The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life

Durkheim, Emile 1915. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Translated by Joseph Ward Swain. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

A religious system may be said to be the most primitive which we can observe when it fulfils the two following conditions: in the first place, when it is found in a society whose organization is surpassed by no others in simplicity; and secondly, when it is possible to explain it without making use of any element borrowed from a previous religion. (Durkheim 1915: 1)

Condition for primitiveness, quite useful for defining the "primitive" function of speech.

When only the letter of the formulæ is considered, these religious beliefs and practices undoubtedly seem disconcerting at times, and one is tempted to attribute them to some sort of a deep-rooted error. But one must know how to go underneath the symbol to the reality which it represents and which gives it its meaning. The most barbarous and the most fantastic rites and the strangest myths translate some human need, some aspect of life, either individual or social. (Durkheim 1915: 2)

Concerning the naturalness of phatic communion. It underlines a universal human need.

It was one of Descartes's principles that the first ring has a predominating place in the chain of scientific truths. But there is no question of placing at the foundation of the science of religions an idea elaborated after the cartesian manner, that is to say, a logical concept, a pure possibility, constructed simply by force of thought. (Durkheim 1915: 4)

Not a dominant function but a predominating one. The concept of phatic communion, too, is a logical concept, arrived at by negating the other then known functions.

At the foundation of all systems of belief and of all cults there ought necessarily to be a certain number of fundamental representations or conceptions and of ritual attitudes which, in spite of the diversity of forms which they have taken, have the same objective significance and fulfil the same functions everywhere. (Durkheim 1915: 5)

Phatic communion can be found equally around the savage campfire as in European living rooms.

Things are quite different in the lower societies. The slighter development of individuality, the small extension of the group, the homogenity of external circumstances, all contribute to reducing the differences and variations to a minimum. The group has an intellectual and moral conformity of which we find but rare examples in the more advanced societies. Everything is common to all. Movements are stereotyped; everybody performs the same ones in the same circumstances, and this conformity of conduct only translates to conformity of thought. Every mind being drawn into the same eddy, the individual type nearly confounds itself with that of the race. And while all is uniform, all is simple as well. (Durkheim 1915: 5-6)

Something akin to the criticism raised against Parsons who studied a particular type of integrated society. Likewise, Malinowski's Trobianders were probably organized in a small group with a steretyped repertoire.

Primitive civilizations offer privileged cases, then, because they are simple cases. That is why, in all fields of human activity, the observations of ethnologists have frequently been veritable revelations, which have renewed the study of human institutions. For example, before the middle of the nineteenth century, everybody was convinced that the father was the essential element of the family; no one had dreamed that there could be a family organization of which the paternal authority was not the keystone. But the discovery of Bachofen came and upset this old conception. (Durkheim 1915: 6)

This appears in Malinowski's criticism of the Freudian Oeidipus-complex.

The general conclusion of the book which the reader has before him is that religion is something eminently social. Religious representations are collective representations which express collective realities; the rites are a manner of acting which take rise in the midst of the assembled groups and which are destined to excite, maintain or recreate certain mental states in these groups. So if the categories are of religious origin, they ought to participate in this nature common to all religious facts; they too should be social affairs and the product of collective thought. At least - for in the actual condition of our knowledge of these matters, one should be careful to avoid all radical and exclusive statements - i is allowable to suppose that they are rich in social elements. (Durkheim 1915: 10)

Exciting, maintaining and recreating is a neat pre-Jakobsonian triad of this sort. The overall attitude here would make it seem reasonable that the intercousrse in social union should be described as "communion" with all its religious connotations.

To answer these questions it has sometimes been assumed that above the reason of individuals there is a superior and perfect reason from which the others emanate and from which they get this marvellous power of theirs, by a sort of mystic particiation: this is the divine reason. But this hypothesis has at least the one grave disadvantage of being deprived of all experimental control; thus it does not satisfy the conditions demanded of a scientific hypothesis. (Durkheim 1915: 15)

Griffith's all-revealing semiosis is one of divine reason.

It is the very authority of society, transferring itself to a certain manner of thought which is the indispensable condition of all common action. (Durkheim 1915: 17)

Compare to similar phraseology in Malinowski.

To-day society treats criminals in a different fashion than subjects whose intelligence only is abnormal; that is a proof that the authority attached to logical rules and that inherent to moral rules are not of the same nature, in spite of certain similarities. They are two species of the same class. It would be interesting to make a study on the nature and origin of this difference, which is probably not primitive, for during a long time, the public conscience has poorly distinguished between the deranged and the delinquent. We confine ourselves to signalizing this question. (Durkheim 1915: 18ff)

This must be where Michel Foucault took his cue!

"Religion," says M. R Réville, "is the determination of human life by the sentiment of a bond uniting the human mind to that mysterious mind whose domination of the world and itself it recognizes, and to whom it delights in feeling itself united." (Durkheim 1915: 29)

The vocabulary certainly is familiar enough from Malinowski (e.g. sentiment, bond, feeling, delight/pleasure) but instead of supernatural begins Malinowski focuses on interhuman relations.

And since the object of religion is to regulate our relations with these special beings, there can be no religion except where there are prayers, sacrifices, propitiatory rites, etc. (Durkheim 1915: 30)

Again, Laver adds the propitiative function of phatic communion, which amounts to regulating our relations with fellow men.

"The conception" "was forign to Buddhism" "that the divine Head of the Community is not absent from his people, but that he dwells powerfully in their minds as their lord and king, so that all cultus is nothing else but the expression of this continuing living fellowship. Buddha has entered into Nirvâna; if his believers desired to ivoke him, he could not hear them" (Oldenberg, p. 369). (Durkheim 1915: 32 ff.)

These are either "terminological false friends" or else say a lot, actually. For example, that phatic communion is a secular cult in a sense. Nope, that doesn't make any sense. In any case, community and fellowship are organically related.

They work by themselves, and their efficacy depends upon no divine power; they mechanically produce the effects which are the reason for their existence. They do not consist either in prayers or offerings addressed to a being upon whose goodwill the expected result depends; this result is obtained by the automatic operation of the ritual. (Durkheim 1915: 34)

Phraseological findings for treating the automatism of phatic rituals (particularly greetings).

This religious formalism - very probably the first form of legal formalism - comes from the fact that since the formula to be pronounced and the movements to be made contain within themselves the source of their efficacy, they would lose it if they did not conform absolutely to the type consecrated by success. (Durkheim 1915: 35)

Continued... Phatic rituals are similarly "essentialistic" in this way: their performance is stereotypical, and word best if they are generally esposed by the social milieu. That is, they should ideally be "received" rather than "flexible", at least in the company of strangers.

The rites can be defined and distinguished from other human practices, moral practices, for example, only by the special nature of their object. A moral rule prescribes certain manners of acting to us, just as a rite does, but which are addressed to a different class of objects. So it is the object of the rite which must be characterized, if we are to characterize the rite itself. Now it is in the beliefs that the special nature of this object is expressed. (Durkheim 1915: 36)

Still I am unable to shake the feeling that the roots of Malinowski's phatic communion lay in the moral philosophy of Spencer's day, though I have yet to verify this with Fragments of Ethics and other sources. The object of phatic communion is polite, pleasant atmosphere of social intercourse, but what this consists of is decribed in antiquarian multiword expressions yet not fully explained.

But, in addition to the fact that this establishment of relations is always a delicate operation in itself, demanding great precautions and a more or less complicated initiation, it is quite impossible, unless the profane is to lose its specific characteristics and become sacred after a fashion and to a certain degree itself. (Durkheim 1915: 40)

Phraseological finding, though a completely useless one since only an observation: establihing relations appears as a more general and widely used combination than other variants. Jakobson has "to establish" as the first term in the list of channel operations and elsewhere "as soon as such contact is established" (1969c: 674) and La Barre only the more general "politico-economic treatise establishing historic legal title to territories" (1854: 169) but Malinowski has several establishments: "the purpose of establishing a common sentiment" (2.3), "to establish links of fellowship" (4.5), "the reciprocity is established by the change of r?les" (5.6), and finally "[phatic communion] serves to establish bonds of personal union between people brought together by the mere need of companionship" (9.1).

Finally, rites are the rulse of conduct which prescribe how a man should comport himself in the presence of these sacred objects. (Durkheim 1915: 41)

Lexical finding: comport - conduct oneself, behave ("articulate students who comported themselves well in interviews"); accord or agree with ("they do all that nature and art can do to comport with his will").

The really religious beliefs are always common to a determined group, which makes profession of adhering to them and of practising the rites connected with them. They are not merely received individually by all the members of this group; they are something belonging to the group, and they make its unity. The individuals which compose it feel themselves united to each other by the simple fact that they have a common faith. A society whose members are united by the fact that they think in the same way in regard to the sacred world and its relations with the profane world, and by the fact that they translate these common ideas into common practices, is what is called a Church. (Durkheim 1915: 43-44)

This may go toward explaining the religious term, communion. The core content here appears useful for the elucidation of phaticity on the national level. The distinction between "received" vs. "belongingness" is particularly useful.

It is quite another matter with magic. To be sure, the belief in magic is always more or less general; it is very frequently diffused in large masses of the population, and there are even peoples where it has as many adherents as the real religion. But it does not result in binding together those who adhere to it, nor in uniting them into a group leading a common life. There is no Church of magic. (Durkheim 1915: 44)

This moreover contributes to the notion that Malinowski might have used a religious term (communion) to emphasize the specificity to primitive society. In modern Western world we find similar binding-uniting functions rather in Rueshian communization - between people in the same vocation, for example.

Between the magician and the individuals who consult him, as between these individuals themselves, there are no lasting bonds which make them members of the same moral community, comparable to that formed by the believers in the same god or the observers of the same cult. The magician has a clientele and not a Church, and it is very possible that his clients have no other relations between each other, or even do not know each other; even the relations which they have with him are generally accidental and transient; they are just like those of a sick man with his physician. (Durkheim 1915: 44)

Same. Our modern relations are accidental and transient, it is phaticity without communion, actually.

But it is to be remarked that these associations are in no way indispensable to the working of the magic; they are even rare and rather exceptional. The magician has no need of uniting himself to his fellows to practice his art. More frequently, he is a recluse; in general, far from seeking society, he flees it. "Even in regard to his colleagues, he always keeps his personal independence." (Durkheim 1915: 45)

At this point the amount of phraseological findings (for elaborating Malinowski's particular take on phatic communion) is so high that while it cannot be taken in a straightforward way as an influence to him, these findings can nevertheless be used to elaborate upon the original concept.

A Church is not a fraternity of priests; it is a moral community formed by all the believers in a single faith, laymen as well as priests. But magic lacks any such community. (Durkheim 1915: 45)

What's the semantics behind suh terms as fellowship, fraternity, and brotherhood?

It is Tylor who formed the animist theory in its essential outlines. Spencer, who took it up after him, did not reproduce it without introducing certain modifications. But in general the questions are posed by each in the same terms, and the solutions accepted are, with a single exception, identically the same. (Durkheim 1915: 49)

The case is very different between Malinowski, La Barre and Jakobson, with the latter two reproducing the invented term but not its content. Aside from Tylor's Anthropology, which I've already perused for relevant keywords and found significant passages, I'll also have to read Spencer's Principles of Sociology (1876).

For if souls are the givers of health and sickess, of goods and evils to this extent, it is wise to conciliate their favour or appease them when they are irritated; hence come the offerings, prayers, sacrifices, in a word, all the apparatus of religious observances. (Durkheim 1915: 52)

Some context for the term propitiation.

This intellecutal laziness is necessarily at its maximum among the primitive peoples. These weak beings, who have so much trouble in maintaining life against all the forces which assail it, have no means for supporting any luxury in the way of speculation. They do not reflect except when they are driven to it. (Durkheim 1915: 58)

More on primitive men (probably, how would we truly know?) not being the greatest of metaphysicians.

In reality, a cult is not a simple group of ritual precautions which a man is held to take in certain circumstances; it is a system of diverse rites, festivals and ceremonies which all have this characteristic, that they reappear periodically. They fulfil the need which the believer feels of strengthening and reaffirming, at regular intervals of time, the bond which unites him to the sacred beings upon which he depends. (Durkheim 1915: 63)

More on phatic communion being the secular version of a religious communion. Note the Malinowskian phaticism of affirmation.

Human nature is the result of a sort of recasting of the animal nature, and in the course of the various complex operations which have brought about this recasting, there have been losses as well as gains. How many instincts have we not lost? The reason for this is that men are not only in relations with the physical environment, but also with a social environment infinitely more extended, more stable and more active than the one whose influence animals undergo. To live, they must adapt themselves to this. Now in order to maintain itself, society frequently finds it necessary that we should see things from a certain angle and feel them in a certain way; consequently it modifies the ideas which we would ordinarily make of them for ourselves and the sentiments to which we would be inclined if we listened only to our animal nature; it alters them, even going so far as to put the contrary sentiments in their place. (Durkheim 1915: 66)

Durkheim the early social constructionist.

Language is not merely the external covering sf a thought it also is its internal framework. It does not confine itself to expressing this thought after it has once been formed; it also aids in making it. However, its nature is of a different sort, so its laws are not those of thought. Then since it contributes to the elaboration of this latter, it cannot fail to do it violence to some extent, and to deform it. It is a deformation of this sort which is said to have created the special characteristic of religious thought. (Durkheim 1915: 75)

Durkheim the early linguistic relativist.

The cult rendered to a divinity depends upon the character attributed to him; and it is the myth which determines this character. Very freqently, the rite is nothing more than the myth put in action; the Christian communion is inseparable from the myth of the Last Supper, from which it derives all its meaning. Then if all mythology is the result of a sort fo verbal delirium, the question which we raised remains intact: the existence, and especially the persistence of the cult become inexplicable. It is hard to understand how men have continued to do certain things for centuries without any object. Moreover, it is not merely the peculiar traits of the divine personalities which are determined by mythology; the very idea that there are gods or spiritula beings set above the various departments of nature, in no matter what manner they may be represented, is essentially mythical. (Durkheim 1915: 82)

Finally, communion! It's what I thought it would be (Christian mythology and ritual). And it comes with some phraseological findings: the communion in aimless social intercourse is like "a sort of verbal delirium" in itselt! And seeing that phatic communion is aimless, that is, without object, how to understand the place it has held for almost a century?

The bonds which unite the individual to his totem are even so strong that in the tribes on the North-west coast of North America, the emblem of the clan is painted not only upon the living but also upon the dead: before a corpse is interred, they put the totemic mark upon it. (Durkheim 1915: 119)

Concerning the more abstract nature of "bonds".

The men of one clan never regarded the beliefs of neighbouring clans with that indifference, scepticism or hostility which one religion ordinarily inspires for another which is foreign to it; they partake of these beliefs themselves. The Crow people are also convinced that the Snake people have a mythical serpent as ancestory, and that they owe special virtues and marvellous powers to this origin. And have we not seen that at least in certain conditions, a man may eat a totem that is not his own only after he has observed certain ritual formalities? Especially, he must demand the permission of the men of this totem, if any are present. So for him also, this food is not entirely profane; he also admits that there are intimate affinities between the members of a clan of which he is not a member and the animal whose name they bear. (Durkheim 1915: 155)

Lexican findings: "indifference, scepticism or hostility" expands strangeness; "ritual formalities" adds to the formulae of greeting or approach; and demanding permission is the nub of propitiation sensu Laver.

Now, it is a well-known fact that "to the early mind names, and the things known by names, are in a mystic and transcendental connection of rapport." For example, the name of an individual is not considered as a simple word or conventional sign, but as an essential part of the individual himself. So if it were the name of an animal, the man would have to believe that he himself had the most characteristic attributes of this same animal. (Durkheim 1915: 184)

The what now? It would appear that "rapport" is as ambiguous in its use as "bonds".

But in addition to this physical aspect, they also have a moral character. When someone asks a native why he observes his rites, he replies that his ancestors always have observed them, and he ought to follow their example. So if he acts in a certain way towards the totemic beings, it is not only because the forces resident in them are physically redoubtable, but because he feels himself morally obliged to act thus; he has the feeling that he is obeying an imperative, that he is fulfilling a duty. For these sacred beings, he has not merely fear, but also respect. Moreover, the totem is the source of the moral life of the clan. All the beings partaking of the same totemic principle consider that owing to this very fact, they are morally bound to one another; they have definite duties of assistance, vendetta, etc., towards each other; and it is these duties which constitute kinship. So while the totemic principle is a totemic force, it is also a moral power; so we shall see how it easily transforms itself into a divinity properly so-called. (Durkheim 1915: 190)

Some worthwhile phraseology for conceptualizing the moral aspect of phatic communion, which is present in the phatic communion passage in the form of reference to the speech manual excerpt proclaiming the art of conversation a duty and elsewhere in the debate about moral sentiments implicit between Malinowski and Spencer.

Whether it be a conscious personality, such as Zeus or Jahveh, or merely abstract forces such as those in play in totemism, the worshipper, in the one case as in the other, believes himself held to certain manners of acting which are imposed upon him by the nature of the sacred principle with which he feels that he is in communion. Now society also gives us the sensation of a perpetual dependence. (Durkheim 1915: 206)

Communion in conjunction with the feeling of duty. Though I now believe or have a suspicion that the origin of Malinowski's use of communion lies in the Mystic Rose.

We say that an object, whether individual or collective, inspires respect when the representation expressing it in the mind is gifted with such a force that it automatically causes or inhibits actions, without regard for any consideration relative to their useful or injurious effects. When we obey somebody because of the moral authority which we recognize in him, we follow out his opinions, not because they seem wise, but because a certain sort of physical energy is imminent in the idea that we form of this person, which conquers our will and inclines it in the indicated direction. Respect is the emotion which we experience when we feel this interior and wholly spiritual pressure operating upon us. (Durkheim 1915: 207)

Spencerian gravity and the moral duty explained. Usefulness falls into Malinowski's purview, as phatic communion is not "useful" but still a practical action of sorts. An elaboration of the moral sentiment of duty. Having to do with both the need "to get over the strange and unpleasant tension which men feel when facing each other in silence" (PC 4.6) and the "common courtesy to say something even when there is hardly anything to say" (PC 9.2). In other words, there is a moral pressure to say something because the situation elicits a response in proportion to he respect felt with regard to the persons congregating and constituting the situation.

There are occasions when this strengthening and vivifying action of society is especially apparent. In the midst of an assembly animated by a common passion, we become susceptible of acts and sentiments of which we are incapable when reduced to our own forces; and when the assembly is dissolved and when, finding ourselves alone again, we fall back to our ordinary level, we are then able to measure the height to which we have been raised above ourselves. (Durkheim 1915: 209-210)

A very interesting addition to Spencer's hypothesis of social union acting as a check on impulsiveness. Phatic communion (assembly) can also be a passionate ordeal and give life to sentiments which an individual would not espouse on his own.

To strengthen those sentiments which, if left to themselves, would soon weaken, it is sufficient to bring those who hold them together and to put them into closer and more active relations with one another. This is the explanation of the particular attitude of a man speaking to a crowd, at least if he has succeeded in entering into communion with it. His language has a grandiloquence that would be ridiculous in ordinary circumstances; his gestures show a certain domination; his very thought is impatient of all rules, and easily falls into all sorts of excesses. (Durkheim 1915: 210)

Finally "communion" in the sense in which Malinowski uses it! Though again Malinowski appears to arguing against the sentiment expressed here.

It is by this trait that we are able to recognize what has often been called the demon of oratorical inspiration. (Durkheim 1915: 210)

A buddy of the demon of terminological invention?

But it is not only in exceptional circumstances that this stimulating action of society makes itself felt; there is not, so to speak, a moment in our lives when some current of energy does nto come to us from without. The man who has done his duty finds, in the manifestations of every sort expressing the sympathy, esteem or affection which his fellows have for him, a feeling of comfort, of which he does not ordinarily take account, but which sustains him, none the less. The sentiments which society has for him raise the sentiments which he has for himself. Because he is in moral harmony with his comrades, he has more confidence, courage and boldness in action, just like the believer who thinks that he feels the regard of his god turned graciously towards him. (Durkheim 1915: 211)

I think I've finally cracked the code of "communion" in phatic communion. It is indeed a form of secular ritual, but on the psychological side of things, as per Malinowski's psychological functionalism. Phatic communion, ultimately, is a form of communion because it can create a feeling of moral harmony with one's fellows.

And since a collective sentiment cannot express itself collectively except on the condition of observing a certain order permitting co-operation and movements in unison, these gestures and cries naturally tend to become rhythmic and regular; hence come songs and dances. But in taking a more regular form, they lose nothing of their natural violence; a regulated tumult remains tumult. The human voice is not sufficient for the task; it is reinforced by means of artificial processes: boomerangs are beaten against each other; bull-roarers are whirled. It is probable that these instruments, the use of which is so general in the Australian religious ceremonies, are used primarily to express in a more adequate fashion the agitation felt. But while they express it, they also strengthen it. This effervescence often reaches such a point that it causes unherad-of actions. (Durkheim 1915: 216)

Finally, collective effervescence! And something akin to the statement that "the hearing given to such utterances is as a rule not as intense as the speaker's own share, it is quite essential for his pleasure, and the reciprocity is established by the change of rôles." (PC 5.6)

This is its primary function; and though metaphorical and symbolic, this representation is not unfaithful. Quite on the contrary, it translates everything essential in the relations which are to be explained: for it is an eternal trust that outside of us there exists something greater than us, with which we enter into communion. (Durkheim 1915: 225-226)

Thus, the speaker establishes a communion with something greater than himsel - the group of hearers. This is actually another point in case for the distinction between communion and communication, or social and personal intercourse.

That is why we can rest assured in advance that the practices of the cult, whatever they may be, are something more than movements without importance and gestures without efficacy. By the mere fact that their apparent function is to strengthen the bonds attaching the believer to his god, they at the same time really strengthen the bonds attaching the individual to the society of which he is a member, since the god is only a figurative expression of the society. We are even able to understand how the fundamental truth thus contained in religion has been able to compensate for the secondary errors which it almost necessarily implies, and how believers have consequently been restrained from tearing themselves off from it, in spite of the misunderstandings which must result from these errors. (Durkheim 1915: 226)

This is pretty much the crux of phatic communion: purely social intercourse has an apparent function in strengthening the bonds attaching the individual to the society of which he is a member without the intermediary of god or even without the necessary caveat of sympathy.

However, it may be objected that even according to this hypothesis, religion remains the object of a certain delirium. What other name can we give to that state when, after a collective effervescence, men believe themselves transported into an entirely different world from the one they have before their eyes? (Durkheim 1915: 226)

Finally collective effervescence pure and simple, but in a very secondary role because it stands for the atmosphere in ceremonial activities, literally vivacity and enthusiasm.

Moreover, if we give the name delirious to every state in which the mind adds to the immediate data given by the senses and projects its own sentiments and feelings into things, then nearly every collective representation is in a sense delirious; religious beliefs are only one particular case of a very general law. Our whole social environment seems to us to be filled with forces which really exist only in our own minds. We know what the flag is for the soldier; in itself, it is only a piece of cloth. Human blood is only an organic liquid, but even to-day we cannot see it flowing without feeling a violent emotion which its physico-chemical properties cannot explain. From the physical point of view, a man is nothing more thna a system of cells, or from the mental point of view, than a system of representations; in either case, he differs only in degree from animals. (Durkheim 1915: 227)

E. R. Clay's "supersensuous faculty" immediately comes to mind; it "supplyi[es] immediate objects or constituents of immediate objects beyond the scope of sense intuition".

In fact, if left to themselves, individual consciousnesses are closed to each other; they can communicate only by means of signs which express their internal states. If the communication established between them is to become a real communion, that is to say, a fusion of all particular sentiments into one common sentiment, the signs expressing them must themselves be fused into one single and unique resultant. It is the appearance of this that informs individual that they are in harmony and makes them conscious of their moral unity. It is by uttering the same cry, pronouncing the same word, or performing the same gesture in regard to some object that they become and feel themselves to be in unison. (Durkheim 1915: 230)

A thoroughly surprising addendum to what constitutes a communion. This venture has been immensely more profitable than at first expected. Communion, in this sense, is very much in line with Spencer's note on sentiments and social union.

But it is quite another matter with collective representations. They presuppose that minds act and react upon one another; they are the product of these actions and reactions which are themselves possible only through material intermediaries. These latter do not confine themselves to revealing the mental state with which they are associated; they aid in creating it. Individual minds cannot come in contact and communicate with each other except by coming out of themselves; but they cannot do this except by movemnets. So it is the homogeneity of these movements that gives the group consciousness of itself and consequently makes it exist. When this homogeneity is once established and these movements have once taken a stereotyped form, they serve to symbolize the corresponding representations. But they symbolize them only because they have aided in forming it. (Durkheim 1915: 230-231)

Another unexpected twist: communion apparently presupposes homogeneous sympathy, or "common sentiments" in Malinowski's terms (PC 2.3). I'm still unsure whether "symphatic" makes complete sense with regard to the sympathy/empathy and emphatic/symphatic distinctions.

Moreover, without symbols, social sentiments could have only a precarious existence. Though very strong as long as men are together and influence each other reciprocally, they exist only in the form of recollections after the assembly has ended, and when left to themselves, these become feebler and feebler; for since the group is now no longer present and active, individual temperaments easily regain the upper hand. The violent passions which may have been released in the heart of a crowd fall away and are extinguished when this is dissolved, and men ask themselves with astonishment how they could ever have been so carried away from their normal character. (Durkheim 1915: 231)

Very much in line with Spencer indeed! Social sentiments, it turns out, are set against individual temperaments (which may be impulsive, as Spencer suggests, and is here captured in "violent passions"). Note also "reciprocity" (PC 5.6), and "crowd", which may be reflected in Malinowski's footnote about "herd-instinct".

Collective sentiments can just as well become incarnate in persons or formulæ: some formulæ are flags, while there are persons, either real or mythical, who are symbols. (Durkheim 1915: 232)

Oh snap, can collective sentiments be embodied in "formulæ of greeting or approach" (PC 2.4)?

But there is one sort of emblem which should make an early appearance without reflection or calculation: this is tattooing. Indeed, well-known facts demonstrate that it is produced almost automatically in certain conditions. When men of an inferior culture are associated in a common life, they are frequently led, by an instinctive tendency, as it were, to paint or cut upon the body, images that bear witness to their common existence. According to a text of Procopius, the early Christians printed on their skin the name of Christ or the sign of the cross; for a long time, the groups of pilgrims going to Palestine were also tattooed on the arm or wrist with designs representing the cross or the monogram of Christ. This same usage is also reported among the pilgrims going to certain holy places in Italy. A curious case of spontaneous tattooing is given by Lombroso: twenty young men in an Italian college, when on the point of separating, decorated themselves with tattoos recording, in various ways, the years they had spent together. The same fact has frequently been observed among the soldiers in the same barracks, the sailors in the same boat, or the prisoners in the same jail. It will be understood that especially where methods are still rudimentary, tattooing should be the most direct and expressive means by which the communion of minds can be affirmed. The best way of proving to one's self and to others that one is a member of a certain group is to place a distinctive mark on the body. (Durkheim 1915: 232)

Holy hell. Is it a coincidence that these same groups (sailors, soldiers, prisoners) appear also in La Barre's definition of phatic communication and Ruesch's definition of communization? Have there been any phatic studies of tattoos?

If someone asked our own contemporaries, or even those of them who believe most firmly in the existence of the soul, how they represent it, the replies that he would receive would not have much more coherence and precision. This is because we are dealing with a very complex notion, into which a multitude of badly analysed impressions enter, whose elaboration has been carried on for centuries, though men have had no clear consciousness of it. Yet from this come the most essential, though frequently contradictory, characterstics by which it is defined. (Durkheim 1915: 241)

The case is eerily similar with phatic communion: a very complex notion, a bunch of extraneous assumptions have entered into it (primarily via Jakobson's phatic function), it has been elaborated immensely (phatic technologies, phatic infrastructure, phatic systems, etc.), but for almost a century scarcely anyone has given a clear explanation to its constituent terms (the phatic and the communion in phatic communion).

Now this duplication is the result of a psychological necessity; for it only expresses the nature of the sour which, as we have seen, is double. In one sense, it is ours: it expresses our personality. But at the same time, it is outside of us, for it is only the reaching into us of a religious force which is outside of us. We cannot confound ourselves with it completely, for we attribute to it an excellence and a dignity by which it rises far above us and our empirical individuality. So there is a whole part of ourselves which we tend to project into the outside. This way of thinking of ourselves is so well established in our nature that we cannot escape it, even when we attempt to regard ourselves without having recourse to any religious symbols. Our moral consciousness is like a nucleus about which the idea of the soul forms itself; yet when it speaks to us, it gives the effect of an outside power, superior to us, which gives us our law and judges us, but which also aid and sustain us. When we have it on our side, we feel ourselves to be stronger against the trials of life, and better assured of triumphing over them, just as the Australian who, when trusting in his ancestor or his personal totem, feels himself more valiant against his enemies. (Durkheim 1915: 280)

This sounds like the Platonic notion of the soul, which is reflected in Peirce's view of thinking (mind is speaking to that other self in becoming) and Clay's view of reasoning (asking questions of ourselves). But it also reminds me of a famous book about consciousness, which I saw recently in some youtube video, in which the author claimed that the inner monologue of thinking was originally the voice of god - that prehistorical people's didn't think by subvocalizing language and whenever they did so it in a way reflected the moral outcries of its fellows.

The reason for this is that the object of the initiation is to introduce the neophyte into the religious life, not merely of the clan into which he was born, but of the tribe as a whole; so it is necessary that the various aspects of the tribal religion be represented before him and take place, in a way, under his very eyes. It is on this occasion that the moral and religious unity of the tribe is affirmed the best. (Durkheim 1915: 283)

A point of contention: there is no comparable moral and religious unity found in modern societies. Likewise with the fear of the stranger, which is not based on fear of evil magic in Western societies but conceptualized in rather different terms (e.g. psychological safety). It is possible that so many terminological diffusions occur with regard to phaticity in modern societies exactly because there is a lack of this kind of unity.

But contact may be established by other means than the touch. One comes into relations with a thing by merely regarding it: a look is a means of contact. This is why the sight of sacred thing is forbidden to the profane in certain cases. (Durkheim 1915: 203)

This much was readily apparent in Jakobson's phatic function when I took a second look at the excerpt from Dorothy Parker's short story: before the young couple engages in the back-and-forth of "Well"-s, they establish eye contact. It is curious that Durkheim should provide such a quotable summary of it.

The word is another way of entering into relations with persons or things. The breath exired establishes a communication; this is a part of us which spreads outwards. Thus it is forbidden to the profane to address the sacred beings or simply to speak in their presence. (Durkheim 1915: 304)

Another Jakobsonian phaticism. How many of these could I actually use in a paper about phatic communion (as opposed to one about phatic function)?

In fact, it is by the way in which he braves suffering that the greatness of a man is best manifested. He never rises above himself with more brilliancy than when he subdues his own nature to the point of making it follow a way contrary to the one it would spontaneously take. By this, he distinguishes himself from all the other creatures who follow blindly wherever pleasure calls them; by this, he makes a place apart for himself in the world. Suffering is the sign that certain of the bonds attaching him to his profane environment are broken; so it testifies that he is partially freed from this environment, and, consequently, it is justly considered the instrument of deliverance. (Durkheim 1915: 315)

Something similar to the deautomatization view of literary art held by the Russian formalists, and, by proxy, the view of intelligence held by William James. Subvert the natural and spontaneous instincts, and you become something other.

Some have tried to explain it with the well-known laws of the association of ideas. The sentiments inspired in us by a person or a thing spread contagiously from the idea of this thing or person to the representations associated with it, and thence to the objects which these representations express. So the respect which we have for a sacred being is communicated to everything touching this being, or resembling it, or recalling it. (Durkheim 1915: 321)

Not well-known enough, apparently, because I still don't know whence the laws of the association of ideas can be summarily found. Ah, Wikipedia to the rescue: these are the very same similarity, contiguity and contrast (or "antithesis" in Darwin's lingo). Also, it is "anticipated in Plato's Phaedo, as part of anamnesis [and] Aristotle is credited with originating associationist thinking [by William Hamilton]".

But they say that the primitive naïvely objectifies his impressions, without criticising them. Does something inspire a reverential fear in him? (Durkheim 1915: 321)

Concerning "affirmations of some supremely obvious state of things" (PC 2.2).

Now in a multitude of societies, meals taken in common are believed to create a bond of artificial kinship between those who assist at the. In fact, relatives are people who are naturally made of the same flesh and blood. But food is constantly remaking the substance of the organism. So a communion of food may produce the same effects as a common origin. According to Smith, sacrificial banquets have the object of making the worshipper and his god communicate in the same flesh, in order to form a bond of kinship between them. From this point of view, sacrifice takes on a wholly new aspect. Its essential element is no longer the act of renouncement which the word sacrifice ordinarily expresses; before all, it is an act of alimentary communion. (Durkheim 1915: 337)

"The breaking of silence, the communion of words is the first act to establish links of fellowship, which is consummated only be the breaking of bread and the communion of food." (PC 4.5)

The only way of renewing the collective representations which relate to sacred beings is to retemper them in the very source of the religious life, that is to say, in the assembled groups. Now the emotions aroused by these periodical crises through which external things pass induce the men who witness them to assemble, to see what should be done about it. But by the very fact of uniting, they are mutually comforted; they find a remedy because they seek it together. The common faith becomes reanimated quite naturally in the heart of this reconstituted group; it is born again because it again finds those very conditions in which it was born in the first place. After it has been restored, it easily triumphs over all the private doubts which may have arisen in individual minds. (Durkheim 1915: 346)

This mutual comfort comes closest to the Malinowskian "atmosphere of sociability". The point here reinforces that of the communion of sentiments above.

If we should withdraw from men their language, sciences, arts and moral beliefs, they would drop to the rank of animals. So the characteristic attributes of human nature come from society. But, on the other hand, society exists and lives only in and through individuals. If the idea of society were extinguished in individual minds and the beliefs, traditions and aspirations of the group were no longer felt and shared by the individuals, society would die. We can say of it what we just said of the divinity: it is real only in so far as it has a place in human consciousness, and this place is whatever one may give it. (Durkheim 1915: 347)

Once again, Durkheim the social constructionist of society. Society is an idea.

Howsoever little importance the religious ceremonies may have, they put the group into action; the groups assemble to celebrate them. So their first effect is to bring individuals together, to multiply the relations between them and to make them more intimate with one another. By this very fact, the contents of their consciousnesses is changed. On ordinary days, it is utilitarian and individual avocations which take the greater part of the attention. Every one attends to his own personal business; for most men, this primarily consists in satisfying the exigencies of material life, and the principal incentive to economic activity has always been private interest. (Durkheim 1915: 348)

Finally a justification for viewing phatic communion as a secular rite (a religious ceremony without the invocation of religion). Phatic communion "serves to establish bonds of personal union between people brought together by the mere need of companionship" (PC 9.1), that is, brings them together and multiplies their relations. The freedom from "utilitarian and individual avocations" is reflected in people the statement "after all the daily tasks are over, or when they chat, resting from work" (PC 1.2).

Society is able to revivify the sentiment it has of itself only by assembling. But it cannot be assembled all the time. The exigencies of life do not allow it to remain in congregation indefinitely; so it scatters, to assemble anew when it again feels the need of this. (Durkheim 1915: 349)

This concerns "self-description" in the Lotmanian sense. "Assembling", in modern times, consists of everyone tuning in to some piece of information or discussion. "Congregation" appears in "the well-known tendency to congregate, to be together" (PC 3.2). In light of Durkheim's ideas Malinowski's phatic communion appears as a denuded form of communion.

They feel within them an animal or vegetable nature, and in their eyes, this is what constitutes whatever is the most essential and the most excellent in them. So when they assemble, their first movement ought to be to show each other this quality which they attribute to themselves and by which they are defined. The totem is their rallying sign; for this reason, as we have seen, they design it upon their bodies; but it is no less natural that they should seek to resemble it in their gestures, their cries, their attitude. Since they are emus or kangaroos, they comport themselves like the animals of the same name. By this means, they mutually show one another that they are all members of the same moral community and they become conscious of the kinship uniting them. The rite does not limit itself to expressing this kinship; it makes it or remakes it. (Durkheim 1915: 358)

So when they assemble, tehir first movements are "formulæ of greeting or approach" (PC 2.4) and it is natural because "the stranger who cannot speak the language is to all savage tribesmen a natural enemy" (PC 4.2).

Now the self has just the opposite characteristic: it is incommunicable. It cannot change its material substratum or spread from one to another; it spreads out in metaphor only. (Durkheim 1915: 365)

Incommunicable and incommunicative.

Just as they enter them from without, they are also always ready to leave them. Of themselves, they tend to spread further and further and to invade ever new domains: we know that there are none more contagiou,s and consequently more communicable. Of course physical forces have the same property, but we cannot know this directly; we cannot even become acquainted with them as such, for they are outside us. (Durkheim 1915: 365)

The strongest pronoun game I've ever seen.

On the other hand, there is no question of denying the part due to individual experience. There can be no doubt that by himself, the individual observes the regular succession of phenomena and thus acquires a certain feeling of regularity. But this feeling is not the category of causality. The former is individual, subjective, incommunicable; we make it ourselves, out of our own personal observations. The second is the work of the group, and is given to us ready-made. It is a frame-work in which our empirical ascertainents arrange themselves and which enables us to think of them, that is to say, to see them from a point of view which makes it possible for us to understand one another in regard to them. (Durkheim 1915: 368)

Compare this to the definition of intuition as a feeling for relations.

So the rite serves and can serve only to sustain the vitality of these beliefs, to keep them from being effaced from memory and, in sum, to revivify the most essential elements of the collective consciousness. Through it, the group periodically renews the sentiment which it has of itself and of its unity; at the same time, individuals are strengthened in their social natures. The glorious souvenirs which are made to live again before their eyes, and with which they feel that they have a kinship, give them a feeling of strength and confidence: a man is surer of his faith when he sees to how distant a past it goes back and what great things it has inspired. This is the characteristic of the ceremony which makes it instructive. Its tendency is to act entirely upon the mind and upon it alone. (Durkheim 1915: 375)

Aspects that are missing from Malinowski's phatic communion but which are frequently read into it by newcomers.

As the bonds by which the events and personages represented are attached to the history of the tribe relax, these take on a proportionately more unreal appearance, while the corresponding ceremonies change in nature. Thus men enter into the domain of pure fancy, and pass from the commemorative rite to the ordinary corrobori, a simple public merry-making, which has nothing religious about it and in which all may take part indifferently. Perhaps some of these representations, whose sole object now is to distract, are ancient rites, whose character has been changed. (Durkheim 1915: 380)

And finally a reasoning for how the religious ritual becomes phatic communion - the historical religious bonds relax and communion loses its spiritual significance, becoming a form of public merry-making.

It is a well-known fact that games and the principal forms of art seem to have been born of religion and that for a long time they retained a religious character. We now see what the reasons for this are: it is because the cult, though aimed primarily at other ends, has also been a sort of recreation for men. Religion has not played this rôle by hazard or owing to a happy chance, but through a necessity of its nature. (Durkheim 1915: 381)

Phatic communion first, religious communion second, as it turns out.

The state of effervescence in which the assembled worshippers find themselves must be translated outward by exuberant movements which are not easily subjected to too carefully defined ends. In part, they escape aimlessly, they spread themselves for the mere pleasure of so doing, and they take delight in all sorts of games. Besides, in so far as the beings to whom the cult is addressed are imaginary, they are not able to contain and regulate this exuberance; the pressure of tangible and resisting realities is required to confine activities to exact and economical forms. Therefore one exposes oneself to grave misunderstandings if, in explaining rites, he believes that each gesture has a precise object and a definite reason for its existence. There are some which serve nothing; they merely answer the need felt by worshippers for action, motion, gesticulation. They are to be seen jumping, whirling, dancing, crying and singing, though it may not always be possible to give a meaning to all this agitation. (Durkheim 1915: 381)

This effervescence goes for energetic rituals ("exuberant movements") but the point is very much the one arrived at via Tylor and Mead: that instead of significant gesture, phatic communion produces insignificant gestures (no carefully defined aims, performed for the mere sake of doing so, etc.).

This is why the very idea of a religious ceremony of some importance awakens the idea of a feast. Inversely, every feast, even when it has purely lay origins, has certain characteristics of the religious ceremony, for it every case its effects is to bring men together, to put the masses into movement and thus to excite a state of effervescence, and something even of delirium, which is not without a certain kinship with the religious state. (Durkheim 1915: 383-383)

Concerning "When a number of people sit together at a village fire" (PC 1.2), "to congregate, to be together, to enjoy each other's company" (PC 3.2), "when a number of people aimlessly gossip together" (PC 7.4), and "[are] brought together by the mere need of companionship" (PC 9.1).

The essential thing is that men are assembled, that sentiments are felt in common and expressed in common acts; but the particular nature of these sentiments and acts is something relatively secondary and contingent. To become conscious of itself, the group does not need to perform certain acts in preference to all others. The necessary thing is that it partakes of the same thought and the same action; the visible forms in which this communion takes place matters but little. Of course, these external forms do not come by change; they have their reasons; but these reasons do not touch the essential part of the cult. (Durkheim 1915: 386-387)

Sentiments are still necessary, and that they be shared (common). The role of thought here is actually elaborated: it is not simply that phatic communion does not arouse any reflection, but it must arouse communal reflection about the same object, the latter being whatever.

One initial fact is constant: mourning is not the spontaneous expression of individual emotions. If the relations weep, lament, mutilate themselves, it is not because they feel themselves personally affected by the death of their kinsman. Of course, it may be that in certain praticular cases, the chagrin expressed is really felt. But it is more generally the case that there is no connection between the sentiments felt and the gestures made by the actors in the rite. If, at the very moment when the weepers seem the most overcome by their grief, some one speaks to them of some temporal interest, it frequently happens that they change their features and tone at once, take on a laughing air and converse in the gayest fashion imaginable. Mourning is not a natural movement of private feelings wounded by cruel loss; it is a duty imposed by the group. (Durkheim 1915: 397)

"It would be even incorrect, I think, to say that such words serve the purpose of establishing a common sentiment, for this is usually absent from such current phrases of intercourse; and where it purports to exist, as in expressions of sympathy, it is avowedly suprious on one side." (PC 2.3)

When some one ides, the family group to which he belongs feels itself lessened and, to react against this loss, it assembles. A common misfortune has the same effects as the approach of a happy event: collective sentiments are renewed which then lead men to seek one another and to assemble together. We hae even seen this need for concentration affirm itself with a particular energy: they embrace one another, put their arms round one another, and press as close as possible to one another. But the affective state in which the group then happens to be only reflects the circumstances through which it is passing. (Durkheim 1915: 399)

A pretty common conception: catastrophes of all sorts excite phatic communion, i.e. people seeking the company and verbal exchange with others, particularly complete strangers who appear to be affected by the same event. (E.g. New York after 9/11.)

Phraseological findings

Every one of these is made up of such a variety of elements that it is very difficult to distinguish what is secondary from what is principal, the essential from the accessory. [...] "Religions diametrically opposed in their overt dogmas," said Spencer, "are perfectly at one in the tacit conviction that the existence of the world, with all it contains and all which surrounds it, is a mystery calling for an explanation"; he thus makes them consist essentially in "the belief in the omnipresence of something which is inscrutable." [...] As far as social facts are concerned, we still have the mentality of primitives. [...] Especially, when it is a question of facts which always take place in the same manner, habit easily numbs curiosity, and we do not even dream of questioning them. [...] If it was only a profane thing, a wandering vital principle, during life, how does it become a sacred thing all at once, and the object of religious sentiments? [...] This illusion is the easier for him because imagination is his sovereign mistress; he thinks almost entirely with images, and we know how pliant images are, bending themselves with docility before every exigency of the will. [...] But at the same time, it was strongly felt that these same personalities had an air of relationship. [...] Normally, the course of nature is uniform, and uniformity could never produce strong emotions. [...] In his The Religion of the Semites, he [Robertson Smith] makes this same idea the first origin of the entire sacrificial system: it is to totemism that humanity owes the principle of the communion meal. [...] One single fact may make a law appear, where a multitude of imprecise and vague observations would only produce confusion. [...] However, this lack of a geographical basis does not cause its unity to be the less keenly felt. [...] But to-day this way of employing the word is so universally accepted that it would be an excess of purism to rise against this usage. [...] Thus we are led to regard the phatry as an ancient clan which has been dismembered; the actual clans are the product of this dismemberment, and the solidarity which unites them is a souvenir of their primitive unity. [...] It is certain that they have a force of endurance which the clans do not have. [...] At the same time, the society had too keen a sentiment of its unity to remain unconscious of itself and of the parts out of which it was composed. [...] These different facts give us an idea of the considerable place held by the totem in the social life of the primitives. [...] The religious nature radiates to a distance and communicates itself to all the surroundings: everything near by participates in this same nature and is therefore withdrawn from profane touch. [...] By this kiss, he enters into relations with the religious principle which resides there; it is a veritable communion which should give the young man the force required to support the terrible operation of sub-incision. [...] This enables us to understand how the totemic blazon has remained something very precious for the Indians of North America: it is always surrounded with a sort of religious halo. [...] The profane function of vegetables and even of animals is ordinarily to serve as food; then the sacred character of the totemic animal or plant is shown by the fact that it is forbidden to eat them. [...] By the force of a whole group of acquired habits and of language itself, we are inclined to consider the common man, the simple believer, as an essentially profane being. [...] But in other, and perhaps even more frequent cases, it happens that the expressions used denote rather a sentiment of equality. [...] Thus we have an occasion for verifying the proposition which we laid down at the commencement of this work, and for assuring ourselves that the fundamental notions of the intellect, the essential categories of thought, may be the product of social factors. [...] They are made up of vague and fluctuating images, due to the superimposition and partial fusion of a determined number of individual images, which are found to have common elements; the framework, on the contrary, is a definite form, with fixed outlines, but which may be applied to an undetermined number of things, perceived or not, actual or possible. [...] The hierarchy is exclusively a social affair. It is only in society that there are superiors, inferiors and equals. [...] In this same tribe, a magician can use in his art only those things which belong to his own phatry; since the others are strangers to him, he does not know how to make them obey to him. Thus a bond of mystic sympathy unites each individual to those beings, whether living or not, which are associated with him; the result of this is a belief in the possibility of deducing what he will do or what he has done from what they are doing. [...] Thus the men of the clan and the things which are classified in it form by their union a solid system, all of whose parts are united and vibrate sympathetically. This organization, which at first may have appeared to us as purely logical, is at the same time moral. [...] It is said that they are its intimates, its associates, its friends; it is believed that they are inseparable from it. So there is a feeling that these are very closely related things. [...] It is costantly happening in the clans that under the influence of various sympathies, particular affinities are forming, smaller groups and more limited associations arise, which tend to lead a relatively autonomous life and to form a new subdivision like a sub-clan within the larger one. [...] This conception was also in harmony with the idea currently held of the clan; in fact, this was regarded as an autonomous society, more or less closed to other similar societies, or having only external and superficial relations with these latter. [...] Also, this community of belief is sometimes shown in the cult. [...] Finally, the totemic organization, such as we have just described it, must obviously be the result of some sort of an indistinct understanding between all the members of the tribe. [...] If in these circumstances he sees, or, as amounts to the same thing, he thinks he sees, while dreaming or while awake, an animal appearing to him in an attitude seeming to show friendly intentions, then he imagines that he has discovered the patron he awaited. [...] While Tylor derives totemism from the ancestor-cult, Jevons derives it from the nature-cult, and here is how he does so. [...] It has the additional advantage of being in harmony with the conception of religion which is currently held; this is quite generally regarded as something intimate and personal. [...] Under these conditions, it is evident how the child, in his turn, will be considered a sort of yam or emu, how he regards himself as a relative of the plant or animal of the same species, how he has sympathy and regard for them, how he refuses to eat them, etc. [...] If its contours were clearly defined, it could never spread out thus and enter into such a multitude of things. [...] There are societies which have had the feeling of this unity with nature and have consequnetly advanced to the idea of a unique religious force of which all other sacred principles are only expressions and which makes the unity of the universe. [...] are not of a nature to produce upon men these great and strong impressions which in a way resemble religious emotions and which impress a sacred character upon the objects they create. [...] We speak a language that we did not make; we use instruments that we did not invent; we invoke rights that we did not found; a treasury of knowledge is transmitted to each generation that it did not gather itself, etc. It is to society that we owe these varied benefits of civilization, and if we do not ordinarily see the source from which we get them, we at least know that they are not our own work. [...] Thus religion acquires a meaning and a reasonableness that the most intrasigent rationalist cannot misunderstand. Its primary object is not to give men a representation of the physical world; for if that were its essential task, we could not understand how it has been able to survive, for, on this side, it is scarcely more than a fabric of errors. [...] For to explain it to attach things to each other and to establish relations between them which make them appear to us as functions of each other and as vibrating sympathetically according to an internal law founded in their nature. [...] To-day, as formerly, to explain is to show how one thing participates in one or several others. [...] This sacred character is really due to a simple phenomenon of psychic contagiousness; but in order to explain it, the native must admit that these different objects have relations with the different things in whom he sees the source of all religious power, that is to say, with the ancestors of the Alcheringa. [...] An individual totem is defined, in its essence, by the two following characteristics: (1) it is a being in an animal or vegetable form whose function is to protect an individual; (2) the fate of this individual and that of his patron are closely united: all that touches the latter is smpathetically communicated to the former. [...] Finally, a sympathetic bond unites each individual to his protecting ancestor. [...] Frazer thought that the individual totem was an external soul; but he believed that this exteriority was the result of an artifice and a magical ruse. [...] The spirits of which we have just been speaking are essentially benefactors. Of course they punish a man if he does not treat them in a fitting manner; but it is not their function to work evil. [...] They are either evil-working geniuses who belong to magic rather than religion, or else, being attached to determined individuals or places, they cannot make their influence felt except within a circle of a very limited radius. [...] They explain to the young men who the personage is whom this image represents; they tell them his secret name, which the women and the unitiated cannot know; they relate to them his history and the part attributed to him in the life of the tribe. [...] Now, though the great gods are certainly superior to these, still, there are only differences of degree between them; we pass from the first to the second with no break of continuity. [...] This prohibition has sometimes been explained by the mythical kinship uniting the man to the animals whose name he bears; they are protected by the sentiment of sympathy which they inspire by their position as kin. [...] Since it is opposed to the profane world by all the characteristics we have mentioned, it must be treated in its own peculiar way: it would be a misunderstanding of its nature and a confusion of it with something that it is not, to make use of the gestures, language and attitudes which we employ in our relations with ordinary things, when we have to do with the things that compose it. We may handle the former freely: we speak freely to vulgar beings; so we do not touch the sacred beings, or we touch them only with reserve; we do not speak in their presence, or we do not speak the common language there. All that is used in our commerce with the one must be excluded from our commerce with the other. [...] The initate lives in an atmosphere charged with religiousness, and it is as though he were impregnated with it himself. [...] It is to be remembered that when it is a religious interdict that has been violated, these sanctions are not the only ones; there is also a real punishment or a stigma of opinion. [...] But the observations of Spencer and Gillen, prepared for by those of Schulze and confirmed by those of Strehlow, on the tribes of central Australia, have partially filled this gap in our information. [...] In the form which it takes when fully constituted, a sacrifice is composed of two essential elements: an act of communion and an act of oblation. The worshipper communes with his god by taking in a sacred food, and at the same time he makes an offering to his god. [...] The real reason for the existence of the cults, even of those which are the most materialistic in appearance, is not to be sought in the cts which they prescribe, but in the internal and moral regeneration which these acts aid in bringing about. [...] It comes from the fact that the sacred beings, though superior to men, can live only in human consciousness. [...] Of course social sentiments could never be totally absent. We remain in relation with others; the habits, ideas and tendencies which education has impressed upon us and which ordinarily preside over our relations with others, continue to make their action felt. [...] They take away with them a feeling of well-being, whose causes they cannot clearly see, but which is well founded. [...] This is why the easy criticism to which an unduly simple rationalism has sometimes submitted ritual prescriptions generally leave the believer indifferent: it is because the true justification of religious practices does not lie in the apparent ends which they pursue, but rather in the invisible action which they exercise over the mind and in the way in which they affect our mental status. Likewise, when preachers undertake to convince, they devote much less attention to establishing directly and by methodical proofs the truth of any particular proposition or the utility of such and such an observance, than to awakening or reawakening the sentiment of the moral comfort attained by the regular celebration of the cult. Thus they create a predisposition to belief, which precedes proofs, which leads the mind to overlook the insufficiency of the logical reasons, and which thus prepares it for the proposition whose acceptance is desired. [...] But we know that the soul is quite another thing from a name given to the abstract faculty of moving, thinking and feeling; before all, it is a religious principle, a particular aspect of the collective force. [...] The natives, moreover, have only the very haziest ideas of them. [...] The celebrate it because their ancestors did, because they are attached to it as to a highly respected tradition and because they leave it with a feeling of moral well-being. [...] They consist in a series of four ceremonies which repeat one another more or less, but which are intended only to amuse and to provoke laughter by laughter, in fine, te maintain the gaiety and good-humour which the group has as its specialtiy. [...] While they enable us to understand the nature of the cult better, these ritual representations also put into evidence an important element of religion: this is the recreative and esthetic element. [...] Not only do they employ the same processes as the real drama, but they also pursue an end of the same sort: being foreign to all utilitarian ends, they make men forget the real world and transport them into another where their imagination is more at ease; they distract. They sometimes even go so far as to have the outward appearance of a recreation: the assistants may be seen laughing and amusing themselves openly. [...] When a rite serves only to distract, it is no longer a rite. [...] The representations which it seeks to awaken and maintain in our minds are not vain images which correspond to nothing in reality, and which we call up aimlessly for the mere satisfaction of seeing them appear and combine before our eyes. They are as necessary for the well working of our moral life as our food is for the maintenance of our physical life, for it is through them that the group affirms and maintains itself, and we know the point to which thi sis indispensable for the individual. So a rite is something different from a game; it is a part of the serious life. [...] The simple merry-making, the profane corrobori, has no serious object, while, as a whole, a ritual ceremony always has an important end. [...] They have shown how the sacrifice of communion, that of expiation, that of a vow and that of a contract are only variations of one and the same mechanism. [...] So everything leads us back to this same idea: before all, rites are means by which the sociol group reaffirms itself periodically. [...] Men who feel themselves united, partially by bonds of blood, but still more by a community of interest and tradition, assemble and become conscious of their moral unity. [...] However, a distinction is necessary between the different rites which go to make up mourning. Some consist in mere abstentions: it is forbidden to pronounce the name of the dead, or to remain near the place where the death occurred; relatives, especially the female ones, must abstain from all communication with strangers; the ordinary occupations of life are suspended, just as in fesat-time, etc. [...] Instead of happy dances, songs and dramatic representations which distract and relax the mind, they are tears and groans and, in a word, the most varied manifestations of agonized sorrow and a sort of mutual pity, which occupy teh whole scene. [...] An individual, in his turn, if he is strongly attached to the society of which he is a member, feels that he is morally held to participate in its sorrows and joys; not to be interested in them would be equivalent to breaking the bonds uniting him to the group; it would be renouncing all desire for it and contradicting himself. [...] The attitude of the Australian during mourning is to be explained in the same way. If he weeps and groans, it is not merely to express an individual chagrin; it is to fulfil a duty of which the surrounding society does not fail to remind him. [...] Naturally this victim is sought outside the group; a stranger is a subject minoris resistentiæ; as he is not protected by the sentiments of sympathy inspired by a relative or neighbour, there is nothing in him which subdues and neutralizes the evil and destructive sentiments aroused by the death. [...] Of course they have also sad emotions in common, but communicating in sorrow is still communicating, and every communion of mind, in whatever form it may be made, raises the social vitality.

Lexical findings

Undoubtedly the expression lacks precision, but that is hardly evitable, and besides, when we have taken pains to fix the meaning, it is not inconvenient. [...] All are religions equally, just as all living beings are equally alive, from the most humble plastids up to man. [...] By this is understood all sorts of things which surpass the limits of our knowledge; the supernatural is the world of the mysterious, of the unknowable, of the un-understandable. [...] The same state of mind is found at the root of many religious beliefs which surprise us by their pseudo-simplicity. [...] As much can be said for the majority of the dietetic regulations. [...] It is more malleable and plastic; for, to leave the body, it must pass out by its apertures, especially the mouth and nose. [...] They say that "it is the finer or more aeriform part of the body," that "it has no flesh nor bone nor sinew"; that when one wishes to take hold of it, he feels nothing; that it is "like a purified body." [...] When we hear a child angrily apostrophize an object which he has hit against, we conclude that he thinks of it as a conscious being like himself; but that is interpreting his words and acts very badly. [...] When we are violently irritated, we feel the need of inveighing, of destroying, though we attribute no conscious ill-will to the objects upon which we vent our anger. [...] When the philosophers of the eighteenth century made religion a vast error imagined by the priests, they could at least explain its persistence by the interest which the sacredotal class had in deceiving the people. [...] it is not by lustrations that the sick are cured nor by sacrifices and chants that the crops are made to grow. [...] From this historical résumé it is clear that Australia is the most favourable field for the study of totemism, and therefore we shall make it the principal area of our observations. [...] Outside and above the totems of clans there are totems of phatries which, though not differing from the former in nature, must none the less be distinguished from them. [...] With its many sculptured posts arising on every hand, sometimes to a great height, a Haida village gives the impression of a sacred city, all bristling with belfries or little minarets. [...] Among the Warramunga, at the end of the burial ceremonies, the bones of the dead man are interred, after they have been dried and reduced to powder; beside the place where they are deposited, a figure representing the totem is traced upon the ground. [...] Among the Kaitish, the euro is believed to be closely connected with the rain; the men of the rain clan wear little ear-rings made of euro teeth. [...] Cords made either of human hair or opossum or bandicoot fur diagonally cross the space included between the arms of the cross and the extremities of the central axis; as they are quite close to each other, they form a network in the form of a lozenge. [...] If, driven by necessity, they do eat some of it, they must at least attenuate the sacrilege by expiatory rites, just as if they had eaten the totem itself. [...] It also resembles this form in that it implies a relationship of descent and consanguinity between the animal patron and the corresponding sex [...] but it was not the belief in metempsychosis which gave it birth, for this belief is unknown among Australian societies. [...] In fact, it is in just this way that the Guanij and Umbaia on the one hand, and the Urabunna on the other, explain their system of filiation. [...] Owing to the preponderating place thus assigned to this principle in the Siouan pantheon, it is sometimes regarded as a sort of sovereign god, or a Jupiter or Jahveh, and travellers have frequently translated wakan by "great spirit." [...] It requires that, forgetful of our own interests, we make ourselves its servitors, and it submits us to every sort of inconvenience, privation and sacrifice, without which social life would be impossible. [...] Beside these passing and intermittent states, there are other more durable ones, where this strengthening influence of society makes itself felt with greater consequences and frequently even with greater brilliancy. [...] Thus the environment in which we live seems to us to be peopled with forces that are at once imperious and helpful, august and gracious, and with which we have relations. [...] The aptitude of society for setting itself up as a god or for creating gods was never more apparent than during the first years of the French Revolution. At this time, in fact, under the influence of the general enthusiasm, things purely laïcal by nature were transformed by public opinion into sacred things: these were the Fatherland, Liberty, Reason. [...] they express in their way the properties, either of material particles or of ether waves, which certainly have their origin in the bodies which we perceive as fragrant, sapid or coloured. [...] Also, even after it has definitely departed, it is believed to prowl about in the bush near the camp. [...] We know the respect with which these localities are enhaloed from the mere fact that the most precious instruments of the cult are there. [...] This is why we find a class of evil geniuses forming itself naturally, in opposition to these auxiliary and protecting spirits, which enables men to explain the permanent evils that they have to suffer, their nightmares and illnesses, whirlwinds and tempests, etc. [...] Unctions, lustrations, benedictions or any essentially positive operation may be used for this purpose; but the same result may be attained by means of fasts and vigils or retreats and silence, that is to say, by ritual abstinences, which are nothing more than certain interdictions put into practice. [...] Then, in order to introduce him more rapidly into the circle of sacred things with which he must be put into contact, he is separated violently from the profane world; but this does not come without mayn abstinences and an exceptional recrudescence of the system of interdicts. [...] In the first place, it is a repast: its substance is food. [...] In fact, Smith claimed to find in the very notion of oblation an absurdity so revolting that it could never have been the fundamental reason for so great an institution. [...] The means employed to succour them, howsoever crude these may be, cannot appear vain, for everything goes on as if they were really effective. [...] Where the period of dispersion is long, and the dispersion itself is extreme, the period of congregation, in its turn, is very prolonged, and produces veritable debouches of collective and religious life. [...] We shall not tarry long to discuss the explanation proposed by the anthropological school, and especially by Tylor and Frazer. [...] Behind the mechanisms, purely laical in appearance, which are used by the magician, they point out a background of religious conceptions and a whole world of forces, the idea of which has been taken by magic from religion. [...] They take place outside the ceremonial ground, which proves that they are already laicized to a certain degree; but profane persons, women and children, are not yet admitted to them. [...] They are spirits, more generally malevolent ones, having relations with the magicians rather than the ordinary believers, and sorts of bugbears, in whom men do not believe with the same degree of seriousness and firmness of conviction as in the proper totemic beings and things. [...] Thus the same manifestations are to be abserved in each case: cries, songs, music, violent movements, dances, the search for exciteants which rise the vital level, etc. It has frequently been remarked that popular feasts lead to excesses, and cause men to lose sight of the distinction separating the licit from the illicit; there are also religious ceremonies which make it almost necessary to violate the rules which are ordinarily the most respected. [...] Ten decorated men then advance, one behind another, and with their hands crossing behind their heads and their legs wide apart they stand astraddle the trench.



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