Dávid-Barret - Collective Action, Shared Intentionality, and the Origins of Religion


Additional Information

Category Lecture
Speakers David-Barret
Year 2013

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Human sociality traits, in particular those that drive the way we build and maintain social relations, facilitate but also limit our ability to perform collective action. Without these traits we would not be able to maintain the group around us, the group that enables our biological and intellectual existence. At the same time, while human cultures show remarkable variation, the very traits that permit the rise of these cultures also limit the kind of societies that can emerge. These limitations not only narrow down the set of imaginable societies we can form, but also constrain our ability to perform collective action in large groups. This constraint raises a puzzle, since all known human societies achieve a feat not even remotely approached by other species: we live in very large and culturally exceedingly complex societies that these limitations simply would not appear to allow.

In this talk, Dr Dávid-Barrett will outline a framework that captures the trade-offs that these human sociality traits raise, and show how some of the phenomena often understood to be covered by the term 'religion' may facilitate the emergence of shared intentionality in large human groups, thus offering solutions to the limitations raised.