Émile Durkheim Quotes

Best 30 Quotes by Émile Durkheim

“A person is not merely a single subject distinguished from all the others. It is especially a being to which is attributed a relative autonomy in relation to the environment with which it is most immediately in contact.”

“Art is not simply an external ornament donned by the cult to conceal its excessively harsh and austere side; rather the cult has an aesthetic aspect in itself.”

“At first sight, one does not see what relations there can be between religion and logic.”

“Crime brings together honest men and concentrates them.”

“Even one well-made observation will be enough in many cases, just as one well-constructed experiment often suffices for the establishment of a law.”

“From the physical point of view, a man is nothing more than a system of cells, or from the mental point of view, than a system of representations; in either case, he differs only in degree from animals.”

“I can be free only to the extent that others are forbidden to profit from their physical, economic, or other superiority to the detriment of my liberty.”

“It is only by historical analysis that we can discover what makes up man, since it is only in the course of history that he is formed.”

“It is said that we do not make the guilty party suffer for the sake of suffering; it is nonetheless true that we find it right that he should suffer.”

“It is science, and not religion, which has taught men that things are complex and difficult to understand.”

“Man is a moral being, only because he lives in society. Let all social life disappear and morality will disappear with it.”

“Our whole social environment seems to us to be filled with forces which really exist only in our own minds.”

“Society is not a mere sum of individuals. Rather, the system formed by their association represents a specific reality which has its own characteristics... The group thinks, feels, and acts quite differently from the way in which its members would were they isolated. If, then, we begin with the individual, we shall be able to understand nothing of what takes place in the group.”

“Solidarity is, literally something which the society possesses.”

“When man discovered the mirror, he began to lose his soul.”

“When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary. When mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable.”

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“Men do not sufficiently realize that their future is in their own hands. Theirs is the task of determining first of all whether they want to go on living or not. Theirs is the responsibility, then, for deciding if they want merely to live, or intend to make just the extra effort required for fulfilling, even on this refractory planet, the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for the making of gods.”

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Rules of Sociological Method Quotes

“Every time a social phenomenon is directly explained by a psychological phenomenon, we may rest assured that the explanation is false.”

Rules of Sociological Method

“Science can perfectly tell us how causes produce their effects, not what ends are to be pursued; she observes, explains, but does not judge: good and evil do not exist for her.”

Rules of Sociological Method

“We are the victims of an illusion which leads us to believe we have ourselves produced what has been imposed upon us externally.”

Rules of Sociological Method

Suicide Quotes

“A mind that questions everything, unless strong enough to bear the weight of its ignorance, risks questioning itself and being engulfed in doubt.”


“A monomaniac is a sick person whose mentality is perfectly healthy in all respects but one; he has a single flaw, clearly localized. At times, for example, he has an unreasonable and absurd desire to drink or steal or use abusive language; but all his other acts and all his other thoughts are strictly correct.”


“Each new generation is reared by its predecessor; the latter must therefore improve in order to improve its successor. The movement is circular.”


“Each victim of suicide gives his act a personal stamp which expresses his temperament, the special conditions in which he is involved, and which, consequently, cannot be explained by the social and general causes of the phenomenon.”


“Faith is not uprooted by dialectic proof; it must already be deeply shaken by other causes to be unable to withstand the shock of argument.”


“From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.”


“Irrespective of any external, regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss.”


“It is society which, fashioning us in its image, fills us with religious, political and moral beliefs that control our actions.”


“It is too great comfort which turns a man against himself. Life is most readily renounced at the time and among the classes where it is least harsh.”


“Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free him from all social pressure is to abandon him to himself and demoralize him.”


The Division of Labor in Society Quotes

“We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it.”

The Division of Labor in Society

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“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”

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