Comte and Mill

  • Michael Singer


The English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill was intimately concerned with Comte’s development of positivism for much of his life. In his earlier years he had disliked Comte’s ideas, but as his intellectual and political views developed he came to find them increasingly attractive.1 Comte’s Philosophie positive so impressed him that he promoted it as ‘very nearly the grandest work of the age’.2 In 1841, being already in his own assessment ‘an ardent admirer of Comte’s writings’, he initiated a correspondence with Comte that lasted over five years.3 He wrote approvingly of Comte in his Logic, 4 and felt that he had ‘contributed more than any one else to make… [Comte’s] speculations known in England, [so that] … he had readers and admirers [there] … at a time when his name had not yet in France emerged from obscurity’.5 Although Mill rejected certain of Comte’s later writings, he continued throughout his life largely to admire those aspects of Comte’s work that he had admired in 1841.


Visual Sensation Coloured Surface Primary Theory Epistemological Framework Epistemological Relativism 
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© Michael Singer 2005

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  • Michael Singer

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