The Elementary Forms of Relisious Life

a?

41 I

The Elementary Forms of

PELIGIOUS JJFE

The Elementary Forms of

EMILE DÜRKHEIM
Translated and with an Introduction by

Karen E. Fields

THE
NEW YORK LONDON

F R E E PRESS
SYDNEY TOKYO SINGAPORE

I

TORONTO

Translation and Introduction copyright © 1995 by Karen E . Fields All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher. The Free Press A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10020 Printed in the United States of America printing number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

10

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Dürkheim, Emile, 1858-1917. [Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. English] The elementary forms of religious life/ Emile Dürkheim; translated and with an introduction by Karen E . Fields, p. cm. Translation of: Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. Includes index. ISBN 0-02-907936-5 (hbk.).—ISBN 0-02-907937-3 (pbk.) II. Title. GN470.D813 1995 306.6—dc20 94-41128 CIP This book was originally published as Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse: Le système totémique en Australie, Paris, F. Alcan, 1912. The endpaper art in this volume is based on a map that appeared in the French edition.

CONTENTS
Acknowledgments Abbreviations xv xvii xiii

Translator's I n t r o d u c t i o n : R e l i g i o n as an E m i n e n d y Social T h i n g

INTRODUCTION
Subject o f the Study: Religious Sociology and the T h e o r y o f Knowledge 1

I . • M a i n subject o f t h e b o o k : analysis o f t h e simplest k n o w n r e l i g i o n , t o d e t e r m i n e the e l e m e n t a r y f o r m s o f r e l i g i o u s life. • W h y t h e y are easier t o arrive at a n d e x p l a i n t h r o u g h p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n s . 1

I I . • Secondary subject: o r i g i n o f the f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s o r categories o f t h o u g h t . • Reasons f o r b e l i e v i n g t h e i r o r i g i n t o be r e l i g i o u s a n d conseq u e n t l y social. • H o w a means o f regenerating the t h e o r y o f k n o w l e d g e can be seen f r o m this p o i n t o f v i e w . 8

B O O K ONE: PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS
Chapter O n e : Definition o f Religious P h e n o m e n a and o f R e l i g i o n 21
T h e usefulness o f a p r e l i m i n a r y d e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n ; m e t h o d t o be f o l l o w e d i n a r r i v i n g at that d e f i n i t i o n . • W h y the usual d e f i n i t i o n s s h o u l d be e x a m i n e d first. 21

I . • R e l i g i o n d e f i n e d b y t h e supernatural a n d the mysterious. • C r i t i c i s m . T h e idea o f m y s t e r y was n o t present at t h e b e g i n n i n g . 22

I I . • R e l i g i o n d e f i n e d i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e idea o f G o d o r a s p i r i t u a l b e i n g . R e l i g i o n s w i t h o u t gods. • R i t e s i n deistic religions that i m p l y n o idea o f d e ity. 27

I I I . • Search f o r a positive d e f i n i t i o n . • D i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n beliefs a n d rites. D e f i n i t i o n o f beliefs. • First characteristic: b i p a r t i t e d i v i s i o n o f things i n t o sacred a n d profane. • D i s t i n g u i s h i n g traits o f that d i v i s i o n . • D e f i n i t i o n o f rites i n r e l a t i o n t o beliefs. • D e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n .
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Contents

I V • Necessity o f a n o t h e r characteristic t o distinguish m a g i c f r o m r e l i g i o n . • T h e idea o f C h u r c h . • D o i n d i v i d u a l r e l i g i o n s e x c l u d e t h e idea o f C h u r c h ? 39

Chapter T w o : T h e L e a d i n g Conceptions o f the E l e m e n t a r y R e l i g i o n : Animism 45
Distinction between animism and naturism I . • T h e three theses o f a n i m i s m : (1) genesis o f t h e idea o f soul; (2) f o r m a t i o n o f the idea o f s p i r i t ; (3) t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f the c u l t o f spirits i n t o t h e c u l t o f nature. 45
v

I I . • C r i t i c i s m o f t h e first thesis: D i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n the ideas o f soul a n d o f d o u b l e . • D r e a m s d o n o t a c c o u n t f o r the idea o f soul. 52 transforma-

I I I . • C r i t i c i s m o f t h e second thesis. D e a t h does n o t e x p l a i n the itive. 59

t i o n o f the soul i n t o a s p i r i t . • T h e c u l t o f the souls o f the dead is n o t p r i m -

IV. • C r i t i c i s m o f t h e t h i r d thesis. T h e a n t h r o p o m o r p h i c i n s t i n c t . Spencer's c r i t i c i s m o f i t ; reservations o n this subject. E x a m i n a t i o n o f the facts b y w h i c h the existence o f that i n s t i n c t is said t o be p r o v e d . • D i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n the soul a n d the spirits o f nature. R e l i g i o u s a n t h r o p o m o r p h i s m is n o t p r i m i t i v e . 61 V. • C o n c l u s i o n : A n i m i s m reduces r e l i g i o n t o n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a system o f hallucinations. 65

Chapter T h r e e : T h e L e a d i n g Conceptions o f the E l e m e n t a r y R e l i g i o n (Continuation): Naturism 68
R e v i e w o f the theory 68 70

I . • E x p o s i t i o n o f n a t u r i s m a c c o r d i n g to M a x M u l l e r .

I I . • I f the object o f r e l i g i o n is t o express natural forces, t h e n h o w i t c o u l d have s u r v i v e d is h a r d to see, f o r i t expresses t h e m mistakenly. T h e alleged dist i n c t i o n b e t w e e n r e l i g i o n and m y t h o l o g y . 76

I I I . • N a t u r i s m does n o t e x p l a i n t h e d i v i s i o n o f things i n t o sacred a n d p r o fane. 81

Contents

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C h a p t e r F o u r : T o t e m i s m as E l e m e n t a r y R e l i g i o n : Review of the Question. Method of Treating It I . • B r i e f h i s t o r y o f the q u e s t i o n o f t o t e m i s m . 85 84

I I . • M e t h o d o l o g i c a l reasons f o r w h i c h the study w i l l be based m a i n l y o n A u s t r a l i a n t o t e m i s m . • C o n c e r n i n g t h e place t o be g i v e n t o A m e r i c a n e x amples. 90

B O O K TWO: T H E E L E M E N T A R Y B E L I E F S
C h a p t e r O n e : T h e P r i n c i p a l T o t e m i c Beliefs: The Totem as Name and as Emblem 99 I . • D e f i n i t i o n o f the clan. • T h e t o t e m as n a m e o f the clan. • N a t u r e o f t h e things that serve as totems. • Ways i n w h i c h the t o t e m is acquired. • T h e t o t e m s o f phratries a n d o f m a r r i a g e classes. I I . • T h e t o t e m as e m b l e m . • T o t e m i c designs engraved o r sculpted o n o b jects, and t a t t o o e d o r p a i n t e d o n bodies. I I I . • Sacredness o f t h e t o t e m i c e m b l e m . • T h e churingas. • T h e n u r t u n j a . • T h e w a n i n g a . • C o n v e n t i o n a l nature o f t o t e m i c e m b l e m s .

C h a p t e r T w o : T h e P r i n c i p a l T o t e m i c Beliefs ( C o n t i n u e d ) : The Totemic Animal and Man 127 I . • Sacredness o f the t o t e m i c animals. • P r o h i b i t i o n against eating a n d k i l l i n g t h e m and against p i c k i n g t o t e m i c plants. • Various m i t i g a t i o n s o f those p r o h i b i t i o n s . • P r o h i b i t i o n s o f contact. • T h e sacredness o f t h e a n i m a l is less p r o n o u n c e d t h a n that o f the e m b l e m . I I . • M a n . • H i s k i n s h i p w i t h the t o t e m i c p l a n t o r a n i m a l . • Various m y t h s e x p l a i n i n g that k i n s h i p . • T h e sacredness o f the m a n is m o r e apparent i n c e r t a i n parts o f t h e b o d y : the b l o o d , the hair, etc. • H o w this q u a l i t y varies w i t h sex and age. • T o t e m i s m is n e i t h e r a n i m a l n o r p l a n t w o r s h i p .

Chapter T h r e e : T h e P r i n c i p a l T o t e m i c Beliefs ( C o n t i n u e d ) : The Cosmological System of Totemism and the Notion of Kind I . • Classifications o f things b y clan, phratry, a n d class. 141 141

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I I . • O r i g i n o f the idea o f genus: T h e first classifications o f things take t h e i r schemes f r o m society. • Differences b e t w e e n the f e e l i n g o f resemblance and t h e idea o f genus. • W h y that idea is o f social o r i g i n . 145

I I I . • R e l i g i o u s m e a n i n g o f these classifications: A l l things classified w i t h i n a clan p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e nature o f the t o t e m a n d i n its sacredness. T h e c o s m o l o g i c a l system o f t o t e m i s m . • T o t e m i s m as t r i b a l r e l i g i o n . 149

Chapter F o u r : T h e P r i n c i p a l T o t e m i c Beliefs ( E n d ) : The Individual Totem and the Sexual Totem 158
I . • T h e i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m as first n a m e ; its sacredness. • T h e i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m as personal e m b l e m . • B o n d s b e t w e e n m a n and his i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m . • L i n k s w i t h the collective t o t e m . 158

I I . • Totems o f sexual groups. • Resemblances a n d differences b e t w e e n c o l lective a n d i n d i v i d u a l totems. • T h e i r t r i b a l character. 166

Chapter Five: O r i g i n s o f These Beliefs Critical Examination of the Theories 169
I . • T h e o r i e s that d e r i v e t o t e m i s m f r o m an earlier r e l i g i o n : f r o m t h e ancestor c u l t ( W i l k e n and T y l o r ) ; f r o m the c u l t o f nature (Jevons). • C r i t i c i s m o f these theories. 170

I I . • T h e o r i e s that derive collective t o t e m i s m f r o m i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m . • O r i g i n s ascribed b y these theories t o the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m (Frazer, Boas, H i l l T o u t ) • I m p r o b a b i l i t y o f these hypotheses. • A r g u m e n t s f o r the p r i o r i t y o f the collective t o t e m . 174

I I I . • R e c e n t t h e o r y o f Frazer: c o n c e p t i o n a l a n d l o c a l t o t e m i s m . • T h e quest i o n b e g g i n g o n w h i c h i t rests. • T h e religious character o f the t o t e m is d e n i e d . • L o c a l t o t e m i s m is n o t p r i m i t i v e . 182

IV. • T h e o r y o f L a n g : t h e t o t e m is m e r e l y a name. • D i f f i c u l t i e s i n e x p l a i n i n g the r e l i g i o u s character o f t o t e m i c practices f r o m this p o i n t o f v i e w . 186

V • A l l these theories e x p l a i n t o t e m i s m o n l y b y p o s t u l a t i n g earlier r e l i g i o u s notions. 188

Contents

vn

Chapter Six: O r i g i n s o f T h e s e Beliefs (Continued): The Notion qfTotemic Principle, or Mana, and the Idea of Force
ously physical a n d m o r a l character. 190

190

I . • T h e n o t i o n o f force o r t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e . • Its u b i q u i t y . • Its s i m u l t a n e -

I I . • S i m i l a r c o n c e p t i o n s i n o t h e r l o w e r societies. • Gods i n Samoa. • W a k a n o f the S i o u x , o r e n d a o f the I r o q u o i s , m a n a i n Melanesia. • R e l a t i o n s h i p s o f these n o t i o n s w i t h t o t e m i s m . • A r u n k u l t a o f the A r u n t a . 193

I I I . • T h e l o g i c a l p r i o r i t y o f the n o t i o n o f i m p e r s o n a l force over the v a r i o u s m y t h i c a l personalities. • R e c e n t theories that t e n d t o accept this p r i o r i t y . 201

IV. • T h e n o t i o n o f r e l i g i o u s force is the p r o t o t y p e o f t h e n o t i o n o f force i n general. 205

C h a p t e r Seven: O r i g i n s o f These Beliefs (Conclusion): Origin of the Notion of Totemic Principle, or Mana 207
I . • T h e t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e is t h e clan, b u t t h e clan t h o u g h t o f i n tangible form. 207

I I . • G e n e r a l reasons society is capable o f arousing t h e sensation o f the sacred and the d i v i n e . • Society as an i m p e r a t i v e m o r a l p o w e r ; the n o t i o n o f m o r a l a u t h o r i t y . • S o c i e t y as a force that raises the i n d i v i d u a l above himself. • Facts p r o v i n g t h a t society creates the sacred. 208

I I I . • Reasons p e c u l i a r t o t h e A u s t r a l i a n societies. • T h e t w o phases t h r o u g h w h i c h t h e life o f these societies alternately passes: dispersal a n d c o n c e n t r a t i o n . • Great c o l l e c t i v e effervescence d u r i n g the p e r i o d s o f c o n c e n t r a t i o n . Examples. • H o w the r e l i g i o u s idea is b o r n f r o m t h a t effervescence. W h y t h e collective force was c o n c e i v e d o f i n t o t e m i c f o r m s : T h e t o t e m is the e m b l e m o f the clan. • E x p l a n a t i o n o f the p r i n c i p a l t o t e m i c beliefs. 216

IV. • R e l i g i o n is n o t a p r o d u c t o f fear. • I t expresses s o m e t h i n g real. • Its f u n damental i d e a l i s m . • T h a t i d e a l i s m is a general trait o f c o l l e c t i v e mentality. • W h y religious forces are e x t e r n a l t o t h e i r substrates. • O n t h e p r i n c i p l e the part equals the whole. 225

V. • O r i g i n o f t h e n o t i o n o f e m b l e m : use o f emblems, a necessary c o n d i t i o n o f collective representations. • W h y t h e clan has taken its emblems f r o m t h e animal a n d p l a n t k i n g d o m s . 231

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V I . • O n t h e t e n d e n c y o f the p r i m i t i v e t o m e r g e realms a n d classes that w e distinguish. • O r i g i n s o f those fusions. • H o w t h e y paved t h e w a y f o r scientific explanations. • T h e y d o n o t preclude the t e n d e n c y t o create distinctions a n d oppositions. 236

Chapter Eight: T h e N o t i o n o f Soul
I . • Analysis o f the n o t i o n o f s o u l i n t h e A u s t r a l i a n societies. 242

I I . • Genesis o f t h a t n o t i o n . • T h e d o c t r i n e o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n a c c o r d i n g t o Spencer and G i l l e n : I t i m p l i e s that t h e soul is a p o r t i o n o f t h e t o t e m i c p r i n ciple. • E x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e facts r e p o r t e d b y S t r e h l o w ; t h e y c o n f i r m the t o t e m i c nature o f t h e soul. 249

I I I . • G e n e r a l i t y o f the n o t i o n o f r e i n c a r n a t i o n . • E v i d e n c e t o s u p p o r t the o r i g i n proposed. 259

IV. • T h e antithesis b e t w e e n s o u l a n d b o d y : w h a t is o b j e c t i v e a b o u t i t . R e l a tionships b e t w e e n t h e i n d i v i d u a l soul a n d t h e collective soul. • T h e n o t i o n o f soul is n o t c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y after that o f m a n a . 265 270

V • H y p o t h e s i s to e x p l a i n the b e l i e f i n life after death.

V I . • T h e idea o f soul a n d the idea o f person; i m p e r s o n a l elements o f p e r sonality. 272

Chapter N i n e : T h e N o t i o n o f Spirits and G o d s

276

I . • D i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n soul a n d s p i r i t . • T h e souls o f the m y t h i c a l ancestors are spirits w i t h set f u n c t i o n s . • R e l a t i o n s b e t w e e n the ancestral s p i r i t , t h e i n d i v i d u a l soul, a n d t h e i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m . • E x p l a n a t i o n o f the last. • Its s o c i o l o g i c a l significance. I I . • Spirits a n d m a g i c . I I I . • C i v i l i z i n g heroes. 276 284 286

IV. • H i g h gods. • T h e i r o r i g i n . • T h e i r relationship w i t h t h e t o t e m i c system as a w h o l e . • T h e i r t r i b a l a n d i n t e r n a t i o n a l character. V. • U n i t y o f the t o t e m i c system. 298 288

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B O O K III: T H E PRINCIPAL MODES OF R I T U A L C O N D U C T
Chapter O n e : T h e Negative C u l t and Its Functions: The Ascetic Rites 303
I . • T h e system o f p r o h i b i t i o n s • M a g i c a n d r e l i g i o u s p r o h i b i t i o n s . P r o h i b i tions b e t w e e n sacred things o f different k i n d s . P r o h i b i t i o n s b e t w e e n sacred and profane. • T h e s e last are the basis o f the negative c u l t . • P r i n c i p a l types o f these p r o h i b i t i o n s ; t h e i r r e d u c t i o n t o t w o basic types. 303

I I . • O b s e r v a n c e o f t h e p r o h i b i t i o n s m o d i f i e s the r e l i g i o u s states o f i n d i v i d u als. Cases i n w h i c h that efficacy is especially apparent: ascetic practices. • R e l i g i o u s efficacy o f p a i n . • Social f u n c t i o n o f asceticism. 313

I I I . • E x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e system o f p r o h i b i t i o n s : antagonism o f t h e sacred a n d the profane; contagiousness o f t h e sacred. 321

IV. • Causes o f this contagiousness. • I t c a n n o t be e x p l a i n e d b y the laws o f the association o f ideas. • I t arises because religious forces are e x t e r n a l t o t h e i r substrates. L o g i c a l interest o f this p r o p e r t y o f the r e l i g i o u s forces. 325

Chapter T w o : T h e Positive C u l t : The Elements of the Sacrifice
it exhibits. 330

330

T h e I n t i c h i u m a c e r e m o n y i n the tribes o f central Australia. • Various f o r m s

I . • T h e A r u n t a f o r m . • T h e t w o phases. • Analysis o f the first: v i s i t i n g sacred places, spreading sacred dust, shedding b l o o d , etc., t o b r i n g a b o u t t h e r e p r o d u c t i o n o f the t o t e m i c species. 331 338

I I . • S e c o n d phase: r i t u a l eating o f the t o t e m i c p l a n t o r a n i m a l .

I I I . • I n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the c e r e m o n y as a w h o l e . • T h e second r i t e consists o f a c o m m u n i o n m e a l . • R e a s o n f o r that c o m m u n i o n . 340

IV. • T h e rites o f the first phase consist o f offerings. • A n a l o g i e s w i t h s a c r i f i cial offerings. • H e n c e the I n t i c h i u m a contains t h e t w o elements o f sacrifice. • Interest o f these facts for t h e t h e o r y o f sacrifice. 344

V • O n t h e alleged absurdity o f t h e sacrificial offerings. • H o w they are e x plained: d e p e n d e n c e o f sacred beings o n t h e i r w o r s h i p p e r s . • E x p l a n a t i o n o f

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t h e circle i n w h i c h sacrifice seems t o m o v e . • O r i g i n o f t h e p e r i o d i c i t y o f positive rites. 348

Chapter Three: T h e Positive C u l t (Continuation): Mimetic Rites and the Principle of Causality 355
I . • N a t u r e o f the m i m e t i c rites. • E x a m p l e s o f ceremonies i n w h i c h t h e y are used t o ensure the f e r t i l i t y o f the species. 355

I I . • T h e y rest o n this p r i n c i p l e : Like produces like. • T h e e x p l a n a t i o n p r o posed b y t h e a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l s c h o o l e x a m i n e d . • W h y an a n i m a l o r p l a n t is i m i t a t e d . • W h y physical efficacy is ascribed t o these m o v e m e n t s . • F a i t h . • I n w h a t sense f a i t h is f o u n d e d u p o n experience. • T h e p r i n c i p l e s o f m a g i c were b o r n i n religion. 360

I I I . • T h e f o r e g o i n g p r i n c i p l e considered as b e i n g a m o n g t h e first statements o f the p r i n c i p l e o f causality. • Social c o n d i t i o n s o n w h i c h the p r i n c i p l e o f causality depends. • T h e idea o f i m p e r s o n a l force o r p o w e r is o f social o r i g i n . • T h e necessity o f the causal j u d g m e n t e x p l a i n e d b y t h e a u t h o r i t y i n h e r e n t i n social imperatives. 367

Chapter F o u r : T h e Positive C u l t (Continuation): Representative or Commemorative Rites 374
I . • Representative rites that have physical efficacy. • T h e i r relationships w i t h t h e ceremonies described previously. • T h e i r i n f l u e n c e is w h o l l y m o r a l . 375

I I . • Representative rites w i t h o u t physical efficacy. • T h e y c o n f i r m the p r e c e d i n g results. • T h e recreational aspect o f r e l i g i o n : its i m p o r t a n c e a n d raisons d'être. • T h e idea o f the feast. 380

I I I . • A m b i g u i t y o f f u n c t i o n i n the various ceremonies studied; t h e y are substitutes f o r o n e a n o t h e r . • H o w this a m b i g u i t y c o n f i r m s the p r o p o s e d theory. 387

Chapter Five: T h e Piacular Rites and the A m b i g u i t y o f the N o t i o n o f the Sacred 392
D e f i n i t i o n o f the piacular r i t e . 392 393

I . • T h e positive rites o f m o u r n i n g . D e s c r i p t i o n o f these rites.

I I . • H o w t h e y are e x p l a i n e d . • T h e y are n o t a display o f p r i v a t e feelings. • N e i t h e r can the m a l i c e ascribed t o t h e soul o f t h e deceased a c c o u n t f o r t h e m .

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• T h e y arise from the s p i r i t u a l state i n w h i c h the g r o u p finds itself. • A n a l y sis o f that state. H o w i t comes t o an e n d t h r o u g h m o u r n i n g . • Parallel changes i n the m a n n e r i n w h i c h t h e soul o f t h e deceased is c o n c e i v e d . 400

I I I . • O t h e r piacular rites: f o l l o w i n g p u b l i c m o u r n i n g , an insufficient harvest, a d r o u g h t , o r t h e s o u t h e r n lights. • R a r i t y o f these rites i n Australia. • H o w they are e x p l a i n e d . 406

I V • T h e t w o f o r m s o f t h e sacred: p u r e and i m p u r e . • T h e i r a n t a g o n i s m . • T h e i r k i n s h i p . • A m b i g u i t y o f t h e n o t i o n o f t h e sacred. • E x p l a n a t i o n o f t h a t a m b i g u i t y . • A l l the rites have this character. 412

CONCLUSION
To w h a t e x t e n t t h e results o b t a i n e d can be generalized. 418

I . • R e l i g i o n rests o n an e x p e r i e n c e t h a t is w e l l - f o u n d e d b u t n o t p r i v i l e g e d . • Necessity o f a science t o get at the reality that is t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f this e x perience. • W h a t that reality is: h u m a n g r o u p i n g s . • H u m a n m e a n i n g o f r e l i g i o n . • O n t h e o b j e c t i o n that opposes the ideal society t o t h e real one. • H o w the i n d i v i d u a l i s m a n d the c o s m o p o l i t a n i s m o f r e l i g i o n are e x p l a i n e d i n this theory. 419

I I . • W h a t is eternal a b o u t r e l i g i o n . • O n t h e c o n f l i c t b e t w e e n r e l i g i o n a n d science; i t affects o n l y the speculative f u n c t i o n o f r e l i g i o n . • W h a t t h e dest i n y o f t h a t f u n c t i o n seems t o be. 429

I I I . • H o w can society be a source o f l o g i c a l — t h a t is t o say, c o n c e p t u a l — t h o u g h t ? D e f i n i t i o n o f t h e concept: n o t the same as t h e general idea; characterized b y its i m p e r s o n a l i t y a n d its c o m m u n i c a b i l i t y . • I t has a c o l l e c t i v e o r i g i n . • Analysis o f its c o n t e n t testifies i n t h e same way. • C o l l e c t i v e r e p r e sentations as t y p e - n o t i o n s i n w h i c h i n d i v i d u a l s share. • O n the o b j e c t i o n t h a t they w o u l d be i m p e r s o n a l o n l y i f t h e y w e r e t r u e . • C o n c e p t u a l t h o u g h t is contemporaneous w i t h humanity. 433

IV. • H o w the categories express social things. • T h e category par excellence is the c o n c e p t o f totality, w h i c h can be suggested o n l y b y society. • W h y t h e relationships expressed b y the categories c o u l d b e c o m e conscious o n l y i n s o ciety. • Society is n o t an alogical b e i n g . • H o w the categories t e n d t o b e c o m e detached f r o m g e o g r a p h i c a l l y d e f i n e d g r o u p i n g s . • T h e u n i t y o f science, o n the one h a n d , a n d o f r e l i g i o n a n d m o r a l i t y , o n t h e other. • H o w society ac-

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c o u n t s f o r that u n i t y . • E x p l a n a t i o n o f the role ascribed t o society: its creative p o w e r . • I m p a c t o f s o c i o l o g y u p o n t h e science o f m a n . Index 449 440

ACKNOWLED GMENTS
I n p r e p a r i n g this translation I have i n c u r r e d m a n y debts: t o the W b o d r o w W i l s o n I n t e r n a t i o n a l C e n t e r f o r a semester-long fellowship, the c o n g e n i a l effervescence o f its staff a n d c o m m u n i t y o f scholars, a n d f o r the q u i e t o f m y t u r r e t office i n t h e S m i t h s o n i a n I n s t i t u t i o n ; t o the U n i v e r s i t y o f R o c h e s t e r for research s u p p o r t , b o t h i n dollars a n d i n t h e k i n d s h a r i n g b y specialists i n m a n y fields that is t h e heart o f organic solidarity—classicist K a t h r y n A r ¬ getsinger, German Studies scholar Patricia Herminghouse, George historians Dennis W i l l i a m J. M c G r a t h a n d M o r r i s A . Pierce, I n d o l o g i s t D o u g l a s R . B r o o k s , philosophers Lewis W. Beck, Deborah M o d r a k , and O ' B r i e n , p s y c h o l o g i s t C r a i g R . Barclay, a n d m o s t o f all F r e n c h scholar A n d r é e D o u c h i n , w h o read m y t e x t alongside D u r k h e i m ' s l i n e b y l i n e a n d p r o v i d e d detailed c r i t i q u e ; t o colleagues e l s e w h e r e — K a r e n M c C a r t h y B r o w n , Jay D e m e r a t h , A l e x a n d r e Derczansky, Barbara J. Fields, T e r r y F. G o d l o v e , Gila H a y i m , W i n s t o n A.James, R o b e r t Jay, R o b e r t A l u n Jones, E d w a r d K a p lan, D o u g l a s A . K i b b e e , V a l e n t i n Y . M u d i m b e , James T . R i c h a r d s o n , Jan Vansina, Loi'e W a c q u a n t , a n d R o b e r t Paul W o l f f , f o r c l a r i f y i n g c o r r e s p o n dence; t o librarians Z d e n e k D a v i d and U r s u l a H e i n e n a n d t o research assistants N a f i z Aksehirioglu, A n t o n i a Balosz, Chad Birely, Lloyd Brown, Stephen M o n t o , and Samuel T y l o r , f o r help w i t h notes a n d references at the various stages o f a l o n g project; t o C h a r l e t t e W . H e n r y a n d Lela SimsGissendaner, staff o f the F r e d e r i c k Douglass Institute for African and A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n Studies, f o r practical solutions t o the practical p r o b l e m s o f p r e p a r i n g a m a n u s c r i p t ; t o B r u c e N i c h o l s , C e l i a K n i g h t , and others o f the Free Press e d i t o r i a l staff f o r t h e i r p a i n s t a k i n g a t t e n t i o n t o the text's several languages. I o w e especially large debts t o Ayala G a b r i e l , m y colleague a n d f r i e n d , w i t h w h o m I spent m a n y h o u r s o f c l a r i f y i n g conversation a b o u t r e l i g i o n a n d m u c h else; a n d t o Moussa Bagate, m y husband, w h o shared his general a n d scientifically specialized k n o w l e d g e o f F r e n c h , a n d w h o shared, p e r i o d .

Xlll

ABBREVIATIONS
AA AAAS AMNH APS ArA AS BAAS American Anthropologist Australasian A s s o c i a t i o n f o r t h e A d v a n c e m e n t o f Science Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Archaeologia Americana Année sociologique B r i t i s h A s s o c i a t i o n f o r the A d v a n c e m e n t o f Science (Reports) Reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology Cambrian Journal Contributions to North American Ethnology Fortnightly Review Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society Journal asiatique Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Queensland Geographical Journal Records of the Australian Museum Revue coloniale internationale Revue de l'histoire des religions Revista italiana di sociologia Revue de morale et de métaphysique Museum

BAE CJ CNAE FR HLCAPS

JA JAI

QGJ RAM RCI RHR RIS R M M R N M RP RSC RSI RSNSW

Report of the U.S. National Revue philosophique

Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada Report of the Smithsonian Institution Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales
XV

XVI

Abbreviations

RSSA RSV TICHR

Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of Religions

VGJ ZE ZV ZDP

Victorian Geographical Journal Zeitschrift für Zeitschrift für Ethnologie Völkerpsychologie

Zeitschrift für Deutsche Philologie

TRANSLATOR'S I N T R O D U C T I O N :

RELIGION AS A N EMINENTLY SOCIAL THING
[ W ] h a t I ask o f t h e free t h i n k e r is t h a t he s h o u l d c o n f r o n t r e l i g i o n i n t h e same m e n t a l state as the believer. . . . [ H ] e w h o does n o t b r i n g t o t h e study o f r e l i g i o n a sort o f r e l i gious s e n t i m e n t c a n n o t speak a b o u t i t ! H e is l i k e a b l i n d m a n t r y i n g t o talk a b o u t c o l o u r . N o w I shall address the free believer. . . . W i t h o u t g o i n g so far as t o disbelieve the f o r m u l a w e believe i n , w e m u s t f o r get i t p r o v i s i o n a l l y , reserving t h e r i g h t t o r e t u r n t o i t later. H a v i n g o n c e escaped from this tyranny, w e are n o l o n g e r i n danger o f p e r p e t r a t i n g t h e e r r o r a n d injustice i n t o w h i c h c e r t a i n believers have fallen w h o have called m y w a y o f i n t e r p r e t i n g r e l i g i o n basically i r r e l i g i o u s . T h e r e c a n n o t be a r a t i o n a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f r e l i g i o n w h i c h is f u n d a m e n t a l l y i r r e l i g i o u s ; an i r r e l i g i o u s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f r e l i g i o n w o u l d be an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n w h i c h d e n i e d the p h e n o m e n o n i t was t r y i n g to explain.
1

Emile D u r k h e i m (1858-1917)

Easily t h e m o s t s t r i k i n g feature o f E m i l e D u r k h e i m ' s 1912 masterpiece, Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, is his insistence that r e l i g i o n s are f o u n d e d o n and express " t h e real." T h e m o s t casual s k i m t h r o u g h the b o o k ' s v e r y first pages—even t h r o u g h t h e C o n t e n t s — w i l l reveal that insistence. A n d i t is c o n t i n u a l l y present, l i k e a heartbeat. A t the same t i m e , however, as a reader m i g h t w e l l m u t t e r , t h e m o s t s t r i k i n g feature o f r e l i g i o n s is that t h e y are full t o o v e r f l o w i n g w i t h spectacular i m p r o b a b i l i t i e s . As i f a n t i c i p a t i n g that t h o u g h t , D u r k h e i m challenges i t from the start: " T h e r e are n o r e l i g i o n s that are false." M o r e t h a n that: " I f [ r e l i g i o n ] h a d n o t b e e n g r o u n d e d i n the nature o f t h i n g s , i n those v e r y t h i n g s i t w o u l d have m e t resistance t h a t i t c o u l d n o t have o v e r xvu

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come."

2

A hostile r e v i e w e r w r i t i n g i n the American Anthropologist said
3

flady

that D ü r k h e i m s "search f o r a reality u n d e r l y i n g r e l i g i o n does n o t seem t o rest o n a firm l o g i c a l basis." J u d g m e n t a b o u t the l o g i c o f that search belongs to readers o f D u r k h e i m ' s greatest b o o k , w h i c h I offer i n its first f u l l retransl a t i o n since Joseph W a r d Swain's, i n 1 9 1 5 .
4

To gauge D u r k h e i m ' s c l a i m a b o u t t h e roots o f r e l i g i o n i n " t h e real," i t w i l l be necessary t o f o l l o w an a r g u m e n t that is provocative t h r o u g h a n d t h r o u g h . Pressing that c l a i m t o its v e r y l i m i t , D ü r k h e i m announces that his case i n p o i n t w i l l b e the t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n s o f Australia, w i t h totemism's j a r r i n g i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f h u m a n beings a n d animals o r p l a n t s — o n its face, to readers i n 1912, a n y t h i n g b u t a religious m i l i e u w i t h a n y t h i n g l i k e credible roots i n the real a n d , to some o f t h e m , n o t even a r e l i g i o u s m i l i e u . Au contraire, cautions D ü r k h e i m . T o t e m i s m qualifies as a r e l i g i o n ; f u r t h e r m o r e , all r e l i g i o n s are " t r u e after t h e i r o w n fashion," and a l l , i n c l u d i n g t o t e m i s m , m e e t "needs" (besoins) t h a t are part and parcel o f h u m a n l i f e . T h e n o r n o w , a n y o n e e n c o u n t e r i n g t h e first pages o f Formes f o r the first t i m e m u s t w o n d e r straightaway w h a t h e intends b y " t h e real," o r b y "needs" b u i l t i n t o the h u m a n m a k e u p that r e l i g i o n fulfills. H e r e are claims l i k e l y t o d r a w the r e l i g i o u s l y c o m m i t t e d a n d the r e l i g i o u s l y u n c o m m i t t e d t o t h e edge o f t h e i r seats. F r o m the start, i t is clear that t h e questions D ü r k h e i m has set h i m s e l f a b o u t r e l i g i o n c o n c e r n t h e nature o f h u m a n life a n d t h e nature o f " t h e real." ( F r o m n o w o n I d r o p t h e q u o t a t i o n marks a r o u n d t h e phrase, n o t i n g that p a r t o f D u r k h e i m ' s agenda i n Formes is t o a p p l y his c o n c e p t i o n o f the real to all social f o r m s o f existence. Philosophers i n D u r k h e i m ' s m i l i e u w e r e r e w o r k i n g the o l d p o l a r i t y o f appearance versus essence, as h a n d l e d b y I m m a n u e l K a n t . W e c a n flash f o r w a r d t o E d m u n d Husserl, a n d again, regarding t h e social w o r l d specifically, f r o m Husserl t o A l f r e d Schutz.) I t is equally clear f r o m t h e start that received ideas offer D ü r k h e i m f e w i n t e l l e c t u a l p a r k benches a l o n g the r o u t e t o w a r d the answers. T h e o p e n i n g chapters ( B o o k O n e ) define r e l i g i o n a n d t o t e m i s m . T h e y t h e n d e m o l i s h t w o earlier families o f t h e o r y , a n i m i s m a n d n a t u r i s m , c e r t a i n o f w h o s e received ideas a b o u t w h a t is f u n d a m e n t a l t o r e l i g i o n still have a c e r t a i n c u r r e n c y — f o r example, naturism's thesis that r e l i g i o n arises f r o m h u m a n awe before the g r a n d e u r o f t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d . G o n e there and t h e n (to many, m a d d e n i n g l y ) is r e l i g i o n as " u l t i m a t e c o n c e r n " a n d as e n c o u n t e r w i t h a p o w e r transcendi n g the h u m a n , o r w i t h " t h e h o l y . " T h e m i d d l e chapters ( B o o k T w o ) systematically e x a m i n e w h a t D ü r k h e i m calls représentations collectives: shared m e n t a l constructs w i t h t h e h e l p o f w h i c h , he argues, h u m a n beings c o l l e c t i v e l y v i e w themselves, each other, a n d t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d . H a v i n g a d o p t e d t o t e m i s m as an especially c h a l l e n g i n g system o f collective representations,
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Translator's Introduction

XIX

D ü r k h e i m develops a t h e o r y o f h o w society constitutes itself, o n e t h a t is s i m u l t a n e o u s l y (and i n his view, necessarily) a t h e o r y o f h o w h u m a n m e n t a l i t y constitutes itself. T h a t t h e o r y , i n t u r n , encloses another, a b o u t those " u n i f i e d systems" o f représentations l i g i o n s always c o n t a i n . T h e f i n a l chapters ( B o o k T h r e e ) deal w i t h f o r m s o f collective c o n d u c t that can be t h o u g h t o f as c o l l e c t i v e representations i n a c t i o n a n d , at the same t i m e , as a c t i o n that makes c o l l e c t i v e representations real i n i n d i v i d u a l m i n d s . H e r e are echoes o f M a r x , i n The German Ideology, w h e r e reality is above a l l done: "Consciousness can never be a n y t h i n g else t h a n conscious existence." As t h o u g h h e a r i n g that echo, D ü r k h e i m cautions against u n d e r s t a n d i n g his t h o u g h t as " m e r e l y a r e f u r n i s h m e n t o f h i s t o r i c a l m a t e r i a l i s m . " I n fact, his c o m m o n g r o u n d w i t h M a r x o n t h e subject o f r e l i g i o n is far f r o m n e g l i g i b l e and yet far f r o m t o t a l . F o r D ü r k h e i m , r e l i g i o n s exist because h u m a n beings exist o n l y as social beings a n d i n a h u m a n l y shaped w o r l d . R e l i g i o n is " a n e m i n e n t l y social t h i n g . "
8 7

c o n c e r n i n g nature a n d h u m a n i t y that r e -

I n t h e Australians' w o r l d , as w e c o m e t o k n o w i t t h r o u g h Formes, t o have the clan n a m e K a n g a r o o is n o t m e r e l y t o postulate a n a m a z i n g i n n e r b o n d o f shared essence w i t h animals, w h o s e i n h e r e n t distinctness f r o m h u m a n s is o b v i o u s . I t is also t o postulate a j u s t as a m a z i n g i n n e r b o n d o f shared essence w i t h o t h e r h u m a n s , b y s h a r i n g a name. H u m a n i n d i v i d u a l s are i n h e r e n t l y distinct f r o m o n e another, a n d so the p o t e n t i a l f o r m u t u a l l y r e c o g n i z e d i d e n t i t y is far f r o m o b v i o u s . O n this subject, the early c r i t i c a l v o i c e is u n a m a z e d , setding f o r w e l l - w o r n p a r k benches o f t h o u g h t : " T h e e x p e r i e n c e o f all times and places teaches t h a t the r a p p o r t o f t h e individual, as such, w i t h the religious object is o f p r i m e i m p o r t a n c e i n religious situations."
9

B u t D ü r k h e i m s chal-

lenge i n Formes is t o detect questions, n o t self-evidences, i n phrases l i k e " i n d i v i d u a l , as such," " r e l i g i o u s object," a n d " r e l i g i o u s s i t u a t i o n . " H i s e x p e d i t i o n goes t o a place w h e r e " [ t ] h e kangaroo is o n l y an a n i m a l l i k e any o t h e r ; b u t , f o r t h e K a n g a r o o p e o p l e , i t has w i t h i n itself a p r i n c i p l e t h a t sets i t apart f r o m o t h e r beings, a n d this p r i n c i p l e o n l y exists i n a n d t h r o u g h the m i n d s o f those w h o t h i n k o f i t . " O n that e x p e d i t i o n , " i n a p h i l o s o p h i c a l sense, t h e same is t r u e o f any t h i n g ; f o r t h i n g s exist o n l y t h r o u g h r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . "
10

B y many, usually benchless, routes t h r o u g h A u s t r a l i a n ethnography, D ü r k h e i m b r i n g s us t o w h a t he intends b y the real that h u m a n beings i n g e n eral c o m e t o k n o w t h r o u g h t h e d i s t i n c t i v e l y h u m a n means o f k n o w i n g . T h o s e means b e g i n , h e argues, w i t h h u m a n sociability. Society is the f o r m i n w h i c h nature p r o d u c e d h u m a n k i n d , a n d r e l i g i o n is reason's first harbor. I n Formes, w e m e e t the m i n d as a c o l l e c t i v e p r o d u c t a n d science as an o f f s p r i n g o f r e l i g i o n . I n those v e r y processes o f abstraction that enabled the A u s t r a l i a n

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t o i m a g i n e w h o he was b y i m a g i n i n g his relationship w i t h o t h e r Australians a n d w i t h the n a t u r a l w o r l d , w e m e e t the b e g i n n i n g o f abstract t h o u g h t . A n d w e m e e t the c o n c e p t , ours v i a the social treasury o f language, d e f i n e d as "a b e a m t h a t lights, penetrates, a n d t r a n s f o r m s " sensation.
11

D ü r k h e i m s query-

i n g o f t h e Australians a n d t h e i r totems is thus t h e p o i n t o f departure f o r his investigation i n t o distinctive traits o f h u m a n k i n d : reason, i d e n t i t y , and c o m m u n i t y — t h r e e subjects that w e t e n d n e i t h e r t o place u n d e r the h e a d i n g " r e l i g i o n " n o r t o treat together. F e w p e o p l e today w o u l d e n d a sentence that begins, " R e l i g i o n is . . ." i n t h e w a y he does: " . . . above all, a system o f ideas b y w h i c h m e n i m a g i n e t h e society o f w h i c h t h e y are m e m b e r s a n d t h e o b scure yet i n t i m a t e relations t h e y have w i t h i t . "
1 2

I f D ü r k h e i m s sustained insistence o n r e l i g i o n s ' basis i n the real is the m o s t s t r i k i n g feature of Formes, his provocative, s h a r p - w i t t e d m o d e o f e x p o s i t i o n comes a close s e c o n d .
13

A n d i f the b o o k has a heartbeat a b o u t t h e n a -

t u r e o f the real, i t has a r h e t o r i c a l b o d y b u i l t t o subvert received n o t i o n s . A s h e admits i n the I n t r o d u c t i o n , some readers w e r e b o u n d t o find his approach "unorthodox."
1 4

H e chose t o e x p l o r e h u g e questions a b o u t h u m a n k i n d i n

general v i a t h e s t o n e - t o o l - u s i n g specificity o f A b o r i g i n a l Australia, a n d his a r g u m e n t moves i n ways that c o u l d n o t fail t o scandalize m a n y readers, o n v a r i o u s g r o u n d s . W e can b e g i n t o feel t h e specific t e x t u r e o f scandale i f w e consider a n o t h e r h o s t i l e reviewer's o b s e r v a t i o n a b o u t the academically o r t h o d o x v i e w o f t o t e m i s m , i n a l o n g article t i d e d " D o g m a t i c A t h e i s m i n the S o c i o l o g y o f R e l i g i o n . " T h e r e w e l e a r n that t o t e m i s m , "[a]s c u r r e n t l y t a u g h t i n A n g l i c a n universities, . . . appeared t o fit w i t h the p r o v i d e n t i a l m i s s i o n o f t h e Jews and the p o s s i b i l i t y o f C h r i s t i a n r e v e l a t i o n . "
15

I n o t h e r w o r d s , some

scholars dealt w i t h t o t e m i s m b y m a k i n g i t i n t o a " C h r i s t i a n i t y i n e m b r y o . " B e i n g b o r n and reared a J e w a n d t h e son o f a r a b b i , D ü r k h e i m lacked the nearsightedness t h a t made t o t e m i s m as e m b r y o n i c C h r i s t i a n i t y seem a n e c essary lens. W h a t is m o r e , he doubtless h a d n o i n v e s t m e n t i n preserving h i g h e v o l u t i o n a r y r a n k f o r any r e l i g i o n at all. A s a y o u n g m a n , he had rejected r e l i g i o u s c o m m i t m e n t o u t r i g h t , a fact t o w h i c h t h e article's n e o n title alludes. F o r the scholars referred t o and addressed i n t h a t article, i n any case, t o t e m i s m was a n y t h i n g b u t w e l l adapted t o s h o w i n g religion's roots i n the real. I t c o u l d be relegated t o t h e category o f m a g i c , as the c r i t i c p o i n t s o u t that H e r b e r t Spencer d i d ( w h i c h D ü r k h e i m disputed, since that a m o u n t e d t o disconnecting i t f r o m the real).
16

O r i t c o u l d be adapted t o that r o l e i f i m a g -

i n e d w i t h a n a r r o w o n i t , p o i n t i n g f o r w a r d i n an e v o l u t i o n i s t sense t o r e l i gions w h o s e c o n n e c t i o n s w i t h the real seemed a p r i o r i m o r e credible t h a n totemism's. B u t there s t o o d D ü r k h e i m , f i r i n g a r g u m e n t i n t w o directions: c l a i m i n g that r e l i g i o n w o u l d n o t have s u r v i v e d i f i t h a d n o t b e e n g r o u n d e d

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i n t h e real a n d c l a i m i n g t o study r e l i g i o n i n general b y j u x t a p o s i n g the a l legedly lowest a n d highest. F o r m a n y reasons, i n that unself-consciously selfsatisfied era, Formes m u s t have b e e n a shocker. L o o k i n g back, the F r e n c h sociologist R a y m o n d A r o n described the i m m e d i a t e r e a c t i o n t o i t i n France as violent. B e i n g h i g h l y sophisticated, D ü r k h e i m n o d o u b t e x p e c t e d that. N o t i c e t h e r h e t o r i c a l sandpits i n the q u o t a t i o n s I used as an e p i g r a p h , taken f r o m e x t e m p o r a n e o u s remarks he m a d e i n 1914 t o the U n i o n o f Free T h i n k e r s a n d Free Believers. N o w p i c t u r e the sinuous r o a d to be traveled i n any a t t e m p t to represent h i m i n a comprehensive p o r t r a i t as t h e great c o n t r i b u t o r t o e m p i r i c a l science that he was. Dürkheims commentators have o f t e n expressed dismay about the r h e t o r i c a l m o d e i n w h i c h Formes is w r i t t e n . D o m i n i c k L a C a p r a spoke o f an "oceanic f o r m o f discourse" i n a t e x t " w h i c h has h a d the p o w e r t o allure a n d repel at the same t i m e . "
1 8 1 7

Steven Lukes w r o t e o f D ü r k h e i m s style that i t " o f -

ten tends t o caricature his t h o u g h t : he o f t e n expressed his ideas i n an e x t r e m e or figurative m a n n e r . " 1 i m a g i n e that T a l c o t t Parsons was reacting i n part t o some o f those v e r y qualities w h e n h e c l a i m e d , essentially, t h a t i n Formes D ü r k h e i m was f e e l i n g his w a y uneasily b e t w e e n the naivete o f p o s i t i v i s m a n d s o m e t h i n g far s m a r t e r .
19

R a y m o n d A r o n d i s l i k e d t h e b o o k , said so i n n o u n -

certain terms ( i n c l u d i n g the t e r m " i m p i e t y " ) , a n d professed t o be so unsure i n his u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f i t t h a t he deliberately i n c l u d e d l o n g sections o f v e r b a t i m q u o t a t i o n , t o enable m o r e s y m p a t h e t i c readers t o d o better t h a n h e .
2 0

I w i l l n o t t a r r y over those w h o , f i n d i n g the posture o f Formes e n i g m a t i c , r e spond b y c h a r a c t e r i z i n g the b o o k as m y s t i c a l , metaphysical, a n d even t h e o logical, charges that m u s t m a k e D ü r k h e i m ' s soul shake its head. I f i t is t r u e that he rejected n o t o n l y r e l i g i o n b u t also his family's i n t e n t i o n f o r h i m t o become a r a b b i , i n his father's a n d grandfather's footsteps, he m u s t have p a i d full fare f o r a secular voyage t h r o u g h the mysteries a n d c o m m o n p l a c e s o f life.
21

As far as I a m c o n c e r n e d , i t is sufficient t o say that D ü r k h e i m was e x -

p e r i m e n t i n g w i t h ideas that deeply m a t t e r e d t o h i m , a n d there is every reason t o i m a g i n e that he o f t e n r a n u p against the expressive l i m i t s o f his m e d i u m . U p against those same l i m i t s , n o less a s o c i o l o g i c a l t h e o r i s t t h a n Talcott Parsons used t h e u n s e t t l i n g t e r m " n o n e m p i r i c a l r e a l i t y . " the systematic c o m m e n t a r y a b o u t h i m .
2 3 22

D ü r k h e i m s r h e t o r i c is o f t e n r e m a r k e d u p o n b u t generally n o t b u i l t i n t o T r a d i t i o n a l accounts usually stop at saying s o c i o l o g y was a n e w science at t h e t u r n o f t h e century, D ü r k h e i m o n e o f those b a t t l i n g t o define a tenable v e r s i o n o f its subject m a t t e r a n d m e t h o d , and his m o d e (alas) p o l e m i c a l . B u t i f p o l e m i c i n the m i d s t o f d e v e l o p i n g s o m e t h i n g n e w is s t i g m a t i z e d as a n t i t h e t i c a l t o systematic t h o u g h t , t h e n t h e very n o t i o n o f systematic t h o u g h t is i m p o v e r i s h e d . Left u n i m a g i n e d is t h e

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sense o f absorbing puzzles t o be solved a n d a l i v i n g sense o f i n s p i r a t i o n b e fore i t becomes "system." I t is easy t o see a calculated p o l e m i c a l edge i n D u r k h e i m ' s Suicide, w h e r e he tackles as a s o c i o l o g i c a l puzzle an act t h a t received n o t i o n s even today h o l d t o be quintessentially i n d i v i d u a l . O f t e n n o t i c e d as w e l l is t h e s i n e w y a r g u m e n t t o be e x p e c t e d o f a p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y t r a i n e d p r o d u c t o f t h e E c o l e n ó r m a l e s u p é r i e u r e , France's crime de la crime i n h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n . B u t s e l d o m i m a g i n e d is w h a t m u s t have b e e n the h i g h h u m o r o f w o r k i n g against received ideas a n d t o w a r d f u n d a m e n t a l t r u t h . T o miss those features is t o miss t h e freshness o f the w o r k he d i d , at t h e t i m e he was d o i n g i t : g o n e is t h e sense o f e x p e r i m e n t a n d e x c i t e m e n t he shared w i t h the m a n y talented students h e t a u g h t at the S o r b o n n e , a n d w i t h t h e scholars w h o j o i n e d h i m i n creating t h e celebrated j o u r n a l Annie sociologique; g o n e t o o is his w i t o n the page. I f those elements are missed, Formes is b y the same stroke u p l i f t e d as a classic a n d d o w n g r a d e d t o a t o m e . D u r k h e i m breathed t h e air o f t u r n - o f - t h e - c e n t u r y Paris, a place that fizzed w i t h e x p e r i m e n t s i n artistic representation, and a t i m e w h e n p h i l o s o phy, science, a n d art existed i n n o t h i n g l i k e today's i s o l a t i o n f r o m o n e a n other.
24

Picasso p a i n t e d his Demoiselles d Avignon

i n 1907, l a u n c h i n g c u b i s m

and, t h e r e w i t h , a n e w v o c a b u l a r y f o r the art o f t h e n e w century. I t m a y t u r n o u t that i l l u m i n a t i n g c o n n e c t i o n s can be d r a w n b e t w e e n D u r k h e i m ' s transgressing the b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n " p r i m i t i v e " a n d " c i v i l i z e d " i n the search f o r a v o c a b u l a r y suited t o c o m p r e h e n d i n g , a n d t h e n representing, the real, and Picasso's o w n e n c o u n t e r s w i t h those same boundaries as he r e c o n c e i v e d p e r spective. T o give a t t e n t i o n t o D u r k h e i m ' s r h e t o r i c a l leaps is n o t to s h o w w h e r e he fell s h o r t as a systematic t h i n k e r ; i t is t o a m p l i f y his v o i c e and hear h i m better. I n Formes, o n e o f his tasks is t o s h o w h o w a kangaroo can be, at o n e a n d the same t i m e , a p o w e r f u l sacred b e i n g , a m a n o r w o m a n , a n d j u s t a k a n g a r o o — a l l i n t h e real. H i s r h e t o r i c a l tactics i n representing these barely representable t h i n g s are i n themselves i n t e r e s t i n g t o observe. T h a t they have succeeded i n some w a y accounts f o r the book's capacity over the years t o m o t i v a t e f r u i t f u l e m p i r i c a l w o r k i n a range o f fields.

ANATOMY OF A CLASSIC
As a classic i n the s o c i o l o g y a n d a n t h r o p o l o g y o f r e l i g i o n , Formes is w i d e l y m e n t i o n e d a n d characterized, i f n o t so w i d e l y read. M y p u r p o s e i n u n d e r t a k i n g a n e w translation is t o re-present D u r k h e i m ' s ideas a b o u t w h a t he called the " r e l i g i o u s nature o f m a n " i n the E n g l i s h o f o u r o w n day w h i l e r e n d e r i n g D u r k h e i m ' s F r e n c h as f a i t h f u l l y as I can. I have u n d e r t a k e n this n e w

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translation at a t i m e w h e n t h e serious study o f r e l i g i o n has finally b e g u n t o r e t u r n to center stage i n o u r c u l t u r e , after an u n f o r t u n a t e hiatus o f m a n y decades. M y h o p e is that this b o o k w i l l b e m o r e w i d e l y read and studied, a n d not o n l y b y sociologists and anthropologists o r scholars o f r e l i g i o n . A m e r i can p o s t m o d e r n i s t theorizers o f discursive practices a n d representations will
25

recognize t h r o u g h Formes the D u r k h e i m i a n p e d i g r e e o f M i c h e l F o u c a u l t .

Psychologists w i l l repeatedly glimpse o l d a n d n o t - s o - o l d ways o f t h i n k i n g about p h e n o m e n a that the scientific study o f m e m o r y , identity, language, and i n t e l l i g e n c e m u s t be able t o a c c o u n t for. Philosophers w i l l f i n d o l d p r o b l e m s interestingly t a c k l e d , i f n o t necessarily s o l v e d . My hope for a broadened readership
26

raises a larger q u e s t i o n ,

about

Formes i n p a r t i c u l a r a n d the genus "classic" t o w h i c h i t belongs: W h y read classics? O f late, that q u e s t i o n and s u n d r y answers t o i t have f r a m e d a s o m e times p o i s o n o u s debate over w h i c h ancestors s h o u l d be so h o n o r e d i n m e m ory. T h i s c o n v e r s a t i o n is largely i m p e r s o n a l , as s h o r t o n " I ' s " as i t is l o n g o n i m p e r s o n a l , p u r i t a n i c a l " s h o u l d s " ; i t is o u t s p o k e n a b o u t d i s c i p l i n e b u t i n a r ticulate a b o u t i n d i v i d u a l pleasure, a n d m u t e as the grave a b o u t e x c i t e m e n t . L i k e b r o c c o l i , classics are said t o b e g o o d f o r one, even i f s w a l l o w e d u n w i l l ingly. M y v i e w is that dead ancestors s h o u l d stay dead t o us unless pleasure and e x c i t e m e n t c o m e f r o m g e t t i n g t o k n o w t h e m . W h i l e i n the m i d s t o f this project, I heard W y n t o n Marsalis, the v i r t u o s o classical a n d j a z z t r u m p e t e r , tell a c a u t i o n a r y tale o f honesty a b o u t the p o i n t o f classics a n d a b o u t the w o r k i n v o l v e d i n translating t h e m f o r n e w audiences. H i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o some n e w settings o f o l d w o r k b y D u k e E l l i n g t o n b r o u g h t o u t p r o b l e m s that b o t h b e d e v i l such w o r k a n d inspire its p r o d u c t . To b e g i n w i t h , Marsalis said, he was unenthusiastic a b o u t E l l i n g t o n . H i s friend, the c h o r e o g r a p h e r G a r t h Fagan, i n v i t e d h i m t o see a rehearsal p e r formance set t o a n o l d piece b y E l l i n g t o n . A p e r i o d piece, Marsalis t h o u g h t . "That's j u s t s o m e b o r i n g o l d b a l l r o o m music. I k n o w I should w a n t t o hear i t but I d o n ' t . " B u t Fagan pressed, sure a b o u t his r e n d e r i n g . Marsalis w e n t , a n d t h e n reconsidered: " E v e r y b o d y said E l l i n g t o n was great. B u t w h a t m a d e h i m so great? N o b o d y said. W e l l , that n i g h t , I u n d e r s t o o d . " H e , i n t u r n , t r u m peted some " o l d b a l l r o o m m u s i c " t o us, his audience. As Fagan h a d i n t e r preted t o Marsalis, so Marsalis i n t e r p r e t e d t o his o w n audience, w h o w e r e i n v i t e d t o discover E l l i n g t o n ' s greatness, p a r t l y t h r o u g h t h e o r i g i n a l w o r k i t self b u t also w i t h Marsalis present as a "translator," w i t h all the c o m p l e x i t i e s that i m p l i e s . I t was Marsalis's " t r a n s l a t i o n " that gave us access t o the greatness o f some o u t - o f - s t y l e music, a n d i r r e m e d i a b l y so, f o r w e h a d n o access t o t h e music except b y h e a r i n g s o m e o n e render i t i n s o u n d (unless w e d e c i d e d t o experience the m u s i c b y sight, f r o m E l l i n g t o n ' s page). N o t w o renderings

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c o u l d be the same. N o n e c o u l d be exactly w h a t E l l i n g t o n m e a n t . W e c a n n o t k n o w exactly w h a t h e m e a n t . T h e o n l y c e r t a i n t y was that r e n d e r i n g the m u sic freed i t t o w i n t h e audience over, o r n o t to. B u t w h a t is t r u e a b o u t music that begins its p u b l i c life w i t h p o p u l a r a u diences is n o t t r u e a b o u t the h i g h c u l t u r e o f o l d b o o k s . W h e n t h a t seems at stake, t h e answer t o the q u e s t i o n , " W h y read classics?" t o o o f t e n hides b e h i n d t h e busy b o r e d o m o f Ecclesiastes: " T h a t w h i c h has b e e n d o n e is that w h i c h shall be done." I t h i n k o t h e r w i s e . E v e r y classic s h o u l d be free t o w i n t h e r i g h t t o b e read again w i t h pleasure, n o t j u s t to be set t o l a b o r as a captive servant o f t r a d i t i o n , t r a p p e d i n t h e h i g h b r o w e d storage o f a m u s e u m display. T h e case f o r s t u d y i n g o l d w o r k s n o w needs t o be made n o w , p a r t l y t h r o u g h the m a n n e r o f t h e i r presentation. I f the classics really are g o o d e n o u g h t o keep r e a d i n g , i n spite o f t h e i r age a n d flaws, t h e n t h e y are due the respect o f b e i n g a l l o w e d t o w i n t h e i r audience over. "Because t h e y are classics" a m o u n t s to saying, "Because they are there." A n d that is the u n h a p p y fate o f captives i n those Smithsonians o f t h e m i n d that college r e a d i n g lists can be, o n p e r m a n e n t e x h i b i t i o n t o pedants, connoisseurs, and c r a n k y tourists, i n d i s c r i m i n a t e l y . E v e r y s c h o o l c h i l d learns that M o u n t Everest was scaled "because i t was t h e r e " a n d can u n d e r s t a n d from a distance w h a t makes i t "great." B u t the superlatives a b o u t great b o o k s are n o t the same. T o k n o w there, as a character o f Z o r a N e a l e H u r s t o n says, y o u have t o go there. I have taken i t t o be m y task, i n retranslating this classic, n o t o n l y t o m a k e the w a y straight t o g o there b u t t o say w h y g o there at a l l . I r e c o m m e n d this classic i n s o c i o l o g y f o r r e a d i n g today, even t h o u g h the e t h n o g r a p h y is o u t d a t e d , and the o u t l o o k u p o n gender q u a i n t , because i t p r e sents t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o e n c o u n t e r a d a z z l i n g l y c o m p l e x s o u l w h o s e b u r d e n o f life animates the w o r k . I t is this same b u r d e n that animates great art. Formes has n o t o n l y the steady b r i l l i a n c e o f a classic b u t also a c e r t a i n incandescence. I t is l i k e a v i r t u o s o p e r f o r m a n c e that is b u i l t u p o n b u t leaps b e y o n d the t e c h n i c a l l i m i t s o f the artist's discipline, b e y o n d the safe s t r i v i n g m e r e l y to h i t the c o r r e c t notes, i n t o a felt reality o f elemental t r u t h . T o read i t is to witness such a p e r f o r m a n c e . T h e i l l u m i n a t i o n s are p u b l i c , t h e p e r f o r m a n c e personal. D u r k h e i m is usually r e m e m b e r e d as t h e no-nonsense advocate o f science positive—"positive
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s c i e n c e " — i n t h e study o f social life, as a m a n w h o set

o u t t o rescue social science f r o m u n d i s c i p l i n e d subjectivity, f r o m p h i l o s o p h ical a r g u m e n t that delicately m i n u e t t e d w i t h facts o r t o u c h e d t h e m n o t at all, from parochial sentimentality, a n d f r o m t h e naive i n d i v i d u a l i s m s o f his t i m e . B u t t h e a r g u m e n t of Formes is m a r k e d l y personal i n b o t h r h e t o r i c a l style a n d scientific substance, revealing a m a n w h o was far m o r e t h a n the hard-nosed o p p o n e n t o f the second-rate a n d t h e s e n t i m e n t a l i n social science ( a l t h o u g h

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he was t h a t t o o ) . W e hear the heartbeat o f Formes i n D u r k h e i m ' s s t u n n i n g t h e m e t h r o u g h o u t : that religious life (la vie religieuse) b o t h expresses a n d c o n structs t h e l o g i c a l life (la vie logique) o f h u m a n k i n d . W e hear i t i n t h e audacious c l a i m he makes, ostensibly as a secondary issue b u t i n fact t h r o u g h o u t the b o o k , that t h e e l e m e n t a l categories i n w h i c h w e t h i n k — t i m e , space, n u m b e r , cause, class, person, t o t a l i t y — h a v e t h e i r o r i g i n s i n r e l i g i o u s life. I t is g r i p p i n g drama t o see h o w a m a n o f science positive c o u l d possibly make such claims, h o w he c o u l d g o a b o u t a r g u i n g t h e m i n an era w h e n s c i ence seemed t o b e d i s m e m b e r i n g r e l i g i o n , a n d m o s t o f all, w h y such a m a n w o u l d ever choose t o . T h i s drama is g r i p p i n g f o r us still: T h e dispute b e t w e e n science a n d r e l i g i o n is at least as l o u d n o w as i t was i n his t i m e . I n t h e b o o k , D u r k h e i m ' s feet seem at o n e m o m e n t t o be o n the solid g r o u n d o f i m mensely d e t a i l e d scientific o b s e r v a t i o n a n d at the n e x t o n the h i g h w i r e o f faith. B u t whose? H i s A b o r i g i n a l A u s t r a l i a n subjects'? H i s c o n t e m p o r a r i e s ' ? H i s o w n ? Ours? W e keep l i s t e n i n g i n o r d e r t o f i n d o u t w h i c h i t is, w h e n , i n w h a t , and i n w h a t capacity. People sleepwalk even i n t h e c o m p a n y o f t h e p o w e r f u l , i f t h e y are u n i n t e r e s t i n g m e n a n d w o m e n o f s h a l l o w d i l e m m a s . D ü r k h e i m was an i n t e r e s t i n g m a n , because he h a d t h e capacity t o sustain t h e m a n i f o l d i n t e r n a l t e n s i o n o f his o w n ideas, a n d because he h a d a d i l e m m a and a subject capable o f e a r n i n g p r o l o n g e d a t t e n t i o n . R e l i g i o n still arouses passionate interest, a n d passion t o o . I f i t is an o p i u m o f the oppressed, i t is n o t o n l y t h e o p i u m t h a t puts p e o p l e t o sleep b u t also the one t h a t makes l e g i o n s o f p e o p l e g o t o great lengths t o get t h e i r o w n dose o f i t . I f r e l i g i o n is i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h scientific r a t i o n a l i t y and secular p o l i t i c a l life, those conflicts are p u b l i c a n d active ones, n o t the passive w i t h e r i n g away i n t o self-evident defeat that observers o f r i g h t a n d left l o n g i m a g ined. D o o m has n o t f o l l o w e d from religion's d e m o n s t r a t e d setbacks i n describing nature. I n d e e d , o n e c a n n o t describe today's w o r l d w i t h o u t t h e collective identities t h a t r e l i g i o n s sustain: q u i e d y w o r s h i p p i n g churches i n some places, churches m i l i t a n t i n others. R e l i g i o n is the steady, d a y - i n - d a y out reality o f m i l l i o n s , t h e i r r o u t i n e framework o f everyday activity, t h e i r is calm c e r t a i n t y o f life a n d its steady, b u t sometimes r a c i n g , pulse. I n 1979, w e w a t c h e d as c r o w d s s h o u t i n g "Allahu Akbar!"—"God great!"—destroyed t h e I r a n i a n m o n a r c h y a n d consecrated R u h o l l a h K h o m e i n i as I m a m . I n 1 9 8 9 , w e saw t h e reconsecration o f t h e People's H o u s e o f C u l t u r e i n V i l n i u s as the C a t h e d r a l o f V i l n i u s , the r e p l a c e m e n t there o f St. Casimirs bones after some f o r t y years, a n d t h e n t h e d i g n i f i e d f i l i n g past o f Lithuanians r e c o n s t i t u t i n g themselves as a r e l i g i o u s l y a n d e t h n i c a l l y d e f i n e d nation-state. A n d w h o w o u l d have t h o u g h t i n 1912 that, three generations later i n A m e r i c a , r e l i g i o n w o u l d b e a h o t b u t t o n p o l i t i c a l t o p i c , the object o f

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u n d i g n i f i e d e x c i t e m e n t , the locus o f dispute over w h e r e t h e a u t h o r i t a t i v e designation o f w h e r e r i g h t c o n d u c t lies a n d must l i e ?
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As a scholar a n d

teacher, I advocate t h e d i g n i f i e d e x c i t e m e n t o f s t u d y i n g r e l i g i o n w i t h d i s c i p l i n e — a n d D ü r k h e i m s s h u t t l i n g b e t w e e n science positive a n d the h i g h w i r e o f faith exemplifies a sort o f discipline that w e can cultivate. Yet discipline c a n n o t be the w h o l e p o i n t . W o r k s o f genius u l t i m a t e l y are disrespected b y b e i n g t o u t e d as mere calisthenics f o r t h e m i n d . T h e y are d i m i n i s h e d t o the e x t e n t that, l i k e aids t o physical exercise, t h e y b e c o m e tools fitted t o k n o w n tasks, captive servants o f m e n t a l " t r a i n i n g " i n the s c h o o l years. T h e i m p r o v i s a t i o n a l h i g h - w i r e m o d e o f the u n e x p e c t e d is lost thereby and, w i t h i t , the special w o r k and w o r t h o f genius. I n the e n d , Formes w o u l d n o t be w o r t h reading again a n d again i f all i t d i d was h e l p us cultivate i n t e l l e c t u a l discipline i n o u r attempts t o understand w h a t w e call " r e l i g i o n . " I n fact i t does m u c h m o r e . I n this sometimes sober, sometimes h i g h - w i r e , e x p l o r a t i o n o f w h a t he calls " t h e r e l i g i o u s nature o f m a n , " D ü r k h e i m carries his readers b e y o n d o r d i n a r y ideas a b o u t w h a t r e l i g i o n is and does. W e m e e t t h e m a n w h o c o u l d say, t o the sober assent o f believers d o w n t h e ages, that " t h e m a n w h o has c o m m u n e d w i t h his g o d . . . 15 stronger"
29

b u t w h o c o u l d also say, t o the

boisterous dissent o f t r u e believers d o w n the ages, " T h e r e are n o r e l i g i o n s that are false." W e m e e t the m a n w h o said b o t h — a n d i n a w o r k of science positive.

A N ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE SOUL
L i t t l e is k n o w n a b o u t D ü r k h e i m s personal life. I w i l l n o t repeat the tidbits here b u t instead refer readers t o W . S. F. Pickering's a n d Steven Lukes's c o m pilations o f w h a t is k n o w n , a n d p o r t r a y t h e m a n as w e m e e t h i m i n B o o k O n e , C h a p t e r 2, i n his m o d e o f v i r t u o s o p l a y — a n d display. T h e r e , i n the posture o f d e m o l i s h i n g m i s t a k e n t h e o r y , he takes u p o n e o f r e l i g i o n s ' elem e n t a l représentations collectives. I propose t h a t w e m a k e o u r acquaintance w i t h h i m b y o b s e r v i n g h o w h e acquaints us w i t h t h e great n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y scholar o f r e l i g i o n , E d w a r d B u r n e t t T y l o r . T y l o r p u t f o r w a r d a v e r y i n f l u e n t i a l t h e o r y a b o u t the o r i g i n o f an idea that a great m a n y peoples have d e v e l o p e d and v a r i o u s l y c o n c e i v e d o f as a s i n gular t h i n g (the o r a soul), o r y e t as a generic substance (soul, p e r i o d ) , i m m o r t a l yet sometimes susceptible t o a n n i h i l a t i o n , attached t o persons yet m i g r a t o r y despite such attachments, i n t i m a t e l y k n o w n y e t almost impossible t o describe, personal y e t transmissible t o objects a n d animals, ethereal yet p o w e r f u l , a n d m u c h else, b u t above all c o n c e i v e d as m y s t e r i o u s , c o n t r a d i c tory, a n d h a r d t o conceive. I n t r o d u c i n g us t o T y l o r , t h e m a n o f science positive i n t r o d u c e s us t o t h e idea o f s o u l . I n C h a p t e r 8, D ü r k h e i m returns t o s o u l at
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l e n g t h , i n a h a u n t i n g l y b e a u t i f u l c o n s t r u c t i o n o f h o w h u m a n beings i n the full d i g n i t y o f reason m i g h t have c o m e t o postulate t h e idea o f s o u l i n order to t h e o r i z e aspects o f t h e real. I n his v i e w , those h u m a n beings w e r e n o t , l i k e St. A u g u s t i n e , able t o "believe precisely because i t was absurd." H e t r a i n e d his heavy r h e t o r i c a l guns against scholars w h o s e l o g i c entailed that t h e y must have b e e n able t o d o so. B y D ü r k h e i m ' s day, comparative studies o n r e l i g i o n had l o n g since r e vealed that soul, as a concept, is t o be f o u n d v i r t u a l l y w h e r e v e r r e l i g i o n is f o u n d . T h e q u e s t i o n scholars asked themselves was w h y such an i n h e r e n d y confusing idea came t o be such a widespread idea, even i n societies n o t h i n g like those o f the Australians. T h e existence o f i n d i v i d u a l souls had t o be acc o m m o d a t e d even i n the society i n h a b i t e d b y Descartes. A n d e v e r y w h e r e , acc o m m o d a t i n g t h e i r existence l e d t o questions a b o u t w h e r e they m i g h t reside and about t h e i r relationship t o those residences. Readers w h o r e m e m b e r t h e i r Descartes ( w h o , o f course, was at D ü r k h e i m s i n t e l l e c t u a l fingertips a n d those o f his readers) w i l l r e m e m b e r that, via his Cogito, ergo sum, the m i n d / b o d y d u alism, hence the s o u l / b o d y d u a l i s m , was r o o t e d i n his search f o r that w h i c h c a n n o t be d o u b t e d . Bear i n m i n d , t o o , that Descartes c o n c e i v e d o f a m e chanics t h a t h e l d f o r all things t h a t possessed " e x t e n s i o n " — b u t n o t f o r G o d or soul, w h o s e existence i n the real i n c l u d e d n e i t h e r e x t e n s i o n n o r s u b o r d i n a t i o n t o the laws o f mechanics. Speculating a b o u t the soul's l o c a l i z a t i o n , Descartes postulated that i t resides i n the (still mysterious) p i n e a l gland. D ü r k h e i m addressed the m a t t e r o f l o c a l i z a t i o n differently. Free f r o m t h e h o t b r e a t h o f t h e I n q u i s i t i o n , as Descartes (1596—1650) was n o t , a n d freed also b y his i n t e r p r e t i v e use o f e x o t i c materials, D ü r k h e i m repeated t h e s o l u tions his A u s t r a l i a n subjects gave the same e m p i r i c a l p r o b l e m — f o r example, i n m a n y rituals, n o t a b l y those c o n d u c t e d i n the m i d s t a n d a f t e r m a t h o f m o u r n i n g . T h e practicalities o f r i t u a l d o i n g l o c a l i z e d the s o u l i n c e r t a i n o r gans a n d i n the b l o o d , w h i c h w e r e t h e r e b y revealed, i n his phrase, as " t h e soul i t s e l f seen f r o m o u t s i d e "
31

(a f o r m u l a t i o n that m a y have suggested t o
3 2

D ü r k h e i m s audience c e r t a i n p h i l o s o p h e r s o f a n t i q u i t y ) . also the pagan Empedocles
33

T h e Australians' and

urge t o localize t h e s o u l set t h e m beside n o t o n l y t h e C a t h o l i c Descartes b u t a n d t h e Jewish w r i t e r s o f L e v i t i c u s D e u t e r o n o m y ( w h o m D ü r k h e i m cites), all s o l v i n g i t rather m o r e l i k e t h e Australians t h a n l i k e Descartes. B y Tylor's m o r e secularized day, the q u e s t i o n was n o t m e r e l y w h e r e the s o u l m i g h t b e b u t a m o r e radical o n e that w o u l d surely have p r o v o k e d the I n q u i s i t i o n i n t o a c t i o n : w h y p e o p l e ever imagined any such t h i n g . T y l o r h e l d t h a t t h e idea arose f r o m t h e universal b u t i n d i v i d ual e x p e r i e n c e o f d r e a m i n g . F o r T y l o r , d r e a m i n g posed a t h e o r e t i c a l p r o b l e m that nagged n i g h t l y at earliest h u m a n i t y ' s consciousness u n t i l i t was solved

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w i t h t h e i n v e n t i o n o f a d o u b l e , o r a soul. D e m o l i s h i n g this a r g u m e n t was the D ü r k h e i m w h o h a d already p r o n o u n c e d r e l i g i o u s ideas t o be g r o u n d e d i n a n d t o express the real. T h e s o l u t i o n T y l o r i m p u t e d t o " p r i m i t i v e s " failed that test. A f t e r r e v i e w i n g the m e r i t s o f T y l o r s enterprise, D ü r k h e i m proceeded t o carry o u t an i n t e l l e c t u a l death o f a thousand cuts. A c c o r d i n g t o Tylor, the idea o f the soul, o r d o u b l e , e x p l a i n e d ecstasy, catalepsy, apoplexy, and f a i n t i n g ; i l l nesses a n d health, g o o d f o r t u n e , b a d f o r t u n e , special abilities, o r a n y t h i n g else that departed slightly from the o r d i n a r y ; a n d o n d o w n an e x p a n d i n g list app l i e d t o an e x p a n d i n g p o p u l a t i o n o f souls. T h u s d i d an idea o f great i m p o r t for religions e v e r y w h e r e c o m e t o e x p l a i n e v e r y t h i n g . T h u s d i d t h e p o w e r o f souls increase. A n d thus d i d T y l o r s p r i m i t i v e m a n , h a v i n g c o m e u p w i t h the concept o f soul to solve a m e r e l y speculative p r o b l e m , finally e n d u p as "a captive i n this i m a g i n a r y w o r l d , even t h o u g h he is its creator and m o d e l . "
3 4

Here

is D ü r k h e i m s coup de grace: " E v e n i f the hypothesis o f the d o u b l e c o u l d satisf a c t o r i l y e x p l a i n all d r e a m i n g , a n d all d r e a m i n g c o u l d be explained i n n o o t h e r way, o n e w o u l d still have t o say w h y m a n t r i e d t o e x p l a i n i t at all. . . . [HJabit easily puts c u r i o s i t y t o sleep."
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I n d e e d , even i f c u r i o s i t y h a d b e e n awake,

d r e a m i n g w o u l d n o t b y any stretch have posed the m o s t o b v i o u s p r o b l e m : " T h e r e was s o m e t h i n g i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e i n the fact that a l u m i n o u s disc o f such small diameter c o u l d be adequate to l i g h t t h e E a r t h — a n d yet, centuries w e n t b y before h u m a n i t y t h o u g h t o f r e s o l v i n g that c o n t r a d i c t i o n . " So, w h y s h o u l d h u m a n i t y , especially T y l o r s m a t e r i a l l y hard-pressed p r i m i t i v e h u m a n ity, have invented an idea fundamental t o v i r t u a l l y all religions, i n order t o solve the n i g h t t i m e puzzle o f d r e a m i n g , a t r i v i a l puzzle b y c o m p a r i s o n w i t h the o n e they bypassed i n t h e l i g h t o f day? D ü r k h e i m t h e n moves o n t o stiletto H e r b e r t Spencer's amendments t o T y l o r s theory. H e ends o n his p o i n t about the real:

In the end, religion is only a dream, systematized and lived but without foundation in the real. . . . Indeed, whether, in such conditions, the term "science of religions" can be used without impropriety is questionable. . . . What sort of a science is it whose principal discovery is to make the very object it treats disappear?
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R e t u r n i n g i n C h a p t e r 8 t o treat the idea o f soul a c c o r d i n g t o his o w n p r i n c i p l e a b o u t t h e roots o f r e l i g i o n i n t h e real, D u r k h e i m gives his a r g u m e n t a s t r i k i n g e n d a n d t h e n a still m o r e s t r i k i n g coda. T h e idea o f soul, he concludes, actually was n e e d e d t o solve a p r o b l e m that the d a y t i m e course o f social life forced h u m a n reason t o c o n f r o n t : the indisputable reality that there

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is death, yet c o m m u n i t i e s live o n , a n d there is b i r t h : " I n s u m , b e l i e f i n the i m m o r t a l i t y o f souls is the o n l y w a y m a n is able t o c o m p r e h e n d a fact that cannot fail t o attract his a t t e n t i o n : the p e r p e t u i t y o f the group's l i f e . "
37

So-

cially, he argued, i t s t o o d f o r that c o l l e c t i v e life; i n d i v i d u a l i z e d , i t s t o o d f o r the social part o f every h u m a n b e i n g , the h u m a n (as d i s t i n c t f r o m the animal) part. I t is at o n c e a discrete b e i n g a n d an ethereal substance, at o n c e i n d i v i d ual par excellence and yet s o c i a l .
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I n the coda, D ü r k h e i m ' s evocations o f L e i b n i z a n d K a n t b e g i n far f r o m ethnography, b u t close t o us. U s i n g t h e i r ideas, he r e m i n d s us that soul, h o w ever slippery as a concept, is s o m e t h i n g h u m a n k i n d has c o m e t o k n o w v e r y w e l l f r o m o u r e x p e r i e n c e o f the real: " T h e idea o f s o u l l o n g was, and i n part still is, the m o s t universally h e l d f o r m o f the idea o f p e r s o n a l i t y . "
39

A t the

very end, therefore, w e a r r i v e at t h e n o t i o n o f soul as an u t t e r l y indispensable d a y t i m e c o n c e p t b y w h i c h h u m a n k i n d has expressed a v i v i d sense o f " p e r s o n " characterized b y discreteness a n d yet b y c o n t i n u i t y t h r o u g h t i m e . D e spite the analytical prickliness f o r science positive o f this reality, t o call its reality " n o n e m p i r i c a l " w o u l d be o d d .
4 0

A f t e r a l l , w e d o n o t o r d i n a r i l y have s o m e -

t h i n g n o n e m p i r i c a l i n m i n d w h e n w e t h i n k o f " p e r s o n " as a physical b o d y plus s o m e t h i n g m o r e . A t the same t i m e , h o w e v e r , t o tackle the s o u l as an e m p i r i c a l m a t t e r is alive w i t h difficulties. Perhaps f o r this reason, D ü r k h e i m s att e m p t t o set study o f i t i n t o the frame o f e m p i r i c a l scholarship has b e e n almost c o m p l e t e l y i g n o r e d . So far as I a m aware, t h e o n l y recent scholarship that puts t o use D ü r k h e i m s elegant r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f s o u l o n secular t e r r a i n o f t h e real is M i c h e l Foucault's, i n Discipline and Punish. ^ I suspect that this r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f the s o u l f r o m the r a w m a t e r i a l o f real experience takes us close t o the i n t u i t i o n a l sources o f D ü r k h e i m s w o r k o n r e l i g i o n . I suddenly felt those sources nearby m e one h o t A u g u s t a f t e r n o o n as I c o n t e n d e d w i t h the chapter o n m o u r n i n g rites ( B o o k T h r e e , C h a p t e r 5 ) , w h i c h is f u l l o f evidence from Australia about sin, the soul, a n d the things that happen t o o r are d o n e about b o t h . A t o n e p o i n t , the Book of Common Prayer phrase "remission o f s i n " suddenly came u n b i d d e n from depths o f the heard but d i m l y u n d e r s t o o d formulas o f m y o w n c h u r c h g o i n g c h i l d h o o d . I t came t o m e i n a flash that D ü r k h e i m ' s m i n d m u s t have h a d strata o f the same sort. C o n sider the Modeh, a prayer o f thanks said from early c h i l d h o o d every m o r n i n g , even before w a s h i n g , b y means o f w h i c h Jews t h a n k G o d f o r the r e t u r n o f the soul after its departure each n i g h t .
4 2 4

I suspect that, o n an i n h e r e n d y elusive

topic like soul, D ü r k h e i m s o w n personal archaeology, available consciously and unconsciously, enabled h i m t o e n c o u n t e r religious n o t i o n s o t h e r t h a n as "a b l i n d m a n t r y i n g t o talk about c o l o u r . " C o n s i d e r this from D ü r k h e i m :

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The soul is not merely distinct from its physical envelope, as the inside is from the outside. . . . [Ijt elicits in some degree those feelings that are everywhere reserved for that which is divine. If it is not made into a god, it is seen at least as a spark of the divinity. This fundamental characteristic would be inexplicable if the idea of the soul was no more than a prescientific solution to the problem of dreams. Since there is nothing in dreaming that can awaken religious emotion, the same must be true of the cause that accounts for dreaming. However, if the soul is a bit of divine substance, it represents something within us that is other than ourselves.
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N o w consider this passage b y a J e w i s h a u t h o r i t y o f o u r o w n day: To be sure, the world as a whole may be viewed as a divine manifestation, but the world remains as something else than God, while the soul of man, in its depths, may be considered a part of God. . . . [W]e speak of only an aspect of God, or of a divine spark, as constituting the essence of the inner life of man. . . . Every soul is thus a fragment of the divine light.
44

N o t to belabor a p o i n t that c a n n o t be d e v e l o p e d here, l e t m e i n v i t e f u r t h e r study b y n o t i n g t h a t D u r k h e i m analyzes A u s t r a l i a n n o t i o n s such as t r a n s m i g r a t i o n a n d an o r i g i n a l f u n d o f souls a n d that t h e passage j u s t q u o t e d f r o m goes o n t o t a l k a b o u t Knesset Israel, " t h e p o o l i n w h i c h all t h e souls i n the w o r l d are c o n t a i n e d as a single essence." I f D u r k h e i m ' s personal e x p e r i ence is p a r t o f Formes i n this w a y a n d i f religion's roots i n t h e real p r e o c c u p y h i m , as I have s h o w n t h e y d o , t h e n w e m u s t take v e r y seriously his remarks addressed t o "free believers" a b o u t t h e injustice o f a n a t h e m a t i z i n g Formes as " i r r e l i g i ó n . " T o m a k e this p o i n t , however, is n o t t o l a u n c h a silly search f o r correspondences b e t w e e n D u r k h e i m ' s r e l i g i o u s u p b r i n g i n g a n d his t h e o r i z ing.
4 5

R a t h e r , j u s t as m y o w n understandings o f r e l i g i o n c o u l d u n p r e d i c t a b l y

mediate m y a t t e m p t t o u n d e r s t a n d D u r k h e i m , so t o o m u s t his o w n early r e l i g i o u s e x p e r i e n c e have g i v e n h i m an u n a v o i d a b l e — a n d yet i n v a l u a b l e — d o o r i n t o the subject o f this w o r k . I n j u s t i f y i n g his m e t h o d o l o g i c a l c h o i c e o f s t u d y i n g t o t e m i s m as a useful lens t h r o u g h w h i c h t o study r e l i g i o n i n general, D u r k h e i m observes that sometimes " n a t u r e spontaneously makes s i m p l i f i c a t i o n s . "
46

Analogously, I

suggest, D u r k h e i m ' s o w n e x p e r i e n c e p r o v i d e d a "spontaneous s i m p l i f i c a t i o n " that enabled h i m t o m o v e the t o p i c o f r e l i g i o n away f r o m its capacity (or its confused a n d c o n f u s i n g incapacity) t o give an a c c o u n t o f t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d , b u t instead t o explore, and e x p l o r e p r o f o u n d l y , its capacity t o deliver a h u m a n l y shaped w o r l d t o that v e r y w o r l d ' s h u m a n shapers. A s he says i n the C o n c l u s i o n , "[DJebates o n t h e t o p i c o f r e l i g i o n m o s t o f t e n t u r n a r o u n d and

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about o n the q u e s t i o n o f w h e t h e r r e l i g i o n can o r c a n n o t be r e c o n c i l e d w i t h science. . . . B u t the b e l i e v e r s — t h e m e n w h o , l i v i n g a r e l i g i o u s life, have a direct sense o f w h a t r e l i g i o n is made of-—object that, i n terms o f t h e i r dayto-day experience, this w a y o f seeing does n o t r i n g true. . . . Its t r u e f u n c t i o n is t o m a k e us act a n d t o help us l i v e . "
47

This once-practicing m e m b e r o f a tightly k n i t religious c o m m u n i t y w h o abandoned r e l i g i o n , b u t w h o s e scientific w o r k was e n r i c h e d b y the fact that certain core i n t u i t i o n s o f r e l i g i o n d i d n o t a b a n d o n h i m , k n e w an o f f - t h e m a r k t h e o r y o f r e l i g i o n w h e n he saw one. I t is n o surprise t o find h i m s c o r n ful o f w r i t e r s w h o t h i n k t h e y have u n d o n e r e l i g i o n m e r e l y b y d e b u n k i n g its account o f nature. T o m i x a m e t a p h o r , the h u m a n K a n g a r o o clan m e m b e r s we v i e w t h r o u g h his lens h a d b i g g e r t h e o r e t i c a l fish t o f r y t h a n the kangaroos leaping a r o u n d t h e m . A n d so i t w i l l n o t be D ü r k h e i m w h o discovers a m o n g the Australians " t h e t h o r o u g h g o i n g i d i o c y " that some authors ascribed t o "primitives." But
48

I t w i l l be D ü r k h e i m w h o again a n d again refutes that d i s c o v -

ery, o u t o f those same authors' o w n evidence. f o r m y o w n chance e n c o u n t e r w i t h a p r o b l e m o f translation, I w o u l d n o t have guessed the c o m p l e x strata that u n d e r l i e Formes. M o s t c o m mentators w a l k b a c k a n d f o r t h o n the g r o u n d d i r e c t l y above t h e m . W . S. F. P i c k e r i n g a n d L e w i s A . Coser at least p o i n t o u t t h a t those layers are d o w n there a n d are i m p o r t a n t .
4 9

B u t consider A l v i n G o u l d n e r s s t u n n i n g charac50

t e r i z a t i o n o f D ü r k h e i m s t h o u g h t as "Catholic o r g a n i c i s m . " D ü r k h e i m first,

A n d Aron, in

his magisterial c o m p a r a t i v e p o r t r a i t u r e o f n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y masters, paints i g n o r i n g t h e q u e s t i o n o f r e l i g i o u s b a c k g r o u n d altogether u n t i l he arrives at his second p o r t r a i t , o f M a x W e b e r , a great sociologist o f rel i g i o n w h o , he observes, " b e l o n g [ e d ] t o a p r o f o u n d l y r e l i g i o u s f a m i l y ( a l though probably a nonbeliever himself)."
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B u t i t is W e b e r w h o called

h i m s e l f r e l i g i o u s l y " u n m u s i c a l , " w h i l e D ü r k h e i m t o l d an audience that he was n o t b l i n d t o r e l i g i o n s ' c o l o r . I n general, I f o u n d l i t t l e c o n f i r m a t i o n f o r m y o w n sense that D u r k h e i m ' s r e l i g i o u s b a c k g r o u n d m a t t e r e d i n w h a t he said and w r o t e .
5 2

S o m e w r i t e r s apparently believe t h a t t r u t h can be a r r i v e d at

f r o m n o w h e r e i n particular, o r f r o m e v e r y w h e r e at once, a n d that the person is irrelevant. I n t h e case o f testing hypotheses, that v i e w is doubdess c o r r e c t . I n t h e case o f genius, however, i t is self-contradictory. Creative genius is b y its nature i n d i v i d u a l , a n d its sources are quintessentially personal.

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Translator's Introduction

INDIVIDUAL MINDS A N D YET COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS: SOME KEY ARGUMENTS I N FORMES
O r d i n a r i l y m y task w o u l d n o w b e t o render an a c c o u n t o f D ü r k h e i m s i n t e l lectual w o r l d : the influences h e i n h e r i t e d a n d passed o n , the debates he w a g e d w i t h his c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , the understandings h e t o o k f o r g r a n t e d b u t that w e c a n n o t — i n short, a w o r l d o f texts i n t o w h i c h Formes fits. T h e r e is, o f course, such a w o r l d , b u t u n d e r s t a n d i n g i t can b e left f o r later w i t h o u t i m mediate loss t o u n d e r s t a n d i n g the central arguments o f Formes. O n e set o f questions t o be d e l v e d i n t o elsewhere w o u l d c e r t a i n l y be D u r k h e i m ' s c o n versations w i t h K a n t , a b o u t t h e p r o b l e m o f k n o w l e d g e a n d a b o u t m o r a l o b l i g a t i o n , w h i c h m e r i t s a k i n d o f a t t e n t i o n that his t r a d i t i o n a l audience o f sociologists a n d a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s has i n general n o t g i v e n i t ; a n d so does his dialogue w i t h A u g u s t e C o m t e , a p h i l o s o p h e r n o w r e m e m b e r e d b y m o s t o f us o n l y via t w o o r three c a n n e d characterizations—academic s o u n d bites, so to speak. tury.
5 4 53

A n o t h e r w o u l d be t h e book's r e l a t i o n t o the versions o f p s y c h o l -

o g y that represented the state o f the art i n E u r o p e at the t u r n o f this c e n Finally, there is a w h o l e set o f questions that are p e r e n n i a l and that
55

have t h e same rewards as p l a y i n g scales: w h e t h e r Formes (like D u r k h e i m ' s w o r k generally) is o r is n o t a h i s t o r i c a l — a n d , i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h that, does o r does n o t b e l o n g t o the miscellany o f t h e o r e t i c a l n o t i o n s that came t o be called f u n c t i o n a l i s m . I leave all those questions aside f o r n o w . I n o t e b u t leave aside controversies a b o u t the use D ü r k h e i m made o f the A u s t r a l i a n e t h n o g r a p h y available i n his t i m e (and, t o a lesser e x t e n t , N a t i v e A m e r i c a n a n d others), o n the g r o u n d s that even f u r i o u s a n d e m o t i o n a l acad e m i c debates o f t h e past are n o t always r i v e t i n g , o r especially e n l i g h t e n i n g , i n the present. T h i s is n o t t o say that the e t h n o g r a p h i c details can safely be s k i p p e d . As w e l e a r n r i g h t f r o m t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n , D ü r k h e i m intends that his o w n r o u t e t h r o u g h t h e A u s t r a l i a n e t h n o g r a p h y s h o u l d lead t o " m a n i n g e n e r a l " — a n d " m o r e especially," h e says, "present-day m a n , f o r there is n o n e o t h e r that w e have a greater interest i n k n o w i n g w e l l . " T o t e m i s m seemed t o h i m a usefully s i m p l i f y i n g case that w o u l d reveal " t h e r e l i g i o u s nature o f m a n . . . a f u n d a m e n t a l a n d p e r m a n e n t aspect o f h u m a n i t y . "
57 56

So a l t h o u g h

Formes displays his grasp o f t h e ethnographies o n t o t e m i s m that w e r e available t o h i m , i t is far less an investigation o f h o w o r w h y h u m a n beings c o m e t o i m a g i n e themselves as plants o r animals t h a n an i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f h o w t h e y c o m e t o i m a g i n e themselves as h u m a n beings. Since the fact j u m p s o f f the page that t o t e m i c c o m m u n i t i e s m u s t be i m a g i n e d , t h e i r study enables us t o

Translator's Introduction

xxxin

grasp the same fact i n r e l a t i o n t o o u r o w n : T o exist at a l l , all c o m m u n i t i e s must be i m a g i n e d . W h a t his i n t e l l e c t u a l descendant B e n e d i c t A n d e r s o n has so w e l l s h o w n f o r large-scale t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y a n t i c o l o n i a l n a t i o n a l i s m is also t r u e o f any face-to-face c o m m u n i t y and o f t h e smallest A u s t r a l i a n c l a n . the r e l i g i o n s o f A u s t r a l i a .
59 5 8

B u t clearly, n o o n e today s h o u l d read Formes i f he o r she is o n l y interested i n Finally, I w i l l n o t repeat here w h a t nearly three generations o f c r i t i q u e have b y n o w s h o w n i n great detail about w h e r e He t h e shortcomings of Formes and o f D u r k h e i m ' s w o r k m o r e generally. I cannot d o better t h a n Steven Lukes s intellectual b i o g r a p h y o f D u r k h e i m , i n its intellectual c o n t e x t , of religion,
6 2 61 6 0

R o b e r t Nisbet's analysis o f his t h o u g h t

o r W S. F. Pickering's close study o f his sociology

t o name o n l y three q u i t e different studies o u t o f a l o n g and often

distinguished list. I make n o a t t e m p t here t o r e v i e w the vast and g r o w i n g l i t e r ature. I n a d d i t i o n , since I have made i t m y task t o s h o w w h y the b o o k can still be read w i t h e x c i t e m e n t , I bypass m a n y difficulties and l e g i t i m a t e qualifications. Instead, I focus o n key bits a n d pieces o f D u r k h e i m ' s a r g u m e n t that are still i m m e d i a t e l y provocative, and that m o v e t h r o u g h the w o r l d as canned characterizations o f the b o o k , part o f an intellectual w o r l d about D u r k h e i m ' s s o c i o l o g y o f r e l i g i o n . A f t e r b r i e f l y c o n s i d e r i n g the elements o f his famous b u t contested d e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n , let us t u r n t o three such t r a d i t i o n a l academic sound bites, each o f w h i c h has always i m p l i e d p o t e n t i a l l y hostile queries: D u r kheim's " e q u a t i o n " o f r e l i g i o n and society, o r G o d a n d society,
63

his use o f c o l -

lective concepts, and, foremost a m o n g those, his sacred/profane d i c h o t o m y . T h i s w o r l d about D u r k h e i m contains a g o o d deal o f d i s t o r t i o n , i n p a r t the legacy o f Joseph W a r d Swain's m o n u m e n t a l 1915 translation. D i s t o r t i o n s arise n o t o n l y f r o m inaccuracies i n Swain's translating, b u t also from t h e c h a l lenges o f an E n g l i s h t e x t that discourages readers from t a c k l i n g Formes u n d e r t h e i r o w n i n t e l l e c t u a l steam. Its d i f f i c u l t E n g l i s h invites reliance o n i n t e r p r e tational clues f r o m various "trots." I f w e f o l l o w the o u t - o f - c o n t e x t bites t o t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l places i n Formes itself, h o w e v e r , w e g a i n keys t o the b o o k as a w h o l e . S o m e o f the m o s t persistendy t r o u b l e s o m e o f those bites are f o u n d i n B o o k T w o , C h a p t e r 7. T h e r e , t h e ideas o f t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e a n d force are d e r i v e d as o u t p u t s o f collective life, that is, as o u t p u t s o f t h e mechanisms b y w h i c h c o l l e c t i v e life is p r o d u c e d . I f those ideas d i d n o t exist, t h e y o r s o m e t h i n g q u i t e l i k e t h e m w o u l d have t o be i n v e n t e d . I w i l l t u r n t o this c e n t r a l l y i m p o r t a n t chapter o f Formes after e x a m i n i n g D u r k h e i m ' s m a n n e r o f d e f i n i n g his overall subject.

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Translator's Introduction

Religion Denned
D ü r k h e i m defines r e l i g i o n i n B o o k O n e , C h a p t e r 1: A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.
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Bear three points i n m i n d . First, r e l i g i o n is n o t d e f i n e d i n terms o f a n y t h i n g that w o u l d t u r n a m a n of science positive away f r o m observable p h e n o m e n a , or the real—not d i v i n i t y , the o t h e r w o r l d l y , the miraculous, o r the supernatural. Second, the phrase " u n i f i e d system" postulates that religious beliefs and rites are n o t hodgepodges b u t are i n t e r n a l l y ordered. T h i r d , the objects o f those rites a n d beliefs acquire t h e i r religious status as sacred, o r "set apart and f o r b i d d e n , " as a result o f j o i n t a c t i o n b y people w h o set t h e m apart a n d w h o , by the same stroke, constitute themselves a " m o r a l c o m m u n i t y " o r "a C h u r c h . " O n c e again, t h e n , r e l i g i o n is social, social, social. I n a d d i t i o n , the " m o r a l " i n the t e r m " m o r a l c o m m u n i t y " specifies that the groups are n o t hodgepodges either b u t are made u p o f individuals w h o have m u t u a l l y recognized and recognizable identities that set t h e m , c o g n i t i v e l y a n d n o r m a t i v e l y , o n shared h u m a n t e r r a i n . H e n c e , the q u a l i t y o f sacredness exists i n the real, and its crea t i o n is the observable p r o d u c t o f collective d o i n g . H e r e is one reason that D ü r k h e i m f o u n d i t attractive t o handle rites analytically as b e i n g p r i o r t o b e liefs.
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T h i s d e f i n i t i o n foreshadows the o r g a n i z a t i o n of Formes as a w h o l e . B o o k T w o examines t o t e m i c beliefs insofar as t h e y seem t o h i m j o i n t l y t o c o n s t i t u t e a " u n i f i e d system" o f core beliefs; at t h e same t i m e i t associates those b e liefs w i t h o n e k i n d o f m o r a l c o m m u n i t y , w h i c h D ü r k h e i m calls "social o r g a n i z a t i o n based o n clans."
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B o o k T h r e e examines those beliefs as t h e y are

b e i n g c o l l e c t i v e l y done, e n t e r i n g the real t h r o u g h the p e r f o r m a n c e o f rites. I t makes an analytical d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n t w o m o m e n t s o f r i t u a l d o i n g that t y p i c a l l y o c c u r simultaneously o n t h e g r o u n d : d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n , o r d o i n g that creates the sacredness o f p e o p l e o r things (negative rites, characterized b y sett i n g apart people a n d things, t h r o u g h the various procedures described), a n d i n t e g r a t i o n , o r d o i n g that takes place a m i d already sanctified p e o p l e o r things (positive rites, characterized b y the b r i n g i n g together o f sanctified things and people, again b y v a r i o u s p r o c e d u r e s ) .
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Translator's Introduction

xxxv

The God/Society Equation
V i r t u a l l y everyone w h o has e n c o u n t e r e d Formes is stopped dead w h e n D ü r k h e i m says, "Is i t n o t that the g o d a n d the society are o n e a n d the same?" F r o m this passage has fallen the nugget that b y " e q u a t i n g " the g o d w i t h the society, D ü r k h e i m "reduces" the g o d t o the society (sometimes revealingly s h o r t handed as G o d , capital " G , " and society). M a n y discussions about the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f Formes converge here, at his famous " e q u a t i o n . " N o w , i f w e go t o the actual statement i n the actual a r g u m e n t , w e recover a fact that is sometimes lost sight of: D ü r k h e i m s question i n that chapter is h o w i t comes about that rationally c o n s t i t u t e d Australians ascribe p o w e r t o t o t e m i c beings and i n d e e d t o s y m b o l i c representations o f t h e m . As usual, he seeks t o f i n d the basis o f that i n the real. H i s p r o b l e m is n o t w h o , w h a t , o r h o w great t h e g o d is b u t h o w a science o f r e l i g i o n can t u r n its b e a m o f l i g h t o n the religious object w i t h o u t " m a k i n g i t disappear." T h e a r g u m e n t s u r r o u n d i n g t h e n u g g e t w i l l clarify:

[The totem] expresses and symbolizes two different kinds of things. From one point of view, it is the outward and visible form of what I have called the totemic principle or god; and from another, it is also the symbol of a particular society that is called the clan. It is the flag of the clan, the sign by which each clan is distinguished from the others, the visible mark of its distinctiveness, and a mark that is borne by everything that in any way belongs to the clan: men, animals, and things. Thus if the totem is the symbol of both the god and the society, is this not because the god and the society are one and the same? H o w could the emblem of the group have taken the form of that quasi-divinity if the group and the divinity were two distinct realities? Thus the god of the clan, the totemic principle, can be none other than the clan itself, but the clan transfigured and imagined in the physical form of the plant or animal that serves as totem.
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D u r k h e i m ' s q u e s t i o n a n d his answer have t e n d e d t o b r i n g o u t c u r i o u s l y t h e o l o g i c a l anxieties and reticences. Suppose he h a d c o m m i t t e d a " r e d u c t i o n . "
6 9

W o u l d i t m e a n that some

necessary t h i n g is lost? I f so, w h a t ? F o r c e r t a i n believers, t h e answer o b v i o u s l y is that G o d , capital " G , " is lost (and so is " t h e g o d , " i f w e have i n m i n d b e lievers e c u m e n i c a l e n o u g h t o battle f o r the pagan Greeks' Zeus, say, o r f o r those aspects o f t h e e m p e r o r o f m i d - t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y Japanese that w e n t b e y o n d the o r d i n a r i l y h u m a n ) . B u t w h o is G o d t h a t secular social scientists s h o u l d take n o t e o f h i m ?
7 0

F o r secular social scientists, o r f o r m e n a n d

w o m e n o f science positive, r e l i g i o n c a n n o t be altered b y s u b t r a c t i n g a supernatural b e i n g f r o m i t . T h e i r m e t h o d s b e g i n f r o m u n b e l i e f (professionally,

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Translator's Introduction

n o t necessarily i n t e r m s o f personal c o n v i c t i o n ) i n a n y t h i n g that c a n n o t i n p r i n c i p l e be observed b y anyone w h o uses those m e t h o d s . T h r o u g h those m e t h o d s o f o b s e r v a t i o n , p e o p l e w i t h G o d l o o k exactly the same as p e o p l e without God.
7 1

N o supernatural r e a l m o r b e i n g is available t o a ( m e t h o d -

o l o g i c a l l y ) u n b e l i e v i n g social scientist, w h o can c l a i m access o n l y t o nature, n o t t o supernature. T o a believer, o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , i t is unclear that anyone else's supernatural r e a l m is available. So unless s o c i o l o g y m u s t be made c o n sonant w i t h t h e o l o g y , n o t h i n g necessary is lost. A reader n o w w o n d e r i n g w h e t h e r the i n t e g r i t y o f t h e o l o g y is t h e r e b y c o m p r o m i s e d has a r r i v e d o n the fascinating a n d a m b i g u o u s s p i r i t u a l t e r r i t o r y p r o m i s e d b y the quotations f r o m D u r k h e i m w i t h w h i c h I began this I n t r o d u c t i o n . T h e r e is n o n e e d t o resolve the q u e s t i o n . T o keep i t o p e n is t o keep pace w i t h an agile g u i d e t o this t e r r i t o r y . If, alternatively, w e asked w h a t necessary t h i n g m u s t be k e p t o r added, some w o u l d argue that n o t G o d o r gods b u t belief o r i e n t e d t o h i m o r her, o r t o t h e m , m u s t be i n c l u d e d .
7 2

F o r D u r k h e i m , h o w e v e r , r e l i g i o n was "a f u n -

d a m e n t a l and p e r m a n e n t aspect o f h u m a n i t y , " t h o u g h gods w e r e n o t a f u n d a m e n t a l a n d p e r m a n e n t aspect o f r e l i g i o n . I t thus f o l l o w e d that n e i t h e r gods themselves n o r beliefs a b o u t gods c o u l d be essential. W h a t i f w e disagreed, insisting that observed b e l i e v i n g was essential, c o n t e n d i n g s o m e t h i n g l i k e this: I f gods and t h e supernatural c a n n o t be observed b y scientific means, a c t i o n o r i e n t e d t o t h e m o r presupposing b e l i e f i n t h e m can be. B u t i f o n l y b e l i e f i n supernatural beings is the v i c t i m , t h e n D u r k h e i m has a p o w e r f u l r e p l y : N o t h i n g durable is lost, for w h a t is m o r e f l e e t i n g o r h a r d t o observe t h a n subjective belief? W h a t is m o r e o p e n t o d e r a i l m e n t , f r o m o n e m o m e n t t o the n e x t , w h i m s i c a l l y o r i n the c o l d l i g h t o f observable fact (recall those v e r y things w h o s e "resistance" r e l i g i o n s " c o u l d n o t have o v e r c o m e " ) ? A n d b e sides, f r o m t h e s t a n d p o i n t o f t h e social scientist, believers i n gods l o o k e x actly t h e same as unbelievers i n g o d s — a n d exactly t h e same as people w i t h beliefs i n o r a b o u t o t h e r t h i n g s . T h e subjective is n o h a n d i e r t h a n the supernatural, and b u t s l i g h t l y m o r e accessible. I n those t e r m s , w e can b e g i n t o see t h e advantage i n D u r k h e i m ' s c h o i c e o f o b s e r v i n g r e l i g i o u s ideas (représentations, t h e subject o f B o o k T w o ) as b e i n g (observably) done (as attitudes rituelles, t h e subject o f B o o k T h r e e ) a n d , hence, w h y even his e x p o s i t i o n o f the ideas ( B o o k T w o ) resorts t o s l o w - m o t i o n , set-piece d e p i c t i o n s o f t o t e m i c rites, g i v i n g t h e m an almost y o u - a r e - t h e r e vividness. As a w a y o u t o f the p r e d i c a m e n t o f e v a p o r a t i n g t o o l s , i t m i g h t be t e m p t i n g t o accept b e l i e f as g i v e n , t a k i n g u p t h e W . I . Thomases' famous s o c i o l o g i c a l c r u t c h : W h a t e v e r is b e l i e v e d i n as real is real i n its consequences. B u t t o regard b e l i e f as a s i m p l e g i v e n is also t o s k i r t t h e o b v i o u s q u e s t i o n o f h o w

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people c o m e t o treat s o m e t h i n g as real that t o the u n b e l i e v i n g o n l o o k e r c a n n o t be. T h e w o r l d o f r e l i g i o n is f u l l o f i m p r o b a b l e things: C h r i s t i a n s ' I m maculate C o n c e p t i o n o r t h e i r life f r o m death; Aztecs' sunrises caused b y h u m a n sacrifices; L i t h u a n i a n s ' g a i n i n g w e l l - b e i n g f r o m the bones o f St. C a s i m i r ; Australians' black m e n w h o are also w h i t e cockatoos. A n d as D ü r k h e i m h i m s e l f p o i n t s o u t , deadpan, p e o p l e l o o k m o s t l i k e relatives and friends, n o t l i k e plants o r a n i m a l s .
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" R e a l i n its consequences" q u i c k l y wears t h i n .

W h i c h consequences? W h a t reality? I f t h e faithful are t h o u g h t o f as r a t i o n a l l y c o n s t i t u t e d h u m a n beings, w h a t w o u l d cause t h e m t o fly i n t h e face o f w h a t they can observe f r o m m o m e n t t o m o m e n t and year after year? A n d is o u r u n d e r s t a n d i n g advanced i f w e assume t h e r e l i g i o u s f a i t h f u l o f all ages m e r e l y to be p e o p l e w h o can be s o l d t h e B r o o k l y n B r i d g e , n o t j u s t o n c e b u t over and over again? U l t i m a t e l y , t h e n , t o leave b e l i e f u n e x a m i n e d is t o g a i n a mentally incompetent human. H e n c e , o n c e again, D ü r k h e i m s p o i n t a b o u t t h e real holds i m p o r t a n c e : A h u m a n i n s t i t u t i o n that endures m u s t necessarily be f o u n d e d o n s o m e t h i n g that anyone, n o t j u s t those certifiably afflicted w i t h " t h o r o u g h g o i n g idiocy," can accept as b e i n g really r e a l — n o t j u s t "believed i n " as real a n d n o t j u s t p a t r o n ized as "believed i n . " T h e w h o l e o f B o o k O n e spectacularly demolishes t h e o ries o f r e l i g i o n t h a t w a n t t o be scientific b u t w h o s e l o g i c i m p l i e s that religion's objects are unreal, and its subjects eternally o p e n t o b e i n g sold the B r o o k l y n Bridge.
7 4

H o w t h e objects o f r e l i g i o n can be real f o r a secular social scientist is

the q u e s t i o n D ü r k h e i m asks his reader t o explore w i t h h i m . H i s p o i n t is n o t t o d i m i n i s h G o d b u t t o lift i n t o v i e w the reality o f G o d w o r s h i p p e d , the reality o f the experience o f G o d , a n d the r a t i o n a l i t y o f those w h o experience G o d . T h e C h a p t e r 7 academic s o u n d b i t e j u s t p i c k e d apart belongs t o an e x t e n d e d a r g u m e n t establishing that " r e l i g i o u s forces are real forces," n o t m e r e figments o f m y t h i c o r m y s t i c belief. I f w e b e g i n again, n o t at t h a t m e m o r a b l e s h o w - s t o p p i n g l i n e a b o u t the g o d a n d t h e society as b e i n g o n e b u t i n its i n tellectual c o n t e x t w i t h i n Formes, w e n e e d n o t h o p a r o u n d t o a v o i d t r e a d i n g o n the t h e o l o g i c a l a n d metaphysical feet o f social researchers a n d t h e i r s u b jects. T o start, a l l w e have t o d o is concede t h a t sometimes the objects o f r e l i g i o n strain the sense o f w h a t is real b u t d o n o t necessarily lose the adherent for that reason. (Besides, f o r D ü r k h e i m , the v e r y w a r p a n d w o o f o f r e l i g i o n s is s o m e t h i n g o t h e r t h a n reality "as t h e senses s h o w i t t o h i m . "
7 5

A n d yet

w i t h o u t this h u m a n i m a g i n i n g b e y o n d reality as t h e senses s h o w i t , science w o u l d be impossible.) R e l i g i o u s c o n c e p t i o n s that d o strain c r e d u l i t y pose t h e question D ü r k h e i m tries t o answer. H i s r e l i g i o u s h u m a n is capable o f n o t i c i n g religion's e m p i r i c a l discrepancies. E v e n i f i t was t r u e , as L a C a p r a has ( I t h i n k , m i s t a k e n l y ) suggested, that D ü r k h e i m is o n a " T h o m i s t " m i s s i o n o f

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r e c o n c i l i n g f a i t h w i t h reason, h e w o u l d be d o i n g so precisely because i t is b e l i e v i n g that is i n h e r e n t l y p r o b l e m a t i c f o r t h e f a i t h f u l .
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D o i n g , o n the o t h e r

h a n d , is n o t ; hence, yet a n o t h e r r o u t e t o t h e p r i o r i t y D ü r k h e i m gives t o rites over beliefs a n d its usefulness as a w a y o f t h i n k i n g a b o u t t h e persistence o f beliefs that are nonsensical o n t h e i r f a c e .
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B u t n o t o n l y that: Since w e speak

o f " T h o m i s m , " let us r e m e m b e r that T h o m a s A q u i n a s came centuries after Jesus's personal f r i e n d T h o m a s , w h o m the sophisticated faithful o f a n t i q u i t y passed d o w n the ages as an eternal f i g m e n t o f r e l i g i o u s life: d o u b t . life w o u l d have h a d n u m b e r e d days, speedily exhausted. T h e l i n e a b o u t the g o d a n d t h e society as o n e and t h e same can be t h o u g h t about i n yet a n o t h e r way. C o n s i d e r the r e l i g i o u s w o r l d i n t o w h i c h G o d , o r " t h e g o d , " sent t h e T e n C o m m a n d m e n t s ( E x o d u s 2 0 ) . N o t e that the first five c o n c e r n t h e relationship o f humans t o G o d , a n d t h e second five, that o f h u m a n s t o o n e another. F u r t h e r m o r e , the passage contains n o i n v i t a t i o n t o regard e i t h e r set as h a v i n g a different o r h i g h e r status t h a n t h e other, as b e i n g o b l i g a t o r y i n a w a y that the o t h e r is n o t — o r , f o r t h a t matter, as b e i n g separately c o n c e i v e d . I n terms o f t h a t t h e o l o g i c a l w o r l d , the c o n c e p t i o n s o f the g o d a n d o f t h e society are inseparable. T o say that " t h e g o d a n d the soc i e t y are o n e a n d t h e same" is n o t necessarily t o say any m o r e t h a n G o d d i d , speaking t h r o u g h Moses. I t seems t o m e that Formes t h r o u g h o u t has that w o r l d i n v i e w . I f t h e p o i n t j u s t m a d e is at all c o n t e n t i o u s , and I have n o d o u b t i t is, t h e n t h e contentiousness itself gives a p o i n t t o D ü r k h e i m s strategy i n c h o o s i n g an e x o t i c case.
7 8

I f reli-

g i o n c o u l d exist only o n c o n d i t i o n o f b e i n g b e l i e v e d o r even believable, its

The Case for a Simplifying Case
L e t us n o w n o t i c e h o w D ü r k h e i m prepares the t o o l o f using an e x o t i c case t o simplify. First, h e assumes t h e Australians t o be r a t i o n a l l y c o n s t i t u t e d h u mans, as are t h e i r Parisian c o n t e m p o r a r i e s . T h e r e is n o q u e s t i o n o f one's b e i n g c i v i l i z e d a n d t h e o t h e r n o t , o r o f t h e t w o groups' h a v i n g different m e n t a l c o n s t i t u t i o n s . H e presumes the Australians t o h o l d the same t i d e o f " m a n " as Parisians do, a n d i n t h e same r i g h t . " M a n is m a n o n l y because he is c i v i l i z e d , " he says. T h e r e f o r e Australia is as g o o d a place as any o t h e r f o r s t u d y i n g " t h e religious nature o f m a n , " a n d i t has an advantage: Small-scale, s t o n e - t o o l using societies w e r e " s i m p l e " a n d thus p e r m i t t e d a degree o f c l a r i t y a n d distinctness i n t h i n k i n g that France d i d n o t . Formes exemplifies a single w e l l - c o n d u c t e d e x p e r i m e n t w h o s e results m a y be p u t f o r w a r d as h o l d i n g f o r all cases that can be s h o w n t o be o f the same k i n d . F u r t h e r m o r e , as C o m t e
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had said, " T h e simplest p h e n o m e n a are the m o s t g e n e r a l . "

80

Boiled down ex-

to its c o n s t i t u e n t elements, r e l i g i o n i n A u s t r a l i a is r e l i g i o n a n y w h e r e else. Second, i n u s i n g e t h n o g r a p h y t o study r e l i g i o n , D u r k h e i m follows actly a p r o c e d u r e others h a d used i n a t t a c k i n g r e l i g i o n : t a k i n g e x o t i c facts t o expose r e l i g i o n universally as d e l u s i o n , f a b r i c a t i o n , a n d the like. W h a t is d e l u s i o n a n d so o n i n r e l i g i o n a m o n g the n a k e d " X ' s " is also d e l u s i o n a n d so o n i n r e l i g i o n a m o n g t h e w e l l - c o v e r e d consumers o f haute couture. B u t he t h e n stands t h a t p r o c e d u r e o n its head, m a k i n g A u s t r a l i a serve as a s i m ple and, b y t h e same stroke, a t o u g h case f o r religion's roots i n t h e real. D e m o n s t r a t i n g t h e t o u g h case w i l l c a r r y the easier one: W h a t is t r u e for t h e t u r n - o f - t h e - c e n t u r y A u s t r a l i a n w i l l t h e n be t r u e f o r the t u r n - o f - t h e - c e n t u r y Parisian.
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D u r k h e i m uses t h e same r h e t o r i c a l tactic i n a r g u i n g the reality o f " r e l i gious forces": t a k i n g t h e idea of tnana o r t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e as t h e t r u l y t o u g h case. W h a t is s h o w n t o be t r u e o f the less credible real w i l l be established f o r the m o r e c r e d i b l e o n e . B e f o r e s h o w i n g h o w this t o u g h case also simplifies, however, I b r i e f l y digress, f o r there is o n e c r i t i c i s m against D u r k h e i m ' s use o f e t h n o g r a p h y t h a t can derail us i f bypassed. D u r k h e i m was w r o n g , i t is said, to i m a g i n e that the societies a n d r e l i g i o n s o f Australia w e r e " s i m p l e . " T h e i r ideas w e r e as elaborate o r sophisticated as anyone else's, a n d since those ideas were as m u c h subject t o h i s t o r i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t a n d change as anyone else's, he h a d a m i s t a k e n fantasy (shared w i t h others i n his t i m e ) that Australia's s t o n e - t o o l users preserved i n p r i m i t i v e f o r m w h a t m u s t have existed at t h e d a w n o f h u m a n i t y . A l t h o u g h he d i d n o t i n fact t h i n k t h a t ,
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such c r i t i c i s m s

are nevertheless p a r t l y v a l i d . Yet s i m p l i c i t y is n o t o n l y a w a y o f characterizi n g (or s t i g m a t i z i n g ) things b u t also a w a y o f setting p r o b l e m s w i t h c l a r i t y — for e x a m p l e , physicists' c a l c u l a t i n g g r a v i t a t i o n a l force u n d e r the (never t r u e ) assumption o f a perfect v a c u u m . Since w e easily u n d e r s t a n d w h y i t is useful to s i m p l i f y b y assuming away the atmosphere, w e can easily set aside as i r r e l evant someone's insistence that i t is really t h e r e .
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Similarly, rather t h a n settle
8 4

for t h e generous discovery that l i t d e a b o u t t h e Australians was simple, w e d o better t o i m a g i n e w h a t m i g h t have b e e n c o m p l i c a t i n g a b o u t the F r e n c h . W h a t m i g h t D u r k h e i m have t h o u g h t s i m p l i f y i n g a b o u t l o o k i n g as far afield f r o m France as he d i d t o investigate " t h e r e l i g i o u s nature o f m a n " ? O n e answer surely was t h e u n c o n t r o l l a b l y vague, h a l f - f o r m u l a t e d n o t i o n s that are characteristic o f t h e familiar. ( T h i n k back t o m y c o n t e n t i o u s statem e n t a b o u t t h e T e n C o m m a n d m e n t s . ) I f the d i s c i p l i n e o f e t h n o g r a p h i c study is t o u n c o v e r w h a t is f a m i l i a r i n t h e strange, i t is also t o u n c o v e r w h a t is strange a b o u t the familiar. F r o m that angle, things Europeans vaguely " k n o w " a b o u t t h e " p o w e r o f G o d " l o o k strange e n o u g h t o m a k e t h e e x o t i c

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case of mana a usefully s i m p l i f y i n g place t o b e g i n . W h y is i t , f o r example, that f r o m w i t h i n t h e J u d e o - C h r i s t i a n t r a d i t i o n , even f o r t h o r o u g h l y secular p e o ple, i t is s o m e h o w less t r o u b l e s o m e t o speak a b o u t " t h e p o w e r o f G o d " and m e a n a transcendental d e i t y t h a n t o use the same phrase i n respect t o a p h y s ical object? T o b o r r o w Parsons's phrase again, b o t h d e i t y a n d mana s h o u l d p r o b a b l y be classified together, as " n o n e m p i r i c a l reality." Yet s o m e h o w , f o r n o l o g i c a l reason, kfeeb l i k e a different m a t t e r t o speak o f a transcendent d e i t y t h a n t o speak o f mana, the t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e , o r someplace i n the real w h e r e objects speak w i t h lips o f w o o d a n d smite f r o m p a i n t e d pedestals (and inversely, w h e r e lips a n d s m i t i n g hands o f flesh are alleged t o be o n l y h u m a n i n appearance b u t s u p e r h u m a n i n essence). T h i n k o f h o w w e read the e n c o u n t e r b e t w e e n the ancient Israelites a n d t h e i r enemies, the p e o p l e o f A s h d o d , w h o b u i l t a t o w e r i n g g o d w i t h feet o f clay. T h a t phrase "feet o f c l a y " contains i n itself, and takes as g i v e n , a c o m p l i c a t e d and c o m p l i c a t i n g discourse a b o u t o b v i o u s l y m i s p l a c e d (as opposed t o w e l l - p l a c e d ) f a i t h . A n d consider this: I t is a transcendent G o d w h o s e e x istence a l o n g t r a d i t i o n i n W e s t e r n p h i l o s o p h y attempts t o prove rationally, w h i l e l i v i n g w i t h t h e c u l t u r a l l y g i v e n safety net t h a t the failure o f p r o o f n e e d n o t i m p o s e t h e c o n c l u s i o n that that G o d does n o t i n fact e x i s t .
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I f I am right

a b o u t w h a t w e " k n o w " c u l t u r a l l y a b o u t t h e " p o w e r o f G o d , " even the m o s t secular a m o n g us, i n contrast t o the ideas D ü r k h e i m explores (mana, kwoth, orenda, etc.), I have j u s t t u r n e d u p the v o l u m e o f o u r o w n half-heard c u l t u r a l M u z a k , as i t w e r e , o f an especially t r o u b l e s o m e case f o r the real. W h y s h o u l d this be so? F o r the same reason that an " e q u a t i o n " o f society a n d G o d s h o u l d be t r o u b l e s o m e f o r social scientists supposedly o p e r a t i n g n o n t h e o l o g i c a l l y . A m o r a l e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e m a t e r i a l perfect v a c u u m was called for.

Conscience Collective
Mana, D ü r k h e i m says, is the " q u a s i - d i v i n e p r i n c i p l e " i m m a n e n t i n things that gives p o w e r to c e r t a i n plants o r animals, and to representations of them. B e fore t a c k l i n g i t , he r e m i n d s his reader ( i n the last paragraph o f the p r e c e d i n g chapter) that C o m t e , i n c a l l i n g t h e idea o f force metaphysical, a n d m e t a physics t h e direct descendant o f theology, h a d already i m p l i e d that the idea o f force began i n r e l i g i o n , f r o m w h i c h i t was b o r r o w e d first b y p h i l o s o p h y a n d later b y science. B u t C o m t e m i s t a k e n l y c o n c l u d e d that, because o f this ancestry, the idea o f force h a d n o objective c o u n t e r p a r t i n reality and thus w o u l d eventually disappear f r o m science. T o the c o n t r a r y , h o w e v e r , the c o n cept o f force was alive a n d w e l l i n t h e m o d e r n science o f D ü r k h e i m s day. I n fact, the E n g l i s h t e r m " v e c t o r " ( w h i c h appeared i n E n g l i s h i n 1867) e n -

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tered F r e n c h (vecteur) i n 1899, a n d D ü r k h e i m used the t e r m "resultant" (a vector sum) to m e a n a social s u m o f i n d i v i d u a l forces. T h e r e f o r e , i n contrast to C o m t e , D ü r k h e i m " w i l l s h o w . . . that r e l i g i o u s forces are real, n o m a t t e r how i m p e r f e c t t h e symbols w i t h w h o s e help t h e y w e r e c o n c e i v e d of. F r o m
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this i t w i l l f o l l o w that t h e same is t r u e f o r the c o n c e p t o f force i n g e n e r a l . "

T h e reality o f r e l i g i o u s forces is t o be f o u n d i n the real e x p e r i e n c e o f social life, a c c o r d i n g t o D ü r k h e i m . Just as, i n the case o f soul, p s y c h o l o g y sought a physical basis f o r w h a t h u m a n k i n d h a d l o n g since discovered i n social life, so t o o force. C o n t r a r y t o w h a t C o m t e a n t i c i p a t e d , b y t h e e n d o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , t h e idea o f force h a d c o m p l e t e d its transit f r o m r e l i g i o n , to metaphysics, t o science positive. T o appreciate D ü r k h e i m ' s c o n t e x t , n o t e that c u t t i n g - e d g e w o r k o n t h e f u n d a m e n t a l forces was b e i n g d o n e n o farther away t h a n t h e laboratories o f M a r i e a n d P i e r r e C u r i e . F r o m 1906 o n , M m e . C u r i e c o n t i n u e d h e r w o r k o n r a d i o a c t i v i t y as a professor at t h e S o r b o n n e . D u r k h e i m ' s a c c o u n t o f rites is m e a n t t o seize the idea o f force at its " b i r t h , " as he says. H e f o u n d t h e b i r t h o f t h a t idea i n rites, at m o m e n t s o f collective effervescence, w h e n h u m a n beings feel themselves t r a n s f o r m e d , a n d are i n fact t r a n s f o r m e d , t h r o u g h r i t u a l d o i n g . A force e x p e r i e n c e d as e x t e r n a l t o each i n d i v i d u a l is the agent o f t h a t t r a n s f o r m a t i o n , b u t the force itself is created b y the fact o f assembling a n d t e m p o r a r i l y l i v i n g a c o l l e c t i v e life that transports individuals b e y o n d themselves. T h o s e m o m e n t s h e conveys i n a set piece drawn from ethnographic description. D u r k h e i m ' s set piece opens w i t h the practical occupations o f life suspended, the v a h d i t y o f o r d i n a r y rules a d j o u r n e d , people dressed a n d p a i n t e d t o resemble o n e another a n d the a n i m a l o r plant b y w h i c h they name t h e i r shared identity, the objects a r o u n d t h e m " u n i f o r m e d " i n the same way, the w h o l e t a k i n g place u n d e r a n i g h t sky, the scene d o t t e d w i t h firelight, a n d frenzy—a collective effervescence. Swept away, the participants experience a force e x t e r n a l to t h e m , w h i c h seems t o be m o v i n g t h e m , a n d b y w h i c h t h e i r v e r y nature is transformed. T h e y experience themselves as grander t h a n at o r d i n a r y times; they d o things t h e y w o u l d n o t d o at o t h e r times; they feel, and at that m o m e n t really are, j o i n e d w i t h each o t h e r a n d w i t h the t o t e m i c b e i n g . T h e y c o m e t o experience themselves as sharing o n e and the same essence—with the t o t e m i c animal, w i t h its representation, and w i t h each other. I n a d d i t i o n , since a s y m b o l i c representation o f the t o t e m i c b e i n g stands at the center o f things, the real p o w e r generated i n the assembly comes t o be t h o u g h t o f as residing i n the t o t e m i c object itself. Symbols o f the t o t e m i c object e x t e n d the effects o f the effervescence i n t o life after the assembly is dispersed. Seen o n objects, and s o m e times o n bodies, t o t e m i c representations o f various k i n d s w i l l f i l l the role o f w h a t w o u l d be called today a secondary s t i m u l u s — a r e m i n d e r that reactivates

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the i n i t i a l feelings, a l t h o u g h m o r e d i m l y .

8 7

Since the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n cannot be

d o n e o n c e a n d f o r all and fades despite the s y m b o l i c reminders, i t must p e r i odically be r e d o n e — h e n c e , the cyclically repetitive p e r f o r m a n c e o f rites. T h r o u g h real e x p e r i e n c e , t h e n , t h e participants c o m e t o ascribe p o w e r to sacred objects, t h a t p o w e r h a v i n g n o t h i n g t o d o w i t h the physical characteristics o f those objects. I t is also t h r o u g h real e x p e r i e n c e t h a t t h e y arrive at the c o n c e p t o f force, b u t the real experience t h e y have is t h a t o f h u m a n b e ings assembled—or t o use D u r k h e i m ' s abstract f o r m u l a t i o n , that o f society's " c o n c e n t r a t i n g " o r " p u l l i n g itself t o g e t h e r " a n d thus b e c o m i n g a u n i t y i n t h e real. T h i s d e p i c t i o n w i l l n o d o u b t seem c o n t r i v e d a n d m e c h a n i c a l at first glance a n d o n that a c c o u n t m a y t e m p t d i s c o u n t i n g , u n t i l t h e h i s t o r i c a l m e m o r y i t activates i n us b r i n g s us t o s i m i l a r events t h a t w e ourselves k n o w operated mechanically—uniformed, firelit, n i g h t t i m e effervescences o f the themselves
88

Nazis o r the K u K l u x K l a n , w i t h i n d i v i d u a l s l e d to i m p u t e t o shared i n b o r n essences a n d fabulous c o l l e c t i v e i d e n t i t i e s ,

w i t h symbolic re-

m i n d e r s shaping everyday life afterward, a n d w i t h i n d i v i d u a l d o u b t i n large p a r t n o t r e q u i r i n g physical v i o l e n c e t o be o v e r c o m e . T h e m e c h a n i s m i t s e l f is n e i t h e r g o o d n o r e v i l . I f D u r k h e i m is r i g h t that i t is universal, t h e n w e s h o u l d expect t o find i t , a n d d o find i t , f r o m t a t t o o e d street gangs t o the Salv a t i o n A r m y , from t h e habits o f the c o n v e n t t o those o f t h e exclusive c l u b . I n a l l cases an o u t c o m e o f j o i n t d o i n g , the real that comes i n t o b e i n g i n t h e r i t e , as D u r k h e i m describes i t , is i n d e p e n d e n t o f ( b u t n o t necessarily e x clusive o f ) i n d i v i d u a l belief. T h e p o w e r felt is real, a n d is felt n o t o n l y i n the physical b e i n g o f h u m a n k i n d b u t also i n its m e n t a l b e i n g — h u m a n k i n d ' s conscience collective, that is, i n b o t h " c o n s c i e n c e " and "consciousness." Besides, its reality can be d r a m a t i c a l l y t r a n s f o r m i n g . D u r i n g the e x a l t a t i o n o f the F r e n c h R e v o l u t i o n , f o r e x a m p l e , " [ w ] e see the m o s t m e d i o c r e o r harmless b o u r geois t r a n s f o r m e d . . . i n t o a h e r o o r a n e x e c u t i o n e r . "
89

I n u n d r a m a t i c times,

i t is u n d r a m a t i c a l l y t r a n s f o r m i n g , as D u r k h e i m says a f e w sentences later: There is virtually no instant o f our lives i n w h i c h a certain rush o f energy fails to come to us from outside ourselves. I n all kinds o f acts that express the understanding, esteem, and affection o f his neighbor, there is a lift that the man w h o does his duty feels, usually w i t h o u t being aware o f i t .
9 0

W h a t creates the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n is a p r o d u c t o f t h o u g h t , b u t t h o u g h t that c a n n o t be a c c o m m o d a t e d b y o u r usual v o c a b u l a r y o f m e r e i n d i v i d u a l s ' t h i n k i n g . I t exists o n l y i n the m i n d ; b u t i f i t exists i n o n l y o n e m i n d , i t does n o t b e l o n g t o w h a t can be e x p e r i e n c e d by any and everyone as the real. W e arr i v e b y this r o u t e at D u r k h e i m ' s superficially t r o u b l e s o m e t e r m pensée collec-

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five, " c o l l e c t i v e t h o u g h t . " I t is i n collective t h o u g h t , b u i l t i n t o the e x p e r i e n c e o f social life, t h a t t h e idea o f a d i v i n i t y to w h i c h h u m a n beings are s u b o r d i nate gains its f o o t h o l d i n t h e real. Y e t — a n d this is a b i g " y e t " — f a r f r o m erasing the t h o u g h t o f i n d i v i d u a l s , collective t h o u g h t is f o u n d n o w h e r e else. T h r o u g h o u t C h a p t e r 7 a n d i n d e e d the w h o l e o f Formes, w e f i n d statements such as this, p e r i o d i c a l l y inserted w i t h teacherly r e p e t i t i o n : [B]ecause society can exist only i n and by means o f individual minds, i t must enter i n t o us and become organized w i t h i n us. That force thus becomes an integral part o f our being and, by the same stroke, uplifts i t and brings i t to maturity.
91

[L]ike any other society, the clan can only live i n and by means o f the i n d i vidual consciousnesses o f w h i c h i t is made. Thus, insofar as religious force is conceived o f as embodied i n the totemic emblem, i t seems to be external to individuals and endowed w i t h a k i n d o f transcendence; and yet from another standpoint, and like the clan i t symbolizes, i t can be made real only w i t h i n and by t h e m . "
92

D ü r k h e i m has n o t postulated some outside m i n d h o v e r i n g i n the h u m a n m i d s t . H e is s t r i v i n g c o n c e p t u a l l y t o represent aspects o f t h e real that are readily observable b u t that c a n n o t possibly be there t o observe o r represent at all, i f the l o n e i n d i v i d u a l is o u r c o n c e p t u a l u n i t . T o see those aspects o f t h e real, let us t u r n n o w t o sacredness, an e x t r a o r d i n a r y q u a l i t y that o r d i n a r y objects acquire o n l y w i t h i n m o r a l c o m m u n i t i e s . Sacredness is e m i n e n t l y a représentation collective, e m i n e n d y a feature of pensée a n d conscience collectives. A s a q u a l i t y o f t h i n g s — o r , rather, as D ü r k h e i m insists, a q u a l i t y superadded t o things—sacredness can c o m e t o be its real self o n l y w i t h i n the d o m a i n o f c o l lective consciousness (that is, i n t h e d o m a i n o f conscience and o f consciousness). Sacredness is an aspect o f the real that exists o n l y i n the m i n d b u t c a n n o t possibly exist as the real i n o n l y o n e m i n d .
9 3

The Sacred/Profane Dichotomy
O v e r t h e years, i t has p r o v e d easy t o m a k e heavier w e a t h e r t h a n n e e d be o f b o t h le sacré a n d la conscience collective. W . E . H . Stanner's careful and respectful article o n Formes called the sacred/profane d i c h o t o m y "unusable except at the cost o f u n d u e interference w i t h the facts o f o b s e r v a t i o n . "
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T r y as he

m i g h t i n his f i e l d w o r k , he said, he c o u l d n o t f i n d i t . I f there is i n fact n o t h i n g a b o u t the idea that connects us w i t h o u r o w n sense o f the real i n a w a y

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that i l l u m i n a t e s i t , t h e n D ü r k h e i m w o u l d r i g h d y be p a t r o n i z e d as t h e w r i t e r o f a classic f r e i g h t e d w i t h intractable concepts, t o be suffered t h r o u g h and f o r g o t t e n . B u t this classic suggests m o r e i n t e r e s t i n g m e n t a l a c t i v i t y t h a n the exercise i n v o l v e d i n l o g i c a l l y dissecting the t e r m "sacred" itself. I n any case, Lukes has already s h o w n i n detail its l o g i c a l r o u g h surfaces. t h a t are still there i n the social w o r l d t o amaze us. C o n s i d e r first t h e b i b l i c a l e x a m p l e o f t h e H o l y A r k . R e a d i n g at E x o d u s 25, w e see i t b e i n g m a d e t o exact specifications ( t w o carved c h e r u b i m o n top, the tablets inside, etc.), u s i n g materials c o l l e c t e d f r o m the c o m m u n i t y a n d m a n u f a c t u r e d i n f u l l v i e w o f all those present (and subsequendy, all readers o f the B i b l e ) . Thousands o f years a n d miles f r o m that b i b l i c a l scene, w e f i n d v e r y p o w e r f u l sacred objects called churingas i n the same state: " [ E ] v e n a m o n g the A r u n t a , there are churingas that are made b y the elders o f the g r o u p , w i t h the full knowledge o f and i n full v i e w o f everyone."
96 95

T h e sacred

p o i n t s t o aspects o f the real that w e r e doubdess a m a z i n g t o D ü r k h e i m , a n d

W h a t e v e r is added t o m a k e

those objects' sacredness is, l i k e soul, real b u t w i t h o u t extension. J e w i s h t r a d i t i o n w o n d e r f u l l y presents that feature b y saying o f the A r k that even t h o u g h its dimensions w e r e k n o w n , i t " m i r a c u l o u s l y o c c u p i e d n o space i n the H o l y of Holies."
9 7

T h e real, yet n o n p h y s i c a l , characteristic w e can observe i n b o t h

cases c a n n o t be the feature, o r the creature, o f an i n d i v i d u a l m i n d . I n b o t h cases, t h e physical characteristics o f t h e things c a n n o t possibly disclose w h a t t h e y are i n the real. I n D ü r k h e i m s w o r d s , " T h e sensations that the physical w o r l d evokes i n us c a n n o t , b y d e f i n i t i o n , c o n t a i n a n y t h i n g that goes b e y o n d that w o r l d . F r o m s o m e t h i n g t a n g i b l e o n e can o n l y m a k e s o m e t h i n g tangible; f r o m e x t e n d e d substance o n e c a n n o t m a k e u n e x t e n d e d substance."
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A t t h e same t i m e , b o t h objects' n o n p h y s i c a l reality is available t o the i n d i v i d u a l m i n d o n l y as i t participates i n m i n d b o t h inside a n d outside itself. A n d because sacredness originates as i t does, i t is i n h e r e n d y i m p e r m a n e n t a n d so m u s t b e a d d e d t o t h e object again a n d again, j u s t as i t was o r i g i n a l l y : b y collective h u m a n d o i n g . Equally, because sacredness originates as i t does, there necessarily is n o u n i f y i n g characteristic that is shared b y e v e r y t h i n g desi g n a t e d as sacré, n o a l l - p u r p o s e key t o p r e o r d a i n the o u t c o m e o f f i e l d w o r k . " T h i n g s so disparate cannot f o r m a class [the sacred] unless a class can be m a r k e d b y a p r o p e r t y , its absence, and its c o n t r a r y , "
99

Stanner w r o t e . B y

t h i n k i n g i n such t e r m s , h e created f o r h i m s e l f t h e u n - D u r k h e i m i a n n i g h t m a r e I w i l l n o w i n d i c a t e b y m o v i n g f r o m the A r k t o o t h e r examples: A y a t o l l a h K h o m e i n i , t h e bones o f St. C a s i m i r , the louse, a n d M t . Sinai. R e m e m b e r the t u m u l t u o u s a r r i v a l i n 1979 o f R u h o l l a h K h o m e i n i at T e h r a n a i r p o r t , w i t h a m i l l i o n p e o p l e c r o w d i n g t o w e l c o m e h i m . D u r i n g the e v e n i n g news, the effervescence o f t h a t m o m e n t c o u l d be felt w o r l d w i d e r e -

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gardless o f language a n d i n every h o u s e h o l d o f secularized A m e r i c a . D e s p i t e the haze o f T V distance, t h e v o c a l flatness o f T V correspondents, dissonant s h o u t i n g i n a language m o s t A m e r i c a n s d o n o t understand, a n d r i t u a l gestures specific t o the m o r a l c o m m u n i t y K h o m e i n i shared w i t h the c r o w d , every v i e w e r witnessed the elevation o f K h o m e i n i t o sacredness. B e f o r e o u r eyes, K h o m e i n i became s o m e t h i n g o t h e r t h a n w h a t he h a d b e e n as he left Paris o n l y h o u r s before. T h a t K h o m e i n i ' s e l e v a t i o n was attached t o a p a r t i c ular m o r a l c o m m u n i t y was e v i d e n c e d straightaway. H e h a d p u t o n sacredness there, b u t n o t e v e r y w h e r e — a m o r a l distance m a r k e d i n A m e r i c a b y c o n t i n u i n g t o call " A y a t o l l a h " a m a n w h o h a d gained, there, a h i g h e r t i d e , " I m a m , " b y a c c l a m a t i o n . W h a t was d o n e c o u l d o n l y have b e e n d o n e w i t h i n a g r o u p o f assembled f a i t h f u l a n d c o u l d n o t be u n d o n e b y i n d i v i d u a l d o u b t o r u n b e lief. I t was the real t o anyone g o i n g t o I r a n t h e n , n o m a t t e r w h e r e t h e y w e r e c o m i n g from. L i k e t h e A r k , K h o m e i n i ' s h u m a n measurements w e r e k n o w n and the same as before; t h e beard, the t u r b a n , a n d the robes l o o k e d exactly as before, b u t t h e m a n was n o t t h e same as before. W h a t was added b e l o n g e d t o the real, b u t i t t o o k u p n o space. W e have also witnessed the inverse process, i n w h i c h the o t h e r c r u c i a l t e r m , m o r a l c o m m u n i t y , is created. I n 1989, leaders o f a n e w l y i n d e p e n d e n t t e r r i t o r y o f L i t h u a n i a r e t u r n e d relics said t o be t h e bones o f St. C a s i m i r t o the People's H o u s e o f C u l t u r e , w h i c h they r e c o n s t i t u t e d a n d reconsecrated as the C a t h e d r a l o f V i l n i u s . L i t h u a n i a n s f i l e d t h r o u g h the n e w cathedral and past t h e bones, participants i n t h e b i r t h o f a n a t i o n . I n this e x a m p l e , the sanctification preceded, a n d was a t o o l i n , t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a n e w m o r a l c o m m u n i t y , n o w added t o (or superadded t o ) t h e already e x i s t i n g physical t e r r i t o r y , p o p u l a t i o n , a n d apparatus o f statehood. T o the possible o b j e c t i o n that such c o m m u n i t y "always existed," t h e answer w e find i n t h e d o i n g is t h e l a t e - t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y revival o f o l d bones; the answer w e find i n Formes is that n o t h i n g t h a t m u s t be i m a g i n e d "always exists," b u t m u s t b e c o n t i n u a l l y r e - i m a g i n e d t h r o u g h h u m a n d o i n g . T h i s is j u s t as t r u e o f m o r a l c o m m u n i t y as i t is o f sacred objects. B y the selfsame process, those d r y bones w e r e made to l i v e again as the sacred objects t h e y o n c e h a d b e e n .
1 0 0

They

were resurrected i n p o s t c o m m u n i s t L i t h u a n i a a n d r e h a b i l i t a t e d f r o m t h e i r l o w l y state f o r f o r t y years as the dusty trove o f the r e a c t i o n a r y a n d t h e superstitious. T h e k n o w n physical characteristics a n d p o p u l a t i o n o f L i t h u a n i a were the same as before, b u t the m o r a l c o m m u n i t y was n o t . W h a t was added was o b j e c t i v e l y real, b u t i t t o o k u p n o space. I m a g i n e the c o n f u s i o n m a n y A m e r i c a n s w o u l d feel i f asked t o pay t h e i r respects t o t h e bones. Sacredness is n o t a q u a l i t y i n h e r e n t i n c e r t a i n objects, n o r is i t available to the u n a i d e d senses o f j u s t any i n d i v i d u a l h u m a n observer. I t is a q u a l i t y

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that objects acquire w h e n t h e y are, i n the phrase f r o m D u r k h e i m ' s d e f i n i t i o n , "set apart a n d f o r b i d d e n . " T h e y are m a d e sacred b y groups o f people w h o set t h e m apart and keep t h e m b o u n d e d b y specific actions; t h e y r e m a i n sacred o n l y so l o n g as g r o u p s c o n t i n u e t o d o this. H u m a n s a c t i n g c o l l e c t i v e l y m a k e a n d remake this q u a l i t y o f sacredness b u t t h e n e n c o u n t e r i t after t h e fact as i f i t had always b e e n b u i l t i n t o objects a n d was ready-made. I n t h e r e l i g i o u s v o cabulary used w i t h i n c o m m u n i t i e s o f f a i t h , those things that have b e e n sanct i f i e d , "set apart a n d f o r b i d d e n , " are i n t r i n s i c a l l y " h o l y " — a n d have always been. I n the t e c h n i c a l v o c a b u l a r y d e v e l o p e d i n Formes, t h e y are "sacred"— b u t made so b y d o i n g .
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T h e same process can m a k e a m a n o r w o m a n , a

piece o f c l o t h , a lizard, a tree, an idea o r p r i n c i p l e ( a n y t h i n g , i n c l u d i n g e x c r e m e n t , w h i c h D ü r k h e i m slides i n t o a f o o t n o t e ) i n t o a sacred t h i n g a n d the m a n d a t o r y r e c i p i e n t o f elaborated deference. D ü r k h e i m makes this p o i n t over a n d over again, h a m m e r i n g i t h o m e o n e last t i m e i n B o o k T h r e e , C h a p ter 2. T h e r e w e c o m e u p o n r i t u a l celebrations that center o n , o f all things, t h e louse. Sacredness is n o t m e r e l y a set o f p e c u l i a r relationships b e t w e e n people a n d c e r t a i n designated objects. T h e v e r y act that constitutes those peculiar relationships also relates a designated g r o u p o f p e o p l e t o o n e a n o t h e r a n d sets t h e m apart from others t o w h o m t h e y are n o t b o u n d and w h o d o n o t have t h e same relationship t o designated physical objects. T u r n the Thomases' f o r m u l a a r o u n d : W h a t e v e r is o b v i o u s l y real, g i v e n its o b v i o u s l y real consequences, tends to b e accepted as real. W h a t e v e r p o w e r t h e y acquire, a n d i t can be q u i t e considerable, is real p o w e r . N o t i c e that there is n o q u e s t i o n o f d e b u n k i n g native beliefs a b o u t that p o w e r as i m a g i n a r y . T o d o so w o u l d be t h e same as saying t h a t social life itself is m e r e l y i m a g i n a r y a n d society itself changeable m e r e l y b y an i m p u l s e t o change one's m i n d . So far as sacred o b jects are c o n c e r n e d , t h e q u e s t i o n is h o w t o describe a n d explicate the nature o f that p o w e r , w h i c h D ü r k h e i m posits as real. " P o w e r " i n w h a t sense a n d " r e a l " i n w h a t sense m a y be observed i n the f o l l o w i n g passage f r o m E x o d u s (19), w h e n M o u n t Sinai" evolves b y a set o f h u m a n actions i n t o a place w h e r e the p o w e r o f G o d m a y " b r e a k f o r t h u p o n " t h e p e o p l e a n d destroy t h e m :

And the Lord said unto Moses, G o unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes. . . . And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall

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not live. . . . And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. (Exodus 19:10, 12, 13)

Remember

b y w h a t agency

transgressors w o u l d be

"stoned"

or

"shot

t h r o u g h . " As t h e p e o p l e d i d t h e i r part, t h e m o u n t a i n d i d its o w n , a n d b y the " t h i r d d a y " o f God's i n s t r u c t i o n s t o Moses, i t h a d b e c o m e e n v e l o p e d i n smoke a n d i t q u a k e d . And the Lord said unto Moses, G o down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. . . . A n d Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount and sanctify it. (Exodus 19:21, 23)

N o t i c e that the b i b l i c a l t e x t explains natural p o w e r i n natural terms ( w h o ever violates the sacredness o f the m o u n t a i n w i l l be "stoned," "shot t h r o u g h , " or "surely p u t t o death") b u t that the p o w e r o f the m o u n t a i n is n o t thereby explained away. T h e B i b l e w r i t e r s presumably c o u l d see w h a t w e d o i n w h a t they themselves w r o t e q u i t e m a t t e r - o f - f a c d y yet w i t h o u t d i m i n i s h i n g the real p o w e r o f t h e i r G o d . I t came t o b e the case that w h o e v e r w e n t u p i n t o t h e m o u n t a i n , apart f r o m Moses a n d A a r o n , w o u l d surely die. I t h i n k this is w h a t D u r k h e i m f o u n d remarkable about the n a t u r a l means b y w h i c h sacred objects m o v e above a n d beyond—really above and really b e y o n d — t h e i r natural o r d i nariness a n d a b o u t h o w the people w h o exert those natural means thereafter m o v e i n a n d o u t o f awareness o f h o w w h a t was d o n e was d o n e . I n o t h e r w o r d s , " M a n makes G o d , " as M a r x w r o t e , b u t n o t i n any w a y he pleases. A n o b j e c t such as that m o u n t a i n moves above and b e y o n d its n a t u r a l ordinariness i n this w a y o n l y w i t h i n t h e a m b i t o f a conscience collective—collective conscience n o r m a t i v e l y , i n c o n d u c t , a n d collective consciousness c o g nitively, i n t h o u g h t . T h e t w o are n o t separate. Conscience collective is t h e achievement o f m i n d that transfigures the real w o r l d a n d makes i t a shared w o r l d that is i n fact the real w o r l d as k n o w n a n d k n o w a b l e b y some g r o u p , some m o r a l c o m m u n i t y . I t w o u l d n o t be o b v i o u s t o an i g n o r a n t f o r e i g n passerby h o w M o u n t Sinai was different from o t h e r m o u n t a i n s . H e m i g h t w e l l c l i m b i t w i t h his shoes o n , travel its slopes at w i l l , and, caught i n this p r o f a n a t i o n , m i g h t b e "shot t h r o u g h . " Readers m a y recognize this i g n o r a n t passerby as the sort favored b y o l d - f a s h i o n e d m o v i e s o f c o l o n i z a t i o n , i n w h i c h t h e c o l o n i a l officer i n his p i t h h e l m e t a n d shorts steps o n t h e sacred spot o r shoots t h e sacred a n i m a l f o r a d r a w i n g - r o o m trophy, and t o w h o m k n o w l e d g e a b o u t t h e real p o w e r o f t h e o r d i n a r y - s e e m i n g object arrives s i -

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m u l t a n e o u s l y w i t h a real native r i s i n g , u n w i t t i n g l y detonated. T h e c o m monsense approach that w o u l d be satisfied w i t h t h i n k i n g a b o u t the p o w e r o f t h e spot o r the a n i m a l as m e r e l y i m a g i n a r y , m e r e l y an a m a z i n g f i g m e n t o f s u p e r s t i t i o n ablaze i n each i n d i v i d u a l native m i n d b u t i n n o colonialist's, seems an unnecessarily r o u n d a b o u t r o u t e t o grasping t h e real events that f o l l o w . S o m e years ago, as I was t e a c h i n g Formes t o an especially
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responsive

g r o u p , m y students d e m a n d e d that w e see as a class Stephen Spielberg's (and H a r r i s o n Ford's) first-rate adventure m o v i e , Raiders of the Lost Ark. T h e story t u r n s o n i g n o r a n t passersby, g o o d guys and b a d guys, engaged i n archaeological excavation i n a race t o acquire the p o w e r o f t h e A r k as a k i n d o f u l t i m a t e w e a p o n . W i t h a sophistication that t h r i l l e d t h e i r teacher, m y students p r o n o u n c e d j u d g m e n t o n Raiders's ark: T h e real A r k was a far m o r e interesting object t h a n the fantasy one because i t h a d a c o m p l e x h u m a n nature. T h e A r k ' s p o w e r i n h e r e d i n its sacredness, and its sacredness was a feature o f its collective life. B u t w h a t is t r u e o f sacred objects is also t r u e o f the transcendent beings that c o m m u n i c a t e w i t h h u m a n k i n d . S t r i p away t h e c o l l e c t i v i t y that makes sacredness real, a n d y o u are left w i t h w h a t i n d i v i d u a l s can manage, a c t i n g alone: Freud's patients w i t h the o d d b a l l reverences f o r animals that occasioned t h e i r g o i n g t o the d o c t o r ,
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the bag lady o u t o f w h o s e m o u t h Jehovah G o d speaks

incessantly i n the u n k n o w n t o n g u e , t h e i n n o c u o u s b o u r g e o i s w h o secretes l i v i n g a n d dead things i n a hideous p r i v a t e shrine. S t r i p away sacredness as a feature o f that m a d d e n i n g D u r k h e i m i a n reality pensée collective, a n d y o u have n o t a c o l l e c t i v e l y k n o w a b l e w o r l d at all b u t a w h o l e set o f p r o b l e m s about h o w this o r that p e r s o n c o u l d leap t o b e l i e v i n g this o r that strange t h i n g . Y o u r hands are t i e d t o d o a n y t h i n g o t h e r t h a n suspend disbelief about the o n t o l o g ical claims f o r w h a t e v e r i t is, i n c a n t the f o r m u l a a b o u t things believed i n as real as real i n t h e i r consequences, h u m o r the believer, o r j u s t believe the claims. T h e real A r k was w h a t i t was b y v i r t u e o f w h a t D u r k h e i m calls " m o r a l " o r " i d e a l " forces, t h a t is, collective h u m a n forces. D e p e n d i n g o n its life w i t h i n some g i v e n c o l l e c t i v i t y , a n y t h i n g can b e c o m e t h e c o n t a i n e r o f such forces, n o t j u s t a w o o d e n b o x m a d e i n a c e r t a i n way. B u t l i k e the fantasizers o f the m o v i e , some theorists have i m a g i n e d the process t o be o t h e r w i s e , b e g i n n i n g s o m e h o w i n t h e i n h e r e n t g r a n d e u r o f the o b j e c t (the naturists' mistake) o r i n the i n h e r e n t c o n f u s i o n o f the believer's m i n d (the animists' mistake). A n y o n e w h o t h i n k s e i t h e r w a y w i l l miss D u r k h e i m ' s p o i n t that the same h u m a n capacities that m a k e society possible m a k e w h a t D u r k h e i m calls la vie religieuse inevitable. T h e t r u t h o f t h e m i n d is i n the f i c t i o n s
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that, v i a conscience collec-

tive, c o n s t r u c t t h e real. I f there is ever t o be a general t h e o r y o f the m i n d that can be r e d u c e d t o specific capacities o f t h e b r a i n , o r an " a r t i f i c i a l i n t e l l i g e n c e " w h o s e d i s c r i m i n a t i o n s a n d c o m b i n a t i o n s have a n y t h i n g l i k e the

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c o m p l e x i t y o f w h a t w e observe i n even c o m m o n p l a c e acts a n d facts o f h u m a n life, t h e n the t h e o r y o f t h e b r a i n s p e r c e p t u a l capacity m u s t i n c l u d e things l i k e the collective representation that makes i t possible f o r a m a n , a m o u n t a i n , a b o x o f bones, o r a louse t o be p e r c e i v e d as themselves o n e m o m e n t a n d as themselves-plus, the n e x t .

Religious Life in Seemingly Nonreligious Life
D ü r k h e i m sums u p w h a t makes la vie religieuse i n e v i t a b l e : [I]n all its aspects and at every m o m e n t o f its history, social life is only possible thanks to a vast symbolism. The physical emblems and figurative representations w i t h w h i c h I have been especially concerned i n the present study are one f o r m o f it, but there are a good many others."
105

W i t h that s u m m i n g u p , he suggests t h a t w e c o u l d a p p l y the same analysis i n domains r e m o t e f r o m a n y t h i n g w e c o u l d call " r e l i g i o u s " — p o l i t i c s certainly, from w h i c h D ü r k h e i m draws some o f his o w n examples, a n d status orders o f various k i n d s ( t h i n k o f the n o t i o n " b l u e b l o o d , " a racialized s h o r t h a n d f o r t h e "set apart a n d f o r b i d d e n " qualities o f West E u r o p e a n aristocrats, a n d w h i t e bones f o r those o f Russia, as opposed t o the b l a c k bones o f Russian s e r f s ) . A l l such p h e n o m e n a seem the m o r e o u t l a n d i s h , a n d the m o r e d i s t i n c t
106

from

reason, t h e f u r t h e r t h e y seem t o b e f r o m o u r o w n e x p e r i e n c e o f the real. B u t the b u r d e n o f D u r k h e i m ' s a r g u m e n t is that t h e y are n o t t o be separated f r o m h u m a n reason, i n f u l l o p e r a t i o n — h e n c e , from us. T o w a r d the e n d o f C h a p ter 7, he uncovers t h e roots o f scientific abstraction i n t h e same processes o f abstraction that m a k e c o l l e c t i v e i d e n t i t i e s possible. T h e r e f o r e , i t is n o m o r e remarkable that a m a n s h o u l d i n t o t e m i c observances manage t o a f f i r m his k i n s h i p w i t h a w h i t e c o c k a t o o (despite physical dissimilarities) t h a n t h a t he s h o u l d manage t o a f f i r m his k i n s h i p w i t h m e n a n d w o m e n o f t h e W h i t e C o c k a t o o clan (for, again, i t is physical dissimilarities that m u s t b e overcome).. B o t h i n v o l v e abstraction, b y w h i c h invisible qualities are added to w h a t is visible, f o r there is n o o t h e r r o u t e t o u n i f y i n g t h e discrete i n d i v i d u alities that o u r sensory e x p e r i e n c e gives us. T h a t t h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h this is d o n e m a y be c r u d e is beside the p o i n t : The great service that religions have rendered to thought is to have c o n structed a first representation o f what the relations o f kinship between things might be. Given the conditions i n w h i c h i t was tried, that enterprise could obviously lead only to makeshift results. B u t then, are the results o f any such

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enterprise ever definitive, and must it not be taken up again and again? Furthermore, it was less important to succeed than to dare. What was essential was not to let the mind be dominated by what appears to the senses, but instead to teach the mind to dominate it and to join together what the senses put asunder. As soon as man became aware that internal connections exist between things, science and philosophy became possible.
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T h a t w h i c h makes la vie religieuse inevitable also links o u r ways o f k n o w i n g c o m m u n i t y a n d i d e n t i t y w i t h o u r ways o f k n o w i n g the natural w o r l d . S o u l was needed t o account theoretically f o r aspects o f o u r h u m a n experience, a n d e m p i r i c a l needs localized i t i n selected parts o f natural bodies. T h e experience o f force arose first i n h u m a n relations, b u t i t was f o u n d again i n nature, i n r e lations a m o n g things. B y so d o i n g , D ü r k h e i m says, h u m a n k i n d made r o o m f o r nature i n society, i m a g i n i n g i t o n the m o d e l p r o v i d e d b y schemes f o r o r d e r i n g collective life. B u t b y the same stroke, the w a y nature's order was i m a g i n e d i n t u r n became consequential for h u m a n order. L i k e the Australians, all h u m a n beings acquire a w o r l d o f nature, as i f i t was the w o r l d o f nature, k n o w l e d g e o f w h i c h is m e d i a t e d b y relations w i t h h u m a n contemporaries. A l t h o u g h that real w o r l d varies from place t o place and f r o m o n e historical e p o c h t o another, t h e fact that i t is consequential f o r the w a y humans live i n c o m m o n does n o t vary. T h i n k i n g t h r o u g h w h a t those c o n n e c t i o n s still m e a n is o n e o f the i n t e l lectual demands that D ü r k h e i m 's e x p e d i t i o n i n Formes leads us t o c o n f r o n t . I t is n o t t r u e that science is consequential o n l y for those w h o d o science. E a r l y i n this century, the Russian p h i l o s o p h e r L e v Shestov contrasted t h e w a y a c h i l d learned that ghosts d o n o t exist b u t at the same t i m e was " g i v e n reliable i n f o r m a t i o n , the i m p l a u s i b i l i t y o f w h i c h surpasses absolutely every fib ever t o l d . . . that t h e e a r t h is n o t motionless, as t h e evidence indicates, that the S u n does n o t revolve a r o u n d the E a r t h , that the sky is n o t a solid, that the h o r i z o n is o n l y an o p t i c a l i l l u s i o n a n d so o n . "
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O n c e that child's v i e w was the w o r l d

o f nature, as adult h u m a n beings k n e w i t . T h a t k n o w l e d g e , i n t u r n , was c o n sequential f o r t h e i r relations to o n e another. F o r the k i n d o f reason that Formes draws a t t e n t i o n to, i t was o b v i o u s straightaway that Copernicus's discovery affected n o t o n l y ideas o f the relationships heavenly bodies have t o one another b u t ideas o f relationships a m o n g earthly, h u m a n bodies, a c o n n e c t i o n that the I n q u i s i t i o n d i d n o t fail t o n o t i c e . C o s m o l o g y was n o t i m a g i n e d i n i s o l a t i o n from morality. N o t t h e n , b u t also n o t n o w : O u r o w n recent debates i n A m e r ica today over c r e a t i o n science a n d e v o l u t i o n t u r n o n questions o f h o w c i t i zens s h o u l d b e t a u g h t m o r a l l y (and legally) t o regard and relate t o o n e another. C r e a t i o n i s m dresses itself i n the f o r m s o f scientific discourse, i f n o t t h e i r spirit; e v o l u t i o n i s m sheds t h e open-endedness o f scientific discourse and reclothes

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itself as h a r d nuggets o f c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y c o r r e c t scientific c o n t e n t f o r s c h o o l children's unexperimental c o n s u m p t i o n . T h e heat o n b o t h sides points to the dual aspect o f conscience collective—normative and cognitive—to w h i c h D u r k heim's i n t e l l e c t u a l l y d e m a n d i n g e x p e d i t i o n takes us. T h a t e x p e d i t i o n is m o r a l l y d e m a n d i n g as w e l l , i f w e reflect o n f u r t h e r i m plications o f its discoveries. T h e passage I j u s t q u o t e d seems t o ennoble r e l i g i o n as the source o f quintessentially h u m a n achievements. B u t l i k e every o t h e r h u m a n achievement, its m e c h a n i s m can t u r n i n m o r e t h a n o n e way. I f D u r k h e i m ' s analysis is r i g h t , i t suggests that this century's monstrosities i n c o l lective life arise n o t from aberrations i n h u m a n reason b u t from w h a t is f u n damental t o i t . T h a t analysis also leads t o a d i s t u r b i n g suggestion: that t h e o r d i n a r y h u m a n agents w h o serve as r a w m a t e r i a l f o r e x t r a o r d i n a r y abusers o f h u m a n d i g n i t y are, i n vast m a j o r i t y , the n o r m a l a n d the socially responsible— n o t deviants, sociopaths, o r the crazy. I t suggests, finally, that the h u m a n n a ture o n w h i c h w e depend, o u r social nature, is o u r u p l i f t and o u r d o w n f a l l . T h e o n l y e x i t from this d i l e m m a appears t o be i n d i v i d u a l i s m . B u t the i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y o f i n d i v i d u a l i s t assumptions w i t h h u m a n nature as it can be observed in the real world was c h i e f a m o n g D u r k h e i m ' s discoveries i n Formes and t h r o u g h o u t his w o r k . W h a t w e see, t h r o u g h his theoretical lens o f conscience collective, is present i n a social w o r l d o f the real that c a n n o t be a r r i v e d at w i t h n o t i o n s o f i n d i v i d u a l conscience, alone. W e see that Socrates' individualistic preference f o r the c u p o f h e m l o c k over i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n f o r m i t y has appealed d o w n the ages precisely because, i n that respect, he was n o t h u m a n i n the sense w e can o b serve day i n a n d day o u t — i n social life as e m p i r i c a l l y available t o us. T h e r e , w e see i n d i v i d u a l d o u b t , i n h e r e n d y present, and w e see h o w d o u b t is o v e r c o m e . T h u s , i n the e n d , there is a deep and tragic tension i n D u r k h e i m ' s discoveries.

FORMES

I N FRENCH AND I N ENGLISH

A n e w translation n e e d n o t be the occasion t o d e n y the m e r i t o f an o l d o n e . Joseph W a r d S w a i n gave Formes m o n u m e n t a l life i n E n g l i s h t o generations o f scholars, and that life i n E n g l i s h has b e e n r i c h l y p r o d u c t i v e . N o one w i t h a f u l l understanding o f w h a t translating Formes demands even n o w s h o u l d d o a n y t h i n g b u t salute D r . Swain's achievement. I r e - d o that w o r k n o w w i t h the b e n efit o f the use I have made o f the b o o k , i n E n g l i s h a n d i n F r e n c h . T h a t use itself has benefited from almost n i n e t y years o f c r i t i q u e , t h e availability o f specialized readings and field applications b y some o f the great anthropologists (Claude L é v i - S t r a u s s , E . E . Evans-Pritchard, a n d B r o n i s l a w M a l i n o w s k i , t o name o n l y three), various E n g l i s h translations o f D u r k h e i m ' s o t h e r w o r k , a n d g o o d p a r t i a l retranslations of Formes itself. These are aids that S w a i n d i d n o t have. A l t h o u g h

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m y m a i n purposes are b o t h t o re-present Formes i n i d i o m a t i c E n g l i s h and c o r rect Swain's inaccuracies, I differ w i t h S w a i n w i t h o u t immodesty. T h e a c c u racy o f m a n y passages cannot be i m p r o v e d u p o n . I n d e e d , the v e r y alienness o f Swain's E n g l i s h , to o u r ears, is i n a sense faithful t o D ü r k h e i m , w h o s e ideas are n o t i d i o m a t i c t o E n g l i s h speakers—and ultimately, o f course, there is n o substitute f o r reading a w o r k i n its native language. W h a t e v e r its aims, translation requires scholarly, interpretive, a n d stylistic j u d g m e n t s at m a n y levels. Readable E n g l i s h has b e e n m y g o a l t h r o u g h o u t . T o this e n d , I have c h o sen resonant E n g l i s h equivalents w h e n e v e r I c o u l d — f o r example, " o u t w a r d a n d v i s i b l e " f o r externel et visible, a n d " n e i g h b o r " f o r semblable, i n cases w h e r e r e l i g i o u s resonance seems i m p o r t a n t . ( C o m p a r e " T h o u shalt love t h y n e i g h b o r as t h y s e l f " ) T o t h e same e n d , I have replaced F r e n c h w i t h E n g l i s h w o r d order, d i v i d i n g o r m o v i n g D u r k h e i m ' s frequent parenthetical insertions acc o r d i n g l y , a n d I have n o t hesitated t o change t h e p u n c t u a t i o n and d i v i s i o n i n t o paragraphs, i f s u c h changes seemed t o m e to i m p r o v e the text's c l a r i t y i n E n g l i s h o r its accessibility t o a w e l l - e d u c a t e d reader. I have, i n a d d i t i o n , r e peated t h e subject i n those new, s h o r t e n e d , sentences—grammatical gender a n d verb endings are n o t signposts i n E n g l i s h f o r w h a t goes w i t h w h a t . F u r t h e r m o r e , I have d o n e w h a t e v e r I h a d t o i n t h e service o f g o o d E n g l i s h style, a v o i d i n g d o u b l e genitives and m u l t i p l e uses o f " i t " w i t h m u l t i p l e antecedents (besetting sins i n the o l d e r w o r k ) . I n the service o f future scholarly w o r k , I have also checked, supplem e n t e d , and i n some instances c o r r e c t e d as m a n y o f the o r i g i n a l footnotes as I c o u l d , abbreviating the j o u r n a l tides differendy t h a n D ü r k h e i m d i d and b r a c k e t i n g the n e w i n f o r m a t i o n i n D u r k h e i m ' s footnotes. I n m a n y cases, I d i d n o t change those v e r y short paragraphs, sometimes o n l y a sentence l o n g , that D ü r k h e i m used m o r e o r less as section headings. W h e r e I d i d make changes i n structure, t h e y are n o t m a r k e d , to a v o i d r i d d l i n g the text. I n any case, w e still have Joseph W a r d Swain's t e x t , w h i c h makes f e w concessions t o readable E n g l i s h and can serve as a r o u g h - a n d - r e a d y c h e c k for readers w h o d o n o t w i s h to tackle the F r e n c h . I n t h e i r h i g h - q u a l i t y p a r t i a l retranslation of Formes, P i c k e r i n g and R e d d i n g deliberately keep t h e o r i g i n a l s t r u c t u r e .
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I have d e -

c i d e d differendy. M y o w n a i m , besides accuracy, is r e m o v a l o f structural a n d stylistic i m p e d i m e n t s t o e n c o u n t e r i n g the b o o k as the e x c i t i n g read t h a t I consider i t to be. A sample passage w i l l illustrate m y changes. I n t h e I n t r o d u c t i o n , D ü r k h e i m draws an analogy t o m a k e his p o i n t a b o u t s t u d y i n g t h e simplest case available, i n order t o u n c o v e r t h e f u n d a m e n t a l sources o f r e l i g i o u s life. H i s o w n enterprise is l i k e that o f a d o c t o r seeking t o u n c o v e r the cause o f a d e l u -

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sion. T h e F r e n c h passage seems r e m i n i s c e n t o f F r e u d ; Swain's E n g l i s h passage does n o t ; m i n e recovers t h e resemblance t o F r e u d . H e r e is Swain's passage: I n order to understand a hallucination perfectly, and give i t its most appropriate treatment, a physician must k n o w its original point o f departure. N o w this event is proportionately easier to find i f he can observe i t near its beginnings. T h e longer the disease is allowed to develop, the more it evades observation [au contraire, plus on laisse à la maladie le temps de se développer, plus il se dérobe à l'observation]; that is because all sorts o f interpretations have i n tervened as i t advanced, w h i c h tend to force the original state into the background [qui tendent a refouler dans l'inconscient l'état originel], and across w h i c h it is sometimes difficult to find the initial o n e .
110

N o w consider t h e same passage as i t appears i n the n e w translation: To understand a delusion properly and to be able to apply the most appropriate treatment, the doctor needs to k n o w what its point o f departure was. That event is more easily detected the nearer to its beginning the delusion can be observed. Conversely, the longer the sickness is left to develop, the more that original point o f departure slips out o f view. This is so because all sorts o f interpretations have intervened along the way, and the tendency o f those interpretations is to repress the original state into the unconscious and to replace i t w i t h other states through w h i c h the original one is sometimes not easy to detect. I t is the p o i n t o f departure o f an illness ( n o t t h e illness itself) t h a t is screened f r o m v i e w . T h a t , plus the terms "repress" a n d " u n c o n s c i o u s , " instead o f " f o r c e " a n d " b a c k g r o u n d , " a l l o w the n e w passage t o s o u n d r e m i n i s c e n t o f Freud. I p r o b a b l y have n o t u n c o v e r e d a m i s s i n g l i n k b e t w e e n D ü r k h e i m a n d Freud; Steven Lukes's exhaustive research t u r n e d u p " n o e v i d e n c e " D ü r k h e i m k n e w o f Freud's w o r k .
1 1 1

that

O n the o t h e r h a n d , there is g o o d reason

to t h i n k D ü r k h e i m k n e w o f the celebrated w o r k b e i n g d o n e i n the 1880s at the H ô p i t a l S a l p ê t r i è r e i n Paris b y J e a n - M a r t i n C h a r c o t , Freud's predecessor i n t h e study o f hysteria, a n d o f t h e h u g e controversy a b o u t t h a t w o r k i n t h e mid-1890s.
1 1 2

So f o r n o w , w e can be tantalized. Present i n the passage is t h e
1 1 3

n o t i o n that t o d a y w e t e r m "screen m e m o r i e s , " w h i c h is generally c r e d i t e d t o Freud, n o t C h a r c o t . T h e p l o t thickens w h e n w e realize that F r e u d c e r 1 1 4

tainly k n e w o f a n d c i t e d D ü r k h e i m s w o r k ( i n c l u d i n g Formes) i n his 1912 p a per, " T h e R e t u r n o f T o t e m i s m i n C h i l d h o o d . " I n this way, c o r r e c t i n g Swain's inaccuracies can a d d nuance t o a scholarly q u e s t i o n .

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M y goal, t h o u g h , was n o t m e r e l y t o c o r r e c t Swain's w o r k . I t a c k l e d the French originals
1 1 5

w i t h an eye t o the difficulties I have w r e s t l e d w i t h a n d t o

the characteristic p r o b l e m s I have f o u n d i n t e a c h i n g this w o r k t o A m e r i c a n students. F o r those reasons, I d i d n o t settle for m e r e l y l i t e r a l renderings. I f a literal translation c o n v e y e d n o t h i n g d e f i n i t e i n E n g l i s h , I sought a clearer a l ternative. O f course, the search f o r expressive equivalents has its l i m i t s . R e g a r d i n g t h e phrase solution de continuité, m y colleague A n d r é e D o u c h i n t o l d
1 1 6

m e , "Let's face i t . T h a t phrase goes back t o 1 3 1 4 . "

She m e a n t there are

things a b o u t that phrase, l i t e r a l l y " d i s s o l u t i o n o f c o n t i n u i t y , " that c a n n o t be naturalized. T r y n a t u r a l i z i n g this i l l u s t r a t i o n f r o m the Petit Robert, q u o t i n g V i c t o r H u g o , " B e t w e e n present a n d future, there is solution de continuité." H e n c e , a l t h o u g h t h e translator's responsibility is to m o v e D u r k h e i m ' s t e x t l i n g u i s t i c a l l y t o w a r d the reader, p a r t o f the reader's o w n r e s p o n s i b i l i t y is to move intellectually toward D ü r k h e i m .
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S t i l l , i t does n o t f o l l o w that the

E n g l i s h i t s e l f must s o u n d alien. L i t e r a l equivalents o f t h e w o r d s a n d m o s t o f t h e syntax are t o b e f o u n d i n S w a i n . B u t as I have j u s t s h o w n , literalness is n o guarantee against a l l mistakes. M o r e o v e r , to b e literal is n o t necessarily t o be faithful. D u r k h e i m ' s l a n guage was precise a n d scholarly, to b e sure, b u t his t e x t reads w e l l i n F r e n c h . As a r u l e , his sentences d o n o t force a calisthenics o f d e c i p h e r m e n t u p o n the reader. N o r d o they assail the reader's ear w i t h u g l y r h y t h m s , rhymes, a n d assonances o r w i t h images that clash. I have t r i e d n o t t o l e t Formes read less w e l l i n E n g l i s h t h a n i t does i n F r e n c h . I have also t r i e d as m u c h as possible t o r e n der a feature o f D u r k h e i m ' s personal style that can be lost i n translation that is n o t literal e n o u g h : the m e t a p h o r i c a l c o n t e n t i n his w o r d choices. D ü r k h e i m , the w o r k m a n l i k e scientist, deliberately avoided l i t e r a r y nights i n scientific w r i t i n g , b u t he sometimes t h o u g h t i n p o e t i c ways. H i s w o r d choices p u s h a w h o l e w o r l d o f images i n t o t h e t e x t , a n d I have t r i e d t o keep that w o r l d i n the n e w E n g l i s h Formes. D u r k h e i m ' s images give us i n s i g h t i n t o his m o d e o f t h i n k i n g and thus i n t o some o f the i n t u i t i v e leaps that m o b i l i z e d his w o r k . Still, the notes i n t h e m i n d o f the creative genius are n o t available t o be played b y his interpreter. E v e n w h e n t h e translator's search f o r equivalents is w e l l i n f o r m e d and resolute, the results stand at a distance f r o m the o r i g i n a l t e x t . E v e r y t r a n s l a t i o n is a r e c o n s t r u c t i o n . M a n y w o r d s and t u r n s o f phrase have n o exact equivalents b e t w e e n o n e language a n d another. O f t e n the same is t r u e even o f w o r d s that m o v e b o d i l y . C o n s i d e r the F r e n c h w o r d s opinion a n d attitude. D u r k h e i m ' s opinion c o u l d have b e e n rendered as " p u b l i c o p i n i o n , " i f that t e r m h a d n o t c o m e t o m e a n discrete bits o f m e n t a l m a t e r i a l t o be d r a w n f r o m i n d i v i d u a l m i n d s b y pollsters a n d measured as t o t h e i r frequency

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o f o c c u r r e n c e . T h a t m e a n i n g o f " p u b l i c o p i n i o n " carries us t o t h e d i a m e t r i cal opposite o f w h a t D ü r k h e i m m e a n t b y représentation collective.
118

I n a simi-

lar v e i n , i t is n o w h a r d t o extract " a t t i t u d e " f r o m the m i n d — t h e senses o f " d o i n g " o r " c o n d u c t " are n o l o n g e r o n its surface. T o dramatize the F r e n c h t e r m , as w e l l as a n o l d e r E n g l i s h sense, consider the painted attitudes o f Jesus's disciples i n The Last Supper. N o w consider " v i r t u e , " w h i c h n o l o n g e r has some o f the meanings that are present i n D ü r k h e i m s vertu. Just as, i n the K i n g James B i b l e , the salt can lose its savor, so a m e d i c i n e o r m a g i c a l o b j e c t c o u l d lose its v i r t u e ( o r v i r t u e s ) , m e a n i n g its m a t e r i a l potency, as w e l l as t h e m o r a l m e a n i n g e v i d e n t i n t h e phrase "a m a n o f v i r t u e , " o r the c u r i o u s l y d i f ferent o n e i f w e shift gender. I n t h e t e x t , vertu goes w i t h o t h e r w o r d s , efficace and efficacité, w h o s e E n g l i s h equivalents are o l d i s h b u t w h o s e m o r e m o d e r n s o u n d i n g equivalents seem o u t o f place. H e n c e : T h e potency o f t h e c h e m i c a l called fluoxetine h y d r o c h l o r i d e makes Prozac effective, b u t t h e virtues i n b l o o d s p r i n k l e d o n the sacred r o c k m a k e the Intichiuma rites efficacious. I n some instances, D u r k h e i m ' s m e a n i n g a n d o u r o w n everyday one i n t e r sect b u t t h e n diverge so far that o u r o w n familiar w o r d becomes strange t o us. O n e such w o r d is " m o r a l . " I n Formes, moral is often s y n o n y m o u s w i t h "social," very nearly the inverse o f w h a t w e usually m e a n b y " m o r a l . "
1 1 9

Its m o s t i m -

p o r t a n t a n t o n y m is n o t " i m m o r a l , " as w e m i g h t t h i n k , b u t " m a t e r i a l , " " t a n g i ble," and "physical." Consequently, " m o r a l " is real b u t n o t m a t e r i a l . " G o o d " is often n o t its s y n o n y m ; together w i t h "social," " s p i r i t u a l " and " m e n t a l " o f ten are. " I n d i v i d u a l " stands w i t h the a n t o n y m s o f " m o r a l , " because D u r k heim's " i n d i v i d u a l " denotes the body, its drives a n d appetites, its sensory apparatus—in s h o r t , o u r b o d i l y b e i n g considered as distinct from o u r h u m a n b e i n g . T h e " s o c i a l " is the source from w h i c h comes t h e h u m a n i z i n g discipline o f the " i n d i v i d u a l " that creates the "person." H e n c e , the f o l l o w i n g d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n " i n d i v i d u a l " a n d " p e r s o n " : " O u r sensations are i n t h e i r essence i n d i v i d u a l . B u t the m o r e emancipated w e are from the senses, and the m o r e capable w e are o f t h i n k i n g and a c t i n g conceptually, the m o r e w e are p e r s o n s . "
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N o t o n l y is " m o r a l " n o t necessarily " g o o d " ; i t is o f t e n n o t even o n the same t e r r a i n as abstract j u d g m e n t s o f " g o o d " a n d "bad." F o r D ü r k h e i m , those j u d g m e n t s can b e m a d e o n l y i n p a r t i c u l a r social s e t t i n g s .
121

W h a t is

" m o r a l " is " s o c i a l " ; b o t h v a r y w i t h t i m e a n d place. A c c o r d i n g l y , the d o m a i n o f the " m o r a l " is n o t p r i v a t e , w i t h its o r i g i n i n some m y s t e r i o u s s o m e w h e r e i n the depths o f t h e physical i n d i v i d u a l , as o u r c o m m o n s e n s e usage suggests. Clearly, b y that p o i n t , w e are o n g r o u n d q u i t e alien t o o u r o w n . O n D u r k heim's g r o u n d , there can be n o f u l l - f l e d g e d p e r s o n s t a n d i n g apart from the " m o r a l , " as i n s t i t u t e d i n some h i s t o r i c a l l y g i v e n social setting. T h u s , whereas

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i n o u r o w n h a b i t u a l w a y o f t h i n k i n g , that w h i c h is best i n us stands apart f r o m t h e social, i n D u r k h e i m ' s i t is that, precisely, w h i c h is at w a r w i t h o u r humanity.
1 2 2

F o r D u r k h e i m , w h a t stands apart is a b e i n g that is n o m o r e t h a n

t h e body, and all t h a t the b o d y t o w s a l o n g w i t h i t : T h e b r a i n is there b u t n o t w h a t w e recognize as t h i n k i n g ; m o v e m e n t is there b u t n o t w h a t w e r e c o g nize as h u m a n d o i n g . T h e m e r e co-presence o f m a n y such bodies is j u s t that, a m e r e co-presence, as l a c k i n g i n m u t u a l l y recognizable i d e n t i t y as so m a n y potatoes i n a sack. W i t h n o t h i n g b u t the m e r e l y physical a n d m a t e r i a l c o l l e c t i o n o f " i n d i v i d u a l s , " there is n e i t h e r reason n o r i d e n t i t y n o r c o m m u n i t y . T h e r e is n o language a n d n o k i n s h i p ; there are age differences b u t n o generations; there are sex differences b u t n o genders. U n l i k e morale, w h i c h can b r o a d e n a l o n g w i t h its place i n a distinctive syst e m o f t h o u g h t , the t e r m culte n a r r o w s i n A m e r i c a n E n g l i s h . A l t h o u g h " c u l t " o n c e m e a n t "a system o f religious w o r s h i p , especially w i t h reference t o its rites and ceremonies," i t n o w has a pejorative c o n n o t a t i o n that gives an o d d r i n g t o such sentences as these o f D u r k h e i m : " B u t feasts a n d r i t e s — i n a w o r d , the cult—are n o t t h e w h o l e o f r e l i g i o n . "
1 2 3

Again: " A l t h o u g h i n principle derived
1 2 4

f r o m the beliefs, the c u l t nevertheless reacts u p o n t h e m , a n d t h e m y t h is often m o d e l e d o n the r i t e so as t o account f o r i t . . . . " liefs assumed t o be o u d a n d i s h .
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" C u l t " n o w connotes n o t

j u s t feasts and rites b u t excessive and perhaps obsessive ones, attached t o b e F o r that reason, used w i t h o u t w a r n i n g today, i t can plant i n the A m e r i c a n reader's m i n d a different attitude t o w a r d the t o t e m i c cults t h a n D u r k h e i m had. I d e c i d e d nevertheless, t o retain " c u l t " i n most contexts, f o r this reason: I f i t is d r o p p e d i n favor o f terms l i k e " w o r s h i p " and "practice," w h i c h sometimes w i l l do, D u r k h e i m ' s o w n use o f le culte decouples f r o m t h e cognate t e r m " c u l t u r e . " B u t that w i l l n o t d o at all. D u r k h e i m ' s o w n f o r m i d a b l e e x p l o r a t i o n o f religious beliefs and r i t e s — o f représentations collectives, and conscience collective, that is, o f shared ways o f t h i n k i n g and acting—was seminal t o the vast t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y e x p l o r a t i o n o f "culture." D i f f e r e n t p r o b l e m s arise w i t h t h e use o f "essential," w h i c h is nearly, b u t n o t entirely, s y n o n y m o u s i n E n g l i s h and F r e n c h . I n b o t h , i t means " f u n d a m e n t a l " a n d "necessary"; b u t i n A m e r i c a today, i f I q u o t e D u r k h e i m as h a v i n g called r e l i g i o n " a n essential a n d p e r m a n e n t aspect o f h u m a n i t y , " he m a y seem t o be saying t h a t r e l i g i o n is "indispensable" and, possibly, a d v o c a t i n g i t . Some readers m i g h t expect a case f o r prayer i n schools t o f o l l o w o r o t h e r r e suscitations o f o l d - t i m e r e l i g i o n i n t h e p u b l i c r e a l m . B u t w h e n D u r k h e i m calls r e l i g i o n an "essentiel et permanent" aspect o f h u m a n i t y , h e means n o such t h i n g . H i s use o f a similar phrase, " i n t e g r a l a n d p e r m a n e n t , " t o describe society, b r i n g s o u t w h a t he does m e a n : S o c i e t y "arouses i n us a w h o l e w o r l d o f

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ideas a n d feelings that express i t b u t at the same t i m e are an integral and permanent part o f o u r s e l v e s . "
126

A t h i r d phrase, d e s c r i b i n g conscience collective,

w o r k s similarly: " B e i n g outside a n d above i n d i v i d u a l a n d l o c a l c o n t i n g e n cies, c o l l e c t i v e consciousness sees things o n l y i n t h e i r p e r m a n e n t a n d f u n d a mental aspect."
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Therefore,

noting D ü r k h e i m s

own

substitutions

of

" i n t e g r a l " and " f u n d a m e n t a l " f o r "essential," t r e a t i n g t h e three s y n o n y mously, a n d t a k i n g i n t o a c c o u n t subde differences o f shading i n different contexts o f use, I have sometimes r e n d e r e d essentiel as "essential" b u t far m o r e often as " f u n d a m e n t a l " o r " b a s i c . "
128

T h e s e are, unavoidably, choices. T h a t

v i r t u a l l y every o n e c o u l d have b e e n m a d e o t h e r w i s e inserts t h e translator's o w n response t o the t e x t i n t o w h a t c a n n o t h e l p b u t appear t o be w h a t i t c a n n o t possibly be: t h e o r i g i n a l t e x t "itself," o n l y p u t i n t o E n g l i s h . Now, finally, three smaller matters o f c h o i c e n e e d t o be n o t e d here; o t h ers w i l l appear i n f o o t n o t e s , as t h e y c o m e u p i n the t e x t . First, n o w that w e have a n i m a t e d cartoons, the w o r d "animate," as a verb, has a c e r t a i n i n c o n g r u o u s h u m o r . B u t i n Formes, " a n i m a t e " goes w i t h t h e q u i t e serious ideas o f " s o u l " a n d " s p i r i t . " F o r o n e reason o r another, t h o u g h , t h e alternatives are j u s t as h a r d t o n a t u r a l i z e — o r t h e y are h u m o r o u s as w e l l : " q u i c k e n " (as i n " t h e q u i c k a n d t h e dead"), " e n l i v e n , " " v i v i f y , " " v i t a l i z e . " Since w e have T y l o r a n d " a n i m i s t " t h e o r y , I k e p t "animate." T h e n e x t m a t t e r concerns sentiment, w h i c h i n today's A m e r i c a n E n g l i s h strongly c o n n o t e s a f e e l i n g that is said (as o n a H a l l m a r k card) o r at least f o r m u l a t e d (sentiment against i n t e r v e n i n g m i l i t a r i l y ) . I n F r e n c h , i t o f t e n means d i r e c t " f e e l i n g , " o r "awareness" rather t h a n t h e i r f o r m u l i z e d versions. I n E n g l i s h , w e c a n n o t say, " I have the s e n t i m e n t that i t w i l l r a i n . " I d r o p p e d Swain's " s e n t i m e n t " almost e v e r y w h e r e . Finally, se représenter means t o "present t o the m i n d " — i n o t h e r w o r d s , to " c o n c e i v e " o r " i m a g i n e . " T r a n s l a t i n g literally, o n e can a r r i v e at "represent to oneself," a n d t h a t can mislead. I n m y first r e a d i n g o f Swain's, " R e l i g i o n is, above all, a system o f ideas b y w h i c h m e n represent to themselves t h e society o f w h i c h t h e y are m e m b e r s , " I p i c t u r e d t h e m c r e a t i n g emblems. W r o n g . B u t left u n t o u c h e d are c e r t a i n famous set phrases that after e i g h t y - p l u s years I feel c a n n o t be e x t r i c a t e d from D u r k h e i m ' s life i n E n g l i s h w i t h o u t d o i n g v i o l e n c e t o t h a t l i f e — f o r e x a m p l e , Swain's r e n d e r i n g o f D u r k h e i m ' s c e l ebrated d e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n a n d his m a r v e l o u s phrase " t h o r o u g h g o i n g i d i o c y " f o r illogique foncière, a b r i l l i a n d y n o n l i t e r a l r e n d e r i n g that captures n o t o n l y D u r k h e i m ' s sense b u t also his a t t i t u d e t o w a r d c e r t a i n accounts o f a supposed mentalité primitive t o w h i c h l o g i c is u t t e r l y alien. Sometimes t h e p r o b l e m o f equivalents lies at a different level from terms and phrases o r structure. T h e r e is n o serviceable A m e r i c a n equivalent

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f o r D u r k h e i m ' s n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y F r e n c h and academic m o d e o f expression, even i n m o s t scholarly w r i t i n g . Therefore, paradoxically, the search f o r equivalence l e d m e t o one change that may at first seem radical. W h a t , for e x ample, c o u l d be o u r i d i o m a t i c equivalent t o D u r k h e i m ' s e d i t o r i a l " w e " ? M i c h a e l Gane recounts a p a r o d y b y M a u r i c e R o c h e that b r i n g s o u t part o f the p r o b l e m . dergraduate.
1 2 9

I n i t , a hapless lecturer, s l e e p w a l k i n g annually t h r o u g h D u r k -

heim's classic The Rules of Sociological Method, collides w i t h a w i d e - a w a k e u n T h e student refuses t o grant a n y t h i n g , n o t least D u r k h e i m ' s " w e , " the v e r y first w o r d i n that t e x t , as i t is i n Formes. T h e student brings the class to a halt b y d e m a n d i n g t o k n o w w h o precisely " w e " are. W h a t is m o r e , he refuses t o cooperate w h e n w h a t he calls an a u t h o r i t a r i a n v o i c e addresses h i m w i t h the " w e " that apparendy means " y o u a n d I " : I t was u n e a r n e d c o m m o n ground. I t o o stumble over the e d i t o r i a l " w e " i n the existing E n g l i s h translations. I n D u r k h e i m ' s day, i t was the s i m p l y the modest, objective v o i c e o f academic o r scientific w r i t i n g (as i t is still i n the preferred r h e t o r i c o f some d i s c i p l i n e s ) . l e c t i v i t y standing b e h i n d every published w o r k , despite solo a u t h o r s h i p . Nonetheless, i t is m e r e l y a r h e t o r i c a l d e v i c e .
132 130

As such, that modest, objective " w e " f o r m a l l y gestured t o w a r d a scientific c o l 131

So t o render the t e x t i n an E n -

glish r h e t o r i c that does n o t d r a w the w r o n g sort o f a t t e n t i o n t o itself, w e have substituted " I " for " w e , " except w h e n " w e " seems i n c o n t e x t t o m e a n " y o u a n d I , " i n c l u d i n g the reader. W e have, however, retained the first-person plural i n the m a n y statements D ü r k h e i m makes about the behavior o f h u m a n beings generally, i n c l u d i n g b o t h h i m s e l f a n d the reader, o r i n reference to h i m s e l f as a m e m b e r o f a g r o u p that excludes the reader. W e have shifted t o the e d i t o r i a l " w e " t o illustrate o u r p o i n t about h o w the t e x t sounds w i t h o u t o u r effort, i n retranslating, t o reconstruct the p l a i n - s o u n d i n g n e u t r a l i t y o f the o r i g i n a l . W e have n o t changed the t e x t i n o n e respect that m a y disconcert some readers: homme is translated as " m a n " o r " m a n k i n d . " " H u m a n b e i n g " renders être humain; a n d "person," personne. T h i s translation does n o t t r y t o reconstruct D u r k h e i m ' s gender vocabulary o r his o u d o o k . D u r k h e i m ' s homme, " m a n , " i n cludes " w o m a n , " at least some o f the t i m e ; b u t nowadays w e insist o n saying " h u m a n b e i n g " o r " p e r s o n " all o f the t i m e . I n Formes, however, " p e r s o n " (as used i n everyday speech) w i l l n o t w o r k . W h y not? W e q u o t e D ü r k h e i m : " T h e t w o terms [person a n d i n d i v i d u a l ] are b y n o means s y n o n y m o u s . I n a sense, they oppose m o r e t h a n they i m p l y o n e a n o t h e r . "
133

Besides, w h i l e D ü r k h e i m

is a theorist o f social c o n d u c t , considered globally and e m b r a c i n g all h u m a n beings, i t w o u l d be an abuse t o m a r k this b y i n s e r t i n g a m o d e r n t e r m i n o l o g y that achieves this embrace b y means o f linguistic affirmative a c t i o n — i n our

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o w n t i m e , and for us (a p r o n o u n w h i c h f r o m n o w o n does n o t designate an e d i t o r i a l " w e , " b u t is m e a n t t o i n c l u d e m e and the reader). Our o w n usage i m plies the (ideally) inclusive gender conventions that b e l o n g to o u r o w n day; D ü r k h e i m s i m p l i e s the q u i t e different gender conventions o f his o w n . T h e s e c o n v e n t i o n s are i m p l i c i t i n all his w r i t i n g , a n d sometimes t h e y are e x p l i c i t . L i k e m a n y o f his c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , he b e l i e v e d w o m a n ' s b r a i n a n d m e n t a l capacity t o be smaller t h a n man's. M u c h t o take issue w i t h f o l l o w e d f r o m that belief. A l t h o u g h t h e t e m p t a t i o n arises t o i m p r o v e u p o n the elegant o l d f u r n i t u r e t h a t is Formes, I have resisted i t . T o give i n w o u l d a m o u n t t o D ü r k h e i m s p o s t h u m o u s " r e c o n s t r u c t i o n " b y m e , i n a different and u n a c ceptable sense. I c a n n o t be i n the business o f r e h a b i l i t a t i n g D ü r k h e i m s u n e n l i g h t e n e d attitudes a b o u t w o m e n . I f sufficient t o sink h i m forever, t h e y s h o u l d be a l l o w e d to. R e c o n s t r u c t i o n o n this a c c o u n t is d o u b l y u n a c c e p t able, because i t w o u l d p r o f o u n d l y alter D u r k h e i m ' s m e a n i n g as that m e a n i n g can be o b j e c t i v e l y k n o w n f r o m t h e passage j u s t c i t e d , a n d at t h e same t i m e i n t r o d u c e a deep i l l o g i c i n t o the b o o k as a w h o l e . T h e a r g u m e n t is c o n structed u s i n g evidence f r o m rituals t h a t D ü r k h e i m imagines as h a v i n g h a d almost exclusively male p a r t i c i p a t i o n . W h e n D ü r k h e i m says "he," r e f e r r i n g to an A u s t r a l i a n o r t o a deity, that is m o s t o f t e n w h a t he l i t e r a l l y m e a n s .
134

M o r e o v e r , c o n d u c t i n g repairs w o u l d displace c e r t a i n possible c r i t i q u e s . For example, N a n c y Jay, a f e m i n i s t sociologist o f r e l i g i o n , a r g u e d that i n s o far as exclusively male rituals p r o v i d e t h e e m p i r i c a l f o u n d a t i o n f o r D u r k heim's social a c c o u n t o f reason, i t c o m m i t s h i m t o o n e o f t w o anomalous conclusions: W o m e n c a n n o t reason, w h i c h is false, o r w o m e n ' s a b i l i t y t o reason w o u l d r e q u i r e a separate t h e o r y . heim's gender outlook would
1 3 5

Additionally, reconstructing D u r k the sense i n w h i c h his grand

conceal

oppositions b e t w e e n sacred a n d profane, social a n d i n d i v i d u a l , m i n d a n d body, person a n d i n d i v i d u a l , m o r a l and m a t e r i a l , are l a t e n t l y a n o p p o s i t i o n b e t w e e n male a n d f e m a l e .
136

Surely i t m u s t be the g o a l o f translation t o leave

i n t a c t the i n t e r n a l tensions o f the o r i g i n a l t e x t — i n this case, the l i m i t s o f t h e b o l d l y universalistic a r g u m e n t , s t u n n i n g f o r its t i m e , that t h e b o o k attempts. R e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f elegant o l d f u r n i t u r e m u s t n o t m e a n sanding away characteristic features o f its o r i g i n a l design. Swain's o w n r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f D u r k h e i m ' s F r e n c h title as " T h e E l e m e n tary F o r m s o f t h e R e l i g i o u s L i f e " n o w carries the patina o f respectable age. T h i s t i d e has b e c o m e so m u c h p a r t o f the b o o k ' s life i n E n g l i s h that, except i n the d e l e t i o n o f o n e "the," I have n o t changed i t . B u t I w o u l d have p r e ferred the t e r m " e l e m e n t a l , " even t h o u g h élémentaire expresses b o t h . T h e question is n o t r i g h t o r w r o n g translation b u t t h e scope each alternative

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leaves f o r r i g h t o r w r o n g u n d e r s t a n d i n g . O n t h e o n e h a n d , " e l e m e n t a r y " w i l l d o i n some respects; t h i n k o f the c o n c e p t " e l e m e n t a r y particles," d e f i n e d as b e i n g the smallest a n d m o s t f u n d a m e n t a l particles k n o w n . O n the o t h e r h a n d , i n d a y - t o - d a y usage, " e l e m e n t a r y " has a d i m i n u t i v e a n d vaguely dismissive c o n n o t a t i o n a n d sets u p the same p o t e n t i a l p r o b l e m f o r some readers as " s i m p l e . " C o n s i d e r S h e r l o c k Holmes's " E l e m e n t a r y , m y dear W a t s o n , " o r consider the charge, " Y o u j u s t d o n ' t seem t o get t h e m o s t elementary p o i n t s , " w h i c h means the easiest o r simplest—addressed b y a scold t o a d i m w i t . D u r k h e i m means " s i m p l e s t " as w e l l , b u t ( i n a d d i t i o n t o the o t h e r considerat i o n s already referred to) he means i t as p a r t i c l e physicists m e a n i t , scientists w h o assuredly m e a n things that challenge t h e i n t e l l e c t . H e seeks t o e x p l o r e b u i l d i n g b l o c k s o f h u m a n social life, as physicists e x p l o r e b u i l d i n g b l o c k s o f matter. " E l e m e n t a r y " is suitable o n l y i f used i n a restricted sense that is n o t altogether Sir A r t h u r C o n a n D o y l e ' s a n d n o t at all t h e scold's. I n a sense, D u r k h e i m was a t t e m p t i n g i n his study w h a t the C u r i e s w e r e a t t e m p t i n g i n t h e i r labs. D u r k h e i m s " s i m p l e s t " f o r m s are indispensably p a r t o f the m o s t c o m p l e x . A l t e r n a t i v e l y , t h e y can be t h o u g h t o f as atoms a n d c o m p a r e d t o the c h e m i c a l substances that m a k e u p t h e p e r i o d i c chart, the elements. The formes that he discovers i n this p a r t i c u l a r study are the elements t o be f o u n d i n the m a k e u p o f t h e r e l i g i o n s he t h o u g h t o f as m o r e complexes o r as " h i g h e r " i n an e v o l u t i o n a r y sense. D u r k h e i m is interested i n "a f u n d a m e n t a l and p e r m a n e n t " aspect o f h u m a n i t y a n d i n its "ever-present source," w h i c h can be discerned i f studied i n w h a t he takes t o be its elemental f o r m s . W h a t e v e r those f o r m s are (and I n o w paraphrase a p h y s i c i s t ) ,
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t h e y have an u n d e r l y i n g i d e n -

t i t y that persists despite unceasing change a n d limitless diversity. M o r e o v e r , as i n the physicist's search f o r e l e m e n t a r y particles, t h e q u e s t i o n o f c h r o n o l o g i cal o r i g i n s is related and yet separable. So i f w e understand the phrase formes élémentaires i n that way, w e need n o t get b o g g e d d o w n , as some have, i n the n o t i o n that D u r k h e i m made t h e e r r o r o f t h i n k i n g t o t e m i s m b r o u g h t h i m t o o r i g i n s i n a c h r o n o l o g i c a l sense. Instead, w e can take h i m at his w o r d . W h e t h e r he was r i g h t o r w r o n g a b o u t t h i n k i n g this o r a b o u t t h i n k i n g t h a t the study o f Australians c o u l d possibly y i e l d u p r e l i g i o n i n elemental f o r m are v a l i d b u t separate questions. W h a t is i m p o r t a n t is t o grasp t h e scientific e x p l o r a t i o n that D u r k h e i m a t t e m p t e d . T h e b u r d e n o f t h e b o o k as a w h o l e is that an aspect o f h u m a n i t y ' s " f u n d a m e n t a l and p e r m a n e n t " nature is t o be f o u n d i n h u m a n i t y ' s social nature. A n d that h u m a n , social nature is n o t h i n g o t h e r t h a n its vie religieuse. T o s h o w us w h a t is i n c l u d e d i n this vie religieuse r e quires t h e f u l l l e n g t h o f a l o n g b o o k . W e can already say that this n o t i o n goes far b e y o n d w h a t p e o p l e d o specifically as c h u r c h m e n o r - w o m e n .

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A c c o r d i n g l y , the n e w t i t l e rejects Swain's r e n d e r i n g "the r e l i g i o u s life." I f taken as an u n f o r t u n a t e artifact o f l i t e r a l translation, the phrase "the r e l i g i o u s l i f e " furnishes D u r k h e i m w i t h a v o i c e i n a h e a v i l y accented a n d game b u t c l u m s y use o f E n g l i s h . I t is as i f he offered a Gallic s h r u g t o an i n t e l l e c t u a l l y s w a m p e d A m e r i c a n u n d e r g r a d u a t e a n d said t o h i m , " A s w e t e l l i n France, 'c'est la vie'—that's t h e l i f e ' ! " W e l l , Non. T h e d e f i n i t e article d e f i n i t e l y does n o t b e l o n g there. B u t w h a t a b o u t the E n g l i s h phrase " r e l i g i o u s life," w h i c h suggests a life apart? F r o m t h e a r g u m e n t o f t h e p r e c e d i n g paragraph, i t is o b v i o u s that the b o o k is n o t a b o u t monasteries o r r e l i g i o u s v i r t u o s i , o r a b o u t beliefs a n d practices sealed o f f w i t h i n a separate sphere o f h u m a n life u n i q u e l y t h e i r o w n . I n o u r o w n day, " r e l i g i o u s l i f e " connotes an exclusively i n w a r d a n d p r i v a t e sphere—but t h e s e v e n t e e n t h - c e n t u r y w o r l d that was h o s tile t o P i l g r i m s and Puritans d i d n o t , a n d the w o r l d o f Formes does n o t . T h i n k b a c k t o t h e w a y D u r k h e i m answered those w h o believe the f u n c t i o n o f r e l i g i o n is t o offer a t h e o r y o f the w o r l d : " I t s t r u e f u n c t i o n is t o m a k e us act and t o h e l p us live." Finally, I t h i n k D u r k h e i m does m e a n "the e l e m e n t a l f o r m s . " H e offers his study based o n A u s t r a l i a n ethnographies as a "single, w e l l - c o n d u c t e d e x p e r i m e n t . " I t is v e r y clear, f r o m t h e first page, that a l t h o u g h based u p o n o b servations i n A b o r i g i n a l A u s t r a l i a n societies, he intends his findings t o reveal the f u n d a m e n t a l b u i l d i n g b l o c k s o f all r e l i g i o n , its ever-present source a n d natural resource i n the m e n t a l i t y , a n d i n the reality, o f h u m a n k i n d . W h a t e v e r is i n theirs is i n his a n d i n ours. K a r e n E . Fields Rochester, N e w Y o r k O c t o b e r 1994

NOTES
1. Emile Durkheim, "Contribution to discussion 'Religious Sentiment at the Present Time,' " reproduced in W. S. F. Pickering, Durkheim on Religion:A Selection of Readings with Bibliographies, London, Roudedge, 1975, p. 184, which includes new translations by Pickering and Jacqueline Redding. Introduction, p. 2. A. A. Goldenweiser, "Emile Durkheim—Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse:Le Système totémique en Australie, 1912," originally published in American Anthropologist 17, 1915, reproduced in Peter Hamilton, ed., Emile Durkheim: Critical Assessments, London and N e w York, Routledge, 1990, 3:240. Durkheim published three other major books during his lifetime: The Division of Labor in Society (1893), The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), and Sui-

2. 3.

4.

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cide (1897). For a comprehensive bibliography of his work, see W. S. F. Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion: Themes and Theories, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984, pp. 535-543. 5. 6. Introduction, pp. 2-3. I refer to Paul Tillich's (1955) essay "Religion" in Mark Van Dören, ed., Man's Right to Knowledge and the Free UseThereof, New York, Columbia, 1955, and to Rudolf Otto s (1917) book Das Heilige, translated in 1923 as The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational, John W. Harvey, trans., London, Oxford, 1923. P. 426. P. 9. Goldenweiser, "Emile Dürkheim," p. 218. M y italics. P. 349 and n. 55. P. 437. One of the many delights of Formes is to encounter the nineteenthcentury philologists, whose explorations of how language shapes reality (in the Vedas, twenty Sanskrit words for "sky") remain important even today. See p. 75. P. 227. Here I am talking about rhetorical features of the text. O n its characteristic logical features, Steven Lukes has written a comprehensive analysis: Emile Dürkheim: His Life and Work, A Historical and Critical Study, London, Penguin, 1973. D ü r k h e i m used the word paradoxale, which literally means "against doctrine," but the everyday meaning of its English counterpart waters down into mere strangeness. Gaston Richard, originally published in Revue d'histoire et de philosophie re¬ ligieuse (1923), reproduced in Pickering, Dürkheim on Religion. Pickering and Redding explain that they substituted "English" for Pochard's own term "Anglican." I imagine he said what he meant. Not being grounded in the real, magic did not survive, except as entertainment. Here, briefly, is the threefold analytical distinction that Dürkheim makes: (1) religion is social, built on communities, whereas magical practices are individual, linking a practitioner and a client; (2) religion builds on altruism, and magic on individual utility; and (3) given the previous two points, religion works in the real, whereas magic does not, because religion works morally rather than materially, that is, on human minds operating collectively rather than on things. See pp. 41—42, pp. 360, 363. M y own example: It has turned out that gold cannot be made from baser metals, but paper money can be made to be as good as gold. Dominick LaCapra, Emile Dürkheim: Sociologist and Philosopher, Chicago, U n i versity of Chicago Press, 1972. Lukes, Emile Dürkheim, p. 4. Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action, New York, Free Press, 1968 [1937], 1:421-429.

7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

12. 13.

14.

15.

16.

17. 18. 19.

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20. 21.

Raymond Aron, Main Currents of Sociological Thought, Middlesex, England, Penguin, 1967, 2:66-68. I say this in full awareness of Mordecai Kaplans embrace of Formes as an intellectual foundation for Reconstructionist Judaism and even though Kaplan's student, the well-known popularizer Harold Kushner, uses somewhat Durkheimian formulations. See To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking, Boston, Little, Brown, 1993, esp. chap. 3. Parsons, Structure of Social Action, p. 421. But see a splendid article by Patricia Cormack, " The Rules of Sociological Method: The Paradox of Dürkheims Manifesto," Theory and Society, forthcoming. Judith Ryan provides an illuminating account of the links joining physics, psychology, philosophy, painting, and literature in The Vanishing Subject: Early Psychology and Literary Modernism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1991. According to Frank Pearce, The Radical Dürkheim, London, Unwin, 1989, p. 3, Foucault did not usually acknowledge his debt to Dürkheim. However, according to Stuart Hall, he did indeed. Discussion following a paper, " C o n structing the Black Subject." Presented at the conference Race Matters: U.S. Terrain, Princeton University, April 29, 1994. See Terry F. Godlove, Religion, Interpretation, and Diversity of Belief: The Framework Model from Kant to Dürkheim to Davidson, Cambridge, Cambridge U n i versity Press, 1989. In this context, "empirical science" will do, but I retain the French phrase, so that the dense tangle of meanings can be unraveled by the reader according to context. T h e following statement by Auguste Comte can serve as a guide: "Considered first in its oldest and commonest sense, the word 'positive' designates the real as opposed to the chimerical. In this respect, it well suits the new philosophical spirit, the mark of which is its constant dedication to research that is accessible to our intelligence, to the permanent exclusion of the impenetrable mysteries with which it was occupied in its infancy." See André L a lande, Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, Paris, F. Alcan, 1926, p. 597. O n this point, see the papers collected in Said A . Arjomand, ed., The Political Dimensions of Religion, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1993. P. 419. Dürkheim titled his chapter on soul La Notion d'âme—"the idea of soul"— but he could have said La Notion de l'âme—"the idea of the soul." P. 262. A n 1894 publication, a classic almost instantly, launched modern research on the early Greek idea of the soul: E . Rhode, Seelencult und Unsterblichkeitsglaube der Griechen, 2 vols., Freiburg, Leipzig, and Tübingen, which appeared in English as Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, W. B. Hillis, trans., London, 1925, cited by Jan Bremmer, The Early Greek Concept of the Soul, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1983, p. 6. Empedocles was one of the early Greek philosophers who thought (like the

22. 23. 24.

25.

26.

27.

28. 29. 30. 31. 32.

33.

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Australians) that the soul resides in the blood. And consider this: In Homer, the soul leaves the body via wounds. See Bremmer, Early Greek Concept, pp. 3, 15, which also brings out the multifariousness of that concept. For helpful conversation and references, I am indebted to my colleagues Lewis W. Beck, Deborah Modrak, and George Dennis O'Brien. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. P. 49. P. 54. Pp. 65, 66, 67. P. 271. This argument also lays the foundation for an argument (made in Bk. I l l , chap. 3, esp. p. 368) against the claim that the concept "cause" can be derived from the individual experience of willing. P. 368. To get a sense of what is involved, work through the intricate diagram in Craig Barclay, "Autobiographical Remembering: Creating Personal Culture," in M . A. Conway, D. C . Rubin, and W. Wagenaar, eds., Theoretical Perspectives on Autobiographical Memory, Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992, esp. p. 2. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish:The Birth of the Prison, Alan Sheridan, trans., N e w York, Vintage, 1979, pp. 23ff. For conversation and references on this and many of the points that follow, I am indebted to my colleague Ayala Gabriel. P. 265. Adin Steinsaltz, The Thirteen Petalled Rose: A Discourse on the Essence ofJewish Existence and Belief, Yehuda Hanegbi, trans., N e w York, Basic Books, 1980, pp. 51-52. N o r does the fact that a powerful abstract notion is to be found in religious tradition by any means make its use suggest residual believerhood. P. 8. P. 419. P. 177. This chapter especially, including its footnotes, has many dry rejoinders. Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion, p. xxiv; Lewis A. Coser, Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context, N e w York, Harcourt, 1971, pp. 162-163. Quoted from Gouldner's The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology in a valuable discussion of Durkheim by Peter Ekeh: Social Exchange Theory:The Two Traditions, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1974, p. 12. Aron, Main Currents, pp. 13—14. Stjepan G . Mestrovic formulated the question properly in his Emile Durkheim and the Reformation of Sociology, Totowa, NJ, R o w m a n & Littlefield, 1987, p. 19. There is also a speculative, Freudianized article by J. C . Filloux, "Il ne faut pas oublier que je suis fils de rabbin," Revue française de sociologie 17, no. 2, 1976, pp. 259-266.

39. 40.

41. 42. 43. 44.

45. 46. 47. 48. 49.

50.

51. 52.

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53.

For fascinating suggestions about the relationships between Comte s historical epistemology of science and modern writers, see Johan Heilbron, "Auguste Comte and Modern Epistemology," Sociological Theory 8, no. 2, Fall 1990, pp. 152—162. Full-scale analysis of D ü r k h e i m s work by professional philosophers has been relatively rare. But see, in addition to Godlove, Religion, Interpretation, and Diversity, Warren Schmaus, Durkheim's Philosophy of Science and the Sociology of Knowledge: Creating an Intellectual Niche, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1994. Robert Bellah has disposed of the myths that Dürkheim was antipsychological and that he thought a sociology wholly independent of psychology was possible. Robert N . Bellah, Emile Dürkheim on Morality and Society, Chicago, U n i versity of Chicago Press, 1973, pp. xx—xxi. And see Ryan, Vanishing Subject, for an excellent introduction to early psychology and its entrance into the consciousness of educated turn-of-the-century West European and American audiences. Ryan, however, excludes psychoanalysis. See also John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The Story ofJung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, New York, V i n tage Books, 1993, pp. 27—29. Kerr's Introduction provides a sense of the milieu in which Dürkheim discussed phenomena such as transmigration of souls and metempsychosis. For a time, investigations into spiritualism were not sharply distinguished from what would later be designated specifically as scientific work. With his characteristic acuteness but without lasting effect on subsequent commentary, Talcott Parsons pointed out that the absence of a theory of social change does not render a theory ahistorical. Structure of Social Action, 1:450 But see Parsons's brilliant 1937 synthesis, which revealed how ambiguous the relationship of Formes is to functionalism (Structure of Social Action, esp. 1:441—450), and Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion, pp. 88—89, 300—317—both of which read Formes rather differently than I have done here. P. 1. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London, Verson, 1983. For a crisply made case of why not, see Lukes, Emile Dürkheim, pp. 477-479. For early ethnographers' criticisms of the work that emerged almost immediately, see A . A. Goldenweiser, "Review of Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieux: Le Système totémique en Australie" (originally published in 1915), in Peter Hamilton, ed., Emile Dürkheim: Critical Assessments, London and N e w York, Routledge, 1990, 3:238-252; and another review (published in 1913), reproduced in Pickering, Dürkheim on Religion, pp. 205—208. Lukes, Emile Dürkheim. Robert Nisbet, The Sociology of Emile Dürkheim, N e w York, Oxford, 1974. Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion. Although many readers have arrived at this under their own steam, scholarly sources include Mary Douglas's view on "the Durkheimian premise that soci-

54.

55.

56.

57. 58. 59.

60. 61. 62. 63.

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ety and God can be equated." Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology, London, Barrie andRockliff, 1970, quoted by Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion (whose discussion, pp. 227—241, provides a learned analysis and many useful references). See also Aran's very strong statement in Main Currents: "It seems to me absolutely inconceivable to define the essence of religion in terms of the worship which the individual pledges to the group, for in my eyes the essence of impiety is precisely the worship of the social order. To suggest that the object of the religious feelings is society transfigured is not to save but to degrade that human reality which sociology seeks to understand" (p. 68). 64. 65. P. 44. Le Petit Robert quotes this definition to illustrate the term système in the sense of "a structured set of abstract things." H e is thought to have been influenced in this direction by his reading of Robertson Smith's Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion, p. 63). But readers who hear echoes of historical materialism in this movement from deed to idea are referred to, pp. 385ff. There Durkheim talks about the elaboration of rites in a way that brings to mind the later Marxist use of "relative autonomy," to discuss the elaboration of beliefs. A main argument of Bk. I, Chap. 4, esp. p. 93. It sometimes goes unnoticed that Durkheim points out precisely those traits of the clan that make its coherence improbable: no stable authority, not based on well-defined territory or common residence, not necessarily consanguineous, and virtually no utilitarian functions. Cf., p. 234. This formulation is drawn from Nancy Jay, ThroughoutYour Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp. 17-19. P. 208. My italics. The French reads as follows: [Le totem] exprime et symbolise deux sortes de choses différentes. D'une part, il est la forme extérieure et sensible de ce que nous avons appelé le principe ou le dieu totémique. Mais d'un autre côté, il est aussi le symbole de cette société déterminée qu 'on appelé le clan. C'en est le drapeau; c'est le signe par lequel chaque clan se distingue des autres, la marque visible de sa personnalité, marque que porte tout ce qui fait partie du clan à un titre quelconque, hommes, bêtes et choses. Si donc il est, à la fois, le symbole du dieu et de la société, n'est-ce pas que le dieu et la société ne font qu'un? Comment l'emblème du groupe aurait-il pu devenir la figure de cette quasi divinité, si le groupe et la divinité étaient deux réalités distinctes? Le dieu dit clan, le principe totémique, ne peut donc être autre chose que le clan lui-même, mais hypostasié et représenté aux imaginations sous les espèces sensibles du végétal ou de l'animal qui sert de totem. The controverted "reduction" of God to society can be taken in at least two senses: simplifying something complex to the point of distorting it, or restating something in different but equivalent terms (e.g., 2/6 = 1/3). T h e fact that both in this context imply diminishment reveals the theological strata of the controversy. (A third sense, the theory of explanation, is not at issue.) If God is

66.

67.

68.

69.

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70.

in the definition of religion, keeping theological and nontheological things aloft is like juggling rubber balls and wooden Indian clubs at the same time. The reader who is prepared to jump to conclusions about what the Dürkheim whom we saw addressing "free believers" was prepared to say about G o d should turn now to p. 15, and reflect on the nicety of this statement about man's social being, which "represents within us the highest reality in the intellectual and moral realm that is knowable through observation: I mean society." My italics. In these terms, I miss the point of laboring to protect God's separateness, as in the following passage of Pickerings (Dürkheims Sociology of Religion, p. 235): "The danger is always to jump the parallel [society is to its members as G o d is to the faithful] and make the two concepts or realities identical, or at least to suggest that one is the other. Critics claim that Dürkheim makes such a step, but they disregard all caution. . . . Dürkheim is much more careful, and nowhere does he take the final and irrevocable step." For a carefully reasoned statement of this view, see Melford E . Spiro, " R e l i gion: Problems of Definition and Explanation," in Michael Banton, ed., Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion, London, Tavistock, 1966. P. 172. See, for example, p. 77, on naturism: "It is not by praying to them, celebrating them in feasts and sacrifices, and imposing fasts and privations on himself that he could have prevented them from harming him or obliged them to serve his purposes. Such procedures could have succeeded only on very rare occasions—miraculously, so to speak. I f the point of religion was to give us a representation of the world that would guide us in our dealings with it, then religion was in no position to fulfill its function, and all peoples would not have been slow to notice that fact: Failures, infinitely more common than successes, would have notified them very quickly that they were on the wrong path; and religion, constantly shaken by these constant disappointments, would have been unable to last." P. 239. Dürkheim not only denies that reconciliation is possible but also dismisses that argument along those lines as beside the point. Pp. 419—43Iff. See L a Capra, Emile Dürkheim, p. 289. See Jay, Throughout Your Generations, pp. 30—40, where we encounter an instructive example of beliefs that could not exist if, to exist, they had to be merely believable—for example, male priests disguised as pregnant women and conducting blood sacrifices. Jay argues that unilineal descent through fathers is publicly done through blood sacrificial rites, in rites that are often explicitly formulated as transcending birth from mothers. It is precisely through participation in those rites that (a counterfactual) one-sided descent is collectively established as real.

71.

72.

73. 74.

75. 76.

77.

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78.

To any reader who imagines doubt as the exclusive intellectual property of recent times or of cultures near our own, I recommend a spectacular article by Claude Lévi-Strauss, D ü r k h e i m s direct intellectual descendant: "The Sorcerer and His Magic," in Structural Anthropology, Garden City, N Y , Doubleday, 1967 [1963]. P. 214. D ü r k h e i m does not make the assumption that the rational capacity of man differs from race to race or from time to time. For him, humanity is one. For a statement of the opposite assumption, see Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Les Fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures, Paris, Alcan, 1910, which Dürkheim disputes throughout Formes. This remark by Comte appears in the Petit Robert, to illustrate one sense of the word simple. Cormack, "Rules of Sociological Method," has pointed out that this strategy is akin to that used by the ancient Greek rhetoricians, especially the sophists. He repeats this point in criticizing concepts like "primitive" and "savage," and elsewhere. See his side criticism of Frazer, for example, p. 183, and the distinction between origins and elements that he takes for granted throughout, for example, p. 55. See D ü r k h e i m s rationale for simplifying in order to reduce differences and variations to a minimum (pp. 5-7). Note also that he opens the first chapter of Book One with the observation that even the simplest religions known are of very great complexity (p. 45). One sometimes hears the simplistic consideration that Dürkheim might have found exotic cases expedient at a time in France when religion was a hot button issue, and the anti-Semitism exposed in the Dreyfus Affair might have made it still hotter for Dürkheim. But then, what would we make of the fact that an international legion of scholars accorded totemism general theoretical interest? See Claude Lévi-Strauss, Totemism, Rodney Needham, trans., Boston, Beacon Press, 1963. Peter Berger drew out some of these implications of Formes by devising the concept of "plausibility structures," communities whose everyday life takes for granted religious definitions of reality. See The Sacred Canopy, Garden City, N Y , Doubleday, 1967, pp. 16, 46, 156. P. 206. Psychologist Craig Barclay tells me that the scheme Dürkheim lays out is more or less the classical paradigm of conditioned response. Little has been written about how closely Dürkheim followed developments in psychology. Lukes's footnotes indicate that Dürkheim read Wilhelm Wundt through the 1880s and 1890s, and it is clear in Formes that he closely read the work of William James, whose Principles of Psychology appeared in French translation in 1910. Besides, James (according to Ryan, Vanishing Subject, pp. 12, 17) disseminated and received ideas, on and from both sides of the Atlantic, even as he developed his

79.

80. 81. 82.

83.

84.

85.

86. 87.

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own, and his earliest publications in France appeared in a journal edited by D ü r k h e i m s teacher, Charles Renouvier. 88. See Trudier Harris, Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1984, on the passage of such effervescences into American literary art; Albert Speer, Inside the Tliird Reich: Memoirs, N e w York, Macmillan, 1970, the self-aware artist of buildings and Nazi effervescences; and Marcel Mauss, D ü r k h e i m s younger collaborator who lived to see the Nazis' effervescences and then saw how "many large modern societies" could be "hypnotized like Australians are by their dances, and set in motion like a children's roundabout." Quoted in Lukes, Entile Dürkheim, p. 338n. P. 213. Ibid. P. 211. P. 223. Cf. the classically instructive but (I believe) mistaken view of Parsons, Structure of Social Action, pp. 442ff. Parsons objected to D ü r k h e i m s pensée and conscience collectives as reified "group mind" concepts. But actually, I think, not only the mind but also the senses are not fully accounted for if conceived of in their individual aspects alone. Consider what the neurologist Oliver Sacks tells us about "Virgil," blind from early childhood, who through surgery forty-five years later regained the physical capacity to see. But, not having "spent a lifetime learning to see," he did not regain the seen world of his contemporaries—a condition for which neurologists have the interesting term "agnostic." See Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales, N e w York, Knopf, 1995, pp. 108-151, esp. pp. 114-115. Approvingly quoted by Lukes, Emile Dürkheim, p. 25. See ibid., pp. 25-26. P. 122. Alan Unterman, Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend, London, Thames and Hudson, 1991, p. 25. P. 226. Here is a glaring mistake by Joseph Ward Swain, who for l'étendu and l'inétendu wrote, respectively, "heard" and "not heard" (as if Dürkheim had written l'entendu and Vinentendu), thereby making the connection to Descartes disappear and also the logic that joins this chapter with the one i m mediately following, on the idea of soul. The 1975 translation by Pickering and Redding (Dürkheim on Religion, p. 134) renders étendu and inétendu as if the difference was a matter of size: "The impressions made on us by the physical world cannot, by definition, embody anything which transcends this world. T h e tangible can only be made into the tangible; the vast cannot be made into the minute." M y italics. Lukes, Emile Dürkheim, p. 26.

89. 90. 91. 92. 93.

94. 95. 96. 97. 98.

99.

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100.

I have no access to the evolving representations, but even at this distance, standing only within the argument of Formes, I venture to predict that, by now, the bones were not preserved by human beings but preserved themselves, were not dusted off by human hands but resurrected themselves, that in so doing they towed upward with them on the rope of miracle the eternal Lithuanian nation-state, and that, for some among Lithuanians sons and daughters, they have acquired exceptional virtues. After defining sacre, Durkheim sometimes uses the term saint, without saying how the two are related. I speculate that the shifting has to do, at least in part, with the problem sacred objects posed for Durkheim's written representation. If "holy" is used to render saint, there is a risk of sliding over into religious actors' point of view, where religious objects are intrinsically holy. But at the same time, given in French was a fixed phrase incorporating the term saint: L'arche sainte specifically denotes the Holy Ark but is also equivalent to "sacred cow." The term saint is more frequent in Book III than elsewhere, four of whose five chapters are about ritual conduct regarding things that have already been sanctified (but are, from the actors' standpoint, intrinsically holy). As the context shifts, the same object comes into view as different at different moments, one during the process of sanctification, the other after the process of sanctification is complete. To be represented was not only changing time, and not only changing viewpoints, but also the changing fundamental nature of the object itself. I speculate that, for Durkheim, the two terms were sometimes synonymous and sometimes not. A serviceable concept of "believing" need imply no more than this. In three studies about colonial settings, I have shown how British rulers came to accept witchcraft and prophetic dreaming as real and how supernatural utterance by millenarian prophets forced real-world colonial police into action. See "Political Contingencies of Witchcraft in Colonial Central Africa: C u l ture and the State in Marxist Theory," Canadian Journal of African Studies 16, no. 3, December 1982; Revival and Rebellion in Colonial Central Africa, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985; " I Had a Dream: Dreams and Visions upon the Political Landscape of Waking Life," Etnofoor 4, no. 2, 1991. See the articles Freud published in 1913 as Totem and Taboo. D o not overlook his footnote references to Durkheim's work, including Formes. In one place, Durkheim uses the term "fiction" but spins it: There is a reality that gains religious expression only through imaginative transfiguration (p. 385). P. 223. See Peter Kolchin, Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, C a m bridge, Harvard University Press, 1987, pp. 170-191, quoted in Barbara Jeanne Fields, "Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America," New Left Review, no. 181, May-June 1990, pp. 95-118, an exploration of reason, identity, and community deployed within the socially constructed framework of quasi-biological race.

101.

102.

103. 104. 105. 106.

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107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113.

P. 239. Quoted by Czeslaw Milosz, The Witness of Poetry, Cambridge, Harvard U n i versity Press, 1983, p. 42. Pickering, Dürkheim on Religion, pp. ix, 102—166. P. 19 in Swain translation; pp. 6—7 in present one. Lukes, Emile Dürkheim, p. 433n. See Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method, pp. 27-29. O n this point I am indebted to my colleague William J. McGrath, author of Freud's Discovery of Psychoanalysis: The Politics of Hysteria, Ithaca, N Y , Cornell University Press, 1986. Personal communication, February 20, 1994. McGrath confirms the absence of correspondence between the two men. In Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics, New York, Norton, 1952, pp. 100—161. In addition, Mestrovic, Emile Dürkheim, p. 109, has pointed out a striking kinship of approach to magic as early as the 1907 paper, "Obsessive Acts and Religious Practices," in which Freud describes the obsessional neurosis as a "privatized religious system." M y heart nearly stopped when, two years into the project and working from the first edition, I found something in the Bibliothèque nationale called a second, "revised" edition of Formes, published in 1921. Why or under what i n spiration (Dürkheim having been dead since 1917) proved impossible to discover. Comparison showed that this "revision" contains many typographical errors not present in the first. The current Presses Universitaires de France paperback is based on that second edition. Looking for something abstract, I queried various colleagues as to the possibility of its having a technical meaning in some body of philosophical work but turned up nothing. What I found in the Petit Robert was horrifyingly literal: fourteenth-century surgeons coined the term. Robert Alun Jones and Douglas Kibbee have argued this point quite cogently in "Dürkheim in Translation: Dürkheim and Translation," a paper presented at the conference Humanistic Dilemmas: Translation in the Humanities and Social Sciences, State University of N e w York at Binghamton, September 27-28, 1991. See his "Représentations individuelles et représentations collectives," 6, 1898. RMM,

114.

115.

116.

117.

118. 119.

O n this point, see Nisbet, Sociology of Emile Dürkheim, p. 187, and the clear discussion of D ü r k h e i m on morality that follows. Note as well Dürkheim 's contrast of "moral" and "physical" at p. 192. P. 275. O n this point, see D ü r k h e i m s famous discussion of crime in The Rules of Sociological Method. Mestrovic, Emile Dürkheim, makes a good case that this view is common i n -

120. 121. 122.

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tellectual ground between D ü r k h e i m and Freud (in Civilization and Its Discontents). D ü r k h e i m s "individual" would parallel Freud's "es," which entered English as "id." 123. 124. 125. P. 430. M y italics. P. 99. In fact, survey research has shown that the term "cult" in this pejorative sense has become sufficiently potent not only to color the response in America to those "new" religious movements that are called "cults," but indeed to influence legal proceedings—so much so that a strong case has been made for abandoning the term altogether in serious scholarship. See James T. Richardson, "Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to PopularNegative," Review of Religious Research 34, no. 4, June 1993, who also surveys the evolution of the term's scholarly usages in the twentieth century. I am indebted to Dr. Richardson for sharing with me various references on this terrain of contested words. P. 226. M y italics. P. 445. Dürkheim brings out this nuance on p. 5. "Everything is boiled down to what is absolutely indispensable, to that without which there would be no religion. But the indispensable is also the fundamental [essentiel], in other words, that which it is above all important for us to know." Michael Gane, On Dürkheims ledge, 1989, p. 9. Rules of Sociological Method, London, R o u t -

126. 127. 128.

129. 130.

However, Claude Lévi-Strauss has given unsettling philosophical reasons for referring to himself in the third person or as "we": "Throughout these pages, the 'we' the author has deliberately adhered to has not been meant simply as an expression of diffidence. . . . I f there is one conviction that has been intimately borne upon the author of this work during twenty years devoted to the study of m y t h s . . . it is that the solidity of the self, the major preoccupation of the whole of Western philosophy, does not withstand persistent application to the same object, which comes to pervade it through and through and to imbue it with an experiential awareness of its own unreality" (p. 625). I am indebted to the philosopher V. Y. Mudimbe for this reference and for instructive correspondence on several issues. D ü r k h e i m s scientific collectivity included distinguished researchers in their own right, such as Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert, whose works he continually cites. See the discussion on this issue by John and Doreen Weightman, translators of Claude Lévi-Strauss 's The Naked Man: Introduction to a Science of Mythology, vol. 4, New York, Harper & Row, 1981 [1971], p. 625. P. 274-275. Women come up explicitly, however, in various contexts—for example, male

131.

132.

133. 134.

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135. 136. 137.

initiation rites (in which they are designated as profane), observances regarding maternal totems, and, occasionally, female mythical messages. Nancy Jay, "Gender and Dichotomy," Feminist Studies 7, no. 1, pp. 38-56. Jay, ThroughoutYour Generations, p. 136. Leon Lederman, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1993, p. 34.

The Elementary Forms of

T^ELIGIOUS JJFE

INTRODUCTION
I
I propose i n this b o o k t o study the simplest a n d m o s t p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n that is k n o w n at present, t o discover its p r i n c i p l e s a n d a t t e m p t an e x p l a n a t i o n o f i t . A r e l i g i o u s system is said t o be the m o s t p r i m i t i v e that is available f o r o b servation w h e n i t meets the t w o f o l l o w i n g c o n d i t i o n s : First, i t m u s t be f o u n d i n societies the s i m p l i c i t y o f w h o s e o r g a n i z a t i o n is n o w h e r e exceeded; predecessor r e l i g i o n . I w i l l m a k e every effort t o describe the o r g a n i z a t i o n o f this system w i t h all the care and p r e c i s i o n that an e t h n o g r a p h e r o r a h i s t o r i a n w o u l d b r i n g t o the task. B u t m y task w i l l n o t stop at d e s c r i p t i o n . S o c i o l o g y sets itself different p r o b l e m s f r o m those o f h i s t o r y o r ethnography. I t does n o t seek t o b e c o m e a c q u a i n t e d w i t h b y g o n e f o r m s o f c i v i l i z a t i o n f o r the sole purpose o f b e i n g a c q u a i n t e d w i t h a n d r e c o n s t r u c t i n g t h e m . Instead, l i k e any positive science, * its p u r p o s e above all is t o e x p l a i n a present reality that is near t o us a n d thus capable o f affecting o u r ideas a n d actions. T h a t reality is m a n . M o r e especially, i t is present-day m a n , f o r there is n o n e o t h e r that w e have a greater interest i n k n o w i n g w e l l . T h e r e f o r e , m y study o f a v e r y archaic r e l i g i o n w i l l n o t be f o r the sheer pleasure o f r e c o u n t i n g the bizarre and the eccentric. I have made a v e r y archaic r e l i g i o n the subject o f m y research because i t seems better suited t h a n any o t h e r t o h e l p us c o m p r e h e n d the r e l i g i o u s nature o f m a n , that is, t o reveal a f u n d a m e n t a l a n d p e r m a n e n t aspect o f h u m a n i t y . T h i s p r o p o s i t i o n is b o u n d t o p r o v o k e s t r o n g o b j e c t i o n s . I t m a y be t h o u g h t strange that, t o a r r i v e at an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f present-day h u m a n i t y , w e s h o u l d have t o t u r n away f r o m i t so as t o travel b a c k t o the b e g i n n i n g o f history. I n the m a t t e r at h a n d , that p r o c e d u r e seems especially u n o r t h o d o x . R e l i g i o n s are h e l d t o be o f u n e q u a l value a n d standing; i t is c o m m o n l y said that n o t all c o n t a i n t h e same measure o f t r u t h . T h u s i t w o u l d seem that t h e h i g h e r f o r m s o f r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t c a n n o t be c o m p a r e d w i t h the l o w e r w i t h *Here, knowledge (science) acquired by means of systematic observation. This use of the term positive is indebted to Auguste Comte (1798—1857) who postulated a human evolution from the theological to metaphysical to positive epochs. The complexities of the term positive in general, and in Comtes use of it, are examined by André Lalande, Dictionnaire technique de la philosophie, Paris, F. Alcan, 1923, pp. 595-600. T will call those societies and the men of those societies primitive in the same sense. This term certainly lacks precision, but it is hard to avoid; if care is taken to specify its meaning, however, it can safely be used. 1
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o n d , i t m u s t be explainable w i t h o u t the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f any e l e m e n t f r o m a

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Introduction

out

b r i n g i n g t h e h i g h e r forms d o w n t o t h e l o w e r level. T o grant that the

c r u d e cults o f A u s t r a l i a n tribes m i g h t help us u n d e r s t a n d C h r i s t i a n i t y , for example, is t o assume—is i t n o t ? — t h a t C h r i s t i a n i t y proceeds f r o m the same mentality, i n o t h e r w o r d s , that i t is made u p o f the same superstitions and rests o n the same errors. T h e t h e o r e t i c a l i m p o r t a n c e sometimes accorded to p r i m i t i v e religions c o u l d therefore be taken as evidence o f a systematic irre¬ l i g i o n that i n v a l i d a t e d the results o f research b y p r e j u d g i n g t h e m . I need n o t go i n t o the question here w h e t h e r scholars can be f o u n d w h o w e r e g u i l t y o f this a n d w h o have made h i s t o r y and the e t h n o g r a p h y o f r e l i g i o n a means o f m a k i n g w a r against r e l i g i o n . I n any event, such c o u l d n o t possibly be a sociologist's p o i n t o f view. I n d e e d , i t is a fundamental postulate o f sociology that a h u m a n i n s t i t u t i o n cannot rest u p o n e r r o r and falsehood. I f i t d i d , i t c o u l d n o t endure. I f i t h a d n o t been g r o u n d e d i n the nature o f things, i n those v e r y things i t w o u l d have m e t resistance that i t c o u l d n o t have overc o m e . Therefore, w h e n I approach the study o f p r i m i t i v e religions, i t is w i t h the certainty that they are g r o u n d e d i n and express the real. I n the course o f the analyses and discussions that follow, w e w i l l see this p r i n c i p l e c o m i n g u p again a n d again. W h a t I c r i t i c i z e i n the schools I part c o m p a n y w i t h is p r e cisely that they have failed t o recognize i t . N o d o u b t , w h e n all w e d o is c o n sider the formulas literally, these religious beliefs and practices appear disconcerting, and o u r i n c l i n a t i o n m i g h t be t o w r i t e t h e m o f f t o some sort o f i n b o r n aberration. B u t w e must k n o w h o w t o reach beneath the s y m b o l t o grasp the reality i t represents and that gives the s y m b o l its t r u e m e a n i n g . T h e most bizarre o r barbarous rites a n d the strangest m y t h s translate some h u m a n need and some aspect o f life, w h e t h e r social o r i n d i v i d u a l . T h e reasons the faithful settle f o r i n j u s t i f y i n g those rites and m y t h s m a y be mistaken, and m o s t often are; b u t the t r u e reasons exist nonetheless, a n d i t is the business o f science t o u n c o v e r t h e m . Fundamentally, t h e n , there are n o religions that are false. A l l are t r u e after t h e i r o w n fashion: A l l f u l f i l l g i v e n c o n d i t i o n s o f h u m a n existence, t h o u g h i n different ways. G r a n t e d , i t is n o t impossible t o r a n k t h e m hierarchically. S o m e can be said t o be s u p e r i o r t o others, i n the sense that they b r i n g h i g h e r m e n t a l faculties i n t o play, that t h e y are r i c h e r i n ideas a n d feelings, that they c o n t a i n p r o p o r t i o n a t e l y m o r e concepts t h a n sensations a n d images, and that t h e y are m o r e elaborately systematized. B u t the greater c o m p l e x i t y and h i g h e r ideal c o n t e n t , h o w e v e r real, are n o t sufficient t o place the c o r r e s p o n d i n g religions i n t o separate genera. A l l are equally r e l i g i o u s , j u s t as all l i v i n g beings are e q u a l l y l i v i n g beings, f r o m the h u m b l e s t plastid t o m a n . I f I address m y s e l f t o p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n s , t h e n , i t is n o t w i t h any u l t e r i o r m o t i v e o f disparaging r e l i g i o n i n general: T h e s e religions are t o be respected n o less

Introduction

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t h a n the others. T h e y f u l f i l l t h e same needs, play the same role, a n d p r o c e e d f r o m the same causes; therefore, t h e y can serve j u s t as w e l l t o elucidate the nature o f r e l i g i o u s life and, i t f o l l o w s , t o solve the p r o b l e m I w i s h t o treat. Still, w h y give t h e m a k i n d o f p r i o r i t y ? W h y choose t h e m i n preference t o others as the subject o f m y study? T h i s choice is solely f o r reasons o f m e t h o d . First o f all, w e c a n n o t a r r i v e at an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the m o s t m o d e r n r e l i g i o n s w i t h o u t t r a c i n g h i s t o r i c a l l y the m a n n e r i n w h i c h t h e y have gradually taken shape. I n d e e d , h i s t o r y is the o n l y m e t h o d o f e x p l a n a t o r y analysis that can be a p p l i e d t o t h e m . H i s t o r y alone enables us t o break d o w n an i n s t i t u t i o n i n t o its c o m p o n e n t parts, because i t shows those parts t o us as they are b o r n i n t i m e , o n e after the other. Second, b y s i t u a t i n g each part o f the i n s t i t u t i o n w i t h i n t h e t o t a l i t y o f circumstances i n w h i c h i t was b o r n , h i s t o r y puts i n t o o u r hands t h e o n l y tools w e have f o r i d e n t i f y i n g the causes that have b r o u g h t i t i n t o b e i n g . T h u s , w h e n e v e r w e set o u t t o e x p l a i n s o m e t h i n g h u m a n at a specific m o m e n t i n t i m e — b e i t a r e l i g i o u s belief, a m o r a l r u l e , a legal p r i n c i p l e , a n aesthetic t e c h n i q u e , o r an e c o n o m i c s y s t e m — w e m u s t b e g i n b y g o i n g b a c k t o its simplest a n d m o s t p r i m i t i v e f o r m . W e m u s t seek t o a c c o u n t f o r the features that define i t at that p e r i o d o f its existence a n d t h e n s h o w h o w i t has g r a d u a l l y d e v e l o p e d , g a i n e d i n c o m p l e x i t y , a n d w h a t i t is at the m o m e n t u n d e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n . I t is easy t o see h o w i m p o r t a n t the d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f the i n i t i a l starting p o i n t is f o r this series o f progressive explanations. A cartesian p r i n c i p l e h a d i t that the first l i n k takes precedence i n the c h a i n o f scientific t r u t h s . T o be sure, i t is o u t o f the q u e s t i o n t o base the science o f religions o n a n o t i o n elaborated i n t h e cartesian m a n n e r — t h a t is, a l o g i c a l c o n c e p t , p u r e possibility c o n structed solely b y force o f intellect. W h a t w e m u s t find is a concrete reality that h i s t o r i c a l a n d e t h n o g r a p h i c o b s e r v a t i o n alone can reveal t o us. B u t i f that p r i m a r y c o n c e p t i o n m u s t be a r r i v e d at b y o t h e r m e t h o d s , the fact remains that i t is destined t o have an i m p o r t a n t i n f l u e n c e o n all the subsequent p r o p o sitions that science establishes. B i o l o g i c a l e v o l u t i o n was c o n c e i v e d altogether differently f r o m t h e m o m e n t the existence o f u n i c e l l u l a r organisms was d i s covered. L i k e w i s e , the particulars o f religious facts are e x p l a i n e d d i f f e r e n d y i f n a t u r i s m is placed at the b e g i n n i n g o f religious e v o l u t i o n t h a n i f a n i m i s m , o r some o t h e r f o r m , is placed there. I n d e e d , even the m o s t specialized scholars must choose a hypothesis a n d take t h e i r i n s p i r a t i o n f r o m i t i f t h e y w a n t t o t r y t o a c c o u n t f o r t h e facts they analyze—unless they m e a n t o c o n f i n e t h e m selves t o a task o f pure e r u d i t i o n . W i l l y - n i l l y , the questions t h e y ask take t h e f o l l o w i n g f o r m : W h a t has caused n a t u r i s m o r a n i m i s m t o take o n such a n d such a p a r t i c u l a r aspect here o r there, a n d t o be e n r i c h e d o r i m p o v e r i s h e d i n such and such a way? Since t a k i n g a p o s i t i o n o n the i n i t i a l p r o b l e m is u n become

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Introduction

avoidable, a n d since the s o l u t i o n g i v e n w i l l affect the science as a w h o l e , the p r o b l e m is best c o n f r o n t e d at the outset. T h i s is w h a t I propose t o do. Besides, apart f r o m those i n d i r e c t consequences, the study o f p r i m i t i v e religions i n itself has i m m e d i a t e interest o f the first i m p o r t a n c e . I f i t is useful t o k n o w w h a t a g i v e n r e l i g i o n consists of; i t is far m o r e i m p o r t a n t t o e x a m i n e w h a t r e l i g i o n is i n general. T h i s is a p r o b l e m that has a l ways i n t r i g u e d p h i l o s o p h e r s , a n d n o t w i t h o u t reason: I t is o f interest t o all h u m a n i t y . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , the m e t h o d philosophers o r d i n a r i l y use t o solve i t is p u r e l y o n e o f dialectic: A l l t h e y d o is analyze the idea t h e y have o f r e l i g i o n , even i f t h e y have t o illustrate t h e results o f that m e n t a l analysis w i t h examples borrowed from those r e l i g i o n s that best suit t h e i r m o d e l . B u t w h i l e this m e t h o d m u s t be a b a n d o n e d , the p r o b l e m o f d e f i n i t i o n remains; a n d p h i l o s ophy's great service has b e e n t o prevent i t f r o m b e i n g settled o n c e a n d f o r a l l * b y the disdain o f t h e savants. T h e p r o b l e m can i n fact b e approached i n a n o t h e r way. Since all r e l i g i o n s m a y be c o m p a r e d , all b e i n g species w i t h i n t h e same genus, s o m e elements are o f necessity c o m m o n t o t h e m all. B y that I m e a n n o t o n l y t h e o u t w a r d a n d visible features that t h e y all equally e x h i b i t a n d that m a k e i t possible t o define r e l i g i o n i n a p r o v i s i o n a l w a y at t h e b e g i n n i n g o f research. T h e discovery o f these apparent signs is relatively easy, f o r the o b s e r v a t i o n r e q u i r e d does n o t g o b e y o n d the surface o f things. B u t these e x t e r n a l resemblances presuppose deeper ones. A t the f o u n d a t i o n o f all systems o f b e l i e f a n d all cults, there m u s t necessarily be a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f f u n d a m e n t a l representations a n d modes o f r i t u a l c o n d u c t ^ that, despite the diversity o f f o r m s t h a t the o n e a n d t h e o t h e r m a y have taken o n , have the same objective m e a n i n g e v e r y w h e r e a n d e v e r y w h e r e f u l f i l l t h e same f u n c tions. I t is these e n d u r i n g elements that c o n s t i t u t e w h a t is eternal a n d h u m a n i n r e l i g i o n . T h e y are the w h o l e objective c o n t e n t o f the idea that is expressed w h e n religion i n general is s p o k e n of. H o w , t h e n , can those elements be uncovered? Surely i t is n o t b y o b s e r v i n g the c o m p l e x r e l i g i o n s that have arisen i n the course o f history. E a c h o f those r e l i g i o n s is f o r m e d from such a v a r i e t y o f e l ements that i t is v e r y h a r d t o d i s t i n g u i s h w h a t is secondary t o t h e m f r o m w h a t is p r i m a r y , a n d w h a t is essential f r o m w h a t is accessory. S i m p l y consider religions l i k e those o f E g y p t , I n d i a , o r classical a n t i q u i t y ! E a c h is a dense t a n gle o f m a n y cults t h a t can v a r y a c c o r d i n g t o localities, temples, generations, dynasties, invasions, a n d so o n . P o p u l a r superstitions i n t e r m i n g l e i n t h e m w i t h the m o s t sophisticated dogmas. N e i t h e r r e l i g i o u s t h i n k i n g n o r r e l i g i o u s * Swain rendered Durkheim's prescrit as "suppressed," as if he had written proscrit. ^Attitudes rituelles. On this phrase, see below, p. 301n.

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practice is shared equally a m o n g the mass o f the faithful. T h e beliefs as w e l l as the rites are t a k e n i n different ways, d e p e n d i n g o n m e n , m i l i e u x , and c i r cumstances. H e r e i t is priests, there m o n k s , elsewhere the laity; here, mystics and rationalists, theologians a n d prophets, a n d so o n . U n d e r such c o n d i t i o n s , it is d i f f i c u l t t o perceive w h a t m i g h t be c o m m o n t o all. I t is i n d e e d possible t o f i n d ways o f s t u d y i n g some p a r t i c u l a r p h e n o m e n o n f r u i t f u l l y — s u c h as p r o p h e t i s m , m o n a s t i c i s m , o r the m y s t e r i e s — t h r o u g h o n e o r a n o t h e r o f those systems i n w h i c h i t is especially w e l l d e v e l o p e d . B u t h o w can o n e f i n d t h e c o m m o n basis o f r e l i g i o u s life u n d e r the l u x u r i a n t v e g e t a t i o n that g r o w s over it? H o w can o n e f i n d the f u n d a m e n t a l states characteristic o f the r e l i g i o u s m e n t a l i t y i n general t h r o u g h the clash o f theologies, the variations o f r i t u a l , the m u l t i p l i c i t y o f g r o u p i n g s , a n d the diversity o f individuals? T h e case is altogether different i n the l o w e r societies. T h e lesser d e v e l o p m e n t o f i n d i v i d u a l i t y , t h e smaller scale o f the g r o u p , a n d t h e h o m o g e n e i t y o f e x t e r n a l circumstances all c o n t r i b u t e t o r e d u c i n g the differences a n d v a r i ations t o a m i n i m u m . T h e g r o u p regularly produces an i n t e l l e c t u a l a n d m o r a l u n i f o r m i t y o f w h i c h w e find o n l y rare examples i n the m o r e advanced s o c i eties. E v e r y t h i n g is c o m m o n t o everyone. T h e m o v e m e n t s are stereotyped; everyone executes the same ones i n t h e same circumstances; a n d this c o n f o r m i t y o f c o n d u c t m e r e l y translates that o f t h o u g h t . Since all the consciousnesses are p u l l e d a l o n g i n the same c u r r e n t , the i n d i v i d u a l t y p e v i r t u a l l y c o n f o u n d s i t s e l f w i t h the generic type. A t the same t i m e that all is u n i f o r m , all is simple. W h a t c o u l d b e m o r e basic t h a n those m y t h s c o m p o s e d o f a s i n gle t h e m e , repeated endlessly, o r t h a n those rites c o m p o s e d o f a small n u m ber o f m o v e m e n t s , repeated u n t i l the participants can d o n o m o r e . N e i t h e r the p o p u l a r n o r the p r i e s t l y i m a g i n a t i o n has yet h a d the t i m e o r the means t o refine a n d t r a n s f o r m t h e basic m a t e r i a l o f ideas a n d r e l i g i o u s practices; r e d u c e d t o essentials, that m a t e r i a l spontaneously presents itself t o e x a m i n a t i o n , a n d d i s c o v e r i n g i t calls f o r o n l y a m i n i m a l effort. Inessential, secondary, a n d l u x u r i o u s d e v e l o p m e n t s have n o t yet c o m e t o h i d e w h a t is p r i m a r y .
2

E v e r y t h i n g is b o i l e d d o w n t o w h a t is absolutely indispensable, t o that w i t h o u t w h i c h there w o u l d be n o r e l i g i o n . B u t the indispensable is also the f u n d a m e n t a l , i n o t h e r w o r d s , that w h i c h i t is above all i m p o r t a n t f o r us t o k n o w . T h u s , p r i m i t i v e civilizations are p r i m e cases because t h e y are s i m p l e cases. T h i s is w h y , a m o n g all the orders o f facts, the observations o f e t h n o g This is not to say, of course, that primitive cults do not go beyond bare essentials. Quite the contrary, as we will see, religious beliefs and practices that do not have narrowly utilitarian aims are found in every religion (Bk.III, chap.4, §2). This nonutilitarian richness is indispensable to religious life, and of its very essence. But it is by far less well developed in the lower religions than in the others, and this fact will put us in a better position to determine its raison d'être.
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6

Introduction

raphers have often b e e n veritable revelations that have b r e a t h e d n e w lite i n t o the study o f h u m a n i n s t i t u t i o n s . Before the m i d d l e o f the n i n e t e e n t h century, for example, i t was generally believed that the father was the essential elem e n t o f the f a m i l y ; i t was n o t even i m a g i n a b l e that there c o u l d be a family o r g a n i z a t i o n o f w h i c h paternal p o w e r was n o t the keystone. Bachofen's disc o v e r y t o p p l e d that o l d n o t i o n . U n t i l q u i t e recent times, i t was t h o u g h t o b v i o u s that the m o r a l and legal relations that c o n s t i t u t e k i n s h i p w e r e o n l y another aspect o f the p h y s i o l o g i c a l relations that result f r o m shared descent. B a c h o f e n and his successors, M c L e n n a n , M o r g a n , a n d m a n y others, were still o p e r a t i n g u n d e r the i n f l u e n c e o f that p r e c o n c e p t i o n . B u t , q u i t e the c o n trary, w e have k n o w n ever since w e became a c q u a i n t e d w i t h the nature ot the p r i m i t i v e clan that k i n s h i p c a n n o t be d e f i n e d b y c o m m o n b l o o d . * T o ret u r n t o r e l i g i o n s : E x c l u s i v e c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f the r e l i g i o u s f o r m s that are the m o s t familiar t o us l o n g l e d us t o believe that the idea o f g o d was characteristic o f all that is r e l i g i o u s . T h e r e l i g i o n I w i l l study b e l o w is largely a stranger to any n o t i o n o f d i v i n i t y . I n i t , the forces t o w h i c h the rites are addressed differ greatly f r o m those that are o f p a r a m o u n t i m p o r t a n c e i n o u r m o d e r n r e l i gions, and yet they w i l l help us t o understand o u r m o d e r n r e l i g i o n s better. N o t h i n g is m o r e unjust, therefore, t h a n the disdain w i t h w h i c h t o o m a n y historians still regard ethnographers' w o r k . I n p o i n t o f fact, e t h n o g r a p h y has o f t e n b r o u g h t a b o u t the m o s t fertile r e v o l u t i o n s i n the various branches o f sociology. F o r the same reason, m o r e o v e r , t h e discovery o f u n i c e l l u l a r creatures, w h i c h I n o t e d earlier, t r a n s f o r m e d the idea o f life that was w i d e l y h e l d . Since life is d o w n t o its f u n d a m e n t a l features a m o n g v e r y s i m p l e beings, those features m a y be less easily misread. B u t p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n s d o n o t m e r e l y a l l o w us t o isolate the c o n s t i t u e n t elements o f r e l i g i o n ; t h e i r great advantage is also t h a t t h e y a i d i n its explanat i o n . Because the facts are simpler, the relations b e t w e e n t h e m are m o r e apparent. T h e reasons m e n i n v o k e t o e x p l a i n t h e i r actions t o themselves have n o t yet b e e n r e f i n e d a n d r e v a m p e d b y sophisticated t h o u g h t : T h e y are closer and m o r e a k i n t o t h e motives that caused those actions. T o u n d e r s t a n d a d e l u s i o n p r o p e r l y a n d t o b e able t o a p p l y the m o s t appropriate treatment, the d o c t o r needs t o k n o w w h a t its p o i n t o f departure was. T h a t event is the m o r e easily detected the nearer t o its b e g i n n i n g s t h e d e l u s i o n can b e observed.

*Jacob Johann Bachofen (1815—1887) postulated the existence of matriliny (reckoning descent through the female line) and matriarchy or mother right, a stage he envisaged as standing between primitive promiscuity and patriarchy. Ethnographic study worldwide has borne out the first and discredited the second. Like Bachofen. John Ferguson McLennan (1827-1881) and Lewis Henry Morgan (1818—1881) were lawyers interested in the rules that govern family and property. Among other achievements, Morgan pioneered the study of kin statuses distinct from blood relationship; McLennan is credited with having drawn attention to totemism. See below, Bk.I. chap.4, p. 85.

Introduction

1

Conversely, the l o n g e r a sickness is left t o develop, the m o r e that o r i g i n a l p o i n t o f departure slips o u t o f v i e w . T h i s is so because all sorts o f i n t e r p r e t a tions have i n t e r v e n e d a l o n g the way, a n d the t e n d e n c y o f those i n t e r p r e t a tions is t o repress the o r i g i n a l state i n t o the unconscious and t o replace i t w i t h o t h e r states t h r o u g h w h i c h the o r i g i n a l o n e is sometimes n o t easy to detect. T h e distance b e t w e e n a systematized d e l u s i o n and the first i m p r e s sions that gave b i r t h t o i t is o f t e n considerable. T h e same applies t o religious t h o u g h t . As i t progresses historically, the causes that called i t i n t o existence, t h o u g h still at w o r k , are seen n o m o r e except t h r o u g h a vast system o f dist o r t i n g i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . T h e p o p u l a r m y t h o l o g i e s a n d the subtle theologies have d o n e t h e i r w o r k : T h e y have o v e r l a i d the o r i g i n a l feelings w i t h v e r y d i f ferent ones that, a l t h o u g h s t e m m i n g f r o m p r i m i t i v e feelings o f w h i c h t h e y are the elaborated f o r m , nevertheless a l l o w t h e i r t r u e nature t o s h o w o n l y i n part. T h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l distance b e t w e e n t h e cause a n d the effect, a n d b e t w e e n the apparent cause a n d the effective cause, has b e c o m e w i d e r a n d m o r e d i f f i c u l t f o r t h e m i n d t o o v e r c o m e . T h e r e m a i n d e r o f this w o r k w i l l be an i l l u s t r a t i o n a n d a test o f this m e t h o d o l o g i c a l p o i n t . W e w i l l see h o w , i n the p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n s , the r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n o n still carries the visible i m p r i n t o f its o r i g i n s . I t w o u l d have b e e n m u c h m o r e d i f f i c u l t f o r us t o infer those o r i g i n s b y c o n s i d e r i n g m o r e d e v e l o p e d r e l i g i o n s alone. T h u s , the study I u n d e r t a k e is a w a y o f t a k i n g u p again t h e o l d p r o b l e m o f the o r i g i n o f r e l i g i o n s but under new conditions. G r a n t e d , i f b y o r i g i n o n e means an absolute first b e g i n n i n g , there is n o t h i n g scientific a b o u t the quest i o n , a n d i t m u s t be resolutely set aside. T h e r e is n o radical instant w h e n r e l i g i o n began t o exist, a n d the p o i n t is n o t t o find a r o u n d a b o u t w a y o f c o n v e y i n g ourselves there i n t h o u g h t . L i k e every o t h e r h u m a n i n s t i t u t i o n , r e l i g i o n begins n o w h e r e . So all speculations i n this genre are r i g h t l y discredited; they can consist o f o n l y subjective a n d a r b i t r a r y c o n s t r u c t i o n s find without checks o f any sort. T h e p r o b l e m I pose is altogether different. I w o u l d l i k e t o a means o f d i s c e r n i n g the ever-present causes o n w h i c h the m o s t basic f o r m s o f religious t h o u g h t a n d practice d e p e n d . F o r t h e reasons j u s t set f o r t h , the causes are m o r e easily observable i f the societies i n w h i c h they are o b served are less c o m p l e x . T h a t is w h y I seek t o get closer t o the o r i g i n s . T h e reason is n o t that I ascribe special v i r t u e s t o t h e l o w e r r e l i g i o n s . Q u i t e the contrary, t h e y are c r u d e a n d r u d i m e n t a r y ; so there can be n o q u e s t i o n o f m a k i n g t h e m o u t t o be m o d e l s o f some sort, w h i c h t h e later r e l i g i o n s w o u l d It will be seen that I give the word "origins," like the word "primitive," an entirely relative sense. I do not mean by it an absolute beginning but the simplest social state known at present—the state beyond which it is at present impossible for us to go. When I speak about origins and the beginnings of history or religious thought, this is the sense in which those phrases must be understood.
3 3

8

Introduction

o n l y have h a d t o reproduce. B u t t h e i r v e r y l a c k o f e l a b o r a t i o n makes t h e m instructive, f o r i n this w a y t h e y b e c o m e useful e x p e r i m e n t s i n w h i c h the facts and the relations a m o n g facts are easier t o detect. T o u n c o v e r the laws o f the p h e n o m e n a he studies, t h e physicist seeks t o s i m p l i f y those p h e n o m e n a and to r i d t h e m o f t h e i r secondary characteristics. I n the case o f i n s t i t u t i o n s , nat u r e spontaneously makes s i m p l i f i c a t i o n s o f the same k i n d at the b e g i n n i n g o f history. I w i s h o n l y t o p u t those s i m p l i f i c a t i o n s t o g o o d use. Doubtless, I w i l l be able t o o b t a i n o n l y v e r y e l e m e n t a r y facts b y this m e t h o d . W h e n I have a c c o u n t e d for t h e m , t o the e x t e n t this w i l l be possible, the novelties o f all k i n d s that have b e e n p r o d u c e d i n t h e course o f e v o l u t i o n w i l l still n o t be e x p l a i n e d . B u t a l t h o u g h I w o u l d n o t d r e a m o f d e n y i n g the i m p o r t a n c e o f the p r o b l e m s such novelties pose, I t h i n k those p r o b l e m s b e n e f i t b y b e i n g treated at the p r o p e r time, and there is g o o d reason n o t t o tackle t h e m u n t i l after those w h o s e study I have u n d e r t a k e n .

II
M y research is n o t solely o f interest t o the science o f religions. T h e r e is an aspect o f every r e l i g i o n that transcends the r e a l m o f specifically r e l i g i o u s ideas. T h r o u g h i t , t h e study o f r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a provides a means o f r e v i s i t i n g p r o b l e m s that u n t i l n o w have b e e n debated o n l y a m o n g p h i l o s o p h e r s . I t has l o n g b e e n k n o w n that the first systems o f representations that m a n made o f the w o r l d a n d h i m s e l f w e r e o f religious o r i g i n . T h e r e is n o r e l i g i o n that is n o t b o t h a c o s m o l o g y and a speculation a b o u t the d i v i n e . I f p h i l o s o p h y a n d the sciences w e r e b o r n i n r e l i g i o n , i t is because r e l i g i o n itself began b y serving as science a n d philosophy. F u r t h e r , and less o f t e n n o t e d , r e l i g i o n has n o t m e r e l y e n r i c h e d a h u m a n i n t e l l e c t already f o r m e d b u t i n fact has h e l p e d to f o r m i t . M e n o w e t o r e l i g i o n n o t o n l y the c o n t e n t o f t h e i r k n o w l e d g e , i n significant part, b u t also the f o r m i n w h i c h that k n o w l e d g e is elaborated. A t the r o o t o f o u r j u d g m e n t s , there are c e r t a i n f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s that d o m i n a t e o u r e n t i r e i n t e l l e c t u a l life. I t is these ideas that philosophers, b e g i n n i n g w i t h A r i s t o t l e , have called the categories o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g : n o t i o n s o f t i m e , space, n u m b e r , cause, substance, personality. * T h e y c o r r e s p o n d t o *Usually referred to in Kantian circles as the "categories of understanding" or the "categories of the understanding" technically these are called "pure concepts of understanding"—that is, concepts, or rules for organizing the variety of sense perceptions, that lie ready in the mind and are brought into play by our efforts to make sense of our sensations. For clarifying correspondence on these points, I thank Professor Robert Paul Wolff. I call time and space categories because there is no difference between the role these notions play in intellectual life and that which falls to notions of kind and cause. (See on this point [Octave] Hamelin, Essai sur les éléments principaux de la représentation, Paris, Alcan [1907], pp. 63, 76.)
4 4

Introduction

9

the m o s t universal properties o f things. T h e y are l i k e solid frames that c o n fine t h o u g h t . T h o u g h t does n o t seem t o be able t o break o u t o f t h e m w i t h o u t d e s t r o y i n g itself, since i t seems w e c a n n o t t h i n k o f objects that are n o t i n t i m e o r space, t h a t c a n n o t be c o u n t e d , a n d so f o r t h . T h e o t h e r ideas are c o n t i n g e n t a n d c h a n g i n g , and w e can conceive o f a m a n , a society, o r an e p o c h that lacks t h e m ; b u t these f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s seem t o us as almost inseparable f r o m the n o r m a l f u n c t i o n i n g o f the i n t e l l e c t . T h e y are, as i t were, the skeleton o f t h o u g h t . N o w , w h e n o n e analyzes p r i m i t i v e religious beliefs m e thodically, o n e n a t u r a l l y finds the p r i n c i p a l categories a m o n g t h e m . T h e y are b o r n i n a n d f r o m r e l i g i o n ; t h e y are a p r o d u c t o f r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t . T h i s is a p o i n t that I w i l l m a k e again a n d again i n the course o f this b o o k . E v e n n o w t h a t p o i n t has a c e r t a i n interest o f its o w n , b u t here is w h a t gives i t its t r u e significance. T h e general c o n c l u s i o n o f the chapters t o f o l l o w is that r e l i g i o n is an e m i n e n t l y social t h i n g . R e l i g i o u s representations are collective representations that express collective realities; rites are ways o f a c t i n g that are b o r n o n l y i n the m i d s t o f assembled groups a n d w h o s e p u r p o s e is t o evoke, m a i n t a i n , o r recreate c e r t a i n m e n t a l states o f those groups. B u t i f the categories are o f religious o r i g i n , t h e n they m u s t participate i n * w h a t is c o m m o n t o all r e l i g i o n : T h e y , t o o , m u s t be social things, p r o d u c t s o f c o l l e c t i v e t h o u g h t . A t the v e r y least—since w i t h o u r present u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f these matters, r a d i cal and exclusive theses are t o be guarded against—it is l e g i t i m a t e t o say that they are r i c h i n social elements. T h i s , i t m u s t be added, is s o m e t h i n g o n e can b e g i n t o see even n o w f o r c e r t a i n o f the categories. F o r example, w h a t i f o n e t r i e d t o i m a g i n e w h a t the n o t i o n o f t i m e w o u l d be i n the absence o f the m e t h o d s w e use t o d i v i d e , measure, a n d express i t w i t h objective signs, a t i m e that was n o t a succession o f years, m o n t h s , weeks, days, a n d hours? I t w o u l d be nearly impossible t o conceive of. W e can conceive o f t i m e o n l y i f w e differentiate b e t w e e n m o ments. N o w , w h a t is the o r i g i n o f t h a t differentiation? U n d o u b t e d l y , states o f consciousness t h a t w e have already e x p e r i e n c e d can be r e p r o d u c e d i n us i n the same o r d e r i n w h i c h they o r i g i n a l l y o c c u r r e d ; and, i n this way, bits o f o u r past b e c o m e i m m e d i a t e again, even w h i l e spontaneously d i s t i n g u i s h i n g themselves f r o m t h e present. B u t h o w e v e r i m p o r t a n t this d i s t i n c t i o n m i g h t

*The phrase "participate in," which occurs frequently, has usually not been replaced with simpler possibilities such as "partakes of" or "shares in" because the notion of participation that can be seen in the sentence "Jesus participated in divine and human nature" must be borne in mind, together with an argument in which Dürkheim was engaged. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, whose book Les Fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures Dürkheim criticizes, considered "participations" to exemplify the inherent illogic of "primitive" thought. Dürkheim held just the opposite.

10

Introduction

be for o u r p r i v a t e e x p e r i e n c e , i t is far f r o m sufficient t o c o n s t i t u t e the n o t i o n o r category o f t i m e . T h e category o f t i m e is n o t s i m p l y a p a r t i a l o r c o m p l e t e c o m m e m o r a t i o n o f o u r l i v e d life. I t is an abstract a n d i m p e r s o n a l f r a m e w o r k that contains n o t o n l y o u r i n d i v i d u a l existence b u t also that o f h u m a n i t y . I t is l i k e an endless canvas o n w h i c h all d u r a t i o n is spread o u t before the mind's eye a n d o n w h i c h all possible events are l o c a t e d i n r e l a t i o n to p o i n t s o f reference that are fixed a n d specified. I t is n o t my time that is o r g a n i z e d i n this way; i t is t i m e that is c o n c e i v e d o f o b j e c t i v e l y b y all m e n o f t h e same c i v i l i z a t i o n . T h i s b y i t s e l f is e n o u g h t o m a k e us b e g i n t o see that any such organ i z a t i o n w o u l d have t o be collective. A n d i n d e e d , o b s e r v a t i o n establishes that these indispensable p o i n t s , i n reference t o w h i c h all things are arranged t e m porally, are taken f r o m social life. T h e d i v i s i o n i n t o days, weeks, m o n t h s , years, etc., corresponds t o the recurrence o f rites, festivals, a n d p u b l i c cerem o n i e s at regular i n t e r v a l s . A calendar expresses the r h y t h m o f collective act i v i t y w h i l e e n s u r i n g that r e g u l a r i t y .
6 3

T h e same applies t o space. As H a m e l i n has s h o w n , space is n o t the vague and i n d e t e r m i n a t e m e d i u m that K a n t i m a g i n e d . I f p u r e l y a n d absolutely h o m o g e n e o u s , i t w o u l d be o f n o use a n d w o u l d offer n o t h i n g for t h o u g h t t o h o l d o n t o . Spatial representation essentially consists i n a p r i m a r y c o o r d i n a t i o n o f g i v e n sense experience. B u t this c o o r d i n a t i o n w o u l d be i m possible i f the parts o f space w e r e qualitatively equivalent, i f t h e y really w e r e m u t u a l l y interchangeable. T o have a spatial o r d e r i n g o f things is t o be able t o situate t h e m differently: t o place some o n the r i g h t , others o n the left, these above, those b e l o w , n o r t h o r s o u t h , east o r west, a n d so f o r t h , j u s t as, t o arrange states o f consciousness t e m p o r a l l y , i t m u s t b e possible t o locate t h e m at d e f i n i t e dates. T h a t is, space w o u l d n o t be itself if, l i k e t i m e , i t was n o t d i v i d e d a n d differentiated. B u t w h e r e d o these divisions that are essential t o

7

In support of this assertion, see Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, Mélanges d'histoire des religions, the chapter on "La Représentation du temps dans la religion," Paris, Alcan [1909]. Through this we see how completely different are the complexus of sensations and images that serves C orient us in duration, and the category of time. The first are the summary of individual experiences, o which hold only for the individual who has had them. By contrast, the category of time expresses a time common to the group—social time, so to speak. This category itself is a true social institution. Thus it is peculiar to man; animals have no representation of this kind. This distinction between the category of time and the corresponding individual sensations could easily be made in regard to space and cause. This may perhaps help clear up certain confusions, which have fed controversies on these questions. I will return to this point at the Conclusion of the present work.
7

5

6

Hamelin, Essai sur les éléments principaux de la représentation, pp. 75fF.

Introduction

11

space c o m e from? I n itself i t has n o r i g h t , n o left, n o h i g h o r l o w , n o n o r t h o r s o u t h , etc. A l l these d i s t i n c t i o n s e v i d e n t l y arise f r o m the fact that different affective c o l o r i n g s have b e e n assigned t o regions. A n d since all m e n o f the same c i v i l i z a t i o n conceive o f space i n the same manner, i t is e v i d e n t l y necessary that these affective c o l o r i n g s a n d the d i s t i n c t i o n s that arise from t h e m also b e h e l d i n c o m m o n — w h i c h i m p l i e s almost necessarily that t h e y are o f social o r i g i n .
8

Besides, i n s o m e instances this social character is m a d e manifest. T h e r e are societies i n Australia a n d N o r t h A m e r i c a i n w h i c h space is c o n c e i v e d i n the f o r m o f an i m m e n s e circle, because the camp itself is c i r c u l a r ; a n d the spatial circle is d i v i d e d i n exactly the same w a y as t h e t r i b a l circle a n d i n its image. As m a n y regions are d i s t i n g u i s h e d as there are clans i n the t r i b e , a n d i t is t h e place the clans o c c u p y i n the e n c a m p m e n t that d e t e r m i n e s the o r i e n t a t i o n o f t h e regions. Each r e g i o n is d e f i n e d b y t h e t o t e m o f the clan t o w h i c h i t is assigned. A m o n g the Z u f i i , f o r example, the p u e b l o is m a d e u p o f seven sections; each o f these sections is a g r o u p o f clans that has a c q u i r e d its o w n u n i t y . I n all l i k e l i h o o d , i t was o r i g i n a l l y a single clan that later s u b d i v i d e d . Space s i m i l a r l y contains seven regions, a n d each o f these seven sections o f the w o r l d is i n i n t i m a t e relationship w i t h a section o f the p u e b l o , that is, w i t h a g r o u p o f c l a n s . south,
11 10 9

" T h u s , " says C u s h i n g , " o n e d i v i s i o n is considered

t o be i n r e l a t i o n w i t h t h e n o r t h ; a n o t h e r represents the west, a n o t h e r the etc." E a c h section o f the p u e b l o has its d i s t i n c t i v e c o l o r , w h i c h s y m bolizes i t ; each r e g i o n has its o w n c o l o r , w h i c h is that o f t h e c o r r e s p o n d i n g section. O v e r t h e course o f history, the n u m b e r o f basic clans has v a r i e d , a n d t h e n u m b e r o f regions has v a r i e d i n the same way. T h u s , spatial o r g a n i z a t i o n was m o d e l e d o n social o r g a n i z a t i o n a n d replicates i t . Far f r o m b e i n g b u i l t i n t o h u m a n nature, n o idea exists, u p t o a n d i n c l u d i n g t h e d i s t i n c t i o n b e -

otherwise, in order to explain this agreement, one would have to accept the idea that all individuals, by virtue of their organico-psychic constitution, are affected in the same manner by the different parts of space—which is all the more improbable since the different regions have no affective coloring. Moreover, the divisions of space vary among societies—proof that they are not based exclusively on the inborn nature of man. See Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, "De Quelques formes primitives de la classification," AS, vol. VI, 1903, pp. 47ff.
10 9

Ibid., pp. 34ff.

"[Frank Hamilton] Cushing, "Outlines of Zuñi Creation Myths," Tlnrteenth Report, BAE, Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, 1896, pp. 367ff. [Throughout, quoted material is translated into English from Durkheim s French renderings.]

12

Introduction

t w e e n r i g h t a n d left, that is n o t , i n all p r o b a b i l i t y , the p r o d u c t o f religious, hence collective, representations.
12

A n a l o g o u s d e m o n s t r a t i o n s c o n c e r n i n g the n o t i o n s o f genus, force, personality, and efficacy w i l l be f o u n d b e l o w . O n e m i g h t even ask w h e t h e r the n o t i o n o f c o n t r a d i c t i o n does n o t also arise f r o m social c o n d i t i o n s . W h a t tends t o m a k e this plausible is the fact that t h e h o l d the n o t i o n o f c o n t r a d i c t i o n has h a d over t h o u g h t has v a r i e d w i t h times and societies. Today the p r i n c i p l e o f i d e n t i t y governs scientific t h o u g h t ; b u t there are vast systems o f representation that have played a m a j o r role i n the h i s t o r y o f ideas, i n w h i c h i t is c o m m o n l y i g n o r e d : These systems are the m y t h o l o g i e s , f r o m the c r u d est t o the m o s t s o p h i s t i c a t e d .
13

M y t h o l o g i e s deal w i t h beings that have the

m o s t c o n t r a d i c t o r y attributes at the same t i m e , that are o n e a n d many, m a t e r i a l and s p i r i t u a l , a n d capable o f s u b d i v i d i n g themselves i n d e f i n i t e l y w i t h o u t l o s i n g that w h i c h makes t h e m w h a t t h e y are. T h e s e h i s t o r i c a l variations o f the r u l e that seems t o g o v e r n o u r present l o g i c s h o w that, far f r o m b e i n g e n c o d e d f r o m e t e r n i t y i n the m e n t a l c o n s t i t u t i o n o f m a n , the r u l e depends at least i n part u p o n h i s t o r i c a l , h e n c e social, factors. W e d o n o t k n o w exactly w h a t these factors are, b u t w e can presume that t h e y e x i s t .
14

O n c e this hypothesis is accepted, the p r o b l e m o f k n o w l e d g e can be framed i n n e w t e r m s . U p t o the present, o n l y t w o d o c t r i n e s have opposed o n e another. For some, the categories c a n n o t be d e r i v e d f r o m experience. T h e y are l o g i c a l l y p r i o r t o experience and c o n d i t i o n i t . T h e y are t h o u g h t o f as so m a n y simple data that are i r r e d u c i b l e and i m m a n e n t i n the h u m a n i n t e l l e c t b y v i r t u e o f its natural m a k e u p . T h e y are thus called a priori. F o r others, b y contrast, the categories are c o n s t r u c t e d , m a d e o u t o f bits a n d pieces, and i t is t h e i n d i v i d u a l w h o is the artisan o f t h a t c o n s t r u c t i o n .
i2 1 3

See Robert Hertz, "La Prééminence de la main droite: Etude de polarité religieuse," RP, December, 1909. On this question of the relations between the representation of space and the form of the group, see the chapter in [Friedrich] Ratzel, Politische Geographie [Leipzig, R. Oldenbourg, 1897], titled "Der Raum im Geiste der Völker" [pp. 261-262]. I do not mean to say that it is unknown to mythological thinking but that mythological thinking departs from this principle more often and more overdy than scientific thought. Conversely, I will show that science cannot help but violate it, even while following it more scrupulously than religion does. In this respect and many others, there are only differences of degree between science and religion; but if these should not be overstated, it is important to notice them, for they are significant. This hypothesis has already been advanced by the founders of Völkerpsychologie. It is referred to, for example, in a short article by Wilhelm Windelband titled, "Die Erkenntnisslehre unter dem Völkerpsychologischen Geschichtspunkte," in ZK [Lichtenstein, Kraus Reprints, Ltd., 1968], VIII, pp. 166ff. Cf. a note by [Heymann] Steinthal on the same subject, ibid., pp. 178ff. Even in the theory of [Herbert] Spencer, the categories are constructedfromexperience. The only difference in this respect between ordinary and evolutionary empiricism is that, according to the latter,
1:, 14 13

Introduction

13

B o t h solutions give rise t o grave difficulties. Is the e m p i r i c i s t thesis adopted? T h e n the categories m u s t be s t r i p p e d o f t h e i r characteristic properties. I n fact, t h e y are d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m all o t h e r k n o w l e d g e b y t h e i r u n i v e r s a l i t y a n d t h e i r necessity. T h e y are the m o s t g e n eral concepts t h a t exist, because t h e y are a p p l i e d t o all that is real; a n d j u s t as t h e y are n o t attached t o any p a r t i c u l a r object, t h e y are i n d e p e n d e n t o f any i n d i v i d u a l subject. T h e y are the c o m m o n g r o u n d w h e r e all m i n d s meet. W h a t is m o r e , m i n d s m e e t there o f necessity: R e a s o n , w h i c h is n o n e o t h e r t h a n the fundamental categories taken together, is vested w i t h an a u t h o r i t y that w e c a n n o t escape at w i l l . W h e n w e t r y t o resist i t , t o free ourselves from some o f these f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s , w e m e e t sharp resistance. H e n c e , far f r o m m e r e l y d e p e n d i n g u p o n us, they i m p o s e themselves u p o n us. B u t the characteristics o f e m p i r i c a l data are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposite. A sensation o r an i m a g e is always l i n k e d t o a d e f i n i t e object o r c o l l e c t i o n o f definite objects, a n d i t expresses the m o m e n t a r y state o f a p a r t i c u l a r consciousness. I t is f u n d a m e n t a l l y i n d i v i d u a l a n d subjective. M o r e o v e r , w e can d o as w e w i s h w i t h representations that are o f this o r i g i n . O f course, w h e n sensations are present t o us, they impose t h e m selves o n us in fact. By right, however, w e r e m a i n free t o conceive t h e m o t h e r wise than they are and to picture t h e m as o c c u r r i n g i n an order different from the o n e i n w h i c h t h e y o c c u r r e d . I n regard t o t h e m , n o t h i n g is b i n d i n g o n us u n less considerations o f a different sort i n t e r v e n e . H e r e , t h e n , are t w o sorts o f k n o w l e d g e that are l i k e opposite poles o f the intellect. U n d e r these c o n d i t i o n s , t o reduce reason t o e x p e r i e n c e is t o m a k e reason disappear—because i t is t o reduce the u n i v e r s a l i t y a n d necessity that characterize reason t o m e r e appearances, illusions t h a t m i g h t be p r a c t i c a l l y c o n v e n i e n t b u t that c o r r e s p o n d t o n o t h i n g i n t h i n g s . C o n s e q u e n t l y , i t is t o d e n y all o b j e c t i v e reality t o that l o g ical life w h i c h t h e f u n c t i o n o f the categories is t o regulate a n d organize. Classical e m p i r i c i s m leads t o irrationalism; perhaps i t s h o u l d be called b y that name. N o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h e sense w e o r d i n a r i l y attach t o the labels, i t is the apriorists w h o are m o r e attentive to the facts. Since they d o n o t take i t as selfe v i d e n t t r u t h t h a t the categories are made o f the same elements as o u r sense representations, t h e y are n o t c o m m i t t e d t o i m p o v e r i s h i n g the categories systematically, e m p t y i n g t h e m o f all real c o n t e n t a n d r e d u c i n g t h e m t o m e r e verbal artifices. Q u i t e the contrary, apriorists leave the categories w i t h all t h e i r d i s t i n c t i v e characteristics. T h e apriorists are rationalists; t h e y believe

the results of individual experience are consolidated by heredity. But that consolidation adds nothing essential; no element enters into their composition that does not originate in the experience of the individual. Also, according to that theory, the necessity with which the categories impose themselves upon us in the present is itself the product of an illusion, a superstitious prejudice that is deeply rooted in the organism but without foundation in the nature of things.

14

Introduction

that the w o r l d has a l o g i c a l aspect that reason e m i n e n t l y expresses. T o d o this, however, they have t o ascribe t o the i n t e l l e c t a c e r t a i n p o w e r t o transcend e x p e r i e n c e and a d d t o w h a t is i m m e d i a t e l y g i v e n . B u t f o r this singular p o w e r , t h e y offer n e i t h e r e x p l a n a t i o n n o r w a r r a n t . M e r e l y t o say i t is i n h e r ent i n the nature o f h u m a n i n t e l l e c t is n o t t o e x p l a i n that p o w e r . I t w o u l d still be necessary t o see w h e r e w e acquire this a s t o u n d i n g prerogative a n d h o w w e are able t o see relationships i n things that m e r e spectating c a n n o t reveal t o us. To c o n f i n e oneself t o saying that e x p e r i e n c e itself is possible o n l y o n that c o n d i t i o n is t o shift t h e p r o b l e m , perhaps, b u t n o t t o solve i t . T h e p o i n t is to k n o w h o w i t happens that e x p e r i e n c e is n o t e n o u g h , b u t presupposes c o n d i tions that are e x t e r n a l and p r i o r t o experience, a n d h o w i t happens that these c o n d i t i o n s are m e t at the t i m e and i n the m a n n e r needed. T o answer these questions, i t has sometimes b e e n i m a g i n e d that, b e y o n d the reason o f i n d i viduals, there is a s u p e r i o r and perfect reason f r o m w h i c h that o f individuals emanated and, b y a sort o f mystic p a r t i c i p a t i o n , presumably a c q u i r e d its m a r velous faculty: T h a t s u p e r i o r a n d perfect reason is d i v i n e reason. B u t , at best, this hypothesis has the grave disadvantage o f b e i n g shielded f r o m all e x p e r i m e n t a l c o n t r o l , so i t does n o t m e e t the r e q u i r e m e n t s o f a scientific h y p o t h e sis. M o r e t h a n that, the categories o f h u m a n t h o u g h t are never f i x e d i n a d e f i n i t e f o r m ; t h e y are ceaselessly made, u n m a d e , and remade; t h e y v a r y acc o r d i n g t o t i m e a n d place. B y contrast, d i v i n e reason is i m m u t a b l e . H o w c o u l d this invariance a c c o u n t f o r such constant variability? S u c h are the t w o c o n c e p t i o n s that have c o m p e t e d f o r centuries. A n d i f the debate has g o n e o n a n d o n , i t is because the arguments back a n d f o r t h are i n fact m o r e o r less equivalent. I f reason is b u t a f o r m o f i n d i v i d u a l e x p e r i ence, t h e n reason is n o m o r e . O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , i f the capacities w i t h w h i c h i t is c r e d i t e d are r e c o g n i z e d b u t left u n a c c o u n t e d for, t h e n reason apparently is placed outside nature and science. Faced w i t h these opposite o b j e c t i o n s , the i n t e l l e c t remains u n c e r t a i n . B u t i f the social o r i g i n o f the categories is accepted, a n e w stance becomes possible, o n e that s h o u l d enable us, I believe, t o avoid these opposite difficulties. T h e f u n d a m e n t a l thesis o f a p r i o r i s m is that k n o w l e d g e is f o r m e d f r o m t w o sorts o f elements that are i r r e d u c i b l e o n e t o the o t h e r — t w o distinct, sup e r i m p o s e d layers, so t o s p e a k .
16

M y hypothesis keeps this p r i n c i p l e intact.

T h e k n o w l e d g e that people speak o f as e m p i r i c a l — a l l that theorists o f e m p i r i c i s m have ever used t o c o n s t r u c t reason—is the k n o w l e d g e that t h e direct ^'[t is perhaps surprising that I should not define apriorism by the hypothesis of innateness. But that idea actually has only a secondary role in the doctrine. It is a simplistic way of portraying the irreducibility of rational cognition to empirical data. To call it innate is no more than a positive way of saying that it is not a product of experience as usually conceived.

Introduction

15

a c t i o n o t objects calls f o r t h i n o u r m i n d s . T h u s t h e y are i n d i v i d u a l states that are w h o l l y " e x p l a i n e d b y the psychic nature o f the i n d i v i d u a l . B u t i f the categories are essentially collective representations, as I t h i n k they are, they translate states o f the c o l l e c t i v i t y , first and foremost. T h e y d e p e n d u p o n the way m w h i c h the c o l l e c t i v i t y is o r g a n i z e d , u p o n its m o r p h o l o g y , its r e l i g i o u s , m o r a l , a n d e c o n o m i c i n s t i t u t i o n s , and so o n . B e t w e e n these t w o k i n d s o f representations, t h e n , is all the distance that separates the i n d i v i d u a l f r o m t h e social; o n e can n o m o r e derive the second f r o m the first t h a n o n e can deduce the society f r o m the i n d i v i d u a l , the w h o l e f r o m the part, o r the c o m p l e x f r o m the s i m p l e .
18

Society is a reality stti generis; i t has its o w n characteristics

that are e i t h e r n o t f o u n d i n the rest o f the universe o r are n o t f o u n d there i n the same f o r m . T h e representations that express society therefore have an a l t o g e t h e r different c o n t e n t f r o m the p u r e l y i n d i v i d u a l representations, and one can be c e r t a i n i n advance that the f o r m e r add s o m e t h i n g t o the latter. T h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h b o t h k i n d s o f representations are f o r m e d b r i n g s a b o u t t h e i r d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n . C o l l e c t i v e representations are the p r o d u c t o f an i m m e n s e c o o p e r a t i o n that extends n o t o n l y t h r o u g h space b u t also t h r o u g h t i m e ; t o m a k e t h e m , a m u l t i t u d e o f different m i n d s have associated, i n t e r m i x e d , and c o m b i n e d t h e i r ideas a n d feelings; l o n g generations have a c c u m u l a t e d t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e and k n o w l e d g e . A v e r y special i n t e l l e c t u a l i t y that is i n f i n i t e l y r i c h e r a n d m o r e c o m p l e x t h a n that o f the i n d i v i d u a l is distilled i n t h e m . T h a t b e i n g the case, w e u n d e r s t a n d h o w reason has gained the p o w e r t o go b e y o n d t h e range o f e m p i r i c a l c o g n i t i o n . I t owes this p o w e r n o t t o some mysterious v i r t u e b u t s i m p l y t o the fact that, as the w e l l - k n o w n f o r m u l a has i t , m a n is d o u b l e . I n h i m are t w o beings: an i n d i v i d u a l b e i n g that has its basis i n the b o d y a n d w h o s e sphere o f a c t i o n is s t r i c t l y l i m i t e d by this fact, and a social b e i n g that represents w i t h i n us the highest reality i n the i n tellectual and m o r a l * r e a l m that is k n o w a b l e t h r o u g h o b s e r v a t i o n : I m e a n so!

'~On Durkheim's characteristic uses of the term "moral," see above, p. Iv—lvi.

' At least to the extent that there are individual, and thus fully empirical, representations. But m fact there probably is no case in which those two sorts of elements are not found closelv bound up together. ^Furthermore, this irreducibility should not be understood in an absolute sense. I do not mean that there is nothing in the empirical representations that announces the rational ones, or that there is nothing in the individual that can be considered the harbinger ot social life. If experience w as completely foreign to all that is rational, reason would not be applicable to it. Likewise, if the psychic nature of the mciis idual was absolutely resistant to social life, society would be impossible. Therefore a full analvsis ot the categories would look for the seeds of rationalitv in individual consciousness. ! shall have occasion to return to this point in my Conclusion. All I wish to establish here is that there is a distance between the indistinct seeds of reason and reason properly so-called that is comparable to the distance between the properties of mineral elements, from which the living being is made, and the characteristic properties of life, once constituted.
7

16

Introduction

c i e t y [J'entends la société].

I n the r e a l m o f practice, the consequence o f this

d u a l i t y i n o u r nature is the i r r e d u c i b i l i t y o f the m o r a l ideal to the u t i l i t a r i a n m o t i v e ; i n the r e a l m o f t h o u g h t , i t is the i r r e d u c i b i l i t y o f reason t o i n d i v i d ual experience. As p a r t o f society, the i n d i v i d u a l n a t u r a l l y transcends himself, b o t h w h e n he t h i n k s a n d w h e n he acts. T h i s same social characteristic enables us t o u n d e r s t a n d w h e r e the n e cessity o f the categories comes f r o m . A n idea is said t o be necessary* w h e n , due t o some sort o f i n t e r n a l p r o p e r t y , i t enjoys credence w i t h o u t the support o f any p r o o f . I t thus contains i n itself s o m e t h i n g that compels the i n t e l l e c t a n d w i n s over i n t e l l e c t u a l adherence w i t h o u t p r i o r e x a m i n a t i o n . A p r i o r i s m postulates that remarkable capacity w i t h o u t a c c o u n t i n g f o r i t . T o say that the categories are necessary because t h e y are indispensable t o t h o u g h t is s i m p l y t o repeat that they are necessary. B u t i f they have the o r i g i n that I a m att r i b u t i n g t o t h e m , n o t h i n g a b o u t t h e i r ascendancy s h o u l d surprise us any l o n g e r . T h e y d o i n d e e d express the m o s t general relationships that exist b e t w e e n things; h a v i n g broader scope t h a n all o u r ideas, t h e y g o v e r n all the particulars o f o u r i n t e l l e c t u a l life. I f , at every m o m e n t , m e n d i d n o t agree o n these f u n d a m e n t a l ideas, i f t h e y d i d n o t have a h o m o g e n e o u s c o n c e p t i o n o f t i m e , space, cause, n u m b e r , a n d so o n . A l l consensus a m o n g m i n d s , a n d thus all c o m m o n life, w o u l d b e c o m e impossible. H e n c e society c a n n o t leave the categories u p t o the free c h o i c e o f i n d i viduals w i t h o u t a b a n d o n i n g itself. T o live, i t requires n o t o n l y a m i n i m u m m o r a l consensus b u t also a m i n i m u m l o g i c a l consensus that i t c a n n o t d o w i t h o u t either. T h u s , i n o r d e r t o prevent dissidence, society w e i g h s o n its m e m b e r s w i t h all its a u t h o r i t y . D o e s a m i n d seek t o free itself f r o m these n o r m s o f all t h o u g h t ? Society n o l o n g e r considers this a h u m a n m i n d i n the full sense, a n d treats i t accordingly. T h i s is w h y i t is that w h e n w e try, even deep d o w n inside, t o get away from these f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s , w e feel that w e are n o t f u l l y free; s o m e t h i n g resists us, f r o m inside a n d outside ourselves. O u t s i d e us, i t is o p i n i o n that j u d g e s us; m o r e t h a n that, because society is represented inside us as w e l l , i t resists these r e v o l u t i o n a r y impulses from w i t h i n . W e feel t h a t w e c a n n o t a b a n d o n ourselves t o t h e m w i t h o u t o u r t h o u g h t ' s ceasing t o be t r u l y h u m a n . S u c h appears t o be the o r i g i n o f the v e r y special a u t h o r i t y that is i n h e r e n t i n reason a n d that makes us t r u s t i n g l y accept its p r o m p t i n g s . T h i s is n o n e o t h e r t h a n t h e a u t h o r i t y o f s o c i e t y
19

pass-

i n g i n t o c e r t a i n ways o f t h i n k i n g that are t h e indispensable c o n d i t i o n s o f all *Note here that the sense of the word "necessary" is distinct from the everyday concept of need. See also the next paragraph. It has often been noticed that social disturbances multiply mental disturbances. This is further evidence that logical discipline is an aspect of social discipline. The former relaxes when the latter weakens.
ly

Introduction

17

c o m m o n a c t i o n . T h u s the necessity w i t h w h i c h the categories press t h e m selves u p o n us is n o t m e r e l y the effect o f habits w h o s e y o k e w e c o u l d slip w i t h l i t t l e effort; n o r is that necessity a h a b i t o r a physical o r metaphysical need, since the categories change w i t h place a n d t i m e ; i t is a special sort o f m o r a l necessity t h a t is t o i n t e l l e c t u a l life w h a t o b l i g a t i o n is t o the w i l l .
2 0

B u t i f the categories at first d o n o m o r e t h a n translate social states, does i t n o t f o l l o w t h a t t h e y can be a p p l i e d t o the rest o f nature o n l y as metaphors? I f t h e i r p u r p o s e is m e r e l y t o express social things, i t w o u l d seem that t h e y c o u l d be e x t e n d e d t o o t h e r realms o n l y b y c o n v e n t i o n . T h u s , insofar as t h e y serve us i n c o n c e i v i n g the physical o r b i o l o g i c a l w o r l d , t h e y can o n l y have the value o f artificial symbols—useful perhaps, b u t w i t h n o c o n n e c t i o n t o r e ality. W e w o u l d thus r e t u r n t o n o m i n a l i s m a n d e m p i r i c i s m b y a n o t h e r r o u t e . T o i n t e r p r e t a sociological t h e o r y o f k n o w l e d g e i n that w a y is t o forget that even i f society is a specific reality, i t is n o t an e m p i r e w i t h i n an e m p i r e : I t is part o f nature and nature's highest expression. T h e social r e a l m is a n a t u r a l r e a l m that differs f r o m others o n l y i n its greater c o m p l e x i t y . I t is impossible that n a ture, i n that w h i c h is m o s t f u n d a m e n t a l i n itself, s h o u l d be radically different b e t w e e n o n e p a r t a n d a n o t h e r o f itself. I t is impossible that the f u n d a m e n t a l relations that exist b e t w e e n things—precisely those relations that the categories serve t o express—should be f u n d a m e n t a l l y dissimilar i n o n e r e a l m a n d a n other. I f , for reasons that w e shall have t o discover,
21

they stand o u t m o r e clearly

i n t h e social w o r l d , i t is impossible that t h e y s h o u l d n o t be f o u n d elsewhere, t h o u g h i n m o r e s h r o u d e d f o r m s . Society makes t h e m m o r e manifest b u t has n o m o n o p o l y o n t h e m . T h i s is w h y n o t i o n s w o r k e d o u t o n the m o d e l o f social things can h e l p us t h i n k a b o u t o t h e r sorts o f t h i n g s . A t t h e v e r y least, i f , w h e n they deviate f r o m t h e i r i n i t i a l m e a n i n g , those n o t i o n s play i n a sense the role o f symbols, i t is the role o f w e l l - f o u n d e d symbols. I f artifice enters i n , t h r o u g h the v e r y fact that these are c o n s t r u c t e d concepts, i t is an artifice that closely f o l l o w s nature and strives t o c o m e ever closer t o n a t u r e .
2 22

T h e fact

"There is an analogy between this logical necessity and moral obligation but not identity—at least not at present. Today, society treats criminals differentlyfrompeople who are mentally handicapped. This is evidence that, despite significant similarities, the authority attached to logical norms and that inherent in moral norms are not of the same nature. They are two different species of one genus. It would be interesting to research what that difference (probably not primitive) consists of and where it comes from, since for a long time public consciousness barely distinguished the delinquentfromthe mentally ill. From this example, we can see the numerous problems raised by the analysis of these notions, which are generally thought elementary and simple but actually are extremely complex.
21

This question is treated in the Conclusion of this book.

Hence the rationalism that is immanent in a sociological theory of knowledge stands between empiricism and classical apriorism. For the first, the categories are purely artificial constructs; for the second, on the other hand, they are naturally given; for us, they are works of art, in a sense, but an art that imitates nature ever more perfectly.

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18

Introduction

that the ideas o f t i m e , space, genus, cause, a n d personality are constructed f r o m social elements s h o u l d n o t lead us t o c o n c l u d e that they are s t r i p p e d o f all objective value. Q u i t e the contrary, t h e i r social o r i g i n leads o n e i n d e e d to suppose that they are n o t w i t h o u t f o u n d a t i o n i n the nature o f t h i n g s .
23

I n this fresh f o r m u l a t i o n , the t h e o r y o f k n o w l e d g e seems destined t o j o i n the opposite advantages o f t h e t w o r i v a l theories, w i t h o u t t h e i r disadvantages. I t preserves all the essential p r i n c i p l e s o f a p r i o r i s m b u t at the same t i m e takes i n s p i r a t i o n f r o m the positive t u r n o f m i n d that e m p i r i c i s m sought to satisfy. I t leaves reason w i t h its specific p o w e r , b u t accounts f o r that power, a n d does so w i t h o u t l e a v i n g the observable w o r l d . I t affirms as real the d u a l i t y o f o u r i n t e l l e c t u a l life, b u t explains that duality, and does so w i t h natural causes. T h e categories cease t o be regarded as p r i m a r y and unanalyzable facts; a n d yet t h e y r e m a i n o f such c o m p l e x i t y that analyses as simplistic as those w i t h w h i c h e m p i r i c i s m c o n t e n t e d itself c a n n o t possibly be r i g h t . N o l o n g e r d o they appear as v e r y simple n o t i o n s that anyone can sift from his personal observations, and t h a t p o p u l a r i m a g i n a t i o n u n f o r t u n a t e l y c o m p l i c a t e d ; q u i t e the contrary, they appear as i n g e n i o u s i n s t r u m e n t s o f t h o u g h t , w h i c h h u m a n groups have p a i n s t a k i n g l y f o r g e d over centuries, a n d i n w h i c h t h e y have amassed the best o f t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l c a p i t a l . A w h o l e aspect o f h u m a n hist o r y is, i n a way, s u m m e d u p i n t h e m . T h i s a m o u n t s t o saying that t o succeed i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g a n d evaluating t h e m , i t is necessary t o t u r n t o n e w p r o c e dures. T o k n o w w h a t the c o n c e p t i o n s that w e ourselves have n o t made are made of, i t c a n n o t be e n o u g h t o c o n s u l t o u r o w n consciousness. W e must l o o k outside ourselves, observe history, a n d i n s t i t u t e a w h o l e science, a c o m p l e x o n e at that, w h i c h can advance o n l y s l o w l y a n d b y c o l l e c t i v e labor. T h e present w o r k is an a t t e m p t t o m a k e c e r t a i n fragmentary c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o that science. W i t h o u t m a k i n g these questions t h e d i r e c t subject o f m y study, I w i l l take advantage o f all the o p p o r t u n i t i e s that present themselves t o capture at b i r t h at least some o f those ideas that, w h i l e religious i n o r i g i n , w e r e b o u n d nevertheless t o r e m a i n at the basis o f h u m a n m e n t a l i t y .
24

For example, the category of time has its basis in the rhythm of social life; but if there is a rhythm of collective life, one can be certain that there is another in the life of the individual and, more generally, that of the universe. The first is only more marked and apparent than the others. Likewise, we will see that the notion of kind was formedfromthat of the human group. But if men form natural groups, one can suppose that there exist among things groups that are at once similar to them and different. These natural groups of things are genera and species. This is why it is legitimate to compare the categories with tools: Tools, for their part, are accumulated material capital. Moreover, there is close kinship between the three ideas of tool, category, and institution.
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23

BOOK

ONE

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

CHAPTER ONE

DEFINITION OF RELIGIOUS PHENOMENA AND OF RELIGION
1

I

n o r d e r t o i d e n t i f y the simplest a n d m o s t p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n that observat i o n can m a k e k n o w n t o us, w e m u s t first define w h a t is p r o p e r l y u n d e r -

s t o o d as a r e l i g i o n . I f w e d o n o t , w e r u n the risk o f either c a l l i n g a system o f ideas a n d practices r e l i g i o n that are i n n o w a y r e l i g i o u s , o r o f passing b y r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a w i t h o u t d e t e c t i n g t h e i r t r u e nature. A g o o d i n d i c a t i o n that this danger is n o t i m a g i n a r y , a n d the p o i n t b y n o means a concession t o e m p t y m e t h o d o l o g i c a l f o r m a l i s m , is this: H a v i n g failed t o take that p r e c a u t i o n , M . Frazer,* a scholar t o w h o m the c o m p a r a t i v e science o f religions is nevertheless gready i n d e b t e d , failed t o recognize t h e p r o f o u n d l y r e l i g i o u s character o f the beliefs a n d rites that w i l l be s t u d i e d b e l o w — b e l i e f s and rites i n w h i c h , I s u b m i t , the o r i g i n a l seed o f r e l i g i o u s life i n h u m a n i t y is visible. I n the m a t t e r o f d e f i n i t i o n , t h e n , there is a p r e j u d i c i a l q u e s t i o n that m u s t be treated before any other. I t is n o t t h a t I h o p e t o arrive straightaway at the deep a n d t r u l y e x p l a n a t o r y features o f r e l i g i o n , f o r these can be d e t e r m i n e d o n l y at the e n d o f the research. B u t w h a t is b o t h necessary and possible is t o p o i n t o u t a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f readily visible o u t w a r d features that a l l o w us t o recognize r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a w h e r e v e r t h e y are e n c o u n t e r e d , a n d that p r e v e n t t h e i r b e i n g confused w i t h others. I t u r n t o this p r e l i m i n a r y step. I f t a k i n g this step is t o y i e l d t h e results i t s h o u l d , w e m u s t b e g i n b y freei n g o u r m i n d s o f all p r e c o n c e i v e d ideas. W e l l before t h e science o f r e l i g i o n s i n s t i t u t e d its m e t h o d i c a l c o m p a r i s o n s , m e n h a d t o create t h e i r o w n idea o f w h a t r e l i g i o n is. T h e necessities o f existence r e q u i r e all o f us, believers a n d unbelievers, t o conceive i n some fashion those t h i n g s i n the m i d s t o f w h i c h *Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941). 'I have already tried to define the phenomenon of religion, in a work published by AS, vol. II [1899], pp. Iff. ["De la Definition des phénomènes religieux"]. As will be seen, the definition given there differs from the one I now propose. At the end of this chapter (p. 44, n. 68), I will give the reasons for these modifications. They do not, however, involve any fundamental change in the conceptualization of the facts. 21

22

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

w e live, a b o u t w h i c h w e c o n t i n u a l l y m a k e j u d g m e n t s , a n d o f w h i c h o u r c o n d u c t m u s t take a c c o u n t . B u t since these n o t i o n s are f o r m e d u n m e t h o d i c a l l y , i n the c o m i n g s a n d goings o f life, t h e y c a n n o t be relied o n and m u s t be r i g o r o u s l y k e p t t o o n e side i n the e x a m i n a t i o n that f o l l o w s . I t is n o t o u r prec o n c e p t i o n s , passions, o r habits that m u s t be c o n s u l t e d f o r the elements o f the d e f i n i t i o n w e need; d e f i n i t i o n is t o b e sought f r o m reality itself. L e t us set ourselves before this reality. P u t t i n g aside all ideas a b o u t r e l i g i o n i n general, let us consider r e l i g i o n s i n t h e i r concrete reality a n d t r y to see w h a t features t h e y m a y have i n c o m m o n : R e l i g i o n can be d e f i n e d o n l y i n terms o f features that are f o u n d w h e r e v e r r e l i g i o n is f o u n d . I n this c o m p a r i s o n , t h e n , w e w i l l i n c o r p o r a t e all the r e l i g i o u s systems w e can k n o w , past as w e l l as present, the m o s t p r i m i t i v e and simple as w e l l as t h e m o s t m o d e r n a n d r e f i n e d , f o r w e have n o r i g h t t o e x c l u d e some so as t o keep o n l y certain others, a n d n o l o g i c a l m e t h o d o f d o i n g so. T o anyone w h o sees r e l i g i o n as n o t h i n g o t h e r t h a n a n a t u r a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f h u m a n activity, all r e l i g i o n s are i n s t r u c t i v e , w i t h o u t e x c e p t i o n o f any k i n d : E a c h i n its o w n w a y expresses m a n , a n d thus each can h e l p us u n d e r s t a n d b e t t e r that aspect o f o u r nature. Besides, w e have seen that the preference f o r s t u d y i n g r e l i g i o n a m o n g the m o s t c i v i l i z e d peoples is far f r o m b e i n g t h e best m e t h o d .
2

Before t a k i n g u p the q u e s t i o n a n d i n o r d e r t o h e l p the m i n d free itself o f c o m m o n s e n s e n o t i o n s w h o s e i n f l u e n c e can prevent us f r o m seeing things as t h e y are, i t is advisable t o e x a m i n e h o w those prejudices have entered i n t o some o f the c o m m o n e s t d e f i n i t i o n s .

I
O n e n o t i o n that is generally t a k e n t o be characteristic o f all that is r e l i g i o u s is the n o t i o n o f the supernatural. B y t h a t is m e a n t any o r d e r o f things that goes b e y o n d o u r u n d e r s t a n d i n g ; the supernatural is the w o r l d o f mystery, the u n k n o w a b l e , o r t h e i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e . R e l i g i o n w o u l d t h e n be a k i n d o f speculation u p o n all that escapes science, a n d clear t h i n k i n g generally. A c c o r d i n g t o Spencer, " R e l i g i o n s that are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposite i n t h e i r d o g mas agree i n t a c i d y r e c o g n i z i n g that the w o r l d , w i t h all i t contains and all that surrounds i t , is a m y s t e r y seeking an e x p l a n a t i o n " ; he makes t h e m o u t basically t o consist o f " t h e b e l i e f i n the o m n i p r e s e n c e o f s o m e t h i n g that goes

See above, p. 3.1 do not push the necessity of these definitions further or the method to be followed. The exposition is to be found in my Règles de la méthode sociologique [Paris, Alcan, 1895], pp. 43ff. Cf. Le Suicide; [étude de sociologie] (Paris, F. Alcan [1897]), pp. Iff.

2

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

23

b e y o n d t h e i n t e l l e c t . " Similiarly, M a x M i i l l e r saw all r e l i g i o n as " a n effort t o conceive the i n c o n c e i v a b l e a n d t o express the inexpressible, an aspiration t o ward the infinite."
4

3

C e r t a i n l y the role played b y the feeling o f m y s t e r y has n o t b e e n u n i m p o r t a n t i n c e r t a i n r e l i g i o n s , i n c l u d i n g C h r i s t i a n i t y . E v e n so, the i m p o r t a n c e o f this role has s h o w n m a r k e d v a r i a t i o n at different m o m e n t s o f C h r i s t i a n history. T h e r e have b e e n p e r i o d s w h e n t h e n o t i o n o f m y s t e r y has b e c o m e secondary and even faded altogether. T o m e n o f the seventeenth century, f o r e x a m p l e , d o g m a c o n t a i n e d n o t h i n g that unsettled reason. F a i t h effortlessly r e c o n c i l e d itself w i t h science a n d p h i l o s o p h y ; a n d t h i n k e r s like Pascal, w h o felt strongly that there is s o m e t h i n g p r o f o u n d l y obscure i n things, w e r e so l i t tle i n h a r m o n y w i t h t h e i r epochs that i t was t h e i r fate t o be m i s u n d e r s t o o d b y t h e i r c o n t e m p o r a r i e s . T h e r e f o r e , i t w o u l d seem rash t o m a k e an idea that has b e e n subject t o p e r i o d i c eclipse the essential e l e m e n t even o f C h r i s t i a n ity. W h a t is c e r t a i n , i n any case, is that this idea appears v e r y late i n t h e h i s t o r y o f r e l i g i o n s . I t is t o t a l l y alien n o t o n l y t o the peoples called p r i m i t i v e b u t also t o those w h o have n o t attained a c e r t a i n level o f i n t e l l e c t u a l c u l t u r e . O f course, w h e n w e see m e n i m p u t i n g e x t r a o r d i n a r y v i r t u e s t o insignificant o b jects, o r p o p u l a t i n g the universe w i t h e x t r a o r d i n a r y p r i n c i p l e s made u p o f the m o s t disparate elements a n d possessing a sort o f u b i q u i t y t h a t is h a r d t o conceptualize, i t is easy f o r us t o find an air o f m y s t e r y i n these ideas. I t seems t o us that these m e n have resigned themselves t o ideas so p r o b l e m a t i c f o r o u r m o d e r n reason o n l y because t h e y have b e e n unable t o find m o r e r a t i o n a l ones. I n reality, however, the explanations that amaze us seem t o the p r i m i tive t h e simplest i n t h e w o r l d . H e sees t h e m n o t as a k i n d of ultima ratio*' t o w h i c h the i n t e l l e c t resigns itself i n despair b u t as the m o s t direct w a y o f c o n c e i v i n g and u n d e r s t a n d i n g w h a t he observes a r o u n d h i m . F o r h i m , there is n o t h i n g strange i n b e i n g able, b y v o i c e o r gesture, t o c o m m a n d t h e elements, h o l d u p o r accelerate the course o f the stars, m a k e t h e r a i n fall o r stop i t , a n d so o n . T h e rites he uses t o ensure the f e r t i l i t y o f the soil o r o f the a n i m a l species that n o u r i s h h i m are n o m o r e i r r a t i o n a l i n his eyes t h a n are, i n o u r *Last resort. '[Herbert Spencer, First Principles, New York, D. Appleton, 1862, French translation based on the sixth English edition], Paris, F. Alcan [1902], pp. 38-39, [p. 37 in the English edition. Trans.].
4 5

Max Miiller, Introduction to the Science of Religions [London, Longmans, 1873], p. 18. Cf. [Lectures on]

the Origin and [Growth] of Religion [as Illustrated by the Religions of India, London, Longmans, 1878], p. 23.

The same turn of mind is also to be found in the period of scholasticism, as is shown in the formula according to which the philosophy of that period was defined, Fides quaerens intellectum [Faith in search of intellect. Trans.].

5

24

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

o w n eyes, the t e c h n i c a l processes that o u r agronomists use f o r t h e same p u r pose. T h e forces he b r i n g s i n t o play b y these various means d o n o t seem to him p a r t i c u l a r l y m y s t e r i o u s . C e r t a i n l y , these forces differ f r o m those the m o d e r n scientist conceives o f a n d teaches us t o use; t h e y behave differently a n d c a n n o t be c o n t r o l l e d i n t h e same w a y ; b u t t o the o n e w h o believes i n t h e m , t h e y are n o m o r e u n i n t e l l i g i b l e t h a n g r a v i t a t i o n o r e l e c t r i c i t y is t o physicists today. F u r t h e r m o r e , as w e w i l l see i n the course o f this w o r k , the idea o f natu r a l forces is v e r y l i k e l y d e r i v e d from that o f religious forces, so b e t w e e n the o n e a n d the o t h e r there c a n n o t be t h e chasm that separates the r a t i o n a l from the i r r a t i o n a l . N o t even the fact that r e l i g i o u s forces are o f t e n c o n c e i v e d o f as s p i r i t u a l entities a n d conscious w i l l s is any p r o o f o f t h e i r i r r a t i o n a l i t y . R e a son does n o t resist a priori the idea that i n a n i m a t e bodies m i g h t be m o v e d b y intelligences, as h u m a n bodies are, even t h o u g h present-day science does n o t easily a c c o m m o d a t e this hypothesis. W h e n L e i b n i z p r o p o s e d t o conceive the e x t e r n a l w o r l d as an i m m e n s e society o f intelligences, b e t w e e n w h i c h there w e r e n o t a n d c o u l d n o t be any b u t s p i r i t u a l relations, he m e a n t t o be w o r k i n g as a rationalist. H e d i d n o t see this universal a n i m i s m as a n y t h i n g that m i g h t offend the i n t e l l e c t . Besides, the idea o f the supernatural, as w e u n d e r s t a n d i t , is recent. I t presupposes an idea that is its n e g a t i o n , a n d that is i n n o w a y p r i m i t i v e . T o be able t o call c e r t a i n facts supernatural, o n e m u s t already have an awareness that there is a natural order of things, i n o t h e r w o r d s , that t h e p h e n o m e n a o f t h e universe are i n t e r n a l l y l i n k e d a c c o r d i n g t o necessary relationships called laws. O n c e this p r i n c i p l e is established, a n y t h i n g that departs from those laws n e c essarily appears as b e y o n d nature and, thus, b e y o n d reason: F o r w h a t is i n this sense natural is also r a t i o n a l , those relations expressing o n l y the m a n n e r i n w h i c h things are l o g i c a l l y c o n n e c t e d . N o w , the idea o f universal d e t e r m i n ism is o f recent o r i g i n ; even the greatest t h i n k e r s o f classical a n t i q u i t y d i d n o t achieve f u l l awareness o f i t . T h a t idea is t e r r i t o r y w o n b y the e m p i r i c a l sciences; i t is the postulate o n w h i c h t h e y rest a n d w h i c h t h e i r advancement has p r o v e d . So l o n g as this postulate wag l a c k i n g o r n o t w e l l established, there was n o t h i n g a b o u t the m o s t e x t r a o r d i n a r y events that d i d n o t appear p e r fectly conceivable. So l o n g as w h a t is i m m o v a b l e and i n f l e x i b l e about the o r der o f things was u n k n o w n , a n d so l o n g as i t was seen as the w o r k o f c o n t i n g e n t w i l l s , i t was o f course t h o u g h t n a t u r a l that these w i l l s o r others c o u l d m o d i f y the o r d e r o f things arbitrarily. F o r this reason, the m i r a c u l o u s i n t e r v e n t i o n s that the ancients ascribed t o t h e i r gods w e r e n o t i n t h e i r eyes miracles, i n the m o d e r n sense o f the w o r d . T o t h e m , these i n t e r v e n t i o n s w e r e beautiful, rare, o r t e r r i b l e spectacles, a n d objects o f surprise a n d w o n -

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

25

der (9auu,aTct, mirabilia, miracula); b u t t h e y w e r e n o t regarded as glimpses i n t o a mysterious w o r l d w h e r e reason c o u l d n o t penetrate. T h a t m i n d - s e t is all the m o r e readily understandable t o us because i t has n o t c o m p l e t e l y disappeared. A l t h o u g h the p r i n c i p l e o f d e t e r m i n i s m is f i r m l y established i n t h e physical a n d natural sciences, its i n t r o d u c t i o n i n t o the social sciences began o n l y a c e n t u r y ago, a n d its a u t h o r i t y there is still c o n tested. T h e idea that societies are subject t o necessary laws and constitute a r e a l m o f nature has deeply penetrated o n l y a f e w m i n d s . I t f o l l o w s that t r u e miracles are t h o u g h t possible i n society. T h e r e is, f o r example, t h e accepted n o t i o n that a legislator can create an i n s t i t u t i o n o u t o f n o t h i n g a n d t r a n s f o r m o n e social system i n t o another, b y fiat—just as t h e believers o f so m a n y r e l i gions accept that the d i v i n e w i l l m a d e t h e w o r l d o u t o f n o t h i n g o r can a r b i t r a r i l y m u t a t e some beings i n t o others. As regards social things, w e still have the m i n d - s e t o f p r i m i t i v e s . B u t i f , i n matters s o c i o l o g i c a l , so m a n y p e o p l e t o day l i n g e r over this o l d - f a s h i o n e d idea, i t is n o t because social life seems o b scure a n d mysterious t o t h e m . Q u i t e the opposite: I f they are so easily c o n t e n t e d w i t h such explanations, i f t h e y c l i n g t o these illusions that are r e peatedly c o n t r a d i c t e d b y experience, i t is because social facts seem t o t h e m the m o s t transparent things i n t h e w o r l d . T h i s is so because t h e y have n o t yet appreciated t h e real obscurity, a n d because t h e y have n o t yet grasped t h e n e e d t o t u r n t o t h e p a i n s t a k i n g m e t h o d s o f t h e n a t u r a l sciences i n o r d e r p r o gressively t o sweep away t h e darkness. T h e same cast o f m i n d is t o be f o u n d at the r o o t o f m a n y r e l i g i o u s beliefs that startle us i n t h e i r o v e r s i m p l i f i c a t i o n . Science, n o t r e l i g i o n , has t a u g h t m e n that things are c o m p l e x a n d d i f f i c u l t t o understand. B u t , Jevons replies, the h u m a n m i n d has n o n e e d o f p r o p e r l y scientific e d u c a t i o n t o n o t i c e that there are d e f i n i t e sequences a n d a constant o r d e r o f succession b e t w e e n p h e n o m e n a o r t o n o t i c e that this o r d e r is o f t e n d i s t u r b e d . A t times t h e sun is suddenly eclipsed; t h e r a i n does n o t c o m e i n t h e season w h e n i t is expected; t h e m o o n is s l o w t o reappear after its p e r i o d i c disappearance, a n d t h e l i k e . Because these occurrences are outside the o r d i n a r y course o f events, p e o p l e have i m p u t e d t o t h e m extraordinary, e x c e p t i o n a l — i n a w o r d , extranatural—causes. I t is i n this f o r m , Jevons claims, that the idea o f the supernatural was b o r n at the b e g i n n i n g o f h i s t o r y ; a n d i t is i n this w a y a n d at this m o m e n t that r e l i g i o n a c q u i r e d its characteristic o b ject. T h e supernatural, however, is n o t r e d u c i b l e t o the unforeseen. T h e n e w is j u s t as m u c h p a r t o f nature as the opposite. I f w e n o t i c e that, i n general, p h e n o m e n a o c c u r o n e after t h e o t h e r i n a d e f i n i t e order, w e also n o t i c e that
6 6

[Frank Byron] Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religions [London, Methuen, 1896], p. 15.

26

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

the o r d e r is never m o r e t h a n a p p r o x i m a t e , that i t is n o t exactly the same at different times, a n d that i t has all k i n d s o f exceptions. W i t h even v e r y little experience, w e b e c o m e a c c u s t o m e d t o h a v i n g o u r expectations u n m e t ; and these setbacks o c c u r t o o o f t e n t o seem e x t r a o r d i n a r y t o us. G i v e n a certain e l e m e n t o f chance, as w e l l as a c e r t a i n u n i f o r m i t y i n experience, w e have n o reason t o a t t r i b u t e t h e o n e t o causes a n d forces different f r o m those t o w h i c h t h e o t h e r is subject. T o have the idea o f t h e supernatural, t h e n , i t is n o t e n o u g h f o r us t o witness u n e x p e c t e d events; these events m u s t be c o n c e i v e d o f as impossible besides—that is, impossible t o r e c o n c i l e w i t h an o r d e r that r i g h d y o r w r o n g l y seems t o be a necessary p a r t o f the o r d e r o f things. I t is the positive sciences that have gradually c o n s t r u c t e d this n o t i o n o f a necessary order. I t follows that the c o n t r a r y n o t i o n c a n n o t have predated those sciences. F u r t h e r m o r e , n o m a t t e r h o w m e n have c o n c e i v e d t h e i r experience o f novelties a n d chance occurrences, these c o n c e p t i o n s can i n n o w a y b e used to characterize r e l i g i o n . R e l i g i o u s c o n c e p t i o n s a i m above all t o express a n d e x p l a i n n o t w h a t is e x c e p t i o n a l a n d a b n o r m a l b u t w h a t is constant a n d r e g ular. A s a general r u l e , the gods are used far less t o a c c o u n t f o r monstrosity, o d d i t y , a n d a n o m a l y t h a n f o r the n o r m a l m a r c h o f the universe, the m o v e m e n t o f the stars, t h e r h y t h m o f the seasons, t h e annual g r o w t h o f vegetation, the p e r p e t u a t i o n o f species, a n d so f o r t h . H e n c e , any n o t i o n that equates r e l i g i o n w i t h t h e u n e x p e c t e d is w i d e o f the m a r k . Jevons's r e p l y is that this w a y o f c o n c e i v i n g r e l i g i o u s forces is n o t p r i m i t i v e . A c c o r d i n g t o h i m , p e o p l e c o n c e i v e d o f t h e m first i n o r d e r t o a c c o u n t f o r disorder a n d accident, a n d o n l y later used t h e m t o e x p l a i n the u n i f o r m i t i e s o f n a t u r e . B u t i t is unclear w h a t c o u l d have m a d e m e n i m p u t e such o b v i o u s l y c o n t r a d i c t o r y f u n c t i o n s t o t h e m , o n e after t h e other. M o r e o v e r , the s u p p o s i t i o n that sacred beings w e r e at first c o n f i n e d t o t h e negative role o f disturbers is c o m p l e t e l y a r b i trary. A s i n d e e d w e w i l l see, starting w i t h the simplest r e l i g i o n s w e k n o w , the f u n d a m e n t a l task o f sacred beings has b e e n t o m a i n t a i n t h e n o r m a l course o f life b y positive a c t i o n .
8 7

T h u s t h e idea o f m y s t e r y is n o t at all o r i g i n a l . I t does n o t c o m e t o m a n as a g i v e n ; m a n h i m s e l f has f o r g e d this idea as w e l l as its contrary. For this reason, i t is o n l y i n a small n u m b e r o f advanced r e l i g i o n s that the idea o f m y s tery has any place at a l l . T h e r e f o r e i t cannot be made the defining characteristic o f r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a w i t h o u t e x c l u d i n g f r o m the d e f i n i t i o n m o s t o f t h e facts t o b e d e f i n e d .
7

Ibid., p. 23.

8

See below Bk. III. chap. 2.

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

27

II
A n o t h e r idea b y w h i c h m a n y have t r i e d t o define r e l i g i o n is that o f d i v i n i t y . A c c o r d i n g to M . R é v i l l e ,
9

" R e l i g i o n is the d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f h u m a n life

b y the sense o f a b o n d j o i n i n g the h u m a n m i n d w i t h t h e mysterious m i n d w h o s e d o m i n a t i o n o f t h e w o r l d a n d o f itself i t recognizes, and w i t h w h i c h i t takes pleasure i n f e e l i n g j o i n e d . " I t is a fact that i f the w o r d " d i v i n i t y " is taken i n a precise a n d n a r r o w sense, this d e f i n i t i o n leaves aside a m u l t i t u d e o f o b v i o u s l y r e l i g i o u s facts. T h e souls o f the dead a n d spirits o f all kinds and ranks, w i t h w h i c h the religious i m a g i n a t i o n s o f so m a n y diverse peoples have p o p ulated t h e w o r l d , are always the objects o f rites a n d sometimes even o f r e g u lar cults. S t r i c t l y speaking, however, t h e y are n o t gods. Still, all that is necessary t o m a k e the d e f i n i t i o n i n c l u d e t h e m is t o replace the w o r d " g o d " w i t h the m o r e inclusive t e r m " s p i r i t u a l b e i n g . " T h i s is w h a t T y l o r has d o n e . " I n s t u d y i n g the r e l i g i o n s o f l o w e r races," he says, " t h e first p o i n t is t o define a n d specify w h a t o n e means b y r e l i g i o n . I f o n e insists that the t e r m means b e l i e f i n a supreme b e i n g . . . , a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f tribes w i l l be e x c l u d e d from t h e w o r l d o f r e l i g i o n . B u t that t o o - n a r r o w d e f i n i t i o n has the flaw o f i d e n t i f y i n g r e l i g i o n w i t h c e r t a i n o f its p a r t i c u l a r developments. . . . I t seems better t o set ' s p i r i t u a l beings' as a m i n i m u m definition."
1 0

" S p i r i t u a l b e i n g s " m u s t be u n d e r s t o o d t o m e a n c o n -

scious subjects that have capacities s u p e r i o r t o those o f o r d i n a r y m e n , w h i c h therefore r i g h t l y includes the souls o f the dead, g é n i e s , a n d d e m o n s as w e l l as deities, p r o p e r l y so-called. I t is i m p o r t a n t t o n o t i c e i m m e d i a t e l y the p a r t i c u lar idea o f r e l i g i o n that this d e f i n i t i o n entails. T h e o n l y relations w e can have w i t h beings o f this sort are d e t e r m i n e d b y the nature ascribed t o t h e m . T h e y are conscious beings, a n d w e can o n l y i n f l u e n c e t h e m as w e i n f l u e n c e c o n sciousnesses generally, that is, b y p s y c h o l o g i c a l means, b y t r y i n g t o c o n v i n c e o r rouse t h e m e i t h e r w i t h w o r d s (invocations a n d prayers) o r w i t h offerings a n d sacrifices. A n d since the o b j e c t o f r e l i g i o n w o u l d t h e n be t o order o u r relations w i t h these special beings, there c o u l d be r e l i g i o n o n l y w h e r e there are prayers, sacrifices, p r o p i t i a t o r y rites, a n d t h e l i k e . I n this way, w e w o u l d have a v e r y simple c r i t e r i o n f o r d i s t i n g u i s h i n g w h a t is religious f r o m w h a t is n o t . Frazer
9 11

systematically applies this c r i t e r i o n , as d o several e t h n o g r a p h e r s .

12

[Albert Réville], Prolégomènes de l'histoire des religions [Paris, Fischbacher, 1881], p. 34. Edward Burnett Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. I [London, John Murray, 1873, p. 491].

10

"Starting with thefirstedition of The Golden Bough, vol. I, pp. 30-32. [James Frazer, The Golden Bough, 2 vols., London and New York, Macmillan, 1890.] Including [Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen and even [Konrad Theodor] Preuss, who calls all nonindividualized religious forces magic.
12

28

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

B u t h o w e v e r o b v i o u s this d e f i n i t i o n m a y seem, g i v e n habits o f m i n d that w e o w e t o o u r o w n religious u p b r i n g i n g , there are m a n y facts t o w h i c h i t is n o t applicable b u t that nevertheless b e l o n g t o the d o m a i n o f r e l i g i o n . I n the first place, there are great religions f r o m w h i c h the idea o f gods a n d spirits is absent, o r plays o n l y a secondary a n d i n c o n s p i c u o u s role. T h i s is the case i n B u d d h i s m . B u d d h i s m , says B u r n o u f , "takes its place i n o p p o s i t i o n t o B r a h m a n i s m as a m o r a l i t y w i t h o u t g o d a n d an atheism w i t h o u t N a ture."
13

" I t recognizes n o g o d o n w h o m m a n depends," says M . B a r t h ; "its
14

d o c t r i n e is absolutely atheist." religion w i t h o u t god."
1 5

A n d M . O l d e n b e r g , f o r his part, calls i t "a
1 6

T h e entire essence o f B u d d h i s m is c o n t a i n e d i n f o u r T h e first states

p r o p o s i t i o n s that the faithful call the F o u r N o b l e T r u t h s .

that t h e existence o f suffering is t i e d t o the p e r p e t u a l change o f things; the second finds t h e cause o f suffering i n desire; the t h i r d makes the suppression o f desire the o n l y w a y t o e n d suffering; the f o u r t h lists the three stages that m u s t be passed t h r o u g h t o e n d suffering—uprightness, meditation, and f i n a l l y w i s d o m , f u l l k n o w l e d g e o f the d o c t r i n e . T h e e n d o f t h e r o a d — d e l i v erance, salvation b y N i r v a n a — i s reached after these stages have been passed through. I n n o n e o f these p r i n c i p l e s is there any q u e s t i o n o f d i v i n i t y . T h e B u d dhist is n o t p r e o c c u p i e d w i t h k n o w i n g w h e r e this w o r l d o f b e c o m i n g i n w h i c h he lives a n d suffers came from; he accepts i t as a f a c t ,
17

a n d all his s t r i v -

i n g is t o escape i t . O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , f o r this w o r k o f salvation he counts o n l y o n himself; he "has n o g o d t o t h a n k , j u s t as i n his struggle he calls u p o n none to help."
18

Instead o f p r a y i n g — i n the usual sense o f the w o r d , t u r n i n g

t o a s u p e r i o r b e i n g t o b e g f o r h e l p — h e w i t h d r a w s i n t o h i m s e l f and m e d i tates. T h i s is n o t t o say " t h a t he denies o u t r i g h t t h e existence o f beings

"[Eugène] Burnouf, Introduction à l'histoire du bouddhisme indien, 2d. ed. [Paris, Maisonneuve, 1876], p. 464. The last word of the text means that Buddhism does not even accept the existence of an eternal Nature. "Auguste Barth, The Religions of India [translatedfromFrench by Rev. J. Wood, London, Houghton Mifflin, 1882], p. 110. [Hermann] Oldenberg, Le Bouddha [Sa vie, sa doctrine, sa communauté, translated from the German by A. Foucher, Paris, F. Alcan, 1894, p. 51. I could not find an edition Dürkheim lists as translated by "Hoey" and giving the page as 53. Trans.]. Ibid. [pp. 214, 318]. Cf. Hendrick Kern, Histoire du bouddhisme dans l'Inde, vol. I [Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1901], pp. 389ff. "Oldenberg, Bouddha, p. 259 [this passage actually examines the denial of the existence of the soul. Trans.]; Barth, Religions of India, p. 110. '"Oldenberg, Bouddha, p. 314.
16 15

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

29

named Indra, A g n i , or Varuna;

19

b u t he feels that he owes t h e m n o t h i n g and

has n o t h i n g t o d o w i t h t h e m , " because t h e i r p o w e r is effective o n l y over the things o f this w o r l d — a n d those things, f o r h i m , are w i t h o u t value. H e is thus atheist i n t h e sense that he is u n i n t e r e s t e d i n w h e t h e r gods exist. M o r e o v e r , even i f t h e y exist a n d n o m a t t e r w h a t p o w e r t h e y m a y have, the saint, o r he w h o is u n f e t t e r e d b y t h e w o r l d , regards h i m s e l f as s u p e r i o r t o t h e m . T h e stature o f beings lies n o t i n the e x t e n t o f t h e i r p o w e r over things b u t i n the e x t e n t o f t h e i r progress a l o n g t h e w a y t o s a l v a t i o n .
20

I t is t r u e that, i n at least some divisions o f t h e B u d d h i s t c h u r c h , * the B u d d h a has c o m e t o be regarded as a k i n d o f g o d . H e has his temples and has b e c o m e t h e o b j e c t o f a c u l t . B u t t h e c u l t is v e r y simple, essentially l i m i t e d t o offerings o f a f e w flowers a n d the v e n e r a t i o n o f relics o r sacred images. I t is l i t t l e m o r e t h a n a c o m m e m o r a t i v e c u l t . B u t further, assuming the t e r m t o be apposite, this divinization o f t h e B u d d h a is p e c u l i a r t o w h a t has b e e n called N o r t h e r n B u d d h i s m . " T h e B u d d h i s t s o f the S o u t h , " says K e r n , " a n d the least advanced a m o n g t h e B u d d h i s t s o f the N o r t h can be said, a c c o r d i n g t o presently available evidence, t o speak o f t h e f o u n d e r o f t h e i r d o c t r i n e as i f he were a m a n . "
2 1

T h e y p r o b a b l y d o ascribe t o t h e B u d d h a e x t r a o r d i n a r y p o w -

ers, s u p e r i o r t o those o r d i n a r y m o r t a l s possess; b u t i t is a v e r y o l d b e l i e f i n I n d i a (and a b e l i e f w i d e s p r e a d i n m a n y different religions) that a great saint is gifted w i t h exceptional v i r t u e s .
22

S t i l l , a saint is n o t a g o d , any m o r e t h a n a

priest o r a m a g i c i a n is, despite the s u p e r h u m a n faculties that are o f t e n asc r i b e d t o t h e m . Besides, a c c o r d i n g t o the best scholarly a u t h o r i t y , this sort o f t h e i s m a n d the c o m p l e x m y t h o l o g y that o r d i n a r i l y goes w i t h i t are n o m o r e t h a n a derivative a n d d e v i a n t f o r m o f B u d d h i s m . A t first, the B u d d h a was n o t regarded as a n y t h i n g o t h e r t h a n " t h e wisest o f m e n . "
2 3

" T h e conception o f a

B u d d h a w h o is o t h e r t h a n a m a n w h o has reached t h e highest degree o f h o liness is," says B u r n o u f , " o u t s i d e the circle o f ideas that are the v e r y f o u n d a -

*Here, as in the definition of religion (p. 44), Durkheim capitalizes the word "church." Barth [Religions of India], p. 109. "I am deeply convinced," says Burnouf as well, "that if Çâkya had not found around him a Pantheon full of the gods whose names I gave, he would have seen no need whatever to invent it" ([Eugene Bournoufj, Bouddhisme indien, p. 119).
20

19

Burnouf, Bouddhisme indien, p. 117. Kern, Histoire du bouddhisme, vol. I, p. 289.

21

"The belief universally accepted in India that great holiness is necessarily accompanied by supernatural faculties, is the sole support that he (Çâkya) had to find in spirits" (Burnouf, Bouddhisme indien, p. 119).
23

22

Ibid., p. 120.

30

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

t i o n o f even the simple S u t r a s " ;

24

a n d as the same a u t h o r adds elsewhere, "his

h u m a n i t y has r e m a i n e d a fact so uncontestably a c k n o w l e d g e d b y all that i t d i d n o t o c c u r t o the m y t h makers, t o w h o m miracles c o m e v e r y easily, t o m a k e a g o d o u t o f h i m after his d e a t h . "
25

H e n c e , o n e m a y ask w h e t h e r he has
2 6

ever reached the p o i n t o f b e i n g c o m p l e t e l y s t r i p p e d o f h u m a n character and thus w h e t h e r i t w o u l d be p r o p e r t o l i k e n h i m t o a g o d ; w h a t e v e r the case is, i t w o u l d be t o a g o d o f a v e r y special nature, a n d w h o s e role i n n o w a y resembles that o f o t h e r d i v i n e personalities. A g o d is first o f all a l i v i n g b e i n g o n w h o m m a n m u s t c o u n t a n d o n w h o m h e can c o u n t ; n o w , the B u d d h a has d i e d , he has entered N i r v a n a , a n d he can d o n o t h i n g m o r e i n the course o f h u m a n events.
27

Finally, a n d w h a t e v e r else o n e m a y c o n c l u d e a b o u t the d i v i n i t y o f the B u d d h a , the fact remains that this c o n c e p t i o n is w h o l l y extraneous t o w h a t is t r u l y f u n d a m e n t a l i n B u d d h i s m . B u d d h i s m consists first a n d foremost i n the idea o f salvation, a n d salvation o n l y requires o n e t o k n o w and practice the r i g h t d o c t r i n e . O f course, that d o c t r i n e w o u l d n o t have b e e n k n o w a b l e i f the B u d d h a h a d n o t c o m e t o reveal i t ; b u t o n c e that r e v e l a t i o n was made, the Buddha's w o r k was d o n e . F r o m t h e n o n , he ceased t o be a necessary fact o r i n religious life. T h e practice o f the F o u r H o l y T r u t h s w o u l d be possible even i f the m e m o r y o f the o n e w h o m a d e t h e m k n o w n was erased f r o m memory.
2 8

V e r y different from this is C h r i s t i a n i t y , w h i c h is i n c o n c e i v a b l e

w i t h o u t the idea o f C h r i s t ever present a n d his c u l t ever practiced; f o r i t is t h r o u g h t h e e v e r - l i v i n g C h r i s t , daily sacrificed, that the c o m m u n i t y o f the faithful goes o n c o m m u n i c a t i n g w i t h the supreme source o f its s p i r i t u a l life.
29

24

Ibid„ p. 107. Ibid., p. 302.

25

Kern makes this point in the following terms: "In certain respects, he is a man; in certain respects, he is not a man; in certain respects, he is neither one nor the other" (Histoire du bouddhisme vol. 1 p. 290). , "The idea that the divine head of the Community is not absent from among his people, but in reality remains among them as their master and king, in such a way that the cult is nothing other than the expression of the permanence of that common life—this idea is entirely foreign to Buddhists. Their own master is in Nirvana; if his faithful cried out to him he could not hear them" (Oldenberg, Le Bouddha [p. 368]). "In all its basic traits, the Buddhist doctrine could exist, just as it does in reality, even if the idea of Buddha remained wholly foreign to it" (Oldenberg, Le Bouddha, p. 322). And what is said of the historical Buddha also applies to all the mythological ones. See in this connection Max Müller, Natural Religion [London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1889], pp. 103ff., 190.
29 28 27

26

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

31

A l l t h e p r e c e d i n g applies equally t o a n o t h e r great r e l i g i o n o f I n d i a , J a i n i s m . A d d i t i o n a l l y , t h e t w o d o c t r i n e s h o l d practically the same c o n c e p t i o n o f the w o r l d a n d o f life. " L i k e t h e Buddhists," says M . B a r t h , " t h e Jainists are atheists. T h e y reject the idea o f a creator; f o r t h e m , the w o r l d is eternal a n d t h e y e x p l i c i t l y d e n y that there c o u l d exist a b e i n g perfect from all eternity." L i k e t h e N o r t h e r n B u d d h i s t s , the Jainists, o r at least c e r t a i n o f t h e m , have nevertheless r e v e r t e d t o a sort o f deism; i n the i n s c r i p t i o n s o f t h e D e c c a n , o n e Jinapati* is spoken of, a k i n d o f supreme Jina w h o is called the first cre30

ator; b u t such language, says the same author, " c o n f l i c t s w i t h the m o s t e x p l i c i t statements o f t h e i r m o s t a u t h o r i t a t i v e a u t h o r s . " F u r t h e r m o r e , this indifference t o the d i v i n e is so d e v e l o p e d i n B u d d h i s m a n d Jainism because the seed existed i n the B r a h m a n i s m from w h i c h b o t h r e l i g i o n s derive. I n at least c e r t a i n o f its f o r m s , B r a h m a n i c speculation l e d t o "a f r a n k l y materialist a n d atheist e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e u n i v e r s e . "
31

W i t h the pas-

sage o f t i m e , the m u l t i p l e deities that the peoples o f I n d i a had l e a r n e d t o w o r s h i p w e r e m o r e o r less amalgamated i n t o a k i n d o f abstract and i m p e r sonal p r i n c i p a l deity, t h e essence o f all that exists. M a n contains w i t h i n h i m self this supreme reality, i n w h i c h n o t h i n g o f d i v i n e p e r s o n h o o d remains; o r rather, he is o n e w i t h i t , since n o t h i n g exists apart f r o m i t . T h u s t o f i n d and u n i t e w i t h this reality, he does n o t have t o search f o r s u p p o r t outside himself; all i t takes is f o r h i m t o focus o n h i m s e l f a n d m e d i t a t e . O l d e n b u r g says, " W h e n B u d d h i s m takes u p the g r a n d endeavor o f i m a g i n i n g a w o r l d o f salv a t i o n i n w h i c h m a n saves himself, a n d o f creating a r e l i g i o n w i t h o u t a g o d , B r a h m a n i c speculation has already prepared the g r o u n d . T h e n o t i o n o f d i v i n i t y has gradually receded; t h e figures o f the a n c i e n t gods d i m , a n d s l o w l y disappear. Far above the terrestrial w o r l d , B r a h m a sits e n t h r o n e d i n his eternal q u i e t , a n d o n l y o n e p e r s o n remains t o take an active part i n the great w o r k o f salvation: M a n . "
3 2

N o t e , t h e n , that a considerable part o f religious

e v o l u t i o n has consisted o f a gradual m o v e m e n t away from the ideas o f s p i r i t u a l b e i n g a n d d i v i n i t y . H e r e are great r e l i g i o n s i n w h i c h invocations, p r o p i tiations, sacrifices, a n d prayers p r o p e r l y so-called are far f r o m d o m i n a n t , and therefore d o n o t e x h i b i t t h e d i s t i n g u i s h i n g m a r k b y w h i c h , i t is c l a i m e d , specifically r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a are t o be r e c o g n i z e d . *This term means "conquering lord" and, according to current scholarship, refers to a spiritual ideal, not co a creator. I am indebted to my colleague Douglas Brooks on this point.
30

Barth, Religions of India, p. 146.

"Barch, ["Religions de l'Inde"] in Encyclopédie des sciences religieuses [Paris, Sandoz et Fischbacher, 1877-1882], vol. VI, p. 548.
32

01denberg, Le Bouddha [p. 51].

32

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

B u t m a n y rites that are w h o l l y i n d e p e n d e n t o f any idea o f gods o r s p i r i t u a l beings are f o u n d even i n deistic r e l i g i o n s . First o f all, there are a m u l t i t u d e o f p r o h i b i t i o n s . F o r example, t h e B i b l e c o m m a n d s the w o m a n t o live i n isolation f o r a d e f i n i t e p e r i o d each m o n t h , time o f childbirth,
3 4 3 3

imposes similar i s o l a t i o n at the
3 5

a n d forbids h i t c h i n g a d o n k e y and a horse together o r I t is impossible t o

w e a r i n g a g a r m e n t i n w h i c h h e m p is m i x e d w i t h l i n e n .

see w h a t role b e l i e f i n Y a h w e h c o u l d have played i n these p r o h i b i t i o n s , f o r he is absent f r o m all the relations thus p r o h i b i t e d a n d c o u l d h a r d l y be i n t e r ested i n t h e m . T h e same can be said f o r m o s t o f the d i e t a r y restrictions. S u c h restrictions are n o t peculiar t o t h e H e b r e w s ; i n various f o r m s , t h e y are f o u n d i n innumerable religions. I t is t r u e that these rites are p u r e l y negative, b u t they are nonetheless r e l i g i o u s . F u r t h e r m o r e , there are o t h e r rites that i m p o s e active and positive o b l i g a t i o n s u p o n t h e f a i t h f u l a n d yet are o f t h e same nature. T h e y act o n t h e i r o w n , a n d t h e i r efficacy does n o t d e p e n d u p o n any d i v i n e p o w e r ; t h e y m e chanically b r i n g a b o u t t h e effects that are t h e i r reason f o r b e i n g . T h e y c o n sist n e i t h e r o f prayers n o r o f offerings t o a b e i n g o n w h o s e g o o d w i l l t h e anticipated result depends; instead, the result is achieved t h r o u g h the a u t o m a t i c o p e r a t i o n o f the r i t u a l . S u c h is the case, f o r example, o f sacrifice i n Vedic r e l i g i o n . "Sacrifice," says M . Bergaigne, "exerts d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e u p o n celestial p h e n o m e n a " ; fluence.
36

i t is all p o w e r f u l b y itself a n d w i t h o u t any d i v i n e i n 3 7

For instance, i t is sacrifice that b r o k e the doors o f the cave w h e r e the Like-

auroras w e r e i m p r i s o n e d , a n d thus d i d d a y l i g h t e r u p t i n t o t h e w o r l d . sky flow o n e a r t h — a n d this despite the gods.
38

wise, i t was appropriate h y m n s that acted d i r e c t l y t o m a k e the waters o f the C e r t a i n ascetic practices are equally efficacious. C o n s i d e r this: "Sacrifice is so m u c h t h e p r i n c i p l e , par e x -

33

I Sam. 21, 6. [This is in fact about the sexual purity of men. Trans.]

34

Lev. 12.

Deut. 12, 10—11. [These verses are in fact about establishing a place for God's name to dwell in. They go on to discuss sacrifices. Trans.] Abel Bergaigne, La Religion védique [d'après les hymnes du Rig Véda, 4 vols. Paris, F. Vieweg, 1878-1897], vol. I, p. 22.
37 36

35

Ibid., p. 133.

M. Bergaigne writes, "No text better reveals the inner meaning of magical action by man upon the waters of the sky than Verse X, 32, 7, in which that belief is expressed in general terms as applicable to the man of today as to his real or mythological ancestors. The ignorant man queried the savant; taught by the savant, he acts, and therein lies the benefit of his teaching, he conquers the rush of the rapids." Ibid, (p. 137).

38

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

33

cellence, that n o t o n l y t h e o r i g i n o f m e n b u t even that o f the gods has been ascribed t o i t . Such an idea m a y v e r y w e l l seem strange. I t is explicable, h o w ever, as o n e u l t i m a t e consequence, a m o n g others, o f t h e idea that sacrifice is all p o w e r f u l . "
3 9

T h u s , t h e w h o l e first p a r t o f M . Bergaigne's w o r k deals o n l y

w i t h those sacrifices i n w h i c h the deities play n o role. T h i s fact is n o t p e c u l i a r t o Vedic r e l i g i o n ; t o the contrary, i t is q u i t e widespread. I n any c u l t , there are practices that act b y themselves, b y a v i r t u e t h a t is t h e i r o w n , a n d w i t h o u t any god's s t e p p i n g i n b e t w e e n t h e i n d i v i d u a l w h o p e r f o r m s the r i t e a n d t h e o b j e c t sought. W h e n t h e J e w stirred the air at the Feast o f the Tabernacles b y s h a k i n g w i l l o w branches i n a c e r t a i n r h y t h m , i t was t o m a k e t h e w i n d b l o w a n d t h e r a i n fall; t h e b e l i e f was that t h e r i t e p r o d u c e d the desired result automatically, p r o v i d e d i t was c o r r e c t l y p e r formed.
4 0

I t is this, b y t h e way, that explains t h e p r i m a r y i m p o r t a n c e that

nearly all cults g i v e t o t h e physical aspect o f ceremonies. T h i s r e l i g i o u s f o r m a l i s m ( p r o b a b l y t h e earliest f o r m o f legal f o r m a l i s m ) arises from t h e fact that, h a v i n g i n a n d o f themselves the source o f t h e i r efficacy, the formulas t o be p r o n o u n c e d a n d t h e m o v e m e n t s t o be executed w o u l d lose efficacy i f they w e r e n o t exactly the same as those that h a d already p r o v e d successful. T h u s there are rites w i t h o u t gods, a n d i n d e e d rites from w h i c h gods d e r i v e . N o t all r e l i g i o u s v i r t u e s emanate from d i v i n e personalities, a n d there are c u l t ties o t h e r t h a n those that u n i t e m a n w i t h a deity. T h u s , r e l i g i o n is broader t h a n the idea o f gods o r spirits a n d so c a n n o t be d e f i n e d exclusively i n those t e r m s .

Ill
W i t h these d e f i n i t i o n s set aside, l e t us n o w see h o w w e can approach t h e problem. First, let us n o t e that, i n all these f o r m u l a s , scholars have b e e n t r y i n g t o express the nature o f r e l i g i o n as a w h o l e . A l t h o u g h r e l i g i o n is a w h o l e c o m posed o f parts—a m o r e o r less c o m p l e x system o f m y t h s , dogmas, rites, and c e r e m o n i e s — t h e y operate as i f i t f o r m e d a k i n d o f i n d i v i s i b l e entity. Since a w h o l e can be d e f i n e d o n l y i n relationship t o the parts that c o m p r i s e i t , a b e t ter m e t h o d is t o t r y t o characterize t h e e l e m e n t a r y p h e n o m e n a from w h i c h any r e l i g i o n results, a n d t h e n characterize t h e system p r o d u c e d b y t h e i r

"Ibid., p. 139. ^Other examples are to be found in [Henri] Hubert, "Magia," in Dictionnaire des antiquités, vol. VI, p. 1509 [Paris, Hachette, 1877-1918].

34

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

u n i o n . T h i s m e t h o d is all the m o r e indispensable i n v i e w o f the fact that there are r e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a that d o n o t fall u n d e r the j u r i s d i c t i o n o f any p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o n . T h o s e that f o r m t h e subject m a t t e r o f f o l k l o r e d o n o t . I n general, these p h e n o m e n a are j u m b l e d survivals, the remnants o f e x t i n c t r e l i g i o n s ; b u t there are some as w e l l that are f o r m e d spontaneously u n d e r the i n f l u e n c e o f l o c a l causes. I n E u r o p e , C h r i s t i a n i t y u n d e r t o o k t o absorb and assimilate t h e m ; i t i m p r i n t e d t h e m w i t h C h r i s t i a n c o l o r a t i o n . Nonetheless, there are m a n y that have persisted u n t i l r e c e n d y o r that still persist m o r e o r less autonomously—festivals o f t h e m a y p o l e , the s u m m e r solstice, carnival, assorted beliefs a b o u t genies a n d l o c a l d e m o n s , a n d so o n . A l t h o u g h t h e r e l i g i o u s character o f these p h e n o m e n a is r e c e d i n g m o r e a n d m o r e , t h e i r r e l i gious i m p o r t a n c e is still such that t h e y have p e r m i t t e d M a n n h a r d t * a n d his s c h o o l t o rejuvenate the science o f r e l i g i o n s . A d e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n that d i d n o t take t h e m i n t o a c c o u n t w o u l d n o t encompass a l l that is r e l i g i o u s . R e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n a fall i n t o t w o basic categories: beliefs and rites. T h e first are states o f o p i n i o n a n d consist o f representations; the second are p a r t i c u l a r modes o f a c t i o n . B e t w e e n these t w o categories o f p h e n o m e n a lies all that separates t h i n k i n g f r o m d o i n g . T h e rites can be d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m o t h e r h u m a n practices—for e x a m ple, m o r a l p r a c t i c e s — o n l y b y the special nature o f t h e i r object. L i k e a r i t e , a m o r a l r u l e prescribes ways o f b e h a v i n g t o us, b u t those ways o f b e h a v i n g a d dress objects o f a different k i n d . I t is t h e o b j e c t o f t h e r i t e that m u s t be characterized, i n order t o characterize the r i t e itself. T h e special nature o f that object is expressed i n the belief. T h e r e f o r e , o n l y after h a v i n g d e f i n e d the b e l i e f can w e define the r i t e . W h e t h e r s i m p l e o r c o m p l e x , all k n o w n r e l i g i o u s beliefs display a c o m m o n feature: T h e y presuppose a classification o f t h e real o r ideal things that m e n conceive o f i n t o t w o classes—two opposite genera—that are w i d e l y designated b y t w o d i s t i n c t t e r m s , w h i c h the w o r d s profane a n d sacred translate fairly w e l l . T h e d i v i s i o n o f t h e w o r l d i n t o t w o d o m a i n s , o n e c o n t a i n i n g all that is sacred a n d t h e o t h e r all that is p r o f a n e — s u c h is the distinctive trait o f religious t h o u g h t . Beliefs, m y t h s , dogmas, a n d legends are e i t h e r representations o r systems o f representations that express the nature o f sacred t h i n g s , the v i r t u e s a n d p o w e r s a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e m , t h e i r history, a n d t h e i r r e l a t i o n ships w i t h o n e a n o t h e r as w e l l as w i t h profane t h i n g s . Sacred things are n o t

""Wilhelm Mannhardt (1831-1880). Influenced by Jakob Grimm and borrowing methods from the new disciplines of geology and archaeology, he pioneered the scientific study of oral tradition in Germany. James G. Frazer's The Golden Bough drew on Mannhardt's European material.

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

35

s i m p l y those personal beings that are called gods o r spirits. A r o c k , a tree, a s p r i n g , a pebble, a piece o f w o o d , a house, i n a w o r d a n y t h i n g , can be sacred. A r i t e can have sacredness; i n d e e d there is n o r i t e that does n o t have i t t o some degree. T h e r e are w o r d s , phrases, a n d f o r m u l a s that can be said o n l y b y consecrated personages; there are gestures a n d m o v e m e n t s that c a n n o t be e x e c u t e d b y j u s t anyone. I f Vedic sacrifice has h a d such great efficacy—if, i n deed, sacrifice was far f r o m b e i n g a m e t h o d o f g a i n i n g t h e gods' favor b u t , a c c o r d i n g t o m y t h o l o g y , actually generated the gods—that is because the v i r t u e i t possessed was comparable t o that o f the m o s t sacred beings. T h e c i r cle o f sacred objects c a n n o t be fixed o n c e a n d f o r all; its scope can v a r y i n f i n i t e l y f r o m o n e r e l i g i o n t o another. W h a t makes B u d d h i s m a r e l i g i o n is that, i n the absence o f gods, i t accepts t h e existence o f sacred things, namely, the F o u r N o b l e T r u t h s a n d t h e practices that are d e r i v e d f r o m t h e m .
4 1

B u t I have c o n f i n e d m y s e l f thus far t o e n u m e r a t i n g various sacred things as examples: I m u s t n o w i n d i c a t e the general characteristics b y w h i c h they are d i s t i n g u i s h e d from profane things. O n e m i g h t be t e m p t e d t o define sacred t h i n g s b y the rank that is o r d i n a r i l y assigned t o t h e m i n the h i e r a r c h y o f beings. T h e y t e n d t o be regarded as s u p e r i o r i n d i g n i t y a n d p o w e r t o profane t h i n g s , a n d p a r t i c u l a r l y t o m a n , i n n o w a y sacred w h e n he is o n l y a m a n . I n d e e d , he is p o r t r a y e d as o c c u p y i n g a r a n k i n f e r i o r t o a n d d e p e n d e n t u p o n t h e m . W h i l e that p o r t r a y a l is cert a i n l y n o t w i t h o u t t r u t h , n o t h i n g a b o u t i t is t r u l y characteristic o f t h e sacred. S u b o r d i n a t i o n o f o n e t h i n g t o a n o t h e r is n o t e n o u g h t o m a k e o n e sacred a n d the o t h e r n o t . Slaves are subordinate t o t h e i r masters, subjects t o t h e i r k i n g , soldiers t o t h e i r leaders, l o w e r classes t o r u l i n g classes, t h e miser t o his g o l d , a n d t h e p o w e r seeker t o t h e p o w e r holders. I f a m a n is sometimes said t o have t h e r e l i g i o n o f beings o r things i n w h i c h he recognizes an e m i n e n t value a n d a k i n d o f s u p e r i o r i t y t o h i m , i t is o b v i o u s that, i n a l l such cases, t h e w o r d is taken i n a m e t a p h o r i c a l sense, a n d there is n o t h i n g i n those relations that is r e l i g i o u s i n a strict sense.
42

O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , w e s h o u l d bear i n m i n d t h a t there are things w i t h w h i c h m a n feels relatively at ease, even t h o u g h t h e y are sacred t o t h e highest degree. A n a m u l e t has sacredness, a n d yet there is n o t h i n g e x t r a o r d i n a r y a b o u t t h e respect i t inspires. E v e n face t o face w i t h his gods, m a n is n o t a l ways i n such a m a r k e d state o f i n f e r i o r i t y , f o r he v e r y o f t e n uses physical co'e r c i o n o n t h e m t o get w h a t h e wants. H e beats the fetish w h e n he is
41

Not to mention the sage or the saint who practices these truths, and who is for this reason sacred.

This is not to say that the relations cannot take on a religious character, but that they do ¡y>t necessarily.

42

36

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

displeased, o n l y t o b e r e c o n c i l e d w i t h i t i f , i n the end, i t becomes m o r e amenable t o t h e wishes o f its w o r s h i p p e r .
43

T o get r a i n , stones are t h r o w n

i n t o the s p r i n g o r the sacred lake w h e r e the g o d o f t h e r a i n is p r e s u m e d t o reside; i t is b e l i e v e d t h a t he is f o r c e d b y this means t o c o m e o u t and s h o w himself.
44

F u r t h e r m o r e , w h i l e i t is t r u e that m a n is a d e p e n d e n t o f his gods,

this dependence is m u t u a l . T h e gods also n e e d m a n ; w i t h o u t offerings a n d sacrifices, t h e y w o u l d die. I w i l l have occasion t o s h o w that this dependence o f gods o n t h e i r faithful is f o u n d even i n the m o s t idealistic* r e l i g i o n s . H o w e v e r , i f t h e c r i t e r i o n o f a p u r e l y h i e r a r c h i c a l d i s t i n c t i o n is at o n c e t o o general a n d t o o imprecise, n o t h i n g b u t t h e i r h e t e r o g e n e i t y is left t o d e fine the r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e sacred a n d the profane. B u t w h a t makes this h e t e r o g e n e i t y sufficient t o characterize that classification o f things and t o distinguish i t from any o t h e r is that i t has a v e r y p a r t i c u l a r feature: It is absolute. I n t h e h i s t o r y o f h u m a n t h o u g h t , there is n o o t h e r e x a m p l e o f t w o categories o f things as p r o f o u n d l y differentiated o r as radically o p p o s e d t o one another. T h e t r a d i t i o n a l o p p o s i t i o n b e t w e e n g o o d a n d e v i l is n o t h i n g beside this o n e : G o o d a n d e v i l are t w o o p p o s e d species o f the same genus, n a m e l y morals, j u s t as h e a l t h a n d illness are n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n t w o different aspects o f t h e same o r d e r o f facts, life; b y contrast, t h e sacred a n d the profane are always a n d e v e r y w h e r e c o n c e i v e d b y t h e h u m a n i n t e l l e c t as separate genera, as t w o w o r l d s w i t h n o t h i n g i n c o m m o n . T h e energies at play i n o n e are n o t m e r e l y those e n c o u n t e r e d i n the other, b u t raised t o a h i g h e r degree; they are d i f ferent i n k i n d . T h i s o p p o s i t i o n has b e e n c o n c e i v e d differently i n different r e l i g i o n s . H e r e , l o c a l i z i n g t h e t w o k i n d s o f things i n different regions o f t h e physical universe has appeared sufficient t o separate t h e m ; there, the sacred is t h r o w n i n t o an ideal a n d transcendent m i l i e u , w h i l e t h e r e s i d u u m is aband o n e d as t h e p r o p e r t y o f t h e m a t e r i a l w o r l d . B u t w h i l e the f o r m s o f the c o n trast are v a r i a b l e ,
45

t h e fact o f i t is universal.

T h i s is n o t t o say t h a t a b e i n g can never pass from o n e o f these w o r l d s t o the other. B u t w h e n this passage occurs, the m a n n e r i n w h i c h i t occurs *For the meaning of "idealistic," bear in mind Durkheim's contrast (above, p. 2) between religions that contain more concepts and fewer sensations and images.
43

[Fritz] Schultze, [Der] Fetichismus [Ein Beitrag zur Anthropologic und Religionsgeschichte, Leipzig, C.

Wilfferodt, 1871], p. 129. "Examples of these customs will be found in [James George] Frazer, Golden Bough, 2d ed., vol. I [New York, Macmillan, 1894], pp. 8Iff. The conception according to which the profane is opposed to the sacred as the rational is to the irrational; the intelligible to the mysterious, is only one of the forms in which this opposition is expressed. Science, once constituted, has taken on a profane character, especially in the eyes of the Christian religions; in consequence, it has seemed that science could not be applied to sacred things.
45

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

37

demonstrates t h e f u n d a m e n t a l d u a l i t y o f t h e t w o realms, f o r i t i m p l i e s a t r u e m e t a m o r p h o s i s . R i t e s o f i n i t i a t i o n , w h i c h are p r a c t i c e d b y a great m a n y p e o ples, demonstrate this especially w e l l . I n i t i a t i o n is a l o n g series o f rites t o i n t r o d u c e t h e y o u n g m a n i n t o r e l i g i o u s life. F o r the first time, he comes o u t o f t h e p u r e l y profane w o r l d , w h e r e he has passed his c h i l d h o o d , a n d enters i n t o the circle o f sacred things. T h i s change o f status is c o n c e i v e d n o t as a m e r e d e v e l o p m e n t o f p r e e x i s t i n g seeds b u t as a t r a n s f o r m a t i o n totius substantiae. * A t that m o m e n t , the y o u n g m a n is said t o die, a n d the existence o f the particular p e r s o n he was, t o cease—instantaneously t o be replaced b y another. H e is b o r n again i n a n e w f o r m . A p p r o p r i a t e ceremonies are h e l d t o b r i n g a b o u t the death a n d t h e r e b i r t h , w h i c h are taken n o t m e r e l y i n a s y m b o l i c sense b u t l i t e r a l l y .
46

Is this n o t p r o o f that there is a r u p t u r e b e t w e e n the p r o -

fane b e i n g that he was a n d t h e r e l i g i o u s b e i n g that he becomes? I n d e e d , this h e t e r o g e n e i t y is such that i t degenerates i n t o real antagon i s m . T h e t w o w o r l d s are c o n c e i v e d o f n o t o n l y as separate b u t also as host i l e a n d jealous rivals. Since the c o n d i t i o n o f b e l o n g i n g fully t o o n e is f u l l y t o have left t h e other, m a n is e x h o r t e d t o retire c o m p l e t e l y f r o m the profane i n o r d e r t o live an exclusively r e l i g i o u s life. F r o m thence comes m o n a s t i c i s m , w h i c h artificially organizes a m i l i e u that is apart f r o m , outside of, a n d closed t o t h e n a t u r a l m i l i e u w h e r e o r d i n a r y m e n live a secular life, and that tends a l m o s t t o b e its antagonist. F r o m thence as w e l l comes mystic asceticism, w h i c h seeks t o u p r o o t all that m a y r e m a i n o f man's a t t a c h m e n t t o the w o r l d . Finally, f r o m t h e n c e c o m e all f o r m s o f r e l i g i o u s suicide, the c r o w n i n g l o g i c a l step o f this asceticism, since the o n l y means o f escaping profane life f u l l y a n d finally is escaping life altogether. T h e o p p o s i t i o n o f these t w o genera is expressed o u t w a r d l y b y a visible sign that p e r m i t s ready r e c o g n i t i o n o f this v e r y special classification, w h e r ever i t exists. T h e m i n d experiences deep repugnance a b o u t m i n g l i n g , even simple contact, b e t w e e n the c o r r e s p o n d i n g t h i n g s , because the n o t i o n o f the sacred is always a n d e v e r y w h e r e separate f r o m the n o t i o n o f the profane i n man's m i n d , a n d because w e i m a g i n e a k i n d o f l o g i c a l v o i d b e t w e e n t h e m . T h e state o f dissociation i n w h i c h the ideas are f o u n d i n consciousness is t o o strongly c o n t r a d i c t e d b y such m i n g l i n g , o r even b y t h e i r b e i n g t o o close t o

*Of the whole essence. See James George Frazer, "On Some Ceremonies of the Central Australian Tribes," in AAAS [Melbourne, Victoria, published by the association], 1901 [vols. VIII-IX], pp. 313ff. The concept is, moreover, very common. In India, mere participation in the sacrificial act has the same effects; the sacrifices by the very fact of entering into the circle of sacred things, changes personality. (See Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, "Essai sur [la nature et fonction du] sacrifice," AS, vol. II [1897], p. 101.)
46

38

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

o n e another. T h e sacred t h i n g is, par excellence, that w h i c h the profane must n o t and c a n n o t t o u c h w i t h i m p u n i t y . T o be sure, this p r o h i b i t i o n cannot go so far as t o m a k e all c o m m u n i c a t i o n b e t w e e n the t w o w o r l d s impossible, for i f the profane c o u l d i n n o w a y enter i n t o relations w i t h the sacred, the sacred w o u l d be o f n o use. T h i s p l a c i n g i n relationship i n itself is always a delicate o p e r a t i o n that requires precautions a n d a m o r e o r less c o m p l e x i n i t i a t i o n .
4 7

Yet such an o p e r a t i o n is impossible i f the profane does n o t lose its specific traits, a n d i f i t does n o t b e c o m e sacred itself i n some measure and t o some degree. T h e t w o genera cannot, at t h e same t i m e , b o t h c o m e close t o o n e a n o t h e r a n d r e m a i n w h a t t h e y were. N o w w e have a first c r i t e r i o n o f religious beliefs. N o d o u b t , w i t h i n these t w o f u n d a m e n t a l genera, there are secondary species that are m o r e o r less i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h each o t h e r .
48

themselves

B u t characteristically, the r e l i -

gious p h e n o m e n o n is such that i t always assumes a b i p a r t i t e d i v i s i o n o f the universe, k n o w n a n d k n o w a b l e , i n t o t w o genera that i n c l u d e all that exists b u t radically e x c l u d e o n e another. Sacred things are things p r o t e c t e d a n d i s o lated b y p r o h i b i t i o n s ; profane things are those things t o w h i c h the p r o h i b i tions are a p p l i e d a n d that m u s t keep at a distance f r o m w h a t is sacred. R e l i g i o u s beliefs are those representations that express t h e nature o f sacred things a n d the relations t h e y have w i t h o t h e r sacred things o r w i t h profane things. Finally, rites are rules o f c o n d u c t that prescribe h o w m a n m u s t c o n d u c t h i m s e l f w i t h sacred t h i n g s . W h e n a certain n u m b e r o f sacred things have relations o f c o o r d i n a t i o n a n d s u b o r d i n a t i o n w i t h o n e another, so as t o f o r m a system that has a certain coherence a n d does n o t b e l o n g t o any o t h e r system o f the same sort, t h e n the beliefs and rites, taken together, constitute a r e l i g i o n . B y this d e f i n i t i o n , a r e l i g i o n is n o t necessarily c o n t a i n e d w i t h i n a single idea a n d does n o t derive from a single p r i n c i p l e that m a y v a r y w i t h t h e circumstances i t deals w i t h , w h i l e r e m a i n i n g basically the same everywhere. Instead, i t is a w h o l e f o r m e d o f separate and relatively distinct parts. E a c h h o m o g e n e o u s g r o u p o f sacred things, o r i n d e e d each sacred t h i n g o f any i m p o r t a n c e , constitutes an o r g a n i zational center a r o u n d w h i c h gravitates a set o f beliefs a n d rites, a c u l t o f its o w n . T h e r e is n o r e l i g i o n , h o w e v e r u n i f i e d i t m a y be, that does n o t a c k n o w l edge a p l u r a l i t y o f sacred things. E v e n C h r i s t i a n i t y , at least i n its C a t h o l i c f o r m , accepts the V i r g i n , the angels, the saints, the souls o f the dead, etc.-—

47

See what I say about initiation on p. 37, above.

Later I will show how, for example, certain species of sacred things between which there is incompatibility exclude one another as the sacred excludes the profane (Bk.III, chap.5, §4).

48

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

39

above a n d b e y o n d the d i v i n e personality ( w h o , besides, is b o t h three and one). As a r u l e , f u r t h e r m o r e , r e l i g i o n is n o t m e r e l y a single c u l t either b u t is made u p o f a system o f cults that possess a certain a u t o n o m y . T h i s a u t o n o m y is also variable. Sometimes the cults are r a n k e d a n d subordinated t o some d o m i n a n t c u l t i n t o w h i c h they are eventually absorbed; b u t sometimes as w e l l they s i m p l y exist side b y side i n c o n f e d e r a t i o n . T h e r e l i g i o n t o be studied i n this b o o k w i l l p r o v i d e an e x a m p l e o f this confederate o r g a n i z a t i o n . A t the same t i m e , w e can e x p l a i n w h y groups o f religious p h e n o m e n a that b e l o n g t o n o c o n s t i t u t e d r e l i g i o n can exist: because they are n o t o r are n o l o n g e r i n t e g r a t e d i n t o a r e l i g i o u s system. I f , f o r specific reasons, o n e o f those cults j u s t m e n t i o n e d s h o u l d manage t o survive w h i l e the w h o l e t o w h i c h i t b e l o n g e d has disappeared, i t w i l l survive o n l y i n fragments. T h i s is w h a t has h a p p e n e d t o so m a n y agrarian cults that live o n i n f o l k l o r e . I n cert a i n cases, w h a t persists i n t h a t f o r m is n o t even a c u l t , b u t a m e r e c e r e m o n y or a particular r i t e .
4 9

A l t h o u g h this d e f i n i t i o n is m e r e l y p r e l i m i n a r y , i t indicates the terms i n w h i c h t h e p r o b l e m that d o m i n a t e s t h e science o f r e l i g i o n s m u s t be posed. I f sacred beings are b e l i e v e d t o be d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m the others solely b y the greater i n t e n s i t y o f the p o w e r s a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e m , the q u e s t i o n o f h o w m e n c o u l d have i m a g i n e d t h e m is rather simple: N o t h i n g m o r e is n e e d e d t h a n t o i d e n t i f y those forces that, t h r o u g h t h e i r e x c e p t i o n a l energy, have managed t o impress t h e h u m a n m i n d forcefully e n o u g h t o inspire r e l i g i o u s feelings. B u t if, as I have t r i e d t o establish, sacred things are different i n nature from p r o fane things, i f t h e y are different i n t h e i r essence, t h e p r o b l e m is far m o r e c o m p l e x . I n that case, o n e m u s t ask w h a t l e d m a n t o see the w o r l d as t w o heterogeneous a n d i n c o m p a r a b l e w o r l d s , even t h o u g h n o t h i n g i n sense e x p e r i e n c e seems l i k e l y t o have suggested the idea o f such a radical duality.

IV
E v e n so, this d e f i n i t i o n is n o t yet complete, f o r i t fits equally w e l l t w o orders o f things that must be distinguished even t h o u g h they are a k i n : magic and r e l i g i o n . M a g i c , t o o , is m a d e u p o f beliefs a n d rites. L i k e r e l i g i o n , i t has its o w n m y t h s a n d dogmas, b u t these are less w e l l d e v e l o p e d , p r o b a b l y because, g i v e n its p u r s u i t o f t e c h n i c a l a n d u t i l i t a r i a n ends, m a g i c does n o t waste t i m e i n p u r e speculation. M a g i c also has its ceremonies, sacrifices, p u r i f i c a t i o n s , prayers,

49

This is the case,forexample, of certain marriage and funeral rites.

40

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

songs, a n d dances. T h o s e beings w h o m the m a g i c i a n invokes and the forces he puts t o w o r k are n o t o n l y o f the same nature as the forces addressed b y rel i g i o n b u t v e r y o f t e n are the same forces. I n the m o s t p r i m i t i v e societies, the souls o f the dead are i n essence sacred things a n d objects o f r e l i g i o u s rites, b u t at the same t i m e , t h e y have played a m a j o r role i n m a g i c . I n A u s t r a l i a as w e l l as i n M e l a n e s i a ,
51 50

i n ancient Greece as w e l l as a m o n g C h r i s t i a n p e o p l e s ,

52

the

souls, bones, a n d hair o f the dead figure a m o n g the tools m o s t often used b y the m a g i c i a n . D e m o n s are also a c o m m o n i n s t r u m e n t o f m a g i c a l influence. N o w , demons are also s u r r o u n d e d b y p r o h i b i t i o n s ; t h e y t o o are separated a n d live i n a w o r l d apart. I n d e e d , i t is o f t e n d i f f i c u l t t o d i s t i n g u i s h t h e m f r o m gods p r o p e r .
53

Besides, even i n C h r i s t i a n i t y , is n o t the d e v i l a fallen god? A n d

apart from his o r i g i n s , does he n o t have a r e l i g i o u s character, s i m p l y because the h e l l o f w h i c h he is the keeper is an indispensable p a r t i n t h e m a c h i n e r y o f the C h r i s t i a n r e l i g i o n ? T h e m a g i c i a n can i n v o k e regular and official deities. Sometimes these are gods o f a f o r e i g n p e o p l e : F o r example, the G r e e k magicians called u p o n E g y p t i a n , A s s y r i a n , o r J e w i s h gods. Sometimes t h e y are even n a t i o n a l gods: H e c a t e a n d D i a n a w e r e objects o f a m a g i c c u l t . T h e V i r g i n , the C h r i s t , a n d the saints w e r e used i n the same m a n n e r b y Christian magicians. from
54

M u s t w e therefore say that m a g i c c a n n o t be r i g o r o u s l y differentiated r e l i g i o n — t h a t m a g i c is f u l l o f r e l i g i o n a n d r e l i g i o n f u l l o f m a g i c and, consequently, that i t is impossible t o separate t h e m a n d define the o n e w i t h o u t t h e other? W h a t makes that thesis h a r d t o sustain is the m a r k e d r e p u g nance o f r e l i g i o n f o r m a g i c a n d t h e h o s t i l i t y o f m a g i c t o r e l i g i o n i n r e t u r n . M a g i c takes a k i n d o f professional pleasure i n p r o f a n i n g h o l y t h i n g s , v e r t i n g r e l i g i o u s ceremonies i n its r i t e s .
56 55

in-

O n the o t h e r h a n d , w h i l e r e l i g i o n

has n o t always c o n d e m n e d a n d p r o h i b i t e d m a g i c rites, i t has generally r e See [Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen, The Native Tribes of Central Australia [London, Macmillan, 1889], pp. 534£F., and Northern Tribes of Central Australia [London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 463; [Alfred William] Howitt, Native Tribes of South East Australia [London, Macmillan, 1904], pp. 359-361. See [Robert Henry] Codrington, The Melanesians [Studies in Their Anthropology and Folklore, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891], chap. 12.
52 51 50

See Hubert, "Magia," in Dictionnaire des antiquités.

For example, in Melanesia the tindalo is a spirit that is sometimes religious and sometimes magical (Codrington, The Melanesians, pp. 125ff., 194ff.). See Hubert and Mauss, "Esquisse d'une théorie générale de la magie," AS, vol. VII [1904], pp. 83-84.
55 54

53

For example, the Host is profaned in the Black Mass. See Hubert, "Magia," in Dictionnaire des antiquités.

56

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religion

41

garcled t h e m w i t h disfavor. A s messieurs H u b e r t a n d Mauss p o i n t o u t , there is s o m e t h i n g i n h e r e n d y a n t i r e l i g i o u s a b o u t the maneuvers o f t h e m a g i c i a n .
57

So i t is d i f f i c u l t f o r these t w o i n s t i t u t i o n s n o t t o oppose o n e a n o t h e r at some p o i n t , w h a t e v e r the relations b e t w e e n t h e m . Since m y i n t e n t i o n is t o l i m i t m y research t o r e l i g i o n a n d stop w h e r e m a g i c begins, d i s c o v e r i n g w h a t d i s tinguishes t h e m is all the m o r e i m p o r t a n t . H e r e is h o w a l i n e o f d e m a r c a t i o n can be d r a w n b e t w e e n these t w o domains. R e l i g i o u s beliefs p r o p e r are always shared b y a d e f i n i t e g r o u p that p r o fesses t h e m a n d that practices the c o r r e s p o n d i n g rites. N o t o n l y are t h e y i n d i v i d u a l l y accepted b y all m e m b e r s o f that g r o u p , b u t t h e y also b e l o n g t o the g r o u p a n d u n i f y i t . T h e i n d i v i d u a l s w h o c o m p r i s e t h e g r o u p feel j o i n e d t o o n e a n o t h e r b y t h e fact o f c o m m o n f a i t h . A society w h o s e m e m b e r s are u n i t e d because t h e y i m a g i n e the sacred w o r l d a n d its relations w i t h the p r o fane w o r l d i n t h e same way, a n d because t h e y translate this c o m m o n r e p r e sentation i n t o i d e n t i c a l practices, is w h a t is called a C h u r c h . * I n h i s t o r y w e d o n o t find r e l i g i o n w i t h o u t C h u r c h . S o m e t i m e s the C h u r c h is n a r r o w l y n a t i o n a l ; sometimes i t extends b e y o n d frontiers; sometimes i t encompasses an e n t i r e p e o p l e ( R o m e , A t h e n s , t h e H e b r e w s ) ; sometimes i t encompasses o n l y a fraction ( C h r i s t i a n d e n o m i n a t i o n s since the c o m i n g o f Protestantism);
5 8

sometimes i t is l e d b y a b o d y o f priests; sometimes i t is m o r e o r less w i t h o u t any official d i r e c t i n g b o d y . B u t w h e r e v e r w e observe r e l i g i o u s life, i t has a definite g r o u p as its basis. E v e n so-called p r i v a t e cults, l i k e the domestic c u l t o r a c o r p o r a t e c u l t , satisfy this c o n d i t i o n : T h e y are always celebrated b y a g r o u p , t h e f a m i l y o r the c o r p o r a t i o n . A n d , f u r t h e r m o r e , even these p r i v a t e r e l i g i o n s o f t e n are m e r e l y special f o r m s o f a broader r e l i g i o n that embraces the t o t a l i t y o f l i f e .
5 9

T h e s e small C h u r c h e s are i n reality o n l y chapels i n a
60

larger C h u r c h and, because o f this v e r y scope, deserve all the m o r e t o be called b y that n a m e .

*Durkheim capitalizes this term. "Hubert and Mauss, "Esquisse," p. 19. Certainly it is rare for each ceremony not to have its director at the moment it is conducted; even in the most crudely organized societies, there generally are men designated, due to the importance of their social role, to exercise a directive influence upon religious life (for example, the heads of local groups in certain Australian societies). But this attribution of functions is nevertheless very loose. In Athens, the gods addressed by the domestic cult are only specialized forms of the gods of the City (Zev; KTrjoxo?, Zev; epicetos). [Zeus, protector of property, Zeus, the household god. Trans.] Similarly, in the Middle Ages, the patrons of brotherhoods are saints of the calendar. ^For the name of Church ordinarily applies only to a group whose common beliefs refer to a sphere of less specialized things.
59 58

42

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

M a g i c is an e n t i r e l y different matter. G r a n t e d , m a g i c beliefs are never w i t h o u t a c e r t a i n currency. T h e y are o f t e n widespread a m o n g b r o a d strata o f the p o p u l a t i o n , a n d there are even peoples w h e r e t h e y c o u n t n o fewer active followers t h a n r e l i g i o n proper. B u t they d o n o t b i n d m e n w h o believe i n t h e m t o o n e a n o t h e r a n d u n i t e t h e m i n t o the same g r o u p , l i v i n g the same life. There is no Church of magic. B e t w e e n the m a g i c i a n a n d t h e i n d i v i d u a l s w h o consult h i m , there are n o durable ties that m a k e t h e m m e m b e r s o f a single m o r a l body, comparable t o t h e ties that j o i n t h e faithful o f the same g o d o r the adherents o f the same c u l t . T h e m a g i c i a n has a clientele, n o t a C h u r c h , a n d his clients m a y have n o m u t u a l relations, a n d m a y even be u n k n o w n t o o n e another. I n d e e d , t h e relations t h e y have w i t h h i m are generally a c c i d e n tal a n d transient, analogous t o those o f a sick m a n w i t h his d o c t o r . T h e o f f i cial a n d p u b l i c character w i t h w h i c h t h e m a g i c i a n is sometimes invested makes n o difference. T h a t he functions i n b r o a d d a y l i g h t does n o t j o i n h i m i n a m o r e regular and lasting m a n n e r w i t h those w h o m a k e use o f his services. I t is t r u e that, i n certain cases, magicians f o r m a society a m o n g themselves. T h e y m e e t m o r e o r less p e r i o d i c a l l y t o celebrate certain rites i n c o m m o n i n some instances; the place h e l d b y w i t c h e s ' meetings i n E u r o p e a n folklore is w e l l k n o w n . B u t these associations are n o t at all indispensable f o r the f u n c tioning o f magic. I n d e e d , they are rare a n d rather exceptional. T o practice his art, the m a g i c i a n has n o need w h a t e v e r t o congregate w i t h his peers. H e is m o r e often a loner. I n general, far f r o m seeking company, h e flees i t . " H e stands aloof, even f r o m his colleagues."
61

B y contrast, r e l i g i o n is inseparable

f r o m the idea o f C h u r c h . I n this first regard, there is already a fundamental d i f ference b e t w e e n magic and r e l i g i o n . F u r t h e r m o r e , and above all, w h e n m a g i c societies o f this sort are f o r m e d , they never encompass all the adherents o f magic. Far from i t . T h e y encompass o n l y the magicians. E x c l u d e d from t h e m are the laity, as i t w e r e — t h a t is, those f o r w h o s e benefit the rites are c o n d u c t e d , w h i c h is t o say those w h o are the adherents o f regular cults. N o w , the m a g i cian is t o magic w h a t the priest is t o r e l i g i o n . B u t a college o f priests is n o m o r e a r e l i g i o n t h a n a religious c o n g r e g a t i o n that worships a certain saint i n the shadows o f the cloister is a private cult. A C h u r c h is n o t s i m p l y a priesdy b r o t h e r h o o d ; i t is a m o r a l c o m m u n i t y * made u p o f all the faithful, b o t h laity a n d priests. M a g i c o r d i n a r i l y has n o c o m m u n i t y o f this s o r t .
62

*Note thefirstuse in this book of this fundamentally important Durkheimian concept which can also be thought of as "imagined community." See pp. xxii-xxxiii, xiv.
61

Hubert and Mauss, "Esquisse," p. 18.

[William] Robertson Smith had already shown that magic is opposed to religion as the individual is to the social {[Lectures on] the Religion of the Semites, 2d ed. [London, A. & C. Black, 1894], pp. 264-265).

62

Definition of Religious Phenomena and of Religioi

43

B u t i f o n e includes the n o t i o n o f C h u r c h i n the d e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n , does o n e n o t b y the same stroke e x c l u d e the i n d i v i d u a l religions that the i n d i v i d u a l institutes f o r h i m s e l f and celebrates f o r h i m s e l f alone? T h e r e is scarcely any society i n w h i c h this is n o t t o be f o u n d . As w i l l be seen below, every O j i b w a y has his personal manitou that he chooses h i m s e l f and t o w h i c h he bears specific religious o b l i g a t i o n s ; t h e M e l a n e s i a n o f the Banks Islands has his tamaniu;
63

t h e R o m a n has his genius;

64

the C h r i s t i a n has his p a t r o n

saint a n d his guardian angel, a n d so f o r t h . A l l these cults seem, b y d e f i n i t i o n , t o be i n d e p e n d e n t o f the g r o u p . A n d n o t o n l y are these i n d i v i d u a l religions v e r y c o m m o n t h r o u g h o u t history, b u t some p e o p l e today pose the q u e s t i o n w h e t h e r such r e l i g i o n s are n o t destined t o b e c o m e the d o m i n a n t f o r m o f r e l i g i o u s l i f e — w h e t h e r a day w i l l n o t c o m e w h e n the o n l y c u l t w i l l be the o n e that each p e r s o n freely practices i n his i n n e r m o s t s e l f .
65

B u t , let us p u t aside these speculations a b o u t the future f o r a m o m e n t . I f w e c o n f i n e o u r discussion t o r e l i g i o n s as t h e y are i n t h e present a n d as they have b e e n i n t h e past, i t becomes o b v i o u s that these i n d i v i d u a l cults are n o t distinct a n d a u t o n o m o u s r e l i g i o u s systems b u t s i m p l y aspects o f the r e l i g i o n c o m m o n t o t h e w h o l e C h u r c h o f w h i c h the i n d i v i d u a l s are part. T h e p a t r o n saint o f the C h r i s t i a n is chosen f r o m the official list o f saints r e c o g n i z e d b y the C a t h o l i c C h u r c h , a n d there are c a n o n i c a l laws that prescribe h o w each believer m u s t c o n d u c t this p r i v a t e c u l t . I n t h e same way, the idea that every m a n necessarily has a p r o t e c t i v e genie is, i n different f o r m s , at t h e basis o f a large n u m b e r o f A m e r i c a n r e l i g i o n s , as w e l l as o f R o m a n r e l i g i o n (to cite o n l y these t w o examples). As w i l l be seen b e l o w , that idea is t i g h t l y b o u n d u p w i t h the idea o f soul, a n d the idea o f soul is n o t a m o n g those things that can be left e n t i r e l y t o i n d i v i d u a l c h o i c e . I n a w o r d , i t is the C h u r c h o f w h i c h he is a m e m b e r that teaches t h e i n d i v i d u a l w h a t these personal gods are, w h a t t h e i r role is, h o w he m u s t enter i n t o relations w i t h t h e m , and h o w he must h o n o r t h e m . W h e n o n e analyzes the d o c t r i n e s o f that C h u r c h systematically, sooner o r later o n e comes across t h e d o c t r i n e s t h a t c o n c e r n these special cults. T h u s there are n o t t w o r e l i g i o n s o f different types, t u r n e d i n opposite Further, in thus differentiating magic from religion, I do not mean to set up a radical discontinuity between them. The frontiers between these two domains are often blurred. [Robert Henry] Codrington, "Notes on the Customs of Mota, Bank Islands in RSV, vol. XVI [1880], p. 136.
M 63

[Augusto] Negrioli, Dei Genii pressa i Romani, [Bologna, Ditto Nicola Zanichelli, 1900].

This is the conclusion at which [Herbert] Spencer arrives in his Ecclesiastical Institutions [Part VI of The Principles of Sociology, New York, D. Appleton, 1886], chap. 16. It is also the conclusion of [Auguste]
Sabatier, in his Esquisse d'une philosophie de la religion d'après la Psychologie et l'Histoire, [Paris, Fischbacher,

65

1897], and that of the entire school to which he belongs.

44

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

directions, b u t t h e same ideas a n d p r i n c i p l e s a p p l i e d i n b o t h cases—here, t o circumstances that c o n c e r n t h e g r o u p as a w h o l e , a n d there, t o the life o f the i n d i v i d u a l . I n d e e d , this u n i t y is so close that, a m o n g c e r t a i n p e o p l e s ,
66

the

ceremonies d u r i n g w h i c h t h e believer first enters i n t o c o m m u n i c a t i o n w i t h his p r o t e c t i v e genie are c o m b i n e d w i t h rites w h o s e p u b l i c character is i n contestable, namely, rites o f i n i t i a t i o n .
6 7

W h a t remains are the present-day

aspirations t o w a r d a r e l i g i o n that

w o u l d consist e n t i r e l y o f i n t e r i o r a n d subjective states a n d b e freely c o n structed b y each o n e o f us. B u t n o m a t t e r h o w real those aspirations, they c a n n o t affect o u r d e f i n i t i o n : T h i s d e f i n i t i o n can be a p p l i e d o n l y t o real, acc o m p l i s h e d facts, n o t t o u n c e r t a i n possibilities. R e l i g i o n s can be d e f i n e d as t h e y are n o w o r as t h e y have b e e n , n o t as t h e y m a y be t e n d i n g m o r e o r less vaguely t o b e c o m e . I t is possible that this r e l i g i o u s i n d i v i d u a l i s m is destined t o b e c o m e fact; b u t t o be able t o say i n w h a t measure, w e m u s t first k n o w w h a t r e l i g i o n is, o f w h a t elements i t is made, f r o m w h a t causes i t results, a n d w h a t f u n c t i o n i t p e r f o r m s — a l l questions w h o s e answers c a n n o t be p r e o r dained, f o r w e have n o t crossed the t h r e s h o l d o f research. O n l y at the e n d o f this study w i l l I t r y t o l o o k i n t o t h e future. W e a r r i v e thus at the f o l l o w i n g d e f i n i t i o n : A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them. T h e second e l e m e n t thus holds a place i n m y d e f i n i t i o n that is n o less essential t h a n the first: I n s h o w i n g that the idea o f r e l i g i o n is inseparable f r o m t h e idea o f a C h u r c h , i t conveys the n o t i o n that r e l i g i o n m u s t be an e m i n e n t l y c o l l e c t i v e t h i n g .
6 8

66

Among numerous Indian peoples of North America, in particular.

"However, that factual point does not settle the question of whether external and public religion is anything other than the development of an interior and personal religion that would be the primitive phenomenon, or whether, on the other hand, the personal religion is the extension, inside individual consciousnesses, of the exterior one. The problem will be taken up directly below (Bk. II, chap. 5, §2. Cf. Bk. II, chap. 6 and Bk. II, chap. 7, §1). For now I merely note that the individual cult presents itself to the observer as an element and an appendage of the collective cult. ^It is there that my definition picks up the one I proposed some time ago in the Année sociologique. In that work, I defined religious beliefs exclusively by their obligatory character; but that obligation evidendy arises, as I showed, from the fact that those beliefs belong to a group that imposes them on its members. Thus the two definitions partly overlap. If I have thought it necessary to propose a new one, it is because the first was too formal and went too far in downplaying the content of religious representatiops. In the discussions that follow, we will see the point of having placed in evidence immediately what is characteristic of this content. In addition, if the imperative character is indeed a distinctive feature of religious beliefs, it has infinite gradations; consequently, it is not easily perceptible in some cases. There arise difficulties and troublesome questions that are avoided if this criterion is replaced by the one I have used above.

CHAPTER T W O

THE LEADING CONCEPTIONS OF THE ELEMENTARY RELIGION
I. Animism

W

i t h this d e f i n i t i o n i n h a n d , w e can set o u t i n search o f t h e e l e m e n t a r y religion, o u r i n t e n d e d goal.

E v e n the crudest religions that h i s t o r y a n d e t h n o g r a p h y make k n o w n t o us are already so c o m p l e x that t h e y d o n o t f i t the n o t i o n people sometimes have o f p r i m i t i v e mentality. T h e y display n o t o n l y a l u x u r i a n t system o f beliefs b u t also such v a r i e t y i n p r i n c i p l e s and w e a l t h i n basic ideas that i t has seemed impossible t o regard t h e m as a n y t h i n g b u t a late p r o d u c t o f a rather l o n g e v o l u t i o n . F r o m this scholars have c o n c l u d e d that i n o r d e r t o u n c o v e r the t r u l y o r i g i n a l f o r m o f religious life, t h e y h a d t o delve beneath these observable r e ligions, analyze t h e m t o i d e n t i f y the basic elements t h e y share, and find o u t w h e t h e r there is o n e such e l e m e n t f r o m w h i c h the others are d e r i v e d . Set i n those t e r m s , t h e p r o b l e m has received t w o c o n t r a r y solutions. I t can be said t h a t there is n o r e l i g i o u s system, o l d o r new, i n w h i c h w e d o n o t find w h a t a m o u n t s t o t w o r e l i g i o n s e x i s t i n g side b y side and i n v a r i ous f o r m s . A l t h o u g h closely allied and even i n t e r p e n e t r a t i n g , yet t h e y r e m a i n d i s t i n c t . O n e is addressed t o p h e n o m e n a i n n a t u r e — w h e t h e r great cosmic forces, such as the w i n d s , t h e rivers, the stars, t h e sky, etc., o r t h e objects o f all sorts t h a t p o p u l a t e t h e earth's surface, such as plants, animals, rocks, etc. F o r this reason, i t is g i v e n the n a m e " n a t u r i s m . " T h e o t h e r is addressed t o s p i r i t u a l beings—spirits, souls, genies, d e m o n s , deities proper. These beings are animate a n d conscious agents, l i k e m a n , b u t differ from m a n i n the n a t u r e o f the p o w e r s ascribed t o t h e m , i n p a r t i c u l a r the special characteristic that t h e y d o n o t affect t h e senses i n the same w a y ; t h e y are n o t usually p e r ceptible t o h u m a n eyes. T h i s r e l i g i o n o f spirits is called " a n i m i s m . " T w o i n c o m p a t i b l e theories have b e e n p u t f o r w a r d t o e x p l a i n the m o r e o r less 45

46

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

universal coexistence o f the t w o sorts o f c u l t . S o m e h o l d a n i m i s m t o have b e e n the p r i m a r y r e l i g i o n , a n d n a t u r i s m o n l y a derivative a n d secondary f o r m . O t h e r s h o l d that the c u l t o f nature was the starting p o i n t o f r e l i g i o u s e v o l u t i o n , a n d t h e c u l t o f spirits o n l y a special case o f i t . U p t o n o w , these t w o theories have b e e n the o n l y ones b y w h i c h p e o p l e have t r i e d t o e x p l a i n t h e o r i g i n s o f r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t r a t i o n a l l y . T h u s , the c h i e f p r o b l e m that the science o f religions m o s t o f t e n sets itself comes d o w n t o d e c i d i n g w h i c h o f these t w o solutions m u s t be a d o p t e d , o r w h e t h e r i t is n o t better t o c o m b i n e t h e m and, i f so, w h a t place s h o u l d be assigned t o each o f the" t w o e l e m e n t s . E v e n those scholars w h o accept n e i t h e r hypothesis i n its e n t i r e t y still r e t a i n some o f the p r o p o s i t i o n s o n w h i c h t h e y rest. T h u s w e have a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f r e a d y - m a d e ideas a n d s e e m i n g truisms that must be subjected t o c r i t i q u e before w e take u p t h e study o f the facts o n o u r o w n acc o u n t . H o w indispensable i t is t o t r y a n e w approach w i l l be clearer o n c e t h e inadequacy o f these t r a d i t i o n a l n o t i o n s is u n d e r s t o o d .
3 2 1

I
T y l o r d e v e l o p e d the a n i m i s t t h e o r y i n its essential features.
5 4

I t is t r u e that

Spencer, w h o thereafter t o o k i t u p , d i d n o t m e r e l y c o p y i t w i t h o u t m o d i f i c a t i o n . B u t , o n the w h o l e , b o t h T y l o r a n d Spencer pose the questions i n the same terms, and, w i t h o n e e x c e p t i o n , t h e solutions a d o p t e d are i d e n t i c a l . I

'Thus I leave aside here the theories that, wholly or in part, involve supraexperimental data. This is true, for example, of the theory Andrew Lang set forth in his book The Making of Religion [London, Longmans, 1898], and that Wilhelm Schmidt took up again, with variations of detail, in a series of articles on "L'Origine de l'idée de Dieu" (in Anthropos [vols. Ill, IV], 1908, 1909). Lang does not wholly reject either animism or naturism but accepts that, in the last analysis, there is a sense or a direct intuition of the divine. Also, while I do not believe I must present and discuss that idea in this chapter, I do not intend to pass over it in silence, but will return to it below, when I explain the facts to which it is applied (II.9, p. 4). This is the case, for example, of Fustel de Coulanges, who accepts the two ideas concurrendy (see Bk. I and Bk. Ill, chap. 2 [of La Cité antique, Paris, Hachette, 1870] . In this way, Jevons, while criticizing animism as set forth by Tylor, accepts his theories on the genesis of the idea of soul and the anthropomorphic instinct of man. Inversely, while [Hermann Karl] Usener,
in his Gotternamen [Versuch einer Lehre von der religiosen Degengriffebildung, Bohn, F. Cohen, 1887], rejects
3 2

certain of hypotheses of Max Miiller to be presented below, he accepts the chief postulates of naturism.
4

[Edward Burnett] Tylor, Primitive Culture [2 vols., London, J. Murray, 1871], chaps. 11, 18. See [Herbert Spencer], Principles of Sociology, 1st and 6th parts [New York, D. Appleton, 1886].

5

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

47

can therefore c o m b i n e the t w o d o c t r i n e s i n the f o l l o w i n g e x p o s i t i o n , n o t i n g the p o i n t at w h i c h they p a r t c o m p a n y . T h r e e c o n d i t i o n s m u s t be m e t i f animist beliefs a n d practices are l e g i t i m a t e l y t o be seen as the o r i g i n a l f o r m o f r e l i g i o u s life: First, because o n that hypothesis the idea o f soul is the cardinal idea o f r e l i g i o n , o n e must s h o w h o w i t was f o r m e d , w i t h o u t t a k i n g any o f its elements f r o m an earlier r e l i g i o n ; seco n d , i t m u s t be s h o w n h o w souls became the object o f a c u l t and t u r n e d i n t o spirits; t h i r d , since the c u l t o f spirits is n o t the w h o l e o f any r e l i g i o n , h o w the c u l t o f nature was d e r i v e d from that c u l t m u s t also be explained. A c c o r d i n g t o a n i m i s t t h e o r y , the idea o f s o u l was suggested t o m a n b y the p o o r l y u n d e r s t o o d spectacle o f the d o u b l e life that he n o r m a l l y leads, o n the o n e h a n d w h i l e awake, o n the o t h e r w h ü e asleep. T h e c l a i m is that, f o r the savage, the representations he has i n his m i n d are o f the same s i g n i f i cance w h e t h e r h e is awake o r d r e a m i n g . H e objectifies b o t h ; that is, he sees t h e m as the images o f e x t e r n a l objects, the e n t i r e appearance o f w h i c h they r e p r o d u c e m o r e o r less accurately. T h u s , w h e n h e dreams o f h a v i n g v i s i t e d a f a r - o f f c o u n t r y , he believes he really has g o n e there. B u t he can have gone there o n l y i f t w o beings exist i n h i m : one, his b o d y , w h i c h remained stretched o u t o n the g r o u n d a n d w h i c h , w h e n he awakens, he finds still i n the same p o s i t i o n ; a n d another, w h i c h has m o v e d t h r o u g h space d u r i n g that same t i m e . L i k e w i s e , i f w h i l e h e sleeps, he sees h i m s e l f t a l k i n g w i t h o n e o f his friends w h o he k n o w s is far away, he concludes that this f r i e n d , t o o , is c o m p o s e d o f t w o beings: o n e w h o is sleeping some distance away, a n d a n o t h e r w h o has manifested h i m s e l f t h r o u g h the d r e a m . F r o m the r e p e t i t i o n o f such experiences, l i t d e b y l i t t l e t h e idea emerges that a d o u b l e , a n o t h e r self, exists i n each o f us, and that i n p a r t i c u l a r c o n d i t i o n s i t has the p o w e r t o leave the b o d y i n w h i c h i t lives a n d t o travel far a n d w i d e . O f course, this d o u b l e replicates all the basic features o f the visible b e i n g that serves as its e x t e r n a l envelope. A t t h e same t i m e , however, i t differs from t h e visible b e i n g i n several respects. I t is m o r e m o b i l e , since i t can cover vast distances i n an instant. I t is m o r e malleable a n d m o r e plastic; for, t o leave the body, i t m u s t be able t o pass t h r o u g h the body's openings, especially t h e nose a n d m o u t h . I t is c o n c e i v e d o f as s o m e h o w made o f matter, b u t o f a m u c h m o r e subtle a n d ethereal m a t t e r t h a n any w e k n o w e m p i r i c a l l y . T h i s d o u b l e
6

This is the word Tylor [Primitive Culture, pp. 489fF.] uses. It has the drawback of seeming to imply that human beings, in the full sense of the term, exist before civilization exists. However, there is no suitable term to render the idea; the term "primitive," which I prefer to use for want of anything better, is, as I have said, far from satisfactory.

6

48

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

is the soul. A n d i t is b e y o n d d o u b t that, i n m a n y societies, the soul has b e e n t h o u g h t o f as an image o f t h e b o d y . I t is even t h o u g h t t o reproduce a c c i d e n tal d e f o r m i t i e s , such as those caused b y w o u n d s o r m u t i l a t i o n s . C e r t a i n A u s tralians c u t o f f t h e i r enemy's r i g h t t h u m b after k i l l i n g h i m , so that his soul, h a v i n g b e e n relieved o f its o w n t h u m b b y t h e same stroke, c a n n o t t h r o w a spear a n d avenge itself. B u t at the same t i m e , even t h o u g h i t resembles the body, there is s o m e t h i n g already s e m i - s p i r i t u a l a b o u t i t . People say that " i t is the m o s t insubstantial part o f t h e body, as l i g h t as air," that " i t has n e i t h e r flesh, n o r bones, n o r nerves"; that i t is " l i k e a p u r i f i e d b o d y . "
7

I n a d d i t i o n , o t h e r facts o f e x p e r i e n c e that t u r n e d m i n d s o n t o t h e same p a t h q u i t e n a t u r a l l y t e n d e d t o gather a r o u n d this f u n d a m e n t a l fact o f the dream: f a i n t i n g , apoplexy, catalepsy, ecstasy—every state o f t e m p o r a r y u n consciousness. Actually, t h e y are e x p l a i n e d v e r y w e l l b y the hypothesis that the p r i n c i p l e o f life a n d awareness can m o m e n t a r i l y leave the body. Besides, i t was natural that this p r i n c i p l e s h o u l d have b e e n m e r g e d w i t h the d o u b l e , since each day the absence o f the d o u b l e d u r i n g sleep suspends life a n d t h o u g h t . T h u s various observations seemed m u t u a l l y t o test a n d c o n f i r m the idea o f the b u i l t - i n d u a l i t y o f m a n .
8

B u t the soul is n o t a s p i r i t . I t is attached t o a b o d y f r o m w h i c h i t exits q u i t e rarely; and, so l o n g as i t is n o t h i n g m o r e , i t is t h e object o f n o c u l t . B y contrast, a l t h o u g h the s p i r i t generally has a d e f i n i t e t h i n g as its residence, i t can m o v e away at w i l l , a n d m a n can enter i n t o relations w i t h i t o n l y b y t a k i n g r i t u a l precautions. T h e soul c o u l d b e c o m e spirit, t h e n , o n l y i f i t transf o r m e d itself. T h i s m e t a m o r p h o s i s was q u i t e easily a r r i v e d at, m e r e l y b y t h e a p p l i c a t i o n o f the f o r e g o i n g ideas t o the reality o f death. T o a r u d i m e n t a r y intellect, death is n o t m u c h different from a l o n g f a i n t i n g spell o r a p r o l o n g e d sleep; i t has all t h e i r traits. T h u s , death also seems t o consist i n a separation o f soul a n d b o d y , analogous t o t h e separation that occurs each n i g h t ; b u t b e cause t h e y d o n o t see the b o d y t o revive, t h e y c o m e t o accept the idea o f a separation that is n o t l i m i t e d t o a specified p e r i o d . I n d e e d , o n c e the b o d y is destroyed—and the object o f funeral is i n p a r t t o hasten this d e s t r u c t i o n — t h e separation is o f necessity considered f i n a l . H e r e , t h e n , are spirits detached from any b o d y a n d at l i b e r t y i n space. I n this w a y a p o p u l a t i o n o f souls is f o r m e d all a r o u n d the l i v i n g , t h e i r n u m b e r g r o w i n g over t i m e . Because these souls o f m e n have the needs and passions o f m e n , t h e y seek t o i n v o l v e t h e m -

7

Ibid., vol. I, pp. 455£F.

See Spencer, Principles of Sociology, vol. I, pp. 1439".; and Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. I, pp. 434ff., 445ff.

8

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

49

selves i n t h e lives o f t h e i r f o r m e r c o m p a n i o n s a n d t o h e l p t h e l i v i n g o r h a r m t h e m , d e p e n d i n g o n the feelings t h e y still have f o r t h e m . T h e i r nature makes t h e m e i t h e r v e r y precious allies o r v e r y f o r m i d a b l e enemies. T h a n k s t o t h e i r extreme fluidity, t h e y can g o inside bodies a n d cause t h e m disorders o f all k i n d s , o r t h e y can increase t h e b o d i e s ' vitality. A n d so people take u p the h a b i t o f a s c r i b i n g t o t h e m all t h e events o f life that are s l i g h d y unusual: T h e r e are h a r d l y any t h e y c a n n o t a c c o u n t for. I n this w a y t h e y c o n s t i t u t e a v e r i t a ble arsenal o f causes, always at h a n d , never l e a v i n g t h e m i n d that is i n search o f explanations u n e q u i p p e d . D o e s a m a n seem i n s p i r e d ; does he speak w i t h e l o q u e n c e ; does he seem l i f t e d above b o t h h i m s e l f a n d t h e o r d i n a r y level o f men? I t is because a b e n e v o l e n t s p i r i t is i n h i m , a n i m a t i n g h i m . Is a n o t h e r m a n taken b y a seizure o r b y madness? A n e v i l s p i r i t has entered his body, agi t a t i n g h i m . T h e r e is n o sickness that c a n n o t be p u t d o w n t o some such i n fluence. I n this way, t h e p o w e r o f souls increases from a l l that is a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e m , so m u c h so that, i n the e n d , m a n finds h i m s e l f a captive i n this i m a g i n a r y w o r l d , even t h o u g h he is its creator a n d m o d e l . H e becomes the vassal o f those s p i r i t u a l forces that h e has made w i t h his o w n hands a n d i n his o w n image. F o r i f these souls are so m u c h i n c o n t r o l o f h e a l t h a n d illness a n d o f g o o d a n d e v i l things, i t is w i s e t o seek t h e i r benevolence o r t o appease t h e m w h e n t h e y are annoyed. F r o m t h e n c e c o m e offerings, sacrifices, p r a y e r s — i n short, the w h o l e apparatus o f r e l i g i o u s observances.
9

B e h o l d , t h e n , t h e s o u l t r a n s f o r m e d . I t has g o n e from b e i n g m e r e l y a life p r i n c i p l e a n i m a t i n g a h u m a n b o d y , t o b e i n g a s p i r i t , a g o o d o r e v i l genie, a n d even a deity, d e p e n d i n g o n the scope o f t h e effects i m p u t e d t o i t . B u t since i t is death that is p r e s u m e d t o have b r o u g h t a b o u t this apotheosis, i n the e n d i t is t o the dead, t o t h e souls o f the ancestors, that t h e first c u l t that h u m a n i t y has k n o w n was addressed. T h u s : T h e first rites w e r e m o r t u a r y rites; the first sacrifices, f o o d offerings t o satisfy the needs o f t h e departed; a n d t h e first altars, t o m b s .
1 0

B u t because these spirits w e r e o f h u m a n o r i g i n , t h e y w e r e interested o n l y i n the lives o f m e n a n d w e r e t h o u g h t t o act o n l y u p o n h u m a n events. Yet t o be e x p l a i n e d is h o w o t h e r spirits w e r e i m a g i n e d i n o r d e r t o a c c o u n t for o t h e r p h e n o m e n a o f t h e universe, a n d h o w a c u l t o f nature was t h e n f o r m e d alongside the c u l t o f t h e ancestors. As T y l o r has i t , this e x t e n s i o n o f a n i m i s m is d u e t o the peculiar m e n t a l i t y o f t h e p r i m i t i v e , w h o , l i k e t h e c h i l d , does n o t d i s t i n g u i s h t h e animate

'Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. II [pp. 113ff.].
,0

Ibid., vol. I [pp. 113ff., 481ff.].

50

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

f r o m the i n a n i m a t e . Because the first beings o f w h i c h the c h i l d begins t o f o r m any idea are h u m a n s — h i m s e l f a n d his parents—he tends t o i m a g i n e all things o n t h e m o d e l o f h u m a n nature. H e sees t h e toys he uses, and the various objects that affect his senses, as l i v i n g beings l i k e himself. T h e p r i m i t i v e t h i n k s l i k e a c h i l d , so h e t o o is i n c l i n e d t o e n d o w t h i n g s , even i n a n i m a t e things, w i t h a nature similar t o his o w n . A n d thus, f o r the reasons already g i v e n , o n c e he has a r r i v e d at the idea that m a n is a b o d y that a s p i r i t a n i mates, t h e n he m u s t o f necessity i m p u t e t o n a t u r a l bodies that same sort o f duality, plus souls l i k e his o w n . T h e sphere o f i n f l u e n c e c o u l d n o t be the same f o r b o t h , h o w e v e r . T h e souls o f m e n have d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e o n l y over the w o r l d o f m e n . T h e y have a sort o f p r e d i l e c t i o n f o r the h u m a n body, o n c e death has g i v e n t h e m t h e i r liberty. O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , the souls o f t h i n g s r e side above a l l i n things a n d are v i e w e d as t h e operative causes o f all t h a t h a p pens t o things. H e a l t h o r illness, a g i l i t y o r clumsiness, a n d the rest, are a c c o u n t e d f o r b y t h e souls o f m e n ; t h e p h e n o m e n a o f the physical w o r l d above a l l — t h e m o v e m e n t o f t h e waters o r o f t h e stars, t h e g e r m i n a t i o n o f the plants, the abundant r e p r o d u c t i o n o f the animals, a n d the rest—are a c c o u n t e d for b y the souls o f things. T h u s , the f i n i s h i n g t o u c h t o that first p h i l o s o p h y o f m a n , o n w h i c h the c u l t o f the ancestors is based, was a p h i l o s o p h y o f the w o r l d . V i s - a - v i s those cosmic spirits, m a n f o u n d h i m s e l f i n an even m o r e o b v i ous state o f dependence t h a n vis-a-vis the w a n d e r i n g doubles o f his ancestors. W i t h t h e ancestors, he c o u l d o n l y have i d e a l * a n d i m a g i n a r y relations, b u t he really does d e p e n d u p o n things. Since h e needs t h e i r c o o p e r a t i o n i n order t o live, m a n came t o believe t h a t h e also n e e d e d t h e spirits that w e r e h e l d t o animate those things a n d c o n t r o l t h e i r v a r i o u s manifestations. H e i m p l o r e d t h e i r h e l p t h r o u g h offerings a n d prayers. T h u s , t h e the r e l i g i o n o f m a n was a r e l i g i o n o f nature. H e r b e r t Spencer objects that this e x p l a n a t i o n rests o n a hypothesis that is c o n t r a d i c t e d b y the facts. I t is h e l d , he says, that there was a t i m e w h e n m a n d i d n o t grasp the differences b e t w e e n the animate a n d the inanimate. B u t as w e ascend a m o n g the animals, w e see an increasing capacity t o make that dist i n c t i o n . T h e h i g h e r animals d o n o t confuse an object that moves b y itself, w h o s e m o v e m e n t s are d i r e c t e d t o w a r d goals, w i t h objects that are m o v e d m e chanically from outside. " W h e n a cat w h o is p l a y i n g w i t h a mouse he has caught sees that i t stays still f o r a l o n g w h i l e , he touches i t w i t h his c l a w t o make i t r u n . O b v i o u s l y , the cat t h i n k s that a l i v i n g b e i n g that o n e bothers w i l l t r y t o escape."
11

finishing

touch to

M a n , even p r i m i t i v e m a n , c o u l d n o t be less i n t e l l i g e n t t h a n

*Note Durkheim's use of this term in reference to things of the mind. "Spencer, Principles of Sociology, vol. I [p.126].

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

51

animals l o w e r t h a n he o n the scale o f e v o l u t i o n . I t was n o t t h r o u g h lack o f disc e r n m e n t , t h e n , that he m o v e d f r o m the c u l t o f ancestors t o the c u l t o f things. A c c o r d i n g t o Spencer, w h o o n this p o i n t (but o n this p o i n t o n l y ) parts c o m p a n y w i t h T y l o r , this passage is i n d e e d d u e t o a c o n f u s i o n , b u t o n e o f a different k i n d . H e t h i n k s i t results, at least i n the m a i n , f r o m the numberless a m b i g u i t i e s o f language. I n m a n y l o w e r societies, i t is a v e r y c o m m o n cust o m t o give each i n d i v i d u a l t h e n a m e o f an a n i m a l , p l a n t , star, o r some o t h e r natural object, e i t h e r at b i r t h o r later. B u t , g i v e n the e x t r e m e i m p r e c i s i o n o f his language, i t is v e r y d i f f i c u l t f o r the p r i m i t i v e t o d i s t i n g u i s h a m e t a p h o r f r o m reality. T h u s he w o u l d q u i c k l y have lost sight o f the fact that these names w e r e o n l y figures o f speech and, b y t a k i n g t h e m literally, e n d e d u p b e l i e v i n g that an ancestor called T i g e r o r L i o n was actually a tiger o r a l i o n . A n d so, the c u l t o f w h i c h that ancestor h a d b e e n the object theretofore, w o u l d have b e e n transposed thereafter t o the a n i m a l w i t h w h i c h the ancest o r h a d b e c o m e o n e a n d the same. A n d , the same s u b s t i t u t i o n b e i n g operative f o r the plants, stars, t o g e t h e r w i t h all t h e n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a , the r e l i g i o n o f nature t o o k t h e place o f t h e o l d r e l i g i o n o f the dead. T o be sure, Spencer p o i n t s t o o t h e r confusions besides this one, r e i n f o r c i n g its effect i n this case o r that. F o r example, as he proposes, the animals that frequent the environs o f the t o m b s o r houses o f m e n w e r e t a k e n f o r r e i n c a r n a t e d souls and revered as s u c h ;
12

o r else, the m o u n t a i n h e l d b y t r a d i t i o n t o be the site w h e r e the race

b e g a n was taken t o be its actual f o u n d e r ; the ancestors b e i n g p r e s u m e d t o have c o m e f r o m i t , a n d t h e m e n t o be its descendants, the m o u n t a i n itself was therefore treated as an ancestor. institution names. " o f n a t u r i s m was
13

B u t as Spencer admits, these a d d i t i o n a l literal interpretation o f metaphorical

causes c o u l d have h a d o n l y a secondary i n f l u e n c e . P r i n c i p a l l y , w h a t l e d t o the "the

F o r the sake o f completeness i n m y o w n e x p o s i t i o n o f a n i m i s m , I h a d t o give an a c c o u n t o f this t h e o r y , b u t i t is t o o inadequate t o the facts, a n d today t o o universally a b a n d o n e d , t o w a r r a n t b e i n g d w e l l e d u p o n further. F o r a p h e n o m e n o n as w i d e s p r e a d as t h e r e l i g i o n o f nature t o be explainable b y an i l l u s i o n , the cause o f t h e v e r y i l l u s i o n that is i n v o k e d w o u l d have t o be equally widespread. E v e n w h e n such errors as those o f w h i c h Spencer r e p o r t s a f e w isolated examples ( w h e r e w e find such examples) can i n d e e d e x p l a i n t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f the c u l t o f ancestors i n t o a c u l t o f nature, i t is n o t

12

Ibid., pp. 322ff.

"Ibid., pp. 366-367.
14

Ibid., p. 346. Cf. p. 384.

52

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

clear w h y t h e y w o u l d be so w i d e l y p r o d u c e d . N o psychic m e c h a n i s m necessitates t h e m . N o d o u b t , t h r o u g h t h e i r o w n a m b i g u i t y , w o r d s c o u l d lead p e o ple t o be m i s t a k e n ; b u t , at the same t i m e , all t h e personal m e m o r i e s that t h e ancestor left i n men's m e m o r i e s m u s t have w o r k e d against t h e c o n f u s i o n . W h y w o u l d the t r a d i t i o n that p o r t r a y e d t h e ancestor as he h a d b e e n — t h a t is, as a m a n w h o h a d l i v e d a man's l i f e — h a v e g i v e n w a y e v e r y w h e r e t o the m a g i c o f w o r d s . Besides, people m u s t have h a d a c e r t a i n d i f f i c u l t y a c c e p t i n g the idea that m e n c o u l d have b e e n b o r n f r o m a m o u n t a i n o r a star, an a n i m a l o r a plant; the idea o f such an e x c e p t i o n t o the o r d i n a r y c o n d i t i o n s o f p r o c r e a t i o n was b o u n d t o raise s t r o n g resistance. I n this way, far f r o m f i n d i n g the w a y m a d e straight, this e r r o r w o u l d have b e e n i m p e d e d b y all sorts o f reasons d e f e n d i n g m i n d s against i t . T h e r e f o r e h o w its v i c t o r y c o u l d have been so general, despite so m a n y obstacles, is n o t clear.

II
T h e r e remains t h e t h e o r y o f T y l o r , w h i c h still has great a u t h o r i t y . Since his hypotheses o n dreams a n d o n h o w the ideas o f soul and spirit o r i g i n a t e d are still a u t h o r i t a t i v e , i t is i m p o r t a n t t o evaluate t h e m . T o b e g i n , i t m u s t be a c k n o w l e d g e d that the theorists o f a n i m i s m have rendered an i m p o r t a n t service t o the science o f r e l i g i o n s , a n d i n d e e d t o t h e general h i s t o r y o f ideas, b y a p p l y i n g h i s t o r i c a l analysis t o t h e idea o f soul. I n stead o f t a k i n g i t t o be a s i m p l e a n d i m m e d i a t e g i v e n o f consciousness, as so m a n y philosophers have, t h e y saw i t — f a r m o r e correctly—as a c o m p l e x w h o l e and as a p r o d u c t o f h i s t o r y a n d m y t h o l o g y . I t is b e y o n d d o u b t that, b y its nature, o r i g i n s , and f u n c t i o n s , the idea o f soul is f u n d a m e n t a l l y r e l i g i o u s . Philosophers received i t from r e l i g i o n ; a n d the f o r m i t takes a m o n g entered i n t o i t are taken i n t o a c c o u n t . B u t even t h o u g h setting the p r o b l e m is t o Tylor's credit, his s o l u t i o n nonetheless raises serious difficulties. First, there are reservations t o be h a d a b o u t the v e r y p r i n c i p l e o n w h i c h his t h e o r y is based. I t grants as self-evident that t h e soul is altogether d i s t i n c t f r o m the body, that i t is t h e body's d o u b l e , a n d that, w h e t h e r inside o r o u t side the body, i t o r d i n a r i l y lives its o w n a u t o n o m o u s life. N o w , w e w i l l s e e
15

the

t h i n k e r s o f a n t i q u i t y c a n n o t b e u n d e r s t o o d unless t h e m y t h i c a l elements that

that this c o n c e p t i o n is n o t that o f the p r i m i t i v e or, at least, that i t expresses

15

See below, Bk. II, chap. 8.

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o n l y o n e aspect o f the idea he has o f the soul. T o the p r i m i t i v e , a l t h o u g h the soul is i n c e r t a i n respects i n d e p e n d e n t o f the b o d y i t animates, nevertheless i t is p a r t l y m e r g e d w i t h the body, so m u c h so that i t c a n n o t be radically separated f r o m the b o d y : C e r t a i n organs are n o t o n l y the special seat o f the soul b u t also its o u t w a r d f o r m a n d physical manifestation. T h e n o t i o n is m o r e c o m p l e x t h a n the d o c t r i n e assumes, t h e n , a n d so i t is d o u b t f u l that the e x periences i n v o k e d are sufficient e x p l a n a t i o n . F o r even i f those experiences enabled o n e t o u n d e r s t a n d h o w m a n came t o believe he was d o u b l e , they c o u l d n o t e x p l a i n w h y that d u a l i t y n o t o n l y does n o t exclude, b u t actually entails, a p r o f o u n d u n i t y a n d an i n t i m a t e i n t e r p é n é t r a t i o n o f the t w o beings thus differentiated. H o w e v e r , let us g r a n t that the idea o f soul is r e d u c i b l e to the idea o f d o u ble a n d see h o w , a c c o r d i n g t o T y l o r , that second idea was f o r m e d . Supposedly t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f d r e a m i n g suggested i t t o m a n . T o understand h o w , as his b o d y r e m a i n e d l y i n g o n the g r o u n d , he c o u l d see m o r e o r less distant places as he slept, h e is l e d t o t h i n k o f h i m s e l f as b e i n g made o f t w o beings: o n t h e o n e h a n d , his body, and, o n the other, a second self able t o leave the b o d y i n w h i c h i t lives a n d m o v e a b o u t i n space. B u t , o n the face o f i t , t o have b e e n able t o t h r u s t itself u p o n m e n w i t h a k i n d o f necessity, this idea w o u l d have t o have b e e n the o n l y possible hypothesis, o r at least the simplest. N o w , i n fact, there are s i m p l e r hypotheses, ideas that, i t seems, must have c o m e t o m i n d j u s t as naturally. F o r example, w h y w o u l d the sleeper n o t have i m a g i n e d that he was able t o see at a distance as he slept? I m p u t i n g such a capaci t y t o h i m s e l f w o u l d have taxed his i m a g i n a t i o n less t h a n c o n s t r u c t i n g such a c o m p l i c a t e d idea as that o f a d o u b l e — m a d e o f an ethereal substance, halfinvisible, a n d w i t h n o e x a m p l e f r o m d i r e c t e x p e r i e n c e . I n any case, g r a n t i n g that c e r t a i n dreams call f o r t h the a n i m i s t explanat i o n rather naturally, m a n y others c e r t a i n l y are absolutely resistant t o i t . V e r y often, o u r dreams refer t o past events; w e see again w h a t w e have seen o r d o n e w h i l e awake, yesterday, day before yesterday, d u r i n g o u r y o u t h , and so o n ; such dreams are c o m m o n , h a v i n g a rather large place i n o u r n i g h t t i m e life: B u t t h e idea o f a d o u b l e c a n n o t a c c o u n t f o r t h e m . E v e n i f the d o u b l e can transport itself from o n e p o i n t t o a n o t h e r i n space, i t is n o t clear h o w the d o u b l e c o u l d g o back t h r o u g h t h e stream o f t i m e . H o w c o u l d a m a n , h o w ever p r i m i t i v e his i n t e l l e c t , believe w h e n he awakes that he has j u s t b e e n p r e sent at, o r actually t a k e n p a r t i n , events t h a t he k n o w s h a p p e n e d at a different time? H o w c o u l d he i m a g i n e t h a t he h a d l i v e d a life w h i l e sleeping that he k n e w was l o n g since past? I t w o u l d have b e e n m u c h m o r e natural f o r h i m t o see those r e n e w e d images as w h a t t h e y really are: m e m o r i e s l i k e those he has i n daytime, b u t o f special intensity.

54

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

Besides, i n the scenes w e take part i n a n d witness w h i l e w e sleep, some c o n t e m p o r a r y is constantly t a k i n g some role at the same t i m e as w e . W e t h i n k w e see and hear h i m i n the same place as w e . A c c o r d i n g t o a n i m i s m , the p r i m i t i v e w i l l e x p l a i n these facts b y i m a g i n i n g that his o w n d o u b l e has been v i s i t e d o r m e t b y the doubles o f c e r t a i n o f his friends. B u t all i t w i l l take for h i m t o n o t i c e that t h e i r experience does n o t c o i n c i d e w i t h his is t o quest i o n t h e m w h e n he awakens. T h e y , t o o , have h a d dreams at t h e same t i m e , but e n t i r e l y different ones. T h e y d i d n o t see themselves t a k i n g part i n the same scene b u t believe they v i s i t e d e n t i r e l y different places. A n d since, i n that case, c o n t r a d i c t i o n s m u s t be the r u l e , h o w w o u l d those c o n t r a d i c t i o n s n o t lead m e n t o t h i n k that there was apparendy an error, that t h e y i m a g i n e d i t , that they w e r e taken i n b y some illusion? F o r there is a c e r t a i n o v e r s i m p l i f i c a t i o n i n the b l i n d c r e d u l i t y that is ascribed t o t h e p r i m i t i v e . H e is far f r o m f i n d i n g i t necessary t o objectify all his sensations. H e is n o t incapable o f n o t i c i n g that his senses sometimes t r i c k h i m , even w h e n he is awake. W h y w o u l d he believe t h e m t o be m o r e i n f a l l i b l e at n i g h t t h a n i n daytime? H e n c e , a g o o d m a n y reasons stand i n the w a y o f his t a k i n g dreams f o r realities t o o easily and i n t e r p r e t i n g t h e m b y a d o u b l i n g o f his b e i n g . F u r t h e r m o r e , even i f the hypothesis o f the d o u b l e c o u l d satisfactorily e x p l a i n all d r e a m i n g , a n d all d r e a m i n g c o u l d be e x p l a i n e d i n n o o t h e r way, o n e w o u l d still have t o say w h y m a n t r i e d t o e x p l a i n i t at all. N o d o u b t , the d r e a m has the m a k i n g s o f a possible p r o b l e m . B u t w e c o n t i n u a l l y bypass problems that w e d o n o t see as such, w h o s e existence w e d o n o t even suspect so l o n g as n o t h i n g has m a d e us feel any n e e d t o see t h e m as problems. E v e n w h e n the taste f o r p u r e speculation is w i d e awake, i t is far f r o m t r u e that r e flection raises all the questions t o w h i c h i t c o u l d possibly apply itself; o n l y those that are o f p a r t i c u l a r interest attract i t . Especially w h e n the p h e n o m e n a i n q u e s t i o n always recur i n the same manner, h a b i t easily puts c u r i o s i t y t o sleep and w e n o l o n g e r even i m a g i n e q u e r y i n g ourselves. T o shake o f f that t o r p o r , practical needs, o r at least v e r y pressing t h e o r e t i c a l interest, m u s t attract o u r a t t e n t i o n and t u r n i t i n that d i r e c t i o n . A n d so i t happens that, at every m o m e n t o f history, there are a great m a n y things that w e give u p t r y i n g t o understand, w i t h o u t even n o t i c i n g that w e are so d o i n g . U n t i l n o t v e r y l o n g ago, t h e sun was b e l i e v e d t o b e o n l y several feet i n diameter. T h e r e was s o m e t h i n g i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e i n t h e fact that a l u m i n o u s disc o f such small d i a m e t e r c o u l d be adequate t o l i g h t the E a r t h — a n d yet centuries w e n t by before h u m a n i t y t h o u g h t o f r e s o l v i n g that c o n t r a d i c t i o n . H e r e d i t y is a p h e n o m e n o n that has b e e n k n o w n f o r a l o n g t i m e , b u t o n l y v e r y r e c e n t l y has anyone t r i e d t o c o n s t r u c t a t h e o r y o f i t . I n d e e d , the acceptance o f c e r t a i n beliefs made i t c o m p l e t e l y u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . T h u s , i n c e r t a i n

Tlie Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

55

Australian societies t o be discussed, the c h i l d is n o t p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y the p r o d uct o f its p a r e n t s .
16

Inevitably, such i n t e l l e c t u a l laziness is greatest i n the

p r i m i t i v e . T h i s frail b e i n g , w h o m u s t struggle so h a r d f o r his life against the forces that assail i t , lacks the w h e r e w i t h a l f o r the l u x u r y o f speculation. H e p r o b a b l y does n o t reflect unless he has t o . I t is therefore n o t easy t o see w h a t c o u l d have l e d h i m t o m a k e d r e a m i n g t h e t o p i c o f his meditations. W h a t is d r e a m i n g i n o u r life? W h a t a small place i t has, especially since i t leaves v e r y vague impressions i n m e m o r y a n d is q u i c k l y erased; a n d h o w surprising, t h e n , that a m a n o f such c r u d e i n t e l l e c t s h o u l d have p u t so m u c h effort i n t o t r y i n g t o e x p l a i n i t ! O f t h e t w o existences that he leads o n e after the other, d a y t i m e a n d n i g h t t i m e , i t is the first, his d a y t i m e existence, that s h o u l d i n terest h i m m o r e . Is i t n o t strange that the n i g h t t i m e existence s h o u l d have so captivated his a t t e n t i o n that he m a d e i t t h e basis o f a w h o l e system o f c o m p l i c a t e d ideas destined t o have such p r o f o u n d i n f l u e n c e o n his t h o u g h t and conduct? E v e r y t h i n g tends t o prove, therefore, that the animist t h e o r y o f the soul m u s t be reassessed, despite its c o n t i n u i n g a u t h o r i t y . Today, the p r i m i t i v e p r o b a b l y does a t t r i b u t e his dreams, o r c e r t a i n o f t h e m , t o the m o v e m e n t s o f . his d o u b l e . B u t this is n o t the same as saying that dreams actually p r o v i d e d the r a w m a t e r i a l f r o m w h i c h the idea o f d o u b l e o r soul was made. Instead o f b e i n g d e r i v e d f r o m the p h e n o m e n a o f dreams, ecstasy, a n d possession, i t c o u l d have b e e n a p p l i e d t o t h e m after the fact. As o f t e n happens, once an idea is f o r m e d , i t is used t o organize o r t o shed l i g h t ( w i t h l i g h t that is s o m e times m o r e apparent t h a n real) o n facts w i t h w h i c h the idea was u n c o n n e c t e d at first, a n d that, i n themselves, c o u l d n o t have suggested i t . Today, G o d a n d the i m m o r t a l i t y o f t h e soul are o f t e n p r o v e d w i t h a s h o w i n g that those beliefs are i m p l i e d i n the basic p r i n c i p l e s o f m o r a l i t y . I n reality, those beliefs are o f a c o m p l e t e l y different o r i g i n . T h e h i s t o r y o f religious t h o u g h t c o u l d p r o v i d e n u m e r o u s examples o f these retrospective justifications that can teach us n o t h i n g a b o u t e i t h e r the m a n n e r i n w h i c h those ideas t o o k f o r m o r a b o u t the elements o f w h i c h t h e y are made. I t is likely, f u r t h e r m o r e , that the p r i m i t i v e distinguishes among his dreams a n d does n o t e x p l a i n t h e m all i n t h e same way. H e r e i n E u r o p e , there are still m a n y p e o p l e f o r w h o m t h e state o f sleep is a sort o f m a g i c o - r e l i g i o u s state i n w h i c h t h e m i n d , p a r t i a l l y u n b u r d e n e d o f t h e body, has an acuteness

See [Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen, The Native Tribes of Central Australia [London, Macmillan, 1889], pp. 123—127; [Carl] Strehlow, Die Aranda- und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien [2 vols., Frankfurt, J. Baer, 1907], pp. 52ff.

16

56

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

o f v i s i o n that i t does n o t enjoy i n wakefulness. S t i l l t h e y d o n o t g o so far as t o consider all t h e i r dreams t o be so m a n y mystic i n t u i t i o n s . Instead, l i k e everyone else, t h e y see the m a j o r i t y o f t h e i r dreams o n l y as profane states a n d e m p t y plays o f images, m e r e h a l l u c i n a t i o n s . T h e p r i m i t i v e can be t h o u g h t o f as always h a v i n g made s i m i l a r d i s t i n c t i o n s . C o d r i n g t o n states e m p h a t i c a l l y that the Melanesians d o n o t i n d i s c r i m i n a t e l y e x p l a i n all t h e i r dreams as m i grations o f souls, b u t o n l y those that strike t h e i r i m a g i n a t i o n v i v i d l y .
1 7

We

s h o u l d p r o b a b l y u n d e r s t a n d that t o m e a n those dreams i n w h i c h t h e sleeper believes he is i n t o u c h w i t h r e l i g i o u s beings, g o o d o r e v i l genies, souls o f t h e dead, a n d so o n . L i k e w i s e , the D i e r i m a k e a v e r y clear d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n o r d i n a r y dreams a n d those n i g h t t i m e visions i n w h i c h some deceased f r i e n d o r relative appears t o t h e m . T h e y give different names t o those t w o sorts o f state. T h e y see the first as a m e r e f l i g h t o f t h e i m a g i n a t i o n , b u t t h e y ascribe the second t o the w o r k o f an e v i l s p i r i t .
18

A l l t h e facts H o w i t t offers as e x -

amples, s h o w i n g that the A u s t r a l i a n ascribes t o the soul t h e p o w e r t o leave the body, also have a m y s t i c a l character: T h e sleeper believes h i m s e l f t r a n s p o r t e d i n t o the l a n d o f the dead, o r else that he is t a l k i n g w i t h a deceased f r i e n d . These dreams are c o m m o n a m o n g p r i m i t i v e s .
2 0 1 9

I t is p r o b a b l y i n c o n n e c t i o n

w i t h such facts that the t h e o r y t o o k f o r m . T o a c c o u n t f o r t h e m , t h e n o t i o n that the souls o f the dead c o m e b a c k t o be w i t h the l i v i n g as t h e y sleep is accepted. A c c e p t a n c e o f this e x p l a n a t i o n was all t h e easier because n o fact o f experience c o u l d d i s c o n f i r m i t . B u t such dreams w e r e possible o n l y w h e r e people already had the ideas o f spirits, souls, a n d lands o f t h e dead—that is, o n l y w h e r e r e l i g i o u s e v o l u t i o n was relatively advanced. Far from h a v i n g b e e n able t o p r o v i d e r e l i g i o n w i t h the f u n d a m e n t a l idea o n w h i c h i t rests, t h e y presupposed a n d w e r e the result o f a r e l i g i o u s system already c o n s t i t u t e d . "[Robert Henry Codrington],The Melanesians [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891], pp. 249-250. [Alfred William] Howitt, The Native Tribes of South-East Australia [London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 358 (following Gason).
19 18 21

Ibid„ pp. 434-442.

The Negroes of southern Guinea, says Tylor, have "during their sleep almost as many relations with the dead as they have during the day with the living" (Primitive Culture, vol. I, p. 443). Of these peoples, the same author cites this remark by an observer: "They regard all their dreams as visits by spirits of their dead friends" (ibid., vol. I, p. 514 ). The statement is surely exaggerated, but it is further proof that mystical dreams are common among primitives. This tends as well to confirm the etymology Strehlow offers for the Arunta word altjirerama, which means "to dream." It is composed of altjira, which Strehlow translates as "god," and rama, which means "see." So the dream would be the moment when the man is in relation with the sacred beings (Aranda, vol. I, p. 2). Andrew Lang (who also refuses to concede that the idea of the soul was suggested to man by the experience of dreaming) believed he could derive it from other experiential data: the facts of spiritism (telepathy, seeing at a distance, etc.). I do not think it necessary to discuss his theory, as set forth in his
21

20

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57

III
B u t let us c o m e t o t h e v e r y heart o f the d o c t r i n e . W h e r e v e r t h e idea o f a d o u b l e m a y c o m e f r o m , that idea is n o t e n o u g h — o n t h e animists' o w n a d m i s s i o n — t o e x p l a i n h o w the ancestor c u l t was f o r m e d , the c u l t that is regarded as t h e o r i g i n a l t y p e o f all r e l i g i o n s . T o have b e c o m e the o b j e c t o f a c u l t , t h e d o u b l e h a d t o cease b e i n g a m e r e replica o f the i n d i v i d u a l . I t h a d t o take o n t h e characteristics r e q u i r e d f o r p l a c e m e n t o n a par w i t h the sacred beings. D e a t h is said t o b r i n g a b o u t this t r a n s f o r m a t i o n . B u t w h e r e w o u l d the special p r o p e r t y that people i m p u t e t o death c o m e from? E v e n i f t h e analogy b e t w e e n sleep a n d death m i g h t have b e e n e n o u g h t o m a k e p e o p l e believe that the s o u l survives the b o d y (and o n this p o i n t , there are reservations t o be had), w h y w o u l d this soul c o m p l e t e l y change its nature s i m p l y as a result o f b e i n g n o w detached f r o m the b o d y ? I f , w h i l e i t l i v e d , i t was o n l y a profane t h i n g , a w a l k i n g l i f e - p r i n c i p l e , h o w w o u l d i t suddenly b e c o m e a sacred t h i n g a n d the o b j e c t o f religious feelings? A p a r t f r o m greater f r e e d o m o f m o v e m e n t , death adds n o t h i n g essential t o i t . B e i n g attached t o n o regular residence f r o m t h e n o n , i t can d o at any t i m e the things i t o n c e d i d o n l y at n i g h t ; b u t t h e things i t can d o are still o f the same nature. So w h y w o u l d the l i v i n g have seen this u p r o o t e d a n d v a g a b o n d d o u b l e o f yesterday's f r i e n d as a n y t h i n g b u t a f e l l o w h u m a n ? I t was a f e l l o w h u m a n w h o s e nearness m i g h t i n d e e d have b e e n i n o p p o r t u n e , b u t i t was n o t a deity.
22

I n fact, i t seems that, far f r o m t e n d i n g t o increase the v i t a l energies, death s h o u l d actually have sapped t h e m . I t is a w i d e s p r e a d b e l i e f i n the l o w e r societies that t h e s o u l shares i n t i m a t e l y i n the body's life. I f t h e b o d y is i n j u r e d , the s o u l i t s e l f is i n j u r e d i n t h e c o r r e s p o n d i n g place. H e n c e , i t s h o u l d

book The Making of Religion. In fact, it rests on the hypothesis that spiritism is a constant fact of observation, that seeing at a distance is a real faculty of man or, at least, of certain men—and we know the extent to which this postulate is disputed. What is still more disputable is that the facts of spiritism should be sufficiently apparent and sufficiendy common to have been able to serve as the basis of all the religious beliefs and practices that bear upon souls and spirits. Examination of these questions would take me too far awayfromthe object of my study. Furthermore, since Lang's theory remains open to several of the objections that I will address to Tylor's, my engaging in such an examination is still less necessary. ^[Frank Byron] Jevons makes a similar observation. Along with Tylor, he accepts that the idea of the soul comes from dreaming and that, once this idea was created, man projected it into things. But, he adds, the fact that nature has been conceived of as animate in the way man is does not explain why it should have become the object of a cult. "From the fact that man sees a tree that bends and aflamethat comes and goes as a living being like himself, it does not at all follow that either is considered a supernatural being; on the contrary, to the extent that they resemble him, they can do nothing that in his eyes is supernatural" (An Introduction to the History of Religion [London, Methuen, 1896], p. 55).

58

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

age a l o n g w i t h the body. I n fact, there are peoples a m o n g w h o m funeral r e spects are n o t p a i d t o m e n w h o have reached senility; they are treated as i f t h e i r souls had b e c o m e senile as w e l l .
2 3

T h e r e are even cases i n w h i c h c e r t a i n

p r i v i l e g e d i n d i v i d u a l s are l a w f u l l y p u t t o death before t h e y arrive at o l d age—for example, kings o r priests t h o u g h t t o be vessels o f some p o w e r f u l spirit w h o s e p r o t e c t i o n society is anxious t o keep. T h e o b j e c t i n this is t o prevent the spirit f r o m b e i n g s t r i c k e n w i t h the physical degeneration o f those w h o are its t e m p o r a r y trustees. T h u s , the spirit is r e m o v e d before age w e a k ens the b o d y i n w h i c h i t is residing; since i t has lost n o n e o f its strength, the spirit is transferred i n t o a y o u n g e r b o d y i n w h i c h i t w i l l be able t o keep its vitality intact.
24

B u t i n that case, w h e n death results f r o m sickness o r o l d age,

it w o u l d seem that the s o u l c o u l d retain o n l y d i m i n i s h e d p o w e r . A n d i n d e e d , i f the soul is o n l y the d o u b l e o f the b o d y , i t is unclear h o w i t c o u l d survive at all once the b o d y has f i n a l l y disintegrated. F r o m this p o i n t o f view, t h e idea o f its survival becomes barely i n t e l l i g i b l e . H e n c e , here is a gap—a l o g i c a l a n d psychological v o i d — b e t w e e n the idea o f a d o u b l e at l i b e r t y a n d that o f a spirit t o w h i c h a c u l t is addressed. T h a t v o i d seems all t h e greater w h e n w e realize h o w w i d e an abyss separates the sacred w o r l d f r o m the profane one. I t is o b v i o u s that a mere change o f degree c o u l d n o t possibly be e n o u g h t o m a k e a t h i n g pass f r o m one categ o r y t o the other. Sacred beings are n o t d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m profane ones m e r e l y b y the strange o r u n s e t t l i n g f o r m s t h e y take o n o r b y t h e w i d e r p o w ers they enjoy. T h e r e is n o c o m m o n measure b e t w e e n t h e m . N o w , there is n o t h i n g i n the idea o f a d o u b l e that c o u l d a c c o u n t f o r such a radical h e t e r o geneity. I t is said that, o n c e freed f r o m the body, t h e d o u b l e can d o e i t h e r great g o o d o r great h a r m t o the l i v i n g , d e p e n d i n g o n the m a n n e r i n w h i c h i t regards t h e m . B u t u p s e t t i n g those a r o u n d h i m is n o t e n o u g h t o make a b e i n g appear t o be o f a different nature f r o m those w h o s e peace i t threatens. T o be sure, some fear and restraint always enter i n t o the feelings the faithful have for the things t h e y reverence; b u t i t is a fear sui generis, made o f respect m o r e t h a n fear, a n d made m a i n l y o f that v e r y special e m o t i o n that majesty elicits i n m a n . T h e idea o f majesty is essentially r e l i g i o u s . I n a sense, therefore, w e have e x p l a i n e d n o t h i n g a b o u t r e l i g i o n so l o n g as w e have n o t discovered w h e r e that idea comes f r o m , w h a t i t corresponds t o , a n d w h a t c o u l d have See [Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen, Northern Tribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 506; and Native Tribes, p. 512. [Reference is to the relationship of soul and life; it is not about funeral practices. Therefore the footnote is probably to the sentence ". . . the soul participates actively in the life of the body." Trans.] This is the ritual and mythical theme that [Sir James George] Frazer studies in his The Golden Bough [a Study in Magk and Religion, London, Macmillan, 1890].
24 23

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

59

awakened i t i n consciousnesses. M e r e h u m a n souls c o u l d n o t possibly be i n vested w i t h this trait f o r t h e simple reason that t h e y are d i s e m b o d i e d . A n e x a m p l e from Melanesia b r i n g s this o u t . T h e Melanesians believe that m a n possesses a soul t h a t leaves the b o d y at death, w h e n i t changes names a n d becomes w h a t t h e y call a tindalo, a natmat, etc. A t the same t i m e , t h e y also have a c u l t t o the souls o f the dead: T h e s e souls are prayed t o and i n v o k e d . O f f e r i n g s a n d sacrifices are m a d e t o t h e m . B u t n o t every t i n d a l o * is the o b j e c t o f those r i t u a l practices. T h a t h o n o r goes o n l y t o those that e m anate from m e n w h o , d u r i n g t h e i r lifetimes, w e r e c r e d i t e d b y p u b l i c o p i n i o n w i t h the v e r y special v i r t u e that the Melanesians call mana. Later, I e x p l a i n the idea that this w o r d expresses. F o r the t i m e b e i n g , suffice i t t o say t h a t i t is the d i s t i n g u i s h i n g characteristic o f any sacred b e i n g . M a n a , says C o d r i n g ¬ t o n , "is that w h i c h p e r m i t s t h e p r o d u c t i o n o f effects that are outside t h e o r d i n a r y p o w e r o f m e n , a n d outside the o r d i n a r y processes o f n a t u r e . "
25

A

priest, a sorcerer, o r a r i t u a l f o r m u l a has mana, as does a sacred stone o r a spirit. T h u s , t h e o n l y tindalos g i v e n r e l i g i o u s h o n o r s are those that w e r e a l ready sacred beings w h i l e t h e i r o w n e r s w e r e alive. As t o o t h e r souls, those that c o m e from o r d i n a r y m e n , from t h e c o m m o n h e r d o f the profane, t h e y are " n o t h i n g s after death, as before," a c c o r d i n g t o t h e same a u t h o r .
26

Since i t

consummates t h e separation from profane things m o r e f u l l y a n d finally, death m a y v e r y w e l l reinforce t h e sacredness o f t h e soul, i f t h e soul already has this quality, b u t death does n o t create i t . F u r t h e r m o r e i f , as the a n i m i s t hypothesis assumes, t h e first sacred beings t r u l y h a d b e e n the souls o f the dead, a n d t h e first c u l t h a d b e e n that o f the ancestors, o n e s h o u l d n o t i c e that t h e l o w e r the type o f society is, the m o r e p r e d o m i n a n t this c u l t is i n r e l i g i o u s life. Instead, the t r u t h is t h e o t h e r w a y a r o u n d . T h e ancestral c u l t develops and appears i n its characteristic form o n l y i n advanced societies such as C h i n a , E g y p t , and the GreeTc and R o m a n cities? o n the o t h e r h a n d , i t is l a c k i n g i n the A u s t r a l i a n societies, w h i c h .represent, as w e w i l l see, t h e lowest a n d simplest f o r m u p f social o r g a n i z a t i o n w e kacjw. T o be sure, funeral a n d m o u r n i n g rites are t o be f o u n d i n those s o c i eties, b u t even t h o u g h the n a m e " c u l t " has sometimes b e e n g i v e n t o practices o f this sort, t h e y d o n o t c o n s t i t u t e a c u l t . I n fact, a c u l t is n o t a m e r e c o l l e c t i o n o f r i t u a l precautions that m a n is responsible f o r t a k i n g i n c e r t a i n

*The French text sometimes takes these foreign terms out of italics once they have been explained. I have done this consistendy throughout.
25

Codrington, The Melanesians, p. 119.

Ibid., p. 125. [Although the passage Durkheim cites is indeed a discussion of mana, the quotation does not appear there. Trans.]

26

60

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

circumstances. I t is a system o f rites, feasts, a n d v a r i o u s ceremonies all having the characteristic that they recur periodically. T h e y m e e t t h e n e e d that the faithful feel p e r i o d i c a l l y t o t i g h t e n a n d strengthen t h e b o n d b e t w e e n t h e m a n d the sacred beings o n w h i c h t h e y d e p e n d . * T h i s is w h y o n e speaks o f n u p t i a l rites and n o t o f a n u p t i a l cult, o f b i r t h rites b u t n o t a c u l t o f t h e n e w b o r n : T h e events that occasion these rites i m p l y n o p e r i o d i c i t y . I n t h e same way, there is an ancestor c u l t o n l y i f sacrifices are made o n t h e t o m b s f r o m t i m e t o t i m e , i f l i b a t i o n s are p o u r e d there m o r e o r less frequendy, o r i f regular feasts are celebrated i n h o n o r o f the dead person. B u t the A u s t r a l i a n does n o t have any dealings o f this sort w i t h his dead. C e r t a i n l y he m u s t r i t u a l l y b u r y t h e i r r e mains, m o u r n t h e m f o r a p e r i o d a n d i n a m a n n e r p r e s c r i b e d and, i f n e e d be, avenge t h e m .
2 7

B u t o n c e he has c a r r i e d o u t these pious duties, o n c e t h e

bones are d r y and the m o u r n i n g has e n d e d , t h e n all is said a n d done, a n d t h e survivors have n o f u r t h e r o b l i g a t i o n s t o w a r d those o f t h e i r relatives w h o are n o m o r e . T r u e , there is i n d e e d a f o r m i n w h i c h the dead c o n t i n u e t o keep a certain place i n t h e lives o f t h e i r k i n , even after the m o u r n i n g is over. T h e i r hair o r certain o f t h e i r b o n e s
28

are sometimes k e p t because o f special v i r t u e s

attached t o t h e m . S t i l l , they have ceased t o be l i k e persons, and have d r o p p e d t o the r a n k o f a n o n y m o u s a n d i m p e r s o n a l amulets. I n that state, they are the object o f n o cult, a n d the o n l y purposes t h e y still have are m a g i c a l . -"" H o w e v e r , some A u s t r a l i a n tribes p e r i o d i c a l l y celebrate rites i n h o n o r o f fabled ancestors that t r a d i t i o n places at the o r i g i n o f t i m e . G e n e r a l l y these ceremonies consist i n a sort o f dramatic p e r f o r m a n c e , i n w h i c h are m i m e d the deeds a t t r i b u t e d i n m y t h t o those l e g e n d a r y h e r o e s .
29

S t i l l , t h e personages are

thus d e p i c t e d are n o t m e n w h o , after h a v i n g e x p e r i e n c e d t h e life o f m e n , w e r e t r a n s f o r m e d b y death i n t o s o m e t h i n g l i k e gods. Instead t h e y t h o u g h t t o have enjoyed s u p e r h u m a n p o w e r s t h r o u g h o u t t h e i r lives. E v e r y t h i n g great that was d o n e i n t h e h i s t o r y o f the t r i b e , a n d even i n the h i s t o r y o f the w o r l d , is a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e m . I n large part, i t is t h e y w h o have made the earth as i t is and m e n as t h e y are. T h u s the aura that continues t o surr o u n d t h e m does n o t c o m e m e r e l y from t h e fact that t h e y are ancestors—

*In nearly all contexts, the word "depend" seems to mean both "counting upon" and "being subjects of." Apparendy sometimes there are even funeral offerings (see [Walter E.] Roth, "Superstition, Magic and Medicine," in North Queensland Ethnography, Bulletin, no. 5, sec. 69 [Brisbane, G. A. Vaughn, 1903]; and "Burial [Ceremonies and the Disposal of the Dead"] in North Queensland Ethnography, Bulletin, no. 10, in RAM, vol. VI, part 1907, 5, p. 395). But these offerings are not periodic.
28

27

See Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 538, 553; and Northern Tribes, pp. 463, 543, 547.

29

See especially Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, chaps. 6, 7, 9.

Tlie Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

61

w h i c h is t o say, i n s u m , from t h e fact that t h e y are d e a d — b u t from the fact that a d i v i n e characteristic is a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e m , a n d has b e e n d o w n the ages. To repeat the M e l a n e s i a n expression, t h e y are b y nature e n d o w e d w i t h mana. C o n s e q u e n t l y , n o t h i n g i n any o f this demonstrates that death s h o u l d have the least p o w e r t o d e i f y I n d e e d , o n e c a n n o t say w i t h o u t i m p r o p r i e t y that these rites c o n s t i t u t e an ancestor c u l t , since t h e y are n o t addressed to ancestors as such. F o r a t r u e c u l t o f t h e dead t o b e possible, t h e real ancestors—the relatives that m e n really lose each d a y — m u s t b e c o m e the o b j e c t o f a c u l t after they die. O n c e again, n o traces o f a c u l t o f this t y p e exist i n Australia. T h u s t h e c u l t that s h o u l d have b e e n d o m i n a n t i n the l o w e r societies, acc o r d i n g t o the hypothesis, is n o n e x i s t e n t i n t h e m , a c c o r d i n g t o reality. I n the final analysis, t h e A u s t r a l i a n is c o n c e r n e d w i t h his dead o n l y at the v e r y m o m e n t o f death a n d i m m e d i a t e l y f o l l o w i n g . Nevertheless, as w e w i l l see, i n r e gard t o sacred beings o f an altogether different nature, these same peoples practice a c o m p l e x c u l t made u p o f m u l t i p l e ceremonies that sometimes o c c u p y weeks a n d even m o n t h s . I t is u n t h i n k a b l e that t h e f e w rites the A u s tralian p e r f o r m s w h e n he happens t o lose o n e o f his relatives s h o u l d have b e e n t h e o r i g i n o f those p e r m a n e n t cults that r e t u r n r e g u l a r l y every year a n d take u p a significant p a r t o f his life. T h e contrast is so great, i n fact, that o n e m i g h t w e l l ask w h e t h e r i t is n o t t h e first that derives from the second— w h e t h e r t h e souls o f m e n , far from b e i n g t h e m o d e l o n w h i c h the gods w e r e i m a g i n e d , w e r e from the b e g i n n i n g c o n c e i v e d o f as emanations o f the deity.

IV
I f the c u l t o f t h e dead is n o t p r i m i t i v e , a n i m i s m has n o basis. I t m i g h t t h e r e fore seem pointless t o e x a m i n e the t h i r d thesis o f the system, c o n c e r n i n g t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f t h e c u l t o f t h e dead i n t o a c u l t o f nature. B u t its e x a m i n a t i o n is necessary, since the postulate o n w h i c h i t rests is f o u n d even a m o n g historians o f r e l i g i o n w h o d o n o t accept a n i m i s m p r o p e r l y so-called, such as Brinton,
3 0

Lang,

3 1

Réville,

3 2

and R o b e r t s o n S m i t h himself.

33

-"•[Daniel Garrison Brinton], The Religions of Primitive Peoples [New York, G. P. Putnam's, 1897], pp. 478".
31

[Andrew Lang], Mythes, cultes et religions [ Paris, F. Alcan, 1896], p. 50. [Albert Réville], Les Religions des peuples non civilisés, vol. II [Paris, Fischbacher, 1883], Conclusion.

32

[William Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religions] of the Semites, 2d ed. [London, A & C Black, 1894], pp. 126, 132.

33

62

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

T h i s e x t e n s i o n o f the c u l t o f the dead t o the w h o l e o f nature is t h o u g h t t o arise f r o m the fact that w e t e n d i n s t i n c t i v e l y t o conceive all things i n o u r o w n image, that is, as l i v i n g a n d t h i n k i n g beings. W e saw that Spencer has a l ready disputed the reality o f this so-called i n s t i n c t . Since an a n i m a l clearly distinguishes l i v i n g bodies f r o m n a t u r a l objects, i t seemed t o h i m impossible that m a n , as h e i r o f the a n i m a l , s h o u l d n o t have had this same faculty o f disc r i m i n a t i o n f r o m the start. B u t as sure as m a y be t h e facts that Spencer cites, i n this particular case t h e y d o n o t have the character o f p r o o f that he believes they have. I n d e e d , his a r g u m e n t assumes t h a t all t h e faculties, instincts, and abilities o f the a n i m a l have passed t o m a n i n t h e i r entirety. B u t a great m a n y errors o r i g i n a t e i n this p r i n c i p l e , w h i c h is w r o n g l y taken as self-evident t r u t h . For example, f r o m the fact that sexual j e a l o u s y is generally v e r y s t r o n g a m o n g the h i g h e r animals, i t has b e e n c o n c l u d e d that this same jealousy m u s t be f o u n d i n m a n , from the b e g i n n i n g o f h i s t o r y a n d w i t h the same i n t e n sity.
34

Today i t c a n n o t be d o u b t e d that m a n is able t o practice a sexual c o m 35

m u n i s m that w o u l d be impossible i f that j e a l o u s y c o u l d n o t w e a k e n o r even disappear w h e n necessary. T h i s is so because m a n is n o t s i m p l y an a n i m a l , plus c e r t a i n qualities: H e is s o m e t h i n g different. H u m a n nature is the p r o d u c t o f a recasting, so t o speak, o f a n i m a l nature. T h e r e have b e e n gains as w e l l as losses i n the course o f the i n t r i c a t e operations o f w h i c h this recasting is the result. H o w m a n y instincts have w e n o t lost! W e have lost t h e m because m a n is i n relationship n o t o n l y w i t h a physical m i l i e u , b u t also w i t h a social m i l i e u that is i n f i n i t e l y m o r e extensive, stable, a n d p o w e r f u l t h a n those t o w h o s e influence animals are subject. I n o r d e r t o live, t h e n , he must adapt to i t . N o w , t o m a i n t a i n itself, society often needs us t o see things f r o m a c e r t a i n standpoint a n d feel t h e m i n a c e r t a i n way. I t therefore m o d i f i e s the ideas w e w o u l d be i n c l i n e d t o have a b o u t t h e m , a n d the feelings t o w h i c h w e w o u l d be i n c l i n e d i f w e o b e y e d o n l y o u r a n i m a l n a t u r e — e v e n t o the e x t e n t o f r e p l a c i n g t h e m w i t h q u i t e opposite feelings. D o e s society n o t g o so far as t o make us see o u r o w n life as a t h i n g o f l i t t l e value, w h i l e f o r animals life is p r o p e r t y par e x c e l l e n c e ?
36

T h u s t o t r y t o i n f e r the m e n t a l m a k e u p o f the

p r i m i t i v e m a n from that o f the h i g h e r animals is a v a i n quest.

Such, for example, is the reasoning of [Edward Alexander] Westermarck (Origine du marriage dans l'espèce humaine [Paris, Guillaumain, 1895], p.6). By sexual communism, I do not mean that state of promiscuity in which man supposedly recognized no matrimonial rules. I believe that such a state has never existed. But it has often happened that a group of men have regularly united with one or several women.
36 33

34

See my [Le] Suicide, [Paris, F. Alcan, 1897], pp. 233ff.

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

63

B u t w h i l e the o b j e c t i o n raised b y Spencer does n o t have the force its a u t h o r t h o u g h t i t d i d , n e i t h e r can the a n i m i s t postulate draw any a u t h o r i t y f r o m the confusions c h i l d r e n seem t o make. W h e n w e hear a c h i l d a n g r i l y abusing an o b j e c t that has h i t h i m , w e c o n c l u d e that he sees the object as a conscious b e i n g l i k e himself; b u t this is a p o o r u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f his speech a n d gestures. I n reality, he is a stranger t o the v e r y c o m p l e x reasoning that is i m p u t e d t o h i m . H e blames the table that has h u r t h i m n o t because he supposes i t t o b e animate a n d i n t e l l i g e n t , b u t because i t has h u r t h i m . O n c e anger is aroused b y the p a i n , i t seeks s o m e t h i n g o n w h i c h t o discharge itself; the anger n a t u r a l l y goes t o the v e r y same t h i n g that p r o v o k e d i t , even t h o u g h that t h i n g can d o n o t h i n g . T h e b e h a v i o r o f t h e adult i n a similar case is o f t e n j u s t as unreasonable. W h e n w e are intensely angry, w e feel the need t o abuse a n d destroy, b u t w i t h o u t i m p u t i n g any sort o f conscious i l l w i l l t o the objects o n w h i c h w e v e n t o u r anger. T h e r e is so l i t t l e c o n f u s i o n that, w h e n the e m o t i o n o f the c h i l d has c o o l e d , he k n o w s v e r y w e l l h o w to distinguish a chair f r o m a person: H e does n o t treat b o t h i n the same way. H i s t e n d e n c y t o treat his toys as i f t h e y w e r e h u m a n beings is e x p l a i n e d similarly. H i s v e r y intense n e e d t o play creates suitable m a t e r i a l f o r itself, j u s t as, i n the p r e c e d i n g case, t h e s t r o n g feelings that p a i n had unleashed created t h e i r o w n , o u t o f n o t h i n g . T h u s , t o be able t o play c o n s c i e n t i o u s l y w i t h his p u p p e t , he i m a g ines i t as a l i v i n g p e r s o n . T h e i l l u s i o n is the easier f o r h i m , moreover, because i m a g i n a t i o n is his sovereign mistress; he scarcely t h i n k s i n a n y t h i n g b u t i m ages, and w e k n o w t o w h a t e x t e n t images are pliable things that b e n d i n o b e dience t o all that desire c o m m a n d s . B u t so l i t t l e is he the d u p e o f his o w n f i c t i o n that i f i t s u d d e n l y became reality a n d his p u p p e t b i t h i m , he w o u l d be the first a s t o n i s h e d .
37

L e t us therefore p u t aside these d u b i o u s analogies. T o k n o w i f m a n was o r i g i n a l l y i n c l i n e d t o w a r d the confusions that are ascribed t o h i m , i t is n o t the a n i m a l o r the c h i l d o f today that m u s t be considered, b u t the p r i m i t i v e beliefs themselves. I f t h e spirits a n d gods o f nature really are c o n s t r u c t e d i n the image o f the h u m a n s o u l , t h e y m u s t bear the m a r k o f t h e i r o r i g i n and the essential traits o f t h e i r m o d e l . T o be c o n c e i v e d o f as the i n w a r d p r i n c i p l e that animates the b o d y is the t r a i t par excellence o f the soul. I t is the soul that moves t h e b o d y a n d makes i t live, such that life ends o r is suspended w h e n the s o u l leaves. I t is i n t h e b o d y that the s o u l has its natural residence—so l o n g as the b o d y exists, at least. S u c h is n o t the case f o r the spirits i n charge o f the various n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a . T h e g o d o f the sun is n o t necessarily i n

37

Spencer, Principles of Sociology, p. 188.

64

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

the sun, o r the spirit o f a c e r t a i n r o c k i n the r o c k that serves as its p r i m a r y residence. A spirit u n d o u b t e d l y has close relations w i t h the b o d y t o w h i c h i t is attached, b u t t o call that s p i r i t its soul is t o use a v e r y inaccurate phrase. " I n Melanesia," says C o d r i n g t o n , " i t does n o t seem that p e o p l e believe i n t h e e x istence o f spirits that animate a n a t u r a l object, such as a tree, a waterfall, a s t o r m o r a r o c k , i n such a w a y as t o be f o r that o b j e c t w h a t the soul is b e l i e v e d t o be f o r the h u m a n b o d y . I t is t r u e that Europeans talk about spirits o f the sea, the s t o r m , o r t h e forest; b u t t h e idea o f the natives that is translated i n this w a y is altogether different. T h e natives t h i n k that the spirit frequents the forest o r the sea a n d has t h e p o w e r t o raise storms and m a k e travelers s i c k e n . "
38

Whereas the soul is basically t h e inside o f the body, the

spirit pursues the greater part o f its existence outside the object that serves as its base. H e r e , t h e n , is a difference t h a t does n o t seem t o s h o w t h a t t h e idea o f spirit came f r o m t h e idea o f soul. F r o m another p o i n t o f v i e w , i f m a n really h a d b e e n d r i v e n t o project his image i n t o things, the first sacred beings w o u l d have b e e n c o n c e i v e d o f i n his image. N o w , far from b e i n g p r i m i t i v e , a n t h r o p o m o r p h i s m is the m a r k o f a relatively advanced c i v i l i z a t i o n . A t t h e b e g i n n i n g , sacred beings are c o n ceived o f i n the f o r m o f animals o r plants, f r o m w h i c h h u m a n f o r m has s l o w l y emerged. I t w i l l be seen b e l o w that i n Australia, animals a n d plants are i n the highest r a n k o f sacred things. E v e n a m o n g t h e Indians o f N o r t h A m e r ica, the great cosmic deities that are b e g i n n i n g t o be t h e object o f a c u l t are v e r y o f t e n c o n c e i v e d o f i n the f o r m o f a n i m a l s .
39

" A c c o r d i n g t o this t u r n o f

m i n d , " says R e v i l l e , n o t w i t h o u t surprise, " n o d i s t i n c t i o n is m a d e b e t w e e n a n i m a l , m a n , a n d d i v i n e b e i n g , " " a n d , m o s t o f t e n , one would say that the animal form is the fundamental form."
40

T o f i n d a g o d c o n s t r u c t e d e n t i r e l y o u t o f h u m a n elements, o n e m u s t c o m e almost t o C h r i s t i a n i t y . I n C h r i s t i a n i t y , t h e G o d is a m a n , n o t o n l y i n the physical aspect i n w h i c h he t e m p o r a r i l y manifested h i m s e l f b u t also i n the ideas and feelings he expresses. B u t even t h o u g h t h e gods i n R o m e a n d Greece w e r e generally represented w i t h h u m a n traits, several m y t h i c a l p e r sonages nonetheless c a r r i e d the m a r k o f an a n i m a l o r i g i n . T h e r e is D i o n y s u s , w h o m o n e o f t e n meets i n the f o r m o f a b u l l o r at least w i t h t h e h o r n s o f a b u l l ; there is D e m e t e r , represented w i t h the m a n e o f a horse; there are Pan,

38

Codringcon, The Meianesians, p. 123.

[}ames Owen] Dorsey, "A Study of Siouan Cults," in Xlth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology [Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1894], pp. 431ff.
40

39

Réville, La Religion des peuples non civilisés, vol. I, p. 248.

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

65

Silenus, the Fauns, e t c .

41

T h u s , i t is far f r o m t r u e that m a n was strongly i n -

c l i n e d t o i m p o s e his f o r m u p o n things. W h a t is m o r e , he began t o i m a g i n e h i m s e l f as a close p a r t i c i p a n t i n a n i m a l nature. I n d e e d , there is a b e l i e f that is nearly universal i n Australia, a n d also v e r y w i d e s p r e a d a m o n g the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , that the ancestors o f m e n w e r e animals o r plants, o r at least that, w h o l l y o r i n part, t h e first m e n h a d t h e d i s t i n g u i s h i n g characteristics o f c e r t a i n a n i m a l o r p l a n t species. T h u s , m a n d i d n o t see beings like h i m s e l f e v e r y w h e r e — f a r f r o m i t . H e started o u t t h i n k i n g o f h i m s e l f i n the image o f beings f r o m w h i c h he specifically differed.

V
F u r t h e r , the a n i m i s t t h e o r y i m p l i e s a consequence that is perhaps its o w n best refutation. I f that t h e o r y was t r u e , o n e w o u l d have t o accept the n o t i o n that r e l i gious beliefs are so m a n y h a l l u c i n a t o r y representations, w i t h o u t any objective basis. T h e assumption is that all those beliefs are d e r i v e d from the idea o f soul, since spirits a n d gods are seen as n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n p u r i f i e d souls. B u t , acc o r d i n g t o T y l o r a n d his followers, the v e r y n o t i o n o f soul itself is made o f the vague a n d variable images that f i l l o u r m i n d s d u r i n g sleep—for the soul is the d o u b l e , a n d the d o u b l e is n o t h i n g b u t the m a n as he appears to h i m s e l f w h e n he is asleep. F r o m this p o i n t o f v i e w , sacred beings w o u l d be mere i m a g i n i n g s that m a n created i n a sort o f d e l i r i u m that seizes h i m regularly each day; and, from this p o i n t o f v i e w , i t is impossible t o see w h a t useful ends t h e y serve o r t o w h a t t h e y c o r r e s p o n d i n reality. I f he prays, i f he makes sacrifices and o f ferings, i f he binds h i m s e l f t o the m u l t i p l e p r i v a t i o n s that r i t u a l prescribes t o h i m , that is o n l y because some k i n d o f i n b o r n a b e r r a t i o n has made h i m take dreams f o r perceptions, death f o r a p r o l o n g e d sleep, a n d i n a n i m a t e objects f o r l i v i n g , t h i n k i n g beings. I n this w a y (as m a n y have b e e n l e d to concede), n o t o n l y does the f o r m i n w h i c h religious forces are o r have been c o n c e i v e d o f fail t o express t h e m accurately, a n d n o t o n l y d o t h e symbols w i t h w h o s e help t h e y have b e e n t h o u g h t a b o u t partially mask t h e i r nature, b u t , m o r e even t h a n that, there w o u l d be n o t h i n g b e h i n d these images and f o r m s b u t the nightmares o f u n c u l t i v a t e d m i n d s . I n the end, r e l i g i o n w o u l d be o n l y a dream,

""[Marinus Willem] de Visser, De Graecorum diis non referentibus speciem humanam, Lugduni-Batavorum,

apud G. Los, 1900; Cf. [Paul] Perdrizet, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique [Athens, Ecole française d'Athènes], 1889, p. 635.

66

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

systematized a n d l i v e d , b u t w i t h o u t f o u n d a t i o n i n the r e a l .

42

A n d this is w h y ,

w h e n the theorists o f a n i m i s m seek the o r i g i n s o f religious t h o u g h t , they d o n o t o v e r l y exert themselves. W h e n they t h i n k they have managed to e x p l a i n w h a t c o u l d have l e d t o i m a g i n e beings o f strange a n d vaporous f o r m , such as those w e see i n dreams, the p r o b l e m appears solved. I n reality, the p r o b l e m has n o t even b e e n t o u c h e d . I t is u n t h i n k a b l e that systems o f ideas l i k e r e l i g i o n s , w h i c h have h e l d such a large place i n h i s t o r y — t h e w e l l t o w h i c h peoples i n all the ages have c o m e t o d r a w the energy they h a d t o have i n order t o l i v e — c o u l d be m e r e fabrics o f i l l u s i o n . Today w e agree t o recognize that law, morals, a n d scientific t h o u g h t itself were b o r n i n r e l i g i o n , were l o n g c o n f o u n d e d w i t h i t , and have r e m a i n e d i m b u e d w i t h its spirit. H o w c o u l d a h o l l o w phantasmagoria have b e e n able t o m o l d h u m a n consciousnesses so p o w e r f u l l y a n d so lastingly? Surely, i t o u g h t t o be a p r i n ciple f o r the science o f r e l i g i o n s that r e l i g i o n expresses n o t h i n g that is n o t i n nature: T h e r e is n o science except science o f n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a . T o w h i c h r e a l m o f nature these realities b e l o n g , and w h a t has m a d e m e n conceive o f t h e m i n the singular f o r m that is p e c u l i a r t o religious t h o u g h t , is the w h o l e question. B u t t o m a k e t h e p o s i n g o f that q u e s t i o n even possible, w e m u s t first a l l o w that real things are c o n c e i v e d o f i n that way. W h e n the philosophers o f the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y treated r e l i g i o n as a vast e r r o r i n v e n t e d b y priests, they c o u l d at least e x p l a i n its persistence b y the interest o f the priestly caste i n d u p i n g the masses. B u t i f the p e o p l e themselves created those systems o f mistaken ideas, and at the same t i m e w e r e d u p e d b y t h e m , h o w c o u l d this a m a z i n g d u p e r y have p e r p e t u a t e d itself t h r o u g h t h e w h o l e course o f history? I n d e e d , w h e t h e r the t e r m "science o f r e l i g i o n s " can be used w i t h o u t i m p r o p r i e t y i n those circumstances, is questionable. A science is a discipline that, h o w e v e r c o n c e i v e d , always applies t o a reality that is g i v e n . Physics a n d c h e m i s t r y are sciences because p h y s i c o c h e m i c a l p h e n o m e n a are real, and o f a reality that is i n d e p e n d e n t o f the t r u t h s those sciences demonstrate. There

According to Spencer, however, the belief in spirits has a grain of truth: the idea "that the power that is manifested in consciousness is another form of the power that is manifested outside of consciousness" ([Herbert Spencer], "Ecclesiastical Institutions" [part VI, sec. 659], in Principles of Sociology, vol. Ill, p. 169]). By this, Spencer means that the notion of force in general is the feeling of the force that we have, spread to the entire universe. Animism implicidy concedes this when it populates nature with spirits analogous to our own. But even if this hypothesis was true—and it calls forth serious reservations that I will state (Bk. Ill, chap. 3, §3)—it is not in any way religious; and it calls for no cult. Thus it would still be the case that the system of religious symbols and rites, the classification of things as sacred and profane—all that is properly religious in religion—does not correspond to anything in reality. Moreover, this grain of truth is also, and even more, a grain of error: For if it is true that the forces of nature and those of consciousness are akin, they are also profoundly different, and to treat them as identical is to open oneself to strange errors.

42

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion

67

is a p s y c h o l o g i c a l science because there really are consciousnesses, w h i c h d o n o t acquire f r o m t h e p s y c h o l o g i s t t h e i r r i g h t t o exist. B u t r e l i g i o n c o u l d n o t possibly survive t h e a n i m i s t t h e o r y i f o n e day i t was r e c o g n i z e d as t r u e b y all m e n : M e n c o u l d n o t fail t o free themselves f r o m errors w h o s e nature a n d o r i g i n w o u l d thus stand revealed. W h a t sort o f science is i t w h o s e p r i n c i p a l discovery is t o m a k e the v e r y o b j e c t i t treats disappear?

CHAPTER. T H R E E

THE LEADING CONCEPTIONS OF THE ELEMENTARY RELIGION (CONTINUATION)
II. Naturism

T

he o u t l o o k o f t h e naturist s c h o o l has an e n t i r e l y different i n s p i r a t i o n . I t

is also r e c r u i t e d from different m i l i e u x . T h e animists are ethnographers

o r anthropologists, f o r the m o s t part. T h e r e l i g i o n s t h e y have studied are a m o n g t h e crudest that h u m a n i t y has p r a c t i c e d . H e n c e the p r i m a r y i m p o r tance these theorists give t o the souls o f t h e dead, spirits, a n d d e m o n s , that is, t o s p i r i t u a l beings o f t h e second o r d e r : S p i r i t u a l beings o f a h i g h e r o r d e r are v i r t u a l l y u n k n o w n i n those r e l i g i o n s . B y contrast, t h e theories I w i l l n o w present are the w o r k o f scholars w h o have b e e n m a i n l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h the great civilizations o f E u r o p e and Asia. As s o o n as researchers, f o l l o w i n g the brothers G r i m m , saw the f r u i t f u l ness o f c o m p a r i n g the different m y t h o l o g i e s o f the I n d o - E u r o p e a n peoples, t h e y w e r e s t r u c k b y t h e remarkable similarities these m y t h o l o g i e s displayed. M y t h i c a l personages w e r e i d e n t i f i e d that, a l t h o u g h h a v i n g different names, s y m b o l i z e d t h e same ideas a n d h a d t h e same f u n c t i o n s . T h e names t h e m selves w e r e c o m p a r e d , a n d researchers b e l i e v e d i t c o u l d sometimes be s h o w n t h a t they w e r e n o t u n r e l a t e d . I t appeared t h a t such similarities c o u l d b e e x p l a i n e d o n l y b y c o m m o n o r i g i n . So researchers w e r e l e d t o suppose that, d i f ferent as these ideas w e r e i n appearance, t h e y w e r e i n reality different f o r m s
1

'This no doubt explains as well the sympathy that folklorists like [Wilhelm] Mannhardt [1831-1880] have felt for animist ideas. In popular religions, as in the lower religions, spiritual beings of the second order have prominence. [Friedrich L. W. Schwartz] Der Ursprung der Mythologie, Berlin [W. Herzt], 1860. 68

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

69

o r i g i n a t i n g f r o m a c o m m o n source that m i g h t b e discoverable. T h e y p o s t u lated that, b y u s i n g t h e c o m p a r a t i v e m e t h o d , i t s h o u l d b e possible t o g o back, b e y o n d t h e great r e l i g i o n s , t o a far m o r e a n c i e n t system o f ideas, a t r u l y p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n f r o m w h i c h t h e others d e r i v e d . W h a t c o n t r i b u t e d m o s t t o arousing these a m b i t i o n s was the discovery o f the Vedas, a w r i t t e n t e x t w h o s e a n t i q u i t y m a y w e l l have b e e n exaggerated at the m o m e n t i t was discovered, b u t that nevertheless is o n e o f t h e m o s t a n c i e n t w e have i n a n I n d o - E u r o p e a n language. T h u s , b y using t h e o r d i n a r y m e t h o d s o f p h i l o l o g y , t h e y w e r e i n a p o s i t i o n t o study a literature as o l d as o r o l d e r t h a n that o f H o m e r a n d a r e l i g i o n t h o u g h t t o b e m o r e p r i m i t i v e t h a n that o f t h e ancient G e r m a n s . Clearly, a d o c u m e n t o f such value was b o u n d t o shed n e w l i g h t o n t h e r e l i g i o u s b e g i n n i n g s o f h u m a n i t y , a n d t h e science o f r e l i g i o n s c o u l d n o t fail t o b e r e v o l u t i o n i z e d b y i t . So m u c h was t h e c o n c e p t i o n thus b o r n called f o r b y t h e state o f science a n d b y t h e general c u r r e n t o f ideas t h a t i t e m e r g e d at almost t h e same t i m e i n t w o different c o u n t r i e s . I n 1856, M a x M u l l e r set f o r t h t h e p r i n c i p l e s i n his Oxford Essays.
2

C l e a r l y i n t h e same s p i r i t , A d a l b e r t K u h n ' s b o o k , Origine du
3

feu et de la boisson divine, appeared three years later. O n c e advanced, t h e idea spread v e r y r a p i d l y i n scientific circles. K u h n ' s n a m e is closely associated w i t h that o f his b r o t h e r - i n - l a w [ F r i e d r i c h ] S c h w a r t z , w h o s e b o o k L'Origine de la mythologie appeared s h o r d y after K u h n ' s . [ H y m a n n ] S t e i n t h a l a n d t h e w h o l e G e r m a n s c h o o l o f Voelkerpsychologie* b e l o n g t o t h e same m o v e m e n t . T h e t h e o r y was i m p o r t e d i n t o France i n 1863 b y M . M i c h e l B r e a l . I t m e t so l i t de resistance that, a c c o r d i n g t o [ O t t o ] G r u p p e ,
6 5 4

" t h e r e came a t i m e w h e n ,

apart f r o m a f e w classical p h i l o l o g i s t s w o r k i n g outside Vedic studies, a l l t h e

*Folk Psychology, the title of a ten-volume work by Wilhelm Wundt (1832—1920). The founder of experimental psychology, Wundt envisaged a comparative social psychology to supplement individual experimental psychology with research into the data of anthropology, history, and linguistics. In an essay tided Comparative Mythology [New York, Arno Press, 1977], pp. 47ff. [The French translation was titled, Essai de mythologie comparée, Paris-London, 1859]. [Adalbert, Kuhn], Herabkunft des Feuers und Göttertranks, Berlin [F. Dummler], 1859 (a new edition of it was done by Ernst Kuhn in 1886). Cf. Der Schuss des Wilden Jägers auf den Sonnenhirsch, ZDP, vol. I (1869), pp. 89-169; Entwicklungsstufen des Mythus, Berlin Academy, 1873.
4

2

3

[Schwartz], Der Ursprung der Mythologie, Fl. In his book Hercule et Cocus, Etude de mythologie comparée [Paris, A. Durand, 1863, p. 12]. L'Essaie de

5

mythologie comparée by Max Muller is cited there as a work "that marks a new era in the history of Mythology- (p. 12).
6

[Otto Gruppe], Die griechischen Kulte und Mythen [Ihren Beziehungen zu der orientalischen Religionen,

Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1887].

70

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

m y t h o l o g i s t s t o o k the p r i n c i p l e s o f M a x M u l l e r o r o f K u h n as the starting p o i n t o f t h e i r explanations." I t is i m p o r t a n t , therefore, t o e x a m i n e w h a t t h e y are a n d w h a t t h e y are w o r t h . Since n o o n e has presented those p r i n c i p l e s m o r e systematically t h a n M a x M u l l e r , I take f r o m h i m the elements o f t h e e x p o s i t i o n t o f o l l o w .
8 7

I
W e have seen that the u n d e r l y i n g a s s u m p t i o n o f a n i m i s m is that r e l i g i o n , at least at its o r i g i n , does n o t express any e x p e r i e n t i a l reality. M a x M u l l e r sets o u t f r o m the opposite p r i n c i p l e . F o r h i m , i t is a x i o m a t i c that r e l i g i o n rests o n an e x p e r i e n c e f r o m w h i c h i t draws its entire a u t h o r i t y . " T o h o l d its p r o p e r place as a l e g i t i m a t e e l e m e n t o f o u r consciousnesses," he says, " r e l i g i o n m u s t b e g i n , as does all o u r k n o w l e d g e , w i t h sense e x p e r i e n c e . " T a k i n g u p the o l d e m p i r i c i s t adage Nihil est in intellectu quod non antefuerit in sensu, * h e applies i t t o r e l i g i o n a n d asserts that there can be n o t h i n g i n t h e f a i t h that was n o t first i n the senses. H e r e is a d o c t r i n e that s e e m i n g l y o u g h t t o escape the ser i o u s o b j e c t i o n I raised t o a n i m i s m . I n d e e d , i t seems that r e l i g i o n must o f n e cessity appear, from this p o i n t o f v i e w , n o t as a k i n d o f vague and confused d r e a m i n g b u t as a system o f ideas a n d practices w e l l g r o u n d e d i n reality. B u t w h a t are the sense experiences that give rise t o religious t h o u g h t ? T h i s is the q u e s t i o n the study o f the Vedas s h o u l d have h e l p e d t o resolve. T h e names o f its gods are generally e i t h e r c o m m o n n o u n s still used as such o r archaic c o m m o n n o u n s w h o s e o r i g i n a l m e a n i n g can be recovered. B o t h designate the p r i n c i p a l p h e n o m e n a o f nature. T h u s at first Agni, the
9

""Nothing is in the mind that was not first in the senses. [Ernest] Renan must be counted among the writers who adopted that conception. See his Nouvelles études d'histoire religieuse [Paris, Caiman Lévy], 1884, p. 31.
8 7

Apart from his Comparative Mythology, the works of Max Muller in which his general theories of re-

ligion are presented are the following: The Hibbert Lectures [Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as

Illustrated by the Religions of India, London, Longmans, Green & Co.] (1878), translated into French under
the title Origine et développement de la religion [étudiés à la lumière des religions de l'Inde, Paris, C. Reinwald,

1879] ; Natural Religion [London, Longmans, 1889]; Physical Religion [London, Longmans, 1891]; Anthropological Religion [London, Longmans, \S92];Theosophy or Psychological Religion [London, Longmans,

1895]; Contributions to the Science of Mythology [London, Longmans, 1897]. Because of the relationships between the mythological theories of Max Muller and his linguistic philosophy, the foregoing works must be compared with those of his books that are devoted to language or to logic, in particular, Lectures on the Science of Language [London, Longmans, 1873], translated into French as Nouvelles leçons sur la science du langage], and The Science of Thought [London, Longmans, 1878].
9

Mùller, Natural Religion, p. 114.

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

71

name o f o n e o f India's p r i n c i p a l deities, m e a n t o n l y the natural p h e n o m e n o n o f fire as the senses perceive i t , w i t h o u t any m y t h o l o g i c a l a d d i t i o n . I n the Vedas themselves, i t is still used i n that m e a n i n g ; i n any case, the fact o f its preservation i n o t h e r I n d o - E u r o p e a n languages clearly shows that this m e a n i n g was p r i m i t i v e : T h e L a t i n ignis, t h e L i t h u a n i a n ugnis, and the ancient Slav ogny are close relatives o f Agni. Similarly, the k i n s h i p o f the Sanskrit Dyaus, the G r e e k Zeus, the L a t i n Jovis, a n d the H i g h G e r m a n Zio is u n d i s p u t e d t o day. T h a t k i n s h i p proves that these different w o r d s d e n o t e o n e and the same deity, r e c o g n i z e d as such b y different I n d o - E u r o p e a n peoples before t h e i r separation. N o w , Dyaus means " t h e b r i g h t sky." These facts and others like t h e m t e n d t o demonstrate that, a m o n g these peoples, t h e bodies a n d forces o f nature w e r e the first objects t o w h i c h r e l i g i o u s feeling became attached. T h e y w e r e the first things t o be deified. T a k i n g a f u r t h e r step a l o n g the r o a d t o g e n eralization, M a x M u l l e r b e l i e v e d he h a d v a l i d g r o u n d s f o r c o n c l u d i n g that the religious e v o l u t i o n o f h u m a n i t y i n general h a d t h e same starting p o i n t . H e justifies that inference almost exclusively w i t h p s y c h o l o g i c a l c o n s i d erations. T o h i m , t h e v a r i e d spectacles that nature offers t o m a n seem t o m e e t all the necessary c o n d i t i o n s f o r arousing t h e r e l i g i o u s idea i n the m i n d d i rectly. I n fact, he says, "at the first glance m e n cast u p o n the w o r l d , n o t h i n g appeared less n a t u r a l t o t h e m t h a n nature. N a t u r e was f o r t h e m t h e great surprise a n d the great fear; i t was a p e r m a n e n t m a r v e l a n d a p e r m a n e n t miracle. I t was o n l y later, w h e n m e n discovered t h e i r constancy, t h e i r invariance, and t h e i r regular recurrence, that c e r t a i n aspects o f that m i r a c l e w e r e called n a t u r a l , i n the sense that t h e y w e r e foreseen, o r d i n a r y , a n d i n t e l l i g i b l e . . . . I t is this vast d o m a i n o p e n t o feelings o f surprise a n d fear, this m a r v e l , this m i r a cle, this i m m e n s e u n k n o w n o p p o s e d t o w h a t is k n o w n . . . that p r o v i d e d the first i m p u l s e t o r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t a n d r e l i g i o u s l a n g u a g e . "
10

A n d , t o illustrate

his t h o u g h t , he applies i t t o a n a t u r a l force that has a large place i n Vedic r e l i g i o n : fire. " T r y , " he says, " t o transport y o u r s e l f b a c k w a r d i n t h o u g h t t o that stage i n p r i m i t i v e life w h e r e , o f necessity, o n e m u s t place the o r i g i n a n d even the first phases o f the r e l i g i o n o f nature; y o u w i l l find i t easy t o i m a g i n e w h a t i m p r e s s i o n the first appearance o f fire m u s t have made o n the h u m a n m i n d . N o matter h o w i t first appeared—whether i t came from lightning, whether it was obtained by rubbing tree branches against one another, or whether i t sprang forth as sparks from rocks—it was something that moved, that progressed, from w h i c h one had to protect oneself, that carried destruction w i t h i t ; but at the same time, i t was something that made life possible i n

'"Müller, Physical Religion, pp. 119-120.

72

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

winter, gave protection at night, and served as b o t h an offensive and a defensive weapon. Thanks to fire, man ceased to be a devourer o f raw meat and became an eater o f cooked foods. Later, i t was also by means o f fire that metals were worked, and tools and weapons made; i t thus became an indispensable factor i n all technical and artistic progress. Where w o u l d we be, even now, w i t h o u t fire?"
11

M a n c a n n o t enter i n t o relations w i t h nature w i t h o u t g a i n i n g a sense o f its i n f i n i t y and its i m m e n s i t y , as the same a u t h o r says i n a n o t h e r w o r k . I t surpasses h i m i n every d i r e c t i o n . B e y o n d t h e spaces he sees, there are others that stretch o u t limitlessly; each m o m e n t o f d u r a t i o n is preceded a n d f o l l o w e d b y a t i m e t o w h i c h n o l i m i t can be set; the force, since n o t h i n g exhausts i t . velops a n d dominates u s . are d e r i v e d .
1 4 13 1 2

flowing

r i v e r manifests an i n f i n i t e

T h e r e is n o aspect o f nature that is n o t

e q u i p p e d t o awaken i n us the o v e r w h e l m i n g sensation o f an i n f i n i t e that e n F o r M i i l l e r , i t is from this sensation that r e l i g i o n s
15

H o w e v e r , o n l y t h e i r seed was present i n the sensation.

R e l i g i o n is t r u l y

f o r m e d o n l y w h e n these n a t u r a l forces are n o l o n g e r c o n c e i v e d o f abstractly. T h e y must be t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o personal agents, l i v i n g a n d t h i n k i n g beings, s p i r i t u a l powers, gods; f o r the c u l t is usually addressed t o beings o f this sort. W e have seen that a n i m i s m , t o o , m u s t pose this q u e s t i o n , a n d h o w i t answers: M a n supposedly h a d some c e r t a i n i n b o r n i n a b i l i t y t o d i s t i n g u i s h the animate from the i n a n i m a t e , t o g e t h e r w i t h an irresistible urge t o conceive o f the
16

i n a n i m a t e i n animate f o r m . T h i s s o l u t i o n , M a x M i i l l e r rejects. fluence over t h o u g h t .

According

t o h i m , i t is language that b r o u g h t a b o u t t h e m e t a m o r p h o s i s , t h r o u g h its i n T h a t m e t a m o r p h o s i s is easily u n d e r s t o o d i n the f o l l o w i n g w a y : P u z z l e d b y these marvelous forces o n w h i c h t h e y felt d e p e n d e n t , m e n w e r e roused t o t h i n k a b o u t t h e m ; t h e y asked themselves w h a t those forces consisted o f and t r i e d t o replace the vague awareness t h e y o r i g i n a l l y h a d o f t h e m w i t h a clearer idea, a b e t t e r - d e f i n e d c o n c e p t . B u t as o u r a u t h o r q u i t e r i g h t l y says, "Ibid., p. 121; cf. p. 304.
12 17

Muller, Natural Religion, pp. 121ff., 149-155.

,3

"The overwhelming pressure of the infinite" (ibid., p. 138).

"Ibid., pp. 195-196. Max Miiller goes so far as to say that, when thought has not gone beyond that phase, it has only a very few of the features that we now impute to religion (Physical Religion, p. 120).
16 15

Ibid., p. 128.

"See Miiller, The Science of Thought, p. 30.

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

73

ideas a n d concepts are impossible w i t h o u t w o r d s . Language is n o t o n l y the o u t w a r d c l o t h i n g o f o u r t h o u g h t ; i t is t h o u g h t ' s i n t e r n a l skeleton. Language does n o t m e r e l y stand outside t h o u g h t , translating s o m e t h i n g that is already f o r m e d , b u t i n actuality serves t o f o r m t h o u g h t . H o w e v e r , since language has its o w n nature, its laws are n o t the same as those o f t h o u g h t . T h u s since l a n guage helps t o fashion t h o u g h t , i t is b o u n d t o d o a c e r t a i n measure o f v i o lence t o t h o u g h t a n d t o d i s t o r t i t . D i s t o r t i o n o f this k i n d supposedly gave rise t o t h e p e c u l i a r i t y o f o u r r e l i g i o u s representations. T o t h i n k is actually t o o r d e r a n d thus t o classify o u r ideas. T o t h i n k o f fire, f o r example, is t o place i t i n t o such a n d such category o f things, so as t o be able t o say i t is this o r that, this a n d n o t that. A t the same t i m e , t o classify is t o name, f o r a general idea has n o existence a n d n o reality except i n a n d t h r o u g h the w o r d that expresses i t , a n d t h a t alone makes i t w h a t i t is. So the language o f a p e o p l e always influences t h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h the n e w things that p e o p l e c o m e t o k n o w are classified i n t h e i r m i n d s — t h o s e things m u s t f i t i n t o p r e e x i s t i n g f r a m e w o r k s . F o r this reason, w h e n m e n set o u t t o m a k e a c o m p r e h e n s i v e representation o f the universe, t h e language they spoke i n d e l i b l y m a r k e d the system o f ideas that was t h e n b o r n . W e still k n o w some p a r t o f that language—at least t h e I n d o - E u r o p e a n peoples do. D e s p i t e its remoteness, o u r languages still c o n t a i n relics that e n able us t o i m a g i n e w h a t i t m u s t have been. These relics are the roots. M a x M u l l e r considers these r o o t w o r d s — t h e s e w o r d s from w h i c h the o t h e r w o r d s w e use are d e r i v e d a n d w h i c h are f o u n d as t h e basis o f all t h e I n d o - E u r o p e a n i d i o m s — a s so m a n y echoes o f the language s p o k e n b y t h e ancient p e o p l e b e fore t h e i r separation: that is, as t h e m o m e n t w h e n that r e l i g i o n o f nature, the object o f e x p l a n a t i o n , was b e i n g f o r m e d . N o w , the roots display t w o r e m a r k a b l e characteristics that, a l t h o u g h as yet w e l l d o c u m e n t e d f o r this particular g r o u p o f languages only, o u r a u t h o r believes t o be equally verifiable i n the o t h e r l i n g u i s t i c f a m i l i e s .
18

First, t h e roots are t y p i f i e d . T h a t is, t h e y express n o t p a r t i c u l a r things o r i n d i v i d u a l s b u t t y p e s — a n d i n d e e d types h a v i n g v e r y w i d e a p p l i c a t i o n . T h e y represent t h e m o s t general themes o f t h o u g h t . T h e f u n d a m e n t a l categories o f t h e m i n d that g o v e r n t h e w h o l e o f m e n t a l life at each h i s t o r i c a l m o m e n t — a n d w h o s e o r d e r p h i l o s o p h e r s have o f t e n t r i e d t o reconstruct—are f o u n d i n t h e m fixed a n d crystallized, as i t w e r e .
1 9

!8

Muller, Natural Religion, pp. 393ff.

"Muller, Physical Religion, p. 133; The Science ofThought, p. 219, Nouvelles leçons sut la science du langage,

vol. II, pp. Iff.

74

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

Second, the types t o w h i c h t h e y c o r r e s p o n d are types o f a c t i o n , n o t types o f objects. W h a t they express are t h e m o s t general ways o f a c t i n g that can be observed a m o n g l i v i n g things, p a r t i c u l a r l y a m o n g humans: t h e acts o f s t r i k i n g , p u s h i n g , r u b b i n g , t y i n g , l i f t i n g , pressing, c l i m b i n g , descending, w a l k i n g , a n d so o n . I n o t h e r w o r d s , m a n generalized a n d n a m e d his p r i n c i p a l modes o f a c t i o n before g e n e r a l i z i n g a n d n a m i n g the p h e n o m e n a o f n a t u r e .
20

B y v i r t u e o f t h e i r e x t r e m e generality, these w o r d s c o u l d easily be a p p l i e d t o all sorts o f objects that t h e y d i d n o t o r i g i n a l l y i n c l u d e . M o r e o v e r , this e x t r e m e suppleness enabled t h e m t o give b i r t h t o the m a n y w o r d s that are d e r i v e d from t h e m . So w h e n m a n , t u r n i n g t o things, set o u t t o name t h e m i n order t o be able t o t h i n k a b o u t t h e m , he a p p l i e d those w o r d s t o things even t h o u g h they had n o t been meant for things. B y v i r t u e o f their o r i g i n , they c o u l d designate the various forces o f nature o n l y b y those manifestations that m o s t resembled h u m a n actions: T h e t h u n d e r b o l t was called that thing that digs u p t h e g r o u n d w h e n i t descends o r spreads fire, t h e w i n d that thing that moans o r b l o w s , the sun that thing that hurls g o l d e n arrows t h o u g h space, the r i v e r that thing that runs, a n d so o n . B u t because n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a b e came assimilated t o h u m a n actions i n this way, this s o m e t h i n g t o w h i c h t h e y w e r e j o i n e d was o f necessity i m a g i n e d i n t h e f o r m o f personal agents m o r e o r less l i k e m a n . T h i s was o n l y a m e t a p h o r , b u t o n e that was taken literally. T h e e r r o r was i n e v i t a b l e because the science that alone c o u l d have swept away t h e i l l u s i o n d i d n o t yet exist. I n s u m , because i t was m a d e u p o f h u m a n elements that translated h u m a n states, language c o u l d n o t be a p p l i e d t o n a ture w i t h o u t transfiguring i t .
2 1

E v e n today, remarks M . B r e a l , i t s o m e h o w

slants the m a n n e r i n w h i c h w e i m a g i n e t h i n g s . " W e d o n o t express an idea, even w h e n i t m e r e l y denotes a quality, w i t h o u t g i v i n g i t a gender, that is t o say, a sex. W e c a n n o t speak o f an object, even i f i t is considered i n a general way, w i t h o u t specifying i t w i t h an article. E v e r y subject o f a sentence is p r e sented as an a c t i n g b e i n g , every idea as an a c t i o n , a n d the d u r a t i o n o f each a c t i o n , passing o r p e r m a n e n t , as d e l i m i t e d b y t h e tense i n w h i c h w e p u t the verb."
22

O f course, o u r scientific c u l t u r e makes i t easy f o r us t o c o r r e c t the

errors that language m i g h t t h e r e b y suggest t o us, b u t the i n f l u e n c e o f w o r d s m u s t have b e e n all p o w e r f u l w h e n t h e y h a d n o c o u n t e r w e i g h t . T h u s , u p o n the physical w o r l d , as i t is revealed t o o u r senses, language s u p e r i m p o s e d a

20

Muller, The Science of Thought, p. 272.

21

Ibid., vol. I, p. 327; Physical Religion, pp. 125ff. [Michel Jules Alfred Bréal], Mélanges de mythologie et de linguistique [Paris, Hachette, 1877], p. 8.

2 2

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

75

n e w w o r l d , a w o r l d c o m p r i s i n g o n l y s p i r i t u a l beings that i t h a d created o u t o f n o t h i n g a n d that w e r e f r o m t h e n o n regarded as t h e d e t e r m i n i n g causes o f physical p h e n o m e n a . M o r e o v e r , the w o r k i n g s o f language d i d n o t stop there. O n c e w o r d s h a d b e e n f o r g e d t o designate these personalities, w h i c h p o p u l a r i m a g i n a t i o n had p u t b e h i n d things, the personalities reacted u p o n the words themselves, thereby creating the riddles o f all k i n d s that the m y t h s w e r e i n v e n t e d t o solve. Sometimes a single object received several names c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o the several aspects i n w h i c h i t presented itself t o experience. So i t came about that there are m o r e t h a n t w e n t y w o r d s i n the Vedas t o denote the sky. B e i n g different, the w o r d s w e r e believed t o c o r r e s p o n d t o as m a n y distinct personalities. B u t at the same t i m e , these personalities w e r e strongly felt t o have an air o f kinship. T o account f o r that kinship, they were i m a g i n e d as f o r m i n g one family; g e nealogies, a m a r i t a l status, a n d a h i s t o r y w e r e i n v e n t e d f o r t h e m . I n o t h e r cases, different things were designated b y a single t e r m . T o e x p l a i n h o w different things came t o have the same name, i t was a l l o w e d that the c o r r e s p o n d i n g things w e r e really transformations o f o n e another; a n d n e w fictions were f o r g e d t o m a k e these metamorphoses i n t e l l i g i b l e . O r again, a w o r d that h a d ceased t o be u n d e r s t o o d was the o r i g i n o f fables i n t e n d e d t o give i t a m e a n i n g . T h u s the creative w o r k o f language c o n t i n u e d , i n ever m o r e c o m p l e x constructions. A n d as m y t h o l o g y came t o e n d o w each g o d w i t h an ever m o r e extensive a n d c o m p l e t e biography, the d i v i n e personalities, at first u n d i s t i n guished from things, n o w separated f r o m things and s t o o d o n t h e i r o w n . T h u s , supposedly, t h e n o t i o n o f t h e d i v i n e was f o r m e d . T h e r e l i g i o n o f the ancestors? O n l y an echo o f the earlier r e l i g i o n .
2 3

A c c o r d i n g t o this t h e -

ory, the idea o f the s o u l was f o r m e d f o r reasons rather similar t o those T y l o r gave, except that, f o r M a x M i i l l e r , the p u r p o s e o f that idea was t o a c c o u n t f o r death, n o t f o r d r e a m s . cidental) c i r c u m s t a n c e s , timately
25 24

T h e n , u n d e r t h e i n f l u e n c e o f various ( i n part, act h e souls o f m e n , o n c e separated from t h e body,

w e r e d r a w n l i t d e b y l i t t l e i n t o t h e circle o f d i v i n e beings, a n d thus w e r e u l d e i f i e d as w e l l . B u t this n e w c u l t was m e r e l y t h e p r o d u c t o f a secFurther proof: Deified men have very often been ondary formation.

23

Müller, Anthropological Religion, pp. 128—130.

This explanation, however, is no better than [Edward Burnett] Tylor's. According to Max Müller, man was unable to accept that life ended with death. For that reason, he concluded that there are two beings in him, one of which survives the body. It is hard to see what could have made people believe that life continues, when the body is in full decomposition.
25

24

See for details, Müller, Anthropological Religion, pp. 35Iff.

76

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

i m p e r f e c t gods, o r d e m i g o d s , w h i c h all peoples have always k n o w n h o w t o distinguish f r o m deities p r o p e r .
26

II
T h i s d o c t r i n e rests i n p a r t o n v a r i o u s l i n g u i s t i c postulates that w e r e t h e n a n d still are v e r y m u c h i n dispute. Scholars have q u e s t i o n e d t h e reality o f m a n y concordances that M a x M i i l l e r t h o u g h t h e saw a m o n g t h e names o f gods i n the various E u r o p e a n languages. T h e y have especially cast d o u b t o n his i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e m : T h e y have q u e s t i o n e d w h e t h e r , far f r o m b e i n g t h e m a r k o f a v e r y p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n , t h e concordances m i g h t n o t be t h e late r e sult o f e i t h e r d i r e c t b o r r o w i n g s o r n a t u r a l interchange a m o n g peoples.
27

M o r e o v e r , i t is n o l o n g e r accepted t o d a y that roots c o u l d have existed i n i s o l a t i o n as a u t o n o m o u s realities—or, consequently, that t h e y enable us even h y p o t h e t i c a l l y t o r e c o n s t r u c t t h e p r i m i t i v e language o f t h e I n d o - E u r o p e a n peoples.
28

Finally, recent studies w o u l d t e n d t o p r o v e that n o t all t h e V e d i c
2 9

deities h a d t h e exclusively naturist q u a l i t y that M a x M i i l l e r a n d his s c h o o l attributed to t h e m . B u t I w i l l leave aside questions w h o s e e x a m i n a t i o n p r e supposes the linguist's v e r y specialized c o m p e t e n c e , i n o r d e r t o take u p t h e general p r i n c i p l e s o f t h e system. Besides, t h e n a t u r i s t idea s h o u l d n o t be t o o closely m i n g l e d w i t h t h e d i s p u t e d postulates, f o r that idea is accepted b y a n u m b e r o f scholars w h o d o n o t ascribe t o language t h e d o m i n a n t role M a x Miiller did. T h a t m a n has an interest i n k n o w i n g t h e w o r l d a r o u n d h i m a n d that, consequendy, his r e f l e c t i o n was q u i c k l y a p p l i e d t o i t , everyone w i l l readily accept. T h e h e l p o f the things w i t h w h i c h h e was i n i m m e d i a t e c o n t a c t was so necessary t h a t h e i n e v i t a b l y t r i e d t o investigate t h e i r nature. B u t i f , as n a -

Ibid., p. 130. This does not stop Max Miiller from seeing Christianity as the high point of this entire development. The religion of the ancestors, he says, assumes there is something divine in man. Is that not the idea that is at the basis of the teaching of Christ (ibid., pp. 3788)? There is no need to emphasize what is odd about a conception that makes Christianity the culmination of the cult of the dead.
27

26

On this same point, see the critique to which Gruppe subjects the hypotheses of Max Miiller in

Crieschischen Kulte und Mythen, pp. 79—184. ^See [Antoine] Meillet, Introduction à l'étude comparative des langues indo-européennes [Paris, Hachette,

1903], p. 119. [Herman] Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda [Berlin, W. Hertz, 1844], pp. 59ff.; [Antoine] Meillet, "Le Dieu Iranien Mithra,"J/4, vol. X, no. 1 (July-August 1907), pp. 143ff.
29

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

77

t u r i s m contends, r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t was b o r n from these p a r t i c u l a r reflections, t h e n i t becomes i n e x p l i c a b l e that r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t s h o u l d have surv i v e d t h e first tests made, a n d u n i n t e l l i g i b l e that religious t h o u g h t has b e e n m a i n t a i n e d . I f , i n fact, w e have a n e e d t o k n o w things, i t is i n o r d e r t o act i n a m a n n e r appropriate t o t h e m . B u t the representation o f the universe that r e l i g i o n gives us, especially at the b e g i n n i n g , is t o o grossly i n c o m p l e t e t o have b e e n able t o b r i n g a b o u t practices that h a d secular u t i l i t y . A c c o r d i n g t o that representation o f the universe, things are n o t h i n g less t h a n l i v i n g , t h i n k i n g beings—consciousnesses a n d personalities l i k e those the religious i m a g i n a t i o n has m a d e i n t o the agents o f cosmic p h e n o m e n a . So i t is n o t b y c o n c e i v i n g o f t h e m i n that f o r m a n d t r e a t i n g t h e m a c c o r d i n g t o that n o t i o n that m a n c o u l d have m a d e t h e m h e l p f u l t o h i m . I t is n o t b y p r a y i n g t o t h e m , celebrati n g t h e m i n feasts a n d sacrifices, a n d i m p o s i n g fasts a n d p r i v a t i o n s o n h i m s e l f that he c o u l d have p r e v e n t e d t h e m from h a r m i n g h i m o r o b l i g e d t h e m t o serve his purposes. S u c h procedures c o u l d have succeeded o n l y o n v e r y rare occasions—miraculously, so t o speak. I f the p o i n t o f r e l i g i o n was t o give us a representation o f the w o r l d that w o u l d g u i d e us i n o u r dealings w i t h i t , t h e n r e l i g i o n was i n n o p o s i t i o n t o c a r r y o u t its f u n c t i o n , a n d h u m a n i t y w o u l d n o t have b e e n s l o w t o n o t i c e that fact: Failures, i n f i n i t e l y m o r e c o m m o n t h a n successes, w o u l d have n o t i f i e d t h e m v e r y q u i c k l y that they w e r e o n the w r o n g p a t h ; a n d r e l i g i o n , constantly shaken b y these constant d i s a p p o i n t ments, w o u l d have b e e n unable t o last. N o d o u b t , sometimes an e r r o r does i n d e e d perpetuate itself i n history. B u t b a r r i n g an altogether unusual c o n j u n c t i o n o f circumstances, i t c a n n o t m a i n t a i n itself this w a y unless i t proves t o be practically true—that is t o say, i f , w h i l e n o t g i v i n g us a c o r r e c t t h e o r e t i c a l idea o f the things t o w h i c h i t is r e lated, i t expresses c o r r e c t l y e n o u g h the m a n n e r i n w h i c h those things affect us, f o r better o r f o r worse. U n d e r those c o n d i t i o n s , b e h a v i o r d e c i d e d u p o n f o r the w r o n g reasons has every chance o f b e i n g the r i g h t behavior, at least overall; a n d so w h y t h e e r r o r c o u l d have s u r v i v e d the test o f experience b e comes u n d e r s t a n d a b l e .
30

O n the o t h e r h a n d , an error, and especially an o r -

ganized system o f errors that leads a n d can o n l y lead t o practical setbacks, is n o t viable. W h a t is there i n c o m m o n b e t w e e n t h e rites b y w h i c h the faithful have t r i e d t o act o n nature a n d the procedures that t h e sciences have t a u g h t us t o use a n d that w e n o w k n o w t o be the o n l y effective ones? I f that is w h a t m e n asked o f r e l i g i o n , w e c a n n o t u n d e r s t a n d w h y r e l i g i o n s h o u l d have b e e n able t o survive, unless clever t r i c k s p r e v e n t e d t h e m from n o t i c i n g that i t d i d

30

This is applicable to numerous maxims of popular wisdom.

78

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

n o t give t h e m w h a t t h e y e x p e c t e d o f i t . I t w o u l d therefore b e j u s t as w e l l t o go back once m o r e t o t h e simplistic explanations o f the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y .
31

O n l y i n appearance, therefore, does n a t u r i s m escape the o b j e c t i o n I made against a n i m i s m a short w h i l e ago. Since n a t u r i s m reduces r e l i g i o n t o n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n an i m m e n s e m e t a p h o r w i t h o u t objective f o u n d a t i o n , * i t t o o makes r e l i g i o n o u t t o be a system o f h a l l u c i n a t o r y images. I t does, o f course, assign r e l i g i o n a p o i n t o f departure i n r e a l i t y — n a m e l y , the sensations that the p h e n o m e n a o f nature i n d u c e i n us; b u t b y t h e m a g i c a l w o r k i n g s o f language, this sensation is t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o bizarre ideas. R e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t comes i n t o contact w i t h reality o n l y t o s h r o u d i t straightaway w i t h a t h i c k veil that hides its t r u e f o r m s , this v e i l b e i n g the fabric o f fabulous beliefs s p u n by m y t h o l o g y . T h u s , h k e the d e l i r i o u s i n d i v i d u a l , the believer lives i n a w o r l d p o p u l a t e d w i t h beings a n d things that have o n l y a verbal existence. W h a t is m o r e , M a x M i l l i e r h i m s e l f recognizes this, since f o r h i m m y t h s arise f r o m a malady o f t h o u g h t . A t first, he ascribed t h e m t o a m a l a d y o f language, b u t since language a n d t h o u g h t are inseparable t o h i m , w h a t is t r u e o f one is t r u e o f the other. " W h e n I t r i e d b r i e f l y t o characterize the i n n e r nature o f m y t h o l o g y , " he says, " I called i t a malady o f language m o r e t h a n a o n e o f t h o u g h t . B u t after all I h a d said i n m y b o o k The Science of Thought about the inseparability o f t h o u g h t a n d language, a n d therefore a b o u t the absolute i d e n tity b e t w e e n a malady o f language a n d o n e o f t h o u g h t , n o f u r t h e r e q u i v o c a tion seemed possible. . . . D e p i c t i n g the h i g h G o d as g u i l t y o f every c r i m e , t r i c k e d b y m e n , o u t o f sorts w i t h his w i f e , a n d b e a t i n g his c h i l d r e n , is surely s y m p t o m a t i c o f an a b n o r m a l c o n d i t i o n o r a malady o f t h o u g h t , o r better, o f madness o u t r i g h t . "
3 2

T h i s a r g u m e n t is v a l i d n o t o n l y against M a x M i l l i e r a n d

* Valeur objective. Compare the similar passage on p. 80. It is true that this argument does not change the minds of those who see religion as a technique (especially a hygienic technique), the rules of which were well founded, even if sanctioned by imaginary beings. But I will not tarry here to criticize an idea that is so untenable and that, in fact, has never been argued systematically by minds that were even minimally well informed in the history of religions. It is difficult to show in what way the terrible practices of initiation sustain the health that they place in jeopardy; in what way the dietary prohibitions, which very commonly apply to perfecdy wholesome animals, are hygienic; in what way sacrifices, which took place during the building of a house, made the house more solid, and so forth. No doubt, there are religious precepts that turn out to have technical utility at the same time, but they disappear in the mass of others. And indeed, very often the services that they do render have their opposites. If there is a religious prophylaxis, there is also a religiousfilthderiving from the same principles. The commandment to take the deceased person awayfromthe camp because he is the seat of a dreaded spirit has practical utility. But the same belief has the relatives anointing themselves with the liquids that comefromthe body as it rots, because they are thought to have exceptional virtues. In matters technical, magic has served more often than religion.
32

31

Mùller, [Etudes de mythologie comparée, pp. 51—52].

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

79

his t h e o r y b u t against the v e r y p r i n c i p l e o f n a t u r i s m , h o w e v e r applied. D o w h a t w e may, i f expressing the forces o f nature is m a d e o u t t o be the p r i n c i pal object o f r e l i g i o n , i t is impossible t o see r e l i g i o n as a n y t h i n g o t h e r t h a n a system o f d e c e i v i n g fictions, the survival o f w h i c h is i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e . T r u e , M a x M u l l e r t h o u g h t he escaped that o b j e c t i o n , t h e seriousness o f w h i c h he sensed, b y radically d i s t i n g u i s h i n g m y t h o l o g y f r o m r e l i g i o n a n d e x c l u d i n g i t f r o m r e l i g i o n . H e claims the r i g h t t o reserve the name " r e l i g i o n " o n l y f o r beliefs that c o n f o r m t o the prescriptions o f w h o l e s o m e m o r a l i t y and t o t h e teachings o f a r a t i o n a l t h e o l o g y . H e considered m y t h s , o n the o t h e r h a n d , t o have b e e n parasitic developments that, u n d e r the i n f l u e n c e o f l a n guage, came t o graft themselves o n t o t h e f u n d a m e n t a l representations and p e r v e r t t h e m . T h u s , f o r h i m , t h e b e l i e f i n Zeus was r e l i g i o u s t o the e x t e n t that the Greeks saw Z e u s as a supreme G o d , father o f h u m a n i t y , p r o t e c t o r o f laws, avenger o f c r i m e s , a n d so f o r t h . B u t e v e r y t h i n g a b o u t t h e b i o g r a p h y o f Zeus, his marriages a n d his adventures, was o n l y m y t h o l o g y .
3 3

B u t this d i s t i n c t i o n is arbitrary. W h i l e there is n o d o u b t that m y t h o l o g y is i m p o r t a n t t o aesthetics as w e l l as t o the science o f religions, i t is n o n e t h e less o n e o f the essential elements o f r e l i g i o u s life. I f m y t h is w i t h d r a w n f r o m r e l i g i o n , r i t u a l m u s t also be w i t h d r a w n : R i t e s are m o s t c o m m o n l y addressed t o d e f i n i t e personalities that have a name, a character, d e f i n i t e attributes, a n d a h i s t o r y ; a n d those v a r y a c c o r d i n g t o t h e w a y i n w h i c h t h e personalities are c o n c e i v e d . T h e c u l t o n e renders t o t h e d e i t y depends o n the f o r m ascribed t o that deity. I n d e e d the r i t e is often n o t h i n g o t h e r t h a n t h e m y t h i n a c t i o n . T h e C h r i s t i a n c o m m u n i o n is inseparable f r o m t h e paschal m y t h f r o m w h i c h i t takes its entire m e a n i n g . T h u s i f all m y t h o l o g y results from a sort o f verbal d e l u s i o n , t h e q u e s t i o n I posed remains intact: T h e existence and, above all, the persistence o f t h e c u l t b e c o m e i n e x p l i c a b l e . I t does n o t m a k e sense that m e n c o u l d g o o n d o i n g things f o r centuries, poindessly. Besides, i t is n o t o n l y t h e p a r t i c u l a r traits o f d i v i n e figures t h a t are specified b y the m y t h s . T h e v e r y idea that there are gods, s p i r i t u a l beings, a n d custodians assigned t o v a r ious departments o f nature is essentially m y t h i c a l , n o m a t t e r h o w those b e ings are d e p i c t e d .
34

W h a t remains i f o n e takes away from t h e religions o f the

See Miiller, Science du langage [vol. II, p. 147]; and Physical Religion, pp. 276ff. In the same vein is Bréal, Mélanges de mythologie et de linguistique, p. 6: "To bring to the question of the origin of mythology the necessary clarity, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the gods, who are a direct product of human intellect, from the legends, which are only its indirect and involuntary product." Max Muller recognizes this. See Physical Religion, p. 132, and Mythologie Comparée, p. 58. "The gods," he says, "are nomina [names] and not numina [shades], names without being and not beings without name."
34

33

80

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

past e v e r y t h i n g that rests o n the n o t i o n o f gods c o n c e i v e d as cosmic agents? T h e idea o f d i v i n i t y i n itself, o f a transcendent p o w e r t o w h i c h m a n is subo r d i n a t e a n d o n w h i c h he leans? B u t t h a t is a p h i l o s o p h i c a l and abstract c o n c e p t i o n that has never b e e n realized as such i n any h i s t o r i c a l r e l i g i o n ; i t is w i t h o u t interest f o r the science o f r e l i g i o n s .
35

L e t us therefore guard against

differentiating a m o n g r e l i g i o u s beliefs, k e e p i n g some because they seem j u s t and w h o l e s o m e , t o us, a n d r e j e c t i n g others as u n w o r t h y o f b e i n g called r e l i gious because t h e y o f f e n d a n d unsetde us. A l l m y t h s , even those w e f i n d m o s t unreasonable, have b e e n objects o f f a i t h .
3 6

M a n b e l i e v e d i n t h e m n o less with

t h a n i n his o w n sensations; he regulated his c o n d u c t i n accordance f o u n d a t i o n [fondement objectif].

t h e m . Despite appearances, therefore, t h e y c a n n o t be w i t h o u t objective Nevertheless, i t w i l l be said, n o m a t t e r h o w r e l i g i o n s are e x p l a i n e d , they have c e r t a i n l y e r r e d a b o u t t h e t r u e nature o f things: T h e sciences have d e m o n s t r a t e d that. So the modes o f a c t i o n t h e y e n c o u r a g e d o r i m p o s e d u p o n m a n c o u l d o n l y rarely have h a d useful effects: I t is n o t w i t h p u r i f i c a tions that sicknesses are c u r e d , o r w i t h sacrifices o r songs that t h e c r o p is made t o g r o w . I n this way, the o b j e c t i o n that I have made against n a t u r i s m seems applicable t o all possible systems o f e x p l a n a t i o n . B u t there is o n e that escapes i t . L e t us suppose that r e l i g i o n answers a n e e d q u i t e different from adapting us t o tangible things^ T h e r e w i l l be n o risk o f its b e i n g w e a k e n e d solely because i t satisfies this n e e d p o o r l y o r n o t at all. I f religious faith was n o t b o r n t o place m a n i n h a r m o n y w i t h the physical w o r l d , the errors i t m i g h t have caused h i m t o m a k e i n his struggle w i t h the w o r l d w o u l d n o t h a r m i t at its source, since i t is fed f r o m another. I f i t was n o t for such reasons that people w e r e l e d t o believe, t h e y must have g o n e o n b e l i e v i n g even w h e n those reasons w e r e c o n t r a d i c t e d b y the facts. O n e even imagines that faith c o u l d have b e e n rather strong, strong e n o u g h n o t o n l y t o

Granted, Max Miiller holds that,forthe Greeks, "Zeus was and remained the name of the supreme deity despite all the mythological obscurities" (Science du Langage [vol. II, p. 173]). I will not dispute that assertion, which in historical terms is quite disputable; but in any case, that conception of Zeus could never be other than a glimmering amid the totality of the Greeks' religious beliefs. Moreover, in a later work, Max Miiller goes as far as to make the very idea of god in general the product of a wholly verbal process and, in consequence, a mythological elaboration (Physical Religion, p. 138). Apart from myths proper, there certainly have always been fables that were not believed or, at least, were not believed to the same degree and in the same manner and that for this reason were not religious in character. The line of demarcation between fables and myths is certainlyfluidand hard to determine. But this is no reason to make all the myths into fables, any more than we would dream of making all the fables into myths. There is at least one characteristic that is sufficient in many cases to differentiate the religious myth, and that is its relationship to the cult.
36

35

The Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

81

endure such c o n t r a d i c t i o n s b u t also t o d e n y t h e m a n d i n h i b i t the believer f r o m p e r c e i v i n g t h e i r i m p o r t — t h u s m a k i n g t h e m harmless t o r e l i g i o n . W h e n a religious feeling is strong, i t does n o t accept that r e l i g i o n c o u l d be guilty, a n d i t readily p r o m p t s explanations that acquit r e l i g i o n : I f the r i t e does n o t p r o duce the e x p e c t e d results, the failure is i m p u t e d either t o some flaw o f e x e c u t i o n o r t o the i n t e r v e n t i o n o f a c o n t r a r y deity. B u t for that t o occur, religious ideas must n o t d r a w t h e i r o r i g i n from a feeling that is disturbed b y the setbacks o f experience, f o r o t h e r w i s e , w h e r e w o u l d t h e i r resilience c o m e from?

Ill
W h a t is m o r e , even t h o u g h m a n m i g h t have h a d reason t o go o n e x p l a i n i n g the cosmic p h e n o m e n a w i t h r e l i g i o u s symbols, despite every setback, still those symbols w o u l d have t o have b e e n t h e k i n d that suggest such i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . W h e r e w o u l d t h e y have a c q u i r e d such a p r o p e r t y ? H e r e again, w e c o m e face t o face w i t h o n e o f those postulates that seem o b v i o u s o n l y b e cause t h e y have n o t b e e n e x a m i n e d critically. I t is set u p as a x i o m a t i c that the natural play o f physical forces has all i t takes t o arouse t h e idea o f the sacred i n us. B u t w h e n the evidence (sketchy, b y the w a y ) that has b e e n a d d u c e d t o s u p p o r t this p r o p o s i t i o n is e x a m i n e d m o r e closely, w e n o t i c e that i t boils d o w n t o a p r e c o n c e i v e d idea. W e talk a b o u t t h e a m a z e m e n t that m e n m u s t have felt as t h e y discovered the w o r l d . B u t i t is a r e g u l a r i t y shading o f f i n t o m o n o t o n y that above all characterizes t h e life o f nature. E v e r y m o r n i n g , the sun c l i m b s t h e h o r i z o n , a n d every e v e n i n g i t sets; every m o n t h , t h e m o o n completes t h e same cycle; t h e r i v e r flows u n i n t e r r u p t e d l y i n its b e d ; the same seasons p e r i o d i c a l l y b r i n g b a c k t h e same sensory experiences. S o m e u n e x p e c t e d event occurs here a n d there, n o d o u b t : T h e sun is eclipsed, t h e m o o n disappears b e h i n d t h e clouds, the r i v e r floods. B u t these passing disturbances can never give b i r t h t o a n y t h i n g b u t e q u a l l y passing impressions, the m e m o r y o f w h i c h is erased after a t i m e ; so t h e y c o u l d n o t possibly serve as t h e basis o f those stable a n d p e r m a n e n t systems o f ideas a n d practices that c o n s t i t u t e religions. O r d i n a r i l y , the course o f nature is u n i f o r m , a n d u n i f o r m i t y c a n n o t p r o d u c e s t r o n g e m o tions. T o c o n c e i v e the savage as b e i n g f u l l o f a d m i r a t i o n before these marvels is t o transfer t o the o r i g i n o f h i s t o r y feelings that are m u c h m o r e m o d e r n . H e is t o o used t o those marvels t o be p o w e r f u l l y surprised. I t takes i n t e l l e c t u a l c u l t i v a t i o n a n d r e f l e c t i o n t o shake o f f this y o k e o f h a b i t a n d discover all that is a m a z i n g even i n that v e r y regularity. F u r t h e r m o r e , as I observed e a r l i e r ,
37

37

See above p. 25.

82

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

i t is n o t e n o u g h that w e a d m i r e an o b j e c t f o r i t t o appear t o us as sacred— that is, f o r i t t o be m a r k e d w i t h the q u a l i t y that makes all d i r e c t contact w i t h i t seem a p r o f a n a t i o n a n d a sacrilege. W e m i s u n d e r s t a n d w h a t is specific t o religious feeling i f w e confuse i t w i t h every i m p r e s s i o n o f a d m i r i n g surprise. B u t f a d i n g a d m i r a t i o n , some say, there is o n e i m p r e s s i o n that m a n c a n n o t help b u t feel i n the presence o f nature. H e c a n n o t enter i n t o relations w i t h nature w i t h o u t r e a l i z i n g that i t goes as far as he can be, o r see, and t h e n b e y o n d that. Its i m m e n s i t y o v e r w h e l m s h i m . T h a t sensation o f an i n f i n i t e space s u r r o u n d i n g h i m , o f an i n f i n i t e t i m e p r e c e d i n g a n d t o f o l l o w the present m o m e n t , o f forces i n f i n i t e l y s u p e r i o r t o those at his disposal, cannot fail t o arouse the idea inside h i m that there is an i n f i n i t e p o w e r outside h i m t o w h i c h h e is subject. T h i s idea t h e n enters i n t o o u r c o n c e p t i o n o f the d i v i n e as an essential e l e m e n t . B u t let us r e m e m b e r w h a t is at issue. T h e q u e s t i o n is h o w m a n c o u l d have a r r i v e d at t h i n k i n g that there are, i n reality, t w o categories o f radically heterogeneous a n d i n c o m p a r a b l e things. H o w c o u l d the p a n o r a m a o f nature have g i v e n us the idea o f that duality? N a t u r e is always a n d e v e r y w h e r e i d e n tical t o itself. I t does n o t m a t t e r that nature extends t o the i n f i n i t e : B e y o n d the farthest l i m i t o f m y gaze, i t does n o t differ f r o m w h a t i t is this side. T h e space that I conceive b e y o n d the h o r i z o n is still space, i d e n t i c a l t o the space I see. T h e t i m e that passes endlessly is m a d e u p o f m o m e n t s i d e n t i c a l t o those I have l i v e d t h r o u g h . Space, l i k e t i m e , repeats itself i n d e f i n i t e l y ; i f t h e p o r tions o f i t that I reach have n o sacredness i n themselves, h o w c o u l d the o t h ers have any? T h e fact that I d o n o t perceive t h e m d i r e c d y is n o t sufficient t o transform t h e m .
3 8

I t makes n o difference f o r a w o r l d o f profane things t o be

limitless; i t remains a profane w o r l d . D o e s o n e say that the physical forces w i t h w h i c h w e i n t e r a c t exceed o u r o w n ? B u t the sacred forces are n o t dist i n g u i s h e d f r o m the profane m e r e l y b y t h e i r greater i n t e n s i t y ; t h e y are different; t h e y have special qualities that the profane have n o t . O n the o t h e r h a n d , all those forces manifest i n the u n i v e r s e — b o t h those i n us a n d those outside us—are o f the same nature. M o s t o f all, w h a t c o u l d have enabled us t o l e n d any sort o f p r e e m i n e n c e t o some, as c o m p a r e d t o others? N o t h i n g . So i f r e l i g i o n was really b o r n o u t o f the n e e d t o assign causes t o physical p h e n o m -

Furthermore, there is actual twisting of words in Max Miiller's language. Sense experience, he says, implies, at least in certain cases, "that beyond the known there is something unknown, something that I ask
permission to call infinite" (Natural Religion, p. 195. Cf. p. 218). The unknown is no more necessarily the in-

38

finite than the infinite is necessarily the unknown—if it is totally identical to itself and, thus, to what we do know about it. It would have to be shown that what we perceive of the infinite is different in nature from what we do not.

Tlie Leading Conceptions of the Elementary Religion (Continuation)

83

ena, the forces i m a g i n e d i n this w a y w o u l d n o t be m o r e sacred t h a n those that the scientist o f t o d a y conceives o f i n a c c o u n t i n g f o r the same facts. T h e r e w o u l d n o t have b e e n sacred b e i n g s — o r , consequently, r e l i g i o n . Furthermore, even supposing that this sensation o f "being overw h e l m e d " really c o u l d suggest t h e idea o f r e l i g i o n , i t w o u l d n o t have had that effect o n the p r i m i t i v e — f o r that sensation he does n o t have. H e has absolutely n o awareness that cosmic forces are so far s u p e r i o r t o his o w n . B e cause science has n o t yet c o m e t o teach h i m modesty, he ascribes t o h i m s e l f a d o m i n i o n over things that h e does n o t have, b u t the i l l u s i o n o f i t is e n o u g h t o p r e v e n t h i m f r o m f e e l i n g d o m i n a t e d b y t h e m . A s I have said, he believes he can t e l l t h e elements w h a t t o d o : u n c h a i n t h e w i n d , force the r a i n t o fall, stop the sun w i t h a wave o f t h e h a n d , e t c .
40 39

R e l i g i o n itself helps t o give h i m

that security, f o r i t is b e l i e v e d t o a r m h i m w i t h b r o a d p o w e r s over nature. I n part, the rites are m e a n t t o enable h i m t o i m p o s e his wishes o n the w o r l d . T h u s , far from b e i n g i n s p i r e d b y a sense m a n has o f his smallness before the universe, r e l i g i o n s have t h e opposite i n s p i r a t i o n . T h e effect o f even the m o s t elevated and idealistic is o n e o f reassuring m a n i n his struggle w i t h things. I t professes that f a i t h , b y itself, is able " t o m o v e m o u n t a i n s " — t h a t is, t o d o m i nate the forces o f nature. H o w c o u l d t h e y p r o v i d e this c o n f i d e n c e i f t h e i r o r i g i n really was a sensation o f weakness a n d powerlessness? F u r t h e r m o r e , i f n a t u r a l things t r u l y h a d b e c o m e sacred beings b y v i r t u e o f t h e i r i m p o s i n g f o r m s o r t h e force t h e y display, w e w o u l d observe that the sun, t h e m o o n , t h e sky, the m o u n t a i n s , the sea, the w i n d s — i n short, the great cosmic phenomena—-were the first t o be l i f t e d t o that status; n o n e are better e q u i p p e d t o dazzle the senses a n d the i m a g i n a t i o n . B u t i n fact, the great cosmic p h e n o m e n a w e r e n o t d e i f i e d u n t i l fairly recent times. T h e first beings t o w h i c h the c u l t was addressed—the p r o o f o f this w i l l be g i v e n i n the chapters t o f o l l o w — a r e h u m b l e plants a n d animals i n r e l a t i o n t o w h i c h m a n f o u n d h i m s e l f o n an equal f o o t i n g at the v e r y least: t h e d u c k , the hare, the kangaroo, t h e e m u , the lizard, the caterpillar, t h e frog, a n d so f o r t h . T h e i r objective qualities surely c o u l d n o t have b e e n the o r i g i n o f the r e l i g i o u s feelings t h e y i n s p i r e d . This Max Miiller unintentionally acknowledges in certain places. He admits seeing little difference between the notion of Agni, the god of fire, and the notion of ether by which the modern physicist explains light and heat (Physical Religion, pp. 126-127). Besides, he connects the idea of divinity to that of agency (p. 138), to an idea of causality that is in no way natural and profane. The fact that religion depicts the causes thus conceived in the form of personal agents is insufficient to explain why those causes should have sacredness. A personal agent can be profane, and, besides, many religious forces are essentially impersonal. When I come to speak about rites and about faith in their efficacy, we will see how these illusions can be understood (Bk. Ill, chap. 2).
40 39

CHAPTER FOUR

TOTEMISM AS ELEMENTARY RELIGION
Review of the Question—Method of Treating It

A

l t h o u g h seemingly q u i t e opposed i n t h e i r conclusions, the t w o systems I have j u s t e x a m i n e d are nonetheless i n agreement o n a fundamental

p o i n t : T h e y frame the p r o b l e m i n i d e n t i c a l terms. B o t h set o u t t o c o n s t r u c t the n o t i o n o f the d i v i n e o u t o f the sensations that c e r t a i n natural p h e n o m e n a , either physical o r b i o l o g i c a l , arouse i n us. A c c o r d i n g t o the animists, dreams w e r e t h e starting p o i n t o f r e l i g i o u s e v o l u t i o n ; a c c o r d i n g t o the naturists, cert a i n cosmic manifestations w e r e . A c c o r d i n g t o b o t h , however, the seed o f the great o p p o s i t i o n b e t w e e n the sacred a n d the profane is t o be f o u n d i n nature. B u t such an enterprise is impossible. I t assumes a veritable c r e a t i o n o u t o f n o t h i n g . N o fact o f o r d i n a r y e x p e r i e n c e can give us t h e idea o f s o m e t h i n g w h o s e d e f i n i n g t r a i t is t o be outside t h e w o r l d o f o r d i n a r y experience. A m a n as he appears t o h i m s e l f i n his dreams is o n l y a m a n . T h e natural forces that o u r senses perceive are o n l y n a t u r a l forces, h o w e v e r intense they m a y be. H e n c e m y c r i t i c i s m o f b o t h d o c t r i n e s . T o e x p l a i n h o w these supposed data o f r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t c o u l d take o n a sacredness that has n o objective basis, they h a d t o a d o p t t h e n o t i o n that a w h o l e w o r l d * o f h a l l u c i n a t o r y representations s u p e r i m p o s e d themselves u p o n those data o f e x p e r i e n c e , d i s t o r t i n g t h e m t o t h e p o i n t o f m a k i n g t h e m unrecognizable, a n d r e p l a c i n g reality w i t h m e r e figments o f the i m a g i n a t i o n . I n o n e case, i t is t h e illusions o f d r e a m i n g that supposedly b r o u g h t a b o u t such a t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n ; i n t h e other, i t is the b r i l l i a n t b u t vacant m a r c h o f images e v o k e d b y w o r d s . B u t i n e i t h e r case, o n e a r r i v e d necessarily at r e l i g i o n as the p r o d u c t o f d e l i r i o u s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . T h u s o n e positive c o n c l u s i o n arises from this c r i t i c a l e x a m i n a t i o n . Since, i n themselves, n e i t h e r m a n n o r nature is i n h e r e n t l y sacred, b o t h acquire sa-

* Thefirstedition says monde, or "world"; the second says mode. 84

Totemism as Elementary Religion

85

credness elsewhere. B e y o n d the h u m a n i n d i v i d u a l a n d the n a t u r a l w o r l d , t h e n , there m u s t b e some o t h e r reality i n r e l a t i o n t o w h i c h this species o f d e l i r i u m that every r e l i g i o n is, i n some sense, takes o n m e a n i n g a n d o b j e c tive significance. I n o t h e r w o r d s , b e y o n d w h a t has b e e n called n a t u r i s m a n d a n i m i s m , there m u s t be a n o t h e r m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l a n d m o r e p r i m i t i v e c u l t , o f w h i c h a n i m i s m a n d n a t u r i s m are d e r i v a t i v e f o r m s o r particular aspects. T h a t c u l t exists. I t is the o n e t o w h i c h t h e ethnographers have g i v e n the name " t o t e m i s m . "

I
T h e w o r d " t o t e m " appeared i n the e t h n o g r a p h i c l i t e r a t u r e o n l y at the e n d o f the e i g h t e e n t h century. I t crops u p first i n the b o o k o f an I n d i a n interpreter, J. L o n g , w h i c h was p u b l i s h e d i n L o n d o n i n 1 7 9 1 . F o r nearly h a l f a century, t o t e m i s m was k n o w n exclusively as an A m e r i c a n i n s t i t u t i o n . I t was o n l y i n 1841 that Grey, i n a passage that is still c e l e b r a t e d , d r e w a t t e n t i o n t o the e x istence o f similar practices i n A u s t r a l i a . F r o m t h e n o n , scholars began t o r e alize that t h e y w e r e i n the presence o f a system that has a c e r t a i n generality. r B u t t h e y saw i t as b e i n g essentially an archaic i n s t i t u t i o n , an e t h n o graphic c u r i o s i t y w i t h o u t m u c h interest f o r t h e h i s t o r i a n . M c L e n n a n was the first t o t r y t o c o n n e c t t o t e m i s m w i t h general h u m a n history. I n a series o f articles p u b l i s h e d i n t h e Fortnightly Review,
4 3 2 1

h e set o u t t o s h o w n o t o n l y that

t o t e m i s m was a r e l i g i o n b u t also that a m u l t i p l i c i t y o f beliefs a n d practices that recur i n m u c h m o r e advanced r e l i g i o u s systems w e r e d e r i v e d f r o m i t . H e even w e n t so far as t o m a k e i t the source o f all t h e a n i m a l - a n d p l a n t w o r s h i p p i n g cults that can be observed a m o n g ancient peoples. T h a t e x t e n sion o f t o t e m i s m was surely overstated. T h e c u l t o f animals a n d plants has m u l t i p l e causes that c a n n o t be r e d u c e d t o o n l y o n e w i t h o u t v e r y great o v e r s i m p l i f i c a t i o n . Yet b y its overstatements, this s i m p l i f i c a t i o n had the advantage o f d r a w i n g a t t e n t i o n t o the h i s t o r i c a l i m p o r t a n c e o f t o t e m i s m . F o r t h e i r part, the A m e r i c a n i s t s h a d l o n g since n o t i c e d that t o t e m i s m was l i n k e d w i t h a d e f i n i t e social o r g a n i z a t i o n , o n e based o n the d i v i s i o n o f '[John Long], Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, [Cleveland, A. H. Clark, 1904]. This idea was so widespread that M. [Albert] Reville still treated America as the classical locale of totemism ([Les] Religions des peuples non civilises, vol. I [Paris, Fishbacher, 1883], p. 242).
3

2

[George Grey,] Journals oflwo Expeditions in North- West and Western Australia, vol. II [London, T. & W.

Boone, 1841], p. 228. [James Ferguson McLennan] "The Worship of Animals and Plants" ["Totems and Totemism"—apparendy Durkheim's expansion of the title. Trans.], [FR, vol. XII old series, vol. VI new series (1869), pp. 407-427, 562-582], [vol. XIII old series, vol. VII new series (1870), pp. 194-200].
4

86

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

society i n t o clans. I n 1877, i n his Ancient Society, L e w i s H . M o r g a n u n d e r t o o k t h e study o f this social o r g a n i z a t i o n i n o r d e r t o d e t e r m i n e its d i s t i n g u i s h i n g features and, at the same t i m e , t o s h o w its prevalence a m o n g the I n d i a n tribes o f N o r t h and C e n t r a l A m e r i c a . A t almost the same t i m e , a n d m o r e o v e r at M o r g a n ' s suggestion, F i s o n a n d H o w i t t totemism. U n d e r the i n f l u e n c e o f these l e a d i n g ideas, studies c o u l d be d o n e m o r e m e t h o d i c a l l y . Research e n c o u r a g e d b y t h e B u r e a u o f A m e r i c a n E t h n o l o g y c o n t r i b u t e d greatly t o t h e progress o f these studies. B y 1887, the d o c u m e n t s w e r e o f sufficient n u m b e r a n d significance f o r Frazer t o have j u d g e d i t o p p o r t u n e t o c o l l e c t a n d present t h e m t o us i n a systematic overview. S u c h is the object o f his small b o o k t i d e d Totemism,
9 8 7

5

6

d o c u m e n t e d the exis-

tence o f the same social system i n Australia, as w e l l as its relations w i t h

i n w h i c h t o t e m i s m is studied as
1 0

b o t h r e l i g i o n a n d legal i n s t i t u t i o n . B u t this study was p u r e l y descriptive, m a k i n g n o effort either t o e x p l a i n t o t e m i s m o r t o delve i n t o its f u n d a m e n tal ideas. R o b e r t s o n S m i t h was t h e first t o take u p the task o f e l a b o r a t i o n . H e r e alized m o r e k e e n l y t h a n his predecessors h o w r i c h i n seeds f o x i h e future this

This idea is clearly expressed in a study by [Albert] Gallatin, "A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes" (Archaeologia Americana vol. II, pp. 109ff. [also New York, AMS Press, 1973.]), and in a circular letter of Morgan [an article under the name A. P. Morris. Trans.], reproduced in CJ (1860), p. 149.
6

5

[Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery, through

Barbarism to Civilisation, London, Macmillan, 1887.] This work had been prepared for and preceded by two others by the same author: [Lewis Henry Morgan, The League of the [Hodenosaunee or] Iroquois, New
York, M. H. Newman, 1851; and Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, Washington,

D.C., Smithsonian Institution, 1870].
'[Lorimer Fison and Alfred Howitt], Kamilaroi and Kurnai [Group Marriage and Relationship, and Marriage by Element, Draum Chiefly from the Usage of the Australian Aborigines, Melbourne, G. Robertson, 1880].

"Beginning with the first volumes of the Annual Report of the Bureau ofAmerican Ethnology [First Annual Report, 1879—1881, Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, 1881. Trans.], we find the study of [John Wesley] Powell, "Wyandot Government" (vol. I, p. 59), those of [Frank Hamilton] Cushing, "Zuiii Fetishes" (vol. II, p. 9), [Erminnie Adele] Smith, "Myths of the Iroquois" (vol. II, p. 76), and the important work of [J. Owen] Dorsey "Omaha Sociology" (vol. Ill, p. 211), which are all contributions to the study of totemism. It [James George Frazer, "Totemism"]firstappeared, abridged, in the Encyclopedia Britannica [9th ed., Edinburgh, Adam & Charles Black, 1887]. In his Primitive Culture [New York, Henry Holt, 1871], Tylor [Edward Burnett] had already attempted an explanation of totemism, to which I will return later but do not recount here; by reducing totemism to no more than a special case of the ancestor cult, that explanation completely misunderstands the importance of totemism. I mention in this chapter only the observations or theories that have led to important advances in the study of totemism.
10 9

Totetnism as Elementary Religion

87

crude a n d confused r e l i g i o n was. T o be sure, M c L e n n a n h a d already c o m pared t o t e m i s m w i t h the great r e l i g i o n s o f a n t i q u i t y , b u t that was o n l y b e cause he t h o u g h t he h a d f o u n d a c u l t o f animals a n d plants i n b o t h . B u t t o reduce t o t e m i s m t o a k i n d o f a n i m a l o r p l a n t w o r s h i p was t o see o n l y w h a t was m o s t superficial and, even at that, t o m i s u n d e r s t a n d its t r u e nature. S m i t h set o u t t o m o v e b e y o n d the letter o f t o t e m i c beliefs i n o r d e r t o f i n d t h e f u n damental p r i n c i p l e s g o v e r n i n g t h e m . I n his b o o k Kinship Early Arabia,
11

and Marriage in

he h a d already s h o w n that t o t e m i s m presupposes a c o n s u b 12

stantiality o f m a n a n d a n i m a l ( o r p l a n t ) , w h e t h e r natural o r acquired. I n his Religion of the Semites, he m a d e this same idea the o r i g i n o f the w h o l e sacr i f i c i a l system. H e c o n t e n d e d that h u m a n i t y owes the p r i n c i p l e o f a l i m e n t a r y c o m m u n i o n t o t o t e m i s m . C e r t a i n l y w e m a y find Smith's t h e o r y one-sided, and i t is n o l o n g e r adequate t o the facts w e n o w have. Nonetheless, i t c o n tains an i n g e n i o u s i n s i g h t a n d i t has h a d a f r u i t f u l i n f l u e n c e o n the science o f religions. Frazer draws u p o n these same ideas i n The Golden Bough.
13

I n i t he

relates t o E u r o p e a n f o l k l o r e the t o t e m i s m that M c L e n n a n h a d related t o the religions o f classical a n t i q u i t y a n d S m i t h t o those o f t h e S e m i t i c peoples. M c L e n n a n ' s s c h o o l a n d M o r g a n ' s thus came t o j o i n that o f M a n n h a r d t .
1 4

D u r i n g this t i m e , the A m e r i c a n t r a d i t i o n c o n t i n u e d t o develop, a n d w i t h an independence, moreover, that i t has k e p t u n t i l q u i t e recently. T h r e e groups o f societies i n p a r t i c u l a r w e r e t h e object o f research o n t o t e m i s m : the tribes o f the N o r t h w e s t — t h e T l i n g i t , the H a i d a , the Salish, a n d the T s h i m s h i a n ; the great S i o u x n a t i o n ; and finally, i n America's center, the Pueblo Indians. T h e first w e r e s t u d i e d p r i n c i p a l l y b y D a l l , Krause, Boas, S w a n t o n , and H i l l T o u t ; the second b y D o r s e y ; the last b y M i n d e l e f f , M r s . Stevenson, and C u s h i n g .
1 5

B u t h o w e v e r r i c h the harvest o f facts c o l l e c t e d , the available d o c u m e n t s r e m a i n e d fragmentary. A l t h o u g h t h e A m e r i c a n religions c o n t a i n m a n y traces o f t o t e m i s m , t h e y have nevertheless g o n e b e y o n d the t o t e m i c phase proper. O n the o t h e r hand, d o c u m e n t a t i o n o n Australia scarcely w e n t b e y o n d isolated "[William Robertson Smith], Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, Cambridge [Cambridge University Press], 1885. [William Robertson Smith], Leaures on the Religion of the Semites [London, A & C Black, 1889]. This is the published version of a course taught at the University of Aberdeen in 1888. Cf. the article "Sacrifice" in the Encyclopedia Britannica [9th ed., Edinburgh, Adam & Charles Black, 1887]. [James George] Frazer, The Golden Bough [A Study in Magic and Religion], London [and New York, Macmillan], 1890. Since then, a three-volume second edition has appeared (1900), and the third of five volumes is in the process of publication. [This text was reissued by St. Martin's Press in 1990. Trans.] It is well to cite the interesting work of [Edwin] Sidney Hardand, The Legend of Perseus, 3 vols. [London, D. Nutt, 1894-1896] in this connection.
15 14 13 12

Here I confine myself to giving the authors' names; the books will be indicated below, as I use them.

88

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

beliefs a n d rites, rites o f i n i t i a t i o n a n d p r o h i b i t i o n s relative t o the t o t e m . T h u s i t is w i t h facts taken f r o m h i t h e r a n d y o n that Frazer t r i e d t o sketch an overall p i c t u r e o f t o t e m i s m . W h a t e v e r its o b v i o u s m e r i t , a r e c o n s t r u c t i o n u n d e r t a k e n i n these c o n d i t i o n s c o u l d o n l y be i n c o m p l e t e and h y p o t h e t i c a l . A l l things considered, a f u l l y f u n c t i o n i n g t o t e m i c system h a d n o t yet b e e n seen. T h i s gap has b e e n f i l l e d o n l y i n recent years. T w o r e m a r k a b l y astute o b servers, Messieurs B a l d w i n Spencer a n d F. J. G i l l e n , have d i s c o v e r e d ,
16

i n the

i n t e r i o r o f t h e A u s t r a l i a n c o n t i n e n t , a rather large n u m b e r o f tribes i n w h i c h they saw i n o p e r a t i o n a f u l l religious system w h o s e basis a n d coherence w e r e p r o v i d e d b y t o t e m i c beliefs. T h e results o f t h e i r i n q u i r y w e r e set f o r t h i n t w o w o r k s that have g i v e n n e w life t o the study o f t o t e m i s m . T h e first, The Native Tribes of Central Australia,
17

treats t h e m o s t central o f those tribes, t h e titled The Northern Tribes of Central Carpenter finally,

A r u n t a , the L u r i t c h a , * and, a l i t d e farther s o u t h , o n t h e w e s t e r n shore o f Lake E y r e , the U r a b u n n a . T h e second, Australia,
18

treats the societies t o the n o r t h o f the U r a b u n n a : T h e y o c c u p y

the t e r r i t o r y that extends f r o m t h e M a c d o n n e l l R a n g e s t o the

G u l f . T o cite o n l y the m a i n groups, these are the U n m a t j e r a , the K a i t i s h , the W a r r a m u n g a , the T j i n g i l l i , the B i n b i n g a , the W a l p a r i , the G n a n j i a n d o n the v e r y shores o f the gulf, the M a r a and the A n u l a . *The spelling "Loritja" is used elsewhere. ''Although Spencer and Gillen were thefirstto study these tribes thoroughly they were not the first to speak about them. Howitt had drawn attention to the social organization of the Wuaramongo (Warramunga of Spencer and Gillen) as long ago as 1888 in "Further Notes on the Australian Class [Systems]," JAI, [vol. XVIII (1889)], pp. 44—45. The Arunta had already been studied in summary fashion by [Reverend Louis] Schulze ("The Aborigines of the Upper and Middle Finke River" [RSSv4, vol. XIV, pp. 210-246], 2d installment]; the organization of the Chingalee (the Tjingilli of Spencer and Gillen), the Wombya, etc., by [R. H.] Mathews, "Wombya Organization of the Australian Aborigines, " AA, vol. II new series [1900], p. 494; "Divisions of Some West Australian Tribes, ibid., p. 185; ["Divisions of Australian Tribes"], APS, vol. XXXVII [1898], pp. 151-152 and ["Australian Divisional Systems"] JRS, vol. XXXII, p. 71, vol. XXXIII, p. 111). In addition, hefirstcites results of the study conducted on the Arunta that had already been published in [Baldwin Spencer], Report on the Work of the Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia, part IV [London, Dulau], 1896. Thefirstpart of this Report is by [Edward] Stirling, the second is Gillen's; and the entire publication was directed by Baldwin Spencer. [Sir Baldwin Spencer and Francis James Gillen], The Native Tribes of Central Australia [London, Macmillan, 1899], hereafter abbreviated, Native Tribes or Nat. Tr. [I have used Native Tribes. Trans.] [Sir Baldwin Spencer and Francis James Gillen], The Northern Tribes of Central Australia [London, Macmillan, 1904], hereafter Northern Tribes or North. Tr. [I have used Northern Tribes. Trans.] I write "the Arunta," "the Anula," "the Tjingilli," etc. without adding an "s" to these names to mark the plural. It seems illogical to incorporate into words that are not French a grammatical sign that has its meaning only in our language. I will make exception to this rule only when the tribal name has obviously been gallicized (les Hurons, for example). [I have followed Durkheim in not adding "s" to proper nouns, but to avoid the confusion that can arise because English articles do not indicate plurals, I have made common nouns plural by adding "s." Trans.]
19 I8 17 1 9

Totemism as Elementary Religion

89

M o r e recently, C a r l Strehlow, a G e r m a n missionary w h o also spent m a n y years i n these same societies o f central A u s t r a l i a , L u r i t c h a o f Spencer a n d G i l l e n ) . these p e o p l e s ,
22 2 1 20

has b e g u n t o p u b l i s h his

o w n studies o n t w o o f these tribes, the A r a n d a a n d the L o r i t j a ( A r u n t a a n d H a v i n g mastered the language spoken b y S t r e h l o w was able t o r e p o r t m a n y t o t e m i c m y t h s a n d r e l i -

gious songs, m o s t o f w h i c h are g i v e n t o us i n t h e i r o r i g i n a l texts. N o t w i t h standing variations o f d e t a i l that are easily e x p l a i n e d a n d w h o s e i m p o r t a n c e has b e e n gready e x a g g e r a t e d , while complementing,
23

w e w i l l see that Strehlow's sometimes

observations, of

specifying, a n d

c o r r e c t i n g those

Spencer a n d G i l l e n , o n t h e w h o l e c o n f i r m t h e m . These discoveries gave rise t o an abundant literature, t o w h i c h I w i l l have occasion t o r e t u r n . T h e w o r k s o f Spencer a n d G i l l e n especially have h a d great i n f l u e n c e , n o t o n l y because t h e y w e r e t h e oldest b u t because the data w e r e presented i n a systematic f o r m that enabled t h e m t o g u i d e later studies
24

a n d also t o p r o v o k e speculation. T h e results w e r e c o m m e n t e d u p o n , d e bated, a n d i n t e r p r e t e d i n all k i n d s o f ways. A t t h e same t i m e H o w i t t , w h o s e fragmentary studies w e r e scattered t h r o u g h m a n y different p u b l i c a t i o n s ,
25

[Carl] Strehlow has been in Australia since 1892. He livedfirstamong the Dieri and moved from there to live among the Arunta. Strehlow, DieAranda-und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien [Frankfurt, Joseph Baer, 1907]. To date, four volumes have been published; thefirstappeared when this book had just been completed. I was unable to evaluate it. Thefirsttwo volumes deal with myth and legend, the third with the cult. It is proper to add to Strehlow's name that of [Gustav] von Leonhardi, who played an important role in the publication. Not only was he responsible for editing Strehlow's manuscripts, but also, by judicious questions on more than one point, he led Strehlow to specify some of his observations. By the way, an article that Leonhardi gave to Globus [Hildbringhausen, Brunswick, 1861—1910] may profitably be consulted; and one will find many extracts from his correspondence with Strehlow ("Ueber einige religiöse und totemistische Vorstellungen der Aranda und Loritja in Zentral-Australien," Globus vol. XCI, p. 285). Cf. on the same subject an article of Northcote W. Thomas ["Religious Ideas of the Arunta"], Folklore vol. XVI [1905], pp. 428ff.
22 21

20

While not ignorant of the language, Spencer and Gillen know it far less well than Strehlow.

Notably by [Hermann] Klaatsch, "Schlussbericht über meine Reise nach Australien in den jähren 1904-1907," ZE, vol. XXIX [1907], pp. 635ff. The book of K. Langloh Parker [Catherine Somerville Parker], The EuahlayiTribe [London, A. Constable, 1905]; that of [Erhard] Eylmann, Die Eingeborenen der Kolonie Südaustralien [Berlin, D. Reimer, 1908]; that ofJohn Mathew, Two Representative Tribes of Queensland [London, T. F. Urwin, 1910]; and certain recent articles by Mathew show the influence of Spencer and Gillen. The list of these publications is to be found in the preface of [Alfred William] Howitt [Native Tribes of South-East Australia, New York, Macmillan, 1904], pp. 8-9.
25 24

23

90

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

u n d e r t o o k t o d o for the s o u t h e r n tribes w h a t Spencer a n d G i l l e n h a d d o n e for those o f the center. I n his Native Tribes of South-East Australia,
26

he gives

us an o v e r v i e w o f social o r g a n i z a t i o n a m o n g t h e peoples w h o o c c u p y s o u t h e r n Australia, N e w S o u t h Wales, a n d a large p a r t o f Q u e e n s l a n d . T h e a d vances thus achieved p r o m p t e d Frazer t o s u p p l e m e n t his Totemism w i t h a sort of compendium
2 7

that b r i n g s t o g e t h e r all the i m p o r t a n t d o c u m e n t s that c o n -

c e r n e i t h e r t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n o r t h e k i n s h i p a n d m a r r i a g e o r g a n i z a t i o n that is t h o u g h t , r i g h t l y o r w r o n g l y , t o be c o n n e c t e d w i t h i t . T h e a i m o f this w o r k is n o t t o give us a general a n d systematic v i e w o f t o t e m i s m b u t rather t o m a k e available t o researchers the materials necessary f o r c o n s t r u c t i n g o n e .
2 8

I n it

the facts are arranged i n a s t r i c d y e t h n o g r a p h i c a n d geographical order: E a c h c o n t i n e n t and, w i t h i n each c o n t i n e n t , each t r i b e o r e t h n i c g r o u p is s t u d i e d separately. A study as b r o a d as this, passing so m a n y different peoples i n r e v i e w o n e after t h e other, c e r t a i n l y c o u l d n o t be equally detailed t h r o u g h o u t ; b u t i t is still a useful reference t h a t can facilitate research.

II
I t emerges f r o m this b r i e f a c c o u n t that Australia is the m o s t favorable t e r r a i n for the study o f t o t e m i s m . F o r this reason, I w i l l m a k e i t the p r i n c i p a l area o f m y observation. I n Totemism, Frazer was interested p r i m a r i l y i n c o l l e c t i n g every trace o f t o t e m i s m that can be f o u n d i n h i s t o r y a n d ethnography. T h i s l e d h i m t o i n clude i n his study societies w h o s e k i n d a n d degree o f c u l t u r a l d e v e l o p m e n t are q u i t e disparate: A n c i e n t E g y p t ,
2 9

Arabia, Greece,

30

a n d the

southern

Ibid. From now on, I will cite this book with the abbreviation Nat. Tr. [Native Tribes. Trans.], but always preceded by the name "Howitt" to distinguish it from the first book of Spencer and Gillen, whose title I abridge in the same way. [To avoid the confusion that can arise from these abbreviations, I precede every short citation by the author's surname. Trans.] [James George Frazer], Totemism and Exogamy, 4 vols., London [Macmillan], 1910. This work begins with a republication of the little book Totemism, reproduced without fundamental changes. [This republication is found in vol. I. Trans.] It is true that, at the beginning and end, we find general theories of totemism that will be set forth and discussed further on. But these theories are relatively independent of the collected facts accompanying them, for they had already been published in various review articles well before this work appeared. Those articles were reproduced in the first volume (pp. 89—172).
29 28 27

26

Ibid., p. 12. Ibid., p. 15.

30

Tolemism as Elementary Religion

91

Slavs

31

figure alongside the tribes o f Australia a n d A m e r i c a . T h i s procedure
3 2

was u n s u r p r i s i n g i n a disciple o f t h e a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l s c h o o l . T h e a i m o f that school is n o t t o situate r e l i g i o n s i n t h e social m i l i e u x o f w h i c h t h e y are p a r t and t o differentiate a m o n g t h e m o n that basis. Instead, as the name indicates, the a i m is t o g o b e y o n d n a t i o n a l a n d h i s t o r i c a l differences i n o r d e r t o arrive at the universal a n d t r u l y h u m a n basis o f r e l i g i o u s life. T h e y assume that m a n possesses a r e l i g i o u s nature i n a n d o f himself, b y v i r t u e o f his o w n c o n s t i t u t i o n a n d i n d e p e n d e n t o f all social c o n d i t i o n s , a n d t h e y propose t o determ i n e * w h a t that nature i s .
3 3

I n research o f this sort, all peoples can be d r a w n

u p o n . N o d o u b t , i t w o u l d be preferable t o i n q u i r e m o s t o f the m o s t p r i m i tive, because a m o n g p r i m i t i v e s that o r i g i n a l nature is m o r e l i k e l y t o be i n the o p e n ; b u t since i t can also be f o u n d a m o n g t h e m o r e c i v i l i z e d , they t o o are naturally called u p o n t o testify. E v e n m o r e w i l l all those t h o u g h t «-o be n o t v e r y distant f r o m t h e o r i g i n s (all those assembled haphazardly u n d e r the i m precise r u b r i c o f savages) be p u t o n t h e same plane a n d consulted i n t e r changeably. M o r e o v e r , since f r o m this p o i n t o f v i e w t h e facts are o f interest o n l y i n p r o p o r t i o n t o t h e i r degree o f universality, researchers feel o b l i g e d t o amass the largest possible n u m b e r o f t h e m . I t is n o t t h o u g h t possible t o m a k e the scope o f c o m p a r i s o n t o o b r o a d . S u c h c a n n o t be m y m e t h o d , a n d f o r several reasons. First, f o r the sociologist as f o r the h i s t o r i a n , social facts exist i n r e l a t i o n ship w i t h t h e social system t o w h i c h t h e y b e l o n g ^ ; hence they c a n n o t be u n d e r s t o o d apart f r o m i t . T h i s is w h y t w o facts b e l o n g i n g t o t w o different societies c a n n o t be f r u i t f u l l y c o m p a r e d s i m p l y because t h e y resemble o n e a n other. T h o s e societies m u s t also resemble o n e a n o t h e r — w h i c h is t o say that the societies themselves m u s t b e varieties o f the same species. T h e c o m p a r a tive m e t h o d w o u l d be impossible i f social types d i d n o t exist, a n d i t c a n n o t

""The typo-ridden French second edition says terminer ("to finish" or "finish off"), instead of déterminer.

tThe term "function," in one of the senses associated with functionalism, appears in the French text:
Les faits sociaux sont fonction du système social dont ils font partie.
31

Ibid., p. 32. [Frazer's actual reference is to Transylvania, not to the southern Slavs. Trans.]

In this regard, it should be noted that the more recent work, Totemism and Exogamy, marks an important advance in Frazer's thought and method. Whenever he describes the religious or household institutions of a tribe, he makes an effort to determine the geographical and social conditions in which that tribe is found. As sketchy as these analyses may be, they still suggest a break with the old methods of the anthropological school. Of course, I, too, consider that the principal object of the science of religions is to arrive at an understanding of the religious nature of man. But since I see it not as an innate given but a product of social causes, there can be no question of determining it wholly apart from the social milieu.
33

32

92

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

be usefully a p p l i e d except w i t h i n t h e same t y p e . W h a t mistakes have b e e n left u n m a d e t h r o u g h failure t o u n d e r s t a n d this r u l e ! So i t is that scholars have i m p r o p e r l y c o m p a r e d facts that, despite e x t e r n a l resemblances, had n e i t h e r the same m e a n i n g n o r the same i m p o r t : p r i m i t i v e d e m o c r a c y a n d that o f t o day, the c o l l e c t i v i s m o f l o w e r societies a n d t h e socialist tendencies o f today, the m o n o g a m y that is prevalent a m o n g the A u s t r a l i a n tribes a n d that sanct i o n e d b y o u r codes, etc. C o n f u s i o n s o f this sort are f o u n d even i n Frazer's b o o k . H e o f t e n j u m b l e s t o g e t h e r m e r e a n i m a l - w o r s h i p a n d practices that are specifically t o t e m i c , even t h o u g h t h e sometimes e n o r m o u s distance b e t w e e n the c o r r e s p o n d i n g social m i l i e u x precludes any n o t i o n o f assimilating the t w o . T h u s , i f w e d o n o t w i s h t o fall i n t o the same mistakes, w e m u s t c o n centrate o u r research o n a clearly d e f i n e d t y p e o f society rather t h a n e x t e n d o u r research over all possible societies. I n d e e d , i t is i m p o r t a n t t o focus as n a r r o w l y as possible. W e can usefully c o m p a r e o n l y facts that w e k n o w w e l l . W h e n w e u n d e r t a k e t o encompass all sorts o f societies a n d civilizations, w e c a n n o t k n o w any w i t h the requisite c o m p e t e n c e ; w h e n w e p u t t o g e t h e r facts f r o m e v e r y w h e r e t o c o m p a r e t h e m , w e are f o r c e d t o take t h e m i n d i s c r i m i n a t e l y , h a v i n g n e i t h e r t h e means n o r , for that matter, the t i m e t o treat t h e m critically. T h e s e chaotic and sketchy comparisons have discredited t h e c o m p a r a t i v e m e t h o d a m o n g a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f g o o d m i n d s . T h a t m e t h o d can y i e l d serious results o n l y i f i t is app l i e d t o a rather l i m i t e d n u m b e r o f societies, so that each o f t h e m can be studied w i t h adequate p r e c i s i o n . T h e k e y is t o choose those i n w h i c h t h e i n vestigation has t h e greatest chance o f b e i n g n u m b e r . Q u i t e secondary, i n m y v i e w ,
3 4

fruitful.

I n any event, the q u a l i t y o f the facts is m u c h m o r e i m p o r t a n t t h a n t h e i r is the q u e s t i o n w h e t h e r t o t e m i s m was m o r e w i d e s p r e a d o r less so. I f t o t e m i s m interests m e , that is m a i n l y b e cause, t h r o u g h s t u d y i n g i t , I h o p e j t o discover relationships t h a t j w i l l h e l p us understand w h a t r e l i g i o n

isrTo establish

relationships, i t is n e i t h e r necessary

n o r always useful t o stack e x p e r i m e n t s o n e u p o n t h e other. I t is far m o r e i m p o r t a n t t o have w e l l - d o n e e x p e r i m e n t s that are t r u l y significant. A solitary fact can shed l i g h t o n a law, w h i l e a m u l t i t u d e o f vague a n d imprecise observations can lead o n l y t o c o n f u s i o n . I n every k i n d o f science, the scientist w o u l d be s u b m e r g e d b y the facts that present themselves i f he d i d n o t m a k e a c h o i c e a m o n g t h e m . H e m u s t perceive w h i c h ones p r o m i s e t o be t h e m o s t i n s t r u c t i v e a n d t u r n his a t t e n t i o n t o those, w h i l e t u r n i n g aside from t h e o t h ers t e m p o r a r i l y .

Hence the importance I ascribe to totemism is entirely independent of the question whether it was universal, a point that cannot be repeated too many times.

34

Totemism as Elementary Religion

93

T h i s is w h y , w i t h o n e e x c e p t i o n that w i l l be i n d i c a t e d later, I propose t o l i m i t m y research t o the A u s t r a l i a n societies. T h e y f u l f i l l all the c o n d i t i o n s that have j u s t b e e n listed. T h e y are c o m p l e t e l y h o m o g e n e o u s ; and w h i l e o n e can discern varieties a m o n g t h e m , t h e y b e l o n g t o t h e same type. I n d e e d , t h e i r h o m o g e n e i t y is so great that the f r a m e w o r k o f social o r g a n i z a t i o n is n o t o n l y the same b u t designated b y names that are e i t h e r i d e n t i c a l o r equivalent i n m a n y tribes that are sometimes v e r y far f r o m o n e a n o t h e r .
35

I n addition,

the m o s t t h o r o u g h d o c u m e n t a t i o n w e have concerns A u s t r a l i a n t o t e m i s m . Finally, w h a t I propose above all t o study i n this w o r k is t h e m o s t p r i m i t i v e and the simplest r e l i g i o n t h a t can b e f o u n d . T o discover that r e l i g i o n , t h e r e fore, i t is n a t u r a l f o r m e t o address m y s e l f t o societies that stand as close as possible t o the o r i g i n s o f e v o l u t i o n . I t is o b v i o u s l y there that I have the greatest chance o f d i s c o v e r i n g that r e l i g i o n a n d s t u d y i n g i t properly. N o w , there are n o societies that e x h i b i t this characteristic m o r e f u l l y t h a n d o the A u s tralian tribes. N o t o n l y is t h e i r t e c h n o l o g y q u i t e r u d i m e n t a r y — t h e house and even t h e h u t are still u n k n o w n a m o n g t h e m — b u t t h e i r o r g a n i z a t i o n is the m o s t p r i m i t i v e a n d t h e simplest k n o w n . I t is the o r g a n i z a t i o n that I have called e l s e w h e r e
36

" o r g a n i z a t i o n based u p o n clans." B e g i n n i n g i n t h e n e x t

chapter, I w i l l set o u t its basic traits. S t i l l , w h i l e m a k i n g A u s t r a l i a the m a i n object o f m y research, I t h i n k i t useful n o t t o disregard c o m p l e t e l y t h e societies i n w h i c h t o t e m i s m was discovered: t h e I n d i a n tribes o f N o r t h A m e r i c a . T h e r e is n o t h i n g i l l f o u n d e d a b o u t e x p a n d i n g the field o f c o m p a r i s o n i n this way. G r a n t e d , the A m e r i c a n peoples are m o r e advanced than those o f A u s tralia. T h e t e c h n o l o g y has b e c o m e m o r e developed, the people live i n houses o r tents, and there are even f o r t i f i e d villages. T h e social density is greater, and centralization, w h i c h is altogether absent i n Australia, begins t o appear: T h e r e are vast confederations u n d e r a central authority, such as that o f the I r o q u o i s . Sometimes there is a c o m p l e x system o f differentiated a n d hierarchically o r dered classes. Nonetheless, the basic lines o f societal structure r e m a i n w h a t they are i n Australia; i t is still o r g a n i z a t i o n based o n clans. T h u s w e d o n o t have t w o different types b u t t w o varieties o f the same type, w h i c h are rather close first

This is the case of the phratries and the marriage classes; on this point, see Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, chap. Ill; Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 109, 137-142; [Northcote Whitridge] Thomas, Kinship [Organizations] and [Croup] Marriage in Australia [Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1906], chaps. VI, VII.
3 6

35

Emile Dürkheim, Division du travail social, 3d ed. [Paris, F. Mean, (1893) 1902], p. 150. [Also in

Emile Dürkheim on the Division of Labor in Society, New York, Macmillan, 1933, p. 175. Trans.].

94

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

to one another. T h e y are t w o successive m o m e n t s i n a single e v o l u t i o n ; i n consequence, they are similar e n o u g h t o make comparisons possible. Besides, such comparisons can have t h e i r uses. Precisely because t h e t e c h n o l o g y o f the Indians is m u c h m o r e advanced t h a n that o f t h e A u s tralians, c e r t a i n aspects o f the social o r g a n i z a t i o n c o m m o n t o b o t h are m o r e easily s t u d i e d a m o n g t h e Indians. A s l o n g as m e n are still m a k i n g t h e i r first steps i n the art o f expressing t h e i r t h o u g h t , i t is n o t easy f o r the observer t o perceive w h a t moves t h e m ; f o r n o t h i n g translates i n an o b v i o u s w a y w h a t happens i n these obscure m i n d s t h a t have o n l y a confused a n d fleeting selfawareness. F o r example, r e l i g i o u s symbols are at that p o i n t o n l y formless c o m b i n a t i o n s o f lines a n d colors, t h e m e a n i n g o f w h i c h is n o t easy t o guess, as w e w i l l see. T h e r e are i n d e e d m a n y actions a n d m o v e m e n t s b y w h i c h i n w a r d states are expressed; b u t since those states are b y nature q u i c k l y disappear from fleeting, they v i e w . T h e reason t o t e m i s m was n o t i c e d earlier i n

N o r t h A m e r i c a t h a n i n A u s t r a l i a is this: i t was m o r e readily seen—even t h o u g h i n A m e r i c a i t h a d a relatively smaller place i n t h e t o t a l i t y o f r e l i g i o u s life. Besides, w h e r e the beliefs a n d i n s t i t u t i o n s are n o t captured i n a rather d e f i n i t e m a t e r i a l f o r m , t h e y are m o r e l i k e l y t o change u n d e r the i n f l u e n c e o f the slightest circumstance, o r t o be erased from m e m o r y altogether. T h u s , there is s o m e t h i n g changeable stability a n d m o r e a n d p r o t e a n a b o u t the A u s t r a l i a n clans, whereas the c o r r e s p o n d i n g o r g a n i z a t i o n i n A m e r i c a m o s t o f t e n has greater clearly d e f i n e d c o n t o u r s . T h u s , a l t h o u g h A m e r i c a n t o t e m i s m is f u r t h e r from the o r i g i n s t h a n Australia's, there are i m p o r t a n t features w h o s e remnants i t has better preserved f o r us. I n t h e second place, t o u n d e r s t a n d an i n s t i t u t i o n p r o p e r l y , i t is o f t e n w e l l to f o l l o w i t i n t o advanced phases o f its e v o l u t i o n ,
3 7

f o r sometimes i t is o n l y

w h e n t h e i n s t i t u t i o n is f u l l y d e v e l o p e d that its t r u e m e a n i n g appears w i t h greatest clarity. O n those g r o u n d s as w e l l , since A m e r i c a n t o t e m i s m has a l o n g e r history, i t can h e l p clarify c e r t a i n aspects o f A u s t r a l i a n t o t e m i s m .
3 8

At

the same time, i t w i l l p u t us i n a better p o s i t i o n t o see h o w t o t e m i s m is c o n n e c t e d w i t h t h e r e l i g i o u s f o r m s that have c o m e later a n d t o place i t w i t h i n the c o n t e x t o f h i s t o r i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t .

Of course, things do not always work in this fashion. As I have said, the simplest forms frequently help us better understand the more complex. On this point, no rule of method is automatically applicable to all possible cases. It is in this way that individual totemism in America will help us understand its role and importance in Australia. Since individual totemism is very rudimentary in Australia, it probably would have passed unnoticed.
38

37

Totemism as Elementary Religion

95

I n the analyses t o f o l l o w , I w i l l n o t bar m y s e l f f r o m u s i n g certain data d r a w n f r o m the I n d i a n societies o f N o r t h A m e r i c a . I use i t n o t because there c o u l d be any q u e s t i o n o f s t u d y i n g A m e r i c a n t o t e m i s m h e r e .
39

S u c h a study

must be d o n e direcdy, i n a n d o f itself, a n d n o t b u r i e d i n the study I w i l l u n dertake: I t w o u l d pose different problems a n d w o u l d i n v o l v e a w h o l e set o f specific investigations. I use A m e r i c a n data o n l y as a s u p p l e m e n t a n d o n l y w h e n i t appears w e l l suited t o h e l p i n g us understand the A u s t r a l i a n data b e t ter. T h e latter are the real a n d i m m e d i a t e o b j e c t o f m y research.
40

"Moreover, in America there is not one type of totemism but different types that would have to be distinguished. '"I will depart from that circle of facts quite rarely, when a particularly instructive comparison seems essential.

BOOK

TWO

"HE ELEMENTARY B ELIEFS

CHAPTER ONE

THE PRINCIPAL TOTEMIC BELIEFS
The Totem as Name and as Emblem

O

w i n g t o its nature, m y study w i l l be i n t w o parts. Since every r e l i g i o n is m a d e u p o f i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n c e p t i o n s a n d r i t u a l practices, I m u s t treat i n

succession the beliefs a n d rites that m a k e u p t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n . Nevertheless, these t w o elements o f religious life are t o o closely allied f o r any radical separ a t i o n t o be possible. A l t h o u g h i n p r i n c i p l e d e r i v e d f r o m t h e beliefs, t h e c u l t nevertheless reacts u p o n t h e m , a n d the m y t h is o f t e n m o d e l e d o n the r i t e so as t o a c c o u n t f o r i t , especially w h e n the m e a n i n g o f the r i t e is n o t , o r is n o longer, apparent. Conversely, there are beliefs that d o n o t clearly manifest themselves except t h r o u g h rites that translate t h e m . T h u s , the t w o parts o f the analysis c a n n o t fail t o i n t e r p e n e t r a t e . S t i l l , t h e y are o f such a different o r der that separate study o f t h e m is indispensable. A n d since i t is impossible t o understand a n y t h i n g a b o u t a r e l i g i o n w i t h o u t k n o w i n g the ideas o n w h i c h i t rests, w e m u s t first b e c o m e a c q u a i n t e d w i t h those ideas. M y i n t e n t i o n is n o t t o retrace here all the speculative byways o f r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t , even a m o n g the Australians. I w i s h t o get d o w n t o the e l e m e n t a r y ideas at the basis o f r e l i g i o n , b u t the p o i n t is n o t t o f o l l o w speculative t h o u g h t t h r o u g h all the sometimes q u i t e l u x u r i a n t detail that the m y t h o l o g ical i m a g i n a t i o n has g i v e n t h e m i n these societies. W h e n m y t h s can a i d i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g t h e f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s better, I w i l l c e r t a i n l y use those, b u t w i t h o u t m a k i n g m y t h o l o g y itself t h e o b j e c t o f study. Besides, insofar as m y t h o l o g y is a w o r k o f art, i t does n o t b e l o n g solely t o the science o f r e l i gions. I n a d d i t i o n , the m e n t a l processes o f w h i c h i t is the o u t c o m e are far t o o c o m p l e x t o a l l o w t h e m t o be s t u d i e d i n d i r e c t l y a n d obliquely. M y t h o l o g y is a d i f f i c u l t p r o b l e m i n its o w n r i g h t , o n e t h a t m u s t be treated i n a n d o f itself and a c c o r d i n g t o its o w n specialized m e t h o d .

99

100

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

A m o n g the beliefs o n w h i c h t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n rests, the m o s t i m p o r t a n t are those that c o n c e r n the t o t e m , and so w e m u s t b e g i n w i t h those beliefs.

I
A t the basis o f m o s t Australian tribes, w e f i n d a g r o u p that has a d o m i n a n t place i n collective life: T h a t g r o u p is the clan. T w o essential traits characterize i t . First, the i n d i v i d u a l s w h o c o m p r i s e i t consider themselves j o i n e d b y a b o n d o f k i n s h i p b u t a b o n d o f a particular sort. T h i s k i n s h i p does n o t arise f r o m the fact that they have w e l l - d e f i n e d relations o f c o m m o n b l o o d ; t h e y are k i n solely because t h e y bear the same name. T h e y are n o t fathers, m o t h e r s , sons o r daughters, uncles o r n e p h e w s o f o n e a n o t h e r i n the sense w e n o w give those terms; nevertheless t h e y regard themselves as f o r m i n g a single f a m ily, w h i c h is b r o a d o r n a r r o w d e p e n d i n g o n the size o f the clan, solely because they are c o l l e c t i v e l y designated b y the same w o r d . A n d i f w e say they regard o n e a n o t h e r as b e i n g o f the same family, i t is because t h e y a c k n o w l e d g e r e ciprocal obligations i d e n t i c a l t o those that have b e e n i n c u m b e n t o n k i n i n all ages: obligations o f help, vengeance, n o t m a r r y i n g o n e another, and so f o r t h . I n this first characteristic, the c l a n is n o t different f r o m t h e R o m a n gens a n d the G r e e k yevos, f o r k i n s h i p a m o n g the gentiles arose exclusively f r o m t h e fact that a l l t h e m e m b e r s o f t h e gens c a r r i e d t h e same n a m e ,
2 1

the nomen gen-

tilicium. A n d o f course the^ens is i n sense a clan, b u t i t is a v a r i e t y o f the genus that m u s t n o t be confused w i t h the A u s t r a l i a n c l a n . W h a x d j i t i i i g u i s l i g s - t l i e Australianjclan is t h a t t h e n a m e i t bears is also that^of a d e f i n i t e species o f m a terial things w i t h w h i c h i t t h i n k s i t has special relations w h o s e nature I w i l l address b e l o w , i n particular, relations o f k i n s h i p . T h e species o f things that serves t o designate t h e clan c o l l e c t i v e l y is called its totem. T h e clan's t o t e m is also that o f each clan m e m b e r . E v e r y clan has a t o t e m that belongs t o i t alone; t w o different clans o f t h e same t r i b e c a n n o t have t h e same o n e . I n d e e d , o n e is p a r t o f a clan o n l y b y v i r t u e o f h a v i n g a c e r t a i n name. So all w h o bear this n a m e are m e m b e r s o f i t i n the same r i g h t ; h o w e v e r scattered across t h e t r i b a l t e r r i t o r y they m a y be, t h e y all have the same k i n relations w i t h o n e a n o t h e r .
3

I n consequence, t w o

'Here is the definition Cicero gave to gentility. Gentiles sunt qui inter se eodem nomine sunt (Top. 6). [Members of a gens are those who have the same family name. Trans.] In general, a clan is a family group in which kinship results onlyfromhaving the same name. It is in this sense that the gens is a clan. The totemic clan is a particular species within the genus thus constituted. To a certain extent, the ties of solidarity extend even beyond the limits of the tribe. When individuals of different tribes have the same totem, they have special duties toward one another. This fact is explicidy stated for certain tribes of North America. (See [James George] Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, vol.
3 2

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

101

groups that have t h e same t o t e m can o n l y be t w o sections o f the same clan. I t is c o m m o n f o r a clan n o t t o reside i n t h e same place, b u t to have m e m b e r s i n different places. E v e n so, t h e clan's u n i t y is felt, t h o u g h i t has n o g e o graphical basis. R e g a r d i n g the w o r d " t o t e m " : T h e O j i b w a y , an A l g o n q u i n t r i b e , use this w o r d t o d e n o t e the species o f things w h o s e n a m e a clan bears. A l t h o u g h the t e r m is n o t A u s t r a l i a n , a n d i n fact is f o u n d i n o n l y o n e society o f A m e r i c a , ethnographers have a d o p t e d i t a n d use i t generally t o d e n o t e the i n s t i t u t i o n I a m d e s c r i b i n g . Schoolcraft, the first t o e x t e n d t h e m e a n i n g i n this sense, spoke o f a " t o t e m i c system." T h i s e x t e n s i o n , o f w h i c h there are n u m e r o u s examples i n ethnography, does have drawbacks. I t is n o t q u i t e r i g h t f o r an i n s t i t u t i o n o f such i m p o r t a n c e t o bear a n a m e that is g i v e n haphazardly, taken from a s t r i c t l y l o c a l dialect, a n d i n n o w a y r e f l e c t i n g t h e distinctive traits o f
7 6 5 4

the t h i n g i t expresses. B u t t o d a y this usage o f t h e w o r d is so universally accepted that i t w o u l d be an excess o f p u r i s m t o rebel against i t . I n t h e great m a j o r i t y o f cases, t h e objects t h a t serve as t o t e m s * b e l o n g t o

III [4 vols., London, Macmillan, 1910], pp. 57, 81, 299, 356-357. The texts on Australia are less explicit. Still, the prohibition of marriage between members of the same totem is probably international. *In this chapter, Durkheim applies the adjective "totemic" (totemique) to "system," "group," "belief," "mark," "representation," "significance," "coat of arms," "symbol," and "decoration"—indeed, to everything except the animal or plant that serves as the totem of some group. I believe he intends to keep reminding the reader that while an animal or plant is the totem of some group, in itself it is not the totem; hence his careful locution, "the animal that serves as totem," which weighs down English sentences. Having stated this reminder, I simplify with "totemic animal" from now on.
4

[Lewis Henry] Morgan, Ancient Society [or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery

through Barbarism to Civilization, London, Macmillan, 1877], p. 165. In Australia, the words used vary by tribe. In the regions observed by Grey, people said Kobong; the Dieri say Murdu ([Alfred William] Howitt, The Native Tribes of South-East Australia [New York, Macmillan, 1904], p. 91), the Narrinyeri, Ngaitye ([Rev. George] Taplin, in [Edward] Micklethwaite Curr, [The
5

Australian Race; Its Origin, Languages, Customs, Place of Landing in Australia, and the Routes by Which It Sprea Itself over That Continent], vol. II ([Melbourne, J. Ferres, 1886-87], p. 244), the Warramunga, Mungai or

Mungaii [Sir Baldwin Spencer and Francis James Gillen] Northern Tribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 754), etc.
[Henry Rowe] Schoolcraft, [Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the] Indian Tribes of the United States, IV [Philadelphia, Lippincott Grambo, 1851—1857], p. 86.
6

[The phrase "totemic element" appears on this page, but the passage is not about a "totemic system." Trans.] 'And yet the fate of this word is all the more regrettable, since we do not even know exacdy how it is spelled. Some spell it totam, others toodaim or dodaim or ododam. See Frazer, Totemism qnd Exogamy, vol. I, p. 1. Even the meaning of the word is not exactly defined. If we rely on thefirstobserver of the Ojibway, J. Long, the word totem designates the protective genie, the individual totem (to be discussed later, Bk. II, chap. 4), and not the totem of the clan. But the reports of other explorers say exacdy the opposite (see on this point Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, vol. Ill, pp. 49—52).

102

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

e i t h e r the p l a n t o r a n i m a l k i n g d o m b u t m a i n l y t o the latter. I n a n i m a t e things are used m u c h m o r e rarely. O f m o r e t h a n 5 0 0 t o t e m i c names listed b y H o w i t t f r o m a m o n g the tribes o f the A u s t r a l i a n Southwest, barely f o r t y are n o t names o f e i t h e r plants o r animals: T h e y are clouds, r a i n , h a i l , m o o n , sun, w i n d , a u t u m n , s u m m e r , w i n t e r , c e r t a i n stars, t h u n d e r , frost, fire,

smoke, water, r e d ochre, a n d sea. T o be n o t e d is the v e r y l i m i t e d place g i v e n t o heavenly bodies and, m o r e generally, t o the great cosmic p h e n o m e n a that nonetheless w e r e t o have a great future i n the course o f r e l i g i o u s d e v e l o p m e n t . A m o n g all t h e clans o f w h i c h H o w i t t speaks, there are o n l y t w o w i t h the m o o n as t o t e m , t w o w i t h the s u n , three w i t h a star, thunder,
11 8 9 10

three w i t h the

and t w o w i t h l i g h t n i n g .
1 3

1 2

O n l y the r a i n is an e x c e p t i o n ; u n l i k e

the others, r a i n is v e r y c o m m o n .

Such are t h e t o t e m s that m a y be called n o r m a l , b u t t o t e m i s m has its abn o r m a l i t i e s as w e l l . S o m e t i m e s t h e t o t e m is n o t a w h o l e o b j e c t b u t p a r t o f one. T h i s seems t o be rather u n c o m m o n i n A u s t r a l i a ; H o w i t t cites o n l y a single e x a m p l e .
15 14

H o w e v e r , i t m i g h t w e l l t u r n o u t t o be a rather frequent o c -

c u r r e n c e i n tribes i n w h i c h t h e t o t e m i c groups have b e e n excessively s u b d i v i d e d , i n w h i c h o n e c o u l d say that t h e totems themselves m u s t have b e e n b r o k e n i n o r d e r t o p r o v i d e names f o r t h e m a n y divisions. T h i s seems t o have happened a m o n g the A r u n t a a n d the Loritja. I n those t w o societies, S t r e h l o w lists as m a n y as 4 4 2 t o t e m s , several o f w h i c h designate n o t an a n i m a l species b u t a p a r t i c u l a r p a r t o f such a n i m a l s — f o r example, t h e tail o r t h e s t o m a c h o f the o p o s s u m , o r the fat o f t h e k a n g a r o o . "The Wotjobaluk (p. 121) and the Buandik (p. 123). 'Ibid.
10 16

The Wolgal (p. 102), the Wotjobaluk, and the Buandik.

"The Muruburra (p. 117), the Wotjobaluk, and the Buandik.
12

The Buandik and the Kaiabara (p. 116). Note that all these examples are taken from onlyfivetribes.

"Similarly, of 204 kinds of totems collected by Spencer and Gillen in a large number of tribes, 188 are animals or plants. Inanimate objects are the boomerang, cold water, darkness,fire,lightning, the moon, red ochre, resin, salt water, the evening star, a stone, the sun, water, the whirlwind, the wind, and hailstones (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 773. Cf. Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, vol. I, pp. 253-254). Frazer (Totemism and Exogamy, pp. 10, 13) cites numerous cases and even makes them a genus apart, which he calls split-totems. But these examples are taken from tribes in which totemism is profoundly altered, as in Samoa and in the tribes of Bengal. "Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 107. See the tables compiled by [Carl] Strehlow, Die Aranda- und Loritja-Stdmme in Zentral-Australien, Frankfurt, J. Baer, 1907, vol. II, pp. 61—72 (cf. Ill, xiii—xvii). It is worth noting that these fragmentary totems are exclusively animal totems.
16 ,4

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

103

T h e t o t e m is o r d i n a r i l y n o t an i n d i v i d u a l b u t a species o r a v a r i e t y : I t is n o t such a n d such kangaroo o r c r o w b u t the kangaroo o r the c r o w i n g e n eral. Nonetheless, i t is sometimes a p a r t i c u l a r object. T h i s is u n a v o i d a b l y the case w h e n a t h i n g that is u n i q u e o f its k i n d serves as t o t e m : the sun, the m o o n , such a n d such c o n s t e l l a t i o n , a n d so f o r t h . B u t sometimes, as w e l l , clans d r a w t h e i r names f r o m this f o l d , that g e o l o g i c a l l y caused depression i n the t e r r a i n , that a n t h i l l , a n d so f o r t h . W h i l e i t is t r u e that w e have o n l y a small n u m b e r o f examples i n Australia, S t r e h l o w m e n t i o n s s o m e .
17

B u t the

v e r y causes that have g i v e n rise t o these a b n o r m a l totems s h o w that they are o f relatively recent o r i g i n . W h a t actually has caused the e r e c t i o n o f c e r t a i n sites i n t o t o t e m s is that a m y t h i c a l b e i n g is t h o u g h t t o have stopped there a n d t o have d o n e some deed o f his l e g e n d a r y l i f e .
1 8

T h e s e ancestors are at the

same time presented t o us i n the m y t h s as themselves b e l o n g i n g t o clans that o n c e h a d p e r f e c d y n o r m a l t o t e m s , that is, taken f r o m a n i m a l o r p l a n t species. So the t o t e m i c names that c o m m e m o r a t e the e x p l o i t s o f these heroes c a n n o t be p r i m i t i v e , b u t instead are l i n k e d w i t h a f o r m o f t o t e m i s m that is already derivative a n d altered. T h e q u e s t i o n arises w h e t h e r the m e t e o r o l o g i c a l t o tems are n o t o f the same o r i g i n , since the sun, m o o n , and stars are o f t e n i d e n t i f i e d w i t h ancestors o f t h e m y t h i c a l a g e .
19

S o m e t i m e s — t h o u g h r a r e l y — a g r o u p o f ancestors o r a single ancestor is used as a t o t e m . T h e t o t e m i n this case is n o t n a m e d after a real t h i n g o r a species o f real things b u t after a p u r e l y m y t h i c a l b e i n g . Spencer a n d G i l l e n l o n g ago n o t e d t w o o r three t o t e m s o f this sort. A m o n g the W a r r a m u n g a and a m o n g t h e T j i n g i l l i is a^ cjan that bears t h e n a m e o f an ancestor called T h a balla, w h o seems t o incarnate g a i e t y . h e l d t o be d e s c e n d e d .
21 20

A n o t h e r W a r r a m u n g a clan bears the

n a m e o f a fabulous g i a n t snake n a m e d W o l l u n q u a , from w h o m the clan is W e are i n d e b t e d t o S t r e h l o w f o r several examples o f

17

Ibid., pp. 52, 72.

For example, one of those totems is a depression in which an ancestor of the wildcat totem rested; another is an underground gallery dug by an ancestor of the Mouse clan (ibid., p. 72). [Sir Baldwin Spencer and Francis James Gillen], NativeTribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1899], pp. 561ff. Strehlow [Aranda], vol. II, p. 71 n. 2. [Alfred William] Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 426ff.; "On Australian Medicine Men," JA1, vol. XVI (1887), p. 53; "Further Notes on the Australian Class Systems," _/,4/, vol. XVIII [1899], pp. 63ff. According to the translation of Spencer and Gillen, "Thaballa" means "the boy who laughs." The members of the clan that bears his name believe they hear him laugh in the rocks that serve as his residence (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 207, 215 [227 n.]). According to the myth reported on p. 422, there was an initial group of mythical Thaballas (cf. p. 208). The clan of the Kati, fully developed men ("full-grown men" as Spencer and Gillen say) seems to be of the same sort (p. 207).
21 20 l9

18

Ibid„ pp. 226ff.

104

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

this s o r t .

22

I n all these cases, i t is rather easy t o see w h a t m u s t have happened. of

U n d e r t h e i n f l u e n c e o f v a r i o u s causes, and t h r o u g h t h e d e v e l o p m e n t

m y t h o l o g i c a l t h o u g h t itself, the collective a n d i m p e r s o n a l t o t e m gave w a y t o certain m y t h i c a l personages w h o m o v e d t o the first r a n k a n d became t o t e m s themselves. T h u s , as i n t e r e s t i n g as these various irregularities m a y be, n o t h i n g a b o u t t h e m s h o u l d require us t o m o d i f y o u r d e f i n i t i o n o f the t o t e m . T h e y d o n o t , as was once b e l i e v e d ,
23

c o n s t i t u t e so m a n y k i n d s o f t o t e m s m o r e o r less i r r e -

d u c i b l e t o one a n o t h e r a n d t o the n o r m a l t o t e m , as I have d e f i n e d i t . T h e y are o n l y secondary a n d sometimes m u t a n t f o r m s o f one a n d the same n o t i o n that is b y far t h e m o s t c o m m o n a n d that there is every reason t o regard also as the m o s t p r i m i t i v e . How the t o t e m i c n a m e is a c q u i r e d bears m o r e o n the r e c r u i t m e n t a n d
24

o r g a n i z a t i o n o f the clan t h a n o n r e l i g i o n ; i t thus belongs m o r e t o the s o c i o l o g y o f the f a m i l y t h a n t o r e l i g i o u s s o c i o l o g y . Therefore, I w i l l not go bey o n d a s u m m a r y sketch o f t h e m o s t basic g o v e r n i n g p r i n c i p l e s . D e p e n d i n g o n t h e t r i b e , three different rules are i n use. I n m a n y societies, i n fact i n m o s t , the c h i l d has the t o t e m o f its m o t h e r , by b i r t h : T h i s is the case a m o n g the D i e r i a n d t h e U r a b u n n a o f s o u t h - c e n t r a l Australia; the W o t j o b a l u k and the G o u r n d i t c h - M a r a o f V i c t o r i a ; the K a m i ¬ l a r o i , the W i r a d j u r i , the W o n g h i b o n , a n d t h e E u a h l a y i o f N e w S o u t h Wales; the W a k e l b u r a , the P i t t a - P i t t a , a n d t h e K u r n a n d a b u r i o f Q u e e n s l a n d , t o cite o n l y the m o s t i m p o r t a n t names. Since i n this case the m o t h e r must be o f a different t o t e m from her husband, g i v e n t h e r u l e o f exogamy, a n d yet lives at her husband's place o f o r i g i n , t h e m e m b e r s o f a single t o t e m are o f necessity dispersed a m o n g different places, d e p e n d i n g o n marriages. As a result, the t o t e m i c g r o u p has n o t e r r i t o r i a l base. Elsewhere, the t o t e m is t r a n s m i t t e d i n the paternal line. I n that case, the c h i l d remains near its father, a n d the l o c a l g r o u p is essentially m a d e u p o f p e o ple w h o b e l o n g t o the same t o t e m , w i t h o n l y the m a r r i e d w o m e n i n t h e m

Strehlow [Aranda], vol. II, pp. 71-72. Strehlow reports from among the Loritja and the Arunta the totem of a mythical water snake, which is very like that of the serpent Wollunqua. This is true of Klaatsch, in his article previously cited (see [Hermann Klaatsch, "Schlussbericht iiber meine Reise nach Australien in den Jahren 1904-1907"], ZE, vol. XXXIX ([1907], above, p. 89, n. 23). As I indicated in the preceding chapter, totemism concerns both religion and the family. In lower societies, these problems are closely interrelated, but both are so complex that they must be dealt with separately. Moreover, familial organization cannot be understood in advance of knowing primitive religious ideas, for those ideas serve as principles of the family. This is why it was necessary to study totemism as religion before studying the totemic clan as family grouping.
24 23

22

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

105

representing f o r e i g n totems. I n o t h e r w o r d s , each l o c a l i t y has its o w n t o t e m . I n Australia u n t i l recent times, this m o d e o f o r g a n i z a t i o n had o n l y b e e n m e t w i t h i n some tribes w h e r e t o t e m i s m is i n decay—for example, a m o n g the N a r r i n y e r i , w h e r e t h e t o t e m has v i r t u a l l y n o religious character a n y m o r e .
25

T h u s there was g o o d reason t o believe that a close c o n n e c t i o n existed b e t w e e n the t o t e m i c system a n d descent i n the m a t e r n a l l i n e . B u t Spencer a n d G i l l e n have observed, i n the n o r t h e r n part o f central Australia, a w h o l e g r o u p o f tribes i n w h i c h the t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n is still p r a c t i c e d a n d yet the transmission o f the t o t e m moves t h r o u g h the paternal l i n e : These are the W a r r a m u n g a , the G n a n j i , the U m b a i a , the B i n b i n g a , the M a r a , and the A n u l a .
2 6

Finally, a t h i r d c o m b i n a t i o n is observed a m o n g t h e A r u n t a a n d the L o r i t j a . H e r e t h e t o t e m o f the c h i l d is n o t necessarily that o f either its m o t h e r o r its father b u t that o f the m y t h i c a l ancestor w h o m y s t i c a l l y i m p r e g n a t e d t h e m o t h e r at the t i m e o f c o n c e p t i o n , b y procedures that the observers r e p o r t i n different w a y s .
27

A d e f i n i t e t e c h n i q u e p e r m i t s r e c o g n i t i o n o f w h i c h ancestor
28

it is a n d t o w h i c h t o t e m i c g r o u p he b e l o n g s .

B u t because chance places o n e
29

ancestor a n d n o t a n o t h e r close t o t h e m o t h e r , t h e t o t e m o f t h e c h i l d t u r n s o u t t o b e subject t o f o r t u i t o u s c i r c u m s t a n c e s . A b o v e a n d b e y o n d the totems o f clans are t h e t o t e m s o f phratries. A l t h o u g h n o t different i n nature f r o m clan t o t e m s , t h e y m u s t nevertheless be distinguished. A g r o u p o f clans u n i t e d b y p a r t i c u l a r b o n d s o f f r a t e r n i t y is called a p h r a t r y . N o r m a l l y , a n A u s t r a l i a n t r i b e is d i v i d e d i n t o t w o p h r a t r i e s , w i t h t h e v a r i o u s clans d i v i d e d b e t w e e n t h e m . A l t h o u g h there are societies f r o m

See Taplin, "The Narrinyeri Tribe," in Curr, The Australian Race, vol. II, pp. 244—245; Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 131. Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 163, 169, 170, 172. Still, it should be noted that in all these tribes except the Mara and the Anula, the transmission of the totem in the paternal line is apparently the most widespread rule, but there are exceptions. According to Spencer and Gillen (Native Tribes, pp. 123ff.), the ancestor's soul is incarnated in the body of the mother and then becomes the soul of the child. According to Strehlow (Aranda, vol. II, pp. 51ff.), although conception is the work of the ancestor, it does not involve a reincarnation. But in both interpretations, the totem specific to the child does not necessarily depend on that of its parents.
28 27 26

25

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 133; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 53.

For the most part, it is the locality where the mother thinks she conceived that determines the totem of the child. As we will see, each totem has its center, and the ancestors prefer to frequent the places that serve as the centers of their respective totems. The totem of the child is thus that of the locality where the mother thinks she conceived. Further, as the mother must be most often in the environs of the place that is the totemic center of her husband, the child usually has the same totem as the father. This doubdess explains why most of the inhabitants in each locality belong to the same totem ([Spencer and Gillen] Native
Tribes, p. 9).

29

106

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

w h i c h t h a t o r g a n i z a t i o n has disappeared, t h e r e is e v e r y reason t o b e l i e v e t h a t i t was o n c e w i d e s p r e a d . I n A u s t r a l i a , at any rate, n o t r i b e has m o r e than t w o phratries. I n almost a l l cases i n w h i c h the phratries have a name w h o s e m e a n i n g c o u l d be d e t e r m i n e d , t h e n a m e t u r n e d o u t t o be that o f an a n i m a l ; i t t h e r e fore seems t o be a t o t e m . A . L a n g has s h o w n this clearly i n a recent b o o k .
3 0

A c c o r d i n g l y , a m o n g the G o u r n d i t c h - M a r a ( V i c t o r i a ) , o n e o f the phratries is called K r o k i t c h a n d the o t h e r K a p u t c h ; the first o f these means " w h i t e c o c k a t o o " a n d t h e second " b l a c k c o c k a t o o . "
31

T h e same terms are f o u n d , w h o l l y
3 2

o r i n part, a m o n g the B u a n d i k a n d t h e W o t j o b a l u k .

A m o n g the W a r r a 3 3

m u n g a , t h e names used, B u n j i l a n d W a a n g q u i , m e a n eaglehawk and c r o w . n u m b e r o f tribes i n N e w S o u t h W a l e s ; o f t h e N g a r i g o a n d the W o l g a l . c o c k a t o o a n d the c r o w .
3 7 3 6 34

T h e w o r d s " M u k w a r a " a n d " K i l p a r a " are used f o r t h e same objects i n a large t h e y designate the same a n i m a l s .
35

T h e eaglehawk a n d the c r o w have also g i v e n t h e i r names to the t w o phratries A m o n g t h e K u i n m u r b u r a , i t is t h e w h i t e O t h e r examples c o u l d b e c i t e d . T h u s w e c o m e t o

see the p h r a t r y as an a n c i e n t clan that was b r o k e n u p , the present clans as the result o f this d i s m e m b e r m e n t , a n d the s o l i d a r i t y that j o i n s t h e m as a relic o f their original u n i t y .
3 8

I t is t r u e that the phratries i n c e r t a i n tribes seem n o

l o n g e r t o have d e f i n i t e names; i n others, w h e r e names exist, t h e m e a n i n g is n o l o n g e r k n o w n even t o the natives. T h i s is i n n o w a y s u r p r i s i n g . T h e p h r a tries are doubtless a p r i m i t i v e i n s t i t u t i o n , since t h e y are r e c e d i n g e v e r y w h e r e ;

30

[Andrew Lang], The Secret of theTotem [London, Longmans, 1905], pp. 159ff. Cf. [Lorimer] Fison

and [Alfred William] Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai [Group Marriage by Elopement Drawn Chiefly from the Usage ofAustralian Aborigines; also The Kurnai Tribe, Their Customs in Peace and War, Melbourne, G. Robertson,

1880], pp. 40-41; John Mathew, Eaglehawk and Crow [London, D. Nutt, 1899]; [Northcote Whitridge]
Thomas, Kinship [Organization] and [Group] Marriage in Australia [Cambridge, Cambridge University

Press, 1906], pp. 52ff.
31

Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 124.

32

Ibid., pp. 121, 123, 124; Curr [TheAustralian Race], vol. Ill, p. 461.

33

Ho,witt, Native Tribes, p. 126.

M

Ibid., pp. 98ff.

Curr [The Australian Race], vol. II, p. 165; [Robert] Brough Smyth, [The Aborigines ofVictoria, vol. I, Melbourne, J. Ferres, Government Printer, 1878], p. 423; Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 429. ^Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 101-102.
37

35

[John] Mathew, Two Representative Tribes of Queensland [London, T. F. Unwin, 1910], p. 139.

Other support for this hypothesis could be adduced, but that would make it necessary to bring in considerations relative to familial organization, and I am trying to keep the two matters separate. Moreover, that question is of only secondary relevance to my subject.

38

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

107

i t is the clans, t h e i r offspring, that have c o m e t o the fore. So i t is natural that the names the phratries b o r e s h o u l d gradually have b e e n erased f r o m m e m o r y o r that p e o p l e s h o u l d have ceased t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e m , f o r they m u s t have b e l o n g e d t o a v e r y archaic language t h a t is n o l o n g e r used. A s p r o o f o f this, i n several cases i n w h i c h w e k n o w w h a t animal's n a m e i t bears, the w o r d that designates that a n i m a l i n everyday language is e n t i r e l y different f r o m t h e o n e that designates the p h r a t r y .
39

T h e r e is a k i n d o f s u b o r d i n a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e p h r a t r y t o t e m and the clan totems. E a c h clan i n p r i n c i p l e belongs t o o n e a n d o n l y o n e phratry. I t is v e r y unusual f o r a clan t o have m e m b e r s i n t h e o t h e r phratry, a case that is almost never seen outside c e r t a i n tribes o f t h e center, especially the A r u n t a .
4 0

Still,

even w h e r e d i s r u p t i v e influences have p r o d u c e d overlappings o f that k i n d , the m a j o r i t y o f clan m e m b e r s are e n t i r e l y c o n t a i n e d i n o n e o f t h e tribe's t w o halves; o n l y a m i n o r i t y are f o u n d o n t h e o t h e r s i d e .
41

Hence, the t w o phra-

tries d o n o t as a r u l e interpenetrate; hence, the possible totems an i n d i v i d u a l can have are d e t e r m i n e d b y t h e p h r a t r y t o w h i c h h e belongs. I n o t h e r w o r d s , the p h r a t r y t o t e m is l i k e a genus o f w h i c h t h e clan totems are species. W e w i l l see that this c o m p a r i s o n is n o t p u r e l y m e t a p h o r i c a l . I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e phratries a n d clans, w e o f t e n f i n d i n A u s t r a l i a n s o c i eties a secondary g r o u p that is n o t w i t h o u t a c e r t a i n distinctiveness: the m a r riage class. Subdivisions o f t h e phratry, w h o s e n u m b e r m a y v a r y f r o m t r i b e t o t r i b e , are called m a r r i a g e classes; sometimes w e f i n d t w o p e r p h r a t r y a n d s o m e times f o u r .
4 2

T h e i r r e c r u i t m e n t a n d f u n c t i o n i n g are regulated b y t w o p r i n c i -

ples. First, i n each phratry, each g e n e r a t i o n belongs t o a different class f r o m the g e n e r a t i o n d i r e c t l y p r e c e d i n g i t , so w h e n there are t w o classes per p h r a try, t h e y necessarily alternate i n each g e n e r a t i o n . T h e c h i l d r e n b e l o n g t o the For example, Mukwara, which designates a phratry among the Barkinji, the Paruinji, and the Milpulko, means "eaglehawk," according to Brough Smyth; among the clans included in that phratry, there is one that has the eaglehawk as its totem, but here that animal is designated by the word Bilyara. The reader will find several cases of this sort cited by Lang, Secret of the Totem, p. 162. """Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 115. According to Howitt (Native Tribes pp. 121, 454), among the Wotjobaluk, the Pelican clan is also represented in both phratries. This seems to me doubtful. Possibly the two clans had two different species of pelicans as their totems. This is what seems to emerge from the information given by [R. H.] Mathews on the same tribe ("[Ethnological Notes on the] Aboriginal Tribes of New South Wales and Victoria," in RSNSW [vol. XXXVIII], 1904, pp. 287-288). On this question, see my article [with Marcel Mauss] "[Sur] le Totémisme," in AS, vol. V [1902], pp. 82ff. On the question of Australian classes in general, see my article "La Prohibition de l'inceste," in AS, vol. I [1898], pp. 9fF., and specifically on the tribes having eight classes, "L'Organisation matrimoniale des sociétés australiennes," in AS, vol. VIII [1905], pp. 118-147.
42 41 39

108

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

class t o w h i c h t h e i r parents d o n o t b e l o n g , a n d the g r a n d c h i l d r e n are o f the same class as t h e i r grandparents. T h u s , a m o n g t h e K a m i l a r o i , the K u p a t h i n p h r a t r y comprises t w o classes, I p p a i and K u m b o ; the D i l b i p h r a t r y comprises t w o others, called M u r r i a n d K u b b i . Since f i l i a t i o n goes i n the m a t e r n a l l i n e , the c h i l d is o f its mother's p h r a t r y ; i f the m o t h e r is K u p a t h i n , the c h i l d w i l l also be a K u p a t h i n . B u t i f she is o f the I p p a i class, he w i l l be a K u m b o ; t h e n , i f female, that child's c h i l d r e n w i l l again c o u n t w i t h i n t h e I p p a i class. L i k e wise, t h e c h i l d r e n o f w o m e n o f the M u r r i class w i l l be o f t h e K u b b i class, a n d the c h i l d r e n o f the K u b b i w o m e n w i l l again be M u r r i . * W h e n there are f o u r classes p e r p h r a t r y instead o f t w o , the system is m o r e c o m p l e x , b u t t h e p r i n ciple is the same. T h e f o u r classes basically f o r m t w o pairs o f t w o classes each, a n d these t w o classes alternate i n each g e n e r a t i o n i n the m a n n e r j u s t i n d i cated. Second, i n p r i n c i p l e , the m e m b e r s o f a class can c o n t r a c t m a r r i a g e i n o n l y o n e class o f t h e o t h e r p h r a t r y .
43

T h e I p p a i m u s t m a r r y i n the K u b b i

class; the M u r r i , i n the K u m b o class. Because this o r g a n i z a t i o n p r o f o u n d l y affects m a r r i a g e relations, these g r o u p i n g s have b e e n g i v e n the name " m a r riage classes." Scholars have asked w h e t h e r these classes sometimes h a d totems, as t h e phratries a n d the clans d o . T h i s q u e s t i o n arose because, i n c e r t a i n Q u e e n s l a n d tribes, each m a r r i a g e class is subject t o d i e t a r y restrictions peculiar t o i t . T h e individuals w h o c o m p r i s e i t m u s t abstain from the flesh o f certain animals that the o t h e r classes m a y freely e a t . ism.
44

W o u l d these animals n o t be totems?

T h e d i e t a r y r e s t r i c t i o n , however, is n o t the characteristic m a r k o f t o t e m T h e t o t e m is, first a n d foremost, a n a m e and, as w e w i l l see, an e m 4 5

b l e m . ^ I n the societies j u s t e x a m i n e d , n o m a r r i a g e class bears the name o f an a n i m a l o r p l a n t o r has an e m b l e m . I t is possible, o f course, that these r e -

*The children of the Kubbi men will take their classfromtheir mother. Trans. ^That is, a stylized representation of the group designated—flags, coats of arms, and distinctive painting on people and things are examples. This principle is not upheld everywhere with equal rigor. In the tribes of the center that have eight classes, in particular, beyond the class with which marriage is regularly permitted, there is another with which people have a kind of secondary connubium (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 126). The same is true of certain tribes with four classes. Each class has the choice between two classes of the other phratry. This is true of the Kabi (see Mathew, in Curr, vol. Ill, p. 162 [This reference remains obscure. Trans.]).
44

,3

See [Walter Edmund] Roth, Ethnological Studies among the North-West-Central Queensland Aborigines

(Brisbane, E. Gregory, Government Printer, 1897), pp. 56ff.; [Edward] Palmer, "Notes on Some Australian Tribes," JAI, vol. XIII (1894), [pp. 302ff.]. Still, a few tribes are cited in which marriage classes have the names of animals or plants. This is the case of the Kabi (Mathew, Two Representative Tribes, p. 150), tribes observed by Mrs. [Daisy M.] Bates ("The Marriage Laws and Customs of the W. Australian Aborigines," in VGJ, vols. XXIII—XXIV, p. 47) and perhaps of two tribes observed by Palmer. But these phenomena are very rare and their significance
45

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

109

strictions derive f r o m t o t e m i s m indirectly. C o n c e i v a b l y the animals p r o t e c t e d b y t h e m o r i g i n a l l y served as t o t e m s f o r clans that have since disappeared, w h i l e the m a r r i a g e classes have r e m a i n e d . S o m e t i m e s i n d e e d t h e y d o have a staying p o w e r that clans d o n o t have. A s a result, t h e restrictions n o w adrift f r o m t h e i r o r i g i n a l supports m a y have spread t h r o u g h o u t each class, since there w e r e n o l o n g e r any o t h e r g r o u p i n g s t o w h i c h t h e y c o u l d b e c o m e attached. B u t even i f that r u l e was b o r n o f t o t e m i s m , clearly i t n o l o n g e r r e p resents a n y t h i n g m o r e t h a n a w e a k e n e d a n d d i l u t e d f o r m o f t o t e m i s m .
4 6

A l l that has j u s t b e e n said o f t h e t o t e m i n the A u s t r a l i a n societies is applicable t o the I n d i a n tribes o f N o r t h A m e r i c a . T h e o n l y difference is that t o t e m i c o r g a n i z a t i o n a m o n g the Indians has a boundedness a n d a stability that i t lacks i n A u s t r a l i a . T h e A u s t r a l i a n clans are n o t s i m p l y v e r y n u m e r o u s b u t o f almost u n l i m i t e d n u m b e r i n a single t r i b e . T h e observers cite some o f t h e m b y w a y o f e x a m p l e b u t never succeed i n g i v i n g us a full list. T h e reason is that t h e list is never d e f i n i t i v e l y closed. T h e same process o f segmentat i o n that o r i g i n a l l y d i s m e m b e r e d the p h r a t r y a n d gave rise t o clans p r o p e r goes o n endlessly w i t h i n the clans; as a consequence o f that progressive c r u m b l i n g , a clan o f t e n has o n l y a v e r y small m e m b e r s h i p .
47

I n America, by

contrast, the f o r m o f t h e t o t e m i c system is b e t t e r d e f i n e d . I n A m e r i c a the

poorly established. Moreover, it is not surprising that the classes, as well as the sexual groups, have sometimes adopted the names of animals. This unusual extension of totemic names in no way modifies my conception of totemism. [The ethnographer Durkheim identified simply as "Mrs. Bates" is the subject of a full-scale biography: Julia Blackburn, Daisy Bates in the Desert, New York, Pantheon, 1994. Trans.) "^The same explanation perhaps applies to certain other tribes of the Southeast and East in which, if Howitt's informants are to be believed, one wouldfindtotems specifically assigned to each marriage class as well. This presumably would be the case among the Wiradjuri, the Wakelbura, and the Bunta-Murra of the River Bulloo (Howitt, NativeTribes pp. 210, 221, 226). However, by his own admission, the testimonies he gathered are suspect. In fact, it emerges from the lists he compiled that several totems are found in both classes of the same phratry. The explanation I propose, after Frazer (Totemism and Exogamy, pp. 531fE), raises another difficulty. In principle, each clan, hence each totem, is represented indiscriminately in both classes of a single phratry, since one of those classes is that of children and the other that of the parents from whom the children get their totems. Thus, when the clans disappeared, the totemic prohibitions that survived must have remained common to the two marriage classes, since, in the cases cited, each class has its own. Whence that differentiation? The example of the Kaiabara (a tribe of the south of Queensland) enables us, perhaps, to visualize how this differentiation occurred. In that tribe, the children have their mother's totem, but it is individualized by a distinctive mark. If the mother has the black eaglehawk totem, the child's is the white eaglehawk (Howitt, NativeTribes, p. 229). Here, apparendy, are beginnings of a tendency for totems to differentiate according to marriage class. A tribe of a few hundred people sometimes has as many asfiftyor sixty clans and even many more. See on this point Durkheim and Mauss, "De Quelques formes primitives de classification," in AS, vol. VI (1903), p. 28, n.l.
47

110

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

tribes are, o n the average, m a r k e d l y b i g g e r t h a n i n A u s t r a l i a b u t there are fewer clans. Since a single t r i b e rarely has m o r e t h a n a b o u t t e n , defined: People k n o w h o w m a n y there are a n d t e l l u s .
49 4 8

and o f t e n

fewer, each clan is a m u c h larger g r o u p . M o s t o f all, t h e i r n u m b e r is better T h i s difference is d u e t o t h e i r m o r e advanced social o r g a n i z a t i o n . F r o m the first t i m e those tribes w e r e observed, the social groups were deeply r o o t e d i n the soil and c o n s e q u e n t l y better able t o w i t h s t a n d the forces t o w a r d dispersion that assailed t h e m . A t t h e same t i m e , the society already h a d t o o strong a sense o f its u n i t y t o r e m a i n u n c o n s c i o u s o f itself a n d t h e parts c o m p r i s i n g i t . T h u s , the A m e r i c a n e x a m p l e gives us a b e t t e r grasp o f organizat i o n based o n clans. T o j u d g e that o r g a n i z a t i o n b y the w a y i t n o w appears i n Australia w o u l d b £ m i s l e a d i n g . T h e r e , i n fact, i t is i n a state o f disorder a n d d i s s o l u t i o n that is b y n o means n o r m a l ; i t o u g h t t o be seen instead as t h e p r o d u c t o f a decay that is a t t r i b u t a b l e as m u c h t o t h e n a t u r a l w e a r and tear o f t i m e as t o the d i s o r g a n i z i n g i n f l u e n c e o f the w h i t e s . T o be sure, i t is u n l i k e l y that the A u s t r a l i a n clans w e r e ever as large o r as s t r u c t u r a l l y durable as the A m e r i c a n clans. S t i l l , there m u s t have b e e n a t i m e w h e n the distance b e t w e e n t h e t w o was n o t so great as i t is today. T h e societies o f A m e r i c a w o u l d never have managed t o e q u i p themselves w i t h t h e substantial skeleton t h e y d i d i f the clan h a d always b e e n so fluid a n d insubstantial. I n d e e d , that greater stability has enabled t h e archaic system o f phratries t o persist i n A m e r i c a w i t h a c l a r i t y a n d r e l i e f that i t n o l o n g e r has i n Australia. I n Australia, t h e p h r a t r y is e v e r y w h e r e i n decline; i t is o f t e n n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a g r o u p w i t h o u t a name. W h e n i t does have a name, that name is taken from a f o r e i g n language o r f r o m o n e that is n o l o n g e r spoken a n d is n o l o n g e r u n d e r s t o o d o r n o l o n g e r means m u c h t o the native. W e have b e e n able t o i n fer the existence o f p h r a t r y totems from a f e w survivals* that are, f o r the m o s t part, so i n c o n s p i c u o u s that they have escaped a n u m b e r o f observers. B y c o n trast, i n c e r t a i n parts o f A m e r i c a , this system o f phratries has r e m a i n e d at the fore. T h e tribes o f the n o r t h w e s t coast, i n p a r t i c u l a r the T l i n g i t a n d the H a i d a , have attained a relatively advanced level o f c i v i l i z a t i o n , a n d yet t h e y

"•Rendered here as "survivals," which is seldom used today, Durkheim's term survivances belongs to evolutionary theories of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It refers to traits thought of as vestiges from an earlier stage and, consequendy without present meaning or function. Except among the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, where they are more numerous. See [Frederick Webb] Hodge, "Pueblo Indian Clans," in AA, 1st ser., vol. IX (October 1895), pp. 345ff. Even so, we can ask whether the groups having those totems are clans or subclans.
49 48

See the tables compiled by Morgan in Ancient Society, pp. 153—185.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

111

are d i v i d e d i n t o t w o phratries that are s u b d i v i d e d i n t o a n u m b e r o f clans: phratries o f t h e C r o w and t h e W o l f a m o n g the T l i n g i t , the C r o w a m o n g t h e H a i d a .
5 1 5 0

a n d o f the Eagle a n d

T h a t d i v i s i o n is n o t m e r e l y n o m i n a l ; i t c o r r e 52

sponds t o e x i s t i n g c u s t o m a n d p r o f o u n d l y marks life. C o m p a r e d t o the distance b e t w e e n the phratries, t h e m o r a l distance b e t w e e n clans is s m a l l . The n a m e each o f t h e m bears is n o t a m e r e w o r d w h o s e m e a n i n g has b e e n f o r g o t t e n o r is k n o w n b u t vaguely. I t is a t o t e m i n t h e f u l l sense o f the w o r d , a n d i t has all the essential attributes o f the t o t e m , such as t h e y w i l l be described below.
53

So o n this p o i n t as w e l l , there was g o o d reason n o t t o disregard t h e

tribes o f A m e r i c a , because there w e can d i r e c t l y observe examples o f p h r a t r y totems, whereas Australia o n l y offers us a f e w d i m vestiges o f t h e m .

II
T h e t o t e m is n o t s i m p l y a n a m e ; i t is an e m b l e m , a t r u e coat o f arms, and its resemblance t o the heraldic coat o f arms has o f t e n b e e n c o m m e n t e d u p o n . " E v e r y family," says G r e y o f the Australians, "adopts an a n i m a l o r a p l a n t as t h e i r crest a n d s i g n " — a n d w h a t G r e y calls a f a m i l y is i n d i s p u t a b l y a clan. As Fison a n d H o w i t t also say, " T h e A u s t r a l i a n o r g a n i z a t i o n shows that the t o t e m is, first o f all, the badge o f a g r o u p . "
55 5 4

Schoolcraft speaks i n the same terms

about t h e t o t e m s o f N o r t h A m e r i c a : " T h e t o t e m is i n fact a design that c o r responds t o the heraldic e m b l e m s o f t h e c i v i l i z e d nations, a n d each person is a u t h o r i z e d t o w e a r i t as p r o o f o f the i d e n t i t y o f the f a m i l y t o w h i c h he b e longs. T h i s is s h o w n b y t h e real e t y m o l o g y o f t h e w o r d f r o m w h i c h dodaim

[Avrel] Krause, Die Tlinkit-Indianer [Jena, H. Constenoble, 1885], p. 112; [John Reed] Swanton, "Social Condition, Beliefs and Linguistic Relationship of the Tlingit Indians," BAE, XKVIth Report [1908], p. 398.
51

50

[John Reed] Swanton, Contributions to the Ethnology of the Haida [Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1905], p. 62.

"The distinction between the two clans is absolute in every respect," says Swanton, p. 68; he calls "clans" what I call "phratries." The two phratries, he says elsewhere, are like two peoples foreign to one another. Among the Haida at least, the totem of the clans proper is even more altered than the totem of the phratries. The custom that permits a clan to give or to sell the right to wear its totem arises from the fact that each clan has a number of totems, some of them shared with other clans (see Swanton, pp. 107, 268). Because Swanton calls clans phratries, he is obliged to give the name "family" to clans proper, and the name "household" to real families. But the actual meaning of the terminology he adopts is not in doubt.
^[George Grey],_foMmais ofTwo Expeditions in Northwestern and Western Australia, II [London, T. and W.
53

52

Boone, 1841], p. 228.
55

[Fison and Howitt], Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 165.

112

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

is d e r i v e d , w h i c h means village o r residence o f a f a m i l y g r o u p . "

56

Therefore,

w h e n the Indians entered i n t o relations w i t h the Europeans a n d made c o n tracts w i t h t h e m , each clan sealed t h e treaties thus c o n c l u d e d w i t h its totem.
5 7

T h e nobles o f the feudal age sculpted, engraved, a n d i n every w a y displayed t h e i r coats o f arms o n the walls o f t h e i r castles, o n t h e i r weapons, and o n all k i n d s o f o t h e r objects b e l o n g i n g t o t h e m . T h e blacks o f Australia a n d the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a d o t h e same w i t h t h e i r totems. T h e Indians w h o a c c o m p a n i e d Samuel H e a r n e p a i n t e d t h e i r t o t e m s o n t h e i r shields b e fore g o i n g i n t o b a t t l e .
58

I n t i m e o f war, a c c o r d i n g t o C h a r l e v o i x , c e r t a i n I n 59

d i a n tribes h a d banners, m a d e o f bits o f b a r k attached t o the e n d o f a p o l e o n w h i c h the totems w e r e r e p r e s e n t e d . A m o n g the T l i n g i t , w h e n a c o n f l i c t
6 0

breaks o u t b e t w e e n t w o clans, t h e c h a m p i o n s o f the t w o e n e m y groups wear helmets o n w h i c h t h e i r respective t o t e m s are p a i n t e d . clan.
61

A m o n g the I r o q u o i s ,

the s k i n o f t h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l was placed o n each w i g w a m , as a m a r k o f the A c c o r d i n g t o a n o t h e r observer, the a n i m a l was stuffed w i t h straw a n d
6 2

placed i n front o f t h e d o o r .

A m o n g the W y a n d o t , each c l a n has its o w n o r 6 3

naments a n d d i s t i n c t i v e p a i n t i n g .

A m o n g the Omaha,
6 4

and among

the

S i o u x m o r e generally, the t o t e m is p a i n t e d o n the t e n t .

W h e r e v e r t h e society has b e c o m e sedentary, w h e r e the house has r e placed t h e t e n t a n d t h e plastic arts are m o r e developed, the t o t e m is carved ^[Schoolcraft], Indian Tribes, vol. I, p. 420. [The quoted material is not on this page, nor is the discussion relevant. Trans.] Cf. vol. I, p. 52. This etymology is, by the way, very disputable. Cf. [Frederick Webb Hodge], Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology, lid part [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1907-1910], p. 787.
[Schoolcraft] Indian Tribes, vol. Ill, p. 184. Garrick Mallery, Picture-Writing of the American Indians, BAE, Xth Report, 1893, p. 377.
58 57

[Samuel] Hearne, [A] Journey [from Prince of Wale's Fort in Hudson's Bay] to the Northern Ocean

[Dublin, Printed for P. Byrne and J. Rice, 1796], p. 148 (cited in [James George] Frazer, "Totemism" ([Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th ed. (Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black, 1887)], p. 30). [Pierre François Xavier de] Charlevoix, Histoire et description de la Nouvelle France, vol. V [Paris, Chez la Veuve Ganeau, 1744], p. 329.
60 59

Krause, Tlinkit-Indianer, p. 248.

'Erminnie A. Smith, "Myths of the Iroquois," BAE Second [Annual] Report [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1883], p. 78.
62

6

[Richard Irving] Dodge, Our Wild Indians [Hartford, A. D. Washington and Co., 1882], p. 225.

[John Wesley] Powell, "Wyandot Government," First Annual Report, BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1881), p. 64. "[James Owen] Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," Third [Annual] Report, [BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1884], pp. 229, 240, 248.

63

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

113

o n the w o o d a n d o n t h e walls. T h i s occurs, for e x a m p l e , a m o n g the H a i d a , the T s h i m s h i a n , t h e Salish, a n d t h e T l i n g i t . Krause says, " T h e t o t e m i c arms are a v e r y special house d e c o r a t i o n a m o n g the T l i n g i t . " These are a n i m a l forms c o m b i n e d i n c e r t a i n cases w i t h h u m a n forms a n d sculpted o n poles that rise beside the d o o r as h i g h as fifteen meters; t h e y are usually p a i n t e d i n very flashy c o l o r s .
65

Yet t o t e m i c representations are n o t v e r y n u m e r o u s i n a

T l i n g i t village; there are o n l y a few, a n d those are f o u n d i n f r o n t o f the houses o f chiefs a n d t h e r i c h . T h e y are m u c h m o r e c o m m o n , o f t e n several per house, i n t h e n e i g h b o r i n g t r i b e o f t h e H a i d a .
6 6

W i t h its m a n y sculpted
67

poles standing o n a l l sides a n d sometimes v e r y tall, a H a i d a village gives the impression o f a h o l y c i t y b r i s t l i n g w i t h t i n y b e l l t o w e r s and m i n a r e t s . house.
68

A m o n g the Salish, the t o t e m is o f t e n d r a w n o n t h e i n t e r i o r walls o f the Elsewhere i t is f o u n d o n canoes, utensils o f all k i n d s , a n d funeral
6 9

monuments.

T h e p r e c e d i n g examples are taken exclusively from a m o n g the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a because such sculptures, engravings, a n d p e r m a n e n t r e p r e sentations are possible o n l y w h e r e the t e c h n o l o g y o f t h e arts already has a degree o f r e f i n e m e n t that t h e A u s t r a l i a n tribes have n o t yet attained. I n consequence, t h e t o t e m i c representations o f t h e k i n d j u s t m e n t i o n e d are rarer a n d less apparent i n A u s t r a l i a t h a n i n A m e r i c a . Nonetheless, there are some examples. A m o n g t h e W a r r a m u n g a , at t h e e n d o f the funeral cerem o n i e s , the bones o f the deceased are b u r i e d after h a v i n g b e e n d r i e d a n d r e d u c e d t o p o w d e r ; a figure representing t h e t o t e m is traced o n t h e g r o u n d beside t h e place w h e r e t h e y are d e p o s i t e d .
70

A m o n g t h e M a r a a n d the A n ¬ I n N e w S o u t h Wales, O x l e y

ula, t h e b o d y is p l a c e d i n a piece o f h o l l o w e d - o u t w o o d t h a t is also decorated w i t h the i d e n t i f y i n g designs o f t h e t o t e m .
7 1

65

Krause, Tlinkit-Indianer, pp. 130-131.

"•Ibid., p. 308. See the photograph of a Haida village in Swanton, Haida, PI. IX. Cf. [Edward] Tylor, "Totem Post of the Haida Village of Masset," JAI, New Series, vol. I [1907], p. 133. ^Charles Hill Tout, "Report on the Ethnology of the Stadumh of British Columbia," JAI, vol. XXXV, 1905, p. 155. Krause, Tlinkit-Indianer, p. 230; Swanton, Haida, pp. 129, 135ff.; Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, vol. I, pp. 52—53, 337, 356. In this last case, the totem is represented upside down as a sign of mourning. Similar customs are found among the Creek (C. Swan, in Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes of the United States, vol. V, p. 265), among the Delaware ([John Gottlieb Ernestus] Heckwelder, An Account of the History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations Who Once Inhabited Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, A. Small, 1818], pp. 246—247).
70 69 67

Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 168, 537, 540. Ibid., p. 174.

71

114

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

f o u n d carvings o n trees near the t o m b w h e r e a native was b u r i e d , t o w h i c h B r o u g h S m y t h ascribes t o t e m i c s i g n i f i c a n c e . engrave t h e i r shields w i t h t o t e m i c i m a g e s .
73 72

T h e natives o f U p p e r D a r l i n g

A c c o r d i n g t o C o l l i n s , almost all
74

the utensils are covered w i t h o r n a m e n t s that p r o b a b l y have the same m e a n i n g ; figures o f this sort are also f o u n d o n r o c k s . w e l l be m o r e c o m m o n t h a n t h e y seem. These v a r i e d facts p r o v i d e a sense o f the large place h e l d b y the t o t e m i n the social life o f p r i m i t i v e s . T h u s far, however, i t has appeared t o us m o r e o r less as apart from m a n himself; w e have seen i t represented o n l y o n things. B u t t o t e m i c images are n o t o n l y r e p r o d u c e d o n the outsides o f houses and canoes, o n weapons, instruments, a n d t o m b s ; they recur o n men's bodies. M e n d o n o t s i m p l y place t h e i r e m b l e m o n the objects they possess b u t also w e a r i t o n t h e i r persons; they i m p r i n t i t i n t h e i r flesh, a n d i t becomes part o f t h e m . T h i s m o d e o f representation is i n fact, a n d b y far, the m o s t i m p o r t a n t one. I n d e e d , generally the m e m b e r s o f each clan seek t o give themselves t h e o u t w a r d appearance o f t h e i r t o t e m . A t certain r e l i g i o u s festivals a m o n g the T l i n g i t , the person w h o c o n d u c t s the c e r e m o n y wears a c o s t u m e that w h o l l y o r i n p a r t represents t h e b o d y o f t h e a n i m a l w h o s e n a m e the clan b e a r s . t h r o u g h o u t the A m e r i c a n N o r t h w e s t . Minnitaree w h e n they go i n t o battle heads.
79 7 6 75

Since, f o r reasons t o be set

f o r t h b e l o w , i t is n o t always easy t o i n t e r p r e t these t o t e m i c designs, t h e y m a y

Special masks are used f o r this purpose. T h e same practices crop u p again T h e y are also f o u n d a m o n g and a m o n g the Pueblo the
78 77

Indians.

Elsewhere, w h e n the t o t e m is a b i r d , the i n d i v i d u a l s w e a r its feathers o n t h e i r A m o n g t h e I o w a , each clan has a special w a y o f c u t t i n g the hair. I n the Eagle clan, t w o large tufts are arranged at the front o f the head, w h i l e a n -

72

Brough Smyth, Aborigines of Victoria, vol. I, p. 99n.

"Ibid., p. 284. Strehlow cites an example of the same sort among the Arunta, Aranda, vol. Ill, p. 68.
74

[David Collins], An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, vol. II [London, Printed for T.

Cadell and W. Davies, 1804], p. 381.
75

Krause, Ttinkit-Indiana, p. 327.

76

Swanton, "Social Conditions," pp. 435£F.; [Franz] Boas, "The Social Organization and the Secret

Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians," in Report of the United States National Museum for 1895, Washington,

Government Printing Office, 1897, p. 358.
77

Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, vol. I, p. 26.

[John Gregory] Bourke, The Snake Dance of the Moquis of Arizona [Chicago, Rio Grande Press, 1962], p. 229; J. W. Fewkes, "The Group of Tusayan Ceremonials Called Katcinas," in XVth Report [BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office], 1897, pp. 251-263.
79

78

[Johann Georg] Miiller, Geschichte der amerikanischen Urreligionen [Basel, Schewighauser, 1855], p.

327.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

115

other hangs b e h i n d ; i n the B u f f a l o clan, the hair is arranged i n the shape o f horns.
80

S i m i l a r arrangements are f o u n d a m o n g t h e O m a h a : E a c h clan has its

o w n hairstyle. I n the T o r t o i s e clan, f o r e x a m p l e , the head is shaved, l e a v i n g six c u r l s — t w o o n each side, o n e i n f r o n t a n d o n e b e h i n d — s o as t o i m i t a t e the feet, head, a n d tail o f t h e a n i m a l .
8 1

B u t i t is m o s t o f t e n o n t h e b o d y itself that the t o t e m i c m a r k is i m p r i n t e d , for this is a m o d e o f representation that is w i t h i n t h e reach o f less advanced societies. I t has sometimes b e e n asked w h e t h e r t h e c o m m o n r i t e o f e x t r a c t i n g a y o u n g man's t w o u p p e r incisors w h e n he reaches p u b e r t y m i g h t n o t have the p u r p o s e o f i m i t a t i n g t h e f o r m o f t h e t o t e m . T h i s has n o t b e e n established as fact, b u t i t is w o r t h n o t i n g that the natives themselves sometimes e x p l a i n the c u s t o m i n that way. F o r example, a m o n g t h e A r u n t a , the e x t r a c t i o n o f t e e t h is p r a c t i c e d o n l y i n the clan o f r a i n a n d water. A c c o r d i n g t o t r a d i t i o n , that o p e r a t i o n is p e r f o r m e d t o m a k e t h e m resemble c e r t a i n b l a c k clouds w i t h l i g h t edges that are h e l d t o a n n o u n c e the speedy c o m i n g o f r a i n — t h e clouds b e i n g considered as things o f t h e same f a m i l y .
82

T h i s is e v -

idence that the native h i m s e l f realizes that the p u r p o s e o f these d e f o r m a t i o n s is t o give h i m the appearance o f his t o t e m , at least c o n v e n t i o n a l l y . A l s o a m o n g the A r u n t a , d u r i n g the rites o f s u b i n c i s i o n , * specific k i n d s o f gashes are made o n the sisters a n d t h e f u t u r e w i f e o f t h e n o v i c e ; t h e f o r m o f the r e s u l t i n g scars appears as w e l l o n a sacred o b j e c t called t h e churinga J o f w h i c h I w i l l presendy speak. T h e lines d r a w n o n t h e c h u r i n g a are e m b l e m a t i c o f the t o t e m . the r a i n ; teeth.
85 8 4 8 3

A m o n g the K a i t i s h , the euro is considered t o be closely a k i n t o

the p e o p l e o f the r a i n clan w e a r small earrings made o f euro

A m o n g the Yerkla, a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f gashes t h a t leave scars are i n -

flicted o n the y o u n g m a n d u r i n g i n i t i a t i o n ; the n u m b e r a n d f o r m o f these *A form of genital mutilation that involves a cut made along the underside of the penis, and that in some traditions is accompanied by circumcision as well. ^Dürkheims convention of not pluralizing words that are not pluralized in their original languages by the addition of "s" (like "churinga," "waninga," and "nurtunja") can lead to confusion in English, in which articles do not have plurals. For that reason where he says les churinga, I say "the churingas." Also, I have followed his tendency to remove Australian terms from italics, once they have been explained.
""Schoolcraft, Indian Tribe^ vol. Ill, p. 269.
81

Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," pp. 229, 238, 240, 245. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 451. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 257. What these relations of kinship signify will be seen below (Bk. II, chap. 4).

82

83

84

85

Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 296.

116

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

scars v a r y a c c o r d i n g t o t o t e m .

8 6

O n e o f Fison's i n f o r m a n t s notes t h e same
87

sort o f t h i n g i n the tribes he s t u d i e d . a m o n g the D i e r i .
8 8

A c c o r d i n g t o H o w i t t , the same sort

o f relationship b e t w e e n c e r t a i n scarifications a n d the w a t e r t o t e m exists Finally, a m o n g the Indians o f t h e N o r t h w e s t , the c u s t o m
89

o f t a t t o o i n g the t o t e m o n the b o d y is v e r y w i d e s p r e a d . emic significance;
90

T h e tattoos m a d e b y m u t i l a t i o n o r scarification d o n o t always have t o t b u t t h e case is o t h e r w i s e f o r simple designs p a i n t e d o n the b o d y : T h o s e usually represent t h e t o t e m . T r u e , the native does n o t w e a r t h e m every day. W h e n he engages i n p u r e l y e c o n o m i c occupations, as w h e n the small f a m i l y groups disperse f o r h u n t i n g a n d fishing, they do n o t e n c u m b e r themselves w i t h this paraphernalia, w h i c h can be q u i t e elaborate. B u t w h e n t h e clans c o m e t o g e t h e r t o share a c o m m o n life a n d devote t h e m selves t o religious ceremonies, w e a r i n g i t is o b l i g a t o r y . As w e w i l l see, each o f those ceremonies is t h e affair o f a specific t o t e m , and, i n p r i n c i p l e , t h e rites that are addressed t o a t o t e m can be p e r f o r m e d o n l y b y the p e o p l e o f that t o t e m . T h o s e w h o c o n d u c t t h e m , t h e i r bodies t h a t represent t h e t o t e m .
9 1

p l a y i n g t h e r o l e o f celebrants—and O n e o f the p r i n c i p a l rites o f i n i t i a 9 3

sometimes even those w h o are present as spectators—always w e a r designs o n
9 2

t i o n , the o n e that initiates t h e y o u n g m a n i n t o the r e l i g i o u s life o f the t r i b e , is the p a i n t i n g o f the t o t e m i c s y m b o l u p o n his b o d y . ^Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 744-746; cf. p. 129.
s7

I t is t r u e that, a m o n g

Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 66 n. It is true that this is disputed by other informants.
Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 744.

88

89

Swanton, Haida, pp. 41£f. See plates X X and XXI; Boas, The Social Organization of the Kwakiutl, p.

318; Swanton, Tlinkit, Plates xviff. In one case outside the two ethnographic regions we are specifically studying, such tattoos are placed on the animals that belong to the clan. The Bechuana of southern Africa are divided into a certain number of clans: the people of the crocodile, the buffalo, the monkey, etc. The people of the crocodile, for example, make an incision on the ears of their beasts, the shape of which resembles the face of the animal ([Eugene Arnaud] Casalis, Les Bassoutos [English trans., The Basutos, Capetown, C. Struik, 1965], p. 221). According to [William] Robertson Smith, the same custom existed among the ancient Arabs (Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia [Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1885], pp. 212-214). '"According to Spencer and Gillen, there are some that have no religious meaning (see Native Tribes, pp. 41-42; Northern Tribes, pp. 45, 54-56).
9!

Among the Arunta, this rule has exceptions that will be explained below.

Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes, p. 162; Northern Tribes, pp. 179, 259, 292, 295-296; Schulze, [Reverend Louis, "Aborigines of the Upper and Middle Finke River," RSSA, vol. XIV, 1891], p. 221. What is represented in this way is not always the totem itself but one of those objects that, being associated with the totem, are regarded as things of the same family. [The reference states that bodies are painted; it does not mention painting as a religious rite. Trans.] "This is the case, for example, among the Warramunga, the Walpari, the Wulmala, the TjingiUi, the Umbaia, and the Unmatjera (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 339, 348). Among the Warramunga,

92

Tlie Principal Totemic Beliefs

117

the A r u n t a , the design thus m a d e does n o t always a n d necessarily represent the t o t e m o f the n o v i c e ;
9 4

b u t this is an e x c e p t i o n , n o d o u b t a result o f the
95

disturbed state i n t o w h i c h the t o t e m i c o r g a n i z a t i o n o f that t r i b e has f a l l e n .

W h a t is m o r e , even a m o n g t h e A r u n t a , at the m o s t s o l e m n m o m e n t o f the i n i t i a t i o n (its h i g h p o i n t a n d consecration b e i n g t h e m o m e n t w h e n the novice is a d m i t t e d t o t h e sanctuary w h e r e t h e sacred objects o f the clan are kept), an e m b l e m a t i c p a i n t i n g is d r a w n o n h i m . T h i s time i t is i n d e e d the t o t e m o f t h e y o u n g m a n that is r e p r e s e n t e d .
96

T h e ties that b i n d the i n d i v i d -

ual t o his t o t e m are so close that, i n the tribes o f the N o r t h A m e r i c a n n o r t h west coast, the e m b l e m o f t h e clan is p a i n t e d n o t o n l y o n t h e l i v i n g b u t even o n the dead: A t o t e m i c m a r k is placed o n the corpse before b u r i a l .
9 7

at the moment the design is made, the officiants say the following words to the novice: "This mark belongs to your place: Do not turn your eyes to another place." According to Spencer and Gillen, "This language means that the young man must not involve himself in any ceremonies but those that concern his totem; they also testify to the close association that is held to exist between a man, his totem, and the place especially consecrated to that totem." (Northern Tribes, p. 584.) Among the Warramunga, the totem is transmitted from father to children; consequendy each locality has its own.
94

Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes, pp. 215, 241, 376.

It will be recalled (see p. 105 above) that in this tribe, the child can have a different totem from his father or his mother and, more generally, of his kin. The relatives of both sides are the designated celebrants of the initiation ceremonies. As a result, since a man in principle is qualified as operator or celebrant only for ceremonies of his own totem, it follows that in certain cases, the rites at which the child is initiated necessarily concern a totem other than his own. This is how it comes about that the paintings made on the body of the novice do not necessarily represent his totem. Cases of this kind are to be found in Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 229. This shows, moreover, that if there is an anomaly, it is because the ceremonies of circumcision nevertheless belong essentially to the totem that would be the totem of the novice himself if the totemic organization was not disturbed—if the totemic organization was among the Arunta what it is among the Warramunga (ibid., p. 219). The same disruption has had another consequence. Its effect everywhere has been to loosen somewhat the bonds that unite each totem with a definite group, since the same totem can include members in all the possible local groups, and even in the two phratries indiscriminately. The idea that ceremonies of a totem could be conducted by an individual of a different totem—an idea that is contrary to the very principles of totemism, as we will see better below—has thus been able to establish itself without excessive resistance. It is conceded that a man to whom a spirit has revealed the formula of a ceremony is qualified to preside in it, even though he was not of the totem concerned (ibid., p. 519). Proof that this is an exception to the rule, and the result of a kind of toleration, is that the beneficiary of the formula thus revealed cannot do with it as he pleases. If he transmits the formula, and such transmissions are common, it can only be to a member of the totem to which the rite refers (ibid.). Ibid., p. 140. In this case, the novice keeps the decoration in which he was dressed until it goes away by itself with the passage of time.
97 %

95

Franz Boas, "First General Report on the Indians of British Columbia," in BAAS, Fifth Report of the

Committee on the North-Westem Tribes of the Dominion of Canada [London, Offices of the Association, 1890],

p. 41.

118

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

III
These t o t e m i c decorations suggest that t h e t o t e m is n o t m e r e l y a n a m e a n d an e m b l e m . T h e y are used d u r i n g religious ceremonies a n d are part o f the l i t u r g y : T h u s , w h i l e the t o t e m is a collective label, i t also has a religious character. I n fact, things are classified as sacred a n d profane b y reference t o the t o t e m . I t is t h e v e r y archetype o f sacred things. T h e tribes o f central Australia, p r i n c i p a l l y t h e A r u n t a , the L o r i t j a , t h e K a i t i s h , the U n m a t j e r a , a n d the I l p i r r a ,
9 8

use c e r t a i n i n s t r u m e n t s i n t h e i r T h e y are pieces o f w o o d o r
1 0 0

rites that, a m o n g the A r u n t a , are called churingas, a c c o r d i n g t o Spencer a n d G i l l e n and, a c c o r d i n g t o Strehlow, Tjurunga." bits o f p o l i s h e d stone o f various shapes b u t generally oval o r o b l o n g . is engraved a design representing the totem of this group.
101

Each

t o t e m i c g r o u p has a m o r e o r less sizable c o l l e c t i o n o f t h e m . Upon each of them S o m e churingas are p i e r c e d at o n e e n d , w i t h a s t r i n g m a d e from h u m a n hair o r opossum fur passed t h r o u g h the h o l e . T h o s e that are m a d e o f w o o d a n d p i e r c e d i n this w a y serve the same p u r p o s e as those c u l t i n s t r u m e n t s * t o w h i c h the E n g l i s h ethnographers have g i v e n the n a m e " b u l l roarers." H e l d b y t h e s t r i n g from w h i c h t h e y are suspended, t h e y are r a p i d l y w h i r l e d i n the air so as t o p r o d u c e the same sort o f h u m m i n g that is m a d e b y t h e " d e v i l s " that o u r c h i l d r e n use as toys today; this deafening noise has r i t u a l m e a n i n g a n d accompanies all r e l i g i o u s ceremonies o f any i m p o r t a n c e . T h u s , churingas o f this k i n d are a c t u ally b u l l roarers. O t h e r s , w h i c h are n o t w o o d e n o r are n o t p i e r c e d , c a n n o t be used i n this m a n n e r . Nevertheless, t h e y evoke the same feelings o f r e l i g i o u s respect. I n d e e d every c h u r i n g a , h o w e v e r used, counts a m o n g the m o s t p r e e m i n e n t l y sacred things. N o t h i n g has surpassed i t i n r e l i g i o u s d i g n i t y . T h e w o r d that designates i t makes this i m m e d i a t e l y clear. A t the same t i m e that " c h u r i n g a " is a n o u n , i t is also an a d j e c t i v e — m e a n i n g "sacred." T h u s , a m o n g

This term applies to special containers, knives, coverings, bells, and other objects used in the course of religious rites. There are some among the Warramunga as well, but fewer than among the Arunta, and although they have a certain place in the myths, they do notfigurein the totemic ceremonies (Spencer and Gillen,
Northern Tribes, p. 163).
98

"Other names are used in other tribes. I give the Arunta term a generic sense, because it is in that tribe that the churingas have greatest importance and are the best studied.
100

Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 81.

""There are some, but not many, that do not bear any obvious design (see Spencer and Gillen, Native
Tribes, p. 144).

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

119

the names that each A r u n t a has, there is o n e so sacred that i t must n o t be r e vealed t o a stranger; i t is p r o n o u n c e d b u t rarely a n d i n a l o w v o i c e , a sort o f mysterious m u r m u r . T h a t n a m e is called aritna churinga (aritna means "name").
1 0 2

M o r e generally, t h e w o r d " c h u r i n g a " designates a l l r i t u a l acts;
1 0 3

for example, ilia churinga means t h e c u l t o f the E m u .

Thus, churinga, pe-

r i o d , used as a n o u n , is t h e t h i n g w h o s e quintessential feature is t o be sacred. T h e profane, t h e r e f o r e — w o m e n a n d - y o u n g m e n n o t y e t i n i t i a t e d i n t o r e l i gious l i f e — m a y n o t t o u c h o r see t h e churingas; t h e y are o n l y p e r m i t t e d t o l o o k f r o m afar a n d even t h e n r a r e l y .
104

T h e churingas are p i o u s l y k e p t i n a special place t h e A r u n t a call the ertnatulunga—a sort o f small cave h i d d e n i n a deserted p l a c e .
105

T h e entrance is

carefully closed w i t h rocks placed so skillfully that a passing stranger never suspects that t h e r e l i g i o u s treasury o f the clan is nearby. S u c h is t h e churingas' sacredness that i t is passed o n t o t h e place w h e r e t h e y are deposited; w o m e n and t h e u n i n i t i a t e d m a y n o t c o m e near i t . Y o u n g m e n m a y d o so o n l y w h e n t h e i r i n i t i a t i o n is c o m p l e t e l y over, a n d even t h e n , some are j u d g e d t o m e r i t that p r i v i l e g e o n l y after several years o f t r i a l .
1 0 6

T h e religiousness o f t h e place

radiates b e y o n d a n d is transfused i n t o all that surrounds i t : E v e r y t h i n g p a r t i c ipates i n t h e same q u a l i t y a n d is f o r that reason insulated f r o m profane c o n tact. Is a m a n chased b y another? H e is safe i f h e reaches t h e ertnatulunga; h e cannot be captured t h e r e .
107

E v e n a w o u n d e d a n i m a l that takes refuge there

102

Ibid„ pp. 139, 648; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 75.

Strehlow, who spells it Tjurunga, translates the word a little differently. "This word," he says, "means all that is secret and personal" (der eigene geheime). Tju is an old word that means hidden, secret, and runga means that which is personal to me." But Kempe, who has more authority than Strehlow in the matter, translates tju as "great," "powerful," or "sacred" ([Reverend H.[ Kempe, "Vocabulary of the Tribes Inhabiting the MacdonnellvRanges," in RSSA, vol. XIV (1890-1891, 1898), pp. 1-54], under "Tju." Moreover, Strehlows translation is basically not so far from the preceding as one might think at first glance, for what is secret is that which is taken away from the knowledge of the profane, in other words, that which is sacred. As concerns the meaning of the word runga, that seems very doubtful. The ceremonies of the emu belong to all the members of the Emu clan; all can participate in them; they are not the personal property of any member. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 130-132; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 78. A woman who has seen the churinga and the man who has shown it to her are both put to death. Strehlow calls that place, defined exacdy in the same terms Spencer and Gillen use, arknanuaua instead of ertnatulunga (Aranda, vol. II, p. 78).
106

103

104

105

[Spencer and Gillen], Northern Tribes, p. 270, and Native Tribes, p. 140.

I07

Ibid., p. 135.

120

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

m u s t be r e s p e c t e d . asylum.

108

Q u a r r e l s are p r o h i b i t e d . I t is a place o f peace, as is said

i n the G e r m a n i c societies; i t is the sanctuary o f the t o t e m i c g r o u p ; i t is a t r u e T h e churinga's v i r t u e s are manifested n o t o n l y b y t h e w a y i t keeps the profane at a distance. I t is isolated i n this w a y because i t is a t h i n g o f great r e l i g i o u s value, a n d its loss w o u l d tragically i n j u r e the g r o u p a n d the i n d i v i d u als. T h e c h u r i n g a has all sorts o f m i r a c u l o u s qualities. B y its t o u c h , w o u n d s are healed, especially those r e s u l t i n g f r o m c i r c u m c i s i o n ; fective against i l l n e s s ;
110 1 0 9

i t is similarly ef112

i t makes the beard g r o w ;

1 1 1

i t conveys i m p o r t a n t it

powers over t h e t o t e m i c species, w h o s e n o r m a l r e p r o d u c t i o n i t ensures;

gives m e n strength, courage, a n d perseverance, w h i l e depressing a n d w e a k e n i n g t h e i r enemies. I n d e e d , this last b e l i e f is so d e e p - r o o t e d that w h e n t w o fighters are b a t t l i n g , i f o n e happens t o glimpse that his o p p o n e n t is w e a r i n g
1 1 3

churingas, he i n s t a n d y loses c o n f i d e n c e a n d his defeat is c e r t a i n . r i t u a l i n s t r u m e n t s have a m o r e i m p o r t a n t place i n r e l i g i o u s

Thus, no
114

ceremonies.

T h e i r powers are passed o n t o t h e celebrants o r t o t h e c o n g r e g a t i o n b y a k i n d o f a n o i n t i n g ; the faithful are smeared w i t h fat a n d t h e n t h e churingas are r u b b e d against t h e i r arms, legs, a n d s t o m a c h . o n e w a y t o spread t h e v i r t u e s t h e y c o n t a i n .
1 1 5

O r t h e churingas are covered

w i t h d o w n that flies away i n all directions w h e n t h e y are w h i r l e d , this b e i n g
1 1 6

C h u r i n g a s are n o t m e r e l y useful t o i n d i v i d u a l s ; t h e collective fate o f the entire clan is b o u n d u p w i t h theirs. L o s i n g t h e m is a disaster, the greatest m i s f o r t u n e that can befall t h e g r o u p .
l08 1 1 7

S o m e t i m e s churingas leave the e r t n a t u -

Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 78. However, Strehlow says that a murderer who takes refuge near an ertnatulunga is mercilessly pursued there and put to death. I have some difficulty reconciling that fact with the privilege the animal enjoys and wonder if the greater rigor with which the criminal is treated is not recent and if it should not be ascribed to a weakening of the taboo that originally protected the ertnatulunga.
109

[Spencer and Gillen], Native Tribes, p. 248.

Ibid., pp. 545-546; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 79. For example, the dust scraped from a stone churinga and dissolved in water makes a potion that heals the sick. "'Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 545—546; Strehlow, Aranda vol. II, p. 79 disputes that. " For example, a churinga of the Yam totem that is placed in the ground makes yams grow at that spot (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 275). It has the same power over the animals (Strehlow,
Aranda, vol. II, pp. 76, 78; vol. Ill, pp. 3, 7).
2

110

" [Spencer and Gillen], Native Tribes, p. 135; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 79.
114

3

[Spencer and Gillen], Northern Tribes p. 278.
5

" Ibid.,p. 180. " Ibid., pp. 272-273.
117 6

Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes, p. 135.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

121

l u n g a — f o r example, w h e n t h e y are l e n t t o some f o r e i g n g r o u p . "

8

T h e r e is

real p u b l i c m o u r n i n g w h e n this happens. F o r t w o weeks, the people o f the t o t e m c r y a n d l a m e n t , c o v e r i n g t h e i r bodies w i t h w h i t e clay as t h e y d o w h e n they have lost o n e o f t h e i r k i n .
1 1 9

T h e churingas are n o t left f o r i n d i v i d u a l s

t o d o w i t h as t h e y please; t h e e r t n a t u l u n g a w h e r e t h e y are kept is u n d e r the c o n t r o l o f the group's chief. T o be sure, each i n d i v i d u a l has special rights over certain o f t h e m ;
1 2 0

b u t even i f he is t o some e x t e n t t h e i r o w n e r , he can use
1 2 1

t h e m o n l y w i t h the consent o f the c h i e f a n d u n d e r the chief's guidance. I t is a collective treasury, t h e H o l y A r k * o f the c l a n . T h e d e v o t i o n they receive
122

f u r t h e r illustrates the great value t h a t is attached t o t h e m . T h e y are h a n d l e d w i t h a respect that is displayed b y t h e s o l e m n i t y o f t h e m o v e m e n t s . They are cared for, o i l e d , r u b b e d , a n d p o l i s h e d ; w h e n they are c a r r i e d f r o m o n e place t o another, i t is i n the m i d s t o f ceremonies, p r o o f that this travel is c o n sidered an act o f the v e r y highest i m p o r t a n c e .
1 2 3

I n themselves, the churingas are m e r e l y objects o f w o o d a n d stone l i k e so m a n y others; t h e y are d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m profane things o f the same k i n d b y o n l y o n e p a r t i c u l a r i t y : T h e t o t e m i c m a r k is d r a w n o r engraved upon t h e m . T h a t m a r k , a n d o n l y t h a t m a r k , confers sacredness o n t h e m . T o be sure, Spencer a n d G i l l e n believe that the c h u r i n g a serves as the residence o f an ancestral soul a n d that t h e a u t h o r i t y o f that soul gives t h e object its p r o p erties.
124

S t r e h l o w v i e w s that i n t e r p r e t a t i o n as i n c o r r e c t b u t the o n e he p r o -

*Here, Dürkheim shifts from the term sacrée to the term sainte, using the expression l'arche sainte, which is a fixed phrase meaning "something that may not be touched"—quite like the English "sacred cow," which in turn derivesfromritual practice in India. 1 have used the term "holy" not only because "Holy Ark" is the standard expression in American English, but also to let the reader note the shift and reflect on its possible implications (see p. btix). A group lends its churinga to another with the idea that those latter will pass on to it some of the virtues they have and that their presence will rejuvenate individuals and the collectivity (ibid., pp. 158ff.).
I19 lI8

Ibid., p. 136.

Each individual has a personal bond first of all to one special churinga that serves as a security for his life and then to those he has inheritedfromhis relatives. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 154; Northern Tribes, p. 193. The churingas are so marked with collective significance that they replace the "message sticks" that envoys carry when they go to summon foreign groups to a ceremony (NativeTribes, pp. 141—142). Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 326. [Neither "solemnity" nor other words describing movements appear at this place. Trans.] It should be noted that the bull roarers are treated in the same way (Mathews, "Aboriginal Tribes" pp. 307-308).
l23 122 ,21

120

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 161, 250ff. Ibid., p. 138.

I24

122

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

poses does n o t m a r k e d l y differ from i t : H e is o f the o p i n i o n that the c h u r i n g a is regarded as an image o f the ancestors b o d y o r as the b o d y i t s e l f .
125

Thus,

again, i t is feelings i n s p i r e d b y the ancestor a n d p r o j e c t e d o n t o the m a t e r i a l object that m a k e i t i n t o a k i n d o f fetish. Yet b o t h c o n c e p t i o n s — w h i c h barely differ except i n the l i t e r a l d e t a i l o f t h e m y t h — w e r e o b v i o u s l y f o r g e d after the fact t o m a k e the sacredness i m p u t e d t o churingas i n t e l l i g i b l e . T h e r e is n o t h i n g i n t h e m a k e u p o f those pieces o f w o o d a n d stone, a n d i n t h e i r appearance, that predestines t h e m t o b e i n g regarded as the seat o f an ancestral soul o r the image o f t h e ancestor's b o d y . So that respect was n o t caused b y the m y t h ; far from i t . I f m e n c o n c e i v e d this m y t h , i t was t o a c c o u n t f o r t h e r e l i gious respect that those things e l i c i t e d . L i k e so m a n y o t h e r m y t h i c a l e x p l a nations, this o n e resolves t h e q u e s t i o n o n l y b y repeating i t i n slightly different t e r m s , f o r t o say that the c h u r i n g a is sacred, a n d that i t has such and such r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h a sacred b e i n g , is n o t t o a c c o u n t f o r t h e fact b u t to state o n e fact i n t w o different ways. Second, as Spencer a n d G i l l e n a d m i t , even a m o n g the A r u n t a , there are churingas that are m a d e b y t h e elders o f t h e g r o u p , w i t h the f u l l k n o w l e d g e o f a n d i n f u l l v i e w o f e v e r y o n e ;
126

those o b v i o u s l y d o n o t

c o m e from the great ancestors. S t i l l , despite a f e w differences, they have t h e same p o w e r as t h e others a n d are k e p t i n t h e same way. Finally, there are w h o l e tribes i n w h i c h a c h u r i n g a is n o t at all t h o u g h t o f as b e i n g associated with a spirit.
1 2 7

Its r e l i g i o u s nature comes t o i t f r o m a n o t h e r source; a n d w h a t

w o u l d be t h e source i f n o t the t o t e m i c i m p r i n t i t bears? T h u s , the o u t w a r d displays o f the r i t e are addressed t o that image, a n d that image sanctifies* t h e object o n w h i c h i t is engraved. A m o n g the A r u n t a a n d i n the n e i g h b o r i n g tribes, there exist t w o o t h e r l i t u r g i c a l i n s t r u m e n t s that are clearly attached t o the t o t e m and t o the

*To express the idea "to make something sacred," Durkheim uses the word sanctifier. That idea should be kept distinctfromother meanings of the verb "to sanctify." Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, pp. 76, 77, 82. For the Arunta, it is the actual body of the ancestor; for the Loritja, it is only the body's image. Just after the birth of a child, the mother shows the father where she believes the soul of the ancestor entered her. Accompanied by several relatives, the father goes to that place, and they look for the churinga that they believe the ancestor dropped at the moment of reincarnating himself. If one is found, it is probably because some elder of the totemic group put it there (the hypothesis of Spencer and Gillen). If they do not find it, they make a new churinga according to a prescribed technique (Spencer and Gillen,
NativeTribes, p. 132; cf. Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 80).
126 125

This is true of the Warramunga, the Urabunna, the Worgaia, the Umbaia, the Tjingilli, and the Gnanji (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 258, 275—276). Then, say Spencer and Gillen, "they were regarded as having especial value because of their association with a totem" (ibid., p. 276). There are examples of the same sort among the Arunta (NativeTribes, p. 156).

127

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

123

c h u r i n g a itself, w h i c h o r d i n a r i l y enters i n t o t h e i r m a k i n g : the nurtunja a n d the waninga. T h e nurtunja,
128

w h i c h is f o u n d a m o n g the A r u n t a o f the n o r t h a n d t h e i r
1 2 9

immediate neighbors,

is a v e r t i c a l s u p p o r t consisting o f e i t h e r a lance, sev1 3 0

eral lances t i e d t o g e t h e r i n a b u n d l e , o r s i m p l y a p o l e .

B u n c h e s o f plants

are fastened a l l a r o u n d i t w i t h belts o r bands made o f hair. D o w n , arranged either i n circles o r i n parallel lines r u n n i n g from t o p t o b o t t o m o f the supp o r t , is attached t o the u p p e r e n d . T h e t o p is decorated w i t h feathers o f t h e eaglehawk. ( T h i s is t h e c o m m o n e s t a n d m o s t t y p i c a l f o r m ; there are m a n y variations i n p a r t i c u l a r cases.)
131

T h e waninga, w h i c h is f o u n d o n l y a m o n g the s o u t h e r n A r u n t a , the U r a b u n n a , a n d the L o r i t j a , has n o o n e m o d e l either. R e d u c e d t o its m o s t b a sic c o m p o n e n t s , i t also has a v e r t i c a l s u p p o r t m a d e w i t h a stick a b o u t a f o o t l o n g o r w i t h a lance several meters h i g h that is cross-cut, sometimes b y o n e o r sometimes b y t w o p i e c e s .
132

I n the first case, i t resembles a cross. D i a g o -

nally crossing the space b e t w e e n t h e arms o f the cross a n d the ends o f the central axis are ties m a d e w i t h e i t h e r h u m a n h a i r o r the f u r o f an o p o s s u m o r a b a n d i c o o t ; t h e y are pressed t i g h d y together, f o r m i n g a d i a m o n d - s h a p e d w e b . W h e n there are t w o cross-bars, the belts g o from o n e t o the other, a n d from there t o the t o p a n d b o t t o m o f t h e s u p p o r t . T h e y are sometimes c o v ered w i t h a coat o f d o w n t h i c k e n o u g h t o h i d e t h e m f r o m v i e w . T h e w a n i n g a thus l o o k s q u i t e l i k e a flag.
133

H a v i n g t h e i r o w n role i n m a n y rites, nurtunjas a n d waningas are objects o f religious respect e n t i r e l y l i k e t h e respect e v o k e d b y t h e churingas. M a k i n g and e r e c t i n g t h e m is c a r r i e d o u t w i t h t h e greatest s o l e m n i t y . W h e t h e r fixed

128

Strehlow says Tnatanja (Aranda, vol. I, pp. 4—5). The Kaitish, the Ilpirra, and the Unmatjera, but it is rare among the last group.

129

""Sometimes the pole is replaced with very long churingas placed end to end. "'Sometimes a smaller nurtunja is suspended at the top of the main one. In other cases, the nurtunja is given the form of a cross or a T. More rarely, the central support is absent (Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 298-300, 360-364, 627).
132

Sometimes there are three such transverse ban.

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 231-234, 306-310, 627. In addition to the nurtunja and the waninga, Spencer and Gillen distinguish a third sort of sacred pole or flag, the kauaua (Native Tribes, pp. 364, 370, 629), whose functions they admit not having been able to determine exacdy. They note only that the kauaua "is regarded as something common to the members of all the totems." But according to Strehlow (Aranda, vol. Ill, p. 23, n.2), the kauaua of which Spencer and Gillen speak is merely the nurtunja of the Wild Cat totem. Since that animal is the object of a tribal cult, it is understandable that the veneration its nurtunja receives should be common to all the clans.

133

124

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

o n the g r o u n d o r c a r r i e d b y a celebrant, t h e y m a r k t h e central p o i n t o f the c e r e m o n y ; the dances take place a n d t h e rites u n f o l d a r o u n d t h e m . D u r i n g i n i t i a t i o n , the n o v i c e is l e d t o the f o o t o f a n u r t u n j a that has b e e n erected f o r the occasion. " H e r e , " he is t o l d , "is the n u r t u n j a o f y o u r father; i t has already served t o make m a n y y o u n g m e n . " A f t e r this, t h e n e o p h y t e m u s t kiss the n u r tunja.
1 3 4

W i t h this kiss, he enters i n t o relations w i t h t h e r e l i g i o u s p r i n c i p l e

that is h e l d t o reside i n i t ; i t is a g e n u i n e c o m m u n i o n that is t o give the y o u n g m a n the strength h e m u s t have t o e n d u r e the t e r r i b l e o p e r a t i o n o f s u b i n c i sion.
1 3 5

I n a d d i t i o n , t h e n u r t u n j a plays an i m p o r t a n t r o l e i n t h e m y t h o l o g y o f

these societies. T h e m y t h s r e p o r t that, i n t h e m y t h i c a l age o f t h e great a n cestors, t h e t e r r i t o r y o f t h e t r i b e was crisscrossed i n all d i r e c t i o n s b y c o m p a nies m a d e u p exclusively o f i n d i v i d u a l s h a v i n g t h e same t o t e m .
1 3 6

Each o f

those bands c a r r i e d a n u r t u n j a . W h e n a c o m p a n y stopped t o m a k e c a m p a n d before t h e y dispersed t o h u n t , t h e p e o p l e set t h e i r n u r t u n j a i n t o the g r o u n d a n d suspended the churingas f r o m the t o p .
1 3 7

I n o t h e r w o r d s , t h e y entrusted

i t w i t h t h e i r m o s t valuable possessions. A t t h e same t i m e , i t was a sort o f flag that served as the r a l l y i n g p o i n t o f t h e g r o u p . O n e c a n n o t fail t o b e s t r u c k b y t h e similarities o f the n u r t u n j a t o the sacred poles o f the O m a h a .
1 3 8

T h i s sacredness stems from o n e cause: I t is a m a t e r i a l representation o f the clan. I n fact, the v e r t i c a l lines o r rings o f d o w n that cover i t , o r i n d e e d the belts that j o i n the arms o f the w a n i n g a t o the central axis ( o f different colors, as w e l l ) , are n o t arranged arbitrarily, at the w h i m o f those officiating. T h e y must affect a f o r m that is s t r i c d y i m p o s e d b y t r a d i t i o n a n d that, i n the m i n d s o f the natives, represents the t o t e m .
1 3 9

H e r e w e n e e d w o n d e r n o longer, as i n receives

the case o f the churingas, i f the v e n e r a t i o n this c u l t i n s t r u m e n t

m e r e l y reflects that inspired b y the ancestors: I t is a r u l e that each n u r t u n j a o r w a n i n g a lasts o n l y d u r i n g the c e r e m o n y i n w h i c h i t is used. A n entirely n e w one is made each t i m e o n e is needed; w h e n the r i t e is finished, i t is s t r i p p e d o f its ornaments, a n d the elements from w h i c h i t is made are
134

scattered.

140

Spencer and Gülen, Northern Tribes, p. 342; NativeTribes, p. 309.

135

Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes, p. 255. Ibid., chaps. 10 and 11.

136

I37

Ibid., pp. 138-144.

See [James Owen] Dorsey, "[A Study of] Siouan Cults," BAE, Eleventh Report [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1894], p. 413, and "Omaha Sociology," p. 234. While it is true that there is only one sacred pole for the tribe, and yet one nurtunja for each clan, the principle is the same.
139

138

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 232, 308, 313, 334, etc.; Northern Tribes, pp. 182, 186, etc.

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 346. They do say, it is true, that the nurtunja represents the lance of the ancestor who, in Alcheringatimes,was the head of each clan. But it is only a symbolic rep-

140

The Principal Totemic Beliefs

125

Thus i t is n o m o r e t h a n an i m a g e o f the t o t e m — i n d e e d a t e m p o r a r y i m a g e — and therefore plays its religious role i n this r i g h t and i n this r i g h t only. T h e c h u r i n g a , the n u r t u n j a , a n d the w a n i n g a o w e t h e i r religious nature solely t o t h e fact that t h e y bear t h e t o t e m i c e m b l e m . W h a t is sacred is the e m b l e m . I t retains this sacredness w h a t e v e r t h e o b j e c t o n w h i c h i t is r e p r e sented. I t is sometimes p a i n t e d o n rocks—these
141

paintings b e i n g called

churinga ilkinia, sacred d e s i g n s .

T h e decorations i n w h i c h the celebrants
1 4 2

and the c o n g r e g a t i o n a d o r n themselves d u r i n g r e l i g i o u s ceremonies have the same name, a n d i t is f o r b i d d e n f o r c h i l d r e n a n d w o m e n t o see t h e m . In certain rites, t h e t o t e m is sometimes d r a w n o n t h e g r o u n d . T h e v e r y t e c h n i q u e o f d o i n g so testifies t o t h e feelings that the design elicits and t o t h e h i g h value that is i m p u t e d t o i t . T h e d r a w i n g is d o n e o n g r o u n d that has been s p r i n k l e d a n d saturated b e f o r e h a n d w i t h h u m a n b l o o d ;
1 4 3

w e w i l l see

b e l o w that t h e b l o o d itself is a sacred l i q u i d that is reserved exclusively f o r p i ous use. O n c e the i m a g e has b e e n made, the faithful r e m a i n seated o n the g r o u n d i n f r o n t o f i t , i n an a t t i t u d e o f p u r e d e v o t i o n .
1 4 4

P r o v i d e d w e assign a

sense a p p r o p r i a t e t o the m e n t a l i t y o f t h e p r i m i t i v e , o n e can say that they w o r s h i p a n d g l o r i f y i t . * T h i s enables us t o u n d e r s t a n d w h y the t o t e m i c e m b l e m has r e m a i n e d a v e r y precious t h i n g t o the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a : I t is always s u r r o u n d e d b y a sort o f r e l i g i o u s aura. I t is n o t w i t h o u t interest t o k n o w w h a t t o t e m i c representations are made of, i n a d d i t i o n t o u n d e r s t a n d i n g h o w i t happens that t h e y are so sacred. A m o n g the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , t o t e m i c representations are painted, engraved, o r sculpted images that a t t e m p t t o reproduce the o u t w a r d appearance o f t h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l as faithfully as possible. T h e techniques are those that w e use today i n similar cases, except that i n general they are c r u d e r t h a n o u r o w n . B u t i t is n o t the same i n Australia, a n d o f course i t is i n the Australian societies that w e m u s t seek the o r i g i n o f these representations. A l t h o u g h the A u s t r a l i a n m a y s h o w h i m s e l f t o be fairly capable o f i m i t a t i n g the

réservation of that; it is not a sort of relic, like the churinga, which is thought to emanate from the ancestor himself. Here the secondary character of the interpretation is especially apparent.
*A condition de donner au mot un sense approprié à la mentalité du primitif, on peut dire qu'ils l'adorent. What

it is about the verb adorer that must be specially understood is not made explicit.
141

Ibid., pp. 614ff., esp. p. 617; Northern Tribes, p. 749.

u2

NativeTribes, p. 624.

143

Ibid., p. 179. Ibid., p. 181. [The reference does not describe their demeanor; it says that they chant. Trans.]

144

126

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

forms o f things, at least i n a r u d i m e n t a r y w a y ,

1 4 5

the sacred decorations seem

t o e x h i b i t n o preoccupations o f this k i n d : T h e y consist chiefly o f g e o m e t r i c designs made o n the churingas o r o n men's bodies. T h e y are straight o r c u r v e d lines p a i n t e d i n various w a y s ,
146

together h a v i n g and o n l y capable o f

h a v i n g a c o n v e n t i o n a l m e a n i n g . T h e r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n the d r a w i n g and the t h i n g d r a w n is so r e m o t e a n d i n d i r e c t that the u n i n f o r m e d cannot see i t . p n l y clan m e m b e r s can say w h a t m e a n i n g t h e y attach t o this o r that c o m b i n a t i o n o f lines.
147

I n general, m e n a n d w o m e n are represented b y semicircles; a n i 148

mals, b y c o m p l e t e circles o r b y spirals;

the tracks o f a m a n o r an a n i m a l , b y

lines o f points. T h e meanings o f the drawings thus p r o d u c e d are i n d e e d so arb i t r a r y that the same d r a w i n g can have t w o different meanings f o r the people o f t w o totems—representing a certain a n i m a l i n o n e place a n d another a n i m a l o r a plant elsewhere. T h i s is perhaps even m o r e apparent i n the case o f the nurtunjas and waningas; each o f w h i c h represents a different t o t e m . B u t the f e w v e r y simple elements that enter i n t o t h e i r c o m p o s i t i o n cannot l e n d t h e m selves t o v e r y diverse c o m b i n a t i o n s . As a result, t w o nurtunjas can l o o k e x actly the same a n d yet convey t w o things as different as a g u m tree a n d an emu.
1 4 9

W h e n the n U r t u n j a is made, i t is g i v e n a m e a n i n g that i t retains d u r -

i n g the w h o l e ceremony, b u t a m e a n i n g that u l t i m a t e l y is set b y c o n v e n t i o n . As these facts prove, w h i l e the Australian has q u i t e a strong i n c l i n a t i o n t o represent his t o t e m , he does n o t d o so i n order t o have a p o r t r a i t before his eyes that perpetually renews the sensation o f it; he does so s i m p l y because he feels the need t o represent the idea he has b y means o f an o u t w a r d and physical sign, n o matter w h a t that sign may be. W e cannot go further t o w a r d understanding w h a t made the p r i m i t i v e w r i t e the idea he had o f his t o t e m o n his person and o n various objects, b u t i t has been i m p o r t a n t t o note straightaway the nature o f the need that has g i v e n b i r t h t o these numerous representations.
150

See some examples in Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes,fig.131. Among the designs there, several are obviously intended to represent animals, plants, the heads of men, etc.—very schematically, of course.
146

U3

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 617; Northern Tribes, pp. 716ÎF.

147

[Spencer and Gillen], Native Tribes, p. 145; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 80. [Spencer and Gillen], NativeTribes, p. 151. Ibid., p. 346.

148

,49

Moreover, these designs and paintings undoubtedly have an aesthetic quality as well; they are an early form of art. Since they are also, and even most of all, a written language, itfollowsthat the origins of drawing and those of writing merge into one another. Indeed, it seems that man must have begun to draw less to fix onto wood or stone beautifulformsthat charmed the senses than to express his thought materially (cf. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, vol. I, p. 405; Dorsey, Siouan Cults, pp. 394ff.).

1S0

CHAPTER TWO

THE PRINCIPAL TOTEMIC BELIEFS (CONTINUED)
The Totemic Animal and Man

B

u t t o t e m i c images are n o t the o n l y sacred things. T h e r e are real beings that are also t h e o b j e c t o f rites, because o f t h e i r relationship w i t h the

t o t e m . T h e y are, first a n d foremost, t h e creatures o f t h e t o t e m i c species a n d the m e m b e r s o f t h e clan.

I
Since t h e designs that represent the t o t e m stir r e l i g i o u s feelings, i t is n a t u r a l that the things represented s h o u l d have the same p r o p e r t y t o some degree. T h e things represented are m a i n l y animals a n d plants. Since the profane role o f plants a n d c e r t a i n l y that o f animals o r d i n a r i l y is t o serve as f o o d , the sacredness o f the t o t e m i c a n i m a l o r p l a n t is signified b y the p r o h i b i t i o n against e a t i n g i t . O f course, because t h e y are h o l y t h i n g s , * they can enter i n t o the c o m p o s i t i o n o f c e r t a i n m y s t i c meals, a n d w e w i l l see i n fact that t h e y sometimes serve as t r u e sacraments; i n general, however, t h e y cannot be used for o r d i n a r y eating. A n y o n e w h o violates that p r o h i b i t i o n exposes h i m s e l f t o e x t r e m e l y grave danger. T h i s is n o t t o say that the g r o u p always intervenes t o p u n i s h every such i n f r a c t i o n artificially; the sacrilege is t h o u g h t t o b r i n g about death automatically. A dreaded p r i n c i p l e that c a n n o t enter i n t o a p r o fane b o d y w i t h o u t d i s r u p t i n g o r d e s t r o y i n g i t is t h o u g h t t o reside w i t h i n the

* Choses saintes. I indicate Durkheim's alternation between sacré and saint. On these terms, see above p. bdx, n. 101, and p. 121n. 127

128

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

t o t e m i c p l a n t o r a n i m a l . I n c e r t a i n tribes at least, o l d m e n are e x e m p t e d f r o m that p r o h i b i t i o n ; later, w e w i l l see w h y . B u t a l t h o u g h t h e p r o h i b i t i o n is absolute i n a great m a n y t r i b e s ( w i t h e x ceptions that w i l l be p o i n t e d o u t ) , u n q u e s t i o n a b l y i t tends t o w e a k e n as t h e o l d t o t e m i c o r g a n i z a t i o n breaks d o w n . B u t t h e v e r y restrictions that persist even t h e n s h o w that these attenuations have n o t b e e n easily accepted. F o r e x ample, w h e r e eating the t o t e m i c a n i m a l o r p l a n t is p e r m i t t e d , the eating is still n o t e n t i r e l y free b u t is l i m i t e d t o small a m o u n t s at a time. T o exceed this l i m i t is a r i t u a l offense and has grave consequences. Elsewhere, the restrict i o n remains i n t a c t f o r the parts that are considered t h e m o s t precious, that is, the m o s t sacred—for example, the eggs o r t h e f a t . I n yet o t h e r places, u n r e stricted eating is t o l e r a t e d o n l y i f t h e a n i m a l eaten has n o t yet reached f u l l m a t u r i t y . I n this case, the animal's sacredness is p r o b a b l y assumed t o be as yet i n c o m p l e t e . T h u s , the b a r r i e r that isolates a n d protects t h e t o t e m i c b e i n g gives w a y b u t slowly, a n d n o t w i t h o u t s t r o n g r e s i s t a n c e — w h i c h is evidence o f w h a t i t m u s t o r i g i n a l l y have been. I t is t r u e that Spencer a n d G i l l e n d o n o t believe such restrictions are survivals o f a o n c e - r i g o r o u s p r o h i b i t i o n that is g r a d u a l l y w e a k e n i n g , b u t instead that t h e y are the p r e l u d e t o o n e j u s t b e g i n n i n g t o establish itself. O n c e u p o n
6 5 4 3 2

1

'See the example in [Rev. George] Taplin, "The Narrinyeri Tribe" [in James Dominick Woods, The Native Tribes of South Australia, Adelaide, E. S. Wigg & Son, 1879], p. 63; [Alfred William] Howitt, Native Tribes [of South-East Australia, London, Macmillan, 1904], pp. 146, 769; [Lorimer] Fison and [Alfred William] Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kumai [Melbourne, G. Robertson, 1880], p. 169; [Walter Edmund]
Roth, Superstition, Magic and Medicine [in North Queensland Ethnography, Bulletin, no. 5, Brisbane, G. A.

Vaughn, 1903], §150; [W.] Wyatt, "Adelaide and Encounter Bay Tribes" [in Woods, The NativeTribes of South Australia], p. 168 [H. E. A.] Meyer, "Manners and Customs of the Aborigines of Encounter Bay,"
[in Woods, The Native Tribes of South Australia], p. 186.

This is the case among the Warramunga. [Sir Baldwin Spencer and Francis James Gillen, Northern Tribes of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 168. [That discussion does not concern dietary practices. Trans.] For example, among the Warramunga, the Urabunna, the Wonghibon, the Yuin, the Wotjobaluk, the Buandik, the Ngeumba, and others. Among the Kaitish, if a member of the clan eats too much of his totem, the members of the other phratry have recourse to a magical procedure that is thought to kill (ibid., p. 294; cf. [Sir Baldwin Spencer and Francis James Gillen], Northern Tribes, p. 294, and NativeTribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1899], p. 204 [The discussion does not concern dietary practices. Trans.]; Langloh Parker [Catherine Sommerville Field Parker], The Euahlayi Tribe, [London, A. Constable, 1905], p. 20). Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 202n.; [Carl] Strehlow, DieAranda- und Loritja-Stamme in Zentral¬ Australien, vol. II [Frankfurt, J. Baer, 1907], p. 58.
6 5 4 3

2

[Spencer and Gillen], Northern Tribes, p. 173.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

129

a t i m e , a c c o r d i n g t o these w r i t e r s , there was t o t a l f r e e d o m o f c o n s u m p t i o n , and the restrictions a p p l i e d today are fairly recent. T h e y believe t h e y have found p r o o f o f t h e i r thesis i n the t w o f o l l o w i n g facts. First, there are s o l e m n occasions w h e n t h e m e n o f t h e clan o r t h e i r c h i e f n o t o n l y m a y b u t m u s t eat the t o t e m i c a n i m a l a n d p l a n t , as I have j u s t n o t e d . Second, the m y t h s r e p o r t that the great f o u n d i n g ancestors o f the clans r e g u l a r l y ate t h e i r t o t e m . These stories c a n n o t be u n d e r s t o o d , say they, except as t h e e c h o o f a t i m e w h e n r e strictions d i d n o t exist. T h e fact that i t is r i t u a l l y o b l i g a t o r y t o partake o f the t o t e m d u r i n g certain r e l i g i o u s ceremonies (moderately, at that) i n n o w a y i m p l i e s that i t ever served as o r d i n a r y f o o d . Q u i t e the contrary, t h e f o o d eaten d u r i n g m y s t i c a l meals is sacred i n its essence a n d hence f o r b i d d e n t o t h e profane. As t o t h e m y t h s , t o i m p u t e t o t h e m the value o f h i s t o r i c a l d o c u m e n t s so easily is t o f o l l o w a rather slipshod c r i t i c a l m e t h o d . As a r u l e , t h e o b j e c t o f m y t h s is t o i n terpret t h e e x i s t i n g rites rather t h a n t o c o m m e m o r a t e past events; t h e y are m o r e an e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e present t h a n t h e y are a history. I n this case, those traditions i n w h i c h t h e legendary ancestors ate t h e i r t o t e m are i n perfect acc o r d w i t h beliefs a n d rites that are still i n force. T h e o l d m e n , a n d others w h o have attained h i g h r e l i g i o u s status, are n o t b o u n d b y t h e p r o h i b i t i o n s as are o r d i n a r y m e n . T h e y m a y eat o f t h e h o l y t h i n g * because they are h o l y t h e m selves; m o r e o v e r , this r u l e is n o t p e c u l i a r t o t o t e m i s m alone b u t is f o u n d i n the m o s t disparate r e l i g i o n s . Since t h e ancestral heroes w e r e v i r t u a l l y gods, i t must have seemed all t h e m o r e n a t u r a l that t h e y s h o u l d have b e e n able t o eat the sacred* f o o d ,
9 8

7

b u t that is n o reason f o r the same p r i v i l e g e t o have b e e n
10

c o n f e r r e d u p o n m e r e profane b e i n g s .

* Chose sainte. ^Aliment sacre.
7

Ibid., pp. 207ff.

"See above p. 128. It should also be borne in mind that in the myths, the ancestors are never represented as feeding on their totem routinely. Quite the contrary; this sort of consumption is the exception. According to Strehlow, their everyday fare was the same as that of the corresponding animal (Strehlow, Aranda, vol. I, p. 4). '"Furthermore, this whole theory rests on a completely arbitrary hypothesis; Spencer and Gillen, like [James George] Frazer, concede that the tribes of Central Australia, including the Arunta, represent the most archaic and, consequendy, the purest form of totemism. I will say below why this conjecture seems to me to be contrary to all likelihood. It is in fact probable that these authors would not so easily have accepted the thesis they defend if they had not refused to see totemism as a religion and thus had not failed to recognize the sacredness of the totem.
9

130

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

H o w e v e r , i t is n e i t h e r c e r t a i n n o r even l i k e l y that the p r o h i b i t i o n was ever absolute. I t seems always t o have b e e n superseded b y necessity—for e x ample, w h e n the native is s t a r v i n g a n d has n o t h i n g else t o eat.
11

A l l the m o r e

is this the case w h e n the t o t e m is a k i n d o f f o o d that m a n cannot d o w i t h o u t . F o r example, m a n y tribes have a w a t e r t o t e m — a case i n p o i n t i n w h i c h strict p r o h i b i t i o n clearly is impossible. B u t even i n this case, the concession is subject t o restrictions, w h i c h goes t o s h o w that the concession deviates f r o m an accepted p r i n c i p l e . A m o n g t h e K a i t i s h a n d the W a r r a m u n g a , a m a n o f this t o t e m c a n n o t d r i n k w a t e r freely, is p r o h i b i t e d f r o m d r a w i n g i t himself, a n d can receive i t o n l y f r o m t h e hands o f a t h i r d p e r s o n , w h o m u s t b e l o n g t o the p h r a t r y o f w h i c h he is n o t a m e m b e r .
1 2

T h e c o m p l e x i t y and inconve-

nience o f this p r o c e d u r e are y e t o t h e r ways o f r e c o g n i z i n g that access t o the sacred t h i n g is n o t free. I n c e r t a i n tribes o f the center, the same r u l e applies w h e n e v e r the t o t e m is eaten, w h e t h e r o u t o f necessity o r f o r any o t h e r reason. I t s h o u l d be reiterated that w h e n this f o r m a l i t y itself c a n n o t be exec u t e d — t h a t is, w h e n an i n d i v i d u a l is b y h i m s e l f o r is s u r r o u n d e d b y m e m bers o f his o w n p h r a t r y — h e m a y d o w i t h o u t any i n t e r m e d i a r y i f there is u r g e n t need. I t is clear that the p r o h i b i t i o n can be m i t i g a t e d i n various ways. S t i l l , t h e p r o h i b i t i o n rests o n ideas that are so deeply r o o t e d i n t h e m i n d that i t o f t e n outlives its o r i g i n a l reasons f o r b e i n g . W e have seen that, i n all p r o b a b i l i t y , the various clans o f a p h r a t r y are subdivisions o f an o r i g i n a l clan that b r o k e up. T h u s there was a t i m e w h e n all the clans w e r e b u t one a n d h a d the same t o t e m ; therefore, w h e n e v e r t h e m e m o r y o f that c o m m o n o r i g i n is n o t c o m p l e t e l y erased, each clan c o n t i n u e s t o feel s o l i d a r i t y w i t h the others a n d t o consider t h e i r totems as n o t f o r e i g n t o i t . F o r this reason, an i n d i v i d ual is n o t e n t i r e l y free t o eat the t o t e m s assigned t o the various clans o f the p h r a t r y t o w h i c h h e belongs; h e m a y t o u c h the f o r b i d d e n p l a n t o r a n i m a l o n l y i f i t has b e e n presented t o h i m b y a m e m b e r o f t h e o t h e r p h r a t r y .
13

"Taplin, 'The Narrinyeri," p. 64; Howitt, NativeTribes, pp. 145, 147; Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes,
p. 202; [George] Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions in North-West and Western Australia, vol. II, London, T.

and W. Boone, 1841; Curr, The Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 462. [Spencer and Gillen], Northern Tribes, pp. 160, 167. It is not enough for the intermediary to be of another totem. As we will see, to some extent, any totem of a phratry is forbidden to other members of that phratry who are of different totems. Ibid., p. 167. We can better understand now how it happens that, when the prohibition is not observed, it is the other phratry that carries out punishment for the sacrilege (see p. 128, n. 4 above). It is because that phratry has the greatest interest in seeing that the rule is respected. It is believed likely, in fact, that when the rule is violated, the totemic species will not reproduce abundandy. Since the members of the other phratry are the ones who regularly eat it, they are the ones affected. This is why they avenge themselves.
13 12

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

131

A n o t h e r s u r v i v a l o f the same k i n d relates t o the m a t e r n a l t o t e m . T h e r e are g o o d reasons f o r b e l i e v i n g that t o t e m s w e r e at first t r a n s m i t t e d t h r o u g h the m a t e r n a l l i n e . A n d so, w h e r e v e r descent t h r o u g h the paternal l i n e has b e c o m e t h e c u s t o m , this m o s t l i k e l y has o c c u r r e d o n l y after a l o n g p e r i o d d u r i n g w h i c h the opposite p r i n c i p l e was i n use; h e n c e the c h i l d h a d the t o t e m o f its m o t h e r a n d was subject t o all the p r o h i b i t i o n s attached thereto. N o w a l t h o u g h i n c e r t a i n tribes today, the c h i l d i n h e r i t s the t o t e m o f its father, s o m e t h i n g remains o f the p r o h i b i t i o n s that o r i g i n a l l y p r o t e c t e d the mother's t o t e m : I t c a n n o t be p a r t a k e n o f freely.
14

Y e t n o t h i n g else i n the present state

o f things corresponds t o that p r o h i b i t i o n . A p r o h i b i t i o n against k i l l i n g t h e t o t e m ( o r p i c k i n g i t , i f i t is a plant) is often added t o the p r o h i b i t i o n against e a t i n g .
15

B u t , here again, there are
1 6

m a n y exceptions a n d m i t i g a t i o n s . F o r instance, there is the case o f necess i t y — w h e n , f o r e x a m p l e , the t o t e m is a dangerous a n i m a l o r w h e n one has n o t h i n g t o eat. T h e r e are even tribes that p r o h i b i t h u n t i n g the a n i m a l w h o s e n a m e o n e bears f o r oneself, b u t nevertheless p e r m i t its k i l l i n g f o r someone else.
17

I n general, t h o u g h , the m a n n e r i n w h i c h the act is car18

r i e d o u t clearly indicates that there is s o m e t h i n g i l l i c i t a b o u t i t . O n e says "excuse m e " as i f f o r an offense, displays sadness a n d r e p u g n a n c e ,
14

and

This is the case among the Loritja (Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, pp. 60, 61), the Worgaia, the Warramunga, the Walpari, the Mara, the Anula, the Binbinga (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 166, 171, 173). Among the Warramunga and the Walpari, it may be eaten but only if it is offered by a member of the other phratry. Spencer and Gillen point out (p. 167 n.) that, in this respect, the paternal and maternal totems are apparently subject to different rules. It is true that, in either case, the offer must come from the other phratry. But when the totem in question is that of the father, the totem proper, that other phratry is the one to which the totem does not belong; the inverse applies when it is the totem of the mother. This is the case, most likely, because the principle was atfirstestablished for the father's, then extended automatically to the mother's, even though the situation was different. Once it was instituted, the rule that one could avoid the restriction protecting the totem only when the offer was made by someone of the other phratry was applied without modification to the mother's totem. For example, among the Warramunga (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 166), the Wotjobaluk, the Buandik, and the Kurnai (Howitt, NativeTribes, pp. 146-147), and the Narrinyeri (Taplin, "The Narrinyeri," p. 63). And still not in all cases. The Arunta of the Mosquito totem must not kill that insect, even when it is inconvenient not to, but must settle for flicking it away (Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 58. Cf. [Rev. George] Taplin, "The Narrinyeri," p. 63). [It is possible that, in certain of his footnotes, Dürkheim conflated two articles by Taplin, one in Curr and the other in Woods. Trans.] Among the Kaitish and the Unmafjera (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 160). Indeed sometimes an elder gives one of his churingas to a young man of a different totem, to enable the young man to hunt the givers totemic animal more easily (ibid., p. 272). Howitt, NativeTribes, p. 146; Grey,Journals ofTwo Expeditions, vol. II, p. 228. [Rev. Eugene Arnaud] Casalis, The Bassutos [Capetown, C. Struik, 1965], p. 211. Among these latter, "one must be purified after committing such a sacrilege."
18 ,7 16 15

132

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

takes the necessary t o ensure that the a n i m a l suffers as l i t t l e as possible.

19

I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e basic p r o h i b i t i o n s , there are examples o f a p r o h i b i t i o n against c o n t a c t b e t w e e n a m a n a n d his t o t e m . T h u s , a m o n g the O m a h a , n o o n e o f t h e E l k clan m a y t o u c h any p a r t o f the male elk; a n d i n a subclan o f the Buffalo, n o o n e m a y t o u c h this animal's h e a d .
20

A m o n g the B e c h u a n a ,
2 1

n o o n e w o u l d dare t o wear t h e s k i n o f t h e a n i m a l that is his t o t e m .

But

these cases are rare; a n d i t is n a t u r a l that t h e y s h o u l d be, since, n o r m a l l y a m a n m u s t wear t h e image o f his t o t e m o r s o m e t h i n g r e m i n i s c e n t o f i t . T a t t o o i n g and t o t e m i c costumes w o u l d be i m p r a c t i c a l i f c o n t a c t was p r o h i b i t e d altogether. I t s h o u l d be n o t i c e d , f u r t h e r m o r e , that this p r o h i b i t i o n is f o l l o w e d n o t i n A u s t r a l i a b u t o n l y i n societies w h e r e t o t e m i s m is already far from its o r i g i n a l f o r m ; apparendy, t h e n , i t is o f recent o r i g i n a n d due perhaps t o the i n f l u e n c e o f ideas that are n o t specifically t o t e m i c at a l l .
2 2

I f w e n o w c o m p a r e these various p r o h i b i t i o n s w i t h those a p p l i e d t o t h e t o t e m i c e m b l e m , i t seems—contrary t o w h a t m i g h t be p r e d i c t e d — t h a t those applied t o t h e t o t e m i c e m b l e m are t h e m o r e n u m e r o u s , strict, and r i g o r o u s l y i m p e r a t i v e . A l l k i n d s o f figures representing the t o t e m are s u r r o u n d e d w i t h a m a r k e d l y greater respect t h a n the b e i n g itself, w h o s e f o r m t h e figures i m i tate. C h u r i n g a s , nurtunjas, a n d waningas m u s t never be h a n d l e d b y w o m e n o r u n i n i t i a t e d m e n , w h o are n o t p e r m i t t e d even t o g l i m p s e t h e m except from a respectful distance and, at that, o n l y o n rare occasions. O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , the p l a n t o r a n i m a l w h o s e name the c l a n bears m a y be seen a n d "Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, pp. 58, 59, 61. [James Owen] Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," in Third Annual Report, BAE [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1881-1882], pp. 225, 231.
21 20

Casalis [The Bassutos, p. 211].

Even among the Omaha, it is not certain that the prohibitions against contact, some examples of which I have just reported, are specifically totemic in nature. Several of them have no direct relations with the animal that serves as the clan's totem. Thus, in a subclan of the Eagle, the characteristic prohibition is that against touching the head of a buffalo (Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," p. 239); in another subclan of the same totem, verdigris, charcoal, or something else must not be touched (p. 245). I do not mention other prohibitions noted by Frazer, such as naming or looking at an animal or plant, for those are even less clearly of totemic origin, except perhaps in the case of certain instances observed among the Bechuana ([James George] Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, [London, Macmillan, 1910], pp. 12—13). Frazer once accepted too easily (and on this point he has had imitators) that every prohibition against eating or touching an animal necessarily arisesfromtotemic beliefs. However, there is one case in Australia in which the sight of the totem appears to be forbidden. According to Strehlow (Aranda, vol. II, p. 59), among the Arunta and the Loritja, a man whose totem is the moon must not look at it very long; to do so would be to expose himself to death at the hands of an enemy. I believe this is a unique case. Moreover we should bear in mind that the astronomical totems are probably not primitive in Australia, so this prohibition might be the outcome of a complex elaboration. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that, among the Euahlayi, the prohibition against looking at the moon applies to all mothers and children, whatever their totems (Parker, Euahlayi, p. 53).

22

The Priticipal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

133

t o u c h e d b y everyone. C h u r i n g a s are k e p t i n a sort o f t e m p l e , at t h e t h r e s h o l d o f w h i c h the d i n o f profane life settles i n t o silence; i t is the d o m a i n o f sacred things. U n l i k e the churingas, t o t e m i c animals a n d plants live o n profane g r o u n d and are p a r t a n d parcel o f everyday life. A n d since t h e n u m b e r a n d i m p o r tance o f the restrictions that isolate a sacred t h i n g , w i t h d r a w i n g i t from c i r c u l a t i o n , c o r r e s p o n d t o t h e degree o f sacredness w i t h w h i c h i t is invested, w e arrive at the remarkable result that the images of the totemic being are more sacred than the totemic being itself M o r e o v e r , i t is the c h u r u n g a and the n u r t u n j a that h o l d t h e highest r a n k i n the ceremonies o f the c u l t ; o n l y o n e x t r e m e l y rare occasions does t h e a n i m a l appear i n t h e m . I n o n e r i t e , o f w h i c h I w i l l have occasion t o s p e a k ,
23

i t is the basis o f a r e l i g i o u s m e a l b u t has n o active role.

T h e A r u n t a dance a r o u n d t h e n u r t u n j a , g a t h e r i n g before the image o f t h e i r t o t e m a n d w o r s h i p i n g i t ; never is there a similar display before t h e t o t e m i c b e i n g itself. I f this b e i n g was t h e h o l y t h i n g * par excellence, t h e n that b e i n g , the sacred plant o r a n i m a l , w o u l d be the o n e the y o u n g n o v i c e m u s t c o m m u n e w i t h w h e n b r o u g h t i n t o t h e sphere o f r e l i g i o u s life; w e have seen i n stead that the m o m e n t w h e n the n o v i c e enters the sanctuary o f the churingas is the m o s t s o l e m n o f t h e i n i t i a t i o n . I t is w i t h t h e m a n d w i t h t h e n u r t u n j a that he c o m m u n e s . So the representations o f the t o t e m are m o r e efficacious t h a n the t o t e m itself.

II
W e m u s t n o w d e t e r m i n e the place o f m a n i n the system o f r e l i g i o u s things. A w h o l e set o f received n o t i o n s a n d the p o w e r o f language itself i n c l i n e us t o t h i n k o f o r d i n a r y m e n , the o r d i n a r y faithful, as essentially profane b e ings. T h i s c o n c e p t i o n m a y w e l l n o t be l i t e r a l l y t r u e o f any r e l i g i o n ;
2 4

i t cer-

tainly does n o t a p p l y t o t o t e m i s m . E a c h m e m b e r o f the clan is invested w i t h a sacredness that is n o t s i g n i f i c a n d y less t h a n the sacredness w e j u s t r e c o g n i z e d i n the a n i m a l . T h e reason f o r this personal sacredness is that the m a n believes he is b o t h a m a n i n t h e usual sense o f the w o r d and an a n i m a l o r plant o f the t o t e m i c species.

* Chose sainte.

^See Bk. Ill, chap. 2, §2. There is perhaps no religion that regards man as an exclusively profane being. For the Christian, there is something sacred about the soul that each of us carries within, and that constitutes the very essence of our personality. As we will see, this idea of the soul is as old as religious thinking. But man's own place in the hierarchy of sacred things is rather high.
24

134

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

I n fact, he bears its name. A t that stage, i d e n t i t y i n n a m e is presumed t o entail an i d e n t i t y i n nature. H a v i n g the same n a m e is n o t t h o u g h t o f m e r e l y as an o u t w a r d sign o f h a v i n g the same nature b u t as l o g i c a l l y presupposing i t . F o r t h e p r i m i t i v e , the n a m e is n o t s i m p l y a w o r d , a m e r e c o m b i n a t i o n o f sounds; i t is p a r t o f t h e b e i n g and, i n d e e d , an essential part. W h e n a m e m b e r o f the K a n g a r o o clan calls h i m s e l f a kangaroo, he is i n a sense an a n i m a l o f that species. " A m a n , " say Spencer a n d G i l l e n , "regards the b e i n g that is his t o t e m as t h e same t h i n g as himself. A native w i t h w h o m w e w e r e discussing the m a t t e r responded b y s h o w i n g us a p h o t o g r a p h w e h a d j u s t taken o f h i m : ' L o o k w h o is exacdy the same t h i n g as I . W e l l ! I t is the same w i t h t h e k a n garoo.' T h e kangaroo was his t o t e m . "
2 5

T h u s , each i n d i v i d u a l has a d u a l n a -

ture: T w o beings coexist i n h i m , a m a n a n d an a n i m a l . T o give a semblance o f i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y t o this duality, w h i c h t o us is so strange, the p r i m i t i v e has c o n c e i v e d m y t h s that o f course e x p l a i n n o t h i n g and o n l y displace the difficulty, b u t that, i n displacing i t , seem at least t o d i m i n i s h the l o g i c a l shock. W i t h variations o f detail, t h e y are all c o n s t r u c t e d o n the same p l a n . T h e i r o b j e c t is t o establish genealogical relations b e t w e e n the m a n a n d t h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l that m a k e the m a n t h e animal's k i n . B y that shared (and v a r i o u s l y i m a g i n e d ) o r i g i n , p e o p l e believe t h e y are a c c o u n t i n g for t h e i r shared nature. T h e N a r r i n y e r i , f o r example, have c o n c e i v e d the idea that c e r t a i n o f the first m e n h a d t h e p o w e r t o t r a n s f o r m themselves i n t o a n imals.
26

O t h e r A u s t r a l i a n societies place strange animals at t h e b e g i n n i n g o f
27

h u m a n i t y , animals f r o m w h i c h m e n descended i n some w a y o r o t h e r , t h e y place m i x e d beings i n t e r m e d i a t e b e t w e e n the t w o realms t h e r e , ages, a n d w h o s e various b o d y parts are barely d r a w n .
2 9 28

or

o r else

formless, barely representable creatures w i t h o u t d e f i n e d organs o r a p p e n d M y t h i c a l powers, sometimes c o n c e i v e d i n t h e f o r m o f animals, i n t e r v e n e d at that p o i n t , trans-

25

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 202. Taplin, "The Narrinyeri," pp. 59—61.

26

27

Among certain Warramunga clans, for example (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 162).

Among the Urabunna (ibid., p. 147). Even when we are told that thosefirstbeings were men, in reality they are only semihumans and participate in an animal nature at the same time. This is the case of certain Unmatjera (ibid., pp. 153—154). Here are ways of thinking whose blurred distinctions [confusions] unsettle us, but that must be accepted as they are. [Here and elsewhere in this text, the noun confusion and the corresponding verb, confondre, convey blending. They express a form of conceptual practice, not a state of mental disorder. See below, p. 241. Trans.] If we tried to introduce a tidiness that is alien to them, we would distort them (cf. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 119). Among certain Arunta (Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes, pp. 388ff.); and among certain Unmatjera (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 153).
29

28

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

135

forming

i n t o m e n these a m b i g u o u s a n d unnameable beings that represent, as
30

Spencer a n d G i l l e n say, "a t r a n s i t i o n a l phase b e t w e e n m a n a n d a n i m a l . "

These transformations are presented t o us as t h e o u t c o m e o f v i o l e n t and quasi-surgical operations. I t is w i t h b l o w s o f an axe or, w h e n the o p e r a t o r is a b i r d , w i t h pecks o f the beak t h a t t h e h u m a n is t h o u g h t t o have b e e n sculpted i n t h a t a m o r p h o u s mass, the arms a n d legs separated f r o m o n e a n other, the m o u t h a n d nostrils o p e n e d .
31

S i m i l a r legends c r o p u p i n A m e r i c a ,

b u t because o f the m o r e d e v e l o p e d m e n t a l i t y o f those peoples, the representations they use are n o t confused a n d c o n f u s i n g i n the same way. H e r e , i t is a legendary personage w h o , a c t i n g o n his o w n , m e t a m o r p h o s e d eponymous animal i n t o m a n .
3 2

the clan's

T h e r e , the m y t h tries t o e x p l a i n h o w , b y a se3 3

ries o f m o r e o r less n a t u r a l events a n d a sort o f spontaneous e v o l u t i o n , the a n i m a l t r a n s f o r m e d itself l i t t l e b y l i t t l e , f i n a l l y t a k i n g o n h u m a n f o r m . , T r u e , there are societies ( H a i d a , T l i n g i t , T s h i m s h i a n ) i n w h i c h t h e idea that m a n was b o r n o f an a n i m a l o r p l a n t is n o l o n g e r accepted. Yet, t h e idea o f an affinity b e t w e e n the animals o f the t o t e m i c species a n d the m e m b e r s o f the clan has s u r v i v e d , a n d i t is e x p l a i n e d i n m y t h s that differ from the p r e c e d i n g b u t are basically r e m i n i s c e n t o f t h e m . H e r e , t h e n , is one o f t h e i r f u n damental themes. T h e e p o n y m o u s ancestor is represented as a h u m a n b e i n g b u t o n e w h o , f o l l o w i n g v a r i o u s ups a n d d o w n s , was i n d u c e d t o live f o r a m o r e o r less l o n g t i m e a m o n g legendary animals o f the same species that gave
30

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 389. Cf. Strehlow, Aranda, vol. I, pp. 2-7.

•"Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes, p. 389. Strehlow, Aranda, vol. I, pp. 2ff. This mythical theme is undoubtedly an echo of the initiation rites. The purpose of the initiation is to make of the young man a complete man, and it also implies surgical operations (circumcision, subincision, extraction of teeth, etc.). It must have been natural for them to conceive the processes used to make thefirstmen according to the same model.
32

This is true for the nine clans of the Moqui ([Henry Rowe] Schoolcraft, [Historical and Statistical In-

formation Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the] Indian Tribes [of the United States, vol. IV,

Philadelphia, Lippincott, Grambo, 1851—1857], p. 86), the Crane clan of the Ojibway ([Lewis Henry] Morgan, Ancient Society [London, Macmillan, 1877], p. 180), and the clans of the Nootka ([Franz] Boas, "Second General Report on the Indians of British Columbia," in, BAAS, Vlth Rep. on the North-Western Tribes of Canada [London, Offices of the Association, 1891], p. 43), etc. Thus did the Turtle clan of the Iroquois take form. A group of tortoises had to leave the lake where they lived andfindanother habitat. The heat made it difficult for one of them, who was larger than the others, to endure the exercise. It struggled so violendy that it came out of its shell. Once begun, the process of transformation continued by itself, and the turtle became a man who was the ancestor of the clan (Erminnie A. Smith, "The Myths of the Iroquois," in Second Annual Report [BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1883], p. 77). The Crawfish [Ecrevisse] clan of the Choctaw is said to have been formed in a similar way. Some men surprised a certain number of crawfish that lived in their vicinity, took the crawfish home with them, taught them to speak and walk, and finally adopted them into
their society ([George] Catlin, [Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs and Condition of the] North Amer33

ican Indians, vol. II [London, Tosswil and Myers, 1841], p. 128.

136

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

the clan its name. As a result o f these i n t i m a t e a n d p r o l o n g e d dealings, he b e came so l i k e his n e w c o m p a n i o n s that w h e n he r e t u r n e d t o the c o m m u n i t y o f m e n , t h e y n o l o n g e r r e c o g n i z e d h i m . H e was therefore g i v e n the n a m e o f the a n i m a l he resembled. F r o m his s o j o u r n i n t h e m y t h i c a l l a n d , he b r o u g h t back t h e t o t e m i c e m b l e m , t o g e t h e r w i t h the p o w e r s a n d v i r t u e s t h o u g h t t o be attached t o i t .
3 4

I n this case as i n t h e p r e c e d i n g , t h e n , the m a n is t h o u g h t
3 5

t o participate i n the nature o f the a n i m a l , even t h o u g h that p a r t i c i p a t i o n is imagined somewhat differendy T h u s he t o o has s o m e t h i n g sacred a b o u t h i m . D i f f u s e d t h r o u g h o u t t h e body, this q u a l i t y is especially e v i d e n t at c e r t a i n sites. S o m e organs and tissues are especially i d e n t i f i e d w i t h i t : m o s t o f all, the b l o o d a n d the hair. T o b e g i n w i t h , h u m a n b l o o d is such a h o l y * t h i n g that, a m o n g t h e tribes o f central Australia, i t is v e r y o f t e n used t o consecrate the m o s t respected i n struments o f the c u l t . I n some cases, f o r example, the n u r t u n j a is r e l i g i o u s l y a n o i n t e d from t o p t o b o t t o m w i t h h u m a n b l o o d . soaked w i t h b l o o d .
* Chose sainte.
3 7 3 6

A m o n g the A r u n t a , the

m e n o f the E m u d r a w t h e sacred e m b l e m o n g r o u n d that is t h o r o u g h l y W e w i l l see f u r t h e r o n h o w streams o f b l o o d are p o u r e d

Here, for example, is a legend of the Tsimshian. During a hunt, an Indian met a black bear who took him home and taught him to catch salmon and build canoes. The man stayed with the bear for two years, after which he returned to his native village. But because he was just like a bear, the people were afraid of him. He could not talk and could eat only raw foods. Then he was rubbed with magical herbs, after which he gradually regained his original form. Later, when he was in need, he called his friends the bears, who came to his aid. He built a house and painted a bear on its facade. His sister made a blanket for the dance, on which a bear was drawn. This is why the descendants of that sister had the bear as their emblem ([Franz] Boas, ["The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the] Kwakiutl [Indians," in RNM for 1895, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897], p. 323. Cf. Boas, "First General Report on the
Indians of British Columbia," in BAAS [Fifth] Report [of the Committee] on the North Western Tribes of [the

34

Dominion of] Canada [London, Offices of the Association, 1890], pp. 23, 29ff.; [Charles] Hill Tout, "Report on the Ethnology of the Stadumh of British Columbia," in JAI, vol. XXXV (1905), p. 150. From this, we see the drawback of making mystic kinship between man and animal the distinguishing feature of totemism, as M. Van Germep proposes ([A. Van Gennep], "Totémisme et méthode comparative," RHR, vol. LVIII [juillet 1908], p. 55). Since this kinship is a mythical expression of facts that are deeply rooted for other reasons, the essential traits of totemism do not disappear in its absence. Doubtless, there are always close ties between the people of the clan and the totemic animal, but they are not necessarily ties of blood, although they most commonly are conceived as such. In some Tlingit myths, moreover, the relationship of descent between the man and the animal is affirmed more specifically. The clan is said to be the offspring of a mixed marriage, if such terms can be used—that is, one in which either the man or the woman was an animal of the species whose name the clan bears ([John Reed] Swanton, "Social Condition, Beliefs, [and Linguistic Relationship] of the Tlingit Indians," Twenty-Sixth Annual Report, BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908], pp. 415^118. •^Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 284.
37 35

Ibid., p. 179.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

137

o n the rocks that represent t h e t o t e m i c plants o r a n i m a l s .

38

T h e r e is n o r e l i 39

gious c e r e m o n y i n w h i c h b l o o d does n o t have some role t o p l a y .

Some-

times i n the course o f i n i t i a t i o n , adults o p e n t h e i r veins and s p r i n k l e the novice w i t h t h e i r b l o o d , this b l o o d b e i n g such a sacred* t h i n g that w o m e n are f o r b i d d e n t o be present w h i l e i t is flowing. L i k e the sight o f a c h u r i n g a ,
40

the sight o f this b l o o d is f o r b i d d e n t o t h e m . T h e b l o o d that the y o u n g n e o p h y t e loses d u r i n g the v i o l e n t operations he has t o u n d e r g o has altogether e x c e p t i o n a l properties: I t is used i n v a r i o u s c o m m u n i o n s . A r u n t a , the b l o o d that flows
4 1

A m o n g the

d u r i n g s u b i n c i s i o n is p i o u s l y c o l l e c t e d a n d
4 2

b u r i e d i n a place o n w h i c h a piece o f w o o d is set t o i n d i c a t e t o passersby the sacredness o f the spot; n o w o m a n m u s t approach i t . I n the second place, the religious nature o f b l o o d also explains w h y r e d ochre has a religious role a n d is f r e q u e n t l y used i n ceremonies. T h e churingas are r u b b e d w i t h i t , a n d i t is used i n r i t u a l d e c o r a t i o n s .
43

T h i s is because o c h r e is regarded as a substance

a k i n t o b l o o d , b y v i r t u e o f its c o l o r . I n d e e d , several deposits o f o c h r e that are f o u n d at different sites o n the t e r r i t o r y o f t h e A r u n t a are t h o u g h t t o be c o agulated b l o o d that c e r t a i n heroines o f t h e m y t h i c a l e p o c h a l l o w e d t o onto the g r o u n d .
4 4

flow

H a i r has similar properties. T h e natives o f central Australia w e a r sashes made o f h u m a n hair. T h e r e l i g i o u s f u n c t i o n o f those n a r r o w bands, as already n o t e d , is t o w r a p c e r t a i n c u l t o b j e c t s .
45

Has a m a n l e n t o n e o f his churingas

t o another? As a s h o w o f g r a t i t u d e , the b o r r o w e r makes a present o f hair t o the lender; t h e t w o sorts o f things are considered t o be o f t h e same o r d e r a n d o f equivalent v a l u e .
46

A c c o r d i n g l y , the o p e r a t i o n o f hair c u t t i n g is a r i t u a l act

* Chose sacrée.
38

See Bk. Ill, chap. 2. Cf. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 184, 201. Ibid., pp. 204, 262, 284.

39

""Among the Dieri and the Parnkalla. See Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 658, 661, 668, 669-671. ""Among the Warramunga, the blood of circumcision is drunk by the mother (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 352). Among the Binbinga, the blood that soils the knife used in the subincision must be licked by the initiate (p. 368). In general, the blood that comes from the genitals is deemed to be exceptionally sacred (Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 464; Northern Tribes, p. 598).
42

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 268. Ibid„ pp. 144, 568.

43

44

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 442, 464. And this myth is common in Australia. Ibid., p. 627. Ibid., p. 466.

45

46

138

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

that is a c c o m p a n i e d b y special ceremonies. T h e i n d i v i d u a l h a v i n g his hair c u t m u s t c r o u c h o n the g r o u n d w i t h his face t u r n e d i n the d i r e c t i o n o f the place w h e r e m y t h i c a l ancestors f r o m his mother's side are t h o u g h t t o have camped.
47

F o r the same reason, as s o o n as a m a n dies, his hair is c u t a n d p u t i n a sec l u d e d place, f o r n e i t h e r w o m e n n o r u n i n i t i a t e d m e n s h o u l d see i t ; a n d i t is there, far f r o m profane eyes, that the sashes are m a d e .
48

O n e c o u l d p o i n t o u t o t h e r organic tissues that, t o v a r y i n g degrees, d i s play similar p r o p e r t i e s — t h e sideburns, the f o r e s k i n , t h e fat o f t h e liver, and others.
49

B u t there is n o p o i n t i n p i l i n g u p examples. T h e f o r e g o i n g are suf-

f i c i e n t t o prove the existence i n m a n o f s o m e t h i n g that keeps the profane at a distance a n d has r e l i g i o u s efficacy. I n o t h e r w o r d s , the h u m a n b o d y c o n ceals i n its depths a sacred p r i n c i p l e that erupts o n t o the surface i n p a r t i c u l a r circumstances. T h i s p r i n c i p l e is n o t different i n k i n d f r o m the o n e that gives the t o t e m its religious character. W e have j u s t seen, i n fact, that the various substances i n w h i c h i t is i n c a r n a t e d t o t h e highest degree enter i n t o the r i t ual c o m p o s i t i o n o f t h e i n s t r u m e n t s o f the c u l t (nurtunjas, t o t e m i c designs), o r are used i n a n o i n t i n g s f o r t h e p u r p o s e o f increasing t h e virtues o f either the churingas o r the sacred rocks. T h e s e are things o f t h e same k i n d . T h e r e l i g i o u s d i g n i t y that, i n this sense, is i n h e r e n t i n each m e m b e r o f the clan is n o t equal i n all. M e n possess i t t o a h i g h e r degree t h a n w o m e n , w h o are l i k e profane beings i n c o m p a r i s o n t o m e n .
5 0

T h u s , w h e n e v e r there
51

is an assembly o f e i t h e r t h e t o t e m i c g r o u p o r t h e t r i b e , the m e n f o r m a camp distinct from t h e w o m e n ' s c a m p a n d closed t o t h e m : T h e m e n are set a p a r t .

Ibid. It is believed that if all these formalities are not stricdy observed, grave calamities for the individual will result.
""Ibid., p. 538; Northern Tribes, p. 604.

47

Once detached by circumcision, the foreskin is sometimes hidden from sight, like the blood, and it has special virtues—for example, ensuring the fertility of certain plant and animal species (Northern Tribes, pp. 353—354). The sideburns are assimilated to the hair and treated like it (pp. 544, 604). Moreover, they play a role in the myths (p. 158). The sacred character of fat arises from the use made of it in certain funeral rites. This is not to say that the woman is absolutely profane. In the myths, at least among the Arunta, she plays a far more important religious role than is hers in reality (Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes [pp. 195—196]). Even now, she takes part in certain initiation rites. Finally, her blood has religious virtues (see NativeTribes, p. 464; cf. [Emile Durkheim], "La Prohibition de l'inceste et ses origines," AS, vol. I [1898], pp. 51ff.). The exogamic prohibitions derive from this complex situation of the woman. I will not speak of those here, because they are more direcdy relevant to the subject of family organization and marriage.
51 50

49

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 460.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

139

B u t m e n differ t o o i n the w a y the r e l i g i o u s q u a l i t y stands o u t . Since y o u n g , u n i n i t i a t e d m e n are t o t a l l y w i t h o u t i t , t h e y are n o t a d m i t t e d t o the ceremonies. I t reaches m a x i m u m i n t e n s i t y a m o n g o l d m e n . O l d m e n are so sacred that t h e y are p e r m i t t e d c e r t a i n things that are f o r b i d d e n t o o r d i n a r y m e n : T h e y can eat the t o t e m i c a n i m a l m o r e freely, and, as w e have seen, there are even tribes i n w h i c h t h e y are e x e m p t from all dietary restrictions. T h e r e f o r e w e m u s t b e careful n o t t o see t o t e m i s m as a k i n d o f zoolatry. Since m a n belongs t o t h e sacred w o r l d , his a t t i t u d e t o w a r d the animals o r plants w h o s e n a m e he bears is b y n o means the a t t i t u d e a believer has t o w a r d his g o d . R a t h e r , t h e i r relations are those o f t w o beings w h o are basically at the same level a n d o f equal value. T h e m o s t o n e can say, at least i n some cases, is that the a n i m a l seems t o o c c u p y a s l i g h d y h i g h e r rank a m o n g sacred things. T h u s , t h e t o t e m is sometimes called the father o r grandfather o f the m e n o f the clan, w h i c h seems t o i n d i c a t e t h a t t h e y feel t h e y are i n a state o f moral dependency u p o n i t .
5 2

Y e t as o f t e n h a p p e n s — a n d perhaps m o s t often
5 3

o f a l l — t h e phrases used d e n o t e a f e e l i n g o f e q u a l i t y instead. T h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l is called t h e friend o r the elder b r o t h e r o f its h u m a n k i n . To sum up, the ties b e t w e e n t h e m a n d h i m far m o r e closely resemble those that b i n d m e m b e r s o f the same f a m i l y : A n i m a l s a n d m e n are m a d e o f the same flesh, as the B u a n d i k say.
54

B y reason o f that k i n s h i p , m a n sees t h e animals o f t h e
5 5

t o t e m i c species as k i n d l y associates, w h o s e h e l p he believes he can c o u n t o n . H e calls t h e m t o his a i d , a n d t h e y c o m e t o g u i d e his h a n d i n t h e h u n t a n d
56

t o avert dangers that h e m a y e n c o u n t e r . siderately a n d does n o t b r u t a l i z e t h e m , t h e m i n n o w a y resembles a c u l t .

I n exchange, he treats t h e m c o n b u t t h e care w i t h w h i c h he treats

5 7

Among the Wakelbura, according to Howitt, NatiueTrihes, pp. [147—148]; among the Bechuana, according to Casalis, The Basutos, p. [211]. "Among the Buandik and the Kurnai, Howitt, ibid., pp. 147-148; among the Arunta, Strehlow,
Aranda, vol. II, p. 58.
54

52

Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. [147-148].

On the Tully River, according to [Walter Edmund] Roth (Superstition, Magic and Medicine [Brisbane, G. A. Vaughn, Government Printer, 1903], North Queensland Ethnography [Bulletin] no. 5, §74), when a native goes to bed or rises in the morning, he pronounces the name of the animal after whom he himself is named in a rather soft voice. The aim of this practice is to make the man skillful or lucky in the hunt or to avoid the dangers associated with that animal. For example, a man who has a species of snake as his totem is protectedfrombites if this invocation has been consistendy done. Taplin, "The Narrinyeri," p. 64; Howitt, NatiueTrihes, p. 147; Roth, "Superstition, Magic and Medicine," no. 5, §74. "Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, p. 58.
56

55

140

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

Sometimes m a n even appears t o have a sort o f m y s t i c a l p r o p e r t y r i g h t over his t o t e m . T h e p r o h i b i t i o n against k i l l i n g a n d eating i t o f necessity applies o n l y t o t h e m e m b e r s o f the clan; i t c a n n o t e x t e n d t o outsiders w i t h o u t m a k i n g life impossible as a practical matter. I n a t r i b e such as the A r u n t a , w h e r e there are a great m a n y different totems, i f i t was f o r b i d d e n t o eat n o t o n l y t h e a n i m a l o r p l a n t w h o s e n a m e o n e bears, b u t also all t h e animals and all the plants that serve o t h e r clans as t o t e m s , t h e f o o d resources w o u l d be r e d u c e d t o n o n e . S t i l l , there are tribes i n w h i c h u n r e s t r i c t e d eating o f the t o t e m i c a n i m a l o r p l a n t is n o t a l l o w e d , even b y outsiders. A m o n g the W a k e l bura, this eating s h o u l d n o t o c c u r i n the presence o f p e o p l e b e l o n g i n g t o the totem.
5 8

Elsewhere, t h e i r p e r m i s s i o n is r e q u i r e d . F o r example, a m o n g the

K a i t i s h a n d the U n m a t j e r a , w h e n a m a n o f t h e E m u clan, f i n d i n g h i m s e l f i n a l o c a l i t y o c c u p i e d b y a grass-seed clan, gathers some o f these seeds, h e m u s t go f i n d the c h i e f before e a t i n g any, a n d say t o h i m : " I have gathered these seeds i n y o u r l a n d . " T o w h i c h t h e c h i e f replies: " I t is g o o d ; y o u m a y eat t h e m . " B u t i f t h e E m u m a n ate before asking p e r m i s s i o n , i t is believed that he w o u l d fall i l l a n d possibly even d i e . m u s t be p a i d .
6 0 5 9

I n some cases, the c h i e f o f t h e g r o u p

must take a small part o f the f o o d and eat i t himself: I t is a k i n d o f tax that F o r the same reason, the c h u r i n g a confers u p o n the h u n t e r a
61

c e r t a i n p o w e r over t h e c o r r e s p o n d i n g a n i m a l . B y r u b b i n g his b o d y w i t h a euro c h u r i n g a , f o r example, h e has a b e t t e r chance o f b a g g i n g e u r o s . This the proves that p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n t h e nature o f a t o t e m i c b e i n g confers a sort o f e m i n e n t d o m a i n over i t . Finally, there is a t r i b e i n N o r t h Q u e e n s l a n d , K a r i n g b o o l , i n w h i c h the p e o p l e o f the t o t e m have the exclusive r i g h t t o k i l l t h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l or, i f the t o t e m is a tree, t o strip its b a r k . T h e i r c o o p e r a t i o n is indispensable t o any outsider w h o wants t o use the flesh o f that a n i m a l o r the w o o d o f that tree f o r personal e n d s . w e have d i f f i c u l t y i m a g i n i n g .
62

T h u s , they play the role o f

o w n e r s , t h o u g h , as is o b v i o u s , the p r o p e r t y is o f a v e r y p a r t i c u l a r sort, w h i c h

^Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 148.

"[Spencer and Gillen], Northern Tribes, pp. 159-160.
M

Ibid. Ibid., p. 255, and Native Tribes, pp. 202-203.

61

A. L. P. Cameron, "On Two Queensland Tribes," in Science of Man, Australasian Anthropological Journal, vol. VII, 1904, p. 28, col. 1.

62

CHAPTER THREE

THE PRINCIPAL TOTEMIC BELIEFS (CONTINUED)
The Cosmological System of Totemism and the Notion of Kind*

e are b e g i n n i n g t o see that t o t e m i s m is a far m o r e c o m p l e x r e l i g i o n W t h a n i t appeared at first glance t o be. W e have already distinguished three categories o f things that i t recognizes as sacred i n v a r y i n g degrees: t h e t o t e m i c e m b l e m , t h e p l a n t o r a n i m a l w h o s e appearance that e m b l e m i m i tates, a n d the m e m b e r s o f t h e clan. B u t this list is n o t yet c o m p l e t e . A r e l i g i o n is n o t m e r e l y a c o l l e c t i o n o f d i s c o n n e c t e d beliefs a b o u t v e r y special objects such as those j u s t m e n t i o n e d . T o a greater o r lesser degree, a l l k n o w n religions have b e e n systems o f ideas that t e n d t o embrace the universality o f things a n d t o g i v e us a representation o f the w o r l d as a w h o l e . I f t o t e m i s m is t o be o p e n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n as a r e l i g i o n comparable t o others, i t t o o m u s t offer a c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e universe. I t meets this c r i t e r i o n .

I
T h e reason this aspect o f t o t e m i s m has b e e n w i d e l y neglected is that the clan has b e e n t o o n a r r o w l y c o n c e i v e d . I n general, the clan has b e e n v i e w e d as m e r e l y a g r o u p o f h u m a n beings, m e r e l y a s u b d i v i s i o n o f the t r i b e . As such, i t seems, the clan c o u l d o n l y be m a d e u p o f m e n . B u t w h e n w e reason this way, w e substitute o u r E u r o p e a n ideas f o r those t h e p r i m i t i v e has a b o u t t h e w o r l d a n d society. F o r t h e A u s t r a l i a n , things themselves—all o f the things that m a k e u p the universe—are p a r t o f t h e t r i b e . Since t h e y are constituents o f i t and, i n a sense, f u l l - f l e d g e d m e m b e r s , t h e y have a d e f i n i t e place i n the scheme o f society, j u s t as m e n do. " T h e savage o f S o u t h Australia," M . F i s o n * Genre is here rendered as "kind" or "genus," according to context, but usually not as "class," so as to avoid confusion with other uses of that term, in biology and sociology. 141

142

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

says, "considers the universe as a large t r i b e t o o n e o f w h o s e divisions he b e longs; a n d all things that are classified i n the same g r o u p as he, b o t h animate a n d i n a n i m a t e , are parts o f the b o d y o f w h i c h he h i m s e l f is a p a r t . " B y v i r t u e o f this p r i n c i p l e , w h e n t h e t r i b e is d i v i d e d i n t o t w o phratries, all k n o w n b e ings are d i v i d e d b e t w e e n t h e m . " A l l o f nature," says Palmer o f the tribes o f the B e l l i n g e r R i v e r , "is d i v i d e d a c c o r d i n g t o t h e names o f phratries. . . . T h e sun, the m o o n a n d the stars. . . b e l o n g t o this o r that p h r a t r y j u s t as t h e Blacks themselves d o . " T h e P o r t M a c K a y t r i b e i n Q u e e n s l a n d is made u p o f two phratries that c a r r y the names Y u n g a r o o a n d W o o t a r o o , and i t is the same i n t h e n e i g h b o r i n g tribes. A c c o r d i n g t o B r i d g m a n n , " A l l animate a n d i n a n i m a t e things are d i v i d e d b y these tribes i n t o t w o classes called Y u n g a r o o and W o o t a r o o . " B u t t h e classification does n o t stop there. T h e m e n o f each p h r a t r y are d i v i d e d a m o n g a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f clans; similarly, the things assigned t o each p h r a t r y are d i v i d e d i n t u r n a m o n g t h e clans that c o m p r i s e i t . S u c h a n d such tree, f o r example, w i l l be ascribed t o the K a n g a r o o clan a n d to i t alone, a n d thus, l i k e t h e h u m a n m e m b e r s o f that clan, w i l l have the K a n g a r o o t o t e m ; such a n d such o t h e r w i l l b e l o n g t o t h e Snake clan; the clouds w i l l b e classified i n a p a r t i c u l a r t o t e m , t h e sun i n another, and so o n . T h u s , the k n o w n beings w i l l be f o u n d t o have t h e i r places o n a k i n d o f table, a systematic classification, that includes the w h o l e o f nature. I have r e p r o d u c e d a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f these classification systems elsewhere;
4 3 2 1

here I w i l l repeat o n l y some o f those examples. O n e o f the best

k n o w n is t h e system that has b e e n s t u d i e d i n the M o u n t G a m b i e r t r i b e . T h i s t r i b e has t w o phratries, o n e called K u m i t e a n d t h e o t h e r K r o k i , each d i v i d e d i n t o five clans. N o w , " E v e r y t h i n g i n nature belongs t o o n e o r the o t h e r o f those t e n clans." F i s o n a n d H o w i t t say that all those things are " i n c l u d e d " i n one. I n fact, t h e y are classified u n d e r t e n t o t e m s , l i k e species o f the respec5

'[Lorimer Fison and Alfred William Howitt], Kamilaroi and Kurnai: [Group Marriage and Relationship,
and Marriage by Elopement; Drawn Chiefly from the Usage of the Australian Aborigines; also The Kurnai Tribe;

Their Customs in Peace and War, Melbourne, G. Robertson, 1880], p. 170.
2

[Edward Palmer], "Notes on Some Australian Tribes" [JAI], vol. XIII [1884], p. 300.

[Edward Micklethwaite] Curr, The Australian Race: [Its Origin, Languages, Customs, Place of Landing in Australia and the Routes by Which It Spread Itself over Tiiat Continent, vol. Ill, Melbourne, J. Ferres,

3

1886-1887], p. 45; [Robert] Brough Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, vol. I [Melbourne, J. Ferres, 1878], p. 91 [The quoted material is not verbatim. The text reads this way: "Blacks seem to have an idea that these classes are universal laws of nature, so they divide everything among them." Trans.]; Fison and
Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kumai, p. 168.

[Emile] Durkheim and [Marcel] Mauss, "De Quelques formes primitives de classification. [Contribution a l'etude des representations collectives]" in AS, vol. VI [1903], pp. Iff.
5

4

Curr, The Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 461.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

143

PHRATRIES

CLANS ^Fish-hawk

THINGS CLASSIFIED IN E A C H CLAN Smoke, honeysuckle, certain trees, etc. Blackwood trees, dogs, fire, frost, etc.

/ Kumitei' \\ \\

,-Pelican

"Crow

Rain, thunder, lightning, clouds, hail, winter, etc.

\ Black cockatoo
V

s

Stars, moon, etc. Fish, seal, conger eel, stringy-bark tree, etc. Duck, crawfish, owl, etc. -Bustard, quail, a sort of kangaroo, etc.

A nonvenomous snake

^Tea tree ^ ' _ _ - - An edible root Kroki^

^ crestless white cockatoo- -Kangaroo, summer, sun, wind, autumn, etc. " - There are no details about the fourth and fifth Kroki clans.

tive genera. T h i s is s h o w n b y the above chart, c o n s t r u c t e d f r o m data c o l lected by C u r r , and by Fison and H o w i t t .
6

T h e list o f things attached t o each clan is, q u i t e i n c o m p l e t e ; C u r r h i m self w a r n s us that he has c o n f i n e d h i m s e l f t o e n u m e r a t i n g o n l y some o f t h e m . Today, however, thanks t o the w o r k o f M a t h e w s a n d H o w i t t , w e have m o r e extensive i n f o r m a t i o n o n the classification a d o p t e d b y the W o t j o b a l u k t r i b e , and that i n f o r m a t i o n enables us t o u n d e r s t a n d b e t t e r h o w a system o f this k i n d can embrace the w h o l e universe k n o w n t o t h e natives. T h e W o t j o b a l u k themselves are d i v i d e d i n t o t w o phratries, called G u r o g i t y a n d
8 7

Gumaty

( K r o k i t c h a n d G a m u t c h , a c c o r d i n g t o H o w i t t ) . T o a v o i d an o v e r l y l o n g list, I w i l l e n u m e r a t e (after M a t h e w s ) o n l y the things classified i n each clan o f the G u r o g i t y phratry.

6

Curr and Fison got their information from the same person, D. S. Stewart.

'[Robert Hamilton] Mathews, ["Ethnological Notes on the] Aboriginal Tribes of New South Wales and Victoria," in RSNSW vol. XXXVIII (1904) [pp. 287-288]. [Alfred William] Howitt, Hie Native Tribes [of South-East Australia, New York, Macmillan, 1904], p. 121. The feminine form of nouns given by Mathews is Gurogigurk and Gamatykurk. These are the forms that Howitt has rendered with a slighdy different spelling. Also, these names are equivalent to those in use in the Mount Gambier tribe (Kumite and Kroki).
8

144

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

Classified i n t h e Y a m clan are t h e plains turkey, t h e native cat,
9

the

mopoke, the dyim-dyim o w l , t h e mallee c h i c k e n , t h e rosella p a r r o t , and the peewee. I n the M u s s e l clan: the gray e m u , t h e p o r c u p i n e , t h e c u r l e w , the w h i t e c o c k a t o o , t h e w o o d d u c k , the mallee lizard, t h e s t i n k i n g t u r d e , t h e flying squirrel, t h e r i n g - t a i l e d opossum, t h e b r o n z e - w i n g p i g e o n , a n d the wijuggia. I n the S u n clan: t h e b a n d i c o o t , the m o o n , the rat kangaroo, t h e black a n d w h i t e magpies, the ngurt h a w k , the g u m tree g r u b , the u mimoisa (wattle tree) g r u b , and the planet Venus. I n the W a r m W i n d c l a n : h a w k , the dikkomur shingle-back lizard. I f w e i m a g i n e that there are m a n y o t h e r clans ( H o w i t t names a d o z e n o f t h e m , w h i l e M a t h e w s names f o u r t e e n a n d w a r n s that his list is v e r y i n c o m plete),
11 1 0

the gray-headed eathe

g l e h a w k , the carpet snake, t h e s m o k e r p a r r o t , t h e shell parakeet, the murrakan snake, the r i n g - n e c k p a r r o t , t h e mirudai snake,

w e w i l l see h o w all the things t h a t interest t h e native as a m a t t e r o f

course find a place i n these classifications. S i m i l a r arrangements have b e e n observed i n the m o s t dissimilar parts o f the A u s t r a l i a n c o n t i n e n t : i n s o u t h e r n Australia, i n t h e state o f V i c t o r i a , a n d i n N e w S o u t h Wales ( a m o n g the E u a h l a y i ) ; v e r y o b v i o u s traces o f t h e m are f o u n d a m o n g the tribes o f t h e c e n t e r .
13 12

I n Q u e e n s l a n d , w h e r e t h e clans seem

t o have disappeared a n d w h e r e the m a r r i a g e classes are t h e o n l y subdivisions o f the phratry, t h i n g s are d i s t r i b u t e d b e t w e e n t h e classes. H e n c e , the W a k e l b u r a are d i v i d e d i n t o t w o phratries, M a l l e r a a n d W u t a r u . T h e classes o f t h e first are called K u r g i l l a a n d B a n b e ; those o f the second, W u n g o and O b u . T o the B a n b e b e l o n g the opossum, t h e kangaroo, t h e d o g , the h o n e y o f the small bee, etc. T o t h e W u n g o are ascribed t h e e m u , t h e b a n d i c o o t , t h e black d u c k , the black snake, t h e b r o w n snake; t o the O b u , t h e carpet snake, the

The indigenous name of this clan is Dyalup, which Mathews does not translate. This word seems to be identical to "Jallup," by which Howitt designates a subclan of that same tribe and which he translates as "mussel." For this reason, I think I can chance this translation.
10

9

This is Howitt s translation; Mathews translates this word (Wartwuri) as "heat of the midday sun."

"Mathews's table and Howitt s disagree on more than one important point. It even appears that the clans ascribed by Howitt to the Kroki phratry are counted by Mathews in the Gamutch phratry, and vice versa. This is evidence of the very great difficulties that such studies present. However these discrepancies have no import for the question being treated. Mrs. Langloh Parker [Catherine Sommerville Field Parker], 77ie Euahlayi Tribe [London, A. Constable, 1905], pp. 12ff. "These facts are to be found below.
12

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

145

h o n e y o f s t i n g i n g bees, etc.; t o the K u r g i l l a , the p o r c u p i n e , the plains turkey, water, r a i n , fire, t h u n d e r , e t c .
14

T h e same o r g a n i z a t i o n is f o u n d a m o n g the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a . T h e Z u n i have a system o f classification w h o s e basic o u t l i n e is comparable i n every respect t o those j u s t described. T h a t o f the O m a h a rests o n the same principles as that o f the W o t i o b a l u k . Echoes o f t h e same ideas persist even i n the m o r e advanced societies. A m o n g the H a i d a , all the gods and m y t h i c a l b e ings that g o v e r n the various p h e n o m e n a o f nature are also classified i n o n e o f the tribe's t w o phratries, j u s t as m e n are. S o m e are Eagles and the others, Crows.
1 6 1 5

T h e gods that g o v e r n things are b u t a n o t h e r aspect o f t h e things they T h i s m y t h o l o g i c a l classification, t h e n , is b u t a different f o r m o f

govern.

17

the p r e c e d i n g ones. H e n c e , w e can be c o n f i d e n t that this w a y o f c o n c e i v i n g the w o r l d is q u i t e i n d e p e n d e n t o f e t h n i c o r geographical particularity. A t the same time, however, i t emerges q u i t e clearly that this w a y o f c o n c e i v i n g the w o r l d is tightly b o u n d u p w i t h the w h o l e system o f t o t e m i c beliefs.

II
I n the w o r k t o w h i c h I have already a l l u d e d several times, I s h o w e d h o w these facts i l l u m i n a t e the m a n n e r i n w h i c h t h e idea o f genus o r class t o o k f o r m a m o n g h u m a n s . T h e s e classifications are i n d e e d the first that w e m e e t i n history. W e j u s t saw that t h e y are m o d e l e d o n social o r g a n i z a t i o n , o r rather that t h e y have t a k e n the actual f r a m e w o r k o f society as t h e i r o w n . I t was the phratries that served as genera a n d t h e clans as species. I t is because m e n f o r m e d groups that t h e y w e r e able t o g r o u p things: A l l t h e y d i d was m a k e r o o m f o r things i n the groups t h e y themselves already f o r m e d . A n d i f these various classes o f things w e r e n o t s i m p l y j u x t a p o s e d t o o n e another, but arranged instead a c c o r d i n g t o a u n i f i e d p l a n , that is because t h e same social groups t o w h i c h t h e y are assimilated are themselves u n i f i e d and, t h r o u g h that

Curr [Australian Race], vol. Ill, p. 27. Howitt, NatiueTribes, p. 112.1 confine myself to citing the most characteristic facts. The paper already mentioned, "Classification primitive," can be referred to for details.
15

14

Durkheim and Mauss, "Classification primitive," pp. 34ff.

[John Reed] Swanton, [Contributions to the Ethnology of] the Haida [Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1905], pp. 13—14, 17, 22. [Actually, this English text says "raven." Since all ravens are crows but not all crows are ravens, I have rendered Durkheim's corbeau as "crow" throughout. Trans.] This is particularly evident among the Haida. According to Swanton, every animal has two aspects. From one point of view, it is an ordinary creature that can be hunted and eaten, but at the same time, it is a supernatural being with the outward form of an animal, and to which man is subject. The mythical beings that correspond to various cosmic phenomena have the same ambiguity (ibid., pp. 14, 16, 25).
17

16

146

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

u n i o n , f o r m an organic w h o l e : t h e t r i b e . T h e u n i t y o f these first l o g i c a l systems m e r e l y reproduces that o f society. T h u s w e have o u r first o p p o r t u n i t y t o test the p r o p o s i t i o n p u t f o r w a r d at t h e b e g i n n i n g o f this w o r k a n d t o assure ourselves that the f u n d a m e n t a l n o t i o n s o f t h e i n t e l l e c t , the basic categories o f t h o u g h t , can be t h e p r o d u c t o f social factors. T h e p r e c e d i n g shows that this is i n d e e d the case f o r the n o t i o n o f category itself. I d o n o t m e a n t o d e n y that the i n d i v i d u a l consciousness, even o n its o w n , has the capacity t o perceive resemblances b e t w e e n t h e particular things i t conceives of. T o the contrary, i t is clear that even the m o s t p r i m i t i v e a n d s i m ple classifications already presuppose that faculty. T h e Australian does n o t place things at r a n d o m i n the same o r different clans. I n h i m as i n us, similar images attract a n d opposite ones repel o n e another, and h e classifies the c o r r e s p o n d i n g things i n o n e o r the o t h e r a c c o r d i n g t o his sense o f these affinities. M o r e o v e r , w e can see i n some cases t h e reasoning that inspires t h e m . I t is q u i t e probable that the i n i t i a l , a n d f u n d a m e n t a l , f r a m e w o r k s f o r these classification systems w e r e c o n s t i t u t e d b y t h e t w o phratries and that c o n sequently t h e y began as d i c h o t o m o u s . W h e n a classification has o n l y t w o genera, they are almost necessarily c o n c e i v e d as a n t i t h e t i c a l . T h e y are used first as a means o f clearly separating those things b e t w e e n w h i c h the contrast is m o s t p r o n o u n c e d . S o m e are placed t o the r i g h t , t h e others t o the left. T h e A u s t r a l i a n classifications are o f this k i n d . I f t h e w h i t e c o c k a t o o is classified i n o n e phratry, t h e black c o c k a t o o is i n the o t h e r ; i f the sun is t o o n e side, the m o o n a n d stars are o n the opposite s i d e .
18

V e r y o f t e n , the beings that serve
19

the t w o phratries as totems have opposite c o l o r s . peace, the o t h e r is i n charge o f w a r ; has l a n d .
2 1 2 0

S o m e o f these oppositions

are f o u n d even outside Australia. W h e r e o n e o f the phratries is i n charge o f i f o n e has w a t e r as its t o t e m , t h e o t h e r T h i s is p r o b a b l y w h y t h e t w o phratries have o f t e n been c o n s i d -

ered n a t u r a l l y antagonistic. I t is accepted that a rivalry, even an innate h o s t i l -

See p. 142 above. This is the case among the Gournditch-mara (Howitt, NativeTribes, p. 124), among the tribes observed by Cameron near Mordake, and among the Wotjobaluk (Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 125, 250).
,9

18

J[ohn] Mathew, Two Representative Tribes [of Queensland], London, T. F. Unwin, 1910, p. 139;

[Northcote Whitridge] Thomas, Kinship [Organizations] and [Group] Marriage in [Australia], Cambridge,

Cambridge University Press, 1906, pp. 53—54. For example, among the Osage, see [James Owens] Dorsey, "Siouan Sociology," in XVth Annual Rep. [BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897], pp. 2332". At Mabuiag, an island in the Torres Strait ([Alfred C ] Haddon, Head Hunters [Black, White, and Brown, London, Methuen, 1901], p. 132). The same opposition is also to be found between the two phratries of the Arunta: One comprises people of water, the other people of land ([Carl] Strehlow, [Die Aranda- und Loritja-Stamme in Zentral-Australien], vol. I [Frankfurt, J. Baer, 1907], p. 6).
21 20

Tlie Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

147

ity, exists b e t w e e n t h e m . k i n d o f social c o n f l i c t ,
23

2 2

O n c e the l o g i c a l contrast has replicated itself as a

t h e o p p o s i t i o n o f things is e x t e n d e d t o persons.

Inside each phratry, o n the o t h e r h a n d , the things that seem t o have the greatest affinity w i t h the t h i n g s e r v i n g as the t o t e m have b e e n classified w i t h it i n the same clan. F o r e x a m p l e , the m o o n has b e e n placed w i t h the b l a c k c o c k a t o o ; the sun, b y contrast, w i t h the w h i t e c o c k a t o o , a l o n g w i t h the atmosphere a n d the w i n d . H e r e is a n o t h e r example: T h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l is g r o u p e d w i t h e v e r y t h i n g that serves as its f o o d , w h i c h i t is m o s t closely associated.
25 2 4

plus the animals w i t h

O f course, w e c a n n o t always u n d e r s t a n d

the obscure p s y c h o l o g y that has presided over m a n y o f these j o i n i n g s a n d separations. B u t t h e p r e c e d i n g examples are sufficient t o s h o w that a c e r t a i n i n t u i t i o n o f the similarities a n d differences presented b y things has played a role i n creating these classifications. B u t a f e e l i n g o f s i m i l a r i t y is o n e t h i n g ; the n o t i o n o f k i n d is another. K i n d is the e x t e r n a l f r a m e w o r k w h o s e c o n t e n t is f o r m e d , i n part, b y objects perceived t o be l i k e o n e another. T h e c o n t e n t c a n n o t itself p r o v i d e the f r a m e w o r k i n w h i c h i t is placed. T h e c o n t e n t is m a d e u p o f vague and fluctuating images caused b y t h e s u p e r i m p o s i t i o n a n d p a r t i a l fusion o f a definite number of individual images that are f o u n d t o have elements i n c o m m o n . B y Among the Iroquois, the two phratries hold tournaments of a sort ([Lewis Henry] Morgan, Ancient Society [London, Macmillan, 1877], p. 94). Among the Haida, Swanton says, the members of the two phratries of the Eagle and the Crow "are often regarded as avowed enemies. Husbands and wives (who must be of different phratries) do not hesitate to betray one another" (Swanton, The Haida, p. 62). In Australia, this hostility is expressed in the myths. The two animals that serve as the totems of the two phratries are often represented as being perpetually at war with one another (see J[ohn] Mathew, Eaglehawk and Crow: [A Study ofAustralian Aborigines, London, D. Nutt. 1899], pp. 14ff.). In games, each phratry is the natural competitor of the other (Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 770). Thus, Mr. Thomas mistakenly criticized my theory on the origin of phratries as unable to explain their opposition (Kinship and Marriage in Australia, p. 69). Still, I do not think it necessary to relate that opposition to the opposition between the profane and the sacred (see [Robert] Hertz, "La Prééminence de la main droite," in RP, vol. LXVIII (December 1909), p. 559). The things that belong to one phratry are not profane for the other; both are part of the same religious system (see p. 156 below). For example, the Tea Tree clan includes the vegetation and consequendy herbivorous animals (see Fison and Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 169). Such, probably, is the explanation of a particularity that Boas notes in the totemic emblems of North America. "Among the Tlinkit," he says, "and in all the other tribes of the coast, the emblem of a group includes the animals that are food for the one whose name the group bears." ([Franz] Boas, ["First General Report on the Indians of British Columbia," in BA45], Fifth
Report of the Committee [on the North-Westem Tribes of the Dominion of Canada, London, Offices of the As24 23 22

sociation, 1890], p. 25). Thus, among the Arunta, the frogs are associated with the Gum Tree totem, because they are often found in the cavities of that tree; the water is connected with the water fowl; the kangaroo with a sort of parakeet that is commonly seenflyingaround it ([Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen, The NativeTribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1899], pp. 146-147, 448).
25

148

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

contrast, the framework is a d e f i n i t e f o r m h a v i n g fixed c o n t o u r s , b u t can be applied t o an i n d e f i n i t e n u m b e r o f t h i n g s , w h e t h e r perceived o r n o t a n d w h e t h e r e x i s t i n g o r possible. I n d e e d , the p o t e n t i a l scope o f every genus is i n finitely greater t h a n the circle o f objects w h o s e resemblance w e have b e c o m e aware o f t h r o u g h d i r e c t experience. T h i s is w h y a w h o l e s c h o o l o f t h i n k e r s refuse t o i d e n t i f y t h e idea o f k i n d w i t h that o f generic image, a n d n o t w i t h o u t reason. A g e n e r i c i m a g e is o n l y the residual representation that similar representations leave i n us w h e n t h e y present themselves i n consciousness at the same t i m e , a n d its b o u n d a r i e s are i n d e t e r m i n a t e ; b u t a genus is a l o g i c a l s y m b o l b y means o f w h i c h w e t h i n k clearly a b o u t these similarities a n d o t h ers l i k e t h e m . Besides, o u r best evidence o f the g u l f b e t w e e n those n o t i o n s is that t h e a n i m a l is capable o f f o r m i n g g e n e r i c images, whereas i t does n o t k n o w the art o f t h i n k i n g i n t e r m s o f genera a n d species. T h e idea o f genus is a t o o l o f t h o u g h t that o b v i o u s l y was c o n s t r u c t e d b y m e n . B u t t o c o n s t r u c t i t , w e h a d t o have at least a m o d e l , f o r h o w c o u l d that idea have b e e n b o r n i f there h a d b e e n n o t h i n g w i t h i n us o r outside us that c o u l d have suggested it? T o answer that i t is g i v e n t o us a p r i o r i is n o t t o a n swer; as has b e e n said, that lazy s o l u t i o n is the death o f analysis. I t is n o t clear w h e r e w e w o u l d have f o u n d that indispensable m o d e l i f n o t i n the p a n o r a m a o f collective life. A genus is i n fact an ideal, y e t clearly d e f i n e d , g r o u p i n g o f things w i t h i n t e r n a l b o n d s a m o n g t h e m that are analogous t o the bonds o f kinship. T h e o n l y g r o u p i n g s o f that k i n d w i t h w h i c h e x p e r i e n c e acquaints us are those that m e n f o r m b y c o m i n g together. M a t e r i a l things can f o r m c o l lections, heaps, o r m e c h a n i c a l assemblages w i t h o u t i n t e r n a l unity, b u t n o t groups i n the sense I have j u s t g i v e n t h e w o r d . A heap o f sand o r a p i l e o f stones is i n n o w a y comparable t o the sort o f w e l l - d e f i n e d a n d o r g a n i z e d society that is a genus. I n all probability, t h e n , w e w o u l d never have t h o u g h t o f g a t h e r i n g the beings o f t h e universe i n t o h o m o g e n e o u s groups, called genera, i f w e h a d n o t h a d the e x a m p l e o f h u m a n societies before o u r eyes—if, i n d e e d , w e h a d n o t at first g o n e so far i n m a k i n g things m e m b e r s o f the society o f m e n , that h u m a n a n d l o g i c a l g r o u p i n g s w e r e n o t at first d i s t i n guished.
26

One sign of that original distinction is the fact that, like the social divisions with which they were originally merged, genera sometimes have a territorial base assigned to them. Thus, among the Wotjobaluk in Australia, and among the Zufii in America, things are thought of as being distributed among the different regions of space, as are the clans. The regional division of things and that of clans coincide (see Durkheim and Mauss, "Classification primitive," pp. 34ff). Even up to and including relatively advanced peoples, for example in China, the classifications retain something of this spatial character (pp. 55ff).

26

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

149

F r o m a n o t h e r standpoint, a classification is also a system w h o s e parts are arranged i n a h i e r a r c h i c a l order. S o m e are d o m i n a n t features, a n d others are subordinated t o those. T h e species a n d t h e i r distinctive properties are subs u m e d u n d e r genera h a v i n g t h e i r o w n d i s t i n c t i v e properties; a n d t h e different species o f t h e same genus are c o n c e i v e d as b e i n g o n a par w i t h another. Is the s t a n d p o i n t o f comprehensiveness one the preferred one? I n that

case, things are represented i n an inverse order, t h e m o s t p a r t i c u l a r species and the richest i n r e a l i t y b e i n g placed at the t o p , a n d at t h e b o t t o m the m o s t general ones a n d t h e poorest i n detail. B u t c o n c e i v i n g o f t h e m h i e r a r c h i c a l l y is unavoidable e i t h e r way. A n d w e m u s t g u a r d against t h i n k i n g that the w o r d has o n l y m e t a p h o r i c a l m e a n i n g here. T h e p u r p o s e o f a classification is t o establish relations o f s u b o r d i n a t i o n a n d c o o r d i n a t i o n , a n d m a n w o u l d n o t even have t h o u g h t o f o r d e r i n g his k n o w l e d g e i n that w a y i f he had n o t already , k n o w n w h a t a h i e r a r c h y is. N e i t h e r t h e p a n o r a m a o f physical nature n o r the mechanisms o f m e n t a l association c o u l d possibly g i v e us t h e idea o f i t . H i e r archy is exclusively a social t h i n g . O n l y i n society d o superiors, subordinates, and equals exist. T h e r e f o r e , even i f t h e facts w e r e n o t sufficiendy conclusive, the analysis o f those n o t i o n s w o u l d b e sufficient i n i t s e l f t o reveal t h e i r o r i g i n . W e have taken t h e m from society a n d p r o j e c t e d t h e m i n t o o u r r e p resentation o f the w o r l d . Society f u r n i s h e d the canvas o n w h i c h l o g i c a l t h o u g h t has w o r k e d .

Ill
T h e relevance o f these p r i m i t i v e classifications t o t h e o r i g i n o f religious t h o u g h t is n o less direct. T h e y i n fact i m p l y that all t h e t h i n g s t h e r e b y classified i n t h e same clan o r t h e same p h r a t r y are closely a k i n t o o n e a n o t h e r a n d to that w h i c h serves as the t o t e m o f the clan o r o f t h e phratry. W h e n the Australian o f t h e P o r t M a c K a y t r i b e says that t h e sun, snakes, etc. are o f the Y u n g a r o o p h r a t r y , he does n o t s i m p l y m e a n t o apply t o a l l those disparate b e ings a c o m m o n , b u t p u r e l y c o n v e n t i o n a l , label; t h e w o r d has an objective m e a n i n g f o r h i m . H e believes that, really, " t h e alligators are Y u n g a r o o , the m o o n W o o t a r o o a n d so o n f o r t h e constellations, t h e trees, the plants, a n d so forth.
2 7

A n i n t e r n a l tie binds t h e m t o t h e g r o u p i n w h i c h they are classified,
2 8

and they are regular m e m b e r s o f i t . T h e y are said t o b e l o n g t o that g r o u p ,

27

[George] Bridgmann, in Brough Smyth, The Aborigines ofVictoria, vol. I, p. 91.

Fison and Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 168; Howitt, "Further Notes on the Australian Class Systems,"^/, vol. XVIII (1889), p. 60.

28

150

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

j u s t as d o the h u m a n i n d i v i d u a l s w h o are p a r t o f i t , a n d so a relationship o f the same k i n d j o i n s the h u m a n i n d i v i d u a l s . M a n sees the things o f his clan as relatives a n d associates; he calls t h e m friends a n d considers t h e m t o be m a d e o f the same flesh as h e .
2 9

H e n c e , there are elective affinities a n d q u i t e special

relations o f c o m p a t i b i l i t y b e t w e e n t h e m a n d h i m . T h i n g s a n d m e n attract one another, i n some sense understand one another, a n d are naturally att u n e d . F o r example, w h e n a W a k e l b u r a o f t h e M a l l e r a p h r a t r y is b u r i e d , the scaffold o n w h i c h the b o d y is exposed " m u s t be m a d e f r o m the w o o d o f any tree b e l o n g i n g t o the M a l l e r a p h r a t r y . "
30

T h e same applies t o the branches

that cover the corpse. I f t h e deceased is o f the B a n b e class, a B a n b e tree must be used. I n the same t r i b e , a m a g i c i a n can use i n his art o n l y things that b e l o n g t o his p h r a t r y .
31

Because the others are f o r e i g n t o h i m , he c a n n o t m a k e

t h e m obey. I n this way, a b o n d o f mystical s y m p a t h y j o i n s each i n d i v i d u a l t o o t h e r beings that are associated w i t h h i m , l i v i n g o r n o t . F r o m this arises the b e l i e f that he can i n f e r w h a t he w i l l d o o r is d o i n g f r o m w h a t t h e y do. A m o n g this same g r o u p , t h e W a k e l b u r a , w h e n an i n d i v i d u a l dreams that he has k i l l e d an a n i m a l b e l o n g i n g t o such a n d such a social d i v i s i o n , he expects t o m e e t a m a n o f that same d i v i s i o n the n e x t day.
32

Conversely, the things as-

signed t o a clan o r a p h r a t r y c a n n o t be used against m e m b e r s o f that clan o r phratry. A m o n g the W o t j o b a l u k , each p h r a t r y has its o w n trees. T o h u n t an a n i m a l o f t h e G u r o g i t y , t h e y can o n l y use weapons m a d e o f w o o d taken f r o m trees o f the o t h e r phratry, a n d v i c e versa; o t h e r w i s e the h u n t e r is sure t o miss his m a r k .
3 3

T h e native is c o n v i n c e d that the a r r o w w o u l d t u r n away f r o m the

target b y itself and, i n a m a n n e r o f speaking, refuse t o t o u c h an a n i m a l w h o is a relative a n d a f r i e n d . B y t h e i r j o i n i n g , t h e n , the p e o p l e o f the clan a n d the things classified i n i t f o r m a u n i f i e d system, w i t h all its parts a l l i e d a n d v i b r a t i n g sympathetically. T h i s o r g a n i z a t i o n , w h i c h m i g h t at first have seemed t o us p u r e l y l o g i c a l , is m o r a l at t h e same t i m e . T h e same p r i n c i p l e b o t h animates i t a n d makes i t c o here: T h a t p r i n c i p l e is t h e t o t e m . Just as a m a n w h o belongs t o the C r o w clan has s o m e t h i n g o f that a n i m a l i n h i m , so t o o the r a i n . Since r a i n is o f t h e same clan and belongs t o the same t o t e m , i t is also a n d necessarily considered as " b e i n g the same t h i n g as a crow." F o r the same reason, the m o o n is a black
29

Curr, Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 461, concerning the Mount Gambier tribe.

^[Alfred William] Howitt, "On Some Australian Beliefs," JAI, vol. XIII [1884], p. 191 n. 1. [Alfred William] Howitt, "Notes on Australian Message-Sticks and Messengers," JAI, vol. XVIII (1889), p. 326; "Further Notes," p. 61 n. 3.
32

31

Curr, Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 28.

33

Mathews, "Aboriginal Tribes," p. 294.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

151

cockatoo, the sun a w h i t e c o c k a t o o , a n d every b l a c k w o o d tree a pelican, and so f o r t h . T h u s , all t h e beings classified i n a single c l a n — m e n , animals, plants, i n a n i m a t e objects—are o n l y m o d a l i t i e s o f t h e t o t e m i c b e i n g . T h i s is the m e a n i n g o f the f o r m u l a I have already r e p o r t e d . W h a t makes t h e m g e n u i n e k i n is this: A l l really are o f the same flesh, i n the sense that they all participate i n t h e nature o f the t o t e m i c a n i m a l . M o r e o v e r , t h e adjectives applied t o t h e m are the same as those a p p l i e d t o t h e t o t e m .
3 4

T h e W o t j o b a l u k call b o t h the
3 5

t o t e m a n d the things subsumed u n d e r i t b y the same name, M i r .

A m o n g the

A r u n t a , w h e r e , as w e w i l l see, there are still traces o f classification, i t is t r u e that different w o r d s designate the t o t e m a n d t h e beings attached t o i t ; h o w ever, the n a m e g i v e n t o these latter bespeaks the close relations that j o i n t h e m t o t h e t o t e m i c a n i m a l . T h e y are said t o be its intimates, its associates, and its friends; t h e y are t h o u g h t t o be inseparable f r o m i t . be closely a k i n . A t t h e same t i m e , w e k n o w that the t o t e m i c a n i m a l is a sacred b e i n g . T h e r e f o r e , because t h e y are i n a sense animals o f the same species, j u s t as m a n is, so all t h e things that are classified i n the clan o f w h i c h i t is the e m b l e m are o f t h e same character. T h e y themselves are also sacred, and t h e classifications that situate t h e m i n r e l a t i o n t o the o t h e r things o f the universe at the same t i m e assign t h e m a place w i t h i n t h e r e l i g i o u s system as a w h o l e . T h i s is w h y t h e animals o r plants a m o n g t h e m c a n n o t be freely eaten b y the h u m a n m e m b e r s o f t h e clan. T h u s , i n the M o u n t G a m b i e r t r i b e , the people w h o s e t o t e m is the n o n v e n o m o u s snake m u s t abstain n o t o n l y f r o m the flesh o f that snake; t h e m e a t o f seals, c o n g e r eels, etc. is also p r o h i b i t e d t o t h e m .
3 7 3 6

T h e s e things are felt t o

If, d r i v e n b y necessity, t h e y p e r m i t themselves t o partake o f those things, they m u s t at least d i m i n i s h the sacrilege b y e x p i a t o r y rites, j u s t as i f those things w e r e the t o t e m , p r o p e r .
38

A m o n g the E u a h l a y i ,

39

w h e r e use b u t n o t

abuse o f the t o t e m is p e r m i t t e d , t h e same r u l e applies t o t h e o t h e r things o f the clan. A m o n g the A r u n t a , t h e p r o h i b i t i o n that protects the t o t e m i c a n i m a l extends t o o t h e r animals associated w i t h i t ;
34

4 0

a n d i n any case, the latter

Cf. Curr, Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 461, and Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 146. The terms Tooman and

Wingo are applicable to both.
35

Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 123.

-^Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 447ff.; cf. Strehlow, Aranda, vol. Ill, p. xiiff.
37

Fison and Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 169.
Curr, Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 462.

38

39

Parker, Euahlayi, p. 20.

[Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen, Northern Tribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 151; Native Tribes, p. 447; Strehlow, Aranda, vol. Ill, p. xii.

40

152

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

are o w e d special c o n s i d e r a t i o n . cal.
42

41

T h e feelings i n s p i r e d b y b o t h are i d e n t i -

B u t the fact that o n occasion t h e y play the same r o l e is even better e v i dence that all the things w e see attached t o a t o t e m are n o t f u n d a m e n t a l l y different f r o m i t and, i n consequence, have a r e l i g i o u s nature. T h e s e are accessory a n d secondary t o t e m s , o r subtotems, t o use a w o r d that t o d a y is consecrated b y usage.
43

W i t h i n a clan, smaller groups constandy f o r m u n d e r

the i n f l u e n c e o f friendships a n d personal affinities. W i t h t h e i r m o r e l i m i t e d m e m b e r s h i p , these smaller groups t e n d t o live i n relative a u t o n o m y a n d t o f o r m w h a t a m o u n t s t o a n e w s u b d i v i s i o n o r subclan w i t h i n t h e clan. T o dist i n g u i s h a n d i n d i v i d u a l i z e itself, this subclan has n e e d o f its o w n t o t e m — v o i l a , the s u b t o t e m .
4 4

T h e totems o f these secondary groups are chosen

from

a m o n g those various things that are classified u n d e r the p r i n c i p a l t o t e m , so they are v i r t u a l t o t e m s — l i t e r a l l y , f o r t h e least circumstance is all i t takes t o m a k e t h e m b e c o m e actual ones. T h e y have a latent t o t e m i c nature that b e comes manifest as s o o n as circumstances p e r m i t o r r e q u i r e i t . I n this way, o n e i n d i v i d u a l sometimes has t w o totems: a p r i n c i p a l t o t e m that is shared b y the w h o l e clan a n d a s u b t o t e m that is specific t o the subclan o f w h i c h he is part. These are s o m e w h a t analogous t o the nomen a n d t h e cognomen o f the R o 45 mans.
3

•"Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 449. However, there are certain tribes of Queensland in which the things thus assigned to a social group are not forbidden to the members of that group. Such, for example, is the case of the Wakelbura. It should be borne in mind that the marriage classes serve in this society as frameworks for classification (see p. 144 above). Not only can the people of a class eat the animals ascribed to that class, but they cannot eat others. All other food is forbidden to them (Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 113; Curr, Australian Race, vol. Ill, p. 27). Nonetheless, we must take care not to conclude that these animals are considered profane. To be noted is that the individual not only may but must eat them, since he is forbidden to eat anything else. This imperativeness of the prescription is a sure sign that we are in the presence of things that are religious in nature. But the religiousness that marks them has given birth to a positive obligation rather than to that negative obligation which is the prohibition. Perhaps, indeed, it is not impossible to see how that deviation could have happened. We have seen above (see p. 140) that every individual is thought to have a sort of property right over his totem and, in consequence, over the things that come under it. If special circumstances influenced the development of that aspect of the totemic relation, then people would come naturally to believe that only the members of a clan could use their totem and all that is assimilated to it; that the others, by contrast, did not have the right to touch it. Under these circumstances, a clan could feed itself only with things ascribed to the clan.
43 42

Mrs. Parker uses the expression "multiplex totems."

As examples, see the Euahlayi tribe in the book of Mrs. Parker (pp. 15ff.) and the Worjobaluk (Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 121ff.); cf. the previously cited article of Mathews.
45

44

See examples in Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 122.

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

153

Sometimes, i n d e e d , w e see that a subclan emancipates itself c o m p l e t e l y and becomes an a u t o n o m o u s g r o u p , an i n d e p e n d e n t clan. T h e s u b t o t e m t h e n becomes a t o t e m i n the f u l l sense. O n e t r i b e i n w h i c h this process o f segmentation has b e e n taken v i r t u a l l y t o its o u t e r m o s t l i m i t is the A r u n t a tribe. T h e i n f o r m a t i o n c o n t a i n e d i n the first b o o k o f Spencer a n d G ü l e n i n dicated b a c k t h e n that there w e r e some 6 0 t o t e m s a m o n g the A r u n t a , larger. H e counts n o t less t h a n 4 4 2 t o t e m s .
47 4 6

but

the m o r e recent research o f S t r e h l o w has established that the n u m b e r is m u c h Spencer a n d G ü l e n w e r e i n n o way exaggerating w h e n t h e y said that " i n t h e l a n d o c c u p i e d b y the natives, there is n o object, animate o r i n a n i m a t e , that does n o t give its n a m e t o some totemic group o f individuals."
48

T h a t m u l t i t u d e o f t o t e m s , w h i c h is p r o d i -

gious w h e n c o m p a r e d w i t h t h e size o f t h e p o p u l a t i o n , comes o f the fact that, u n d e r the i n f l u e n c e o f p a r t i c u l a r circumstances, the o r i g i n a l clans have d i v i d e d a n d s u b d i v i d e d i n f i n i t e l y ; as a result, almost all t h e subtotems gained t h e status o f t o t e m s . Strehlow's studies have d e f i n i t i v e l y s h o w n this. Spencer and G ü l e n c i t e d o n l y a f e w isolated cases o f allied t o t e m s .
49

have

S t r e h l o w established that this was

actually a universal f o r m o f o r g a n i z a t i o n . H e d r e w u p a table o n w h i c h a l most aU the t o t e m s o f the A r u n t a are classified a c c o r d i n g t o this p r i n c i p l e . A l l are attached t o some sixty p r i n c i p a l totems as e i t h e r allies o r a u x d i a r i e s . T h e allied t o t e m s are h e l d t o be at the service o f t h e p r i n c i p a l o n e .
51 50

This

state o f relative s u b o r d i n a t i o n is p r o b a b l y t h e echo o f a t i m e w h e n today's "aUies" w e r e o n l y subtotems, a n d therefore a t i m e w h e n t h e t r i b e h a d o n l y a

*See Durkheim and Mauss, "Classification primitive," p. 28 n. 2. "Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, pp. 61-72.
48

Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 112. See especially ibid., p. 447, and Northern Tribes, p. 151.

49

°Strehlow, Aranda, vol. Ill, pp. xiii-[xvii]. Sometimes the same secondary totems are attached to two or three principal totems at once. This is probably because Strehlow could not establish with certainty which of those totems was truly the main one. Two interesting facts, which emerge from this table, confirm certain propositions I have already set forth. First, with very few exceptions, almost all the principal totems are animals. Next, the stars are never anything but secondary or allied totems. This is further evidence that originally the preference was to choose totems from the animal kingdom, and that the allied totems were not promoted to the status of totems until later. According to myth, in legendary times the allied totems served as food for the people of the principal totem and, if they were trees, provided shelter (Strehlow, Aranda, vol. Ill, p. xii; Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 403). However, the fact that the allied totem is thought to have been eaten does not imply that it is considered profane. It is believed that, in mythical times, the principal totem was eaten by the ancestors who founded the clan.
51

3

154

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

small n u m b e r o f clans s u b d i v i d e d i n t o subclans. N u m e r o u s survivals c o n f i r m that hypothesis. T h e t w o groups that are allied i n this w a y often have the same t o t e m i c e m b l e m . T h e oneness o f that e m b l e m is i n e x p l i c a b l e unless the t w o groups w e r e o r i g i n a l l y o n e .
5 2

Elsewhere, the k i n s h i p o f the t w o clans is

s h o w n b y the role a n d interest that each o f t h e m takes i n the rites o f the other. T h e t w o cults are still n o t c o m p l e t e l y separate, m o s t l i k e l y because i n i tially t h e y w e r e c o m p l e t e l y m e r g e d .
5 3

T r a d i t i o n explains t h e tie that binds
54

t h e m b y i m a g i n i n g h o w , l o n g ago, the t w o clans l i v e d v e r y near each o t h e r .

I n o t h e r cases, m y t h even states e x p l i c i t l y that t h e o n e was d e r i v e d f r o m t h e other. T h e y say that the allied a n i m a l o n c e u p o n a t i m e b e l o n g e d t o the species that is still the p r i n c i p a l t o t e m a n d was n o t differentiated u n t i l a later e p o c h . I n this way, the c h a n t u n g a birds, w h i c h n o w are associated w i t h t h e w i t c h e t t y g r u b , w e r e w i t c h e t t y grubs i n legendary times a n d later transf o r m e d themselves i n t o birds. T w o species that are n o w attached t o the t o t e m o f the h o n e y ant w e r e h o n e y ants i n the past, a n d so f o r t h .
5 5

F u r t h e r , that

t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f a s u b t o t e m i n t o a t o t e m happens i m p e r c e p t i b l y , w i t h the result that the status is i l l d e f i n e d i n some cases, a n d i t is n o t easy t o say w h e t h e r o n e is d e a l i n g w i t h a p r i n c i p a l o r a secondary t o t e m . process o f f o r m a t i o n .
5 7 5 6

As H o w i t t

says r e g a r d i n g t h e W o t j o b a l u k , there are subtotems that are totems i n the I n this way, t h e various things classified i n a t o t e m are l i k e m a n y n u c l e i a r o u n d w h i c h n e w t o t e m i c cults can f o r m . T h i s is the best evidence o f the r e l i g i o u s feelings t h e y inspire. I f t h e y d i d n o t have this sacredness, they c o u l d n o t so easily be p r o m o t e d t o t h e same status as those sac r e d things par excellence, t h e totems proper. T h u s , the circle o f r e l i g i o u s things extends w e l l b e y o n d w h a t at first seemed t o be its b o u n d a r i e s . N o t o n l y are the t o t e m i c animals and t h e m e m bers o f t h e clan enclosed w i t h i n that circle; b u t since there is n o t h i n g k n o w n that is n o t classified w i t h i n a clan a n d u n d e r a t o t e m , there is also n o t h i n g that does n o t receive a r e f l e c t i o n o f that religiousness, t o some degree. W h e n

Thus, in the Wild Cat clan, the designs carved on the churinga represent thefloweringtree called hakea, which today is a distinct totem (Spencer and Gillen, NativeTribes [pp. 147—148]). Strehlow (Aranda, vol. Ill, p. xii n. 4) says that this is common.
"Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 182; Native Tribes, pp. 151, 297.
54

a2

Native Tribes, pp. 151, 158.

55

Ibid„ pp. 447-449.

lt is in this way that Spencer and Gillen speak to us of the pigeon called Inturita sometimes as a principal totem (NativeTribes [p. 410]), and sometimes as an allied totem (p. 448). "Howitt, "Further Notes," pp. 63-64.

56

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

155

actual gods appear i n the r e l i g i o n s that f o r m later, each o f t h e m w i l l be set over a p a r t i c u l a r category o f n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a — t h i s o n e the sea, that o n e the air, a n o t h e r the fruit harvest, a n d so o n , a n d each o f those provinces o f nature w i l l be t h o u g h t o f as d r a w i n g t h e life that is w i t h i n i t from the g o d t o w h i c h i t is subject. S u c h a d i s t r i b u t i o n o f nature a m o n g various deities is p r e cisely w h a t constitutes the representation o f t h e universe that r e l i g i o n s give us. So l o n g as h u m a n i t y has n o t m o v e d b e y o n d the phase o f t o t e m i s m , the role the v a r i o u s totems o f t h e t r i b e play is precisely t h e o n e that w i l l later b e l o n g t o d i v i n e personalities. I n the M o u n t G a m b i e r t r i b e , w h i c h I have taken as the m a i n example, there are t e n clans, a n d so the w h o l e w o r l d is d i v i d e d i n t o t e n classes, o r rather i n t o t e n families, each o r i g i n a t i n g i n a special t o t e m . T h e things classified i n a clan take t h e i r reality from that o r i g i n , f o r they are c o n c e i v e d o f as various modes o f the t o t e m i c b e i n g — a c c o r d i n g t o our e x a m p l e , r a i n , t h u n d e r , l i g h t n i n g , clouds, h a i l , a n d w i n t e r are regarded as various k i n d s o f crow. T a k e n together, these t e n families o f things c o n s t i tute a systematic a n d c o m p l e t e representation o f t h e w o r l d , and that representation is r e l i g i o u s , since r e l i g i o u s n o t i o n s f u r n i s h t h e p r i n c i p l e o f i t . Far from b e i n g restricted t o o n e o r t w o categories o f beings, t h e n , t h e d o m a i n o f t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n extends t o t h e farthest l i m i t s o f the k n o w n universe. L i k e the r e l i g i o n o f Greece, i t places t h e d i v i n e e v e r y w h e r e . T h e w e l l - k n o w n f o r m u l a I l a v T a TrXirjpTi 8eiov* can serve as its m o t t o as w e l l . To be i n a p o s i t i o n t o conceive t o t e m i s m i n this way, w e must m o d i f y the l o n g s t a n d i n g n o t i o n o f i t o n o n e f u n d a m e n t a l p o i n t . U n t i l the discoveries o f recent years, t o t e m i s m was d e f i n e d as the r e l i g i o n o f the clan and was t h o u g h t to consist e n t i r e l y i n t h e c u l t o f a p a r t i c u l a r t o t e m . F r o m this p o i n t o f v i e w , i t seemed that there w e r e as m a n y i n d e p e n d e n t t o t e m i c religions as there w e r e different clans. M o r e o v e r , that n o t i o n was i n h a r m o n y w i t h the c o m m o n l y h e l d n o t i o n o f the clan: I t is seen as an a u t o n o m o u s s o c i e t y ,
58

m o r e o r less

closed t o similar societies o r h a v i n g o n l y e x t e r n a l a n d superficial relations w i t h t h e m . B u t the reality is m o r e c o m p l e x . C e r t a i n l y the c u l t o f each t o t e m has its h o m e i n t h e c o r r e s p o n d i n g clan; i t is celebrated there and o n l y there; the m e m b e r s o f t h e clan are responsible f o r i t ; i t is t r a n s m i t t e d b y t h e m one g e n e r a t i o n t o another, a l o n g w i t h the beliefs o n w h i c h i t is based. O n the o t h e r h a n d , t h e various t o t e m i c cults that are p r a c t i c e d w i t h i n a single t r i b e d o n o t develop i n parallel a n d i n i g n o r a n c e o f one another, as from

*Everything is full of gods. Trans. Thus it happens that the clan has often been confounded with the tribe. Curr especially has been guilty of this confusion, which often imports problems into ethnographers' descriptions ([The Australian Race], vol. I, pp. 61ff.).
58

156

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

t h o u g h each was a c o m p l e t e r e l i g i o n a n d sufficient u n t o itself. Instead, t h e y i m p l y o n e another. E a c h is o n l y o n e p a r t o f the same w h o l e , an e l e m e n t o f the same r e l i g i o n . T h e m e n o f a clan i n n o w a y regard the beliefs o f the n e i g h b o r i n g clans w i t h the indifference, skepticism, o r h o s t i l i t y that is o r d i n a r i l y i n s p i r e d b y a r e l i g i o n t o w h i c h o n e is a stranger; t h e y themselves share the beliefs. T h e C r o w p e o p l e are also c o n v i n c e d that t h e Snake people have a m y t h i c a l snake as t h e i r ancestor a n d o w e special qualities a n d capacities t o that o r i g i n . H a v e w e n o t seen that, u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s at least, a m a n eats a t o t e m that is n o t his o w n o n l y after h a v i n g observed r i t u a l formalities? F o r example, he requests p e r m i s s i o n f r o m the i n d i v i d u a l s o f that t o t e m , i f there are any present. T h i s is so because that f o o d is n o t m e r e l y profane f o r h i m either. H e , t o o , accepts that there are affinities b e t w e e n the m e m b e r s o f a clan he is n o t p a r t o f a n d t h e a n i m a l w h o s e n a m e t h e y bear. M o r e o v e r , that c o m m o n a l i t y o f b e l i e f is sometimes manifested i n t h e c u l t . A l t h o u g h , i n p r i n c i p l e , the rites that c o n c e r n a t o t e m can be p e r f o r m e d o n l y b y p e o p l e o f that t o t e m , i t is nonetheless v e r y c o m m o n f o r representatives o f different clans t o be present. I n d e e d , sometimes t h e i r role is n o t o n e o f mere spectat¬ i n g . A l t h o u g h o f course t h e y are n o t t h e celebrants, t h e y decorate those w h o are, a n d t h e y prepare the service. T h e y , t o o , have an interest i n the rite's b e i n g c o n d u c t e d ; hence, i n c e r t a i n tribes i t is t h e y w h o i n v i t e the p r o p e r clan t o c o n d u c t the c e r e m o n y . initiation.
6 0 59

I n d e e d , there is a w h o l e cycle o f rites that m u s t

take place i n the presence o f t h e assembled t r i b e : the t o t e m i c ceremonies o f I n s u m , t o t e m i c o r g a n i z a t i o n as j u s t described clearly m u s t result f r o m a sort o f consensus a m o n g all the m e m b e r s o f the t r i b e , w i t h o u t d i s t i n c t i o n . Each clan c a n n o t possibly have d e v e l o p e d its beliefs i n an absolutely i n d e p e n d e n t m a n n e r ; t h e cults o f t h e various t o t e m s c o m p l e m e n t one a n o t h e r exactly, a n d so t h e y m u s t necessarily have b e e n i n some sense adjusted t o o n e another. I n fact, as w e have seen, a single t o t e m d i d n o t o r d i n a r i l y repeat i t self i n the same t r i b e , a n d the w h o l e universe was d i v i d e d a m o n g the totems thus c o n s t i t u t e d i n such a w a y that t h e same o b j e c t s h o u l d n o t be f o u n d i n t w o different clans. So systematic a d i v i s i o n w o u l d have b e e n impossible t o achieve w i t h o u t a tacit o r c o n c e r t e d agreement i n w h i c h the w h o l e t r i b e w o u l d have had t o participate. T h e w h o l e set o f beliefs t h a t was b o r n i n this w a y is i n part (but o n l y i n part) an affair o f the t r i b e .
59 6 1

This is the case,forexample, of the Warramunga (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 298).

'"See, for example, Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 380 et passim. One could even ask whether tribal totems do not sometimes exist. Thus, among the Arunta, the wild cat is the totem of a particular clan and yet is forbidden to the whole tribe; even the people of other
61

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (Continued)

157

T o summarize: I n d e v e l o p i n g an adequate c o n c e p t i o n o f t o t e m i s m , w e must n o t enclose ourselves w i t h i n the boundaries o f the clan b u t consider the tribe as a w h o l e . Each clan's o w n c u l t enjoys great a u t o n o m y . Indeed, w e can anticipate even n o w that the active f e r m e n t o f religious life w i l l be f o u n d i n the clan. O n the o t h e r h a n d , all these cults are u n i f i e d , a n d t o t e m i c r e l i g i o n is the c o m p l e x system f o r m e d b y that u n i o n , j u s t as G r e e k p o l y t h e i s m was f o r m e d b y the u n i o n o f all the cults that w e r e addressed t o the various deities. I have s h o w n that w h e n t o t e m i s m is u n d e r s t o o d i n this way, i t t o o has a cosmology.

clans may eat it only in moderation (Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 168). But I believe it would be an exaggeration to speak of a tribal totem in that instance, for it does not followfromthe prohibition against eating it freely that the animal is a totem. A prohibition may have other causes. Undoubtedly, the religious unity of the tribe is real, but that unity is affirmed with the aid of other symbols. Further on, I will show what those symbols are (Bk. II, chap. 9).

CHAPTER FOUR

THE PRINCIPAL TOTEMIC BELIEFS (END)
The Individual Totem and the Sexual Totem

T

hus far, I have e x a m i n e d t o t e m i s m solely as a p u b l i c i n s t i t u t i o n . T h e o n l y totems discussed have b e e n those shared b y a clan, a phratry, or, i n a sense,
1

the t r i b e . T h e i n d i v i d u a l h a d a part i n t h e m o n l y as a m e m b e r o f the g r o u p . B u t w e understand that there is n o r e l i g i o n w i t h o u t an i n d i v i d u a l aspect. T h i s general observation applies t o t o t e m i s m . A p a r t from the i m p e r s o n a l a n d c o l lective totems that are foremost, there are others that b e l o n g t o each i n d i v i d ual, that express his personality, a n d w h o s e c u l t he celebrates privately.

I
I n some A u s t r a l i a n tribes a n d i n m o s t o f t h e I n d i a n societies o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , each i n d i v i d u a l maintains a personal relationship w i t h a p a r t i c u l a r o b j e c t , w h i c h is comparable t o the relationship that each clan maintains w i t h its t o t e m . T h a t object is sometimes an i n a n i m a t e b e i n g o r s o m e t h i n g m a n made, b u t i t is o f t e n an a n i m a l . I n some cases, o n l y a p a r t i c u l a r part o f the body, such as the head, the feet, o r the liver, has the same f u n c t i o n .
3 2

T h e n a m e o f the t h i n g also serves as the n a m e o f the i n d i v i d u a l . I t is his personal name, a first n a m e that is added t o his collective t o t e m , j u s t as the 'The totems are the tribe's property in the sense that the tribe as a whole has an interest in the cult each clan owes to its totem. Frazer has made a full compilation of the texts about individual totemism in North America ([James George Frazer], Totemism and Exogamy, vol. Ill [London, Macmillan, 1910], pp. 370—456). For example, among the Hurons, the Iroquois, and the Algonquins ([Pierre François Xavier de] Charlevoix, Histoire [et description générale de la Nouvelle Frame], vol. VI [Paris, Chez la Veuve Ganeau, 1744], pp. 67—70; [Gabriel] Sagard, Le Grand voyage au pays des Hurons [Paris, Tross, 1865], p. 160), and among the Thompson Indians ([James Alexander] Teit, "The Thompson Indians of British Columbia," AMNH, vol. II (1900), p. 355). 158
3 2

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (End)

159

praenomen o f t h e R o m a n s is added t o the nomen gentilicium. I t is t r u e that this is d o c u m e n t e d f o r o n l y a c e r t a i n n u m b e r o f societies,
4

b u t i t is p r o b a b l y

widespread. I n d e e d , I w i l l presently s h o w that the t h i n g a n d the i n d i v i d u a l are o f the same k i n d . I d e n t i t y o f k i n d entails i d e n t i t y o f name. B e i n g g i v e n i n the course o f especially i m p o r t a n t r e l i g i o u s ceremonies, this forename has a q u a l i t y o f sacredness. I t is n o t p r o n o u n c e d i n the o r d i n a r y circumstances o f profane life. S o m e t i m e s , i n d e e d , the w o r d used i n everyday language t o designate t h e t h i n g is s o m e w h a t m o d i f i e d f o r that special use —this, because the w o r d s o f everyday language are e x c l u d e d f r o m r e l i g i o u s life. I n t h e A m e r i c a n tribes, at least, an e m b l e m is added t o this name, w h i c h belongs t o each i n d i v i d u a l a n d i n various ways represents the t h i n g designated by the name. F o r example, each M a n d a n wears the skin o f the a n i m a l w h o s e namesake he i s . I f i t is a b i r d , he adorns h i m s e l f w i t h the bird's feathers.
8 9 6 7 5

The

H u r o n s and the A l g o n q u i n s t a t t o o its image o n t h e i r b o d i e s . I t is represented o n his w e a p o n s . A m o n g the tribes o f the N o r t h w e s t , the i n d i v i d u a l e m b l e m is carved o r sculpted o n utensils, houses, a n d so f o r t h , as is the collective e m b l e m o f the c l a n . erty.
11 1 0

T h e i n d i v i d u a l e m b l e m serves as a m a r k o f personal p r o p 12

O f t e n the t w o coats o f arms are c o m b i n e d , w h i c h p a r t l y explains w h y

the t o t e m i c escutcheons s h o w such v a r i e t y a m o n g these p e o p l e s .

T h e r e are the closest o f b o n d s b e t w e e n the i n d i v i d u a l a n d t h e a n i m a l This is the case for the Yuin ([Alfred William] Howitt, The Native Tribes [of South-East Australia, New York, Macmillan, 1904], p. 133); the Kurnai (Native Tribes, p. 135); several tribes of Queensland ([Walter
Edmund] Roth, Superstition, Magic and Medicine, North Queensland Ethnography, Bulletin no. 5 [Brisbane,
4

G. A. Vaughn, 1903], p. 19; [Alfred C ] Haddon, Head-Hunters, [Black, White, and Brown, London, Methuen, 1901], p. 193); among the Delaware ([John Gottlieb Ernestus] Heckewelder, "An Account of the History [Manners and Customs] of the Indian Nations [Who Once Inhabited Pennsylvania"], HLCAPS, vol. I [1819], p. 238); among the Thompson Indians (Teit, "Thompson Indians," p. 355); and among the Salish Stadumh ([Charles] Hill Tout, "Report on the Ethnology of the Stadumh of British Columbia," _//17, vol. XXXV [1905], pp. 147ÎF.).
5

Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 154.

6

[George] Cadin, Illustration of the Manners, Customs [and Condition of the North American Indians, 2

vols.], London [H. G. Bohn], 1876, vol. I, p. 36.
7

[George] Cadin, [Nouvelles des missions dAmérique, extraits des] lettres édifiantes et curieuses, 6th ed.

[Paris, Martial, 1883], pp. 172ff.
8

Charlevoix, Histoire de la nouvelle France, vol. VI, p. 69.

'[James Owen] Dorsey, "A Study of Siouan Cults," in XIth Annual Report [BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1894], p. 443. "'[Franz] Boas, ["The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the] Kwakiud [Indians," in RNMfor 1895, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897], p. 323. "Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 154.
12

Boas, "Kwakiutl," p. 323.

160

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

w h o s e n a m e he bears. T h e nature o f the a n i m a l is p a r t a n d parcel o f the m a n , w h o has its qualities as w e l l as its faults. F o r example, i t is t h o u g h t that a m a n w i t h t h e eagle as his i n d i v i d u a l e m b l e m possesses t h e gift o f seeing t h e future; i f he carries t h e n a m e o f the bear, i t is said t h a k h e is l i k e l y t o be w o u n d e d i n fights, t h e bear b e i n g slow, heavy, a n d easily t r a p p e d ; spised, t h e m a n is t h e o b j e c t o f the same c o n t e m p t .
1 4 13

i f t h e a n i m a l is d e -

Indeed, the kinship be1 5

t w e e n t h e t w o is so great that i n c e r t a i n circumstances, especially danger, t h e m a n is t h o u g h t capable o f assuming t h e animal's f o r m . is regarded as t h e man's d o u b l e , his alter e g o .
16

Inversely, t h e a n i m a l

T h e association b e t w e e n t h e
17

t w o is so close that t h e i r destinies are o f t e n considered t o be i n t e r d e p e n d e n t : N o t h i n g can h a p p e n t o o n e w i t h o u t repercussions felt b y t h e o t h e r . I f the a n i m a l dies, t h e life o f t h e m a n is threatened. H e n c e a v e r y c o m m o n r u l e is that o n e m u s t n e i t h e r k i l l t h e a n i m a l n o r , especially, eat its flesh. W h e n a p p l i e d t o t h e clan, this p r o h i b i t i o n carries w i t h i t a l l sorts o f allowances a n d c o m p r o m i s e s , b u t i n this case i t is far m o r e categorical a n d a b s o l u t e . h i m t o possible dangers a n d t o means o f escaping t h e m ; man's
u 1 9 18

F o r its part, t h e a n i m a l protects t h e m a n a n d is a k i n d o f p a t r o n . I t alerts i t is said t o be t h e friend.
20

I n fact, since i t is o f t e n p r e s u m e d t o have m i r a c u l o u s powers,

Miss [Alice C ] Fletcher, "The Import of the Totem, A Studyfromthe Omaha Tribe, RSI [Washington, Government Printing Office], 1897, p. 583. Similar facts will be found in Teit, "Thompson Indians," pp. 354, 356; Peter Jones, History of the Ojibway Indians: [With Especial Reference to Their Conversion

to Christianity, London, A. W. Bennet, 1869], p. 87. This is, for example, the case of the dog among the Salish Stadumh because of the servile state in which he lives (Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 153). Langloh Parker [Catherine Sommerville Field Parker], [The] Euahlayi [Tribe] [London, A. Constable, 1905], p. 21. "The spirit of a man," says Mrs. Parker (ibid.), "is in his Yunbeai (individual totem) and his Yunbeai is in him." "Parker, Euahlayi, p. 20. It is the same among certain Salish ([Charles] Hill Tout, "Ethnological Report on the Stseelis and Skaulits Tribes [of the Halokmelem Division of the Salish of British Columbia]," JAI, vol. XXXIV [1904], p. 324). This is common among the Indians of Central America ([Daniel G.] Brinton, "Nagualism: A Study in Native American Folk-lore and History," APS, vol. XXXIII [1894], p. 32). Parker, Euahlayi, p. 20; Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 147; Dorsey, "Siouan Cults," p. 443. Incidentally, Frazer has surveyed the American cases and has established the universality of this prohibition (Totemism and Exogamy, vol. Ill, p. 450). True, we have seen that in America the individual had to begin by killing the animal whose skin was used to make what the ethnographers call his "medicine bag." But this custom has been found only infivetribes; it is probably a late and altered form of the institution. Howitt, NativeTribes, pp. 135, 147, 387, and "On Australian Medicine Men,"J,4i, vol. XVI (1887), p. 34; [James Alexander] Teit, "The Shuswap" [AMNH, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1908], p. 607. [Rev. A.] Meyer, "Manners and Customs of the Aborigines of the Encounter Bay Tribe," in [James Dominick] Woods [The Native Tribes of South Australia, Adelaide, E. S. Wigg. 1879], p. 197.
20 19 18 16 15 14

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (End)

161

i t passes those o n t o its h u m a n partner, w h o believes t h e m t o be p r o o f against bullets, arrows, a n d every sort o f b l o w .
2 1

T h e i n d i v i d u a l has such confidence

i n the efficacy o f his p r o t e c t o r that he braves t h e greatest dangers a n d p e r f o r m s the m o s t b r e a t h t a k i n g feats o f prowess w i t h serene fearlessness. F a i t h gives h i m the necessary courage a n d s t r e n g t h .
22

Nevertheless, the man's ties

w i t h his p a t r o n are n o t ones o f dependency, p u r e a n d simple. T h e m a n , for his part, can act u p o n t h e a n i m a l . H e gives i t orders a n d has p o w e r over i t . A K u r n a i w h o s e f r i e n d a n d ally is the shark believes that, w i t h an i n c a n t a t i o n , he can disperse sharks that threaten a b o a t . i n h u n t i n g the a n i m a l .
2 4 23

I n o t h e r cases, the tie c o n t r a c t e d

i n this w a y is t h o u g h t t o b e s t o w u p o n t h e m a n a special capacity f o r success B y t h e i r v e r y nature, these relations seem strongly t o i m p l y that the b e i n g w i t h w h i c h each i n d i v i d u a l is thus associated can itself be o n l y an i n d i v i d u a l , n o t a species. N o o n e has a species as alter ego. I n some cases, i n fact i t q u i t e clearly is such a n d such a d e f i n i t e tree, r o c k , o r stone that plays this r o l e .
2 5

W h e n e v e r i t is an a n i m a l , o r w h e n e v e r the lives o f the a n i m a l and the m a n are considered t o be b o u n d u p together, such is necessarily the case. I t is n o t possible t o be j o i n e d w i t h a w h o l e species i n an interdependence o f this k i n d , b e cause there is n o day, o r f o r that m a t t e r n o instant, i n w h i c h the species does n o t lose o n e o f its m e m b e r s . Still, the p r i m i t i v e has a c e r t a i n i n a b i l i t y t o c o n ceive o f the i n d i v i d u a l apart f r o m the species. T h e b o n d that unites h i m w i t h the o n e extends altogether naturally t o the o t h e r ; he has the same feeling f o r b o t h . T h u s i t comes about that the w h o l e species is sacred t o h i m .
21 2 6

[Franz] Boas, "Second General Report on the Indians of British Columbia," in [ByL4S], Vlth Report on the North- WesternTribes of Canada [London, Offices of the Association, 1891], p. 93; Teit, "Thompson Indians," p. 336; Boas, "Kwakiud," p. 394. ^Corroborating evidence is to be found in Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," pp. 144—145. Cf. Parker, Euahlayi, p. 29. "According to information given Frazer by Howitt in a personal letter (Totemism and Exogamy, vol. I, p. 495, n.2).
24

Hill Tout, "Stseelis and Skaulits Tribes," p. 324.

Howitt, "Australian Medicine Men," JAI, vol. XVI, p. 34; [Joseph François] Lafitau, Moeurs des sauvages américains, vol. I [Paris, Saugrain l'ainé, 1724], p. 370; Charlevoix, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, vol. VI, p. 68. The same is true of the atai and the tamaniu at Mota ([Robert Henry] Codrington, The Melanesians, [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891], pp. 250-251). Consequendy, the line of demarcation that Frazer thought he could establish between these animal protectors and the fetishes does not exist. He thought fetishism would begin where the protector being is an individual object and not a class (Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, p. 56); as we know from as early as the tribes of Australia, however, a specific animal sometimes plays this role (see Howitt, "[On] Australian Medicine Men; [or Doctors and Wizards of Some Australian Tribes], JAI, vol. XVI, [1887], p. 34). The truth is that the notions of fetish and fetishism do not correspond to anything definite.
26

25

162

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

T h i s p r o t e c t o r b e i n g is called b y different names i n different societies: nagual a m o n g the Indians o f M e x i c o , a m o n g the H u r o n s ,
2 8 2 7

manitou a m o n g the A l g o n q u i n s , okki
29

snam a m o n g c e r t a i n S a l i s h
3 1

a n d sulia a m o n g o t h e r s ,
3 2

30

budjan a m o n g the Y u i n ,

yunbeai a m o n g t h e E u a h l a y i , a n d so o n . Because

o f the i m p o r t a n c e these beliefs a n d practices have a m o n g the Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , some have p r o p o s e d t o create the w o r d nagualism o r manitouism t o designate t h e m .
3 3

B u t b y g i v i n g t h e m a special a n d distinctive

name, w e m a y w e l l m i s c o n s t r u e t h e i r relationship w i t h t o t e m i s m . I n fact, the same p r i n c i p l e s are a p p l i e d , i n o n e case t o the clan, i n t h e o t h e r t o the i n d i v i d u a l . I n b o t h , the b e l i e f is the same: T h e r e are l i v i n g ties b e t w e e n things a n d m e n , a n d the things are e n d o w e d w i t h special powers f r o m w h i c h the h u m a n allies b e n e f i t . T h e c u s t o m is also t h e same: G i v i n g t h e m a n the n a m e o f the t h i n g w i t h w h i c h he is associated, a n d a d d i n g an e m b l e m t o this name. T h e t o t e m is the p a t r o n o f the clan, j u s t as t h e p a t r o n o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l is a personal t o t e m . So there is g o o d reason f o r the t e r m i n o l o g y t o make this k i n s h i p b e t w e e n the t w o systems visible. T h i s is w h y , w i t h Frazer, I w i l l call the c u l t that each i n d i v i d u a l renders t o his p a t r o n individual totemism. Use o f this t e r m i n o l o g y is f u r t h e r j u s t i f i e d b y t h e fact that i n some cases the p r i m i tive h i m s e l f uses t h e same w o r d t o designate t h e t o t e m o f the clan a n d the a n imal protector o f the i n d i v i d u a l .
3 4

T y l o r and P o w e l l have rejected i t a n d

called f o r different t e r m s f o r the t w o sorts o f r e l i g i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n s because, i n t h e i r v i e w , the c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m is o n l y a n a m e , a shared label w i t h o u t r e -

27

Brinton, "Nagualism," APS, vol. XXXIII [1894], p. 32.

28

Charlevoix, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, p. 67.

29

Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Statlumh," p. 142. Hill Tout, "Stseelis and Skaulits Tribes," pp. 31 Iff.

30

31

Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 133.

32

Parker, Euahlayi, p. 20.

[Edwin Sidney Hardand], "An American View of Totemism, [A Note on Major Powell's Article] in Man, vol. II (1902), 84, pp. 113—115 [This does not mention "nagualism," and says "manitu," not "manituism." Trans.]; [Edward Burnett] Tylor, "Note on the Haida Totem-Post Lately Erected in the Pitt River Museum at Oxford," Man, vol. II, (1902), pp. 1 3 [Again, there is no mention of "nagualism." Trans.]; —, [Andrew] Lang expressed similar ideas in Social Origins [London, Longmans, 1903], pp. 133—135. Finally, in a revision of his earlier view, Frazer himself now believes that it is best to designate collective totems and guardian spirits by different names until the relationship that exists between them is better known
(Totemism and Exogamy, vol. Ill, p. 456).

33

This is the case in Australia among the Yuin (Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 81) and among the Narrinyeri (Meyer, "The Encounter Bay Tribe," in Woods, Native Tribes of South Australia, pp. 197ff.).

34

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (End)

163

ligious characteristics.

35

B u t to the contrary, w e k n o w that i t is a sacred t h i n g will be

to an even greater degree t h a n the a n i m a l p r o t e c t o r . As this study develops, the e x t e n t t o w h i c h the t w o sorts o f t o t e m i s m are inseparable shown.
3 6

Nonetheless, h o w e v e r great the k i n s h i p b e t w e e n these t w o institutions, there are i m p o r t a n t differences b e t w e e n t h e m . Whereas the clan considers i t self t o be the offspring o f the t o t e m i c a n i m a l o r plant, the i n d i v i d u a l does n o t believe he has any relation o f descent w i t h his personal t o t e m . I t is a f r i e n d , a partner, and a protector, b u t i t is n o t a relative. T h e i n d i v i d u a l makes use o f the virtues i t is h e l d to possess, b u t he is n o t o f the same b l o o d . Second, the m e m bers o f a clan p e r m i t n e i g h b o r i n g clans t o eat the a n i m a l w h o s e name they c o l lectively bear, p r o v i d e d that the necessary formalities are observed. B y contrast, the i n d i v i d u a l n o t o n l y respects the species t o w h i c h his personal t o t e m b e longs b u t also does his u t m o s t t o defend i t against strangers, at least wherever the destinies o f the m a n and the a n i m a l are t h o u g h t t o be b o u n d u p together. These t w o k i n d s o f totems differ m o s t i n the m a n n e r b y w h i c h t h e y are acquired. T h e c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m belongs t o the legal status o f every i n d i v i d u a l . G e n erally speaking, i t is hereditary; at any rate, i t is b i r t h that designates i t and men's w i l l has n o role. T h e c h i l d sometimes has t h e t o t e m o f its m o t h e r ( K a m i l a r o i , D i e r i , U r a b u n n a , etc.), sometimes that o f its father ( N a r r i n y e r i , Warramunga, etc.), a n d sometimes the t o t e m t h a t is m o s t i m p o r t a n t at
37

the place w h e r e his m o t h e r c o n c e i v e d ( A r u n t a , L o r i t j a ) . B u t the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m is a c q u i r e d b y a deliberate a c t : D e t e r m i n i n g i t requires a series o f rites. T h e m e t h o d m o s t w i d e l y used a m o n g the Indians o f A m e r i c a is the f o l l o w i n g : T o w a r d p u b e r t y , as the t i m e o f i n i t i a t i o n approaches, the y o u n g

"The totem no more resembles the patron of the individual," says Tylor, "than an escutcheon resembles an image of a saint." ("The Haida Totem-Post," p. 2.) Likewise, today Frazer rallies to Tylor's opinion, because he now denies that the totem of the clan is in any way religious (Totemism and Exogamy, vol. HI, p. 452).
36

35

See below, Bk. 2, chap. 9.

"However, according to a passage in Mathews, the individual totem is hereditary among the Wotjobaluk. "Each individual," he says, "lays claim to an animal, a plant, or an inanimate object as its special and personal totem, which he inherits from his mother" ([Robert Hamilton] Mathews, ["Ethnological Notes on the Aboriginal Tribes of New South Wales and Victoria"], RSNSW, vol. XXXVIII (1904), p. 291). But it is obvious that if all the children of the same family had the totem of their mother as their personal totem, neither they nor their mother would have personal totems. Mathews probably means that each individual chooses his individual totem from among a group of things attributed to the mother's clan. We will see, in fact, that each clan has its own individual totems that are its exclusive property and that the members of other clans cannot use them. In this sense, birth in some measure (but in that measure only) defines the personal totem.

164

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

m a n w i t h d r a w s t o a place apart—a forest, f o r example. T h e r e , d u r i n g a p e r i o d that varies f r o m a f e w days t o several years, he submits t o all k i n d s o f e x ercises that are e x h a u s t i n g a n d c o n t r a r y t o his nature. H e fasts, m o r t i f i e s himself, a n d mutilates himself. S o m e t i m e s he wanders, u t t e r i n g t e r r i b l e screams a n d h o w l s ; sometimes he stays still, stretched o u t o n the g r o u n d , g r o a n i n g . H e dances sometimes, prays sometimes, a n d sometimes calls o u t t o his o r d i n a r y deities. P r o c e e d i n g i n this way, h e f i n a l l y w o r k s h i m s e l f i n t o a state o f intense s u p e r - e x c i t e m e n t that is v e r y close t o d e l i r i u m . W h e n he has reached this p a r o x y s m , his m e n t a l representations easily take o n a h a l l u c i n a t o r y character. " W h e n , " says H e c k e w e l d e r , "a b o y is o n the eve o f b e i n g i n i tiated, he is subjected t o an a l t e r n a t i n g r e g i m e o f fasting and m e d i c a l treatment; he abstains from all f o o d , h e swallows the m o s t p o w e r f u l a n d r e pulsive drugs; o n occasion, h e d r i n k s i n t o x i c a t i n g c o n c o c t i o n s u n t i l his m i n d is g e n u i n e l y i n a state o f c o n f u s i o n . A t that m o m e n t , he has o r believes he has visions, e x t r a o r d i n a r y dreams t o w h i c h the entire exercise has n a t u r a l l y p r e disposed h i m . H e imagines h i m s e l f flying t h r o u g h the air, m o v i n g u n d e r the g r o u n d , j u m p i n g over valleys f r o m o n e s u m m i t t o the other, f i g h t i n g a n d d e feating giants a n d m o n s t e r s . "
38

U n d e r these c o n d i t i o n s , i f w h i l e d r e a m i n g o r

awake h e sees ( o r t h i n k s he sees, w h i c h a m o u n t s t o t h e same t h i n g ) an a n i m a l appearing t o h i m that seems t o s h o w f r i e n d l y i n t e n t i o n s , h e w i l l i m a g i n e he has discovered the p a t r o n that he has b e e n w a i t i n g f o r .
40 3 9

T h i s process is rarely used i n A u s t r a l i a . T h e r e , the personal t o t e m seems instead t o be i m p o s e d b y a t h i r d person, either at b i r t h
4 1

o r at i n i t i a t i o n .

4 2

I t is

usually a relative w h o plays this role, o r i t can be a person w i t h special powers, such as an o l d m a n o r a m a g i c i a n . D i v i n a t i o n is sometimes used for this p u r pose. A t C h a r l o t t e Bay, at C a p e B e d f o r d , o r o n the Proserpine R i v e r , f o r example, the g r a n d m o t h e r o r another o l d w o m a n takes a small part o f the

38

Heckewelder, "Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations," HLCAPS, vol. I, p. 238.

See Dorsey, "Siouan Cults," p. 507; Catlin, North American Indians, vol. I, p. 37; Fletcher, "The Import of the Totem," in Smithsonian Rep. for 1897, p. 580; Teit, "Thompson Indians," pp. 317—320; Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 144. Still, one finds examples. The Kurnai magicians see their personal totems revealed in dreams (Howitt, NativeTribes, p. 387, and "Australian Medicine Men," p. 34). The men of Cape Bedford believe that when an old man dreams of something during the night, that thing is the personal totem of the first person he will meet the next day (Roth, Superstition, Magic, and Medicine, p. 19). But it is probable that only complementary and accessory personal totems are acquired by this method; for, as I say in the text, within that same tribe, a different process is used at initiation. In certain tribes about which Roth speaks (Superstition, Magic and Medicine); and in certain tribes in the vicinity of Maryborough (Howitt, NativeTribes, p. 147).
42 41 40

39

Among the Wiradjuri (Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 406, and "Australian Medicine Men," p. 50).

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (End)

165

u m b i l i c a l c o r d attached t o the placenta a n d w h i r l s i t q u i t e forcefully. D u r i n g this t i m e , o t h e r o l d w o m e n seated i n a circle propose different names, o n e after the other. T h e n a m e that is p r o n o u n c e d j u s t at the m o m e n t the c o r d breaks is a d o p t e d .
43

A m o n g t h e Yaraikanna o f Cape Y o r k , the y o u n g n o v i c e is

given a h t t l e w a t e r t o rinse his m o u t h after his t o o t h has b e e n p u l l e d , a n d he is asked t o spit i n t o a b u c k e t f i l l e d w i t h water. T h e o l d m e n carefully e x a m i n e the k i n d o f c l o t that is f o r m e d b y the b l o o d a n d saliva he has spat o u t , a n d the natural object o f w h i c h its shape r e m i n d s t h e m becomes the personal t o t e m o f the y o u n g m a n .
4 4

I n o t h e r cases, the t o t e m is t r a n s m i t t e d d i r e c d y from o n e i n 45

d i v i d u a l t o another, f o r example, from father t o son o r uncle t o n e p h e w . operator was a s h a m a n
46

T h i s m e t h o d is also used i n A m e r i c a . I n an example that H i l l T o u t reports, the w h o w a n t e d t o transmit his t o t e m to his n e p h e w :

The uncle took the symbolic emblem o f his snam (personal totem), w h i c h i n this case was the dried skin o f a bird. H e asked his nephew to blow o n i t , then he himself d i d likewise and pronounced some secret words. I t then seemed to Paul (which was the nephew's name) that the skin became a l i v ing bird that began to fly around them for several moments before disappearing. Paul received instructions to procure the skin o f a bird o f the same species that very day, and to wear i t ; this he did. T h e following night, he had a dream i n w h i c h the snam appeared to h i m i n the f o r m o f a human being w h o revealed to h i m the secret name by w h i c h i t might be summoned, and w h o promised h i m its protection.
47

N o t o n l y is t h e i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m a c q u i r e d , n o t g i v e n , b u t m o r e t h a n that, the a c q u i s i t i o n o f o n e is n o t o b l i g a t o r y e v e r y w h e r e . T h e r e are m a n y A u s tralian tribes i n w h i c h that c u s t o m seems t o be c o m p l e t e l y u n k n o w n . "Ibid.
44 4 8

And

Haddon, Head Hunters, pp. 193ff.

Among the Wiradjuri, [Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 406, and "On Australian Medicine Men," in JAI, vol. XVI, p. 50], •"In general, it seems clear that these transmissions from father to son occur only when the father is a shaman or a magician. This is also the case among the Thompson Indians (Teit, "The Thompson Indians," p. 320) and among the Wiradjuri, to whom reference has been made. Hill Tout ("Ethnology of the Stadumh," pp. 146—147). The basic rite is the one that consists of blowing on the skin. If it had not been done correcdy, the transmission would not have occurred because the breath is the soul. When both blow on the skin of the animal, the magician and the recipient exhale parts of their souls, and these parts interpenetrate one another while communing with the nature of the animal, which is also (in the form of its symbol) a participant in the ceremony. [Northcote Whitridge] Thomas, "Further Remarks on Mr. Hill Tout's Views on Totemism," in Man, vol. IV (1904), 53, p. 85.
48 47

45

166

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

even w h e r e i t does exist, i t is o f t e n o p t i o n a l . A m o n g t h e E u a h l a y i , all the m a gicians have i n d i v i d u a l totems f r o m w h i c h t h e y get t h e i r p o w e r s , b u t a great m a n y l a y m e n have n o n e at all. I t is a favor t h e m a g i c i a n can dispense b u t o n e he reserves f o r his friends a n d favorites a n d f o r those w h o aspire t o b e c o m e his colleagues.
49

L i k e w i s e , a m o n g c e r t a i n Salish, o n l y i n d i v i d u a l s w h o w a n t
50

t o excel i n w a r o r h u n t i n g , o r w h o aspire t o b e c o m e shamans, e q u i p t h e m selves w i t h protectors o f this s o r t . T h u s , at least a m o n g c e r t a i n peoples, the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m seems t o be regarded m o r e as an advantage o r a c o n v e nience t h a n as a necessity. I t is g o o d t o o b t a i n one, b u t there is n o o b l i g a t i o n t o d o so. O n the o t h e r h a n d , there is n o o b l i g a t i o n t o settle f o r o n l y one. I f o n e wants t o be better p r o t e c t e d , n o t h i n g stands i n the w a y o f t r y i n g t o o b t a i n several;
51

a n d inversely, i f the p r o t e c t o r o n e has played its role p o o r l y , i t
52

can be r e p l a c e d .

B u t w h i l e there is s o m e t h i n g m o r e o p t i o n a l a n d free a b o u t i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m , i t has staying p o w e r that t h e t o t e m i s m o f t h e clan c a n n o t m a t c h . O n e o f H i l l Tout's m a i n i n f o r m a n t s was a b a p t i z e d Salish. A l t h o u g h he h a d sincerely a b a n d o n e d all the beliefs o f his ancestors a n d h a d b e c o m e a m o d e l catechist, his f a i t h i n the efficacy o f personal totems r e m a i n e d u n s h a k a b l e .
53

Similarly, a l t h o u g h n o visible traces o f collective t o t e m i s m are left i n the c i v i l i z e d c o u n t r i e s , a n o t i o n o f s o l i d a r i t y b e t w e e n each i n d i v i d u a l and an a n i m a l , p l a n t , o r some o t h e r e x t e r n a l o b j e c t is t h e basis o f customs that can still be observed i n several E u r o p e a n c o u n t r i e s .
54

II
B e t w e e n i n d i v i d u a l a n d c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m i s m , there is an i n t e r m e d i a t e f o r m that has s o m e t h i n g o f b o t h : sexual t o t e m i s m . F o u n d o n l y i n Australia a n d i n a small n u m b e r o f tribes, i t has b e e n r e p o r t e d m a i n l y i n V i c t o r i a and i n N e w

49

Langloh Parker, Euahlayi, pp. 20, 29. Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Statlumh," pp. 143, 146; "Stseelis and Skaulits Tribes," p. 324.

50

Parker, Euahlayi, p. 30; Teit, "The Thompson Indians," p. 320; Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Statlumh," p. 144.
"Charlevoix, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, vol. VI, p. 69.

51

"Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 145. Thus, at the birth of a child, people plant a tree on which they lavish pious care, for they believe that its fate and the infant's are conjoined. In his Golden Bough, Frazer reported numerous customs or beliefs that express the same idea in various ways (Cf. [Edwin Sidney] Hartland, Legend of Perseus, vol. II [London, D. Nutt, 1894-1896], pp. 1-55).
54

The Principal Totemic Beliefs (End)

167

South Wales.

55

T r u e , M a t h e w s claims t o have observed i t i n every p a r t o f
5 6

Australia he v i s i t e d b u t w i t h o u t p r o v i d i n g specifics t o s u p p o r t his c l a i m .

A m o n g these different peoples, all the m e n o f t h e t r i b e , o n the o n e h a n d , and, o n t h e other, all t h e w o m e n f o r m w h a t a m o u n t s t o t w o d i s t i n c t and even antagonistic societies, n o m a t t e r w h a t clan t h e y b e l o n g to. E a c h o f these t w o sexual c o r p o r a t i o n s believes itself t o be j o i n e d b y mystical ties t o a specific a n i m a l . A m o n g the K u r n a i , all the m e n consider themselves as brothers o f the e m u - w r e n (Yeerung), all the w o m e n as sisters o f t h e l i n n e t ( D j e e t g u n ) ; all the m e n are Y e e r u n g a n d all t h e w o m e n D j e e t g u n . A m o n g t h e W o t j o b a l u k a n d the W i r a d j u r i , respectively, this r o l e is played b y t h e bat a n d t h e n i g h t j a r (a sort o f screech o w l ) . I n o t h e r tribes, the w o o d p e c k e r replaces the nightjar. E a c h sex sees t h e a n i m a l t o w h i c h i t is k i n as a p r o t e c t o r that m u s t be treated w i t h great respect. T o k i l l o r eat i t is therefore f o r b i d d e n .
5 7

T h i s a n i m a l p r o t e c t o r plays the same r o l e w i t h respect t o each sexual soc i e t y that t h e t o t e m o f the clan plays w i t h respect t o t h e clan. H e n c e the phrase "sexual t o t e m i s m , " w h i c h I take f r o m F r a z e r ,
58

is w a r r a n t e d . I n par-

ticular, this n e w sort o f t o t e m resembles that o f the clan as w e l l , i n t h e sense that i t t o o is collective. I t belongs w i t h o u t d i s t i n c t i o n t o all i n d i v i d u a l s o f t h e same sex. I t resembles t h e clan t o t e m also i n t h a t i t i m p l i e s a relationship o f descent a n d c o m m o n b l o o d b e t w e e n t h e a n i m a l p a t r o n a n d the c o r r e s p o n d i n g sex. A m o n g the K u r n a i , all t h e m e n are said t o be descended Y e e r u n g a n d all t h e w o m e n from D j e e t g u n .
5 9

from

T h e first observer t o have d e -

scribed that c u r i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n , as early as 1834, used the f o l l o w i n g terms: " T i l m u n , a small b i r d the size o f a t h r u s h (a sort o f w o o d p e c k e r ) , is c o n s i d ered b y the w o m e n as h a v i n g b e e n the first t o m a k e w o m e n . T h e s e birds are

Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 148ff. [Lorimer] Fison and [Alfred William] Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai [Melbourne, G. Robertson, 1880], pp. 194, 201ff. [James] Dawson, Australian Aborigines [Melbourne, G. Robertson, 1881], p. 52. Petrie reports it also in Queensland ([Constance Campbell Petrie], Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland [Ferguson, Watson, 1904], pp. 62, 118). Mathews, "Aboriginal Tribes," p. 339. Should one see a trace of sexual totemism in the following custom of the Warramunga? Before a dead person is buried, a bone from the arm is kept. If it is a woman's, feathers of the emu are added to the bark in which it is shrouded; if a man's, the feathers of an owl ([Sir Baldwin Spencer and F.James Gillen, Northern Tribes of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1904], p. 169). "There is even a case cited in which each sexual group Has two sexual totems; in this way would the Wiradjuri have joined the sexual totems of the Kurnai (emu-wren and linnet) with those of the Wotjobaluk (bat and nightjar wood owl). See Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 150.
58

55

56

Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, p. 51.

59

Fison and Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 215.

168

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

held i n veneration by w o m e n only."

60

T h u s i t was a great ancestor. Seen

from

a n o t h e r p o i n t o f v i e w , this t o t e m resembles the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m , i n that each m e m b e r o f the sexual g r o u p is b e l i e v e d t o be personally allied w i t h a d e f i n i t e i n d i v i d u a l o f the c o r r e s p o n d i n g a n i m a l species. T h e t w o lives are so closely l i n k e d that the death o f the a n i m a l b r i n g s a b o u t that o f t h e h u m a n . " T h e life o f a bat," say the W o t j o b a l u k , "is t h e life o f a m a n . "
6 1

T h i s is w h y each sex

n o t o n l y h o n o r s its t o t e m b u t also forces the m e m b e r s o f t h e o t h e r sex t o d o so as w e l l . A n y v i o l a t i o n o f this p r o h i b i t i o n gives rise t o real a n d b l o o d y b a t des b e t w e e n m e n a n d w o m e n .
6 2

I n s u m , w h a t is t r u l y u n i q u e a b o u t these totems is that, i n a sense, t h e y a m o u n t t o t r i b a l t o t e m s . I n d e e d , t h e y arise f r o m t h e fact that people c o n ceive o f the w h o l e t r i b e as b e i n g t h e o f f s p r i n g o f a legendary c o u p l e . S u c h a b e l i e f seems t o i m p l y that the sense o f t r i b e has b e c o m e s t r o n g e n o u g h t o o v e r c o m e t h e p a r t i c u l a r i s m o f the clans t o some e x t e n t . A s t o t h e reasons that separate o r i g i n s are assigned t o m e n a n d w o m e n , o n e m u s t p r o b a b l y l o o k t o the fact that the sexes live a p a r t .
63

I t w o u l d b e i n t e r e s t i n g t o k n o w h o w , i n the m i n d o f an A u s t r a l i a n , sexu a l totems are related t o clan t o t e m s — w h a t relations there are b e t w e e n the t w o ancestors that are placed at t h e o r i g i n o f the t r i b e a n d those from w h i c h each p a r t i c u l a r clan is t h o u g h t t o descend. B u t t h e e t h n o g r a p h i c data w e have at present d o n o t p e r m i t us t o resolve that q u e s t i o n . F u r t h e r m o r e , the natives m a y never have asked that q u e s t i o n o f themselves, h o w e v e r natural a n d even necessary i t m a y seem t o us, f o r t h e y d o n o t feel t h e n e e d t o c o o r dinate a n d systematize t h e i r beliefs t o t h e same e x t e n t w e d o .
6 4

^hrelkeld, cited by Mathews, "The Aboriginal Tribes," p. 339.
"Howitt, Native Tribes, pp. 148, 151.

Fison and Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 200-203; Howitt, Native Tribes, p. 149; Petrie, Reminiscences, p. 62. Among the Kurnai, these bloody struggles often end in marriages, to which they are a kind of ritual prologue. Sometimes the battles become mere games (Tom Petrie's Reminiscences). On this point, see my study [Emile Durkheim] "La Prohibition de l'inceste et ses origines," in AS, vol. I (1898), pp. 44ff. "However we will see below (Chap. 9) that there is a relationship between sexual totems and the high gods.
63

62

C H A P T E R FIVE

ORIGINS OF THESE BELIEFS
Critical Examination of the Theories

T

he beliefs I have j u s t r e v i e w e d are clearly r e l i g i o u s i n nature, f o r t h e y i n -

v o l v e a classification o f things as sacred a n d profane. S p i r i t u a l beings are

doubdess n o t at issue. I n the course o f m y e x p o s i t i o n , I have h a d n o n e e d even t o say the w o r d s "spirits," "genies," o r " d i v i n e personages." H o w e v e r , i f , f o r this reason, some w r i t e r s (about w h o m I shall have m o r e t o say) have r e fused t o see t o t e m i s m as a r e l i g i o n , i t is because t h e y have b e e n o p e r a t i n g w i t h a m i s t a k e n idea o f the religious p h e n o m e n o n . A t t h e same t i m e , r e l i g i o n is guaranteed t o be the m o s t p r i m i t i v e that can be observed n o w a n d i n all p r o b a b i l i t y the m o s t p r i m i t i v e that has ever e x isted, f o r i t is inseparable f r o m social o r g a n i z a t i o n based u p o n clans. I have s h o w n that t o t e m i s m can o n l y be d e f i n e d i n t e r m s o f that social o r g a n i z a t i o n and, f u r t h e r m o r e , that clans, i n the f o r m t h e y take i n a great m a n y A u s t r a l i a n societies, c o u l d n o t have c o m e i n t o b e i n g w i t h o u t t h e t o t e m . T h e m e m b e r s o f a single clan are j o i n e d t o one a n o t h e r b y n e i t h e r c o m m o n residence n o r c o m m o n b l o o d , since t h e y are n o t necessarily consanguineous a n d are o f t e n scattered t h r o u g h o u t the t r i b a l t e r r i t o r y . T h e i r u n i t y arises solely f r o m h a v i n g the same n a m e a n d the same e m b l e m , from b e l i e v i n g they have the same relations w i t h the same categories o f things, a n d from p r a c t i c i n g the same r i t e s — i n o t h e r w o r d s , from t h e fact that t h e y c o m m u n e i n the same t o t e m i c c u l t . T h u s , at least insofar as t h e clan is n o t i d e n t i c a l w i t h the l o c a l g r o u p , t o t e m i s m a n d the clan i m p l y o n e another. O r g a n i z a t i o n based o n clans is t h e simplest w e k n o w , f o r i t exists i n a l l its essentials the m o m e n t a society has t w o p r i m a r y clans. I t f o l l o w s that there c a n n o t be a s i m p l e r society, so l o n g as n o n e w i t h o n l y a single clan has yet b e e n f o u n d — a n d I believe n o trace o f that has b e e n u p t o n o w . A r e l i g i o n so closely allied w i t h the social system that is s i m p l e r t h a n all others can be regarded as t h e m o s t elementary w e can k n o w . I f w e can f i n d o u t the o r i g i n o f t h e beliefs j u s t analyzed, w e m a y w e l l discover b y t h e same stroke w h a t k i n d l e d r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g i n h u m a n i t y .

169

170

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

I t is useful, before addressing this p r o b l e m , t o e x a m i n e the m o s t a u t h o r itative solutions t h a t have b e e n offered.

I
W e start w i t h a g r o u p o f scholars w h o believe t h e y can e x p l a i n t o t e m i s m by d e r i v i n g i t from an earlier r e l i g i o n . F o r T y l o r a n d f o r W i l k e n ,
1 2

t o t e m i s m is

a special f o r m o f t h e ancestor c u l t . F o r t h e m , t r a n s m i g r a t i o n o f s o u l s — w i d e spread, t o be sure—is the d o c t r i n e that served as a t r a n s i t i o n b e t w e e n these t w o r e l i g i o u s systems. A great m a n y peoples believe that the s o u l does n o t rem a i n eternally d i s e m b o d i e d after death b u t comes again t o animate some l i v i n g b o d y . Besides, "as t h e p s y c h o l o g y o f the i n f e r i o r races establishes no clear-cut l i n e o f d e m a r c a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e souls o f m e n a n d those o f animals, i t has n o t r o u b l e a c c e p t i n g the t r a n s m i g r a t i o n o f h u m a n souls i n t o t h e b o d ies o f animals." T y l o r cites a n u m b e r o f such cases. U n d e r these c i r c u m stances, the r e l i g i o u s respect i n s p i r e d b y t h e ancestor is q u i t e naturally transferred t o the a n i m a l w i t h w h i c h i t is t h e n c e f o r t h assimilated. T h e a n i m a l thus s e r v i n g all that ancestor's descendants as t h e vessel o f a revered b e i n g becomes a sacred t h i n g a n d the o b j e c t o f a c u l t — i n short, a t o t e m f o r the clan that is t h e ancestor's issue. Facts r e p o r t e d b y W i l k e n a b o u t the societies o f t h e M a l a y A r c h i p e l a g o w o u l d t e n d t o prove t h a t this is i n d e e d t h e w a y i n w h i c h t o t e m i c beliefs dev e l o p e d there. I n Java a n d Sumatra, crocodiles are especially h o n o r e d ; people v i e w t h e m as b e n e v o l e n t p r o t e c t o r s a n d m a k e offerings t o t h e m . T h e cult that is also rendered t o t h e m stems from the b e l i e f that t h e y incarnate the souls o f ancestors. T h e Malays o f t h e P h i l i p p i n e s consider the c r o c o d i l e t o be t h e i r grandfather. T h e t i g e r is treated i n the same way, f o r the same reasons. S i m i l a r beliefs have b e e n f o u n d a m o n g the B a n t u peoples. I n Melanesia, an
5 3 4

'[Edward Burnett Tylor], Primitive Culture, vol. I [New York, Henry Holt, 1874], [vol. I,] p. 402, vol. II, p. 237, and "Remarks on Totemism, with Special Reference to Some Modern Theories [Respecting] It," in JAI, vol. XXVIII [1899, pp. 133-148], and vol. I, new series, p. 138. [Albertus Christian Kruijt Wilken], HetAnimisme bij den Volken van den indischen Archipel ['s Gravenhage, M. Nijhoff, 1906], pp. 69-75.
3

2

Tylor, Primitive Culture [vol. II, p. 6].

"Ibid. [vol. II, pp. 6-18]. G. McCall Theal, Records of South-Eastern Africa, vol. VII. I know this work only through an article by James George] Frazer, "South African Totemism," which appeared in Man [vol. I], 1901, no. I l l [pp. 135-136].
5

Origins of These Beliefs

171

i n f l u e n t i a l m a n w h o is at the p o i n t o f death sometimes announces his desire to be r e i n c a r n a t e d i n such a n d such an a n i m a l o r plant. I t is easy t o see that some p a r t i c u l a r object chosen f o r his p o s t h u m o u s residence thereafter
6

be-

comes sacred f o r his w h o l e f a m i l y . Far i n d e e d f r o m b e i n g a p r i m i t i v e fact, t h e n , t o t e m i s m w o u l d t h e n be m e r e l y the p r o d u c t o f a m o r e c o m p l e x p r e decessor r e l i g i o n .
7

T h e societies f r o m w h i c h these examples are d r a w n have already attained a relatively h i g h level o f c u l t u r e ; at any rate, t h e y have g o n e b e y o n d the phase o f p u r e t o t e m i s m . I n those societies, there are families, n o t t o t e m i c clans.
8

I n d e e d , the m a j o r i t y o f the animals that are g i v e n religious h o n o r s are v e n erated n o t b y specific f a m i l y groups b u t b y entire tribes. T h u s , even i f these beliefs a n d practices m a y be related t o the ancient t o t e m i c cults, t h e y are hardly w e l l suited t o revealing the o r i g i n s o f those cults t o us,
9

since n o w

they represent those cults o n l y i n altered f o r m s . I t is n o t b y c o n s i d e r i n g an i n s t i t u t i o n w h e n i t is i n f u l l decline that w e can g a i n an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f h o w i t was f o r m e d . I f w e w i s h t o k n o w h o w t o t e m i s m was b o r n , i t m u s t be observed n e i t h e r i n Java n o r i n Sumatra n o r i n Melanesia, b u t i n Australia. H e r e w e find n e i t h e r t h e c u l t o f t h e d e a d
10

n o r the d o c t r i n e o f t r a n s m i g r a -

t i o n . O f course, the m y t h i c a l heroes w h o f o u n d e d t h e c l a n are b e l i e v e d t o be regularly reincarnated—but in human bodies only. As w e w i l l see, each b i r t h is the result o f such a r e i n c a r n a t i o n . T h u s , i f the animals o f t h e t o t e m i c species are the objects o f rites, i t is n o t because ancestral spirits are h e l d t o reside i n t h e m . W h i l e i t is t r u e that these first ancestors are o f t e n d e p i c t e d i n a n i m a l f o r m (and this representation, w h i c h is v e r y c o m m o n , is an i m p o r t a n t fact that w i l l have t o be e x p l a i n e d ) , b e l i e f i n metempsychosis c o u l d n o t have g i v e n rise t o i t i n t h e societies o f Australia, since t h a t b e l i e f is u n k n o w n there. M o r e o v e r , far f r o m b e i n g able t o e x p l a i n t o t e m i s m , the b e l i e f itself p r e supposes o n e o f the f u n d a m e n t a l p r i n c i p l e s o n w h i c h t o t e m i s m rests; that is,

[Robert Henry] Codrington, The Melanesians [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891], pp. 32-[33], and a personal letter of the same author cited by Tylor in "Remarks on Totemism," p. 147.
7

6

Such also, with minor differences, is the solution adopted by [Wilhelm] Wundt (Mythus und Religion

[3 vols., as vol. II, parts 1-3 of Völkerpsychologie, Eine Untersuchung der Entwicklungsgesetze von Sprache,

Mythus und Sitte, Leipzig, W. Englemann, 1900-1909], vol. II, p. 269). It is true that, for Tylor, the clan is but an enlarged family, so in his way of thinking, what can be said of the one group applies to the other ("Remarks on Totemism," p. 157). But this idea is highly questionable. Only the clan presupposes the totem, which has its full meaning only in and through the clan.
9 8

In the same vein, [Andrew] Lang, Social Origins [London, Longmans, 1903], p. 150. See above, p. 59.

10

172

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

i t assumes the v e r y t h i n g that m u s t be e x p l a i n e d . I n fact, i t i m p l i e s , j u s t as t o t e m i s m i m p l i e s , a c o n c e p t o f m e n as b e i n g closely a k i n t o animals. I f these t w o realms w e r e clearly d i s t i n g u i s h e d i n people's m i n d s , the s o u l w o u l d n o t be t h o u g h t capable o f passing so easily f r o m o n e i n t o the other. I n d e e d , the b o d y o f the a n i m a l w o u l d have t o be considered its t r u e h o m e l a n d , because the h u m a n s o u l is p r e s u m e d t o g o there t h e m o m e n t i t regains its f r e e d o m . T h e d o c t r i n e o f t r a n s m i g r a t i o n i n d e e d postulates this singular affinity b u t b y n o means explains i t . T h e o n l y e x p l a n a t i o n T y l o r offers is that o n occasion c e r t a i n traits o f the man's a n a t o m y a n d p s y c h o l o g y r e m i n d p e o p l e o f the a n i m a l . " T h e savage," he says, "observes the h a l f - h u m a n traits, actions, a n d characteristics o f animals w i t h sympathetic w o n d e r m e n t . Is t h e a n i m a l n o t the v e r y i n c a r n a t i o n , w e m i g h t say, o f qualities that are f a m i l i a r t o m a n ; a n d w h e n w e a p p l y epithets l i k e l i o n , bear, f o x , o w l , p a r r o t , v i p e r , a n d w o r m t o certain m e n , are w e n o t e p i t o m i z i n g i n a w o r d c e r t a i n traits characteristic o f a human life?"
11

B u t i f o n e does c o m e u p o n any o f these resemblances, they

are a m b i g u o u s a n d rare. M a n l o o k s l i k e his relatives a n d his friends m o s t o f all, n o t l i k e plants o r animals. S u c h rare a n d d u b i o u s similarities c o u l d n o t defeat such consistent and o b v i o u s ones, n o r c o u l d t h e y encourage m a n t o i m a g i n e h i m s e l f a n d his ancestors i n f o r m s that f l y i n the face o f all his e v e r y day experience. So t h e q u e s t i o n remains, a n d since i t is n o t solved, t o t e m i s m c a n n o t be said t o have b e e n e x p l a i n e d .
12

Finally, this w h o l e t h e o r y rests o n a f u n d a m e n t a l m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g . F o r T y l o r as f o r W u n d t , t o t e m i s m is n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a special case o f a n i m a l "Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. II, p. 17. [Cf. Tylor's English text: "The half-human features and actions and characters of animals are watched with wondering sympathy by the savage, as by the child. The beast is the very incarnation of familiar qualities of man: and such names as lion, bear, fox, owl, parrot, viper, worm, when we apply them as epithets to men, condense into a word some leading features of a human life." Trans.] [Wilhelm] Wundt, who took up Tylor's theory in its basic outlines, tried to explain this mysterious relation of man and animal otherwise—with sight of the decomposing corpse supposedly suggesting the idea of it. Having seen the worms that come out of the body, they believed that the soul was incarnated in them and departed with them. So the worms and by extension the reptiles (snakes, lizards, etc.) would be the first animals to have served as vessels for the souls of the dead; consequendy, they would also have been the first to be venerated and to play the role of totems. Only later would other animals, and even plants and inanimate objects, have been elevated to the same rank. But this hypothesis does not rest on even the beginnings of a proof. Wundt claims (Mythus und Religion, vol. II, p. 269) that the reptiles are much more common totems than the other animals, from which he concludes that they are the most primitive. But it is impossible for me to see what can justify that assertion, in support of which the author does not adduce a single fact. It in no way emergesfromthe lists of totems collected, whether in Australia or in America, that any animal species, anywhere, has had a preponderant role. Totems varyfromone region to another with the state of thefloraand fauna. Moreover, if the original set of totems had been so narrowly restricted, it is not clear how totemism would have been able to satisfy the fundamental principle that two clans or subclans of a single tribe must have different totems.
12

Origins of These Beliefs

173

worship.

1 3

W e k n o w , q u i t e t o the contrary, that i t m u s t be seen as s o m e t h i n g
14

e n t i r e l y different from a sort o f z o o l a t r y .

T h e a n i m a l is n o t w o r s h i p p e d .

A n d far from b e i n g s u b o r d i n a t e d t o i t as a believer is t o his g o d , t h e m a n is almost its equal a n d sometimes even treats i t as his p r o p e r t y . I f the animals o f the t o t e m i c species really w e r e t h o u g h t o f as i n c a r n a t i n g t h e ancestors, m e m bers o f o t h e r clans w o u l d n o t be a l l o w e d t o eat t h e i r flesh freely. I n reality, the c u l t is n o t addressed t o t h e a n i m a l itself b u t t o the e m b l e m , that is, t o t h e image o f t h e t o t e m . I n fact, there is n o c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n this r e l i g i o n o f the e m b l e m a n d t h e c u l t o f t h e ancestors. Whereas T y l o r reduces t o t e m i s m t o the c u l t o f t h e ancestors, Jevons ties i t t o the c u l t o f n a t u r e .
15

T h i s is h o w he does so.

I n the g r i p o f c o n f u s i o n b r o u g h t u p o n h i m b y irregularities i n t h e course o f n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a , m a n supposedly p o p u l a t e d t h e w o r l d w i t h supernatural beings.
16

H a v i n g d o n e this, he felt the n e e d t o c o m e t o t e r m s w i t h the

awesome forces w i t h w h i c h he h a d s u r r o u n d e d himself. H e u n d e r s t o o d that the best w a y t o a v o i d b e i n g c r u s h e d b y t h e m was t o ally h i m s e l f w i t h c e r t a i n o f t h e m , thereby g a r n e r i n g t h e i r help. A t that m o m e n t i n history, he k n e w n o o t h e r f o r m o f alliance a n d association t h a n that created b y k i n s h i p . A l l the m e m b e r s o f the same clan h e l p o n e a n o t h e r because t h e y are k i n o r ( w h a t a m o u n t s t o the same t h i n g ) because t h e y consider o n e a n o t h e r as k i n ; o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , different clans treat o n e a n o t h e r as enemies because t h e y are o f different b l o o d . So the o n l y w a y t o arrange t h e s u p p o r t o f supernatural b e ings was t o adopt t h e m a n d t o have oneself a d o p t e d b y t h e m as k i n . T h e w e l l - k n o w n procedures o f b l o o d covenant enabled m a n t o o b t a i n this result easily. B u t since, at that m o m e n t , t h e i n d i v i d u a l d i d n o t yet have his o w n p e r sonality, because he was v i e w e d o n l y as a c e r t a i n p a r t o f his g r o u p — t h a t is, his c l a n — i t was n o t the i n d i v i d u a l b u t t h e clan as a u n i t that c o n t r a c t e d t h e k i n s h i p j o i n t l y . F o r the same reason, the i n d i v i d u a l d i d n o t contract i t w i t h a p a r t i c u l a r o b j e c t b u t w i t h t h e n a t u r a l g r o u p , that is, w i t h t h e species t o w h i c h the o b j e c t b e l o n g e d . M a n t h i n k s o f t h e w o r l d as he t h i n k s o f h i m s e l f and, j u s t as he does n o t t h i n k o f h i m s e l f as b e i n g separate f r o m his clan, so h e c a n n o t

""Certain animals are sometimes worshipped," says Tylor, "because they are regarded as the incarnation of the divine soul of the ancestors; this belief constitutes a sort of common denominator between the cult rendered to the shades and the cult rendered to the animals" (Primitive Culture, vol. II, p. 305; cf. 309 in fine). Similarly, Wundt presents totemism as a branch of animalism (Mythus und Religion, vol. II, p. 234).
14

See above, p. 139.

15

[Frank Byron] Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion [London, Methuen, 1902, pp. 96ff.]. See above, p. 25.

16

174

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

t h i n k o f a t h i n g as b e i n g separate f r o m t h e species t o w h i c h i t belongs. A c c o r d i n g t o Jevons, a species o f things that is u n i t e d w i t h a clan b y ties o f k i n ship is a t o t e m . I t is c e r t a i n that t o t e m i s m involves a close association b e t w e e n a clan a n d a d e f i n i t e category o f objects. B u t t h e n o t i o n Jevons puts f o r w a r d — t h a t such an association was c o n t r a c t e d deliberately, i n f u l l awareness o f the goal sought—seems i n l i t t l e a c c o r d w i t h w h a t h i s t o r y teaches us. R e l i g i o n s are c o m p l e x things, a n d the needs t h e y satisfy are so n u m e r o u s a n d so obscure that t h e y c a n n o t possibly have o r i g i n a t e d i n a w e l l - c o n s i d e r e d act o f w i l l . M o r e o v e r , this hypothesis b o t h sins b y o v e r s i m p l i f i c a t i o n a n d abounds i n u n l i k e l i h o o d s . M a n is said t o have t r i e d t o garner the help o f the supernatural beings t o w h i c h things are subordinate. B u t i n that case, he o u g h t t o have a d dressed h i m s e l f t o t h e m o s t p o w e r f u l a m o n g t h e m , t o those w h o s e p r o t e c t i o n was l i k e l y t o p r o d u c e the m a x i m u m r e s u l t .
17

Instead, the beings w i t h

w h i c h he has c e m e n t e d this m y s t i c a l k i n s h i p m o s t often i n c l u d e the h u m blest that exist. F u r t h e r m o r e , i f i t t r u l y was o n l y a m a t t e r o f creating allies a n d defenders, m a n w o u l d have t r i e d t o have as m a n y as possible; there is n o such t h i n g as b e i n g t o o w e l l p r o t e c t e d . Yet each clan r o u t i n e l y contents itself w i t h a single t o t e m — t h a t is, w i t h a single p r o t e c t o r — l e a v i n g t h e o t h e r clans to enjoy t h e i r o w n i n perfect f r e e d o m . E a c h g r o u p s t r i c d y encloses itself w i t h i n its o w n r e l i g i o u s d o m a i n , never t r y i n g t o encroach u p o n that o f its n e i g h b o r s . W i t h i n t h e t e r m s o f t h e hypothesis w e are e x a m i n i n g , such disc r e t i o n a n d restraint are u n i n t e l l i g i b l e .

II
F u r t h e r , all o f these theories w r o n g l y o m i t a q u e s t i o n that is central t o the subject as a w h o l e . W e have seen that there are t w o sorts o f t o t e m i s m : that o f the i n d i v i d u a l a n d that o f the clan. T h e close links b e t w e e n t h e m are t o o o b vious f o r t h e m t o be unrelated. So, i t is appropriate t o ask w h e t h e r the o n e is n o t d e r i v e d from the o t h e r and, i f the answer is yes, t o ask w h i c h is the m o r e p r i m i t i v e . A c c o r d i n g t o the s o l u t i o n adopted, the p r o b l e m o f h o w t o t e m i s m o r i g i n a t e d w i l l be framed i n different terms. T h i s q u e s t i o n is all the m o r e pressing since i t is o f v e r y general interest. I n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m is the i n d i v i d ual aspect o f the t o t e m i c c u l t . T h u s , i f i t came first, w e m u s t say that r e l i g i o n

Jevons himself recognizes this. "There is good reason to presume," he says, "that in the choice of an ally, man would have preferred . . . the species that possessed the greatest power" (History of Religions, p. 101).

17

Origins of These Beliefs

175

was b o r n i n the i n d i v i d u a l consciousness, that i t responds above all t o i n d i v i d u a l aspirations, a n d that i t has taken a collective f o r m o n l y secondarily. T h e simplistic reasoning that still t o o o f t e n guides ethnographers a n d sociologists, i n this case as i n others, was b o u n d t o lead a n u m b e r o f scholars t o e x p l a i n the c o m p l e x b y the simple a n d the t o t e m o f the g r o u p b y that o f the i n d i v i d u a l . A n d i n d e e d , the t h e o r y argued b y Frazer i n his Golden by H i l l T o u t ,
1 9

Bough,

18

Miss Fletcher,

20

Boas,

21

and Swanton,

2 2

is o f this k i n d . M o r e -

over, since r e l i g i o n is w i d e l y v i e w e d as an altogether private a n d personal t h i n g , this t h e o r y has t h e advantage o f b e i n g i n accord w i t h the idea m a n y p e o p l e have o f r e l i g i o n . W i t h i n this perspective, the t o t e m o f t h e clan can o n l y be an i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m that has spread. A p r o m i n e n t m a n w h o has e x p e r i e n c e d the value o f a t o t e m he freely chose f o r h i m s e l f transmits i t t o his descendants. M u l t i p l y i n g as t i m e goes o n , these descendants eventually f o r m t h e e x t e n d e d f a m i l y that is the clan; thus does t h e t o t e m b e c o m e collective. H i l l T o u t t h o u g h t he f o u n d s u p p o r t f o r t h a t t h e o r y i n the w a y t o t e m i s m is u n d e r s t o o d i n c e r t a i n societies o f t h e A m e r i c a n N o r t h w e s t , n o t a b l y b y the Salish a n d the T h o m p s o n R i v e r Indians. B o t h i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m a n d the t o t e m i s m o f t h e clan are f o u n d a m o n g these peoples, b u t they either d o n o t coexist i n the same t r i b e o r are u n e q u a l l y d e v e l o p e d w h e n t h e y do. T h e y v a r y i n inverse p r o p o r t i o n w i t h o n e another. W h e r e the clan t o t e m tends t o be t h e general r u l e , i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m tends t o disappear, a n d v i c e versa. Is this n o t t o say that the first is a m o r e recent f o r m o f t h e second, w h i c h replaces a n d thus excludes i t ?
2 3

M y t h o l o g y appears t o c o n f i r m this i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . I n

t h e same societies, i t t u r n s o u t , the ancestor o f the clan is n o t a t o t e m i c a n i mal, b u t the f o u n d e r o f the g r o u p is usually d e p i c t e d as a h u m a n b e i n g w h o

1 8

Qames George Frazer, The Golden Bough:A Study in Magic and Religion, 2d ed., vol. Ill, New York,

Macmillan, 1894], pp. 416ff.; see esp. p. 419 n. 5. In more recent articles, to be analyzed below, Frazer has put forward a different theory that nevertheless does not completely exclude from his thinking the one
presented in the Golden Bough.

"[Charles Hill Tout], "The Origin of the Totemism of the Aborigines of British Columbia," RSC, vol. VII, §2 (2d series), (1901) pp. 3ff. Similarly, "Report on the Ethnology of the Statlumh," JAI, vol. XXXV (1905), p. 141. Hill Tout has answered various objections that have been made against his theory in volume IX of the RSC, pp. 61-99. Alice C. Fletcher, "The Import of the Totem: [A Study from the Omaha Tribe]," RSI for 1897 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1898), pp.- 577-586. Franz Boas, "The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiud Indians" [in RNMfor 1895, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897], pp. 323ff., 336-338, 393. [John Reed Swanton], "The Development of the Clan System [and of Secret Societies among the North-Western Tribes]," in AA, vol. VI (new ser., 1904), pp. 477-864.
23 22 21 20

Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 142.

176

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

at some p o i n t entered i n t o relations a n d close dealings w i t h a m y t h i c a l a n i mal, f r o m w h i c h he is h e l d t o have a c q u i r e d his t o t e m i c e m b l e m . T h i s e m b l e m , w i t h the special p o w e r s that are attached t o i t , is t h e n passed b y i n h e r i t a n c e t o the descendants o f t h e m y t h i c a l hero. H e n c e these peoples themselves appear t o see the c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m as an i n d i v i d u a l o n e that was passed o n i n a single f a m i l y .
24

F u r t h e r m o r e , even t o d a y a father sometimes

transmits his o w n t o t e m t o his c h i l d r e n . So t o i m a g i n e that t h e collective t o t e m has h a d this same o r i g i n universally is n o m o r e t h a n t o state that s o m e t h i n g still observable i n t h e present was the same i n t h e p a s t . t o this q u e s t i o n varies a m o n g authors. H i l l T o u t v i e w s i t as a special case o f fetishism. F o r h i m , i t is the i n d i v i d ual w h o , f e e l i n g h i m s e l f s u r r o u n d e d b y dreaded spirits, feels t h e same e m o t i o n that Jevons a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e clan: T o sustain himself, h e seeks some p o w e r f u l p r o t e c t o r i n t h e h i d d e n w o r l d . T h u s is the c u s t o m o f the personal t o t e m established.
26 25

Still t o be e x p l a i n e d is t h e o r i g i n o f i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m . T h e response

F o r Frazer, this same i n s t i t u t i o n is a subterfuge, a m i l i -

t a r y ruse m e n i n v e n t t o escape c e r t a i n dangers. W e k n o w that, a c c o r d i n g t o a v e r y c o m m o n b e l i e f i n a great m a n y l o w e r societies, t h e h u m a n s o u l can t e m p o r a r i l y leave the b o d y i n w h i c h i t lives, w i t h o u t i l l effects; n o m a t t e r h o w far away f r o m the b o d y i t m a y go, i t goes o n a n i m a t i n g t h a t b o d y b y a k i n d o f a c t i o n at a distance. B u t at c e r t a i n c r i t i c a l m o m e n t s w h e n life is t h o u g h t t o be p a r t i c u l a r l y threatened, there m a y be s o m e t h i n g t o g a i n b y w i t h d r a w i n g t h e s o u l from t h e b o d y a n d d e p o s i t i n g i t i n a place o r t h i n g w h e r e i t w o u l d be safer. T h e r e are, i n fact, various m e t h o d s o f e x t r a c t i n g the soul, t h e r e b y r e m o v i n g i t from some real o r i m a g i n a r y danger. For example, w h e n p e o p l e are o n t h e p o i n t o f e n t e r i n g a n e w l y b u i l t house, a m a g i c i a n extracts t h e i r souls a n d places t h e m i n a bag, f o r r e t u r n t o the o w n e r s o n c e t h e t h r e s h o l d has b e e n crossed. T h i s is d o n e because the m o m e n t o f e n t e r i n g a n e w house is e x c e p t i o n a l l y c r i t i c a l . T h e r e is a r i s k o f d i s t u r b i n g a n d thus o f f e n d i n g t h e spirits that live i n the g r o u n d , especially u n d e r t h e d o o r sill, a n d i f a m a n d i d n o t take precautions, t h e y c o u l d m a k e h i m pay dearly f o r his boldness. O n c e the danger is past, o n c e he has b e e n able t o prevent t h e i r anger, a n d even garner t h e i r s u p p o r t b y c o n d u c t i n g cer-

24

Ibid., p. 150. Cf. [Franz Boas, "First General Report on the Indians of British Columbia," in BAAS,

Fifth Report of the Committee on the North-Western Tribes of the Dominion of Canada (London, Offices of the

Association, 1890),] p. 24. I have reported a myth of this sort above.
25

Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 147. Hill Tout, "Totemism of the Aborigines," p. 12.

26

Origins of These Beliefs

177

t a i n rites, the souls can safely r e t u r n t o t h e i r usual p l a c e .

27

T h i s same belief,

H i l l T o u t t h i n k s , gave rise t o the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m . T o p r o t e c t themselves f r o m m a g i c a l charms, m e n t h o u g h t i t p r u d e n t t o h i d e t h e i r souls i n the a n o n y m o u s c r o w d o f an a n i m a l o r p l a n t species. B u t h a v i n g set u p such dealings, each i n d i v i d u a l f o u n d h i m s e l f closely j o i n e d w i t h the a n i m a l o r p l a n t i n w h i c h his l i f e - p r i n c i p l e presumably resided. T w o beings so closely j o i n e d e n d e d u p b y b e i n g considered m o r e o r less indistinguishable: T h e y w e r e t h o u g h t t o participate i n o n e another's nature. O n c e accepted, this b e l i e f eased a n d activated the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f the personal t o t e m i n t o a h e r e d i tary t o t e m and, thereafter, i n t o a collective one, f o r i t seemed altogether o b v i o u s that this k i n s h i p o f nature m u s t be t r a n s m i t t e d b y h e r e d i t y f r o m father to c h i l d r e n . I w i l l n o t t a r r y l o n g i n discussing these t w o explanations o f the i n d i v i d ual t o t e m . T h e y are i n g e n i o u s i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s , b u t t h e y are t o t a l l y w i t h o u t e m p i r i c a l s u p p o r t . F o r t o t e m i s m t o be r e d u c i b l e t o fetishism, i t w o u l d have t o be established that fetishism preceded t o t e m i s m . N o t o n l y is n o evidence g i v e n t o prove this hypothesis, b u t i t is also c o n t r a d i c t e d b y all w e k n o w . T h e i l l - d e f i n e d c o l l e c t i o n o f rites that are g i v e n t h e n a m e fetishism seems t o appear o n l y a m o n g peoples w h o have already a r r i v e d at a c e r t a i n level o f c i v i l i z a t i o n ; i t is a k i n d o f c u l t that is u n k n o w n i n Australia. T h e c h u r i n g a has b e e n called a f e t i s h ,
28

t r u e e n o u g h , b u t even i f that character-

i z a t i o n was w a r r a n t e d , i t c o u l d n o t demonstrate the p r i o r i t y that is assumed. Q u i t e t o the contrary, the c h u r i n g a presupposes t o t e m i s m , since i n its v e r y essence i t is an i n s t r u m e n t o f the t o t e m i c c u l t a n d since i t owes the v i r t u e s ascribed t o i t t o t o t e m i c beliefs alone. T u r n i n g n o w t o Frazer's theory, this a u t h o r assumes a k i n d o f t h o r o u g h g o i n g i d i o c y o n t h e part o f the p r i m i t i v e that t h e facts d o n o t a l l o w us t o asc r i b e t o h i m . H e does have a l o g i c , strange t h o u g h i t m a y sometimes seem t o us. S h o r t o f b e i n g u t t e r l y w i t h o u t l o g i c , he c o u l d n o t be g u i l t y o f t h e reas o n i n g that is i m p u t e d t o h i m . N o t h i n g was m o r e natural t h a n f o r h i m t o have b e l i e v e d that he c o u l d ensure t h e survival o f his soul b y h i d i n g i t i n a secret a n d inaccessible place, as so m a n y heroes o f m y t h s a n d legends are said to have d o n e . B u t h o w c o u l d he have j u d g e d his soul t o be safer i n an a n i mal's b o d y t h a n i n his o w n ? O f course, the chances are that i t c o u l d m o r e

Frazer, The Golden Bough vol. Ill, pp. 351fF. Wilken had already noted similar facts in "De Simonsage," in De Gids, 1890; "De Betrekking tusschen Menschen-Dieren en Plantenleve," in Indische Gids,
1884, 1888; Ueber das Haaropfer, in Revue coloniale Internationale, pp. 1886-1887.

27

For example, [Erhard] Eylmann in Die Eingeborenen der Kolonie Sudaustralien [Berlin, D. Reimer, 1908], p. 199.

28

178

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

easily have escaped the spells o f the m a g i c i a n b y b e i n g lost i n the species, b u t i t thereby f o u n d itself at the same t i m e a s i t t i n g d u c k f o r hunters. H i d i n g i t i n a physical f o r m that exposed i t t o danger at all times was an o d d w a y to shelter i t .
2 9

M o s t o f all, i t is i n c o n c e i v a b l e that w h o l e peoples s h o u l d have
30

b e e n able t o give themselves over t o such an e c c e n t r i c i t y .

Finally, i n a great

m a n y cases, the f u n c t i o n o f the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m is manifesdy v e r y different f r o m the f u n c t i o n Frazer ascribes t o i t . First a n d foremost, i t is a means o f c o n f e r r i n g unusual powers u p o n magicians, hunters, a n d w a r r i o r s .
3 1

So far as

the s o l i d a r i t y o f t h e m a n w i t h t h e t h i n g is c o n c e r n e d (given all the drawbacks o f s o l i d a r i t y ) , i t is accepted as an unavoidable consequence o f t h e r i t e , b u t is n o t desired i n a n d o f itself. A n o t h e r reason n o t t o t a r r y over this controversy is that i t is beside the p o i n t . W h a t is i m p o r t a n t t o k n o w , above a l l , is w h e t h e r the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m really is t h e p r i m i t i v e fact from w h i c h the c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m derives. D e p e n d i n g u p o n o u r answer, w e w i l l have t o l o o k i n t w o opposite directions f o r the seat o f religious life. T h e r e is such a c o n f l u e n c e o f decisive facts against the hypothesis o f H i l l T o u t , M i s s Fletcher, Boas, a n d Frazer that o n e w o n d e r s h o w i t c o u l d have b e e n accepted so easily a n d so w i d e l y . First, w e k n o w that m a n o f t e n has a pressing interest n o t o n l y i n respecting t h e animals o f the species that serves as his personal t o t e m b u t also i n h a v i n g i t respected b y his f e l l o w m e n : H i s o w n life is at stake. T h u s , even

Mrs. Parker says of the Euahlayi that if the Yunbeai "confers exceptional power, it also exposes one to exceptional dangers, for all that injures the animal injures the man" ([Catherine Somerville Field Parker, The Euahlayi Tribe, London, A. Constable, 1905], p. 29). ^In an earlier work ("The Origin of Totemism," in FR (May, 1899), pp. 844—845), Frazer raises the objection himself. He says, "If I left my soul in the body of a rabbit, and if my brother John (member of a different clan) kills, roasts, and eats that rabbit, what happens to my soul? To prevent this danger, my brother John has to know this situation of my soul, and in consequence, when he kills a rabbit, he must be careful to take that soul out of it and give it back to me before cooking the animal and making it his dinner." Frazer believes he finds this practice customary in the tribes of central Australia. Each year, during a rite that I will describe below, when the animals of the new generation reach maturity, the first game killed is presented to the men of the totem, who eat a little; and it is only afterward that the men of the other clans may eat it freely. This, says Frazer, is a means of returning to the men of the totem the soul that they may have entrusted to those animals. But apart from the fact that this interpretation of the rite is completely arbitrary, it is difficult not to find this method of protection extraordinary. The ceremony is annual, allowing many days to pass after the moment the animal was killed. During thistime,what has become of the soul it guarded and of the individual whose life-principle of life that soul is? But it is pointless to emphasize all that is unlikely about that explanation. Parker, Euahlayi, p. 20; [Alfred William] Howitt, "Australian Medicine Men," in JAI, vol. XVI (1887), 34, [49-50]; Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Statlumh," p. 146.
31

29

Origins of These Beliefs

179

i f collective t o t e m i s m was n o t the generalized f o r m o f the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m , i t s h o u l d rest o n t h e same p r i n c i p l e . N o t o n l y s h o u l d the people o f a clan abstain f r o m k i l l i n g a n d e a t i n g t h e i r t o t e m i c a n i m a l themselves, b u t t h e y s h o u l d also d o e v e r y t h i n g i n t h e i r p o w e r t o i m p o s e this same r e s t r i c t i o n u p o n o t h ers. A s i t t u r n s o u t , far f r o m i m p o s i n g any such p r i v a t i o n o n the w h o l e t r i b e , each clan (by means o f t h e rites t h a t I w i l l later describe) takes steps t o ensure that the p l a n t o r a n i m a l w h o s e n a m e i t bears increases a n d prospers, so as t o p r o v i d e abundant f o o d t o t h e o t h e r clans. T h u s i t s h o u l d at least be g r a n t e d that i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m p r o f o u n d l y t r a n s f o r m e d itself i n b e c o m i n g c o l l e c tive a n d that this t r a n s f o r m a t i o n m u s t be e x p l a i n e d . Second, h o w can this hypothesis e x p l a i n w h y , except w h e r e t o t e m i s m is i n decline, t w o clans o f t h e same t r i b e always have different totems? N o t h i n g w o u l d seem t o prevent t w o o r several m e m b e r s o f a single t r i b e f r o m c h o o s i n g personal totems f r o m t h e same a n i m a l species, despite t h e i r h a v i n g n o tie o f k i n s h i p , a n d t h e n passing i t o n t o t h e i r descendants. D o e s i t n o t h a p p e n today that t w o d i s t i n c t families bear the same name? T h e strictly regulated m a n n e r i n w h i c h totems a n d subtotems are d i s t r i b u t e d b e t w e e n the t w o phratries first, a n d t h e n a m o n g t h e v a r i o u s clans o f each phratry, o b v i o u s l y presupposes a societal consensus a n d a c o l l e c t i v e o r g a n i z a t i o n . I n o t h e r w o r d s , t o t e m i s m is s o m e t h i n g o t h e r t h a n an i n d i v i d u a l practice that has spontaneously generalized itself. F u r t h e r m o r e , c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m i s m can be r e d u c e d t o i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m o n l y i f the differences b e t w e e n t h e m are m i s c o n s t r u e d . T h e one is assigned t o the c h i l d b y b i r t h a n d is an e l e m e n t o f his c i v i l status. T h e o t h e r is acq u i r e d i n the course o f life a n d presupposes t h e p e r f o r m a n c e o f a specific r i t e as w e l l as a change o f state. S o m e t h i n k t h e y are lessening this distance b y i n serting b e t w e e n t h e m , as a k i n d o f m i d d l e t e r m , the r i g h t that anyone w h o has a t o t e m supposedly has t o t r a n s m i t i t t o w h o m e v e r he pleases. B u t w h e r ever o n e observes t h e m , such transfers are rare a n d relatively e x c e p t i o n a l ; they can be d o n e o n l y b y magicians o r o t h e r persons gifted w i t h special powers,
32

and, i n any event, t h e y can take place o n l y b y means o f r i t u a l cer-

emonies t h a t effect the change. So i t w o u l d t h e n b e necessary t o e x p l a i n h o w s o m e t h i n g that was the prerogative o f c e r t a i n p e o p l e later became the r i g h t o f all; h o w s o m e t h i n g that i m p l i e d a p r o f o u n d change i n the r e l i g i o u s and m o r a l c o n s t i t u t i o n o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l c o u l d have b e c o m e an e l e m e n t o f that

According to Hill Tout himself, "The gift or transmission (of a personal totem) can only be effectuated by certain persons like shamans or men who possess great mystical power" ("Ethnology of the Statlumh," p. 146). Cf. Parker, Euahlayi, pp. 29-30.

32

180

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

c o n s t i t u t i o n ; and, finally, h o w a transmission that at first was the o u t c o m e o f a r i t e , was considered thereafter t o p r o d u c e itself, inescapably a n d w i t h o u t the i n t e r v e n t i o n o f any h u m a n w i l l . I n s u p p o r t o f his i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , H i l l T o u t alleges that c e r t a i n m y t h s i m p u t e an i n d i v i d u a l o r i g i n t o the t o t e m o f t h e clan. T h e y t e l l h o w the t o t e m i c e m b l e m was a c q u i r e d b y a p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l w h o t h e n t r a n s m i t t e d i t t o his descendants. T h e s e m y t h s , however, are t a k e n f r o m I n d i a n tribes i n N o r t h A m e r i c a , that is, f r o m societies that have attained a rather h i g h level o f c u l t u r e . H o w c o u l d a m y t h o l o g y so far r e m o v e d from its o r i g i n s enable us to reconstruct the o r i g i n a l f o r m o f an i n s t i t u t i o n w i t h any confidence? T h e l i k e l i h o o d is that i n t e r v e n i n g causes gready d i s t o r t e d t h e m e m o r y that these m e n c o u l d have k e p t . M o r e t h a n that, i t is v e r y easy t o set against these m y t h s o t h e r m y t h s t h a t seem m o r e p r i m i t i v e a n d w h o s e m e a n i n g is e n t i r e l y different. I n t h e m y t h s , t h e t o t e m is represented as t h e v e r y b e i n g from w h i c h the clan is descended. H e n c e i t constitutes the substance o f the clan; i n d i v i d u a l s c a r r y i t from b i r t h , and, far from h a v i n g c o m e t o t h e m from outside t h e m selves, i t is part o f t h e i r flesh a n d b l o o d .
3 3

Furthermore, the very myths o n eponymous

w h i c h H i l l T o u t relies themselves e c h o that a n c i e n t idea. T h e

f o u n d e r o f t h e clan does i n d e e d have the f o r m o f a m a n , b u t i t is a m a n t h o u g h t t o have e n d e d u p r e s e m b l i n g a d e f i n i t e species o f animals after h a v i n g l i v e d a m o n g t h e m . T h i s p r o b a b l y h a p p e n e d because there came a t i m e w h e n m i n d s became t o o sophisticated t o g o o n accepting, as t h e y h a d i n the past, that m e n c o u l d be an animal's offspring. T h e y therefore substituted a h u m a n b e i n g f o r the a n i m a l ancestor, t h e idea o f w h i c h h a d b e c o m e u n t e n able; b u t t h e y i m a g i n e d t h e m a n as h a v i n g a c q u i r e d c e r t a i n a n i m a l features b y i m i t a t i o n o r b y o t h e r means. T h u s , even this recent m y t h o l o g y bears the m a r k o f a m o r e distant e p o c h w h e n t h e t o t e m o f the clan was n o t at a l l c o n ceived o f as a sort o f i n d i v i d u a l c r e a t i o n . B u t this hypothesis does n o t m e r e l y raise serious l o g i c a l difficulties; i t is also d i r e c t l y c o n t r a d i c t e d b y t h e facts that f o l l o w . I f i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m was t h e p r i m i t i v e fact, t h e n the m o r e p r i m i t i v e the societies, t h e m o r e d e v e l o p e d a n d m o r e apparent i t s h o u l d be; a n d i n versely, w e w o u l d expect t o see i t lose g r o u n d t o t h e c o l l e c t i v e t o t e m a m o n g the m o r e advanced peoples a n d t h e n disappear. T h e o p p o s i t e is t r u e . T h e A u s t r a l i a n tribes are far m o r e b a c k w a r d t h a n those o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , b u t Australia is the classic locale o f collective t o t e m i s m . In the great majority of

Cf. [Edwin Sidney] Hardand, "Totemism and Some Recent Discoveries," Folklore, vol. XI [1900], pp. 59ff.

33

Origins of These Beliefs

181

tribes, it reigns alone, whereas there is none, to my knowledge, in which individual totemism is practiced alone. found
34

I n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m i n its characteristic
35

form

is

i n an i n f i n i t e s i m a l n u m b e r o f t r i b e s .

A n d w h e r e i t is f o u n d , i t is m o s t

o f t e n i n o n l y a r u d i m e n t a r y state, consisting o f i n d i v i d u a l and o p t i o n a l practices w i t h o u t w i d e r scope. O n l y magicians k n o w the art o f creating mystical relationships w i t h the a n i m a l species t o w h i c h t h e y are n o t naturally related. O r d i n a r y folk d o n o t enjoy this p r i v i l e g e .
3 6

I n A m e r i c a , o n the o t h e r h a n d ,

the collective t o t e m is i n f u l l decline, a n d i n t h e societies o f t h e N o r t h w e s t particularly, i t n o l o n g e r has a n y t h i n g m o r e t h a n a rather u n o b t r u s i v e r e l i gious character. Inversely, the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m plays a large role a m o n g these same peoples, w h e r e i t is c r e d i t e d w i t h great efficacy a n d has b e c o m e an a u t h e n t i c a l l y p u b l i c i n s t i t u t i o n . T h i s is so because i t is characteristic o f a m o r e advanced c i v i l i z a t i o n . T h i s , n o d o u b t , is h o w t h e i n v e r s i o n b e t w e e n these t w o f o r m s o f t o t e m i s m that H i l l T o u t t h o u g h t he saw is t o be u n d e r s t o o d . I f i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m is almost e n t i r e l y absent w h e r e collective t o t e m i s m is f u l l y developed, i t is n o t because t h e second gave w a y t o the first b u t the o t h e r w a y a r o u n d : because n o t all the c o n d i t i o n s necessary t o its existence have b e e n m e t . Still m o r e conclusive is the fact that i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m , far f r o m h a v i n g g i v e n rise t o the t o t e m i s m o f the clan, presupposes t h e clan. I n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m was b o r n i n a n d moves w i t h i n the f r a m e w o r k o f collective t o t e m i s m , f o r m i n g an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f i t . I n fact, i n t h e v e r y societies w h e r e i t is p r e p o n d e r a n t , t h e novices m a y n o t take j u s t any a n i m a l as t h e i r personal t o t e m ; t h e y are n o t p e r m i t t e d t o m a k e t h e i r choices outside a c e r t a i n n u m ber o f p a r t i c u l a r species assigned t o each clan. O n the o t h e r h a n d , the species that b e l o n g t o each clan thus b e c o m e its exclusive p r o p e r t y ; the m e m b e r s o f a f o r e i g n clan m a y n o t u s u r p t h e m .
3 7

T h o s e species are t h o u g h t o f as h a v i n g

close ties o f dependence w i t h t h e one that serves as the t o t e m o f the entire clan. I n d e e d , i n some cases, these relationships are detectable, such as those

M

Except perhaps among the Kurnai, but in that tribe, there are sexual as well as personal totems.

Among the Wotjobaluk, the Buandik, the Wiradjuri, the Yuin and the tribes neighboring Maryborough (Queensland). See [Alfred William] Howitt, Native Tribes [of South-East Australia, New York, Macmillan, 1904], pp. 114-147; [Robert Hamilton] Mathews, "Ethnological Notes on the Aboriginal Tribes of New South Wales and Victoria", RSNSW vol. XXXVIII (1904), p. 291. Cf. [Northcote Whitridge] Thomas, "Further Notes on Mr. Hill Tout's Views of Totemism," in Man [vol. IV], 1904, 53, p. 85. ''This is true for the Euahlayi and for phenomena of personal totemism noted by Howitt in "Australian Medicine Men," pp. 34, 45, 49—50. "Fletcher, "The Import of the Totem," p. 586; Boas, "The Kwakiud Indians," p. 322. Similarly, Boas, "First Report on the Indians of British Columbia," p. 25; Hill Tout, "Ethnology of the Stadumh," p. 148.

55

182

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

i n w h i c h the i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m represents a part o r a p a r t i c u l a r aspect o f the collective t o t e m .
3 8

A m o n g the W o t j o b a l u k , each m e m b e r o f the clan c o n 3 9

siders the personal totems o f his fellows as b e i n g s o m e w h a t his o w n ;

hence

these are m o s t p r o b a b l y subtotems. Just as the species presupposes t h e genus, so the s u b t o t e m presupposes t h e t o t e m . T h e r e f o r e , t h e first f o r m o f i n d i v i d ual r e l i g i o n that w e m e e t i n h i s t o r y appears t o us n o t as t h e active p r i n c i p l e o f the p u b l i c r e l i g i o n b u t as m e r e l y an aspect o f i t . Far f r o m b e i n g t h e seed o f the collective c u l t , t h e c u l t that the i n d i v i d u a l organizes f o r himself, a n d w i t h i n his i n n e r self, is i n a sense t h e c o l l e c t i v e c u l t adapted t o the needs o f the i n d i v i d u a l .

Ill
I n a m o r e recent b o o k ,
4 0

w h i c h was suggested t o h i m b y the b o o k s o f

Spencer a n d G i l l e n , Frazer t r i e d t o replace the e x p l a n a t i o n o f t o t e m i s m that he o r i g i n a l l y proposed (and that I have j u s t discussed) w i t h a n e w one. T h i s n e w e x p l a n a t i o n rests o n the postulate that the t o t e m i s m o f the A r u n t a is the

The proper names of different gentes, says Boas of the Tlinkit, are derived from their respective totems, each .gens having its special names. The connection between the name and the totem (collective) is sometimes not very apparent, but it always exists (Boas, "First Report on the Indians of British Columbia," p. 25). The phenomenon of individual names' being the property of the clan, and distinctive to it as surely as its totem, is also observed among the Iroquois ([Lewis Henry] Morgan, Ancient Society: [Or
Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization, London, Macmillan,

38

1877], p. 78); among the Wyandot ([John Wesley] Powell, "Wyandot Government," First Annual Report, [1879-1880], BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1881], p. 59); among the Shawnee, the Sauk, the Fox (Morgan, Ancient Society, pp. 72, 76—77); among the Omaha ([James Owen] Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," in Third Annual Report [(1881-1882)] [BAE, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1884] pp. 227ff.). We know what relation exists between given names and personal totems (see above, p. 159.)
L

"For example," says Mathews, "if you ask a Wartwurt man what his totem is, he willfirsttell you his personal totem, but, most likely, he will then enumerate the other personal totems of his clan" ("The Aboriginal Tribes," p. 291). "•"[James George] Frazer, "The Beginnings of Religion and Totemism among the Australian Aborigines," in FR [vol. LXXXIV, old series, vol. LXVIII, new series] (July 1905), pp. 162ff., and (September 1905), p. 452. Cf. Frazer "The Origin of Totemism," FR, vol. LXXI, old series, vol. LXV, new series (April 1899), pp. 648ff. and (May 1899), pp. 835ff. These latter articles, which are a little older, differ from the more recent on one point, but the core is not fundamentally different. Both are reproduced in Totemism and Exogamy, vol. I [London, Macmillan, 1910], pp. 89—172. See, in the same vein, [Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen, "Some Remarks on Totemism as Applied to Australian Tribes," JAI, vol. XXVIII (1899), pp. 275—280, and the comments of Frazer on the same subject, Totemism and Exogamy, London, Macmillan, 1910, pp. 281—286.

39

Origins of These Beliefs

183

m o s t p r i m i t i v e w e k n o w . Frazer even goes so far as t o say that i t barely differs f r o m t h e t r u l y and absolutely o r i g i n a l t y p e .
4 1

W h a t is n o t e w o r t h y a b o u t this e x p l a n a t i o n is that the totems are attached n e i t h e r t o persons n o r t o d e f i n i t e groups o f persons b u t t o places. E a c h t o t e m does i n d e e d have its center i n a p a r t i c u l a r place. I t is there that the souls o f t h e first ancestors w h o f o r m e d t h e t o t e m i c g r o u p at the b e g i n n i n g o f time are t h o u g h t t o have t h e i r p r e f e r r e d residence. T h e r e is t h e sanctuary w h e r e the churingas are k e p t ; there, t h e c u l t is celebrated. T h i s geographic d i s t r i b u t i o n o f t o t e m s also d e t e r m i n e s the m a n n e r i n w h i c h the clans r e c r u i t t h e i r m e m b e r s . T h e child's t o t e m is thus n e i t h e r its father's n o r its mother's b u t the o n e w h o s e center is at the place w h e r e its m o t h e r believes she felt the first s y m p t o m s o f h e r c o m i n g m o t h e r h o o d . T h e A r u n t a does n o t k n o w the p r e cise relations that c o n n e c t the fact o f b e g e t t i n g t o t h e sexual a c t ,
42

i t is said,

b u t attributes every c o n c e p t i o n t o a k i n d o f mystic i m p r e g n a t i o n . A c c o r d i n g t o h i m , c o n c e p t i o n i m p l i e s that an ancestral s o u l has g o n e i n t o the b o d y o f a w o m a n , there t o b e c o m e t h e p r i n c i p l e o f a n e w life. T h u s , w h e n the w o m a n feels t h e first stirrings o f t h e i n f a n t , she i m a g i n e s that she has j u s t b e e n e n t e r e d b y o n e o f t h e souls w h o s e p r i m a r y residence is at t h e place w h e r e she finds herself. A n d since t h e c h i l d b o r n thereafter is n o n e o t h e r t h a n that a n cestor reincarnate, i t necessarily has the same t o t e m , w h i c h is t o say that its clan is d e t e r m i n e d b y the l o c a l i t y w h e r e he is h e l d t o have b e e n mystically conceived. T h i s l o c a l t o t e m i s m w o u l d t h e n be t h e o r i g i n a l f o r m o f t o t e m i s m , o r at m o s t b u t a v e r y s h o r t step away from i t . Frazer explains its o r i g i n thus. A t the precise instant w h e n the w o m a n feels she is pregnant, she m u s t be t h i n k i n g that t h e s p i r i t w i t h w h i c h she believes herself possessed has c o m e t o h e r from the objects s u r r o u n d i n g her, a n d i n p a r t i c u l a r from one t h a t was att r a c t i n g h e r a t t e n t i o n at that instant. I f she has b e e n busy c o l l e c t i n g some p l a n t o r l o o k i n g after an a n i m a l , she w i l l believe that t h e soul o f this a n i m a l o r that p l a n t has passed i n t o her. First a m o n g t h e things t o w h i c h she w o u l d be especially i n c l i n e d t o a t t r i b u t e h e r p r e g n a n c y are the foods she has j u s t eaten. I f she has r e c e n d y h a d e m u o r y a m , she w i l l be i n n o d o u b t that an e m u o r a y a m has b e e n b o r n a n d is d e v e l o p i n g i n her. T h a t b e i n g t h e case,

•""Perhaps we may... say that it is but one removefromthe original pattern, the absolutely primitive type of totemism" (Frazer, "The Beginnings," p. 455). On this point, the testimony of [Carl] Strehlow confirms that of Spencer and Gillen ([Die Arandaund Loritja-Stamme in Zentral-Australien], vol. 1 [New York, Dover, 1968], p. 52). In the opposite vein, see 1 [Andrew] Lang, The Secret of the Totem [London, Longmans, 1905], p. 190.
42

184

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

o n e understands w h y , i n t u r n , the baby s h o u l d be considered a k i n d o f y a m or e m u , w h y he s h o u l d regard h i m s e l f as a k i n s m a n o f animals o r plants o f the same species, w h y he s h o u l d s h o w t h e m f r i e n d s h i p a n d c o n s i d e r a t i o n , w h y he s h o u l d bar h i m s e l f f r o m eating t h e m , a n d so f o r t h .
4 3

From then on,

t o t e m i s m exists i n its f u n d a m e n t a l features. Since, supposedly, the native's idea o f c o n c e p t i o n gave b i r t h t o t o t e m i s m , Frazer calls this p r i m e v a l t o t e m ism " c o n c e p t i o n a l . " A l l the o t h e r f o r m s o f t o t e m i s m w o u l d t h e n d e r i v e from this first type. " I f several w o m e n , o n e after another, perceive t h e first signs o f m a t e r n i t y i n the same place a n d the same circumstances, that place w i l l be regarded as b e i n g h a u n t e d b y spirits o f a p a r t i c u l a r sort; a n d so, i n time, t h e r e g i o n w i l l be e n d o w e d w i t h t o t e m i c centers a n d d i v i d e d i n t o t o t e m i c d i s t r i c t s . "
44

T h i s is

how, o n Frazer's a c c o u n t , the l o c a l t o t e m i s m o f t h e A r u n t a was b o r n . F o r the totems t o b e c o m e detached from t h e i r t e r r i t o r i a l base, all i t w i l l take is to i m a g i n e that instead o f r e m a i n i n g i m m u t a b l y f i x e d i n o n e place, t h e ancestral souls can m o v e freely over the w h o l e t e r r i t o r y a n d f o l l o w the travels o f the m e n a n d w o m e n w h o are o f t h e same t o t e m as they. I n that fashion, i t w i l l be possible f o r a w o m a n t o be i m p r e g n a t e d b y a s p i r i t o f her o w n t o t e m or her husband's, even t h o u g h she is l i v i n g i n a different t o t e m i c d i s t r i c t . D e p e n d i n g o n w h e t h e r i t is t h e husband's t o t e m o r the wife's that is i m a g i n e d to be t r a d i n g the y o u n g c o u p l e , o n the l o o k o u t f o r o p p o r t u n i t i e s t o reincarnate itself, the child's t o t e m w i l l be t h a t o f its father o r m o t h e r . I n fact, the G n a n j i a n d t h e U m b a i a , o n the o n e h a n d , a n d t h e U r a b u n n a , o n the other, d o i n d e e d e x p l a i n t h e i r systems o f descent i n this way. B u t l i k e Tylor's, this t h e o r y begs t h e q u e s t i o n . I f i t is t o be i m a g i n a b l e that h u m a n souls are the souls o f animals o r plants, i t m u s t already be believed that m a n takes w h a t is m o s t f u n d a m e n t a l t o h i m from e i t h e r the a n i m a l o r p l a n t w o r l d . T h i s b e l i e f is precisely o n e o f those o n w h i c h t o t e m i s m is based, so t o p u t i t f o r w a r d as self-evident is t o assume w h a t m u s t be e x p l a i n e d . M o r e o v e r , the religious character o f the t o t e m is w h o l l y unexplainable i n terms o f this v i e w , f o r the vague b e l i e f i n an obscure k i n s h i p o f m a n and a n i m a l is n o t e n o u g h t o f o u n d a c u l t . T h i s m e r g i n g o f d i s t i n c t realms c a n n o t lead t o d i v i d i n g t h e w o r l d b e t w e e n t h e sacred a n d the profane. I t is t r u e that

A closely related idea had already been expressed by [Alfred C ] Haddon in his "Address to the Anthropological Section" (BAAS, 1902, 8ff.). He assumes that each local group originally had a food that was especially its own. The plant or animal that thus served as the principal item of consumption would have become the totem of the group. All these explanations imply that the prohibitions against eating the totemic animal were not original and were even preceded by the opposite prescription.
44

43

Frazer, "The Beginnings," p. 458.

Origins of These Beliefs

185

Frazer is self-consistent a n d refuses t o see t o t e m i s m as a r e l i g i o n — o n the g r o u n d s that there are n e i t h e r s p i r i t u a l beings n o r prayers n o r i n v o c a t i o n s n o r offerings, a n d so o n . A c c o r d i n g t o h i m , i t is o n l y a system o f m a g i c , b y w h i c h he means a c r u d e a n d erroneous sort o f science, a first t r y at d i s c o v e r i n g the laws o f t h i n g s .
45

B u t w e k n o w w h a t is w r o n g w i t h this idea o f r e l i g i o n a n d

m a g i c . T h e r e is r e l i g i o n as s o o n as t h e sacred is d i s t i n g u i s h e d from the p r o fane, a n d w e have seen t h a t t o t e m i s m is a vast system o f sacred t h i n g s . So t o e x p l a i n i t is t o s h o w h o w those things came t o acquire that t r a i t . n o t even set this p r o b l e m . W h a t b r i n g s a b o u t the d o w n f a l l o f this system is that the postulate o n w h i c h i t rests is untenable. A l l o f Frazers a r g u m e n t a t i o n assumes that the l o cal t o t e m i s m o f t h e A r u n t a is t h e m o s t p r i m i t i v e k n o w n , a n d i n p a r t i c u l a r that i t is d i s t i n c t l y p r i o r t o h e r e d i t a r y t o t e m i s m , w h e t h e r m a t r i l i n e a l o r p a t r i l i n e a l . B y f o l l o w i n g o n l y the facts available i n the first w o r k o f Spencer a n d G i l l e n , I have b e e n able t o c o n j e c t u r e that there m u s t have b e e n a m o m e n t i n the h i s t o r y o f t h e A r u n t a p e o p l e w h e n the totems w e r e t r a n s m i t t e d b y i n h e r i t a n c e f r o m t h e m o t h e r t o the c h i l d r e n instead o f b e i n g attached t o l o c a l ities.
47 46

T y l o r does

T h i s c o n j e c t u r e is d e f i n i t i v e l y p r o v e d b y the n e w facts t h a t S t r e h l o w
49

4 8

discovered a n d t h a t c o n f i r m p r e v i o u s observations b y S c h u l z e .

I n fact, these

t w o authors i n f o r m us that, even n o w , i n a d d i t i o n t o his l o c a l t o t e m , each A r u n t a has a n o t h e r that is i n d e p e n d e n t o f any geographic c o n d i t i o n a n d b e longs t o h i m b y b i r t h : that o f his m o t h e r . L i k e the first, this second t o t e m is considered b y t h e natives as a f r i e n d l y a n d p r o t e c t i v e p o w e r that provides f o r t h e i r f o o d , w a r n s t h e m o f possible dangers, a n d so f o r t h . T h e y are p e r m i t t e d t o take part i n its c u l t . W h e n t h e y are b u r i e d , the b o d y is so arranged that the

45

Frazer, "The Origin of Totemism," p. 835, and "The Beginnings," pp. 162ff.

All the while seeing totemism as nothing but a system of magic, Frazer recognizes that one sometimes finds in magic the first seeds of religion properly so called ("The Beginnings," p. 163). On the way in which he thinks religion developed out of magic, see Golden Bough, 2d ed., vol. I, pp. 75-78 n. 2. [Emile Durkheim], "Sur le totémisme," AS, vol. V (1902), pp. 82—121. Cf. on this same question, [Edwin Sidney] Hartland, "Presidential Address [Totemism and Some Recent Discoveries,]" Folklore, vol. XI [(1900)] p. 75; [Andrew] Lang, "A Theory of Arunta Totemism," Man [vol. IV] (1904), no. 44, [pp. 67-69]; Lang, "Conceptional Totemism and Exogamy," Man, vol. VII, 1907, 55, pp. 88—90; Lang, The Secret of the Totem, ch. IV; [Northcote W.] Thomas, "Arunta Totemism [a Note on Mr. Lang's Theory]," Man, vol. IV, (1904), 68, pp. 99—101; P. W. Schmidt, "Die Stellung der Aranda unter den australischen Stammen, in ZE, vol. XL (1908), pp. 866ff.
48 47

46

Strehlow, Aranda, vol. II, pp. 57-58.

[Rev. Louis] Schulze, "Aborigines of the Upper and Middle Finke River," RSSA, vol. XVI, 1891, pp. 238-239.

49

186

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

face is t u r n e d t o w a r d t h e r e g i o n w h e r e t h e mother's t o t e m i c center is this, because the center is also i n some respect that o f the deceased. A n d thus, i t is g i v e n the n a m e tmara altjira, w h i c h means, " c a m p o f the t o t e m that is associated w i t h me." H e n c e i t is c e r t a i n that, a m o n g the A r u n t a , h e r e d i t a r y t o t e m i s m i n t h e m a t e r n a l l i n e d i d n o t c o m e later t h a n l o c a l t o t e m i s m b u t , q u i t e the contrary, m u s t have preceded i t . T o d a y t h e m a t e r n a l t o t e m has n o m o r e t h a n an accessory a n d c o m p l e m e n t a r y r o l e ; i t is a second t o t e m , a n d this explains w h y i t c o u l d have escaped such careful a n d w e l l - i n f o r m e d o b servers as Spencer a n d G i l l e n . B u t f o r that t o t e m t o have b e e n able t o m a i n t a i n itself i n this second r a n k , used side b y side w i t h t h e l o c a l t o t e m , there must have b e e n a t i m e w h e n i t o c c u p i e d t h e first r a n k i n r e l i g i o u s life. I t is i n p a r t a t o t e m that has lapsed, b u t o n e that harks b a c k t o an era w h e n the t o t e m i c o r g a n i z a t i o n o f t h e A r u n t a was v e r y different f r o m today's. T h u s is Frazer's entire c o n s t r u c t i o n u n d e r m i n e d at its f o u n d a t i o n .
5 0

IV
A l t h o u g h A n d r e w L a n g has v i g o r o u s l y attacked Frazer's t h e o r y , his o w n , as p r o p o s e d i n recent w o r k s ,
5 1

is close t o i t o n m o r e t h a n o n e p o i n t . I n d e e d ,

l i k e Frazer, he takes the w h o l e o f t o t e m i s m t o consist o f b e l i e f i n a sort o f consubstantiality b e t w e e n m a n a n d a n i m a l , b u t h e explains i t differently. H e derives i t e n t i r e l y from t h e fact that t h e t o t e m is a name. A c c o r d i n g t o h i m , from the m o m e n t o r g a n i z e d h u m a n groups c o m e i n t o e x i s t e n c e ,
52

each feels the n e e d t o d i s t i n g u i s h itself f r o m the n e i g h b o r i n g groups w i t h w h i c h i t is i n c o n t a c t and, t o this end, gives t h e m different names. N a m e s taken f r o m t h e e n v i r o n i n g flora a n d fauna are preferred, because animals a n d plants can easily be designated b y means o f gestures o r represented b y d r a w -

It is true that Frazer says, in the conclusion of Totemism and Exogamy (vol. IV, pp. 58—59), that there exists a soil more ancient totemism than that of the Arunta. It is that which [W. H. R.] Rivers observed on the Banks Islands ("Totemism in Polynesia and Melanesia," JAI vol. XXXIX [1909], p. 172. Among the Arunta, it is an ancestor spirit that is held to impregnate the mother; on the Banks Islands, it is an animal or plant spirit, as the theory supposes. But as the ancestral spirits of the Arunta have an animal or plant form, the difference is upheld. Hence, I have not treated it in my exposition.
51

50

Lang, Social Origins, esp. chap. 8, "The Origin of Totem Names and Beliefs"; and The Secret of the

Totem.

"Especially in his Social Origins, Lang uses conjecture to try to reconstruct the form these original groups must have had. It seems unnecessary to restate those hypotheses, which do not affect his theory of totemism.

Origins of These Beliefs

187

ings.

53

T h e m o r e o r less exact resemblances that m e n can have w i t h o n e o r
54

a n o t h e r o f those objects defines t h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h these collective n a m ings are d i s t r i b u t e d a m o n g t h e g r o u p s . I t is w e l l k n o w n that " f o r p r i m i t i v e m i n d s , names a n d the things designated b y those names are j o i n e d i n a m y s t i c a n d transcendental r e l a t i o n ship."
55

F o r e x a m p l e , t h e n a m e an i n d i v i d u a l bears is n o t regarded s i m p l y as

a w o r d o r a c o n v e n t i o n a l sign b u t as an essential p a r t o f the i n d i v i d u a l h i m self. T h u s , w h e n i t is the n a m e o f an a n i m a l , t h e m a n w h o bears i t must n e c essarily believe that he possesses the m o s t characteristic traits o f that a n i m a l . T h i s idea g a i n e d credence t h e m o r e easily as the h i s t o r i c a l o r i g i n s o f these namings receded i n t o the past a n d gradually disappeared f r o m people's m e m ories. M y t h s f o r m e d t o m a k e this strange a m b i g u i t y o f h u m a n nature easier t o envisage. T o e x p l a i n i t , p e o p l e t h o u g h t o f t h e a n i m a l as the man's ancest o r o r o f b o t h as descendants o f a c o m m o n ancestor. T h u s w e r e c o n c e i v e d t h e b o n d s o f k i n s h i p that are said t o j o i n each clan w i t h the species w h o s e n a m e i t bears. O n c e the o r i g i n s o f that m y t h i c a l k i n s h i p are e x p l a i n e d , i t seems t o o u r a u t h o r that t h e m y s t e r y o f t o t e m i s m is g o n e . B u t , t h e n , f r o m w h a t does t h e r e l i g i o u s character o f t o t e m i c beliefs a n d practices arise? M a n ' s b e l i e f that h e is an a n i m a l o f some species does n o t e x p l a i n w h y he i m p u t e s a m a z i n g v i r t u e s t o that species or, m o s t o f all, w h y he renders a g e n u i n e c u l t t o t h e images that s y m b o l i z e i t . T o this q u e s t i o n L a n g offers the same response as Frazer: H e denies that t o t e m i s m is a r e l i g i o n . " I f i n d i n Australia," h e says, " n o e x a m p l e o f r e l i g i o u s practices such as p r a y i n g to, feeding, o r b u r y i n g t h e t o t e m . "
5 6

O n l y i n a later age and after i t was a l 5 7

ready o r g a n i z e d was t o t e m i s m , so t o speak, attracted t o and absorbed i n t o a system o f p r o p e r l y r e l i g i o u s ideas. A c c o r d i n g t o an o b s e r v a t i o n b y H o w i t t , w h e n t h e natives set o u t t o e x p l a i n the t o t e m i c i n s t i t u t i o n s , t h e y a t t r i b u t e t h e m n e i t h e r t o the t o t e m s themselves, n o r t o a m a n , b u t t o some supernatu r a l b e i n g such as B u n j i l o r B a i a m e . " I f , " says L a n g , " w e accept this testim o n y , o n e source o f t h e r e l i g i o u s character o f t o t e m i s m stands revealed t o us.

53

On this point, Lang is close to the theory ofJulius Pikler (see [Julius] Pikler and [Felix] Szomlo, Der

Urspmng des Totemismus. Ein Beitrag zur materialistischen Geschichtstheorie [Berlin, K. Hoffmann, 1900], p.

36). The difference between the two hypotheses is that Pikler ascribes greater importance to the pictographic representation of the name than to the name itself.
54

Lang, Social Origins, p. 166.

55

Lang, The Secret of the Totem, pp. 116-117, 121. Ibid., p. 136.

56

"Howitt, "Further Notes on the Australian Class Systems," JAI [vol. XVIII, 1889], pp. 53-54; cf. Native Tribes, pp. 89, 488, 498.

188

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

T o t e m i s m obeys t h e decrees o f B u n j i l , as t h e Cretans o b e y e d the decrees o f Zeus at M i n o s . " A c c o r d i n g t o L a n g , the n o t i o n o f h i g h gods was f o r m e d outside the t o t e m i c system. T h e r e f o r e this system is n o t i n i t s e l f a r e l i g i o n ; i t became c o l o r e d w i t h religiousness o n l y t h r o u g h contact w i t h a r e l i g i o n , p r o p e r l y so called. B u t those v e r y m y t h s are i n c o n f l i c t w i t h Lang's idea o f t o t e m i s m . I f the Australians h a d seen t h e t o t e m as n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a h u m a n and profane t h i n g , t h e y w o u l d n o t have i m a g i n e d m a k i n g a d i v i n e i n s t i t u t i o n o u t o f i t . I f , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h e y felt the n e e d t o relate the t o t e m t o a deity, t h e y d i d so because t h e y a c k n o w l e d g e d its sacredness. T h e s e m y t h o l o g i c a l i n t e r p r e t a tions thus display, b u t d o n o t e x p l a i n , the r e l i g i o u s nature o f t o t e m i s m . Besides, L a n g h i m s e l f realizes that this s o l u t i o n c a n n o t possibly d o . H e admits that t o t e m i c things are treated w i t h r e l i g i o u s r e s p e c t
58

and that, i n

particular, the b l o o d o f the a n i m a l (like t h a t o f the m a n , i n c i d e n t a l l y ) is the object o f m u l t i p l e p r o h i b i t i o n s o r o f taboos, as he says, that this m o r e o r less late m y t h o l o g y c a n n o t e x p l a i n .
5 9

W h e r e , t h e n , d o t h e y c o m e from? L a n g a n -

swers the q u e s t i o n i n these terms: " A s s o o n as t h e groups w i t h names o f a n imals h a d d e v e l o p e d universally h e l d beliefs a b o u t w a k a n a n d mana, o r a b o u t the mystical and sacred q u a l i t y o f t h e b l o o d , the various t o t e m i c taboos must also have m a d e t h e i r appearance."
60

As w e w i l l see i n the n e x t chapter, t h e from

w o r d s wakan a n d mana i m p l y the idea o f sacred i t s e l f (the first is taken

the language o f t h e S i o u x , t h e second from that o f t h e M e l a n e s i a n peoples). T o e x p l a i n this sacredness o f t o t e m i c things b y p o s t u l a t i n g i t is t o answer the q u e s t i o n w i t h t h e q u e s t i o n . W h a t s h o u l d be s h o w n is w h e r e this n o t i o n o f w a k a n comes from, a n d h o w i t is a p p l i e d t o t h e t o t e m a n d t o a l l that derives f r o m the t o t e m . So l o n g as these t w o p r o b l e m s g o u n s o l v e d , n o t h i n g is e x plained.

V
I have r e v i e w e d these p r i n c i p a l explanations o f t o t e m i c b e l i e f s , can n o t e that all are subject t o the same c r i t i c i s m .
61

trying to do

j u s t i c e t o each o n e i n d i v i d u a l l y . N o w that this e x a m i n a t i o n is c o m p l e t e d , I

58

"With reverence," as Lang says (The Secret of the Totem, p. 111). To these taboos, Lang adds those that are at the basis of the practices of exogamy.

59

60

Lang, ibid., pp. 136-137.

I have not spoken about Spencer's theory. This is because it is only a special case of the general theory by which he explains the transformation of the cult of the dead into a cult of nature. Having already set it forth, I would be repeating myself here.

61

Origins of These Beliefs

189

I f w e restrict o u r i n q u i r y t o w h a t these formulas literally say, they seem t o fall i n t o t w o categories. S o m e (Frazer's a n d L a n g s ) deny the religious character o f t o t e m i s m , b u t that a m o u n t s t o d e n y i n g the facts. O t h e r s ack n o w l e d g e this r e l i g i o u s character b u t believe t h e y can e x p l a i n i t b y d e r i v i n g i t f r o m an earlier r e l i g i o n , t r e a t i n g t o t e m i s m as its offspring. I n reality, this d i s t i n c t i o n is m o r e apparent t h a n real, the first category b e i n g c o n t a i n e d w i t h i n the second. N e i t h e r Frazer n o r L a n g has b e e n able t o h o l d o n t o his p r i n c i p l e e n t i r e l y a n d e x p l a i n t o t e m i s m as i f i t was n o t a r e l i g i o n . T h e nature o f the facts f o r c e d t h e m t o slide n o t i o n s o f a r e l i g i o u s nature i n t o t h e i r e x planations. W e have j u s t seen h o w L a n g h a d t o b r i n g i n the idea o f the sacred, the b e d r o c k idea o f any r e l i g i o n . F o r his part, Frazer o v e r d y calls o n the ideas o f s o u l a n d s p i r i t i n t h e t w o theories he proposed, o n e after the other. I n his v i e w , t o t e m i s m arises e i t h e r f r o m t h e fact that m e n b e l i e v e d t h e y c o u l d safely place t h e i r souls i n e x t e r n a l objects o r f r o m the fact that they a t t r i b u t e d c o n c e p t i o n t o a k i n d o f d i s e m b o d i e d i m p r e g n a t i o n , the agent o f w h i c h is a spirit. Since the s o u l and, even m o r e , t h e s p i r i t are sacred things a n d objects o f rites, t h e ideas that express t h e m are f u n d a m e n t a l l y r e l i g i o u s . I n consequence, i t is i n v a i n t h a t Frazer makes t o t e m i s m o u t t o be m e r e l y a system o f m a g i c , f o r he t o o manages t o e x p l a i n i t o n l y i n terms o f a n o t h e r r e l i g i o n . B u t I have s h o w n t h e inadequacies o f n a t u r i s m a n d a n i m i s m . O n e c a n n o t use t h e m , as T y l o r a n d Jevons d i d , w i t h o u t e x p o s i n g oneself t o t h e same objections. A n d yet n e i t h e r Frazer n o r L a n g seems even t o glimpse t h e p o s sibility o f another hypothesis.
62

F r o m a n o t h e r standpoint, w e see that t o -

t e m i s m is closely allied w i t h the m o s t p r i m i t i v e social o r g a n i z a t i o n that is k n o w n a n d even, i n all p r o b a b i l i t y , that is conceivable. T h e r e f o r e , t o assume i t t o have b e e n preceded b y a n o t h e r r e l i g i o n different f r o m i t o n l y i n degree is t o leave b e h i n d t h e data o f o b s e r v a t i o n a n d enter t h e d o m a i n o f arbitrary a n d u n v e r i f i a b l e conjectures. I f w e w i s h t o stay i n a c c o r d w i t h the results p r e v i o u s l y o b t a i n e d , w e m u s t , w h i l e a f f i r m i n g t h e r e l i g i o u s nature o f t o t e m i s m , refrain f r o m r e d u c i n g i t t o a r e l i g i o n different from i t . T h i s is n o t because there c o u l d be any q u e s t i o n o f designating n o n r e l i g i o u s ideas as its causes. B u t a m o n g t h e representations that are p a r t o f its o r i g i n , and o f w h i c h i t is t h e result, there m a y be some that b y themselves i n v o k e its r e l i g i o u s character, a n d i n v o k e i t direcdy. T h e s e are the ones w e m u s t l o o k for.

Except that Lang derives the idea of high gods from another source. It is supposedly due, as I have said, to a sort of primitive revelation. But Lang does not include this idea in his explanation of totemism.

62

C H A P T E R SIX

ORIGINS OF THESE BELIEFS (CONTINUED)
The Notion of Totemic Principle, or Mana, and the Idea of Force*

S

i n c e i n d i v i d u a l t o t e m i s m comes after that o f the clan a n d i n fact seems t o be d e r i v e d f r o m i t , clan t o t e m i s m m u s t be taken u p first. Before g o i n g

further, however, since m y analysis thus far has b r o k e n i t d o w n i n t o a m u l t i p l i c i t y o f beliefs that m a y appear disparate, I m u s t t r y t o visualize its i n t e r n a l coherence.

I
W e have seen that t o t e m i s m places figurative representations o f the t o t e m i n the first rank o f t h e things i t considers sacred; t h e n c o m e t h e animals o r plants w h o s e n a m e the c l a n bears, a n d finally the m e m b e r s o f t h e clan. Since all these things are sacred i n the same r i g h t , albeit u n e q u a l l y so, t h e i r r e l i giousness c a n n o t arise f r o m any o f t h e p a r t i c u l a r traits t h a t d i s t i n g u i s h t h e m f r o m o n e another. I f a g i v e n a n i m a l o r p l a n t is the object o f reverent fear, that reverence is n o t e v o k e d b y its p a r t i c u l a r traits. T h e m e m b e r s o f the clan have the same status, albeit t o a s l i g h d y lesser degree, a n d the m e r e image o f this same p l a n t o r a n i m a l evokes even m o r e m a r k e d respect. O b v i o u s l y the s i m i lar feelings that these dissimilar k i n d s o f t h i n g s evoke i n t h e consciousness o f the faithful, a n d t h a t c o n s t i t u t e t h e i r sacredness, can derive o n l y f r o m a p r i n ciple that is shared b y all a l i k e — t o t e m i c e m b l e m s , p e o p l e o f t h e clan, and i n dividuals o f the t o t e m i c species. T h i s is t h e c o m m o n p r i n c i p l e t o w h i c h t h e *It may be that, here, the shiftfromnotion to idée connotes a difference in clarity and distinctness. It may also be that Dürkheims shifts among those terms, plus conception and concept, sometimes amount to no more than stylistic variation. I have left the question open in this chapter by rendering each with its English counterpart. 190

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

191

c u l t is i n reality addressed. I n o t h e r w o r d s , t o t e m i s m is n o t t h e r e l i g i o n o f c e r t a i n animals, c e r t a i n m e n , o r c e r t a i n images; i t is the r e l i g i o n o f a k i n d o f a n o n y m o u s a n d i m p e r s o n a l force that is i d e n t i f i a b l e i n each o f these beings b u t i d e n t i c a l t o n o n e o f t h e m . N o n e possesses i t entirely, and all participate i n i t . S u c h is its i n d e p e n d e n c e f r o m the p a r t i c u l a r subjects i n w h i c h i t is i n carnated that i t b o t h precedes a n d outlives t h e m . T h e i n d i v i d u a l s die; the generations pass o n a n d are replaced b y others; b u t this force remains always present, alive, a n d t h e same. I t animates the generations o f today as i t a n i m a t e d those o f yesterday a n d w i l l animate those o f t o m o r r o w . T a k i n g the w o r d " g o d " i n a v e r y b r o a d sense, o n e c o u l d say that i t is the g o d that each t o t e m i c c u l t w o r s h i p s . B u t i t is an i m p e r s o n a l g o d , w i t h o u t name, w i t h o u t history, i m m a n e n t i n t h e w o r l d , diffused i n a numberless m u l t i t u d e o f things. A n d yet w e still have o n l y an i n c o m p l e t e idea o f the true u b i q u i t y that quasi-divine e n t i t y has. I t does n o t m e r e l y pervade the w h o l e t o t e m i c species, the w h o l e clan, a n d all the objects that symbolize the t o t e m ; the scope o f its influence is w i d e r still. W e have seen that, above and b e y o n d those e m i n e n t l y sacred things, all the things that are ascribed t o the clan as dependents o f the p r i n c i p a l t o t e m have some measure o f the same sacredness. Because certain o f t h e m are protected b y restrictions a n d others have definite functions i n the c u l t ceremonies, they t o o are t o some degree religious. T h i s q u a l i t y o f religiousness does n o t differ i n k i n d from that o f the t o t e m u n d e r w h i c h they are classified; i t necessarily derives from the same p r i n c i p l e . T h i s is so because—to repeat the m e t a p h o r i c a l expression I j u s t used—the t o t e m i c g o d is i n t h e m , j u s t as i t is i n the t o t e m i c species a n d i n the people o f the clan. T h a t i t is the soul o f so m a n y different beings shows h o w different i t is from the beings i n w h i c h i t resides. B u t the A u s t r a l i a n does n o t conceive o f this i m p e r s o n a l force abstractly. Influences that w e w i l l have t o seek o u t l e d h i m t o conceive o f i t i n the f o r m o f an a n i m a l o r p l a n t , that is, i n the f o r m o f a m a t e r i a l t h i n g . H e r e , i n reality, is w h a t the t o t e m a m o u n t s t o : I t is the tangible f o r m i n w h i c h that i n t a n g i ble substance is represented i n the i m a g i n a t i o n ; diffused t h r o u g h all sorts o f disparate beings, that energy alone is the real o b j e c t o f t h e c u l t . W e are n o w i n a b e t t e r p o s i t i o n t o c o m p r e h e n d w h a t the native means w h e n he affirms, for example, that t h e p e o p l e o f t h e C r o w p h r a t r y are crows. H e does n o t e x actly m e a n that t h e y are crows i n the everyday e m p i r i c a l sense o f t h e w o r d , b u t that the same p r i n c i p l e is f o u n d i n all o f t h e m . T h a t p r i n c i p l e constitutes w h a t they all m o s t f u n d a m e n t a l l y are, is shared b e t w e e n p e o p l e a n d animals o f t h e same name, a n d is c o n c e p t u a l i z e d as h a v i n g the o u t w a r d f o r m o f the crow. I n this w a y the universe, as t o t e m i s m conceives i t , is pervaded a n d e n l i v e n e d b y a n u m b e r o f forces that the i m a g i n a t i o n represents i n f o r m s that, w i t h o n l y a f e w exceptions, are b o r r o w e d f r o m either the a n i m a l o r the p l a n t

192

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

k i n g d o m . T h e r e are as m a n y o f these forces as there are clans i n the t r i b e , a n d each o f t h e m pervades c e r t a i n categories o f things o f w h i c h i t is the essence a n d the l i f e - p r i n c i p l e . W h e n I speak o f these p r i n c i p l e s as forces, I d o n o t use the w o r d i n a m e t a p h o r i c a l sense; t h e y behave l i k e real forces. I n a sense, t h e y are even physical forces that b r i n g a b o u t physical effects mechanically. D o e s an i n d i v i d u a l c o m e i n t o c o n t a c t w i t h t h e m w i t h o u t h a v i n g taken p r o p e r p r e c a u tions? H e receives a s h o c k that has b e e n c o m p a r e d w i t h the effect o f an electrical charge. T h e y sometimes appear t o be c o n c e i v e d o f m o r e o r less as fluids t h a t escape v i a t h e e x t r e m i t i e s . W h e n t h e y enter i n t o a b o d y that is
2 1

n o t m e a n t t o receive t h e m , t h e y cause sickness a n d death b y a w h o l l y m e chanical r e a c t i o n . O u t s i d e m a n , t h e y play t h e role o f l i f e - p r i n c i p l e ; as w e w i l l see, b y a c t i n g u p o n t h e m , the r e p r o d u c t i o n o f species is ensured. A l l life is based o n t h e m . A n d i n a d d i t i o n t o t h e i r physical nature, t h e y have a m o r a l nature. W h e n a native is asked w h y he follows his rites, he replies that ancestors have always d o n e so and that he must f o l l o w t h e i r e x a m p l e . I f he conducts h i m s e l f w i t h t o t e m i c beings i n this o r that way, i t is n o t o n l y because t h e forces that reside i n t h e m are inaccessible a n d f o r b i d d i n g i n a physical sense, b u t also because h e feels m o r a l l y obligated so t o c o n d u c t himself; he feels h e is o b e y i n g a sort o f imperative, f m f i l l i n g a duty. H e n o t o n l y fears b u t also respects t h e sacred b e ings. M o r e o v e r , the t o t e m is a source o f the clan's m o r a l life. A l l the beings that participate i n the same t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e consider themselves, b y that v e r y fact, t o be m o r a l l y b o u n d t o o n e another; they have d e f i n i t e obligations o f assistance, vengeance, a n d so o n , t o w a r d each other, a n d i t is these that c o n stitute k i n s h i p . T h u s , the t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e is at o n c e a physical force a n d a m o r a l p o w e r , a n d w e w i l l see that i t is easily t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o d i v i n i t y proper. T h i s is b y n o means specific t o t o t e m i s m . E v e n i n the m o s t advanced r e l i g i o n s , there is perhaps n o g o d that has failed t o r e t a i n some o f this a m b i g u i t y a n d that does n o t p e r f o r m b o t h cosmic a n d m o r a l f u n c t i o n s . A t the same t i m e as i t is a s p i r i t u a l d i s c i p l i n e , every r e l i g i o n is a sort o f t e c h n i q u e that 'In a Kwakiutl myth, for example, an ancestor hero pierces the head of an enemy by stretching forth hisfingers([Franz] Boas, ["First General Report on the Indians of British Columbia,"] in BAAS, Vth Report of the Committee on the Northern Tribes of the Dominion of Canada [London, Offices of the Association,
4 3

1890], p. 30).
2

References in support of this assertion will be found on p. 128, n. 1, and p. 325, n. 98. See Bk III, chap. 2.

3

See, for example, [Alfred William] Howitt, Native Tribes, [of South-East Australia, New York, Macmillan, 1904], p. 482; [C. W.] Schvirmann, "The Aboriginal Tribes of Port Lincoln," in [James Dominick] Woods, [The] NativeTribes of S.Australia [Adelaide, E. S. Wigg, 1879], p. 231.

4

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

193

helps m a n t o c o n f r o n t t h e w o r l d m o r e c o n f i d e n t l y . E v e n f o r the C h r i s t i a n , is G o d the Father n o t the guardian o f physical order, as w e l l as the legislator a n d j u d g e o f h u m a n conduct?

II
Perhaps some w i l l ask w h e t h e r , b y i n t e r p r e t i n g t o t e m i s m i n this way, I a m n o t i m p u t i n g ideas t o t h e p r i m i t i v e that are b e y o n d his i n t e l l e c t . I n t r u t h , I a m n o t i n a p o s i t i o n t o state p o s i t i v e l y that he i m a g i n e s these forces w i t h the relative c l a r i t y that I have h a d t o give t h e m i n m y analysis. I can s h o w q u i t e clearly that this idea is i m p l i c i t i n t h e beliefs t a k e n as a w h o l e a n d that i t is central t o t h e m , b u t I c a n n o t say t o w h a t e x t e n t i t is e x p l i c i t l y conscious or, o n the o t h e r h a n d , o n l y i m p l i c i t a n d vaguely felt. T h e r e is n o w a y t o specify the degree o f c l a r i t y that an idea such as this o n e can have i n consciousnesses obscure* t o us. A t any rate, w h a t shows q u i t e w e l l that the idea is i n n o w a y b e y o n d t h e p r i m i t i v e , a n d even c o n f i r m s t h e result I have j u s t a r r i v e d at, is this: W h e t h e r i n societies a k i n t o the A u s t r a l i a n tribes o r i n those v e r y tribes, w e f i n d — a n d i n e x p l i c i t f o r m — c o n c e p t i o n s that differ o n l y i n degree a n d nuance f r o m t h e f o r e g o i n g . T h e native r e l i g i o n s o f Samoa have c e r t a i n l y passed the t o t e m i c phase. T h e y have g e n u i n e gods w i t h names o f t h e i r o w n and, t o some degree, distinctive
5

personal traits. Yet the relics o f t o t e m i s m are h a r d t o dispute. I n fact,

each g o d is attached t o a t e r r i t o r i a l o r f a m i l i a l g r o u p , j u s t as the t o t e m has its c l a n . E a c h o f these gods is c o n c e i v e d o f as i m m a n e n t i n a d e f i n i t e a n i m a l species. I t c e r t a i n l y does n o t reside i n any p a r t i c u l a r subject. I t is i n all at the same t i m e , pervasive t h r o u g h o u t the species. W h e n an a n i m a l dies, t h e p e o ple o f t h e g r o u p t h a t venerate i t m o u r n a n d render i t t h e i r pious respects b e cause a g o d inhabits i t , b u t the g o d has n o t d i e d . L i k e the species, i t is eternal. N o r , i n d e e d , is t h e g o d confused w i t h t h e p r e c e d i n g g e n e r a t i o n , f o r i t was already the s o u l o f t h e o n e t h a t preceded, j u s t as as i t w i l l be the s o u l o f t h e o n e t o f o l l o w . T h u s , i t has a l l t h e characteristics o f t h e t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e b u t
6

* Consciences obscures. Whether the obscurity is in the mind of the observed or the observer is ambiguous. Swain, who says "obscure minds" (p. 219), seems to have opted for the mind of the observed. I opted for the observer's, in light of the next sentence and the general context provided by the chapter. [James George] Frazer even takes upfromSamoa many facts that he presents as characteristically totemic (see Totemism [and Exogamy, London, Macmillan, 1910], pp. 6, 12—15, 24, etc.). True enough, I have said that Frazer was not always sufEciendy critical in his choice of examples. But obviously such numerous borrowings would have been impossible if in Samoa there really had not been important survivals from totemism.
6 5

See [George] Turner, Samoa [London, Macmillan, 1884], p. 21, and chaps. IV and V.

194

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

a t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e that t h e i m a g i n a t i o n has d e v e l o p e d i n s o m e w h a t personal f o r m s . E v e n so, this personal q u a l i t y s h o u l d n o t be o v e r b l o w n , as i t is hardly c o m p a t i b l e w i t h the qualities o f pervasiveness a n d u b i q u i t y . I f the c o n t o u r s o f the t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e w e r e clearly d e f i n e d , i t w o u l d n o t be able to spread as i t does a n d infuse a m u l t i t u d e o f things. I n this case, the n o t i o n o f i m p e r s o n a l religious force is u n q u e s t i o n a b l y b e g i n n i n g t o change. I n o t h e r cases, however, i t is m a i n t a i n e d i n its abstract p u r i t y a n d even achieves d i s t i n c d y greater generality t h a n i n Australia. A l t h o u g h the t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e s t o w h i c h the various clans o f the same t r i b e address themselves are d i s t i n c t f r o m o n e another, t h e y r e m a i n f u n d a m e n t a l l y comparable t o o n e another, f o r t h e y all play the same role i n t h e i r respective domains. T h e r e are societies that attained the sense o f this shared nature and t h e n advanced t o the idea o f a single religious force that unifies t h e universe, all that is; all t h e o t h e r sacred p r i n c i p l e s are b u t modalities o f that force. A n d since those societies are still t h o r o u g h l y i m b u e d w i t h t o t e m i s m a n d b o u n d t o a social o r g a n i z a t i o n i d e n t i c a l t o that o f the A u s t r a l i a n peoples, t o t e m i s m m a y be said t o have c a r r i e d that idea i n its w o m b . T h i s can be observed i n m a n y A m e r i c a n tribes, especially i n those b e l o n g i n g t o the great f a m i l y o f the S i o u x : O m a h a , P o n k a , Kansas, Osage, A s s i n i b o i n , D a k o t a , I o w a , W i n n e b a g o , M a n d a n , Hidatsa, a n d the Several o f these societies, such as the O m a h a
7 8

others.

a n d t h e I o w a , are still o r g a 9

n i z e d i n clans; others w e r e n o t l o n g ago and, D o r s e y says, " a l l the foundations o f the t o t e m i c system, j u s t as i n o t h e r societies o f the S i o u x , " are still i d e n t i fiable i n t h e m . A m o n g these peoples, there is a p r e e m i n e n t p o w e r above all the p a r t i c u l a r gods m e n w o r s h i p , w h i c h t h e y call wakan —all
w

the rest b e i n g ,

i n a sense, derivations o f i t . Because o f the p r e e m i n e n t status assigned t o this p r i n c i p l e i n t h e S i o u x p a n t h e o n , i t has sometimes b e e n seen as a k i n d o f sovereign g o d , a J u p i t e r o r a Y a h w e h , and travelers have o f t e n translated wakan as "great spirit." T h i s was a p r o f o u n d m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f its t r u e nature. W a k a n is n o t i n any w a y a personal b e i n g ; t h e natives d o n o t i m a g i n e i t i n d e f i n i t e f o r m s . " T h e y say," reports an observer c i t e d b y Dorsey, " t h a t they

Alice [C] Fletcher, "A Study of the Omaha Tribe: [The Import of the Totem"], in RSI for 1897 [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1898], pp. [582-583]. [James Owen] Dorsey, "Siouan Sociology," in Fifteenth Annual Report, BAE [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897], p. 238.
9 8

7

Ibid., p. 221.

P>jggs and [James Owen] Dorsey, Dakota English Dictionary, in CNAE, vol. VII [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1890], p. 508. Several observers cited by Dorsey identify the word wakan with the words wakanda and wakanta, which are derived from it but have a more precise meaning.

1 0

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

195

have never seen wakanda, so t h e y c a n n o t p r e t e n d t o personify i t . "

1 1

I t cannot

even be d e f i n e d b y specific attributes a n d qualities. " N o t e r m , " says R i g g s , " c a n express t h e m e a n i n g o f the w o r d a m o n g the D a k o t a . I t embraces all mystery, all secret p o w e r , all d i v i n i t y . "
12

A l l the beings that the D a k o t a revere,

" t h e earth, the f o u r w i n d s , t h e sun, t h e m o o n , t h e stars, are manifestations o f that m y s t e r i o u s life a n d p o w e r " that circulates t h r o u g h all things. I t is i m a g i n e d as t h e w i n d , as a b r e a t h that has its seat at t h e f o u r cardinal p o i n t s a n d moves e v e r y t h i n g .
1 3

I t is t h e v o i c e that is heard w h e n t h e t h u n d e r r e s o u n d s ;
1 5

14

the sun, m o o n , a n d stars are w a k a n .

B u t e n u m e r a t i o n cannot exhaust this

i n f i n i t e l y c o m p l e x n o t i o n . I t is n o t a d e f i n e d o r definable p o w e r , t h e p o w e r t o d o this o r that; i t is P o w e r i n t h e absolute, w i t h o u t q u a l i f i c a t i o n o r l i m i t a t i o n o f any k i n d . T h e various d i v i n e p o w e r s are o n l y p a r t i c u l a r manifestat i o n s a n d personifications; each o f t h e m is this p o w e r seen i n o n e o f its m a n y aspects.
16

T h i s l e d o n e observer t o say t h a t " i t is basically a p r o t e a n g o d ,
17

c h a n g i n g its attributes a n d f u n c t i o n s a c c o r d i n g t o c i r c u m s t a n c e . "

A n d the

gods are n o t the o n l y beings i t animates. I t is t h e p r i n c i p l e o f all that lives, all that acts, all that moves. " A l l life is w a k a n . A n d so i t is f o r all that manifests any p o w e r — w h e t h e r i t be positive a c t i o n , l i k e t h e w i n d s a n d the clouds gathering i n the sky, o r passive resistance, l i k e the r o c k at the side o f the p a t h . "
18

T h e same idea is f o u n d a m o n g t h e I r o q u o i s , w h o s e social o r g a n i z a t i o n is still m o r e m a r k e d l y t o t e m i c . T h e w o r d orenda that is used t o express i t is e x acdy equivalent t o t h e w a k a n o f t h e S i o u x . " I t is a m y s t i c power," says H e w i t t , " t h a t t h e savage conceives o f as i n h e r e n t i n all t h e objects that m a k e u p the e n v i r o n m e n t i n w h i c h he l i v e s . . . , i n rocks, streams, plants and trees,

"[James Owen] Dorsey, "A Study of Siouan Cults," in Eleventh Annual Report, [vol. XI], §21, BAE [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1893], p. 372. Miss Fletcher, while no less clearly recognizing the impersonal character of wakanda, adds that a certain anthropomorphism has slowly become grafted on to this idea. But this anthropomorphism concerns the various manifestations of wakanda. The rock or tree where they think they feel the presence of wakanda are addressed as if they were personal beings, but the wakanda itself is not personified (RSI for 1897, p. 579). [Stephen Return] Riggs, Tah-Koo Wah-Kon [or the Gospel among the Dakotas, Boston, Congregational Publishing Society, 1869], pp. 56—57, cited after Dorsey "Siouan Cults," §95, p. 433.
13 12

Dorsey, "Siouan Cults," §33, p. 380. Ibid„ §35 [p. 381]. Ibid., §28, p. 376; §30, p. 378; cf. §138, p. 449. Ibid., §95, p. 432. Ibid., §92, p. 431. Ibid., §95, p. 433.

14

15

16

17

18

196

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

animals a n d m a n , w i n d s a n d storms, clouds, t h u n d e r , flashes o f l i g h t n i n g , etc."
19

T h i s p o w e r is "regarded b y the u n d e v e l o p e d i n t e l l e c t o f m a n as the ef2 0

f i c i e n t cause o f all the p h e n o m e n a a n d o f all the activities that are o c c u r r i n g around h i m . " A sorcerer o r a shaman has orenda, as does a m a n w h o is successful i n his affairs. Basically n o t h i n g i n the w o r l d is w i t h o u t its o w n share o f orenda, b u t the shares are u n e q u a l . S o m e b e i n g s — m e n o r things—are f a v o r e d , a n d others are relatively disadvantaged; all o f life is made u p o f s t r u g gles a m o n g these o r e n d a o f u n e q u a l intensity. T h e m o s t intense subjugate t h e weakest. D o e s a m a n w i n o u t over his c o m p e t i t o r s i n t h e h u n t o r i n war? I t is because he has m o r e orenda. I f an a n i m a l escapes t h e h u n t e r w h o chases h i m , i t is because t h e animal's orenda was greater t h a n t h e hunter's. T h e same idea is f o u n d a m o n g the Shoshone, w i t h t h e name a m o n g the A l g o n q u i n s , manitou; the T l i n g i t ;
2 3 21

pokunt;

mauala a m o n g t h e K w a k i u d ;
2 4

2 2

yek a m o n g

a n d sgdna a m o n g t h e H a i d a .

B u t i t is n o t peculiar t o the I n -

dians o f A m e r i c a ; i t was first s t u d i e d i n Melanesia. O n c e r t a i n M e l a n e s i a n islands, i t is t r u e , t h e social o r g a n i z a t i o n is n o l o n g e r based o n t o t e m i s m , b u t t o t e m i s m is still visible o n all o f t h e m — n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g w h a t C o d r i n g t o n has said o n the subject. W e find a m o n g these peoples, u n d e r the name "mana," a n o t i o n that is exacdy equivalent t o t h e w a k a n o f the S i o u x a n d t h e o r e n d a o f the I r o q u o i s . H e r e is C o d r i n g t o n ' s d e f i n i t i o n o f i t : The Melanesians believe i n the existence o f a force absolutely distinct from any physical force, that works i n all kinds o f ways, for good or evil, and that it is i n man's best interest to take i n hand and control: That force is mana. I
2 5

19

[J. N. B. Hewitt], "Orenda and a Definition of Religion," in AA, vol. IV (1903), p. 33. lbid., p. 36.

20

21

Tesa, Studi delThavenet,p. 17.

[Franz] Boas, ["The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the] Kwakiud [Indians," in RNMfor 1895, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897], p. 695. [John Reed] Swanton, "Social Condition, Beliefs [and Linguistic Relationship] of the Tlingit Indians," Twenty-Sixth Report BAE [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1905], p. 451 n. 3.
24 23

22

[John Reed] Swanton, Contributions to the Ethnology of the Haida [Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1905], p. 14. Cf.

Tlingit Indians, p. 479.

In certain Melanesian societies (Banks Islands, northern New Hebrides), the two exogamic phratries that characterize Australian organization crop up again ([R. H. Codrington, 77ie Melanesians [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891], pp. 23ff.). In Florida, there are true totems, called butos (p. 31). An interesting discussion on this point is to be found in A. Lang, Social Origins [London, Longmans, 1903], pp. 176ff. Cf. on the same subject, and in the same vein, W. H. R. Rivers, "Totemism in Polynesia and Melanesia," in JAI, vol. XXXIX [1909], pp. 156ff.

25

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

197

believe I understand the meaning this t e r m has for the natives. . . . I t is a force, a nonmaterial and, i n a sense, supernatural influence; but i t reveals i t self by physical force, or else by any k i n d o f power and superiority that man possesses. Mana is by no means fixed o n a definite object; i t can be carried by any sort o f thing. . . . The whole religion o f the Melanesian consists i n procuring mana for himself, for his o w n benefit or someone else's.
26

Is this n o t t h e same n o t i o n o f a diffuse a n d a n o n y m o u s force w h o s e seed i n A u s t r a l i a n t o t e m i s m w e w e r e u n c o v e r i n g a m o m e n t ago? T h e i m p e r s o n a l i t y is t h e same. As C o d r i n g t o n says, w e m u s t a v o i d seeing i t as a k i n d o f supreme b e i n g ; such an idea "is absolutely a l i e n " t o M e l a n e s i a n t h o u g h t . T h e u b i q u i t y is t h e same. M a n a has n o d e f i n i t e l o c a t i o n a n d is e v e r y w h e r e . A l l f o r m s o f life, a n d all the active potencies o f m e n , l i v i n g things, o r m e r e minerals are ascribed t o its i n f l u e n c e .
27

T h e r e f o r e , i t is b y n o means reckless t o i m p u t e t o the A u s t r a l i a n societies an idea such as the o n e I have d r a w n from m y analysis o f t o t e m i c beliefs: T h e same idea is t o be f o u n d , t h o u g h at a h i g h e r level o f generalization a n d abstraction, i n r e l i g i o n s w h o s e roots g o back t o A u s t r a l i a n t h o u g h t a n d t h a t v i s i b l y bear its m a r k . T h e t w o c o n c e p t i o n s are o b v i o u s l y a k i n , d i f f e r i n g o n l y i n scale. W h e r e a s m a n a is diffused t h r o u g h o u t t h e w h o l e universe, w h a t I have called the g o d ( o r m o r e accurately, t h e t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e ) is l o c a l i z e d i n a b r o a d b u t nonetheless m o r e l i m i t e d circle o f creatures a n d things o f various species. I t is mana, b u t a rather m o r e specialized m a n a — e v e n t h o u g h , i n the e n d , this specialization m a y o n l y be q u i t e relative. T h e r e are cases, m o r e o v e r , i n w h i c h this k i n r e l a t i o n becomes especially apparent. A m o n g t h e O m a h a , all k i n d s o f i n d i v i d u a l a n d collective totems exist;
28

b o t h are f o r m s o f w a k a n . " T h e Indian's f a i t h i n t h e efficacy o f the

t o t e m , " says M i s s Fletcher, "was based o n his c o n c e p t i o n o f nature a n d life. T h a t c o n c e p t i o n was c o m p l e x a n d i n v o l v e d t w o k e y ideas. First, all things, animate a n d i n a n i m a t e , are i m b u e d w i t h a c o m m o n l i f e - p r i n c i p l e ; a n d seco n d , this life is c o n t i n u o u s . "
29

T h i s c o m m o n l i f e - p r i n c i p l e is w a k a n . T h e

t o t e m is the means b y w h i c h t h e i n d i v i d u a l is p u t i n t o u c h w i t h that source o f energy. I f the t o t e m has p o w e r s , i t has t h e m because i t incarnates w a k a n . Codrington, The Melanesians, p. 118 n. 1; [Richard Heinrich Robert] Parkinson, Dreissigjahre in der Siidsee [Stuttgart, Strecker und Schroeder, 1907], pp. 178, 392, 394, etc. An analysis of this idea is to be found in [Henri] Hubert and [Marcel] Mauss, ["Esquisse d'une] théorie générale de la magie," AS, vol. VII [1904], p. 108. There are totems not only of clans but also of brotherhoods (Fletcher, "Import of the Totem," pp. 581ff.).
29 28 27 26

Ibid. [pp. 578-579].

198

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

I f the m a n w h o has v i o l a t e d the p r o h i b i t i o n s that p r o t e c t his t o t e m is s t r i c k e n b y illness o r death, i t is because the m y s t e r i o u s force that he r a n afoul of, w a k a n , reacted against h i m w i t h an i n t e n s i t y p r o p o r t i o n a t e t o the shock i t suffered.
30

Inversely, j u s t as the t o t e m is w a k a n , so t h e m a n n e r i n w h i c h

w a k a n is c o n c e i v e d sometimes recalls its t o t e m i c o r i g i n s . As Say tells us, a m o n g the D a k o t a , t h e wahconda is manifested sometimes i n the f o r m o f a gray bear, sometimes a b i s o n , a beaver, o r o t h e r a n i m a l .
3 1

This formulation

cannot, o f course, be unreservedly accepted. Since w a k a n resists all p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n , i t is u n l i k e l y t o have b e e n c o n c e i v e d o f i n its abstract generality b y means o f precise symbols. H o w e v e r , Say's o b s e r v a t i o n p r o b a b l y is applicable t o the p a r t i c u l a r f o r m s i t takes as i t becomes specialized a m i d the concrete reality o f life. I f there t r u l y was a t i m e w h e n those specializations o f w a k a n e v i d e n c e d such a m a r k e d affinity w i t h a n i m a l f o r m , that w o u l d be f u r t h e r p r o o f o f the close ties b e t w e e n that n o t i o n a n d t o t e m i c b e l i e f s .
32

Besides, o n e can e x p l a i n w h y the idea o f m a n a c o u l d n o t attain the d e gree o f abstraction a n d generalization i n Australia that i t d i d i n m o r e a d vanced societies. T h e reason is n o t m e r e l y some insufficient capacity o f the A u s t r a l i a n t o t h i n k abstractly a n d generalize; i t is above all t h e nature o f the social m i l i e u that i m p o s e d this p a r t i c u l a r i s m . As l o n g as t o t e m i s m remains t h e basis o f c u l t o r g a n i z a t i o n , the clan maintains an a u t o n o m y w i t h i n the r e l i g i o u s society that, a l t h o u g h n o t absolute, nonetheless remains v e r y p r o n o u n c e d . U n d o u b t e d l y , o n e can say i n a sense that each t o t e m i c g r o u p is o n l y a chapel o f the t r i b a l C h u r c h , * b u t a chapel t h a t enjoys b r o a d i n d e p e n dence. A l t h o u g h t h e c u l t that is celebrated w i t h i n the clan does n o t f o r m a w h o l e sufficient u n t o itself, the relations i t has w i t h the others are m e r e l y e x ternal. T h e cults are j u x t a p o s e d b u t n o t i n t e r p e n e t r a t i n g . T h e t o t e m o f a clan is f u l l y sacred o n l y f o r that clan. As a result, t h e g r o u p o f things assigned t o each clan, a n d that are p a r t o f the clan i n t h e same r i g h t as t h e m e n , has the same i n d i v i d u a l i t y a n d t h e same a u t o n o m y . E a c h o f t h e m is i m a g i n e d as b e i n g i r r e d u c i b l e t o similar groups that are radically d i s c o n t i n u o u s w i t h i t and as c o n s t i t u t i n g w h a t a m o u n t s t o a d i s t i n c t r e a l m . U n d e r these c o n d i t i o n s , i t w o u l d o c c u r t o n o o n e that these heterogeneous w o r l d s w e r e o n l y different *Here again, Dürkheim capitalizes. '"Ibid., p. 583. Among the Dakota, the totem is called wakan. See Riggs and Dorsey, Dakota Texts and Grammar, in CNAE [vol. IX, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1893], p. 219. '"'James's Account of Long's Expedition in the Rocky Mountains," vol. I, p. 268 (cited by Dorsey in "Siouan Cults," §92, p. 431). I do not mean to argue that in principle every theriomorphic representation of religious forces is the mark of a preexisting totemism. But in terms of societies where totemism is still apparent, as in the case of the Dakota, it is natural to think that these conceptions are not unknown to it.
32

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

199

manifestations o f o n e a n d the same f u n d a m e n t a l force. I t must have b e e n ass u m e d instead that a specifically different m a n a c o r r e s p o n d e d t o each o f t h e m , the p o w e r o f w h i c h c o u l d n o t e x t e n d b e y o n d the clan a n d t h e things assigned t o i t . T h e n o t i o n o f o n e universal m a n a c o u l d be b o r n o n l y w h e n a r e l i g i o n o f the t r i b e d e v e l o p e d above the clan cults a n d absorbed t h e m m o r e o r less c o m p l e t e l y . I t is o n l y w i t h the sense o f t r i b a l u n i t y that a sense o f the w o r l d ' s u n i t y arose. I w i l l s h o w later o n
3 3

that the societies o f Australia w e r e

already a c q u a i n t e d w i t h a c u l t shared b y t h e entire t r i b e . B u t a l t h o u g h that c u l t represents the highest f o r m o f the A u s t r a l i a n r e l i g i o n s , i t d i d n o t succeed i n r u p t u r i n g the p r i n c i p l e s o n w h i c h t h e y rest a n d t r a n s f o r m i n g t h e m . T o t e m i s m is basically a federative r e l i g i o n that c a n n o t g o b e y o n d a c e r t a i n level o f c e n t r a l i z a t i o n w i t h o u t ceasing t o be itself. O n e characteristic fact i l l u m i n a t e s t h e p r o f o u n d reason w h y the n o t i o n o f m a n a has b e e n k e p t so specialized i n Australia. T h e religious forces p r o p e r — t h o s e t h o u g h t o f as totems—are n o t the o n l y ones the A u s t r a l i a n believes he m u s t r e c k o n w i t h . T h e r e are also the forces t h a t the m a g i c i a n especially has at his disposal. Whereas the r e l i g i o u s forces are considered t o be salutary a n d b e n e f i c e n t i n p r i n c i p l e , t h e f u n c t i o n o f m a g i c forces is above all t o cause death a n d illness. T h e y differ b o t h i n t h e nature o f t h e i r effects a n d i n the relations t h e y have w i t h social o r g a n i z a t i o n . A t o t e m always belongs t o a clan; m a g i c , o n the o t h e r h a n d , is a t r i b a l a n d even an i n t e r t r i b a l i n s t i t u t i o n . M a g i c a l forces d o n o t p a r t i c u l a r l y b e l o n g t o any d e f i n i t e g r o u p o f t h e t r i b e . T o use those forces, i t is e n o u g h t o have the efficacious recipes. Similarly, everyone is v u l n e r a b l e t o t h e i r effects a n d so m u s t t r y t o guard against t h e m . These are nebulous forces that are n o t attached t o any definite social d i v i s i o n a n d can even e x t e n d t h e i r i n f l u e n c e b e y o n d the t r i b e . I t is n o t e w o r t h y that, a m o n g t h e A r u n t a a n d t h e L o r i t j a , t h e y are c o n c e i v e d o f s i m p l y as aspects a n d p a r t i c u l a r f o r m s o f o n e a n d t h e same force, called i n A r u n t a Amngquiltha o r Arunkulta.
34

" I t is," say Spencer a n d G i l l e n , "a t e r m o f rather vague m e a n -

i n g ; b u t , basically, o n e always finds t h e idea o f a supernatural p o w e r e n d o w e d w i t h an e v i l nature. . . . T h i s w o r d is a p p l i e d i n d i s c r i m i n a t e l y e i t h e r t o the e v i l i n f l u e n c e that comes from an o b j e c t o r t o t h e v e r y o b j e c t i n w h i c h i t t e m p o r a r i l y o r p e r m a n e n d y resides." "See Bk. II, chap. 9 §4, pp. 288-298. The first spelling is that of [Sir Baldwin] Spencer and [Francis James] Gillen; the second, [Carl] Strehlow's. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes [of Central Australia, London, Macmillan, 1899], p. 548, n. 1. Granted, Spencer and Gillen add, "The best way of rendering the idea would be to say that the arungquiltha object is possessed by an evil spirit." But thatfreetranslation is an unwarranted interpretation by them. The notion of arungquiltha in no way implies the existence of spiritual beings. This point emergesfromStrehlow's context and definition.
35 34 35

" B y A r u n k u l t a , " says Strehlow, " t h e

200

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

native means a force w h o m e v e r i t enters."
36

that

suddenly

suspends life a n d b r i n g s death

to

T h i s t e r m is a p p l i e d t o bones, t o the pieces o f w o o d

that give o f f e v i l spells, a n d t o a n i m a l o r p l a n t poisons. I t is v e r y d e f i n i t e l y a h a r m f u l mana. G r e y m e n t i o n s a c o m p l e t e l y i d e n t i c a l n o t i o n i n the tribes he has o b s e r v e d .
37

A m o n g these dissimilar peoples, t h e n , t h e p r o p e r l y religious

forces d o n o t manage t o break free o f a c e r t a i n heterogeneity, b u t the m a g i cal forces are c o n c e i v e d o f as b e i n g all o f the same nature; t h e y are c o n c e i v e d o f generically. T h e reason is this: Since the m a g i c a l forces h o v e r above the d i visions and subdivisions o f t h e social o r g a n i z a t i o n , they m o v e i n a h o m o g e neous a n d c o n t i n u o u s space w h e r e t h e y d o n o t e n c o u n t e r anything to differentiate t h e m . O n the o t h e r h a n d , since r e l i g i o u s forces are localized w i t h i n d e f i n i t e a n d d i s t i n c t social settings, they b e c o m e differentiated a n d specialized a c c o r d i n g t o the setting i n w h i c h t h e y h a p p e n t o be. F r o m this w e see t o w h a t e x t e n t the n o t i o n o f i m p e r s o n a l religious force is i n the letter a n d spirit o f A u s t r a l i a n t o t e m i s m , f o r i t constitutes itself distincdy as s o o n as n o c o n t r a r y cause opposes i t . G r a n t e d , the a r u n g q u i l t h a is
38

a p u r e l y m a g i c a l force. B u t m a g i c forces a n d r e l i g i o u s forces are n o t different i n t h e i r essence. I n d e e d , they are sometimes designated b y the same w o r d .
3 9

I n Melanesia, the m a g i c i a n a n d his c h a r m s have m a n a j u s t as d o the agents a n d rites o f the regular c u l t . from that o f the o t h e r .
41

A m o n g the I r o q u o i s ,

4 0

the w o r d " o r e n d a " is

used i n the same way. T h e r e f o r e , w e can l e g i t i m a t e l y i n f e r t h e nature o f each

Strehlow, Die Aranda- [und Loritja-Stamme in Zentral-Australien], vol. II [Frankfurt, J. Baer, 1907], p. 76n. With the name Boyl-ya ([George] Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions [in North- West and Western Australia], vol. II [London, T. W. Boone, 1841], pp. 337-338). See above, p. 400. Moreover, Spencer and Gillen implicidy recognize this when they say that the arungquiltha is "a supernatural force." Cf. Hubert and Mauss, "Théorie générale," p. 119.
39 38 37

36

Codrington, The Melanesians, pp. 191ff.

""Hewitt, "Orenda," p. 38. One may even ask whether a concept analogous to wakan or mana is altogether lacking in Australia. As it happens, the word "churinga" (or Tjurunga, in Strehlow's spelling) has closely related meaning among the Arunta. Spencer and Gillen say that this term designates "all that is secret or sacred. It is applied as much to an object as to the quality it possesses" (Native Tribes, p. 648). This is almost the definition of mana. Sometimes, indeed, Spencer and Gillen use that word to designate religious power or force in general. In describing a ceremony among the Kaitish, they say that the celebrant is "full of churinga," that is, they continue, full of "the magical power that emanates from the objects called churingas." However, it does not seem that the notion of churinga is constituted in Australia with the clarity and precision that the notion of mana has in Melanesia or that wakan has among the Sioux.
41

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

201

III
T h e result t o w h i c h the p r e c e d i n g analysis has l e d us is relevant n o t o n l y t o the h i s t o r y o f t o t e m i s m b u t also t o the f o r m a t i o n o f religious t h o u g h t generally. O n the g r o u n d s that m a n is at first r u l e d m a i n l y b y his senses a n d b y sensuous representations, i t has o f t e n b e e n a r g u e d that he began b y i m a g i n i n g the d i v i n e i n the concrete f o r m o f d e f i n i t e a n d personal beings. T h e facts d o n o t c o n f i r m that p r e s u m p t i o n . I have j u s t described a l o g i c a l l y u n i f i e d set o f r e l i g i o u s beliefs that I have g o o d reason t o consider v e r y p r i m i t i v e , a n d yet I have n o t e n c o u n t e r e d personalities o f this k i n d . T h e t o t e m i c c u l t p r o p e r is addressed n e i t h e r t o such a n d such d e f i n i t e animals n o r t o such a n d such defi n i t e plants b u t t o a sort o f diffuse p o w e r that permeates t h i n g s .
42

E v e n i n the

advanced r e l i g i o n s that have arisen o u t o f t o t e m i s m , l i k e those w e see app e a r i n g a m o n g t h e Indians o f N o r t h A m e r i c a , that idea, far f r o m b e i n g effaced, becomes m o r e conscious o f itself, expressing i t s e l f w i t h a c l a r i t y i t d i d n o t p r e v i o u s l y have, a n d at the same t i m e t a k i n g o n greater generality. T h a t idea dominates t h e w h o l e r e l i g i o u s system. S u c h is the basic m a t e r i a l from w h i c h w e r e made the various beings that r e l i g i o n s o f all times have w o r s h i p p e d a n d sanctified. T h e spirits, d e m o n s , genies, a n d gods o f every degree are o n l y the c o n c r e t e f o r m s t a k e n b y this energy (this " p o t e n t i a l i t y , " as H e w i t t calls i t ) as i t became i n d i v i d u a l i z e d a n d f i x e d u p o n some d e f i n i t e o b j e c t o r p o i n t i n space, a n d condensed a r o u n d some b e i n g t h a t is ideal o r legendary, yet c o n c e i v e d o f as real i n p o p u l a r i m a g i n a t i o n . A D a k o t a i n t e r v i e w e d b y M i s s Fletcher described this essential consubstantiality i n language f u l l o f b o l d images: A l l that moves stops at one place or another, at one moment or another. T h e bird that flies stops somewhere to make its nest, somewhere else to rest from flight. T h e man w h o walks stops w h e n he pleases. The same is true for the deity. T h e sun, so bright and magnificent, is one place where the deity has stopped. T h e trees and the animals are others. T h e Indian thinks o f these places and sends his prayers there, that they may reach the place where god has stopped and thus obtain succor and benediction.
44 4 3

I n o t h e r w o r d s , w a k a n (for that is w h a t he was t a l k i n g about) goes a n d comes t h r o u g h the w o r l d , a n d the sacred t h i n g s are the places w h e r e i t has a l i g h t e d . Certainly, we will see below (Bk. II, chaps. 8 and 9) that the idea of mythic personality is not altogether foreign to totemism. But I will show that these conceptions result from secondary formations. Far from being the basis of the beliefs just analyzed, they derive from those beliefs. "Hewitt, "Orenda," p. 38.
44 42

"Report of the Peabody Museum," vol. Ill, p. 276n. (cited by Dorsey, "Siouan Cults," p. 435).

202

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

H e r e w e f i n d ourselves far f r o m n a t u r i s m a n d a n i m i s m alike. I f the sun, m o o n , a n d stars have b e e n w o r s h i p p e d , t h e y have n o t o w e d this h o n o r t o t h e i r i n h e r e n t nature o r d i s t i n c t i v e properties b u t t o the fact that t h e y w e r e c o n c e i v e d o f as p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n that force w h i c h alone gives things t h e i r sacredness a n d is f o u n d i n m a n y o t h e r beings, even the v e r y smallest. T h e souls o f t h e dead have b e e n objects o f rites n o t because t h e y are considered t o be made o f some f l u i d a n d ethereal substance a n d n o t because t h e y resemble the shadow o f a b o d y o r its r e f l e c t i o n o n t h e face o f the deep. Lightness and flui d i t y are n o t e n o u g h t o confer sacredness o n t h e m ; t h e y have b e e n invested w i t h that h o n o r o n l y insofar as t h e y possessed some o f t h a t v e r y force, the f o u n t o f all that is r e l i g i o u s . W h y w e c o u l d n o t define r e l i g i o n b y the idea o f m y t h i c a l personalities, gods, o r spirits n o w becomes clearer. T h a t w a y o f i m a g i n i n g religious t h i n g s is b y n o means i n h e r e n t i n t h e i r nature. A t the o r i g i n a n d basis o f r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t , w e f i n d n o t d e f i n i t e a n d d i s t i n c t objects o r beings t h a t i n themselves possess sacredness b u t i n d e f i n i t e p o w e r s a n d a n o n y m o u s forces. T h e y are m o r e o r less n u m e r o u s i n different societies (sometimes, i n d e e d , t h e y are o n l y o n e force), a n d t h e i r i m p e r s o n a l i t y is exactly comparable t o that o f t h e physical forces w h o s e manifestations are s t u d i e d b y the sciences o f nature. T u r n i n g t o p a r t i c u l a r sacred t h i n g s , those are b u t i n d i v i d u a l i z e d f o r m s o f this basic p r i n c i p l e . T h u s , i t is n o t s u r p r i s i n g that even i n r e l i g i o n s i n w h i c h gods i n d i s p u t a b l y exist, there are rites that are efficacious b y themselves, i n d e p e n d e n t o f d i v i n e a c t i o n . T h i s is so because that force can attach t o w o r d s s p o k e n a n d gestures made, as w e l l as t o m a t e r i a l substances. V o i c e a n d m o v e m e n t can serve as its vehicle, a n d i t can p r o d u c e its effects t h r o u g h t h e m w i t h o u t h e l p from any g o d o r spirit. I n d e e d , let t h a t force b e c o m e p r i m a r i l y c o n c e n t r a t e d
45

i n a r i t e , a n d t h r o u g h i t that r i t e w i l l b e c o m e t h e creator o f d e i t i e s .

T h i s is

also w h y there is perhaps n o d i v i n e personality w i t h o u t an i m p e r s o n a l elem e n t . E v e n those w h o m o s t clearly i m a g i n e d i v i n e p e r s o n a l i t y i n a concrete a n d t a n g i b l e f o r m i m a g i n e i t at t h e same t i m e as an abstract p o w e r that can be d e f i n e d o n l y b y the nature o f its effects, as a force that deploys i t s e l f i n space a n d that is i n each o f its effects, at least i n part. I t is t h e p o w e r t o p r o duce the r a i n o r the w i n d , the harvest o r t h e l i g h t o f day; Z e u s is i n each d r o p o f r a i n that falls, j u s t as Ceres is i n each sheaf o f the h a r v e s t .
46

Indeed, more

o f t e n t h a n n o t , this efficacy is so i n c o m p l e t e l y d e f i n e d t h a t the believer can
45

See above, p. 33.

"'Expressions such as Zeus uei, or Ceres succiditur, show that this conception lived on in Greece and
in Rome. Moreover [Hermann] Usener, in his Gottemamen: [Versuch einer Lehre von der religiosen De-

briffebildung, Bonn, F. Cohen, 1896], has clearly shown that the gods of Greece, as of Rome, were originally impersonal forces that were only thought of in terms of their attributes.

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

203

have o n l y a v e r y vague n o t i o n o f i t . M o r e o v e r , this vagueness has made p o s sible t h e u n i o n s a n d divisions i n t h e course o f w h i c h t h e gods w e r e fragm e n t e d , d i s m e m b e r e d , a n d c o m b i n e d i n all sorts o f ways. T h e r e is perhaps not a single r e l i g i o n i n w h i c h the o r i g i n a l mana, w h e t h e r u n i t a r y o r c o m p o u n d , has f u l l y e v o l v e d i n t o a w e l l - d e f i n e d n u m b e r o f discrete beings that are sealed o f f from o n e another. E a c h o f those beings retains a nebulous sort o f i m p e r s o n a l i t y that enables i t t o enter i n t o n e w c o m b i n a t i o n s — i t has t h a t capacity n o t s i m p l y because i t remains as a relic b u t because i t is i n t h e nature o f religious forces t o be incapable o f f u l l i n d i v i d u a l i z a t i o n . T h i s c o n c e p t i o n , w h i c h t h e study o f t o t e m i s m alone suggested t o m e , is f u r t h e r r e c o m m e n d e d b y the fact that, o f late, several scholars have b e e n l e d to i t i n d e p e n d e n t l y , i n the course o f q u i t e different research. T h e r e is an e m e r g i n g t e n d e n c y t o w a r d spontaneous agreement o n this p o i n t , w h i c h is w o r t h n o t i n g f o r i t creates a p r e s u m p t i o n o f o b j e c t i v i t y . As early as 1 8 9 9 , 1 was a r g u i n g the necessity o f n o t p u t t i n g any n o t i o n o f mythical personality i n t o the definition o f r e l i g i o n .
4 7

I n 1900, M a r r e t t called

a t t e n t i o n t o the existence o f a phase i n r e l i g i o n that he called preanimist, i n w h i c h t h e rites w e r e addressed t o i m p e r s o n a l forces, such as M e l a n e s i a n m a n a o r t h e w a k a n o f the O m a h a a n d the D a k o t a .
4 8

Nevertheless, M a r r e t t

d i d n o t g o so far as t o h o l d that, always a n d i n all cases, the n o t i o n o f spirit l o g i c a l l y o r c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y comes after that o f m a n a o r is d e r i v e d from i t . I n d e e d , h e seemed disposed t o a l l o w that i t is sometimes f o r m e d i n d e p e n dently, a n d hence that r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t flows from a d o u b l e s o u r c e .
49

On

the o t h e r h a n d , he c o n c e i v e d m a n a as a p r o p e r t y i n h e r e n t i n t h i n g s , as an e l e m e n t o f t h e i r specific character. A c c o r d i n g t o h i m , m a n a is s i m p l y the trait we i m p u t e t o a n y t h i n g that departs from the o r d i n a r y , t o e v e r y t h i n g that
50

makes us feel a d m i r a t i o n o r f e a r . naturist t h e o r y .
51

T h i s was t a n t a m o u n t t o r e h a b i l i t a t i n g t h e

A s h o r t t i m e later, H u b e r t a n d Mauss, setting o u t t o devise a general t h e -

[Emile Durkheim, "De la] Définition des phénomènes religieux," AS, vol. II [1897-1898], pp. 14-16.
48

47

[R. R. Marrett], "Preanimistic Religion," in Folk-lore, vol. XI (1900), pp. 162-182.

Ibid., p. 179. In a more recent work, "The Conception of Mana" (in TICHR, vol. II [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1908], pp. 54£F), Marrett tends even more to subordinate the animist conception to the notion of mana. However, his thought remains hesitant and reserved on this point.
50

49

Ibid„ p. 168.

This return of preanimism to naturism is still more marked in a communication by Clodd at the Third Congress on the History of Religions ("Preanimistic Stages in Religion," in TICHR, vol. I, pp. 33).

51

204

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

o r y o f m a g i c , established that m a g i c as a w h o l e is based o n the n o t i o n o f mana.
52

G i v e n the close k i n s h i p o f m a g i c a l rites w i t h r e l i g i o u s ones, w e
53

m i g h t expect t h e same t h e o r y t o be applicable t o r e l i g i o n . Preuss argued this i n a series o f articles that appeared i n Globus t h e same year. R e l y i n g o n facts he h a d d r a w n m a i n l y from A m e r i c a n c i v i l i z a t i o n s , Preuss set o u t t o s h o w that t h e ideas o f soul a n d s p i r i t w e r e f o r m e d o n l y after those o f i m p e r s o n a l p o w e r a n d force, that soul a n d s p i r i t are o n l y transformations o f i m p e r s o n a l p o w e r a n d force, a n d that u n t i l fairly recent times, those latter r e t a i n e d the m a r k o f t h e i r o r i g i n a l i m p e r s o n a l i t y . H e d i d i n d e e d s h o w that, even i n the advanced religions, s p i r i t a n d s o u l are c o n c e i v e d o f i n t h e f o r m o f vague discharges spontaneously e m i t t e d from the t h i n g s i n w h i c h t h e m a n a resides, and s o m e times t e n d i n g t o escape u s i n g all available routes: m o u t h , nose, and every o t h e r b o d y o p e n i n g , breath, gaze, speech, a n d so o n . A t t h e same t i m e , Preuss s h o w e d t h e i r p r o t e a n quality, t h e e x t r e m e plasticity that enables t h e m t o serve t h e m o s t v a r i e d uses, i n succession a n d almost s i m u l t a n e o u s l y .
54

True

e n o u g h , i f that author's t e r m i n o l o g y was taken literally, o n e m i g h t t h i n k those forces are, f o r h i m , o f a m a g i c a l a n d n o t a r e l i g i o u s nature. H e calls t h e m charms (Zauber, Zauberkräfte).
5 5

B u t since he shows t h e m t o be active i n

rites that are f u n d a m e n t a l l y r e l i g i o u s , f o r e x a m p l e , the great M e x i c a n cerem o n i e s , i t is e v i d e n t that, b y u s i n g such t e r m s , h e does n o t m e a n t o place those forces outside r e l i g i o n . I f he uses t h e m , i t is p r o b a b l y f o r w a n t o f o t h ers that better i n d i c a t e t h e i r i m p e r s o n a l i t y a n d the sort o f m e c h a n i s m b y w h i c h they operate. T h u s , the same idea is t e n d i n g t o appear f r o m all q u a r t e r s . e l e m e n t a r y ones, are s e c o n d a r y
57 56

The i m -

pression increasingly is that t h e m y t h o l o g i c a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s , even t h e m o s t p r o d u c t s o v e r g r o w i n g a substratum o f b e liefs—simpler a n d m o r e obscure, vaguer a n d m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l — t h a t c o n 52

Hubert and Mauss, "Théorie générale de la magie," pp. 108ff.

[Konrad Theodor] Preuss, "Der Ursprung der Religion und Kunst," in Globus, vol. LXXXVI (1904), pp. 321, 355, 376, 389; vol. LXXXVII, pp. 333, 347, 380, 394, [419].
54

53

Ibid., vol. LXXXVII, p. 381. He clearly opposes them to all influences that are profane in nature (ibid., vol. LXXXVI, p. 379a).

55

''They are found even in the recent theories of Frazer. If this scholar refuses to ascribe a religious character to totemism so as to make it a kind of magic, he does so precisely because the forces that the totemic cult puts into operation are impersonal, like those the magician manipulates. Frazer recognizes the fundamental fact I have just established, but he draws a different conclusion from it than I do, because, according to him, there is religion only if there are mythical personalities. "However, I do not take this word in the same sense as Preuss and Marrett. According to them, there was a definite moment in religious evolution when men knew neither souls nor spirits, a preanimist phase. This hypothesis is highly questionable. I will offer further explanation on this point below (Bk. II, chaps. 8 and 9).

Origins of These Beliefs (Continued)

205

stitute t h e firm f o u n d a t i o n s o n w h i c h the r e l i g i o u s systems w e r e b u i l t . T h i s is the p r i m i t i v e s t r a t u m that t h e analysis o f t o t e m i s m has enabled us t o reach. T h e v a r i o u s w r i t e r s w h o s e research I have j u s t m e n t i o n e d a r r i v e d at that c o n c e p t i o n u s i n g facts taken f r o m q u i t e disparate r e l i g i o n s , some o f w h i c h c o r r e s p o n d t o an already w e l l - a d v a n c e d c i v i l i z a t i o n — t h e religions o f M e x i c o , f o r example, w h i c h Preuss used a great deal. I t m i g h t t h e n be asked w h e t h e r the t h e o r y was applicable t o the simplest r e l i g i o n s as w e l l . B u t since o n e can descend n o f u r t h e r t h a n t o t e m i s m , w e r u n n o risk o f error. A t the same t i m e , w e m a y possibly have f o u n d the o r i g i n a l n o t i o n f r o m w h i c h the ideas o f w a k a n a n d m a n a are d e r i v e d : t h e n o t i o n o f t h e t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e .
5 8

IV
T h e role that n o t i o n has played i n t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f religious ideas is n o t the o n l y reason f o r its p r i m a r y i m p o r t a n c e . I t has a secular aspect that gives i t relevance f o r t h e h i s t o r y o f scientific t h o u g h t as w e l l . I t is the n o t i o n o f force i n its earliest f o r m . I n t h e w o r l d as t h e S i o u x conceive i t , w a k a n plays the same role as t h e forces b y w h i c h science explains the v a r i e d p h e n o m e n a o f nature. T h i s is n o t t o say that i t is t h o u g h t o f i n the f o r m o f an exclusively physical energy; w e w i l l see i n the n e x t chapter that, instead, the elements used t o f o r m an idea o f i t are taken from the m o s t disparate realms. B u t precisely that c o m p o s i t e nature enables i t t o b e used as a p r i n c i p l e o f universal e x p l a n a t i o n . T h e w h o l e o f life comes from i t ;
5 9

" a l l life is w a k a n " ; and b y the w o r d " l i f e " m u s t be u n -

d e r s t o o d all that acts a n d reacts a n d all that moves a n d is m o v e d , as m u c h i n the m i n e r a l k i n g d o m as i n the b i o l o g i c a l one. W a k a n is the cause o f all the m o v e m e n t that takes place i n t h e universe. W e have also seen that the orenda o f t h e I r o q u o i s is " t h e efficient cause o f all t h e p h e n o m e n a , and all t h e a c t i v ities, that manifest themselves a r o u n d m a n . " I t is a p o w e r " i n h e r e n t i n all bodies a n d all t h i n g s . "
60

I t is orenda that makes t h e w i n d b l o w , the sun shine

a n d w a r m the earth, t h e plants g r o w , the animals m u l t i p l y , and that makes

On this same question, see the article of Alessandro Bruno, "Sui fenomeni magico-religiosi delle comunita primitive," in Rivista italiana di Sociotogia, vol. XII, fasc. IV-V, pp. 568ff., and an unpublished paper by W. Bogoras at the XlVth Congress of Americanists, held at Stuttgart in 1904. This paper is analyzed by Preuss in Globus, vol. LXXXVI, p. 201. "A11 things," says Miss Fletcher, "are pervaded by a common principle of life." "Import of the Totem," p. 579. ""Hewitt, "Orenda," p. 36.
5 9

58

206

THE ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

man

strong, skillful, and i n t e l l i g e n t . W h e n the I r o q u o i s says that the life o f all

nature is the p r o d u c t o f conflicts b e t w e e n the u n e q u a l l y intense orenda o f different beings, he is expressing i n his language t h e m o d e r n idea that the w o r l d is a system o f forces that l i m i t , c o n t a i n , a n d e q u i l i b r a t e o n e another. T h e M e l a n e s i a n i m p u t e s t h e same sort o f efficacy t o mana. I t is thanks t o his mana that a m a n succeeds i n h u n t i n g o r i n war, t h a t his gardens p r o d u c e a g o o d y i e l d , that his herds prosper. Because i t is f u l l o f mana, the a r r o w reaches its m a r k , a net takes m a n y fish, a canoe holds t h e sea w e l l ,
6 1

a n d so

o n . I t is t r u e that i f c e r t a i n o f C o d r i n g t o n ' s phrases w e r e taken literally, m a n a w o u l d be the cause t o w h i c h p e o p l e specifically ascribe " a l l that exceeds the p o w e r o f m a n , all that is outside the o r d i n a r y course o f n a t u r e . "
62

But it

emerges f r o m the v e r y examples he cites that the sphere o f m a n a is a g o o d deal broader t h a n that. I n reality, i t serves t o e x p l a i n usual a n d everyday p h e n o m e n a . T h e r e is n o t h i n g s u p e r h u m a n o r supernatural i n t h e fact that a b o a t sails o r a h u n t e r takes game. A m o n g those events o f everyday life, there are some so insignificant a n d so f a m i l i a r that t h e y g o b y u n p e r c e i v e d : N o o n e takes n o t e o f t h e m , and, consequendy, n o o n e feels a n e e d t o e x p l a i n t h e m . T h e c o n c e p t o f mana is a p p l i e d o n l y t o those that are i m p o r t a n t e n o u g h t o p r o v o k e reflection, t o a w a k e n a m o d i c u m o f interest a n d curiosity. F o r all that, however, they are n o t m i r a c u l o u s . A n d w h a t is t r u e o f m a n a as w e l l as orenda o r w a k a n is equally t r u e o f the t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e . B y that p r i n c i p l e are m a i n t a i n e d the lives o f the clan's p e o p l e , the lives o f t h e animals o r plants o f the t o t e m i c species, the lives o f a l l things that are classified u n d e r the t o t e m a n d participate i n its nature. T h u s the idea o f force is o f r e l i g i o u s o r i g i n . F r o m r e l i g i o n , p h i l o s o p h y first a n d later the sciences b o r r o w e d i t . S u c h is the i n t u i t i o n C o m t e already h a d w h e n he called metaphysics t h e h e i r o f " t h e o l o g y . " B u t his c o n c l u s i o n was that, because o f its metaphysical o r i g i n s , the idea o f force was fated t o disappear from science, a n d he d e n i e d i t any objective m e a n i n g . I w i l l show, to the contrary, that r e l i g i o u s forces are real, n o m a t t e r h o w i m p e r f e c t t h e symbols w i t h w h o s e h e l p t h e y w e r e c o n c e i v e d of. F r o m this i t w i l l f o l l o w that the same is t r u e f o r t h e c o n c e p t o f force i n general.

61

Codrington, The Melanestans, pp. 118—120. Ibid., p. 119.

62

CHAPTER SEVEN

ORIGINS OF THESE BELIEFS (CONCLUSION)
Origin of the Notion of Totemic Principle, or Mana

T

he p r o p o s i t i o n established i n the p r e c e d i n g chapter defines the terms i n w h i c h t h e p r o b l e m o f h o w t o t e m i s m o r i g i n a t e d m u s t be posed. T h e

central n o t i o n o f t o t e m i s m is that o f a q u a s i - d i v i n e p r i n c i p l e that is i m m a n e n t i n c e r t a i n categories o f m e n a n d things a n d t h o u g h t o f i n the f o r m o f an a n i m a l o r plant. I n essence, therefore, t o e x p l a i n this r e l i g i o n is t o e x p l a i n this belief-—that is, t o discover w h a t c o u l d have l e d m e n t o construct i t a n d w i t h w h a t b u i l d i n g blocks.

I
I t is manifestly n o t w i t h the feelings t h e things that serve as totems are capable o f arousing i n men's m i n d s . I have s h o w n that these are o f t e n i n s i g n i f i cant. I n the sort o f i m p r e s s i o n lizards, caterpillars, rats, ants, frogs, turkeys, breams, p l u m trees, cockatoos, a n d so f o r t h m a k e u p o n m a n (to cite o n l y the names that c o m e u p f r e q u e n t l y o n lists o f A u s t r a l i a n totems), there is n o t h i n g that i n any w a y resembles g r a n d a n d p o w e r f u l religious e m o t i o n s or c o u l d stamp u p o n t h e m a q u a l i t y o f sacredness. T h e same cannot be said o f stars and great a t m o s p h e r i c p h e n o m e n a , w h i c h d o have all that is r e q u i r e d t o seize men's i m a g i n a t i o n s . A s i t happens, however, these serve v e r y rarely as totems; i n d e e d , t h e i r use f o r this p u r p o s e was p r o b a b l y a late d e v e l o p m e n t .
1

T h u s i t was n o t the i n t r i n s i c nature o f t h e t h i n g w h o s e n a m e t h e clan b o r e that set i t apart as t h e object o f w o r s h i p . F u r t h e r m o r e , i f the e m o t i o n e l i c i t e d b y the t h i n g itself really was t h e d e t e r m i n i n g cause o f t o t e m i c rites a n d b e liefs, t h e n this t h i n g w o u l d also be the sacred b e i n g par excellence, a n d the 'See above, p. 102. 207

208

T H E ELEMENTARY BELIEFS

animals a n d plants used as t o t e m s w o u l d play the l e a d i n g r o l e i n religious life. B u t w e k n o w that the focus o f t h e c u l t is elsewhere. I t is s y m b o l i c representations o f this o r that p l a n t o r a n i m a l . I t is t o t e m i c emblems a n d symbols o f all k i n d s that possess the greatest sanctity. A n d so i t is i n t o t e m i c emblems a n d symbols that the r e l i g i o u s source is t o be f o u n d , w h i l e the real objects represented b y those e m b l e m s receive o n l y a r e f l e c t i o n . T h e t o t e m is above all a s y m b o l , a tangible expression o f s o m e t h i n g else. B u t o f what? I t f o l l o w s f r o m t h e same analysis that t h e t o t e m expresses a n d symbolizes t w o different k i n d s o f things. F r o m o n e p o i n t o f v i e w , i t is t h e o u t w a r d a n d visible f o r m o f w h a t I have called t h e t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e o r g o d ; and f r o m a n other, i t is also the s y m b o l o f a p a r t i c u l a r society that is called t h e clan. I t is the flag o f the clan, the sign b y w h i c h each clan is d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m the others, the visible m a r k o f its distinctiveness, a n d a m a r k that is b o r n e b y e v e r y t h i n g that i n any w a y belongs t o t h e clan: m e n , animals, a n d things. T h u s , i f the t o t e m is t h e s y m b o l o f b o t h t h e g o d a n d t h e society, is this n o t because the g o d a n d t h e society are o n e a n d t h e same? H o w c o u l d the e m b l e m o f t h e g r o u p have taken t h e f o r m o f that q u a s i - d i v i n i t y i f t h e g r o u p and t h e d i v i n i t y w e r e t w o d i s t i n c t realities? T h u s t h e g o d o f t h e clan, the t o t e m i c p r i n c i p l e , can be n o n e o t h e r t h a n the clan itself, b u t t h e clan transfigured and i m a g i n e d i n t h e physical f o r m o f t h e p l a n t o r a n i m a l that serves as t o t e m . H o w c o u l d that apotheosis have c o m e a b o u t , a n d w h y s h o u l d i t have c o m e a b o u t i n that fashion?
2

II
Society i n general, s i m p l y b y its effect o n men's m i n d s , u n d o u b t e d l y has all that is r e q u i r e d t o arouse the sensation o f t h e d i v i n e . A society is t o its m e m bers w h a t a g o d is t o its faithful. * A g o d is first o f all a b e i n g that m a n c o n ceives o f as s u p e r i o r t o h i m s e l f i n some respects a n d o n e o n w h o m he believes he depends. W h e t h e r that b e i n g is a conscious personality, l i k e Zeus o r Y a h w e h , o r a play o f abstract forces as i n t o t e m i s m , the faithful believe

*Le fidèle. To avoid translating this term, which connotes loyal adherence, as "the believer," thereby leaving no room for a contrast with le croyant, which connotes belief, I have usually rendered it as "the faithful." Durkheim analyzes the stance of what one might call the "unbelieving faithful." See Bk. Ill, chap. 3, §2. In the small book cited above, [Julius] Pikler, [Der Ursprung der Totemismus. Ein Beitrag zur materialis¬ chen Geschichtheorie, Berlin, K. Hoffmann, 1900] has already expressed, in a somewhat dialectical fashion, the belief that this fundamentally is what the totem is.
2

Origins of These Beliefs (Conclusion)

209

t h e y are b o u n d t o c e r t a i n ways o f a c t i n g that t h e nature o f the sacred p r i n c i ple t h e y are d e a l i n g w i t h has i m p o s e d u p o n t h e m . S o c i e t y also fosters i n us the sense o f p e r p e t u a l dependence. Precisely because society has its o w n specific nature that is different f r o m o u r nature as i n d i v i d u a l s , i t pursues ends that are also specifically its o w n ; b u t because i t can achieve those ends o n l y b y w o r k i n g t h r o u g h us, i t categorically demands o u r c o o p e r a t i o n . Society requires us t o m a k e ourselves its servants, f o r g e t f u l o f o u r o w n interests. A n d i t subjects us t o all sorts o f restraints, p r i v a t i o n s , a n d sacrifices w i t h o u t w h i c h social life w o u l d be impossible. A n d so, at every instant, w e m u s t s u b m i t t o rules o f a c t i o n a n d t h o u g h t that w e have n e i t h e r m a d e n o r w a n t e d a n d that sometimes are c o n t r a r y t o o u r i n c l i n a t i o n s a n d t o o u r m o s t basic instincts. I f society c o u l d exact those concessions a n d sacrifices o n l y b y physical constraint, i t c o u l d arouse i n us o n l y t h e sense o f a physical force t o w h i c h w e have n o c h o i c e b u t t o y i e l d , a n d n o t that o f a m o r a l p o w e r such as r e l i g i o n s venerate. I n reality, h o w e v e r , the h o l d society has over consciousness owes far less t o t h e prerogative its physical s u p e r i o r i t y gives i t t h a n t o the m o r a l a u t h o r i t y w i t h w h i c h i t is invested. ,We defer t o society's orders n o t s i m p l y because i t is e q u i p p e d t o o v e r c o m e o u r resistance b u t , first a n d f o r e m o s t , because i t is t h e object o f g e n u i n e respect. A n i n d i v i d u a l o r collective subject is said t o inspire respect w h e n the r e p resentation that expresses i t i n consciousness has such p o w e r that i t calls f o r t h o r i n h i b i t s c o n d u c t automatically, irrespective of any utilitarian calculation of helpful or harmful results. W h e n w e o b e y s o m e o n e o u t o f respect f o r the m o r a l a u t h o r i t y that w e have accorded t o h i m , w e d o n o t f o l l o w his instructions because t h e y seem wise b u t because a c e r t a i n psychic energy i n t r i n s i c t o t h e idea w e have o f that person bends o u r w i l l a n d t u r n s i t i n t h e d i r e c t i o n i n d i cated. W h e n that i n w a r d a n d w h o l l y m e n t a l pressure moves w i t h i n us, respect is the e m o t i o n w e feel. W e are t h e n m o v e d n o t b y the advantages o r disadvantages o f t h e c o n d u c t that is r e c o m m e n d e d t o us o r d e m a n d e d o f us b u t b y the w a y w e conceive o f the o n e w h o r e c o m m e n d s o r demands that c o n d u c t . T h i s is w h y a c o m m a n d generally takes o n short, sharp f o r m s o f address that leave n o r o o m f o r hesitation. I t is also w h y , t o the e x t e n t that c o m m a n d is c o m m a n d a n d w o r k s b y its o w n strength, i t precludes any idea o f d e l i b e r a t i o n o r c a l c u l a t i o n , b u t instead is m a d e effective b y the v e r y i n t e n s i t y o f the m e n tal state i n w h i c h i t is g i v e n . T h a t i n t e n s i t y is w h a t w e call m o r a l influence. T h e ways o f a c t i n g t o w h i c h society is s t r o n g l y e n o u g h attached t o i m pose t h e m o n its m e m b e r s are f o r that reason m a r k e d w i t h a d i s t i n g u i s h i n g sign that calls f o r t h respect. Because these ways o f a c t i n g have b e e n w o r k e d o u t i n c o m m o n , the i n t e n s i t y w i t h w h i c h t h e y are t h o u g h t i n each i n d i v i d ual m i n d finds resonance i n all t h e others, a n d v i c e versa. T h e representations

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that translate t h e m w i t h i n each o f us thereby g a i n an i n t e n s i t y that m e r e p r i vate states o f consciousness can i n n o w a y m a t c h . T h o s e ways o f a c t i n g gather strength f r o m t h e countless i n d i v i d u a l representations that have served t o f o r m each o f t h e m . I t is society that speaks t h r o u g h the m o u t h s o f those w h o a f f i r m t h e m i n o u r presence; i t is society that w e hear w h e n w e hear t h e m ; a n d t h e v o i c e o f all itself has a t o n e that an i n d i v i d u a l v o i c e c a n n o t have. T h e v e r y forcefulness w i t h w h i c h society acts against dissidence, w h e t h e r b y m o r a l censure o r physical repression, helps t o strengthen this d o m i n a n c e ,
4 3

a n d at t h e same time forcefully p r o c l a i m s t h e ardor o f the shared c o n v i c t i o n . I n short, w h e n s o m e t h i n g is the o b j e c t o f a state o f o p i n i o n , the representat i o n o f the t h i n g that each i n d i v i d u a l has draws such p o w e r f r o m its o r i g i n s , from the c o n d i t i o n s i n w h i c h i t o r i g i n a t e d , that i t is felt even b y those w h o d o n o t y i e l d t o i t . * T h e m e n t a l representation o f a t h i n g that is t h e o b j e c t o f a state o f o p i n i o n has a t e n d e n c y t o repress a n d h o l d at bay those representat i o n s that c o n t r a d i c t i t ; i t c o m m a n d s instead those actions that f u l f i l l i t . I t accomplishes this n o t b y the reality o r threat o f physical c o e r c i o n b u t b y the r a d i a t i o n o f the m e n t a l energy i t contains. T h e h a l l m a r k o f m o r a l a u t h o r i t y is that its psychic properties alone give i t p o w e r . O p i n i o n , e m i n e n d y a social t h i n g , is o n e source o f a u t h o r i t y . I n d e e d , the q u e s t i o n arises w h e t h e r a u t h o r i t y is n o t the daughter o f o p i n i o n . S o m e w i l l o b j e c t that science is o f ten the antagonist o f o p i n i o n , t h e errors o f w h i c h i t combats a n d corrects. B u t science can succeed i n this task o n l y i f i t has sufficient a u t h o r i t y , a n d i t can g a i n such a u t h o r i t y o n l y from o p i n i o n itself. A l l the scientific d e m o n strations i n the w o r l d w o u l d have n o i n f l u e n c e i f a p e o p l e h a d n o faith i n science. E v e n today, i f i t s h o u l d h a p p e n t h a t science resisted a v e r y p o w e r f u l c u r r e n t o f p u b l i c o p i n i o n , i t w o u l d r u n the r i s k o f seeing its c r e d i b i l i t y eroded.
6 5

Tor example, the thief acknowledges a "state of opinion" by taking precautions not to be discovered. As this example suggests, once upon a time Durkheim's term opinion could have been translated as "public opinion" without confusion, but not in America today. Our present usage connotes the discrete bits of "opinion" that pollsters elicit through replies to questionnaires. Trans.
3

See my [De la] Division du travail social: Etude sur l'organisation de sociétés supérieures, 3d ed. [Paris, F. Al-

can, 1902], pp. 64ff.
4

Ibid., p. 76. This is the case at least for all moral authority that is recognized as such by a group.

5

1 hope this analysis and those that follow will put an end to an erroneous interpretation of my ideas, which has more than once led to misunderstanding. Because I have made constraint the external feature by which social facts can be most easily recognized and distinguishedfromindividual psychological ones, some have believed that I consider physical constraint to be the entire essence of social life. In reality, I have never regarded constraint as anything more than the visible, tangible expression of an underlying, inner fact that is wholly ideal: moral authority. The question for sociology—if there can be said to be one so-

6

Origins of These Beliefs (Conclusion)

211

Because social pressure makes itself felt t h r o u g h m e n t a l channels, i t was b o u n d t o give m a n the idea that outside h i m there are o n e o r several powers, m o r a l yet m i g h t y , t o w h i c h h e is subject. Since they speak t o h i m i n a t o n e o f c o m m a n d , a n d sometimes even t e l l h i m t o v i o l a t e his m o s t natural i n c h nations, m a n was b o u n d t o i m a g i n e t h e m as b e i n g e x t e r n a l t o h i m . T h e m y t h o l o g i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s w o u l d doubdess n o t have b e e n b o r n i f m a n c o u l d easily see that those influences u p o n h i m c o m e from society. B u t the o r d i n a r y observer c a n n o t see w h e r e t h e i n f l u e n c e o f society comes from. I t moves a l o n g channels t h a t are t o o obscure a n d c i r c u i t o u s , and uses psychic mechanisms that are t o o c o m p l e x , t o be easily traced t o t h e source. So l o n g as scien