FORTHCOMING - September 2023

Uniting Thomas Lawson's essays on the cognitive science of religion, this volume explores theoretical issues in the study of cultural phenomena such as religion, the role of imagination, and the experiments that emerge from these theories.
The book begins with Lawson's influential essay “Towards a Cognitive Science of Religion,” which was the first to employ the phrase, and has since become widely adopted in many different disciplines. It signals to scholars in the humanities that the cognitive revolution has finally reached them and serves to introduce them to the world of science. The rest of the book focuses on theoretical issues in the study of cultural phenomena and describes experiments by scholars working on the connections between cognition and culture.
Described as "the grandfather of the cognitive science of religion," Lawson offers a unique perspective on the development of the field and the principles that underlie it, which will be relevant to both newcomers and established scholars. [pre-order AMAZON]

"A solid basis for understanding the whole spectrum of the religions of Africa! Concise, expert, and fully accessible, this is an excellent introduction to the complex, diverse religious traditions of Africa practiced by peoples with vastly different cultures and languages. Religions of Africa outlines and clarifies the historical development of indigenous African belief systems, discusses the impact of colonization, Christianity, Islam, and liberation movements on the continent's religious evolution, and examines the interaction between time-honored customs and new worlds of thought to "illustrate the process of traditions in transformation and transformations in tradition." Lawson presents the history, myths, rituals, institutions, and sociocultural patterns of two representative groups: the Yoruba of Nigeria and the Zulu of South Africa. Through understanding the religious worlds in which these groups live, the reader gains a solid basis for understanding the whole spectrum of the religions of Africa." [AMAZON]

"This book develops a cognitive approach to religion. Focusing particularly on ritual action, it borrows analytical methods from linguistics and other cognitive sciences. The authors provide a lucid, critical review of established approaches to the study of religion, and make a strong plea for the combination of interpretation and explanation. Often represented as competitive approaches, they are, rather, complementary and equally vital to the study of symbolic systems. Rethinking Religion deals with the relationship between cognition and culture in a novel manner, and introduces a method of analysis that will have many applications." [AMAZON]

"This study explores the psychological foundations of religious ritual systems. In practice, participants recall rituals to ensure a sense of continuity across performances, and those rituals motivate them to transmit and re-perform them. Most religious rituals exploit either high performance frequency or extraordinary emotional stimulation to enhance their recollection. Robert N. McCauley and E. Thomas Lawson assert that participants' cognitive representations of ritual form explain much about the systems. Reviewing a wide range of evidence, they explain religions' evolution.' [AMAZON]

"Robert N. McCauley and E. Thomas Lawson are considered the founders of the field of the cognitive science of religion. Since its inception over twenty years ago, the cognitive science of religion has raised questions about the philosophical foundations and implications of such a scientific approach. This volume from McCauley, including chapters co-authored by Lawson, is the first book-length project to focus on such questions, resulting in a compelling volume that addresses fundamental questions that any scholar of religion should ask.
The essays collected in this volume are those that initially defined this scientific field for the study of religion. These essays deal with issues of methodology, reductionism, resistance to the scientific study of religion, and other criticisms that have been lodged against the cognitive science of religion. The new final chapter sees McCauley reflect on developments in this field since its founding.
Tackling these debates head on and in one place for the first time, this volume belongs on the shelf of every researcher interested in this now established approach to the study of religion within a range of disciplines, including religious studies, philosophy, anthropology and the psychology of religion." [AMAZON]