An empirical perspective on transcendent phenomenon

Sociology is a young science, just barely 200 years old. Encouraged by the success of the natural sciences, theorists assumed the underlying laws of the social world could be uncovered. The philosophical background for this new science was given by Montesque, Rousseau and Saint-Simon. A Frenchman, August Comte, who later went insane, was the first to coin the word sociology. Following him, several thinkers made outstanding contributions to the understanding of social dynamics. (My favorite classical theorists include Karl Marx, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, Alfred Schutz and Karl Mannheim.) Finally, the great Emile Durkheim in the latter part of the 19th Century was the first true academic sociologist.

Throughout the 20th Century, sociologists established themselves as credible voices in the academic world and made many practical contributions to the understanding of war, political parties, organizational behavior and city planning. Today, sociologists are active in many vital pursuits in gender studies, understanding of race relations, the constuction of meaning and 3rd world development.

I define sociology as the study of distinctively social structures, that is, those recurring micro and macro patterns of human relations which can be discerned by systematic observation. Sociology is an empirical discipline, and thus can only be understood by what can be observed through our five senses. This becomes an interesting point in light of transcendent phenomena. Sociology cannot answer the question Does God exist? but it will answer the question What do people do when they believe that God exists? This is what I mean by the phrase "an empirical perspective on transcendent phenomena."

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This page created on July 12, 1996.
Most recent revision was August 27, 1996.
Copyright © 1996 Gerardo Marti
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