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An Anthropological Perspective


H. Sidky

Religion: An Anthropological Perspective provides a critical view of religion focusing upon important but overlooked topics such as religion, cognition, and prehistory; science, rationality, and religion; altered states of consciousness, entheogens and religious experience; religion and the paranormal; magic and divination; religion and ecology; fundamentalism; and religion and violence. In addition, this book offers a unique and concise coverage of traditional topics of the anthropology of religion such as shamanism and witchcraft (past and present), ritual, myth, religious symbols, and revitalization movements. A vast range of findings from ethnography, ethnology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, prehistory, history, and cognitive science are brought to bear on the subject. Written in clear jargon-free prose, this book provides an accessible and comprehensive yet critical view of the anthropology of religion both for graduate and undergraduate students and general audiences. Its scope and critical scientific orientation sets Religion: An Anthropological Perspective apart from all other treatments of the subject.
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Chapter Two: Religion, Cognition, and Prehistory


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Religion, Cognition, and Prehistory

In recent years important scientific strides have been made in the cognitive study of religion. Cognitive researchers have gone back to a view similar to Tylor’s idea of religion as a way of explaining events in the world. They define religion, like Tylor, as beliefs in spirits and gods. What is different between the two perspectives is that while Tylor based his position on ethnographic accounts and logical reasoning, contemporary researchers draw upon the findings of the cognitive sciences (Guthrie 2007: 51–52).

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