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.

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