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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

STUDENT GUIDE

11

Lecture Notes

Pre-Sociological Influences

The fundamental foundations of sociology have been gleaned (as all things seem to be) from the ancient Greeks.

Even though Plato is not considered the “father” of sociology--he is probably the first person to systematically study society in a “sociological” way. In other words, he thought like a sociologist.

The basic notion of natural law is found in Plato’s Republic. There is an order to society--a universalism, urged the Greek philosopher. The essence of this universal, unfortunately, was not totally clear. On the one hand, society was characterized as an organism, an enclosed, total, holistic unit. This was the Platonic “is” of society.

The entire state of nature, however, was not yet known. Consequently, man was in a position to use logic--”the act and method of correct thinking”--to posit an “ought” of what society could be. This inherent contradiction between the Platonic “is” and the “ought” is fundamental to the processes of random fact gathering in Western thought.

Plato’s Six Basic Assumptions of Society

Man is an organism.

Organisms tend toward survival.

Man survives in groups.

Man is a social animal.

Man lives in an ordered society.

The order of society is knowable.

The Father of Sociology

Auguste Comte

1798-1857

The new social science that Comte sought to establish was first called social physics but he later found the term stolen by another intellectual so he coined the word sociology, a hybrid term compounded of Latin and Greek parts (Coser, 1971, p. 3).

Comte first used the term sociology in print in 1838 (Perdue, 1986, p. 37).

The “father of sociology;” French philosopher who asserted . . . that the fate of mankind depends in many respects upon the development of a science of human social relationships, that established scientific disciplines have progressed only to the degree that they have been grounded in facts and experience, and that therefore the needed new science of human social relationships (a science which Comte suggested

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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