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Believing, Remembering, and Imagining: The Roots and Fruits of Meanings Made and Remade

  • Raymond F. Paloutzian
  • Katelyn J. Mukai
Chapter
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 1)

Abstract

Without believing, there is no human life as we know it. Processes of believing are fundamental to how all people function. Although more often nonconscious than conscious, believing is the guide that leads humans and animals through the myriad options to settle upon or test the next action, reaction, possibility, or hunch. What we call a “belief” is a meaning that has been made. This chapter begins by explaining the substrates of meaning systems and relates them to all matters of believing whether religious or spiritual, unusual versus routine, or narrow versus broad in scope. Processes of believing enable us to navigate all life domains. In order to explain the development of the substrates of meaning systems, the chapter summarizes evolutionarily root ed aspects of human and animal functioning for which the emergence of some form of meaning making, assessment, and remaking is essential. The sequence goes from micro to macro in level of analysis. Each step reflects meaning system processes more developed than those prior to it. The propensity for meaning making, appraisal, and remaking is increased as one goes up the steps, from relatively rudimentary to complex global human meaning systems. The steps include perceiving, learning, intuiting, implementing, remembering, and imagining. The process of believing is multi-layered, consisting of making and remaking meanings, acting upon them mentally or behaviorally, and appraising the outcomes in view of the expectations and predict ions. The process continues, as one remakes meanings, whether similar or modified, re-appraises them, and remakes them again through a continuous feedback cycle. The processes are integral to basic psycholog ical functions including learning, perception, motivation, development, social cognition, human interaction, and human information processing, and show myriad effects across the spectrum from normal to abnormal mental states and behavior.

Keywords

Nonhuman Primate Stimulus Pattern Meaning Making Global Meaning Near Death Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWestmont CollegeSanta BarbaraUSA

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