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By Robert N. McCauley

This learn explores the mental foundations of non secular ritual platforms. In perform, individuals remember rituals to make sure a feeling of continuity throughout performances, and people rituals inspire them to transmit and re-perform them. such a lot non secular rituals take advantage of both excessive functionality frequency or remarkable emotional stimulation to augment their recollection. Robert N. McCauley and E. Thomas Lawson assert that members' cognitive representations of formality shape clarify a lot concerning the platforms. Reviewing quite a lot of proof, they clarify religions' evolution.

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Extra resources for Bringing Ritual to Mind: Psychological Foundations of Cultural Forms

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Specifically, the initial appearance of a CPS-agent in a ritual’s full structural description is the entry whose connection with some element in the current ritual involves the fewest enabling rituals. For example, in a Christian baptism at least the priest (the agent) and the water (the instrument) have ritually mediated connections with God. The priest’s connection is more direct, however, since it is mediated by fewer enabling rituals. 3 Typology of religious ritual forms ritual mediation in order to achieve its special status, which arises, after all, because it was a priest who consecrated it.

A religious system’s conceptual scheme provides special entries for at least some of the slots in a ritual’s structural description. For example, the specific acts carried out in religious rituals (such as sacrifices, blessings, consecrations, and so on) are often unique to religious conceptual schemes. Crucially, only with religious rituals do populations of participants carry out actions that routinely presume enabling actions by CPS-agents with special counter-intuitive properties. ) It is these appeals to the actions of CPS-agents that participants regard as so conclusive.

Aspects of ritual practice should also provide evidence about rituals’ centrality. For example, participants’ knowledge about ritual prerequisites generally reflects genuine constraints on ritual practice. A Zulu male really cannot use specially prepared love potions unless he has gone through a series of other rituals beforehand. (See Lawson and McCauley, 1990, pp. ) Nor can a Hindu perform abbreviated Agnyadhana rituals in his home unless he has previously participated in an initial, full Agnyadhana.

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