Re: Origin of Religion

From: A and B Vitale (
Date: Thu 26 Dec 2002 - 14:42:38 GMT

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    From: Ray Recchia
    "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."

    Social interaction is to another, whatever the interactants may be. It's like having two data sets interacting. the primary example that i've seen used is the infant/caregiver dyad. there are neurosociological forces at work to create that relationship and keep it going, based on the modulation of anxiety and comfort through chemicals such as opiates and adrenalin. the infants cries are emotional contagion, placing the onus on a caregiver to respond. if they respond negatively, the emotional contagion of the neglected infant will cause an increase in their own anxiety as well. if they respond positively, the emotional contagion of the satisfied infant will present an opiate release in the caregiver. the various dyanamics present a model called a hyperstructure.

    this is a fairly unmanageable meme because one of the interactants, the infant, is not yet cognitively sophisticated enough to consciously stimulate the opiate release from that relationship. as cognition develops, the infant can substitute the response of a caregiver through their imagination and memories...but those are not as effective as actual human interaction. thus, the hyperstructure still reproduces the need for an infant/caregiver paradigm throughout our life. it can be better managed with cognitive ability, but it is always our adult relationships and in our religions (among other things). god is "our father," kali is "the mother," etc..

    religion, to me, is an elaboration on that biological process but with a change in the interactants. the resulting "hyperstructures" are no longer managed at the level of biology, they are managed at the level of cognition. these new structures are the "third parties" i mentioned.

    managing these third parties can range from being extremely difficult to being quite easy. by difficult, i mean they require a set of complex rationalizations that are not "basic" to features of our "real" existence. by easy, i mean they require a set of simple rationalizations that match what we have around us. so here we can compare a totem and otto's

    otto, a german christian at the end of the 19th century, felt that there was a holy religious moment where we evoke feelings of the "numenous," essentially another way of saying "God." We cannot ever rationally obtain this feeling...we can only have it evoked in us by associating with sophisticated religious feelings...specifically, by the supreme religion of christianity. this numenous feeling is crudely evoked, to him, and misunderstood by other religions. this numenous is also "wholly other," that is, completely OUTSIDE and opposite to human beings. to otto, the feeling of
    "the holy" is completely unmanageable unless one is able to rely almost utterly on faith in an extremely untouchable god.

    the totem, on the other hand, is an object grounded in the real...representing what's already evident and tangible. it is manageable. there is little about it that requires one to think OUTSIDE the tangible world in which they exist. rationalizing about it is as simple as rationalizing about any social's already there, it's always been there, it's just there "differently."


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