+612 9045 4394
 
CHECKOUT
$7.95 Delivery per order to Australia and New Zealand
100% Australian owned
Over a hundred thousand in-stock titles ready to ship
Faces in the Clouds : A New Theory of Religion - Stewart Elliott Guthrie

Faces in the Clouds

A New Theory of Religion

Paperback Published: 1st January 1995
ISBN: 9780195098914
Number Of Pages: 336

Share This Book:

Paperback

$97.40
or 4 easy payments of $24.35 with Learn more
Ships in 15 business days

Earn 195 Qantas Points
on this Book

Religion is universal human culture. No phenomenon is more widely shared or more intensely studied, yet there is no agreement on what religion is. Now, in Faces in the Clouds, anthropologist Stewart Guthrie provides a provocative definition of religion in a bold and persuasive new theory.
Guthrie says religion can best be understood as systematic anthropomorphism--that is, the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman things and events. Many writers see anthropomorphism as common or even universal in religion, but few think it is central. To Guthrie, however, it is fundamental. Religion, he writes, consists of seeing the world as humanlike.
As Guthrie shows, people find a wide range of humanlike beings plausible: Gods, spirits, abominable snowmen, HAL the computer, Chiquita Banana. We find messages in random events such as earthquakes, weather, and traffic accidents. We say a fire "rages," a storm "wreaks vengeance," and waters "lie still." Guthrie says that our tendency to find human characteristics in the nonhuman world stems from a deep-seated perceptual strategy: in the face of pervasive (if mostly unconscious) uncertainty about what we see, we bet on the most meaningful interpretation we can. If we are in the woods and see a dark shape that might be a bear or a boulder, for example, it is good policy to think it is a bear. If we are mistaken, we lose little, and if we are right, we gain much. So, Guthrie writes, in scanning the world we always look for what most concerns us--livings things, and especially, human ones. Even animals watch for human attributes, as when birds avoid scarecrows. In short, we all follow the principle--better safe than sorry.
Marshalling a wealth of evidence from anthropology, cognitive science, philosophy, theology, advertising, literature, art, and animal behavior, Guthrie offers a fascinating array of examples to show how this perceptual strategy pervades secular life and how it characterizes religious experience. Challenging the very foundations of religion, Faces in the Clouds forces us to take a new look at this fundamental element of human life.

Industry Reviews

"Witty, elegant, magnificently written....A stunning achievement that will have an enormous impact on religious studies."--Robert Orsi, Indiana University "Guthrie shows how the fields of science, cognitive science, philosophy, and the literary and visual arts are pervaded by anthropomorphism, even though they often criticize it....Provocative and carefully argued."--Library Journal "A scholarly contribution to our understanding of the springs of the imagination."--James W. Fernandez, University of Chicago "Guthrie's argument is interesting, clearly set out, and well taken....The book is lucid, engaging, and very well written."--Wayne Proudfoot, Columbia University "Guthrie manages to draw from the murky reasonableness of everyday living what is most human in our perceptions of what animates life."--American Anthropologist "Witty, elegant, magnificently written....A stunning achievement that will have an enormous impact on religious studies."--Robert Orsi, Indiana University "Guthrie shows how the fields of science, cognitive science, philosophy, and the literary and visual arts are pervaded by anthropomorphism, even though they often criticize it....Provocative and carefully argued."--Library Journal "A scholarly contribution to our understanding of the springs of the imagination."--James W. Fernandez, University of Chicago "Guthrie's argument is interesting, clearly set out, and well taken....The book is lucid, engaging, and very well written."--Wayne Proudfoot, Columbia University "Guthrie manages to draw from the murky reasonableness of everyday living what is most human in our perceptions of what animates life."--American Anthropologist "Given the general mood of the modern field [religious studies]...simply to interpret what are widely considered to be self-evidently religious phenomena, Guthrie's book is a welcome contribution."--Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion "Whether...Guthrie's view is correct is ultimately a matter of faith....Nevertheless, Faces in the Clouds is an enormously interesting and provocative study of the reaction of humans to their world."--Gnosis Magazine "The book will be indispensable to all students of religion."--Pascal Boyer, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion "A brilliant exploration of the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism in the human perception of the world."--Benjamin AC. Ray, The Journal of Religion "A milestone study in theory of religion." --James W. Fernandez, University of Chicago "S.E. Guthrie did not take Jesus's advice when planning this book. He has erected an intellectual edifice whose rooms are filled with delightful and provocative insights."--Sociology of Review "This is an extraordinarily interesting book with a new theory of religion which one feels to be almost completely correct."--Jacob Joshua Ross, Tel-Aviv University "Very interesting, well written, thoroughly presented."--Gary Blahnik, University of Dayton "...more than merely a good read. It is a fine text as an adjunct to a psychology, sociology, or anthropology of religion course and a provocative and necessary read for the researcher. Wonderful illustrations, (many humorous) and pictures make the text more than just a good read - it is a delight for the eye as well."--The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion "A challenging book to participants in science-and-religion."--ESSSAT "Since cognition may indeed be one of the keys to understanding religion, Faces in the Clouds, not least because of its readability and commonsense approach, will fulfill an important role."--Journal of the Academic Academy of Religion

Introductionp. 3
The Need for a Theoryp. 8
Animism, Perception, and the Effort After Meaningp. 39
The Origin of Anthropomorphismp. 62
Anthropomorphism as Perceptionp. 91
Anthropomorphism in the Artsp. 122
Anthropomorphism in Philosophy and Sciencep. 152
Religion as Anthropomorphismp. 177
Notesp. 205
Referencesp. 249
Figure Creditsp. 273
Indexp. 275
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195098914
ISBN-10: 0195098919
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 1st January 1995
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.42 x 15.55  x 2.46
Weight (kg): 0.54

Earn 195 Qantas Points
on this Book