The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Durkheim (Emile), Cladis (Mark S.), Cosman (Carol)
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
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Cover Blurb

  1. ‘If religion generated everything that is essential in society, this is because the idea of society is the soul of religion.'
  2. In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), Emile Durkheim set himself the task of discovering the enduring source of human social identity. He investigated what he considered to be the simplest form of documented religion — totemism among the Aborigines of Australia. Aboriginal religion was an avenue '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 socially lies at the heart of Durkheim's exploration, in which religion embodies the beliefs that shape our moral universe.
  3. The Elementary Forms has been applauded and debated by sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, philosophers, and theologians, and continues to speak to new generations about the origin and nature of religion and society. This new, lightly abridged edition provides an excellent introduction to Durkheim's ideas.
  4. This Edition Includes: Introduction • Textual note • Bibliography Chronology • Map • Explanatory notes • Index
  5. Translated by Carol Cosman
  6. Abridged with an Introduction and Notes by Mark S. Cladis

    Introduction – vii
    Note on the Text – xxxvi
    Select Bibliography – xxxviii
    A Chronology of Emile Durkheim – xl
    Map – xlii—xliii
    Durkheim’s Introduction – 3
  1. A Definition of the Religious Phenomenon and of Religion – 25
  2. The Leading Conceptions of Elementary Religion
    I. Animism – 47
  3. The Leading Conceptions of Elementary Religion
    II. Naturism – 63
  4. Totemism as Elementary Religion
    Historical Review of the Question. Method of Treating It – 76
  1. Central Totemic Beliefs
    I. The Totem as Name and Emblem – 87
  2. Central Totemic Beliefs
    II. The Totemic Animal and Man – 101
  3. Central Totemic Beliefs
    III. The Cosmological System of Totemism and the Notion of Genus – 109
  4. Central Totemic Beliefs
    IV. The Individual Totem and the Sexual Totem – 121
  5. The Origins of These Beliefs
    I. A Critical Examination of the Theories – 126
  6. The Origins of These Beliefs
    II. The Notion of the Totemic Principle or Mana, and the Idea of Force – 140
  7. The Origins of These Beliefs
    III. The Genesis of the Notion of the Totemic Principle or Mana – 153
  8. The Notion of Soul – 183
  9. The Notion of Spirits and Gods – 203
  1. The Negative Cult and its Functions
    Ascetic Rites – 221
  2. The Positive Cult
    I. The Elements of Sacrifice – 243
  3. The Positive Cult
    II. Mimetic Rites and the Principle of Causality1 – 261
  4. The Positive Cult
    III. Representative or Commemorative Rites – 276
  5. Piacular Rites and the Ambiguity of the Notion of the Sacred – 289
    Conclusion – 310
    Appendix: Select List of Anthropologists and Ethnologists who Informed Durkheim's Work – 344
    Explanatory Notes – 345
    Index – 351


Quoted by Simon Blackburn in Click here for Note

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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