Re: Durkheim (resend)

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Mon 04 Apr 2005 - 14:39:46 GMT

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    Scott Chase wrote:
    > --- Keo Ormsby <> wrote:
    > (snip)
    >>Most people would agree that memes are determined by
    >>biological and
    >>psychological factors, as well as social, but the
    >>relative weight of each
    >>factor varies with each author. Although I am
    >>guessing that given Durkheim's
    >>historical context, he said this to stress the point
    >>that it is more
    >>informative to study the social fact from its
    >>interactions between
    >>individuals (social point of view), than from the
    >>point of view of the
    >>individual or the biological species. In this sense
    >>he is in agreement with
    > In Durkheim's own (translated) words, after a
    > paragraph where he talks of the way elements can be
    > associated or juxtaposed:
    > [ED] "By virtue of this principle, society is not the
    > mere sum of individuals, but the system formed by
    > their association represents a specific reality which
    > has its own characteristics. Undoubtedly no collective
    > entity can be produced if there are no individual
    > consciousnesses: this is a necessary but not a
    > sufficient condition. In addition, these
    > consciousnesses must be associated and combined, but
    > combined in a certain way. It is from this combination
    > that social life arises and consequentially it is this
    > combination which explains it. By aggregating
    > together, by interpenetrating, by fusing together,
    > individuals give birth to a being, psychical if you
    > will, but one which constitutes a psychical
    > individuality of a new kind." [ED]
    > It seems to me that we could look at Durkheim's
    > socifacts as having emergent properties as the above
    > passage is striving towards an emergentism of some
    > kind. It could be OTOH a holism that verges upon
    > vitalism, in which case run for the hills ;-)
    > Emile Durkheim. 1982. The Rules of Sociological
    > Method. The Free Press. New York. trans. by WD Halls

    I've been very interested to read all your thoughts on Durkheim - especially since it's a few years now since I wrote that passage and hadn't really thought much about it since.

    My attention was caught by your questions about Durkheim's views on emergence, holism, etc. - it reminded me of John Steinbeck's phalanx theories, and bits of Arthur Koestler. As you say, there's always a fine line between theory and wild speculation in this area!


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