Magic, Miracles, And Religion

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Can scientists study religion? Ilkka Pyysiäinen says that they can. While the study of religion cannot be reduced to other disciplines, it must not ignore what other disciplines have learned about human thought and behavior. In this collection of essays, Pyysiäinen shows how findings from cognitive science can offer new directions to debates in religion. After providing a historical and theoretical overview of the cognitive science of religion, Pyysiäinen demonstrates how knowledge of the mind's workings can help deconstruct such concepts as "god," "ideology," "culture," "magic," "miracles," and "religion." For scholars of religion or for scholars of the mind-brain, Magic, Miracles, and Religion provides a helpful overview to this emerging field.

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Editorial Reviews

Studies In Religion/Sciences Religieuses
Considering the inter-disciplinary nature of this text it is fair to say that it will prove useful to a variety of audiences. Scholars of phenomenology, folklore, the social sciences and humanities, as well as of Pyysiäinen's area of speciality (cognitive science), would all benefit from a consideration of this text.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759106635
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Series: Cognitive Science of Religion Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Ilkka Pyysiäinen was educated in theology and comparative religion at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He earned his Ph.D. in 1993 with a thesis on Buddhist mysticism. Since that he has dedicated himself for the exploration of religious cognition. He has published numerous articles and among his books are How Religion Works (2001) and Current Approaches in the Cognitive Science of Religion (edited with Veikko Anttonen, 2002). He works currently at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; or, how I said goodbye to an absent-minded study of religion
1 What is it like to be a believer? 1
2 A cognitive-scientific perspective in the study of religion 28
3 Breaking boundaries 39
4 Take the Buddha, for example 53
5 Religion : a unique world, but in what sense? 67
6 Explaining miracles 81
7 A new theory of magic 90
8 True fiction : the philosophy and psychology of religious belief 113
9 Rituals : why indeed? 135
10 Singers of tales 147
11 Holy book : the invention of writing and religious cognition 160
12 Religion, science, and ideology 172
13 'God' as ultimate reality in religion and in science 187
14 Religious experience across cultures 205
15 Do cultures exist? 219
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