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Jesper Sørensen

that make culturally transmitted representa- tions of superhuman agents highly relevant. Keywords ritual, cognition, agency, action-representation, intentionality, causality, religion, magic Introduction Agency in religion in general and ritual action in particular is a complex prob- lem that can be

Michal Fux

-specific templates, but not enough to violate significant transmission requirements. Cognitive anthropologists identify such representations as ‘by-products,’ exploiting the human mind’s evolved dispositions. figure 1 The action representation system. 3 Ritual Transmission in the Cognitive Science of

Ryan G. Hornbeck, Brianna Bentley and Justin L. Barrett

instrument or tool, in order to bring about some state of affairs. They argue that as actions religious rituals are mentally represented by the same cognitive equipment used to process ordinary, nonreligious actions (Lawson and McCauley, 1990 ). This basic equipment, dubbed the action representation system

Kristoffer L. Nielbo and Jesper Sørensen

action sequence (i.e., when prediction error is low), actions are mainly understood in terms of top-down processing based on an event model, that is, an online action representation (Kurby and Zacks, 2008 ). When suddenly the perceptual environment does not conform to the predictions of the event model

Pierre Liénard, Chelsea Feeny and Jesper Sørensen

rituals are types of action, those intuitions originate in an Action Representation System generating canonical action representations with three structural slots: Agent, Act (by means of an Instrument), and Patient. Religious ritual actions are also a particular type of action because of the opaque

Jesper Sørensen

that make culturally transmitted representa- tions of superhuman agents highly relevant. Keywords ritual, cognition, agency, action-representation, intentionality, causality, religion, magic Introduction Agency in religion in general and ritual action in particular is a complex prob- lem that can be

E. Thomas Lawson and Robert N. Mccauley

action representation system we describe does pertain to the cognitive representation of any action, however, the resulting representations helped us to see the systematic links between at least a half dozen, previously unconnected features of religious ritual. What we are trying to formulate is a theory

Anders Lisdorf

ritual action is repre- sented cognitively. Rituals are seen as normal actions, capable of being represented by ordinary cognitive abilities. The representa- tion of an action consists of an agent, an act, and an object. This forms the basis of what they term “the Action Representation System.” An

Brian E. Malley

distinction between syntax and semantics, Lawson and McCauley propose a generative model of ritual structure involving three parts: (1) an action representation system, which generates action structures; (2) a conceptual scheme, which informs the action representation system, guiding the selection of

Theodore Vial

action representation system) of agents, actions and patients. This is true for all representations of actions. What distinguishes representations of religious ritual from representations of other actions is that at some point a culturally pos- tulated superhuman agent (CPA) will be implicated in one of