DURKHEIM’S ALTRUISTIC AND FATALISTIC SUICIDE
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DURKHEIM’S ALTRUISTIC AND FATALISTIC SUICIDE book
This will not do. Whether or not we treat egoism and anomie as separate variables or as different aspects of the same thing is largely a matter of convenience depending on the phenomenon under examination. Although they are closely related, they are also, as Durkheim (1897a/t.1951a:258) himself emphasizes, analytically separable. More to the point for our present purposes, it is worth noting that there are many important examples of both altruistic and fatalistic suicide that cannot be dismissed or swept aside. The concepts of altruistic and fatalistic suicide are both essential to the comparative study of suicide rates and to an understanding of Durkheim’s sociology, rooted as it is in an Aristotelian perception of the ‘golden mean’ (La Capra 1972:158; Aristotle 1976, Book 2:1104 and 1107a28 to 1108b9). For Durkheim, suicide rates are high at the extremes, both where there is very strong integration or very strong regulation, and also in the cases of weak integration and weak regulation that constitute egoism and anomie respectively (Alpert 1961:100-1). For such a model to be coherent and falsifiable it must of course be clearly postulated that there is an intermediate area of moderate integration and moderate regulation where suicide rates are low, as shown in Figures 4.1 and 4.2.