IDIS W65: Cognition, Religion, and Culture Interim 1999
Professor: Justin Barrett
Text: Reader, "Cognition, Religion, and Culture" (see contents below)
1. To introduce you to current thought and research in the cognitive study of culture and religion.2. To explore connections between cultural phenomena and regularities of the human mind.
3. To offer perspectives and tools for understanding human diversity and similarities.
4. To explore how human beings might be designed to accommodate appropriate relationships with God, and how they might be cognitively fallen.
As a seminar, this course is more concerned with the exploration of ideas than the choking down of bits of knowledge. Consequently, there will be no exams. There will be three short (1-2 page) thought papers (worth 10% each), one term paper on a topic of your choice related to the themes of the course (worth 40%), and a 6 minute oral presentation of the term paper. Late assignments will not be accepted. The remaining 25% will be based on class participation and assistance in leading one discussion. Be there and contribute. Part of your contribution will include leading a class discussion based on one of the readings with the aid of discussion questions. All assigned work must be completed for a satisfactory mark in the course.
Think of this class as a multi-course meal. First, youıll sit down and the waiter (Prof. Barrett ) will get you a beverage (figuratively) and try to make you feel comfortable. This is the introduction section of the course. Then a range of appetizers, soups, salads, and breads are brought out. This is the introduction section in which weıll look at various topics briefly to introduce and reinforce some theoretical observations. Third, the main course in all its wonder and succulence is served. Of course, now I refer to the section on "Religion." Some wild speculations and conclusions will constitute the dessert. Finally, with any meal there is the painful part of picking up the check--yes, the final paper.
Date Topic Assignmıt Due Th 6 What are cognition, religion, and culture Nothing F 7 Historical approaches; linguistic relativism McCauley & Lawson M 10 The epidemiological approach Sperber T 11 Conceptual biases; Structured Imagination Hirschfeld; Ward W 12 Overview of cognitive approach to religion Barrett Th..13 How concepts are represented; Agency Lawson; Barrett F 14 Developing concepts Barrett et al M 17 How concepts are spread: Boyer; Boyer & Ramble T 18 How concepts are spread; Invisible Sofa Problem Barrett W 19 Mickey Mouse Problem; HADD Guthrie Th 20 Acting on religious concepts: Events Whitehouse F 21 Acting on religious concepts: Religious rituals Lawson; Barrett & Lawson M 24 Acting on religious concepts: Prayer Presentations T 25 Student presentations Presentations W 26 Christian response; future directions Term Papers & unanswered questions
|Th 6||What are cognition, religion, and culture?||Nothing|
|F 7||Historical approaches; linguistic relativism||
McCauley & Lawson
|M 10||The epidemiological approach||Sperber|
|T 11||Conceptual biases; Structured imagination||Hirschfeld; Ward|
|W 12||Overview of cognitive study of religion||Barrett|
|Th 13||How concepts are represented; Agency||Lawson; Barrett|
|F 14||Developing concepts||Barrett & friends|
|M 17||How concepts are spread||Boyer; Boyer & Ramble|
|T 18||How concepts are spread--Invisible sofa problem||Barrett & Nyhof|
|W 19||Mickey Mouse Problem; HADD||Guthrie|
|Th 20||Acting on religious concepts: Events||Whitehouse|
|F 21||Acting on religious concepts: Rituals||Lawson|
|M 24||Acting on religious concepts: Prayer||Barrett|
|T 25||Student Presentations||Presentations|
|W 26||Christian Response; Future directions & unanswered questions||Term papers|
McCauley, R. N. and Lawson, E. T. (1996). Who Owns 'Culture'? Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 8, 171-190.
Sperber, D. (1996). Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach, Blackwell. (Chapter 3, pp. 56-76).
Hirschfeld, L. A. (1995). Anthropology, Psychology, and the meanings of social causality. Causal Cognition: A Multidisciplinary Debate (in Sperber, D., Premack, D. and James-Premack, A. eds,), pp. 313-350, Oxford University Press.
Ward, T.B. (1994). Structured imagination: The role of category structure in exemplar generation. Cognitive Psychology 27, 1-40
Barrett, J. L. (2000). Exploring the natural foundations of religion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 29-34.
Lawson, E. T. (1998). Psychological perspectives on agency. Unpublished paper.
Barrett, J.L. (1998). Cognitive constraints on Hindu concepts of the divine. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37, 608-619.
Barrett, J. L., Richert, R.A., & Driesenga, A. (2001). Godıs beliefs versus Momıs: The development of natural and non- natural agent concepts. Child Development, 72(1), 50-65.
Boyer, P. (1995). Causal Understandings in Cultural Representations: Cognitive Constraints on Inferences from Cultural Input, Causal Cognition: A Multidisciplinary Debate (in Sperber, D., Premack, D. and James-Premack, A. eds,), pp. 615-649, Oxford University Press.
Boyer, P. and Ramble, C. (in press). Cognitive Templates for Religious Concepts: Cross-Cultural Evidence for Recall of Counter-Intuitive Representations. Cognitive Science.
Barrett, J. L. & Nyhof, M. (2001). Spreading non-natural concepts: The role of intuitive conceptual structures in memory and transmission of cultural materials. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 1(1), 69-100.
Guthrie, S. (1993). Faces in the Clouds: A new theory of religion, Oxford University Press. (Introduction pp. 3-7)
Whitehouse, H. (1996). Rites of Terror: emotion, metaphor, and memory in Melanesian initiation cults Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2, 703-715.
Lawson, E. T. (1998). Religious riutal competence and agency. Unpublished paper.
Barrett, J. L., & Lawson, E. T. (2001). Ritual Intuitions: Cognitive contributions to judgments of ritual efficacy. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 1(2), 183-201.