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A Moratorium on the Cognitive Approach of Religion?

Lieve Orye
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Vol. 19, No. 1/2 (2007), pp. 1-37
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23551834
Page Count: 37
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Abstract

Since the nineties the cognitive approach to religion is in full expansion. However Matthew Day sees an interesting clash of theoretical intuitions emerging within the cognitive fold and expects that in the coming years discussions will be held about the relationship between religious culture and religious cognition. This paper is a contribution to mapping out the fundamental issues that are involved in this debate. More specifically, I will analyze the debate on Latour's plea for a moratorium on cognitive explanations of science to shed light on the reasons why he advocated it as well as to clarify why certain reasons are wrongly attributed to him. Latour later on came to lift the ban after reading and reviewing Ed Hutchins' Cognition in the Wild (1995), a book that laid the foundation for the distributed cognition approach that Latour-critics such as Ronald Giere as well as more recently Kai Hakkarainen favor as well. Nevertheless, behind this apparent convergence some fundamental differences are still present and should receive explicit consideration rather than misrepresentation in these debates. In this article, however, I will discuss the relevance of these issues for the study of religion and will argue that taking on Hutchins' notion of distributed cognition to develop a new research program on religion and cognition has serious implications.

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