Elementary forms of religious life essay

Elementary forms of religious life by Durkheim September 25, by Sociology Group Elementary forms of religious life The general meaning of the term religion is understood as the belief, faith, rituals and traditions followed by an individual or individuals pertaining to a group or community. In the present modern society, there are many major religions working along with the complexities of social structures that define and project certain ideas and ideologies of the particular religious group which in-turn defines and organizes the group or community. But did religion already exist in its complex form since the beginning of time? If one says religion is one institute that holds a society together, what does it really mean?

Elementary forms of religious life essay

Critical Remarks Durkheim's Two Problems Durkheim's primary purpose in The Elementary Forms was to describe and explain the most primitive 1 religion known to man. But if his interests thus bore some external similarity to those of the ethnographer or historian, his ultimate purpose went well beyond the reconstruction of an archaic culture for its own sake; on the contrary, as in The Division of Labor and Suicide, Durkheim's concern was ultimately both present and practical: How can the crude cults of the Australian aborigines tell us anything about religions far more advanced in value, dignity, and truth?

Essay on Elementary Forms of Religious Life How can the crude cults of the Australian aborigines tell us anything about religions far more advanced in value, dignity, and truth?
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life Critical Essays - timberdesignmag.com In spite of his views on science, however, Durkheim did not hesitate to make speculative generalizations that went considerably beyond his evidence, and some of his theories can neither be confirmed nor falsified.
Sorry! Something went wrong! In this book he brings his analysis of collective or group forces to the study of religion.
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life Critical Context - Essay - timberdesignmag.com Also, since religious phenomena were social in essence, Durkheim found it illogical to account for the origins of religion by reference to individual consciousness. His own sociological theory emphasized two ideas:

And if he insisted that they can, wasn't he suggesting that Christianity, for example, proceeds from the same primitive mentality as the Australian cults? These questions were important, for Durkheim recognized that scholars frequently focused on primitive religions in order to discredit their modern counterparts, and he rejected this "Voltairean" hostility to religion for two reasons.

First, alluding to the second chapter of The Rules, Durkheim insisted that such hostility was unscientific; it prejudges the results of the investigation, and renders its outcome suspect. Second, and more important, he considered it unsociological; for it is an essential postulate of sociology that no human institution can rest on an error or a lie.

If an institution is not based on "the nature of things," Durkheim insisted, it encounters a resistance in nature which destroys it; the very existence of primitive religions, therefore, assures us that they "hold to reality and express it.

The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life ()

The reasons with which the faithful justify them may be, and generally are, erroneous; but the true reasons," Durkheim concluded, "do not cease to exist" and it is the duty of science to discover them.

Briefly, he did so for three "methodological" reasons. First, Durkheim argued that we cannot understand more advanced religions except by analyzing the way they have been progressively constituted throughout history; for only by placing each of the constituent elements of modern religions in the context within which it emerged can we hope to discover the cause which gave rise to it.

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.

Second, Durkheim suggested that the scientific study of religion itself presupposed that the various religions we compare are all species of the same class, and thus possess certain elements in common: These are the permanent elements which constitute that which is permanent and human in religion; they form all the objective contents of the idea which is expressed when one speaks of religion in general.

That which is accessory or secondary All is reduced to that which is indispensable to that without which there could be no religion. But that which is indispensable is also that which is essential, that is to say, that which we must know before all else. But if this simplicity of primitive religions helps us to understand its nature, it also helps us to understand its causes.

In fact, as religious thought evolved through history, its initial causes became overlaid with a vast scheme of methodological and theological interpretation which made those origins virtually imperceptible. The study of primitive religion, Durkheim thus suggested, is a new way of taking up the old problem of the "origin of religion" itself -- not in the sense of some specific point in time and space when religion began to exist no such point existsbut in the sense of discovering "the ever-present causes upon which the most essential forms of religious thought and practice depend.

At the base of all our judgments, Durkheim began, there are a certain number of ideas which philosophers since Aristotle have called "the categories of the understanding" -- time, space, class, number, cause, substance, personality, and so on. They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought; this does not seem to be able to liberate itself from them without destroying itself, for it seems that we cannot think of objects that are not in time and space, which have no number, etc.

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 observations suggested to Durkheim that the "problem of knowledge" might be posed in new, sociological terms.

Previous efforts to solve this problem, he began, represent one of two philosophical doctrines: The difficulty for the empirical thesis, Durkheim then observed, is that it deprives the categories of their most distinctive properties -- universality they are the most general concepts we have, are applicable to all that is real, and are independent of every particular object and necessity we literally cannot think without them ; for it is in the very nature of empirical data that they be both particular and contingent.

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: Having planted these allegedly formidable obstacles in the paths of his philosophical adversaries, Durkheim then offered his frustrated reader an attractive via media: 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.

By viewing the first as individual representations and the second as their collective counterparts, Durkheim insisted, this proposition is left intact: In so far as we belong to society, therefore, we transcend our individual nature both when we act and when we think. Finally, this distinction explains both the universality and the necessity of the categories -- they are universal because man has always and everywhere lived in society, which is their origin; and they are necessary because, without them, all contact between individual minds would be impossible, and social life would be destroyed altogether: If it is to live," Durkheim concluded, "there is not merely need of a satisfactory moral conformity, but also there is a minimum of logical conformity beyond which it cannot safely go.

The fundamental relations between things -- just that which it is the function of the categories to express cannot be essentially dissimilar in the different realms. First, he insisted, we must free the mind of all preconceived ideas of religion, a liberation achieved in The Elementary Forms through a characteristic "argument by elimination":''The Elementary Forms of Religious Life'' is a book written by Emile Durkheim in It was a sociological perspective on primitive religion.

Elementary forms of religious life essay

As described in Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, a totem is apparent in every society. A totem is a symbolic figure of some creature, being, or thing that represents the sanctity and principle of . 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.

Emil Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religious Life presents religion as a social phenomenon.

The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life ()

Based on this idea, this essay will examine the role of religion and its influence on society. 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, .

The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life [Emile Durkheim, Joseph Ward Swain M.A.] on timberdesignmag.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A classic of religion, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life is a worthwhile and incredible read for anyone interested in religion.4/5(52).

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