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Intuitive Foundations of Conceptions of Vitality: The Case of Chinese Children’s Understanding of Illness Causation

Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR,volume 2)

Abstract

The cognitive science of religion emphasizes the naturalness of intuitive dualism, the notion that persons are made up of bodies and minds. However, there is also cross-cultural recurrence of the idea that persons are made up of not just mind or soul, but also vitality, or life force. In this chapter, I examine evidence of vitalistic thinking in different cultures as well as from developmental and cross-cultural psychology. I focus in particular on China, where vitalism serves as the conceptual foundation of traditional Chinese medicine. I then present a summary of research examining vitalism in Chinese children’s understanding of illness causation. I discuss the findings and future research directions in terms of the Naturalness of Religion Thesis.

Keywords

  • Vitalism
  • Qi
  • Energy
  • Intuitive biology
  • China
  • Illness

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The author, Liqi Zhu (this volume), and a team of researchers at Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Psychology.

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Correspondence to Melanie Nyhof .

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Nyhof, M. (2017). Intuitive Foundations of Conceptions of Vitality: The Case of Chinese Children’s Understanding of Illness Causation. In: Hornbeck, R., Barrett, J., Kang, M. (eds) Religious Cognition in China. New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion , vol 2. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62954-4_9

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