1. The two founding fathers of sociology to be discussed on are:
A. August Comte
B. Emile Durkheim
A. AUGUST COMTE:
Isdore , Auguste, Marie, Francois, Xavier Comte(19 January 1798 – 5 September 1857), better known as August Comte was a French philosopher.
He was the founder of discipline of Sociology and of the Doctrine of Positivism. His concept of sociology and social evolutionism, though now outdated, set the tone for early social theorists and anthropologists such as Herbert Spencer evolving into modern academic sociology presented by Emile Durkheim as practical and objective social research.
Comte’s social theories culminated in the Religion of Humanity which influenced the development of religious humanist and secular humanist organisations in the 19thcentury.
Comte likewise coined the word Altruism which means an ethical doctrine that holds that the moral value of an individual’s actions depend solely on the impact of other individuals, regardless of the consequences on the individual itself.
The term Sociology which literally means Science of Society’ was developed by August Comte. He brought the word sociology of his positive philosophy (a six volume work) which he first published in 1838.
Comte in the early 19th century asserted that man’s intellectual development had progressed through three (3) stages:
The first was the theological or fictive stage in which every natural occurrence was attributed to some supernatural force and to the whims of the gods (ruled by priests then). Man at this stage blindly believed in whatever he was thought by his ancestors. Fetishism played a significant role during this time.
The second stage was the metaphysical or abstract, which was ruled by philosophers and was the era of logic; natural occurrences were given some hypothetical causal explanation. This stage was the beginning of a world that questioned authority and religion. It was as the stage of investigation because people started reasoning and questioning although no solid evidence was laid.
The third stage was the scientific or positive (phase of science) whereby scientific explanations can be associated with human actions and natural occurrences. He was therefore the founder of the doctrine of Positivism which is a philosophy of science based on the view that information derived from logical and mathematical treatments and reports of sensory experience is the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge, and there is valid knowledge (truth) only in scientific knowledge. Comte argued that much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other absolute laws so also does the society.
He regarded sociology as the doctrine of progress, developing the society toward an era of peace and understanding. He emphasised the need to study social phenomenon in relation to the condition in which they occur. He also held the view that a science of sociology should focus on a systematic observation and not on speculation. Comte successfully developed his positivist thought to a level at which he evolved as science of society. He upheld that human society could be studied scientifically hence discipline of sociology.
The most important thing to determine was the natural order in which sciences stand not how they can be made to stand irrespective of the wishes of anyone, this Comte accomplished by taking as the criterion of the position of each the degree of what he called positivity’ which is simply the degree to which the phenomena can be exactly determined. This as may be readily seen, is also a measure of their relative complexity. The degree of exactness or positivity is moreover that to which is not itself a concrete science is the general gauge by which the position of every science is to be determined. Generalizing thus, Comte found that there were five great groups of phenomena of equal classificatory value but of successively decreasing positivity. To these he gave the names astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology and sociology.
Comte saw this new science, sociology a term coined by Comte himself as the last and greatest of sciences, one which would include all other sciences and integrate and relate their findings into a cohesive whole. It has to be pointed out however that there was another science one even greater than sociology namely Comte considered Anthropology or true science of man to be the last gradation in the grand Hierarchy of Abstract Science.
The motto Ordem e Progresso (Order and Progress), in the flag of Brazil is inspired by August Comte’s motto of positivism: L’amour pour principe et l’ordre pour base le progress pour but (Love as a principle and Order as the basis, Progress as a goal.) Several of those involved in the military coup d’etat that deposed the monarchy and proclaimed Brazil a republic were followers of the ideas of Comte.
B. EMILE DURKHEIM;
David Emile Durkheim (April 15 1858-November 15 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally establish the academic discipline and with Karl Marx and Max Weber is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology. He was one of those that gave the most notable early demonstration of scientific methodology in sociology. He was born in France in 1858 to parents of Jewish origin. He was employed primarily to teach pedagogy in a French University (Sorbonne). France during Emile’s days was full of turbulent society and full of social problems like Nigeria today. Emile was interested in investigating these social problems and through the course pedagogy he introduced Sociology in a French University-a course that was very new then incomparable to other disciplines.
Much of Durkheim’s work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modernity; an era in which traditional, social and religious ties are no longer assumed and in new social institutions have come into being . His first major sociology work is the Division of labour in Society (1893). In 1895 he published his Rules of Sociological method and set up the first European department of sociology, becoming France’s first Professor of sociology. In 1898 he established the Journal L’Annee Sociologique. Durkheim‘s seminal monograph, Suicide(1897) a study of Suicide rates in Catholic and Protestants populations, pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy. The Elementary forms Religious Life (1912) presented a theory of religion, comparing the social and cultural lives of aboriginal and modern societies. Durkheim was also deeply preoccupied with the acceptance of sociology as a legitimate science. He refined the positivism originally set forth by august Comte, promoting what could be considered as a form of epistemological realism as well as the use of the hypothetico-deductive model in social science. For him, sociology was the science of institutions if this term is understood in its broader meaning as beliefs and modes of behaviour instituted by the collectivity and its aim being to discover structural social facts. Durkheim was a major proponent of structural functionalism, a foundational perspective in both sociology and anthropology. In his view, social science should be purely holistic that is sociology should study phenomena attributed to society at large, rather than being limited to the specific actions of individuals.
He remained a dominant force in French intellectual life until his death in 1917 presenting numerous lectures and published works on a variety of topics, including the sociology of knowledge, morality, social stratification, religion, law, education and deviance.
Throughout his career, Durkheim was concerned primarily with three goals. First to establish sociology as a new academic discipline, Second to analyze how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modern era, when things such as shared religious and ethnic background could no longer be assumed; to that end he wrote much about the effect of laws , religion, education and similar forces on society and social integration. Lastly Durkheim was concerned with the practical implication of scientific knowledge. The importance of social integration is expressed throughout Durkheim’s work.
CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION:
Durkheim was born in Epinal in Lorraine, coming from a long life of devout French Jews, his father, grandfather and great grandfather had been rabbis. He began his education in a rabbinical school, but at an early age, he decided not to follow in his family’s rabbinical footsteps, and switched schools. Durkheim himself would lead a completely secular life. Much of his work was dedicated to demonstrating that religious phenomena stemmed from social rather than divine factors. While Durkheim chose not to follow in the family tradition, he did not sever ties with his family or with Jewish community. Many of his most prominent collaborators and students were Jewish and some were his relations. A precocious student, Durkheim entered the Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS) in 1879 at his third attempt. At the ENS, Durkheim studied under the direction of Numa Denis de Coulanges, a classicist with a social scientific outlook. At the same time, he read August Comte and Herbert Spencer. Thus Durkheim became interested in a scientific approach to society very early on in his career. This meant the first of many conflicts with the French academic system, which had no social science curriculum at that time. Durkheim found humanistic studies uninteresting, turning his attention from psychology and philosophy to ethics and eventually sociology.
INFLUENCES AND LEGACY:
His description of collective consciousness deeply influenced Ziya Gokalp’s, the founding father of Turkish nationalism.
Durkheim died in Paris, France on the 15th November, 1917. He was buried in the Cimetiere de Montparnesse in Paris.
2. RELATING AUGUST COMTE’S SOCIOLOGICAL IDEAS TO THE CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN SOCIETY
The benefits of Comte’s sociological ideas to present day Nigerian society cannot be over emphasised. Comte’s progression of man intellectual development through these three (3) stages; the theological or fictive, the metaphysical or abstract, the scientific or positive gave the new generation students like us the true nature and outlook of the society during the pre-missionary and missionary era. This Comte’s idea of three (3) stages also serves as a guide for both the present Sociologist and the upcoming Sociologist.
Sociology of Education as introduced by Comte has an advantage today helping the young ones by exposing them to the society’s expectations and how they could meet up through the process of socialization.
Comte upheld that human society could be studied scientifically, relating this Comte’s idea to contemporary Nigerian society, one would conclude that sociology is of a huge benefit as it uses scientific methods such as expost facto and survey method in carrying out its research and solving research problems relating to the society.
Comte regarded sociology as the doctrine of progress, developing the society toward an era of peace and understanding. In the contemporary Nigerian society, Comte’s idea of sociology as doctrine of progress and developing the society towards an era of peace and understanding, one would say is a failure because even with the scientific study of the society and inculcating Sociology in our various school’s curriculum, Nigeria remained a turbulent society full of social problems, example, the recent religious/political social problem Nigeria is facing today as ‘Boko-haram’. Nevertheless there is a common knowledge that we are in the era of church denominationalism (church proliferation) yet crime rate and moral decadence increase daily in a geometrical progression thereby constituting a variance to the expected morality level. This is brought about mainly by modern science and technology amidst other predisposing sub variables such as peer group influence, examination mal practice, poverty, problem of heritance and succession as they affect our daily living and general wellbeing. Meanwhile in the contemporary Nigerian society, the effort of August Comte to develop Sociology as well cannot be under emphasised because scientific study of society helps today’s sociologist, social workers and educationist to use scientific method in solving societal problems.
RELATING EMILE DURKHEIM’S SOCIOLOGICAL IDEAS TO THE CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN SOCIETY
Throughout Durkheim’s career, he was concerned primarily with three goals;
First to establish sociology as a new academic discipline, this still holds water in the present Nigeria context. Sociology in the contemporary Nigeria is one the important and valuable academic discipline in the faculty of social science in Nigerian universities.
Second to analyze how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modern era, when things such as shared religion and ethnic background could no longer be assumed; to that end he wrote much about the effect of laws, religion, education and similar forces on society and social integration. To this second goal of Durkheim, one would say is yet to be achieved in Nigeria because in this present time in Nigeria, religion and ethnic group affects the way Nigerians relate, regard and socialise with each other, the well educated politicians and developers in the country not excluded. An example is the recent event that happened that the government of Lagos state has to deport 19 eastern youths back to east, reactions to this issue by our ministers and others opened our eyes to lack of oneness in Nigeria today despite we are ‘one Nigeria’ so to say.
Lastly Durkheim was concerned with the practical implication of scientific knowledge. In the present Nigeria’s situation, these implications and developments are explored from a variety of economic, environmental, ethical, moral, social and political perspectives.
Emile realised that through education, the society could perpetuate itself and find solutions to its various social problems. And actually most of his ideas are still relevant and are applicable to the present Nigeria’s context.
He believed that in every society, education could be used as a means of developing our youths to acquire their essential conditions for the future potentialities which is very true even in recent times because major source of developing our youths today is through the availability of education in our society.
He also analysed the idea of an individual being made up of two (2) beings; the individual being and the social being. The individual being is made up of mental state that applies to that person alone and to one’s personal experiences and lives alone and the social being which is made up of system of ideas, sentiments and practices which express in us the group traits we belong, these include religious belief, moral beliefs and practices and collective opinion. This Emile’s idea is still very relevant in the contemporary Nigerian society because every individual has personal experiences that make them take personal decisions and accept certain view about life in its entirety which with time makes who they are, that is their individual being. On the other hand, individuals especially children and youths tend to imitate and make adults around them their model, we emulate and tend to do what our mothers and teachers expects, this conforms us to the social norms and build our social being. The importance of social integration is expressed throughout Durkheim’s work.