Download PDF by John Stuart Mill: Auguste Comte And Positivism

By John Stuart Mill

For a while a lot has been acknowledged, in England and at the Continent, bearing on "Positivism" and "the confident Philosophy." these words, which in the course of the lifetime of the eminent philosopher who brought them had made their manner into no writings or discussions yet these of his only a few direct disciples, have emerged from the depths and manifested themselves at the floor of the philosophy of the age. it's not very widely recognized what they symbolize, however it is known that they symbolize whatever.

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Comte confines himself to the main stream of human progress, looking only at the races and nations that led the van, and regarding as the successors of a people not their actual descendants, but those who took up the thread of progress after them. His object is to characterize truly, though generally, the successive states of society through which the advanced guard of our species has passed, and the filiation of these states on one another--how each grew out of the preceding and was the parent of the following state.

It is thus that thinkers have usually proceeded, who formed theories for the future, grounded on historical analysis of the past. Tocqueville, for example, and others, finding, as they thought, through all history, a steady progress in the direction of social and political equality, argued that to smooth this transition, and make the best of what is certainly coming, is the proper employment of political foresight. We do not find M. Comte supporting his recommendations by a similar line of argument.

Be this as it may, M. Comte's conceptions of the mode in which these growing powers should be organized and used, are grounded on anything rather than on history. And we cannot but remark a singular anomaly in a thinker of M. Comte's calibre. After the ample evidence he has brought forward of the slow growth of the sciences, all of which except the mathematico-astronomical couple are still, as he justly thinks, in a very early stage, it yet appears as if, to his mind, the mere institution of a positive science of sociology were tantamount to its completion; as if all the diversities of opinion on the subject, which set mankind at variance, were solely owing to its having been studied in the theological or the metaphysical manner, and as if when the positive method which has raised up real sciences on other subjects of knowledge, is similarly employed on this, divergence would at once cease, and the entire body of positive social inquirers would exhibit as much agreement in their doctrines as those who cultivate any of the sciences of inorganic life.

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Auguste Comte And Positivism by John Stuart Mill


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