jeudi 1 juin 2017

Threshold for a historical source counting as that person?

I'm not interested in specific evidence for or against anyone being a historical vs. mythical figure. Not in this thread, anyway.

My question is: how different can a historical figure be from the mythic character before they don't count as the same person anymore?

Obviously this is mainly me musing on Jesus, but like I said I don't want to get bogged down in the specifics of that case. So let's use Superman for now.

If Superman was based on a guy that wasn't an alien and didn't have super powers but WAS named Clark Kent, did live in Metropolis, did have a day job as a reporter at the Daily Planet, and did run around in a costume fighting crime... is the historical Clark Kent the same person as the Superman in the comics we read?

What if Superman was based on three different people - Clark Kensington, a reporter. Clive Kent, a particularly heroic police officer. And Kal Elbers, a luchador that did a lot of charity work? Can we still say there was a 'historical' Superman?

Think about the book (and later movie) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. If all of our knowledge about Lincoln came from that book rather than from actual historical sources, would we be right to say Lincoln was a historical figure? Even though the person he was based off of didn't hunt vampires and (insert other details, I haven't actually read the book)?

Obviously there's a fascinating academic question either way, and I'm not saying we shouldn't try to figure it out. Knowledge is good, history is interesting, all that jazz. But I hear a lot of people talk about it as if there are only two possibilities: Historical or Mythical. And I feel like "historical but so barely that honestly let's just call it a myth" should be an option too.


via International Skeptics Forum

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