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Compare And Contrast Spencer And Comte

1534 words - 7 pages

The research reveals the following comparisons and contrasts of August Comte and Herbert Spencer. Auguste Comte was born in the shadow of the French Revolution in 1798, as both technology and science was on the precipice of the Industrial Revolution. The world he was born into was experiencing great conflict, and people’s beliefs in prior institutions were being smashed. His focus was on a new social order and he focused on the study of this new society as opposed to the past belief in monarchism or religion. In fact, it is his work that coined the term “sociology”. August Comte believed that it was only through the methodology of observation, which could be measured and tested, that this new science of sociology would be validated. His belief is that the any study of sociology should be science-based. He was a critic of the Enlightenment, feeling its philosophy was destructive. In his book System of Positive Polity, he emphasized morality and humanity as cornerstones of political organizations in which society participated. His was a new world order and he attempted to use a scientific understanding to bring together history, psychology and economics. Above all, Comte was devoted to the idea of serving for the betterment of society. It's his belief that true knowledge is only found through science.
Herbert Spencer was born in 1820 at the height of the British industrial revolution. His book entitled Social Statics achieved great acclaim when it was published in 1851. He looked at evolution as a change from being unstable (homogeneous), to one that was more stable (heterogeneous). In fact, it was Spencer who initially coined the term “evolution” and “survival of the fittest” many years before Darwin. Herbert Spencer also considered himself a positivist, similarly to Comte. Their life spans did overlap (Spencer was British, and Comte was French), and there are similarities that exist between their works. It is interesting to note though, that Spencer felt so strongly about distinguishing his work from Comte’s that he wrote an essay entitled “Reasons for Dissenting from the Philosophy of M. Comte”. Spencer’s theories look at society as a living organism. He argues that social structure is the result of individual specialization and that the beginning stage of that occurs when people who claim authority take over power and begin to exert authority. Following that occurrence, there is a split between the regulative and sustaining system within that division. He likens society to the human body and argues that the connections between blood vessels in the body are the same as roads connecting cities and towns. Although both men are labeled positivists, Comte argues from the perspective of science, while Spencer derives his theories of structure and function from the field of biology.
When it comes to the development of structural functionalism, both theorists bring important aspects in their sociological perspective. Spencer...

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