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Music and Religion: Psychological Perspectives and their Limits

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Abstract Criticizing some psychological approaches that speak in too general terms about both music and religion, this article turns to a precise empirical observation and asks what psychology might possibly contribute to its understanding, after first necessarily questioning what terms such as ‘religion’, ‘religious music’, ‘religious experience’ encompass. Given the nature of the leading question, a cultural–psychological approach is chosen. After refuting a number of commonly heard assertions, and drawing on a number of psychological theories, the article then discusses several empirical observations and argues that contemporary psychology has indeed achieved some progress in dealing with classical questions.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam 1012 GC Amsterdam The Netherlands


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