Bringing Ritual to Mind
Psychological Foundations of Cultural Forms
exploresthecognitiveandpsychologicalfounda-tionsofreligiousritualsystems.Participantsmustrecalltheirritualswellenough to ensure a sense of continuity across performances, and thoserituals must motivate them to transmit and re-perform them. Most re-ligious rituals the world over exploit either high performance frequencyor extraordinary emotional stimulation (but not both) to enhance theirrecollection; the availability of literacy has little impact on this. But whydosomeritualsexploittheﬁrstofthesevariableswhileothersexploitthesecond? McCauley and Lawson advance the ritual form hypothesis, ar-guing that participants’ cognitive representations of ritual form explainwhy. Reviewing evidence from cognitive, developmental and social psy-chology, cultural anthropology, and the history of religions, they utilizedynamical systems tools to explain the recurrent evolutionary trajecto-ries religions exhibit.
is Professor of Philosophy and Director of theEmory College Center for Teaching and Curriculum at Emory Univer-sity in Atlanta. He is the author, with Lawson, of
(Cambridge, 1990). He is also the editor of
The Churchlands and their Critics
(1996), and has contributed articles to a wide variety of jour-nals, including
Philosophy of Science, Philosophical Psychology, Synthese,Consciousness and Cognition, History of Religions, Journal of the American Academy of Religion,
Method and Theory in the Study of Religion.
is Professor of Comparative Religion at WesternMichigan University, Executive Editor of the
Journal of Cognition and Culture,
and author, with McCauley, of
. He is theauthor of
Religions of Africa: Traditions in Transformation
(1984), andhas contributed chapters to many books, articles to a wide variety of journals, and a large number of entries to encyclopedias.