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Irène Eulriet and William Watts Miller

‘The Dualism of Human Nature’ was made available some time ago in English, and this undoubtedly helped to stimulate the mass of commentary that has grown around the essay and made it well-known. But it is time to replace the old translation, since it is so inadequate and fault-ridden. For example, it involves a systematic impulse to change a Durkheimian collective noun such as our will into English individualized plurals, such as ‘our wills’. Or it often cuts things out. Thus it eliminates Durkheim’s key talk of creative effervescence, which merely becomes ‘creativity’. An opposite tendency is to add things in.

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Émile Durkheim

Although sociology is defined as the science of society, in reality it cannot deal with human groups, which are the immediate concern of its research, without in the end tackling the individual, the ultimate element of which these groups are composed. For society cannot constitute itself unless it penetrates individual consciousnesses and fashions them 'in its image and likeness'; so, without wanting to be over-dogmatic, it can be said with confidence that a number of our mental states, including some of the most essential, have a social origin. Here it is the whole that, to a large extent, constitutes the part; hence it is impossible to try to explain the whole without explaining the part, if only as an after-effect. The product par excellence of collective activity is the set of intellectual and moral goods called civilization; this is why Auguste Comte made sociology the science of civilization. But, in another aspect, it is civilization that has made man into what he is; it is this that distinguishes him from the animal. Man is man only because he is civilized. To look for the causes and conditions on which civilization depends is therefore to look, as well, for the causes and conditions of what, in man, is most specifically human. This is how sociology, while drawing on psychology, which it cannot do without, brings to this, in a just return, a contribution that equals and exceeds in importance the services it receives from it. It is only through historical analysis that it is possible to understand what man is formed of; for it is only in the course of history that he has taken form.

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Durkheim's Dream

A Society of Justice and Charity

Luca Guizzardi

This essay explores a key issue in Durkheim’s work, namely the relationship between justice and charity, and argues that the key to this, in turn, is to be found in an analysis of the gift. Beginning with his early lycée lectures and their account of justice and charity in relation to the moral law, it goes on to suggest that throughout his work there is an underlying concern with the gift – even or especially in his concern with the contract. This is evident in his vision of a society based on a ‘spontaneous’ division of labour, as well as in his critique of the inequalities built into existing society through the institution of inheritance. But the essay also draws on modern French discussions of the gift, and their concern with issues of mutuality, reciprocity and recognition. This helps to identify the approach to the gift that underlies Durkheim’s sociology, and to bring out its interest and importance.

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Society as Representation

Durkheim, Psychology and the 'Dualism of Human Nature'

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi

Against readings that have emphasized Durkheim's sociological realism and reductionism, this article examines the role of individuality and psychology in his theory. In particular, Durkheim's approach to representations is the proof of the crucial importance he assigned to mental processes in the construction of social life. Durkheim showed the relation of representations to the collectivity – how ideas promote the sense of community – and in this context he emphasized their epistemological ramifications. Specifically, he pointed to a series of dualisms that remained unexplained by psychological analysis, including the one posing rational against affective logic. While arguing for the preeminence of ideas in Durkheim's view of society, the article also recognizes the limitations that marred his efforts at reconciling the individual with society. Most notably, his genetic approach and his account of the central role of affect in the creation of the social made Durkheim vulnerable to criticism. Even his late essay on the dualism of human nature, which testifies to his lifelong confrontations with psychology, left a whole set of questions unanswered about his theory's applicability to historical forms of institutionalization of the social, especially in modernity.