Durkheim's Theory Of Primitive Religion

2802 Words12 Pages
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
…show more content…
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…
However, Durkheim and Mauss’s distinction of classification in moiety and section systems from that in clan based societies is erroneous, since clans are present in the former as well. It is probably this methodological failing that they do not subject their thesis to be tested by concomitant variation. That is, they do not look for societies with identical organizations but different forms of classification or for societies with different organization but similar
Open Document