Re: Durkheim

From: Agner Fog (
Date: Wed 30 Mar 2005 - 09:07:43 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: Durkheim (resend)"

    Kate Distin wrote:

    >The question thus arises of the source of social facts, and another
    >problem for Durkheim's thesis is that it is only one generation deep.
    >He claims that an individual will inherit and be coerced by social facts
    >about a previous generation, but makes no attempt to explain how those
    >facts came into existence. Yet in order to be inherited, they must be
    >inherited from somewhere.

    Durkheim has written:

    >The most barbarous and the most fantastic rites and the strangest myths
    >translate some human need, some aspect of life, either individual or
    >social. The reasons with which the faithful justify them may be, and
    >generally are, erroneous; but the true reasons do not cease to exist, and
    >it is the duty of science to discover them. In reality, then, there are no
    >religions which are false. All are true in their own fashion; all answer,
    >though in different ways, to the given conditions of human existence.
    (Durkheim: The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 1912)

    This clearly looks to me like an adaptionist argument. Durkheim must have been inspired by Darwin or by some of the sociologists that were inspired by Darwin (e.g. Spencer). I can think of no other reason why he would claim a functionalist explanation of bizarre rituals and beliefs.

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