Critical Remarks Durkheim's Two Problems Durkheim's primary purpose in The Elementary Forms was to describe and explain the most primitive 1 religion known to man.
Durkheim says that the sacred is ideal and transcends everyday existence, it is extra-ordinary, potentially dangerous,awe-inspiring,fear inducing. The sacred refers to things set part by man including religious beliefs,rites,duties or anything socially defined as requiring special religious treatment.
Almost anything can be sacred — a god, a rock,across,the moon,the earth ,a tree, an animal or bird etc. These are sacred only because some community has marked them as sacred.
Once established as sacred they become symbols of religious beliefs, sentiments and practices. The profane is mundane, anything ordinary. The profane embraces those ideas, persons, practices and things that are regarded with an everyday attitude of commonness, utility and familiarity.
The unholy or the profane is also believed to contaminate the holy or sacred. It is the denial or sub-ordination of the holy in some way. The attitudes and behaviour toward it are charged with negative emotions and hedged about by strong taboos.
The sacred and profane are closely related because of the highly emotional attitude towards them. According to Durkheim the circle of sacred objects cannot be determined then once and for all. Its extent varies indefinitely according to different religions. The significance of the sacred lies in the fact of its distinction from the profane.Sacred and Profane For Durkheim, religion is about the separation of the sacred from the profane.
The sacred refers to those collective representations that are set apart from society, or that which transcends the humdrum of everyday life. We arrive thus at the following definition: A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden — beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.
The definition of religion at which Durkheim arrives is: “Religion is an interdependent system of beliefs and practices regarding things which are sacred, that is to say, apart forbidden, beliefs and practices which unite all those who follow them in a single moral community called a church.”.
Just how the sacred is represented varies from religion to religion.
In some it is a matter of gods; in totemism it is a matter of the totem. But whatever the detail, one thing is sure: the sacred reality is a projection (not Durkheim's term) of a social reality.
It is important to look at the starting point of Durkheim’s analysis, his definition of religion: “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden--beliefs and practices which unite in one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.
Sacred and Profane. Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist who is commonly cited as the 'father of sociology.' Durkheim extensively studied the functions of religion and was among the first to.