Hinde, a distinguished scientist, draws on a wide range of psychological, developmental and evolutionary research to explore this fascinating question. This second edition of Why Gods Persist is designed for everyone interested in the subject, either as a student of psychology and anthropology of religion or as a follower of the current controversies over the value of religious belief.
Nicholls introduces Anglophone readers to Blumenberg’s biography and to his philosophical contexts. He elucidates Blumenberg’s theory of myth by relating it to three important developments in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German philosophy (hermeneutics, phenomenology and philosophical anthropology), while also comparing Blumenberg’s ideas with those of other prominent theorists of myth such as Vico, Hume, Schelling, Max Müller, Frazer, Sorel, Freud, Cassirer, Heidegger, Horkheimer and Adorno. According to Nicholls, Blumenberg’s theory of myth can only be understood in relation to the ‘human sciences,’ since it emerges from a speculative hypothesis concerning the emergence of the earliest human beings. For Blumenberg, myth was originally a cultural adaptation that constituted the human attempt to deal with anxieties concerning the threatening forces of nature by anthropomorphizing those forces into mythic images.
In the final two chapters, Blumenberg’s theory of myth is placed within the post-war political context of West Germany. Through a consideration of Blumenberg’s exchanges with Carl Schmitt, as well as by analysing unpublished correspondence and parts of the original Work of Myth manuscript that Blumenberg held back from publication, Nicholls shows that Blumenberg’s theory of myth also amounted to a reckoning with the legacy of National Socialism.
Michael Stausberg brings together leading scholars of the field to review and discuss seventeen contemporary theories of religion. As well as scholars of religion, it features anthropologists, archaeologists, classicists, evolutionary biologists, philosophers and sociologists. Each chapter provides students with background information on the theoretician, a presentation of the theory’s basic principles, an analysis of basic assumptions, and a review of previous critiques. Concluding with a section entitled 'Back and Forth', Stausberg compares the different theories and points to further avenues of discussion for the future.