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Ritualizing the Disposal of the Deceased

From Corpse to Concept

Series:

William W. McCorkle Jr.

Ritualizing the Disposal of the Deceased traces mortuary behavior from the early fossil record to modern religious contexts in diverse cultural settings. By using archival and ethnographic evidence from Buddhist traditions, the author highlights the disparity between doctrines that contradict actual practices performed by Buddhists themselves. By appealing to the evolved cognitive architecture of human minds, this book argues that ritualized disposal behavior is the by-product of mental systems designed to handle living people. Due to complex social intelligence, humans are compelled to handle dead people in ritualized behaviors and to represent them in counterintuitive ways. The author also examines the professional religious guilds that have taken advantage of these ritualized compulsions over the last several thousand years, by giving and controlling the meanings behind these actions. Furthermore, experimental evidence is given to support this hypothesis, providing the first mature cognitive and evolutionary theory for mortuary behavior by humans.

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Illustrations xv

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Illustrations Pictures Picture 1.1 Japanese Memorial Shrine during O-bon Festival ........................... 9 Picture 1.2 Phillip of Macedonia’s Tomb, Greece............................................ 13 Picture 2.1 Monument/Burial Mound to Commemorate Ground Zero World War II (Hiroshima).......................................................................... 22 Picture 4.1 Monument to the Korean Victims of World War II (Hiroshima) ................................................................................................. 55 Picture 4.2 360º Hologram Monument to Ground Zero Victims (Hiroshima) ................................................................................................. 55 Picture 5.1 Couple in Kyoto, Japan, Performing Pūjā at Buddhist Temple.... 63 Figures Figure 4.1 Buddhist Migration .......................................................................... 56 Figure 7.1 Boyer’s Model of Systems Activated by Corpse Stimuli.................. 93 Figure 8.1 Normal Population (EQ) in Response to Dead Bodies ................ 124 Figure 8.2 +(High) Psychoticism/Tough-Mindedness Scores in Response to Dead Bodies .....................................................................126 Figure 8.3 –(Low) Psychoticsm/Tough-Mindedness Scores in Response to Dead Bodies .....................................................................127 Figure 9.1 Diagram of Hazard-Precaution System ..........................................139 Figure 9.2 Diagram of Ritualized Disposal ..................................................... 145 Tables Table 8.1 Descriptive Statistics for Five Mental Systems................................ 115 Table 8.2 Descriptive Statistics for Big Five “School Place” 2.0 Traits .......... 115 Ritualizing the Disposal of the Deceased xvi Table 8.3 Correlation of Five Mental Systems................................................ 116 Table 8.4 Correlation with Haidt et al. “Disgust” Inventory ......................... 117 Table 8.5 Normal Populace in EPQ–R Scale.................................................. 117 Table 8.6 Extreme Scores Representing Pathological Groups ....................... 118 Table 8.7 Multiple Regression Analysis between Five Mental Systems and Big Five “School Place” 2.0 .......................................................................118 Table 8.8 Howard & McCorkle Correlation Analysis of Big Five and Eysenck EPQ–R......................................................................................... 128 Table 8.9 Correlation between Five Mental Systems Activated by Dead Bodies .........................................................................130 Graphs Graph 8.1 Vignette No. 5 with Question No. 25...

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