theism, Deism, Modernism, and other things, expressing a purely Naturlaistic existnce, and insisting that the Universe is not Created.


        It is clear to me that the Humanists in 1933 understood Humanism as a Religion. The reason this changed was mroe due to the fact that in America, Humanists wanted Schools to be Teaching Grounds for Humanism, and yet had alrady won court caes removing Bible Reading and Prayer fom Schools, claimign it violates the Separation of Church and State. The need to redefine their beleifs as not Relgiion came primarily from there, as well as the doption from the Peanut Gallery and Militant Atheists of the concept of Science VS Relgiion, and the conflation of “Science” and “Reason” with Atheism.

        Still, its a sophist argument base don a nonexistent point. Religion is not purely about belefi in a Higher Power but includes beleif abot Man and his own Nasture, hwo to live a Moral Life, and how best to understand the world we live in.

        Its never been limited to just Theistic Ideas.

      • Staffan says:

        Sycophant used to mean blackmailer or tattletale and sardonic used to refer to the smiles of humans being sacrificed to the gods. You’re simply caught up in semantics, not the actual concepts which is what any nonlinguist discussion is about. It doesn’t mean much whether some Humanists have regarded their movement as a new religion or not either since they had no case.

        Your strongest argument is Buddhism, but they have notions of otherworldly beings (devas), reincarnation and nirvana. That means they have the idea of higher powers and other forms of existence for which there is no empirical evidence. That’s what makes it a religion.

      • Zarove says:

        Stephn, you said that we need categories in order to make sense of the world. I agree. However, I ask you to consider this, that sometimes we categorise things incorrectly. The reason I don’t accept the idea that Religion needs a Higher power in order to be a Religion is because it’s really not what most people mean when they discuss Religion. Sure, when a Christian talks about his Religion it includes God, and the same is True of a Jew or Muslim, or Sinto with its gods, but when you look at the predomenant reasoning behind Moral Theories, they extend well beyind “God said X is wrong so we don’t do X” into explanations as to why X is wrong, which almost always tie into observed adverse consequences that occure when we do X.

        Then there are the usual Critisissm of Religion. They break down and make no sense when we look at things objectively. For example, beleif in Higher Powers doens’t make you reject Science or incapable of thinking for yourslf nor does it make you more hostile or warlike, just like beign a oure materialistic Atheist won’t make you peaceful, logical, or Rational, in Love with Science, or particulalry goosd. I’m not sayign the opposite is True either, what I’m sayign is that when you look at the alternatives to Religion, like Humanism, or Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, you don’t see a fundamentally different kind of thign at all. Both are attempts to explain the world we live in, and make it understandable to us, andboth are trying to direct our moral codes and shape how we interact with others or understand the meanign of our own lives.

        In the end, if we accept that Humanism and Objectivism and other Athiestic alternatives to Relgiion aren’t Religion solley because they do not appeal to a Higher Power, we are still confronted by the Reality that that is the only real difference, and peopel adhere to their non-Relgiious Philosophies for the same reasons as they woudl Relgiion, and these Non-Religious Philosophies exist to serve the same function as Relgiion would, and people can be just as intolerant of othersnot sharign their Non-Religious Philosophy, even if the person in question is hismelf not Relgiious, as the Relgiiosu can be. The followrs of the Non-Religiosu Philosophies can be blind followrs of it too, just acceptign what their authorities have handed down, and can be just as unthinking about their acceptance.

        The same critisisms exist for a Non-Relgiiosu Philosophy as for Religion, and the same benefits exist in the form fo a comprehensable understandign of Life and the World we live in, so that in the end I see the distinction of belefi in a Higher Power or not beleivign in a Higher Power as negligable. Religion exists to provide a Framework from which one can understand his own Life, and that’s what the Alternatives to Relgiion serve to do. So, to me they are the same thing, they justhave different beleifs that comprise them.

        I don’t really see why peopel become so hostile when I make this observation, though.

      • Staffan says:

        The fact that religious people reason about morals in a way that doesn’t always invoke a higher power is not a good reason to exclude a higher power from the concept of religion. The fact that some modern people reject religion and then end up with weird religious looking philosophies is all the more reason for this distinction in that it distinguishes between to types of behavior – one relying on tradition and one trying, but failing, to rely on rational thought. This is an important distinction that enable us to understand exactly how these behaviors differ.

        Distinctions enable us to see reality with higher resolution. Inclusive concepts muddle the picture – unless they are indicating some fundamental underlying factor. But we already have morality as that factor in this case so there is no need to switch to religion.

  6. […] Why a Good Story Must Be Archetypal and Why Modern Storytellers Must Lie About It – from staffan. […]

  7. Gottlieb says:

    As the neuropolitics site showed , the liberal people are not competitive . According to them , liberalism is an evolutionary process , at least in the West , which usually manifests in large population concentrations in environments densely populated and the competition of groups is discouraged . Some people are genetically predisposed ( genetic – organically ) to avoid competition , for numerous reasons such as personality type , height , ability to develop muscles …
    The idea of ​​superman induces in the mind of the psyche of the masses of the USA, especially among men , the idea of ​​hierarchy versus egalitarian cooperation. Taking into account that the liberal project is to reverse all socio – subjective mechanisms that since the beginning of conscious humanity , has been the majority, I am not surprised they are already on their way to categorize these types of classical neo -Christian Recreational cultural events as wrong and suitable for the disappearance .
    In the end, it is interesting to see how these people while trying to destroy any human attempt (and especially euro -stuff ) representation of inequality , while blatant is its totally unequal positions as supreme arbiters of morality . They must have a pretty big ego .

    • Staffan says:

      They can only do so much in attacking archetypal characters because people need them – and they need to be popular. This is how ancient pre-Roman gods became saints – when you can’t make sense you try to appear to make sense.

      Yes, some people are more equal than others. Same thing as with the archetypes really, the inability to escape human nature and the rationalizations to disguise it. Kind of like “adjusting” a woman’s breasts,

      • Gottlieb says:

        Well , after much thought , I rationalized that in fact , human nature is adjustable ( hihihihihihihihi )
        ”They” ”are” ”right”.
        Women are less intelligent in abstract thought because one sexual selection for women with more docile, more sociable personality and therefore with less testosterone . Okay, testosterone is a male hormone , but only because we want to be. Ok , women with high testosterone have more risk of having an offspring with disorders on health , both physical and mental (if we can call the second malfunctions ) , but only because the phenotype was depressed. It is not impossible to do , of course , will have their costs, which may be larger than the current ones. At the most , with the advent of modernity and perfection of human beings in sprucing , we lose the ability to view real- for example, the physical appearance of women .
        I think , imagine if all the Caucasian women were forbidden to shave ??
        How many Frida Kahlo exist in the world ??
        Thinking in this light, I can think that Asian women compared to Caucasian , precisely because they have less testosterone and less production of hair , are slightly more biologically attractive.
        However , people on the political right if they want to survive , they should not think this way and continue to push the agenda of normativity , in the same way that liberals push their . Humanity,pffff……
        Human nature is changeable yes, but try these changes would expose the ways humanity has never sailed before. It is a high cost and impossible to estimate.

    • Zarove says:

      Actually I don’t think you can eliminate Heirarchy, as even int he supposeldy classless societies we lvie in today, we see them. Does anyoen actually treat elected leaders as “Mere oublic servants” who “Work for us”, or as Lords were ocne Treated? The only difference is they wwre elected instead fo inheriting the role, but they have the same power, and the same function, as their predessessors.

      I also have to wonder why peoe think you can’t have fairness and cooperation in a Hweirarchy? Why does everyone have to be Equel to be Free? Or to be Treated Fairly? And what does Equality even mean?

      I dont buy the idea of Liberalism beign about less competition and mroe efalitariansim VB Herarchy, I see it more as a type fo Heirarchy on is own, and just castigates valies it has nto approved of liek any other Tribal system.

      • Zarove says:

        Steffan, yoy claimn that Religiousd people use Tradition and the Non Religious Use, or Try to use, Rational Thought. Isn’t that actually not True? How does beleif in a Higher Powr automaticlaly make you all about Tradition instead of Reason? How does beign an Atheist mean you prefer Reason over Tradition?

        Religious People don’t use Tradition instead of Rational Thought, just as Atheists don’t use, or attemot to use, Reason instead of Tradition. In fact, plenty of “Relgiious people” are innovators who try to break away from Tradition. Heck, there are Protestant Christians who specificlaly copndemn Tradition. Meanwhile, plenty of Atheists actually tend towards the Traditions of their “Non-Religiosu Philosophy” and he communities that develop around them.

        Then you have groups that employ both. It’s nopt really an Either-Or situation in which you either choose Reason or Tradition.

        And noen of this really has anythign to do with beleif in a Higher Power since you can beleive in a Higher Power and reject Tradition, and you can beleive in a Higher Power and also try to use Rational Tought. Just like you can reject beleif in a Higher Power and still cling steadfast to Tradition, and you can reject beleif in a Higher Power and beleive nt eh Value and Power of tradition.

        The distinction between Religious Peopel and nopnRelgiiosu People to you is, Relgiion is all about Tradition, whilst NonRelgiion is about Reason, but that doesnt fit the definition fo Relgiion beign about a Higher Power, and doens’t really ;provide us with the distinction between the behaviours. The Truth is, the “Distinct” behaviours arent distinct. If you attend a Secular Humanist meeting its pretty well the same as attending a Church Function, with the exception of what is beign Preached.

      • Gottlieb says:

        The Neuropolitics site found or conducted research in which this result was found, liberals as a group, are less competitive. The current liberalism is a giant state machine, a kind of monster that is eating all his daughters. It can attract people with a particular behavioral phenotype, but its modern purpose does not seem this.
        The liberal machine works as follows, non-competitive groups are strongly attracted to the same, while sociopaths types emerge for the leadership position.
        Of course, the idea of ​​nonexistence hierarchy is impossible, but the liberal and I believe there may be a minor difference between the classes. I, and far less liberal, I believe that not only can reduce the large class differences and to create a true meritocracy.

  8. Staffan says:

    Here’s the thing. There is always going to be many examples of pattern breakers – five-wheeled bicycles, one-armed humans etc. The question is whether some characteristics are sufficiently common for a definition to be useful – even with these exceptions in place. Most people agree that a higher power is such a characteristic in the definition of religion. And guess what? It’s been working pretty well. Sometimes there is ambiguity and you have to specifiy exactly what you mean but the basic concept works.

    Your solution with inclusive concepts will make most concepts so overlapping that you will always have to specify what you mean making them essentially useless. This is not my opinion but simply a matter of how language works.

    • Zarove says:

      My solution is the basis for my Doctorate in Psychology. I concern myself very little with how the average man understands terms, since the common Idea of what something is is often wrong. Take for example the Queen. She is often called the Queen of England. The Truth is, England has no Monarchy today, and has not had a Monarchy since 1701. The Queen is actually the Queen of the United Kingdom. England does not itself have a Monarchy all its own. Meanwhile, people think the Queen of the UK is Queen of Canada, which is only a half Truth. Legally, the Crown and Throne of Canada is completely separate from the Crown and Throne of the UK, it just happens to be occupied by the same person.

      Even America has such odd overlaps. America is understood as all one country, but legally America is 50 State Sovereignty united under a Treaty. America is therefore not a Country but 50 different countries, 59 if you count the territories.

      The Truth is, I find the definition of Relgiion yoru usign tobe far mroe limiting and bizzarre, and for the reasons Ive noted. You think Religion is about following Tradition, whiile nonreligious people prefer to use Reason, or at leats attemto to, instead of Tradition. Well, there is no logic behidn that if we acept that Religion is just beleif in a Higher Power. There is no Reason tot hink beleif in a Higher Power means youfollow Tradition instead of Rason, or rejectign beleif in a Higher Power means youprefer Reason. Just like how Militant Atheists think you either beleivein Relgiion, or beleive in Science, there is no Rasont ot hink beleif in God makes you reject Science.

      In fact, there is no reason why you cant follow Tradition and Reason, and I’d say most pepel do both.

      To me, Religion is simple. Religion and Philosophy are the same thing, regardless of how some people insist that they are different. Just as Philosophy can’t be punned down to one or two beleifs that define all of Philosophy,neither can Religion. In a sense, Religion as a thing doens’t exist, it’s just a blanket term used to define a sort of thougght proccess. Just like Philosophy, or even Law.

      Rekigion doesnt require any one thing, its simply an understanding of the world we live in and how best to conduct our lives. I don’t see how that’s more ocnfusign than definign it as beleif in a Higher Power, and I dothink its more accurate sicne it eliminates the false distinction between Relgiion and Reason, or the idea of Relgiion as this alein other ith Nonreligiosu people thinkign totlaly differenlty than Relgiiosu ones, which is itself not True.

    • Zarove says:

      I’ve always been mocked for my own beleifs. I am a Monarchiost. Peopl today think this means I want a totolitarian Giovernment with no Freedom. In reality, I see Democracy as the opposite of Freedom, as Democracy is basiclaly a collectivist ideal that undrmines personal Freedom, and even the idea of individuality, all while lettign Psychopaths take over in the form sof Politicians. I dont beleiv ein Absolute Monarhcy, but I do beleive ib givign the Monarhc real power.

      I never bought hte idea of Democratic Principals as particually meritocritus and while Hereditary Rulers may not be either, toypuclaly Merit is recognised better under them, such as in the Chinese Empire of Old.

  9. Gottlieb says:

    I’m a guy who walks into a kind of eugenics libertarianism. I share with many assumptions of both the left and the right. However, I came to the conclusion that everything is culturally created by humans is much more artificial and recreation than reality. In other words, the human being is a species that evolved to divest themselves of all potentially latent possibilities of existence, consciousness and ego-reality.
    In the end everything can be changeable and rebuilt. With regard to democracy, personal freedom is something very precious and expensive. Only people with true consciousness of what this means should have it. The less smart a person is, less personal freedom she should have. If a person with IQ below 80 is equivalent to a grown child, then as a matter of morality and compassion, the most intelligent people should make timely interventions in their lives in order to avoid making mistakes, especially people with low intelligence but with great character. These deserve special attention.
    Statal tutors selected by both intelligence, consciousness and rationality, should help them to manage their lives in subtle but steady way.

    • Staffan says:

      Intelligence and consciousness but then there is that which Jung calls disposable energy, a concept that is rarely talked of today (maybe it’s called something else). We had a highly intelligent businessman here who ate himself to death at 58 years of age. For all his smarts he couldn’t elevate himself above his mammalian nature. And some less smart people have a natural desire for thinking and trying new stuff. It may be more a case of divergent thinking than of intelligence.

      • Gottlieb says:

        Well, divergent thinking is the essential ingredient for creativity but also for genuine intelligence. What Jung called Energy and Dabrowski called overexcitability I call intellectual obsession. People with this trait are generally more clever than the other, but not necessarily more intelligent. Are more obsessed with specific topics of interest. I can not believe guys like Leonardo da Vinci, multitalented genius, can exist in equal proportions, to other types of geniuses. The vast majority of talented and geniuses are obsessive and therefore with a tendency to focus on specific activities.
        High awareness combined with high intelligence are more common combination, than we imagine. I feel that cognitive science is a very elitist place besides despise the accumulation of evidence that put an end to the relationship between typical high IQ nerds with numerous possibilities of genuine geniuses.
        Almost all attempts to conceptualizations of the phenomenon of genius I’ve ever seen has resulted in a consistent pattern of similar observations. Genuine geniuses are those who exhibit a wide range of individual personality traits, therefore, the existence of bio-behavioral contradiction, a very complex person who can be both extremes of the larger spectrum of human personality.


    • Zarove says:

      I beleive that Personal Liberty is quiet valuable, but I dont think it comes from Democracy. In fact, I’ve seen too much to think beign abel to vote inelectiosn makes me Free. Its what I liek to call the Freedom Myth. Im Free ebcause I vote, so it doesnt matter if the Laws rpevent me from doign much.

      Democracy is supposed toenabe individuality, but imn reality Demcoracyis a collectivist Ideal in wich Uniformity is prefered. Individuality is subsumedby Majpritarianism.

      We arent free in a Demcoracy, the onoy Freedom we have is to conform tot he majprity.

      • Gottlieb says:

        Exactly, democracy is a form of dictatorship, because the whole community ends up resulting in a dictatorship of the majority, is what I call collective transcendence. The individual is sacrificed or is sacrificed in favor of a majority. All join forces towards a purpose, usually the culture or the perpetuation of their expression, are the most common purposes.
        Modern democracy is sophisticated because sell us the idea of individuality through phenotype-tribal divisions they become latent. By placing one tribe against another, they stand united and cohesive and begin the slow and so far successful process of mental colonization of dissident tribes.
        Rather than Bruce Charlton believes regarding Machiavellian heads responsible for all these changes in our societies, I think that they undoubtedly are brilliant, however, the wrong and histrionic way.
        I’m not an ardent critic of many of the changes that have happened, on the contrary, in fact, continue that bummer of traditionalists obligations and suppression of individuality would be terrible. However, from the moment that the human being enters into a new field, anything can happen, even the worst. While humans continue to get drunk of your ego, will continue to find things that we invent are worth more, even to bloodshed. In the end, everything turns crap. (to paraphrase a song from the famous Brazilian singer Rita Lee).

  10. Steve Sailer says:

    Good analysis of the lesbian movie — the driving force of The Kids Are Alright is the heterosexual chemistry that pops up between Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo as biological parents who have never met of a 15 year old son by sperm donation. The son, who is a good kid, wants to meet his father. The two parents meet for the first time, and feel the unspoken but powerful urge to make another kid.

    Heterosexuality … it’s a helluva plot device!

    But then modern liberal upper middle class homosexual order is restored at the end of the movie. Yawn.

    • Staffan says:


      The film definitely illustrates the conservative advantage in storytelling. It also features a little scene with a dog that illustrates Haidt’s sanctity/degradation – probably the most conservative of moral foundations. The scene isn’t even part of the plot; it’s like the script-writer just sensed that it was something that goes into a proper story.

  11. JayMan says:

    See here:

    comment on storytelling

    Read the production details on Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II to get more background.

  12. […] Why a Good Story Must Be Archetypal and Why Modern Storytellers Must Lie About It | Staffan’s … […]

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