He has made “social facts” central in his methods. Stressed the Inseparable Relationship between Society and Individual: Durkheim’s discussions on “collective representations” and “collective conscience” throw light on the relationship between the individual and society. 21st Apr 2017 Finally, I will discuss some of the major critiques of his theoretical approach and argument. According to him, the group life is the generating force or source or cause of religion. With regards to his evidence for the most primitive form of religion (and his general belief that one could understand a complex phenomenon by finding and examining the phenomenon in its simplest form) is also quite questionable. The categories of knowledge are the most basic types of collective representations and are informed by the collection of individual representations. In this book he brings his analysis of collective or group forces to the study of religion. These theories suggest that man’s idea of the sacred is a “delirious interpretation” because there is nothing inherently sacred about man or nature (76). Essentially, a totem is a profane, ordinary object that has been deemed by society to have some holy, sacred characteristics. They participate in some group functions with emotional excitement and feel great ecstacy and elation of a kind which they would never feel alone. “Society, is real, to be sure, but so is the individual and the two, it should be remembered, is always in interaction. The most important feature of these tribes is their division into clans (88). The most elementary form must satisfy this definition. He made number of proposals for the improvement of the moral climate of his society. The unity and solidarity of the community is further increased by the rituals that are enacted on religious occasions. As a believer in scientific method he sought to deal chiefly with empirical data and to avoid value-judgements. Before publishing your Essay on this site, please read the following pages: 1. Emile Durkheim’S Book Elementary Forms Of Religious Life 1252 Words | 6 Pages. These categories establish the reality of society that is sui generis, or completely unique. As illustrated by the analyses of Clifford Geertz, one must note that it is difficult enough to interpret ethnographic findings when one is deeply immersed in the society. Before Durkheim, theoretical approaches to religion mainly focused on the individual and his understanding and philosophy of life or the interpretation of his reality (such as that of Otto, James or other phenomenologists). Man is unable to think without using the concepts he inherits from his society. Essential to Durkheims theory is the dichotomy between the sacred and profane and how the practices relating to his religious categories effect the social world. His account of the origins of religion could not be accepted by most of the modern sociologists. For instance, there are prohibitions on eating the totemic animal except during religious rituals. As described in Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, a totem is apparent in every society. VAT Registration No: 842417633. The second leading theory, apriorism, solves this problem by claiming man inherits the categories of knowledge from a divine reason existing prior to his experience (16). This misinterpretation generates the notion of souls that are part of a separate reality (61). Durkheim was a man of character. But his writings on various sociological topics provide relatively convincing answers to many problems in sociological theory. Emile Durkheim’s book Elementary Forms of Religious Life serves as a religious guide from the perspective of primitive societies by focusing on understanding the key principles of religion by studying these groups and drawing similarities to major ideologies based off of their key elements and rituals. 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