Durkheim and Weber on the Origins of Social Bearing of Religion

Topics: Religion, Sociology, Max Weber Pages: 5 (1981 words) Published: July 31, 2014
Emile Durkheim, famous French sociologist and philosopher, spent a lot of his years trying to identify why religion was so important to people around the world. After studying religion for many years, he published his first book on the subject which was titled The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. The book was written with the sole purpose of analyzing the concept of religion and why it is such a huge social phenomenon which affects the life of millions of people around the world every day. The fundamental reason behind why Durkheim decided to write a book was so that he could identify where religion originated from and what its functions are in the society. He was of the opinion that religion was a source of fellowship and unanimity. He also wanted to study different religions around the world which lie in different cultures. The reason why he wanted to do was because he aimed to identify how each religion differed from the other and if possible, what aspects or elements of religion had consistency with each other. His primary aim, therefore, was to establish certain empirical data over how some social aspects of religion are common throughout the world and how they even go so far as to surpass the concept of an Almighty God. In his book, Durkheim defined religion as being a unified set of beliefs and practices that share relations with sacred things. He also identified how some things in religion are set apart from others and are forbidden for its followers. It also includes the beliefs and practices that are shared by millions of other people who follow the same religion and speaks about how these beliefs and practices unite each of the many different people who follow the religion. Despite the fact that Durkheim went to great lengths to identify and explain the purpose of religion, there is one fundamental aspect of religion that he did not touch upon which includes references to the supernatural or the existence of God. He explained this by arguing the fact that the concept of God and supernatural things was fairly new and since science at the time was not so advanced, there were certain things that could not be rationally proved or explained. He said that for the early societies, anything that could not be rationally proved became something supernatural. Durkheim wrote at length about religions which give little or no importance to the existence of God which include Buddhism. He identified that in this religion, ensuring that the follower remains firm over the Four Noble Truths is something that is more important than any form of sin that they may become a part of. Durkheim worked with three concepts which included the concept of the sacred, beliefs and practices and the moral community. Emile Durkheim is ranked among a number of famous French philosophers who have studied the problems associated with losing faith in a religion. Important examples of this include times when the Jacobins annihilated Catholicism from France and tried to replace it with an artificial religion that revolved around the concept of reason. Durkheim made it a mission to identify how modern societies can maintain morality without the presence of religious sanctions. He has argued that religion is the glue that holds society together and it is something that guides every of its followers away from the lure of material things and instead have them focus on a common devotion to sacred things. It also provides cohesion by promoting a sense of belonging and collective consciousness. One of his goals was to identify the effects on society as to what would happen in the case where the fundamental core of religion was taken out. He identified that religion is something that does not only bind the individual but it is something that affects the community as a whole. Durkheim was interested in studying the communal activities and bonds that give rise to religious activities. He argued that a religious phenomenon occurs when something from the...
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