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Lecture 4

SOC201H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Michel De Montaigne, Altruistic Suicide, Mechanical And Organic Solidarity

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Pop quiz --- “Practical Consequences” by Emile Durkheim
True or false
According to Durkheim, suicide is normal. (p.363)
An increasing rate of suicide is the inevitable price of progress. (p.368)
Moral penalties --- such as refusing a regular burial to people who commit suicide –
would reduce the suicide rate. (p.371)
In modern society, the altruistic from of suicide is disappearing. (p.373)
As a new barrier against suicide, Durkheim proposes the corporation. (p.378)
Suicide before Durkheim
1. In Catholic religion
a. Suicide is a sin. Because the god gives the life, so it is honor to serve the god with
our life. When the life is end is depending on the god. So suicide is wrong.
2. In French law
a. Life is to serve the country, suicide is not right
b. But there is penalty, state could take someone’s life
3. In philosophy – Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), author of Essays (1580, in this book,
he wrote many idea and try many ideas, exam the theme): here is the process he wrote
about suicide in the book.
a. Against suicide
a.i. First, reasons that against suicide
a.i.1. Sometimes People commit suicide because it shows
a.i.2. Sometime people commit suicide at the moment is bad,
but when sometimes later, the life will become better
a.ii. Found some argument in the literatures that against suicide
b. For suicide
c. Montagne’s conclusion
c.i. When the situation is bad and no way to improve, it is ok to get suicide
4. Durkheim’s distinctive approach
a. Moral judgements neither central nor clear
b. Causes are social, not individual
c. Outcome (the rate of suicide) is social, not individual
d. Instead of blame, societal responsibility
“Suicide” by Emile Durkheim (1897)
1. Why study suicide?
a. A test case
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