Essay on Estimate of Comte’s Achievements

(i) John Stuart Mill referred to Comte as one among the first of European thinkers; and by his institution of a new social science, in some respects, the first.

(ii) George Henry Lewis called Comte the greatest of modern thinkers.

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(iii) John Morley, the English statesman and author, says of Comte: “Neither Franklin, nor any man that has ever lived, could surpass him in the heroic tenacity with which, in the face of a thousand obstacles, he pursued his own ideal of vocation.

Comte’s Achievements:

1. By giving a name and laying the foundations of a newly emerging social science Comte filled in the vacuum. The name that he gave is quite apt to the science, i.e., sociology, which is all comprehensive in nature. ,

2. Comte’s insistence on positive approach, objectivity and scientific attitude contributed to the progress of social sciences in general.

3. Comte’s ideas relating to the Law of Three Stages reveal that man became more and more rational and scientific in his approach by gradually giving up speculations, imaginations, etc. He also showed that there is a close association between the intellectual evolution and the social progress.

4. Even though his classification of sciences is not perfect, it has shown how and why sociology depends heavily on the achievements of other sciences. Comte has shown that any broad-based science will grow only after the growth of sciences that have emerged prior to that.

5. Comte’s writings reveal an enormous wealth of ideas. He has made a number of propositions concerning the scope and method of sociology. He has shown the way towards the modern definition of sociology and its basic divisions. “With the decline of evolutionism, however, sociology returned, though with modifications, to Comte’s view about its subject-matter” — Prof. Timasheff.

6. The division of sociology into social statics and social dynamics, i.e., into social order and social change or progress – which Comte made, is quite appropriate. Even the present-day sociolo­gists speak of the same divisions.

7. Comte gave maximum importance to the scientific method. He criticised the armchair social philosophers and stressed the need to follow observation, classification of data and experimentation of the main steps involved in the scientific method. This stress on the scientific method provided a boost for the growth of science.

8. Comte argued that sociology was not just a ‘pure’ science but an ‘applied’ science also. He believed that sociology, “the science of his creation” would help to solve the problems of the society. He “invented the new science as a necessary instrument of social reform.”

9. Though one can charge Comte as a “morality-intoxicated” man, one cannot reject Comte’s attempts to uphold the “moral order” in society as highly unwanted. In fact, by highlighting the
importance of “morality” he became a guide and a source of inspiration for Arnold Toynbee and Pitirim A. Sorokin.

10. Finally, by doing a lot of descriptive work Comte contributed to the growth of theoretical sociology.

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