From within the European Enlightenment, an opposition emerged to the explanatory social sciences, which aimed at following the natural scientific approach. The opposition focused on the concept of understanding. The dichotomy between “explanation” and “understanding” represented a major fault line in the social sciences for 200 years. One was either in favor of understanding or of explanation. The optimistic faith in progress provided a connection between the tendency to employ natural scientific methodology and the belief in laws that could effectively confirm positive results. On the other side, the skepticism regarding progress was often connected with an emphasis on the singular, human and inexplicable. The critical, socialist sociologists like Durkheim and Marx were influenced well into the twentieth century by this optimistic belief in progress, but the critical sociologists became more pessimistic with World War II. At this juncture, these sociologists sought to protect the meaningfulness of the human world from positivism and technocracy.