Student Type


Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

Summer 8-2014


Theories of human nature underlie major positions not only in social science but also in the public sphere and its relationship to inequality. When it comes to Durkheim, his theory of human nature is often confused with his critiques of intellectual individualism and his historical argument concerning moral individualism. This paper proposes to analytically separate Durkheim’s apparently intertwined positions to show Durkheim’s concept of the ‘social individual’ as found within his theory of human nature. This is the difference between society as the object of analysis where the individual is slowly expressed historically in regard to the transition from mechanical to organic solidarity and the conception of the relation between a human being and the manner in which social solidarity is generally realized in a human being, considered philosophically. It is with this evidence, this paper will show Durkheim’s concept of the ‘social’ individual helps illuminate how social life itself is possible.


This is a working paper. The final text is subject to change.

Citation information: Raphael, Michael W., 2014. “Should Sociology Care About Theories of Human Nature?: Some Durkheimian Considerations on the ‘Social’ Individual.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA.



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