Re: Durkheim

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat 02 Apr 2005 - 21:12:35 GMT

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

    --- Agner Fog <> wrote:

    > 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.
    Durkheim critiques Spencer in his _The Rules of Sociological Method_, so he must have had some familiarity with the guy. Good call.

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