Durkeim's take on the categories

From: Scott Chase (ecphoric@hotmail.com)
Date: Mon 16 Feb 2004 - 00:58:54 GMT

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    This is a very preliminary view, but in reading through the first parts of Durkheim's _The Elementary Forms of Religious Life_ (I have two separate translations to go by), it seems that Durkheim is grounding Kant's categories in the social realm, that is that categories of thought are socially imposed upon us from without. This could be a reversal of Kant's view in his _Prolegomena_ that we impose our laws upon nature. For Durkheim, our laws would instead be imposed upon us from collective representations that have been established through the generations.

    It would be interesting to compare Durkheim's views with those of Popper in _Objective Knowledge_ where the categories would IIRC instead derive from within via an evolutionary process of conjecture and refutation. Popper's views would be much more aligned with those of evolutionary psychology than Durkheim's would be.

    Popper and ev psychers would say that Kant's a priori categories are an evolutionary derived natural given, where Durkheim seems to be arguing that they came from the social milieu.

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