Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Immortality of the Soul as Intuitive Idea

Pereira, Vera, Luis Faísca and Rodrigo de Sá-Saraiva (2012).  "Immortality of the Soul as an Intuitive Idea: Towards a Psychological Explanation of Afterlife Beliefs."  Journal of Cognition and Culture 12: 101-127.[http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/jocc/2012/]

In this paper, the authors investigate the intutions that enter into the representation of the state of being dead.  On the basis of questionaire results, they argue that the dead self is imagined as being largely continuous with the living self, in that various epistemic, perceptual and boulomaic states are attributed to the dead subject.  Crucially, they also argue that learned religious and cultural beliefs impact on the representation of the dead self.

Though offering much useful material for speculation, it would have been interesting to see the paper incorporate a discussion of Bering's work on the supernatural role of punitive agents, especially given that Bering's work features so prominently otherwise.  This would have been especially useful in the discussion of the persistent attribution of hearing and sight (primary sensory modalities for vigilance) to the dead self.

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