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Title: Twee Founding Fathers, één Onderwerp? Wilhelm Wundt en Émile Durkheim over Religie, Totemistische Kult en het Individu
Other Titles: Two Founding Fathers, one Topic? Wilhelm Wundt and Émile Durkheim on Religion, Totemic Cult and the Individual
Authors: Stehle, Ruth
Keywords: Wilhelm Wundt
Émile Durkheim
Issue Date: 18-Apr-2013
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) and Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) are founding fathers of academic psychology and sociology. In line with contemporary paradigms, both dedicated large parts of their work to the study of totemism. Durkheim studied with Wundt in Leipzig, and became acquainted with the latter’s individual and folk-psychology. The few existing studies that treat the question of a possible influence of Wundt on Durkheim have led to promising results, but there is no proof yet. This study searches for more parallels between Wundt’s and Durkheim’s writings by comparing their conceptualizations of the individual-society relationship as presented in their studies of religion and totemism. Both authors describe individual human persons and society as mutually constitutive: Individuals’ basic mental functions are partially based on categories and frameworks of socie-ties’ making, and society emerges from the interaction of individuals. The definitions of relig-ion that Wundt and Durkheim give partially employ the same concepts. For Durkheim, relig-ion is the starting-point of cultural development, while Wundt describes it as a relatively late product. Wundt and Durkheim state that cult is central for the development of religion and have comparable ideas as to how religious motives change through the performance of cultic actions. In his folk-psychology, Wundt employs a notion that is remindful of Durkheim’s concept of collective effervescence, while a passage of Durkheim’s Formes Élémentaires reminds strikingly of Wundt’s myth-building apperception. Other reasons for the theoretical similarities than a direct influence are possible. Nevertheless, it seems likely that Durkheim was inspired by Wundt’s folk-psychology.
Appears in Collections:MSc Psychology

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