Durkheim Moral Suicide
Reading Next Week
The Metropolis and Mental Life (1902)
* What happens to personal identity under the conditions of modernity? What
kinds of people do different social conditions produce?
* Work your imagination: ON today, the differences of (rules of) fashion
between DT toronto and small towns. Variety. Eurocentrism. Dresses. Small
details. Dress code in DT toronto: people who write the rule?
* The importance of codes, belonging, distance, they are established from
others. (in terms of dress)
* Same Question of style and appearance. Context which we understand the
idea of fashion.
* Modernity, restraint of eccentrici古怪 . Modernity restrain on eccentricity
because modernity ties with democracy.
* What is Simmel’s view, does he see a move towards modernity as
restraining as Durkheim does?
* Signals that people send out, differences between the DT Toronto and small
towns --> distances we establishing from others in terms of dress, in terms
* Variation between different places across Toronto. Small towns, big cities...
* Think about the fashion and lifestyle and personal identity.
* Tocqueville: Opinions and Modern democracy. Personality problems we
talked about before.
* In terms of capacity to independently express ourselves (& give our
opinions) and obey. Representation of step backness.
* What is Simmel’s view: like Tocqueville, view it as constrain??
* Simmel has a mix response.
- The Reading is focusing on the new Metropolis (the new big cities). Big
Western cities that have railway, electricity and lights...etc. New
phenomenon, concentration of people, migration from the countryside to
cities. --> what consequences of personality in these situation.
- 5 kinds of question:
- First Question is kind of filling in the blank space.
1) Pp. 169. Simmel identifies a quality which he claims pertains to all human
beings. “Man is _______ creature.” What kind of quality that sets humans
apart? His whole paper rests on this premise that we have a quality that
unities us as human beings.
- Man is a differentiated creature 1) Differently, he asks what happens to this quality when you put human in big
cities? What are the effects on personality?
- Humans separate personality and are stimulus bound so they are detached
but highly intelligent and adaptable to circumstances (they can be
1) How does a modern city produce these effects? What’s the mechanism/
- effects of personality are neural (brain circuitry) in nature, they are
individualist with distinct personalities, etc.
1) The normative question -- Does he thinks this makes things better or
worse? What is his evaluation?
- He does not necessarily see it as bad
1) Does the modern city, according to Simmel, promote the enlightenment?
(think about the paper by Kant, what is enlightenment? Moving out of the
infantile state, using our personal reason.)
* LIfe in the city affect the personality and social identity.
* PP. 174 overlap with another paper.
* Pp. 175. Marx’s idea of quantity to quality --> what is to think directly.
* Pp. 175. Durkheim: division of labour.
* Pp. 177. Simmel, the going division of labor --> connected with Durkheim:
the division of labour, the task becomes smaller and smaller.
* Pp. 178, Simmel talking about enlightenment: the freedom, equality (Position
Paper that link to Marx.)
Durkheim on Moral Authority
1. Needs vs. Wants
- Very beginning the paper, Durkheim talks about needs, desires. He did not
use the word: “Wants”
- “Wants” is more important here, because we have to distinguish between
needs and wants.
- Needs: things that has to be satisfied in order for being exist, or even to
flourish in accordance 一致 to its nature.
- Durkheim: animals’ needs are easy to be satisfied and obvious, in order to
being exist. Their needs are constant. - Things that needs to be satisfied that beyond for needs (existing) --->
- What distinguish human being from animal is that we have Wants.
- Human needs more than the primary need for survival, and that is wants.
- Animals’ needs are defined and limited.
1. Problems arising from wants
- Wants has a trends that expansion of wants:Lead to 3 problems. Wants has
a tendency to grow.
1) not all wants (desires) can be satisfied.
2) dissatisfaction is inevitable, and it will causes pain. It is a source of pain.
3) human being themselves as individuals, they are not good to put limits on
their wants and their wants will be continuing grow.
1. Normal societies: collective authority
- Societies place limits on our wants: to prevent pain and unhappiness. --->
that is moral authority. (he did not use the term directly, he used public
opinion, collective sense. Prof. think it is more suitable)
- Collective authority: not in the political sphere. Not in the family nor religion.
The collective moral authority --> it is a common idea spread throughout the
society. It is a shared sentiment.情绪
- The collective authority do?? This collective moral authority specifies two
1) to specified the upper and lower limits of people in different economic
levels. Specified the levels that people think that it is fair pay. The limit
varies from societies to societies and have historical differences. Social
categories varies too.
- The society today, the principle is merit. --> the allocation of different
economic position is fair because we believe in the principle of merit. We
think the fair of occupation, but others may be the equality of their born.
What is fair and what should be fair?
- 2) why the system of social distribution is justice --> legitimacy.
- Make sure the society works: the upper and lower limits, and make people
believe that it is fair.