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Scott Atran

Anthropologist and Director of Research, CNRS École Normale Supérieure

Scott Atran is the director of research in anthropology at the CNRS, École Normale Supérieure, and a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford. He is co-founder of Artis Research, and the author of Talking to the Enemy (2010) and In Gods We Trust (2002). Among many other consultancies and publications, he has briefed the UN Security Council and the US Senate on his research on sacred values and political extremism.

Written by Scott Atran



Recent Comments

SA

ISIS is a revolution

Scott Atran

Arun Ezhutadhan writes:

Every single Revolutionary movement- even purely chauvinistic and national ones, e.g. De Valera’s- has had an impact on my obscure and provincial corner of the world. This gives me a vantage point quite different from that of the Olympian, or Eurocentric, public intellectual who can glibly tells us things like this- ‘At that time, (the so called ‘Axial Age’) large-scale civilisations arose under the watchful gaze of powerful divinities, who mercilessly punished moral transgressors – thus ensuring that even strangers in multiethnic empires would work and fight as one.’

Is there any truth to this notion? None at all. The best elaborated Axial Age politi...

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Belief in supernatural beings is totally natural – and false

Scott Atran

Core beliefs in supernatural agents aren’t so much false as absurd. they involve “category mistakes” in the sene of Aristotle (Sommers and Papa), violating constraints on universal semantic structures/ For example, God is a sentient (much less omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent) being but bodiless isn’t false but absurd, like a four-footed idea. Literally “incomprehensible” as Galileo noted in his letters to his daughter, as Hobbes pointed out in Leviathan, and “preposterous” as the religious votary Kierkegaard stressed. One could not learn a language if one believed that the semantic relationships violated in such pseudo-propositions were in fact valid (see Frank Keil and Sheila Wla...

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SA

Should we rename institutions that honour dead racists?

Scott Atran

And inclide Socrates, Plato and Aristotle as well?

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