Emile Durkheim's Theory Of Religion

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Recognition as an individual in today 's western world is one of the most targeted qualities of human existence. Both financial and social rewards come to those who create unique identities for themselves and work beyond the safety of crowds. It follows that as our culture praises those who act as their own persons that their opinions and behaviors toward the supernatural would begin to diverge from any one established group, and even those groups themselves are permeated by breaking and branching ideologies and practices. The entire concept of a religion as a fixed point has never truly applied to reality. This is especially true in the world we inhabit today, with each person able to custom order their faith, picking and mixing whatever parts …show more content…
Emile Durkheim theorized that every religion originated from a distinction between that which is sacred and that which is not, the profane. The distinction is clear and establishes what is or is not important, or how important something is, to one person or another. The lines of sacrality are more or less arbitrarily defined by any culture over time, never beginning at any specific point in history (Elementary Forms 20). Durkheim broke ground when he proposed that to study religion, one should study how people act, and why, not the validity of their claims or understandings. It stands quite clearly that one cannot prove if a set of beliefs are true or untrue with any strength, that is what makes them beliefs, so an academic approach is to ignore that which cannot be disputed and instead examine the tangible results of said faiths and practices. To the modern world, it may seem overly simplified to categorize what is sacred and what is profane, but totems, symbols and locations are used in nearly every kind of religious practice today, be it a large gathering at a church or one person 's collection of crystals. The split again ties back to the marketing of modern spirituality, that is one can choose what is important to their beliefs and define the sacred for themselves. What this does require, however, is that a belief have something that falls on each side of the line. There must be something sacred, and there must be something profane. Without this difference there is no worth to either side and so the theory imposes a certain structure on what religion is, particularly that things must have a worth at all, a requirement in the definition that cannot permeate all things that we might call

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