Thinkers occupy a prime position in the development of any discipline, especially so in the social sciences. Sociology 'is no exception to this rule, and in its emergence and develop a plethora of social thinkers have made their contributions. Systematic study of sociology a science, particularly, as a separate discipline, originated with Insider Auguste Francois M Xavier Comte during nineteenth century. It is during this period modern sociology emerged the places like France, Germany and England. Since then, galaxies of thinkers and writ have contributed to the development of sociological thought. Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are the four men who are regarded as the central figures founding fathers and the great masters of sociological thought in the. Development of mod sociology.'
Auguste Comte, a volatile Frenchman, philosopher, moralist and sociologist, traditionally regarded as the father of sociology. He coined the term sociology and bee father of sociology. He tried to create a new science of society, which would not only explain the past of mankind but also predict its future course. Auguste Comate was born in France the year 1798. He invented a new discipline which he called at first social physics and changed it to sociology thereafter. "Auguste Comte may be considered as first and foremost, sociologist of human and social unity" so writes the French sociologist Raymond Aron. Important works are:
(1) Positive Philosophy (1830-42).
(2) Systems of positive polity (1851 -54)
(3) Religion of Humanity (1856).
His contribution to sociology can be divided into four categories. They are namely:-
(1) Classification and ordering of social sciences.
(2) The nature, method and scope of sociology.
(3) The law of three stages.
(4) The plan for social reconstruction.
LAW OF THREE STAGES:
Auguste Comte was the first person to proclaim Law of Three stages, which became the corner stone of his thought. Of course, this famous law had been borrowed from R. J. Turgot, Y. B.Vico and Saint-Simon. The law states that human thought has undergone three separate stages in its evolution and development. According to him human thought as well as social progress pass through three important stages. These three stages are the universal law of human progress. These three stages are common in case of the development of human knowledge as well as social evolution. Human individual is a staunch believer during childhood, then becomes a critical metaphysician in adolescence and becomes a natural Philosopher during manhood. A similar case of development takes place in case of human society. Law of Three Stages not only talks about the progressive transformation of society but also explain the transformation in minds of the people. The evolution of human mind goes hand in hand with a typical form of organisation of society. The period of growth and development in society is known as:
(1) Theological or Fictitious stage.
(2) Metaphysical' or Abstract stage.
(3) Positive or Scientific stage.
Comte stated that each succeeding stage is superior to the earlier stage.
Theological or Fictitious Stage:
During the primitive stage, the early man believed that all phenomena of nature are the creation of the divine or supernatural. The primitive man and children do not have the scientific outlook, therefore it is characterised by unscientific outlook. They failed to discover the natural causes of various phenomena and hence attributed them to supernatural or divine power. For example, primitive men saw God everywhere in nature. They supposed that excess or deficiency of rain due to Godly wrath; such a casual explanation would be in terms of theological or fictitious explanation. The theological stage of thinking may be divided into three sub-stages such as
a) Fetishism was the primary stage of theological stage of thinking. During this period primitive people believed that there is a living spirit in the nonliving objects. This is otherwise known as animism. People worshipped inanimate objects like tress, stones, a piece of wood, etc. These objects are considered as Fetish.
b) Polytheism means believing in many Gods. Primitive people believed that different Gods control different natural forces. Each God had some definite function and his scope and area of action was determined. For example, God of water, God of rain and God of fire, God of air, etc.
c) Monotheism is the last and the most developed form of theological thinking. Monotheism means believing in one God or God in one.
Metaphysical or Abstract stage: -
Metaphysical stage is an extension of theological stage. During this period, reason and rationality was growing. Reason replaced imagination. People tried to believe that God is an abstract being. Soul is the spark of divine power i.e. inform of abstract forces. It is believed that an abstract power or force guides and determines the events in the world. Metaphysical thinking discards belief in concrete God. The nature of enquiry was legal and rational in nature. For example; Classical Hindu Indian society where the principle of transmigration of soul, the conception of rebirth, notions of pursuant has were largely governed by metaphysical uphill.
Positive or Scientific Stage:
This positive stage is also known a scientific stage. The dawn of 19th century marked the beginning of this stage. It is characterised by scientific knowledge. In this stage, human mind gave up the taken for granted approach. At this stage, human mind tried to establish cause and affect relationship. Scientific knowledge is based on facts. Facts are collected by observation and classification of phenomena.
Positivism is a purely intellectual way of looking at the world. Positivism emphasises on observation and classification of data and facts. One can observe uniformities or laws about natural as well as social phenomena. Positivistic thinking is best suited to the need of industrial society.
The concept rational doesn't have universal meanings, what is rational to one society may not be to society another.
Max Weber advocates that the nature of progress of society should not be studied by the preconceived philosophical outlines rather they should be studied form objective and empirical stand point.