The Belief in Ghosts and Specters. The cognitive-developmental approach as explanatory tool to the prevalence of superstition in ancient societies

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Oesterdiekhoff G.W.

Abstract

Ethnology and history have documented the high role and impact of the belief in ghosts and specters in ancient, traditional, and premodern societies. Whoever studies an ethnographic report about some people living a life outside and remote from modern, industrial society, is confronted with chapters describing people´s fears and precautions taken against infringements of the spirits. It is often an absorbing aspect in their lives. Whenever the decline of these beliefs may have started in the progress of civilization, it accelerated with the advent and progredient course of modern, industrialized society. Up to now, social sciences and humanities have been incapable to develop appropriate and satisfying theories to address the phenomena. Most researchers really believe that they exist to fulfill some functions, they may be psychological or sociological in nature. It is shown that such explanations are wrong and even ludicrous. It is pointed out that the cognitive-developmental approach has the tools to find proper explanations both to the origin of these superstitions and to its recent decline.

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How to Cite
Oesterdiekhoff, G. (2023). The Belief in Ghosts and Specters. The cognitive-developmental approach as explanatory tool to the prevalence of superstition in ancient societies. Human Evolution , 38(3-4), 221-245. https://doi.org/10.14673/HE2023341123
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