Durkheim and Husserl: A Comparison of the Spirit of Positivism and the Spirit of Phenomenology

  • Edward A. Tiryakian


Some years ago, I began to consider the possibility of a meaningful rapprochement between sociology and philosophy by examining similarities and differences in the perspectives of Durkheim’s sociologism and that of existential thought concerning the basic relation of the individual and society.1 The intention of this endeavor was to renew the ties between two disciplines which I feel are complementary and in need of one another. Since this initial venture, I have become increasingly aware of a third voice in the dialogue, and this tertius gaudens is that of phenomenology.2 As the title of this paper indicates, it is the relation between sociology and the latter which is the horizon of the present essay.


Europe Logical Positivism Ethos Rene Lester 


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  1. Edward A. Tiryakian, Sociologism and Existentialism (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962).Google Scholar
  3. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, ed. by Claude Lefort, trans. By Alphonso Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. See, for example, George Psathas, ed., Phenomenological Sociology: Issues and Applications (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1973); Paul Filmer, ichael Philipson, David Silverman, and David Walsh, New Directions in Sociological Theory (London: CollierMacmillan, 1972).Google Scholar
  5. Herbert Spiegelberg, Phenomenology in Psychology and Psychiatry (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  6. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “The Philosopher and Sociology,” in Signs, trans. Richard C. McCleary (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964), pp. 98–113.Google Scholar
  7. Paul Ricoeur, Husserl, An Analysis of His Phenomenology, trans., Edward G. Ballard and Lester E. Embree (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1967); Maurice Natanson, Edmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
  8. Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, Primitive Classification, trans., Rodney Needham (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963).Google Scholar
  9. Rudolf Steiner, The Stages of Higher Knowledge (New York: Anthroposophic Press, 1967), and Macrocosm and Microcosm (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968); Rene Guenon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1972).Google Scholar
  10. Abraham Kaplan, “Positivism,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 12 (New York: Macmillan and The Free Press, 1968), pp. 389–395.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward A. Tiryakian

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