By Edward E. Evans-Pritchard
The Sir D. Owen Evans Lectures brought on the college university of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1962.
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Radcliffe-Brown, 'The Sociological Theory of Totemism', Fourth Pacific Science Congress, Java, 1929, iii, Biological Papers, pp. 295-309. 3 Idem, The Andaman Islanders, 1922, pp. 246 ff. _ 4 Idem, 'Religion and Society', Joumal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, lxxv (I945). --::-:::-:~ ( i" SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES was the English Durkheimian (though I believe he o ~ ~ much, or more, to Herbert Spencer) A. R~~~~~J He tried to restate Durkheim's theory of totemism to make it more comprehensive,2 though in doing so, in my opinion, he made nonsense ofit.
Bluntly, all Robertson Smith really does is to guess about a period of Semitic history about which we know almost nothing. By doing so he may to some extent have made his theory safe from criticism, but to the same extent it thereby lacked cogency and conviction. Indeed, it was not historical at· all, but an evolutionary theory, like all anthropological theories of the time, and this distinction must be clearly recognized. The evolutionary bias is conspicuous throughout, and is particularly J. G.
He~tened emotion, whatever it may be, and if there is CA"J any particular--emutional state associated with the ritual, could indeed be an important element in the rites, giving them a deeper significance for the individual, but it can hardly be an adequate causal explanation of them as a social \ . phenomenon. The argument, like so many sociological argu" ments, is a circular__Qneo-:-th~ The rites \ create the effervescence, which creates the beliefs, which ,\cause the rites to be performed; or does the mere coming ''together werate them?