Religious Narrative, Cognition, and Culture: Image and Word in the Mind of Narrative

Equinox (2010)

Abstract

Religious Narrative, Cognition and Culture contains contributions dealing with religious narrative and cognitive theory written by some of the worlds leading scholars in the fields of cognitive science, narratology and comparative religion. At the heart of the volume are five papers which serve as sequels to each other. The first paper by the American biologist and semiotician Terrence W. Deacon explores the neurological processes and possible genetic foundations of how language emerged in Homo sapiens. This is followed nicely by the Canadian evolutionary psychologist Merlin Donalds contribution which describes the possible phylogenetic routes in the development of language and culture. His bio-cultural approach is a major theme in the book. The third paper by the British psychologist Chris Sinha brings us to the bridge between neurological and communicative levels. In it he describes the complex interrelations between the ontogenesis and the sociogenesis of cognitive processes and demonstrates how they relate to reason, representation, figuration and imagination. The fourth contribution brings us to the level of narrative. It is by the Indian narratologist Rukmini Bhaya Nair in which she argues for a combination of neurology, narratology and a reworked speech-act approach that focuses on narrative rather than simply sentences. The final keynote is by the Finnish cognitive scientist of religion Ilkka Pyysi?inen. He brings us full round to religious behavior by showing how the psychology of ritual helps make narrative beliefs possible. These five contributions are followed by papers from Danish, Finnish, Icelandic and American scholars of religion covering religious narratives and emotional communication, gossip as religious narrative and area studies of religious narrative and cognition in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Georgian Orthodox Church, Indian Epic literature, Australian Aboriginal mythology and ritual, and modern religious forms such as New Age, Asatro, astrological narrative and virtual rituals in 3D cyberspace.

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