The Bodily Efficacy of the Categories

Durkheim and Mauss's Intervention into the History of Philosophy

in Durkheimian Studies
Author:
Erhard Schüttpelz University of Siegen

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Martin Zillinger University of Cologne

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Abstract

Between 1900 and 1912, Durkheim, Mauss and other contributors of the L'Année Sociologique developed the most ambitious philosophical project of modern anthropology: a comparative and worldwide social history of philosophical categories. This article briefly summarises three phases of the ‘Category Project’ and gives a preliminary characterisation of its Hegelian ambitions. Further, it points out the common denominator in the diverse success stories of the Category Project, namely the reference to the human body as the site of collective consciousness. In a second step, the article traces the intricate genesis and after-life of the most important category of bodily efficacy and epistemological insight provided by Durkheim and Mauss: the elaboration of ‘effervescence’ and its manifestation of ‘totality’.

Contributor Notes

Erhard Schüttpelz is Professor of Media Theory at the University of Siegen and was Founding Director of both the Collaborative Research Center ‘Media of Cooperation’ and the Graduate School ‘Locating Media’ at the University Siegen. He was Principal Investigator of research projects on ‘Trance Mediums and New Media’ (with Martin Zillinger, Marcus Hahn and Anja Dreschke) and modern mediumship from Mesmer to New Age Esotericism (with Ehler Voss and Helmut Zander). His publications include Die Moderne im Spiegel des Primitiven [The Moderns in the Mirror of the Primitive] (2005) on the interface between modernist anthropology and the genre of ‘Persian Letters’, including studies on Mauss and Durkheim.

Martin Zillinger is Professor for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cologne and Principal Investigator at the Global South Studies Center and the Collaborative Research Center 1187 ‘Media of Cooperation’. His publications address issues at the intersection of anthropology, media studies and philosophy, and are focused on the problems of religion – often in transit and translation – among (North) African and migrant communities in Europe. He is co-founder of the Mauss-Werkstatt at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities at UoC. Here and at the Werkstatt ‘Practice Theory’ of the CRC 1187 he works (with Johannes Schick, Mario Schmidt and Ulrich van Loyen) on the translation and edition of the Category Project of the Durkheim school.

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