Abstract

This overview of cognitive approaches to the history of religion covers key players in the history of theories of cognition as applied to the history of religion. Noting at the outset that there is a long history of psychologizing religious phenomena, the author nods at skeptical philosophers of antiquity before going on to touch base with the prehistory of modern approaches in the idea of participation fostered by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl and its culmination in the cognitive neuroscience of such thinkers as Ernst Gellhorn, Eugene d'Aquili and Charles Laughlin. It is argued that the neurocognitive approach illuminates how practitioners can exert real power over themselves and others, suggesting a new, "realist" approach which focuses on the ways in which magical beliefs and practices reference and influence reality.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5111
Print ISSN
1556-8547
Pages
pp. 3-18
Launched on MUSE
2012-05-12
Open Access
No
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