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The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire$
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Roger Beck

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216130

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216130.001.0001

Cognition and Representation

Chapter:
(p.88) 6 Cognition and Representation
Source:
The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire
Author(s):

ROGER BECK

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216130.003.0007

This chapter explains how the Cognitive Science of Religion can serve as a powerful new method for exploring the making of representations in a religion and the cognitive processes by which an initiate apprehends a religion's symbol system. Following Dan Sperber's approach (Explaining Culture), all religions may be described in terms of the interplay of representations over time: public representations in the media of sacred spaces, physical images, performed rituals, and words uttered and recorded in text; and private representations in the minds of individual adherents. A fortiori, the negotiation of representations in Mithraism can have been no different. An appendix draws on Lucian's treatment of audience response in his essay On the Dance to show how the negotiation of representation worked in a comparable situation in antiquity.

Keywords:   Cognitive Science of Religion, representation, cognition, Dan Sperber, Lucian On the Dance

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