Re: Origin of Religion

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Thu 26 Dec 2002 - 13:31:37 GMT

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    At 07:10 PM 12/25/2002 -0500, you wrote:
    Interesting discussion. i just read wilson's book for a course on religious theories. i'm glad someone acknowledged that wilson is anti-memetics (he criticizes dawkins in a number of places in the book).
    grant wrote:
    "IMHO religion is an outgrowth of tribal custom and the creation of narrative to sustain it."
    i've come to think that religion is a set of rationalizations to manage particular local memes, which are inevitable "third parties" spontaneously occuring from dyadic social interactions. it's all about manageability...the more manageable the meme (more "grounded in the nature of things" or the "real", as durkheim asserted), the less rationalization necessary to insure its existence. the less manageable the meme (as in Rudolf Otto's idea of the "numenous" or "wholly other") the more complex the rationalization system. ritual is the repetitive reproduction of particular memes that result from particular dyadic interactants. that is why an anthropologist can observe religious behavior and "not quite get it"...because they are not part of the dyadic interactants that brought about the behavior. "third parties" can be things like narratives, totems, deities, kinship structures, technologies.
    further, because dyadic interactions have always occured for us as they are biologically mandated on a very basic level (shown in a paper by Thomas Smith re: hyperstructures), we've always had the third party occurance.  so, in a sense, religion is a system of management for third parties we already's a rationalization about behavior we already exhibit.
    just by two cents.

    I'm not familiar with the scholars you are discussing (although Durkheim rings a bell).  What is a dyadic social interaction?   How are you differentiating between a real manageable meme and less manageable 'numenous' meme.

    Ray Recchia =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

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