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Ritual and Christian Beginnings$
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Risto Uro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199661176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661176.001.0001

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Ritual, Culture, and the Human Mind

Ritual, Culture, and the Human Mind

A Socio-cognitive Approach

(p.41) 2 Ritual, Culture, and the Human Mind
Ritual and Christian Beginnings

Risto Uro

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the reader to the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR), especially to those aspects of this new field that are relevant for a deeper understanding of the cognitive theories used in this book. CSR is a research programme which draws on a growing body of knowledge from the cognitive and evolutionary sciences to explain human religiosity. It is a pluralistic movement, comprising different schools and currents; what they have in common is the effort to achieve explanatory and testable theories, as well as a multilevel analysis of religious phenomena. The survey of the schools and currents in CSR provides a basis for suggesting a ‘socio-cognitive approach’ to early Christian rituals, relying on cognitive theories of ritual that operate at both a social and a cognitive level. Three perspectives on ritual emerge from the discussion, described by the keywords ‘action’, ‘cooperation’, and ‘religious knowledge’.

Keywords:   Cognitive Science of Religion, evolutionary theory, cultural evolution, explanation, theoretical pluralism, middle-range theory, socio-cognitive approach

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