Émile Durkheim Quotes

“Melancholy suicide. —This is connected with a general state of extreme depression and exaggerated sadness, causing the patient no longer to realize sanely the bonds which connect him with people and things about him. Pleasures no longer attract;”

“When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable.”

“Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free him from all social pressure is to abandon him to himself and demoralize him.”

“Maniacal suicide. —This is due to hallucinations or delirious conceptions. The patient kills himself to escape from an imaginary danger or disgrace, or to obey a mysterious order from on high, etc.”

“Socialism is not a science, a sociology in miniature: it is a cry of pain.”

“We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it.”

“One does not advance when one walks toward no goal, or – which is the same thing – when his goal is infinity.”

“Irrespective of any external, regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss.”

“It is said that we do not make the guilty party suffer for the sake of suffering; it is nonetheless true that we find it right that he should suffer.”

“Crime brings together honest men and concentrates them.”

“The most barbarous and the most fantastic rites and the strangest myths translate some human need, some aspect of life, either individual or social.”

“Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.”

“When this ultimate crisis comes… when there is no way out – that is the very moment when we explode from within and the totally other emerges: the sudden surfacing of a strength, a security of unknown origin, welling up from beyond reason, rational expectation, and hope.”

“…Solidarity is, literally something which the society possesses.”

“It seems very strange that one must turn back, and be transported to the very beginnings of history, in order to arrive at an understanding of humanity as it is at present.”

“Just as reflection disappears to the extent that thought and action take the form of automatic habits, it awakes only when accepted habits become disorganized.”

“Anyone who has truly practiced a religion knows very well that it is [the set of regularly repeated actions that make up the cult] that stimulates the feelings of joy, inner peace, serenity, and enthusiasm that, for the faithful, stand as experimental proof of their beliefs. The cult is not merely a system of signs by which the faith is outwardly expressed; it is the sum total of means by which that faith is created and recreated periodically. Whether the cult consists of physical operations or mental ones, it is always the cult that is efficacious.”

“Hence we are the victims of an illusion which leads us to believe we have ourselves produced what has been imposed upon us externally.”

“It is society which, fashioning us in its image, fills us with religious, political and moral beliefs that control our actions.”

“The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.”

“Nihil est in intellectu quod non ante fuerit in sensu,”

“While the State becomes inflated and hypertrophied in order to obtain a firm enough grip upon individuals, but without succeeding, the latter, without mutual relationships, tumble over one another like so many liquid molecules, encountering no central energy to retain, fix and organize them.”

“Social man…is the masterpiece of existence.”

“When there is no other aim but to outstrip constantly the point arrived at, how painful to be thrown back!…Since imagination is hungry for novelty, and ungoverned, it gropes at random”

“Methodological rules are for science what rules of law and custom are for conduct.”

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