- Definition of religion
- Refutation of other theories
- Demonstration of the social nature of religion
Problem -- Why does he care about religion?
Society has become progressively more rational:
and yet...religion has not disappeared. There is a general concern
among people writing at the time about what to do about the non-rational
stuff that is left over after an analysis of social world in terms of rational,
utilitarian, and instrumental behavior. Can everything be reductionistically
explained? Or is there a residue?
- no more witch burnings
- Galileo vindicated
- marginalization of the occult
- churches have become less dogmatic
- secularization everywhere
It is useful to see this work as a part of Durkheim's overall attempt
to show that "the social" was real and worth studying, that society is
not reducible to individual psychology. You may recall that we've
called this the "realist" as opposed to the "nominalist" position.
- What is Religion?
Rather, two components
- not necessarily belief in transcendent being
- not necessarily mysticism and the supernatural
- beliefs = division of world into sacred and profane
- rituals = strictly determined behavior associated with the sacred
- And so we have body of things, beliefs, rituals that are sacred,
- ... if these are coordinated into a system of sorts ==> RELIGION
- THUS: idea of the sacred => organization of beliefs about the
sacred => rites and practices proceeding from these
- "A religion is an interdependent system of beliefs and practices
regarding things which are sacred, that is to say, apart, forbidden, beliefs,
and practices which unite all those who follow them in a single moral community
called a church."
- Religion as animism
- Religion as naturism
- ED: both involve a sort of collective hallucination. We must
figure out how to accept the reality of religion without accepting those
things that scientific rationalism makes archaic. It doesn't make sense
to find the essence of something in an illusion. Not useful science
if its main discovery makes its object disappear.
Participants in collectivity have vague feeling of something superior
to their individuality
"mana" as this anonymous and diffuse force
Humans worship their own society without knowing it
Societies create gods/religions when in a state of exaltation of intensified
Interaction ritual chains
Notes from UChicago Prelims Library
from Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society, (Translated
by George Simpson). by New York: The Free Press, 1947.
- The Emile Durkheim Archive
(caution -- free website that sends popup window ads with page)