The Philosophy of Positivism

  • Michael Singer


In 1822, Auguste Comte, then twenty-four years of age, published a plan for the total intellectual, social and political reorganization of society.1 He had studied mathematics at the École Polytechnique in Paris, and had read widely in the sciences and in French political philosophy of the eighteenth century. He was to devote his life to his work on the doctrines that became known as positivism, continuing until shortly before his death in 1857. In the extensive Cours de Philosophie positive, published mainly in the 1830s, he developed positivism as a combined philosophical and socio-political structure. The philosophical aspects of the structure consisted of purportedly descriptive theories of human knowledge and society. The socio-political aspects were prefigured in the early work referred to above, and following their adumbration in the Philosophie positive they were fully developed in the later Systéme de politique positive. These aspects were explicitly normative, and directed towards the goal of systematically implementing his philosophical theories as the modes of thought and action of human society. Comte’s later works further developed positivism as an explicitly religious framework - the so-called religion of humanity - for the propagation and social implementation of the positivist philosophical and political structure.


Logical Induction Human Thought Positive Science Philosophical Aspect Positivist Philosophy 
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© Michael Singer 2005

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  • Michael Singer

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