Analysis of durkheims the elementary forms

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.

But even if ancestor worship were primitive, Durkheim continued, the third part of the animist theory -- the transformation of the ancestor cult into the cult of nature -- is indefensible in itself. As a member of the "anthropological" school, for example, Frazer had made no effort to place the various religious systems he studied within their social and historical context; rather, as the name of the school implies, he assumed that man has some sort of innate, religious "nature" regardless of social conditions, and thus "compared" the most disparate beliefs and rites with an eye to their most superficial similarities.

Doubts concerning the first were already raised by the observation, to be discussed later, Analysis of durkheims the elementary forms that the soul, though independent of the body under certain conditions, is in fact considerably more intimately bound to the organism than the animistic hypothesis would suggest.

In general, those aspects of social life given moral superiority or reverence are considered sacred and all other aspects are part of the profane. Almost immediately, however, another difficulty arose -- even the crudest religions of which we have any historical or ethnographic knowledge appear to be the products of a long, rather complicated evolution, and thus exhibit a profusion of beliefs and rites based upon a variety of "essential" principles.

Members rely on the group to survive and the group relies on its members. Animism According to the animistic theory, the idea of the human soul was first suggested by the contrast between the mental representations experienced while asleep dreams and those of normal experience.

The primitive man hence believed in a Analysis of durkheims the elementary forms self which was separable from his bodily self and which could lead as independent existence. The difficulty for this definition, Durkheim insisted, is that it fails to acknowledge two categories of undeniably religious facts.

Once these agents had received names, the names themselves raised questions of interpretation for succeeding generations, producing the efflorescence of fables, genealogies, and myths characteristic of ancient religions. It was a living social reality, dependent on social interaction to charge it up as a powerful force, but which when energised could release a powerful, structuring influence on social life.

It is regarded as his best and most mature work. Religion is too permanent, too profound an experience not to correspond to a true reality; and this true reality is not God, then it must be the reality so to speak, immediately below God, namely society.

Previous efforts to solve this problem, he began, represent one of two philosophical doctrines: To Durkheim, totemism reveals the essence of religion in its most elementary form.

Explanations of the types: For all their diversity, however, Durkheim argued that all these forms are reducible to two fundamental interdictions: All the essential elements of religious thought and life ought to be found at least in the most primitive religion.

The form religion takes is the form of social life which echo in each other, correlating meaning and belief to law and order through rituals and religious institutions. Belief, as he argued, was not a matter of personal opinion or private religious experience, but "belongs to the group and unites it".

The individuals which compose it feel themselves united to each other by the simple fact that they have a common faith. 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.

Thus, society, "in all its aspects and in every period of its history, is made possible only by a vast symbolism.

The sacred world cannot survive without the profane world to support it and give it life and vice versa.

Emile Durkheim: religion – the very idea, part 1: the analysis of moral life

Having planted these allegedly formidable obstacles in the paths of his philosophical adversaries, Durkheim then offered his frustrated reader an attractive via media: Insisting pace Smith that it was participation in sacred flesh that rendered the rite efficacious, Durkheim argued that the ceremony concluding the second phase of the Intichiuma was precisely such a rite; and in the Australian rite, he added, the object of such communion was clear -- the periodic revivification of that "totemic principle" society which exists within each member of the clan and is symbolized by the sacrificial animal or plant.

In fact, there is no evidence that Australian totemism is the earliest totemism, let alone the earliest religion; and, though technically less advanced than the North American Indians, the Australians have a kinship system which is far more complex.

They were part of rites, objects of reverence or simply behaviors deemed special by religious beliefs. This collective sharing of beliefs, rituals etc. It is a shared belief. Most of the anthropologists believe that the concept of animism is fundamental to all religion. Pritchard identified clans that did not have totems but had religion.

For Durkheim, religion serves to symbolize the social group, a power that is indeed much larger and much more lasting than any single individual within that group.

Religion is more than the idea of gods or spirits, and consequently cannot be defined exclusively in relation to these latter. Having completed his extensive analysis of the nature, causes, and consequences of totemic beliefs, therefore, Durkheim turned to a somewhat shorter discussion of the "principal ritual attitudes" of totemism.

These bonds, which are articulated in moral terms, shape the categories through which we understand our social reality. But if religion is thus a mode of action, it is also a mode of thought -- one not different in kind from that exercised by science.

Moreover, even if natural phenomena were sufficient to produce a certain degree of admiration, this still would not be equivalent to those features which characterize the "sacred", and least of all to that "absolute duality" which typifies its relations with the "profane.

The healing doctor or medicine manthe care and attention of family members, etc. All these works, however, were constructed out of fragmentary observations, for a true totemic religion had not yet been observed in its complete state.

The Durkheim’s Sociology of Religion and Its Function

As for naturism it amounts to stating that men worship transfigured natural forces.Start your hour free trial to unlock this page The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life study guide and get instant access to the following: Critical Essays; Analysis; 2 Homework Help Questions with Expert Answers; You'll also get access to more than 30, additional guides andHomework Help questions answered by our.

Smith’s definition of religion was the foundation of Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religion theory. In Durkheim’s original thesis he considered religion with law and morality.

However Smith’s theory stated that law and morality were marked off from religion “obligatory practices without obligatory beliefs. Get an answer for 'What are the main points of Emile Durkheim's analysis of religion in Elementary Forms of Religion Life?' and find homework.

Apr 18,  · Emile Durkheim - Elementary Forms of Religious Life - summary and review "Elementary Forms of Religious Life" is one of Emile Durkheim's most notable and complex pieces of writing.

The article relates to the sociology of religion but also sets forth Emile Durkheim 's complex theory of human אני. In The Elementary Forms of Religion, Emile Durkheim, a French Sociologist from the 19th Century, examines totemism in an effort to draw universals between all religions.

Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religion theory - Assignment Example

Durkheim sets his focus on Australian totemism, because it is the most "primitive culture" with the most resources available. Durkheim’s book “Elementary forms of Religious life” is devoted to elaborating a general theory of religion derived from an analysis of the simplest, most primitive religious institutions.

The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life Critical Essays

This general theory of religion is otherwise known as his theory of totemism.

Analysis of durkheims the elementary forms
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