Comte, Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier (1798–1857)
Auguste Comte, co-founder of sociology and positivist philosopher, was born at Montpellier in 1798 and died in Paris in 1857. A student at the Ecole Polytechnique until he was dismissed for disobedience and incorrigible behaviour, Comte became the secretary to Henri de Saint-Simon in 1818, a position he held until 1824. Over this period Comte developed the kernel of positivist philosophy and, along with Saint-Simon, modern sociology. The irascible Comte spent the rest of his life – often in the face of frequent poverty and desperate personal circumstances including mental breakdowns and a failed marriage – establishing, altering and working out positivism as a philosophical system of knowledge and as the foundation for the ‘science of society’. Comte’s chefs d’oeuvre included the encyclopedic Cours de philosophie positive (1830–42) and his System of Positive Polity (1851–4).
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