Rise of sociology as an intellectual tradition. Classical tradition in sociology of the XIX century

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MINISTERY OF EDUCATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS Belarus State Economic University REFERAT: «Rise of sociology as an intellectual tradition. Classical tradition in sociology of the XIX century» Minsk 2008 1. Rise of sociology as an intellectual tradition Since ancient times man has been interested in issues of his own living among other people. Why do people try to join living with other people, not without? What makes them fix borders, form separate states and struggle with each other? Why do some people possess all benefits, others are deprived of them? Searching for answers to these questions forced ancient thinkers to focus their attention on man and the society where he lives in. Emergence of sociology is obliged to the concept “society”, its theoretical

development and use in practice. Attempts to comprehend optimal ways of governing, social order, people’s effective activities were first made by ancient Chinese and Indian philosophers. Antique philosophers made their contribution by suggesting new ideas which are now considered fundamentals of sociology. For instance, Plato and Aristotle developed a doctrine of human and the society; their works initiated studies of certain social institutions such as the state, family and law. Following the principle of social division of labour, Plato (427-347 BC) created a first in the world theory of stratification according to which the society is divided into three classes: higher class consisting of wise men who govern the state; middle class or warriors who defend the society from

disorder, and lower class consisting of craftsmen and peasants. Anyway, in his theory there was no place for slaves whose destiny was hard work considered as unworthy by free citizens. Aristotle considered middle class a foot-hold of order. To his mind, the state is better governed if egoistic interests of the rich are limited, the poor are not excluded from government, and middle class is greater and stronger than the rich and the poor. Traditionally the origins of sociology are seen in European philosophy of the XVIII century, a period that is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. This movement advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded

themselves as courageous and elite, and saw their purpose as leading the world toward progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition and tyranny. The Enlightenment also provided a framework for the American and French Revolutions, as well as leading to the rise of capitalism and birth of socialism. The XVIII century also saw a continued rise of empirical philosophical ideas, and their application to political economy, government and sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology. However, investigations of this age were far from being systemic and integral. Lots of important issues were not paid attention to, that’s why achievements in learning social phenomena were less considerable as compared to other sciences. Of utmost

interest of the period became study of social communities and processes of their development and functioning. The study was caused by two factors. The first factor was industrial development of European countries; the second one was that all spheres of human activities became more complicated that raised problems of people’s interactions and their government, creation of social order in the society etc. When problems were realized and sounded, prerequisites for developing a new science appeared, science which could study groups of people and their behaviour in groups, human interactions and their results. As origins of sociology are seen in spiritual and political ideas of the Enlightenment and reaction to the French Revolution, French thinkers, English and German philosophers