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

15 - Cours de philosophie positive: Sociology

Summary

Considered from the static and dynamic points of view, man properly speaking is at heart a pure abstraction; there is nothing real except humanity, especially in the intellectual and moral order.

Comte, Cours de philosophic positive

POLITICAL ARGUMENTS SHOWING THE NECESSITY AND TIMELINESS OF THE SCIENCE OF SOCIETY

When Comte turned to the science of society, he had just isolated himself intellectually by adopting the regime of “cerebral hygiene” and was obsessed by his own originality. Whereas heretofore he had merely evaluated and systematized the natural sciences, now he was establishing an entirely new “order of scientific conceptions.” He inveighed against those who had employed and misused the terms “social physics” and “positive philosophy,” which he claimed to have coined seventeen years before. Overlooking the fact that Saint-Simon had used the term “positive philosophy” in his essays written during the Empire, Comte vaguely accused him and his disciples of taking ideas from “his writings, his lessons, and … his conversations.” Comte claimed that his superiority to these and other transgressors was due to his scientific education, which had permitted him to discover the “fundamental principle and rational system” of the doctrine that would solve the philosophical dilemma of the day.