Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Morgan StebbinsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_325

Human beings, as far as we know, are unique in the ability to understand that each one of us will die at some point. Although we are forever on this side of the “undiscovered country/from whose bourn no traveler returns” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, scene 1), this other type of time or place has been a concern of philosophy and religion from very close to the beginning of human history. Anthropologists consider the transition from living to nonliving to cause a basic cognitive dissonance so extreme that the nascent Neolithic consciousness as well as modern humans are incapable of making sense of it. In the ancient caves of Lascaux and Trois Freres, we see what may be indications of shamanic transformations – the precursors of conceptions of the soul and the beginning of the idea that there might be something more at the end of life than merely stoppage. Funereal remains have also been uncovered from this same period in the Neolithic age, suggesting a conception of something going on...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of the New York C.G. Jung FoundationNew YorkUSA