Essay on social thought

Submitted By darshan0256
Words: 1466
Pages: 6

Auguste Comte defined society as one that operates according to its own laws where the physical world functions according to gravity and other laws of nature (Sociology Guide, 2011). The enlightenment and social change are both key concepts that challenge and give alternative ways of reforming society. They both link through the French revolution which strengthened the state and aimed to represent the will of people. These two concepts also connect through Auguste Comte’s theory of society being guided through the three distinct stages of theological, metaphysical and scientific.
The eighteenth century saw the enlightenment period of cultural movement and intellectual development. The purposes were not only to reform society but gain and use our own critical knowledge and understanding to recognize the truth. The enlightenment concept opposed superstition, intolerance and abuses in church and state. During this time many people preached individualism and the importance of self-betterment. The relationship the two concepts have impacted all realms of society because enlightenment was a period of extreme social change.
The enlightenment had a positive impact economically. It led to many talented artists being allowed to make a living painting for wealthy families. This had a major influence on society as it gave those of a poorer background the chance to accomplish something and therefore the subject of equality started to improve.
Secondly, the enlightenment caused social change through culture. Through this time many people started doubting the church and started falling into their own beliefs and knowledge instead of what was the norm. Therefore it is clear that enlightenment caused social change for the better by using nature and allowing certain social conditions to give a role in shaping humans which then produces differences in people’s lives and demonstrates that we are not fixed. Change is believed to be down to perception or consciousness and due to us as reflexive beings.
The social changes as a result of the enlightenment period led the way for the French and Industrial Revolutions and it was during this time of unparalleled social change that the process of modernization began.
In conclusion, the enlightenment not only championed change and reform at the expense of churches and the monarchies but challenged traditional institutions too. However criticism of how the enlightenment contributed to the feeling of loneliness and lack of meaning arose. Critics believed that from the enlightenment's emphasis on individualism and personal rights, many lost the feeling of responsibility and community involvement. On the contrary it can be said that enlightenment has generated more good than bad for humanity.

2. Stages of History/Progress
The most influential definition of progress remains that of the historian J. B. Bury’s writing in 1920: “This idea means that civilization has moved, is moving, and will move in a desirable direction.” (Bury, J. B. 1920). Whereas the term ‘stages of history’ typically refer to the different ways of producing and the journey through modes.
Both concepts are related through the idea of mode of production which comes from Karl Marx. Mode of production refers to everything that goes into the production of the requirements of life including “productive forces” such as labor, instruments and raw materials and the “relations of the production” such as the social structures that regulate the relation between humans in the production of goods. People must consume to survive, but to consume they must produce, and in producing they necessarily enter into relations which exist independently of their will. This concept relates to progress as the idea that we progress from a ‘lower stage’ to progressively higher stages in terms of our structure is referred to as social evolution. Another link the two concepts have is that Marx saw capitalism to create a revolutionary class and not just