Book Department – Sociology and Modern Social Problems
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Lichtenberger (James Pendleton), « Book Department – Sociology and Modern Social Problems. Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Pp. xi, 456. Price, $4.00. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1915. », The Annals of the American Academy (Philadelphia), 66-68, July 1916, p. 263
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1The author presents in this volume one of the most profound social studies of modern times. Because of its breadth and comprehensiveness, its thoroughgoing research, and its positive conclusions, it is destined to become a classic. Whether its theories are sound or not, it is a book to be reckoned with in all future discussions of this subject.
- 1 [« Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion », Durkheim 1915, Book 1, chap. 1, p. 26]
2Two, assumptions constitute the thesis of the work, viz.: First, Religion is founded in the nature of things. Were this not the case it would have encountered resistance over which it never could have triumphed. Second, Religion is something essentially social. “Religious representations are collective representations which express collective realities.”
- 2 [« Preliminary Questions », Durkheim 1915, Book 1, p. 21-97]
- 3 [« The Elementary Beliefs », Durkheim 1915, Book 2, p. 99-296]
- 4 [« Origin of the Idea of the Totemic Principle or Mana », Durkheim 1915, Book 2, chap. 7, p. 225]
- 5 [« Origin of the Idea of the Totemic Principle or Mana », Durkheim 1915, Book 2, chap. 7, p. 237]
- 6 [« The Principal Ritual Attitudes », Durkheim 1915, Book 3, p. 297-414]
3Part I is devoted to the statement of the problem and to an analysis of animism and naturism in which the author finds that these are not elementary but derivative forms of religious belief. Part II comprising nine chapters is entitled The Elementary Beliefs. This is a study of totemism. After an elaborate analysis of the forms and expressions of totemism, studied primarily among the Australian tribes but supplemented by a wider range of studies, and after a careful criticism of the theories of Frazer and others, he passes to an investigation of the origins of these beliefs. Here conclusion is reached that “the believer is not deceived when he believes in the existence of a moral power upon which he depends and from which he receives all that is best in himself.” This power exists, it is society. “Since religious force is nothing other than the collective force of the clan, and since this can be represented in the mind only in the form of the totem, the totemic emblem is like the visible body of the God.” Society is the existence outside ourselves, greater than ourselves, and into which we enter into communion. It is symbolized in the totem. Book III develops the principal ritual attitudes growing out and reacting upon these primitive beliefs. This is essentially a confirmation of the philosophic interpretation of the origin and development of religious beliefs on a social basis. It is an induction which sets a task for future investigators. It may be proved or disproved, but it cannot be ignored.
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Lichtenberger James Pendleton, « Book Department - Sociology and Modern Social Problems », The Annals of the American Academy (Philadelphia), 66-68, July 1916, p. 263.
James Pendleton Lichtenberger, « Book Department – Sociology and Modern Social Problems », Archives de sciences sociales des religions [En ligne], La première réception des Formes (1912-1917) (S. Baciocchi, F. Théron, eds.), II, mis en ligne le 01 mars 2013, consulté le 29 mars 2017. URL : http://assr.revues.org/24412Haut de page
Archives de sciences sociales des religionsHaut de page