Durkheim Essay Questions

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And it is this regime that is closely related to the rise of modern nationalism, which may or may not shed its religious guise, but to which the churches in many ways remain oriented.

Taylor sees Durkheim, not incorrectly, as involved in a battle between surviving remnants of paleo-Durkheimianism, represented by the Catholic-royalist right wing in turn of the twentieth century France and expressed in the effort to prosecute Dreyfus, and oppose a neo-Durkheimian republicanism.

A social form is one in which religion is partially disembedded from the traditional social structure of kinship and village life but comes to serve as an expression of a larger social identity, namely the newly emerging nation state in the West.

The post-Westphalian regime of established churches—one realm, one church—is an example.

In his famous essay, “Individualism and the Intellectuals,” published at the height of the Dreyfus controversy, Durkheim speaks of the human person () as “sacred in the ritual sense of the word. It is a religion in which man is at once the worshipper and the god.” Durkheim goes on to say that “this religion is individualistic, since it takes man as its object and since man is an individual by definition. Is there not herein what is needed to place all men of good will in communion?

Durkheim Essay Questions

It partakes of the transcendent majesty that churches of all times lend to their gods. ” Now Taylor’s definition of post-Durkheimianism sees it as a kind of expressive individualism in which “there is no necessary embedding of our link to the sacred in any particular broader framework, whether ‘church’ or state.” Whether that is entirely the case I will want to question momentarily, but first we have to realize that for Durkheim, the religion of the individual or the religion of humanity was in an important, though ambiguous, sense, the religion of France.

Durkheim was engaged in a lifelong effort to give a quasi-religious basis to the France of the Third Republic, and to favor the disestablishment of the Catholic Church, and in so doing he surely fits Taylor’s neo-Durkheimian category. But then Taylor posits a social form in which radical individualism no longer relates to a social form.

Individuals are oriented to their own very diverse forms of spirituality and no longer think of their religion in terms of overarching social formations.

In speaking of God as the predominant idea that first organized our culture Delbanco is thinking primarily of the New England Puritans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Nation became the predominant idea from the time of the Revolutionary War until well into the twentieth century.


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