Émile Durkheim biography

Émile Durkheim

Philosopher, Author

1858 – 1917

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Who was Émile Durkheim?

David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.

Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modernity; an era in which traditional social and religious ties are no longer assumed, and in which new social institutions have come into being. His first major sociological work was The Division of Labor in Society. In 1895, he published his Rules of the Sociological Method and set up the first European department of sociology, becoming France's first professor of sociology. In 1898, he established the journal L'Année Sociologique. Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide, a study of suicide rates in Catholic and Protestant populations, pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life presented a theory of religion, comparing the social and cultural lives of aboriginal and modern societies.

Famous Quotes:

  • There is no society known where a more or less developed criminality is not found under different forms. No people exists whose morality is not daily infringed upon. We must therefore call crime necessary and declare that it cannot be non-existent, that the fundamental conditions of social organization, as they are understood, logically imply it.
  • It is too great comfort which turns a man against himself. Life is most readily renounced at the time and among the classes where it is least harsh.
  • Each victim of suicide gives his act a personal stamp which expresses his temperament, the special conditions in which he is involved, and which, consequently, cannot be explained by the social and general causes of the phenomenon.
  • From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.
  • Sadness does not inhere in things; it does not reach us from the world and through mere contemplation of the world. It is a product of our own thought. We create it out of whole cloth.
  • It is a quite remarkable fact that the great religions of the most civilized peoples are more deeply fraught with sadness than the simpler beliefs of earlier societies. This certainly does not mean that the current of pessimism is eventually to submerge the other, but it proves that it does not lose ground and that it does not seem destined to disappear.
  • The wise man, knowing how to enjoy achieved results without having constantly to replace them with others, finds in them an attachment to life in the hour of difficulty. But the man who has always pinned all his hopes on the future and lived with his eyes fixed upon it, has nothing in the past as a comfort against the present's afflictions, for the past was nothing to him but a series of hastily experienced stages. What blinded him to himself was his expectation always to find further on the happiness he had so far missed. Now he is stopped in his tracks; from now on nothing remains behind or ahead of him to fix his gaze upon.
  • 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.
  • While the State becomes inflated and hypertrophied in order to obtain a firm enough grip upon individuals, but without succeeding, the latter, without mutual relationships, tumble over one another like so many liquid molecules, encountering no central energy to retain, fix and organize them.
  • A mind that questions everything, unless strong enough to bear the weight of its ignorance, risks questioning itself and being engulfed in doubt. If it cannot discover the claims to existence of the objects of its questioning -- and it would be miraculous if it so soon succeeded in solving so many mysteries -- it will deny them all reality, the mere formulation of the problem already implying an inclination to negative solutions. But in so doing it will become void of all positive content and, finding nothing which offers it resistance, will launch itself perforce into the emptiness of inner revere.

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"Émile Durkheim." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Jan. 2021. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/emile_durkheim>.


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Born
Apr 15, 1858
Épinal
Also known as
  • Emile Durkheim
  • David Émile Durkheim
  • Durkheim
Spouses
Children
Religion
  • Agnosticism
Nationality
  • France
Profession
Education
  • Lycée Louis-le-Grand
  • École Normale Supérieure
  • University of Leipzig
Lived in
  • Lorraine
Died
Nov 15, 1917
Paris
Resting place
Montparnasse Cemetery

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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