An introduction to the life of emile durkheim

His family was devoutly Jewish, and his father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all rabbis. He graduated in and began teaching the subject in France. In he was appointed to teach Social Sciences and Pedagogy at the University of Bordeaux, allowing him to teach the first ever official sociology courses in France. Also inDurkheim married Louise Dreyfus, with whom he would eventually have two children.

An introduction to the life of emile durkheim

Critical Remarks Durkheim's Two Problems Durkheim's primary purpose in The Elementary Forms was to describe and explain the most primitive 1 religion known to man.

Early Life. Émile Durkheim was born April 15, , to a family of rabbinical scholars living in the Vosges region of France. Although he broke with his Judaic heritage by becoming an agnostic, the ordered and respectable nature of his home life would have a lasting effect upon his attitudes and interests. A "general statement" "intended to develop a unified conceptual scheme for theory and research in the social sciences" was published by nine USA social scientists in Theory was to be based on a "theory of action" in which "the point of reference of all terms is the action of an individual actor or collective of actors". Among the works in which such a definition is entertained, Durkheim suggests, are Herbert Spencer's First Principles () and F. Max Muller's Introduction to the Science of Religion () and Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion ().

But if his interests thus bore some external similarity to those of the ethnographer or historian, his ultimate purpose went well beyond the reconstruction of an archaic culture for its own sake; on the contrary, as in The Division of Labor and Suicide, Durkheim's concern was ultimately both present and practical: How can the crude cults of the Australian aborigines tell us anything about religions far more advanced in value, dignity, and truth?

And if he insisted that they can, wasn't he suggesting that Christianity, for example, proceeds from the same primitive mentality as the Australian cults? These questions were important, for Durkheim recognized that scholars frequently focused on primitive religions in order to discredit their modern counterparts, and he rejected this "Voltairean" hostility to religion for two reasons.

First, alluding to the second chapter of The Rules, Durkheim insisted that such hostility was unscientific; it prejudges the results of the investigation, and renders its outcome suspect.

Second, and more important, he considered it unsociological; for it is an essential postulate of sociology that no human institution can rest on an error or a lie.

An introduction to the life of emile durkheim

If an institution is not based on "the nature of things," Durkheim insisted, it encounters a resistance in nature which destroys it; the very existence of primitive religions, therefore, assures us that An introduction to the life of emile durkheim "hold to reality and express it.

The reasons with which the faithful justify them may be, and generally are, erroneous; but the true reasons," Durkheim concluded, "do not cease to exist" and it is the duty of science to discover them. Briefly, he did so for three "methodological" reasons. First, Durkheim argued that we cannot understand more advanced religions except by analyzing the way they have been progressively constituted throughout history; for only by placing each of the constituent elements of modern religions in the context within which it emerged can we hope to discover the cause which gave rise to it.

Just as biological evolution has been differently conceived since the empirical discovery of monocellular beings, therefore, religious evolution is differently conceived depending upon what concrete system of belief and action is placed at its origin.

Second, Durkheim suggested that the scientific study of religion itself presupposed that the various religions we compare are all species of the same class, and thus possess certain elements in common: These are the permanent elements which constitute that which is permanent and human in religion; they form all the objective contents of the idea which is expressed when one speaks of religion in general.

That which is accessory or secondary All is reduced to that which is indispensable to that without which there could be no religion. But that which is indispensable is also that which is essential, that is to say, that which we must know before all else.

But if this simplicity of primitive religions helps us to understand its nature, it also helps us to understand its causes. In fact, as religious thought evolved through history, its initial causes became overlaid with a vast scheme of methodological and theological interpretation which made those origins virtually imperceptible.

The study of primitive religion, Durkheim thus suggested, is a new way of taking up the old problem of the "origin of religion" itself -- not in the sense of some specific point in time and space when religion began to exist no such point existsbut in the sense of discovering "the ever-present causes upon which the most essential forms of religious thought and practice depend.

At the base of all our judgments, Durkheim began, there are a certain number of ideas which philosophers since Aristotle have called "the categories of the understanding" -- time, space, class, number, cause, substance, personality, and so on.

They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought; this does not seem to be able to liberate itself from them without destroying itself, for it seems that we cannot think of objects that are not in time and space, which have no number, etc.

When primitive religious beliefs are analyzed, Durkheim observed, these "categories" are found, suggesting that they are the product of religious thought; but religious thought itself is composed of collective representations, the products of real social groups.

These observations suggested to Durkheim that the "problem of knowledge" might be posed in new, sociological terms.

Previous efforts to solve this problem, he began, represent one of two philosophical doctrines: The difficulty for the empirical thesis, Durkheim then observed, is that it deprives the categories of their most distinctive properties -- universality they are the most general concepts we have, are applicable to all that is real, and are independent of every particular object and necessity we literally cannot think without them ; for it is in the very nature of empirical data that they be both particular and contingent.

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The a priorist thesis, by contrast, has more respect for these properties of universality and necessity; but by asserting that the categories simply "inhere" in the nature of the intellect, it begs what is surely the most interesting and important question of all:Start studying Emile Durkheim.

Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Search. published Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, and his position became permanent and he renamed it the chair of education and sociology.


Introduction to The Rules of Sociological Method. “Social man is the masterpiece of existence.” ― Émile Durkheim (April 15, – November 15, ). David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. Along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, he formally established the academic discipline and and is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION THE AETIOLOGY OF SUICIDE ^HE range of Emile Durkheim's analysis of the interconnectedness of suicide with social and natural phenomena is so wide and varied. Questions on Sociology,Sociological Approach,Sociology Questions,Sociology Definition,Sociology Essay,History Of Sociology,Sociology Branch,Importance Of Sociology, Sociology Journal, Introduction To Sociology,Sociology Theory,Sociology Anthropology,Development Of Sociology,Meaning Of Sociology,Sociology Study,Sociology Terms,Sociology Of Knowledge, Sociology Resource,Intro To Sociology.

An introduction to the life of emile durkheim

Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work () [Excerpt from Robert Alun Jones. Emile Durkheim: An Introduction to Four Major Works. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., Pp. ] David Emile Durkheim was born on April 15, in Epinal, capital town of the department of Vosges, in Lorraine.

Slow Death and Overdoses Many people wonder if the use of alcohol and drugs is a way of committing suicide by "slow death." Most persons who abuse these substances are taking them chiefly as a kind of self-medication to reduce their stress.

Social Science Dictionary with a Durkheim bias