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Cognitive Explanations Of Charisma And New Religions

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks at the charisma of the founder of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement in the light of theories developed in the cognitive science of religion. It argues that the cultural and social explanations are unable to satisfactorily account for the success of exotic movements such as international society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON). The chapter explains that in order to develop better explanations we have to look more closely into the concept of culture and the psychological mechanisms that are involved in transmission and acquisition of religious concepts. It shows how cognitive theories of the origins of religious symbolism, and the developmental trajectories of the modes of religiosity could be applied to explain the findings. Cultures easily become essentialised as entity-like superorganisms, which in the final analysis determine all human actions and understandings.

Keywords:charisma; cognitive science; Hare Kṛṣṇa movement; international society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON); religious symbolism



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