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The Nature of Unnaturalness in Religious Representations: Negation and Concept Combination

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The cognitive anthropological approach has provided a powerful means of beginning to understand religious representations. I suggest that two extant approaches, despite their general plausibility, may not accurately characterise the detailed nature of those representations. A major source of this inaccuracy lies in the characterisation of negation of ontological properties, which gives rise to broader questions about their ontological determinacy and counter-intuitiveness. I suggest that a more plausible account may be forthcoming by allowing a more complex approach to the representations, deriving from understanding their nature as concept combinations. Such an account also suggests an alternative approach to the role of deference in religious representations. In sum, the empirical and theoretical implications of a more fine-grained analysis of religious representations suggest a vindication of the cognitive anthropology approach to integrating culture and cognition.


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