Key Concepts

There are a few concepts I’ve found it’s important to describe in further detail, because I reference them frequently. I haven’t found many of these concepts in books, so most of this is my own work. If you’d like clarity on a specific word or concept I describe in another post, please let me know and I’ll add it to this section.

  • Founding Myth – This literary concept can be applied liberally to just about any group of people and grounds the group’s values and objectives. It constitutes a set of shared values bound at each end by a shared origin and a shared destiny. (Note that newcomers can participate in that shared origin: for example, an immigrant today might identify with the fact that many of the founders of the United States were immigrants and use that fact to link to the shared origin story.)
  • The Epic Hero and the Tragic Hero – This concept from literary analysis also shows up in the personal narratives we tell ourselves and can influence our ability to change.
  • Destiny – This word can be defined multiple ways, and it’s important which definition you use. Most of the time when I reference it in my posts about narrative thinking, it’s the outcome of collective intentionality. In other words, “destiny” is what we decide upon when we say, “Together, we will _____” (or in some cases, “Whatever happens, I will _____”). It’s the future we choose to own and make into reality.
  • The Watershed Effect – Describes how any realm of human action, an economy for example, becomes resistant to change even if no one is deliberately preventing change.
  • The Individual/Collective Dichotomy – A philosophical exercise that demonstrates how many ideas that apply to an individual across time apply to a society across individuals, and vice versa. Also known (to me) as the “Doctor Who Principle.”