Threesology Research Journal
Sociological Threes
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~ The Study of Threes ~

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I must admit that each time I see a mention of Marx's "Scientific Sociology" phrase I am greatly amused because the so-called "science" most often used in Sociology is little more than the logic disposed by argumentative philosophy. I get the impression that it is much like Ron Hubbard's development of "Church of Scientology" theme, of which when I encountered it decades ago, I thought it was one of the silliest notions and accompanying ideas ever developed. Even now I can not restrain myself from bursting out a chuckle or sustained laughter.

Let me give a short expose of my experience: I had walked into a Scientology place of business and picked up a book to find its "message" full of simplistic references... like reading a grade school primer. When an attendant was curious about my reading the book and asked whether I understood it, I simply shrugged my shoulders which they interpreted to mean that I didn't, after which I noticed what could be interpreted as a sigh of relief on the attendant's part. He said I was reading the most advanced form of Scientology that was taught and it would take me years to get to that point of understanding it, and that he himself had not reached but kept it nearby to encourage him to keep striving for an understanding thereof. I thought he had to be kidding— but he was serious. Needless to say I came to very shortly walk out after a short interval of what turned out to be mostly a one-sided conversation:

He began questioning me as to whether or not I could imagine seeing a cat with booties on! As I supposed was his way of interviewing me in an attempt to ascertain my level of knowledge or mental ability. He began with some sort of expected visualization ability in order to see whether I could grasp what he thought were basic, if not the initial stages of being able to grasp later presumed stages of "higher" (more intelligent) concepts of Scientology. When I said that it was a pretty simple idea, he asked if I had ever seen such an idea before. When I replied that I did when I watched cartoons, he was not amused and seemed rather offended that I would respond with an analogy that made his illustration appear to be a childish representation of a visual activity that may well have been difficult for him at one time. Needless to say he was visibly irritated. He then tried in vain to solicit an intellectual debate from me as a means of inflicting some verbal pugilistic repartee' for my previous insult. When I sat unresponsive because his behavior and attempts were readily interpreted and easy to avoid being entrapped by, he spoke with a female attendant and asked for her to engage in a conversation, because I assumed he thought I was too intellectually soft. It was impossible for me not to laugh inside myself the whole time and sized him up as someone with the IQ of a peanut. The young woman was particularly naive, so I didn't bother trying to have a conversation. Two manipulable idiots working in the same place. I had enough of their circus and excused myself, no doubt leaving them to think I was too stupid to grasp their over-valued nonsense. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to pay money for such nonsense. I have always thought of Ron Hubbard as an idiot after finding his Scientology book in a library and came away thinking it of as a poorly illustrated comic book... Yet, he was smart (or lucky enough to live during a time when his "new" ideas could be embraced by a receptive audience to the point of being able to endorse more publications and a following). He was able to entrap other idiots with his ideas in order to become wealthy, especially since he had won the right to be tax exempt because he defended his idea that his teachings were what I call a phony "Scientific Religion". Talk about a double negative being interpreted as a positive. Thus, whenever I see Marx's "Scientific Socialism" and read the silliness which Marx had proposed, I think of the past experience with Scientology that I had in the 1960s.

  1. The Theological stage, refers to explanation by personified deities. During the earlier stages, people believed that all the phenomena of nature are the creation of the divine or supernatural. Adults and children failed to discover the natural causes of various phenomena and hence attributed them to a supernatural or divine power. Comte broke this stage into 3 sub-stages:
    1. Fetishism – Fetishism was the primary stage of the theological stage of thinking. Throughout this stage, primitive people believe that inanimate objects have living spirit in them, also known as animism. People worship inanimate objects like trees, stones, a piece of wood, volcanic eruptions, etc. Through this practice, people believe that all things root from a supernatural source.
    2. Polytheism – At one point, Fetishism began to bring about doubt in the minds of its believers. As a result, people turned towards polytheism: the explanation of things through the use of many Gods. Primitive people believe that all natural forces are controlled by different Gods; a few examples would be God of water, God of rain, God of fire, God of air, God of earth, etc.
    3. Monotheism – Monotheism means believing in one God or God in one; attributing all to a single, supreme deity. Primitive people believe a single theistic entity is responsible for the existence of the universe.
  1. The Metaphysical stage, is the extension of the theological stage. Metaphysical stage refers to explanation by impersonal abstract concepts. People often tried to believe that God is an abstract being. They believe that an abstract power or force guides and determines events in the world. Metaphysical thinking discards belief in a concrete God. The nature of inquiry was legal and rational in nature. For example: In Classical Hindu Indian society the principle of the transmigration of the soul, the conception of rebirth, notions of pursuant were largely governed by metaphysical uphill.
  2. The Scientific stage, also known as the Positivity (or positivist) stage, refers to scientific explanation based on observation, experiment, and comparison. Positive explanations rely upon a distinct method, the scientific method, for their justification. Today people attempt to establish cause and effect relationships. Positivism is a purely intellectual way of looking at the world; as well, it emphasizes observation and classification of data and facts. This is the highest, most evolved behavior according to Comte.

However, let it be noted:

"When Auguste Comte discovered that Adolphe Quetelet had appropriated the term 'social physics', which Comte had originally introduced, Comte found it necessary to invent the term 'sociologie' (sociology) because he disagreed with Quetelet's notion that a theory of society could be derived from a collection of statistics."

The French economist Turgot (1727-81), the friend and defender of the Physiocrats, produced an interesting and original interpretation of progress and historical development. In his two discourses, delivered at the Sorbonne in 1750 on the Advantages to the Human Race from the Establishment of Christianity and the Successive Advances of the Human Mind, he set forth in clear and unmistakable language the doctrine of continuity in history, the cumulative nature of evolution and progress, and the causal sequence between the different periods of history. He also doubtless furnished Comte with the suggestions which grew into the latter's laws of the three stages of intellectual progress. While he described progress as primarily a process of intellectual improvement, the conception of continuity in development and the essential unity of the historic process was a brilliant contribution.

Sociology Before Comte: A Summary of Doctrines and an Introduction to the Literature (page 220)
Author(s): Harry E. Barnes
Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Sep., 1917), pp. 174-247
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL:

Page 224 of above text: (Concerning the origin of Comte's 3 progressive stages of development)

Henri de Saint-Simon (1760 - 1825) anticipated the main theoretical positions in the sociological system of Auguste Comte. If one substitutes the world "Sociology" for the term "science politique," used by Saint-Simon with practically the same connotation that Comte gave to sociology, then Saint-Simon may be said to have formulated Comte's chief theses, though even he but collected and systematized the doctrines current at the time.

After a critical examination of his works, M. Franck Alengry (1865-1946) enumerates the fundamental doctrines advanced by Saint-Simon: Science must be distinguished from art in all departments of Knowledge. The sciences must be classified in order of their increasing complexity, and a new science—la science politique (Political Science)— should be put at the head of the hierarchy. This science politique must be based on the solid inductions of history and observation and must be animated by the conception of development and progress. The general law of progress is that formulated by Turgot and Burdin, namely, the law of the three stages of the psychological evolution of the race: the conjectural, the "miconjectural," and the positive (Point to Remember). All sociological theories of progress must be founded upon this fundamental law. The practical conditions of social life, and not supernatural sanctions, must be made the basis of the new morality; and the improvement of the happiness of the race must be realized through a transformation of the present social order rather than in heaven. This transformation requires a new industrial organization, a new social and political system, and a union of Europe in a new fraternity, Le Nouveau Christianisme.1 One who is familiar with Comte's system need not be told that all that remained was for him to expand and to systematize the outlines laid down by Saint-Simon, and the best critics agree that such was the primary contribution of Comte to sociology.2

1Alengry, La Sociologie chez Auguste Comte, pp. 435 - 74, particularly, pp. 446 - 68; cf. Bath, Die Philosophie der Geschichle als Sociologie, pp. 56 - 57; Friedrich Muckle, henri de saint-simon, die personlichkeit und ihr werk, pp. 252 - 78.

2Alengry, op. cit., p. 476; Defourny, La Sociologie positiviste, pp. 350 - 54; cf. Gide and Rist, History of Economic Doctrines, pp. 198 - 231; Muckle, op. cit., p. 278. Saint-Simon published an early outline of his system as Lettres d'un habitant de Genéve, 1802 or 1803. This preliminary and incomplete sketch he filled out in a number of subsequent works, the most important of which are Mémoire sur la science de l'homme, 1811, D la Réorganisation de la société Européenne, 1814; L'Industrie, 1817; Du Systeme industriel, 1821 - 22; and ,Le Nouveau Christianisme, 1825. The best exposition of Saint-Simon's doctrines is the above-mentioned work of Muckle. Other valuable brief treatments are A.J. Booth, Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism; and Paul Janet, Saint-Simon, et le Saint-Simonisme. The best edition of Saint-Simon's works is the Paris edition of 1865-78, Œuvres de Saint-Simon et d'Enfantin, 47 vols.

Page 59: Macmillan Student Encyclopedia of Sociology

From Turgot, burdin and Saint-Simon, Comte drew his law of the three stages. Society and human thought progress through theological, metaphysical and positive stages (like other writers of the period, he used the word 'positive' as a synonym for 'scientific'). Theological thought explains phenomena with reference to actions of capricious supernatural beings, passing from anthropomorphism in the early period of fetishism to polytheism, and then monotheism. Metaphysical thought attributes causation to abstract, less capricious forces. Positivist thought seeks scientific explanations in terms of universal laws. Metaphysical and theological thought are incompatible with the positive method of the natural sciences, which demystifies the world through empirical testing of its theories. (He followed Kantian philosophy, Hume and the British empiricism in rejecting metaphysics.)) In the positive stage of society, social evolution will culminate in the unity of the human mind and of the human race.

(H.O.B note: Sounds like a pitch for Communism.)

Comte's unilinear, deterministic theory of social development initially assumed that there could be only one mode of thought in each stage of social evolution. He soon modified his EVOLUTIONISM: the dominant mode of thought which distinguishes a specific state of social evolution may co-exist with other modes of thought. Positivist explanation occurs even within the theological state of society. All branches of knowledge pass through the three stages, but not simultaneously. the positivist spirit first develops in areas most removed from human control. Comte based his hierarchy of the sciences upon this principle. The higher disciplines enter the positive stage later because they are more complex and depend upon the lower sciences which lay the groundwork for their development. Astronomy and physics develop first, then chemistry and the lower sciences seek laws regulating atomistic occurrences had constitute analytic sciences. Biology and sociology share a holistic approach in dealing with organic entities and so are synthetic sciences. Positivist sociology would stand at the head of the hierarchy of sciences.

Since the foregoing gives me the impression of Marxist doctrine, and is viewed by many as an intellectualized treatment of a prosed Historically progressive narrative; let us take a re-look at it:

Marx described three necessary phases toward achieving his idea of utopia. (How Communism Works)

  1. Phase 1: A revolution must take place in order to overthrow the existing government. Marx emphasized the nee­d for total destruction of the existing system in order to move on to Phase 2.
  2. Phase 2: A dictator or elite leader (or leaders) must gain absolute control over the proletariat. During this phase, the new government exerts absolute control over the common citizen's personal choices -- including his or her education, religion, employment and even marriage. Collectivization of property and wealth must also take place.
  3. Phase 3: Achievement of utopia. This phase has never been attained because it requires that all non-communists be destroyed in order for the Communist Party to achieve supreme equality. In a Marxist utopia, everyone would happily share property and wealth, free from the restrictions that class-based systems require. The government would control all means of production so that the one-class system would remain constant, with no possibility of any middle class citizens rising back to the top.

Since it is said here that: Marx's ideas were influenced from three general sources of derivation: (German idealist philosophy, French socialism and English and Scottish political economy), describing representative "threes" ideas from these sources can be instructive in outlining not only the development of the overall triadic structure, but the overlooked reliance on a dichotomization (known in the time period as antimonies):

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant is believed to have had the greatest influence of any philosopher of modern times. Kantian philosophy was the basis on which the structure of Marxism was built—particularly as it was developed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel's dialectical method, which was taken up by Karl Marx, was an extension of the method of reasoning by antinomies that Kant used: (two "mathematical" and two "dynamical"). (They are connected with):

  • The limitation of the universe in respect of space and time.
  • The theory that the whole consists of indivisible atoms (whereas, in fact, none such exist).
  • The problem of free will in relation to universal causality.
  • The existence of a necessary being.

In the Hegelian formula of a triadic process, the second stage is the direct opposite, the annihilation, or at least the sublation, of the first. The third stage is the first returned to itself in a higher, truer, richer, and fuller form. The three stages are, therefore, styled:

  1. In itself (An-sich)
  2. Out of itself (Anderssein)
  3. In and for itself (An-und-für-sich)

These three stages are found succeeding one another throughout the whole realm of thought and being, from the most abstract logical process up to the most complicated concrete activity of organized mind in the succession of states or the production of systems of philosophy.

The way in which these three are represented, they sound very familiar to the "3-to-1" ratio juggling I have sometimes performed, by changing the "to" on different occasions with "in, from, and", though one might easily substitute with such things as "out-of, or, but, not, (nor) with, near, because-of, next-to, etc.", creating the impression of a Boolean logic applied to an underlying binary formula. However, let us engage in a bit of word-play with the three items:

  1. (Three) 3 In itself (Drei) 3 An-sich
  2. (Three) 3 Out of itself (Drei) 3 Anderssein
  3. (Three) 3 In and for itself (Drei) 3 An-und-für-sich

Yet, describing the three items in this way clearly describes an idea which exposes a narcissism... perhaps an unconscious projection of the originator.

However, with respect to the 3-to-1 ratio, let us expand on the previous 3:

  1. 3 In 1 itself (An-sich)
  2. 3 Out of 1 itself (Anderssein)
  3. 3 In 1 and for itself (An-und-für-sich)

The 3rd selection appears to be a replication of the 1st with an added emphasis of self-absorption. Then again, we could add or subtract any number, excluding the "3" or "1", in an attempt to move away from the obvious dichotomization with which this so-called "triadic" illustration suggests itself to be, but is more to point of being either an embellished dichotomy or embellished singularity depending on how one wants to look at it, but in any case never actually reaching what the writer may have convinced themselves to believe in, which is three items. It is just another expressed dialectic (embellished dichotomy).

The 2nd phase of Marxian Historicity of progressive social development reeks of an expressed adolescent introversion or self-absorption; not to mention resembling the "inward-control" philosophy of those studying some martial art or those whose many interests must be focused on their "inner spot" or personal resources or personal aptitude by way of absolute control... that which some refer to as an attempted harnessing of resources by controlling their "Qi" or "Chi" energy, which sounds like a philosophy of Mr. Spock's Vulcan home-world. Indeed, let us look upon Marx's three phrases as if he were describing the emotions of an adolescent, which may well have been projections of viewing what he saw in himself described in the vernacular of his political interests, because he did not practice a philosophy of psychology nor psychiatry or animal husbandry, or genetics, or physics, or mathematics or music, or ballet, or rock and roll, etc., during his moments of moodiness and brooding, not to mention his regressive autistic-like shiftless joblessness and terrible management of his family... saved in the whole by the assistance of Engels' generosity:

  1. Phase-one: Revolution. (Yep, many a teenager rebels in different ways).
  2. Phase-two: Absolute control must be gained. (Yep, later reflection as one matures often tends to direct oneself along a course of discipline when efforts to control the overall external environment fail to respond to ego-centricity; where control may them be turned inward such as becoming conscientious about taking care of personal hygiene, being studious, deference to authority that provides a job, etc...) However, this seeking of control may be directed towards neurotic or even psychotic behavior such as expressed by dictators, religious zealots, Corporate criminal activity, political positioning by way of practicing double-speak, double-standards, bait-and-switch tactics, manipulation by designing restrictions such as time constraints, etc...
  3. Phase-three: Utopia. (This comes to be defined in terms of a personalized definition such as one's blessings, a stable income, a career, a nice family life, a heart-felt social life, religious service, Serving humanity, Serving one's community, etc...)

Clearly, the philosophy of Communism needs to grow up past its internal monologue... or perhaps one should say diatribe introspectiveness which denounces in others what one sees in themselves and thus becomes confused an confessed by way of a long-enduring soliloquy with a presumed larger audience due to the varied echoes resounding off of the inner-dimensionality of seeking reform from within; by retreating inward through a form of masturbated intellectualization. Both Communism and Socialism need to move beyond this Marxian projection of a personal psychology, since humanity can not wait for the very many formulas of falsified democracy to ever respond to rationality.

Indeed, at this point in time of our history, it is foolhardy for us to consider that a "true democracy" will ever be realized. Those nations which profess to being expressed forms of a democracy are actually using bits and pieces of different political strategies to cement a hierarchical brand of aristocracy for those who manage to make their way into a leadership position. Entrenched families collect resources and establish a network of like-minded confederates who wield an unspoken of code of reliance and expectation so as to retain what may be described as the dominant percentage of social stocks and thus are enabled to sway the public mood towards that direction which ensures a continued solidification of their familial heritage that a New formula of political science must not only either break up or manage to redirect, but ensure that it does not establish itself with the same type of self-enfranchising code that bars progressiveness like the present forms of constrained democracy do.

When speaking of an "Hegelian Dialectic", let us note a definition:

An interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertable proposition (thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertable and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis), the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis).

Collins Dictionar: Hegelian dialectic (in British English)

Let me assert that it is not a supposed "higher truth" but a "hybrid truth", in that the third is actually an embellishment of the previous dichotomy, though not all dichotomies need be juxtaposed. They can be placed on opposite ends of the central item. While the human mind is striving for some semblance of creating a third entity of acknowledge acquisition, something is interfering with the human mind from actually achieving a third position... in most every case. Instead, the human mind embellishes, or fabricates the notion of being able to achieve a third step beyond the "2" by embossing the two (whether in the form of a dichotomy or not), through language and a turn of thought that effects a cosmetic appearance.

While Comte used a "pattern-of-three" in the construction of his laws, he did not have access to the multitude of different ideas in multiple subjects that we of today do. He could not have known about the triplet code in DNA or the "threes" in particle physics, though the three-patterned concept of past- present- future may have been thought of from time to time. Likewise, he may not even had known about the patterns-of-two in the old yin/yang ideology, though contrasts and dichotomies may have been a consideration, albeit without a working list of the many we see today. His concept of though progression could not have made an analogy with the development of the three germ layers because such an idea developed over a much longer period than he was alive. Nor could he have known about the idea about Carl Woese's late 2oth century Three Domains of life idea.

However, even though such basic patterns of human conceptualization are to be found, we find that Sociologists are still hung up with the old French Sociological themes involving soap opera plots. Indeed, let's take a short review of a French and other Socialists Lineup:

  • Henri de Saint-Simon (17 October 1760 – 19 May 1825) (Saint Simon's conceptual recognition of broad socio-economic contribution, and his Enlightenment valorization of scientific knowledge, soon inspired and influenced utopian socialism, liberal political theorist John Stuart Mill, anarchism through its founder Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who was inspired by Saint-Simon's thought and Marxism with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels identifying Saint-Simon as an inspiration to their ideas and classifying him among the utopian socialists.)
  • Charles Fourier (07 April 1772)
  • Auguste Comte (1798–1857)—The Father of Sociology, The term sociology was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748–1836) in an unpublished manuscript (Fauré et al. 1999). In 1838, the term was reinvented by Auguste Comte (1798–1857).
  • Harriet Martineau (1802–1876)—the First Woman Sociologist (translated Comte's works from the French into English)
  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (15 January 1809)
  • Arthur de Gobineau (14 July 1816)
  • Emile Zola (1840-1902), (Worked from a perspective of sociological analysis through literary representation. Zola defined his own work as a practical sociology since he wanted his literary creations to contribute to the development of modern science. He displayed an acute sense of the rèel and was among the first to formulate certain sociological problems which anticipated the key premises of French sociological thought as later developed by Emile Durkheim (1858-1917).
  • Gustave Le Bon (07 May 1841)
  • Émile Durkheim (1858–1917)


Another frequent dichotomy which arises is the three-part expression of "cause and effect", though one might offer several others (and it should be noted that "dichotomy" can be used to label opposing, complimentary, or compilation, and not necessarily a division):

  • positive/negative
  • rich/poor
  • strong/weak
  • war/peace
  • educated/uneducated
  • upper class/lower class (Marxian: bourgeoisie and the proletariat)

Instead of three laws of human thought progression, a "law of threes" (so-to-speak) is better suited for understanding human cognition applied to sociological themes imposed on by an incrementally deteriorating environment which forces the usage of a system of inter-related rationalizations for the purpose of maintaining some semblance of equilibrium as the presumed ship of Humanity slowly sinks beneath all its efforts to stay afloat.

Origination date: Saturday, December 7th, 2019... 4:07 AM
Initial Posting: Thursday, December 26th, 2019... 6:55 AM

Your Questions, Comments or Additional Information are welcomed:
Herb O. Buckland