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

The Origins of These Beliefs
6
A Definition of the Religious Phenomenon and of Religion
25
The Leading Conceptions of Elementary Religion
47
Totemism as Elementary Religion
76
Central Totemic Beliefs
87
The Totemic Animal and Man
101
Genus
109
The Individual Totem and the Sexual Totem
121
The Notion of Spirits and Gods
203
The Negative Cult and its Functions
221
The Elements of Sacrifice
243
Mimetic Rites and the Principle of Causality
261
Representative or Commemorative Rites
276
Piacular Rites and the Ambiguity of the Notion of
289
Conclusion
310
Select List of Anthropologists and Ethnologists
344

The Genesis of the Notion of the Totemic Principle or Mana
153
The Notion of Soul
183

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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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