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Extracts from Emile Durkheim

Durkheim 1893 The Division of Labour in Society.
Translated into English by George Simpson in 1933.

Durkheim 1895 Rules of Sociological Method timeline

Durkheim 1897 Suicide
Translated into English in 1952.

Durkheim 1912 The Elementary Forms of Religious Life timeline

Durkheim, E. 1914a The Dualism of Human Nature timeline

Durkheim, E. 1914/1955 Pragmatism and Sociology timeline

Durkheim, E. 1918/1960 Rousseau's Social Contract
[Lectures from 1901-1902]

Durkheim 1925a Moral Education
[Lectures from 1902-1903, repeated 1906-1907

Durkheim 1893 The Division of Labour in Society

Translated into English by George Simpson in 1933.

Preface to the first edition

Division of Labour page 37:

At the same time, we must renounce the method too often followed by sociologists who, to prove their thesis, are content with citing without order and haphazardly a more or less impressive number of favourable facts, paying no attention to contradictory facts. We have insisted upon true experiences, that is to say, methodical comparisons. Nevertheless, no matter what precautions we take, it is quite certain that such attempts can only be very imperfect as yet; but as defective as they may be, they must be attempted. There is, indeed, only one way of establishing a science and that is by attempting it, but with method. Surely the attempt is impossible if there be a question as to the primary materials. But, on the other hand, it is a vain delusion to believe that the best way to prepare for the advent of a science is first to accumulate patiently all the materials it will use, for one can know what these needed materials are only if there is already some presentiment of its essence and its needs, consequently if it exists.

This work had its origins in the question of the relation of the individual to social solidarity. Why does the individual while becoming more autonomous, depend more upon society? How can he be at once more individual and more solidary?

W.D. Halls's translation (1984, "The question that has been the starting point for our study has been that of the connection between the individual personality and social solidarity. How does it come about that the individual, whilst becoming more autonomous, depends ever more closely upon society?"

Certainly, these two movements, contradictory as they appear, develop in parallel fashion. This is the problem we are raising. It appeared to us that what resolves this apparent antinomy is [p.38] a transformation of social solidarity due to the steadily growing development of the division of labour. That is how we have been led to make this the object of our study. (1)

(1) The question of social solidarity has already been studied in the second part of Marion's book Solidarité moral. But Marion has considered the problem from another angle; he is especially interested in establishing the reality of the phenomenon of solidarity

The Problem:

Division of Labour page 39

The division of labour is not of recent origin, but it was only at the end of the eighteenth century [See Adam Smith, 1776] that social cognizance was taken of the principle. though, until then, unwitting submission had been rendered to it. To be sure, several thinkers from earliest times saw its importance; (1) but Adam Smith was the first to attempt a theory of it. Moreover, he adopted this phrase that social science later lent to biology.

(1) Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, E. 1133a, 16

Nowadays, the phenomenon has developed so generally it is obvious to all. We need have no further illusions about the tendencies of modern industry - Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill still hoped that agriculture, at least, would be an exception to the rule, and they saw it as the last resort of small-scale industry. Although one must be careful not to generalise unduly in such matters, nevertheless it is hard to deny today that the principal branches of agricultural industry are steadily being drawn into the general movement. (2)

Division of Labour page 40:

But the division of labour is not peculiar to the economic world; we can observe its growing influence in the most varied fields of society. The political, administrative, and judicial functions are growing more and more specialised. It is the same with the aesthetic and scientific functions. It is long since philosophy reigned as the science unique; it has been broken into a multitude of special disciplines each of which has its object, method and thought. "Men working in the science have become increasingly more specialised" (3)

Division of Labour page 45:

Our work... will be divided into three principal parts:    BOOK:
To determine the function of the division of labour, that is to say, what social need it satisfies. ONE
To determine, then, the causes and conditions on which it is dependent. TWO
Finally... we shall try to classify the principle abnormal forms it presents... THREE

Book One: The Function of the Division of Labour

Book 1 Chapter One: The Method for Determining This Function

    Meaning of the word function

    1. The function of the division of labour is not to produce civilisation

    2. Cases where the function of the division of labour is to bring forth groups which would not exist without it. Whence the hypothesis that it plays the same role in higher societies; that it is the principle source of their cohesion.

    3. To verify this hypothesis, we must compare the social solidarity which has this source with other types of solidarity, and accordingly classify them. Necessity of studying solidarity through the system of juridical rules; there are as many classes of juridical rules as there are forms of solidarity. Classification of juridical rules: rules with a repressive sanction; rules with a restitutive sanction.

Division of Labour page 49:

... we speak of the function of digestion, of respiration, etc; but we also say that digestion has as its function the incorporation into the organism of liquid or solid substances designed to replenish its loses, that respiration has for its function the introduction of necessary gases into the tissues of an animal for the sustainment of life, etc. It is in the second sense that we shall use the term.

To ask what the function of the division of labour is, is to seek for the need which it supplies. When we have answered this question, we shall be able to see if this need is of the same sort as those to which other rules of conduct respond whose moral character is agreed upon.

Division of Labour page 50:


Nothing seems easier to determine, at first glance, than the role of the division of labour ... Since it combines both the productive power and the ability of the workman, it is a necessary condition of development in societies, both intellectual and material development. It is the source of civilisation.

Division of Labour page 51:

... if we analyse this badly defined complex called civilisation, we find that the elements of which it is composed are bereft of any moral character whatever.

It is particularly true of the economic activity which always accompanies civilisation. Far from serving moral progress, it is in the great industrial centres that crimes and suicides are most numerous....
The case is even stronger with art, which is absolutely refractory to all that resembles an obligation, for it is the domain of liberty...

Division of Labour page 52:

Of all the elements of civilisation, science is the only one, which, under certain conditions, presents a moral character. That is societies are tending more and more to look upon it as a duty for the individual to develop his intelligence by learning the scientific truths that have been established.

Division of Labour page 53:

ethics... consists of all the rules of action which are imperatively imposed upon conduct, to which a sanction is attached, but no more. Consequently, since there is nothing in civilisation which presents this moral criterion, civilisation is morally indifferent.

Division of Labour page 54:

All this leads us to seek some other function for the division of labour.

Everybody knows that we like those who resemble us, those who think and feel as we do. But the opposite is no less true. It very often happens that we feel kindly towards those who do not resemble us, precisely because of this lack of resemblance.

Division of Labour page 55:

Only certain kinds of differences attract each other. They are those which, instead of opposing and excluding, complement each other.

Division of Labour page 56:

small friendly associations are formed wherein each one plays a role conformable to his character, where there is a true exchange of services. One urges on, another consoles; this one advises, that one follows the advice, and it is this apportionment of functions or, to use the usual expression, this division of labour, which determines the relations of friendship.

We are thus led to consider the division of labour in a new light. In this instance, the economic services that it can render are picayune [insignificant] compared to the moral effect that it produces, and its true function is to create in two or more persons a feeling of solidarity...

The history of conjugal society offers us an even more striking example of the same phenomena.

Without doubt, sexual attraction does not come about except between individuals of the same type, and love generally asks a certain harmony of thought and sentiment

It is not less true that what gives to this relationship its peculiar character, and what causes its particular energy, is not the resemblance, but the difference in the natures which it unites. Precisely because men and women are different, they seek each other passionately.

... it is not a contrast pure and simple which brings about reciprocal feelings. Only those differences which require each other for their mutual fruition can have this quality.

In short, man and woman isolated from each other are only different parts of the same concrete universal which they reform when they unite In other words, the sexual division of labour is the source of conjugal solidarity, and that is why psychologists have very justly seen in the separation of the sexes an event of tremendous importance in the evolution of emotions. It has made possible perhaps the strongest of all unselfish inclinations.

Division of Labour page 59:

... in a given society, the totality of juridical rules which constitute marriage only symbolises the state of conjugal solidarity. If this is very strong, the ties which bind the married people are numerous and complex, and, consequently, the matrimonial set of rules whose object is to define these ties is itself very highly developed. If, on the contrary, conjugal society lacks cohesion, if the relations between man and woman are unstable and intermittent, they cannot take a very determinate form, and, consequently, marriage is reduced to a small number of rules without rigour or precision. The state of marriage in societies where the two sexes are only weakly differentiated thus evinces conjugal solidarity which is itself very weak.

Book 1 Chapter Two: Mechanical Solidarity Through Likeness Section 1

  • A crime offends sentiments which are found among all normal individuals of any given society
  • These sentiments are strong;
  • they are defined

    A crime is, then, an act which offends strong and defined states of the collective conscience.

Division of Labour page 70:

The link of social solidarity to which repressive law corresponds is the one whose break constitutes a crime. By this name we call every act which, in any degree whatever, invokes against its author the characteristic reaction which we term punishment. To seek the nature of this link is to inquire into the cause of punishment, or, more precisely, to inquire what crime essentially consists of.

above also translated Giddens 1972 p.123

Surely there are crimes of different kinds; but among all these kinds, there is, no less surely, a common element. The proof of this is that the reaction which crimes call forth from society, in respect of punishment, is, save for differences of degree, always and ever the same. The unity of effect shows the unity of the cause. Not only among the types of crime provided for legally in the same society, but even among those which have been or are recognized and punished in different social systems, essential resemblances assuredly exist. As different as they appear at first glance, they must have a common foundation, for they everywhere affect the moral conscience of nations in the same way and produce the same result. They are all crimes; that is to say, acts reprised by definite punishments. The essential properties of a thing are those which one observes universally wherever that thing exists and which pertain to it alone. If, then, we wish to know what crime essentially is, we must extract the elements of crimes which are found similar in all criminological varieties in different social systems. None must be neglected. The juridical conceptions of the most (p. 71) inferior societies are no less significant than those of the most elevated societies; they are not less instructive. To omit any would expose us to the error of finding the essence of crime where it is not...

The method of finding this permanent and pervasive element is surely not by enumerating the acts that at all times and in every place have been termed crimes, observing, thus, the characters that they present. For if, as it may be, they are actions which have universally been regarded as criminal, they are the smallest minority, and, consequently, such a method would give us a very mistaken notion, since it would be applied only to exceptions. 1

These variations of repressive law prove at the same time that the constant characteristic could not be found among the intrinsic properties of acts imposed or prohibited by penal rules, since they present such diversity, but rather in the relations that they sustain with some condition external to them.

It has been thought that this relation is found in a sort of antagonism between these actions and great social interests, and (p. 72) it has been said that penal rules announce the fundamental conditions of collective life for each social type. Their authority thus derives from their necessity. Moreover, as these necessities vary with societies, the variability of repressive law would thus be explained. But we have already made ourselves explicit on this point. Besides the fact that such a theory accords too large a part in the direction of social evolution to calculation and reflection, there are many acts which have been and still are regarded as criminal without in themselves being harmful to society. What social danger is there in touching a tabooed object, an impure animal or man, in letting the sacred fire die down, in eating certain meats, in failure to make the traditional sacrifice over the graves of parents, in not exactly pronouncing the ritual formula, in not celebrating certain holidays, etc.? We know, however, what a large place in the repressive law of many peoples ritual regimentation, etiquette, ceremonial, and religious practices play. We have only to open the Pentateuch to convince ourselves, and as these facts normally recur in certain social types, we cannot think of them as anomalies or pathological cases which we can rightly neglect.

Even when a criminal act is certainly harmful to society, it is not true that the amount of harm that it does is regularly related to the intensity of the repression which it calls forth. In the penal law of the most civilised people, murder is universally regarded as the greatest of crimes. However, an economic crisis, a stock-market crash, even a failure, can disorganize the social body more severely than an isolated homicide. No doubt murder is always an evil, but there is no proof that it is the greatest of evils. What is one man less to society? What does one lost cell matter to the organism? We say that the future general security would be menaced if the act remained unpunished; but if we compare the significance of the danger, real as it is, and that of the punishment, the disproportion is striking. Moreover, the examples we have just cited show that an act can be disastrous to society without incurring the least repression. This definition of crime is, then, completely inadequate.

Division of Labour page 73:

Shall we say, in modifying it, that criminal acts are those which seem harmful to the society that represses them, that penal rules express, not the conditions which are essential to social life, but those which appear such to the group which observes them? But such an explanation explains nothing, for it does not show why, in so large a number of cases, societies are mistaken and have imposed practices which by themselves were not even useful. Surely this pretended solution of the problem reduces itself to a veritable truism, for if societies thus oblige each individual to obey their rules, it is evidently because they believe, wrongly or rightly, that this regular and punctual obedience is indispensable to them. That is why they hold to it so doggedly. The solution then amounts to saying that societies judge these rules necessary because they judge them necessary. What we must find out is why they consider them so necessary. If this sentiment had its cause in the objective necessity of penal prescriptions, or, at least, in their utility, it would be an explanation. But that is contradicted by the facts; the question remains entirely unresolved.

However, this last theory is not without some foundation; it is with reason that it seeks in certain states of the subject the constitutive conditions of criminality. In effect, the only common characteristic of all crimes is that they consist - except some apparent exceptions with which we shall deal later - in acts universally disapproved of by all members of society...

...crime shocks sentiments which, for a given social system, are found in all healthy consciences.

It is not possible otherwise to determine the nature of these sentiments, to define them in terms of the function of their particular objects, for these objects have infinitely varied and can still (p.74) vary. (2)

{footnote 2, p.74: We do not see what scientific reason Garofalo has for saying that the moral sentiments actually acquired by the civilised part of humanity constitute a morality "not susceptible of loss, but of a continually growing development" (p.9). What permits him thus to limit the changes that will come about in one sense or another?

Today, there are altruistic sentiments which present this character most markedly; but there was a time, not far distant from ours, when religious, domestic, and a thousand other traditional sentiments had exactly the same effects. Even now, negative sympathy for another does not, as Garafalo wishes, alone produce this result. Do we not have the same aversion, in times of peace, for the man who betrays his country as for the robber or the murderer? In a country where monarchical sentiment is still strong, do crimes against lèse-majesté not call forth general indignation? In democratic countries, are injuries to the people not inveighed against? We can not thus draw up a list of sentiments whose violation constitutes a crime; they distinguish themselves from others only by this trait, that they are common to the average mass of individuals of the same society. So the rules which prohibit these acts and which penal law sanctions are the only ones to which the famous juridical axiom ignorance of the law is no excuse is applied without fiction. As they are graven in all consciences, everybody knows them and feels that they are well founded. It is at least true of the normal state. If we come upon adults who do not know these fundamental rules or do not recognize their authority, such ignorance or insubmissiveness is an undeniable sign of pathological perversion. Or, if it happens that a penal disposition exists for a long time although opposed by all, it is because of very exceptional circumstances, consequently, abnormal; and such a state of affairs can never long endure.

This explains the particular manner in which penal law is codified. Every written law has a double object: to prescribe certain obligations, and to define the sanctions which are attached to them. In civil law, and more generally in every type of law with restitutive sanctions, the legislator takes up and (p. 75) solves the two questions separately. He first determines the obligation with all possible precision, and it is only later that he stipulates the manner in which it should be sanctioned. For example, in the chapter of the French civil code which is devoted to the respective duties of married persons, the rights and obligations are announced in a positive manner; but no mention is made of what happens when these duties are violated by one or the other. We must go otherwheres to find this sanction. Sometimes it is totally lacking. Thus, article 214 of the civil code orders the wife to live with her husband; we deduce from that that the husband can force her to remain in the conjugal domicile, but this sanction is nowhere formally indicated. Penal law, on the contrary, sets forth only sanctions, but says nothing of the obligations to which they correspond. It does not command respect for the life of another, but kills the assassin. It does not say, first off, as does civil law: Here is the duty; but rather, Here is the punishment. No doubt, if the action is punished, it is because it is contrary to an obligatory rule, but this rule is not expressly formulated. There can be only one reason for this, which is that the rule is known and accepted by everybody. When a law of custom becomes written and is codified, it is because questions of litigation demand a more definite solution. If the custom continues to function silently, without raising any discussion or difficulties, there is no reason for transforming it. Since penal law is codified only to establish a graduated scale of punishments, it is thus the scale alone which can lend itself to doubt. Inversely, if rules whose violation is punished do not need a juridical expression, it is because they are the object of no contest, because everybody feels their authority.

Division of Labour page 77

But we have not defined crime when we say that it consists in an offense to collective sentiments, for there are some among these which can be offended without there being a crime. Thus, incest is the object of quite general aversion, and yet it is an act that is only immoral. It is in like case with the reflections upon a woman's honor accruing from promiscuous intercourse outside of marriage, from the fact of total alienation of her liberty at another's hands, or of accepting such alienation from another. The collective sentiments to which crime corresponds must, therefore. singularise themselves from others by some distinctive; property; they must have a certain average intensity. Not only are they engraven in all consciences, but they are strongly engraven. They are not hesitant and superficial (p. 78) desires, but emotions and tendencies which are strongly ingrained in us. The proof of this is the extreme slowness with which penal law evolves. Not only is it modified more slowly than custom, but it is the part of positive most refractory to change. Observe, for example, what has been accomplished in legislation since the beginning of the nineteenth century in the different spheres of juridical life; the innovations in the matter of penal law are extremely rare and restricted compared to the multitude of new dispositions introduced into the civil law, commercial law, administrative law, and constitutional law.

Division of Labour page 79

It is not sufficient... that the sentiments be strong; they must be precise. In effect, each of them is relatively to a very definite practice. This practice can be simple or complex, positive or negative...but it is always determined. It is a question of doing or not doing this or that, of not killing, not wounding, of pronouncing such a formula, of going through such a rite, etc. On the contrary, sentiments such as filial love or charity are vague aspirations towards very general objects. So penal laws are remarkable for their neatness and precision, while purely moral rules are generally somewhat nebulous.

Division of Labour pages 79-80:

We are now in a position to come to a conclusion.

The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society forms a determinate system which has its own life; one may call it the collective or common conscience. No doubt, it has not a specific organ as a substratum; it is, by definition, diffuse in every reach of society. Nevertheless, it has specific characteristics which make it a distinct reality. It is, in effect, independent of the particular conditions in which individuals are placed; they pass on and it remains.. Moreover, it does not change with each generation, but, on the contrary, it connects successive generations with one another. It is thus an entirely different thing from particular consciences, although it can be realised only through them.

Division of Labour pages 80-82: act is criminal when it offends strong and defined states of the collective conscience.

{footnote: We shall not consider the question whether the collective conscience is a conscience as that of the individual. By this term, we simply signify the totality of social likenesses, without prejudging the category by which this system of phenomena ought to be defined.


[ p. 81] ... we must not say that an action shocks the common conscience because it is criminal, but rather that it is criminal because it shocks the common conscience. We do not reprove it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we reprove it

As for the intrinsic nature of these sentiments, it is impossible to specify them. They have the most diverse objects and cannot be encompassed in a single formula. We can say that they relate neither to vital interests of society nor to a minimum of justice. All these definitions are inadequate.

By this alone can we recognise it: a sentiment, whatever its origin and end, is found in all consciences with a certain degree of force and precision [ p. 82], and every action which violates it is a crime.

above also translated Giddens 1972 p.123

Division of Labour page 85:

Book 1 Chapter Two: Mechanical Solidarity Through Likeness Section 2

characteristics of punishment... :

    1) punishment is a passionate reaction of graduated intensity;

    2) this passionate reaction emanates from society...

    3) this reaction is enforced through the intermediary of a constituted body

In the first place, punishment consists of a passionate reaction. This character is especially apparent in less cultivated societies. In effect, primitive people punish for the sake of punishing, [ p. 86] make the culpable suffer for the sake of making him suffer and without seeking any advantage for themselves from the suffering which they impose. The proof of this is that they seek neither to strike back justly nor to strike back usefully, but merely to strike back. It is thus that they punish animals which have committed a wrong act, or even inanimate beings which have been its passive instrument.


But today, it is said, punishment has changed its character; it is no longer to avenge itself that society punishes, it is to defend itself. The pain which it inflicts is in its hands no longer anything but a methodical means of protection. It punishes, not because chastisement offers it any satisfaction for itself, but so that the fear of punishment may paralyse those who contemplate evil. This is no longer choler, but a reflected provision which determines repression. The preceding observations could not then be made general; they would deal only with the [ p. 87] primitive form of punishment and would not extend to the existing form.


Between the punishment of today and yesterday, there is no chasm, and consequently it was not necessary fro the latter to become something other than itself to accommodate itself to the role that it plays in our civilised societies.

The whole difference derives from the fact that it [ p. 88] now produces its effects with a much greater understanding of what it does. But... The internal structure of phenomena remains the same... We thus reach the conclusion that the essential elements of punishment are the same as of old.

And in truth, punishment has remained, at least in part, a work of vengeance. It is said that we do not make the culpable suffer in order to make him suffer; it is none the less true that we find it just that he suffer. Perhaps we are wrong, but that is not the question. We seek, at the moment, to define punishment as it is or has been, not as it ought to be. It is certain that this expression of public vindication which finds its way again and again into the language of the courts is not a word taken in vain. In supposing that punishment can really serve to protect us in the future, we think that it ought to be above all an expiation of the past. The proof of this lies in the minute precautions we take to proportion punishment as exactly as possible to the severity of the crime; they would be inexplicable if we did not believe that the culpable ought to suffer because he has done evil and in the same degree. In effect, this gradation is not necessary if punishment is only a means of defense. No doubt, there would be danger for society in having the gravest acts considered simple delicts; but it would be greater, in the majority of cases, if the second were considered as the first. Against an enemy, we cannot take too much precaution. Shall we say that the authors of the smallest misdeeds have natures less perverse, and that to neutralize their evil instincts less stringent punishments will suffice? But if their motives are less vicious, they are not on that account less intense. Robbers are as strongly inclined to rob as murderers are to murder; the resistance offered by the former is not less than that of the latter, and consequently, to control it, we would have recourse to the same means. If, as has been said, it was solely a question of putting down a noxious force by an opposing [ p. 89] force, the intensity of the second would be measured solely by the intensity of the first, without the quality of the latter entering into the consideration. The penal scale would then encompass only a small number of degrees. Punishment would vary only as the criminal is more or less hardened, and not according to the nature of the criminal act. An incorrigible robber would be treated as an incorrigible murderer. But, in fact, if it were shown that a misdoer was definitely incurable, we would feel bound not to chastise him unduly. This is proof that we are faithful to the principle of retaliation, although we apply it in a more elevated sense than heretofore. We no longer measure in so material and gross a manner either the extent of the deed or of the punishment; but we always think that there ought to be an equation between the two terms, whether or not we benefit from this balance. Punishment, thus, remains for us what it was for our fathers. It is still an act of vengeance since it is an expiation. What we avenge, what the criminal expiates, is the outrage to morality.

There is, indeed, a punishment where this passionate character is more manifest than elsewhere. It is the disgrace which doubles the majority of punishments and which grows with them. Very often it serves no purpose. What good is it to disgrace a man who ought no longer to live in a society of his peers and who has superabundantly proved by his conduct that the most redoubtable threats are not sufficient to intimidate him? Disgrace is called upon when there is no other punishment, or as complement to a quite feeble material punishment. In the latter case it metes out double punishment. We can even say that society has recourse to legal chastisement only when the others are insufficient; but then why maintain them? They are a sort of supplementary, aimless aid, and can have no other cause for being other than the need of compensating evil with evil. It is a product of instinctive, irresistible sentiments, which often extend to the innocent. It is thus that the place of crime, the instruments which have served it, the relatives of [ p. 90] the culpable, sometimes participate in the opprobrium in which the criminal is involved. But the causes which determine this diffuse repression are the same as those of the organized repression which accompany the former. It is sufficient, moreover, to see how punishment functions in courts, in order to understand that its spirit is completely passionate, for it is to these passions that both prosecutor and defense-attorney address themselves. The latter seeks to excite sympathy for the defendant, the former to awaken the social sentiments which have been violated by the criminal act, and it is under the influence of these contrary passions that the judge pronounces sentence.

Thus, the nature of punishment has not been changed in essentials. All that we can say is that the need of vengeance is better directed today than heretofore. The spirit of foresight which has been aroused no longer leaves the field so free for the blind action of passion. It contains it within certain limits; it is opposed to absurd violence, to unreasonable ravaging. More clarified, it expands less on chance. One no longer sees it turn against the innocent to satisfy itself. But it nevertheless remains the soul of penality. We can thus say that punishment consists in a passionate reaction of graduated intensity.

above also translated Giddens 1972 p.124

Division of Labour page 102:

Crime brings together upright consciences and concentrates them. We have only to notice what happens, particularly in a small town, when some moral scandal has just been committed. They stop each other on the street, they visit each other, they seek to come together to talk of the event and to wax indignant in common. From all the similar impressions which are exchanged, from all the temper that gets itself expressed, there emerges a unique temper, more or less determinate according to the circumstances, which is everybody's without being anybody's in particular. That is the public temper.

above also translated Giddens 1972 p.127

Division of Labour page 105:

Thus, the analysis of punishment confirms our definition of crime [ETC}

above also translated Giddens 1972 p.128

Book 1 Chapter Three: Organic Solidarity Due to the Division of Labour

Division of Labour page 105

Everybody knows that there is a social cohesion whose cause lies in a certain conformity of all particular consciences to a common type which is none other than the psychic type of society.

There are in us two consciences: one contains states which are personal to each of us and which characterise us, while the states which comprehend the other are common to all society {footnote 44}

{footnote 44} To simplify the exposition, we hold that the individual appears only in one society. In fact, we take part in several groups and there are in us several collective consciences; but this complication changes nothing with regard to the relation that we are now establishing.

Division of Labour pages 128-129

This law definitely plays a role in society analogous to that played by the nervous system in the organism. The latter has as its task, in effect, the regulation of the different functions of the body in such a way as make them harmonise. It thus very naturally expresses the state of concentration at which the organism has arrived, in accordance with the division of physiological labour. Thus, on different levels of the animal scale, we can measure the degree of this concentration according to the development of the nervous system. Which is to say that we can equally measure the degree of concentration [p.129] at which society has arrived in accordance with the division of social labour according to the development of cooperative law with restitutive sanctions. We can foresee the great services that this criterion will render us.

Division of Labour page 129

There are in each of us, as we have said, two consciences: one of which is common to our group in its entirety, which, consequently, is not ourself, but society living and acting within us; the other, on the contrary, represents that in us which is personal and distinct, that which makes us an individual.

Division of Labour page 130

Solidarity which comes from likeness is at its maximum when the collective conscience completely envelops our whole conscience and coincides in all points with it...

... at the moment when this solidarity exercises its force, our personality vanishes ... for we are no longer ourselves, but the collective life.

The social molecules which can be coherent in this way can act together only in the measure that they have no actions of their own, as the molecules of inorganic bodies. That is why we propose to call this type of solidarity mechanical. The term does not signify that it is produced by mechanical and artificial means. We call it that only by analogy to the cohesion which unites the elements of an inanimate body, as opposed to that which makes a unity out of the elements of a living body...

Division of Labour page 131

It is quite otherwise with the solidarity which the division of labour produces. Whereas the previous type [mechanical solidarity] implies that individuals resemble each other, this type [organic solidarity] presumes their difference... each one has a sphere of action which is peculiar to him; that is, a personality... on the one hand, each one depends as much more strictly on society as labour is more divided; and, on the other, the activity of each is as much more personal as it is more specialised...

This solidarity resembles that which we observe among the higher animals. Each organ, in effect, has its special physiognomy, its autonomy. And, moreover, the unity of the organism is as great as the individuation of the parts is more marked. Because of his analogy, we propose to call the solidarity which is due to the division of labour, organic.

Division of Labour page 171

... the evolution of the common conscience... progresses less than individual consciences. In any case, it becomes feebler and vaguer in its entirety. The collective type loses its background, its forms become more abstract and more indecisive. No doubt, if this decadence were, as has often been believed, an original product of our most recent civilisation and a unique happening in the history of societies, we might ask if it will endure. But, in reality, it has pursued this course in an uninterrupted manner since the most distant times... Individualism, free thought, dates neither from our time, nor from 1789, nor from the Reformation, nor from scholasticism, nor from the decline of Greco-Latin polytheism or oriental theocracies. It is a phenomenon which begins in no certain part, but which develops without cessation all through history...

Division of Labour page 172

... This is not to say, however, that the common conscience is threatened with total disappearance. Only, it more and more comes to consist of very general and very indeterminate ways of thinking and feeling, which leave an open place for a growing multitude of individual differences. There is even a place where it is strengthened and made precise: that is the way in which it regards the individual. As all other beliefs and all the other practices take on a character less and less religious, the individual becomes the object of a sort of religion. We erect a cult in behalf of personal dignity which, as every strong cult, already has its superstitions.

Durkheim's Division of Labour was published in 1893. Maurice Barrès' Le culte du moi had been published between 1888 and 1891.

Book 1 Chapter Six: Progressive Preponderance of Organic Solidairy; Its Consequences (Continued)

1. Social structures correspond to these two types of solidarity. Segmental type; description; corresponds to mechanical solidarity. Its various forms

2. Organised type; its characteristics; corresponds to organic solidarity. Antagonism between these two types; the second develops proportionally to the effacement of the first. However, the segmental type does not completely disappear. More effaced form it assumes.

Division of Labour page 174

... it is an historical law that mechanical solidarity which first stands alone, or nearly so, progressively loses ground, and that organic solidarity becomes, little by little, preponderant. But when the way in which men are solidary becomes modified, the structure of societies cannot but change... Consequently... there ought to be two social types which correspond to these two types of solidarity

If we try to construct intellectually the ideal type of a society whose cohesion was exclusively the result of resemblances, we should have to conceive it as an absolutely homogenous mass whose parts are not distinguished from one another... We propose to call the aggregate thus characterised, horde

... we have not yet... observed societies which... complied with this definition. ...however, ... societies ... which are most akin to primitivity. are formed by a simple repetition of aggregates of this kind...

Division of Labour page 175

Each Iroquois tribe, for example, contains a certain number of partial societies ... which present all the characteristics we have just mentioned...

We give the name clan to the horde which has ceased to be independent by becoming an element in a more extensive group, and that of segmental societies with a clan base to peoples who are constituted through an association of clans. We say of these societies that they are segmental in order to indicate their formation by the repetition of like aggregates in them... and we say of this elementary aggregate that it is a clan, because this word... expresses its mixed nature, at once familial and political. It is a family in the sense that all the members who compose it are considered as kin to one another...

Division of Labour page 181

There is, then, a social structure of determined nature to which mechanical solidarity corresponds. What characterises it is a system of segments homogeneous and similar to each other.

homogeneous =of the same kind


Quite different is the structure of societies where organic solidarity is preponderent.

They are constituted not by a reptition of similar, homogeneous segments, but by a system of different organs each of which has a special role, and which are themselves formed of differentiated parts

Division of Labour page 183

The history of these two types shows, in effect, that one has progressed only as the other has retrogressed.

Among the Iroquois, the social constitution with a clan-base is in a state of purity, and the same is true of the Hebrews as we see them in the Pentateuch, except for a slight alteration [Not here] that we have just noted. Thus, the organised type exists neither in the first not the second, although we can perhaps see the first stirrings of it in Jewish society.

The case is no longer the same among the Franks in their Salic law.

Division of Labour page 184

... since the time of the Twelve Tables, the division of labour was much further advanced in Rome than among the preceding peoples and the organised structure more highly developed. There are already to be found there impotant corporations of functionaries (senators, equities, a pontifical college, etc), workmen's groups, at the same time that the notion of the lay state gets clear.

Book 1 Chapter Seven: Organic Solidarity and Contractual Solidarity

  • Distinction between organic solidarity and Spencer's industrial solidarity. The latter would be exclusively contractual; it would be free of all regulation. Instable character of such solidarity.

Division of Labour page 200

... in the industrial societies that Spencer speaks of... social harmony comes essentially from the division of labour. (Principles of Sociology, 3, pages 332 following). It is characterised by a cooperation which is automatically produced through the pursuit by each individual of his own interests. It suffices that each individual consecrate himself to a special function in order, by the force of events, to make himself solidary with others.

... for him, industrial solidarity, as he calls it, presents the two following characters:

Since it is spontaneous, it does not require any coercive force either to produce or to maintain it. Society does not have to intervene to assure the harmony which is self established... The sphere of social action would thus grow narrower and narrower, for it would have no other object than that of keeping individuals [p.201] from disturbing and harming one another...

The hypothesis of a social contract is irreconcilable with the notion of the division of labour... For in order for such a contract to be possible, it is necessary that, at a given moment, all individual wills direct themselves toward the common bases of the social orgaisation, and, consequently, that each particular conscience pose the political problem for itself in all its generality...

Nothing, however, less resembles the spontaneous automatic solidarity which, according to Spencer, distinguishes industrial societies, for he sees, on the contrary, in this conscious pursuit of social ends the characteristic of military societies.

Such a contract aupposes that all individuals are able to represent in themselves the general conditions of the collective life in order to make a choice with knowledge.

W.D. Halls's translation (1984, p.150): "that all individuals can represent to themselves what are the general conditions for collective life, so that they can make an informed choice."

Division of Labour page 202

[Spencer] believes that social life, just as all life in general, can naturally organise itself only by an unconscious, spontaneous adaptation under the immediate pressure of needs, and not according to a rational plan of reflective intelligence...

... the conception of a social contract is today difficult to defend, for it has no relation to the facts... Not only are there no societies which have such an origin, but there is none whose structure presents the least trace of contractual organisation...

... to rejuvenate the doctrine and accredit, it would be necessary to qualify as a contract the adhesion which each individual, as adult, gave to the society when he was born, solely by reason of which he continues to live. But then we would have to term contractual every action of man which is not determined by constraint. In this light, there is no society, neither present nor past, which is not or has not been contractual, for there is none that could exist solely through pressure.

If it has sometimes been thought that force was greater previously than it is today, that is because of the illusion which attributes to a coercive regime the small place given over to individual liberty in lower societies. In reality, social life, wherever it is normal, is spontaneous, [p.203] and if it is abnormal, it cannot endure.

... higher societies,,, have, according to Spencer, the vast system of particular contracts which link individuals as a unique basis... Social solidarity would then be nothing else than the spontaneous accord of individual interests, an accord of which contracts are the natural expression...

Is this the character of societies whose unity is produced by the division of labour? If this were so, we could with justice doubt their stability. For if interest relates men, it is never for more than some few moments. It can create only an external link between them...

Division of Labour page 204

There is nothing less constant than interest. Today, it unites me to you; tomorrow, it will make me your enemy. Such a cause can only give rise to transient relations and passing associations.

W.D. Halls's translation (1984, p.152): "Self - interest is, in fact, the least constant thing in the world. Today it is useful for me to unite with you; tomorrow the same reason will make me your enemy. Thus such a cause can give rise only to transitory links and associations of a fleeting kind."

Division of Labour page 226

The governmental organ is more or less considerable, not because the people are more or less passive, but rather because its growth is proportional to the progress of the division of labour, societies comprising more different organs the more intimately solidary they are.

[Summary of book one of Division of Labour

The following propositions sum up the first part of our work.

Social life comes from a double source, the likeness of consciences and the division of labour. The individual is socialised in the first case, because not having any real individuality, he becomes with those whom he resembles, part of the same collective type; in the second case, because, whilst having a physiognomy and personal activity which distinguishes him from others, he depends upon them in the same measure that he is distinguished from them, and consequently upon the same society which results from their union.

The similitude of consciences gives rise to juridical rules which, with the threat of repressive measure, imposes uniform beliefs and practices upon all....

The division of labour gives rise to juridical rules which determine the nature and the relations of divided functions, but whose violation calls forth only restitutive measures without any expiatory character...

Division of Labour page 227

... even where society relies most completely upon the division of labour, it does not become a jumble of juxtaposed atoms, between which it can establish only external, transient contacts. Rather the members are united by ties which extend deeper and far beyond the short moments during which the exchange is made. Each of the functions that they exercise is, in a fixed way, dependent on others, and with them forms a solidary system. Accordingly, from the nature of the chosen task permanent duties arise. Because we fill some certain domestic or social function, we are involved in a complex of obligations from which we have no right to free ourselves.

There is, above all, an organ upon which we are tending to depend more and more; this is the State. The points at which we are in contact with it multiply as do the occasions when it is entrusted with the duty of reminding us of the sentiment of common solidarity.

Division of Labour page 228

... altruism is not destined to become, as Spencer desires, a sort of agreeable ornament to social life, but it will forever be its fundamental basis...

Every society is a moral society. In certain respects, this character is even more pronounced in organised societies. Because the individual is not sufficient unto himself, it is from society that he receives everything necessary to him, as it is for society that he works.

Thus is formed a very strong sentiment of the state of dependence in which he finds himself. He becomes accustomed to estimating it at its just value, that is to say, in regarding himself as part of the whole, the organ of an organism.

Such sentiments naturally inspire not only mundane sacrifices which assure the regular development of daily social life, but even, on occasion, acts of complete self-renunciation and whole-sale abnegation.

On its side, society learns to regard its members no longer as things over which it has rights, but as co-operators whom it cannot neglect and towards whom it owes duties. Thus it is wrong to oppose a society which comes from a community of beliefs to one which has a co-operative basis, according only to the first a moral character, and seeing in the latter only an economic grouping. In reality, co-operation also has its intrinsic morality.

[plus more - that is not the end of the summary]

Book Two Causes and Conditions

Book 2 Chapter One: The Progress of the Division of Labour and of Happiness

  • According to the economists, the division of labour is caused by the need for increasing our happiness. This supposes that we really are becoming happier. Nothing is less certain.
  • Book 2 Chapter Two: The Causes, Section 4

    Division of Labour pages 275-277

    ... the division of labour can be effectual only among members of an already constituted society... when competition places isolated and estranged individuals in opposition it can only separate them more.

    [p.276] ... the division of labour unites at the same time that it opposes; it makes the activities it differentiates converge; it brings together those it separates. Since competition cannot have determined this conciliation, it must have existed before. The individuals among whom the struggle is waged must already be solidary and feel so. That is to say they must belong to the same society.

    To represent what the division of labour is suffices to make one understand that it cannot be otherwise. It consists in the sharing of functions up to that time common.

    But this sharing cannot be executed according to a preconceived plan. We cannot tell in advance where the line of demarcation between tasks will be found once they are separated, for it is not marked so evidently in the nature of things, but depends, on the contrary, upon a multitude of circumstances. The division of labour, then, must come about of itself and progressively.

    Consequently, under these conditions, for a function to be divided into two exactly complementary parts, as the nature of the division of labour demands, it is indispensable that the two specialising parts be in constant communication during all the time that this dissociation lasts. There is no other means for one to receive all the movement the other abandons, and which they adapt to each other.

    But in the same way that an animal colony whose members embody a continuity of tissue form one individual, every aggregate of individuals who are in continuous contact form a society.

    The division of labour can then be [p.277] produced only in the midst of a pre-existing society. By that, we do not mean to say simply that individuals must adhere materially, but it is still necessary that there be moral links between them.

    First, material continuity by itself produces links of this kind, provided it is durable. But, moreover, they are directly necessary. If the relations becoming established in the period of groping were not subject to any rule, if no power moderated the conflict of individual interests, there would be chaos from which no order could emerge.

    It is thought, it is true, that everything takes place through private conventions freely disputed. Thus it seems that all social action is absent. But this is to forget that contracts are possible only where a juridical regulation, and, consequently, a society, already exists.

    Hence, the claim sometimes advanced that in the division of labour lies the fundamental fact of all social life is wrong. Work is not divided among independent and already differentiated individuals who by uniting and associating bring together their different aptitudes. For it would be a miracle if differences thus born through chance circumstance could unite so perfectly as to form a coherent whole. Far from preceding collective life, they derive from it. That can be produced only in the midst of society, and under the pressure of social sentiments and social needs. That is what makes them essentially harmonious.

    There is, then, a social life outside the whole division of labour, but which the latter presupposes. That is, indeed, what we have directly established in showing that there are societies whose cohesion is essentially due to a community of beliefs and sentiments, and it is from these societies that those whose unity is assured by the division of labour have emerged.

    Division of Labour page 278

    For a number of theorists, it is self-evident that all society essentially consists of co-operation. Spencer (Principles of Sociology, 3, p.331) has said that a society in the scientific sense of the word exists only when to the juxtaposition of individuals cooperation is added. We have just seen that this so called axiom is contrary to the truth. Rather it is evident, as Auguste Comte points out,

    "that cooperation, far from having produced society, necessarily supposes as a preamble, its spontaneous existence"

    What bring men together are mechanical causes and impulsive forces, such as affinity of blood, attachment to the same soil, ancestral worship, community of habits etc. It is only when the group has been formed on these bases that cooperation is organised there.

    Further, the only cooperation possible in the beginning is so intermittent and feeble that social life, if it had no other source, would be without force and without continuity.

    ... the complex cooperation resulting from the divisions of labour... results from internal movements which are developed in the midst of the mass, when the latter [the mass] is constituted. It is true that once it appears it tightens the social bonds and makes more perfect individuality of society. But this integration supposes another which it replaces. For social units to be able to be differentiated, they must first be attracted or grouped by virtue of the resemblances they present.

    This process of formation is observed, not only originally, but in each phase of evolution. We know, indeed, that higher societies result from the union of lower societies of the same type. It is necessary first that these latter be mingled in the midst of the same identical collective conscience for the process of differentiation to begin or recommence.

    Division of Labour page 279

    Collective life is not born from individual life, but it is, on the contrary, the second which is born from the first. It is on this condition alone that one can explain how the personal individuality of social units has been able to be formed and [p.280] enlarged without disintegrating society

    Book Three: Abnormal Forms [of Division of Labour]

    Book 3 Chapter One: The Anomic Division of Labour, Section 1

    Abnormal forms where the division of labour does not produce solidarity. Necessity for studying them.

    1. Abnormal cases in economic life; industrial crises more frequent as labour is divided; antagonism of labour and capital. Likewise, the unit of science is lost as scientific labour becomes specialised.

    2. Theory which makes these effects inherent in the division of labour. According to Comte, the remedy consists in a great development of the governmental organ and in the institution of a philosophy of the sciences. Inability of the governmental organ to regulate the details of economic life; - of the philosophy of sciences to assure the unity of science.

    3. If, in these cases, functions do not concur, it is because their relations are not regulated; the division of labour is anomic. Necessity of regulation. How, normally, it comes from the division of labour. How it fails in the examples cited.

    This anomy arises from the solidary organs not being in sufficient contact or sufficiently prolonged. This contact is the normal state.

    When the division of labour is normal, it does not confine the individual in a task without giving him a glimpse of anything outside it.

    Division of Labour page 364

    Book 3 Chapter One: The Anomic Division of Labour, Section 3

    La division du travail anomique

    If, in certain cases, organic solidarity is not all it should be, it is certainly not because mechanical solidarity has lost ground, but because all the conditions for the existence of organic solidarity have not been realised.

    [p.365] ... For organic solidarity to exist, it is not enough that there be a system of organs necessary to one another, which in a general way feel solidary, but it is also necessary that the way in which they should come together, if not in every kind of meeting, at least in circumstances which most frequently occur, be predetermined. Otherwise, at every moment new conflicts would have to be equilibrated, for the conditions of equilibrium can be discovered only through gropings in the course of which one part treats the other as an adversary as much as an auxiliary. These conflicts would instantly crop out anew, and, consequently, solidarity would be scarcely more than a potential, if mutual obligations had to be fought over entirely anew in each particular instance.

    Of course, as precise as this regulation may be, it will always leave a place for many disturbances. But it is neither necessary nor even possible for social life to be without conflicts. The role of solidarity is not to suppress competition, but to moderate it.

    if [the division of labour] only brought together individuals who united for some few moments to exchange personal services, it could not give rise to any regulative action. But what it [p.366] brings face to face are functions, that is to say, ways of definite action, which are identically repeated in given circumstances, since they cling to general, constant conditions of social life.

    Today, there are no longer any rules which fix the number of economic enterprises, [p.367] and, in each branch of industry,production is not exactly related on a level with consumption...

    The relations of capital and labour have, up to the present, remained in the same state of juridicial indetermination....

    Methodological rules are for science what rules of law and custom are for conduct; they direct the thought of the scholar just as others govern the actions of man.

    Division of Labour page 368

    ... If the division of labour does not produce solidarity in all these cases, it is because the relations of the organs are not regulated, because they are in a state of anomy

    ... dans tous ces cas, si la division du travail ne produit pas la solidarité, c' est que les relations des organes ne sont pas réglementées ; c' est qu' elles sont dans un état d' anomie.

    But whence comes this state?

    Since a body of rules (un corps de règles) is the definite form which spontaneously established relations between social functions take in the course of time, we can say, a priori, that the state of anomy is impossible whenever solidary organs are sufficiently in contact or sufficiently prolonged. In effect, being contiguous, they are quickly warned, in each circumstance, of the need which they have of one another, and, consequently, they have a lively and continuous sentiment of their mutual dependence.

    But... if some opaque environment is interposed, then only stimuli of a certain intensity can be communicated from one [p.369] organ to another. Relations, being rare, are not repeated enough to be determined; each time there ensues new groping. The lines of passage taken by the streams of movement cannot deepen because the streams themselves are too intermittent. If some rules do come to constitute them, they are however, general and vague, for under these conditions it is only the most general contours of phenomena that can be fixed.

    Division of Labour page 370

    As the market extends, great industry appears. But it results in changing the relations of employers and employees. The great strain upon the nervous system and the contagious influence upon of great agglomerations increase the needs of the latter. Machines replace men; manufacturing replaces hand work. The worker is regimented,separated from his family throughout the day. He always lives apart from his employer, etc. Theses new conditions of industrial life naturally demand a new organisation, but as these changes have been accomplished with extreme rapidity, the interests in conflict have not yet had the time to be equilibrated.

    {footnote 26: Let us remember, however, that, as we shall see in the following chapter, this antagonism is not entirely due to the rapidity of these changes, but, in good part, to the still very great inequality of the external conditions of the struggle. On this factor, time has no influence.

    Book 3 Chapter Two: The Forced Division of Labour, Section 1

    1. The class-war. It comes from the individual's not being in harmony with his function, since it has been imposed on him by force. What constraint means: It is any type of inequality in the external conditions of life. It is true that there are no societies where theses inequalities are not met with. But they become fewer and fewer. The substitution of organic solidarity for mechanical solidarity makes this decline necessary.

    Division of Labour page 376

    The forced division of labour is, then, the second abnormal type that we meet. But the sense of the word "forced" must not be misunderstood. Constraint is not every kind of regulation, since, as we have just seen, the division of labour cannot do without regulation. Even when functions are divided in [p.377] accordance with pre-established rules, this apportioning is not necessarily the result of constraint. This is what takes place even under the rule of castes, in so far as that is founded in the nature of the society. This institution is never arbitrary throughout, but when it functions in a society in a regular fashion without resistance, it expresses, at least in the large, the immutable manner in which occupational aptitudes distribute themselves. That is why, although tasks are, in certain measure, divided by law, each organ executes its own automatically. Constraint only begins when regulation, no longer corresponding to the true nature of things, and, accordingly, no longer having any basis in customs, can only be validated through force.

    Inversely, we may say that the division of labour produces solidarity only if it is spontaneous and in proportion as it is spontaneous. But by spontaneity we must understand not simply the absence of all express violence, but also of everything that can even indirectly shackle the free unfolding of the social force that each carries in himself. It supposes, not only that individuals are not relegated to determinate functions by force, but also that no obstacle, of whatever nature, prevents than from occupying the place in the social framework which is compatible with their social faculties. In short, labour is divided spontaneously only if society is constituted in such a way that social inequalities exactly express natural inequalities.


    Division of Labour page 398

    The requirements of our subject have obliged us to classify moral rules (règles morales) and to review the principal types. We are thus in a better position than we were in the beginning to see, or at least to conjecture, not only upon the external sign, but also upon the internal character which is common to all of them and which can serve to define them. We have put them into two groups: rules with repressive sanctions, which may be diffuse or organised, and rules with restitutive sanctions. We have seen that the first of these express the conditions of the solidarity, sui generis, which comes from resemblances, and to which we have given the name mechanical; the second, the conditions of negative solidarity and organic solidarity. We can thus say that, in general, the characteristic of moral rules is that they enunciate the fundamental conditions of social solidarity. Law and morality are the totality of ties which bind each of us to society, which make a unitary, coherent aggregate of the mass of individuals. Everything which is a source of solidarity is moral, everything which forces man to take account of other men is moral, everything which forces him to regulate his conduct through something other than the striving of his ego is moral, and morality is as solid as these ties are numerous and strong. We can see how inexact it is to define it, as is often done, through liberty. It rather consists in a state of dependence. Far from serving to emancipate the individual, or disengaging him from the environment which surrounds him, it has, on the contrary, the function of making him an integral part of a whole, and, consequently, of depriving him of some liberty of movement.


    Division of Labour page 408

    It has been said with justice that morality - and by that must be understood not only moral doctrines, but customs - is going through a real crisis. What precedes can help us to understand the nature and causes of this sick condition. Profound changes have been produced in the structure of our societies in a very short time; they have been freed from the segmental type with a rapidity and in proportions such as never before been seen in history. Accordingly, the morality which corresponds to this social type has regressed, but without another developing quickly enough to fill the ground that the first left vacant in our consciences. Our faith has been troubled; tradition has lost its sway; individual judgement has been freed from collective judgement. But on the other hand, the functions which have been disrupted in the courses of the upheaval have not had the time to adjust themselves to one another; the new life which has emerged so suddenly has not (p.408) been able to be completely organised, and above all, it has not been organised in a way to satisfy the need for justice which has grown more ardent in our hearts.

    If this be so, the remedy for the evil is not to seek to resuscitate traditions and practices which, no longer responding to present conditions of society, can only live an artificial, false existence. What we must do to relieve this anomy is to discover the means for making the organs which are wasting themselves in discordant movements harmoniously concur by introducing into their relations more justice by more and more extenuating the external inequalities which are the source of the evil

    Durkheim 1895 Rules of Sociological Method

    Les règles de la méthode sociologique

    Chapter one: What is a Social Fact?

    Qu'est-ce qu'un fait social?

    Rules pp 2-3:

    If I do not submit to the conventions of society, if in my dress I do not conform to the customs observed in my country and in my class, the ridicule I provoke, the social [p.3] isolation in which I am kept, produce, although in an attenuated form, the same effects as punishment...

    I am not obliged to speak French with my fellow-countrymen nor to use the legal currency, but I cannot possibly do otherwise...

    As an industrialist, I am free to apply the technical methods of former centuries; but by doing so, I should invite certain ruin.

    Even when I free myself from these rules and violate them successfully, I am always compelled to struggle with them. When finally overcome, they make their constraining power sufficiently felt by the resistance they offer. The enterprises of all innovators, including successful ones, come up against resistances of this kind.

    Here, then, is a category of facts with very distinctive characteristics: it consists of ways of acting, thinking and feeling, external to the individual, and endowed with a power of coercion, by reason of which they control him...

    ... since their source is not in the individual, their substratum can be no other than society, either the political society as a whole or some one of the partial groups it includes such as religious denominations, political, literary and occupational associations etc.

    Rules p.4:

    ... one might be led to believe that social facts exist only where there is some social organisation. But there are other facts without such crystallised form which have the same objectivity and the same ascendancy over the individual. These are called 'social currents'.

    Rules p.8:

    currents of opinion, with an intensity varying according to the time or place, impel certain groups either to more marriages, for example, or to more suicides, or to a higher or lower birth rate, etc. These currents are plainly social facts.

    Ainsi, il y a certains courants d'opinion qui nous poussent, avec une intensité inégale, suivant les temps et les pays, l'un au mariage, par exemple, un autre au suicide ou à une natalité [birthrate] plus ou moins forte, etc. Ce sont des faits sociaux.

    At first sight they seem inseparable from the forms they take in individual case. But statistics furnish us with the means of isolating them. They are, in fact, represented with considerable exactness by the rates of births, marriages, and suicides, that is by the number obtained by dividing the average annual total of marriages, births, suicides, by the number of persons whose ages lie within the range in which marriages, births, and suicides occur.

    Au premier abord, ils semblent inséparables des formes qu'ils prennent dans les cas particuliers. Mais la statistique nous fournit le moyen de les isoler. Ils sont, en effet, figurés, non sans exactitude, par le taux de la natalité, de la nuptialité, des suicides, c'est-à-dire par le nombre que l'on obtient en divisant le total moyen annuel des mariages, des naissances, des morts volontaires par celui des hommes en âge de se marier, de procréer, de se suicider

    [A marriage, suicide or birth rate] "expresses a certain state of the group mind (l'ame collective)"

    .. we can formulate and delimit in a precise way the domain of sociology. It comprises only a limited group of phenomena. A social fact is to be recognised by the power of external coercion which it exercises or is capable of exercising over individuals, and the presence of this power may be recognised in its turn either by the existence of some specific sanction or by the resistance offered against every individual effort that tends to violate it.

    Nous arrivons donc à nous représenter, d'une manière précise, le domaine de la sociologie. Il ne comprend qu'un groupe déterminé de phénomènes. Un fait social se reconnaît au pouvoir de coercition externe qu'il exerce ou est susceptible d'exercer sur les individus ; et la présence de ce pouvoir se reconnaît à son tour soit à l'existence de quelque sanction déterminée, soit à la résistance que le fait oppose à toute entreprise individuelle qui tend à lui faire violence.

    Rules page 10:

    A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations.

    Rules pages 14-18:

    Chapter two: Rules for the Observation of Social Facts

    Règles relatives à l'observation des faits sociaux

    The first and most fundamental rule is: Consider social facts as things.

    ideas or concepts...are not legitimate substitutes for things.

    Man already had ideas on law, morality, the family, the state, and society itself before the advent of social science, for these ideas were necessary conditions of his life... The organisation of the family, of contracts, of punishment, of the state and of society appears thus to be simply the embodiment of the ideas we hold concerning society, the state, justice, etc...

    [p.18] ... the mind, overrun... by the details of social life... does not perceive these details clearly enough to feel their reality... Unable to perceive the relationships that would properly organise these details, they give... the impression... of being a substance that is... indefinitely plastic. That is why so many thinkers have seen in our social organisation only artificial and more or less arbitrary combinations.

    But if the concrete and particular detailed forms escape us, at least we have an approximate idea of the general aspects of collective existence; and these schematic and crystallised representations are the superficial concepts we employ in ordinary life. We cannot doubt their existence, since we perceive it simultaneously with our own. Not only are they within us, but, as they are a product of repeated experiences, they derive from repetition and from the habit resulting from it, a sort of dominance and authority. We feel their resistance when we try to shake them off. We are bound to confer the character of reality on phenomena which oppose us. All arguments thus converge to make us find the true social reality in these phenomena.


    The first corollary is: All preconceptions must be eradicated


    ...our second corollary The subject matter of every sociological study should comprise a group of phenomena defined in advance by certain common external characteristics, and all phenomena so defined should be included within this group


    When, then, the sociologist undertakes the investigation of some order of social facts, he must endeavour to consider them from an aspect that is independent of their individual manifestations.

    Rules pages 47-75:

    Chapter 3: Rules for distinguishing between the normal and the pathological

    Rules page 64:

    We may ... formulate the three following rules:

    1. A social fact is normal, in relation to a given social type at a given phase of its development, when it is present in the average society of that species at the corresponding phase of its evolution.

    2. One can verify the results of the preceding method by showing that the generality of the phenomenon is bound up with the general conditions of collective life of the social type considered.

    3. This verification is necessary when the fact in question occurs in a social species which has not yet reached the full course of its evolution.
    Rules page 65:

    If there is any fact whose pathological character appears incontestable, that fact is crime. All criminologists are agreed on this point. Although they explain this pathology differently, they are unanimous in recognizing it. But let us see if this problem does not demand a more extended consideration.

    We shall apply the foregoing rules. Crime is present not only in the majority of societies of one particular species but in all societies of all types. There is no society that is not confronted with the problem of criminality. Its form changes; the acts thus characterised are not the same everywhere; but, everywhere and always, there have been men who have behaved in such a way as to draw upon themselves penal repression. If, in proportion as societies pass from the lower to the higher types, the rate of criminality, i.e., the relation between the yearly number of crimes and the population, tended to decline, it might be believed that crime, while still normal, is tending to lose this character of normality. But we have no reason to believe that such a regression is substantiated. Many facts would seem rather to indicate a movement in the opposite direction. From the beginning of the [nineteenth] century, statistics enable us to follow the course of criminality. It has everywhere increased. In France the increase is nearly 300 per cent. There is, then, no phenomenon that presents more indisputably all the symptoms of normality, since it appears closely connected with the conditions of all collective life. To make of crime a form of social morbidity would be to admit that morbidity is not something accidental, but, on the contrary, that in certain cases it grows out of the fundamental constitution of the living organism; it would result in wiping out all distinction between the physiological and the pathological. No doubt it is possible that crime itself will have abnormal forms, as, for example, when its rate is unusually high {quand, par exemple, il atteint un taux exagéré}. This excess is, indeed, undoubtedly morbid in nature. What is normal, simply, is the existence of criminality, provided that it attains and does not exceed, for each social type, a certain level, which it is perhaps not impossible to fix in conformity with the preceding rules.

    Rules page 67:

    Here we are, then, in the presence of a conclusion in appearance quite paradoxical. Let us make no mistake. To classify crime among the phenomena of normal sociology is not to say merely that it is an inevitable, although regrettable phenomenon, due to the incorrigible wickedness of men; it is to affirm that it is a factor in public health, an integral part of all healthy societies. This result is, at first glance, surprising enough to have puzzled even ourselves for a long time. Once this first surprise has been overcome, however, it is not difficult to find reasons explaining this normality and at the same time confirming it.

    In the first place crime is normal because a society exempt from it is utterly impossible. Crime, we have shown elsewhere, consists of an act that offends certain very strong collective sentiments. In a society in which criminal acts are no longer committed, the sentiments they offend would have to be found without exception in all individual consciousnesses, and they must be found to exist with the same degree as sentiments contrary to them. Assuming that this condition could actually be realised, crime would not thereby disappear; it would only change its form, for the very cause which would thus dry up the sources of criminality would immediately open up new ones. Indeed, for the collective sentiments which are protected by the penal law of a people at a specified moment of its history to take possession of the public conscience or for them to acquire a stronger hold where they have an insufficient grip, they must acquire an intensity greater than that which they had hitherto had. The community as a whole must experience them more vividly, for it can acquire from no other source the greater force necessary to control these individuals who formerly were the most refractory.

    Rules page 68:

    For murderers to disappear, the horror of bloodshed must become greater in those social strata from which murderers are recruited; but, first it must become greater throughout the entire society. Moreover, the very absence of crime would directly contribute to produce this horror; because any sentiment seems much more respectable when it is always and uniformly respected.

    One easily overlooks the consideration that these strong states of the common consciousness cannot be thus reinforced without reinforcing at the same time the more feeble states, whose violation previously gave birth to mere infraction of convention - since the weaker ones are only the prolongation, the attenuated form, of the stronger. Thus robbery and simple bad taste injure the same single altruistic sentiment, the respect for that which is another's. However, this same sentiment is less grievously offended by bad taste than by robbery; and since, in addition, the average consciousness has not sufficient intensity to react keenly to the bad taste, it is treated with greater tolerance. That is why the person guilty of bad taste is merely blamed, whereas the thief is punished. But, if this sentiment grows stronger, to the point of silencing in all consciousnesses the inclination which disposes man to steal, he will become more sensitive to the offenses which, until then, touched him but lightly. He will react against them, then, with more energy; they will be the object of greater opprobrium, which will transform certain of them from the simple moral faults that they were and give them the quality of crimes. For example, improper contracts, or contracts improperly executed, which only incur public blame or civil damages, will become offenses in law.

    Rules pages 68-69:

    Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will there be unknown; [p.69] but faults which appear venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousnesses. If, then, this society has the power to judge and punish, it will define these acts as criminal and will treat them as such. For the same reason, the perfect and upright man judges his smallest failings with a severity that the majority reserve for acts more truly in the nature of an offense. Formerly, acts of violence against persons were more frequent than they are today, because respect for individual dignity was less strong. As this has increased, these crimes have become more rare; and also, many acts violating this sentiment have been introduced into the penal law which were not included there in primitive times.

    In order to exhaust all the hypotheses logically possible, it will perhaps be asked why this unanimity does not extend to all collective sentiments without exception. Why should not even the most feeble sentiment gather enough energy to prevent all dissent? The moral consciousness of the society would be present in its entirety in all the individuals, with a vitality sufficient to prevent all acts offending it - the purely conventional faults as well as the crimes. But a uniformity so universal and absolute is utterly impossible; for the immediate physical milieu in which each one of us is placed, the hereditary antecedents, and the social influences vary from one individual to the next, and consequently diversify consciousnesses. It is impossible for all to be alike, if only because each one has his own organism and that these organisms occupy different areas in space. That is why, even among the lower peoples, where individual originality is very little developed, it nevertheless does exist.

    Rules page 70:

    Thus, since there cannot be a society in which the individuals do not differ more or less from the collective type, it is also inevitable that, among these divergences, there are some with a criminal character. What confers this character upon them is not the intrinsic quality of a given act but that definition which the collective conscience lends them. If the collective conscience is stronger, if it has enough authority practically to suppress these divergences, it will also be more sensitive, more exacting; and, reacting against the slightest deviations with the energy it otherwise displays only against more considerable infractions, it will attribute to them the same gravity as formerly to crimes. In other words, it will designate them as criminal.

    Crime is, then, necessary; it is bound up with the fundamental conditions of all social life, and by that very fact it is useful, because these conditions of which it is a part are themselves indispensable to the normal evolution of morality and law.

    Indeed, it is no longer possible today to dispute the fact that law and morality vary from one social type to the next, nor that they change within the same type if the conditions of life are modified. But, in order that these transformations may be possible, the collective sentiments at the basis of morality must not be hostile to change, and consequently must have but moderate energy. If they were too strong, they would no longer be plastic. Every pattern is an obstacle to new patterns, to the extent that the first pattern is inflexible. The better a structure is articulated, the more it offers a healthy resistance to all modification; and this is equally true of functional, as of anatomical, organisation. If there were no crimes, this condition could not have been fulfilled; for such a hypothesis presupposes that collective sentiments have arrived at a degree of intensity unexampled in history.

    Rules pages 71-72:

    Nothing is good indefinitely and to an unlimited extent. The authority which the moral conscience enjoys must not be excessive; otherwise no one would dare criticise it, and it would too easily congeal into an immutable form. To make progress, individual originality must be able to express itself. In order that the originality of the idealist whose dreams transcend his century may find expression, it is necessary that the originality of the criminal, who is below the level of his time, shall also be possible. One does not occur without the other.

    Nor is this all. Aside from this indirect utility, it happens that crime itself plays a useful role in this evolution. Crime implies not only that the way remains open to necessary changes but that in certain cases it directly prepares these changes. Where crime exists, collective sentiments are sufficiently flexible to take on a new form, and crime sometimes helps to determine the form they will take. How many times, indeed, it is only an anticipation of future morality - a step toward what will be! According to Athenian law, Socrates was a criminal, and his condemnation was no more than just. However, his crime, namely, the independence of his thought, rendered a service not only to humanity but to his country. It served to prepare a new morality and faith which the Athenians needed, since the traditions by which they had lived until then were no longer in harmony with the current conditions of life. Nor is the case of Socrates unique; it is reproduced periodically in history. It would never have been possible to establish the freedom of thought we now enjoy if the regulations prohibiting it had not been violated before being solemnly abrogated. At that time, however, the violation was a crime, since it was an offense against sentiments still very keen in the average conscience. And yet this crime was useful as a prelude to reforms which daily became more necessary. Liberal philosophy had as its precursors the heretics of all kinds who were Justly punished by secular authorities during the entire course of the Middle Ages and until the eve of modern times.

    Rules pages 72-73:

    From this point of view the fundamental facts of criminality present themselves to us in an entirely new light.

    Contrary to current ideas, the criminal no longer seems a totally unsociable being, a sort of parasitic element, a strange and unassimilable body, introduced into the midst of society." On the contrary, he plays a definite role in social life. Crime, for its part, must no longer be conceived as an evil that cannot be too much suppressed. There is no occasion for self-congratulation when the crime rate drops noticeably below the average level, for we may be certain that this apparent progress is associated with some social disorder. Thus, the number of assault cases never falls so low as in times of want.13 With the drop in the crime rate, and as a reaction to it, comes a revision, or the need of a revision in the theory of punishment. If, indeed, crime is a disease, its punishment is its remedy and cannot be otherwise conceived; thus, all the discussions it arouses bear on the point of determining what the punishment must be in order to fulfil this role of remedy. If crime is not pathological at all, the object of punishment cannot be to cure it, and its true function must be sought elsewhere.

    {footnote 13: Although crime is a fact of normal sociology, it does not follow that we must not abhor it. Pain itself has nothing desirable about it; the individual dislikes it as society does crime, and yet it is a function of normal physiology. Not only is it necessarily derived from the very constitution of every living organism, but it plays a useful role in life, for which reason it cannot be replaced. It would, then, be a singular distortion of our thought to present it as an apology for crime. We would not even think of protesting against such an interpretation, did we not know to what strange accusations and misunderstandings one exposes oneself when one undertakes to study moral facts objectively and to speak of them in a different language from that of the layman.}

    Rules page 75:

    (footnote 15: From the theory developed in this chapter, the conclusion has at times been reached that, according to us, the increase of criminality in the course of the nineteenth century was a normal phenomenon. Nothing is farther from our thought. Several facts indicated by us apropos of suicide tend, on the contrary, to make us believe that this development is in general morbid. Nevertheless, it might happen that a certain increase of certain forms of criminality would be normal, for each state of civilisation has its own criminality. But on this, one can only formulate hypotheses.}

    Chapter 5: Rules for the explanation of social facts

    Chapter 6: Rules relative to establishing sociological proofs


    To sum up, the distinctive characteristics of our method are as follows: First, it is entirely independent of philosophy. Because sociology had its birth in the great philosophical doctrines, it has retained the habit of relying on some philosophical system and thus has been continuously overburdened with it. It has been successively positivistic, evolutionary, idealistic, when it should have been content to be simply sociology. We should even hesitate to describe it as naturalistic, unless the term indicates merely that the sociologist considers social facts as capable of being explained naturally, or that he is a scientist and not a mystic. We reject the term if it is given a doctrinal meaning concerning the essence of social objects - if, e. g., by it is meant that social objects are reducible to the other cosmic forces.

    Sociology does not need to choose between the great hypotheses which divide metaphysicians. It needs to embrace free will no more than determinism. All that it asks is that the principle of causality be applied to social phenomena. Again, this principle is enunciated for sociology not as a rational necessity but only as an empirical postulate, produced by legitimate induction. Since the law of causality has been verified in the other realms of nature, and since it has progressively extended its authority from the physicochemical world to the biological, and from the latter to the psychological, we are justified in claiming that it is equally true of the social world; and it is possible to add today that the researches undertaken on the basis of this postulate tend to confirm it. However, the question as to whether the nature [p. 142] of the causal bond excludes all chance is not thereby settled.

    This emancipation of sociology is decidedly to the advantage of philosophy. For, in so far as the sociologist has not sufficiently eliminated philosophy from social science, he considers social facts only from their most general aspect, the aspect from which they most resemble the other things in the universe. Now, if sociology, thus conceived, serves to illustrate philosophy with curious facts, it does not enrich it with new views, since it points out nothing new in the objects which it studies. But, if the fundamental facts of the other fields of knowledge actually recur in the social field, they do so under special forms, which clarify the nature of these facts since they are their highest expression. However, in order to treat them from this aspect, we must leave generalities behind and enter into the detail of facts. Thus, as sociology becomes specialized, it will furnish more original materials for philosophical reflection.

    All this has already given us an idea of how the essential concepts, such as those of species, organ, function, health and morbidity, cause and effect, appear in sociology under entirely new aspects. Moreover, may not sociology feature an idea which might well be the basis not only of a psychology but of a whole philosophy--the idea of association?

    With reference to practical social doctrines, our method permits and commands the same independence. Sociology thus understood will be neither individualistic, communistic, nor socialistic in the sense commonly given these words. On principle, it will ignore these theories, in which it could not recognize any scientific value, since they tend not to describe or interpret, but to reform, social organization. At least, if it takes an interest in them, it is in proportion as it sees in [p. 143] them social facts which can aid it both in understanding the social reality and in disclosing the needs that are the motivating power in society. We do not mean, however, that it ought to take no interest in practical questions. It has been evident, on the contrary, that our constant preoccupation has been to orient it so that it might have practical results. It necessarily meets these problems at the end of its researches. But, by the very fact that they present themselves to sociology only at this moment, and that, consequently, they are derived from facts and not from emotions, one can foresee that they must be formulated for the sociologist in quite other terms than for the masses, and that the tentative solutions it can give them could not coincide exactly with any of those which now satisfy various interest groups. But the role of sociology from this point of view must properly consist in emancipating us from all parties, not to the extent of negating all doctrine, but by persuading us to assume toward these questions a special attitude that science alone can give in its direct contact with things. Science alone can teach us to treat historic institutions, whatever they may be, with respect but without mystic awe, by making us appreciate both their permanent and their ephemeral aspects, their stability and their infinite variability.

    In the second place, our method is objective. It is dominated entirely by the idea that social facts are things and must be treated as such. No doubt, this principle is found again, under a slightly different form, at the basis of the doctrines of Comte and Spencer. But these great thinkers gave it theoretic formulation without putting it into practice. In order that it might not remain a dead letter, it is not sufficient to promulgate it; it is necessary to make it the basis of an entire discipline which will take hold of the student [p. 144] at the very moment he approaches the subject of his researches, and which will accompany him, step by step, in all his proceedings. We have devoted ourselves to instituting this discipline.

    We have shown how the sociologist has to disregard the preconceptions which he had of facts, in order to face the facts themselves; how he has to discriminate among them according to their most objective characteristics; how he must seek in the facts themselves the means of classifying them as normal and pathological; how, finally, he must be inspired by the same principle in the explanations he attempts as in the way in which he tests these explanations. For, as soon as he has the feeling that he is in the presence of things, he will no longer think of explaining them by utilitarian calculations or by syllogistic reasonings of any sort. He will understand too well the gap that exists between such causes and such effects.

    A thing is a force which can be engendered only by another force. In rendering an account of social facts, we seek, then, energies capable of producing them. Not only do the explanations thus given differ from the preceding ones, but they are differently verified, or, rather, it is only with them that the need of verification is felt. If sociological phenomena are only systems of objectivized ideas, to explain them is to rethink them in their logical order, and this explanation is in itself its own proof; at the very most, it will require confirmation by a few examples. Only methodical experiments, on the contrary, can extract from things their real secrets.

    If we consider social facts as things, we consider them as social things. The third trait that characterizes our method is that it is exclusively sociological. It has often appeared [p. 145] that these phenomena, because of their extreme complexity, were either inhospitable to science or could be subject to it only when reduced to their elemental conditions, either psychic or organic, that is, only when stripped of their proper nature. We have, on the contrary, undertaken to establish that it is possible to treat them scientifically without removing any of their distinctive characteristics. We have even refused to identify the immateriality which characterizes them with the complex immateriality of psychological phenomena; we have, furthermore, refused to reabsorb it, with the Italian school, into the general properties of organized matter. 1

    We have shown that a social fact can be explained only by another social fact; and, at the same time, we have shown how this sort of explanation is possible by pointing out, in the internal social milieu, the principal factor in collective evolution. Sociology is, then, not an auxiliary of any other science; it is itself a distinct and autonomous science, and the feeling of the specificity of social reality is indeed so necessary to the sociologist that only distinctly sociological training can prepare him to grasp social facts intelligently.

    In our opinion this progress is the most important that sociology still has to make. No doubt, when a science is in the process of being born, one is obliged, in order to construct it, to refer to the only models that exist, namely, the sciences already formed. These contain a treasure of experiences which it would be foolish to ignore. A science can regard itself as definitely established, however, only when it has achieved independence for itself. For it can justify its existence only when it has for its subject matter an order of [p.146] facts which the other sciences do not study. It is impossible that the same concepts can fit equally well things of different natures.

    Such appear to us to be the principles of sociological method. This collection of rules will perhaps appear needlessly complicated if one compares it with the procedures in current use. All this apparatus of precautions may seem very laborious for a science which, up to this point, scarcely demanded from those who devoted themselves to it more than general and philosophical training. It is certain, indeed, that the practice of such a method cannot have for its effect the popularization of interest in sociological matters. When, as a condition of their acceptance into the sociological fraternity, we ask men to discard the concepts they are accustomed to apply to an order of facts, in order to re-examine the latter in a new way, we cannot expect to recruit a numerous clientele. But this is not the goal toward which we are heading. We believe, on the contrary, that the time has come for sociology to spurn popular success, so to speak, and to assume the exacting character befitting every science. It will then gain in dignity and authority what it will perhaps lose in popularity. For, so long as it remains involved in partisan struggles, is content to expound common ideas with more logic than the layman, and, consequently, presumes no special competence, it has no right to speak loudly enough to silence passions and prejudices. Assuredly, the time when it will be able to play this role successfully is still far off. However, we must begin to work now, in order to put it in condition to fill this role some day.

    Durkheim 1897 Suicide Social Science History
    Translated into English in 1952.

    Introduction External link to original

    [Main contents outline]

    Preface [p. 35-
    Introduction [p.41-
    Book One: Extra-Social Factors
    1 Suicide and Psychopathic States [p.57-
    2 Suicide and Normal Psychological States-Race, Heredity [p.82-
    3 Suicide and Cosmic Factors [p.104-
    4 Imitation [p.123-
    Book Two: Social Causes and Social Types
    1 How to Determine Social Causes and Social Types [p.145-
    2 Egoistic Suicide [p.152
    3 Egoistic Suicide (continued) [p.171-
    4 Altruistic Suicide [p.217
    5 Anomic Suicide [p.241-
    6 Individual Forms of the Different Types of Suicide [p.277-
    Book Three: General Nature of Suicide as a Social Phenomenon
    1 The Social Element of Suicide [p.297-
    2 Relations of Suicide with Other Social Phenomena [p.326-
    3 Practical Consequences [p.361-
    Appendices [393-


    Suicide page 38:

    On the pretext of giving the science" [sociology] "a more solid foundation by establishing it upon the psychological constitution of the individual, it is.. robbed of the only object proper to it. It is not realised that there can be no sociology unless societies exist, and that societies cannot exist if there are only individuals.



    Suicide page 42:


    Our first task then must be to determine the order of facts to be studied under the name of suicides. Accordingly, we must inquire whether, among the different varieties of death, some have common qualities objective enough to be recognizable by all honest observers, specific enough not to be found elsewhere and also sufficiently kin to those commonly called suicides for us to retain the same term without breaking with common usage. If such are found, we shall combine under that name absolutely all the facts presenting these distinctive characteristics, regardless of whether the resulting class fails to include all cases ordinarily included under the name or includes others usually otherwise classified. The essential thing is not to express with some precision what the average intelligence terms suicide, but to establish a category of objects permitting this classification, which are objectively established, that is, correspond to a definite aspect of things.

    Among the different species of death, some have the special quality of being the deed of the victim himself, resulting from an act whose author is also the sufferer; and this same characteristic, on the other hand, is certainly fundamental to the usual idea of suicide. The intrinsic nature of the acts so resulting is unimportant. Though suicide is commonly conceived as a positive, violent action involving some muscular energy, it may happen that a purely negative attitude or mere abstention will have the same consequence. Refusal to take food is as suicidal as self-destruction by a dagger or fire-arm. The subject's act need not even have been directly antecedent to death for death to be regarded as its effect; the causal relation may be indirect without that changing the nature of the phenomenon. The iconoclast, committing with the hope of a martyr's palm the crime of high treason known to be capital and dying by the executioner's hand, achieves his own death as truly as though he had dealt his own death-blow; there is, at least, no reason to classify differently these two sorts of voluntary death, since only material details of their execution differ. We come then to our first formula: the term suicide is applied to any death which is the direct or indirect result of a positive or negative act accomplished by the victim himself.

    But this definition is incomplete; it fails to distinguish between [p. 43] two very different sorts of death. The same classification and treatment cannot be given the death of a victim of hallucination, who throws himself from an upper window thinking it on a level with the ground, and that of the sane person who strikes while knowing what he is doing. In one sense, indeed, few cases of death exist which are not immediately or distantly due to some act of the subject. The causes of death are outside rather than within us, and are effective only if we venture into their sphere of activity. Shall suicide be considered to exist only if the act resulting in death was performed by the victim to achieve this result? Shall only he be thought truly to slay himself who has wished to do so, and suicide be intentional self-homicide? In the first place, this would define suicide by a characteristic which, whatever its interest and significance, would at least suffer from not being easily recognizable, since it is not easily observed. How discover the agent's motive and whether he desired death itself when he formed his resolve, or had some other purpose? Intent is too intimate a thing to be more than approximately interpreted by another. It even escapes self-observation. How often we mistake the true reasons for our acts! We constantly explain acts due to petty feelings or blind routine by generous passions or lofty considerations.

    Besides, in general, an act cannot be defined by the end sought by the actor, for an identical system of behavior may be adjustable to too many different ends without altering its nature. Indeed, if the intention of self-destruction alone constituted suicide, the name suicide could not be given to facts which, despite apparent differences, are fundamentally identical with those always called suicide and which could not be otherwise described without discarding the term. The soldier facing certain death to save his regiment does not wish to die, and yet is he not as much the author of his own death as the manufacturer or merchant who kills himself to avoid bankruptcy? This holds true for the martyr dying for his faith, the mother sacrificing herself for her child, etc. Whether death is accepted merely as an unfortunate consequence, but inevitable given the purpose, or is actually itself sought and desired, in either case the person renounces existence, and the various methods of doing so can be only varieties of a single class. They possess too many essential similarities not to be combined in one generic expression, subject to distinction as the [p. 44] of flowers or fruits, the zoologist of fish or insects, employ these various terms in previously dermined senses.

    Of course, in common terms, suicide is pre-eminently the desperate act of one who does not care to live. But actually life is none the less abandoned because one desires it at the moment of renouncing it; and there are common traits clearly essential to all acts by which a living being thus renounces the possession presumably most precious of all. Rather, the diversity of motives capable of actuating these resolves can give rise only to secondary differences. Thus, when resolution entails certain sacrifice of life, scientifically this is suicide; of what sort shall be seen later.

    The common quality of all these possible forms of supreme renunciation is that the determining act is performed advisedly; that at the moment of acting the victim knows the certain result of his conduct, no matter what reason may have led him to act thus. All mortal facts thus characterized are clearly distinct from all others in which the victim is either not the author of his own end or else only its unconscious author. They differ by an easily recognizable feature, for it is not impossible to discover whether the individual did or did not know in advance the natural results of his action.

    Thus, they form a definite, homogeneous group, distinguishable from any other and therefore to be designated by a special term. Suicide is the one appropriate; there is no need to create another, for the vast majority of occurrences customarily so-called belong to this group.

    We may then say conclusively: the term suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result. An attempt is an act thus defined but falling short of actual death.

    Suicide page 46:

    But is [suicide] of interest to the sociologist? Since suicide is an individual action affecting the individual only, it must seemingly depend exclusively on individual factors, thus belonging to psychology alone. Is not the suicide's resolve usually explained by his temperament, character, antecedents and private history?

    The degree and conditions under which suicides may be legitimately studied in this way need not now be considered, but that they may be viewed in an entirely different light is certain. If, instead of seeing in them only separate occurrences, unrelated and to be separately studied, the suicides committed in a given society during a given period of time are taken as a whole, it appears that this total is not simply a sum of independent units, a collective total, but is itself a new fact sui generis, with its own unity, individuality and consequently its own nature - a nature, furthermore, dominantly social. Indeed, provided too long a period is not considered, the statistics for one and the same society are almost invariable, as appears in Table 1.

    This is because the environmental circumstances attending the life of peoples remain relatively unchanged from year to year. To be sure, more considerable variations occasionally occur; but they are quite exceptional. They are also clearly always contemporaneous with some passing crisis affecting the social state. {footnote: The numbers applying to these exceptional years we have put in parentheses} Thus, in 1848 there occurred an abrupt decline in all European states.

    If a longer period of time is considered, more serious changes are observed. Then, however, they become chronic; they only prove that the structural characteristics of society have simultaneously suffered profound changes. It is interesting to note that they do not take place (page 47) with the extreme slowness that quite a large number of observers has attributed to them, but are both abrupt and progressive. After a series of years, during which these figures have varied within very narrow limits, a rise suddenly appears which, after repeated vacillation, is confirmed, grows and is at last fixed. This is because every breach of social equilibrium, though sudden in its appearance, takes

    Suicide Table 1: Stability of suicide in the principal European countries
    (absolute figures)

    External link to original









    2 814

    1 630




    2 866





    3 020

    1 720




    2 973

    1 575





    3 082

    1 700





    3 102

    1 707





    (3 647)

    (1 852)





    (3 301)






    3 583

    (1 527)





    3 596






    3 598






    3 676






    3 415












    3 810






    4 189






    3 967

    2 038






    3 903


    1 275





    3 899







    4 050

    2 105

    1 365





    4 454

    2 185

    1 347



    4 770

    2 112

    1 317



    4 613

    2 374

    1 315



    4 521

    2 203

    1 340




    4 946

    2 361

    1 392




    5 119

    2 485

    1 329





    5 011

    3 625

    1 316





    (5 547)

    3 658

    1 508





    5 114

    3 544

    1 588





    3 270

    1 554



    3 135

    1 495


    3 467

    1 514

    time to produce all its consequences.

    Thus, the evolution of suicide is composed of undulating movements, distinct and successive, which occur spasmodically, develop for a time, and then stop only to begin again. On the above table one of these waves is seen to have occurred almost throughout Europe in the wake of the events of 1848, or about the years 1850-1853 depending on the country; another began in Germany after the war of 1866, in France somewhat earlier, about 1860 at the height of the imperial government, in England about 1868, or after the commercial revolution caused by contemporary commercial treaties. Perhaps the same cause occasioned the new recrudescence observable in France about 1865. Finally, a new forward (page 48) movement began after the war of 1870 which is still evident and fairly general throughout Europe. [No - I cannot see it either]

    At each moment of its history, therefore, each society has a definite aptitude for suicide. The relative intensity of this aptitude is measured by taking the proportion between the total number of voluntary deaths and the population of every age and sex. We will call this numerical datum the rate of mortality through suicide, characteristic of the society under consideration. It is generally calculated in proportion to a million or a hundred thousand inhabitants.

    Not only is this rate constant for long periods, but its invariability is even greater than that of leading demographic data. General mortality, especially, varies much more often from year to year and the variations it undergoes are far greater. This is shown assuredly by comparing the way in which both phenomena vary in several periods. This we have done in Table 2. To manifest the relationship, the rate for each year of both deaths and suicides, has been expressed as a proportion of the average rate of the period, in percentage form. ... at each period the degree of variation is much greater with respect to general mortality than to suicide; on the average, it is twice as great.

    Suicide page 49:

    Comparative Variations of the Rate of Mortality by Suicide and the Rate of General Mortality: Available (external link) in the original

    ... it is already remarkable that from one year to its successor suicide is at least as stable, if not more so, than general mortality taken only from period to period.

    The average rate of mortality, [page 50] furthermore, achieves this regularity only by being general and impersonal, and can afford only a very imperfect description of a given society. It is in fact substantially the same for all peoples of approximately the same degree of civilisation...

    On the contrary, the suicide rate, while showing only slight annual changes, varies according to society by doubling, tripling, quadrupling, and even more (table 3 below). Accordingly, to a much higher degree than the death rate, it is peculiar to each social group where it can be considered as a characteristic index. It is even so closely related to what is most deeply constitutional in each national temperament that the order in which the different societies

    Suicide Table 3:
    Rate of suicides per million inhabitants in the different European countries




    Numerical position in the

    1 period

    2 period

    3 period














































































    appear in this respect remains almost exactly the same at very different periods.

    Suicide page 143:

    Book Two: Social Causes and Social Types

    Suicide page 145:

    Chapter one: How to determine social causes and social types

    Suicide page 147:

    our classification will from the start be aetiological...

    the nature of a phenomenon is much more profoundly got at by knowing its cause than by knowing its characteristics only, even the essential ones.

    Once the nature of the causes is known we shall try to deduce the nature of the effects, since they will be both qualified and classified by their attachment to their respective sources. Of course, if this deduction were not at all guided by the facts, it might be lost in purely imaginary constructions. But with the aid of some data on the morphology of suicides it my be made clearer. Alone these data are too incomplete and unsure to provide a principle of classification; but once the outlines of this classification are found, the data may be used. They will be indicate what direction the deduction should take and, by the examples they offer, the deductively established species may be shown not to be imaginary.

    Suicide page 152:

    Chapter two: Egoistic Suicide

    First let us see how the different religious confessions affect suicide.

    If one casts a glance at the map of European suicide, it is at once clear that in purely Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy, suicide is very little developed, while it is at its maximum in Protestant countries, in Prussia, Saxony, Denmark. The following averages copiled by Morselli confirm this first conclusion.

    Average of Suicides per Million Inhabitants
    Protestannt states 190
    Mixed states (Protestant and Catholic)  96
    Catholic states  58
    Greek Catholcs states  40

    Suicide page 158:

    We thus reach our first conclusion, that the proclivity of Protestantism for suicide must relate to the spirit of free inquiry that animates this religion. Let us understand this relationship correctly. Free inquiry itself is only the effect of another cause. When it appears, when men, after having long received their ready made faith from tradition, claim the right to shape it for themselves, this is not because of the intrinsic desirability of free inquiry, for the latter involves as much sorrow as happiness. But it is because men henceforth need this liberty. This very need can have only one cause: the overthrow of traditional beliefs. If they still asserted themselves with equal energy, it would never occur to men to criticise them.

    Suicide page 170:

    The beneficent influence of religion is..not due to the special nature of religious conceptions. If religion protects men against the desire for self-destruction, it is not that it preaches the respect for his own person to him with arguments sui generis; but because it is a society. What constitutes the society is the existence of a certain number of beliefs and practices common to all the faithful, traditional and thus obligatory.

    Suicide page 171:

    Chapter three: Egoistic Suicide (continued)

    Suicide page 213:

    If.. as has often been said, man is double, that is because social man superimposes himself upon physical man. Social man necessarily presupposes a society which he expresses and serves. If this dissolves, if we no longer feel it in existence and action about and above us, whatever is social in us is deprived of all objective foundation.. Yet this social is the essence of civilised man.. Thus we are bereft of reasons for existence; for the only life to which we could cling no longer corresponds to anything actual;the only existence still based upon reality no longer meets our needs.

    Suicide page 217: Chapter four: Altruistic Suicide

    In the order of existence, no good is measureless. A biological quality can only fulfil the purpose it is meant to serve on condition that it does not transgress certain limits. So with social phenomena. If, as we have just seen, excessive individuation leads to suicide, insufficient individuation has the same effects. When man has become detached from society, he encounters less resistance to suicide in himself, and he does so likewise when social integration is to strong.

    Suicide page 219:

    Suicide, accordingly, is surely very common among primitive peoples. But it displays peculiar characteristics. All the facts above reported fall into one of the following three categories:

    1) Suicides of men on the threshold of old age or stricken with sickness.

    2) Suicides of women on their husband's death.

    3) Suicides of followers or servants on the death of their chiefs.

    Now, when a person kills himself, in all these cases, it is not because he assumes the right to do so but, on the contrary, because it is his duty.

    Suicide page 227:

    However, if lower societies are the theatre par excellence of altruistic suicide, it is also found in more recent civilisations. Under this head may notably be classified the death of some of the Christian martyrs.

    Suicide page 228:

    In our contemporary societies, as individual personality becomes increasingly free from collective personality, such suicides could not be widespread. Some may doubtless be said to have yielded to altruistic motives, such as soldiers who preferred death to the humiliation of defeat... or unhappy persons who kill themselves to prevent disgrace befalling their family....

    Yet even today there exists among us a special environment where altruistic suicide is chronic: namely, the army.

    Suicide page 234:

    Of all elements constituting our modern societies, the army, indeed, most recalls the structures of lower societies. It, too, consists of a massive, compact group providing a rigid setting for the individual and preventing any independent movement. Therefore, since this moral constitution is the natural field for altruistic suicide, military suicide may certainly be supposed to have the same character and derive from the same source.

    Suicide page 241: Chapter five: Anomic Suicide

    Section 1:

    It is a well-known fact that economic crises have an aggravating effect on the suicidal tendency.

    Suicide page 242

    But to what do these crises owe their influence? Is it because they increase poverty by causing public wealth to fluctuate? Is life more readily renounced as it becomes more difficult? The explanation is seductively simple; and it agrees with the popular idea of suicide. But it is contradicted by facts.

    Suicide page 243

    So far is the increase in poverty from causing the increase in suicide that even fortunate crises, the effect of which is to abruptly to enhance a country's prosperity, affect suicides like economic disasters.

    Suicide page 246

    If therefore industrial or financial crises increase suicide, this is not because they cause poverty, since crises of prosperity have the same result; it is because they are crises, that is disturbances of the collective order. Every disturbance of equilibrium, even though it achieves greater comfort and a heightening of general vitality,is an impulse to voluntary death.

    Section 2

    Tom O'Connor's article on strain theory includes this "what Durkheim actually said in Suicide (paraphrased, author's translation)". I think the paraphrase starts at this point in Suicide

    Whenever one's needs require more than what can be granted, or even merely something of a different sort, they will be under continual friction and only function painfully.... The more one has, the more one wants. A regulative force must play the same role for moral needs as it plays for physical needs.... Society alone is the only moral power superior enough to do this.... It alone can estimate the rewards to be proffered for every human endeavour. When society is disturbed by some crisis or abrupt transition, it is momentarily incapable of exercising this influence, thence the sudden rises in suicides as we have seen.... So long as the social forces freed have not gained equilibrium, their respective values are unknown and all regulation is lacking for a time. The limits are unknown between the possible and the impossible, what is just and what is unjust, legitimate hopes and claims and those which are immoderate. Consequently, there is no restraint upon aspirations.... Appetites, not controlled by public opinion, become distorted...and more impatient of control. A condition of anomie results from passions being less disciplined, precisely when they need more disciplining.

    Suicide pages 246 following

    No living being can be happy or even exist unless his needs are sufficiently proportioned to his means... In the animal, at least in a normal condition, this equilibrium is established with automatic spontaneity because the animal depends on purely material conditions...

    [p.247] This is not the case with man, because most of his needs are not dependent on his body or not to the same degree... how determine the quantity of well-being, comfort or luxury legitimately to be craved by a human being? ... They are... unlimited so far as they depend on the individual alone... ... Being unlimited, they constantly and indefinitely surpass the means at their command; they cannot be quenched. Inextinguishable thirst is constantly renewed torture...

    ... the passions... must be limited. Only then can they be harmonised with the faculties and satisfied. But since the individual has no way of limiting them, this must be done by some force exterior to him. A regulative force must play the same role for moral needs which the organism plays for physical needs. This means that the force can only be moral. The awakening of conscience interrupted the state of equilibrium in the animal's dormant existence; only conscience, therefore, can furnish the means to re-establish it.... the appetites... can be halted only by a limit that they recognise as just. Men would never consent to restrict their desires if they felt justified in passing the assigned limit. But... they cannot assign themselves this law of justice. So they must receive it from an authority which they respect, to which they yield spontaneously. Either directly an as a whole, or through the agency of one of its organs, society alone can play this moderating role, for it is the only moral power superior to the individual, the authority of which he accepts.

    Suicide pages 252 following

    In normal conditions the collective order is regarded as just by the great majority of persons. Therefore, when we say that an authority is necessary to impose this order on individuals, we certainly do not mean that violence is the only means of establishing it. Since this regulation is meant to restrain individual passions, it must come from a power which dominates individuals; but this power must also be obeyed through respect, not fear.

    It is not true, then, that human activity can be released from all restraint. Nothing in the world can enjoy such a privilege. All existence being a part of the universe is relative to the remainder... Man's characteristic privilege is that the bond he accepts is not physical but moral; that is, social. He is governed not by a material environment brutally imposed on him, but by a conscience superior to his own, the superiority of which he feels. Because the greater, better part of his existence transcends the body, he escapes the body's yoke, but is subject to that of society.

    But when society is disturbed by some painful crisis or by beneficent but abrupt transitions, it is momentarily incapable of exercising this influence; thence come the sudden rises in the curve of suicides which we have pointed out...

    In the case of economic disasters, indeed, something like a declassification occurs which suddenly casts certain individuals into a lower state than their previous one. Then they must reduce their requirements, restrain their needs, learn greater self-control. All the advantages of social influence are lost so far as they are concerned; their moral education has to be recommenced. But society cannot adjust them instantaneously to this new life and teach them to practice the increased self-repression to which they are unaccustomed. So they are not adjusted to the condition forced on them, and its very prospect is intolerable; hence the suffering which detaches them from a reduced existence even before they have made trial of it.

    It is the same if the source of the crisis is an abrupt growth of power and wealth. Then, truly, as the conditions of life are changed, the standard according to which needs were regulated can no longer remain the same; for it varies with social resources, since it largely [p.253] determines the share of each class of producers. The scale is upset; but a new scale cannot be immediately improvised. Time is required for the public conscience to reclassify men and things. So long as the social forces thus freed have not regained equilibrium, their respective values are unknown and so all regulation is lacking for a time. The limits are unknown between the possible and the impossible, what is just and what is unjust, legitimate claims and hopes and those which are immoderate. Consequently, there is no restraint upon aspirations.

    Suicide page 258:

    Egoistic suicide results from man's no longer finding a basis for existence in life; altruistic suicide, because this basis for existence appears to man situated beyond life itself. The third type of suicide... results from man's activity's lacking regulation and his consequent sufferings. By virtue of its origin we shall assign this last variety the name of anomic suicide


    Suicide page 270:

    After all, what is marriage? A regulation of sexual relations, including not merely the physical instincts which this intercourse involves but the feelings of every sort gradually engrafted by civilization on the foundation of physical desire. For among us love is a far more mental than organic fact. A man looks to a woman, not merely to the satisfaction of the sexual impulse. Though this natural proclivity has been the germ of all sexual evolution, it has become increasingly complicated with aesthetic and moral feelings, numerous and varied, and today it is only the smallest element of the total complex process to which it has given birth. Under the influence of these intellectual elements it has itself been partially freed from its physical nature and assumed something like an intellectual one. Moral reasons as well as physical needs impel love. Hence, it no longer has the regular, automatic periodicity which it displays in animals. A psychological impulse may awaken it at any time: it is not seasonal. But just because these various inclinations, thus changed, do not directly depend upon organic necessities, social regulation becomes necessary. They must be restrained by society since the organism has no means of restraining them. This is the function of marriage. It completely regulates the life of passion, and monogamic marriage more strictly than any other. For by forcing a man to attach himself forever to the same woman it assigns a strictly definite object to the need for love, and closes the horizon.

    This determination is what forms the state of moral equilibrium from which the husband benefits. Being unable to seek other satisfactions than those permitted, without transgressing his duty, he restricts his desires to them. The salutary discipline to which he is subjected makes it his duty to find his happiness in his lot, and by doing so supplies him with the means. Besides, if his passion is forbidden to stray, its fixed object is forbidden to fail him; the obligation is reciprocal. Though his enjoyment is restricted, it is assured (p.271) and this certainty forms his mental foundation. The lot of the unmarried man is different. As he has the right to form attachment wherever inclination leads him, he aspires to everything and is satisfied with nothing. This morbid desire for the infinite which everywhere accompanies anomy may as readily assail this as any other part of our consciousness; it very often assumes a sexual form which was described by Musset. 17 When one is no longer checked, one becomes unable to check one's self. Beyond experienced pleasures one senses and desires others; if one happens almost to have exhausted the range of what is possible, one dreams of the impossible; one thirsts for the non-existent. 18 How can the feelings not be exacerbated by such unending pursuit? For them to reach that state, one need not even have infinitely multiplied the experiences of love and lived the life of a Don Juan. The humdrum existence of the ordidinary bachelor suffices. New hopes constantly awake, only to be deceived, leaving a trail of weariness and disillusionment behind them. How can desire, then, become fixed, being uncertain that it can retain what it attracts; for the anomy is twofold. Just as the person makes no definitive gift of himself, he has definitive title to nothing. The uncertainty of the future plus his own indeterminateness therefore condemns him to constant change. The result of it all is a state of disturbance, agitation and discontent which inevitably increases the possibilities of suicide.

    Now divorce implies a weakening of matrimonial regulation. Where it exists, and especially where law and custom permit its excessive practice, marriage is nothing but a weakened simulacrum of itself; it is an inferior form of marriage. It cannot produce its useful effects to the same degree. Its restraint upon desire is weakened; since it is more easily disturbed and superceded, it controls passion less and passion tends to rebel. It consents less readily to its assigned limit. The moral calmness and tranquillity which were the husband's strength are less; they are replaced to some extent by an uneasiness which keeps a man from being satisfied with what he has. Besides, he is the less inclined to become attached to his present state as his enjoyment of it is not completely sure: the future is less certain. One cannot be strongly restrained by a chain which may be (p.272) broken on one side or the other at any moment. One cannot help looking beyond one's own position when the ground underfoot does not feel secure. Hence, in the countries where marriage is strongly tempered by divorce, the immunity of the married man is inevitably less. As he resembles the unmarried under this regime, he inevitably loses some of his own advantages. Consequently, the total number of suicides rises.

    But this consequence of divorce is peculiar to the man and does not affect the wife. Woman's sexual needs have less of a mental character because, generally speaking, her mental life is less developed. These needs are more closely related to the needs of the organism, following rather than leading them, and consequently find in them an efficient restraint. Being a more instinctive creature than man, woman has only to follow her instincts to find calmness and peace. She thus does not require so strict a social regulation as marriage, and particularly as monogamic marriage. Even when useful, such a discipline has its inconveniences. By fixing the conjugal state permanently, it prevents all retreat, regardless of consequences. By limiting the horizon, it doses all egress and forbids even legitimate hope. Man himself doubtless suffers from this immutability; but for him the evil is largely compensated by the advantages he gains in other respects. Custom, moreover, grants him certain privileges which allow him in some measure to lessen the strictness of the regime. There is no compensation or relief for the woman. Monogamy is strictly obligatory for her, with no qualification of any sort, and, on the other hand, marriage is not in the same degree useful to her for limiting her desires, which are naturally limited, and for teaching her to be contented with her lot; but it prevents her from changing it if it becomes intolerable. The regulation therefore is a restraint to her without any great advantages. Consequently, everything that makes it more flexible and lighter can only better the wife's situation. So divorce protects her and she has frequent recourse to it.

    Suicide page 273:

    The state of conjugal anomy, produced by the institution of divorce, thus explains the parallel development of divorces and suicides. Accordingly, the suicides of husbands which increase the number of voluntary deaths in countries where there are many divorces, form a division of anomic suicide. They are not the result of the existence of more bad husbands or bad wives in these societies, that is, of more unhappy households. They result from a moral structure sui generis, itself caused by a weakening of matrimonial regulation. This structure, established by marriage, by surviving it produces the exceptional tendency to suicide shown by divorced men. But we do not mean that this enervation of the regulation is created out of whole cloth by the legal establishment of divorce. Divorce is never granted except out of respect for a pre-existing state of customs. If the public conscience had not gradually decided that the indissolubility of the conjugal bond is unreasonable, no legislator would ever have thought of making it easier to break up. Matrimonial anomy may therefore exist in public opinion even without being inscribed in law. On the other hand, only when it has assumed a legal form, can it produce all its consequences. So long as the marriage law is unmodified, it at least serves considerably to restrict the passions; above all, it opposes the increase of the taste for anomy merely by reproof. That is why anomy has pronounced and readily recognizable effects only where it has become a legal institution.

    While this explanation accounts both for the observed parallelism between divorces and suicides and the inverse variations shown by the immunity of husband and that of the wife, it is confirmed by several other facts:

    Suicide page 276:

    {footnote 25} The above considerations show that there is a type of suicide the opposite of anomic suicide, just as egoistic and altruistic suicides are opposites. It is the suicide deriving from excessive regulation, that of persons with futures pitilessly blocked and passions violently checked by oppressive discipline. It is the suicide of very young husbands, of the married woman who is childless. So, for completeness sake, we should set up a forth suicidal type. But it has so little contemporary importance and examples are so hard to find aside from the cases just mentioned that it seems useless to dwell upon it. However it might be said to have historical interest. Do not the suicides of slaves, said to be frequent under certain conditions (See Corre, Le crime en pays creoles, p.48), belong to this type, or all suicides attributable to excessive physical or moral despotism? To bring out the ineluctable and inflexible nature of a rule against which there is no appeal, and in contrast with the expression anomy which has just been used, we might call it fatalistic suicide.

    Suicide page 291:

    Distribution of the Different Kinds of Death Among 1,000 Suicides (Both Sexes Combined)
    Countries Years Strangulation and Hanging Drowning Fire-arms Leaping from a High Spot Poison Asphyxiation
    France 1872 426 269 103 28 20 69
    France 1873 430 298 106 30 21 67
    France 1874 440 269 122 28 23 72
    France 1875 446 294 107 31 19 63
    Prussia 1872 610 197 102 6.9 25 3
    Prussia 1873 597 217 95 8.4 25 4.6
    Prussia 1874 610 162 126 9.1 28 6.5
    Prussia 1875 615 170 105 9.5 35 7.7
    England 1872 374 221 38 30 91 .
    England 1873 366 218 44 20 97 .
    England 1874 374 176 58 20 94 .
    England 1875 362 208 45 . 97 .
    Italy 1872 174 305 236 106 60 13.7
    Italy 1873 173 273 251 104 62 31.4
    Italy 1874 125 246 285 113 69 29
    Italy 1875 176 299 238 111 55 22

    Book Three: General Nature of Suicide as a Social Phenomenon

    1 The Social Element of Suicide [p.297-

    Suicide page 299:

    The conclusion from all these facts is that the social suicide-rate can be explained only sociologically. At any given moment the moral constitution of society establishes the contingent of voluntary deaths. There is, therefore, for each people a collective force of a definite amount of energy, impelling men to self-destruction. The victim's acts which at first seem to express only his personal temperament are really the supplement and prolongation of a social condition which they express externally.

    It is not mere metaphor to say of each human society that it has a greater or lesser aptitude for suicide; the expression is based on the nature of things. Each social group really has a collective inclination for the act quite its own, and the source of all individual inclination, rather than their result.

    Chapter 2 Relations of Suicide with Other Social Phenomena [p.326-

    Suicide page 336:

    Originally society is everything, the individual nothing. Consequently, the strongest social feelings are those connecting the individual with the collectivity; society is its own aim. Man is considered only an instrument in its hands; he seems to draw all his rights from it and has no counter- prerogative, because nothing higher than it exists. But gradually things change. As societies become greater in volume and density, they increase in complexity, work is divided, individual differences multiply, and the moment approaches when the only remaining bond among the members of a single human group will be that they are all men.

    Chapter 3 Practical Consequences [p.361-

    A necessary imperfection is not a disease; otherwise disease would have to be postulated everywhere, since imperfection is everywhere. No organic function, no anatomical form exists, some further perfection of which may not be conceived. It has been said that an oculist would blush to have constructed so crude an instrument of vision as the human eye. But from this it has not been and could not be concluded that the structure of this organ is abnormal. Moreover, to employ the somewhat theological language of our adversaries, whatever is necessary must have some perfection in it. Whatever is an indispensable condition of life cannot fail to he useful, unless life itself is not useful. The proposition is inescapable. And we have actually shown how crime may be of service. But it serves only when reproved and repressed. The mere fact of cataloguing it among the phenomena of normal sociology has been wrongly thought to imply its absolution. If it is normal that there should be crimes, it is normal that they should be punished. Punishment and crime are two terms of an [363] inseparable pair. One is as indispensable as the other. Every abnormal relaxation of the system of repression results in stimulating criminality and giving it an abnormal intensity.

    Let us apply these ideas to suicide.

    We have not sufficient data, it is true, to be sure that there is no society where suicide is not found. Statistics on suicide are available to us for only a small number of peoples. For the rest, the existence of chronic suicide can be proved only by the traces it leaves in legislation.

    Now, we do not know with certainty that suicide has everywhere been the object of juridical regulation. But we may affirm that this is usually the case. It is sometimes proscribed, sometimes reproved; sometimes its interdiction is formal, sometimes it includes reservations and exceptions. But all analogies permit the belief that it can never have remained a matter of indifference to law and morality; that is, it has always been sufficiently important to attract the attention of the public conscience. At any rate, it is certain that suicidogenetic currents of different intensity, depending on the historical period, have always existed among the peoples of Europe; statistics prove it ever since the last century, and juridical monuments prove it for earlier periods. Suicide is therefore an element of their normal constitution, and even, probably, of any social constitution. It is also possible to see their mutual connection.

    Durkheim 1912 The Elementary Forms of Religious Life


    Subject of our study: Religious sociology and the theory of knowledge

    Section 2 Secondary subject of research; the genesis of the fundamental notions of thought or the categories ...Reasons for believing that their origin is religious and consequently social...How a way of restating the theory of knowledge is thus seen.

    Religious Life page 9

    At the roots of all our judgments there are a certain number of essential ideas which dominate all our intellectual life; they are what philosophers since Aristotle have called the categories of the understanding: ideas of time, space, class, number, cause, substance, personality, etc. They correspond to the most universal properties of things. They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought: this does not seem to be able to liberate itself from them without destroying itself, for it seems that we cannot think of objects that are not in time and space, which have no number, etc. Other ideas are contingent and unsteady; we can conceive of them being unknown to a man, a society or an epoch; but these others appear to be nearly inseparable from the normal working of the intellect. They are like the framework of the intelligence. Now when primitive religious beliefs are systematically analyzed, the principle categories are naturally found. They are born in religion and of religion; they are a product of religious thought. This is a statement we are going to have occasion to make many times in the course of this work.

    Religious Life page 10 [etc]

    The general conclusion of the book which the reader has before him is that religion is something eminently social. Religious representations are collective representations which express collective realities; the rites are a manner of acting which take rise in the midst of the assembled groups and which are destined to excite, maintain or recreate certain mental states in these groups. So if the categories are of religious origin, they ought to participate in this nature common to all religious facts; they too should be social affairs and the product of collective thought. [etc]

    Even at present, these can be imperfectly seen in some of them. For example, try to represent what the notion of time would be without the processes by which we divide it, measure it or express it without objective signs [etc]

    This does not consist merely in a commemoration, either partial or integral, of our past life. It is an abstract and impersonal frame which surrounds, not only our individual existence, but that of all humanity. It is like an endless chart, where all duration is spread out before the mind, and upon which all possible events can be located in relation to fixed and determined guidelines. It is not my time that is thus arranged; it is time in general, such as it is objectively thought of by everybody in a single civilisation. That alone is enough to give us a hint that such an arrangement ought to be collective. And in reality, observation proves that these indispensable guide lines in relation to which all things are temporally located, are taken from social life. The divisions into days, weeks, months, years, etc., correspond to the periodical recurrence of rites, feasts, and pubic ceremonies. A calendar [1912 p.11] expresses the rhythm of the collective activities, while at the same time its function is to assure their regularity. [etc]

    That is to say that space could not be what it is if it were not, like time, divided and differentiated. But whence come these divisions which are so essential? By themselves, there are neither right nor left, up nor down, north nor south, etc. All these distinctions evidently come from the fact that different sympathetic values have been attributed to various regions. Since all the men of a single civilisation represent space in the same way, it is clearly necessary that these sympathetic values, and the distinctions which depend upon them, should be equally universal, and that almost necessarily implies that they be of social origin.

    Besides that, there are cases where this social character is made manifest. There are societies in Australia and North America where space is conceived in the form of an immense circle, because the camp has a circular form; and this spatial circle is divided up exactly like the tribal circle, and is in its [1912 p.12] image. There are as many regions distinguished as there are clans in the tribe, and it is the place occupied by the clans inside the encampment which has determined the orientation of these regions. Each region is defined by the totem of the clan to which it is assigned. Among the Zu¤i, for example, the pueblo contains seven quarters; each of these is a group of clans which has had a unity: in all probability it was originally a single clan which was later subdivided. Now their space also contains seven quarters, and each of these seven quarters of the world is in intimate connection with a quarter of the pueblo, that is to say with a group of clans. Thus, says Cushing, one division is thought to be in relation with the north, another represents the west, another the south, etc. Each quarter of the pueblo has its characteristic colour, which symbolises it; each region has its colour, which is exactly the same as that of the corresponding quarter. In the course of history the number of fundamental clans has varied; the number of the fundamental regions of space has varied with them. Thus the social organisation has been the model for the spatial organisation and a reproduction of it. It is thus even up to the distinction between right and left which, far from being inherent in the nature of man in general, is very probably the product of representations which are religious and therefore collective. [etc]

    Today the principle of identity dominates scientific thought; but there are vast systems of representations which have played a considerable role in the history of ideas where it has frequently been set aside: these are the mythologies, from the grossest up to the most reasonable. There, we are continually coming upon beings which [1912 p.13] have the most contradictory attributes simultaneously, who are at he same time one and many, material and spiritual, who can divide themselves up indefinitely without loosing anything of their constitution; in mythology it is an axiom that the part is worth the whole. These variations through which the rules which govern our present logic seem to have passed prove that, far from being engraven through all eternity upon the mental constitution of men, they depend, at least in part, upon factors that are historical and consequently social. We do not know exactly what they are, but we may presume that they exist.

    This hypothesis once admitted, the problem of knowledge is posed in new terms.

    Up to the present there have been only two doctrines in the field. For some, the categories cannot be derived from experience: they are logically prior to it and condition it. They are represented as so many simple and irreducible data, imminent in the human mind by virtue of its inborn constitution. For this reason they are said to be a priori. Others, however, hold that they are constructed and made up of pieces and bits, and that the individual is the artisan of this construction.

    But each solution raises grave difficulties.

    Is the empirical thesis the one adopted? Then it is necessary to deprive the categories of all their characteristic properties. As a matter of fact they are distinguished from all other knowledge by their universality and necessity. They are the most general concepts that exist, because they are applicable to all that is real, and since they are not attached to any particular object they are independent of every particular subject; they constitute the common field where all minds meet. Further, they must meet there, for reason, which is nothing more than all the fundamental categories taken together, is invested with an authority which we could not set aside if we would. When we attempt to revolt against it, and to free ourselves from some [1912 p.14]

    Classical empiricism results in irrationalism; perhaps it would even be fitting to designate it by this latter name.

    In spite of the sense ordinarily attached to the name, the apriorists [see a priori] have more respect for the facts. Since they do not admit it as truth established by evidence that the categories are made up of the same elements as our sensual representations, they are not obliged to impoverish them systematically, to draw from them all their real content, and to reduce them to no more than verbal artifices. [etc]

    Religious Life page 15:

    The fundamental proposition of the apriorist theory is that knowledge is made up of two sorts of elements, which cannot be reduced into one another, and which are like two distinct layers superimposed one upon the other. Our hypothesis keeps this principle intact. In fact, that knowledge which is called empirical, the only knowledge of which the theorists of empiricism have made use in constructing the reason, is that which is brought into our minds by the direct action of objects. It is composed of individual states which are completely explained by the psychical nature of the individual. If, on the other hand, the categories are, as we believe they are, essentially collective [1912 p.16] representations before all else, they should show the mental states of the group; they should depend upon the way in which this is founded and organised, upon its morphology, upon its religious, moral and economic institutions, etc. So between these two sorts of representations there is all the difference which exists between the individual and the social, and one can no more derive the second from the first than he can deduce society from the individual, the whole from the part, the complex from the simple. Society is a reality sui generis; it has its own peculiar characteristics, which are not found elsewhere and which are not met with again in the same form in all the rest of the universe. The representations which express it have a wholly different content from purely individual ones and we may rest assured in advance that the first adds something to the second.

    sui generis: Latin: of its own kind.

    Even the manner in which the two are formed results in differentiating them. Collective representations are the result of an immense cooperation, which stretches out not only into space but into time as well; to make them, a multitude of minds have associated, united and combined their ideas and sentiments; for them, long generations have accumulated their experience and their knowledge. A special intellectual activity is therefore concentrated in them which is infinitely richer and complexer than that of the individual. From that one can understand how the reason has been able to go beyond the limits of empirical knowledge. It does not owe this to any vague mysterious virtue but simply to the fact that according to the well-known formula, man is double. There are two beings in him: an individual being which has its foundations in the organism and the circle of whose activities is therefore strictly limited, and a social being which represents the highest reality in the intellectual and moral order that we can know by observation - I mean society.

    Book 1 Preliminary Questions

    Chapter 1: Definitions of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

    Religious Life page 44:

    A society whose members are united by the fact that they think in the same way in regard to the sacred world and its relations with the profane world, and by the fact that they translate these common ideas to common practices, is what is called a Church. In all history, we do not find a single religion without a Church.

    Religious Life page 47:

    Thus we arrive at our following definition: A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden - beliefs and practices which unit into one single moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them. The second element which thus finds a place in our definition is no less essential than the first; for by showing that the idea of religion is inseparable from that of the Church, it makes it clear that religion should be an eminently collective thing (Footnote 1: It is by this that our present definition is connected to the one we have already proposed in the Année Sociologique. In this other work, we defined religious beliefs exclusively by their obligatory character; but, as we shall show, this obligation evidently comes from the fact that those beliefs are the possession of a group which imposes them upon its members. The two definitions are thus in a large part the same. If we have thought it best to propose a new one, it is because the first was too formal, a neglected the contents of the religious representations too much. It will be seen in the discussions which follow, how important it is to put this characteristic into evidence at once. Moreover, if their imperative character is really a distinctive trait of religious beliefs, it allows of an infinite number of degrees; consequently there are even cases where it is not easily perceptible. Hence come difficulties and embarrassments which are avoided by substituting for this criteria the one we now employ)

    Chapter 2: Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

    Religious Life page 63:

    In reality, a cult is not a simple group of ritual precautions which a man is held to take in certain circumstances; it is a system of diverse rites, festivals and ceremonies which all have this characteristic, that they reappear periodically. They fulfil the need which the believer feels of strengthening and reaffirming, at regular intervals of time, the bond which unites him to the sacred beings upon which he depends.

    Chapter 4: Totemism as an Elementary Religion

    Religious Life page 87:

    A fact of common experience cannot give us the idea of something whose characteristic is to be outside the world of common experience. A man, as he appears to himself in his dreams, is only a man. Natural forces, as our senses perceive them, are only natural forces, however great their intensity may be... is necessary to regard religion as the product of a delirious imagination...

    Since neither man nor nature have of themselves a sacred character, they must get it from another [p.88] source. Aside from the human individual and the physical world, there should be some other reality, in relation to which the variety of delirium which all religion is in a sense, has a significance and an objective value. In other words, beyond those which we have called animistic and naturistic, there should be another sort of cult, more fundamental and more primitive, of which the first are only derived forms or particular aspects.

    In fact, this cult does exist: it is one to which ethnologists have given the name of totemism.

    It was only at the end of the eighteenth century that the word totem appeared in ethnographical literature. It is found for the first time in the book of an [American] Indian interpreter, J. Long, which was published in London in 1791. {Voyages and Travels of An Indian Interpreter}.

    For nearly half a century, totemism was known only as something exclusively American. It was only in 1841 that Grey ... {Journals of Two Expeditions in North-West and Western Australia} pointed out the existence of wholly similar practices in Australia. From that time on, scholars began to realise that they were in the presence of a system of a certain generality.


    Students of American totemism had already known for a [p.89] long time that this form of religion was most intimately united to a determined social organisation, that its basis is the division of the social group into clans. In 1877, in his Ancient Society, Lewis H. Morgan undertook to make a study of it, to determine its distinctive characteristics, and at the same time to point out its generality among the Indian tribes of North and Central America. At nearly the same moment, and even following the direct suggestion of Morgan, Fison and Howitt established the existence of the same social system in Australia, as well as its relations with totemism.

    Book 2 The Elementary Beliefs

    Chapter 1: Totemic Beliefs

    The Totem as Name and as Emblem

    Religious Life page 102:

    Among the beliefs upon which totemism rests, the most important are naturally those concerning the totem; it is with these that we must begin.


    At the basis of nearly all the Australian tribes we find a group which holds a prepondering place in the collective life: this is the clan. Two essential traits characterise it.

    In the first place, the individuals who compose it consider themselves united by a bond of kinship, but one which is of a very special nature. The relationship does not come from the fact that they have definite blood connections with one another; they are relatives from the mere fact that they have the same name...

    ...the Australian clan ... is distinguished by the fact that its name is also the name of a determined species of material things with which it believes that it has very particular relations, the nature of which we shall presently describe; they are especially relations of kinship. The species of things which serves to designate the clan collectively is called the totem. The totem of the clan is also that of each of its members.

    Each clan has its totem, which belongs to it alone; two different clans of the same tribe cannot have the same. In fact, one is a member of a clan merely because he has a certain name.

    Religious Life page 103:

    In a very large proportion of the cases, the objects which serve as totems belong either to the animal or the vegetable kingdom, but especially to the former. Inanimate things are much more rarely employed. Out of more than 500 totemic names collected by Howitt among the tribes of south-eastern Australia, there are scarcely forty which are not the names of plants or animals; these are clouds, rain, hail, frost, the [p.104] moon, the sun, the wind, the autumn, the summer, the winter, certain stars, thunder, fire, smoke, water or the sea.

    Chapter 5: Origins of These Beliefs

    Chapter 6: Origins of These Beliefs...continued

    The Notion of the Totemic Principle, or Mana, and the Idea of Force p.188

    In other words, totemism is the religion, not of such and such animals or men or images, but of an anonymous and impersonal force, found in each of these beings but not to be confounded with any of them. No one possesses it entirely and all participate in it. It is so completely independent of the particular subjects in whom it incarnates itself, that it precedes them and survives them. Individuals die, generations [p.189] pass and are replaced by others; but this force always remains actual, living and the same. It animates the generations of today as it animated those of yesterday and as it will animate those of tomorrow.

    Religious Life page 194:

    The definition given by Codrington is as follows:

    "There is a belief in force altogether distinct from physical power, which acts in all ways for good and evil; and which it is of the greatest advantage to possess or control. This is Mana. I think I know what our people mean by it. - It is a power or influence, not physical and in a way supernatural; but it shows itself in physical force, or in any kind of power or excellence which a man possesses. This mana is not fixed in anything, and can be conveyed in almost anything. - All Melanesian religion consists, in fact, in getting this mana for one's self, or getting it used for one's benefit."(6)

    (6) The Melanesians, p. 118, n.1. Cf Parkinson Dreissig Jahre in der Südsee, pp 178, 392, 394, etc.

    Is this not the same notion of an anonymous and diffused force, the germs of which we recently found in the totemism of Australia?

    Religious Life page 206:

    Thus the totem is before all a symbol, a material expression of something else (*). But of what? From the analysis to which we have been giving our attention, it is evident that it expresses and symbolises two different sorts of things. In the first place, it is the outward and visible form of what we have called the totemic principle or god. But it is also the symbol of the determined society called the clan. It is its flag; it is the sign by which each clan distinguishes itself from the others, the visible mark of its personality, a mark borne by everything which is a part of the clan under any title whatsoever, men, beasts or things. So if it is at once the symbol of the god and the society, is that not because the god and the society are only one? How could the emblem of the group have been able to become the symbol of this quasi-divinity, if the group and the divinity were two distinct realities? The god of the clan, the totemic principle, can therefore be nothing else than the clan itself, personified and represented to the imagination under the visible form of the animal or vegetable which serves as totem.

    (*) Pickles, in the little work above mentioned, had already expressed, in a slightly dialectical manner, the sentiment that this is what the totem is.

    Religious Life pages 212-213:

    Also, in the present day just as much as in the past, we see society constantly creating sacred things out of ordinary ones. If it happens to fall in love with a man and if it thinks it has found in him the principle aspirations that move it, as well as the means of satisfying them, this man will be raised above the others and, as it were, deified. Opinion will invest him with a majesty exactly analogous to that protecting the gods. This is what has happened to so many sovereigns in whom their age had faith: if they are not made gods they were at least regarded as direct representatives of the deity. And the fact that it is society alone which is the author of these varieties of apotheosis, is evident since it frequently chances to consecrate men thus who have no right to it from their own merit.

    Au reste, tant dans le présent que dans l'histoire, nous voyons sans cesse la société créer de toutes pièces des choses sacrées. Qu'elle vienne à s'éprendre d'un homme, qu'elle croie découvrir en lui les principales aspirations qui la travaillent ainsi que les moyens d'y donner satisfaction, et cet homme sera mis hors de pair et comme divinisé. Il sera investi par l'opinion d'une majesté tout à fait analogue à celle qui protège les dieux. C'est ce qui est advenu de tant de souverains, en qui leur siècle avait foi : si l'on n'en faisait pas des dieux, on voyait du moins en eux des représentants directs de la divinité. Et ce qui montre bien que c'est la société toute seule qui est l'auteur de ces sortes d'apothéoses, c'est qu'il lui est arrivé souvent de consacrer ainsi des hommes qui, par leur mérite propre, n'y avaient aucun droit

    The simple deference inspired by men invested with high social functions is not different in nature from religious respect. It is expressed by the same movements: a man keeps at a distance from a high personage: he approaches him only with precautions; in conversing with him, he uses other gestures and language than those used with ordinary mortals. The sentiment felt on these occasions is so closely related to the religious sentiment that many peoples have confounded the two. In order to explain the consideration accorded to princes, nobles and political chiefs, a sacred character has been attributed to them. In Melanesia and Polynesia, for example, it is said that an influential man has mana (1). However, it is evident that this situation is due solely to the importance attributed to him by public opinion. Thus the moral power conferred by opinion and that with which scared beings are invested are at bottom of a single origin and made up of the same elements. That is why a single word is able to designate the two.

    (1) Codrington The Melanesians, pp 50, 103, 120. It is also generally thought that in the Polynesian languages, the word mana primitively had the sense of authority (see Tregear, Maori Comparative Dictionary, s.v.)

    Religious Life page 226:

    It is certainly true that religious life cannot attain a certain degree of intensity without implying a physical exaltation not far removed from delirium. That is why the prophets, the founders of religions, the great saints, in a word the men whose religious consciousness is exceptionally sensitive, very frequently give signs of an excessive nervousness that is even pathological: these physiological defects predestined them to great religious roles. The ritual use of intoxicating liquors is to be explained in the same way (2)

    [(2) On this point, see Achelis, Die Ekstase, Berlin, 1902, especially chapter 1].

    Of course this does not mean that an ardent religious faith is necessarily the fruit of the drunkenness and mental derangement which accompany it; but as experience soon informed people of the similarities between the mentality of a delirious person and that of a seer, they sought to open a way to the second by artificially exciting the first. But if, for this reason, it may be said that religion is not without a certain delirium, it must be added that this delirium, if it has the causes which we have attributed to it, is well-founded. The images out of which it is made are not pure illusions like those of the naturists and animists put at the base of religion; they correspond to something in reality.

    Religious Life page 230:

    Section 5: But if this theory of totemism has enabled us to explain the most characteristic beliefs of this religion, it rests upon a fact not yet explained.

    Religious Life page 295

    As for the notion of the great god, it is due entirely to the sentiment whose action we have already observed in the genesis of the most specifically totemic beliefs: this is the tribal sentiment. In fact, we have seen that totemism was not the work of isolated clans, but that it was always elaborated in the body of a tribe which was to some degree conscious of its unity. It is for this reason that the different cults peculiar to each clan mutually touch and complete each other in such a way as to form a unified whole (footnote: See above page 155). Now it is the same sentiment of a tribal unity which is expressed in the conception of a supreme god, common to the tribe as a whole. So they are quite the same causes which are active at the bottom and at the top of this religious system.

    Religious Life page 326:
    The Elements of Sacrifice

    Religious Life page 336:

    We know what a revolution the work of Robertson Smith brought about in the traditional theory of sacrifice. Before him, sacrifice was regarded as a sort of tribute or homage, either obligatory or optional, analogous to that which subjects owe to their princes. Robertson Smith was the first to remark that the classic explanation did not account for two essential characteristics of the rite, In the first place, it is a repast: its substance is food. Secondly. it is a repast in which the worshippers who offer it take part, along with the god to whom it is offered.

    Religious Life page 340:

    Sacrifice was not founded to create a bond of artificial kinship between a man and his gods, but to maintain and renew the natural kinship which primitively united them.

    Religious Life page 347:

    The sacred principle is nothing more nor less than society transfigured and personified

    social life.. moves in a circle. On the one hand, the individual gets from society the best part of himself, all that gives him a distinct character and a special place among other beings, his intellectual and moral culture. If we should withdraw from men their language, sciences, arts and moral beliefs, they would drop to the ranks of animals. So the characteristic attributes of human nature come from society. But, on the other hand, society exists and lives only in and through individuals. If the idea of society were extinguished in individual minds and the beliefs, traditions and aspirations of the group were no longer felt and shared by the individuals, society would die.

    the effect of the cult.. is to recreate periodically a moral being upon which we depend as it depends on us. ..this being.. is society.

    Religious Life page 381:

    It is a well known fact that games and the principal forms of art seem to have been born of Religion - The world of religious things is a partially imaginary world, though only in its outward form, and one which therefore lends itself more readily to the free creations of the mind. Also, since the intellectual forces which serve to make it are intense and tumultuous, the unique task of expressing the real with the aid of appropriate symbols is not enough to occupy them. A surplus generally remains available which seeks to employ itself in supplementary and superfluous works of luxury, that is to say, in works of art. There are practices as well as beliefs of this sort. The state of effervescence in which the assembled worshippers find themselves must be translated outwardly by exuberant movements which are not easily subjected to too carefully defined ends. In part, they escape aimlessly, they spread themselves for the mere pleasure of so doing, and they take delight in all sorts of games. Besides, in so far as the beings to whom the cult is addressed are imaginary, they are not able to contain and regulate this exuberance - Therefore one exposes oneself to grave misunderstandings if, in explaining rites, he believes that each gesture has a precise object and a definite reason for its existence. There are some which serve nothing; they merely answer the need felt by worshippers for action, motion, gesticulation. They are to be seen jumping, whirling, dancing, crying and singing, though it may not always be possible to give a meaning to all this agitation.

    Therefore religion would not be itself if it did not give some place to the free combinations of thought and activity, to play, [p.382] to art, to all that recreates the spirit that has been fatigued by the two great slavishness of daily work: the very same causes which called it into existence make it a necessity. Art is not merely an external ornament with which the cult has adorned itself in order to dissimulate certain of its features which may be to austere and too rude; but rather aesthetic.


    Religious Life page 417:

    Our entire study rests upon this postulate that the unanimous sentiment of the believers of all times cannot be purely illusory. Together with a recent apologist of the faith (footnote 1: William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience) we admit that those religious beliefs rest upon a specific experience whose demonstrative values is, in one sense, not one bit inferior to that of scientific experiments, though different from them. We, too, think that a "tree is known by its fruits" (footnote 2: Quoted by James p.20) and that fertility is the best proof of what the roots are worth. But from the fact that a "religious experience", if we choose to call it this, does exist and that it has a certain foundation - and, by the way, is there any experience which has none? - it does not follow that the reality which is its foundation conforms objectively to the idea which believers have of it. The very fact that the fashion in which it has been conceived has varied infinitely in different time is enough to prove that none of these conceptions express it adequately. If a scientist states it as an axiom [p.418] that the sensations of heat and light which we feel correspond to some objective cause, he does not conclude that this is what it appears to the senses to be. Likewise, even if the impressions which the faithful feel are not imaginary, still they are in no way privileged intuitions; there is no reason for believing that they inform us any better upon the nature of their object than do ordinary sensations upon the nature of bodies and their properties. In order to discover what this object consists of, we must submit them to an examination and elaboration analogous to that which has substituted for the sensuous idea of the world another which is scientific and conceptual.

    This is precisely what we have tried to do, and we have seen that this reality, which mythologies have represented under so many different forms, but which is the universal and eternal objective cause of these sensations sui generis out of which religion is made, is society. We have shown what moral forces it develops and how it awakes the sentiment of a refuge, of a shield and of a guardian support which attaches the believer to his cult. It is that which raises him outside himself; it is even that which made him. For that which makes a man is the totality of the intellectual property which constitutes civilisation, and civilisation is the work of society. Thus is explained the preponderating role of the cult in all religions, whichever they may be. This is because society cannot make its influence felt unless it is in action, and it is not in action unless the individuals who compose it are assembled together and act in common. It is by common action that it takes consciousness of itself and realises its position; it is before all else an active cooperation. The collective ideas and sentiments are even possible only owing to these exterior movements which symbolise them, as we have established. (footnote: see above, pages 230 following). Then it is action that dominates the religious life, because of the mere fact that it is society which is its source.

    Durkheim, E. 1914a The Dualism of Human Nature and its Social Conditions

    I am developing (extending) these extracts from the page of quotes at the University of Mexico

    Durkheim1914a p.325

    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. For society can exist only if it penetrates the consciousness of individuals and fashions it in "its image and resemblance." We can say, therefore, with assurance and without being excessively dogmatic, that a great number of our mental states, including some of the most important ones, are of social origin. In this case, then, it is the whole that, in a large measure, produces the part; consequently, it is impossible to attempt to explain the whole without explaining the part - without explaining, at least, the part as a result of the whole.

    The supreme product of collective activity is that ensemble of intellectual and moral goods that we call civilisation; it is for this reason that Auguste Comte referred to sociology as the science of civilisation. However, it is civilisation that has made man what he is; its is what distinguishes him from the animal: man is man only because he is civilised.

    To look for the causes and conditions upon which civilisation depends is, therefore, to seek out also the causes and conditions of what is more specifically human in man.

    And so sociology, which draws on psychology and could not do without it, brings to it, in a just return, a contribution that equals and surpasses in importance the service sit receives from it.

    It is only by historical analysis that we can discover what makes up man, since it is only in the course of history that he is formed.

    Durkheim1914a p.326

    The body is an integral part of the material universe, as it is made known to us by sensory experience; the abode of the soul is elsewhere, and the soul tends ceaselessly to return to it. The abode is the world of the sacred. Therefore, the soul is invested with a dignity that has always been denied the body, which is considered essentially profane, and it inspires those feelings that are everywhere reserved for that which is divine. It is made up of the same substance as are the sacred beings: it differs from them only in degree. A belief that is as universal and permanent as this cannot be purely illusory. There must be something in man that gives rise to this feeling that his nature is dual, a feeling that men in all known civilisations have experienced. Psychological analysis has, in fact, confirmed the existence of his duality: it finds it at the very heart of our inner life.

    Durkheim1914a p.327

    Our sensory appetites are necessarily egoistic: they have our individuality and it alone as their object.

    Conceptual thought and moral activity are distinguished by the fact that the rules of conduct to which they conform can be universalised.

    Morality begins with disinterest, with attachment to something other than ourselves.

    When one thinks through the concepts that he receives from the community, he individualises them and marks them with his personal imprint, but there is nothing personal that is not susceptible to this type of individualisation.

    Durkheim1914a p.328

    There is in us a being that represents everything in relation to itself and from its own point of view; in everything that it does, this being has no other object but itself. There is another being in us, however, which knows if it were participating in some thought other than its own, and which, in its acts, tends to accomplish ends that surpass its own. The old formula homo duplex is therefore verified by the facts. Far from being simply, our inner life has something that is like a double center of gravity. On the one hand is our individuality - and, more particularly, our body in which it is based; on the other hand is everything in us that expresses something other than ourselves. Not only are these two groups of states on consciousness different in their origins and their properties, but there is a true antagonism between them. They mutually contradict and deny each other.

    We cannot live without representing to ourselves the world around us and the objects of every sort which fill it. And because we represent it to ourselves, it enters into us and becomes part of us. Consequently, we value the world and are attached to it just as we are to ourselves.

    Durkheim1914a p.329

    Absolute egoism, like absolute altruism, is an ideal limit which can never be attained in reality. Both are states that we can approach indefinitely without ever realizing them completely.

    The result is that we are never completely in accord with ourselves for we cannot follow one of our two natures without causing the other to suffer. Our joys can never be pure; there is always some pain mixed with them; for we cannot simultaneously satisfy the two beings that are within us. It is this disagreement, this perpetual division against ourselves, that produces both our grandeur and our misery: our misery because we are thus condemned to live in suffering; and our grandeur because it is this division that distinguishes us from all other beings.

    Durkheim1914a p.330

    ... man is one, and if there are serious strains within him, it is because he is not acting in conformity with his nature. If properly interpreted, a concept cannot be contrary to the sensation to which it owes its existence; and the moral act cannot be in conflict with the egoistic act, because, fundamentally, it derives from utilitarian motives.

    It is still true that at all times man has been disquieted and malcontent. He has always felt that he is pulled apart, divided against himself.

    Durkheim1914a p.331

    We cannot admit that this universal and chronic state of malaise is the product of a simple aberration, that man has been the creator of his own suffering, and that he has stupidly persisted in it, although his nature predisposed him to live harmoniously.

    Durkheim1914a p.332

    If we reject the theories which eliminate the problem rather than solve it, the only remaining ones that are valid and merit examination are those which limit ourselves to affirming the fact that must be explained, but which do not account for it.

    Durkheim1914a p.333

    To say that we are double because there are two contrary forces in us is to repeat the problem in different terms; it does not resolve it.

    We understand even less how these two worlds which are wholly opposite, and which, consequently, should repulse and exclude each other, tend, nevertheless, to unite and interpenetrate in such a way as to produce the mixed and contradictory being that is man; for it seems that their antagonism should keep them apart and make their union impossible.

    Durkheim1914a p.334

    ... we think that sensations are inferior forms of our activity, and we attribute a higher dignity to reason and moral activity which are the faculties by which, so we are told, we communicate with God.

    Durkheim1914a p.335

    Even to the secular mind, duty, the moral imperative, is something august and sacred; and reason, the indispensable ally of moral activity, naturally inspires similar feelings.

    The ideas and sentiments that are elaborated by a collectivity, whatever it may be, are invested by reason of their origin with an ascendancy and an authority that cause the particular individuals who think them and believe in them to represent them in the form of moral forces that dominate and sustain them. When these ideals move our wills, we feel that we are being led, directed, and carried along by singular energies that, manifestly, do not come from us but are imposed on us from the outside.

    Durkheim1914a p.336

    Once the group has dissolved and the social communion has done its work, the individuals carry away within themselves these great religious, moral, and intellectual conceptions that societies draw from their very hearts during their periods of greatest creativity.

    Durkheim1914a p.337

    It is not without reason, therefore, that man feels himself to be double: he actually is double. There are in him two classes of states of consciousness that differ from each other in origin and nature, and in the ends towards which they aim. One class merely expresses our organisms and the objects to which they are most directly related. Strictly individual, he states of consciousness of this class connect us only with ourselves, and we can no more detach them from us than we can detach ourselves from our bodies. The states consciousness of the other class, on the contrary, come to us from society; they transfer society into us and connect us with something that surpasses us. Being collective, they are impersonal; they turn us toward ends that we hold in common with other men; it is through them and them alone that we can communicate with others. It is, therefore, quite true that we are made up of two parts, and are like two beings, which, although they are closely associated, are composed of very different elements and orient us in opposite directions.

    Durkheim1914a p.338

    In brief, this duality corresponds to the double existence that we lead concurrently: the one purely individual and rooted in our organisms, the other social and nothing but an extension of society. The origin of the antagonism that we have described is evident from the very nature of the elements involved in it. The conflicts of which we have given examples are between the sensations and the sensory appetites, on the one hand, and the intellectual and moral life, on the other, and it is evident that passions and egoistic tendencies derive from our individual constitutions, while our rational activity - whether theoretical or practical - is dependent on social causes. We have often had occasion to prove that the rules of morality are norms that have been elaborated by society; the obligatory character with which they are marked is nothing but the authority of society, communicating itself to everything that comes from it.

    There is no doubt that if society were only the natural and spontaneous development of the individual, these two parts of ourselves would harmonize and adjust to each other without clashing and without friction: the first part, since it is only the extension and, in a way, the complement of the second, would encounter no resistance from the latter. In fact, however, society has its own nature, and, consequently, its requirements are quite different from those of our nature as individuals: the interests of the whole are not necessarily those of the part. Therefore, society cannot be formed or maintained without our being required to make perpetual and costly sacrifices. Because society surpasses us, it obliges us to surpass ourselves; and to surpass itself, a being must, to some degree, depart from its nature - a departure that does not take place without causing more or less painful tensions.

    Durkheim1914a p.339

    ... since the role of the social being in our single selves will grow ever more important as history moves ahead, it is wholly improbable that there will ever be an era in which man is required to resist himself to a lesser degree, an era in which he can live a life that is easier and less full of tension. To the contrary, all evidence compels us to expect our effort in the struggle between the two beings within us to increase with the growth of civilisation.

    Durkheim, E. 1914/1955 Pragmatism and Sociology

    Durkheim1914/1955 par.15.1 Before examining the value of pragmatism as a form of logical utilitarianism, let us look first at the characteristics of truth. We see at once that it is linked to:

      1 a moral obligation. Truth cannot be separated from a certain moral character. In every age, men have felt that they were obliged to seek truth. In truth, there is something which commands respect, and a moral power to which the mind feels properly bound to assent;

      2 a de facto necessitating power. There is a more or less physical impossibility of not admitting the truth. When our mind perceives a true representation, we feel that we cannot not accept it as true. The true idea imposes itself on us. It is this character that is expressed in the old theory of the evident nature of truth; there emanates from truth an irresistible light.

    Durkheim1914/1955 par.15.2 Is pragmatism, as a form of logical utilitarianism, capable of explaining these two characters? It can explain neither of them.

      1 Seeking the useful is following nature, not mastering it or taming it. There is no place here for the moral constraint implied in the idea of obligation. Pragmatism indeed cannot entail a hierarchy of values, since everything in it is placed on the same level. The true and the good are both on our level, that of the useful, and no effort is needed to lift ourselves to it. For James, the truth is what is 'expedient', and it is because it is advantageous that it is good and has value. Clearly this means that truth has its demands, its loyalties, and can give rise to enthusiasm, but at the level of the useful, this enthusiasm is only related to what is capable of pleasing us, that which is in conformity with our interests.

      2 Nor is it possible to see how pragmatists could explain the necessitating character of truth. Pragmatists believe that it is we who construct both the world and the representations which express it. We 'make' truth in conformity with our needs. How then could it resist us? Pragmatism no doubt accepts that beneath those intellectual constructions which make up truth there is nevertheless a prime matter which we have not created. For pragmatism, however, this prime matter is only an ideal limit which we never reach, although we always tend towards it. It is wiser, says Schiller, to ignore it, since absolute truth could 'give us no aid', and is rather an obstacle to a more adequate knowledge of realities which are in effect accessible to us. Besides that prime matter, there is of course the whole system of mental organisation, acquired truths and 'previous truths'. But that is 'a much less obdurately resisting factor' which 'often ends by giving way': ideas are soft things, which we can twist as we like when there is no objective reality (provided by sensations) which prevents us from doing so.

      In short, when pragmatists speak of truth as something good, desirable and attractive, one wonders whether a whole aspect of it has not escaped them. Truth is often painful, and may well disorganise thought and trouble the serenity of the mind. When man perceives it, he is sometimes obliged to change his whole way of thinking. This can cause a crisis which leaves him disconcerted and disabled. If, for example, when he is an adult, he suddenly realises that all his religious beliefs have no solid basis, he experiences a moral collapse and his intellectual and affective life is in a sense paralysed. This sense of confusion has been expressed by Jouffroy in his famous article Comment les dogmes finissent. Thus the truth is not always attractive and appealing. Very often it resists us, is opposed to our desires and has a certain quality of hardness.

      3 Truth has a third character, and one which is undeniable: impersonality. The pragmatists themselves have indicated this. But how can this character be reconciled with their definition of truth? It has been said, with some justice, that moral utilitarianism implies moral subjectivism. Is the same not true of logical utilitarianism?

    Durkheim1914/1955 par.15.3 The notion of the useful is, moreover, a very obscure one. Everything is useful in relation to certain ends, and even the worst things are useful from a certain point of view. Inversely, even the best, such as knowledge, have their disadvantages and can cause suffering: those ages in which knowledge has increased must have been the most anguished. Any phenomenon has infinite repercussions in the universe, some of them good and others bad. How could we weigh advantages against drawbacks? It would probably be possible to trace all effects back to a cause and consequently to a criterion which would both be single and determining. One could, for example, accept the existence of an impersonal and universal moral end which all men are obliged to seek. But pragmatism excludes any determination of this kind. The truth, says James, is what is 'expedient in almost any fashion; and expedient in the long run and on the whole of course; for what meets expediently all the experience in sight won't necessarily meet all further experiences equally satisfactorily'. And yet not everything can be true. A choice has to be made, but on what basis? Only on that of personal experience. If something causes us more satisfaction than discomfort, we can say that yes, it is useful. But the experience of other people can be different. Although pragmatism does not totally accept this consequence, truth can be totally subjective in such conditions. It is a question of temperament: the temperament of the ascetic, for example, and that of the man of action; both have their reason for being, and thus correspond to two different modes of action.

    Durkheim1914/1955 par.15.4 But here a problem arises. If truth thus has a personal character, how can impersonal truth be possible? Pragmatists see it as the ideal final stage towards which all individual opinions would ultimately converge." What then are the causes which would determine such a convergence? Two are mentioned by the pragmatists.

      (1) just as experience varies with individuals, so does its extent. The person who possesses the widest and best-organised experience is in a better position to see what is really useful. Gradually, his authority here imposes itself and attracts the commendation of others. But is that a decisive argument? Since all experience and all judgements are essentially personal matters, the experience of others is valid for them, but not for me.

      (2) There are also social considerations. 'Every recognition of a judgement by others is a social problem', says Schiller. Everyone, in fact, has an interest in acting in concert with his fellow men, since if he does he feels himself to be stronger and consequently more efficient and more 'useful'.

    But the usefulness of joint action implies shared views, judgements and ideas. The pragmatists have not disregarded this entirely. The difficulty is that we do not in fact picture things as we desire them to be, and that the pragmatist theses run the risk of making us not see this gap, and consequently of making us see as true that which conforms to our desires. In order to overcome this difficulty, we should have to agree to see the general opinion, not as something artificial, but as an authority capable of silencing the differences between individuals and of countering the particularism of individual points of view. If, however, public opinion is to be able to impose itself in this way it is essential that it should have an extra-individual origin. But this is not possible in pragmatist doctrine, since it holds that individual judgements are at the root of all human thought: no purely individual judgement could ever become an objective truth.

    Durkheim1914/1955 par.15.5 Moreover, above all these dialectics, there is one fact. If, as pragmatism maintains, the 'common' truth was the product of the gradual convergence of individual judgements, one would have to be able to observe an ever-greater divergence between the ways of thinking of individuals as one went further and further back through history. However, what happens is exactly the opposite." It is in the very earliest ages that men, in every social group, all think in the same way. It is then that uniformity of thought can be found. The great differences only begin to appear with the very first Greek philosophers. The Middle Ages once again achieved the very type of the intellectual consensus. Then came the Reformation, and with it came heresies and schisms which were to continue to multiply until we eventually came to realise that everyone has the right to think as he wishes.

    Durkheim1914/1955 par.15.6 Let us also go back in the series of propositions of pragmatist doctrine. We see that if pragmatism defines the true as the useful, it is because it has proposed the principle that truth is simply an instrument of action. For pragmatism, truth has no speculative function: all that concerns it is its practical utility. For pragmatists, this speculative function is present only in play and dreams. But for centuries humanity has lived on non-practical truths, beliefs which were something quite other than 'instruments of action'. Myths have no essentially practical character. In primitive civilisations they are accepted for themselves, and are objects of belief. They are not merely poetic forms. They are groupings of representations aimed at explaining the world, systems of ideas whose function is essentially speculative. For a long time, myths were the means of expression of the intellectual life of human societies. If men found a speculative interest in them, it is because this need corresponded to a reality.

    Durkheim, E. 1918/1960 Rousseau's Social Contract

    Durkheim1918/1960 p. 82

    [Durkheim quoting Rousseau. The quotation is from the Geneva Manuscript of The Social Contract. See Christopher Bertram's 1999 translation at the University of Bristol ]

    A society is

    "a moral entity having specific qualities distinct from those of the individual beings which compose it, somewhat as chemical compounds have properties that they owe to none of their elements. If the aggregation resulting from these vague relationships really formed a social body, there would be a kind of common sensorium that would outlive the correspondence of the parts. Public good and evil would not be merely the sum of individual good and evil, as in a simple aggregation, but would lie in the relation that unites them. It would be greater than that sum, and public well being would not be the result of the happiness of individuals, but rather its source"

    Durkheim1918/1960 p. 83

    ... Rousseau was keenly aware of the specificity of the social order. He conceived it clearly as an order of facts generically different from purely individual facts. It is a new world super-imposed on the purely psychological world. A conception of this kind is far superior even to that of such recent theorists as Spencer, who think they have grounded society in nature when they have pointed out that man has a vague sympathy for his fellow men, and that it is in his interest to exchange services with them. Feelings of this kind may make for momentary contacts between individuals, but these intermittent and superficial relationships which, as Rousseau puts it, lack the "connection between the parts, that constitutes the whole," are not societies. Rousseau realised this. In his view, society is nothing if not a single definite body distinct from its parts.

    Durkheim, E. 1925a Moral Education. A study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of Education

    The editor's introduction, by Everett K. Wilson, to the 1965 translation, contains a number of quotations that I cannot find in the text. These include:

    "to act morally is to act in terms of the collective interest... the domain of the moral begins where the domain of the social begins" (p.xi)

    Durkheim 1925a p.3

    Chapter 1: Introduction: Secular Morality

    Anything that reduces the effectiveness of moral education, whatever disrupts patterns of relationships, threatens public morality at its very roots
    It is in our public schools that the majority of our children are being formed. These schools must be the guardians par [p.4] excellence of our national character. They are the heart of our general education system. We must, therefore, focus our attention on them, and consequently on moral education as it is understood and practised and as it should be understood and practised.

    Durkheim 1925a p.9

    ... if, in rationalising morality in moral education, one confines himself to withdraw from moral discipline everything that is religious without replacing it, one almost inevitably runs the danger of withdrawing at the same time all elements that are properly moral. Under the name of rational morality, we would be left only with an impoverished and colourless morality. To ward of this danger, therefore, it is imperative not to be satisfied with a superficial separation. We must seek, in the very heart of religious conceptions, those moral realities that are, as it were, lost and dissimulated in it. We must disengage them, find out what they consist of, determine their proper nature, and express them in rational language. In a word, we must discover the rational substitutes for those religious notions that for a long time have served as the vehicle for the most essential moral ideas.

    An example will illustrate precisely what I mean. Even without pushing the analysis, everybody readily perceives that in one sense, a very relative sense... the moral order constitutes a sort of autonomous order in the world. There is something about prescriptions of morality that imposes particular respect for them. While all opinions relating to the material world - to the physical or mental organisation of either animals or men - are today entitled to free discussion, people do not admit that moral beliefs should be as freely subjected to criticism. Anybody who questions in our presence that the child has duties towards his parents or that human life should be respected provokes us to immediate protest. The response is quite different from that which a scientific heresy might arouse. It resembles at every point the reprobation that the blasphemer arouses in the soul of the believer. There is even stronger reason for the feelings incited by infractions of moral rules being altogether different from those provoked by ordinary infractions [p.10] of the precepts of practical wisdom or of professional technique.

    The domain of morality is as if surrounded by a mysterious barrier which keeps violators at arm's length, just as the religious domain is protected from the reach of the profane. All the things it comprises are as if invested with a particular dignity that raises them above our empirical individuality, and that confers upon them a sort of transcendent reality. Do we not say, casually, that the human person is sacred, and that we must hold it in reverence?

    Durkheim 1925a p.12

    ... if we have felt with greater force than our fathers the need for an entirely rational moral education, it is evidently because we are becoming more rationalistic.

    Rationalism is only one of the aspects of individualism: it is the intellectual aspect of it. We are not dealing here with two different states of mind; each is the converse of the other. When one feels the need of liberating individual thought, it is because in a general way one feels the need of liberating the individual.

    Intellectual servitude is only one of the servitudes that individualism combats. All development of individualism has the effect of opening moral consciousness to new ideas and rendering it more demanding. Since every advance that it makes results in a higher conception, a more delicate dignity of man, individualism cannot be developed without making apparent to us as contrary to human dignity, as unjust, social relations that at one time did not seem unjust at all. Conversely , as a matter of fact, rationalistic faith reacts on individualistic sentiment and stimulates it. Consequently, a given advance in moral education in the direction of greater rationality cannot occur without also bringing to light new moral tendencies, without inducing a greater thirst for justice, without stirring the public conscience by latent aspirations."

    Part 1: The Elements of Morality

    Durkheim 1925a p.17

    Chapter 2: The First Element of Morality: The Spirit of Discipline

    We cannot usefully treat any teaching problem, whatever it may be, except by starting where we are in time and space, i. e., with the conditions confronting the children with whom we are concerned. In fulfilling this methodological requirement, I tried to emphasize in the last chapter the terms in which the problem of moral education is posed for us.

    One can distinguish two stages in childhood: the first, taking place almost entirely within the family or the nursery school - a substitute for the family, as its name suggests; the second, in elementary school, when the child, beginning to leave the family circle, is initiated into a larger environment. This we call the second period of childhood; we shall focus on it in discussing moral education. This is indeed the critical moment in the formation of moral character. Before that, the child is still very young; his intellectual development is quite rudimentary and his emotional life is too simple and underdeveloped. He lacks the intellectual foundation necessary (p.18) for the relatively complex ideas and sentiments that undergird our morality. The limited boundaries of his intellectual horizon at the same time limit his moral conceptions. The only possible training at this stage is a very general one, an elementary introduction to a few simple ideas and sentiments.

    On the other hand, if, beyond this second period of childhood i.e., beyond school age - the foundations of morality have not been laid, they never will be. From this point on, all one can do is to complete the job already begun, refining sensibilities and giving them some intellectual content i.e. informing them increasingly with intelligence. But the ground work must have been laid
    contrary to the all too popular notion that moral education falls chiefly within the jurisdiction of the family, I judge that the task of the school in the moral development of the child can and should be of the greatest importance. There is a whole aspect of the culture, and a most important one, which would otherwise be lost. For if it is the family that can (p.19) distinctively and effectively evoke and organize those homely sentiments basic to morality and--even more generally--those germane to the simplest personal relationships, it is not the agency so constituted as to train the child in terms of the demands of society. Almost by definition, as it were, it is an inappropriate agency for such a task.

    Therefore, focusing our study on the school, we find ourselves precisely at the point that should be regarded as the locus, par excellence, of moral development for children of this age. We have committed ourselves to provide in our schools a completely rational moral education, that is to say, excluding all principles derived from revealed religion. Thus, the problem of moral education is clearly posed for us at this point in history.

    [Read about religion in French education in the early 19th century

    Durkheim 1925a p.23

    In the first place, there is an aspect common to all behaviour that we ordinarily call moral. All such behaviour conforms to pre-established rules. To conduct one's self morally is a matter of abiding by a norm., determining what conduct should obtain in a given instance even before one is required to act. The domain of morality is the domain of duty; duty is prescribed behaviour.

    Durkheim 1925a p.27

    ... the function of morality is, in the first place, to determine conduct, to fix it, to eliminate the element of individual arbitrariness. Doubtless the content of moral precepts - that is to say, the nature of the prescribed behaviour - also has moral value... However, since all such precepts promote regularity of conduct among men, there is a moral aspect in that theses actions - not only in their specific content, but in a general way - are held to a certain regularity. This is why transients and people who cannot hold themselves to specific jobs are always suspected. It is because their moral temperament is fundamentally defective - because it is most uncertain and undependable. Indeed, in refusing to yield to the requirements of regularised conduct, they disdain all customary behaviour, they resist limitations and restrictions, and they feel some compulsion to remain 'free'.

    Chapter 3: The Sprit of Discipline (continued)

    Durkheim 1925a p.34

    ... since moral requirements are not merely another name for personal habits, since they determine conduct imperatively from sources outside ourselves, in order to fulfil one's obligations and to act morally one must have some appreciation of the authority sui generis that informs morality. In other words, it is necessary that the person be so constituted as to feel above him a force unqualified by his personal preferences and to which he yields.

    Durkheim 1925a p.43

    Thus, we should not see in the discipline to which we subject children a means of constraint necessary when it seems indispensable for preventing culpable conduct. Discipline is in itself a factor, sui generis, of education.

    There are certain essential elements of moral character, that can be attributed only to discipline. Through it and by means of it alone we are able to teach the child to rein in his desires, and to set limits to his appetites of all kinds, to limit and, through limitation, to define the goals of his activity.

    Durkheim 1925a p.44

    Imagine a being liberated from all external restraint,... a despot that no external power can restrain or influence. By definition, the desires of such a being are irresistible. Shall we say, then, that he is all-powerful? Certainly not, since he himself cannot resist his desires. They are masters of him, as of everything else. He submits to them; he does not dominate them.

    Durkheim 1925a p.45

    A despot is like a child; he has a child's weaknesses because he is not master of himself. Self-mastery is the first condition of all true power, of all liberty worthy of the name. One cannot be master of himself when he has within him forces that by definition, cannot be mastered. For the same reason, political parties that are too strong - those that do not have to take account of fairly strong minorities - cannot last long. It is not long to their downfall, simply because of their excessive power. Since there is nothing to restrain them they, they inevitably go to violent extremes, which are self destroying....

    Someone who was, or believed himself to be, without limits, either in fact or by right, could not dream of limiting himself without being inconsistent; it would do violence to his nature.

    Durkheim 1925a p.47

    Chapter 4: The Sprit of Discipline (concluded); and the second element of morality: Attachment to Social Groups

    Morality... is basically a discipline. All discipline has a double objective: to promote a certain regularity in people's conduct, and to provide them with determinate goals that at the same time limit their horizons.

    Discipline promotes a preference for the customary, and it imposes restrictions. It regularises and it constrains. It answers to whatever is recurrent and enduring in men's relationships with one another.

    Durkheim 1925a p.55

    Human behavior can be distinguished in terms of the ends toward which it is directed. Now, all the objectives sought by men may be classified into the following two categories. First, there are those concerning only the individual himself who pursues them; we shall therefore call them personal.

    Durkheim 1925a p.65

    Second, there are those acts concerning something other than the individual who is acting; in this case, we shall call them impersonal. One can readily see that this last category comprises a considerable number of different kinds of acts, according to whether the ends pursued by the actor relate to other individuals, to groups, or to things. But for the moment it is not necessary to go into these details.

    Having made the major distinction, let us see if those acts in the service of personal ends can be called moral.

    Personal objectives themselves are of two kinds. We may, first of all, seek simply and purely to sustain life, to preserve ourselves, to seek refuge from those destructive elements that threaten us. Or we may seek personal aggrandizement or personal development. We certainly cannot pass adverse judgment on those acts aimed solely and uniquely at sustaining life. But so far as the public conscience is concerned, such behavior is and always has been quite bereft of moral value. Such acts are morally neutral. Consider someone who takes good care of himself, follows meticulously the rules of hygiene with the single aim of survival. We do not say that his conduct is moral. We deem his conduct prudent, wise; but we do not consider that there is anything in such behavior to which the notion of morality applies. It is outside the realm of morality. Doubtless it is otherwise when we take care of our life, not simply to be able to preserve and enjoy it, but, for example, to be able to preserve our family because we feel that we are necessary to it. In this case our behavior would be considered moral, since it is not a personal end that one has in view, but the interest of the family. Such action is not directed toward personal survival but to enable others than ourselves to live. The objective sought is, thus, impersonal. True, I may seem to run counter to the current conception according to which man has an obligation to perserve his life. This is beside the point. I do not deny that man has an obligation to live, but I say that he does not (p. 57) fulfill a duty, through the sole act of survival, except when life is for him a means of achieving an end that transcends his own life. There is nothing moral in living just for the sake of keeping alive.

    The same may be said of all those things we do with a view not only to preserve but to develop and strengthen ourselves --at least if such development is only in our own interest. For example, the man who devotes himself to the cultivation of his intellect or to the refinement of his aesthetic faculties with the single aim of success or, even more simply, for the satisfaction of feeling more complete, richer in knowledge and feelings, for the solitary enjoyment of the picture he presents to himself- -such a man does not evoke in us any feeling of morality. One may admire him as one admires a beautiful work of art. But to the extent that he seeks only personal objectives, whatever they may be, we cannot say that he fulfills any obligation. Neither science nor art has any intrinsic moral virtue that can be communicated, ipso facto to him who possesses them. Everything hinges on the uses one puts them to, or wishes to make of them. When, for example, one undertakes scientific research in order to reduce human suffering, then by common consent the act is morally praiseworthy. But it is not the same when the research is carried out purely for personal satisfaction.

    Here then is our first conclusion: behavior, whatever it may be, directed exclusively toward the personal ends of the actor does not have moral value. It is true that, according to the utilitarian moralists, the moral conscience deceives itself when it judges human conduct in this fashion. According to them, strictly self-centered goals are par excellence the laudable ones. But we do not need to preoccupy ourselves here with the way in which these thinkers evaluate morality; it is this morality itself that we wish to know as it is understood and practiced by all civilized peoples. Put in these terms, the question may be easily resolved. Not only is (p. 58) there not today, but there never has existed any people among whom an egoistic act--that is to say, behavior directed solely to the interest of the person performing it--has been considered moral. Hence, we may conclude that behavior prescribed by the rules of morality is always behavior in pursuit of impersonal ends.

    What must we understand by this word? Shall we say that, to act morally, it is enough to look, not to our personal interest, but to that of some other person? Thus, to guard my health would not, according to my contention, be a moral act; but the nature of the act changes when it is the health of someone like myself that I safeguard, when it is his happiness or his enlightenment that I have in view. Such an understanding of this behavior is inconsistent and contradicts itself. Why should that which for me has no moral value have it in the case of others? Why should the health or intelligence of someone who, let us suppose, is like myself --for I leave aside the case in which there are marked discrepancies between the actors-- be more sacred than my health and intelligence are to me? On the average, men are of about the same stature, their personalities are more or less alike and may, so to speak, be substituted for one another. If an act calculated to preserve or develop my personality is amoral, why should it be otherwise with an identical act except that it is directed at some other personality? Why is the one more to be valued than the other? Besides, as Spencer has observed, such a morality is applicable only on the condition that it is not universally applied. Indeed, imagine a society in which everyone was prepared to deny himself in favor of his neighbor; then, for the same reason, none could accept the self-denial of others, and renunciation would become impossible because of its universality. For the practice of philanthropy, some must be willing not to--or be in such a position that they cannot--practice it. It is a virtue reserved for some. Morality, on the contrary, must by definition be common and (p. 59) accessible to all. Thus, one can scarcely see in sacrifice or in the devotion of person to person the kind of act we call moral. The essential qualities we are seeking must lie elsewhere.

    Shall we find such qualities in action aiming to fulfill, not the interest of someone other than the actor, but the interest of many others; and shall we say that the impersonal goals that alone can confer a moral character upon an act are the particular objectives of a plurality of individuals? Thus, I would be acting morally not when I act on my own behalf, not when I act in the interests of another man, but when I act on behalf of a certain number of my fellows. But how could this be? If each individual taken separately has no moral worth, the sum total of individuals can scarcely have more. The sum of zeros is, and can only be, equal to zero. If a particular interest, whether mine or someone else's, is amoral, several such particular interests must also be amoral.

    Moral action pursues impersonal objectives. But the impersonal goals of moral action cannot be either those of a person other than the actor, or those of many others. Hence, it follows that they must necessarily involve something other than individuals. They are supra-individual.

    Outside or beyond individuals there is nothing other than groups formed by the union of individuals, that is to say, societies. Moral goals, then, are those the object of which is society. To act morally is to act in terms of the collective interest. This conclusion imposes itself in the wake of the foregoing arguments, which were successively eliminated. Now, it is evident that a moral act must serve some living and sentient being and even more specifically a being endowed with consciousnesses. Moral relations are relations between consciousnesses. Above and beyond me as a conscious being, above and beyond those sentient beings who are other individual human beings, there is nothing else save that sentient being that is society. By this I mean anything that is a human group, the family as well as the nation, and humanity, at (p. 60) least to the extent that they constitute societies. We shall have to inquire later if a rank order does not exist among these different groups, if there are not some more significant than others. For the moment, I shall limit myself to proposing this principle, namely, that the domain of the moral begins where the domain of the social begins.

    To understand the significance of this major proposition, one must take account of the meaning of society. If we accept what has for a long time been the classical and widely held view, that society is only a collection of individuals, we are thrown back into the foregoing difficulties without any way of surmounting them. If self-interest has no moral value for me, it has no more among my fellows whatever their number, and, consequently, the collective interest, if it is only the sum of self-interests, is itself amoral. If society is to be considered as the normal goal of moral conduct, then it must be possible to see in it something other than a sum of individuals; it must constitute a being sui generis, which has its own special character distinct from that of its members and its own individuality different from that of its constituent individuals. In a word, there must exist, in the full meaning of the word, a social being. On this condition only is society able to perform the moral function that the individual cannot.

    Thus, the conception of society as a being distinct from the individuals who compose it, a conception demonstrated by sociology at a theoretical level, is here confirmed at the practical level. For the fundamental proposition of the moral conscience is not otherwise explicable. This proposition, in effect, prescribes that man acts morally only when he works toward goals superior to, or beyond, individual goals, only when he makes himself the servant of a being superior to himself and to all other individuals. Now, once we rule out recourse to theological notions, there remains beyond the individual only a single, empirically observable moral being, that which individuals form by their association--that is, (p. 61) society. Unless the system of moral ideas is the product of a general hallucination, that being with which morality links our wills and which is the principal object of our behavior can only be a divine being or a social being. We set aside the first of these hypotheses as beyond the province of science. There remains the second, which, as we shall see, is adequate for our needs and aspirations and which, furthermore, embraces all the reality of the first, minus its symbolism.

    One may object that, since society consists only of individuals, it cannot have a character different from that of the individuals who compose it. This is a common-sense argument, which for a long time has impeded and still impedes the development of sociology and the progress of a secular morality for the one depends upon the other. It is an argument that has received more attention than it merits. Indeed, experience demonstrates in a thousand ways that a combination of elements presents new properties that do not characterize any of the elements in isolation. The combination is then something new through the linking of the parts that compose it. In combining tin and copper, basic elements that are soft and malleable, one gets a new substance with an altogether different property. It is bronze, which is hard. A living cell consists entirely of inanimate, mineral molecules. But by the sheer fact of their combination the qualities characteristic of life emerge--the capacity for self-nourishment and reproduction--which are not perceptible in minerals even at the germinal stage.

    Thus, it is an invariable fact that a whole may be something other than the sum of its parts. There is nothing here that should surprise us. Simply because the elements, rather than remaining isolated, are associated and connected, they act and react upon one another; it is natural that these actions and reactions, which are the direct result of the association and which did not occur before that association, should give rise to entirely new phenomena, hitherto nonexistent. Applying (p. 62) this general statement to man and to societies, we shall say, then, that because men live together rather than separately, individual minds act upon one another; and as a result of the relationships thus established, there appear ideas and feelings that never characterized these minds in isolation. Everyone knows how emotions and passions may break out in a crowd or a meeting, often altogether different from those that the individuals thus brought together would have expressed had each of them been exposed to the same experiences individually rather than collectively. Things appear to have an altogether different character, are felt in a very different fashion. Thus it is that human groups have a way of thinking, of feeling, and of living differing from that of their members when they think, feel, and live as isolates. Now, what we have said of crowds, of ephemeral gatherings, applies a fortiori to societies, which are only permanent and organized crowds.

    One fact among many that makes clear this distinction between society and the individual is the way in which the character of the collectivity outlasts the personalities of its members. Early generations are replaced by later ones, and meanwhile society remains with its own structure and its own particular character. There are certainly differences between present- day France and France of the past, but these are, so to speak, differences in age. We have aged, certainly, and the characteristics of the collectivity are consequently modified, just as the individual changes physiologically as he goes through life. However, there is an identity between the France of the Middle Ages and contemporary France that one cannot fail to recognize. While generations of individuals succeed one another, throughout this perpetual flux of particular personalities, society persists, with its own mode of thought, its particular temperament What is true of political society in its totality and by virtue of the relationship between citizens can apply to each secondary group (p. 63) through the interaction of its members. The population of Paris is endlessly renewed; new elements flow in here incessantly. Among present-day Parisians, there are very few who are descendants of Parisians at the beginning of the century. But the social life of Paris actually presents the same essential characteristics that it had a hundred years ago. Only now they are more generally acknowledged. Take the relative propensity for crime, for suicides, marriage, even the comparatively low fertility--we find the proportionate distribution among the different age categories analogous. It is, then the characteristic influence of the group that imposes these similarities on the individuals who continually enter it This is the best proof that the group is something other than a number of individuals.

    Chapter 5: Attachment to Social Groups (continued)


    Durkheim 1925a pp 67-68

    Individual and society are certainly beings with different natures. But far from these being some inexpressible kind of antagonism between the tow, far from its being the case that the individual can identify himself with society only at the risk of renouncing his own nature either wholly or in part, the fact is that he is not truly himself, he does not fully realise his own nature, except on the condition that he is involved in society.

    ... the need for containing one's self within determinate limits is demanded by the person's nature. Whenever such limits are breached, whenever moral rules lack the necessary authority to exert, to a desirable degree, a regulatory influence on our behaviour, we see society gripped by a dejection and pessimism reflected in the curve of suicides.

    Similarly, whenever society loses what it should normally have, the power of promoting identification of individual wills with itself, whenever the individual dissociates himself from collective in order to seek only his own interests, we see the same result and phenomenon, and suicide rates go up. Man is the more vulnerable to self-destruction the more he is detached from any collectivity, that is to say, the more self-centred his life. Suicide is about three times more frequent among bachelors than among married people, twice as frequent in childless homes as in those with children. It seems, as a matter of fact, inversely related to the number of children.

    Durkheim 1925a p. 72 ... during periods when society is disorganised and...has less power to exact the commitment of individual wills, and when, consequently, egoism has freer reign - these are calamitous times....

    ... just as morality limits and constrains us, in response to the requirements of our nature, so in requiring our commitment and subordination to the group does it compel us to realise ourselves...

    Society is the producer and repository of all the riches of civilization, without which man would fall to the level of animals. We must, then, be receptive to its influence, rather than turning back jealously upon ourselves to protect our autonomy.

    Durkheim 1925a p. 73 Someone who does not live exclusively of, and for himself, who offers and gives himself, who merges with the environing world and allows it to permeates his life- such a person certainly lives a richer and more vigorous life than the solitary egoist who bottles himself up and alienates himself from man and things.

    Society, therefore, goes beyond the individual; it has its own nature distinct from that of the individual; consequently it fulfils the first necessary condition for serving as the object of moral behaviour. But, on the other hand, it rejoins the individual. There is no gulf between it and him. It thrusts into us strong and deep roots. The best part of us is only an emanation of the collectivity. This explains how we can commit ourselves to it and even prefer it to ourselves.

    Up to this point we have talked of society only in a general way, as if it there were only one. As a matter of fact, man always lives in the midst of many groups. To mention only the more important, there is the family in which one is born, (p.74) the nation or political group, and humanity. Ought one to commit oneself to one of these groups to the exclusion of others? This is out of the question....

    Family, nation and humanity represent different phases of our social and moral evolution, stages that prepare for, and build upon, one another.


    Durkheim 1925a p 80

    Chapter 6: Attachment to Social Groups (Concluded): And the Linkage of the First Two Elements

    We have specified the second element of morality. It consists in the individual's attachment to those social groups of which he is a member. Morality begins, accordingly, only in so far as we belong to a human group, whatever it may be. Since, in fact, man is complete only as he belongs to several societies, morality itself is complete only to the extent that we feel identified with those different groups in which we are involved-- family, union, business, club, political party, country, humanity. Invariably, however, these groups do not have an equal moral significance, and they perform functions by no means equally important in the collective life. We cannot, therefore accord them an equal place in our considerations. There is one association that among all the others enjoys a genuine pre-eminence and that represents the end, par excellence, of moral conduct. This is the political society, i. e., the nation--but the nation conceived of as a partial embodiment of the idea of humanity.

    The nation, as it lays claim to the contemporary conscience, (p.81) is not the inflated and jealous state that knows no rules other than those directed toward its own interest and that deems itself emancipated from all the discipline of morality. What gives the nation its moral value is that it most closely approximates the society of mankind, at present unrealized in fact and perhaps unrealizable, yet representing the limiting case, or the ideal limit toward which we always strive.

    We must be careful lest we see in this conception of the nation some kind of utopian fantasy. It is easy to see that it becomes more and more of a reality in history. If for no other reason than that society becomes increasingly big, the social ideal becomes more and more remote from all provincial and ethnic conditions and can be shared by a greater number of men recruited from the most diverse races and places. As a result of this alone, it becomes more abstract, more general, and consequently closer to the human ideal.

    The statement of this principle allows us to resolve a difficulty encountered in the preceding chapters, the solution of which we postponed. Since the actor's self-interest does not constitute a moral end, we concluded that others' individual interests could not be so regarded either, since there is no reason that another like one's self should be in a preferred position. But there is no doubt, as a matter of fact, that conscience confers a certain moral character on actions undertaken on behalf of one's fellow man. In a general sense, altrustic conduct in all its forms is universally considered as morally praiseworthy. Now is the public conscience wrong in thus evaluating man's conduct?

    Such an assumption is clearly inadmissible. Given the generality of such a view, one can scarcely see it as the result of some kind of fortuitous aberration. An error is an accidental thing that can be neither so universal nor so lasting. But it is not at all necessary to attribute this kind of aberration (p.82) to people's moral judgments to make the facts fit what we have said. For all that we have established is that charity, in the ordinary and popular sense of the word, the charity of person to person, has no moral value in itself and cannot by itself constitute the normal end of moral conduct.

    It is still possible, nonetheless, that charity promotes morality indirectly. Although the interest in others' welfare is not moral in itself and cannot be accorded any moral priority, it may nonetheless be that the tendency to seek it in preference to our own promotes the development of morality, because such tendencies prepare and incline one to seek ends geuninely and correctly moral. As a matter of fact, this is what happens. There are no genuinely moral ends except collective ones. There is no truly moral force save that involved in attachment to a group. However, when one is committed to that society of which he is a member, it is psychologically impossible not to be bound to the people who compose it and through whom it comes into being. For although society is something other than the individual, although it is not completely in any one of us, there is nonetheless no one in whom it is not reflected. As a result, it is altogether natural that the sentiments we have for it are borne back upon those in whom society is partially embodied. To hold to society is to cling to the social ideal; and there is a little of this ideal in each of us. Each one of us has a hand in this collective ideal, which makes for the integrity of the group, which in turn is the sacred thing, par excellence. Consequently, each of us shares the religious deference inspired by this ideal. The bond to the group thus implies, in an indirect but almost necessary way, the bond to other individuals; when the group ideal is only a particular manifestation of the human ideal--when the citizen-ideal merges in large measure with the generic ideal of mankind-- then it is to man qua man that we are bound, at the same time feeling more strongly linked with those in whom we (p.83) find most clearly our society's particular conception of humanity.

    Durkheim 1925a p. 85

    ... the function of morality is to link the individual to one or several social groups... morality presupposes this very attachment. So it is that morality is made for society.

    Durkheim 1925a p.88

    If society itself has instituted the rules of morality, it must also be society that has invested them with their authority, which we seek to explain.

    What is it, in fact, that we label authority? Without pretending to settle a problem as complex as this in a few words, we can nonetheless suggest the following definition: authority is a quality with which a being, either actual or imaginary, is invested through his relationship with given individuals, and it is because of this alone that he is thought by the latter to be endowed with powers superior to those they find in themselves. It is of no importance, as a matter of fact, whether these powers are real or imaginary. It is enough that they exist as real in peoples' minds. The sorcerer is an authority for those who believe in him. This is why authority is called moral: it is because it exists in minds, not in things.

    Having stated the definition, it is easy to demonstrate that the being that best fulfills the necessary conditions as constituting an authority is the collective being. For it follows from all that we have said that society infinitely surpasses the individual, not only in material scope, but beyond that, in moral power. Not only does it command incomparably greater power, since it derives from the mutual re-enforcement of all the individual forces, but in it is found the source of that intellectual and moral life to which we turn to nourish our thought and our morality. For the fashioning of a newly born generation implies the assimilation, little by little, of the cultural milieu; it is only gradually as the animal—as we are born—incorporates the elements of his culture that the human being emerges. For it is society that is the repository of all the wealth of civilization; it is society that accumulates and preserves these treasures transmitting them from age to [Durkheim1925a page 89] age; it is through society that these riches reach us. Thus it is that we are obligated to society, since it is from society that we receive these things.

    One can understand, therefore, how a powerful morality, of which our conscience is merely a partial embodiment, must be invested with such authority. Even that element of mystery that seems inherent in all conceptions of author­ity is not lacking in the feeling we have for society. As a matter of fact, it is natural that any being having superhuman powers should baffle man's intelligence. This is why authority achieves its maximum impact above all in some religious form.

    Durkheim 1925a p.91

    ... authority does not reside in some external, objective fact, which logically implies and necessarily produces morality. It consists entirely in the conception that men have of such a fact; it is a matter of opinion and opinion is a collective thing. It is the judgement of the group.

    Furthermore, it is easy to understand why all moral authority must be social in origin. Authority is that quality in a man who is lifted up above other men; he is a superman. But the more intelligent man, or the stronger, or the one who is more righteous is still a man; it is only a matter of degree that differentiates him from his fellows. Only society is beyond the individual. It is therefore from society that all authority emanates.

    Durkheim 1925a p.146

    To act morally is to conform to the rules of morality. Niw the moral law is outside the consciousness of the child;... he begins to have contact with it only after a given point in his life...

    All that he has at birth are some very general dispositions, which are crystallised in one way or another according to how the educator exerts his influence, that is, according to the manner in which this potential is put to work.

    ... this putting to work can and must begin in the family and from the cradle...

    ... the parents have at their disposal the means of develping in the child... something like a first feeling for moral authority.

    This we may suppose that when the child enters school he is not in the state of moral neutrality that characterised him at birth...


    Durkheim 1925a p.147

    The family, especially today, is a very small group of persons who know each other intimately and who are constantly in contact with one another. As a result, their relationships are not subject to any general, impersonal, immutable regulation...

    By virtue of its natural warmth, the family setting is especially likely to give birth to the first altruistic inclinations, the first feelings of solidarity; but the morality practised in this setting is above all a matter of emotion and sentiment. The abstract idea of duty is less important here than sympathy, than the spontaneous impulses of the heart.

    Marcel Mauss

    Mauss, M. 1923/1924 The Gift: Forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies

    Gifts and Return Gifts

    This work is part of a wider study. For some years our attention has been drawn to the realm of contract and the system of economic prestations [benefits] between the component sections or sub-groups of 'primitive' and what we might call 'archaic' [very old] societies.

    ... in these 'early' societies, social phenomena are not discrete [individually separate and distinct]; each phenomenon contains all the threads of which the social fabric is composed. In these total social phenomena, as we propose to call them, all kinds of institutions find simultaneous expression: religious, legal, moral, and economic.
    We intend... to isolate one important set of phenomena: namely, prestations [benefits] which are in theory voluntary, disinterested and spontaneous, but are in fact obligatory and interested. The form usually taken is that of the gift generously offered; but the accompanying behaviour is formal pretence and social deception, while the transaction itself is based on obligation and economic self-interest.

    We shall note the various principles behind this necessary form of exchange (which is nothing less than the division of labour itself),.. [See Durkheim 1893]

    but we shall confine our detailed study to the enquiry :

    In primitive or archaic types of society what is the principle whereby the gift received has to be repaid? What force is there in the thing given which compels the recipient to make a return?

    Prestation, Gift and Potlath

    This work is part of the wider research carried out by M. Davy and myself upon archaic forms of contract, so we may start by summarizing what we have found so far. It appears that there has never existed, either in the past or in modern primitive societies, anything like a 'natural' economy. By a strange chance the type of that economy was taken to be the one described by Captain Cook when he wrote on exchange and barter among the Polynesians. In our study here of these same Polynesians we shall see how far removed they are from a state of nature in these matters.

    In the systems of the past we do not find simple exchange of goods, wealth and produce through markets established among individuals. For it is groups, and not individuals, which carry on exchange, make contracts, and are bound by obligations; the persons represented in the contracts are moral persons - clans, tribes, and families; the groups, or the chiefs as intermediaries for the groups, confront and oppose each other.

    Further, what they exchange is not exclusively goods and wealth, real and personal property, and things of economic value. They exchange rather courtesies, entertainments, ritual, military assistance, women, children, dances, and feasts; and [at?] fairs in which the market is but one element and the circulation of wealth but one part of a wide and enduring contract,

    Finally, although the prestations and counter-prestations take place under a voluntary guise they are in essence strictly obligatory, and their sanction is private or open warfare.

    We propose to call this the system of total prestations.

    ... Many ideas and principles are to be noted in systems of this type. The most important of these spiritual mechanisms is clearly the one which obliges us to make a return gift for a gift received. The moral and religious reasons for this constraint are nowhere more obvious than in Polynesia ; and in approaching the Polynesian data in the following chapter we shall see clearly the power which enforces the repayment of a gift and the fulfilment of contracts of this kind.

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    Durkheim Index

    1893: anomy (not regulated); anomic division of labour;
    1897: anomic suicide


    art born of religion

    Authority: of things - of collective conscience - moral conscience - over passions - respect not fear - of categories - of word mana - according to pragmatists - society invests rules with - what is it? -

    categories of thought born of religion

    1893: p.78 - pp 79-80 - p.85 - p.90 - p.17 (historical law) - p.370 - p.408
    1895: pp 65-67 and p.70 (crime and law change) - p.71 (crime can lead to necessary changes)
    1897: p.46 - p.253 - p.270 - p.271 -
    1925: p.62

    church definition


    consider social facts as things

    collective conscience
    common conscience
    1893 pp 79-80; p.105

    collective life not born from individual life

    1893: pp 73-79
    1895: pp 65-75 To classify crime among the phenomena of normal sociology say..that it integral part of all healthy societies.

    If anyone knows a passage in Durkheim where he relates anomie to crime, apart from suicide, could they let me know?. Until then, I will continue to suspect that he does not

    cult of the individual


    despot and despotism 1897 p.276 - Durkheim 1925 pp 44-45 -

    deviations: 1895 p.70

    division of labour; (abnormal forms: anomic; forced)

    division of labour is not peculiar to the economic world

    egoism Durkheim 1925: when... egoism has freer reign - these are calamitous times


    equilibrium: the conditions of equilibrium can be discovered only through gropings - equilibrium in animal and human - The scale is upset

    forced division of labour

    function defined

    games born of religion

    habit: 1893 p.278 - 1895 p.14

    horde defined - becomes clan

    Durkheim1893: Individualism, free thought, dates...
    Durkheim1925: Rationalism is only one of the aspects of individualism:...


    Law and morality are the totality of ties which bind each of us to society

    man is double (social and physical)

    marriage conjugal society: 1893 p.56 - rate: 1895 p.8 - what is marriage? 1897 p 270

    mechanical solidarity

    morality: 1893 p.228 - p.398 - p.408 - 1895 p.14 - pp 70-71 (and crime) - 1925a (Moral Education) - p.3 - p.9 - p.10 - p.18 - p.23 - p.27 - p.47 - p.67/FONT> - p.85 - p.88 - p.89

    normal 1895 chapter 3

    organic solidarity

    organisms (biological and social)

    pathological 1895 chapter 3

    1893 p.70 - 1893 pp 73-79 - 1893 pp 85- 86 - 1893 p.105 -
    1895 pp 2-3 - 1895 p.14 - 1895 p.68 - 1895 p.71 - 1895 p.72

    rates: 1895 p.8 (birth - marriage - suicide ) - 1895 p.65 (crime) - 1897 p.47 (suicide)

    reason has been able to go beyond the limits of empirical knowledge

    religion definition

    rules: moral rules and penal laws - Since a body of rules is the .. form .. spontaneously established relations between social functions take in .. time .. anomy is impossible whenever solidary organs are sufficiently in contact...

    "scale is upset; but a new scale cannot be immediately improvised. Time is required for the public conscience to reclassify men and things"

    social fact What is a social fact? - external coercion - external constraint - treat as things - normal - rules for explanation

    Social life comes from a double source


    society: a unit with continuous material and moral links between its parts - "Originally society is everything, the individual nothing" - a reality of its own kind


    statistics 1895 p.8 - 1895 p.65 - 1897 (suicide): Table 1 - Table 2 - Table 3

    suicide: definition - egoistic - altruistic - anomic - fatalistic