Durkheim and the Problem of Objectivity : a Reading of Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse
The status of the notion of objectivity, a central question in current sociology of knowledge debates, is also a fundamental presupposition in several interpretations of Durkheim’s epistemology. This analysis focuses on Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, where Durkheim is obliged to defend the objectivity of representation against the relativist or constructivist implications of his own sociology of knowledge and religion. Despite the aporia in it, the type of ontology required by this text continually presents sound arguments to support the postulate that a social reality exists that is independent of our representations. Though this is not sufficient to resolve all difficulties, it should dissuade us from claiming he « fathered » different or opposed theses simply because he was not fully able to demonstrate a particular one.