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Personal Thoughts on Logos and Mythos

By Rhys Chisnall

There is an old maxim that knowledge is power and one possible way of understanding spirituality and religion is through the epistemological position suggested by the historian of religion Karen Armstrong. Armstrong (2010) and (2005) argued that the ancient Greeks recognised two equally valued types of knowledge referred to as Logos and Mythos.

Logos is knowledge that describes the way the world is. There are two types of logos knowledge; things that are necessarily true, e.g. 1 +1= 2, or ‘all bachelors are unmarried’ and things that are contingently true, such as elephants are grey or the theory of natural selection. Logos knowledge operates in the domain of true or false; it is the knowledge of science, analytical philosophy, mathematics, history etc. Logos knowledge is useful for manipulating the world but it does nothing to help people find meaning or assuage grief or despair (Armstrong, 2010).

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