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The sociological treatment of historical and moral problems, which Comte and after him, Spencer and Taine, had discussed and mapped, became a precise and concrete study only when the attack of militant Marxism made its conclusions a burning issue, and so made the search for evidence more zealous and the attention to method more intense.Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was one of the most popular and influential 19th-century sociologists.
For Isaiah Berlin, Marx may be regarded as the "true father" of modern sociology, "in so far as anyone can claim the title." To have given clear and unified answers in familiar empirical terms to those theoretical questions which most occupied men's minds at the time, and to have deduced from them clear practical directives without creating obviously artificial links between the two, was the principal achievement of Marx's theory.Comte believed a positivist stage would mark the final era, after conjectural theological and metaphysical phases, in the progression of human understanding.In observing the circular dependence of theory and observation in science, and having classified the sciences, Comte may be regarded as the first philosopher of science in the modern sense of the term.But by insisting on the irreducibility of each of his basic sciences to the particular science of sciences which it presupposed in the hierarchy and by emphasizing the nature of sociology as the scientific study of social phenomena Comte put sociology on the map.To be sure, [its] beginnings can be traced back well beyond Montesquieu, for example, and to Condorcet, not to speak of Saint-Simon, Comte's immediate predecessor.The word sociology (or "sociologie") is derived from both Latin and Greek origins.
The Latin word: socius, "companion"; the suffix -logy, "the study of" from Greek -λογία from λόγος, lógos, "word", "knowledge".
Comte endeavoured to unify history, psychology and economics through the scientific understanding of the social realm.
Writing shortly after the malaise of the French Revolution, he proposed that social ills could be remedied through sociological positivism, an epistemological approach outlined in The Course in Positive Philosophy (1830–1842) and A General View of Positivism (1848).
It was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748–1836) in an unpublished manuscript.
Comte had earlier used the term "social physics", but that had subsequently been appropriated by others, most notably the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet.
Comte gave a powerful impetus to the development of sociology, an impetus which bore fruit in the later decades of the nineteenth century.