Aarhus talk

Posted on June 9, 2010


At the end of last month I went for a couple of days to Aarhus to give a talk on how the magic/religion distinction can be explained in terms of a dual inheritance model of religion. The Religion, Cognition and Culture people there also know Christophe Heintz and we set it up so that both Christophe and I had talks on the same day. This meant that on the evening before the talks I had the pleasure of sitting, talking about religion and drinking beer not just with Jesper Sorensen but also with my old mate, Christophe.

Christophe’s talk was on an idea that is being pursued by Hugo Mercier that the primary function of reasoning and why we have become good at it is to convince others, rather than (for example) to understand the world. I think the theory is absolutely right and it is great to see it being rapidly developed – look out for a BBS article by Mercier and Sperber in a few months, also!

My own talk (the slides are here) was, as I have previously mentioned, something of a dry run for the talk I’m supposed to give in Bristol in September. As such, I am very glad that I did present it before the very knowledgeable yet friendly audience in Aarhus. Presenting made clear to me several problems with it and the questions afterwards reminded me of a number of important connections that I did not make during the talk. In other words, there will be a medium-sized rewrite necessary before I present the talk again in September.