The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

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Oxford University Press, 2001 - Social Science - 358 pages
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In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), Emile Durkheim sets himself the task of discovering the enduring source of human social identity. He investigates what he considered to be the simplest form of documented religion - totemism among the Aborigines of Australia. For Durkheim, studying Aboriginal religion was a way 'to yield an understanding of the religious nature of man, by showing us an essential and permanent aspect of humanity'. The need and capacity of men and women to relate to one another socially lies at the heart of Durkheim's exploration, in which religion embodies the beliefs that shape our moral universe.
The Elementary Forms has been applauded and debated by sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, philosophers, and theologians, and continues to speak to new generations about the intriguing origin and nature of religion and society. This new, lightly abridged edition provides an excellent introduction to Durkheim's ideas.
 

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"religion is the soul of society" definition of religion - pg. xxi, 13, 46

Contents

A Definition of the Religious Phenomenon and of Religion
25
The Leading Conceptions of Elementary Religion
47
The Leading Conceptions of Elementary Religion
63
Totemism as Elementary Religion
76
Central Totemic Beliefs
87
Central Totemic Beliefs
101
Central Totemic Beliefs
109
Central Totemic Beliefs
121
The Notion of Soul
183
The Notion of Spirits and Gods
203
The Negative Cult and its Functions
221
The Positive Cult
243
The Positive Cult
261
The Positive Cult
276
Piacular Rites and the Ambiguity of the Notion of
289
Select List of Anthropologists and Ethnologists
344

The Origins of These Beliefs
140
The Origins of These Beliefs
153

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About the author (2001)


Carol Cosman has translated works by Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Balzac and Yasmina Reza Mark Cladis is the author of A Communitarian Defense of Liberalim: Emile Durkheim and Contemporary Social Theory (Stanford, 1992) and editor of Durkheim and Foucault: Perspectives on Education and Punishment (1999).

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