Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Kognition, evolution og historiografi: Hvorledes evolutionære og kognitive teorier kan understøtte historiske studier af religion

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

See relations at Aarhus University

Jesper Sørensen - Lecturer

  • Section for the Study of Religion

The recent advance in the cognitive science of religion necessarily raises the question of how this relates to more traditional approaches. Whereas the relation to sociology can rely on decades of work in social psychology, the relation to the dominant trend in the study of religion, historiography, is rather unclear. Proponents of the cognitive approach are often met by the legitimate question of its scholarly relevance by more historically inclined colleagues engaged in unearthing ‘what really happened’. How indeed can cognitive and evolutionary theories help historical inquiries?

In this lecture I will describe different ways in which historiography, social science and psychology relates to each other, and how different explanatory endeavors promote distinct theoretical strategies. Further it will be argued that historiography must take new theoretical developments in cognitive and evolutionary sciences serious for a number of reasons. Historical explanations always have more or less implicit psychological models of knowledge transmission, of memory and of stable factors motivating individual behavior. Often, however, these implicit models are inadequate if not downright misleading folk-models that should be replaced by scientific models. Finally the lecture will address the relevance of the distinction between human ‘natural history’ and ‘cultural history’ and argue that an absolute distinction between these should be abandoned in order to integrate human pre-history and history into a more comprehensive narrative.
Emneord: Cognition, evolution, historiography, methods and theory
7 Nov 2009

Event (Conference)

TitleLoose Ends in the Cognitive Study of Religion and culture
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


  • Cognition, evolution, historiography, methods and theory

ID: 18251980