Modes Of Religiosity / Edition 1

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Religions—whatever else they may be—are configurations of cultural information reproduced across space and time. Beginning with this seemingly obvious fact of religious transmission, Harvey Whitehouse goes on to construct a testable theory of how religions are created, passed on, and changed. At the center of his theory are two divergent 'modes of religiosity:' the imagistic and the doctrinal. Drawing from recent advances in cognitive science, Whitehouse's theory shows how religions tend to coalesce around one of these two poles depending on how religious behaviors are remembered. In the 'imagistic mode,' rituals have a lasting impact on people's minds, haunting not only our memories but influencing the way we ruminate on religious topics. These psychological features are linked to the scale and structure of religious communities, fostering small, exclusive, and ideologically heterogeneous ritual groupings or factions. In the 'doctrinal mode', on the other hand, religious knowledge is primarily spread through intensive and repetitive teaching; religious communities are contrastingly large, inclusive, and centrally regulated. While these tendencies have long been recognized in the history of the study of religion, the modes of religiosity theory is unique in that it explains why these tendencies exist. More importantly, Whitehouse does not give the final word, but invites us to join a series of collaborative networks among anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, and psychologists, currently trying to falsify, confirm, or refine the theory. Are you tired of the flood of descriptions and interpretations of religions which offer no clear strategy for evaluation, comparison, and testing? Modes of Religiosity can provide you with a new way to think when you think about religion.

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Editorial Reviews

— E.O. Springsted, General Theological Seminary
International Review Of Biblical Studies
An important book on ritual theory.
For the specialist in religious studies as well as the scholar willing to venture into a different aspect of this discipline, there is no doubt on the part of this reviewer that careful attention to Whitehouse' text, theory and arguments will pay large dividends.
Mary Douglas
Harvey Whitehouse's Modes of Religiosity is very serious, part of a new movement that challenges everything that is usually written about religiosity.
CHOICE - E.O. Springsted
May 2008 History Of Religions
This book is wide-ranging and is a valuable contribution to the study of religion.
Steven Mithen
In his ambitious new book, Harvey Whitehouse develops his influential 'modes of religiosity' theory, robustly defends it against his critics and bravely provides predictions to be tested against the world's religions, past and present. It is a huge step forward in our understanding of religion—the most curious, creative, and at times deeply destructive, force that resides within the human mind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759106154
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Series: Cognitive Science of Religion Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvey Whitehouse is professor of anthropology and director of postgraduate studies in the Faculty of Humanities at Queen's University Belfast. He is co-editor, with Luther H. Martin, of the AltaMira 'Cognitive Science of Religion Series'. His previous books include Inside the Cult: Religious Innovation and Transmission in Papua New Guinea (1995, OUP), Arguments and Icons: Divergent Modes of Religiosity, (2000, OUP), and The Debated Mind: Evolutionary Psychology versus Ethnography (2001 Berg).

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Preface Part 2 Introduction Chapter 3 What is "Religion"? Chapter 4 What is "Ritual"? Chapter 5 Ritual and Religious Revelation Chapter 6 Outline of the Volume Part 7 PART ONE: COGNITION AND RELIGIOUS TRANSMISSION Part 8 Chapter One: First Principles for Explaining Religion and Ritual Chapter 9 Religious Traditions are Materially Constrained Chapter 10 Religious Phenomena are Selected Chapter 11 The Selection of Religious Phenomena is Context-Dependent Chapter 12 Religious Transmission is Partly Motivated by Explicit Religious Concepts Part 13 Chapter Two: Cognitively Optimal Religion Chapter 14 The Naturalness of Gods Chapter 15 The Naturalness of Ritual Chapter 16 The Naturalness of Myth Part 17 Chapter Three: Cognitively Costly Religion Chapter 18 Cognitively Costly Gods Chapter 19 Cognitively Costly Rituals Chapter 20 Cognitively Costly Narratives Part 21 PART TWO: THE THEORY OF MODES OF RELIGIOSITY Part 22 Chapter Four: The Theory of Modes of Religiosity Chapter 23 Modes of Religiosity and Memory Chapter 24 The Doctrinal Mode of Religiosity Chapter 25 The Imagistic Mode of Religiosity Chapter 26 Modes of Religiosity Contrasted Chapter 27 Modes of Religiosity in the Real World Chapter 28 The Origins of Modes of Religiosity Part 29 Chapter Five: Ritual and Meaning in the Doctrinal Mode Chapter 30 The Distinction Between Implicit and Explicit Memory Chapter 31 The Theory of Representational Redescription Chapter 32 Representational Redescription and Routinized Ritual Chapter 33 Routinized Ritual and Exegesis Chapter 34 Routinization, Relevance, and Revelation Part 35 Chapter Six: Ritual and Meaning in the Imagistic Mode Chapter 36 Emotion and Episodic Memory Chapter 37 Episodic Memory and Ritual Chapter 38 Episodic Memory and Spontaneous Exegetical Reflection Chapter 39 Representational Redescription and the Imagistic Mode Part 40 Chapter Seven: Religious Enthusiasm and Its Limits Chapter 41 Religious Enthusiasm Chapter 42 The Limits of Religious Enthusiasm Part 43 PART THREE: THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL CHALLENGES Part 44 Chapter Eight: Theoretical Challenges Chapter 45 The Challenges Chapter 46 Form and Frequency Chapter 47 Selectionism or Mechanistic Causation? Chapter 48 Arousal, Memory, and Motivation Chapter 49 Procedural versus Exegetical Knowledge in the Domain of Ritual Chapter 50 Historical Transformations Part 51 Chapter Nine: Testing the Theory Chapter 52 Predictions Chapter 53 Evidence Needed from Ethnography, Historiography, and Archaeology Chapter 54 Evidence Needed from the Cognitive Sciences Chapter 55 Epilogue: Theory, Description, and the Cognitive Science of Religion Chapter 56 References Chapter 57 Index Chapter 58 About the Author

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