Too much mind and not enough brain, body and culture on what needs to be done in the cognitive science of religion

Armin Geertz
This article is based on work conducted at a research unit that I head at Aarhus University called Religion, Cognition and Culture (RCC). It was originally designated as a special research area by the Faculty of Theology at the University and has since been integrated as a full-fledged research unit in the Department of the Study of Religion 2 . In a recent statement by the RCC, we claim that humans are simultaneously biological and cultural beings. In all of hominin history, human biology and
more » ... ulture have never been separate. Each newborn infant is both unfinished and uniquely equipped, biologically and cognitively organized to flourish in socio-cultural environments that its genes could never anticipate. So a perspective on minds not limited to brains is required. Thus we must approach cognition as embodied and distributed. We must analyze religion by studying the functional organization of the human brain, its interaction with the social and cultural worlds that it inhabits and modifies, and its developmental constraints and flexibility. The RCC is a European institution, obviously. It differs in its approach to cognition from the few institutions in the United States, England and Northern Ireland that deal with cognition and religion. Whereas the RCC is similar in approach to other European initiatives such as the cognition group in Groningen and the research project in Helsinki. Therefore it could be claimed that our programmatic insistence on causal links between religion, cognition and culture is a peculiarly European approach. In the following, I will explain how the cognitive science of religion can become more relevant to the comparative study of religion and to cutting-edge cognitive science by following this European approach.
doi:10.26262/culres.v4i0.4637 fatcat:wlezi3bp45dpbjkwvrvmywxfym