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Analyse of Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious life (1912)

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  1. What is Durkheim's definition of the sacred ?
  2. How does this definition connect to his larger concepts of totem, mana, effervescence and collective representation?
  3. Is Durkheim a rationalist ?
  4. What was Durkheim responding to and what constitutes his larger social vision? What is the status of religion in his program?
  5. What are the limitations of his thought and its assumption? Is Durkheim still relevant?

In The Elementary Forms of Religious life Durkheim tries to study the origin of religion as a subject That is to say that a phenomenon can be understood using rational methods, deducing things based on experience. In his study, Durkheim's first point characterizes a religion of any kind through a fundamental differentiation between the two categories that exclude each other namely the Sacred and the Profane. Therefore it becomes necessary to define the sacred. As for the definition of the profane, assuming that these two categories are sufficient to include all that is and will ever be, by defining the Sacred, Durkheim provides a definition for profane. According to Durkheim the sacred can't be reduced to the gods or God.

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