Of the law is no longer seen as being committed

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of the law is no longer seen as being committed against the moral system itself but simply against a specific individual or group. The shift in the way deviance is seen, changes the way violators are punished; in a modern society, Durkheim argues, it is acceptable to let a criminal make a restitution to those he or she may have wronged. [ Durkheim found an early influence in his French compatriots Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu. Although both philosophers were political in their thinking, Durkheim’s ideas on collective ideologies and a common conscience were prevalent in the works of the two men. Both Rousseau and Durkheim found themselves writing about society as a network in which common ideas are rampant and affect people on an individual level. Rousseau’s collective conscience was his idea of the general will. The general will, as Rousseau described it, was the “transcendent incarnations of citizen’s common interest that exists in abstraction of what any of them actually wants” (Bertram 2010: p. 3). The general will draws similarities with Durkheim’s collective conscience in that both of these concepts were concerned with representing society as a whole, separate from the individual. Much like the collective conscious opposes a personal or private conscience, the concept of a general will opposes self-interest. Rousseau did, however, differ in his approach to collective thought. Rousseau saw the balance of both a general will and a private interest as a positive in society, whereas Durkheim did not see a balance in collective conscience and private conscience as a positive. Durkheim argued that organic solidarity was stronger than mechanical solidarity because of the fact that the collective conscience was weakened with increase in specialization. The other French philosopher, Montesquieu, reflected Durkheimian thought much more completely. Much like the existence of material and nonmaterial social facts, Montesquieu argued for the existence of “physical causes like population, terrain, and population density that played a role in a systems development, but Lopez 4
moral causes were of much greater importance” (Beamish 2010: 130). These “moral causes” were of greater importance because they contributed to the spirit of society, which in itself resonates strongly with Durkheim’s collective conscience. Both spirit (or conscience) develop as an entity separate of the individual, yet still contributing both to the broader social formation and the narrower relationships among individuals. Much like Durkheim had these ideas in the back of his mind when drafting The Rules of Sociological Method and The Division of Labor , contemporary British sociologist, Anthony Giddens, had Durkheim in mind as he perused the idea of human unconsciousness.

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