Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Sacred Technologies: the Evolution of Religious Cognitive Niche

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posted on 2021-11-09, 18:38 authored by Murphy, David J.

Most cognitive studies of religion adopt a modular theory of cognition. The 'space'that is studied is often the 'space between the ears'. Culture and religion are viewed as by-products of more entrenched features of our brains. Although this 'Standard Model' explains many intuitive expressions of religious belief, it has trouble explaining (a) the variability of religious systems crossculturally (b) the uses of material culture (i.e. symbolic structures etc) in transmitting religious concepts. The following thesis presents a 'wideware mind' hypothesis for religious cognition. I urge that while our internal cognitive architecture is causally relevant to religious cognition, the material artefacts of culture must be viewed as cognitive properties in their own right. Hence any causal account of religious cognition must acknowledge the external features of minds and how our neurological resources interact with the artefacts of our world.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Religious Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Bulbulia, Joseph; Radich, Michael