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Reply To: Why I Disagree with Joe Campbell



Now I’m having fun! Thank you for your amplification – and for adding one more title to my reading list (Ms. Figueira owes you a commission). Your review of Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity should definitely be part of this conversation. All inspire further thoughts and questions, as well as a deeper dive into Campbell’s material on Hinduism (timely, as this summer I devoted many hours to reviewing the text and endnotes of Oriental Mythology in detail, providing a bit of a copy-editing assist to David as prepares the text to publish a new physical edition of this volume during the coming year).

I too will take some time to absorb your words, letting them and the thoughts they evoke simmer on the back of my brain, before I respond, but I love the idea of discussing this in greater detail. (For example, just tossing out a nugget: Campbell didn’t view Raja Rammohan and the Brahmo Samaj as Hinduism per se, but as a semi-Christian, semi-Hindu monotheistic movement, though one that did influence Hinduism).

I can see this conversation bifurcating – I wonder if we should perhaps devote a thread  to a critique of Campbell’s perception of Hinduism (what he got wrong, what he got right), and another to the mysticism criticism; if we try to juggle both those balls here, those arriving later to this conversation might have trouble sorting out all those tangled threads. If you don’t mind, I’ll look into admin options to see if maybe we can branch off into a separate thread.

Of course, my intention isn’t to change your mind on either subject, but to expand our individual understandings through the mutual exchange of ideas (already, your follow-up response has altered my reading of your original post). One area where believe we clearly agree (as, I suspect, would Campbell) is how “the Vedic myth” is hijacked by Hindu politicians, to ill effect.

Thanks again for airing these areas of disagreement.