God and Society: Emile Durkheim and the Rejection of Transcendence

  • Sal Restivo


Entire books have been written exploring the varieties of religions and gods, the complexities of lived religions and beliefs, and the philosophical discourses that reveal and critically analyze these varieties and complexities. I have the more modest goal of drawing attention to religions and gods as those points in the networks of cultures across time and space that generate a distinction between a natural world and a spiritual, supernatural, or transcendental world. The iconic classical locus for the sociological perspective on religions and gods is Emile Durkheim (1858–1917). We learned from Durkheim that humans made a mistake in reference when they invented the concept of god. Unable to comprehend the ritual origins of certain “other worldly” experiences they located the gods outside themselves instead of inside their societies.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sal Restivo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Technology, Culture and SocietyNYU Tandon School of EngineeringBrooklynUSA

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