The Cognitive Foundations of Reincarnation

Anthropological records and psychological studies demonstrate the recurrence of ideas about how to determine the identity of reincarnated persons. These ideas are often incoherent with corresponding theological dogma about the process of reincarnation. Specifically, even though reincarnation is repr...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Method & theory in the study of religion
Main Author: White, Claire
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: 2016
In:Method & theory in the study of religion
Year: 2016, Volume: 28, Issue: 3, Pages: 264-286
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Transmigration of souls / Self / Identity / Kognitive Religionswissenschaft
Further subjects:B Reincarnation personal identity cognitive science of religion theological incorrectness
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
Description
Summary:Anthropological records and psychological studies demonstrate the recurrence of ideas about how to determine the identity of reincarnated persons. These ideas are often incoherent with corresponding theological dogma about the process of reincarnation. Specifically, even though reincarnation is represented as a process of change, people often seek out and interpret particular similarities between the deceased and reincarnated agent as evidence that the two are one and the same person. This paper argues that panhuman cognitive tendencies explain, in part, the spread and recurrence of ideas about what provides evidence of reincarnation: specifically, representations of reincarnated agents are informed and constrained by everyday cognitive intuitions that govern representations of continued identity for intentional agents generally. The paper concludes that these constraints go some way towards explaining the recurrent features of reincarnation concepts and behaviors cross-culturally.
ISSN:1570-0682
Contains:In: Method & theory in the study of religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/15700682-12341381