In ancient times social thought was unorganized as there was not systematic study of social problems. The history of social thought came from, when man was passing through a complex network of social problems, so he originate thinking about the solution of these problems. Social thought is developed through the following process and stages of development of social thoughts.
- Early Stage of Social Thought
- Medieval Stage
- Early Modern Stage
- The Industrial Revolution Stage
- Social Thought during 20th Century
1. Early Stage of Social Thought
People of early stages used the simplest form of social thought. The old folkways and the thinking of people are included to the old social thoughts. The primitive concepts and thoughts of people are preserved which are the beginning of social thoughts. The proverbs and maxims used by old people lie is the category of social thought at early stages. These proverbs are used in different countries at different occasions and have a long history. For example in Sri Lanka, a number of proverbs are relating to economic life and showing the inequalities in the society. A maxim which show the thought about poverty is, “When you eat, think of the poor”. The initial expression of social thought was about the crisis of society but when people become prosperous and overcome many social problems a new type of social thought developed.
Old Russian proverb about economic life of capitalistic landlords who do exploitation of the lower class, is, “the kindness of the landlord is as fleeing of the dew drop” and another proverb is, “our souls are gods, our bodies the Tsars.” Title of the Russian emperors. It means there is a little kindness in landlords over the poor people like the dew drops stay for a little time over the petal of a flower. Their souls are god given but the bodies are subjected to the emperors and they use them for their own interests. In short, the primitive social thought was simple and unorganized which centers on the individual body and there was no sharp and systematic thinking of the people.
2. Medieval Stage
In medieval stage the Roman law was introduced. The conflict between the state and church arise dint hat stage. The conflict was about, that either state is better or church or that struggle proved as the social thought of medieval stage. Different thinkers and philosophers who were eminent in this stage presented their own views and thoughts.
- Aristotle believed that the stability of society is based on the social ability of human beings.
- Rendell was of the view that for bringing harmony and stability, cooperation between the individual and society thought and was a political thinker said that ethics and politics are separate tings.
- Jean Bodin anther well known philosopher of this period views and talks about the beginning of the society. He says that the development of society is based on the development of the family. He says that society is the collectivity of families and other small groups. When these groups develops, society already gets development.
- Ibn-e-Khaldun a Muslim historian, philosopher and sociologist was the first who point out that history is not only the old tales but is a science tracing the origin and development of civilization. He interpreted the process of history and said that psychic and environmental cooperation is necessary for historical development.
- In short, in this period every thinker and philosopher presented his own views and thoughts about the development of society. They develop a sharp thinking and interpreted the history as compare to the old and primitive tanking of those people.
3. Early Modern Stage
Early modern stage of social thought was started after fifteenth century to 18 century. In this stage some of the prominent thinkers presented their views and ideas.
- Montesquieu was the prominent thinker of eighteenth century. He published a book, the spirit of laws and is considered his greatest work. His ideas were about the laws, customs and institutions are the product of geographical conditions particularly the climate. These laws may be fit for the people of one climate and may be different for others. He is the founder of rational politics.
- Edmund Burk, and English political philosopher criticized the views of Montesquieu and said that, “State is established by rationality”, is wrong. He is of the view that there is no reason, of the government but when evolutionary development and mass media are in progress, it creates government.
- Hegel and Fichte also rejected rationality and said that intellectuality is very important in the progress and development of society. He gives intellectual interpretation about the origin of society and the state.
4. The Industrial Revolution Stage
The industrial revolution of 19th century was the most important development in human history and changed the western social system through plans of social and economic reconstruction. Different writers and thinkers have their own thoughts are as under.
- Prof. A.W small says that there exists a relationship between social reforms and the rise of sociological knowledge.
- Saint Pierre suggests that man’s future lie in his own hands. He said that when industrial development comes, it results in many, Social problems.
- Saint Simon proposed that industrial experts play a vital role in the organization and control of society because these experts gives new information’s to the social scientist.
5. Social Thought During 20th Century
Social thought during 20th century is surrounded by many schools of thought. The social thought is become systematic and scientific and also developed o a great extent. It helps in the eradication of various social problems. The thinking of people developed during this stage and social thought becomes an intellectual statement called sociological theory about the society problems.
It has been concluded from the above discussion that social thought has passed through different stages is which every thinker had his own views about the state and society thought developed and the people start to think, about scientific development and the thinkers proposed their theories about social situation.