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Social Brain, Distributed Mind$
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Robin Dunbar, Clive Gamble, and John Gowlett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264522

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264522.001.0001

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The Socio-religious Brain: A Developmental Model

The Socio-religious Brain: A Developmental Model

(p.282) (p.283) 14 The Socio-religious Brain: A Developmental Model
Social Brain, Distributed Mind

Daniel N. Finkel

Paul Swartwout

Richard Sosis

British Academy

Evolutionary approaches to religion and the social brain hypothesis are ripe for functional integration. One conceptual link for such integration lies in recognizing the artificially imposed distinction between religion and most other aspects of culture found in band-level societies. This chapter argues that throughout most of human evolution, religion has organized the patterns of belief and behaviour in which the social brain operates. Religious beliefs, myths, symbols and rituals are the means by which emotional bonding, enculturation and identification with an in-group occur. The chapter presents a developmental account of socio-religious enculturation in order to clarify the unique role religion plays in social cognition. It proposes that the particulars of religious systems are introduced and practised during childhood, sealed in adolescence, reinforced throughout reproductive adulthood and transmitted by post-reproductive adults.

Keywords:   religion, social brain, functional integration, human evolution, emotional bonding, enculturation

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