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Hubert Seiwert

Opening Keynote Address and Gary Lease Memorial Lecture | Theater Erfurt
Dynamics of Religion and Cultural Evolution

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Hubert Seiwert

The theme of this conference ‘Dynamics of Religions: Past and Present’ can be understood as just another term for religious change, whose past and present forms are traditionally studied by the history and the sociology of religions. A more specific understanding of ‘dynamics’ focuses on the effects religions have on the evolution of human cultures. In this lecture culture is conceived of as the environment of human activity that has been produced and is continuously reproduced by humans. Since whatever can be studied as ‘religion’ has been produced by humans, religions are part of the cultural environment, which includes both material and immaterial artefacts. Cultural evolution—being a cumulative process marked by the reproduction and modification of the cultural environment—is therefore affected by those products of human activity that are objects of the study of religions. It will be explained that their effects contribute both to the maintenance of the cultural environment and to its modification. Empirical examples to illustrate the dynamics of religions and cultural evolution will mainly be taken from the history of religions in China, past and present.

 

The Opening Keynote and Gary Lease Memorial Lecture will take place at the Theater Erfurt.