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Contradictions in Counter-Intuitive Beliefs and Naïve Dialecticism

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In an article aimed at complementing Boyer and Sperber's (relatively structural) views of counter-intuitive concepts and their robustness in the religious domain, Franks (2003) has recently drawn attention to the fact that the tolerance of such conflict or contradiction appears to be less domain-specific in some cultures, such as those found in East Asia. This paper follows up on this important point by highlighting the similarities and differences of the tolerance for contradictions evident in East Asian 'naïve dialecticism' and nonnatural religious representations. It is argued that, despite their dissimilarity with respect to the content represented, both types of tolerances may be structurally similar. Both could also be anchored in intuition, albeit in qualitatively different ways. Given the general tolerance of psychological contradiction among persons of East Asian cultures and the potential role of religion, the question whether there is a place for the study of 'tolerance of contradiction' in cross-cultural psychology and cognitive anthropology is raised.


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