Representations and the oppositional structure of consciousness in the sociology of Emile Durkheim


My claim is that Durkheim’s sociology is driven on the philosophy of consciousness. To make my point I will start by stressing the importance of the concept of representation in his work. Then I will show that this conception relies on Durkheim’s interpretation of Kant. With that aim I will depict Durkheim’s position on representation as an expression of the philosophy of consciousness, following Husserl and Henry. In addition I will argue that representations are thought by Durkheim as a product of the main function of our consciousness which is to constitute syntheses. I will end by suggesting that Renouviers’s distinction of inner and outer sense informed the way Durkheim conceived of individual and social representations as two different functions of our consciousness, one that we use to make our own representations of the objects of our thought, another that we use to represent to ourselves objects external to us.

Keywords: Durkheim, representations, objectivity, exteriority, consciousness, Phenomenology

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