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Poverty of Cause in Mythological Narrative
Vol. 120, No. 3 (December 2009), pp. 241-252
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40646529
Page Count: 12
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Many myths recount how a single trivial action (for example, a simple misunderstanding) had cosmic consequences for the human race (for example, the entry of death into the world). Such "poverty-of-cause" narratives are reflective neither of a supposed primitive mentality, as earlier theorists suggested, nor of a widespread folk-idea of the so-called Butterfly Effect. Rather, the disproportion arises from the confluence of two general characteristics of traditional aetiological narrative, namely, the treatment of causation as local and immediate, and the portrayal of protagonists as representative of the species.
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