What is essential for man’s happiness according to Durkheim?

What is essential for man’s happiness according to Durkheim?

1) what is essential for man’s happiness according to Durkheim? Happiness requires a

harmonization of wants with means available (a balance between needs and our ability at satisfying them:

i.e.: moderation- living within your means )

2) Are human wants unlimited? How do we deal with such a characteristic of human behavior? Human wants are unlimited and insatiable: whenever we fulfill one desire we move to the

next (p.450)

The reason we have unlimited desires is because humans, contrary to animals have the capacity to

imagine better condition(he called reflective thought ( p. 450). we imagine better condition which then

appear as desirable goals and incite our activity”..

These wants have grown over the periods since the beginning of history. From keeping up with the Jones

to keeping up with the Kardashian.


COMPARISON example capitalism survives because it can trigger desires, hook people to material

goods: if we look at the history of consumerism: from keeping up with the Jones now keeping up with

the super-Rich : upscale emulation. Our reference pints for our desires are people way beyond our means

(rich and celebrities).”

Add to that credit cards availability which allows people to spend beyond their means

Add to that a culture of constant remaking of one’s self, homes, life. HGTV, your tube tutorials. ( we call

it now makeover culture) all promise upgrades and make overs. example of extreme makeover. film

Band New you by MEF

Link to Hari’s chapter 8 Junk values and our culture: Chapter 8: disconnection from meaningful


what are our cultural values doing to us? Just like junk food we also have junk values Tim Kasser’s

research intrinsic versus extrinsic values he checked relations between people’s values and aspiration


two different ways to motivate oneself: extrinsic values: not really because we want them but to get

something in return: money, sex, status, ( example one hates the job but does it for money). Intrinsic

values are things we do because we value them in themselves (joy, ) .

Question does achieve extrinsic values made people happy? large amount of energy chasing rewards but

no real happiness. ( get right grades, make money, buy big house). Tim Kasser had 22 studies the more

materialistic and extrinsically motivate you are, the more unhappiness. we need to shift to meaningful

values. he identified 4 reasons why junk values do not satisfy us: a) it poisons our relations with others: if

you value people for how they look and to impress them ; less friends and less quality relationships

b) we get more pleasure from flow states: moments in which we lose ourselves doing something we love

and are carried along in the moment(ex; Tim playing the piano with his kids. Materialistic people

experience less flow states You cannot relax in the pleasure of the moment. ‘

c) if your sense of self-worth is always contingent on money, impressing then you are forced into constant

comparisons with others but there is always somebody doing better than you

d) all of us have innate needs to be connected, valued, feel secure, make a difference in the world, feel

good at doing something. Materialistic people are unhappy because they chase a way of life that does not

meet those needs. lots of imbalance in one’s life as one slice (money) becomes more important ; I can

stay in my office and work more or play with my kids…

3) How are limits set to unlimited desires? – we cannot by nature then control our desires, so we

need an external force to help us. Unlimited wants are only a source of pain. They are insatiable by

definition and insatiability is a sign of morbidity”. “Un unquenchable thirst is a perpetually renewed

agony” (p. 450). and again p. 451 “the more one has and the more one wants, the more the satisfactions

attained have the effect of only stimulating never appeasing one’s wants”. The only way of dealing with

this characteristic of our human nature is to create limits (bounds) on these passions: this cannot be a result of individual power but has to come from outside the individual and from the regulating power of

society as a moral force (p.451).

4)What does he mean by moral checks or moral authority? We can only obey society if it is an

authority we respect (end of 451- 452). We obey the rules because we believe they are just and fair.” p.

452 top” Only society is in a position to play this retraining role for it is the only moral power which is

superior to the individual and which he accepts as superior. Society alone has the authority necessary to

say what is right and set for the passions a point beyond which they are not to go”. “.. society alone can

act as judge to determine which rewards should be offered to each group for the performance of its

particular social function)

“moral checks " or "moral authority" refer to the influence of society over individual. Moral for D means

social checks, accepted as norm by community ("he receives his law not from a material environment

which imposes itself upon him by brute force but from a mind superior to his own and whose superiority

he realizes") (p.455)

People have to accept their positions in the social hierarchy and be adjusted to it yet still have the ability

to move up the ranks. ( think of celebrities, athletes generously rewarded but accepted by all. An English

major is much less rewarded than a business major.)

so we accept a certain income for certain positions which in turn mean a certain lifestyle and certain

boundaries on our passions: “ everyone then is well adjusted to his station in life and desires only those

things for which he can legitimately hope as the normal reward for his efforts( p. 453) ex: )Do I desire a

Lamborghini? a mc Mansion or should I be contented with more modest choices.

But in general “we accept not only the hierarchy of functions but “also the manner in which the

individuals who are o perform these functions are recruited” ( p. 453)

– we have to accept this hierarchy as fair (p. 454)

-the closer we approach social equality, the less need for social control.

-there is no true equality because people have different talents, intelligence and abilities (p.454).

5)What is anomie? How is it expressed? Anomie is a state of deregulation of norms, normlessness,

rule lessness: heightened by fact that men's desires are less disciplined at the very moment when they

need a stronger discipline" (p. 456) -anomie arises in times of change. and economic crises

-expressed for example in suicide rates increasing and in classes fighting with each other’s (lack of

adequate system of social stratification).

6) Why do economic crises increase anomie? People loose their position in the hierarchy and the

rules no longer apply. They no longer belong to a social position. They either get more impoverished (

unemployment, inability to make ends meet) or become super rich (ex IT boom) . Their aspirations often

cannot be met. If there is an upscaling of aspirations, then it is even harder.

For examples in periods of economic crises: economic joblessness and loss of position. (p. 455) – “ when

society is disturbed or disorganized, whether by a painful crisis or by a fortunate but too sudden turn of

events, it is temporarily incapable of exercising this influence( moral power) over the individual and

such conditions lead those abrupt rises in the suicide curve” There will be either a lowering in the social

scale : individuals must reduce their demands , restrain their wants, learn to control themselves even

more than before” (p. 455) same with an abrupt increase in wealth and power….

In these conditions, “people no longer feel sure about what is possible and what is not , what is just and

what is unjust, which claims or aspirations are legitimate and which go beyond the boundaries of

propriety” (p. 455 bottom).

At that points “appetites are unrestrained : “because prosperity has increased , desires are inflamed. the

richer prize offered to them stimulates them , makes them more exacting , more impatient of every

rule…” (p. 456)

7) What is the connection between anomie and the economic sphere (capitalism)?

In capitalism , economic crises are constant so the danger of deregulation and rule lessness is always

there. But in addition, historically we know that Anomie is a chronic and persistent feature of economic

sphere( capitalism) : economic progress under capitalism has meant liberating industrial relations from

all regulation . -This de-regulation of economic forces was also accompanied by a loss of religion,

decline in state power and the regulation of economic activity by craft guilds -Also with increased

production there was an unleashing of material desires for goods.

-instability followed (pp. 457-458)

8) What are the psychological states that accompany anomie? With economic crises, there is a state

of anomie and instability, an arousal of violent desires, thirst for novelty uproar and fever: “ from top to

bottom of the social scale, violent but indefinite and unfocused desires are aroused. Nothing could

possibly appease them, since the goal they seek is infinitely far beyond anything they can attain. Reality

seems worthless compared with what these fevered imaginations conceive to be possible; thus people

abandon reality, only to abandon the possible when it becomes real. …they thirst for novelty, for

unknown delights, for nameless sensations which nevertheless lose all their zest as soon as they are

experienced. (pp. 458-459)

p. 459” the wise man who knows how to enjoy the results he has attained without constantly feeling a

need to replace them, with others , finds in this mode of life something that helps him hold on to life

when the hour of adversity comes”. But those constantly looking for new desires, have neither past no

future to hold on to: they are adrift…disillusionment and fatigue follow. ( fatigue and burnout: futility of

the endless chase)

9)What is the connection between anomie and suicide ? anomie leads to an increase in suicide:

"anomie , in our modern societies is a steady and specific factor in suicide : it is one of the sources from

which the annual quota is fed" (p. 460)

“ anomie in our modern society is then a steady and specific factor in suicide: it is one of the sources

from which the annual quota is fed. Consequently we face a new type of suicide…it depends not on the

way people are attached to society ( egoistic suicide) but on the way society controls them.” Egoistic and

anomic have some resemblance: egoistic arises “from the fact that men no longer see a reason for

staying alive; altruistic because the reason is given from the outside and anomic from the fact that their

actions become rule less” (p.460)( no restraining power)

difference in suicides: egoistic, anomic, altruistic.

example today deaths of despair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXf-xcR8bdA ( about the book

deaths of despair: reasons for more suicides in white America) (10;22)

definition of deaths of despair in article by Atul Gawande


-Definition: “All causes of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the

victim himself which he knows will produce the result.”

-Classification of suicide into:

a) Egoistic suicide: absence of ties and loss of social bonds

b) Anomic suicide: betrayed by the norms and unlimited passions

c) Altruistic suicide: group values are stronger than the individual’s.

10)Describe the three pathological states of the division of labor: Division of labor is not the problem

but its excesses and pathological conditions

The " pathological forms of DL" : are a) industrial or commercial crises as breaks in organic solidarity";

b) conflict capital and labor( in the middle ages workers and masters worked alongside each other: they

were almost on equal footing. conflicts were unusual. beginning in 15 th century things changed:

separation of workers into guilds: power of associations with birth of large scale industry worker is

completely separated from his master. he becomes regimented, specialize working classes are not

satisfied with their conditions)l and c) specialization of sciences (pp. 462).

11) What is the role of government? Government arises as a natural outcome of division of labor.

Government or state has a special function, as independent organ, to maintain the diversity of

functions in society. (p. 465).

 -state is coordinator of functions (same view as Comte)

12) What is the role of philosophy? Philosophy plays the role of assuring the unity between the

science (similar to function of government) (p.467-468).


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