February 17th 2014
Collective Thought vs. Individual Thought: Discussing the Categories of Understanding
When discussing the use of symbols in both Durkheim and Strauss’ works, it is important for us to look at how both thinkers talk about the categories of understanding. In Elementary Forms, Durkheim believes the categories of understanding are grounded in the social, using Australian totemism to explain how the primitive mind used symbols derived from collective thought to create the ways in which we categorize ideas in society today. In saying this, he was adopting both an empiricist and a priori approach in explaining the categories. He states that the categories are inherent to human nature, but only …show more content…
In the hunt at a distance it is the reverse” (Pg. 52). The use of menstruating woman in hunting eagles is an illustration of how symbols are only meaningful when understood in relationship to other symbols. While in most rites, a menstruating woman is usually regarded as harmful, when used in eagle hunting she is a powerful tool. To put it simply, while in one system she is considered one thing, in another system she is considered something completely different. This is how Strauss believes we form categories and classifications.
Though Durkheim does not have such an in depth look at how humans understand relationships within categories, he does discuss what he believes are the origins of classifications in his work. As Durkheim highlights in his analysis of Australian totemism, the most important part of the religion is the feelings of kinship you feel with fellow members of your clan. Because of these strong connections you feel to your totemic group, there is an internal bond that consequently places you into a certain “category”. According to Durkheim, this is the same kind of logic that results in a genus –the way that we sort humans into totemic groups is the same way that we try to find similarities between things in nature and then classify them accordingly. Furthermore, he writes “the only groupings of that kind with which experience acquaints
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The Alchemist , by Paulo Coelho conforms to the idea that everything is a symbol and that the meanings for a symbol can vary depending on the person that is interpreting them. This book is filled with symbolism from the beginning to the end. Every object referenced in the book was significantly symbolic. In the beginning, the scene is set at a giant tree outside of a church, which clearly symbolizes the religious and personal growth that will occur to Santiago. Later, Santiago works at crystal shop trying to make money to go home. His job in the beginning was to clean all the crystal objects. Crystals symbolize clarity and he cleaning the crystal objects in order to make them clean, therefore, if this is connected to his personal journey, he is bringing clarity of the situation to himself and in the and decides to continue the journey rather than give up. One of the more debatable symbols in this book is the desert. To some it may symbolize the hardship and tragedy due to its climate, but to others it may be a journey with rewards at the end. Continuing through every page of the story,
In the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the theme of escape is presented by the use of three symbols. These three symbols include looking out windows, riding carriages, and the movement of swimming and boat riding. All of these symbols help Mrs. Pontellier realize that she wants an escape from her life. Edna feels inclined to escape throughout the novel and three symbols that prove this are windows, carriages, and movement.
Pope and Johnson (1983) state that Durkheim proposed that society revitalizes individuals and gives them strength to persevere in the face of the vicissitudes of everyday life. Stones (2008), further states that Durkheim felt that we acquired all the best in ourselves and all the things that distinguish us from other animals from our social existence. Thought, language, world-views, rationality, morality and aspirations are derived from society. Thus, the unsocialised individual, the individual divorced form society, the beast within us, is a poor approximation of the highly socialised beings that constitute societies.
There were also 2 other theories that attempted to explain this “dualism of human nature” : (1) The Ontological Explanation by Plato- man’s inward struggle consists of being “good” and being unethical. Plato says that “because we are part of both, we are necessarily in conflict with ourselves.” (p.4) And a theory by Kant (2) Sensitivity and Reason- we have an ability to think individually or collectively. Durkheim feels that these 2 theories only re-state the problem it does not resolve it. They also assume that man’s nature is above explanation, but we should be able to explain it.
History has presented hunting as a job and pastime for men for thousands of years. Ancient civilization’s livelihoods rested on the hunting and gathering that men performed for a tribe while the women stayed back to care for the young and cook. It truly is a tale as old as time; however, over time, a very long time, women have found their way into this historically male dominated arena. Women have begun partaking in the “sport” of pursuing animals more frequently than ever before. Despite this, though, females can still find themselves receiving criticism and wayward glances for stepping outside the traditional views of gender roles. In H. William Rice’s collection of short stories, The Lost Woods, the tale “Gobble, Gobble” offers a firsthand account from a young lady who seems to have decided to turn her back on society’s view of femininity to take on her own idea of what her role should be in her family.
As organic solidarity is typical of complex, industrialised societies, Durkheim’s theory is very applicable to modern life and the first world in particular. Individuality is a major feature of people living in the western world today e.g. the USA, UK, and Ireland. This is evident in our political and social thinking. Much emphasis is placed on personal rights and the belief that nothing is more important than us. (Hughes et al, 1995) Meanwhile we are not self-sufficient; we rely heavily on the expertise of thousands globally to live our daily lives e.g. the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive etc. (Macionis and Plummer, 2005)
In regards to (a) social facts, Durkheim refers to ideas, values and concepts that a society has developed over time and where each individual within this society shares. These ideas, values and concepts develop into behavioural patterns among the society and ultimately reach a point where
From the many theorists that we have read so far where they argued on the way that people think, shapes important features of the social world. That includes both theorists Durkheim and Weber who argue something along those lines; both theorists focus on the moral binding dimensions of ways of thinking. Durkheim sees that arguments revolve around shared representations. By contrast, Weber sees arguments being revolved around a certain idea of Protestantism. Durkheim and Weber use notions of broadly moral ways of thinking in social explanation.
There are various criticisms of Durkheim’s methods and conclusions. His first great weakness must be seen as his treatment of fatalism. Durkheim himself says it has “little contemporary importance” (1951: 276), and Bearmann (1991) and Lehmann (1995) note how little coverage is given to it. Lehmann is particularly condemning, saying, “since fatalism is restricted to primitives and women, Durkheim finds it uninteresting and relegates it to a footnote” (1995: 918). One of the main examples Durkheim
He describes the totem emblem as a symbol both for a society and its sacredness. This is because, he states in his fundamental hypothesis, "god and society are one and the same," though not necessarily on a conscious level. For Durkheim, religion is what brings people together by reinforcing social relations and moral norms through a "collective effervescence" or group energy. This energy, when felt by the individual, is not recognized as the result of communal energies, but is attributed to the sacred.
His views can be divided into three different theories; the form of solidarity, Anomie, and the division of labor. Durkheim explained that there are two different types of the social integration; which is mechanical and organic solidarity. He explained that the mechanical solidarity forms a group or community where people affiliate and feel the comfort by regulated by the shared rules and the systems of beliefs, which is we call common conscience. The mechanical solidarity has a strong social morality compare to organic solidarity. The organic solidarity is more like an opposite theory of mechanical solidarity. The organic solidarity is the society that is more focused on individual’s values, performance in different tasks, and form a society that has less social morality with less common conscience. Durkheim explained, as a society grows up, the division of labor increases and become powerful. The mechanical and organic solidarity must exist in our society to keep the balance between the inequality and equality. But at the same time, it also makes big distance between the high class and working class and it is causing working class to feel devastated because of the differences of advantages and disadvantages between the high class and working
Durkheim was one of the most influential sociologists in relation to the functionalist theories which stated society consisted of a structural consensus with a collective conscience of shared norms and values. He argued in order to establish the meaning of society one must understand the structures and social facts. He highlights changes in society from traditional societies which were linked with mechanical solidarity consisting of small scale ties with little division of labour. This in turn created a strong collective conscience of unity in comparison to modern society where differences amongst groups are promoted in turn weakening social solidarity. This is due to rapid changes within society in which Durkheim emphasises is due to a complex division of labour. Durkheim then argues that due to the combination of enlightenment notions and a capitalist society a collective conscience of individualism and greed is created. (Jones, Bradbury and Boutillier, 2011, pp.62-64)
When people look at the world, they see it is structured in a specific way. Each perspective varies depending on the person. For instance, when looking at classical theory in sociology, there exists three viewpoints on society. Karl Marx believed the world based on conflict while Weber made sense of it by viewing the meanings. As for Durkheim, he made sense of it through social cohesion. Unlike Marx, whose primary focus was conflict, Durkheim’s writing centered around how people were capable of coexisting harmoniously.
Such a abstract ineffable sensation demanded (In Durkheim 's words) something material and tangible through which to be expressed. This emphasis on the external being internalised is similar to Radcliffe-Brown who believed religious acts were an expression of 'a sense of dependance on a power outside ourselves '. Durkheim noted how one "cannot detect the source of the strong feelings we have in an abstract entity" but "can comprehend those feelings only in connection with a concrete object" Such an object he labeled totemic, conveying how in 'primitive ' societies these miscellaneous items were believed to be endowed with sacredness. Such objects (or animals or plants) were and still are worshipped vehemently, they are bestowed with the utmost respect as tribal systems are constructed around them. But (apart from their physical form or lack of it) he did not envisage this relationship between the abstract and material as a conjunction of different entities: the sociologist stated that if such a symbol represents God and society "Is this not because God and society are one and the same thing?". One must note Durkheim was an Agnostic, not a staunch atheist, religion was very much a 'real ' concept for him, in the sense that it was derived from something very concrete: it was a process by which mankind expresses social facts. Although "this representation is symbolic and metaphorical,