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  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: January 2010

11 - Comte's Changing Psyche and Aberrant Behavior, 1838–1840

Summary

In finishing this volume [volume 5], … I will not forget to warn you that I will not respond to any criticism whatsoever that is not made from the same point of view that I have adopted; this will … free me, no doubt, from all philosophical polemics, considering how few people are able and disposed to fulfill this indispensable condition, without which discussions can really produce no useful insights.

Comte to Valat, 1840

THE CRISIS OF 1838: A SECOND ATTACK OF MADNESS AND A THIRD SEPARATION

Buoyed by having completed volume 3, Comte began in April 1838 to tackle the science he wished to establish: social physics. For eight years he had devoted himself to the natural sciences, a subject he felt he knew well. Now he realized more fully that this part of the Cours was but the preamble to his philosophy. The time had come to create the new science of social physics, the science that would definitively establish his philosophy. The dimension of the task daunted him. Since his youth, he had considered the emotions of utmost importance in enriching one's existence, but now that he was about to write on society, he knew he would have to devote more attention to them.