Comte, Martineau, and Marx

Aguste Comte

French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857) greatly advanced the field of social science, giving it the name “sociology” and influenced many 19th-century social intellectuals. He rejected religion and royalty, focusing instead on the study of society, which he named “sociology.” He broke the subject into two categories: the forces holding society together (“social statics”) and those driving social change (“social dynamics”). Comte’s ideas and use of scientific methods greatly advanced the field.

I believe that his attempt to unify history, psychology and economics through scientific understanding of society is his one way of refining and promoting his “new world order.”

He produced is major work the six-volume Course of Positive Philosophy. In this work, Comte argued that, like the physical world, society operated under its own set of laws.

Comte also wrote the System of Positive Polity. In his formulation of a “religion of humanity,” Comte proposed a religious order based on reason and humanity, emphasizing morality as the cornerstone of human political organization.

Harriet Martineau

First Woman Sociologist

Born in 1802, Harriet Martineau is considered the first woman sociologist. In 1853, she was the first to translate August Comte’s work from French to English. It is through this translation that English-speaking scholars could begin to learn the works of Comte, who is known as the father of sociology.

Martineau had a career full of writing for various journals, newspapers and, of course, her own books. Beginning in 1831, she began writing a series of stories, called Illustrations of Political Economy. Using the utilitarian principles of gaining happiness and the teaching of Adam Smith on free trade, she hoped to teach ordinary people how to better understand things such as tariffs, taxes and the state budget.

She formulated a comparative method for studying societies and analyzed the new American culture by measuring it against carefully stated principles. Quite possibly, she wrote the first “methodological essay” ever published, How to Observe Morals and Manners. Her greatest originality was in her method.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx is credited with being a founder of communism, but Karl Marx’s economic writings were generally about capitalism and why it was doomed. It was later thinkers like Lenin who really developed the ideas of communism, so in a nutshell Marx’s principal contribution to communism was the idea that Capitalism was doomed. Marx while a communist thinker would really more accurately be described as anti-capitalist.

Marx wrote a relatively small pamphlet read by many called the Communist Manifesto, which was a call to the working classes to unite and try to bring about a revolution, but this was written as a persuasive essay really and does not really explain the economic thinking of Marx. Marx’s magnum opus in which his economic theories are laid out is Das Kapital. This book is in fact not about communism but about capitalism, which Marx thinks will collapse for a number of reasons. Probably the most important reason is the loss of excess value that is obtained from exploitation of laborers.

In an oversimplified explanation: A capitalist makes all of his profits from excess value beyond what he pays his workers and that to remain competitive, the capitalist will be required to replace workers with machines (from which he makes no extra profit). This will cut into capitalist profits and force some firms to go out of business leading to a crash in which fewer firms survive and grow larger. There would be repeated cycles of this with episodes of overproduction and subsequent crashes getting larger and larger as the firms grow larger and capitalists’ profits continue to be cut as described above.

Chelsea Pioquinto


The Pioneering Minds of Sociology and Anthropology by KRISTIENE FERNANDEZ

Auguste Comte

Auguste Comte was best known for founding positivism, a philosophical system that acknowledges only observable, natural phenomena and that attempts to use scientific law as the basis for comprehending relationships between observable facts. Comte also is recognized as one of the originators of the science of sociology, believing that human societies are natural systems whose order and progress can be studied through scientific methodology. A deliberate and rationalistic thinker, Comte hoped to use his science of sociology to achieve spiritual and social reform and, ultimately, a new social system.

Karl Marx

The most influential socialist thinker from the 19th century is Karl Marx. Karl Marx can be considered a great philosopher, social scientist, historian or revolutionary. Marx proposed what is known as the conflict theory. The conflict theory looks at how certain social interactions occur through conflict. People engage in conflict everyday to gain more power then others in society. Karl Marx is known for studying the conflicts that occur between different classes. Karl Marx has introduced some radical ideas and theories to society through his writings. Karl Marx describes two theories in the Communist Manifesto. One is his political theory and the other his economic theory. His political theory is about class struggle. Most of the class struggle encompasses his ideas of oneself in the workplace and life in general. Karl Marx believed that class struggle would be the seed for revolution. He thought that as long as there was competition between capitalists, capitalism was bound to fail. He believed that if members of the working class work together, and believe in the same ideals, they can definitely bring about significant social changes.

Emile Durkheim

A prominent figure in the French school of Sociology, Durkheim is best known for his establishment of a social theory which views sociology as a natural science subject to empirical study. Unlike his contemporaries, including English philosopher Herbert Spencer and anthropologist Edward Tylor, who emphasized the role of the individual in the development of cultural phenomena, Durkheim asserted the converse, maintaining that, although individuals comprise society, society is a separate and distinctive entity or reality, a causal result of the associations, reactions, and combinations of individuals’ behaviors and psychic realities. His most influential contribution to social theory is his concept of the social fact, which he defines as “ways of acting, thinking, and feeling, exterior to the individual and endowed with a power of coercion.” Suicide is perhaps the most personal action an individual can take upon oneself and yet it has a profound social impact. Perhaps this is because social relationships play such an important role in its causation. It is also, perhaps the least understood crime, or act, due to the fact that obviously, the dead can’t speak. Emile Durkheim was instrumental in bringing a new understanding of suicide, when in a sociological study he conceived his theory of suicide, and it’s relationship with society. Perhaps put more accurately, his theory was about society, and its relationship with suicide.

For Durkheim, suicide was a symptom of a wider social disease. To cure it, society had to be reformed. Emile Durkheim was first and foremost a sociologist, so his studies are sociological in nature. His main principle was that social facts such as suicide must be studied as realities external to the individual. Suicide, although apparently a highly personal act, was explicable only by the state of the society to which the individual belonged.


The Pioneers of Sociology and Anthropology

Auguste Comte, Harriet Martineau and Karl Marx — these are some names of notable people who have contributed in the field of Sociology and Anthropology. These people have their own concepts which have made them known in the discipline.

French philosopher Auguste Comte, defines Sociology as a positive science. Positivism is a way of thinking that is based on the assumption that it is possible to observe social life and establish reliable, valid knowledge about how it works. This knowledge can then be used to affect the course of social change and improve the human condition. Positivism also argues that sociology should concern itself only with what can be observed with the senses and that theories of social life should be built in a rigid, linear, and methodical way on a base of verifiable fact. This definition is agreeable, as factual material is credible information. Comte says that sociology could identify three major phases to the development of human knowledge and society. The first one is the Theological Phase. People viewed the world and events as a direct expression of the will of various gods. In other words, ancient people believed that everything around them was a sign of active divine forces influencing their lives. The second one is the Metaphysical Phase. In this phase, people still believe in divine powers, but these beings are more abstract and less directly involved in what happens on a daily basis. The final phase is the Scientific Phase. Just as the name implies, people viewed events as explained by scientific principles. The Law of Three Phases is deemed true, as it can be proved by history. First woman sociologist Harriet Martineau’s key contribution to the field of sociology was her assertion that when studying society, one must focus on all aspects of it. She emphasized the importance of examining political, religious, and social institutions. She believed that by studying society in this way, one could deduce why certain social issues exist. She rejects theology as the foundation for society and seeks truth based on reason, logic, and empiricism rather than believing in truths dictated by authority figures, tradition, or religious dogma. German theorist Karl Marx explains that there is always conflict in any society that is rooted in poverty. And that this poverty is a consequence of capitalists earning more than the laborers, who are doing much more work than the former. This social conflict rooted in class struggle can be resolved if there would be an uprising of proletariat or the working masses, according to him. Marx proposes communism, a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party. There are are no rich people and there are no poor people. In this system, everyone is equal. But I don’t believe that Communism is effective. No matter how equal a society is, as time goes by people are going to want more and people will learn to exploit each other. Communism has good principles that may work but history proves it isn’t that efficient.

I am convinced in Comte’s ideology the most. To have a believable body of knowledge, one must be scientific in his or her approach. And for his Laws of Three Phases, it could be backed up by events in the past. Like in the Theological Phase, people before believed that planets were gods in the sky, looking down on earth. Even the sun was part of the world of the gods, as ancient Greeks believed the sun was one wheel on the massive chariot steered by Apollo. If something bad happened, like a community experienced bad weather or an earthquake, people would explain that event as a god showing his or her anger to the people. In the Metaphysical Phase, if someone is sick, they might attribute that sickness to germs instead of a god being upset. However, people still might try potions or spiritual rituals to cure the sickness. Or blame the sick person for doing something wrong and deserving it. In the last phase, it is obvious now that people refer to scientific explanations that have been proven. I also agree with Martineau’s idea. It is because yes, sometimes religion hinders the development of a society. An example of which would be the execution of the RH Bill. In the constitution, there is the separation of the Church and the State. The government is trying to control the mass of uneducated people who keep on reproducing, even if they don’t have the financial capacity to support their family. The victims are the children, who are bound to suffer since their parents couldn’t even supply their basic needs. That is a point wherein religious beliefs obstruct the road of progress. Although, I don’t totally embrace the thought of eradicating religion because I have a different belief, and that is another story. For Karl Marx’s philosophy, there isn’t any incentive for citizens that have better skills to excel in this system. All reap an equal share in what some have worked harder to sow. The people with difficult jobs quickly lose their motivation. It does not erase the class struggle, as it proclaims, but keeps on going. It does this because it is a government: there must be a group of people in charge, and it’s likely that this group enjoys its power. Also, look at North Korea. Their citizens lack the fundamental rights most of us enjoy. Many nations shifted from this system. Marx’s doctrine is fraught with faulty logic, loopholes, and unsolved problems.

What is a true leader?

Auguste Comte is known to be the first sociologist and was recognized due to his “Law of Three Phases.” He is a man with positive thoughts and believes that truth comes from our valid knowledge. The first law stated is the Theological phase which I believe that divine power is the principle of all that exists. Human development is reasoned that it is a state of being a god. Another considered phase is the scientific phase wherein it states that people could detect solutions to social problems by science but I do not fully commit to this statement for I think that science does not answer everything. Abstract beliefs cannot be answered by science and they should not easy predict that it is all irrational. Apart from that I support in his saying that sociology is the greatest of science due to its numerous amount of help to our society.
Harriet Martineau rejected theology as the foundation for society because she was alongside with secularism wherein our own individual religion should not play a role in the government or the public society. As a citizen I coincide with this because every single one of us has our beliefs and that no one should be interfering. We are also well-informed that science and the church do not go well along with each other being that they both have different beliefs.
Karl Marx is a man who is being entirely realistic. Projecting that man who works does not receive enough funds for the labor work they have rendered. Workers are alienated with their product which is owned by capitalist entirely for sole profits. They are having no due share to their creation and it is entirely unfair. Marx voiced out that the main reason for conflict is due to poverty. Workers need more profit at the expense of workers hard labors. Social conflict can be eased by eliminating classes and if all workers would unite. Everyone should be equal and have no power advantage over the other. Marx promotes communism wherein it is a society of equals in which there are no rich and poor human beings.

-Mary Christine C. Saldon