A Critical View of Cognitive Science's Attempt to Explain Religion and its Development

K. Helmut Reich

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 A Critical View of Cognitive Science's Attempt to Explain Religion and its Development

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After briefly recalling the concepts of cognition and cognitive science, this article argues that the concept of religion referred to in cognitive science is too narrow; that even within that narrow concept some of its claims are questionable; that it is persons in the full sense of that concept, embedded in human groups, that generate insight and social movements, not lone brain structures; and that studying the role of cognition in religion and its development did not start with the cognitive turn of 1956, but decades earlier, and covers a wider field than made out by cognitive science of religion. To clarify distinction between what cognitive science refers to as religion and what others have referred to as religion, cognitive science is here taken to mean evolutionary neurobiological cognitive science over against psychological studies of cognition and its ontogenetic development.

Keywords: cognition; cognitive science; human groups; religion; social movements; neurobiology

Article.  8110 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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