It is regarded as his best and most mature work. Where suicide focused on a large amount of statistics from varying sources, the elementary forms of Religious life used one case study in depth, the Australian aborigines. Durkheim choose this group because he felt they represented the most basic, elementary forms of religion within a culture. Durkheim set out to do two things, established the fact that religion was not divinely or super naturally inspired and was in fact a product of society.
How can the crude cults of the Australian aborigines tell us anything about religions far more advanced in value, dignity, and truth? 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 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:David Émile Durkheim Karl Marx and Max Weber—is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science.
even the most logical and rational pursuit of science can trace its origins to religion. Durkheim states that, "Religion gave birth to all that is essential in the society. Arguably the foremost social theorist of the twentieth century, Max Weber is known as a principal architect of modern social science along with Karl Marx and Emil Durkheim.
Sociology October 11, Max Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 1. Background.. Weber had been studying the role of the serfs and the day labourers (who were no longer serfs) in northeastern Germany where feudal estates still survived in Weber's day.
Weber and Durkheim's firm belief in the secularisation of society proved deeply influential, not only on later sociological theory, but for subsequent generations of scholars and public thinkers.
Emile Durkheim was one of the founding thinkers of sociology and one of the world's first sociologists. His work remains important today.
How Emile Durkheim Made His Mark on Sociology. Search the site GO. Social Sciences. Sociology Major Sociologists Introduction to Sociology Max Weber - . David Émile Durkheim (French: [emil dyʁkɛm] or; April 15, – November 15, ) was a French timberdesignmag.com formally established the academic discipline and—with W.
E. B. Du Bois, Karl Marx, and Max Weber—is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science.. Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies .