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Chapter 3-Comte.docx

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Western University
Sociology 2240E
Charles Levine

Chapter 3-Comte -he coined positivism- the search for invariant laws of both the natural and social world-laws can be derived from doing research and theorizing about social world (empirical research for Comte) -he thinks there is a real world and it is the scientists task to discover and report on it, therefore he is a realist -2 ways to get to real world, one through research, two through theorizing -he believes in pure empiricism through sensory observations and the belief in quantifications -positivism is under attack and now we are in a post positivistic age -he defines soc as a positivistic science, and relates it to physics, and it builds upon other sciences -he said there are 3 ways of doing social research 1. Observation- should be directed by theory and connected to some law 2. Experiment- natural experiment ie:earthquake 3. Comparison- humans to lower animal societies, or societies to different parts of the world or different stages of society over time th -his 4 major methodology was historical research -he theorized in order to get laws of the social world -he created positivistic laws- The Law of 3 Satges: 1. Theological Stage- human mind searching for the nature/orgin of things and their purpose, the search for knowledge, monotheism- worship single divinity that explains everything 2. Metaphysical stage- transition stage, abstract forces replace God as the explanation/purpose of things ie:nature 3. Positivist Stage- all we can know is phenomena and the relations among them not their essential nature, search with empirical research and theorizing, Comte more interested in creating abstract laws than concrete ones -he found the French Revolution as due to a disorder of intellectual anarchy, he said 3 stages we’re weak and the answer to the intellectual chaos was positivism -Comte said 2 great concerns were order and progress -metaphysics offer progress without order -positivism is the only system that offers both: order through restraint of social disorder and progress through an increase in knowledge -he saw order and progress as mutually defining and interpenetrating -in Comte’s time there was a crisis of ideas and it could be solved by positivism -he described positivism as a ‘spirit’ therefore he is an idealist ‘ideas govern the world’ -he defines the soc study of social statics as the ‘investigation of the laws of action and reaction of different parts of the social system’ -the laws of social systems interacting are deducted from the laws of human nature (theory over empirical research) -he was anticipating ideas of later structural functionists -he developed a perspective on the parts or structures of society and the way in which they function and their functional relationship to the larger social system, he saw parts and whole of the social system in a state of harmony/equilibrium -social statics describes an ‘ideal’ type of society -he is doing a macrosociology of social statics because he is looking at the interrelationship among the parts and the whole of the social system -he defined soc as the macro-level study of collective existence -he sees humans with egoism and altruism, the problem of human life is the need for altruism to dominate egoism, if we want a better world, people must be controlled so altruistic impulses emerge, controls must come from society -he has a negative view of people and their innate impulses of egoism, very limited view of peoples creative capacities as well -social world creates people -he distinguished 4 categories of instincts 1. Nutrition 2. Sex 3. Destruction 4. Construction (pride and vanity) -the instincts need external control -‘fundamental institution’ – macro level, family is the individual building block, individual constitutes different units and society forms out of them, through family we learn to be social, a change in family has profound effects on the individual and society -most important institution to Comte is religion -2 major functions of religion, one to regulate individual life and two fostering social relationships among people -another important social institution to him is language, it allows people to interact and therefore promotes unity -division of labor serves to hold people together, social solidarity is enhanced in a system where individuals are dependent on each other, worries about overspecialization -the government is based on force, force can hold society together or be destructive -goal of Comte’s social dynamics is to study the laws of succession of social phenomena, society is always changing but the change is ordered and subject to s
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