Rain, Steam and Speed

In the 19th Century the turn from the natural to the social sciences connected enlightenment ideals of progress and optimism with a search for the natural laws of social evolution. In particular, Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer developed sociology not simply as a positive, empirical science, but also as an ethics orientated to a better, and greater, humanity, thus affirming the dynamic and progressive ‘spirit of the age’ captured by artists such as J. W. M. Turner.