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By Mike Gane

Auguste Comte is commonly stated because the founding father of the technological know-how of sociology and the 'Religion of Humanity'. during this attention-grabbing research, the 1st significant reassessment of Comte’s sociology for a few years, Mike Gane attracts on fresh scholarship and provides a brand new interpreting of this striking determine.

Comte’s contributions to the historical past and philosophy of technology have decisively inspired optimistic methodologies. He coined the time period ‘sociology’ and gave it its first content material, and he's popular for having brought the sociology of gender and emotion into sociology. what's much less popular notwithstanding, is that Comte contributed to ethics, and certainly coined the note ‘altruism’. 

In this crucial paintings Gane examines Comte's sociological imaginative and prescient and indicates that, simply because he proposal sociology may possibly and may be reflexive, encyclopaedic and utopian, he thought of subject matters akin to fetishism, polytheism, destiny, love, and the family among sociology, technology, theology and culture.

This interesting account of the start of sociology is an unprecedented introductory textual content on Comte. Gane’s paintings is a necessary learn for all sociologists and scholars of the discipline.

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Comte felt betrayed when Saint-Simon not only failed to acknowledge his contributions and originality but put his signature to his pupil’s writings. After the break Comte retrospectively over-claimed his own contributions and originality, sometimes to an absurd extent. From 1817, Comte contributed to a stream of sub-sections of SaintSimon’s publications Comte wrote a very early version of the three state law in 1817 (appearing in the journal L’Industrie, vol. 3, 1817) which identified the three states as polytheistic, theological, and positive (Pickering, 1993: 106).

Clearly both Marx and Comte present new kinds of social analysis and explanation: Marx has a theory of hidden, or in Althusser’s term, absent causes (also of course to be found in psychoanalysis and the theory of the unconscious); Comte tries to eliminate causes in his epistemology but in fact enunciates in his account something very close to a structural analysis. First we might look at Marx’s notion of a real process that can explain the contents of historical consciousness: It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness … it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.

The problem here really arises from the fact that almost all the commentators in English rely on Martineau’s condensed version of the Course, which is relatively insensitive to theory, and surprisingly perhaps (for Martineau was a novelist) de-dramatises Comte’s analyses (which are already highly dedramatised to conform to scientific requirements). To some extent sociologists have recognised that this is the case and have tried to reflect on what a more subtle understanding of the law might mean.

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