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Do Not Judge a Book (Solely) by Its Cover: An Overview and Some Reflections about Origins of Religion, Cognition and Culture

Issue: Vol 1 No. 2 (2014)

Journal: Journal of Cognitive Historiography

Subject Areas: Ancient History Cognitive Studies Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jch.v1i2.21567


When dealing with the “origins” of all things religious the major risk to avoid is the naïve building of a just-so storytelling similar to the dismantled passe-partout once labelled homo religiosus (Smith 1982). Historically, religious studies and classical anthropology have been most vulnerable to a twofold fallacy, i.e. the narrative form of explanation and the (originally theological) ambition to know the ultimate point of departure of things, as if it were the epicentre of absolute (transcendent) meaning (Stoczkowski 2002). Even after Darwin’s watershed work, these two themes have thriven. Do cognitive scholars successfully escape these old traps today and make treasure of Darwin’s lesson when treating the “origins” of culture and religion?
The aim of this paper is to critically review the cover and contents of a new book devoted to the Origins of Religion, Cognition and Culture (Geertz 2013), in order to briefly assess the question at stake.

Author: Leonardo Ambasciano

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