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Émile Durkheim´s Critique of Animism and Naturalism


Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 188 Kb

str. 881-898

preuzimanja: 1.677



In the first part of the article, as a kind of introduction to
understanding Durkheim's critique of animism and
naturalism, the author has tried to show that animism and
naturalism, despite their theoretical and methodological
incompatibility, can be comparatively analysed by using three
postulations: universalism, positivism and evolutionarism. In
the second part the author considers Durkheim's critical
rejection of the basic tenets of animism and naturalism. The
principal reason for the rejection of both animism and
naturalism was indentical: both theories either ignored the
sacred or reduced it to a groundless illusion. Briefly, on the
one hand, naturalism derived religion from the primitive
feelings which personified the awesome forces of nature. In
the linguistically oriented formulation of Max Müller, this
concept of natural processes was attributed to the
metaphoric power of language. In this sense, according to
Durkheim, religion was "an immense metaphor without
objective value". On the other hand, animism, which
received its most influential formulation in the works of E.B.
Tylor, maintained that the 'minimal definition' of religion
rested on a belief in spirits or souls of ancestors. The origin
of this belief was the reliance of the primitive mind on the
idea of spirits in order to interpret dreams. In that sense,
animism "reduced religion to a system of hallucinations".

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