Graham Harvey
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(2,769 words)

Four uses of the term ‘animism’ are discussed. First, Tylor’s definition of religion (which he had wanted to call Spiritualism but found this referred to a specific religion) as “belief in spirits.” Then a more popular use of the term to label some or all indigenous religious traditions is noted. Cognitive research about the ubiquitous habit of projecting life and/or human-likeness is the third version. Most consideration is devoted to recent debates that engage with animism as a form of personalism in which the world is treated as a community of persons, few of whom are human. ⸙

Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Online

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