We have an association of light=good and dark=bad, to the point where we even use them as synonyms. There are a lot of pretty obvious historical bases for these metaphors:

  1. Sunlight is the ultimate source of energy (and by extension, food and warmth) on Earth
  2. Humans have poor low-light vision, and are vulnerable at night
  3. Things generally get darker when they get dirtier, etc.

Is this a human universal?

Are there cultures/mythologies that flip it around?

2 Answers 2


The Daoist principle of Yin and Yang doesn't see light and dark as good and bad, but as complementary.

Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity, and night time.

Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and active; and is associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime.

However, there is no good or bad associated with Yin or Yang.


I don't think so. Because this good and bad is related to the journey of the sun through a year. In spring and summer, day-time is longer than the night-time. During this period the sun wins against darkness. There are crops, harvest, food, warmth, etc.

However, in winter and fall, the night-time is longer. The sun loses against darkness. This period, especially winter, is a scary test for ancient men. No plants, no harvest, no warmth. If you don't prepare yourself for winter while the sun is winning, you can easily die because of cold, lack of food, etc.

Therefore, in my opinion, favoring darkness doesn't make sense for ancient people.

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