History of Sociological and Anthropological Thought
-Social thought provides general theories to explain actions and behavior of society as a whole. -The broad arena of social thought encompasses sociological, political and philosophical ideas. -Classical social theory has generally been presented from a perspective of Western philosophy; the result is that it has often been seen as very Eurocentric. -Classical sociological theories are important not only historically, but also because they are living documents with contemporary relevance to both modern theorists and today's social world. -The work of classical thinkers continues to inspire modern sociologists in a variety of ways. -Many contemporary thinkers seek to reinterpret the classics to apply them to the contemporary scene. -When we refer to classical sociological theory we refer to theories of great scope and ambition that either were created in Europe between the early 1800s and the early 1900s or have their roots in the culture of that period. -The work of such classical sociological theorists as Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Georg Simmel was important in its time and played a central role in the subsequent development of sociology. They have become classics because they have a wide range of application and deal with centrally important social issues.
Theory is an explanation or model which is based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict phenomena. Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. A clear distinction needs to be made between facts (things which can be observed and/or measured) and theories (explanations which correlate and interpret the facts).
Classical Greek Thought
The ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
The Ancient Greek philosophers did not see a distinction between politics and society. The concept of society did not come until much later during the Enlightenment period. The term, société, was probably first used as a key concept by Rousseau in discussion of social relations. By the mid-5th century, it had become more common for advanced thinkers to reject traditional explanations of the world of nature. As a result of the experience of a century of war, religious beliefs declined. Gods and goddesses were no longer held in the same regard as they had been a century earlier. Wars taught that the actions of men and women determine their own destiny. Meanwhile, more traditional notions of right and wrong were called into question. Greeks used their creative energies to explain experience by recourse to history, tragedy, comedy, art and architecture. But their creative energies were also used to "invent" philosophy, defined as "the love of wisdom." In general, philosophy came into existence when the Greeks discovered their dissatisfaction with supernatural and mythical explanations of reality. Over time, Greek thinkers began to suspect that there was a rational or logical order to the universe. Forces that led to the rise of Sociology
Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory
The social conditions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were of the utmost significance to the development of sociology. 1.) The chaos and social disorder that resulted from the series of political revolutions ushered in by the French Revolution in 1789 disturbed many early social theorists. While they recognized that a return to the old order was impossible, they sought to find new sources of order in societies that had been traumatized by dramatic political changes. 2.) The Industrial Revolution was a set of developments that transformed Western societies from largely agricultural to overwhelmingly industrial systems. Peasants left agricultural work for industrial occupations in factories. Within this new system, a...
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