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Structure amongst the modules: Lévi-Strauss and cognitive theorizing about religion

Tremlett, Paul-Francois (2011). Structure amongst the modules: Lévi-Strauss and cognitive theorizing about religion. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 23(3-4) pp. 351–366.


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Cognitivism in the anthropology of religion and religious studies is an approach to religion that appeals to evolved or selected architectures of cognition from which theories of-and explanations for-religion, can be generated. Cognitive approaches to religion are hardly new, though today, cognitive theory draws upon an evidence base heavily influenced by the insights of evolutionary psychology. The writings of scholars such as Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer and Ilkka Pyysiäinen are defining this new field of research into religion. In this essay I want to consider the place of Claude Lévi-Strauss in relation to this 'cognitive turn' in the study of religion (Jensen 2009: 145). Lévi-Strauss' work has been described as an approach that 'we could call cognitivist today' (Hénaff 1998: 119) but I will argue that his cognitively oriented writings on religion lead-though not unequivocally-to an alternative theory of the mind to that posed by evolutionary psychology.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV
ISSN: 1570-0682
Keywords: Claude Lévi-Strauss; totemism; myth; evolutionary psychology; dynamic systems theory
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 30295
Depositing User: Paul-François Tremlett
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2011 11:30
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2016 18:29
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