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Phillippe Aries essay II

Phillippe Aries essay II

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Published by RodgerSeagraves
essay concerning phillippe aries, the master of deaths perception in western culture.
essay concerning phillippe aries, the master of deaths perception in western culture.

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Published by: RodgerSeagraves on Dec 12, 2008
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03/19/2013

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Ryan R. MarrSociology (Philippe Aries Essay)Prof. ChambersPhilippe Aries, known today as the authority on the subject of how death is interpreted in western cultures, was born in Blois, Franceon July 21, 1914. Aries’ politically active upbringing in his homecountry makes it a mystery as to why Aries went on to study suchthings as death in western societies. During his earlier years in France,Aries contributed greatly to
La Nation Francaise,
a right wingnationalist weekly. He also was closely associated with the similar
 Action Francaise
weekly paper. In these times, he was regarded as a“right-wing anarchist” (Hutton, 14). Despite his political leanings, Ariesdidn’t discriminate when it came to cooperation with left wing westernhistorian Michel Foucault, who assisted him in his study of childhooddevelopment, which was a subject Aries would soon become renownedin (Evans, 90).Aries was relatively unknown in the field of sociology, until hisrelease of his book,
Centuries of Childhood 
translated from its originalFrench in 1962. His study in his first publication was about the place in
society 
that was assigned to children in medieval Europe. Ariespresented the alternate view in
Centuries
that children were treateddifferently than adults in developing Europe not simply becausechildren were biologically at a different stage, but because of the social
 
class system they lived in and (as Aries argued) were often stripped of childhood freedoms (Hutton, 47). Indeed, Aries’ first work proved to behistorical and controversial. It was the first modern book on thesubject on the history of childhood and became a major reference pointfor Aries’ successors.While many historians and sociologists were quoting Aries from
Centuries,
 just as many were criticizing his controversial take on thesubject. Aries in the book claimed in page 125 that “in medievalsociety, the idea of childhood did not exist” (Hutton, 55). Aries’findings about childhood history was that the acceptance of childhoodwas progressive as society developed. He also found that theacceptance of childhood as a concept and a part of family life found itsplace in the 1600’s, through economic and social advancement(Hutton, 60). Aries, through his work on the history of childhood, hasshown that before our progressive economic and social advancementaway from feudalism in the middle ages, children were not recognizedas progressing through any development stages in life. Children inthese times were rather treated as miniature adults, often dressed upin adult styles of dress to conform to social statuses and to display thehigh social class of their parents. Aries has taken criticism for thestatements and findings in his first work, but as testimony to theimpact of his findings, he is regarded as one of the premier sociologists
 
and historians on childhood, and
Centuries of Childhood 
made Aries’name known as a medieval historian.Following his first published work, Aries moved into the field of death, and how it was viewed in western civilization. It is clear thatAries can be best described as a symbolic interactionist with the studyof death. His entry into this subject of study was marked with twoimportant books:
Western attitudes towards death,
published in 1974,and
In the Hour of our Death,
published in 1977 (Porter, 83). Theformer was basically a primer on the subject, and his entry into thetopic, and had its origins as part of a lecture series while at JohnsHopkins University (Aries 1974).
The Hour of our Death
is the morefamous and most in depth of the two, and Aries used this book todemonstrate how the importance of symbolism (casks, urns,purgatory) in western culture related to the socialization of death(Porter, 83). In this work on death Aries discovered that, as westerncivilization was in its earlier days, “death was tame and individualsyielded as if to sleep” (Porter, 83). Aries also found that primitivesocieties were more in line with early Christian teachings about how toapproach death, and he found societies that held this belief thought of death with less sorrow. The course of the book traced Aries’ five ‘mainattitudes’ approach that showed a decline in the positive relationshipbetween Europeans and death (Porter, 83). Aries work showed that astrong religious connection with death in Europe and the perennial

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