Auguste Comte was a nineteenth-century French philosopher known for founding sociology. He theorized that social order could be achieved through applying the systematic methods applied in scientific fields to the evaluation of society. He is also known for positivism, the perspective that society shapes individuals and that individuals’ actions are purely reactions to external social forces.
Karl Marx rejected Comte’s notion of positivism. Marx thought that class struggle led to social change and growth, and he believed that class conflict would eventually lead to a class-free society. Max Weber disagreed with Marx about economic factors being the most central aspect of society, but he also saw society differently than Comte. Weber emphasized the importance of individuals’ cultural values in social change.
The differing perspectives of these key figures in sociology show how the field is separate from scientific fields like biology or chemistry. In the latter fields, there are proven theories that have to be accepted in order to work out complex problems. In sociology, there are also some generally accepted ideas, but theorists can still disagree about the fundamental nature of social order and have an impact on the field.