Positivism is a philosophical theory stating that certain knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all certain knowledge. Positivism holds. Verified data received from the senses are known as empirical evidence. Positivism holds that society, like the physical world, operates according to general laws. Introspective and intuitive knowledge is rejected, as are metaphysics and theology because metaphysical and theological claims cannot be verified by sense experience. Although the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of western thought, the modern approach was formulated by the philosopher Auguste Comte in the early 19th century. Comte argued that, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other absolute laws, so does society, further developed positivism into a Religion of Humanity; the English noun positivism was re-imported in the 19th century from the French word positivisme, derived from positif in its philosophical sense of'imposed on the mind by experience'.
The corresponding adjective has been used in a similar sense to discuss law since the time of Chaucer. Positivism is part of a more general ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry, notably laid out by Plato and reformulated as a quarrel between the sciences and the humanities, Plato elaborates a critique of poetry from the point of view of philosophy in his dialogues Phaedrus 245a, Symposium 209a, Republic 398a, Laws 817 b-d and Ion. Wilhelm Dilthey popularized the distinction between Geisteswissenschaft and Naturwissenschaften; the consideration that laws in physics may not be absolute but relative, and, if so, this might be more true of social sciences, was stated, in different terms, by G. B. Vico in 1725. Vico, in contrast to the positivist movement, asserted the superiority of the science of the human mind, on the grounds that natural sciences tell us nothing about the inward aspects of things. Positivism asserts that all authentic knowledge allows verification and that all authentic knowledge assumes that the only valid knowledge is scientific.
Thinkers such as Henri de Saint-Simon, Pierre-Simon Laplace and Auguste Comte believed the scientific method, the circular dependence of theory and observation, must replace metaphysics in the history of thought. Émile Durkheim reformulated sociological positivism as a foundation of social research. Wilhelm Dilthey, in contrast, fought strenuously against the assumption that only explanations derived from science are valid, he reprised the argument found in Vico, that scientific explanations do not reach the inner nature of phenomena and it is humanistic knowledge that gives us insight into thoughts and desires. Dilthey was in part influenced by the historicism of Leopold von Ranke. At the turn of the 20th century the first wave of German sociologists, including Max Weber and Georg Simmel, rejected the doctrine, thus founding the antipositivist tradition in sociology. Antipositivists and critical theorists have associated positivism with "scientism". In his career, German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg, Nobel laureate for pioneering work in quantum mechanics, distanced himself from positivism by saying: The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence.
But can any one conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all, unclear we would be left with uninteresting and trivial tautologies. In the early 20th century, logical positivism—a descendant of Comte's basic thesis but an independent movement—sprang up in Vienna and grew to become one of the dominant schools in Anglo-American philosophy and the analytic tradition. Logical positivists rejected metaphysical speculation and attempted to reduce statements and propositions to pure logic. Strong critiques of this approach by philosophers such as Karl Popper, Willard Van Orman Quine and Thomas Kuhn have been influential, led to the development of postpositivism. In historiography the debate on positivism has been characterized by the quarrel between positivism and historicism. Arguments against positivist approaches in historiography include that history differs from sciences like physics and ethology in subject matter and method.
That much of what history studies is nonquantifiable, therefore to quantify is to lose in precision. Experimental methods and mathematical models do not apply to history, it is not possible to formulate general laws in history. Positivism in the social sciences is characterized by quantitative approaches and the proposition of quasi-absolute laws. A significant exception to this trend is represented by cultural anthropology, which tends toward qualitative approaches. In psychology the positivist movement was influential in the development of operationalism; the 1927 philosophy of science book The Logic of Modern Physics in particular, intended for physicists, coined the term operational definition, which went on to dominate psychological method for the whole century. In economics, practising researc
A social movement is a type of group action. There is no single consensus definition of a social movement, they are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they resist, or undo a social change, they provide a way of social change from the bottom within nations. Social movements can be defined as "organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites". Political science and sociology have developed a variety of theories and empirical research on social movements. For example, some research in political science highlights the relation between popular movements and the formation of new political parties as well as discussing the function of social movements in relation to agenda setting and influence on politics. Sociologists distinguish between several types of social movement examining things such as scope, type of change, method of work, type of change and timeframe.
Modern Western social movements became possible through education and increased mobility of labor due to the industrialization and urbanization of 19th-century societies. It is sometimes argued that the freedom of expression and relative economic independence prevalent in the modern Western culture are responsible for the unprecedented number and scope of various contemporary social movements. Many of the social movements of the last hundred years grew up, like the Mau Mau in Kenya, to oppose Western colonialism. Social movements have been and continue to be connected with democratic political systems. Social movements have been involved in democratizing nations, but more they have flourished after democratization. Over the past 200 years, they have become part of a global expression of dissent. Modern movements utilize technology and the internet to mobilize people globally. Adapting to communication trends is a common theme among successful movements. Research is beginning to explore how advocacy organizations linked to social movements in the U.
S. and Canada use social media to facilitate collective action. The systematic literature review of Buettner & Buettner analyzed the role of Twitter during a wide range of social movements. Mario Diani argues that nearly all definitions share three criteria: "a network of informal interactions between a plurality of individuals, groups and/or organizations, engaged in a political or cultural conflict, on the basis of a shared collective identity" Sociologist Charles Tilly defines social movements as a series of contentious performances and campaigns by which ordinary people make collective claims on others. For Tilly, social movements are a major vehicle for ordinary people's participation in public politics, he argues that there are three major elements to a social movement: Campaigns: a sustained, organized public effort making collective claims of target authorities. Sidney Tarrow defines a social movement as "collective challenges by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interactions with elites and authorities."
He distinguishes social movements from political parties and advocacy groups. The sociologists John McCarthy and Mayer Zald define as a social movement as "a set of opinions and beliefs in a population which represents preferences for changing some elements of the social structure and/or reward distribution of a society." According to Paul van Seeters and Paul James defining a social movement entails a few minimal conditions of ‘coming together’: the formation of some kind of collective identity. Thus we define a social movement as a form of political association between persons who have at least a minimal sense of themselves as connected to others in common purpose and who come together across an extended period of time to effect social change in the name of that purpose; the early growth of social movements was connected to broad economic and political changes in England in the mid-18th century, including political representation, market capitalization, proletarianization. The first mass social movement catalyzed around the controversial political figure John Wilkes.
As editor of the paper The North Briton, Wilkes vigorously attacked the new administration of Lord Bute and the peace terms that the new government accepted at the 1763 Treaty of Paris at the end of the Seven Years' War. Charged with seditious libel, Wilkes was arrested after the issue of a general warrant, a move that Wilkes denounced as unlawful - the L
Social network analysis
Social network analysis is the process of investigating social structures through the use of networks and graph theory. It characterizes networked structures in terms of nodes and the ties, edges, or links that connect them. Examples of social structures visualized through social network analysis include social media networks, memes spread, information circulation and acquaintance networks, business networks, social networks, collaboration graphs, disease transmission, sexual relationships; these networks are visualized through sociograms in which nodes are represented as points and ties are represented as lines. These visualizations provide a means of qualitatively assessing networks by varying the visual representation of their nodes and edges to reflect attributes of interest. Social network analysis has emerged as a key technique in modern sociology, it has gained a significant following in anthropology, demography, communication studies, geography, information science, organizational studies, political science, social psychology, development studies and computer science and is now available as a consumer tool.
Social network analysis has its theoretical roots in the work of early sociologists such as Georg Simmel and Émile Durkheim, who wrote about the importance of studying patterns of relationships that connect social actors. Social scientists have used the concept of "social networks" since early in the 20th century to connote complex sets of relationships between members of social systems at all scales, from interpersonal to international. In the 1930s Jacob Moreno and Helen Jennings introduced basic analytical methods. In 1954, John Arundel Barnes started using the term systematically to denote patterns of ties, encompassing concepts traditionally used by the public and those used by social scientists: bounded groups and social categories. Scholars such as Ronald Burt, Kathleen Carley, Mark Granovetter, David Krackhardt, Edward Laumann, Anatol Rapoport, Barry Wellman, Douglas R. White, Harrison White expanded the use of systematic social network analysis. In the study of literature, network analysis has been applied by Anheier and Romo, Wouter De Nooy, Burgert Senekal.
Indeed, social network analysis has found applications in various academic disciplines, as well as practical applications such as countering money laundering and terrorism. Homophily: The extent to which actors form ties with similar versus dissimilar others. Similarity can be defined by gender, age, educational achievement, values or any other salient characteristic. Homophily is referred to as assortativity. Multiplexity: The number of content-forms contained in a tie. For example, two people who are friends and work together would have a multiplexity of 2. Multiplexity has been associated with relationship strength. Mutuality/Reciprocity: The extent to which two actors reciprocate each other's friendship or other interaction. Network Closure: A measure of the completeness of relational triads. An individual's assumption of network closure is called transitivity. Transitivity is an outcome of the situational trait of Need for Cognitive Closure. Propinquity: The tendency for actors to have more ties with geographically close others.
Bridge: An individual whose weak ties fill a structural hole, providing the only link between two individuals or clusters. It includes the shortest route when a longer one is unfeasible due to a high risk of message distortion or delivery failure. Centrality: Centrality refers to a group of metrics that aim to quantify the "importance" or "influence" of a particular node within a network. Examples of common methods of measuring "centrality" include betweenness centrality, closeness centrality, eigenvector centrality, alpha centrality, degree centrality. Density: The proportion of direct ties in a network relative to the total number possible. Distance: The minimum number of ties required to connect two particular actors, as popularized by Stanley Milgram's small world experiment and the idea of'six degrees of separation'. Structural holes: The absence of ties between two parts of a network. Finding and exploiting a structural hole can give an entrepreneur a competitive advantage; this concept was developed by sociologist Ronald Burt, is sometimes referred to as an alternate conception of social capital.
Tie Strength: Defined by the linear combination of time, emotional intensity and reciprocity. Strong ties are associated with homophily and transitivity, while weak ties are associated with bridges. Groups are identified as'cliques' if every individual is directly tied to every other individual,'social circles' if there is less stringency of direct contact, imprecise, or as structurally cohesive blocks if precision is wanted. Clustering coefficient: A measure of the likelihood that two associates of a node are associates. A higher clustering coefficient indicates a greater'cliquishness'. Cohesion: The degree to which actors are connected directly to each other by cohesive bonds. Structural cohesion refers to the minimum number of members who, if removed from a group, would disconnect the group. Visual representation of social networks is important to understand the network data and convey the result of the analysis. Numerous methods of visualization for data produced by social network analysis have been presented.
Many of the analytic software have modules for network visualization. Exploration of
Bibliography of sociology
This bibliography of sociology is a list of works, organized by subdiscipline, on the subject of sociology. Some of the works are selected from general anthologies of sociology. Sociology studies society using various methods of empirical investigation to understand human social activity, from the micro level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structure. Comte, Auguste. Discours sur l'ensemble du positivisme. Translated by J. H. Bridges. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-00064-2. Marx, Karl; the German Ideology. Including Theses on Feuerbach and introduction to The critique of political economy. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-258-6. Marx, Karl. Das Kapital. Gardners Books. ISBN 978-1-934568-43-9. Weber, Max. Die protestantische Ethik und der'Geist' des Kapitalismus. Translated by Peter Baehr. Wells. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-043921-2. Puts forward a thesis that Puritan ethic and ideas had influenced the development of capitalism; however religious devotion was accompanied by rejection of mundane affairs including economic pursuit.
Why was that not the case with Protestantism? Weber addresses that paradox in that work. Durkheim, Emile. De La Division Du Travail Social. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-684-83638-6. —. Le Suicide; the Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83632-7. A case study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Jewish populations, distinguished sociological analysis from psychology or philosophy. A major contribution to structural functionalism.—. Cladis, Mark S. ed. Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. Translated by Carol Cosman. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954012-9. —. Les Règles de la Méthode Sociologique. Transl. by W. D. Halls with an introduction by Steven Lukes. New York, N. Y.: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-907940-9. Demography is the statistical study of human population, it encompasses the study of the size and distribution of these populations, spatial and/or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration and death. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population with A Summary View, Introduction by Professor Antony Flew.
Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-043206-X. Gunnar Myrdal and Alva Myrdal. Crisis in the Population Question Economic sociology attempts to explain economic phenomena, it concentrates on the roles of social relations and institutions. Tocqueville, Alexis De. Zunz, Olivier, ed. Democracy in America. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer; the Library of America. ISBN 1-931082-54-5. —. The Old Regime and the French Revolution. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. New York: Anchor Books. Durkheim, Emile. De La Division Du Travail Social. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-684-83638-6. Simmel, George; the Philosophy of Money. Translated by David Frisby. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-34172-1. Weber, Max. Economy and Society. Berkeley: University of California Press. Polanyi, Karl; the Great Transformation: the political and economic origins of our time. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-5643-1. Hirschman, Albert O. "Rival Interpretations of Market Society: Civilizing, Destructive, or Feeble?". Journal of Economic Literature. 20: 1463–1484. Granovetter, Mark.
"Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". The American Journal of Sociology. 91: 481–510. Doi:10.1086/228311. White, Harrison C. 2002. Markets from Networks: Socioeconomic Models of Production. Princeton: Princeton University Press Smelser and Richard Swedberg. 2005. The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Boltanski, Luc; the New Spirit of Capitalism. Verso. Boltanski, Luc. On Justification; the Economies of Worth. Princeton University Press. Industrial sociology is the sociology of technological change, labor markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations. Daniel Bell The Coming of Post-Industrial Society Harry Braverman Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century Michael Burawoy Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process under Monopoly Capitalism Ronald P. Dore British factory, Japanese factory. Hannigan, John A.. Environmental sociology: a social constructionist perspective. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-11255-0.
Argues that a society's willingness to recognize and solve environmental problems depends more upon the way these claims are presented by a limited number of interest groups than upon the severity of the threat they pose. Schnaiberg, Alan. Environment and society: the enduring conflict. Caldwell, NJ: Blackburn. ISBN 1-930665-00-8
Sociology of law
The sociology of law is described as a sub-discipline of sociology or an interdisciplinary approach within legal studies. Some see sociology of law as belonging "necessarily" to the field of sociology, but others tend to consider it a field of research caught up between the disciplines of law and sociology. Still others regard it neither a subdiscipline of sociology nor a branch of legal studies but as a field of research on its own right within the broader social science tradition. Accordingly, it may be described without reference to mainstream sociology as "the systematic, theoretically grounded, empirical study of law as a set of social practices or as an aspect or field of social experience", it has been seen as treating law and justice as fundamental institutions of the basic structure of society mediating "between political and economic interests, between culture and the normative order of society and maintaining interdependence, constituting themselves as sources of consensus and social control".
Irrespective of whether sociology of law is defined as a sub-discipline of sociology, an approach within legal studies or a field of research in its own right, it remains intellectually dependent on the traditions and theories of mainstream sociology and, to a lesser extent, on other social sciences such as social anthropology, political science, social policy and psychology. As such, it reflects social theories and employs social scientific methods to study law, legal institutions and legal behavior. More sociology of law consists of various approaches to the study of law in society, which empirically examine and theorise the interaction between law, non-legal institutions and social factors. Areas of socio-legal inquiry include the social development of legal institutions, forms of social control, legal regulation, the interaction between legal cultures, the social construction of legal issues, legal profession and the relation between law and social change. Sociology of law benefits from and draws on research conducted within other fields such as comparative law, critical legal studies, legal theory and economics and law and literature.
Its object encompasses the historical movement of law and justice and their relentless contemporary construction such as in the field of jurisprudence focused on institutional questions conditioned by social and political situations, in interdisciplinary dominions such as criminology and through analysis of the economic efficiency and the social impact of legal norms. The roots of the sociology of law can be traced back to the works of sociologists and jurists of the turn of the previous century; the relationship between law and society was sociologically explored in the seminal works of both Max Weber and Émile Durkheim. The writings on law by these classical sociologists are foundational to the entire sociology of law today. A number of other scholars jurists employed social scientific theories and methods in an attempt to develop sociological theories of law. Notably among these were Leon Petrazycki, Eugen Ehrlich and Georges Gurvitch. For Max Weber, a so-called "legal rational form" as a type of domination within society, is not attributable to people but to abstract norms.
He understood the body of calculable law in terms of a rational-legal authority. Such coherent and calculable law formed a precondition for modern political developments and the modern bureaucratic state and developed in parallel with the growth of capitalism. Central to the development of modern law is the formal rationalisation of law on the basis of general procedures that are applied and to all. Modern rationalised law is codified and impersonal in its application to specific cases. In general, Weber's standpoint can be described as an external approach to law that studies the empirical characteristics of law, as opposed to the internal perspective of the legal sciences and the moral approach of the philosophy of law. Émile Durkheim wrote in The Division of Labour in Society that as society becomes more complex, the body of civil law concerned with restitution and compensation grows at the expense of criminal laws and penal sanctions. Over time, law has undergone a transformation from repressive law to restitutive law.
Restitutive law operates in societies in which there is a high degree of individual variation and emphasis on personal rights and responsibilities. For Durkheim, law is an indicator of the mode of integration of a society, which can be mechanical, among identical parts, or organic, among differentiated parts such as in industrialized societies. Durkheim argued that a sociology of law should be developed alongside, in close connection with, a sociology of morals, studying the development of value systems reflected in law. In Fundamental Principles of the Sociology of Law, Eugen Ehrlich developed a sociological approach to the study of law by focusing on how social networks and groups organized social life, he explored the relationship between law and general social norms and distinguished between "positive law," consisting of the compulsive norms of state requiring official enforcement, "living law," consisting of the rules of conduct that people in fact obeyed and which dominated social life.
The latter emerged spontaneously. The centre of gravity of legal development therefore from time immemorial has not lain in the activity of the state, but in society itself, must be sought there at the present time"; this was subjected to criticism by the advocates of legal positivism such as the jurist Hans Kelsen for its distinction between "law created by the state and law produced by the organi
History of sociology
Sociology as a scholarly discipline emerged out of the Enlightenment thought, shortly after the French Revolution, as a positivist science of society. Its genesis owed to various key movements in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of knowledge. Social analysis in a broader sense, has origins in the common stock of philosophy and pre-dates the field. Modern academic sociology arose as a reaction to modernity, urbanization, secularization and imperialism. Late-19th-century sociology demonstrated a strong interest in the emergence of the modern nation state. An emphasis on the concept of modernity, rather than the Enlightenment distinguishes sociological discourse from that of classical political philosophy. Various quantitative social research techniques have become common tools for governments and organizations, have found use in the other social sciences. Divorced from theoretical explanations of social dynamics, this has given social research a degree of autonomy from the discipline of sociology.
"social science" has come to be appropriated as an umbrella term to refer to various disciplines which study humans, society or culture. The sociological reasoning may be traced back at least as far as the ancient Greeks. Proto-sociological observations are to be found in the founding texts of Western philosophy, as well as in the non-European thought of figures such as Confucius; the characteristic trends in the sociological thinking of the ancient Greeks can be traced back to their social environment. Because there was any extensive or centralized political organization within states this allowed the tribal spirit of localism and provincialism to have free play; this tribal spirit of localism and provincialism pervaded most of the Greek thinking upon social phenomena. The origin of the survey can be traced back to the Domesday Book ordered by king William I in 1086. In the 13th century, Ma Tuan-Lin, a Chinese historian, first recognized patterns of social dynamics as an underlying component of historical development in his seminal encyclopedia, Wenxian Tongkao or "Comprehensive Examination of Literature".
There is evidence of early Muslim sociology from the 14th century. Some consider Ibn Khaldun, a 14th-century Tunisian, Islamic scholar from North Africa, to have been the first sociologist and father of sociology. Ibn Khaldun, in his Muqaddimah, the introduction to a seven volume analysis of universal history, was the first to advance social philosophy and social science in formulating theories of social cohesion and social conflict, he is thus considered by some to be the forerunner of sociology. Concerning the discipline of sociology, he conceived a dynamic theory of history that involved conceptualizations of social conflict and social change, he developed the dichotomy of sedentary life versus nomadic life as well as the concept of a "generation", the inevitable loss of power that occurs when desert warriors conquer a city. Following a contemporary Arab scholar, Sati' al-Husri, the Muqaddimah may be read as a sociological work: six books of general sociology. Topics dealt with in this work include politics, urban life and knowledge.
The work is based around Ibn Khaldun's central concept of'asabiyyah, translated as "social cohesion", "group solidarity", or "tribalism". This social cohesion arises spontaneously in other small kinship groups. Ibn Khaldun's analysis looks at how this cohesion carries groups to power but contains within itself the seeds – psychological, economic, political – of the group's downfall, to be replaced by a new group, dynasty or empire bound by a stronger cohesion; the term was first coined by the French essayist Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, from the Latin: socius, "companion". In 1838, the French-thinker Auguste Comte gave sociology the definition that it holds today. Comte had earlier expressed his work as "social physics", but that term had been appropriated by others, such as Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet. Saint-Simon published Physiologie sociale in 1813 and devoted much of his time to the prospect that human society could be steered toward progress if scientists would form an international assembly to influence its course.
He argued that scientists could distract groups from war and strife, by focusing their attention to improving their societies living conditions. In turn, this would prevent conflict. Saint-Simon took the idea that everyone had encouraged from the Enlightenment, the belief in science, spun it to be more practical and hands-on for the society. Saint-Simon's main idea was, he saw that people had been seeing progress as an approach for science, but he wanted them to see it as an approach to all aspects of life. Society was making a crucial change at the time; this new path could provide the basis for solving all the old problems society had encountered. He was more concerned with the participation of
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, values, reason and language. Such questions are posed as problems to be studied or resolved; the term was coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will? "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy and physics. For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize.
In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology and economics. Other investigations related to art, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of science. Traditionally, the term "philosophy" referred to any body of knowledge. In this sense, philosophy is related to religion, natural science and politics. Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy is classified in the 2000s as a book of physics. In the first part of the first book of his Academics, Cicero introduced the division of philosophy into logic and ethics. Metaphysical philosophy was the study of existence, God, logic and other abstract objects; this division has changed.
Natural philosophy has split into the various natural sciences astronomy, chemistry and cosmology. Moral philosophy still includes value theory. Metaphysical philosophy has birthed formal sciences such as logic and philosophy of science, but still includes epistemology and others. Many philosophical debates that began in ancient times are still debated today. Colin McGinn and others claim. Chalmers and others, by contrast, see progress in philosophy similar to that in science, while Talbot Brewer argued that "progress" is the wrong standard by which to judge philosophical activity. In one general sense, philosophy is associated with wisdom, intellectual culture and a search for knowledge. In that sense, all cultures and literate societies ask philosophical questions such as "how are we to live" and "what is the nature of reality". A broad and impartial conception of philosophy finds a reasoned inquiry into such matters as reality and life in all world civilizations. Western philosophy is the philosophical tradition of the Western world and dates to Pre-Socratic thinkers who were active in Ancient Greece in the 6th century BCE such as Thales and Pythagoras who practiced a "love of wisdom" and were termed physiologoi.
Socrates was a influential philosopher, who insisted that he possessed no wisdom but was a pursuer of wisdom. Western philosophy can be divided into three eras: Ancient, Medieval philosophy, Modern philosophy; the Ancient era was dominated by Greek philosophical schools which arose out of the various pupils of Socrates, such as Plato, who founded the Platonic Academy and his student Aristotle, founding the Peripatetic school, who were both influential in Western tradition. Other traditions include Cynicism, Greek Skepticism and Epicureanism. Important topics covered by the Greeks included metaphysics, the nature of the well-lived life, the possibility of knowledge and the nature of reason. With the rise of the Roman empire, Greek philosophy was increasingly discussed in Latin by Romans such as Cicero and Seneca. Medieval philosophy is the period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and was dominated by the ris