His account of the origins of religion could not be accepted by most of the modern sociologists. He made number of proposals for the improvement of the moral climate of his society. The a priorist thesis, by contrast, has more respect for these properties of universality and necessity; but by asserting that the categories simply "inhere" in the nature of the intellect, it begs what is surely the most interesting and important question of all: As the same religion and social organization were increasingly observed and reported among the Australian aborigines, the documents accumulated until James Frazer brought them together in Totemism These observations suggested to Durkheim that the "problem of knowledge" might be posed in new, sociological terms.
Just as biological evolution has been differently conceived since the empirical discovery of monocellular beings, therefore, religious evolution is differently conceived depending upon what concrete system of belief and action is placed at its origin.
Previous efforts Elementary forms of religious life essay solve this problem, he began, represent one of two philosophical doctrines: Precisely because of the abyss which separates sacred things from their profane counterparts, the individual cannot enter into relations with the first without ridding himself of the second.
The failure of these explanations, Durkheim added, is particularly embarrassing in that the idea of the soul itself does not seem to imply its own survival, but rather seems to exclude it -- since the soul is intimately connected with the body, the death of the latter would seem to bode ill for the former.
The difficulty for a society living through the period of "transition" Elementary forms of religious life essay "moral mediocrity" described in The Division of Labor and Suicide was in imagining what form its future symbols might assume.
The prototype of the first idea, as we have seen, is that collective force conceived by primitive peoples under the name of mana, wakan, orenda, etc. He probably considered it to be his life task to contribute to the moral regeneration of his French society.
The second is explained by the fact that the periodic reproduction of the totemic species is a matter of great concern to the clan, and the rites assumed to effect it are thus obligatory. It is a work of stunning theoretical imagination, whose two major themes and more than a dozen provocative hypotheses have stimulated the interest and excitement of several generations of sociologists irrespective of theoretical "school" or field of specialization.
First, the basic proposition of the a priorist thesis is that knowledge is composed of two elements -- perceptions mediated by our senses, and the categories of the understanding -- neither of which can be reduced to the other.
In his suggestion that all reality is composed of "monads," for example, Leibniz had emphasized that these psychic entities are personal, conscious, autonomous beings; but he had also insisted that these consciousnesses all express the same world; and since this world is itself but a system of representations, each particular consciousness is but the reflection of the universal consciousness, the particularity of its perspective being explained by its special location within the whole.
This in turn explained the temporal aspect of the rite -- the totemic principle would seem most thoroughly exhausted after a long, dry period, and most completely renewed just after the arrival of the "good season," and analogous practices were found among many, more advanced peoples: When primitive religious beliefs are analyzed, Durkheim observed, these "categories" are found, suggesting that they are the product of religious thought; but religious thought itself is composed of collective representations, the products of real social groups.
These two characteristics in turn reveal the origin of conceptual thought. As with such experiments, Durkheim added, it does not follow that the reality which gives rise to these experiences precisely corresponds to the ideas that believers or scientists form of it; but it is a reality just the same, and for Durkheim, the reality was society.
On this contemporary controversy in the scientific study of religion, Durkheim ultimately leaned heavily toward the second alternative; and on the ground that it is impossible to understand a religion without a firm grasp of its ideas, his discussion of Australian totemism in The Elementary Forms thus began with its beliefs.
For Smith was a devout Scottish Calvinist who found the very idea that the gods receive physical pleasure from the offerings of mere mortals a "revolting absurdity," and insisted that this conception had no part in the original meaning of the rite, emerging only much later with the institution of private property.
The difficulty for this definition, Durkheim insisted, is that it fails to acknowledge two categories of undeniably religious facts.
One set of beliefs and practices, for example, is addressed to the phenomena of nature, and is thus characterized as naturism; while a second body of religious thought and action appeals to conscious spiritual beings, and is called animism.
The Sacred is defined by the Totem which is an embodiment of an animal or ancestral figure of the particular clan or community. Gillen's Native Tribes of Central Australiaa study of totemic clans almost definitively primitive; and, together with the studies they stimulated, these observations were incorporated within Frazer's four-volume compendium, Totemism and Exogamy The difficulty for a society living through the period of "transition" and "moral mediocrity" described in The Division of Labor and Suicide was in imagining what form its future symbols might assume.
Their utilitarian value as expressions of social sentiments notwithstanding, Durkheim's more ambitious claim was that such symbols serve to create the sentiments themselves.
Emphasizing that religion is less an indivisible whole than a complex system of parts, he began by dividing these parts into rites determined modes of action and beliefs collective representations ; and since rites can be distinguished from other actions only by their object, and the nature of that object is determined by the beliefs, Durkheim insisted on defining the latter first.
All is reduced to that which is indispensable to that without which there could be no religion. In his suggestion that all reality is composed of "monads," for example, Leibniz had emphasized that these psychic entities are personal, conscious, autonomous beings; but he had also insisted that these consciousnesses all express the same world; and since this world is itself but a system of representations, each particular consciousness is but the reflection of the universal consciousness, the particularity of its perspective being explained by its special location within the whole.
To the classical formula Primus in orbe deos fecit timor -- the fear-theory defended in various ways by Hume, Tylor, and Frazer -- Durkheim thus added a decisive, if not entirely original, dissent. Leaving aside the numerous criticisms of the philological premises of the naturistic theory, Durkheim insisted that nature is characterized not by phenomena so extraordinary as to produce a religious awe, but by a regularity which borders on monotony.
Scientific thought, in short, is but a more perfect form of religious thought; and Durkheim thus felt that the latter would gradually give way before the inexorable advances of the former, including those advances in the social sciences extending to the scientific study of religion itself.
How, then, were these beliefs to be explained? The disobedient or violators of norms may even be required to undergo ritual punishment or purification.
Such rites ordinarily follow some disaster that has befallen the clan the death of one of its membersand may involve the knocking out of teeth, severing of fingers, burning of skin, or any number of other self-inflicted tortures; but Durkheim insisted pace Jevons again that none of these acts were the spontaneous expression of individual emotion.Analysis of Durkheim's "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life" Specifically with Reference to "Totem" Essay As described in Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
Essays and criticism on Émile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life - Critical Essays. The crux of Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life lies in the concept of collective effervescence, or the feelings of mutually shared emotions.
Through a hermeneutical approach, Durkheim investigates the reflexiveness of social organization, the balance between form and content. ''The Elementary Forms of Religious Life'' is a book written by Emile Durkheim in It was a sociological perspective on primitive religion.
Essay on Elementary Forms of Religious Life – This book “The Elementary Forms of Religious Life ” seems to be the last of Durkheim’s major works. In this book he brings his analysis of collective or group forces to the study of religion.
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life [Emile Durkheim, Mark S.
Cladis, Carol Cosman] on dfaduke.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (), Emile Durkheim sets himself the task of discovering the enduring source of human social identity.
He investigates what he considered to be the simplest form of documented religion - totemism among the 4/5(52).Download