Primitive Religion

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Elementary Forms of Religious Life is an attempt made by Durkheim to explain the most primitive religion known to man. His work focuses on his methodology, the role of rituals and belief and how primitive societies are helpful in understanding the most primitive religion.
A religion is considered to be primitive, if it meets the following two conditions: first, if it is found in a society whose organizations is surpassed by no other in simplicity; secondly if it can be explained without making use of any element taken from a previous religion. The study of such a primitive society gives us the assurance that it is present in reality. In reality there are no religions which are seen as false, and all are true in their own way. Some may be
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The religion which we are going to study is foreign from the idea of divinity and is very different from modern day religions. Such primitive religions do not only aid us in disengaging the constituent elements of religion, but they also facilitate its explanation. Since the facts in primitive religions are much simpler than those found in complex religions, the relations between them are more apparent. The study of primitive religion, as Durkheim suggested, “is a new way of taking up the old problem of the "origin of religion" itself -- not in the sense of some specific point in time and space when religion began to exist, but in the sense of discovering the ever-present causes upon which the most essential forms of religious thought and practice depend”. (1915; The Elementary Forms of Religious Life;…show more content…
These both theories, together explain the origins of religious thought. However, Durkheim proposed that religion did not originate form animism (as understood by Tylor) and from naturism (as understood by Max Muller). He argued that these two theories were inadequate to explain something as extraordinary as religion. Religion is something which is eminently social and is something which should be seen, which animism doesn’t allow. Coming to naturism, the people who follow it worship nature, however, in this case there is no distinction between sacred and profane. Hence, there should be another cult which is more fundamental and primitive, hence, Durkheim proposed “totemism”, which he first discovered among American Indians, and later Australian tribes. The individuals who first compose it consider themselves to be united by a bond of kinship. These relations are not formed from the fact that they have definite blood connections, but that they have the same name. The species of things which serve to designate the clan collectively is called its totem and the objects which serve as totems either belong to the animal or vegetable kingdom. There are also bound by certain rules like- not to marry within the clan or not to eat the totem animal. Durkheim seeks to show that society is the soul of religion –that
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