UNIVERSALS REVISITED: HUMAN BEHAVIORS AND CULTURAL VARIATIONS

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Abstract

This paper explores one way of addressing current skepticism about cross-cultural comparisons. The typical challenge to comparativism is that it either imposes or suppresses cultural meanings; religion, as a form of culture, is contextual and hence intrinsically incomparable. In contrast, I advance a model that identifies panhuman forms of behavior shared by any culture. Differences in historical religious life, in turn, can be described as cultural versions and transformations of those default behaviors. Comparativism then finds a broader, species-level basis for both commonality and significant variation. The paper explores various theoretic underpinnings and implications of this approach.

UNIVERSALS REVISITED: HUMAN BEHAVIORS AND CULTURAL VARIATIONS

in Numen

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