A General View of Positivism

By Comte, Auguste | Free Inquiry, October-November 2003 | Go to article overview

A General View of Positivism


Comte, Auguste, Free Inquiry


The following passage is excerpted from Auguste Comte Positivism: The Essential Writings, edited by Gertrude Lenzer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), pp. 317-18. This work was published 1830-1842 under the title of Course of Positive Philosophy, because it was based upon a source of lectures delivered 1826-1829. But later Comte gave it the appropriate name of "system" (of Positive Philosophy).

--Tim Delaney

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

Positivism consists essentially of a philosophy and a polity. These can never be dissevered--the former being the basis, and the latter the end, of one comprehensive system in which our intellectual faculties and our social sympathies are brought into close correlation with each other. For, in the first place, the science of society, besides being more important than any other; supplies the only logical and scientific link by which all our varied observations of phenomena can b brought into one consistent whole. Of this set once it is even more true than of any of the preceding sciences that its real character cannot be understood without explaining it exact relation in all general features with the art corresponding to it. Now, here we find coincidence that is assuredly not fortuitous At the very time when the theory of society is being laid down, an immense sphere is opened for the application of that theory; the direction, namely, of the social regeneration of Western Europe. …

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