Durkheim, Germany, War, Europe


  • Bruno Karsenti




Among the classical authors of sociology, Émile Durkheim passed away the first on 15 November 1917. His conception of the war as well as his ideas of a possible way out of it, therefore, are far from the horizon of experience that characterized the last year of the conflict. His major war writing is a critical analysis of the intellectual sources of German militarism: L’Allemagne au-dessus de tout. Karsenti focuses on Durkheim’s examination of the “Über-Ideology”, which moulded German nationalism since unification in 1871, especially in the work of Heinrich von Treitschke. Durkheim’s book is a censorship of the enemy’s warfare. Yet, what is interesting to discover, according to Karsenti, is the particular perspective of Durkheim’s investigation. The writing is a critique of all tendencies to reduce international politics to an “Über”. Accordingly, for Durkheim, there is a possible way out of the war, yet it has to be read between the lines of his distinction between a “good and a bad tradition” of the moral sciences in Germany.


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