What Do Religions Actually Fight About?

A Durkheimian Perspective

in Durkheimian Studies
Bruno KarsentiÉcole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)

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In this article, I use a reading of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life to show the relevance of the sociological point of view developed by Durkheim in the analysis and understanding of issues related to the religious conflicts that affect contemporary societies. In particular, I focus on the definition of the critical social function of religion, based on a certain conception of the necessities of action in society and on a gradual transformation of the idea of salvation into a secular context.

Contributor Notes

Bruno Karsenti has taught at the Universities of Lyon and Paris I; since 2006, he has been teaching philosophy of social sciences at École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS). He devoted most of his works to the French sociological tradition and to the transformations of modern political concepts. He also introduced classical works of Mauss, Durkheim, Lévy-Bruhl, Bergson and Tarde. In 2013, he won the CNRS silver medal for all of his work. Since 2017, he has been vice-president of the EHESS.

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Durkheimian Studies

Études Durkheimiennes

  • Durkheim, É. (1917) 1960. Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse [The Elementary Forms of Religious Life]. 4th ed. Paris: Presses Universitaire de France.

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  • Spinoza, Baruch. 2012. Oeuvres III, Traité-théologico-politique [Theologico-Political Treatise]. Trans. Pierre-François Moreau. Paris: Presses Universitaire de France.

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