Differentiation is the identification of the specific from the general. It can happen biologically—the eye evolves to sense a range of specific wavelengths from the general spectrum of white light. Differentiation is part of survival for all forms of life. In humans, however, it became very complex as the species developed into tribal, agrarian, and urban societies, each with norms based on a core mythology to maintain stability. These norms enable societies to develop a cultural identity.
Born into any culture we begin life within a given template of acceptable norms and values. Since all societies can be traced back to common ancestors, it should be unsurprising that we share a core set of norms. Even the seemingly different creation myths share the same ontological purpose.
Once we understand as children that people die we begin to question what it means to be alive. Our lives become a search for how we fit into something greater. We begin to shape our individual mythological framework based on the template supplied by our particular cultural archetypes.
For homogenous tribal societies, the mythology and structure are fixed and the values are common to all. There’s not much for the individual to question. Any ontological questions go the village shaman for guidance. Escaping this cultural template is rare and seldom sought. Modern societies are merely larger more complex extensions of the same template with an additional component of self-determinism—either individual or collective in nature.
(To be continued)