Elementary Forms of Religion (Hand-Out).docx - ELEMENTARY FORMS OF RELIGION Durkheims Two Problems 1 We cannot understand more advanced religions except

Elementary Forms of Religion (Hand-Out).docx - ELEMENTARY...

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ELEMENTARY FORMS OF RELIGION Durkheim’s Two Problems 1. We cannot understand more advanced religions except by analyzing the way they have been progressively constituted throughout history. 2. The scientific study of religion itself presupposed that the various religions we compare are all species of the same class, and thus possess certain elements in common. According to Durkheim: “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden -- beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” The Most Primitive Religion Even the crudest religions appear to be the products of a long, rather complicated evolution, and thus exhibit a profusion of beliefs and rites based upon a variety of "essential" principles. To discover the "truly original" form of the religious life, it is necessary "to

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