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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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Appendix 153

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Appendix Questions and Systems System 1 – Animacy system (N=53) (Correlations) α = .531 1.7 Terrie talks to John wherever he is now 1.8 Terrie thinks the hospital killed John 1.22 Terrie wants to embrace John one more time before he is buried/cremated 1.23 Terrie wants her ashes to be placed in the same burial urn as John’s after she dies 1.29 Terrie feels that hospitals are places where people die α = .873 2.3 One of the owners recently died 2.5 One of the owners died in the house 2.10 Someone was killed in the house in the nineteen-sixties 2.15 A bunch of people were killed in the house twenty years ago 2.19 The house is said to be haunted 2.25 Multiple people were killed in the house, but the house can be professionally cleaned 2.27 There were some fatalities in the house, but the house has been thoroughly cleaned by professionals 2.28 The reports of ghosts in the house are said to infect people with diseases 2.37 The house smells like ghosts 2.39 The house is haunted, but Fran and Taylor don’t believe in ghosts Ritualizing the Disposal of the Deceased 154 α = .810 3.7 Your favorite part to work on is the eyes of the cadaver 3.12 The body twitches while you are cutting on it, you keep cutting any- way 3.13 The eyelid opens to reveal the eyes while you are touching the body. You close it again 3.14 (If the body has not been embalmed yet) you want to be...

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