Religion Past and Present

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(1,102 words)

[German Version]

In modern usage, the term “animism” – from Lat. anima, “soul” – is used in various senses. 1. In the most general sense, “animism” or “animistic religion” refers to the preliterate religions formerly called “nature religion,” “archaic religion,” or sometimes “primitive religion.” 2. In a somewhat more restricted sense, “animism” refers to belief in spirits and souls. 3. In the strict sense, however, it refers to the theory of religion propounded by E.B. Tylor, first stated in his Primitive Culture in 1871. Tylor's theory comprises two basic trains of thought…

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Thiel, Josef F., “Animism”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 28 September 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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