Sociology and Philosophy

Sociology and Philosophy

Sociology and Philosophy

Sociology and Philosophy

Excerpt

We have collected and now publish some essays by Emile Durkheim which appeared recently in the Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale and in the Bulletin de la Société française de Philosophie. They all have one thing in common in that they throw light upon Durkheim's thought, not only about this or that particular sociological problem but also about the general problems that ordinarily occupy philosophers -- the relation of spirit to matter, conscience and nature, reason and sensibility. They show in what way and to what extent sociology revives philosophy. Since sociology is coming nowadays to take a larger place in the curriculum of our schools and Ecoles Normales, it seemed to us that this collection might be of some service and be found to fill a present need by suggesting the orientation and themes of discussion.

Durkheim, in order to continue the work of Auguste Comte, found it necessary to specialize and to limit the field of his studies. Sociology cannot progress unless, as in all sciences, the number not only of objective but also of specific researches is increased. Comte, caught up by a grandiose ambition, talked freely of humanity in general. He did not ask himself whether it might not be necessary to distinguish different types of society and different forms of evolution, but embraced in his bold syntheses all categories of social facts. His followers must be more modest. In order to advance the science each one must bind himself to a particular series of problems.

Submitting himself to this discipline, Durkheim concentrated his attention upon moral problems. From the Division of Social Labour to the Elementary Forms of Religious Life, and including his Suicide, his chief preoccupation remained that of explaining the essence of morality, the . . .

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