The Contribution of “Auguste Comte” to Sociology!
Isidore Auguste Marie Francois Xavier Comte was born in Montellier of Southern France in January 1, 1798 and died in 1857. He was the first thinker who realized the need for a distinct science of human society. He is regarded as the father of sociology. He is regarded as the father not because of his significant contributions to the subject but because of creating sociology as a science of society or science of human behaviour. Comte first gave the name “Social Physics” to the science invented by him but later he coined the word “Sociology a hybrid term compounded of Latin and Greek words to describe the new science. The period during which Comte took his birth in France, was very critical. Because there was chaos in France as the French World of thought was divided into two parts. One part was dominated by the revolutionary thinkers while the other part was dominated by the religious thinkers. But Comte opposed both these ways of thinking and gave emphasis to scientific outlook and scientific analysis. He organised and classified the social thought prevailing before his times. Comte has many important works to his credit. An important work of Comte “A Programme of Scientific Work required for the Reorganization of Society” was published in 1822 which contains an outline of his thoughts. He also wrote many books. 1. Positive Philosophy (1830-42)
2. System of Positive Polity (1851 -54)
3. Religion of Humanity (1856)
Comte gave birth not only to a specific methodology of studying knowledge but also analyzed the evolution of human thinking and its various stages. He had developed a unilinear theory of evolution. According to Comte individual mind and human society pass through successive stages of historical evolution leading to some final stage of perfection. The principle developed by Comte in the study of human thinking presumes gradual evolution and development in human thinking and is known as the law of three stages of thinking.
The Law of Three Stages:
According to Comte it is the universal law of intellectual development. According to him “Each branch of our knowledge passes through three different theoretical conditions; the theological or fictitious; the metaphysical or abstract; and the scientific or positive.” This is known as the law of three stages because, according to it, human thinking has undergone three separate stages in its evolution and development. He opines, “The evolution of the human mind has paralleled the evolution of the individual mind”. He focussed mainly on stages in the development and progress of human mind and stressed that these stages co-related with parallel stages in the development of social order, social units, social organisation and material conditions of human life. Comte’s evolutionary theory or the law of three stages represents that there are three intellectual stages through which the world has gone throughout its history. According to him, not only does the world go through this process but groups, societies, sciences, individuals and even minds go through the same three stages. As there has been an evolution in the human thinking so that each succeeding stage is superior to and more evolved than the preceding stage. However, these three stages are as follows:- (a) Theological or Fictitious Stage.
(b) Metaphysical or Abstract Stage.
(c) Positive or Scientific Stage.
(a) Theological or Fictitious Stage:
This stage was the first stage of law of three stages. It characterized the world prior to 1300 A.D. According to Comte in this stage “All theoretical conceptions whether general or special bear a super natural impress”. It was believed that all the activities of men were guided and governed by supernatural power. In this stage the social and the physical world was produced by God. At this stage man’s thinking was guided by theological dogmas. It was marked by lack of...
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