Raimon Panikkar on the Relation between Mythos and Logos

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“Mythos and logos go together, but their relationship is neither dialectic nor mythic; it is rather a mutually constitutive relationship. If it were logical, the spirit would be drowned in the logos. Were it mythical, the logos would be reduced to the spirit. Put another way, there is no logos without mythos – of which the logos is language – and there is no mythos without logos – of which the myth is the foundation … Only the pratîtyasamutpâda, the radical relativity of all that is, can maintain the harmony without domination between the mythos and the logos” (Intellectual autobiography”).

The reunion between mythos and logos is one that must also take place between subjectivity and objectivity, between the heart and mind, between rational thought and the spirit that flies free. This reunion is necessary so as to avoid falling either into the ancient submission to myth or into the submission of myth to logos, namely, falling into the present day logo-monism: “Reality is not given to us as logos, but rather offers itself to us as mythos, as that horizon against which we place our own idea of the world… Our world is given to us in mythos, and that world, equally ours, is discovered by the logos” (Pensamiento científico y pensamiento cristiano, Madrid 1994). Panikkar describes this double faceted reality as follows:

“Myth is not the object of discourse, but the expression of a kind of sui generis awareness. Myth and knowledge go together... A living myth does not leave room for interpretation, inasmuch as there is no need for an intermediary. The hermeneutic of a myth is in no way myth, but rather its logos … The myth is transparent like light, and the mythic story is only the form, the covering with which the myth finds itself expressed, concealed, illuminated. This does not at all mean we have to disregard, much less belittle, the value of thinking and ignore the realm and inviolable rights of the logos. I simply mean that man cannot be reduced to the logos, nor can awareness be reduced to reflexive consciousness” (Myth, Faith and Hermeneutics).

The theme of myth and its place in relation to religion and human thinking in general has greatly occupied Panikkar and has given rise to the publication of numerous works of his. He himself came to say, “It is necessary to rediscover the place and function of myth in human life and to situate rationality in the total human context.” (Blessed Simplicity).

An open dialogue between myth and logos is the foundation of his dialogical dialogue as the force for opening oneself to the other and respectfully entering into his reality."

- Raimon Panikkar [1]

John O'neill'scomment on Panikkar and Pathos

“In the preface to Christophany, Panikkar says that the book “ is an attempt to concentrate the pathos of a lifetime into a few pages.”

This is the only explicit reference to pathos which I could find in his writings, after looking through several of his books.

However, I would say that his life and work is full of pathos, over a lifetime of 91 years, including the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and many years living among the poor in India. He spoke often of the need for solidarity with all humanity, especially the disadvantaged and with the whole cosmos.

The link between logos, ethos and pathos goes back to Aristotle. However, it is not one that I have seen Panikkar refer to.

He does have a bit to say about suffering, though, eg:

“Suffering is a kind of an existential awakening to a depth dimension in ourselves as well as in reality as a whole. It can entail particularly in solidarity with the universe” , The Experience of God, p.106. “ The bodhisattva does not lose his joy but remains on earth to participate in the suffering of creatures in order to help them liberate themselves, 107. “ It makes us feel our human condition and our creaturely state more profoundly, regardless of how it is interpreted, 108. On the other hand, Panikkar often links mythos, logos and pneuma together, with the latter almost a synonym for Spirit eg, “ logos, mythos and pneuma correspond to the thought, the unthought and the unthinkable. These three interpenetrate, there is a perichoresis , they dwell within one another. “ Myth , Faith and Hermeneutics, p. 347.



Raimon Panikkar:

via John O'Neill: [3]


"“Logos: Adapted from Christianity and Greek philosophy, logos in Panikkar’s philosophy refers to the rational capacity to order, understand, and know. However, Panikkar’s concept of logos is not all there is to knowledge and understanding, but refers to the human capacity to know explicitly, objectify, and grasp reality with the intellect what something is via the rational capacity of human reason. This is contrasted in Panikkar with mythos; but both are tied together to understand how each informs the other. Mythos: For Panikkar, mythos means the implicit cultural-religious framework that, on an existential level, underlies, frames, and implicitly shapes a worldview. Contextually the mythos is the frame within which we exist that is opened by an “other” via dialogical dialogue. Panikkar’s idea of mythos is an implicit and lived self-understanding of the cultural and religious frameworks of human identity that are shaped not necessarily by rational capacity or conscious belief but by the living participation in the myth that offers an implicit and unquestioned source of self-understanding and self-identity. A mythos is the horizon of self-understanding and transcends the logos, while encompassing rational capacity to understand and live under the mythos of human intelligibility via cultural, religious and social frameworks. “


"Dialogical Dialogue: Panikkar’s conception of imparative philosophy is tied to what he calls a “dialogical dialogue,” through which dialogue with another culture, another person, implies a piercing through the rational capacity to knowing the other’s implicit mythos which shapes not merely what he/she believes but the frameworks for belief. Dialogical dialogue entails a meeting of persons, rather than rational inquiry (as in his dialectical dialogue) wherein the self-understanding of the other becomes part of one’s own self-understanding. This is central to Panikkar’s cross-cultural hermeneutics in which an “other” person with a different cultural/religious mythos becomes part of one’s own and transforming one’s own self-understanding and experience. Dialogical dialogue is a cross-cultural hermeneutic of knowing the other by being grounded in one tradition, existentially experiencing another tradition, another person, in a way that transcends the logos, rational nature of experience and consciousness, but also allows the person to existentially adopt and experience the mythos of the other person as one’s own. Dialogical dialogue fundamentally incorporates the other as other in one’s experience of the other, not merely as “my” own, but as participating in the other as the other dialogically. It implies the existential incorporation of the other in “me” through cross-cultural experiences of the other. The importance of Panikkar’s methodology of dialogical dialogue emphasizes an imparative philosophy which goes beyond comparative studies, while simultaneously deepening the depth of meaning between traditions. Panikkar’s understanding of an imparative philosophy can be described by a comparative openness to meaning across cultural, historical, philosophical, and religious boundaries that imply a universal dialogue of sense between differing cultural mythoi. See further: Mythos, Imparative Philosophy, Logos, Topos."


"Diatopical Hermeneutics: Diatopical hermeneutics includes Panikkar’s conception of Gadamerean diachronic hermeneutics, but opens the “one historical tradition of self understanding” to another historical tradition of self-understanding and interpretation by passing through one mythos and topos into another and back, allowing the space for understanding the other as other when one lives and participates in the myths of another tradition as one’s own. Diatopical hermeneutics implies a cross-cultural hermeneutic that involves the diachronic history of more than one cultural and religious tradition of self-understanding and interpretation by pluralistically and dialogically living across more than one religious tradition, allowing the other to become a part of “me” without negating the other as other. It implies a self-understanding via the other as other in “my” recognition of the other as other in my participation in the other’s mythos of self-understanding."