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Evolution and the Emergent SelfThe Rise of Complexity and Behavioral Versatility in Nature$
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Raymond Neubauer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231150705

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231150705.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The Brain and Belief

The Brain and Belief

(p.156) 8 The Brain and Belief
Evolution and the Emergent Self

Raymond L. Neubauer

, Xuan Yue
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the concept of abstraction in a seminal period of human culture when new ways of tool making, art, and trade became widespread among our ancestors. Some of the earliest forms of religion also trace back to this period, and religion can be considered another kind of abstraction, for it posits the idea that the personality of an animal or person can be separated from its body and live in a realm separate from the physical world. A late-maturing brain, with extra areas for forming higher abstractions, may have fostered such concepts, which may have had important effects on the social organization of early modern humans. One abstraction that became prominent during the last Ice Age is apparent belief in an afterlife—that is, that the soul can leave the body and live on in another realm. This chapter discusses the relationship between religion and brain size and how brain size correlates with civilization and tribal life, music and dance, group selection, sacrifice, and in-groups and out-groups.

Keywords:   abstraction, human culture, religion, brain, social organization, afterlife, brain size, civilization, group selection, sacrifice

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