Durkheim The Division Of Labor In Society Clark University Classical Sociological Theory Summary Essay

749 words - 3 pages

Zoe Wright
Prof. Delehanty
Classical Sociological Theory
October 10, 2018
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life- Durkheim
Durkheim opens his writing, “The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life” by taking on
a historical lense through which to examine religion. In order to understand the basic tenets of
modern religion, one must go back and observe religion, and society at its most primitive form.
When looking at religion, it becomes difficult to distinguish the central rituals of one religion
from those which are less important. This becomes especially difficult due to the subjective
nature through which religion is often studied. “Lower societies,” as Durkheim refers to them,
come in handy here. Because of the lessened diversity and “intellectual and moral conformity”
displayed within more primitive societies, we see religion displayed in its most true form, before
moral dialogues between divergent sets of though have had the chance to refine or transform
From here, Durkheim focuses on two sets of theories surrounding society and knowledge.
The first, apriorist theory, relies on the idea that our basis of knowledge and thought consists of
two elements, which rely on but cannot be “reduced into one another”. Essentially, man and
society are tied together, and both an individual being and a social being lives within men. The
individual being consists of strictly limited ideas, while the social “represents the highest reality
in the intellectual and moral order”. Durkheim argues through the apriorist theory, that society
allows for a higher level of thought than man could achieve on his own. This leads us to ideas,
which are agreed upon by society without necessitating proof. We must agree on ideas, or social
constructs, if you will, such as time, in order to exist as a society. We need to play into socially
constructed ideas both in order to be judged by others within society as “really human,” but also
to satisfy the bit of society “represented inside of us,” made up by the ideas which we have
internalized. Durkheim argues that since these ideas are “made merely to express social
conditions,” they create our own human reality, and cannot be applied to other realities, such as
that of animals or nature. Our reality, since it is clearly the most evolved,...

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