Socialism Émile Durkheim



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269 pages


Socialism  by  Émile Durkheim

Socialism by Émile Durkheim
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Durkheims study of socialism is a document of excep-tional intellectual interest for several reasons. Not the leastof these is that it presents us with the now somewhat un-usual case of a truly first-rate thinker who had the inclina-tion to contribute to the history of sociological theory andto comment extensively on the work of a key figure in thathistory, Henri Saint-Simon. The core of this volume con-I tains Durkheims presentation of Saint-Simons ideas, theirsources and their development.Indeed, Durkheim so subordinates himself in these pagesthat we might well wish that he had developed his owncritical reactions to Saint-Simon at greater length.

This issomewhat unusual in the annals of current sociological schol-arship in America, which has tended to leave mere exe-gesis and historical commentary to text book writers, andwhich sometimes unwittingly fosters the barbaric assumptionthat books and ideas more than twenty years old are beyondscientific salvation. In contrast to such current preoccupa-tions with the modern, it is noteworthy that at the timeDurkheim (1858-1917) wrote these lectures on socialismand Saint-Simon (1760-1825), the latter was dead someI seventy years.In some quarters a concern for the history of sociologicalI theory is now regarded as misguided.

Of course, it is easyto understand how the usual trite chronicle of thinkers andideas could foster such a disillusioned appraisal. Yet thisdim view of the history of sociological theory may be pre-maturely pessimistic about earlier theory and unduly opti-- mistic about the state of current theory.

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