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JCS13310.1177/1468795X13480440Journal of Classical SociologyFish


Journal of Classical Sociology

Homo duplex revisited: A

13(3) 338358
The Author(s) 2013
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DOI: 10.1177/1468795X13480440
theory of the moral self jcs.sagepub.com

Jonathan S. Fish
University of Nottingham, UK

Over the years arguments focusing on process have gained ascendancy over traditional dualist
arguments in various areas of sociological inquiry, including that of the moral self. This paper
challenges current convention by offering a defence of mile Durkheims now largely discredited
dualism-based homo duplex theory of the moral self by engaging it in a dialogue with one key
exponent of the rival process view on this theme, namely the American pragmatist thinker George
Herbert Mead. A seminal essay published in 1909 by one of Durkheims former students, the
anthropologist Robert Hertz, will be drawn upon when arguing for the continued relevance
of binary or dualistic thought, contra Mead, and, by extension, Durkheims classical homo duplex
theory. The idea of a dynamic dualism will be introduced in the face of Meads critical claims as a
way forward for binary thought in future sociological debate.

Dualism, Durkheim, externalism, Hertz, homo duplex, Mead, process, right/left

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, any view that postulates two kinds
of thing in some domain is dualistic (Blackburn, 1994: 110). It is in this sense that the
term dualism can be said to involve the recognition of two independent principles. At
one level, these principles might highlight contrasts between different elements found
in the world, such as darkness/light, hot/cold. At another level, these principles may go
beyond mere contrasts to denote an opposition or conflict such as good versus evil, right
versus wrong and angel versus beast. The Western tendency toward dichotomous think-
ing can be traced as far back as ancient Greece and as recently as the Enlightenment (Par-
kin, 1996: 7172). One key example of an oppositional dualism in philosophy is Kants
distinction between the noumenal and the phenomenal. This distinction is, in turn, dif-
ferent from Hegels metaphysical categories of nature and spirit. These last-mentioned

Corresponding author:
Jonathan S. Fish, University of Nottingham, School of Sociology and Social Policy, Law and Social Sciences
Building, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.
Emails: j.fish@nottingham.ac.uk; jonathan.fish2@btinternet.com
Fish 339

categories are bound up with Hegels interest in transcendentalism, which is opposed to

dualisms because in his view they are resolvable dialectically.
The general scepticism shown towards oppositional dualisms in philosophical and
sociological debate over the years is, in large part, motivated by its links with founda-
tionalism, namely the view that there are firm, unchanging foundations to knowledge
which are not derived from human experience but instead are a priori or prior to experi-
ence. The anti-foundational stance taken by critics is also linked to the view that dual-
isms offer a literal black and white picture of the social world which, many argue,
appears too simplistic and at odds with the complex and dynamic nature of social life that
sociologists attempt to explain.
It is because of this crude view of the world that adherents of dualism are generally
seen as misguided in their thinking and informed by old-fashioned and outmoded theo-
logical dogmas and metaphysical anachronisms which offer crude and often biased gen-
eralizations that many believe only serve to weaken the intellectual pursuit of unbiased
social scientific knowledge. The widespread support for rejecting dualism-based argu-
ments in sociology has been expressed through various attempts to achieve reconcilia-
tion between former oppositional dualisms such as nature versus nurture, micro versus
macro and structure versus agency. Process arguments emphasizing the mutual integra-
tion rather than tension between supposedly opposing concepts have now taken centre
stage in sociological discussions through the influential writings of, among others,
George Herbert Mead and Norbert Elias, each of whom, in his own fashion, paved the
way for the replacement of old, defunct dualism-based arguments as found in classical
This paper moves beyond the traditional philosophical debate about dualisms by chal-
lenging the prevailing antipathy shown towards binary thinking in modern sociological
thought. The focus of attention will be on one key example of oppositional dualism,
namely homo duplex, a concept that constitutes, in large measure, the theory of the self
as articulated in the work of the classical French sociologist mile Durkheim. The idea
of the self is understood here as referring to the formation and development of indi-
vidual personality. Homo duplex is where Durkheim depicts humans as rooted in two
opposing, yet interacting, aspects of their being: insatiable egoistic desires and appetites
which are, in turn, constrained by socially generated normative or moral concerns.
An appreciation of Durkheims use of dualisms cannot, however, simply be confined
to his analysis of the human self. It needs to be recognized from the outset that Durkheims
cumulative writings on religion, education, morality, the rise of industrial society and
other related topics are riven through with dualisms of various kinds (see Pickering,
1984: 119). Far from being a free-standing binary dualism, then, the concept of homo
duplex must be understood as closely interconnected with others found in Durkheims
writings, including the body versus the soul, sacred versus profane and collective versus
individual representations, to name but three. Unlike Durkheim, George Herbert Meads
account of the formation and development of the self rejected the focus on dualism pres-
ent in homo duplex. Mead replaced this emphasis with one wholly concerned with the
mutual interaction rather than opposition between the two key aspects of the self: the
creative I and the constraining me, both of which were understood in the context of
human action and experience. For the benefit of this early discussion, then, the key
340 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

difference between these two thinkers on the subject of dualism might usefully be
summed up by saying that Kant is to Durkheim what Hegel is to Mead. Thus, Durkheim
followed Kant in deploying dualisms in his writings whereas Mead, like Hegel, was
concerned with refuting dualisms and instead championing the importance of interaction
or process in his work. The implications of Meads rival theory for appreciating the flaws
in homo duplex will be critically assessed in this paper.
While Mead was generally acknowledged as a philosopher, his critical reflections on
dualism have been chosen for special attention because they made a significant contribu-
tion to sociological debate on this very issue. Moreover, Meads and Durkheims theories
of the moral self are inextricably bound up with the theme of dualism. Durkheims homo
duplex theory is linked up with a concern for morality because the capacity to think and
behave in a moral way was seen as rooted in the universal human predisposition to be
social, a predisposition that stood opposed to the rival egoistic side of the self. Similarly,
Mead also saw ethics and morality as essential elements in his social psychological
framework of the self, comprising of the I and me, and could not be separated from it
(Joas, 1997). The selection of Mead as a combatant against Durkheim thus has a key
resonance when taking a fresh look at homo duplex because each in his own way offered
a distinctive theory of the moral self. Neither Mead nor Durkheim, however, used the
term moral self when outlining his respective theory of human nature. Notwithstanding
this, the term moral self appears in this paper as shorthand indicating the central place
of morality as a guiding theme in both thinkers respective discussions of the construc-
tion of the self.
There are also other important reasons for bringing Durkheim and Mead into dialogue
with each other. It is noteworthy that these two theorists wrote in sociologys early clas-
sical era Durkheim in France, Mead in America and both were seminal voices who
represented opposing positions on the subject of dualism which did much to help set
fundamental boundaries or battle-lines for later debates on this theme. In recent times
there has been an upsurge of interest in the works of both Durkheim and Mead among
contemporary sociologists (see, among others, Baldwin, 2002; Cook, 1993; Da Silva,
2007; Dingley, 2010; Joas, 1996, 1997; Lizardo, 2009; Mukerjee, 2010; Pickering and
Rosati, 2008; Rosati, 2009). This scholarly trend is especially interesting in the case of
Durkheim given the prevailing antipathy shown towards dualism in sociological circles,
and surely goes some way towards challenging the generally held view that everything
that could have been said about dualism has been said and that it is now a long-since
defunct subject for discussion.
This widely held view has also recently come under attack from a growing body of
literature heralding a revival rather than a closure of interest in Durkheims dualist theory
of human nature. Notable here is Paolettis (2009) critical edition of Durkheims 1914
essay on homo duplex together with an Italian translation, and others who take a fresh
look at the same concept particularly, though not exclusively, in the history of ideas (see
Berlinerblau, 2003; Cladis, 1992, 2008; Ramp, 2003; Seigel, 2005). Other scholars, by
contrast, have attempted to reconstruct homo duplex (Metrovi, 1993) or identify its
important link with Durkheims symbol theory as a basis for generating new psychologi-
cal interpretations of his writings (Janssen and Verheggen, 1997). Other valuable analy-
ses of homo duplex include Turners (1996) placement of this concept in an evolutionary
Fish 341

framework so as to describe how human sociality and human society became possible.
Finally, there are those who view homo duplex as a basis for strengthening Giddenss and
Baumans recent work on morality (Shilling and Mellor, 1998), and as a way of consoli-
dating both social constructionist accounts of emotion and Maffesolis notion of ethical
aesthetics (Fish, 2005).
This paper builds on the guiding theme of these last-mentioned papers by offering a
fresh defence of homo duplex, this time in the light of Robert Hertzs important essay The
Pre-eminence of the Right Hand: A Study in Religious Polarity (1973 [1909]). It will be
argued against Mead that the notion of dualism can be defended because it is grounded
in the human body, which, in turn, provides the basis for other symbolic boundaries that
are projected onto the cultural realm. An important context exists, then, in which to situ-
ate homo duplex as one dualism among others, all of which testifies to the fact that
human beings cannot tolerate symmetry because their thought patterns are inextricably
bound up with a naturally inclined if socially cultivated capacity to think in binary terms,
something which is essentially part and parcel of what it means to be human.
Research in neurophysiology provides important support for the basic argument that
lies at the heart of this paper, namely that human thinking does indeed operate in binary,
dualistic terms. Arouser-screening rules, argues Hammond (2003: 362), pre-consciously
shape the responses of the human brain to certain stimuli. Over time the repetition of
habitual arousal responses to certain stimuli become stale, resulting in less rewarding
arousal and a concomitant decrease in arousal release. At this point it takes stronger
arousal contrast values, or, as Hammond calls them, enhancements, to re-ignite the
same arousal release produced before with lesser contrasts (2003: 363). For example,
Rolls found that an increase in the variety of attractive foods offered to humans resulted
in an extended interest in eating (Rolls etal., 1981). However, rather than occurring pro-
portionately to the increase in food variety, this uplift in appetite was only triggered
because of the enhanced arouser contrasts offered by a particular food which remained
stronger and more attractive than those lesser contrasts found in other foods within the
available variety (Hammond, 2003: 365). High-contrast differentiations including
binary dualisms (Hammond, 2003: 359) are therefore clearly present in human think-
ing. Only they have the necessary impact to tap into deeper arousal reservoirs without
which new arousers, whether in eating or other taken-for-granted aspects of social life,
would remain dormant.
Further testimony to the empirical, lived reality of binary thinking can also be found
in recent sociological research emanating from the tradition of cultural sociology (pos-
sibly seen as at the opposite pole to cognitive neuroscience). Drawing on a series of
empirical case studies of social movements, including those involved with gender, race,
multiculturalism and assimilation, Alexander (2006) examines the culturally important
role performed by civil society in Western democracies. He makes reference here to the
enduring presence of symbolic binary codes in providing important categories of the
pure (that is, the positive or unpolluted) and the impure (that is, the negative or pol-
luted) that are used in real life when judging who is and who is not deserving of inclusion
in the democratic national community, with all its attendant freedoms and communal
supports (Alexander, 2006: 5455). Ideas of the positive or pro-civil as opposed to the
negative or anti-civil were linked to discourses on individual motives (for example,
342 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

activism not passivity, autonomy not dependence, sanity not madness), along with social
relationships (for example, open not secretive, trusting not suspicious, truthful not deceit-
ful) and, finally, political-legal institutions (for example, rule-regulated not arbitrary,
equality-based not hierarchical, inclusive not exclusive). These three overlapping levels
of discourse reveal the binary expression of a civil code, the presence of which remains
intrinsic to the effective working of self-regulatory democratic communities themselves
(Alexander, 2006: 5759). We should not expect, concludes Alexander, that dualist
thinking will one day disappear. The referents contained within existing binary forms
can, however, be fundamentally changed over time, even though the forms themselves
cannot be eliminated altogether (Alexander, 2006: 551552).
With this body of supporting evidence in place, a critique of George Herbert Meads
exclusively process-oriented rather than dualism-based view of human nature will be
mounted. While Meads theorizing of the self contains valuable insights, it nevertheless
fails to capture, as Hertzs work does, what it is that gives dualisms their enduring appeal
throughout the ages. It will be argued contra Mead that if process and interaction are to
find their rightful place in sociological discussions of the self, they must be situated in an
acceptance rather than a rejection of dualism. Failure to do this leaves process adrift from
one key aspect of what makes us human beings, thus raising major questions about the
intellectual credibility of Meads claims. The idea of dynamic dualisms will be intro-
duced as a via media position between Durkheim and Mead. This idea will be shown to
have two important functions: firstly, it provides a necessary frame for contextualizing
process; and, secondly, it serves as a baseline for allowing sophisticated and interactive
(rather than crude) dualisms to take their rightful place in informed sociological analyses
of the future.

Durkheim, homo duplex and the moral self

The concept of homo duplex is a traditional theme in philosophy and theology. Durkheims
version of this concept appears in his later work and was not referred to explicitly in his
writings before 1895 (Hawkins, 1977). It was coherently formulated in The Elementary
Forms of Religious Life (1995 [1912]) and a related essay entitled The Problem of
Religion and the Duality of Human Nature (1984b [1913]), but appeared in its most
fully developed form in his subsequent essay entitled The Dualism of Human Nature
and Its Social Conditions (2005 [1914]). The idea of homo duplex can be traced back to
the pre-Socratic era in Greece, and is a variant of the mind/body dualism which has
remained a recurrent theme in Western European social thought over many years
(Hawkins, 1977). Homo duplex is an oppositional dualism. It contains an image of
human beings as inhabitants of two worlds that divide them. Humans possess a double
centre of gravity in which they are split by two warring or opposing elements in their
make-up: on the one hand, their individual or selfish impulses and, on the other, a dispo-
sition to be social, viewed in terms of a capacity for transcending or reaching beyond
these selfish passions towards moral activity and conceptual thought held in common by
wider society (Durkheim, 1995 [1912]: 1516, 223, 438; 1984b [1913]: 10).
Certain commentators, however, argue that it would be mistaken to assume from what
has just been said that Durkheim somehow saw the egoistic part of self as being entirely
Fish 343

natural. One stream of Durkheimian scholarship, for example, notes that individualistic
aspects of egoism are not simply consequent on our biological individuation but are also
importantly already social (see Ramp, 1998). The claim here is that rather than being
merely the result of some hypostatized natural or animal being, individualistic expres-
sions of egoism or self-interest instead remain a product of our social differentiation.
Differentiation here refers to a breaking down of the instinctual apparatus as a result of
the development of sociality and, alongside this, the institution of human consciousness
as a differentiated entity and a structure of differentiation. On the basis of this reading, at
least, the moral problem found in homo duplex is not one of individualized self-interest
pitted against the social good represented in the conscience (Ramp, 1998: 141). This
was because Durkheim saw individualized self-interest as linked up with organic solidar-
ity, hence these interests being seen as an effect of modern social and economic life
(Ramp, 1998: 141).
The value of this reading of homo duplex lay in its acknowledgement of the important
social context and origin of this concept in Durkheims writings. That said, Ramps claim
that egoistic self-interest and the moral order of modernity are not necessarily pitted
against each other remains problematic and is, in the view of the present author, at least,
only part of the story. As I will go on to argue, Durkheim retained a language of tension
and opposition in his analysis of these two constitutive elements within homo duplex,
thereby indicating something going beyond the historically specific congruence or fit
between these said elements as noted by Ramp.
One important preface to an investigation of this internal struggle between the two
sides of self is the recognition that it was a universal trait: that is to say, it arose from the
necessary condition of creatures who are human and therefore social, and is thus for
any given individual a priori (Collins, 1985: 6263). Two other closely related oppo-
sitional dichotomies further reflected the internal opposition contained within individu-
als: the body and soul, and the sacred and profane. Here the body and the profane
appeared as expressions of lower egoistic or anti-social desires while the soul and the
sacred remained closely associated with the higher concern with something greater
than ourselves, namely society (Durkheim, 1995 [1912]).
Furthermore, this social side of human nature was intimately bound up with the
moral in Durkheims writings, while the egoistic element in the human make-up
opposed the moral through its asocial concern with the satisfaction of impulses which
were purely centred on the individual rather than the collectivity (Fields, 1995). Durkheim
testified to this social-centred understanding of morality when stating that what is moral
is everything that is a source of solidarity, everything that forces man to regulate his
actions by something other than his own egoism (1984a [1893]: 331). The achieve-
ment of moral solidarity, argued Durkheim, did not come without difficulty; it involved
suffering on the part of individual human beings who, in order to think and act morally,
had to turn away from the egoistic side of their nature. Contrary to the earlier stated posi-
tion taken by Ramp (1998), we should not easily understate the place of human nature in
Durkheims theorizing of homo duplex. It is only by giving due attention to the important
place of nature alongside that of social influences in the development of this last-
mentioned concept that we can gain a fully rounded and nuanced understanding of it.
Durkheim duly testifies to the importance of this biologically rooted natural element
344 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

when asserting that we are never completely in accord with ourselves, since we cannot
follow one of our two natures without the other suffering as a result (2005 [1914]: 38,
my italics). The normative or moral order of the world for Durkheim, then, involved the
transformation of the natural world dominating individuals into a social and moral
world dominated by people [or the conscience collective, as he called it] (Shilling and
Mellor, 1998: 196, my emphasis).
There appears much evidence in support of the standard reading of homo duplex that
Durkheim did indeed see a basic antagonism between the social and anti-social sides of
self. His 1913 and 1914 essays are replete with references to a divide between the two
substantially different beings or poles constituting human existence which are not
merely different; there is a veritable antagonism between them (Durkheim, 1984b
[1913]: 7). In this same connection, Durkheim goes on to describe the two elements
comprising the self as not just distinct, they are opposed, and again, these two aspects
of our psychic life thus oppose one another as the personal and impersonal they mutu-
ally contradict and negate one another. From this arises a consequent break in continu-
ity between the two elements that cohabitate within humans. Humans are thus left as a
monstrosity of contradictions because the two rival elements in question are perpetu-
ally struggling against one another. An antinomy follows from this which is never
resolved (Durkheim, 2005 [1914]: 36, 37; 1984b [1913]: 2, 3, 7).
Despite the wealth of evidence in support of the traditional, standard reading of
Durkheims (1984b [1913], 2005 [1914]) essays, however, there remain other passages
which suggest that homo duplex, the body and soul and the sacred and profane were not
pure or absolute dichotomies but, in fact, ones involved in a dialogue with one another.
Cladis lends support to this last position. He argues that Durkheim conceptualized pre-
cise polarities in a bid to highlight socio-historical events and developments not empir-
ical reality (Cladis, 2008: 91). Durkheim (1984b [1913], 2005 [1914]) testifies to this
view when claiming that it is an error to believe that it is easy for us to live as egoists.
Absolute altruism and absolute egoism are ideal limits that can never be attained in
reality (Durkheim, 2005 [1914]: 38; see also Durkheim, 1984b [1913]: 7; Cladis, 2008:
91). Thus, at the empirical if not the abstract level, at least, there is less of a sharp divide
or chasm between the two sides of the self than might be first supposed. The ideal limit
set by a pure or absolute egoism or altruism does not appear in lived experience
because of an implied interaction between the two. Durkheims mere suggestion of an
interaction, by definition, prevented him from developing an understanding of its exact
nature in any real detail. That said, he does further reflect on this inner interaction when
criticizing Platos hypostatized ideas on the double nature of human beings and his
failure to resolve the problem itself. Platos weakness leads Durkheim to ponder on how
these opposing two worlds manage to unite and interpenetrate in a way that gives
birth to the hybrid and contradictory characters that we are (Durkheim, 2005 [1914]:
41). The importance of interaction also appears later in the same essay, when Durkheim
notes how creative effervescence allows those moral and social ideals which are the
products of group life to mingle with our individual life and penetrate individual
consciousnesses in a lasting fashion despite those painful tensions and sacrifices
at the individual, egoistic level which are needed in order for us to go beyond our-
selves (Durkheim, 2005 [1914]: 43, 44).
Fish 345

When viewed in terms of real life, then, the concept of homo duplex embraced con-
trasts that were significantly softened and designed to operate in only a heuristic not
a literal manner (Cladis, 2008: 91). The heuristic purpose of homo duplex therefore sepa-
rated it from other hard-line dualisms, making it instead moderate in nature. The mod-
erate tone of homo duplex, in turn, provided the backdrop against which Durkheim
engaged with lifes difficulties and the struggle of becoming more fully human (Cladis,
2008: 91). The process of becoming human involved much in the way of moral struggle
and effort, as each individual strived to achieve his or her social nature through the forg-
ing of attachments with others, as a context for then making important judgements affect-
ing his or her own life as well as the lives of other people.
Thus, far from being a static dualism, and somehow set in stone, homo duplex could
instead be read as a flexible, dynamic and sophisticated concept with all the nuances
required to allow it to serve as a valuable frame for shedding light on both the nature and
the complexity of social life. The explanatory potential of homo duplex in this regard,
however, was not fully exploited by Durkheim. As Hall (1987) notes, if Durkheim had
gone on to explain in greater detail the interaction between the egoistic and social sides
of the self, he would no doubt have been led to postulate some kind of ego mechanism to
account for their interaction. The absence of such a mechanism perhaps explains why
Durkheim was unable to fully reconcile the conflict between the egoistic self and the
moral commands of society (Giddens, 1971). Moreover, there remains the danger that by
focusing on the selective passages referred to by Cladis (2008), attention may be moved
away from Durkheims various texts that elucidate homo duplex, the oppositional argu-
ments therein and the relentless language of conflict used to express it. It is therefore an
exaggeration to suggest, as Cladis does, that to adhere to a notion of the conflict between
a natural and social self is at odds with practically everything that we know about
Durkheim (Cladis, 2008: 90).
Despite this overstatement, Cladiss (2008) reading of Durkheim remains valuable
precisely because it draws attention to this often neglected if underdeveloped dynamic,
interactive element. While not wishing to lose sight of the wider context in which textual
references to this last-mentioned element are to be properly situated, these passages
relating to interaction remain important because they provide the basis for constructing
fresh refutations of old, misinformed criticisms of homo duplex. Notable in this connec-
tion are Malinowskis (1932) reading of Durkheim as having argued that individuals are
merely passive and subservient when confronted with social codes and Gehlkes (1915)
earlier, but related point that Durkheim, to use Whiteheads original phrase, committed
the fallacy of misplaced concreteness by hypostatizing social forces which were seen to
nullify human agency. Viewed in the light of Cladiss paper, these two criticisms now
appear simplistic because each treats the social element as an absolute that somehow
overpowers people when, in actual fact, real life involves a complex negotiation and
interaction between the two poles of human existence which is crucial to the ongoing
moulding of the self. Negotiation here suggests a dialogue that is played out both as an
internal conversation going on within individuals and as an external conversation involv-
ing relations of discourse with other people from without. Taken together these two con-
versations raise serious questions which complicate Malinowskis and Gehlkes earlier
suggestions that the superiority of the social element is somehow to be expected or, a fait
346 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

accompli, thus leaving their critiques to appear as little more than crude caricatures of

George Herbert Mead on anti-dualism, process and the

moral self
This section begins with an overview of the American pragmatist thinker George Herbert
Meads reasons for rejecting dualistic theories. It is important to recognize from the out-
set that there was no direct or intentional exchange of ideas between Mead and Durkheim.
That said, Durkheim did nevertheless respond to the work of William James, who was an
important influence on Mead. Durkheims lectures on pragmatism were of particular
importance in this last connection as they explicitly defended the foundationalist view
against the pragmatist position (see Durkheim, 1983 [1955]). Though Mead did not
address Durkheims idea of homo duplex in his writings, or any other elements of
Durkheims sociology for that matter, he did put forward a process-oriented theory that
refuted Durkheims analysis of the moral self.
Meads work on the formation and development of the moral self adopted an anti-
foundationalist position by opposing the fixed and unchanging nature of the traditional
mind/body dualism and, by extension, Durkheims theory of homo duplex which was
inspired by it. The issue of whether the binary oppositions were hard or soft did not
concern Mead. Instead his critique of dualism straightforwardly addressed itself to the
basic presence of conceptual polarities not their differing shades and colours. In so doing,
Meads purpose was, as Burke rightly notes, to avoid those epistemological problems set
up in dualistic terms rather than trying to solve them (Burke, 1962: 82). The implica-
tions of what Mead argued remained no less applicable to homo duplex than it did to the
mind/body problem which provided the original focus for his attention.
Prior to the development of modern scientific and evolutionary thinking, dualistic
philosophies such as those put forward by Plato, Descartes, early Christian theologians
and early psychologists were guilty, argued Mead, of stealing the mind or self from
nature and then attributing to it a special substance that was separate from bodily and
earthly things, with the consequence that mind and body could only be understood
through separate languages (Baldwin, 2002). Thus, dualistic philosophy had stolen
[subjective] qualities and meaning from the world and placed them in a mind that is
entirely suppositious and then abandoned the task of getting from this mind to other
minds and to the world (Mead, 1982b [1927]: 154).
This bifurcation of the world into subjective and objective realms led to the problem
of solipsism in which individuals were unable to recognize anything outside of their own
mind or self, thus rendering them incapable of knowing what other minds were thinking
(Baldwin, 2002). Though Mead does not address Durkheims concept of homo duplex
directly in the above connection, it, nevertheless, remains apparent that this last concept
would indeed fall prey to the charge of solipsism because it is commonly understood as
one variant of the mind/body problem, and as such remains problematic for the same set
of reasons, namely that it also communicated an introspective view of the self. This was
made apparent in homo duplexs identification of those warring instincts understood
from inside the individual as he or she encountered the social world outside; a point
Fish 347

which only served to get in the way of a synthetic or unified view of the self in which all
facets of the human condition could be understood as one.
In opposition to the idea of dualism, Mead instead proposed a theory of the self in
which the two aspects of the human condition mind/body, body/soul, homo duplex
would be intermeshed, thereby translating their relations into a language common to
both fields (Mead, 1934: 40). The philosophical implications of Meads position was
that it returned Durkheims notion of the soul (or society) to its rightful place in the body,
thereby creating a balanced rather than an antagonistic notion of the self. As Mead said
in this connection, we must consider inside and outside together, and the world cannot
be divided into inside and outside (Mead, 1982b [1927]: 107). The interaction between
these two elements of the self was evident in Meads notion of bio-social man, which
approached an understanding of processes involved in the formation of inner experience
by working from the outside or periphery to the inside or the centre. This method
consisted of looking first at empirical data on biology, externally visible behavior and
social interaction, then trying to determine how these external variables give rise to sub-
jective experiences and subsequent actions (Mead, 1982b [1927]: 156).
Meads theory of the moral self can also be seen to emerge out of bio-social behavior,
with all the non-dualist emphases on process and change that this implies. The problem
of solipsism suggested in Durkheims homo duplex theory of the self is impossible in
Meads rival theory following his claim that each individuals thoughts and sense of self
are rooted in social interactions rather than inner conflict. Once this is taken into account,
there cannot be a solipsistic situation; there must be other selves (Mead, 1982b [1927]:
162). In saying this, Mead laid the essential groundwork for developing a view of the self
as inherently social, as something that is a gift to the individual from society and always
something that is part of the social process. Thus, the process out of which the self arises
is a social process which implies interaction of individuals in the group, [and] implies the
pre-existence of the group (Mead, 1934: 164).
It was, argued Mead, only when human beings had evolved to the stage of using sig-
nificant symbols, or language, and role taking (including game playing) that the idea of
the self was able to emerge. These two elements allowed the individual to develop a
sense of self by learning to take the role of listener and follow rules, both of which were
crucial means by which the individual learnt to become an object to him/herself. This
involved taking the attitude of the other and gathering within the individual person a
sense of the need to synchronize his or her actions with others, which Mead termed the
generalized other or attitude of the wider organized community (Mead, 1932, 1934).
Thus, for Mead, the self was structured from the outside or periphery (that is, society)
towards the centre or inside (that is, the individual). Only in this way could the self
understand and co-ordinate with others and thereby conjoin their development of self
with a sense both of belonging and of being different from others (Baldwin, 2002).
Intimately bound up with Meads theory of the self are the concepts of the I and the
me. These two concepts are pivotal as they put important flesh on the bones of his
rejection of dualisms through the construction of a theory of the self which is free from
a sense of inner warring factions and struggle in the development of individual identity.
It was through Meads conceptualization of the I and me that he posited a level of bal-
ance and mutual interaction between the individual and society which, from the
348 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

viewpoint of standard readings of Durkheim (1995 [1912], 2005 [1914]), at least, was
otherwise missing from his theory of homo duplex. The I is the subject, the self of the
present instance that acts, while the me is the consciousness of self as object that arises
from self-observation, of taking the role or attitude of the other which occurs through
the ability to put ourselves in the place of others, a process in which one builds up the
me that one knows (Mead, 1982a [1914]: 94). Thus, the me is the reflective self
(Mead, 1964 [1913]: 145) out of which we come to see the version of our self as an
object called me.
Though performing different functions, the I and the me nevertheless remain inter-
twined and in a relationship of synthesis rather than diametric opposition. The I is the
source of creativity; it is the source of spontaneous, innovative actions. As Mead says,
the novelty comes in the action of the I (1934: 209). Because it cannot be directly
observed, the I conveys a sense of freedom and initiative and becomes the source of the
unexpected. These qualities lead Mead (1929a, 1929b, 1934) to see the I as emergent in
the sense that novel things are always emerging. The I stands alongside the me, under-
stood by Mead as referring to that side of the self which sets limits on the I and is
therefore a vehicle of social control and self-regulation. Moral rules are an important part
of the social control or constraint placed upon the individual through the me. In so
doing, the me serves as an important counterweight to the unpredictability of the I; it
therefore represents the conventional, habitual individual linked to existing social stan-
dards (including moral values) of the group that the I otherwise tries to break free from.
The moral function of the me is consequently bound up with the generalized other
inasmuch as it gives human beings the self-regulation they need to live and work con-
structively alongside others and to fit into society.
Action occupied a key role in Meads schema in activating those moral values which
placed necessary constraints upon individuals. Action was not an ethical value per se,
and yet without action and role taking there were no anthropological conditions through
which moral values and the possibility of an ideal society could be realized (Joas, 1997:
121122). Unlike Durkheim, Mead did not see a conceptual contrast between the social-
cum-moral side of self and the individual ego found in homo duplex, irrespective of how
empirically soft this contrast might be. Instead, argued Mead, the moral aspect of the
me was seen to complement rather than stand in opposition to the I part of the self,
curbing only its excesses not its socially useful, creative element. Thus, while these last
two mentioned elements of the self did not always function smoothly together, they more
often than not did in the fully developed individual. It was this working together rather
than in opposition that created an essential unity within the inner self which afforded
society a balance between, on the one hand, a creative diversity and shared meanings
and, on the other, shared meanings and common responses. What might be termed the
moral self remained important, then, because it enabled Mead to establish the mechan-
ics by which this sense of societal balance and unity was to be achieved in the first place.
The picture of the self put forward by Mead, therefore, is in stark contradistinction to
the homo duplex theory championed by Durkheim. For Mead there is no room for the
metaphysical tension between the ego (that is, the body) and society (that is, the soul).
While the I might be seen as comparable to the body in Durkheims scheme, Mead,
nevertheless, distanced his concept from being considered wild or anti-social in the way
Fish 349

that Durkheim viewed this lower side of the self. It would be equally mistaken to read
Meads anti-dualism position as somehow implying an over-integration of the social
self. Various critics have asserted this when claiming that Meads concept of the I was
simply a residual category to the me or even entirely superfluous to it in his scheme
(Gillin, 1975; Kolb, 1944), and that Meads social psychology remains too overbur-
dened with social normativity (Archer, 2000: 229). Mead opposed such views, however,
when asserting a clear sense of equality between the I (the individual) and the me
(society) rather than one element existing at the expense of the other. This point is further
reflected in his analysis of the disintegration of the self which identifies a parallel pro-
cess in the reconstruction of both the individual and society. Rather than there being a rift
or division between the two there is in fact parity between them insofar as

the growth of the self arises out of a partial disintegration the appearance of the different
interests in the forum of reflection, the reconstruction of the social worlds, and the consequent
appearance of the new self that answers to the new object.

(Mead, 1964 [1913]: 149)

Robert Hertzs defence of dualism and its implications

for homo duplex
Over the years various other criticisms have been levelled against Meads theory of the
self. Many of these critiques have identified conceptual flaws and other associated limi-
tations that beset his social psychology (see, for example, Athens, 1995; Bergesen, 2004;
Da Silva, 2007; Gould, 2009; Markell, 2007), while others have offered important com-
mentaries on Meads engagement with metaphysics (Burke, 1962). Few critics, with the
exception of Scheffler (1974), however, have challenged Mead on the mind/body prob-
lem, and no scholar (as far as I am aware) has offered a detailed and thoroughgoing cri-
tique of Meads anti-dualism stance from a distinctively Durkheimian perspective. The
next two sections of this paper attempt to plug this gap by looking in detail at how the
anthropological work of Robert Hertz provides the basis for an important Durkheimian
defence of homo duplex.
Hertz (18811915) was a member of the Durkheimian tradition who died prematurely
in the First World War. He was a key figure, along with Mauss and others, in the Anne
sociologique group. In a famous essay published in 1909 on the preference for the right
hand, Hertz accounts for the persistence of dualist thinking from early simple societies
through to the present day; an analysis which provides fertile ground for a contemporary
defence of homo duplex. Here Hertz recognized the central importance of the sacred and
its reconfiguration in the modern world, but went beyond Durkheims own analysis of
this concept when examining the fundamental religious polarity in which the right hand
represents the pure sacred and the left hand the impure sacred (Riley, 2002a: 251; 2002b:
365). Thus, to the right hand go honours, flattering designations, prerogatives the left
hand, on the contrary is despised and reduced to the role of a humble auxiliary (Hertz,
1973 [1909]: 3). Hertzs 1909 continuation and expansion of the theme of the sacred via
the preference for the right hand remained part of a larger but unfinished work on the
350 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

study of sin and expiation that would have been his doctoral thesis had he lived long
enough to complete it (Mauss, 1925: 24; Riley, 2002a: 251).
Dualisms, argued Hertz, were linked to biology insofar as human beings had a slight
disposition towards right-handedness which was related to brain functions (Hertz, 1973
[1909]: 36). That said, biology could not fully account for the unequal treatment of the
right and left hands across nearly all known societies. Instead of being reducible to biol-
ogy, this tendency, claimed Hertz, was better explained through the omnipresence of the
religious opposition between the sacred/profane in simple societies (Riley, 1999: 311). In
the course of mapping this right/left polarity onto Durkheims sacred/profane dichotomy,
Hertz duly acknowledged taboos concerning left-handedness, and the positive cult sur-
rounding right-handedness as found in a variety of different religious forms. For exam-
ple, in Maori religion evil is associated with the left side and the gods with the right side.
Similarly in Christianity, pictures of the Last Judgment show Christs raised right hand
indicating to the elect the way to heaven, while his lowered left hand conveyed the road
to hell for the damned (Hertz, 1973 [1909]: 1213). This dichotomy between the right
and left sides of the body, in turn, provided the basis for other symbolic boundaries that
existed in cultural life. Thus, it is the right hand that is used to greet friends, that is joined
in marriage, that takes the oath, finalizes contracts, offers help to others, and is the only
one allowed to touch food in many cultures (Hertz, 1973 [1909]: 17).
While stressing the important ways in which socio-religious forces sacralize all that is
right and render all that is left profane, it is important to recognize that Hertz distanced
himself from supporting either social constructionism or biological determinism as the
cause of dualist thinking surrounding the right/left sides of the body. He sidestepped
the question of cause when arguing that this distinction was socially constituted through
the societal engagement with real embodied human predispositions (Mellor, 2004: 56,
original emphasis). This emphasis on social constitution rather than social construction
allowed human beings to have some sort of access to, and connection with a real world
independent of the particular social and cultural forms placed upon it (Mellor, 2004: 56).
Instead of being distanced from homo duplex, the biological or organic predisposition
towards right versus left referred to above was in fact further reflected through the over-
lay of its conceptual lens or prism. Thus, it is because man is a double being homo
duplex that he possesses a right and a left that are profoundly differentiated (Hertz,
1973 [1909]: 21). Though never intended as the source or cause of dualist thinking, homo
duplex on this reading remains defensible because its conceptual matrix embraces other
comparable binary categories to that of the right and left (for example, the body and soul)
which serve as additional socially constituted points of access for making sense of and
expressing the natural divide between the human hands.
It would also be fallacious to suppose, as Mead does, that homo duplex is prone to
solipsism and excessive introspection by somehow being separated from what other
minds are thinking. It is by failing to take into account the importance of interaction
between the two poles of human existence contained within homo duplex that Mead sets
the problem of dualism up as a straw man. The interactions within individuals between
the lower and the higher poles (or the ego and altruism) in real life prevent either pole
being seen in isolation from the other. For such inner interactions to occur, the two afore-
mentioned parts of the self cannot afford to have separate languages incapable of mutual
Fish 351

dialogue, as Mead suggested earlier. If Mead had lived today and taken account of Cladiss
(2008) reading of the subtle, if underdeveloped, nuances of homo duplex, he would, no
doubt, have revised his thinking on this matter. In addition, it is also important to recog-
nize that the social side of the self can only be activated as a counterbalance to individual,
egoistic tendencies through discourses with other people who share the same morals, val-
ues and norms of wider society which are then brought to bear upon ourselves in our inner
conversations. For Durkheim, these internal conversations are clearly dependent upon an
awareness of what other minds are thinking, without which they could not come into
being in the first place. To tacitly charge homo duplex, like the earlier mind/body dualism,
with solipsism is therefore wide of the mark.
To return to Hertz, it is important to recognize that he did not identify dualisms with
a temporary way of thinking, but rather saw them as something permanent within human
beings which could not be discarded a point that is further supported through
Alexanders (2006) earlier-mentioned analysis of the civil sphere and the important role
performed by binary codes within it. It was for this reason that their division of the
whole universe into two spheres (Hertz, 1973 [1909]: 8) remained an enduring feature
of humanity. Just as the human self as depicted in homo duplex defies perfect symmetry,
so too does the world at large. The fact remains, contra Mead, that human beings, both
in the past and in the present, have a preference towards asymmetry not symmetry.
Despite this being the case, Meads work, nevertheless, attests to a desire for sym-
metry which is part of something bigger. In many ways his work resonates with a wider
dream of humanity gifted with two right hands [which is] not at all chimeric (Hertz,
1973 [1909]: 22). Meads wish to level binary oppositions is not in our culture, as Hertz
readily acknowledges, an isolated or abnormal fact (Hertz, 1973 [1909]: 22). Meads
anti-foundational concern with process at the expense of dualism is indicative of a liber-
ated and foresighted society [seeking] to assure by an appropriate training a more
harmonious society (Hertz, 1973 [1909]: 22). Yet, despite Meads best intentions, oppo-
sitional dualisms such as good and evil will not vanish from our conscience the
moment the left hand makes a more effective contribution to human labor and is able, on
occasion, to take the place of the right (Hertz, 1973 [1909]: 22). Thus, Meads symmetri-
cal or integrated view of the moral self as expressed through his social psychological
theory of the I and me cannot realize the cognitive change he wants precisely because
of the permanent and enduring human capacity for thinking in dualistic terms.
The neurophysiological evidence referred to at the start of this paper offers further sup-
port for Hertzs claims in this last regard. It is interesting that this is the case not least since
it allows us to reflect on the possibility that such evidence might potentially prove com-
pelling for pragmatists all the more so since, unlike symbolic interactionism, which
came after Mead, pragmatism does not reject a biological basis to human behaviour. It
will be recalled from what was said earlier that Hammonds (2003) claims about enhance-
ments and Rollss study of eating (Rolls etal., 1981) both combined to show the wide-
spread use of high-contrast differentiations by humans when seeking out new arousal
releases to replace older, defunct ones. Such evidence provides a serious, if general, chal-
lenge to Meads anti-foundationalist arguments with regard to dualism and, by extension,
homo duplex. Neurophysiologys empirical demonstration of the persistent human capac-
ity to think in binary terms affirms Hertzs view that, far from being impermanent, such
352 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

thinking remains fixed as a general feature of the human condition. This fixity remains
intact despite the ever-changing variety of contrasts employed over time to tap into arousal
reservoirs in different areas of life.
To champion the kind of argument that Mead does in the face of the forceful thesis put
forward by Hertz and the strong neurophysiological evidence in support of it remains
tantamount to swimming against the tide of how human beings think, whether in the
past, present or future. Thus, far from being redundant, homo duplex is instead verified
by the facts. In one sense its analysis of selfish and unselfish impulses can be seen as a
further development or extension of the human brains dependence on high contrasts as
a basis for activating stimulus-appraisal mechanisms. In another, broader sense homo
duplex remains a mirror image of those other ubiquitous, time-honoured and enduring
polarities evident in society at large. By definition, then, dualisms are no less out of place
or relevant for the purpose of theorizing human nature than they are for studying any
other adjacent area of human social life or institutions. Homo duplexs alleged weakness
from a Meadian position, namely that it embraces dualism, is in actual fact its strength
not its weakness. In contrast, it is Meads disavowal of dualism in the course of promot-
ing the importance of process at the expense of all else in his theorizing on the I and
me that remains problematic. Had Mead conceptualized process (or interacting ele-
ments) within the overarching context of dualism rather than outside it, he would have
found a potential corrective to the tendency to put all his eggs in the one basket marked
process at the expense of dualism; a tendency which inevitably leaves his theory
adrift from how human beings actually think.
It is surely by bringing these two elements of dualism and process together that we
end up with a more balanced understanding of how process fits into the wider picture of
reality. To suggest otherwise, as Mead does, is tantamount to setting up once more the
old process versus dualism dichotomy in the face of what he says he opposes, namely
dualism itself.

Going beyond Hertz:The case for dynamic dualisms

Despite the critical comments made above, it would be unfair to suggest that Meads
view of the self is without its merits. His critique of dualism remains important because
it draws attention to process, or the interaction between supposedly opposing binary
concepts, thereby amplifying the importance of what one might describe as the grey
areas of human life rather than the black and white picture of existence that might
otherwise obscure it. The importance of what Mead had to say in this connection should
not be underestimated. He is right to draw our attention to this grey area of life. After
all, it provides a backdrop for grasping the conundrum of life: that is, why do things not
turn out the way we suppose despite our apparent acquiescence to dualistic distinctions
such as right and wrong?
One outstanding issue remains, however, as to whether Mead over-eggs the case for
process as a replacement for dualism. In the light of what Hertz said earlier about dual-
ism, I believe that Mead does fall foul of this tendency. He basically tries to transpose
over the dualism-based reality of human life another that is more preferable to him,
namely a reality where dualisms are put into brackets and then brushed to one side. This
Fish 353

remains a regrettable position, inasmuch as it confounds the basic essence of social

thought as it is known to human beings. To this extent, Mead subverts the basic human/
social reality of dualism by instead giving ascendancy to process. Yet process without
dualism as its context simply leaves process adrift from the necessary boundaries or
compass frame required to properly understand why or how it comes about in the first
place. After all, process requires a catalyst, a motivating force of some sort or another; it
does not operate in a vacuum, in and for itself alone. Rather it is activated by something
which goes beyond and yet, at the same time, encompasses it. For the reasons outlined
by Hertz, it is dualist thinking which provides the necessary context and impetus for
activating process, without which its interactive element would not be able to find mean-
ing. Process without dualism therefore appears transient and free-flowing minus any
indication of what inspired it into being in the first place.
As we have seen, there is evidence to suggest that Durkheim moves towards combin-
ing dualism and process in his conceptualization of homo duplex despite not developing
a thoroughgoing analysis of the important role played by process in this regard. Mead, by
contrast, remains stronger in terms of the theoretical insights he puts forward on process
and interaction, not least, given his exclusive concern with these matters, as opposed to
dualism. That said, Meads concern with process does not outweigh his misplaced dis-
avowal of dualism. Dualism, whether construed in terms of homo duplex or other related
binary oppositions, has been shown by Hertz to stand the test of time. This cannot be
denied. Mead must therefore take account of and not merely reject or put aside dualism
if his theory of the self is to reflect the actuality of lived human life.
A forward step in this direction might be for Meads theory of the self to make a radi-
cal break of sorts by reconciling itself with the inevitability of dualist thinking. It could
be useful in this connection to engage more seriously with what might be called dynamic
dualisms, the seeds of which are already contained in homo duplex, namely dualisms
that incorporate rather than exclude process/interaction, thereby making them sophisti-
cated rather than crude or static in nature. Taking this step might also serve to counter
certain critics of Mead who assert that his theorizing of the I and the me fails to
engage sufficiently with the issue of conflict (see, for example, Athens, 2002: 32). This
problem is especially pronounced in Meads (1964 [1913]) analysis of the disintegra-
tion of the self. The emphasis here on parallel processes affecting both the individual
and society gives the impression that the processes involved are relatively unproblem-
atic, thereby preventing conflict from emerging during self-formation, which is actually
very widespread and perhaps even normal. Meadian theorists could usefully address
this underdeveloped aspect of Meads work by situating process within dualism and the
necessary interactions between opposing poles of human existence contained within it.
No less important, however, is the gain to be made from Durkheims understanding of
the self being wedded to a more amplified concern with process in order to highlight the
more precise nature of the inner interaction taking place between the egoistic and social
sides of the self he describes. Meads writings on the I and me could prove invaluable
in helping to develop Durkheims work in this area. Taken together, the mutual engage-
ment of Durkheims and Meads ideas would serve to benefit both of their respective
theories of the moral self. The combination of the two also provides the basis for a poten-
tial defence of dynamic dualisms. Process is present in the work of both Durkheim and
354 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

Mead, but the development of process within the context of dualism rather than at the
expense of it can only be found in the work of Durkheim. It is through Durkheims writ-
ings that we gain some important, if only suggestive, ideas as to how to ground process
in something other than its own essentially transient or free-floating essence, namely as
a vital corollary to dualism which itself cannot be understood apart from process. Without
process, dualism risks not being seen to have a human face. By this I mean that dualism
risks appearing as static and the source of possible prejudices rather than being dynamic,
interactive and therefore moderate (rather than literal) by containing the elements of
negotiation which allow it to key into real life. Process coupled with dualism, viewed as
equivalent elements, reveals an informed, balanced and viable dualism for the future,
unlike dualism without process (or with scant attention to process), which simply takes
us back to crude and dangerous dualisms of the past with all the atrocities and other his-
torical baggage these bring with them.
To an extent the problem of static dualisms is also present in Hertzs general defence
of binary thinking. His rightleft dichotomy appeared in an absolute form because, as
Parkin notes, it could not be mediated and [its] poles could never come together (1996:
70). This is not to suggest, however, that Hertz was altogether oblivious to the impor-
tance of process. For example, this theme is clearly evident in Sin and Expiation (1994),
where he examined the social and symbolic processes by which transgressions (or sins)
and expiation (or the absolving of guilt) were constructed. It is clear from the foregoing,
however, that Hertzs chosen dichotomy needed to be taken beyond the confines of his
existing frame of analysis in order to bring fully to life the dynamic and vivid interac-
tions at work in the human experience of lived dualisms, which those of a static sort only
served to obscure. Notwithstanding this limitation, Hertzs analysis of the right and left
hands along with his demonstration of the fundamental and permanent presence of asym-
metrical thinking remains vital for the purpose of developing the main thesis of this
paper. His various insights on this matter represent an important leveller that provides the
necessary groundwork for then starting to construct arguments on the importance of
dynamic dualism. An initial platform from which to begin thinking through how process
might piggyback on dualism would therefore have been missing if Hertz had not set the
record straight on the reality of dualism as an initial first step in this direction.
One final question remains: what substantive theme might be addressed in relation to
Durkheims and Meads work as a necessary ground for showing how the idea of a
dynamic dualism might subsequently be developed? Religion is one theme that could
usefully be examined in this connection. Addressing the issue of religion is of particular
importance not least given that Durkheims hostility to pragmatism is expressed through
a critique of William James on this very subject. For Durkheim, religion and its com-
munal rituals represented one social structure which enabled individuals to cultivate
indirect ties with other human beings beyond those other direct or personal ties experi-
enced in daily life. The emotional attraction needed to cultivate these indirect ties, notes
Hammond (2003: 359), could only be achieved through high-degree differentiations or
binary codes such as the sacred and profane. Without such attachments to high-contrast
structures like religion and its chosen differentiations, argued Durkheim, the develop-
ment of the individual moral self may be incomplete, thereby giving rise to negative,
anti-social experiences such as anomie and other psychological tensions.
Fish 355

Mead, by contrast, excluded religion from his analysis of the moral self, claiming that
it suffered from the problem of externalism by championing a perfect moral order that
surpassed or went beyond the domain of real-life situations and the use of human intel-
ligence present in those situations as a test and measure of them. Thus, for Mead, if a
healthy moral self was to be effectively cultivated, then it was necessary that human
intelligence be allowed to rise to the fore in place of religion (see Mead, 1899, 1908).
Given the previously mentioned neurophysiological evidence and enhancement
model in support of the existence of dualisms, it could reasonably be argued that
Durkheims more positive engagement with religion, along with those high-contrast dif-
ferentiations contained within it, afford him a potentially deeper and richer theory of the
moral self than that put forward by Mead. This is reinforced by the wealth of news-based
evidence today showing the continuing popularity and influence of religion, such as, for
example, the growing force of Islam in the world, along with other adjacent debates sur-
rounding the right to wear religious adornments and connected issues relating to tolerance
in contemporary Western multi-faith societies. The rights and wrongs of religion aside, its
enduring presence confirms the need to take it seriously as one key element among others
in the development of the moral self; a fact that cannot easily be dismissed.
The mutual benefits to be gained by intermingling Durkheims and Meads various
insights in the course of developing the idea of a dynamic dualism can only be realized
more fully, however, if Meads existing theory of the moral self makes room for religion
rather than excluding both it and binary thought from its theoretical line of vision.
Similarly, those in the rival camp to Mead would, in turn, have to concede that Durkheims
earlier concern with process needs be amplified and developed further if the notion of
homo duplex and its links with religion are to be more fully exploited with a view to
explaining the link between communal rituals and the emergence of the moral self and
the role played by dynamic dualisms in this process.
Contemporary research in neurophysiology, biology and psychology, though cur-
rently incomplete, might usefully overlay such a dialogue between Durkheims and
Meads theories of the moral self. In so doing it could assist in gaining a more precise
understanding of how dynamic or interactive dualisms might help in the construction
of the moral self by working in and through the inner conversation present in the minds
eye of individuals both during and immediately after religious rituals. In order for this to
occur, dualism- and process-based perspectives in sociology must be willing to concede
some limited ground to one another of the kind referred to above in order for such inter-
disciplinary research to become operative in the first place.
Interdisciplinary research of this kind might prove key to the realization of a new,
deeper and more sophisticated understanding going beyond that originally provided by
Durkheim of how religiously inspired moments of collective effervescence are able to
connect individual emotions to collective emotions as an important basis for then explain-
ing why cyclical or changing ideas of the sacred occur over time. The task of theorizing
in detail how the idea of dynamic dualism feeds into the weft and fabric of these areas
of life and how the moral self is moulded and re-moulded through such cycles is clearly
beyond the scope of this paper. It does, however, at the very least indicate potentially
important avenues for future research on the back of what has already been argued in this
356 Journal of Classical Sociology 13(3)

I would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for an Early Career Fellowship (award number:
SRF/2007/0168) and the University of Birmingham, UK, both of whom part-funded the wider
project of which this paper is a part. Thanks must also go to John Holmwood, W.S.F. Pickering and
Mike Hawkins, who provided detailed and incisive comments on earlier drafts of this paper, and to
Philip Mellor, for valuable conversations on the subject matter contained in this paper. The four
anonymous reviewers of this paper suggested alterations that improved it considerably. Respectful
thanks are due to them.

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Author biography
Jonathan S. Fish is currently an Honorary Special Lecturer and Tutor in the School of Sociology and
Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. He has published a number of articles on the work
of mile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons along with a sole-authored monograph entitled Defending
the Durkheimian Tradition: Religion, Emotion and Morality (Ashgate Publishing, 2005).