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Flavio A. Geisshuesler

Abstract

This article proposes a 7E model of the human mind, which was developed within the cognitive paradigm in religious studies and its primary expression, the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). This study draws on the philosophically most sophisticated currents in the cognitive sciences, which have come to define the human mind through a 4E model as embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended. Introducing Catherine Malabou’s concept of “plasticity,” the study not only confirms the insight of the 4E model of the self as a decentered system, but it also recommends two further traits of the self that have been overlooked in the cognitive sciences, namely the negativity of plasticity and the tension between giving and receiving form. Finally, the article matures these philosophical insights to develop a concrete model of the religious mind, equipping it with three further Es, namely emotional, evolved, and exoconscious.

Stefaan Blancke, Maarten Boudry and Johan Braeckman

Abstract

Pseudoscience spreads through communicative and inferential processes that make people vulnerable to weird beliefs. However, the fact that pseudoscientific beliefs are unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality does not mean that the people who hold them have no reasons for doing so. We propose that, reasons play a central role in the diffusion of pseudoscience. On the basis of cultural epidemiology and the interactionist theory of reasoning, we will here analyse the structure and the function of reasons in the propagation of pseudoscience. We conclude by discussing the implications of our approach for the understanding of human irrationality.

Ryan Nichols, Henrike Moll and Jacob L. Mackey

Abstract

This essay discusses Cecilia Heyes’ groundbreaking new book Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking. Heyes’ point of departure is the claim that current theories of cultural evolution fail adequately to make a place for the mind. Heyes articulates a cognitive psychology of cultural evolution by explaining how eponymous “cognitive gadgets,” such as imitation, mindreading and language, mental technologies, are “tuned” and “assembled” through social interaction and cultural learning. After recapitulating her explanations for the cultural and psychological origins of these gadgets, we turn to criticisms. Among those, we find Heyes’ use of evolutionary theory confusing on several points of importance; alternative theories of cultural evolution, especially those of the Tomasello group and of Boyd, Richerson and Henrich, are misrepresented; the book neglects joint attention and other forms of intersubjectivity in its explanation of the origins of cognitive gadgets; and, whereas Heyes accuses other theories of being “mindblind,” we find her theory ironically other-blind and autistic in character.

Robert N. McCauley, George Graham and A. C. Reid

Abstract

The cognitive science of religions’ By-Product Theory contends that much religious thought and behavior can be explained in terms of the cultural activation of maturationally natural cognitive systems. Those systems address fundamental problems of human survival, encompassing such capacities as hazard precautions, agency detection, language processing, and theory of mind. Across cultures they typically arise effortlessly and unconsciously during early childhood. They are not taught and appear independent of general intelligence. Theory of mind (mentalizing) undergirds an instantaneous and automatic intuitive understanding of minds, mental representations, and their implications for agents’ actions. By-Product theorists hypothesize about a social cognition content bias, holding that mentalizing capacities inform participants’ implicit understanding of religious representations of agents with counter-intuitive properties. That hypothesis, in combination with Baron-Cohen’s account of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in terms of diminished theory of mind capacities (what he calls “mind-blindness”), suggests an impaired religious understanding hypothesis. It proposes that people with ASD have substantial limitations in intuitive understanding of and creative inferences from such representations. Norenzayan argues for a mind-blind atheism hypothesis, which asserts that the truth of these first two hypotheses suggests that people with ASD have an increased probability, compared to the general population, of being atheists. Numerous empirical studies have explored these three hypotheses’ merits. After carefully pondering distinctions between intuitive versus reflective mentalizing and between explicit versus implicit measures and affective versus cognitive measures of mentalizing, the available empirical evidence provides substantial support for the first two hypotheses and non-trivial support for the third.

New Age in Latin America

Popular Variations and Ethnic Appropriations

Series:

Edited by Angela Renée de la Torre Castellanos, María Cristina del Refugio Gutiérrez and Nahayeilli Juárez-Huet

This book is at the crossroads where a New Age sensibility, advancing like an ecumen of worldwide spirituality without national, cultural, or ecclesiastical frontiers, meets Latin America's syncretic religions, practiced by groups of people wiht African or indigenous roots or developed from the tradition of popular Catholicism. The Syncretic character of the two sensibilities makes both the New Age and popular religion behave like two, syncretizing and syncreticizable matrices of meaning. This book opens up a rich vein of debate with new dilemmas and discussions, that will provide a framework for a new field of study in anthropology. What new ways of signifying living and experiencing religion is the New Age generating in Latin America? What are its limits?

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Edited by Fiona Magowan and Carolyn Schwarz

Cultural expressions of Christianity show great diversity around the globe. While scholarship has tended to consider charismatic practices in distinct geographical contexts, this volume advances the anthropology of Christianity through ethnographically rich, comparative insights from across the Australia-Pacific region. Christianity, Conflict, and Renewal in Australia and the Pacific presents new perspectives on the performative dynamics of Christian belief, conflict, and renewal. Addressing experiences of cultural and spiritual renewal, contributors reveal how tensions can arise between spiritual and political expressions of culture and identity, opening up alternative spaces for spiritual realization and religious change. These local processes further mobilize responses of individuals and groups to state forces and political reforms, in turn, influencing the shape of translocal and transnational Christian practices.

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Jens Köhrsen

In Middle-Class Pentecostalism in Argentina: Inappropriate Spirits Jens Koehrsen offers an intriguing account of how the middle class relates to Latin America´s most vibrant religious movement. Based on pervasive field research, this study suggests that Pentecostalism stands in tension with the social imaginary of the middle class and is perceived as an inappropriate lower class practice. As such, middle class Pentecostals negotiate the appropriateness of their religious belonging by demonstrating distinctive tastes and styles of Pentecostalism. Abstaining from the expressiveness, emotionality, and strong spiritual practice that have marked the movement, they create a milder and socially more acceptable form of Pentecostalism. Increasingly turning into a middle class movement, this style has the potential to embody the future shape of Pentecostalism.

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Renée de la Torre, Cristina Gutiérrez Zúñiga and Nahayeilli B. Juárez Huet