The Elementary Forms Of Religious Life By Emile Durkheim Essay

1480 Words Feb 4th, 2016 null Page
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Emile Durkheim filters the origins of religion--by Durkheim’s stand, the most primitive religion--through a scientific lens. By analyzing the cultural, societal habits of the Aborigines, Durkheim concludes the most primitive religion lies with totemism: a practice in which a kin group believes in a shared and sacred connection with another life form, like an animal or a plant. The research Durkheim conducts on totemism leads Durkheim to the ultimate conclusion that religion is in fact an entirely social phenomenon (p. 9).
From his conclusion that religion is a derivative of society, it can further be said that the Durkheim saw that the individual was formed by society, rather than society being formed by the individual: “And since all men of the same civilization conceive of space in the same manner, it is evidently necessary that these affective colorings and the distinctions that arise from them also be held in common--which implies almost necessarily that they are of social origin” (p. 11). However, can it truly be that straightforward? Are both religion and the individual simply symptomatic of society? Despite Durkheim’s insistence on the foundational origins of religion in society itself, there is a balance that exists between society and the individual. Seemingly, one cannot exist without the other. With that, Durkheim is only partially correct in his claims that society forms the individual. There is a cycle. Whether…

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