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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 3120
Michelle Dumas

1 SOAN*2112-01 January 6 , 2014 POSITIVISM (19 Century) Saint Simon, Comte 1. History and Background • Misery and oppression made Marx and Engels begin writing • Exploitation of the colonial poor • Revolts in 1820s, 30s and 40s • National and social movements o Utopian movements, Marxism – moves to abolish slavery • Methodological advances – “the social question” o How can society be made better? • Government – collect data on social issues o People took up social issues • Reforms (e.g. criminal statistics) • Meritocracy over aristocracy o Mass education over education only for the rich • The London Statistical Society (1831) o Collected data on social conditions in society o Became the royal statistic society about 40 years later o Term scientist was used instead of philosopher • Acknowledged agnostics/atheists include major figures – Marx, Engels, Mill, Harriet Taylor, Durkheim, Weber o They were looking for the sciences – alternative models to understanding the world 2. Henri (Comte) de Saint Simon (1760-1825) • Influenced all of mainstream sociology; influenced functionalism (conservative) and Marxism (socialist) o Marx called Saint Simon a utopian thinker • Fought in theAmerican revolution • He lived through the French revolution • He contributed a lot of vocabulary: o “industrialization”, “social physiology”, “positivism” • Argued philosophes (who fought for equality and natural rights) had contributed to disintegration of the old order o Those principles gave no guidance for the successful reconstruction of society • Sought to create a new and organic social order based upon new principles o Must be inventive and constructive His Work a) Human knowledge b) Social physiology – must become a positive science 2 c) Scientific knowledge – to replace religious dogma d) Education e) Positivism f) Scientific elite must replace spiritual authority of the church g) Conflict between the new haves and have-nots will continue • Significant in developing conservative and radical theory • Conservative side – wanted to preserve society • Radical side – wanted socialist reforms (e.g. centralized planning of economic system) Radicalism – conflict theory: • Social reform etc. discussion • He was interested in movement, struggle, the wants of the poor and the rich Functionalism: • Machine analogy – all parts contribute to the function of the whole • Organic analogy etc. discussion • Interrelated systems changing in accordance with the underlying system of thought 3. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) History and Background • Montpellier • Artist Corot (1796-1875) • Ecole Polytechnique o He was an excellent student, it was a prestigious school • At age 14 he ceased to believe in God • He had a wife who left to be a prostitute o Then loves another woman – he dedicated a book to her • In 1817 Comte was introduced to Henri Saint Simon • Positive philosophy • Wrote Cours de philosophie positive (1830-1842) o Catechisme Positiviste (1852-1857) • Comte in love was a Comte transformed • Wrote Systeme de Politique Positive (1851-1854) (dedicated this book to that woman) Organic Paradigm • Utilizing the assumptions provided by naturalism, rationalism, social reform and the positivist method – developed a view of society concentrating on its systematic needs with functionally interrelated parts through the division of labour • Organicism – the structure and function of a society can be analogized to the structure and functioning of a living biological entity • Integration and harmony • Discover the underlying laws of the social order 3 France in the Early 19 Century • Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) • Charles Montesquieu (1689-1755) – Spirit of Laws (1748) • De Condorcet (1743-1794) • Comte – saw a state of “anarchy” in his time and believed his ideas would help bring “order” out of chaos The Work of Comte i) Order and Progress • The Law of Three Stages (1822) o Comte said you could have order WITH progress – unlike the Enlightenment thinkers who thought you had to have one or the other • Principle of order was derived from the Catholic feudal or theological state o Retrograde people wanted order • Principle of progress was derived from the critical tendencies of the Reformation and the Enlightenment o Anarchical people wanted progress • Comte argues a synthesis of the opposing ideas • Decline of the feudal-theological order, and rise of the scientific spirit • “metaphysicians” were critical and revolutionary • The positive stage – would put an end to the revolutionary period by the formation of the social order uniting the principles of order and progress o This is possible to Comte, not to Enlightenment thinkers • Laws of coexistence – static – 1 level order • Laws of succession – dynamic – 2 pillar progress • Takes this evolutionist vision of society • These two principles must be studied as a whole • Order – static – refers to harmony • Dynamics – progress – refers to the study of patterns of evolutionary progress • Law of Three Stages o Phylogeny – the development of human groups o Ontogeny – the development of the individual human organism o Believer in childhood, critical in adolescence, a natural philosopher in adulthood o We need the critical stage to develop the next stage o The next stage can’t exist until the old one disintegrates Theological or fictitious dominated by priests, Will of gods, demons, spirits, supernatural ruled by military beings (world prior to 1300 Metaphysical or abstract – middle ages to Essences, original causes, speculative-like enlightenment adolescence Scientific or positive Observable scientific relationships 4 Theological  priests  military family and kinship Metaphysical  transitional  state Positive  industrial  human race • Laws of motion – dynamic • Social stability – static • Comte argued that we could gain firm positive data about society – then we don’t have to argue about how society should be o We can predict and control what will happen in society ii) “Society of Man” – studied in the same way and same scientific manner as the world of nature iii) Sociology – social physics socio – society logy – the study at a high level iv) “From science comes prevision; from the prevision (prediction) comes action” • “to predict in order to control” • To bring about a new moral order – in contrast to the social chaos that existed January 10 2014 v) Comte’s Methodology • Observation • Experimentation • Study of the pathological – gives us access to understanding the “normal” o E.g. psychologist analyzes schizophrenic person to understand what is normal • Comparison – the different stages of evolution may be observed at once o Compared societies to animals and etc. • Discussed comparison at 3 different levels • Historical method – foundation for Comte’s dynamic sociology Documentary – Series is called Rebels. • Hash smoking bohemians vi) Family • Family is the true social unit; the school of social life o Man is a social being, we have social natures formed in a family context • The subordination of women o He claims that sociology will prove that equality cannot come to be – organically inferior – he aims to provide a scientific backing for this. vii) Language, Religion, and Division of Labour 5 • Body social is held together by spiritual ties (because it does not have skin to hold it together, instead these 3) 1. Language – medium towards solidarity 2. Religion – unifying belief. Religion permits us to overcome our selfish propensities. Can help us to transcend ourselves and love one another. a. Common morality of everyone – every government needs a common religion to keep it in order 3. Division of labour – creates solidarity through creating dependency of an individual a. Bound together by the very distribution of our work – this creates interconnectedness du
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