Friday 29 September 2006

Mirror-Neurons: a primer

If you have never heard of mirror-neurons, or if you're not sure, then this post is for you! It is part of the AlphaPsy Primers series, a very rough guide to naturalistic anthropology, written for the lay reader.


We need a cognitive anthropology of religion, not the reverse!

I strongly disagree with Alberto's last post ("a naturalistic religion, why not?"). Trying to get rid of religion altogether, and replace it with an ersatz, is a foolish and dangerous enterprise. The "rationalist" cults, from Robespierre to Ron Hubbard via Auguste Comte, have either failed dismally or proven worse than what they sought to replace.

the picture shows Ron Hubbard, a man who made a lot of money.


a naturalistic religion, why not?

There has been quite a great amount of heated discussion about the problems created by extant religions (see the last books by Dennett 'Breaking the spell' and Dawkins 'The god delusion'). Even if much more research on cost-benefit is needed, I take as a reasonable conclusion that extant religions are at least not optimal: from a social and political point of view, if possible and everything being equal, we should get rid of them or, more precisely, put something better in their functional place (in any case, for the sake of the argument grant me this conclusion, with all respect for possible religious readers and knowing it is still not proven).


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