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The Complexity of Popular Religiosity: A Cognitive and Symbolic Approach

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Popular religiosity manifests itself alongside a heterogeneous continuum of beliefs, behaviours, modes of thinking and modes of living that flows between two poles: the experiential pole and the normative pole. A central theme in this paper will be that all forms of religiosity originate in a combination of innate predispositions and cultural upbringing; hence human religious experience needs to be approached by combining both cognitive and symbolic approaches. To this effect, this paper attempts to make use of an ethnographic research into ordinary forms of religiosity in order to show that religious ideas are not only parasitic upon evolved human cognitive abilities, as mainstream cognitive approaches to religion have claimed, but also on human symbolic languages, which in turn should be seen as a by-product of those evolved cognitive abilities.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History of Art and Social History, University of Lleida Plaça Víctor Siurana 1, 25003 Lleida, Catalonia Spain


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