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.
Scott Atran
Ilkka Pyysiäinen's scientific unweaving of magic, miracles, and religion illuminates these universal creations of the human imagination in ways that render them even more awesome to behold.
Donald Wiebe
In Magic, Miracles, and Religion Pyysiäinen rejects as too subjective approaches to the study of religion directed to obtaining answers to personal religious questions or achieving an empathetic understanding of how it feels to be religious. He explains how an understanding of the cognitive origins of all human behavior can provide a much more sensible explanation of religion, and his analyses, arguments, and case studies provide persuasive accounts of religious thought, behavior, and experience. This is a genuinely new kind of introduction to the study of religion and it holds out promise for a renewal of the field of Religious Studies with an approach to it that has the capacity to integrate the natural sciences with the social sciences and humanities.
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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

1 PREFACE, OR HOW I SAID GOODBYE TO AN ABSENT-MINDED STUDY OF RELIGIONMy personal story and its implications.1. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A BELIEVER? How explanation and understanding can be combined to provide a rational account of the subjective experience of

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