Re: Durkheim (resend)

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat 02 Apr 2005 - 00:19:53 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Durkheim (resend)"

    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    [KD] "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." [KD]

    My reply:

    Yet I seem to remember how impressed I was when I detected in Durkheim a subtle delineation between historic origin and current utility. See my previous
    (long ago) post on this on the list archives:

    Anyone familar with Gould's harping on this topic wrt exaptations and spandrels might read the quote of Durkheim I proviided in that post and wonder about where he was going with this too. If he was smart enough to see that historic origin should be se apart from current utility, then his views on socifacts are quite sophisticated when we ask from where socifacts have sprung. Current function might not give us a clue as to what previous functions of a socifact may have been or what antecedents provided the structure that was co-opted into a new use. There could be the possibility of functional shifts, such as been seen with the evolution of the mammalian ear ossicles from precursors that were used for jaw articulation in ancestors. Durkheim's views might not have been this sophisticated, but I'll give him some props (hiphop lingo) nonetheless.


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