Emile Durkheim

W. S. F. Pickering

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170214
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199892150 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Emile Durkheim

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  • Sociology of Religion
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Emile Durkheim founded his sociology enterprise on the equation that in order to understand social phenomena, the social must be explained in terms of the social. This becomes practically explicit in his study of suicide, where the tendency to suicide among particular groups is “explained” by other social facts, by reference to those who are unmarried, widowed, of a particular religious persuasion, and so on. The discomfiture in according a significant place to psychology within sociology is derived from Durkheim's acclaimed standpoint of being first and foremost a Cartesian. Durkheim held that all knowledge of experience is mentally mediated and is derived through the notion of representation. Peppered throughout much of Durkheim's study of religion are the terms “force” and “power.” This article examines the area of religion where, in Durkheim's thought, references to the emotional are assuredly to be found. It also discusses his views on delirium, religious experience, and effervescence.

Keywords: Emile Durkheim; psychology; sociology; suicide; Cartesianism; delirium; religious experience; effervescence; force; power

Article.  8465 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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