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

8 - Intellectual and Mental Crises


Madame Comte does not at all fear this revelation; she has quite provoked it. … We must believe that he [Comte] brought against his wife an accusation that he knew was false [and] that he succeeded in believing in the existence of an imaginary fact. … One must not doubt, then, that Auguste Comte was ill. He invented the fatal secret just as he had imagined the utopia of the Virgin Mother, and he believed in the reality of the one just as he believed in the certain realization of the other. His hatred for his wife grew with his love for Clotilde de Vaulx [sic]; he pictured his wife capable of everything. From this to believing that she had committed everything that he imagined, there was only one step.

Griolet, Massin's lawyer, 1870


Comte's articles on the spiritual power not only enhanced his reputation but reoriented his life. He began to understand more clearly the intellectual task that lay ahead of him. But in developing the new direction that he believed his thought had to take, he experienced a severe intellectual and physical crisis.

On February 20, 1826, two days after the appearance of the third article of “Considérations sur le pouvoir spirituel,” Comte started his next article.