anthfinalpape.wps - Wong Garkay Wong SID 18616594 ANTH 158...

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Wong -1 Garkay Wong SID: 18616594 ANTH 158 Assignment # 2 Durkheim’s Divine Society and Nietzsche’s Shadow of God Religion forms the basis of our moral code and societal ideals. To a greater extent than even science or philosophy, religion has the power to shape the very attitudes we develop about life. The motivation behind moral obligation under religious influence, versus our constraints and commitments under societal restriction, is a key argument between thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Parts of Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life and Book Three of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Gay Science addresses the problem of religion and the role it has played in the formation of our values. In addition to the similarities between the basis of Durkheim’s notion that religion is “society divinized” and Nietzche’s claim that society still lives in shadow of god, several other similarities can be drawn between the two works . Both Durkheim and Nietzsche wrestle with the significance of the sacred within society. In Chapter 7 of his book, Durkheim asserts that “if the totem is the symbol of both the god and the society,” then god and society must be one and the same 1 . He argues that religion is not only a social creation, but is in fact, society divinized. Durkheim’s notion of divine society emphasizes that religion, in fact, occurs in a social context. The deities that men worship are only projections of power and men celebrating sacred things are merely celebrating the power within their society 2 . However, the power of their 1 Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious Life. (p.208) 2 Fields, Introduction to Elementary Forms of Religious Life 1
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Wong society transcends their own existence and they therefore must give sacred significance to it in order to visualize it. Nietzsche on the other hand, believes that humans live in the
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