Analysis Of The Elementary Forms Of Religious Life By Durkheim

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In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim implies the existence of a strong similarity between the concept of religion and society, and by extension implies that there is a relationship between god and society. In Durkheim’s text, he writes, “If the totem is the symbol of both the god and the society, is this not because the god and the society are one in the same?” (Durkheim 208) Simply put, Durkheim is implying that, because both god and the society are revered, sacred entities, which draw both the utmost respect the society 's individuals, and posses a sort of “moral authority” (209) over the society itself, god and society are essentially one in the same; a relationship which, intern, manifests itself as a reality in the form …show more content…
In the aboriginal people Durkheim studied, the effects that “god” propagates are physically represented by totems, whereas at the same time these totems are “the symbol of a particular society.”(208) However, the physical form of the representation of the religion and society is irrelevant. For example, the cross represents both Christians and the Christian religion, the totem represents both the clan and the totemistic religion, etc.. The intangible effects of the similarity that is society and god are represented physically by religious “forces” that “behave like real forces.”(192) Durkheim states that, “Religious forces are human forces, moral forces. Probably because collective feelings become conscious of themselves only by settling upon external objects.”(421) Hence, these forces stem from actions taken by individuals under their reverence for sacred items like totems, an emblem, a cross, a symbol etc. which represent concepts like god, and thereby, society. Hence these forces “bring about physical effects mechanically” (192) amongst individuals because they are bound by their respect of the sacred to follow “moral” rules dictated by society/god and to be influenced by interactions in their society, lest they wish to “receive a shock that has been compared with the effect of an electrical charge” by social “forces”. The relationship …show more content…
When this society collectively decides to create a symbolic representation of a religion, it intern creates a “sacred” object which tangible represents a sacred religion, or, in a vague sense a “sacred” god. Since this god exercises a moral authority or “force” over individuals in a society just as the society does, one can conclude that this relationship implies that both god and society are “one in the same”, and that the “moral forces” generated by this god and society tangible effect the individuals in the

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