Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Law of Three Stages

This law was developed by the father of Sociology, August Comte, by his method of scientific comparison through time. Comte began his search for the law as a young apprentice to Saint-Simon in 1822.
The law as the title suggests is divided into three broad stages namely Theological Stage, Metaphysical Stage and Positive Stage. This law was developed by the analogy of the progress of an individual human mind through the ages with the progress of societies through time. At the first level, known as the Theological stage or Fictitious Stage, the society is considered to be a devout believer just as a child. It relates the first and final cause of all phenomenons to God. As it progresses to the next level, the Metaphysical Stage or Abstract Stage, the society is just like that of adolescents. In this stage the society is no longer a devout believer of god instead it starts to question and begins its search for the ultimate cause and effect of events. In the third and final level of the law, the Positive or Scientific Stage, the society is like an adult. It gives up the vain quest for the ultimate cause and effect instead applies itself to the study of their law- the invariable relation of succession and resemblance. To understand the law it is unnecessary to understand its sub-divisions.
To expect a new social order from the death throes of an old social order in a smooth manner would be a mistake. Thus, the society as it progresses through these stages passes through alternative “organic” and “critical” phases. In the organic phase the various parts of the social body are in equilibrium and in the critical phase the various parts of the social body are in disequilibrium. When a society remains in a particular stage for a while without turbulences that phase is an organic phase. When societies go through a lot of unrest and turbulences that phase is critical phase. The various revolutions and revolts against a particular social order in world history exist for a few generations and are good example of a critical phase. August Comte lived through a critical phase.