Dualism of Human Nature

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The Dualism of Human Nature and Its Social Conditions- Emile Durkheim

According to Durkheim’s work The Dualism of Human Nature and Its Social Conditions (DHN), a man has a dual nature which is made up of the body (individual) and the soul (social). He sheds light on this by citing post-Durkheim theories which he does not agree with and which do not solve the problem of this dual nature. Durkheim also uses The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (EFRL) to discuss the religious aspect of the body and soul. Upon reading, it is discovered that as society evolves, so does this “dual nature.”

In DHN, Durkheim argues that sociology must examine what an individual consists of because it is a result of the whole society. It is this society which determines an individuals’ temperament or being. “Although sociology is defined as the science of societies, it cannot, in reality, deal with the human groups that are the immediate object of its investigation without eventually touching on the individual who is the basic element of which these groups are composed” (p.1)

In EFRL, Durkheim states that from a religious aspect, human nature is composed of two conflicting beings, although “closely associated”: body- worldly and wicked/irreligious, and the soul- holy, “autonomous” upon “death.” It is then that we introduced to the concept that man has a dual nature, a sentiment confirmed through psychology. We are also introduced to the idea that there are two states of consciousness in our human nature that are at odds just as the body and the soul- social and individual. In DHN, Durkheim agrees with the opposing ideas of the body and the soul. He believes it is the role of science to explain this opposition. There were two theories that try and explain this dual nature: (1) Empirical monism- social principles or perceptions that are grouped together, are similar in nature, yet are individual, meaning these ideas are just a cover for self-interests, which actually have...
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