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Modes of Religiosity : A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission - Harvey Whitehouse

Modes of Religiosity

A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission

Paperback Published: 28th May 2004
ISBN: 9780759106154
Number Of Pages: 208

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Religions--whatever else they may be--are configurations of cultural information reproduced across space and time. Beginning with this seemingly obvious fact of religious transmission, Harvey Whitehouse goes on to construct a testable theory of how religions are created, passed on, and changed. At the center of his theory are two divergent 'modes of religiosity: ' the imagistic and the doctrinal. Drawing from recent advances in cognitive science, Whitehouse's theory shows how religions tend to coalesce around one of these two poles depending on how religious behaviors are remembered. In the 'imagistic mode, ' rituals have a lasting impact on people's minds, haunting not only our memories but influencing the way we ruminate on religious topics. These psychological features are linked to the scale and structure of religious communities, fostering small, exclusive, and ideologically heterogeneous ritual groupings or factions. In the 'doctrinal mode', on the other hand, religious knowledge is primarily spread through intensive and repetitive teaching; religious communities are contrastingly large, inclusive, and centrally regulated. While these tendencies have long been recognized in the history of the study of religion, the modes of religiosity theory is unique in that it explains why these tendencies exist. More importantly, Whitehouse does not give the final word, but invites us to join a series of collaborative networks among anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, and psychologists, currently trying to falsify, confirm, or refine the theory. Are you tired of the flood of descriptions and interpretations of religions which offer no clear strategy for evaluation, comparison, and testing? Modes of Religiosity can provide you with a new way to think when you think about religion.

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Harvey Whitehouse's Modes of Religiosity is very serious, part of a new movement that challenges everything that is usually written about religiosity.--Mary Douglas, University College, London

Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. I
Cognition and Religious Transmission
First Principles for Explaining Religion and Ritualp. 15
Cognitively Optimal Religionp. 29
Cognitively Costly Religionp. 49
The Theory of Modes of Religiosity
The Theory of Modes of Religiosityp. 63
Ritual and Meaning in the Doctrinal Modep. 87
Ritual and Meaning in the Imagistic Modep. 105
Religious Enthusiasm and Its Limitsp. 119
Theoretical and Empirical Challenges
Theoretical Challengesp. 139
Empirical Challengesp. 157
Epilogue: Cumulative Theory Building in the Cognitive Science of Religionp. 171
Referencesp. 175
Indexp. 187
About the Authorp. 193
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780759106154
ISBN-10: 0759106150
Series: Cognitive Science of Religion
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 28th May 2004
Publisher: AltaMira Press,U.S.
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.23 x 14.61  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.34

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