Wittgenstein and the Cognitive Science of Religion: Interpreting Human Nature and the Mind

London: Bloomsbury Academic (2023)
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Advancing our understanding of one of the most influential 20th-century philosophers, Robert Vinten brings together an international line up of scholars to consider the relevance of Ludwig Wittgenstein's ideas to the cognitive science of religion. Wittgenstein's claims ranged from the rejection of the idea that psychology is a 'young science' in comparison to physics to challenges to scientistic and intellectualist accounts of religion in the work of past anthropologists. Chapters explore whether these remarks about psychology and religion undermine the frameworks and practices of cognitive scientists of religion. Employing philosophical tools as well as drawing on case studies, contributions not only illuminate psychological experiments, anthropological observations and neurophysical research relevant to understanding religious phenomena, they allow cognitive scientists to either heed or clarify their position in relation to Wittgenstein's objections. By developing and responding to his criticisms, Wittgenstein and the Cognitive Science of Religion offers novel perspectives on his philosophy in relation to religion, human nature, and the mind. Contents: Introduction (Robert Vinten); Ch.1: 'Wittgenstein, Concepts, and Human Nature' (Roger Trigg); Ch.2: 'On Truth, Language, and Objectivity' (Florian Franken Figueiredo); Ch.3 'Pascal Boyer's Miscellany of Homunculi: A Wittgensteinian Critique of Religion Explained' (Robert Vinten); Ch.4 'The Brain Perceives/Infers' (Hans van Eyghen); Ch.5 'The Imaginary Inner Inside Cognitive Science of Religion' (Christopher Hoyt); Ch.6 'Cognitive Theories and Wittgenstein: Looking for Convergence not for Divergence' (Olympia Panagiotidou); Ch. 7 'Wittgenstein, Naturalism, and Interpreting Religious Phenomena' (Thomas Carroll); Ch.8 'Natural Thoughts and Unnatural Oughts: Lessing, Wittgenstein, and Contemporary CSR' (Guy Axtell); Ch.9 'Normative Cognition in Cognitive Science of Religion' (Mark Addis); Ch.10 'Brains as the Source of Being: Mind/Brain Focus and the Western Model of Mind in Dominant Cognitive Science Discourse' (Rita McNamara); Ch.11 'On Religious Practices as Multiscale Active Inference: Certainties Emerging From Recurrent Interactions Within and Across Individuals and Groups' (Inês Hipólito and Casper Hesp).

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Robert Vinten
Universidade Nova de Lisboa

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