Comte Study Questions.doc

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Dan Silver

Comte Study Questionsp 5758What does Comte mean by positivity and the scientific spiritPositivism is the application of the scientific method to the analysis of society Comte felt that sociology could be used to inspire social reforms and generally make a society a better place for its membersPositivity Human beings now understand the scientific laws that control the worldWhat does Comte mean by the theological and metaphysical politiesWhat are their main attributesTheological In this stage human beings rely on supernatural agencies to explain what they cant explain otherwiseThe Theological which is the original and spontaneous form of thought regards the facts of the universe as governed not by invariable laws of sequence but by single and direct volitions of beings real or imaginary possessed of life and intelligence In the infantile state of reason and experience individual objects are looked upon as animated The next step is the conception of invisible beings each of whom superintends and governs an entire class of objects or events The last merges this multitude of divinities in a single God who made the whole universe in the beginning and guides and carries on its phaenomena by his continued action or as others think only modifies them from time to time by special interferencesMetaphysical In this stage human beings attribute effects to abstract but poorly understood causesMetaphysical accounts for phenomena by ascribing them not to volitions either sublunary or celestial but to realized abstractions In this stage it is no longer a god that causes and directs each of the various agencies of nature it is a power or a force or an occult quality considered as real existences inherent in but distinct from the concrete bodies in which they reside and which they in a manner animate Instead of Dryadspresiding over trees producing and regulating their phenomena every plant or animal hasnow a Vegetative SoulWhy do political ideas remain metaphysical longer than othersBecause it requires abstract reasoning critical thought typical to the legal and professional class p 60Why do some politicians believe that social phenomena can be modified at willBecause they believe that the human race has no spontaneous impulses but are instead always ready to yield to any influence of the legislator whether spiritual or temporal provided that they are invested with a sufficient authority Society regards legislators as the organ of a supernatural and absolute power p 61What does Comte mean by previsionWhat three conditions does a scientific predictive account of social phenomena supposePrevisionenvision expect foresightIn order for man to transform his nonhuman environment to his advantage he must know the laws that govern the natural world For it is only by knowing the laws of phenomena and thus being able to foresee them that we canset them to modify one another for our advantageWhenever we effect anything great it is through a knowledge of natural laws From Science comes Prevision from Prevision comes ActionIt supposes that we haveabandoned metaphysical ideals and instead focus on observed realities via systematic subordination of imagination to observationPolitical conceptions have ceased to be absolute and become relative to the variable state of civilization so that theories following natural course of facts may admit our foreseeing themPermanent political action is limited by determinate laws since if social events were always exposed to disturbance by accidental intervention of legislator humandivine no scientific prevision would be possiblep 62Explain the distinction between order and progressWhat does it mean to say that the distinction is not between two classes of facts but between two aspects of a theory 182Order in a positive sense is a permanent harmony among the conditions of social existenceProgress is social development and the conditions in the one case and the laws of movement in the other which constitute the statics and dynamics of social physics p 63In what does the statical study of sociology consistConsists in the investigation of the system of laws and reaction of the different parts of the social system apart from the fundamental movement which is always gradually modifying them p 64What does it mean to relate political institutions and social organizations to the total system of civilizationGreat thinkers recognize the mutual relation between political institutions and the rational
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