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The Origin of Soul-Beliefs: A Survey of Theories from the 19th Century to the Present
Uppsala universitet.
2018 (English)In: Examining the Concept of the Soul / [ed] Leah Hawkins, Brent Bowers, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2018, 1, p. 1-56Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This chapter presents a survey of the various theories on early or “primitive” soul-beliefs propounded by anthropologists and scholars of religion from the 19th century to the present day. Aside from such half-forgotten scholars as Adolf Bastian and Herbert Spencer, the origin of many later theories can be traced to the animistic school of Edward Tylor (1832-1917), whose outlines of a “primitive” soul-concept, derived partly from dream-visions, partly from the notion of a life force (often identified with the breath), exerted great influence on anthropologists such as James Frazer. Also of great influence were the “dualistic” typologies of soul-beliefs associated with early 20th-century scholars like A. C. Kruijt and Wilhelm Wundt and especially with the Swedish Sanskritist and historian of religions Ernst Arbman (1891-1959), whose idea of a dual “primitive” soul-concept, constituted by an anthropomorphic “free-soul” derived from dream visions, and one or more impersonal and shapeless “vital souls” identified with breath, pulse etc., has had a lasting influence on the study of soul-conceptions up till the present day. While cultural evolutionism largely fell out of favor after the mid-20th century, it will be noted that theories on the “origins” of religious phenomena have made a recent comeback with the so-called cognitive study of religion, which takes a largely evolutionary-psychological approach to explaining beliefs in gods, spirits, souls, etc.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2018, 1. p. 1-56
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
History of Religions; Ethnology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-346493ISBN: 9781536133950 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-346493DiVA, id: diva2:1191385
Available from: 2018-03-19 Created: 2018-03-19 Last updated: 2018-11-11

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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