Will morality ever become superfluous?


1If there is one subject on which Durkheim keeps coming close to philosophy, it is morality. Sociology provides a unique, in the true sense of the term, scientific clarification of moral questions, which distinguishes it from other attempts at justification presented before they came into being. At the same time, it only goes beyond the classical investigations of practical philosophy in so far as it for its part philosophically determines what is meant by a moral fact has to understand - based on the more comprehensive concept of social fact and its level of explanation. For the sociologist, this is a strategic place where his science has to prove itself. There the emancipation of sociology finds its justification, but it only succeeds in formulating the question of morality in different philosophical terms than those previously used. In this respect, the lecture "Determination of Moral Facts" which he gave to the Société française de Philosophie in 1906 was an extremely daring and ultimately decisive undertaking. Durkheim ventured into an area in which, as he knew very well, he was not entirely at home, in order to make the uniqueness of his project visible and its inevitable effects on the field from which it originally emerged. After the emergence of sociology, philosophy cannot remain unchanged. And the change that it undergoes shows itself first and foremost in the practical area, in what one has to understand by "moral facts".

2F.-A. Isambert has shown the subversive power of the expression alone. He recalls the forerunners - especially with Wundt, whom Durkheim read early on, as his essay on "La morale positive en Allemagne" 1 proves - and elaborates its specific Durkheim meaning: It is not about society as a "place of the variations in morality ”, but rather to recognize the social character of these variations,“ to take into account the determinations which moral facts have due to their social character ”.2 This is how the expression“ determination ”comes in the title of his lecture of 1906 special meaning to it. A science of moral facts instead of morality in the sense of a being, for which the historical-social forms are only illustrations, is possible because the moral facts, precisely in their diversity, are accessible to a scientific explanation. Sociology provides this explanation and can only provide sociology because these facts are socially determined. In short, the social determination of moral facts goes not only beyond the contradicting philosophical approaches of moral theories, but also beyond the drafts of a "science of morality," which still work with essentialist presuppositions, of which Wundt's approach is only one example.

3Here, then, the foundations of a sociology of morality emerge, which feeds a reflection that is very lively today, of which Patrick Pharos recently published book Morale et sociologie take an exemplary testimony. However, these foundations are incomplete and fragile if one is to believe Pharo and, before him, Isambert. Because Durkheim's point of view had to struggle from the start with a dilemma which she could not find out and which was ultimately related to her positivist premises. Because of the external approach, which she preferred and which found its expression in the very idea of ​​"fact," she dedicated herself to a descriptive investigation of morals and the social constraints recognizable in them, without this research also with the strictly subjective research Pole of morality, which she was able to show elsewhere: that of the subjective relationship to values, which finds its expression less in the moral fact observed from the outside than in the moral actions and judgments that are in their internal structure reflect. To what extent is this internal structure accessible on its own level for a sociological approach? And how does it relate to the created phenomena accessible to description? In this regard, Weber's sociology seems - precisely because it is based on social action focused - to offer other relevant solutions, and so one can understand that Parsons was mainly inspired by this. A line leading from Weber to Parsons can be seen at their intersection or point of contact with Durkheim's sociology, since both - to use Isambert's expression - attempted to "cut the Gordian knot" 3 and return to the subject, which was his essence after was understood as a social actor. As a result, they made an ambiguity, which is constitutive of the sociology of morality, stand out more clearly, of which it is by no means certain whether it can ever be resolved, and which consists in the fact that its object, as a strictly social object, is constantly volatilizing in the direction of a subjective dimension, in which the moral experience is constituted and which cannot be explained by the hypothesis of an internalization of external rules, because here it must be taken into account that a "practical conviction" 4 also comes into play in this area - as Durkheim himself recognized when he followed sought the element which he described as an inherent "being worth striving for".

4Here it would make sense to look again at what the standard-bearers of today's moral sociology call the "Durkheim dilemma" 5. To do this, it is necessary to return to a philosophical foundation, as can be seen above all in two texts from 1906 and 1911: "Determination of the moral fact" and "Value judgments and judgments of reality." 6 This approach finds its justification in Durkheim's understanding of the expression " Determination" (détermination) in its application to the moral fact in the singular. There is no doubt that the sociologist deliberately played with the words. As an empirical science that observes a phenomenon and wants to insert it into a certain causal order, sociology tries to prove that the moral facts in the plural are socially determined in their variable empirical reality. And it just proves it by the knowledge it produces. To show the moral fact in its generality as determined, on the other hand, belongs to the realm of a different goal, which one can call philosophical, as long as one characterizes the related philosophical activity more precisely. On the one hand, one will have to admit that Durkheim is turning back here, or at least pausing for a moment to clarify his approach. But at the same time he points out that one should not understand this clarification as a pre-scientific procedure or a procedure that precedes actual science, which would be on a more fundamental level than the practical activity of the scientist. To determine the moral fact does not mean to constitute it, and certainly not to constitute morality. Rather, one asks how the fact determinedas determined in the moral actions and judgments of social subjects. So we are at the heart of the dilemma that later constituted sociological approaches. The philosophical "pause" that Durkheim allowed himself is not independent of the questions he asked himself as a sociologist.

5But why did it have to happen in this area? Is this an implicit admission that objectification encounters an insurmountable obstacle in the case of moral facts and that the only solution is to leave the science whose rules Durkheim had formalized and return to the philosophical problematization he was behind? had left himself? If that were true, it would be incomprehensible that one could continue to rely on a determination of fact speaks. The relationship between sociology and philosophy, here with regard to the social fact, is undoubtedly more subtle. As we shall see, this is where the coherence of Durkheim's point of view comes into play, and this at a middle point between two approaches which, insofar as they are not congruent, reveal a special understanding of the moral fact, namely as one down to its subjective dimension social fact.

6The text from 1906 obviously has to be taken against the background of the preface to the first edition of About social division of labor be read, of which Durkheim deleted a good thirty pages in the second edition, "which today seem superfluous to us." In that passage he tries to justify the sociological perspective in its opposition to classical moral philosophy, both Kantian and empirical.7 In 1893 Durkheim denies that it is the correct method in researching moral questions to formulate a general moral law, which in the end it is represent only the projection of a not scientifically constructed idea of ​​the human being. The "science of morality" - including that published by Renouvier in 1869, which had a considerable influence on Durkheim - has not yet found its foundations because it adheres to a deductive method that asserts the primacy of moral theory. This method, no matter in which form it is used, is invalid because it does not take into account the complexity and diversity of moral facts. Durkheim recommends the creation of a "science that first classifies moral phenomena, clarifies the preconditions on which the types thus formed depend, and finally determines their role, that is, a positive science of morality." 8

7If such a science is to be possible, however, a stable criterion is required that defines what is to be included in the taxonomy. In short, the question of determining the moral fact or "moral reality" has already been posed - although it is clear that "moral reality" is also complex and heterogeneous and must become the subject of a typology that illuminates its structure. And the question is answered as follows: Every moral fact consists of a vaguely sanctioned rule of behavior. The Sanction, understood as a pre-determined social reaction to a rule violation, is presented as the decisive criterion for objectifying the fact. Morality and law are species of one and the same gender, the difference between the two only comes in through the manner in which the sanction is "carried out", diffuse in one case, organized in the other. The application of this criterion makes the comparison between rule and fact even more problematic, since the question of the subjectively distributed moral judgment cannot be posed in the same terms as in the case in which a visible institution in which the judgment is formulated is perfectly clear.

8By emphasizing sanction, one exalts obligation - not virtue, as Paul Janet in his Morals (1874) asserted - at the main moment of definition of the moral fact. Here an element emerges that remains latent in the text of 1906 without losing its meaning: If duty comes first in morality, then in the form that is recognizable in repressive sanction the repression in 1906 is certainly no longer relevant. Nevertheless, it is still the element of sanction that is considered to be determinative, insofar as it allows a distinction to be made between moral and purely technical rules within the general area of ​​rules. In other words, an act is not simply sanctioned when it breaks a rule, but rather insofar as it violates a rule. The sanction is not a consequence of the action that would analytically be contained in this term, it is rather a consequence of the relationship between the action and the rule that goes back to this relationship. Outside of its relation to the rule as a rule, such an action could never be linked to a consequence of the sanction type. Because - as Durkheim translates in his quite free interpretation of the Kantian distinction between rule and imperative - the relationship between sanction and action is of a synthetic character.10 Nothing in the action itself makes it susceptible to sanctions. What is needed is a synthesis between action and sanction, which, as we shall see, can only be of a social nature and according to which one can say that I am being punished, not because I have done this, but insofar as I have done this, that is, because of mine Relation to the rule.

If the sanction is privileged here in view of the need to objectify the facts, this brings with it a difficulty which the "Durkheimian dilemma" already reveals. The point here is to open up the possibility of grasping and ordering the diversity of moral facts without resorting to the classical philosophical analysis of the concept of moral action. But this change to the outside presupposes that one concentrates on the effects of a violation, on the consequences of actions that contradict morality. For that very reason, as Durkheim says, the sanction is one reagent, a means of objectification because it denotes the rule, insofar as it is negated. It remains to be clarified whether this use of the reagent does not imply an intolerable restriction because, as P. Pharo puts it, it disregards all actions in which the respect for an obligation is expressed, the failure of which does not involve any risk of sanction

10However, the objection cannot be satisfied with this factual reference. Because Durkheim's argument unfolds in the conceptual economy of the relationship between obligation and sanction - it is by no means a question of whether the violation actually entails a risk, and also not of whether the agent knows this. The typology of penalties in About social division of labor revolves around this point. The repressive sanction aims to belittle the doer. It literally consists [in French] of a "pain" (pain) - a penalty. However, this objective now has considerable consequences with regard to the obligation. Criminal law - and morality does not differ in essence from it, but only in the way in which the penalty is given - "does not say, as civil law does: that is the duty, but immediately: that is the penalty" 12, the obligation is called always known provided. The moral obligation is thus characterized by a special cognitive situation which is expressed in a sanction of a certain type. This also shows that the sanctions perspective by no means excludes an assessment of the moral judgment, but rather implies it, whereby it would have to be clarified what the characteristic obligations of repressive sanctions are based on, whether they are organized or diffuse.

11Where does the characteristic obligation of moral rules originate? The text of 1906 adds new elements to this question by modifying the classical Kantian argumentation on which it is based. Compared to Kantianism, utilitarianism, especially that of Spencer, shows "a complete ignorance of the nature of the obligation", since it can only analytically understand the consequence of a violation as the "mechanical consequence of the action". 13 In short, ignorance is based ultimately due to a lack of understanding of the concept of sanction as a synthetic connection between action and rule. The objective view of the sanction - which is completely different from that of a Kantian, since it presupposes, as Durkheim recognizes and demands, a "strictly empirical analysis" - leads to the following conclusion: the obligation is not based on the nature of what is required, but on the fact that it is required. Behind the sanctioned rules of conduct, which embody the moral obligation, one must see a "special authority" by virtue of which the rules are "obeyed because they dictate." 14 Ultimately, the problem raised by the repressive sanctions receives a solution: the obligation must not be pronounced at all; it is assumed to have always been known, and therefore because it is not according to their content must be known - because in view of the moral obligation one does not need to know anything other than that it obliges, a knowledge that is directly contained in its form as a moral commandment. One could also say that duty has its own reason. Hence its primacy over good. Morality must be justified not in an objectively qualified good, but in duty as an "objective compulsion of action," as Kant puts it.According to Kant, the imperative of the moral law, as will be remembered, must actually be characterized formally as an imperative which determines the "will as will", and not with a view to a desired end. It has neither the subjective character of the maxim nor the conditional character of the rules that belong to the merely hypothetical imperatives. Rather, it is categorical - whereby, according to Kant, the realm of actually practical necessity is defined.

In precisely this classic form of the command, Durkheim tries to determine the moral fact in its absolute peculiarity. But he immediately changes its meaning by formulating a principle that no longer has anything Kantian and of which at first glance one does not understand how it could be reconciled with the above definition of the formal obligation. According to Durkheim, the concept of duty itself is inadequate and the pure formalism untenable, because "it is impossible to perform an action just because it is required, regardless of its content." 15 The strictly classical solution is only partially correct; it has to be supplemented by a material element that runs counter to its formalistic dimension. The priority of duty over the good - whereby for Kant the good is "also a material but only objective determinant of the objects of the action" 16 - one can only assert without hesitation if one already sees duty itself as a good and thus the, what Kant regards as the purely formal principle of the law or command gives a content. Durkheim does the following here: He shows that a precise understanding of the concept of duty, an analysis of duty cannot do without the good and that therefore the foundations of a non-formal Theory of morality against all expectation within strict rigorism17 can be found.

The criticism of the Kantian formalism, including the resumption of the morality of duty on the basis of a universalization of the maxim for action, is nothing new. As a commonplace of French philosophy with a republican character, as it was cultivated in the second half of the 19th century, authors such as Barni, Renouvier, Fouillée and Paul Janet modify it in different ways. The emerging sociology renewed this debate at the turn of the century and continued one of the lines of force: the search for a driving force for action that could bring the categorical imperative into the affective area in a different way than pure "respect for moral law [...] as positive but indirect effect of the same on feeling'18 which is insufficient to constitute this subjective determinant of trade, which republican morality would like to reactivate through suitable educational practices. Because the universal cannot practically be traced back to an abstraction and certainly not to the formulation of a commandment whose mere form could guarantee its validity. In 1890, Frédéric Rauh summarized the goal in a book that was of central importance for the position of the problem of morality at that time: "It is important to overcome Kant's logicism by justifying the feeling reconciled with the idea." 19

In this general framework, in which the aim is to find the goal of the universal within affectivity and thus on a level that refers Kant to the realm of the pathological, what is special about Durkheim's position quickly becomes clear. First of all, as we have seen, in his refusal to enter the same arena of discussion: it is about determining the moral fact, and that implies looking at moral reality from the outside, not from the point of view of the inner experience of the moral subject and the idea that the individual makes of morality. The attempts to justify or re-establish the foundation of moral philosophers, strongly influenced by individualism and introspection, cannot succeed (Kant, Renouvier, Janet, but also the English utilitarians succumb to this criticism). But even more: Durkheim does not want to improve the rigorism by introducing certain external correctives that could prevent it from sliding into the formalism, he still wants it amplify. It is his intention, something unnoticed by Kant and his critics inner band between duty and good, between obligation and desire. The moral thing or the moral (le moral) - as Durkheim puts it with a substantive phrase, which corresponds to an objectification and thus (according to the first rule of the method) the mode of perception of a thing located outside the subject - has something objectively worth striving for, with which the concept of the good has come to the fore again the analysis of duty is complicated. The paradox that only the sociologist can make acceptable lies in the fact that this "being worth striving for" represents only one aspect of duty itself, that there is "something of the nature of duty" in it.20

15 "We find it a pleasure sui generis to do our duty, because it is duty." 21 Among pleasure sui generis we have to understand a pleasure that cannot be reduced to the pleasure which the pursuit of purposes outside of morality can bring us, a pleasure which is produced by duty itself, a special pleasure in the fact that one is moral Subject to the commandment, that is, that one obeys it as such; a pleasure in "attachment" - a concept that is very central to Durkheim's analyzes, the two meanings of which, physical and affective, cannot be separated here.22 One is "bound to something" to the extent that one is "through it." bound «is. The pleasure of being bound cannot be separated from the pleasure of being bound, that is to say quite literally: to be bound.

16Eudaemonism, reduced to this special understanding of pleasure, is the opposite of rigorism, but it coexists with it and even finds its way into it. "Eudaemonism, like its opposite, is present everywhere in morality." 23 Durkheim recognizes very well that this is a contradiction, for the obligation that emerges in the sanction, as analyzed above, implies always punishment and degradation. The challenge facing the mind now is to recognize an elevation in this degradation and to combine it with an authentic pleasure of its own. In other words, as obvious as the contradiction may be, it is no less constitutive of moral fact than such. Nor should one rush to dialectically pick it up, but endeavor to understand it by proceeding with the analysis of the facts.

In the background you can hear a famous passage from Kant Critique of Practical Reason. How is it possible to understand a degradation as an elevation? This is exactly how the question comes up with Kant. And the reference to respect as positive Feeling brings the solution there. There is a "humiliation on the sensual side", and it is important to understand how an "elevation of the moral, i.e. i. can correspond to the practical appraisal of the law ", which is precisely what respect now consists of, understood as the positive effect of resistance to the" mainspring of sensuality. " Kant's answer is: "For every reduction in the obstacles to an activity is the promotion of this activity itself." 24 With the result that the recognition of the moral law represents the consciousness of a certain activity which is nothing other than that of practical reason. But this consciousness is obviously only of an indirect kind. It is active in the removal of the obstacles that the sensuality opposes to this activity. Respect results from a doubling of the hindrance: hinder what hinders the law, which then coincides with the self-determination of the will. Kant's concept of humiliation is reversed into its opposite: what is being humiliated becomes so precisely through respect and moves in the realm of conceit, that is, our sensual inclination to dare to approach us against the law to raise. So one can say - but only indirectly - that the coercion exerted is an "elevation" that consists of "self-approval", and that beyond any pleasure, since "one recognizes oneself to it, without any interest, merely determined by the law" .25

18Durkheim's position here is more radical and, above all, more direct. When the duty in the Is good and vice versa, because coercion and degradation really represent an elevation in themselves - because the fact that one lives this degradation has something to strive for. Not that the degradation is justified by the removal of an obstacle that set free another activity referred to an "intellectual side" of the subject as the subject of the law, rather this degradation is the activity itself by which one rises. Here the contradiction is particularly pronounced, deliberate, stressed, and one can in no way hope to resolve it by resorting to the concept of pure will.

However, it is a contradiction that nowhere points to a dissolution of the subject, a split between reason and sensuality in the sense of two heterogeneous faces of subjectivity. For Durkheim, Kant's great error lies precisely in the fact that he understood dualism in this way. But there the good in of duty and duty in the On the contrary, one has to admit that sensuality and reason, without merging with one another, communicate with one another in a point that still remains to be identified. Indeed, the primary fact is that of interpenetration of the elements. It follows from this that in morality one gives up any intention of justification. "The concept of the good extends into the concept of duty, just as the concept of duty and obligation extends into that of the good." In short, if the mutual connection of opposites is real, one must admit that neither of the two terms the privilege of an exclusive justification. One must not postulate a priority relationship between them26; both concepts must definitely be placed on the same level. It does not follow from this that moral reality was completely exhausted in them. Moral life undoubtedly has other characteristics which can be elucidated by empirical analysis. Morality varies constitutively. This "moral Daltonism", this special coloration of morality that varies in infinitely fine gradations on the basis of the two opposite hues of duty and good, by no means dissolves phenomenal reality in a relativism devoid of any unified principle, but justifies a sociological approach that is supposed to capture these variations on the basis of a uniform interpretation scheme. The substitution of the thesis of a mutual togetherness of the good and the duty for that of the justification can be regarded as a critique of the justification perspective per se. The aim of the lecture of 1906 is both philosophical and sociological. It's about a fact to determine and thereby to be able to determine the Facts to read and analyze. It is not so much a question of establishing morality as of making it the subject of a science that can only be a social science.

The peculiarity of Durkheim's understanding of morality lies in the mutual penetration of opposites. Here is a contradiction at work which philosophy has repeatedly reduced or dialectically abolished in its endeavors to establish morality in disregard of the analysis of the facts connected with it. The sociological view proceeds in exactly the opposite way. To determine the fact means to understand the structuring character of the contradiction, means to grasp the fact that its terms form a polar structure, inside of which moral actions and judgments are carried out and formulated. The religious foundation of morality, however, becomes all too visible. Captured in its inner contradiction, the moral fact is reduced to the element of the sacred, the touchstone of Durkheim's definition of religion. Because the holy thing that Durkheim, as he says, is when reading Robert Smiths The Religion of Semites "Revealed" 27 is precisely this: a quality ascribed to certain entities that makes them the object of an equally strong attractive and repulsive force, a desire and a prohibition. The sacred is therefore characterized by its "ambivalence". Its definition is based on a negation: it is that what is not profanewhat must be kept at a distance from the profane, what must not be mixed up with it under any circumstances. But at the same time it is what the profane attractsthat which strives towards it without ever being able to touch it.28 If it is true that all social existence presupposes an experience of the sacred, whereby the religious facts are all assigned to this core definition, then this means that on a certain level of our social experience this Good and duty are exactly the same and merge into one and the same thing. The sacred is worth striving for, it is even the object of a desire of its own that cannot be traced back to other forms of sensual desire and yet is undeniably anchored in sensuality. In other words, and to put it in the Kantian language, the highest faculty of desire in its particularities always belongs to the realm of affectivity. But the sacred is also forbidden, it is the prohibition par excellence, that which is absolutely "separate." It shows in its place in the same measure as it raises; it exalts in the same measure as it coerces. One can certainly say that it is an object of respect, provided that one only adds that this respect has nothing to do with the non-pathological and purely practical feeling as Kant understood it. In Durkheim's work, the figure of respect with its twofold mark of striving and belittling through the feeling of the sacred is completely reintegrated into the realm of sensuality.

21However, the sacred remains a fact. It not only illuminates the coexistence of opposites, but is their illustration and empirical manifestation. Through the sacred, the two terms find a contradicting unity, but the contradiction is not resolved. Without being overcome, the contradiction shows itself in a unified experience that irrevocably traces morality back to religion. From this radicalization of the analysis one can draw the conclusion that at the bottom of morality there is a fundamental and ineradicable religiosity. Morality can secularize itself, it can lose its theological basis, see itself as human and exclusively human, but it necessarily presupposes the sacred and in this sense always remains religious, no matter which entities are sacralized. Durkheim's contribution to the idea of ​​"secular faith" (foi laïque), which was represented in the Third Republic - above all by Ferdinand Buisson, Durkheim's predecessor at the Sorbonne - is not specified in any way Overtaking religion, but one shift within a moral sphere, which now takes on a sacralization function, without which collective life would not be possible.

22What distinguishes the modern manifestation of the sacred and at the same time offers the opportunity to mark the special combination between the good and the duty, as found in the von Durkheim in About social division of labor societies defined by the concept of organic solidarity is the point that lies at the center of the sacred: the fact that it is completely immanent to the existence of social subjects. Since it is no longer projected outwards into a theological transcendence and not even into a deified nature, it is to the individual as such or, to be more precise, the person, the late product of a historical process of individuation, which Durkheim calls "individualism" in some texts.29 This is the point where the strongest and most decisive social feelings are concentrated, which necessarily require a moral or criminal reaction. But that also means that precisely what is most strongly obliged to us - to which we are obliged in the mode of the strict commandment - is precisely what is closest to us, so close that it merges with ourselves. So one can say that the "separated" - that is, the sacred - is at the same time the outstanding object of our "sympathy" 30, the focus of our most immediate desires.

The use of the classic concept of sympathy must not deceive us. It is by no means a return to the Anglo-Scottish tradition in which this term was first delineated. In Durkheim's work, "sympathy" certainly denotes a form of sensuality, but in this independent form the desire for the law, the desire inherent in the law itself, is able to show itself.It is not a sympathy for the other person and perceived as such, nor is it a sympathy that masked a self-reference and pointed to a path bent back in itself, but a desire directed towards the person as such, that is, towards the form of the individual who is embodied in each of us equally. In short, the sacred comes closer to the subject than ever before, but nevertheless remains in the realm of the separated. The personal and human turn of morality in modern societies must therefore be interpreted with the help of the scheme described above. In this a remarkable equilibrium is actualized, a right relationship between duty and good, for the object of duty reveals better than anything else that this object is actually a good, namely a good for us. Here, however, the question arises as to what meaning one has to give to "we". This takes the analysis of the mutual penetration of opposites one step further, without which the moral would lose any consistency; one leaves the realm of the sacred, which only reveals a reality but does not establish it, and directs one's attention to the structure of moral judgment.

24 Durkheim keeps coming back to this in his work. The individual has become what is in modern societies for us possesses the greatest value. However, one should bear in mind, and this is the irrevocable difference to the liberal theses, that it still does not have this value by yourself owns. Rather, it has achieved it step by step in a socially determined individuation process - and socially determined does not just mean subject to certain social conditions, but rather controlled entirely by a social dynamic, the autonomous movement of which urges one to postulate the existence of a permanent, superordinate actor who is not one otherwise than can be called society.

It is precisely at this point that sociology exposes itself to criticism. The "collective personality" is raised - in the same way as the concept of "collective consciousness" created to solve the problem of the ideas produced by the group as such - to the highest source from which flows the morality which the Take over individuals in the respective moral situation. Is it something other than an abstraction, another ideal entity? It is easy to understand that the use of such a controversial term, which seems to reintroduce the very type of metaphysical fiction that Durkheim rejected in his predecessors (in Comte, for example, in which mankind precisely represented the figure of a major subject), in the present case is a certain one Could have permission. In fact, the collective personality postulated here is above all the object of one Desire. It is that good, which is desirable in itself, that occupies one of the poles constitutive for the moral element. The term is a reaction to two requirements: it marks a certain community through the individual subject, without which one could not understand that the moral purpose really represents a good and actually activates subjective desire. And at the same time it points to a qualitative difference, without which the dimension of the obligation itself cannot be derived. In short, the intended purpose must be at the same time same and another it must be immanent and transcendent at the same time to the individualities who acknowledge it.

The figure of the collective subject thus bears traces of the ambivalence of the sacred, with the exception that philosophical argumentation can theoretically construct what the sociology of religion can only establish. A remarkable situation: Here philosophy overtakes sociology, and this under Durkheim's own pen. Certainly, the argument is based on the postulate that the whole cannot be traced back to its parts and that there is a qualitative difference between the two. But here it should be specified that Durkheim only resorts to this postulate as a solution to a theoretical dilemma, the dilemma of the coexistence of opposites in one and the same entity, the moralthat includes a certain type of fact. If the internal contradiction can prove to be structuring on this level, it is because society beyond its parts is definitely a person. And even more because the holiness that is formally granted to every person comes from that source of the sacred that society represents - but then one must also say: society as a person.

27 So the postulate is not arbitrary. But is it also necessary? Strictly speaking, one has to say that if one adheres to the problem as it arises from a purely theoretical point of view, two solutions are permissible: society and God. Durkheim recognizes this and does not evade it: "One has to choose" between the two .31 Human or divine synthesis, both are conceivable, and one realizes in the end that the postulate of practical reason formulated by Kant comes into its own to a certain extent . But above all one recognizes the influence of Auguste Comte: Only two stages can be considered systematic, the theological and the positive, and the long critical transition phase from one to the other, which Comte called the metaphysical stage, served above all to create the synthetic pole to relocate inside the world. This pole, which actually allows a positive, non-theological morality to be established (while there is no critical or metaphysical morality), Comte himself identified very directly with humanity. Still, Comte and Durkheim do essentially the same thing. They localize the highest purpose of human activity in this world without renouncing a certain transcendence. And when Durkheim says that the choice between the two postulates is indifferent to him - which, however, seems to contradict the previously expressed invitation to make this voting decision - this is to be interpreted in such a way that the sociologically founded positive or social morality by no means all traces of religiosity has lost, but would like to find its active principle again in other ways than those of theological thought.

It remains, however, that this view of morality is inextricably linked with a particular constellation of the present, namely that in which "the ideal of society is a particular form of the human ideal" 32 and the value for the group and the value for me within the socially and historically constituted concept of person enter into a direct relationship with one another. However, beware of one mistake here: what is referred to as value for me is not a purely individual and particularized purpose. There is no utilitarian regression here, no borrowing from the portrayal of moral evolution according to Spencer, the standard-bearer of liberal progress, for whom society is only a means of pursuing individual ends. For Durkheim, the sacralization of the individual is in reality a sacralization of society in him, of society in individualized form. It is therefore a matter of a value that goes beyond the individual in the individual: a value in which the individual perceives himself and the others from a perspective that transcends the empirical individualities and integrates them into the collective being as such.

29Durkheim's sociology of morality, it should be pointed out again here, is one situated Sociology. The multiplicity of moral facts in their various social forms can only be deciphered on the basis of a grammar of good and duty, the clarification of which, as we have seen, in turn depends on a certain understanding of the modern present as a historical actualization of a certain conceptual balance. With this we have imperceptibly passed from a determination of the moral fact to the assessment of a certain kind of morality, ours namely. The connection between society and the individual takes place there in an extremely paradoxical way. On the one hand, society has never been so immanent to individual consciousness because it appears to it directly in the form of a good, the touchstone of which is the concept of the person, a pure form that does not merge with the empirical individualities. But on the other hand, their transcendence also emerges, for the moral ideal of the person implies a transcendence. More closely connected than ever before and focused on the same point, the good and the duty contradict each other incessantly, or rather, the contradiction is perceived in all its radicality, because it defines the structure of the moral fact, so that the duty and that Good ones contradict one another simply because of the movement through which they achieve this.

30We remember the development that Durkheim in About social division of labor describes. Since the primitive group has a relatively simple structure, the collective ideas force themselves there because they can force themselves: society can be imagined in its entirety, and the individual thinks himself only in relation to it and only to the extent that it is she can think. Individual consciousness and collective consciousness are congruent, and the former is of little importance compared to the latter, precisely because the collective can be imagined individually. Conversely, “the further we go in history, the more gigantic and complex human civilization becomes; the more it transcends the consciousness of the individual, the more strongly the individual perceives society as transcendent towards himself. "33 This situation corresponds first of all to a functional differentiation, which assigns a certain peculiarity to each subject, the meaning of which is not directly visible to him ultimate purpose depends. This differentiation is an expression of a certain form of social cohesion, namely organic, but society remains "inward" 34 for us in a different mode than that of sovereign collective ideas. This mode is that of the figure of individuality, which represents a social production in two senses, namely in so far as society produces it and in so far as it enables society to create itself permanently as a coherent totality despite the division into individual consciousnesses.

31The paradox should be clarified once again here: Society is present in us in the form of the individual who at first glance appears to be non-social. 35 But it is also present insofar as this individual is not identical to our individuality or at least as this individuality appears inside as doubled. This makes it clear that the sociological view is not so much a redefinition of the relationship between the individual and society, but rather the difficult conceptualization of a different concept of the individual than the traditional individualistic approach offers. Through the individual, understood in its double modality, society exists as a differentiated unit within a complex situation in which individual and collective consciousness are inevitably separated from one another. In this way Durkheim arrives at a dualism of its own: a dualism not of the individual and the group, but a dualism embedded in the individuality itself between the presence of the social, confirmed by the acceptance of the category of the person, and the purely empirical presence of the each special individuality. 36

The coexistence of opposites, or more precisely: the structuring character of the contradiction in morality - the fact that neither of the two constitutive terms has priority and no unifying synthesis is permissible - indicates a certain meaning of the term "ideal". Durkheim's ideal or "ideal type" has nothing to do with Weber's ideal type. It is not about a theoretical construct with the help of which the sociologist arranges the concrete facts with regard to their distances, whereby he is wary of value judgments. The ideal type, on the other hand, is a normative concept and relates to what society produces as an end, what for the individual morally desirable is, as self-transgression that coincides with its realization. We are connected to the ideal by that form of affective bond which can only produce the moral good. But through this we become at the same time of part of ourseven separated, due to the sensual-empirical individuality. The fact that society produces the ideal has a very precise meaning in this context: it means that it produces ideas that play the role of a pole in individual consciousness, which at the same time attracts and functions as an instance of normative commandments. Being at the height of the ideal that we share as members of the same group inevitably translates into a desire and an obligation. From this it becomes clear that the concept of the ideal implies a certain understanding of value and at the same time provides an answer to the objection often raised against Durkheim's objectivism that it remains trapped in conformist morality, since it depends on actually existing social factors embodied in external norms make people dependent who only work with sanctions. The ideal is not society as it is under the current conditions of the group structure (morphology), the state of the communication channels, the determinants of the internal social milieu, 37 it is rather society that is based on this substrate oneself in our own actions wantinsofar as these prove to be amenable to moral regulation on their own level. The internal correlation of good and duty leads to the following: We recognize that by wanting the ideal, we generally agree that society wants itself in us, that is also: it is transformed through us. Thus it becomes understandable that the "true nature of society" 38, as Durkheim says in response to Darlu, may very well revolt against a certain state of the applicable rules if these rules are found to be no longer in harmony with the ideal that society wants itself to be. In this case, revolt and not conformism is moral. And this because of a necessity that arises for all at the level of action as the real mode of self-generation of society.

33 Here the means for overcoming the "Durkheimian dilemma" emerge. In fact, this dilemma is only unsolvable if one persists in the opposition between external norms and the subject and understands the problem of morality as a problem of incorporation, overlooking the work on the concept of individuality, which forms the basis of the theory. The way in which the Kantian position is adopted and at the same time circumvented, on the basis of the central thesis of a mutual togetherness of opposites within the moral fact and their modification in the concept of the ideal, reveals a different face of Durkheim's sociology, one that is free from that objectivism and conformism commonly attributed to it.

This other face is most pronounced in Durkheim's treatment of "value judgments" in his lecture at the International Philosophical Congress in Bologna in 1911.39 There, too, the problem is formulated by Kant: How are value judgments possible? In the classical framework of an analysis of judgment, the question of value does indeed represent a cliff. While reality judgments merely "say what is", value judgments make a statement about the value that things "have for a conscious subject." 40 How Should one now understand this relationship and the associated subjective justification if it is true that values ​​apply objectively and value judgments therefore have their own objectivity?

In themselves, sensory judgments are what the subject feels - only a certain kind of judgment of reality. This category includes, for example, taste judgments or "preferences," as Durkheim calls them. Value judgments, on the other hand, have an "objective character" 41 of a very special kind because they concern the value of the thing. The sensuality of the subject, in which a preference emerges, therefore does not produce the judgment. Does it then limit itself to taking note of the properties of a thing and recognizing something that exists outside of itself and imposes itself on it? And more fundamentally: What does the word "thing" mean when it is endowed with a value? Durkheim's answer comes through an analysis of the ratingwhich he distinguishes from preference. In this, the subject seems to take note of a dimension of the object that is independent of how it perceives the object. But even if the value of the object is independent of its relationship to the evaluating subject, it nevertheless presupposes the establishment of such a relationship in its definition. Value exists "in a sense" 42 outside of myself, but only in a sense. The limitation is critical.The value judgment is not a reality judgment because the value is not exists in the same way as a state of affairs, and yet it exists outside the subject, objectively. There is a boundary between the thing and the state of affairs, which Durkheim tries to stabilize. The value definitely lies in that thing. There are two indications for this objective or factual character: The value judgment is fundamental communicable; and it is justifiable, it can only be confirmed if it is backed up with impersonal reasons. In the act of reasoning - and thus Durkheim satisfactorily anticipates an important problem in contemporary action-oriented sociology, unless one insists on believing it to be a prisoner of its "dilemma "43 - the subject operates in an impersonal mode.

The question can therefore be specified more precisely as follows: How can these two characteristics be explained, the independence from emotional, subjective determinations and the relationship to the evaluating subject and thus the implication of a certain form of feelings? Or also: "How can a state of feeling be independent of the subject who experiences it?" 44 This question is not just about showing the existence of a misunderstood dimension of the inner life that cannot be explained with subjective resources alone imposed on the subject in a mode that nonetheless remains connected to it - namely that of feeling. It is also about taking a new look at things according to this feeling, which is mixed with things, and to a certain extent "enriching" them .45 In this sense, the "state of feeling" is the value of the thing, something external, that is on the same plane as the thing to which it is join. In the literal sense, it is that auctoritas certain things in their being that comes into play here. 46

The question of the possibility of value judgments, traced back to the logic of valuation, shifts the center of gravity of the question of morality. It is no longer just a matter of looking at moral evaluation in the sense of a judgment about actions, but also and above all judgments about things that are more than things, or at least of the nature of those things social thingsthat Durkheim's thinking tries to grasp: things whose reality in the strict sense - status of res - includes her own perception by imposing herself on this perception. The description of their constitutional process primarily presupposes that one refrains from a summary reification, that is, from a pure objectification. This was because the value was merely traced back to a state within the subject that was triggered by the internal properties of a certain type of object. Judging about the value would then simply mean taking note of the effect of a certain objective reality in the subject, the path that leads in the sense of a causal process from outside to inside. A false perspective that amounts to ascribing properties to things by which they would be able to induce a subjective state - favorable or unfavorable - which in turn elicited a positive or negative judgment concerning it. The existence of an objectively good is conceded, but only at the price of a twofold absolutization: absolutization of the properties of the thing evaluated and absolutization of certain properties of the evaluating subject who is affected by these properties. This subject could be imagined in two ways: Either one takes the individual as the basis and returns to a "psychological theory of values", or one assigns primacy to the group as such, understood as a large-scale subject endowed with certain stable properties no matter in which forms it may be embodied historically. It is obvious that none of these solutions can be satisfactory.

The Durkheimian view becomes clearer, especially through the rejection of the second solution. In 1911 the category of the "collective subject" - in contrast to what one recognizes in the text of 1906 - has a clearly polemical meaning. Can the evaluation be called objective simply because "because it is collective"? 47 Everything here depends on the understanding of this adjective. Because the cliff threatens to be basically the same as in the psychologizing-individualistic theory: We still have no way of grasping the values varyyes, that they vary constitutively, as one could say. If the values ​​are traced back to a uniform pole of evaluation, which should correspond to an essential characteristic of the subject for whom this value is valuable, the reality of the values, namely their diversity, evaporates. With individualism, the problem arises with regard to the impossibility of tracing all subjective perception back to one and the same type - in which ultimately an equally abstract determination of the appreciation of "life" in the biological sense of the word prevailed and independent of any further specification On the collective level, it is more about the emphasis on the impossibility of finding a fundamental valuation principle within society - understood as a major subject that cannot be reduced to the individual subjects that make it up - to which all values ​​can ultimately be traced . In vain does one refer here to the requirements of something that is of the "social life" nature. Because this definition would be too vague to constitute a value that could summarize all social values ​​into a unit, at least as long as one has not tried to define this term more precisely.

39 An essential feature of Durkheim's thesis is the distance to a biological vitalism. The collective subject is not a large organism whose functions define an order of life with which all activities must conform and which can be assessed according to the standard of such conformity. The concept of social usefulness, the maintenance or promotion of the life of the group as a group, cannot define a uniform evaluation criterion. First of all, it expresses the diversity of social values, their heterogeneity, their incommensurability (economic, moral, aesthetic, scientific values), but above all the impossibility of proving the priority of the utility criterion in all the areas of activity defined by them49: »Life As people have always understood it, it is not just a matter of precisely setting the budget of the individual or social organism, of reacting to external stimuli with as little effort as possible, of measuring expenditure precisely according to income. Above all, life means acting, acting without calculating, simply for the joy of acting. «50

The definition reveals the mainspring of Durkheim's conception of value and shows that the distance from a vitalistic position based on an organic-functional understanding of the collective is in reality subordinate to the assumption of the perspective of action. Social life is action - and even more so a multitude of different actions that cannot be traced back to a single purpose. Of course, society wants to ensure its continued existence. For them, however, securing continued existence does not mean reproducing a certain vital mode of functioning uniformly, setting it up in the long term and stabilizing it. Rather, ensuring continued existence means changing and modifying a movement, the mere reproduction of which would mean collapse. For the actions of individuals on the various paths they may take is the only content that can be given to the concept of "social life ".51 Social life is not the life of the social body in the sense of an organism of a superordinate kind; it is the totality of individual actions through which society really lives, is constantly renewed and thereby changes. The only principle to which one could trace the concept of value in its impossible to grasp differentiation is that of action. Such a principle excludes, however, that one could ascribe the quality to the things themselves on the basis of internal properties, which they define as values. Rather, they need this quality added by the way the subject is in his actions refers to them.

Now, of course, it is still a matter of understanding the nature of this addition, of this enrichment of things that takes place in action. What is the relationship between action and evaluation? If the value does not lie in things in the sense that they possess certain qualities in themselves which determine the subject to recognize them as endowed with value, then one does not have to say that the experience of values ​​does not exist as experience, but rather belongs to the realm of a purely intellectual apprehension of a reality lying outside of any experience, or in short: a noumenal reality? This is where the Kantian alternative emerges. However, it is rejected for a reason which arises from the definition of the ideal and its relation to action described above. The Kantian view leads to a petrified and hypostatized understanding of the ideal, which is incompatible with the variability allowed to it.52 And it is not just about the fact that the ideal varies historically and socially. The argument does not simply refer to the pluralism of the valuation processes confirmed by socio-historical analyzes. Rather, it sees the variation as being in the "nature of things" and consequently assigns the ideal to natural phenomena and their movement. At this level, the priority of the action perspective is clarified. If one posits the ideal outside of nature, one separates it from the action in which the life of the subjects is determined, who align their behavior with the values. Or let's put it another way: If one wants to understand value judgments, one must certainly not add them to reality judgments. But neither must one cut it off from reality as it unfolds in space and time and anchor it in a place other than that of phenomenal reality, that reality consisting of subjective actions from which the fabric of social life is made.

42The ideal is not just something "possible." 53 It is wanted and not just presented. This willingness is now again an indication of an active bond. The ideal concentrates a force of attraction in itself, and this force forms a certain phenomenal reality out of itself, namely that of the tension transferred to the action. It is wanted because it is carried by subjects who want it. In this sense it is definitely a "living reality." 54 It has a life of its own - which can lead one to ascribe a detached existence to it - but this life of its own does not really differ from the life of the subjects who are bound to it and it in the Carry movement, which it captures through its attraction.

One cannot emphasize this naturalization of the ideal sufficiently. For the specifically sociological meaning of the term depends on it, as does the application of a method that makes it accessible to knowledge. More precisely, a physics of forces is implied here, which raises the strength of the bond as the criterion. The question of values ​​is, in a deeper sense, the question of social valuation processes, measured and compared with regard to the variation in their strengths. And this variation is no longer just that of the substantive variation of the values ​​themselves, but that of the affective and volitive movements on which they are based, taking into account the aspect of attachment that has already been emphasized. In short, a certain view of social physics comes into play here again, but in a different field than morphology - namely directly in the field of imaginationsbecause they are now equipped with a measurable and analyzable normative dimension. If it is therefore true that sociology must recognize "its own realm" 55 in the ideal, then one must also say that the positivity of social phenomena does not assign it the record of an objective fact. Rather, she leaves her to describe social things in the sense of Enrichment processesin which nature "in a way outgrows itself" .56

44This is the core of Durkheim's argument. The values ​​lie in the social things, those natural things in which nature goes beyond itself. This transgression, because it is self-transgression, does not lead us out of nature when we try to explore it. This gives rise to the position with regard to value judgments: On the one hand, they cannot be traced back to reality judgments; on the other hand, one must not radically separate them. Though different, they are based on the same judgment applied to natural realities in both cases. It is only in the way in which the given is given that the ideal differs from the simple fact. In the case of the ideal, the transgression or transformation is the actual object of the judgment, which is no longer limited to the establishment of what is, but a reality of a completely new kind judged - an "enriched" reality provided with a value that is nothing other than the process by which it is natural about himself goes out.

45Without sacrificing its realism, even deepening it - by focusing on those social things that some of our judgments impose as values ​​on them - Durkheim opens up new perspectives in sociology that the objectivism of his earlier works of the regulate up to About social division of labor, did not suggest. Namely by relating the concept of society to a certain meaning of the "social life" in which the life of the individual is really involved and which, although it cannot be traced back to the life of its components, is only actualized through their life, through their ability to feed this life constantly, in a kind of movement Innervation, to which the value judgments and the moral actions required by them testify. Durkheim's sociology of morality is a sociology of moral facts that are intrinsically related to judgments and actions and in which social subjects are therefore actively involved. If it appears "externalistic", it is because it redefines its subjective status by introducing a split into the subject that does not dissolve through an internalization of external norms, but rather a certain externality to oneself as the mainspring of moral tension power, determined by the constantly current coexistence of good and duty in their structuring contradictions. To live in society certainly means to submit to an external order. But in view of the external character of this order, the whole problem is concentrated there and arises first in the subject as one of its dimensions.

This resistance to pure objectivism is ultimately expressed in the rejection of the utilitarian view, for which the life of the social body is of the highest value. If one imagines society "as a system of organs and functions that seeks to assert itself against the destructive causes that storm it from outside" 57, the life of the group seems to be nothing more than a series of suitable responses on environmental stimuli. In this view, however, one element is completely ignored, without which the concept of life loses all meaning in its application to society, namely that of "inner moral life," as Durkheim calls it.58 Despite its spiritualistic connotations, the expression must not To deceive. Since this life is made up of ideals and values, it is the subject of a science, because ideals and values ​​are natural realities that are called Things can be captured. The ambiguity is ultimately due to the way this expression is declined. There is only a moral life, there are moral judgments and actions that are made and carried out by social subjects only when the values ​​assume a tangible character, i.e. when tangible phenomena implement and objectify them. By emphasizing this aspect of moral reality, its reality character emerges more clearly and externalist determinism seems to be gaining the upper hand. But the concept of social thing requires more. As soon as the objectivity of values ​​is subordinated to the permanent creation of ideals, the focus of which is the inner moral life, it becomes an essential characteristic of social things that they move because their value consists in an addition, a real enrichment and thus in a transformation of the sensually given - a transformation that Durkheim tries to paraphrase with the help of several categories, the epicenter of which is the sacred.

From the point of view of morality, which presupposes resorting to the subjective contributions that constitute an indispensable dimension, it is this transformation that is seen at work as soon as it takes place. If the inner moral life cannot be reduced to a purely physical occurrence, it is because society is on a certain level as one in motion Making the body visible, set in motion by ideals, which are also constitutive with regard to a current reality that they have transformed. Contrary to what one might think, from the perspective of a sociology of morality - precisely because it cannot resolve to objectivism - one can see most clearly how the social arises or how social things are produced. Certainly not as the fruits of a free creation that is not bound by any rules, but as a modification of reality on the level on which it unfolds as an ensemble of actions and judgments about actions. Or also: By acting in the sense of social action, nature goes beyond itself.

Haut de page