Main articles: History of sociology, List of sociologists, and Timeline of sociology
Sociological reasoning predates the foundation of the discipline. Social analysis has origins in the common stock of Western knowledge and philosophy, and has been carried out from at least as early as the time of Plato. The origin of the survey, i.e., the collection of information from a sample of individuals, can be traced back at least early as the Domesday Book in 1086, while ancient philosophers such as Confucius wrote on the importance of social roles. There is evidence of early sociology in medieval Islam. Some consider Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century Arab Islamic scholar from North Africa, to have been the first sociologist; his Muqaddimah was perhaps the first work to advance social-scientific reasoning on social cohesion and social conflict.
The word sociology (or "sociologie") is derived from the Latin: socius, "companion"; -ology, "the study of", and Greek λόγος, lógos, "word", "knowledge". It was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748–1836) in an unpublished manuscript. Sociology was later defined independently by the French philosopher of science, Auguste Comte (1798–1857), in 1838. Comte had earlier used the term "social physics", but that had subsequently been appropriated by others, most notably the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet. Comte endeavoured to unify history, psychology and economics through the scientific understanding of the social realm. Writing shortly after the malaise of the French Revolution, he proposed that social ills could be remedied through sociological positivism, an epistemological approach outlined in The Course in Positive Philosophy [1830–1842] and A General View of Positivism (1848). Comte believed a positivist stagewould mark the final era, after conjectural theological and metaphysical phases, in the progression of human understanding. In...