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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the growing empirical knowledge about the interaction between bodily actions, human thinking, and the cultural embeddedness of human cognition. An approach to ritual based on this expanded view of cognition produces important perspectives and insights for the study of religions. Embodied cognition is a very diverse field and the chapter therefore draws on what is called the ‘4E approach’, i.e. cognition as embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive. Humans are enmeshed in a vast dynamic network of other bodies and minds stretching across the planet and back to the beginnings of time. We are biocultural creatures, in a most concrete sense. What is needed is a systematic, scientific study of brain, body, and behaviour in religious rituals. This chapter will sketch out some of the available evidence and the theories that have been developed to understand the evidence.

Keywords: cognitive science of religion, embodied cognition, embodiment, experimental study of religion, neuropsychology, psychology of religion

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