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2015, vol. 4, iss. 2, pp. 53-70
A critical review of Durkheim's reductionist view of religion
Centar za religijske nauke 'Kom', Beograd
Keywords: Durkheim; religion; sociology; reductionism; sociologism; secularism; functionalism; sacred; profane
Abstract
Durkheim concept of religion is established on his basic sociological ideas, but also on the division of all phenomena in human society into the sacred and the profane one. He believes that religion arises in society and that it should be seen only as a social phenomenon. Thereby, he rejects any possibility that religion may have anything metaphysical. He represents religion as a kind of symbolic representation of society itself. He says that society is the objective reality of what monotheistic religions call God, and ancient religions Mana. Yet, religion as a set of different symbols completely loses touch with reality. A religion that has no ontological and cognitive foothold easily opens the way to extreme relativism that struggles unsuccessfully with many contradictions. On the other hand, the relationship between religiosity and sociability is not always straightforward, so it is impossible to claim that no aspect of religion surpasses the human society. Thus, Durkheim's ideas about the starting point of religion not only exclude individual aspects of human existence, but ignore the spiritual and metaphysical dimensions of the entire existence as well. Moreover, we can criticize his view of religion by challenging his division of all phenomena in human society into the sacred and the profane. He points out that sacred phenomena are religious, and then social. However, not everything that is sacred is religious, and not everything religious is sacred. In many religions, such a division is not accepted. Furthermore, we should not forget that representation of religion as a social institution that deals only with sacred phenomena eventually leads to complete secularization of society.
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article language: Serbian
document type: Original Scientific Paper
DOI: 10.5937/kom1502053H
published in SCIndeks: 14/12/2015