On the Production of Religious Configurations

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract

Research on the emergence of the configuration known as “religion” requires tracing the articulation among biological, psychological and social processes. This research must take into account evolutionary approaches; first, in terms of hominid evolution, for it is only by taking into consideration work on symbolization, language development, the capacity to engage in metacognition and cooperation, the tendency to form hierarchies, engage in violence, sexual differentiation, and related topics, that one can hope to trace the emergence of certain relatively stable features of human behavior. But since symbolization and the other capacities mentioned above are exercised in specific social circumstances—which themselves could not have come into existence were it not for the exercise of those capacities—it is essential to consider social evolution, especially insofar as this evolution leads to the appearance of stratified societies and to the kind of labor that prevails in them.

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