Is Social Science Scientific?
Sociology is undoubtedly a logical science; it has the characteristics that other sciences have, its own theories that can be proved, as well as having systematic theories and laws. John Maynard Keynes refuted the many statements made by Auguste Comte and Friedrich Engels, simply he described social sciences as “illogical” and “dull.” Thus, without providing any sufficient evidence, he had not proven that, in fact, sociology is not scientific. Auguste Comte regularly compared sociology to other familiar forms of science, like biology, physics, and chemistry. In doing so, he made the assumption that others believed sociology to be scientific. Comte, unintentionally, provided adequate evidence as to why sociology is scientific, while at the same time simply describing sociology as a whole. Much like Comte, Friedrich Engels also found social sciences to be scientific, Engels was able to apply Comte’s beliefs and the basis of sociology to practical situations and groups of people. His strong belief in the science of sociology helped him form the basic idea that knowledge is what makes a person free; thus, ignorance is what restricts people. John Maynard Keynes is considered the challenger of Friedrich Engels, because he often disputed Engels’ work, especially his work on social sciences. Keynes found socialism to be a utopianism ideal, which caused people to be easily influenced without really being aware of all the facts. He didn’t believe that there was any science involved at all, and thus people were being misinformed and history was influenced in a negative way. Without Keynes providing specific evidence as to why social science is not scientific, Comte and Engels’ ideas on sociology cannot be debated.
Auguste Comte, who is credited with being the founding father of sociology, strongly believes that this form of knowledge is in fact scientific. He provides evidence such as his specific stages of awareness; these stages are comparable to other scientific laws, like the different stages in physical, human development in the science of Biology. The three different stages; mythopoetic, metaphysical and positive, can all be observed in the maturation of a child into an adult; everyone progresses through these three phases. Comte held social sciences to the same “natural laws” that other sciences are held to, however he also described how sociology is different. He believed the key difference in social sciences, is that the causes of “phenomena” and specific behavior is investigated, rather that overlooked. Comte went as far as to compare his third stage of knowledge, positive (also known as scientific) to a type of religion, because he believed that positivism holds the whole truth, and one day this whole truth will replace what is not real in theology. His strong beliefs and descriptions of sociology provide others with evidence that there is a scientific system in this knowledge.
Friedrich Engels further supported statements made by Auguste Comte, and also added his own beliefs and findings to maintain the belief that sociology is scientific. Engels took Comte’s findings and applied them to groups of people. He said that ignorance is a sign of someone who is not freedom; freedom comes with the knowledge gained. He is known for applying Marxists beliefs to sociology. Many considered Engels radical because of his ideas on how social science is logical and because of his application of his sociological beliefs to common people. His primary objective in his teachings was to prove how external nature affects internal laws. Also, Friedrich is credited with discovering a scientific pattern inside of social sciences; this only provides more evidence that sociology is scientific. Friedrich Engels ability to see the science inside of sociology and further build upon Comte’s findings helps to illustrate the scientific pattern.
Unlike Auguste Comte and Friedrich Engels, John Maynard Keynes found sociology to be anything but scientific, in fact, he believed that it was completely irrational and it falsely led people to follow its beliefs. It is hard to understand Keynes point of view because he doesn’t openly state his findings that guided him to believe this. Keynes doesn’t particularly attack Comte’s views, however he critiques Engels’ findings strongly, especially Engels’ and his associate Carl Marx’s “Marxian Socialism.” Keynes, like many other critics, believed that Engels misunderstood many of Marx and Comte’s findings, leading socialism into a non-scientific field. Unfortunately, due to Keynes lack of supporting evidence, it is hard to understand his beliefs against sociology, thus he doesn’t derive any proof that social science is not scientific.
Sociology is in fact scientific because it is very systematical, methodical, and logical. The two most sustaining pieces of evidence to support this is the three stages of knowledge, as found by Comte and Engels’ scientific pattern in Sociology. John Maynard Keynes was not able to further prove that there was no science involved in sociology; he simply tried to diminish its validity. Overall, Sociology is considered a science by most; this is due to Auguste Comte and Friedrich Engels’ strong evidence supporting it.