Toward a Cognitive Ecology of Religious Concepts
Evidence from the Tyva Republic
Keywords:religious concepts, cognitive ecology, Tyva Republic, ritual behavior, MCI theory, schema theory
Using data collected in the Tyva Republic, the present work sheds light on the dynamic nature of religious cognition. In doing so, it reveals important patterns in the representation and distribution of religious concepts in this remote corner of the globe. This paper first introduces a cognitive ecological account of religion by examining human representational structures and how they interact with features of the environment. It then discusses this interaction in light of some Tyvan folktales followed by a report of how Tyvan spirit-masters’ forms correspond to type of landmark; anthropomorphic spirit-masters are associated with regions whereas zoomorphic spirits are associated with discrete resources. It concludes by highlighting a number of important questions which emerge from a cognitive ecological view of religious concepts.
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