What is The Relationship Between the Enlightenment and Sociology?

What is the relationship between the enlightenment and sociology? The Enlightenment was centered on the theory of progress and social development [Ray,13]. The Renaissance was a time of recovery from the “dark age”, rediscovery and expansion of colonialism, and exploration of non-European culture. This led to the development of new ideas and challenged established order. The Enlightenment recognised that human history is constantly changing and that societies can experience material, mental, moral, and philosophical progress. Modernity is just one stage in history. It does not mean that the past will end, but it could be the beginning of a better society. Eighteen-century thinkers believed that reason was the driving force behind change and that consciousness and human knowledge could develop in a linear fashion. Philosophers tend to categorize and organize knowledge since the Enlightenment was an age full of science and reason. This led to some theories about the historical stages of development of societies that arranged historical times in progressive order [Ray, 13-15].

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The Enlightenment’s belief in the progressive development of societies led to the notion of future utopia, the final stage of social evolution. It was an optimistic view of history that led from the darkest, most oppressive times in the past to the present, and through ambiguous, chaotic modernity to a better, more just future. Condorcet described such a utopian vision as one in which society would triumph over tyranny through the transformation of tradition and superstition to reason [Ray 15]. characterized by a certain utopianism, which was a reflection of the belief in the promises of modernity to bring about freedom. It displayed a strong belief in human action being able to shape the future, which was unlike earlier social thought” [Delany and Blackwell, 23]. Marx saw communism to be the best and most just social system. Marx saw communism as the final stage in human history, and the most desirable and important phase of human progress. Sideman stated that Marx never lost his Enlightenment faith at the dawn of a new age. [Sideman 1998, 36].

what is the relationship between the enlightenment and sociology? Contrary to Enlightenment philosophers’ belief, Marx believed that utopia could not be achieved through evolution and development, but rather through the revolution of the working class. In the eighteenth century, revolution was not a concept. This was before the French revolution. Although it is regrettable that the Enlightenment helped to prepare the ground for the French revolution, the eighteen-century thinkers’ works did not encourage violence or force. Marx shared the romantic vision with socialist thinkers, and activists supporting French strife. Marx, unlike his eighteen-century ancestors, sought emancipation within the proletariat, which is the modern working class. The Enlightenment was a time of intellectuals. Philosophers were given a special role in the development of society during this period [Szacki]. Eighteen-century thought was dominated by reason, which had the power to liberate people. Marx’s violent vision of revolution was not reserved for intellectuals. aEUR|.

Religion and ideologies

The Middle Ages saw the end of gods laws, theological explanations of social order, and the age of gods laws. The Enlightenment separated politics from religion. The concept of private and public spheres was brought to life in the eighteenth century. Religion was made a private matter for citizens. God’s rights were no longer determined by social and political issues. Secular society was founded on secular rules. The Enlightenment believed strongly in science and reason, and sought to free people from superstition and religion. “Social change requires that cultural traditions are weakened in order to allow for new ideas, attitudes, and favors social progress” (Seidman 1998, 34). Social change was impeded by tradition and religion, which overruled the utopian visions of the future. This does not necessarily mean that the Enlightenment was truly secular. Rejecting religion was not limited to the public, political realm. None of the great philosophers at the time – Becon and Diderot, Locke, – believed in atheism [Ray 13]. It was necessary to distinguish science from religion, theology and logical reasoning. The sphere of knowledge had to be reformed because religion interfered with cognition.

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what is the relationship between the enlightenment and sociology? Marx shared the Enlightenment’s idea of a secular society. He did not expand on the notion of secularization. Marx believed that every ideology and every meta-narration of society at every stage of its development were a result of current economic relations. The internalization of rules, regulations, and prohibitions by religion served to justify the production conditions and thereby exploitation. Religion was in this sense a tool of oppression. Marx argued that emancipation required not only the rejection of the theological order of world but also the complete rejection of religion. This emancipation also required revolution, a dramatic and sudden shift in economic conditions that would alter social relations. Religion was therefore not a private matter, but a political issue that justifies bourgeois order. Like in the eighteenth century, religion was a barrier to change. However, this time it was not supposed to be removed from public life but completely destroyed. Revolution was able to change the social order in all spheres, not just in production but also in religion.

Science and its role

The Enlightenment was a period of scientific development. The view of modern philosophers about the world and humanity has changed dramatically with the advent of science such as medicine, mathematics, and natural sciences. Science revealed the mystery of existence as well as the order of nature. Science is one way to achieve individual freedom. Science led to the discovery of a rational, logical order for human and social relations. Marx believed science played a significant role in uncovering the rules of organization for society. Marx understood that understanding the social forces (institutions, cultural traditions, and social groups) was essential for a society to be able to change. Marx’ theory of science claimed that science played an explanatory function by revealing the true nature of social order and providing information about social classes, production methods, and rules of historical evolution. Marx believed that science should be founded on rational assumptions and logical laws. It should also reject common sense, superstitions, and other forms of inertia.

Perspectives from an economic perspective

Marx’s theory is based on a materialistic view, but he wasn’t the first to propose an economic understanding of social life. Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and other eighteen-century thinkers recognized the centrality of economics in social life. Ray, 15] Early economists spoke out against dehumanization and social disintegration through modern production specialization and technical development. Modern thinkers are not aware of the new phenomena brought by the capitalist revolution in eighteen centuries. The negative effects of industrialization, population explosion and urbanization were extensively discussed at that time.

We can see that the importance of material conditions in human life is not Marx’ invention. However, he did observe that technology damages social relations. Machines and innovations used in production serve the dominant class to exploit workers [Ray 65]. Marx’s materialistic outlook on society led him to think that “the reproduction and maintenance of material life precedes the production and maintenance of culture.” [Seidman 1998, 37]. Marx believed that material conditions were the foundation for all other characteristics. Marx believed that living conditions are the basis of social structure, policies and morality. Marx demonstrated that certain social conditions can influence certain types of consciousness. This was a significant contribution Marx’s thought to the social sciences. Social scientists have been studying the impact of material conditions on human beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes since Marx. This research has been the basis for many social science disciplines, including sociology, sociology knowledge, or sociology religion (Szacki 231]. Social scientists have been focusing on the development of society and its ownership relationships since Marx.

The idea of state

The Enlightenment is the search for such origins of social order that freedom does not get limited. How to reconcile freedom with social order. The Enlightenment – the idea of an individual in society. This is free from state, church and any other collective forms. The civil society concept – Freedom through civil rights. Searching for order that is based on rational assumptions

Philosophers play a key role in creating morality and social order. Intelectuals [Szacki, 84, Ray, Enlightenment, 11].

Marx referred to different social formations at each stage of development. These formations were directly created by economic relationships within society. The bourgeois formation is the most detailed and well-described. It was the most modern, differentiated and developed mode of production. The capitalist stage of development was marked by a binary class structure. One class was the society that sold its work and didn’t own any other means of production – the workers. The other class was made up of the owners of the means of production that benefited workers’ work – called the capitalists.

Individualism and collective action

In an earlier philosophy, the status of a human being in society was determined by external forces, not human itself. These were the world order, God’s will and some form of justice. The idea of civil society was introduced and strengthened by the French revolution and the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment argued that all human beings have some common characteristics that are independent from external, historical, or natural circumstances. This was a form of individualism that claimed that all human beings share some common characteristics that are inherited from nature. This is what makes society egalitarian. Differences in human status are secondary. This means that all (male) humans are equal and have the same civic rights. In this context, emancipation was a political emancipation for citizens from feudal, traditional relationships.

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Marx linked human position in the social structure to material conditions, idea of work and ownership. Marx believed that society was not founded on civil rights, but rather on economic relations between different social classes – classes. This was a dichotomous view of society that consisted of capitalists and workers – who own the means of production. Emancipation was not possible on the basis civil rights, but rather on the basis for changing economic relations. This revolutionary outlook led to the transformation of society’s order. Marx did not see emancipation or freedom as individual actions, unlike the Enlightenment. Marx clearly opposed individualism, both as a concept of individual social actions and as a method of inferring about human conditions. Marx believed that each individual was rooted in his collective history, society, and that his consciousness, beliefs, goals, and needs are shaped by that heritage. This is why analysis of human conditions and the projection of change in social relations must take into account collective baggage and collective effort. individuals do not act on ideas primarily because they are true of have been “proven” correct, but on the basis of their self-interest. While ideas may influence our actions, our social interests will determine which ideas we choose to adopt.


Critical theory

Marx is considered the father of critical theory. classical sociology is a critical discipline, because it represents typically an attack on the taken-for-granted assumptions of bourgeois, utilitarian liberalism. This critical tradition is often associated with Marxism [Bryan, Turner, Blackwell 9]. However, it is impossible to deny that the Enlightenment thought was marked by a critical approach. The XVIII Century philosophers challenged religions, authorities and beliefs. They also challenged metaphysics and any other thing that wasn’t deemed rational. Marx’ theory provided the basis for future revolutions. But it was Enlightenment thought which was the mother of French Revolution. The Enlightenment theories are revolutionary in this sense, being revolutionary because of their criticism, doubt, and rejection. Marx did not only develop this critical perspective but he also didn’t neglect the existing, established order.

our social interests are determined by our social position, in particular our class status” [Seidman, 1998, 34]

“Marx and Engels sought to shift the focus on social criticism from analysis of consciousness and evolution of ideas towards that of the development social institutions and conflicts.” [Seidman 1998, 37]

Historical materialism: “Class dynamics shape the organization and direction of socioeconomic systems” [S, 38]

The class theory of society and the class struggle

The ownership of the means of production is what gives power

Social theory is now the “critique for political economy,” [Delany and Blackwell, 25]

New constructs: Commodification, class-struggle profit, surplus value

Marx’s social theory was critical. Critique is not a method of explaining or simply interpreting society, but it is inherently critical and seeks out the system of dominance. [Delany, Blackwell, 25]

Karl Marx effectively replaced philosophical analysis by a social theory of modern society. [Delany, Blackwell, 23]


Modes of production vs. reason

False consciousness vs. reason

Reason vs. Ownership

what is the relationship between the enlightenment and sociology?