Boyer, Pascal.
Cognitive constraints on cultural representations:
Natural ontologies and religious ideas

IN: Mapping the mind: Domain specificity in cognition and culture
Lawrence A. Hirschfeld, Susan A. Gelman, Eds.
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1994. p. 391-411.

Abstract (from the chapter)

The point of a cognitive approach to cultural representations is to put forward a series of causal hypotheses in order to account for certain features of cultural phenomena; show to what extent this framework can help reformulate classical anthropological problems; dispel certain conceptual ambiguities that are pervasive in the anthropological literature, notably as concerns (1) the subjective "unnaturalness" of religious assumptions, (2) their cognitive diversity, and (3) the extent to which they depend on cultural transmission. Boyer argues that if cognitive hypotheses are relevant in the explanation of religious ideas, then other aspects of cultural representations will be a fortiori amenable to such a description.


Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles