However, religion would continue to be a primary interest of his throughout his life work as he investigated the phenomena of religion as it occurred in various cultures.It took Durkheim three times to pass his entrance examinations to the Ecole Normale Superieur, but he finally succeeded at the age of 21. It was here that he became friends with Charles Renouvier and Emile Boutoux, who were both philosophers, as well as Numas-Denis Fustel de Coulanges, who was a historian (Dunman, 2003). Renouvier felt that Kant’s categories of representation are constructed with elements of moral choice and free will derived from experience. “Renouvier also rejected Kant’s distinction between phenomena and numina; the phenomenal and the real are, for Renouvier, virtually identical” (Tekiner, 2002). He rejected any distinction between knowledge and moral belief determining all knowledge depends upon a ‘will to believe’. Durkheim was able to use information gleaned from Coulanges regarding various cultural histories to determine that the categories of representation are actually socially determined and objective presentations (Lukes, 1973: 54-58). These ideas also led to Durkheim’s development of ethical and cognitive theories. “What he admired in Fustel de Coulanges and learned from him was the use of critical and rigorous method in historical research. To Boutroux he owed an approach to the philosophy of science that stressed the basic discontinuities between different levels of phenomena and emphasized the novel aspects that emerged as one moved from one level of analysis to another” (Coser, 1977: 144). Bourtroux’ approach would prove to be a major characteristic of Durkheim’s development of sociology. Thus, a great deal of his formative influences can be traced to the friends and influences he encountered at school.There were also other theories floating around that had significant impact upon Durkheim. These included the positivist theories of the Marquis de Condorcet, Claude-Henri Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte immediately following the French Revolution. Positivist philosophies “expected the ideal forms of society would eventually appear as a result of the progress of reason, science, technology and industry” (Tekinor, 2002). Positivism introduced the concept of a gradual progression of development that moves in a mechanical fashion from a state of lower to higher order.
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