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SOAN 2112 (41)


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University of Guelph
Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2112
Linda Hunter

AUGUSTE COMTE (1798 – 1857) Zeitlin: Chapter 9 The term “positive” = an ideological/philosophical weapon that challenged the philosophical legacy of the Enlightenment and the Revolution  Critical and destructive principles of negative philosophy were to be questioned so they could be replaced be positive philosophy  Act took place in Germany – where positivists challenged Hegel’s thought  Most fundamental objection to Hegel’s negative philosophy = that it refuses things as they are, and when viewed with reason become negative and limited – seen as a prototype – contains the principle of revolution  Spent more attention on France where he fought against the Philosophes heritage - Formed his own philosophy in the process ANARCHY  Saw a “deplorable state of anarchy” – believed that his“social physics” contributing to society’s principle needs would help resolve chaos - Hoped that this “science” would resolve the alarming revolutionary constitution of modern societies  Result of intellectual anarchy = social and moral anarchy - Theological metaphysical philosophy has declined - Positive philosophy hasn’t reached the point where it can provide an intellectual basis for a new organization and avoid destruction - Despised it – thought it was the cause of moral disunity ORDER AND PROGRESS  Must be united once and for all as the two principles were seen as contradictory and were represented by opposing political parties  Retrograde party = for order - Derived from the Catholic-feudal or theological stat of social philosophy - Supported by Bonald and Maistre - Crisis’s were said to be due to the destruction of the older order, and demanded its restoration and repair  Anarchical party = for progress - Derived from critical tendencies of the Reformation and Enlightenment - Crisis’s were said to be because the destruction of the old order was incomplete, and that the revolution must continue  Existing social classes– support one or the other which causes conflict, disorder, and anarchy FEUDAL THEOLOGOICAL ORDER  Believed it had assisted the development of modern society – the theological polity can never again be the basis of social order because the natural progress of scientific intelligence and other social changes outweigh it  Believed it was impossible to restore the old order – the decline of the old is not temporary  Argues that order and progress must be achieved because only through intellectual unity and harmony can social unity be restored SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY – THEOLOGICAL STAGE  Main causes of the decline of the feudal theological order  Industrial spirit = prevents recurrence of the feudal-military spirit – as well as scientific spirit  New spirit of Theological = so strong that theorists themselves are infected by it - Spokesmen for this school aren’t unified - If they can succeed even temporarily in restoring the old order, the crisis would break out again but with more violence than before because the same conflicting forces would be at work within it METAPHYSICAL STAGE = Comte’s term for the enlightenment  Critical and revolutionary  Contributed to progress but in anegative sense  Important because it broke up the old system and paved the way for the next stage – The positive one that would put an end to the revolutionary period by the formation of social order uniting order and progress  – must be dangerously active until success is achieved – directed the struggle Provisional and organized the energy to overthrow the ancient system  It eventually outlived its usefulness and become obstructive  Represents that the government is the enemy of society  Liberty of conscience = a weapon against theological dogmatism/strictness, but is no longer useful because it can’t be a positive organic principle which would be the basis for the reorganization of society  Social reorganization requires intellectual reorganization and that it’s impossible if individuals inquire about people above their qualifications  Insists that unity and unamity will be essential in the new society EQUALITY  Has limited historical value as a weapon – must not be turned into an absolute  Anarchic principles – Superior depends on the masses/crowds and opposes reorganization on different principles COMTE CRITICIZES ROUSSEAU  His idea that one can ask questions about the suitability of social systems for the nature of individuals = dangerous  Supporters of the metaphysical school were inconsistent and hypocritical , as once they’re in power they change their behavior SOCIAL CRISIS  It will continue as long as the two conflicting doctrines of theological and metaphysical exist – contradictory and can’t survive together in one system - No order’s possible until both are replaced by the positive state (Will be more organic than theological and more progressive than metaphysical) - Progression of the new system can’t be rushed – when the new society has the right conditions, society will submit to its rules CRITICISM & SOCIAL UNITY  Believed that true moral order is incompatible with the existing freedom of individual minds – decisions of great social rules shouldn’t be left in the hands of the blind and incompetent public – as it could cause them to lose all of their value  Feared and disliked social criticism – can be destructive and threatens social life – no important social duties should be questioned or discussed until the discussion is directed by positive principles – which provide intellectual unity - Lacking of unity = lacking of moral authority – society goes into a state of terror and corruption  Feared the contemporary emphasis on “material” considerations – Thought it was fatal to progress - Social evils are sought in ideas and manners – each change becomes more serious than the last - Private property comes with evil but it still has to arise from opinions, that the political regulations can’t contribute essential input and progress  In sum = don’t tamper with change or existing institutions – but bring about a moral reorganization – accept the lower classes to their social condition – there won’t be progress if men fa
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