Cognition and Representation


in The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216130
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712128 | DOI:
Cognition and Representation

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This chapter explains how the Cognitive Science of Religion can serve as a powerful new method for exploring the making of representations in a religion and the cognitive processes by which an initiate apprehends a religion's symbol system. Following Dan Sperber's approach (Explaining Culture), all religions may be described in terms of the interplay of representations over time: public representations in the media of sacred spaces, physical images, performed rituals, and words uttered and recorded in text; and private representations in the minds of individual adherents. A fortiori, the negotiation of representations in Mithraism can have been no different. An appendix draws on Lucian's treatment of audience response in his essay On the Dance to show how the negotiation of representation worked in a comparable situation in antiquity.

Keywords: Cognitive Science of Religion; representation; cognition; Dan Sperber; Lucian On the Dance

Chapter.  6641 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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