Joseph Campbell, Symbols and Culture

Symbols are a means of complex communication that often can have multiple levels of meaning. This separates symbols from signs, as signs have only one meaning.

Human cultures use symbols to express specific ideologies and social structures and to represent aspects of their specific culture. Thus, symbols carry meanings that depend upon one’s cultural background; in other words, the meaning of a symbol is not inherent in the symbol itself but is culturally learned.

Symbols are the basis of all human understanding and serve as vehicles of conception for all human knowledge. Symbols facilitate understanding of the world in which we live, thus serving as the grounds upon which we make judgments.In this way, people use symbols not only to make sense of the world around them, but also to identify and cooperate in society through constitutive rhetoric. For the person seeking to create a new quantum reality the ability to wisely choose certain signs over other or merging seemingly diverse, and at times even paradoxical signs can open the door to new realities.

Semiotics is the study of signs, symbols, and signification as communicative behavior. Semiotics studies focus on the relationship of the signifier and the signified, also taking into account interpretation of visual cues, body language, sound, and other contextual clues. Semiotics is important for the student exploring the creation of a quantum reality since QRs are formed through new ways of thinking, speaking and behaving and semiotics is linked with both linguistics and psychology. Semioticians thus not only study what a symbol implies, but also how it got its meaning and how it functions to make meaning in society. Symbols allow the human brain continuously to create meaning using sensory input and decode symbols through both denotation and connotation.

 

Joseph Campbell had a deep interest in the work of Carl Jung and translated many of the pioneering psychoanalyst’s writings in from German into English. It was Jung  who studying archetypes, proposed an alternative definition of symbol, distinguishing it from the term sigs. This is something also addressed by Wittgenstein and others.In Jung’s view, a sign stands for something known, as a word stands for its referent. He contrasted this with symbol, which he used to stand for something that is unknown and that cannot be made clear or precise. An example of a symbol in this sense is Christ as a symbol of the archetype called self.  For example, written languages are composed of a variety of different symbols that create words. Through these written words humans communicate with each other. The influential literary critic Kenneth Burke described Homo sapiens as a “symbol-using, symbol making, and symbol misusing animal” to suggest that a person creates symbols as well as misuses them. Burke was best known for his analyses based on the nature of knowledge and  was one of the first individuals to stray away from more traditional rhetoric and view literature as “symbolic action.”

 

One example Burke uses to indicate what he means by the misuse of symbol is the story of a man who, when told that a particular food item was whale blubber, could barely keep from throwing it up. Later, his friend discovered it was actually just a dumpling. But the man’s reaction was a direct consequence of the symbol of “blubber” representing something inedible in his mind. In addition, the symbol of “blubber” was created by the man through various kinds of learning.

Burke goes on to describe symbols as also being derived from Sigmund Freud‘s work on condensation and displacement, further stating that symbols are not just relevant to the theory of dreams but also to “normal symbol systems”. He says they are related through “substitution”, where one word, phrase, or symbol is substituted for another in order to change the meaning. In other words, if one person does not understand a certain word or phrase, another person may substitute a synonym or symbol in order to get the meaning across. However, upon learning the new way of interpreting a specific symbol, the person may change his or her already-formed ideas to incorporate the new information.

 

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This blog is from Lewis Harrison’s Book.

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http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Lewis Harrison is a speaker on stress management and sales and is a radio talk show host. He also owns a company that offers stress management programs throughout the United  States. Part of this company is  his corporate chair massage company, eventschairmassage.com provides seated and chair massage for stress management seminars and trainings as well to special events for  meeting planners and meeting professionals in New York City, New Jersey Las Veges, Dallas, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Greensboro NC, Florida and other major meeting and conventions venues.

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About Lewis Harrison

Problem Solver, Author, Speaker, Trainer, Consultant, Peak Performance Coach, and Radio Talk Show Host. Expert on Personal Development, Futurist, Game Theory
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