Positivism was created in the late eighteenth century, as part of western traditional philosophy. Positivism is connected with the Enlightenment, since they both created a similar opinion about natural science and social worlds. Positivism has a tendency to give emphasis to human relative real experience; therefore the positivism is also relatively connected with the empiricism. Moreover, Positivism emphasizes empirical studies, studying phenomena themselves, usually using observation (Mark J Smith, 2003).Positivism thinkers consider that they could obtain scientific principles from the study of phenomena, but then tend to ignore many aspects of human experience, such as emotions. In addition, positivism is partly associated with the Empiricism, because Positivism and Empiricism both pay more attention on phenomenon and fact explanation.
Moreover, there were three different methods influence on natural and social science in early nineteenth century (Mark J Smith, 2003). From 1830 to 1842, Auguste Comte claims his Course of Positive Philosophy. Positivism could be explained that it is a useful and practice theory knowledge, as well as, it also could ensure a relative satisfied environment to real society. In addition, Positivism tends to relate philosophy and science together just as its theoretical central point. Moreover, these try to keep the philosophy knowledge into science world. As a result, there could be found some similar rules between the theory of positivism and conventional empiricism theory (Mark J Smith, 2003).
Firstly, it is really necessary to understand the development of positivism in the social sciences. During the development of the positivism, there are three main positivism thinkers which should be mentioned. The three people are Auguste Comte (1798-1857), Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). To begin with, from 1798 to 1857, Auguste Comte became the most important person for positivism, since he was the first professor to apply the professional word which was sociology. Therefore, the sociology was created by Comte. (Callinicos, 2006). As a result, Auguste Comte was the most famous person in the early positivism field. Auguste Comte trusts that humanly sensory experience is real, useful and accurate; therefore it could be possible explained by empirical aspect. On the contrary, rational and emotional sense is untrue, useless and imprecise, since it could not prove and it is non-empirical. In addition, the positivism is an especial system of empirical knowledge; therefore it could break away from the metaphysics. It also can overcome and abandoned one-sidedness situation of the idealism and the materialism, therefore the positivism becomes relatively truly new philosophy. Additionally, Auguste Comte also claims that the positivism should based on sensory experience through observation, experimentation and comparative methods to explore real scientific knowledge. Consequently, Comte supports positivism and he also think that there has a relationship between social philosophy and social science (Kundu 2009). Kundu (2009) also claims that positivism should pay more attention on sensory experience and data observation, as well as it also should avoid metaphysics. In addition, large numbers of positivism thinkers believe that Comte’s three stages of the development of knowledge were correct. The three stages are the theological, the metaphysical and the positivism (Mark J Smith, 2003). Moreover, they also trust, using Comte’s ideas, that unchanged natural laws and rules control every part of natural phenomenon, as well as, natural laws and rules are exposed by natural science. Furthermore, they emphasized that every single natural and social phenomenon are controlled by unchanged laws and rules, as well as, those laws and rules are instituted upon social phenomenon. In addition, human brains abstain from investigating completely truth facts and the beginning of covert reason in positive field.
In summary, Auguste Comte is important because he founded positivist philosophy. Moreover, he trusted that experience is the only source of knowledge, therefore whole scientific knowledge must be based on the basis experience facts. It could be explained that different forms of positivism philosophy must comply with the principles of positivism. Therefore, at beginning Comte’s positivism is social philosophy, which against both the theological and metaphysical. As a result, the main opinion of positivism is that basis on sensory experience, through observation, experimentation and comparative methods to explore the system of scientific knowledge.
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Secondly, from 1820 to 1930, Herbert Spencer is a famous philosopher, moreover he also recognized with positivism in the history of philosophy (Michael Martin. 2000). However, compared with Comte, Herbert Spencer practiced a little different positivism theory. He totally trusts that the physics principles should control social science. His traditional philosophy proved that it is really useful, which not only for the application of social structure but also for the conception of social justice. His opinion emphasizes the individual responsibility for natural behaviors. In addition, his theories become an important idea for combining all different departments of scientific knowledge as a same system of philosophy. Consequently, Herbert Spencer’s theory of positivism is that human only can understand the phenomenon of objects. Moreover, human can not recognize the essence of natural objects. The purpose of philosophy is that to put aside absolutes in order to research the phenomenon. Therefore, all philosophy and science can not go beyond the scope of experience. It seems that to understand the phenomenon of the experience for the nature of things. In addition, Herbert Spencer also has a great contribution to religion field, because he is an absolutely clearly agnostic in the religion aspect (Moore, 2009). Moreover, he also thinks that the god is not a real science thing, because the god is suppositional, mysterious and unknowable. Furthermore, it is a contradiction for religion move into the science field. He also declares that the religion things are agnosticism for science human.
In addition, Herbert Spencer shows an important opinion about that the evolution of natural laws and rules could be divided into two aspects which are the concentration and the differentiation. As a result, the universe is a final outcome of evolution. Although there have a slight different in evolutionary theories of history between Comte and Herbert opinions, the two different theories have a similar idea which is naturalism. They were both heavily influenced by Darwin’s theories of evolution.
Finally, after Comte and Spencer, from 1858 to 1917, the well-known French sociologist who is Emile Durkheim became the most famous positivism philosopher in that period. However, he did not create the conventional of positivistic sociology (Edward A Tiyakian. 2009). It could be explained that he was a modern positivism thinker. He identified social facts which are a relative independent study. Moreover, he created a chief academic discipline of modern social science which is a really important positivism field in record. It seems really important that social facts are different from the decision factors of natural phenomena, physical phenomena and special features by Emile Durkheim thinks that it is not flexible and suitable for Comte opinion, therefore he tend to found a relative uniform natural and social science sociology (Peter Halfpenny, 1992). Moreover he also give an opinion about that the sociology is a relative independent object. Furthermore, he also thinks that Comte did not apply a relatively comprehensive and strict empirical research, as well as, he think that broaden and severe inquiry is an only method to create a true comprehensive social laws and feasible naturalism. However, in general background, Emile Durkheim had admitted the mainly opinion of Comet’s ideas such as the naturalism, the empiricism, the social reformism and the scientism. In the society field, Emile Durkheim claims that it is undeniable that society is a collective. Moreover, society is created when people do think to create social cohesion. However, this combination of society is not a simple addition the quantity. There is a relatively profound qualitative change. In addition, there have a qualitatively different between individual’s awareness and society’s consciousness. Therefore, the society has objective and external relationship to individuals, as well as, it also a kind of constraint and restraint. Consequently, Durkheim’s opinions still have a huge influence in recent years (Mark J Smith, 2003).
On the other hand, it is also necessary to understand that the positivism methods, as well as, to realize the positive and negative facets of positivism contribute to natural science. The sociology was founded by French sociologist Auguste Comte (Callinicos, 2006). Moreover, its theory base on naive realism which originated from experience philosophy. Positivism methods focus on research objective facts and social product, which makes objective social phenomenon as the starting point. Furthermore, these also emphasize to research the social law and scientific summary. Therefore it tries to find the causal correlation in social phenomenon field. Positivism method focus on the content and substance of researching objects. The final result is to make it universal. It seems that the positivism method could be divided into four aspects. The first aspect of positivism method is that the social research should be limited to gather information which could be impersonal survey and assortment (Mark J Smith, 2003). After that, statistical data is the best method for society research because of it is more objective (Mark J Smith, 2003).. Then, the most important thing is to find the relationship between different social facts (Mark J Smith, 2003). Finally, positivism method could contain a study for causal relationship (Mark J Smith, 2003)..
In addition, there is no doubt that the positivism makes a huge contribution to natural science, although it makes unreasonable assumptions to avoid the intrusion of natural philosophy. Furthermore, it is really important that the positivism method to social science to imitate with natural science in order to make a contribution to natural science. For natural sciences and natural scientists, they are both basically positivists. Moreover, they proposed that the perception of objective sense-data from experiments, analyze results and make theory, predictions and laws (Hugh Jones & Laidlaw, 2000). As a result, the positivism focus on sensory experience, therefore the positivism could make a contribution on the field of natural science. It is could be explained that the positivism could ensure a relatively deep going forecast and observation, as well as, the positivism also could obtain higher succeed than other methods. Consequently, the positivism method is more objective than other methods in the field of natural science.
Although, there is no doubt that the production of positivist philosophy contribute to development of natural science, the inherent weaknesses of positivism are exposed with the development of human theory and practice. First of all, the object of research field is confined to the phenomenon. For example, the agnosticism is created in that situation. Secondly, it seems harmful that the scientific methods combined with philosophy or the philosophy methods integrated with sciences. Moreover, it is also unimaginable that nature and society could leave human practices. However, the positivism seems to ignore many aspects of human behavior to study the development process of natural and social condition. Finally, scientific induction can not be explained clearly, especially for the complex nature of social phenomena. In addition, Mark J Smith (2003) claims that the children’s imitative, the conditions are varying, less concerned in daily life. As a result, numerous social scientists have more concerned about that a human being cannot be put in a restricted vacuum , as in the Positivist experiment as this omits , essential facts.
In conclusion, there are three positivism thinkers, which are Auguste Comte (1798-1857), Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), make a huge contribution to development of positivism. Although there have several different opinions, the main idea of positivism and conventional empiricism are all against the theological and metaphysical. Moreover, the positivism has four chief features which are social facts, statistical data, correlation social phenomenon and causal relationship (Mark J Smith, 2003).. Furthermore, the positivism really makes a huge contribution to evolution of social and nature science. Consequently, there also have advantages and disadvantage with positivism contribution to social study.
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