The Response of Catholic and Protestant Thinkers to the Work of Emile Durkheim

With Special Reference to Les formes élémentaires

in Durkheimian Studies
Author:
W. S. F. Pickering University of Oxford william.pickering@anthro.ox.ac.uk

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This article attempts to record and examine the way that Catholic and Protestant thinkers reacted to Durkheim's work. The bulk, but by no means all, of their reflections relate to religion, especially after the publication of Les formes élémentaires. Surprisingly, there were some who praised Durkheim for his clarity and imagination. The specific aspects of his work dealt with here are: the nature of religion, its definition, the role of the social and individual, the nature of God, effervescent gatherings. In relation to these, and other topics, the writings of Catholics such as Besse, Bureau, Deploige, Lemonnyer, and Protestants, Boegner, Bois, Richard, Paul Sabatier, are considered. One conclusion is that, surprisingly or otherwise, the substantial criticisms of Durkheim are similar to both Catholics and Protestants. Another is that this kind of material is a necessary prelude to the study of the later development of the sociology of religion in France.

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Durkheimian Studies

Études Durkheimiennes

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