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AN INTERPRETATION OF POSITIVISM

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Willard, Laurence Bricard.
An interpretation of oositivism...
Lev.’ York, 1940.
ii,3E0 typewritten leaves. 29cn.
Thesis (Fh.D., - Lev York university
School of education, 1940.
Bibliography’ p.342-350.
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INTROD OCT ION
7. St a t e me nt o f t he Problem
P o s i t i v i s m was a major s p e c u la t i v e system o f th e middle n in e te e n th
c e n tu r y .
I t s u lt im a t e o b j e c t i v e was th e r e c o n s t r u c t io n o f s o c i e t y on
s c i e n t i f i c p r i n c i p l e s by means o f ed u c a tio n . Comte, i t s founder, came
t o th e co n c lu sio n th a t s o c i e t y could not be reformed u n t i l man h im s e lf
had been r e g e n e r a te d . T herefore, P o s i t i v is m c o n t a in s p la n s f o r th e re­
o r g a n iz a t io n o f knowledge, and fo r a r e g e n e r a tio n o f e t h i c s , th e l a t t e r
b ein g based on th e i n s t i t u t i o n o f a new r e l i g i o n . An in t e r p r e t a t i o n
o f Comte’ s i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n , h i s e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a tio n , and
h i s s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t io n w i l l here be p r e s e n te d , on th e b a s i s o f an
o b j e c t i v e study o f h i s l i f e , system , and s o u r c e s.
2. Peed f o r a PeSxamination o f t h e Problem
P o s it i v i s m needs r e a p p r a is a l f o r th e f o ll o w i n g rea so n s:
(1 )
Comte was h a il e d as a Messiah and a g r e a t th in k er by some,
and branded as an A n t ic h r is t and an u n o r ig in a l p h ilo so p h e r by o t h e r s .
According t o th e consensus o f modern o p in io n , he i s n e it h e r a Messiah
nor an A n t ic h r is t ; he i s , r a t h e r , a th in k e r who sen sed b e fo r e anyone
e l s e th e t e n d e n c ie s o f h i s era . He c r y s t a l l i z e d and s y n th e s iz e d them,
and p r e s e n te d t h e o r i e s which c o n tr ib u te d g r e a t ly t o th e advancement of
modern th ough t. During h i s l i f e , c r i t i q u e s o f h i s work were v i o l e n t
and o n e - s id e d , becau se he was a g g r e s s i v e l y f i g h t i n g rev ered n o t io n s
and propounding novel on es. A g rea t many o f h i s i d e a s have become an
i n t e g r a l p art o f our i n t e l l e c t u a l patrimony, and today he i s a c l a s s i c .
The lo v e and h atred which he once provoked have sub sid ed i n t o a f e e l i n g
o f r e s p e c t f o r h i s g r e a t i n t e l l i g e n c e and p e r t i n a c i t y . Consequently,
i t i s p o s s i b l e t o view him q u ite im p a r t ia lly tod a y, and t o p r e s e n t a
saner view o f h i s system than ev er b e f o r e .
In t h i s co u n try , Comte’ s r e p u t a tio n has been u n j u s t l y e c l i p s e d by
t h a t o f Spencer. Comte has had th e m isfortu n e o f b ein g p r im a r ily known
through h i s c r i t i c s , in c lu d in g Spencer, P is k e , and L e s te r l a r d . They
commented fa v o r a b ly upon some o f h i s t h e o r i e s , but th ey d id so w ith an
u l t e r i o r m otive, w ish in g t o combat or t o modify them in th e l i g h t o f
t h e i r own v ie w s . Hence, they did not p r e s e n t th e o rg an ic a sp e ct o f
P o s i t i v i s m . As a r e s u l t , Comte’ s worth i s u n derestim ated among E nglish
r e a d e r s , and a r e v a l u a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s m i s needed in t h i s country
more than in any o t h e r .
-l
(2 )
Conte made s c i e n c e a v a i l a b l e and appealing t o nen o f l i t e r a r y
background. The view s which he p re se n te d were sound and n od era te. Peca u se o f th e well-known tendency o f th e p u b lic t o rush t o extrem es,
h i s work r e s u l t e d in a sudden r i s e o f i n t e r e s t in s c ie n c e , f o llo w e d ,b y
a r e a c t i o n e q u a lly v i o l e n t and u n j u s t i f i e d . A fter having been unduly
e x t o l l e d , s c ie n c e was u n d eserv ed ly judged t o be a f a i l u r e . Both o f
t h e s e e x tren e view s were o f co u rse unwarranted, and today a sounder
view o f s c ie n c e i s tak en . There i s a f u l l e r knowledge o f i t s powers
and i t s d e f i c i e n c i e s , and an a b i l i t y to reco g n ize them both i m p a r t i a l l y .
T herefore, i t i s p o s s i b l e t o a p p r a ise Comte’ s system more r a t i o n a l l y
than in p a st g e n e r a t io n s .
(?) P o s i t i v i s m can never be out o f d ate. Comte d i s c u s s e s th e age­
l e s s problems which have always p u zzled man: th o se concerning h i s own
n a tu r e, t h e o r i g in o f s o c i e t y , and th e va lu e o f r e l i g i o u s f a i t h .
With
th e p ro g ress o f human developm ent, c o n d itio n s and c r i t e r i a change, and
man’ s c a p i t a l o f knowledge i n c r e a s e s . Hence, the o ld q u e s t io n s need
new answers, and th e old answers (th o s e o f Ccmte, in the p r e s e n t i n ­
s ta n c e ) have to be examined in th e l i g h t o f new standards.
(4 ) A re§xam ination o f P o s i t i v i s m i s opportune today, b ecau se o f
t h e t i m e l i n e s s o f th e s o c i a l problems d isc u sse d by Comte. He wanted
i n t e r n a t i o n a l peace and a planned s o c i e t y . These two d e s ir e s are s t i l l
uppermost in th e mind o f c i v i l i z e d man today.
(5) Comte was one o f th e f i r s t t o p e r c e iv e and attempt t o s o l v e
t h e c o n f l i c t o f r e l i g i o n and modern s c i e n c e . Today, t h i s war i s o v e r .
The nature and th e l i m i t a t i o n s o f both s c ie n c e and r e l i g i o n are under­
s to o d . S c i e n t i s t s and r e l i g i o u s t h in k e r s ag ree, and f e e l i n g s are no
lon ger v i o l e n t on e i t h e r s i d e .
I t i s th e r e fo r e p o s s i b l e t o a p p r a is e
Comte’ s s o lu t i o n o f t h i s problem, and h i s P e lig io n o f Humanity,' from
an o b j e c t i v e v ie w p o in t.
(6) Comte, th e man, i s a f a s c i n a t i n g s u b ject o f study f o r p s y ­
c h o l o g i s t s . Contemporary p sy c h o lo g y , whether i t be s t r a i g h t abnormal
p sychology or Freudianism , throws a new l i g h t on h i s p e r s o n a l i t y .
Comtism th e p h ilo so p h y and Comte th e man are one. T herefore, a
p s y c h o lo g ic a l a n a l y s i s o f Comte which a v a i l s i t s e l f o f new s c i e n t i f i c
d ata may c o n t r ib u t e something n ovel to ..th e study o f P o s i t i v i s m .
y. New C o n t r i b u t i o n s To Be Made
The p resen t study w i l l b r in g out th e fo llo w in g p o i n t s which, in
t h e judgment o f th e i n v e s t i g a t o r , ■have been i n s u f f i c i e n t l y s t r e s s e d
by e a r l i e r s tu d e n ts o f P o s i t i v i s m :
(1 ) Comte’ s temperamental and i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a i t s .* - T h e r e w i l l
be an i n d i c a t i o n o f th o se t r a i t s which, in t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r ’s judgment,
accou n t fo r th e fla w s in Comte’ s system ,- and a l s o f o r the d iscrep an cy
t o b e found between what he thought he d id and what he a c t u a ll y d id .
There w i l l be e s p e c i a l s t r e s s on Comte's d e f e c t i v e s e n s e o f l o g i c , h i s
l a c k o f c u r i o s i t y , h i s dogmatism, h i s n a iv e f a i t h in h i s own reasoning
p ow ers, and h i s u nbridled lo v e fo r s i m p l i f i c a t i o n , combined with a
b e l i e f th a t words always correspond t o an o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y . In con­
n e c t i o n with t h e s e m atters, th e study w i l l touch on th e variou s problems
which co n fro n t Comte’ s b iograp h ers, and s o l u t i o n s w i l l be o ffe r e d .
(?) The e v o lu t io n o f Comte’ s t h e o r i e s . - - V o s t commentators tak e i t
f o r granted th a t Comte’ s ideas con cern in g s c i e n c e and philosophy never
changed, b eca u se he h im s e lf s t a t e d t h a t th e y did not change. An attempt
w i l l be made to p o in t out th a t th e r e v e r s e i s t r u e , and t h a t , in f a c t ,
t h e y did change c o n sid e r a b ly .
(?) The e x t e n t and nature o f Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e . — Commentators agree
t h a t Comte d eep ly in flu e n c e d th e thought o f th e n in e te e n th century.
N e v e r t h e l e s s , th ey have not ex p lain ed why two t h in k e r s with d ia m e t r ic a lly
opposed id e a s could r i g h t l y claim Comte as t h e i r s p i r i t u a l f a th e r . Here
an attem pt w i l l be made t o do t h i s .
(4)
The v i t a l importance o f Comte’ s p s y c h o lo g y .1— Comte thought
p sy c h o lo g y a w o r th le ss stu d y, and he fo r m a lly e x p e lle d i t from h i s s y s ­
tem. Yet P o s it i v i s m c o n ta in s a very com p lete p sych o log y, th e importance
o f which must not be overlooked, s in c e i t determ ined the nature and order
o f t h e th r e e reforms which he planned t o undertake s u c c e s s i v e l y .
(E) The narrowness of Comte’ s c o n c e p tio n o f s c ie n c e and philosophy.
— H is co n cep tio n o f s c ie n c e and p h ilo so p h y w i l l be examined with r e f e r ­
en ce t o i t s f a i l u r e t o s a t i s f y man’ s a s p i r a t i o n s , a t l e a s t in c e r t a in
resp ects.
(6 ) The s i g n i f i c a n c e o f Comte’ s f i r s t p h i l o s o p h y . —Commentators
have not h i t h e r t o r e a l i z e d the f a c t t h a t Comte’ s f i r s t philosophy was
t h e l i n k which made p o s s i b l e th e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f s c ie n c e and p h i l o s ­
ophy.
(7 ) The good p o i n t s o f the s u b j e c t i v e m ethod.— C r i t i c s have con­
f u s e d th e s p i r i t o f th e s u b j e c t i v e method w ith th e u se which Comte
made o f i t .
An attempt w i l l be made t o c o r r e c t t h i s misapprehension.
(8 ) Comte’ s cure o f s o c ia l e v i l s . — Comte sen sed th a t l e g i s l a t i o n
a lo n e co u ld do l i t t l e toward e r a d ic a t in g s o c i a l a b u ses, i f i t were not
p reced ed by an ed u ca tio n of the h e a r t; and he averred th a t th e s o lu t io n
o f t h e problem was p rim a r ily an e t h i c a l one.
(9)
Comte’ s R e l ig io n o f Humanity.— Commentators have seen the
v is io n a r y id e a lis m and i m p r a c t i c a b i l i t y o f the R e lig io n of Humanity,
but have overlooked i t s r e a l beauty and d ig n ity .
d. Sources o f Data
The primary data on which t h i s study i s based are the works o f
Comte h im s e lf; th ey are a s f o ll o w s : Cours de p h i l o s o p h i e p o s i t i v e
(6 v o l s . ); Syst&me de p o l i t i t j u e p o s i t i v e (4 v o l s . ) ; Di scours srur
I ' e s p r i t p o s i t i f (1 v o l . ) ; Ca t i c h i s me p o s i t i v i s t e (1 v o l . ) ; Synth&se
s u b j e c t i v e (1 v o l . ) ; T r a t t S de i i o m i t r i e '6l6mentaire (1 v o l . ) ; T r a t t i
p h i l o s o p h i q u e d ' a s t r o n o m i e p o p u l a i r e (1 v o l . ) ; Appel aux c o n s e t v a t e u r s
(1 v o l . ) ; Co n f e s s i o n e t t e s t a m e n t (1 v o l . ) ; Correspondence (6 v o l s . ) .
The secondary m a te r ia l w i l l be found in the w r it in g s of Comte’s
f o l l o w e r s , and th e t r e a t i s e s , e s s a y s and a r t i c l e s p u b lish ed by commen­
ta to rs.
5. Method o f Procedure
The method o f p rocedure w i l l be as f o llo w s . The f i r s t p a r t of
th e d i s s e r t a t i o n w i l l be devoted t o the o b j e c t iv e study o f Comte’ s
l i f e , o f h i s system , and of h i s s o u r c e s . The second p art w i l l c o n ta in
an a n a l y s i s o f th e p e r s o n a l i t y o f th e p h ilo so p h er, and a c r i t i q u e o f
h i s system.
In Part One, th e l i f e o f Comte w i l l f i r s t be surveyed. A knowl­
edge of the p h ilo so p h e r in r e l a t i o n t o th e era in which he l i v e d i s
e s s e n t i a l t o th e u n d ersta n d in g o f P o s it iv is m , because the l a t t e r i s
t h e product o f th e tim es in which i t was formulated, and o f th e t r a i n ­
ing and l i f e o f i t s fo u n d er.
Consequently, th e in tr o d u c tio n t o P o s i ­
t iv is m w i l l tak e th e form o f a L i f e c f Comte (Book I ) .
This w i l l be fo llo w e d by a study o f h i s th eory o f human n ature
(Book I I , Comtean P s y c h o lo g y ). The end o f P o s it iv is m i s th e reform
o f s o c i e t y . Comte s t u d ie d human nature p a r tly to d isc o v e r th e cau ses
o f th e f a i l u r e o f th e French R ev o lu tio n , and p a r t ly to c o l l e c t psycho­
l o g i c a l data which would e n a b le him t o ach iev e a permanent s o c i a l
r e c o n s t r u c t io n .
Psychology r e v e a le d t o him th a t s o c i e t y could not be reformed
u n t i l two o th er r e n o v a t io n s had taken p la c e , an i n t e l l e c t u a l and an
e t h i c a l , and he proceeded a t once with t h e r e o r g a n iz a tio n o f human
knowledge. In Book I I I , t h i s development w i l l be o u t lin e d . A tte n tio n
w i l l be given to Comte’s c o n c e p tio n o f th e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t , o f s c ie n c e
and o f p h ilosop h y (Chapter I , P o s i t i v i t y , Scien ce and P h ilo s o p h y ); h i s
law o f i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n (Chapter I I } , and h i s law o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n
-5o f th e s c ie n c e s (Chapter I I I ) .
This w i l l be fo llo w e d by a survey o f
h i s en cy clo p ed ia o f th e s c i e n c e s (Chapter TV), and o f h i s t h e o r ie s on
s o c io l o g y (Chapters V -V III).
The o b j e c t iv e study o f s o c i e t y gave t o Comte th e n ecessary e l e ­
ments o f an e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t io n .
At th e tim e when he was ready to
undertake the l a t t e r , he became i n t e n s e l y r e l i g i o u s , and h i s system o f
e t h i c a l reg en era tio n assumed t h e form o f a new r e l i g i o n . Book IV w i l l
c o n ta in a study o f h i s e v o lu t io n from p o s i t i v i t y t o P o s it iv is m , that
i s , from r a t io n a l p o s i t i v i t y t o p o s i t i v i t y co lo r e d by r e l i g i o u s emo­
t i o n (Chapter I ) ; h i s i n s t i t u t i o n o f a s c ie n c e o f e t h i c s (Chapter I I ) ;
and h i s R e lig io n o f Humanity, Dogma and Cult (Chapter I I I ) .
Book V w i l l o u t l i n e h i s s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t io n , which was founded
on i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a tio n and e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t io n . I t w i l l de­
s c r i b e h i s plan for a s p i r i t u a l order (Chapter I) and fo r a temporal
order (Chapter I I ) .
Book VI, th e c l o s i n g s e c t i o n o f Part One, w i l l be devoted t o a
survey o f Comte’ s so u r c e s.
Part Two w i l l p r e se n t the w r i t e r Ts own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f Comte
and Comtism.' In Book I , e n t i t l e d Comte, th e a n a l y s i s w i l l deal with
t h e founder of P o s it iv is m as a w r i t e r (Chapter I ) and as a p h ilosopher
(Chapter I I ) . S o lu tio n s w i l l be o f f e r e d fo r th e v a rio u s problems r a is e d
by th e e v o lu tio n of h i s l a t e r thought (Chapters T I I-I V , Comteana).
Book I I , Scien ce and P h ilo so p h y , i s d evoted t o an examination o f
Comte’ s i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n .
Comte’ s view s o f s c ie n c e w i l l be
compared with th ose o f h i s con tem p o ra ries, and the c r i t i c i s m so often
v o ic e d by many, that P o s it i v i s m i s a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c in s p i r i t , w i l l be
d is c u s s e d (Chapter I , Comtism and S c i e n c e ) . This w i l l be fo llo w e d by
an a p p r a isa l o f th e aim which Comte gave s c i e n c e and philosophy: to
w i t , u t i l i t y (Chapter I I , S c ie n c e and P h ilo so p h y —Their Aims). I t
w i l l then be exp lain ed why such an end i s p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y in a ccep ta b le
(Chapter I I I , Scien ce and P h ilo so p h y in Their R e la t io n to th e Human
V in d ). Chapter IV, e n t i t l e d S c ien ce and th e P h ilo s o p h ic a l S y n th esis
in Comtism, w i l l compare th e n ature o f Comtean s c ie n c e with the rea l
n atu re o f s c ie n c e . The c r i t i c i s m s which have been voiced a g a in st the
g e n e r a l con ten t o f h i s p h i l o s o p h i c a l s y n t h e s i s w i l l be in d ic a te d ,
e v a lu a te d , and c r i t i c i z e d in t h e i r tu rn . These new c r i t i c i s m s w i l l
be based on the c r i t e r i a which have been e s t a b l i s h e d in th e th ree
p reced in g ch a p ters.
A.n a p p r a is a l o f th e s p i r i t o f p h ilo s o p h ic a l
Comtism, and a weighing o f th e s econd p h ilo so p h y , w i l l be given in
Chapter V, The S p i r i t o f Comtism— Second P h ilo so p h y . Chapter VI,
-6F i r s t P hilosophy, w i l l be d ev o ted , as th e name s u g g e s t s , to an ev a lu a ­
t i o n o f th e f i r s t p h ilo so p h y . The l a s t th r e e ch a p ters o f Eook I I w i l l
d e a l with Comte’s v a r io u s t h e o r i e s in ep istem o lo g y , m etap h ysics, cosmol­
ogy and r a tio n a l p sy c h o lo g y .
Book I I I w i l l be concerned w ith th e R e lig io n o f Humanity. Chapter
I , e n t i t l e d D e s tr u c tiv e C r i t i c is m , p r e s e n ts a survey o f the c r i t i c i s m s
v o iced a g a in st t h i s r e l i g i o n , and c o n ta in s some s t r i c t u r e s o f th e i n ­
v e s t i g a t o r ’ s own. The f o ll o w in g two ch ap ters w i l l e x p l a i n ‘why one i s
drawn toward the R e lig io n o f Humanity, in s p i t e o f i t s fla w s .
Chapter
TI, Love o f Humanity, w i l l s t a t e what we r e t a i n o f th e c u l t o f th e
G reat-E eing.
F i n a l l y , th e worth o f Comtean e t h i c s w i l l be shown in
Chapter I I I , S o cia l E t h ic s .
In the p resen t stu d y , th e terms Comtean and Comtism w i l l be used
in a general sen se to d e s ig n a t e Comte’ s th ough t, w ithout any im p lica ­
t io n as to th e nature o f i t s c o n t e n t . The term P o s i t i v i s m w i l l be used
in two accepted meanings: (1 ) in a gen era l se n se , as a synonym o f
Comtism; (?) as a s p e c i f i c term to denote th e r e l i g i o u s e v o lu tio n o f
Comte. In th e l a t t e r s e n s e , i t w i l l u s u a lly be opposed to p o s i t i v i t y :
p o s i t i v i t y being th e s t a t e o f a n o tio n which a b id es by the c r i t e r i a
o f the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t . R e li g i o u s Comtism w i l l always be intended
when th e term p o s i t i v i s t i c i s u sed.
The fo llo w in g a b b r e v ia tio n s w i l l be employed: Cours * Cours de
p h i l o s o v h i e p o s i t i v e ; Pol. = Syst&me i e p o l i t i q u e p o s i t i v e ; Di sc. *
D iscours sur I ' e s p r i t o o s i t i f ; Cat . * Ca t t chi s me p o s i t i v i s t e ; Synth. =
Synt Hlse s u b j e c t i v e .
PART ONE
E XP O S I TI O N
BOOK I
L ife
of
Au s u s t e
Comte
Comte, I sid o re-A u g u ste-F ra n ^ o is-M a rie-X a v ier, was born in Mont­
p e l l i e r on t h e 19th o f January, 1798. His p a ren ts were " p e t it e
b o u r g e o is ." M. Conte, S en io r, was a c le r k in th e t a x - r e c e i v i n g bureau
of th e ir d i s t r i c t .
He had a r e p u t a tio n fo r uncompromising i n t e g r i t y
and u p r ig h tn e ss in g e n e r a l . Madame Conte, a t i r e l e s s h o u sew ife, was
p a s s i o n a t e l y fond o f her f a m ily and was c o n s ta n t ly plan n ing fo r th e
com fort and w e ll- b e in g o f i t s menbers. They had one o th er son and a
d au gh ter. The e f f e c t s o f th e French R ev o lu tio n , and th en o f th e Empire,
swept through t h e i r c i t y w ith o u t a l t e r i n g t h e i r . c o n v i c t i o n s , and th ey
remained a tta ch ed t o th e Church and th e Throne.1 Had th e y been a b le
t o f o ll o w t h e i r i n c l i n a t i o n , th ey would have sen t t h e i r e ld e r son,
Auguste, t o some good C a th o lic s c h o o l; but money was s c a r c e . In order
t o have him r e c e i v e a s u i t a b l e e d u c a tio n , they were fo r c e d t o accept
t h e o f f e r o f a s c h o la r s h ip in th e S t a te Lycge.
The boy Auguste e n tered th e Im perial Lycge o f M o n tp e llie r as a
boarder at th e age o f n in e . This i n s t i t u t i o n , in c o n t r a s t t o h i s own
home, was permeated with r e v o lu t io n a r y id e a s . Comte l a t e r s t a t e d th a t
he l o s t h i s C a th o lic and R o y a l i s t f a i t h when he was f o u r t e e n , s and at
t h a t age became a "Codless R ep u b lica n ."
Young Comte was an e x c e p t io n a l s tu d e n t. His mind was p reco cio u s
and h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e u n i v e r s a l . He e x c e l le d in every f i e l d o f s t u d i e s ,
e s p e c i a l l y in "eloquence" and m athem atics. He prepared h im s e lf a t th e
Lycde f o r th e F c o le P o ly te c h n iq u e . This school has giv en France many
g r e a t men, sta tesm en , s o l d i e r s , and s c i e n t i s t s .
I t l e a v e s an i n d e l i b l e
stamp on i t s s t u d e n t s . The aim o f i t s two-year cou rse i s * "to i n i t i a t e
t h e s tu d e n ts in th e d iv e r s e branches o f mathematics, c h em istry , and
p h y s ic s ; t o a cq u ain t them w ith th e language o f th e s c ie n c e s ; t o i n d i ­
c a t e g en eral methods and t o equip them fo r independent r e se a r c h o r , at
l e a s t , t o te a c h them how to go t o primary s o u r c e s ."
The requirem ents fo r adm ission t o the school are very s t r i c t .
Those who q u a l if y fo r adm ission and go through i t s tw o-year d i s c i p l i n e
r e p r e s e n t an i n t e l l e c t u a l g l i t e . U n fo rtu n a tely , th ey are th em selves
i e p r e * \ ’ d%eVs, Vol. I, Port
l e t t e r to M. Louie Comte, January 26, 1967,
P* 1?9S. pf*Laorofxff Traltl*tlim entaire de calcul d ifftr e n tie l, pp. xxx-xxxi, quoted
by H. Souhier, in la jeunesse d ’Jiuguste Comte, Vol. I, p. 1S8.
-7-
-8aware o f t h i s f a c t .
They a re u s u a lly dogmatic, and prone t o o v erlo o k
t h e p r a c t i c a l s i d e o f l i f e . - They th in k t h a t , i f any problem i s s u s ­
c e p t i b l e o f s o l u t i o n , s c i e n c e w i l l y i e l d the answer, and t h a t t h e y are
b e s t q u a l i f i e d t o f in d i t .
This p o in t w i l l be s t r e s s e d i n t h e p r e se n t
stu d y , b eca u se o f th e i n v e s t i g a t o r ’s c o n v ic tio n t h a t Comte’ s c o n c e i t
and la c k o f p r a c t i c a l se n se were in p art due to h i s P o ly te c h n iq u e
tr a in in g .
r •
Comte, however, had reason t o be proud o f h im s e lf: he was from
t h r e e t o fou r y e a r s ahead o f h i s schoolm ates. He seems t o have shown
h i s temperament as e a r ly as he d isp la y e d h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e .
The s t u ­
d e n ts o f t h o s e days were a f f e c t e d by the r e v o lu tio n a r y s p i r i t o f th e
p e r io d . They were im p a tien t o f a l l a u th o r ity , and mutiny broke out in
th e s c h o o l s .
Comte was a le a d e r in t h e s e lo c a l fe u d s.
The minimum age requirem ent for p resen tin g o n e ’ s s e l f f o r en tran ce
exam ination was s i x t e e n .
As Comte was ready at f i f t e e n , he had t o w ait
for: a y e a r . He d evoted some o f h i s tim e t o the stu d y of n a t u r a l s c ie n c e
and t o S c o t t i s h p h ilo so p h y . He took th e t e s t s in August, 1814, and was
a c cep ted at t h e head o f th e l i s t fo r Southern Prance.
When he e n te r e d th e s c h o o l, lo c a te d in P a r is , in th e f a l l
o f the
same y e a r , he im m ediately became in t e r e s t e d in th e p h ilo so p h y o f th e
s c i e n c e s . T h is was p a r t ly due t o th e f a c t that h i s s c i e n c e t e a c h e r s
were imbued w ith a p h il o s o p h i c a l s p i r i t , and that th ey were t r y i n g t o
e v o lv e a p h ilo so p h y o f th e r a p id l y developing s c ie n c e s ,
Comte a l s o became i n t e r e s t e d in t h e o r ie s of s o c i a l reform . The
d iv e r s e c o n s t i t u t i o n s e la b o r a te d by th e succeeding S ta te a s s e m b lie s in
Prance had made th e th in k in g p u b lic co n scio u s of th e importance o f such
u n d e r ta k in g s .
The works o f J . - E . Say were widely read a l s o .
Comte’ s
sch o olm a tes founded c l u b s 1 f o r th e purpose of d is c u s s in g s c i e n c e ,
p h ilo so p h y , p o l i t i c s and econom ics.
Comte com pleted th e f i r s t year s u c c e s s f u l l y . He was h a lf- w a y
through th e second when th e sch o o l was suddenly c lo s e d by order o f th e
government, which had not r e s o r t e d to t h i s severe measure w ith o u t
p r o v o c a tio n . The sch o o l had been founded by a d ecree of t h e Convention
Assembly, and had d eveloped p a s s io n a te Republican c o n v i c t io n s during
t h e b r i e f y e a r s o f i t s e x i s t e n c e . The students
t h e new R o y a l i s t government, and, with Comte as
o p en ly fou gh t t h e te a c h e r s appointed by the new
ment c l o s e d t h e doors o f th e sch oo l in order to
had not approved o f
a l e a d e r , t h e y had
regim e. The govern­
put an end t o t h e s e
R epublican d e m o n str a tio n s.
1.
H. Sonhier, La jeunesse d*Auguste Comte, Voii. I , Ch. IV.
Comte found h im s e lf out o f s c h o o l, with n e ith e r diploma nor means
of liv e lih o o d .
As he did not want to retu rn t o p r o v in c ia l l i f e , he
d e c id e d t o s e t t l e in P a r is and earn a l i v i n g by g iv in g l e s s o n s i n math­
e m a t ic s . He planned to spend h i s l e i s u r e hours com p letin g h i s s c i e n ­
t i f i c and p h i lo s o p h i c a l ed u ca tio n .
In 1817, a t th e age o f n in e te e n , he met Saint-Sim on. This man
t r u l y p r e s e n te d a most unusual f ig u r e . Count Henri de Saint-Sim on was
not on ly a d i s t a n t co u s in o f the famous Duke de Saint-Sim on, contem­
porary o f L o u is 71? and c h r o n ic le r o f h i s r e ig n , but he claim ed— r i g h t l y
or n o t —t h a t Charlemagne had been h is a n c e s to r . He had spent h i s youth
t r a v e l l i n g through Furope, and f ig h t in g in America by th e s id e o f Lafay­
ette.
Imbued w ith th e id e a s o f th e French p h i l o s o p h e & o f the F n c y c lo p d d ie , he welcomed r e v o l u t io n . His youth had been th a t o f a poor a r i s ­
t o c r a t , and th e n a t i o n a l i z a t i o n of th e p rop erty owned by th e Church and
by t h e a r i s t o c r a c y showed him an easy way to fo r tu n e . He bought lan d ,
s p e c u la t e d , and became a wealthy man. He spent the y ea rs of th e Revo­
l u t i o n in - l u x u r y and debauch. When Comte met him he was f i f t y y e a r s of
a ge, and p o o r .
S a in t-S im o n ’ s ed u ca tio n had been academic. However, he had become
enamoured w ith s c i e n c e , and he attempted to acquire a s c i e n t i f i c t r a i n ­
in g . This c o n s i s t e d 1 mainly in wining, dining and b e fr ie n d in g s c i e n t i s t s ,
and l i v i n g in th e shadows o f h a l l s of le a r n in g . Thus he had p ick ed up
th e s c i e n t i f i c "jargon" o f th e day. There was no room in h i s temperament
f o r such a t h in g as an i n f e r i o r i t y complex. " R elievin g h im s e lf in v e s t e d
w ith a d i v i n e m is s io n , he dreamt o f reg en era tin g s o c i e t i e s , o f s u p p r e s s ­
ing war, and o f b r in g in g th e realm o f peace, order and harmony in a l l
th e n a t i o n s . " 2 The means to such an end would be t o put th e governments
i n t o th e hands o f s a v a n ts and i n d u s t r i a l le a d e r s , and t h e s e men were to
b rin g in t h e m illennium by in trod u cin g s c ie n c e in to p o l i t i c s .
S a in t-S im o n , although s in c e r e , was a ch a rla ta n . However, he engaged
in c e a s e l e s s a c t i v i t y . He wrote and ta lk e d i n c e s s a n t ly , and t h e r e was
a glamour about h i s p a s t . Comte, the young p r o v in c ia l b o u r i e o l s o f
n in e t e e n , f e l l under h i s s p e l l . He became Saint-Sim on’ s s e c r e t a r y ,
and l a t e r h i s p a r tn e r . Commentators have c r i t i c i z e d Comte fo r h i s
a s s o c i a t i o n w ith t h i s man. No doubt Comte recogn ized th e humbug q u a l­
i t y 8 o f S a in t-S im o n ’ s mind and th e o b j e c tio n a b le nature o f h i s p a s t ,
pi F r .3Alangrj,°fcssai*htstortque*et critique swr la sociologie chet Auguste Comte,
I! Cours, VI, nota on pp. v i l - v l i i ; Cat.t p. 25; Pol., I l l , pp. xv-xrii.
-1 0 but beggars cannot be c h o o s e r s. Comte was aware o f th e d i f f i c u l t y o f
g e t t i n g i n t o p r in t when one i s t o t a l l y unknown, and Faint-Fimon was
o f f e r i n g him th e o p p o rtu n ity which he needed.
The a s s o c i a t i o n 1 between the two men ended ab ru p tly in May, 1825.
The c a u s e s o f th e break have never been d e f i n i t e l y s e t t l e d by s c h o la r s ,
b eca u se o f th e c o n tr a d ic to r y nature o f th e e x i s t i n g t e s t i m o n i e s . Put
no matter what th o se ca u ses a c t u a ll y were, i t i s m a n if e s tly c l e a r th a t
th e two men.could not have c o lla b o r a te d f o r a long tim e. They were too
much a l i k e in. temperament: both were domineering and i n t o l e r a n t . They
were to o d i s s i m i l a r in ages: Faint-Fimon was at th e end o f h i s p h i l o ­
s o p h ic a l e v o lu t io n , and Comte at th e very beginning o f h i s . L a s t ly ,
although t h e i r o b j e c t i v e s were the same, th e y d isa g ree d as t o th e means
t o be employed in a t t a i n i n g them.2
^
According to h i s own testim o n y , Comte found h im s e lf as e a r ly as
1820, at th e age o f twenty-two.® He spent th e f o llo w in g s i x y ea rs
shaping h i s system and expounding i t in t r a c t s p u b lish ed by Faint-Fimon,
and l a t e r , a f t e r t h e ir estrangem ent, in a p e r io d ic a l c a l l e d Pr o d u c t e u r .
These o p u s c u l e s , as he termed them in h i s m aturity, are: Sep a r a t i o n
i i r i S r a l e e n t r e l e s o p i n i o n s e t l es d e s i r s , Ju ly, 1912; Sommaire a pp r e­
c i a t i o n de I*ensemble du p a s s e moierne, A p r il, 1820; Pl an des t r avaux
s c l e n t i f i q u e s n i c e s s a i r e s pour r 4 o r i a n i s e r l a s o c l i t e , May, 182f;
C o n s i d e r a t i o n s p h i l o s o p h i q u e s 3ur l e s s c i e n c e s et l e s s a v a n t s , Novem­
b e r , 1825; C o n s i d e r a t i o n s s ur le pouvoi r s p i r i t u e l , March, 1826.
These o p u s c u l e s , w r itte n in a c l e a r and i n c i s i v e s t y l e , show a
remarkably mature ou tloo k f o r one so young. Their very t i t l e s i n d i ­
c a t e the n atu re o f th e system , which may be summed up as f o llo w s :
(1) Comte d isc o v e r e d t h a t human i n t e l l i g e n c e does not remain s t a ­
t io n a r y , but t h a t , on th e con tra ry , i t i s c o n s t a n t ly p r o g r e s s in g . He
d e fin e d th e nature o f manTs i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o lu tio n in t h e taw o f t he
Three S t a t e s . 4 In th e f i r s t s t a t e , th e t h e o l o g i c a l , man a s c r ib e s a
d i v in e ca u se t o a l l phenomena.- In th e second, the m eta p h y sica l, he
a s c r i b e s t h e ca u s e s o f phenomena to a c t i v e a b s tr a c t a g e n t s . In th e
t h i r d , th e p o s i t i v e , he a s c r i b e s them to e f f i c i e n t and u n iv e r s a l law s,
namely, t o s c i e n t i f i c la w s. Man’s a c t i v i t y a l s o f o ll o w s a d e f i n i t e
e v o lu tio n .® At f i r s t i t i s m il i t a r y , and g r a d u a lly i t becomes in ­
d u stria l.
1 . SalTnt-SIIoa’s influenoe upon Coate wlll“be'further dieeussed i a Part One, Book
VI, pp. 170-188, aad la Part I I , Ch. V, pp. 214-216.
I*. & - I , ’ ’lV®*p. ▼!. Ia th e Pol iti qu e, I, pp. 1- 2 , he s e t h is age a t tw e n ty -fo u r.
4 .V p u s c u l e s , pp. 77-78, 88, 187-140.
5 . Opusculrts, pp. 5-6.
-1 1 (?). Comte h eld th at contemporary thought was d is o r d e r ly and anar­
c h ic a l.
This c o n d itio n was due, he averred, t o a c o n fu sio n o f theory
and p r a c t i c e , * and t o a la ck o f s y s t e m a t iz a tio n o f human knowledge.- He
a c c o r d in g ly prepared a p o s i t i v e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f th e s c i e n c e s . *
(? ) In stu d yin g s o c i e t y , 4 i t s nature and i t s needs, he found that
i t co n ta in ed two o rd ers, a s p i r i t u a l and a tem poral. The V iddle Ages,
as t y p i f i e d by th e e le v e n th cen tu ry , rep resen ted an era o f peace and
s p i r i t u a l b r o t h e r l i n e s s , b ecause in th a t age th e two powers were kept
d i s t i n c t l y sep a rate from each o th e r . The Church governed the s o u ls o f
men, w h ile fe u d a l r u le r s governed t h e i r e a r t h ly a c t i v i t i e s .
Comte r e ­
marked th a t t h i s wonderful s t a t e had been temporary, in s t e a d o f being
permanent, b ecause both powers had been ov er-g reed y , each c o v e tin g th e
domain o f th e o th e r . In th e s t r i f e which ensued, th e s p i r i t u a l power
was th e l o s e r . T h ereafter i t f e l l i n t o decay, and as a consequence the
contemporary n in e te e n th cen tu ry was la c k in g in s p i r i t u a l d i r e c t i o n .
Anarchy and u n rest reign ed supreme. Comte, however, did not regard the
s i t u a t i o n as h o p e le s s ; he noted th a t a movement o f r e o r g a n iz a t io n 5 was
shaping i t s e l f under the a u sp ic e s o f s c ie n c e and in d u str y .
S o c ie t y needed two powers, he thought: (a ) a s p i r i t u a l , 6 s c i e n t i f i c
and t h e o r e t i c a l , whose fu n c tio n s would c o n s i s t in th e e l a b o r a t io n o f th e
g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s o f s c i e n t i f i c p o l i t i c s , in th e d i r e c t i o n o f men’s
b e l i e f s , and in th e ed u cation o f c i t i z e n s ; (b) a tem poral7 and p r a c t i c a l ,
whose fu n c tio n s would c o n s i s t in applying th e a b s t r a c t p r i n c i p l e s d ev ised
by th e s p i r i t u a l power to th e c r e a t io n o f a government and in d u str y .
(4) In stu d yin g the systems e la b o ra ted by h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s , Comte
found th a t most t h in k e r s had overlooked th e in f l u e n c e o f th e p ast on
t h e p r e s e n t . They had f a i l e d to understand th e c o n t in u it y o f h i s t o r y .
Comte f e l t th a t th e p resen t i s not d i s t i n c t 8 from th e p a s t , b u t, on
t h e c o n tra ry , i s i t s e x t e n s io n , and th a t th e fu tu r e i s the e x te n s io n
o f th e p r e s e n t.
(5 ) S o c ia l m a n if e s t a t io n s 8 are phenomenal in n a t u r e . - Like a l l other
phenomena, s o c i a l phenomena are su b je c t t o law s. S o c i e t y 10 f o ll o w s a
d e f i n i t e curve .of e v o lu t io n . The study o f s o c i a l e v o lu t io n i s based
on o b s e r v a tio n .11 All th e s e f a c t o r s concur in making s o c i a l p h y s ic s a
-15?sc ie n c e .
T e r r e s t r i a l p h y s ic s en a b les th e p h y s i c i s t t o p r e d ic t fu tu re
p h y s ic a l phenomena, and t o f in d th e l i m i t o f m o d i f i a b i l i t y of th e phys­
i c a l phenomenon; s o c i a l p h y s ic s , when p r o p e r ly - c o n s t itu t e d ., w i l l enable
t h e th in k e r t o p r e d ic t fu tu re s o c i a l phenomena1 and t o a s s e r t the l i m i t s
o f p o l i t i c a l a c tio n * ; i t w i l l a t th e same tim e g iv e him th e in d e s t r u c t ­
i b l e fou nd ation which i s req u ired f o r th e c r e a t i o n o f a p o l i t i c a l art.®
As a consequence o f t h i s th eo ry , Comte became the founder o f s o c io lo g y .
The reader d is c o v e r s in t h e s e Opuscules one o f the most important
t r a i t s o f a d u lt P o s i t i v i s m , th a t i s , i t s o p t i m i s t i c t e l e o lo g is m , or at
l e a s t i t s con ten ted f a t a l i s m . At t h i s e a r ly d a te , Comte i s alr'eady con­
v in ced th a t mart's i n t e l l i g e n c e p r o g r e s s e s through th e a g es, and th a t
t h i s p ro g ress determ ines an improvement in s o c i e t y . He a l s o b e l i e v e s
t h a t s o c i a l change i s i n e s c a p a b l e , 4 and th a t in th e long run i t i s for
th e b e t t e r , even though' appearances a t th e moment may s u g g e st th e oppo­
s i t e c o n c lu s io n . Through f a t e , man i s brought nearer th e p o s i t i v e sta g e
by each change or development. Thus Comte i s le d to condone th e blood­
i e s t a c t io n s o f th e Convention Assembly: although r e p r e h e n s ib le in
th e m s e lv e s , th ey a c c e le r a t e d th e f a l l o f an a n a r c h ic a l government, and
paved th e way f o r s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t io n .
These Opuscules a ls o show th a t Comte i s no lon ger the r a d ic a l th a t
he was in h i s c o l l e g e days: he has become a c o n s e r v a t iv e . He b e l i e v e s
now t h a t th e p ast i s th e fou n d ation o f th e p r e s e n t, and he i s le d t o
advance th e id ea th a t p o s i t i v i t y does not c o n s i s t in d e s tr o y in g th e past
and b u ild in g on i t s r u in s , b u t, on th e c o n tr a r y , in embracing th e p a s t 5
in th e la r g e r and b e t t e r s tr u c t u r e o f th e p r e s e n t and th e f u t u r e . For
t h i s rea so n , hatred o f d e s tr u c t io n became one o f th e c h i e f dogmas of
l a t e r P o s i t i v i s m . I t i s noteworthy t h a t , throughout h i s l i f e , when he
had t o tak e s i d e s between th e c o n s e r v a t iv e s and th e r e v o l u t i o n i s t s , or
between th e government and in s u r g e n t s , Comte always sympathized with
t h e c o n s e r v a t iv e s and with th e governm ent.6
Comte f in d s th a t anarchy i s cau sin g d i s i n t e g r a t i o n in a l l domains
o f s o c i e t y . He con clu d es th a t s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t io n i s u rgen t, and th at
he must develop th e th eory o f temporal r e g e n e r a tio n at once. He s e t s t o
work on t h i s ; but he i s no sooner busy with i t s e la b o r a tio n than l o g i c
f o r c e s him t o h a l t . He f i n d s th a t he cannot e r e c t a sound s o c i a l
i.
8.
5.*
6.
7.
Opuscules, p. 94.
TjbitLi pp. 95, 107.
Ibid
55—56, 59»
59> 68 8 >
, Szi
92, ■1 0 2 .
ibid*. 4> •pp.
•pp* 55*56|
I , p. *8 e S ° i l , PP. 848, 855; IV, p. 1 7 ; Opus, f p. 59.
Cours, IV, JS. 99; Cat. i ■pp. • 2 - 8 .;
”
L ettres U Valat, Letter or Deoember 25, 1925, p. 157.
-1 5 s t r u c t u r e u n le s s he f i r s t fo r m u la te s a th eory o f human m o tiv a tio n .
The r e s u l t o f h i s m ed ita tio n on human nature i s a psychology which may
be summarized as f o llo w s :
Human nature com prises t h r e e p a r t s , i n t e l l i g e n c e , heart and a c t i v ­
ity .
To t h e s e correspond t h r e e ty p es o f o b j e c t i v e m a n ife s ta tio n s:
th o u g h ts, f e e l i n g s and a c t i o n s .
Acts are embodied in the temporal
o rd er, w h ile the oth er two are in co rp o ra ted in the s p i r i t u a l . However,
i n t e l l i g e n c e , h eart and a c t i v i t y are not se p a r a te and independent a g e n ts.
They i n t e r a c t , and th ey do so in a g iv en sequence: th ou g h ts and f e e l i n g s
come f i r s t , and then a c t i o n s en sue. Because Comte b e l i e v e s th a t a c t s
are determined by th ou gh ts and f e e l i n g s , he a c c e p ts th e n o tion th a t th e
temporal i s governed by th e s p i r i t u a l , and he i s le d t o a s s e r t th a t the
s p i r i t u a l r e g e n e r a t io n 1 must precede th e tem poral.
Abiding by th e dictum
o f h i s l o g i c , Comte abandons th e plan o f immediate s o c i a l r e c o n s tr u c t io n ,
and undertakes t o reform th e s p i r i t f i r s t .
The- young reformer f i n d s t h e problem o f s p i r i t u a l r e g en era tio n most
complex. He d is c o v e r s th a t th e s p i r i t u a l i s dual in n ature. I t i s com­
p r is e d o f th ou gh ts and f e e l i n g s , and as th e s e two are d i f f e r e n t , th ey
need sep a ra te and s p e c i f i c tr e a tm e n t. He has t o d e cid e which o f the
two he w i l l reform f i r s t , and h i s c h o ic e e v e n t u a lly f a l l s upon th ough ts.
He g ra n ts th a t i n t u i t i o n and im pulses come from th e h e a r t, and th a t th ey
g iv e i t s i n i t i a l d i r e c t i o n t o th e i n t e l l e c t ; but he cannot overlook th e
f a c t th a t "ideas govern and r e v o l u t i o n i z e th e world, in other words,
t h a t th e whole s o c i a l system r e s t s on o p in io n s ." 2 T h erefore, o f th e
two r e g e n e r a t io n s in v o lv ed in th e s p i r i t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n , i . e . , th e
i n t e l l e c t u a l and the e t h i c a l , th e i n t e l l e c t u a l must come f i r s t ,
Then
he has completed th e i n t e l l e c t u a l , he w i l l a tten d t o th e e t h i c a l . The
temporal r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , which a ffo r d s th e reason f o r th e other two,
w i l l have t o come l a s t ; and b ecau se i t i s t o have th e proper foundation
o f th ough ts and f e e l i n g s , i t w i l l be a permanent s t r u c t u r e .
x
Comte ta k e s up th e matter o f th e i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a tio n immedi­
a t e l y . The s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n in Trance appears so d esp e ra te t o him th a t
he does not want t o l o s e tim e by w r it in g books. He d e c id e s th a t the
q u ic k e st medium fo r rea ch in g th e p u b lic i s th a t o f th e spoken word, and
in consequence he p la n s t o preach i n t e l l e c t u a l reform, in a s e r i e s o f
se v e n ty -tw o l e c t u r e s . He b e g in s th e cou rse in h i s home, on th e second
day o f A p ril, 1856. D is t in g u is h e d men, such a s F l a i n v i l l e , th e anatom ist;
1. Loc. - c it.
Cours, I , ?.
2.
26.
Humboldt, th e c o s m o lo g is t,_ a n d P o in s o t, th e m athematician, who had been
h i s former t e a c h e r in th e P o ly te c h n iq u e , were inclu d ed among h i s a u d it o r s .
He o u t l i n e s th e g e n e r a l aim o f h i s c o u rse, d e f in e s p o s i t i v e p h i l o s ­
ophy, dem onstrates th e e x i s t e n c e o f th e law o f th e th r e e s t a t e s , and
j u s t i f i e s h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f the s c i e n c e s . A fter doing t h i s , he pro­
ceed s with th e p h ilo so p h y o f m athem atics. At th a t p o in t , a t r a g i c occu r­
rence p u ts a sto p to th e d e l i v e r y o f th e course which had been so a u s p i­
c i o u s l y in au gu rated . Comte has become in san e; he has f a l l e n a prey t o
manic d e p r e s s io n . I t w i l l be two f u l l years b e fo re he can resume h i s
m is s io n .
I t may be w e ll a t t h i s p o in t t o look back and s e e what e v e n t s had
f i l l e d h i s l i f e in t h e y e a r s which preceded h i s mental s ic k n e s s .
In
1855 Comte married a young woman named C aroline V assin , with whom he had
been l i v i n g p r e v io u s ly t o h i s m arriage. His reasons f o r making her h i s
l e g a l mate have never been c l e a r l y understood. Love does net seem t o
have been t h e predominant f a c t o r .
He may have been in flu e n c e d by the
d e s i r e t o be a b le t o e n t e r t a i n , by h i s b o u rgeo is up b rin ging, and by
C a r o l i n e s am bition.
In some r e s p e c t s , i t did not appear an unreason­
a b le d e c i s i o n . C aro lin e was an a g r e e a b le companion, very c l e v e r , and
p r e t t y . U n fo r tu n a te ly , she had been a p r o s t i t u t e b e fo r e her lia is-o n
with Comte, and she had r e t a in e d a p ro p en sity to prom iscuousness from
her former l i f e .
A lso , she was f u l l y as domineering as Comte h i m s e l f .
She was am b itiou s fo r him in a w orldly way, w h ile he was on ly i n t e r e s t e d
in se c u r in g r e c o g n i t i o n in th e world o f s p e c u la t iv e th ou g h t. Che wanted
him t o keep h im s e lf in th e good graces o f th e o f f i c i a l s a v a n t s , whom he
d e s p is e d fo r t h e i r la c k o f v i s i o n and t h e i r opportunism. The two became
in com p a tib le soon a f t e r t h e i r m arriage. In 1856, when Comte s t a r t e d
h i s co u rse o f l e c t u r e s , she l e f t h i s home. The shock o f her d e s e r t i o n ,
combined with overwork, p r e c i p i t a t e d th e development o f i n s a n i t y . 1
At th e news o f h i s p l i g h t , C arolin e retu rn ed . Then he was w e ll
enough t o le a v e th e i n s t i t u t i o n in which he had been p la c e d , she brought
him home and nursed him w ith i n t e l l i g e n t d ev o tio n , as Comte h i m s e l f 8
was th e f i r s t t o acknowledge. He recovered h i s s a n i t y , and h i s i n t e l ­
l i g e n c e did not seem t o be impaired in any way. U n fo rtu n a tely , th e cure
was not permanent. S im ila r , though l e s s v i o l e n t a t ta c k s occurred in
1838 and 1845. Comte was under no i l l u s i o n about t h i s : he knew t h a t
in s a n i t y was c o n s t a n t l y t h r e a te n in g him, and he took p r e v e n tiv e measures
t o ward i t o f f . He avoided c e r e b r a l o v e r - e x e r t io n . He a l s o stopped
1. The episode will he disouseel at length further on in t h i s study (see pp. 218-218>.
p. Cours, VI, p. ix, n o t e . •
-1 5 working l a t e i n t o th e n ig h t , and he g ra d u a lly c u t out a l l s t im u la n t s ,
such a s to b a c c o , c o f f e e and wine.
In January, 1829, he was w e ll enough t o resume h i s l e c t u r e s . Af­
t e r com p letin g th e s e r i e s without in te r r u p t io n , he r e p e a te d i t th e f o l ­
low ing year in a l e c t u r e - h a l l , b efore a la r g e r a u d ien ce.
Comte th en began t o put h i s course in book form. T h is work, which
he had o r i g i n a l l y planned as an in tr o d u c tio n t o th e more important ta sk
o f r e o r g a n iz in g s o c i e t y , absorbed tw elve f u l l y e a r s . The s i x volumes
o f th e Cours i e p h i l o s o p h i e p o s i t i v e were p u b lish ed a t i n t e r v a l s , from
1880 t o 1942. The f i r s t volume was e n t i t l e d P r i l i m i n a i r e s i6ti6raux e t
P h i l o s o p h i e mat Mmat i que, and was published in J u ly , 1880.
I t s len g th
was 410 p a g es. The second was devoted t o Ph i l o s o p h i e as t r onovdque e t
P h i l o s o p h i e p h y s i q u e , and appeared in 1885, running t o 880 pages in
le n g t h .
The t h i r d , d i s c u s s i n g Ph i l o s o ph i e ohlmique e t P h i l o s o p h i e
b i o l o i i q u e , came out in 1989, and included 447 p ages.
The oth er t h r e e ,
r e s p e c t i v e l y c o n t a in in g 889, 411 and 557 p ages, were p u b lish e d from
1989 t o 1842; th e y were e x c l u s i v e l y devoted to P h i l o s o p h i e s o c i a i e .
The t i t l e s o f t h e s e volumes i n d ic a t e t h e i r c o n te n t.
L it tr g ,' an a s s o c i a t e o f many y ears, has g iv en th e f o ll o w in g d e­
s c r i p t i o n o f th e workings o f Comte’s mind1:
The memory o f M. Comte wae of p r o d i g i o u s f o r c e . I ha ve h e a r d
him s a y t h a t he was p l a n n i n g t o l e a r n Serman by means o f a book
and a d i c t i o n a r y , and I do n o t doubt t h a t he would hav e s u o o e e d e d , had he t r i e d . - At any r a t e , he had l e a r n t t n g l i s h , S p a n i s h
and I t a l i a n by t h i s metho d. He had done h i s r e a d i n g i n h i s y o u t h .
T h i s p h a s e go n e , he had n e i t h e r r e a d nor r e - r e a d . The s t o r e he
had a o o u m u l a t e d s u f f i o e d t o t h e e l a b o r a t i o n o f a work f o r whioh
he n e e d e d t o h a v e p r e s e n t i n mind an im m e n s it y o f h i s t o r i c a l
and s o i e n t i f i o f a c t s . -
L i t t r g th en p roceed s t o d e s c r ib e Comte’s method o f c o m p o s itio n 2:
Memory was t h e p o w e r f u l a u x i l i a r y of c o n c e p t i o n . He composed
e a c h o f t h e s i x volumes of t h e System of P o s i t i v e P h i l o s o p h y i n
t h e f o l l o w i n g m a n n er : he m e d i t a t e d on t h e s u b j e c t w i t h o u t w r i t ­
i n g . From t h e g e n e r a l vi e w , he p r o c e e d e d t o 3 e o o n d a r y m a s s e s ,
and fr o m t h o s e ^ t o t h e d e t a i l . When t h e s p e o i a l p l a n of e a c h
p a r t , t o t a l and p a r t i a l , was a c c o m p l i s h e d , he would s a y t h a t
h i s volume was d o n e . - I t was t r u e . When he would b e g i n t o w r i t e ,
he wou ld r e o o l l e o t , w i t h o u t l o s i n g a n y t h i n g , a l l t h e i d e a s whioh
formed t h e f a b r i o of h i s work. He would f i n d them i n t h e i r
p r o p e r c o n n e c t i o n and s e q u e n o e . - His memory s u f f i o e d f o r a l l .
T h u s , he oomposed t h e C ours , i n 1826, t h e l a t t e r e m b r a c i n g t h e
whole o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y . I t was a new e l a b o r a t i o n , a n d ,
l. E. L i t i r d , Auguste Comte et la philosophie Positive, p. 257; also Cours, VI, p.
X**2 ^*I>ittr<, OP. e i t .i pp. 275-279.
-1 6 o o n s e q u e n t l y , >i t r e q u i r e d
him more e f f o r t t h a n i t would
l a t e r o n . - T h i s method o f work was t h e e v i d e n o e - o f a g r e a t power*
b u t i t was a l s o d a n g e r o u s . The o a t a s t r o p h e o f i e 2 6 b e a r s w i t ­
ness to t h i s a ss e rtio n .
L i t t r g has a l s o g iv en an account, o f Comte’ s c r e a t i v e a b i l i t y 1:
When t h e e l a b o r a t i o n had r e a o h e d t h i s d e g r e e o f m a t u r i t y
c o m p o s i t i o n had t o b e g i n . His work had t o oome t o l i f e b e o a u s e
i t was h e a v y on h i s b r a i n . I t w a nt ed t o oome f o r t h , and he was
no l o n g e r t h e m a s t e r of h i s i n s p i r a t i o n , s o t o s p e a k . T h i s i s
t h e r e a s o n why he c o u l d not d r o p h i s pen a f t e r he had begun t o
us e i t . The l a r g e volumes of t h e Sy s t e m o f P o s i t i v e P h i l o s o p h y
were w r i t t e n i n one b r e a t h . As soo n as he had f i l l e d enough
s h e e t s t o keep t h e p r e s s f e d , he would s e n d them t o h i s pub­
l i s h e r s . - He n e v e r made any c h a n g e s i n t h e p r o o f s and he n e v e r
r e a d more t h a n one s e t . Thus, t h e p r i n t i n g would be f i n i s h e d
when he l a i d h i s pen a s i d e , f o r t h e l a t t e r had gone a s f a s t
as t h e p r e s s .
L i t t r 6 a llu d e s t o th e f a c t th at Comte never read a f t e r he reached
m a tu r ity . At f o r t y y ea rs o f age, he decided on a "cerebral h y g ie n e ." s
I t c o n s i s t e d in a b sta in in g from read in g cu rren t books, magazines and
newspapers, and a llo w in g h im s e lf only a few c l a s s i c s , such as th e Im ita­
t i o n and th e Di vi ne Comedy. This "cerebral hygien e" was a most unfortu­
n a t e d e v i c e , and accounts f o r many o f th e l i m i t a t i o n s o f P o s it iv is m .
Had Comte r e t a in e d h i s co n ta ct w ith t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l world o f h i s day,
an acq u ain tan ce with th e new trends in p h y s i c s , astronomy and b io lo g y
might have g iv e n a l e s s dogmatic and narrow turn t o h i s p h ilosop h y .
The Cours exhausted h i s i n s p i r a t i o n , and he never drank again from the
f o u n t a i n o f knowledge. As a r e s u l t , th e works subsequent t o th e Cours
o n ly o f f e r a new p r e s e n ta t io n of the same old d a ta , and novel concep­
t i o n s a re l a c k in g .
S o c io lo g y p erm its Comte to determine th e e v o l u t i o n o f humanity
under i t s t h r e e a s p e c ts : i n t e l l e c t u a l , e t h i c a l and a c t i v e .
An explana­
t i o n has alread y been given o f th e law o f i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o lu t io n , the
law o f th e t h r e e s t a t e s . 8 A few words may be added concerning th e other
two t y p e s o f e v o l u t i o n , namely, th e e t h i c a l and th e a c t i v e . The law of
e t h i c a l e v o lu t io n c o n s i s t s in th e p r o g r e s s iv e development o f a ltr u ism ,
and in i t s p r o g r e s s iv e ascendency over e g o -cen trism : man becomes kinder
and l e s s s e l f i s h . The law o f a c t i v e , p r a c t i c a l or s o c i a l e v o lu t io n
c o n s i s t s in th e tran sform ation o f a c t i v i t y , f i r s t from m ilita r y -p r e d a to r y
t o m i l i t a r y - d e f e n s i v e , and then from m i l i t a r y - d e f e n s i v e t o p ea cea b lein d u str ia l.
I: l i t i r t s i n i i i t l v i V llhn S tu a rtM ill & Auguste Comte, p u b l K e r aveo lee r<Spon.e.
l e Coate et une introduction par L. Ldvy-Brtthl, Latter of Woveaber ?0, 1841} alao Lettres
1 divers, Vol.' I , Part 2, p. 74, and Cours, VI, pp. xxv-xxvi.
8. Cf. • p. 10 above.
-1 7 Comte s t a t e s th a t th e th r e e t y p e s o f e v o lu tio n are i n t e r - r e l a t e d :
t h e t h e o lo g i c a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s t a t e c a l l s f o r ego-cen trism and m ilit a r y
predatory a c t i v i t y , w h ile th e p o s i t i v e i n t e l l e c t u a l c a l l s for p eaceab le
in d u str y .
The p h ilosop h er f e e l s c o n fid e n t th a t he has i n i t i a t e d the I n t e l l t f e n t s i a in t o th e i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n o f s o c ie t y . However, only
p a rt o f h is m ission i s accom p lish ed .
The French Revolution has taught
Comte that no s o c i a l change can be s u c c e s s f u l , u n le ss i t i s supported
by th e a ssen t o f th e p e o p le ; t h e r e f o r e , he tu rn s h i s a tte n tio n t o th e
ed u cation o f th e m asses. He r e a l i z e s th a t h i s Cours i s beyond t h e i r
grasp , and he d e c id e s t o w r it e popular books on the s c ie n c e s . The
purpose of t h e s e w i l l be t o acq u ain t th e p eo p le with the new s p i r i t ,
and thus to prepare them g r a d u a lly fo r p o s i t i v e philosophy.
Accordingly, Comte p u b lish e d th e f o llo w in g a d d itio n a l works:
f r a t t i i l i m e n t a i r e i e i S o m e t r i e a n a l y t i q u e (FP8 c a g e s ), in 184?; Dls~
cours sur I ' e s p r i t p o s i t i f (171 p a g e s ) , in 1844; Trat t S phi l osophi que
i ’ a s t r ondni e p o p u l a l r e (48? p a g e s ), in 184F. This l a s t book r e p r e se n ts
th e w ritten e x p o s it io n o f an a d u lt n igh t cou rse in astronomy which he
d e liv e r e d g r a t u i t o u s l y fo r e ig h te e n y ea rs (1 8 8 1-1 84 8). I t must be ad­
m itte d , however, t h a t , in s p i t e o f t h e i r names, th e s e t r e a t i s e s are
n e it h e r popular nor e lem en ta ry . Comte always made the mistake o f
supposing th a t th e i n t e l l e c t u a l grasp o f o th e r s was equal t o h i s own.
His correspondence w ith John S tu a r t M i l l 1 took place during th e
same general p erio d ( 1 8 4 1 -1 8 4 8 ). The l a t t e r , recog n izin g a kindred
s p i r i t in Comte, had begun th e exchange o f l e t t e r s . Hut t h e ir c o r r e ­
spondence i s not as r e v e a l i n g as i t might have been. Comte could not
accep t c o n t r a d ic tio n , and he never d is c u s s e d h i s t h e o r ie s . He took i t
f o r granted th a t M i l l ’ s d i s s e n t came from an incom plete e v o lu tio n .
Therefore, in s t e a d of r e f u t i n g M i l l ’ s arguments, he repeated at len g th
t h e id ea s which he had a lr e a d y ex p r e sse d in th e Cours. On the other
hand, M ill was t o o much o f a gentleman t o d i s s e n t openly.
Up to th e time when Comte- a t t a i n e d h i s middle f o r t i e s , h i s p h i l o s ­
ophy was not w id ely d i f f u s e d . Only a few men in France and in Fngland
were acquainted with h i s main work and a p p recia ted h i s en cyclop ed ic
knowledge. In 1844, however, an i n c i d e n t occurred which brought th e
new philosophy b e fo r e th e p u b lic e y e .
Fmile L i t t r g , the well-known
p h i l o l o g i s t and le x ic o g r a p h e r , chanced to encounter a volume of th e
Cours.
He read i t , and i n s t a n t l y became a c o n v ert to the new d o c tr in e .
1.
See p. 16, note 8.
-1 8 He was u n s e l f i s h and a man o f a c t io n . He put h i s t a l e n t and h i s repu­
t a t io n a t the s e r v i c e o f p o s i t i v e p h iloso p h y . He wrote a r t i c l e s which
were p u b lish ed in a d a i l y newspaper having a wide c i r c u l a t i o n . The
r e s u l t was an immediate one: p o s i t i v e p h ilosop h y became known t o th e
la y p u b lic .
However, th e c e l e b r i t y o f th e p h ilosop h y was o f no pecuniary help
to the p h ilo s o p h e r . Comte had harboured th e hope t h a t some day he would
become p r o f e s s o r o f th e H istory o f th e S cien ces at the C o lle g e de Prance,
and p r o fe ss o r o f m athem atics at th e P o ly tech n iq u e. Like a l l good PoZyt e o h n i c i e n s , he reveren ce d h i s Alma Mater, and he f e l t a l s o , w ith due
reason, t h a t i t s s t u d e n t s would make p e r f e c t a p o s t le s o f h i s p h i l o s o p h y . 1
He had been made an i n s t r u c t o r in 1882, and entrance examiner in 1887,
but he never went any h ig h e r . The o f f i c i a l savants whom he had impla­
ca b ly r i d i c u l e d 8 never gave him th e p r o fe s s o r s h ip which h i s e x c e p t io n a l
tea ch in g a b i l i t y d e s e r v e d . L a ter, he was even deprived o f h i s minor
p o s t s , l o s i n g t h e f i r s t in 1844 and the second in 1851.
The " p o ly te c h n ic s p o l i a t i o n , " 8 as he termed h is d i s m i s s a l , took
away h is c h i e f means o f l i v e l i h o o d , and, at the same tim e, i t had a
d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e on th e o r i e n t a t i o n o f h i s ph ilosop h y. Enforced r e ­
tirem ent allow ed him t o d evote a l l h i s tim e to p h ilo s o p h ic a l s t u d i e s ,
but i t s ev ered h i s c o n t a c t w ith th e world o f f a c t s and gave f r e e p la y
to the im p r a c tic a l and v is i o n a r y s id e of h i s nature. He began t o en­
t e r t a in th e n o tio n t h a t he was a p ersecu ted prophet.
The l a s t volume o f th e Cours had completed the i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r ­
g a n iz a tio n and had g iv e n th e main l i n e s o f the e t h i c a l and s o c i a l
e v o l u t io n s . I t had remained on th e t h e o r e t i c a l p la n e. The tim e had
come to tu rn from s p e c u l a t i o n t o p r a c t i c e , and t o d e v is e th e i n s t i t u ­
t io n s which would b e th e c o n c r e t e embodiment of the p r i n c i p l e s p r e v i ­
o u sly s e t f o r t h . Comte turned toward the e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a tio n . He
spent the y e a r s between 1842 and 1850 (th e "interregnum," as he c a l l e d
t h i s p erio d ) in m e d ita tio n on th e g e n e s is , nature and e v o lu t io n o f
fe e lin g s.
I t became e v id e n t t o him th a t he had a ttach ed t o o much
importance t o i n t e l l i g e n c e and not enough t o th e h eart; t h a t lo v e f o r
o n e’ s fello w -m en c o n t r ib u t e d more t o s o c i a l w elfa re than i n t e l l i g e n c e ,
and that i n t e l l i g e n c e wandered a i m le s s l y and barrenly i f i t were not
le d and f e r t i l i z e d by a l t r u i s t i c lo v e . Logic made him m editate on
one of t h e most im portant o f f e e l i n g s , namely r e l i g i o n .
I. Cours, IV;- p i ' 115.
S. Cf, pp. 194-196.
8. Pol. i l , p. ▼!.
-1 9 Comte, as a s tu d en t o f s o c i e t y , had to admit th a t r e l i g i o u s i n s t i ­
t u t i o n s were always p r e s e n t in s o c i e t y . While r e f l e c t i n g on th e r e l a ­
t i o n s which bind f e e l i n g s and r e l i g i o n t o g e t h e r , he saw th a t th e l a t t e r
answered a d e f i n i t e need o f human n a tu re.- Under th e in f l u e n c e o f th e s e
th o u g h ts , in A p r il, 1P44, he wrote th a t th e r e was an " i n d e s t r u c t i b l e
r e a l i t y (un f ond i n d e s t r u c t i b l e ) in prayer and t h a t soon th e r e c o g n it io n
o f f e e l i n g s by p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y would become e v id e n t t o a l l . " 1
Py t h i s time Comtef s w ife had l e f t him f o r good, and although he
d id n ot want her back, he was l o n e l y w ithout fem in in e companionship.
On Ju ly 17, 184?, he wrote t o h i s boyhood f r ie n d V a la t2 : "The p e r f e c t
d o m estic Quietude which I have been en jo y in g f o r a year resem bles a
g r e a t d eal t h a t o f a tomb." Just when he was in t h i s r e c e p t i v e mood,
in October, 1844, he met an u n u su a lly a t t r a c t i v e " g rass-w id o w ," Madame
C l o t i l d e de Vaux, s i s t e r o f Maximilien Marie, a former p u p il o f h i s .
?he had b ea u ty , i n t e l l i g e n c e , charm, w it , l i v e l i n e s s , c h a r a c t e r , >and
she was v i r t u o u s w ithout b ein g c o n v e n tio n a l. Wo man cou ld approach
C l o t i l d e w ith out f a l l i n g in lo v e with h er. Her sad l i f e appealed t o
th e c h iv a lr o u s i n s t i n c t o f th e male and only enhanced her a t t r a c t i v e ­
n e s s . Her husband, a t a x - c o l l e c t o r f o r th e French government, had been
found g u i l t y o f embezzlement, and thereupon had f l e d t o a l i e n la n d s .
As d iv o r c e was not r e c o g n iz e d by law at th a t tim e, C l o t i l d e had no
c iv ic sta tu s.
She was r e c e i v i n g a small allow ance from some w ealthy
r e l a t i v e s , and her mother compelled her t o l i v e with her fa m ily . Hhe
had l i t e r a r y a s p i r a t i o n s , and she hoped to make a l i v i n g by her pen,
and th u s e s c a p e th e p a r e n ta l tyranny.
Comte f e l l in l o v e w ith h er. He was f o r t y - s e v e n when hs met her,
but h i s h ea rt was s t i l l v i r g i n . Their c o r r esp o n d en ce,8 bequeathed by
Comte t o p o s t e r i t y , i s a f a s c i n a t in g human document. I t p erm its the
reader t o f o l l o w every s te p o f t h e i r romance. Although she was f l a t ­
te r e d by th e a t t e n t i o n o f th e well-known p h ilo so p h e r , she d id not
recip ro ca te h is f e e lin g s .
However, she allow ed him to become an i n t i ­
mate f r i e n d and th e c o n f id a n t o f a l l her t r o u b le s . In t h e s e l e t t e r s
i t i s p o s s i b l e t o f o ll o w th e course o f her d a i l y e x i s t e n c e . Her h on est
and open nature shows through her correspondence, and t h e r e i s no tr a c e
o f th e c o q u e t t e in h e r . Her l e t t e r s are m a sterp ieces o f e p i s t o l a r y a r t .
She wrote from her h e a r t , and i t su p p lied e x p r e s s io n s and phrases o f
1,
L e ttre s & divers, Vol. I I , Letter to Mrs. Austen, p. 275.
s! Published with h?s Testament ani L etters o f Commemoration, under the t i t l e of
Confessions and Testament.
ex tr a o r d in a r y r i c h n e s s . 1 Comte's voluminous e p i s t l e s g iv e an i n s i g h t
i n t o th e man. The c o n c e it e d p h ilo so p h e r i s a b sen t; a man, sim p le,
h o n e s t , s e l f - s a c r i f i c i n g and very t a c t l e s s , ta k es h i s p la c e . We fin d
him to r tu r e d by h i s p a s s io n , but a t th e same tim e, l i k e a l l tr u e l o v e r s ,
th orou gh ly e n jo y in g h i s m isery.
C l o t i l d e was a i l i n g with what had been termed a nervous cough, but
her symptoms had alarmed nobody. Suddenly her d i s e a s e took a turn fo r
th e worse, and she d ied on A pril P, 184P, from what appears t o have been
t u b e r c u lo s i s o f th e lu n g s. Her death was a blow t o th e poor p h ilo so p h e r ,
who had found some measure o f h ap p in ess in h i s o n e -sid e d l o v e . He had
c h e r is h e d C l o t i l d e with th e p a s s io n o f a h e a lth y man hungry fo r t e r r e s ­
t r i a l l o v e . Although, much t o h i s sorrow, she had i n s i s t e d on p la to n ic
r e l a t i o n s o n ly , she had promised that:, some day, she would be h i s "true
w i f e ." Death prevented h i s lo v e from having i t s n atu ra l f u l f i l l m e n t .
The shock was v i o l e n t enough to d estro y h i s f r a g i l e s a n it y , and
i t a l s o gave a new o r i e n t a t i o n t o h i s th o u g h ts. The e f f e c t s were not
p e r c e p t i b le at once, b ecause th e change wrought in h i s p e r s o n a lit y came
g r a d u a lly .
A p r o c e s s o f c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n took p l a c e . His lo v e was at
t h e ad o ration s ta g e when she d ie d , and i t remained a t t h a t s ta g e t h e r e ­
a f t e r . He began t o worship her memory m y s t i c a l l y , and t o regard her
as th e in c a r n a tio n o f th e b e s t fem in in e t r a i t s . When he had been l i v i n g
w ith h i s w ife and q u a rrelin g with h er, he had co n sid ere d women2 "in a
s o r t o f continuous childhood which s e t them apart from the id e a l of the
r a c e , " although he had conceded to them s o c i a l i n s t i n c t s su p erio r to
th e m a l e ' s . 8 After the death o f C l o t i l d e , he wrote o f women as f o l ­
lo w s 4 : "Their a s p e c ts i n d i c a t e a l l th e ty p e s o f b ea u ty , not on ly phys­
i c a l , but i n t e l l e c t u a l and above a l l moral. A ll t h e i r a c t s are embel­
l i s h e d by a spontaneous search fo r an i d e a l p e r f e c t i o n . . . . " And
again he s a y s 5: " . . . Women are born t o lo v e and be lo v e d ."
As C l o t i l d e became th e symbol o f F e m in in ity , every
woman became
t h e guardian angel o f her home and th e i n s p i r a t i o n o f a l l v ir tu o u s
d e e d s. Gradually F em in in ity began t o sym bolize Humanity, and th e
a d o r a tio n o f C l o t il d e was en la rg ed i n t o th e ad o ra tio n o f Humanity.
1. Clotilde wrote two novels, whioh today appear quite etupid,_ana to t a l l y devoid
of l i t e r a r y beauty. She aimed to please the public, and adopted the phraseology
was than in vogue. She has been judged by those two books, and most oommentators state
that she was ah insignificant woman. I t should be mentioned that shewas
in Comte’s philosophy, and that she never t r i e d to understand i t . Comte, however, never
realised her indifference to his s p i r i t u a l achievements.
S. Qours, IV, p. 800.
8. Ibid.* IV, p. 80S.
4. &>i.j II, P. 876.
5. Ibidfli I, p. SS9.
-? 1 S e n t im e n t a lit y and a deep r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g came t o permeate p o s i t i v e
p h ilo so p h y . I n t u i t i o n and spon tan eou s lo v e gained in importance at
th e expense o f r a t i o n a l i t y , and Comte t r i e d t o make f e e l i n g and l o g i c
c o in c id e in aim an d -achievem en t.
Dr. Geo. Dumas1 has s t u d ie d t h e new o r i e n t a t i o n o f Comte's mind
from th e p o in t o f view o f th e p s y c h o l o g i s t and the p s y c h i a t r i s t . He
sa y s with tr u th th a t Comte had become a " liv in g system" at t h e b e g in ­
ning o f h is romance, and t h a t th e p h ilo so p h y had t o be permeated with
th e f e e l i n g s o f t h e p h ilo s o p h e r . When Comte began to lo v e , th e system
had t o lo v e to o , and t o a ccep t f e e l i n g as one o f i t s fundamental e l e ­
ments. No doubt h i s p e r s o n a l e x p e r ie n c e made him r e a l i z e th a t genuine
em otions overpowered th e whole p e r s o n a l i t y o f man, and th a t th e y were
u n c o n tr o lla b le by mere r e a s o n .
He came t o the co n clu sio n th a t emotions
cou ld on ly be governed by o th e r em otion s. The m ission of th e reform er,
co n seq u e n tly , was t o d i s c o v e r and f o s t e r th e b e n e f ic e n t and stro n g
emotion which was cap ab le o f h a r n e s s in g a l l th e o t h e r s .
Comte’ s a d oration o f C l o t i l d a ’ s memory, and h i s admiration o f th e
Middle A g es,s combined w ith h i s d e s i r e fo r s p i r i t u a l d i r e c t i o n , gave
him a new a p p r e c ia tio n o f r e l i g i o n . He saw th a t r e l i g i o n had an emo­
t i o n a l elem ent, and h i s t o r y showed th a t i t was one o f th e most powerful
le a v e n s of s o c i e t y .
Although th e r e was i n c o m p a t ib ilit y between th e
m o n o th e is tic c r e e d s and p o s i t i v i t y , th e r e was none between p o s i t i v i t y
and r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g i t s e l f .
The whole problem fo r Comte, th e n , was
c e n tered in f in d in g a p o s i t i v e o b j e c t o f adoration: and he found i t in
Humanity. The G rea t-P ein g , le S r a n i - E t r e , composed o f a l l the bene­
f a c t o r s o f mankind, p a s t , p r e s e n t and f u tu r e , would r ep resen t a p o s i ­
t i v e o b je c t o f a d o r a tio n , and Comte b u sie d h im s e lf in e la b o r a tin g th e
P o s itiv is tic re lig io n .
Longchampt, a d i s c i p l e o f th e l a t e r p erio d , g i v e s us an account
o f th e p r o c e ss o f c r e a t i o n o f th e P o s i t i v i s t i c c u l t 3:
One da y, a s Comte 3 a t m o t i o n l e s s w i t h h i s e y e s f i x e d on h i a
h o l y relirr.3 (some a r t i f i o i a l f l o w e r s which C l o t i l d e had made a nd
g i v e n t o t h e p h i l o s o p h e r ) ■, and was a b s o r b e d i n h i s g r i e f , he
s u d d e n l y 3 3 W h i s C l o t i l d e : s h e had t h e p a l e n e s s of d e a t h a nd t h e
r o b e of t h e su preme h o u r . She was t h e r e , l y i n g a s he had s e e n
h e r f o r t h e l a s t t i m e , when, a l r e a d y v o i o e l e s s and u n a b l e t o
s p e a k , h e r e y e s a l o n e o o u l d s t i l l e x p r e s s t h e f e e l i n g s of h e r
h e a r t . He d r o p s t o h i s k n e e s , o a l l s 3 n i b l e s s e s h e r . He t e l l s
h e r of h i a g r i e f and of h i s d e s p a i r . He i m p l o r e s h e r t o s u c c o r
1.
Dr. 3eo.' Dnmaa, "Auguste Comte amoureux et mystique," In s t i t u t psyohologique,
~W*2?*le oonsiierel5thePWilaie* Ages as the " pol iti ca l masterpiece of human wisdom"
(
Pri ci s de l a vi e et des S e r its d'Auguste Comte, p. 78.
I
-2 2 him, b e o a u s e s h e a l o n e oa n make l i f e b e a r a b l e and g i v e h im o o u r a g e . T h e s h o o k e x p e r i e n c e d by t h e p h i l o s o p h e r was immense, b a t
t h e r e a f t e r h i a e m o t i o n beoame more r e s i g n e d . He f e l t l e s s a l o n e
and l e a s f o r s a k e n . - The h e l p whioh he had f o a n i i n t h i a e m o t i o n a l
e x p e r i e n c e was auoh t h a t he r e s o l v e d t o renew i t . . . . He t r i e d
t o r e p r o d a o e a t w i l l what h i s i m a g i n a t i o n had a c c o m p l i s h e d .
Longchampt p r o c e e d s 1:
At t h e e a r l y h o u r o f d a y , when P a r i s had n o t y e t r o u a e d i t ­
s e l f from i t s b r i e f s l u m b e r , and when q u i e t a t i l l p r e v a i l e d i n
s t r e e t and home, A u g u st e Comte would g e t up and k n e e l b e f o r e t h e
a r m - o h a i r o f t h e d r a w i n g - r o o m i n whioh, a l a s ! ah e had o n l y t o o
r a r e l y r e p o s e d . With e y e s o l o a e d , and w i t h t h e h e l p o f h i s
p o w e r f u l memory, he wou ld e vo ke t h e m o r t u a r y room of h i s f r i e n d .
With p a t i e n o e , he would f i r s t r e o a l l t h e g e n e r a l a t m o s p h e r e and
t h e n t h e d e t a i l s . ' When t h a t v i s i o n had beoome o l e a r and p r e o i s s ,
he would p l a o e t h e image o f t h e dying woman i n t h e p i c t u r e , men­
t a l l y r e c o n s t r u c t i n g i t s e x a o t pose and c l o t h e s . Then, when he
c o u l d s e e h i s C l o t i l d e d i s t i n c t l y , he would b r e a k i n t o s o b s ,
and i n a low v o i c e he would renew t o h e r h i s d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o
l i v e f o r h e r and b y h e r , f o r Humanity.
We f in d h ere th e t r a n s i t i o n between love of C l o t il d e and l o v e o f Human­
ity .
The r e l i g i o u s a s p e c t o f h i s ferv o r i s thus d e s c r ib e d by Longchampt8:
He re n e w e d t h i s e v o o a t i o n a t n i g h t , and l a t e r a t noon a l s o .
Theae e f f u s i o n s , s p o n t a n e o u s a t f i r s t , became f i x e d o r i s o n s .
Thus t r u l y r e l i g i o u s p r a o t i c e a were for med. . . . P r a y e r was
a d o r n e d w i t h a l l t h e c e r e m o n i a l whioh C a t h o l i c d o o t o r s had
given to i t .
Then Longchampt shows th e e f f e c t o f t h i s devotion upon th e c h a r a c te r
o f th e p h ilo s o p h e r 8 :
Comte h i m s e l f r o s e t o s a i n t l i n e s s by h i s i n t i m a t e and d a i l y
c u l t . C l o i s t e r i n g h i m s e l f v o l u n t a r i l y i n h i a d o m i c i l e of t h e
Rue M o n s i e u r - l e - P r i n o e u n t i l d e a t h , he p ro o e e d e d r a p i d l y t o w a r d
p e r f e c t i o n * He im po se d upon h i m s e l f t h e a u s t e r e r u l e s of monas­
t i c o r d e r s : c h a s t i t y , a b e t i n e n o e from w in e , f r e q u e n t p r a y e r s ,
e a r l y h o u r s , r e g u l a r work and p o v e r t y . His d i e t would o o n s i s t
o f m i l k i n t h e mo rn in g and of a l i t t l e meat and v e g e t a b l e s a t
n i g h t . He d i d away w i t h a l l k i n d s of d e s s e r t s , and would end
h i a d i n n e r w i t h a p i e o e o f d r y b r e a d , t h u s re m i n d i n g h i m s e l f o f
t h e l a r g e number o f p o o r who c o u l d n o t e ve n s a t i s f y t h e i r h u n g e r . . . . H e a d o p t e d t h e I s l a m i c p r e s c r i p t i o n o f a l m s g i v i n g , a nd
e a c h y e a r he d i s t r i b u t e d t h e t e n t h of h i s inc ome, e v e n a t t h e
t i m e of h i s w o r s t d i s t r e s s . . . . H e gave up a l l a m u s e m e n ts ,
o p e r a - g o i n g whioh he s o d e a r l y l o v e d , d i n n e r i n v i t a t i o n s , p a r ­
t i e s a t f r i e n d s * h o u s e s , and w a lk s .
A ll t h o s e who saw him during the l a t t e r p erio d o f h i s l i f e averred
t h a t he had th e s e r e n e and illu m in a te d ex p r e ssio n o f a m edieval m y stic .
C l o t i l d e had d ie d in th e sp r in g o f 1846. From th at tim e on,
once ev ery year, he addressed her in a l e t t e r o f commemoration, in
which h9 gave an account o f th e p r o g r e s s o f P o s i t i v i s m . These Sai nt
C l o t l l d e s , 1 as he termed them, e n a b le th e reader t o fo llo w the e v o lu ­
t i o n o f h i s r e l i g i o u s th o u g h t.
In t h e one w r itte n in 1849, he assumes
t h e t i t l e o f Great P r i e s t .
During th e same p erio d , he began to use
th e word b r i e f t o c h a r a c t e r i z e h i s w r it t e n communications t o the world.
The years immediately p reced in g th e c r e a t io n o f the new r e l i g i o n
were not absorbed by s p i r i t u a l m e d it a t io n s t o th e e x c lu s io n o f a l l
o th e r p u r s u i t s . These were f u l l y e a r s from th e p o l i t i c a l sta n d p o in t.
The year 1848 saw th e f a l l o f th e Orl’g a n i s t d ynasty and th e promulga­
t i o n o f th9 Second R ep u b lic. These e v e n t s prompted Comte t o found,
i n th e same year, th e " P o s i t i v i s t i c S o c i e t y , n th e aim of which was th e
d i s c u s s i o n o f n ecessa ry s o c i a l r e fo rm s. He a l s o published a d i s c o u r s
s u r I*ensemble du p o s i t i v i s m e . According t o Longchampt, t h i s p u b lic a ­
t i o n "was a great source o f s a t i s f a c t i o n t o him, because t h i s d isc o u r s e
was t h e on ly one among h i s w r i t in g s which summed up the m ed ita tion s
o f h i s whole l i f e .
I t co n ta in ed th e germ of th e R e lig io n o f Humanity.
In c a s e o f pt^mature death, o t h e r s would be ab le t o complete h i s
w o r k .1,2
Comte now found h im s e lf in a p r e c a r io u s f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n . He
had p r e v io u s ly been a b le t o add t o h i s reduced income by tea ch in g math­
e m a tic s in a p r iv a te i n s t i t u t i o n .
The r e v o lu t io n ruined t h i s s c h o o l,
c o m p e llin g i t t o c l o s e i t s d o o r s . M i l l , with th r e e of h is f r i e n d s ,
mad9 generous c o n t r ib u t io n s f o r a y e a r . His maid and fu tu re adopted
d a u g h ter , Sophie P lia u x , and her husband a ls o turned in t h e i r s a v in g s .
These g i f t s , however, r e p r e se n te d o n ly temporary r e l i e f . Comte f e l t ,
w ith due r ea so n , that f i n a n c i a l w o r r ie s d i s t r a c t e d h i s mind from i t s
c a l l i n g , and t h a t he needed s e c u r i t y . He g ra d u a lly came to the con­
c l u s i o n t h a t h i s d i s c i p l e s owed a l i v i n g to t h e i r Great P r i e s t . L i t t r £ ,
approving o f t h i s a t t i t u d e , appealed t o h i s adm irers, and with t h e i r
h e lp he i n s t i t u t e d th e " P o s i t i v i s t i c s u b s id y ." The l a t t e r became th e
p h i l o s o p h e r ’ s only source o f income when he l o s t h i s second p o s i t i o n
a t th e P o ly tech n iq u e.
Comte spent the y ea rs 1849, 1850 and 1851 g iv in g p u b lic l e c t u r e s
on th e P h ilosop h y of H is t o r y . The H on ap artist coup d f e t a t o f 1851,
1.
I;
See p. 19, note 8* above.
.
.
i »«* tpmiMg
li k e ly to fos ter thb advent of Positivism. Cat. > pp. 10-11, roZ. I l l , pp. 588, 618,
-
24-
however, put an end t o t h e s e by depriving him o f the u se o f a l e c t u r e h a l l . The fo u r y e a r s fro® 1851 through 1854 were consumed in w r itin g
and p u b lis h in g th e fou r volumes o f th e SystSwe i e p o l i t i q u e p o s i t i v e .
The f i r s t tome (1851, 746 p ag es) co n ta in s a p r e fa c e , a r e p r i n t o f the
Dt soours s ur I*ensembl e i u p o s i t i v i s m e , and a "fundamental in tr o d u c tio n "
which i s a resume o f th e f i r s t th ree volumes o f th e Cours. The second
tome (1852, xxxv+47? p a g es) i s devoted to s o c i a l s t a t i c s .
In th e Cours,
s o c i e t y had been founded on th e fa m ily , while in th e P o l i t i q u e i t i s
based on t h r e e n o t io n s , th e fa m ily , p r iv a t e ownership, and language.
This second tome a l s o c o n t a in s Comte’ s theory o f th e u n it y o f human
n ature, and d e f i n e s th e n ature and a t t r i b u t e s o f th e s p i r i t u a l power.
The t h ir d tome (1858, L+684 p a g e s ), s u b t it l e d General T r e a t i s e of Human
P r o i r e s s , i s d ev oted t o s o c i a l dynamics; i t i s a new i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of
th e f a c t s brought t o l i g h t in th e Cours, according to the t h e o r i e s
d isc o v e r e d by P o s i t i v i s t i c s t a t i c s . The l a s t tome (1854, 661 p ages)
i s a r e c a p i t u l a t i o n o f th e oth er t h r e e , and g iv e s a -form al e x p o s it i o n
of t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c r e l i g i o n under i t s th ree forms: dogma f o r th e
i n t e l l e c t , c u l t f o r the h e a r t , and temporal c o n s t i t u t i o n fo r a c t i v i t y .
I t l a y s th e fo u n d a tio n f o r a s c ie n c e o f P t h ic s . I t s c o n c lu s io n i s a
" system atic a p p r e c ia t io n o f th e p resen t, in the l i g h t o f th e fu tu r e
combined with th e p a s t . " I t o u t l i n e s the advent o f P o s i t i v i s m under
i t s two form s, s p i r i t u a l and temporal.
The Cours and th e P o l i t i q u e d i f f e r in ch a ra cter, although they
deal w ith th e same m a t e r ia l,
In the f i r s t , Comte was i n t e r e s t e d
s o l e l y in i n t e l l e c t u a l r e g e n e r a t io n , w h ile in th e second h i s p o in t o f
view has widened, and he attem p ts to prove that P o s i t i v i s m i s u n iv e r ­
s a l , and t h a t i t i s as e f f e c t i v e in the domain o f th e h e a r t and o f
im agin ation as i t was in t h a t o f th e i n t e l l e c t . His d e s i r e f o r u n i­
v e r s a l i t y becomes an o b s e s s io n . According to Comte h i m s e l f , 1 th e
Cours d isc o v e r e d and demonstrated laws; th e P o l i t i q u e t a k e s t h o s e fo r
granted and a p p l i e s them t o a co n c r e te e la b o r a tio n .
The Cours induces;
th e P o l i t i q u e deduces and c o n s t r u c t s . He contended t h a t s i n c e the
l a t t e r was th e d i r e c t a p p l i c a t i o n o f th e former, d em on stra tio n s were
no lo n g er n e c e s s a r y , and he b u i l t a complete system o f r e l i g i o u s and
s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s in th e P o l i t i q u e , without t e s t i n g i t s soundness
by a retu rn t o e x p e r ie n c e f o r v e r i f i c a t i o n .
In th e Cours, he had taken th e u n iv ersa l o b j e c t i v e v iew p o in t o f
th e im p a r tia l s c i e n t i s t ; in th e P o l i t i q u e , he adopts th e l i m i t e d
1.
Pol., 1, pp«aoe, pp. 4-5.
-2 5 sub j e c t i v e view p oin t o f Humanity.1 Home o f h i s su p p o rters, such as
L it t r t f and John Stuart M ill, claim ed th a t th e d ed u ctiv e nature o f the
s u b j e c t i v e method and the a r b itr a r y l i m i t a t i o n s t h a t he imposed on
th e sa v a n ts were a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c .
They would not f o llo w him any lon ger.
Comte was in cen sed at t h e i r " d e f e c t i o n , ” and in order to show th a t h i s
l a t e r in n o v a tio n s were the l o g i c a l development o f th e thought o f h i s
y o u th , he r e p r in te d h i s e a r l y Opuscules at the end o f the P o l i t i q u e .
The reform er found i t e s s e n t i a l t o inform women as t o t h e i r new
im portance, and in 1852 (between th e e la b o r a t io n o f th e two h a lv e s o f
th e P o l i t i q u e ) he wrote a Cat€chisme p o s i t i v i s t e (822 p a g e s ), e s p e c i a l l y
d e sig n e d t o acquaint them with th e fundamental p o i n t s o f P o s itiv is m and
with t h e i r s o c i a l m issio n . In 1855, he launched h i s Appel aux conservat e u r s (xxi+126 p a g e s ). He appealed to th e statesm en o f the West, and
asked them t o u n ite with the P o s i t i v i s t s in t h e i r e f f o r t t o maintain
s o c i a l orider w h ile the new s p i r i t u a l power was b ein g ela b o r a te d .
Prom th e end o f the p u b lic a tio n o f th e P o l i t i q u e to th e tim e of
h i s death in 1857, Comte became more and more en grossed by h i s r e l i g ­
i o u s f u n c t i o n s . He spent hours in prayer every day, performed the
d i v e r s e P o s i t i v i s t i c sacraments, and wrote le n g th y l e t t e r s to h i s f a r ­
away d i s c i p l e s . His hatred o f D e i s t s , A g n o stics and P r o t e s t a n t s sug­
g e s t e d t o him th e n e c e s s i t y o f an a l l i a n c e between C a th o lic s and P o s i­
tiv is ts .
In 1856, he d e le g a te d one o f h i s f o ll o w e r s t o th e General
o f th e J e s u i t s with th e purpose o f promoting a h o ly c ru sa d e5 a g a in st
t h e i r common enem ies.
Comtef s m issio n was not f i n i s h e d . The Cours p resen ted an o b j e c tiv e
a n a l y s i s o f th e s c i e n c e s . He now had t o e v o lv e a s u b j e c t i v e s y n t h e s is ,
and he planned t o w rite two volumes o f Synt hese S u b j e c t i v e . He assem­
b le d the s c i e n c e s in th r e e groups: Logic (m ath em atics), P h y sics ( a s ­
tronomy, p h y s i c s , chem istry and b i o l o g y ) , and "Pthics ( s o c io lo g y and
e t h i c s combined i n t o th e u n iv e r sa l s c ie n c e o f Humanity). The f i r s t
volume was t o be devoted t o Logic and th e second t o P t h i c s .' He wrote
and p u b lish ed th e f i r s t tome- in 1856, under th e t i t l e o f S y n t h i s e Sub­
j e c t i v e , ou Systdme u n i v e r s e l i e 8 c o n c e p t i o n s p r p p r e s a l r4 t a t normal
i e t*fiumanit'6. This t r e a t i s e (LPV+722 p a ges) was supposed t o have been
w h it te n fa r in th e f u tu r e , being dated 1P27. I t was e s p e c i a l l y planned
f o r t h e ed u ca tio n o f p h y s ic ia n s .
With the Politique, Comte begins to oapitalise the f i r s t l e t t e r s of saoh words
“
1 ..
Kivu. i s Paris, u * . 5, w l . 5,
pp. 557-589.
1.
-?eThis book c o n ta in s two v e in s o f thought. The f i r s t i s th e r e p e ­
t i t i o n o f th e p h ilo so p h y o f mathematics exp ressed in th e Cours, with
an emphasis on th e in d u c t iv e and i n t u i t i v e ch a ra cter o f mathematical
re se a r c h and on the u n iv e r s a l q u a l i t y o f mathematical l o g i c . The
second v ein o f thought i s new, although in d i c a t io n s o f i t may be found
in th e P o l i t i q u e .
I t corresp on d s t o the c r e a t io n o f a p a n - v i t a l i s t i c
th e o lo g is m . Comte urged t h a t l i f e be a t t r ib u t e d to inanimate o b j e c t s ,
and he r e s u r r e c te d f e t i c h i s m from th e p a st to g iv e support t o th at
th e o r y . He asks h i s f o l l o w e r s t o b e l i e v e th a t the Farth i s b e n e f i ­
c e n t l y i n c l i n e d toward Van, and t o a s c r ib e to Fate the phenomena which
cannot be ex p la in e d by s c i e n t i f i c law s.
He in ven ted a P o s i t i v i s t i c T r in it y composed o f a Cr a n d - Xi l i e u
(embodying a c t i v i t y and rep r e se n te d by Space), a Gr a n i - Fe t i c h e (embody­
ing i n t e l l i g e n c e and r e p r e s e n te d by th e Farth) and a Grand-Etre (embody­
ing f e e l i n g and r e p r e s e n te d by Humanity). According t o Comte, th e
c r e a t i o n o f th e P o s i t i v i s t i c T r in it y u n ited p o e t i c a l im agination to
s c i e n t i f i c i n t e l l i g e n c e , and he was convinced t h a t he had s u c c e s s f u l l y
e f f e c t e d th e s y n t h e s i s o f th e h eart and th e i n t e l l e c t .
He never wrote th e second volume o f the S.ynthSse, fo r he d ied ra th er
suddenly on th e f i f t h o f September, 1057. He had been i l l fo r th r e e
weeks: th e l o s s o f w eight which he had a t t r ib u t e d to h i s a s c e t i c d i e t
was in r e a l i t y due t o a can cer o f th e stomach. He was l a i d t o r e s t in
th e PSre-L achaise Cemetery, accord in g t o the r i t e s which he had m inutely
p resc r ib e d in h i s Testament.
ComteTs home i s s t i l l in th e p o s s e s s io n o f th e P o s i t i v i s t i c S o c i­
e t y , and i s open to th e p u b l i c . The v i s i t o r may contem plate th e "holy
r e l i c s , " th e c h a ir in which C l o t i l d e was wont t o s i t , and th e l ib r a r y
in which th e p h ilo so p h er wrote a l l h i s books.
BOOK II
COMTEAN
PSYCHOLOQY
Introduction
An attem pt w i l l now be made t o o u t l i n e Comte’s system . The study
o f h i s l i f e has shown t h a t P o s i t iv i s m con tain ed th r e e major reforms:
an i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t i o n , ■an e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a tio n and a s o c i a l
r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , and t h a t t h e i r order o f appearance was d i c t a t e d by
Comte’ s c o n c e p tio n o f human n a tu r e. In consequence, t h i s s e c t i o n o f
th e stu d y w i l l b e g in w ith an o u t l i n e o f h i s p sy c h o lo g y .
Oomtean Psychology
Comte s t a t e s th a t a l l th e e x i s t i n g s c h o o ls o f p sy c h o lo g y , e s p e ­
c i a l l y th e one in vogue in Prance in h i s tim e, th a t o f th e E c l e c t i c s ,
w i l l have t o be d is c a r d e d . Their fundamental assum ptions and t h e i r
method are m e ta p h y s ic a l, and hence a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c . 1 These assum ptions,
s t a t e d in Comte’ s words, a r e 8 : "Man has been r e p r e s e n te d , a g a in s t a l l
e v id e n c e , as an e s s e n t i a l l y r a t i o n a l b e in g , e x e c u t in g , c o n t in u a l ly and
u n c o n s c io u s ly , a m u ltitu d e o f schemes, w ithout hard ly any spontaneous­
n ess o f a c t i o n , even in h i s e a r l i e s t i n f a n c y . ” He o b se rv es t h a t 8 "two
p u r e ly p h il o s o p h i c a l rea so n s have le d m etaphysicians . . . t o t h i s
h y p o t h e t i c a l supremacy o f i n t e l l i g e n c e . The f i r s t has i t s o r i g i n . . .
in th e dem arcation e s t a b l i s h e d between animals and men. The second
. . . proceeded from th e o b l i g a t i o n to r e t a in th e u n it y o f th e ego and
t o make i t correspond t o th e u n ity o f the s o u l which was imposed upon
them by t h e o l o g i c a l p h ilo s o p h y , o f which m etaphysics i s th e transform a­
t i o n . " He f o r th w it h p o s t u l a t e s th a t th e ego4 has no u n it y i n th e meta­
p h y s ic a l s e n s e 5:
Human n a t u r e i s e m i n e n t l y m u l t i p l e , ■i n o t h e r w o rd s , i t
i s a lm o s t a lw a y s s o l i e i t e d i n d i v e r s e d i r e c t i o n s by s e v e r a l i n ­
d e p e n d e n t and d i s t i n o t p o w e rs, b e tw e e n whioh a n e q u i l i b r i u m i s
e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h d i f f i o u l t y , ■and f o r most c i v i l i s e d men, none i s
p ro n o u n e e d eno ug h t o beoome s p o n t a n e o u s l y p r e d o m i n a n t . T h u s , • t h e
t h e o r y o f t h e ego r e p r e s e n t s a f i o t i t i o u s s t a t e * -
Comte, however, does not deny ego c o n s c io u s n e s s , but he a t t r i b u t e s i t
t o an o rga n ic f e e l i n g o f harmony® between th e v a r io u s b o d ily f u n c t i o n s ,
i n s t e a d o f a s c r i b i n g i t t o an i n t e l l e c t u a l r e a l i t y .
1. Cours,
IV, p. • 155'.
2. Ibid* t III, p. ' 410. ■
8.
P» 418. _
4. Ibid,* III, p. 418? V, p . - 890*
5. Ibid.* III, P. 412. .
8.;Ibid. t III, p. 418.■
-2 7 -
-2 8 -
He then c o n s id e r s th e method o f th e p s y c h o l o g i s t s . I n t e r i o r ob­
s e r v a t i o n i s t h e i r mode o f e x p lo r a t io n . When th ey adopt such a t o o l
o f r e s e a r c h , th ey overlook th e f a c t th a t o b s e r v a tio n i s w o r t h l e s s 1 i f
t h e ob se rv er and th e observed are one, and t h a t a f u n c tio n has t o be
s t u d ie d in r e l a t i o n t o i t s organ o f p ro d u ctio n . p fls i n t e r i o r ob serva­
t i o n r e p r e s e n t s th e on ly a v a i l a b l e mode o f e x p lo r a t io n f o r p sych o lo gy ,
p sy ch o lo g y as th e s c ie n c e o f th e human mind must be r e j e c t e d a l t o g e t h e r . ^
He h a ste n s t o s t a t e th a t th e r e j e c t i o n o f p sych olo gy does not imply
th e r e j e c t i o n o f a l l study o f mental a c t i v i t y . He a v ers th a t p sy c h o lo g ­
i c a l m a n if e s t a t io n s are th e p h y s i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n s 8 o f a b i o l o g i c a l
organ, th e b r a in , and th at th ey should be s tu d ie d l i k e any o th er b i o ­
l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n , th a t i s , with th e t o o l s and method s p e c i f i c t o
b i o l o g y . The German sch o ol o f phrenology made a s te p in th e r i g h t
d i r e c t i o n when i t s two exponents, G all and Spurzheim, reco g n ized the
s o c i a l n ature o f man,^ c l a s s i f i e d mental m a n if e s t a t io n s i n t o f a c u l t i e s ,
and l o c a l i z e d t h e i r organs o f production in th e brain.® Hence, phre­
n o lo g y r e p r e s e n t s a p o s i t i v e study o f mental phenomena, and i t i s th e
o n ly c o n c e iv a b le one.
Comte s t a t e s t h a t phrenology can never equal th e oth er branches
o f b i o l o g y in s c i e n t i f i c e x a c t i t u d e , b ecause mental phenomena elu d e
measurement and exp erim en ta tio n . The p h r e n o l o g i s t , a l s o c a l l e d th e
c e r e b r a l p h y s i o l o g i s t , has t o be co n ten t w ith an a p r i o r i h y p o th e s is ,
u n v e r i f i a b l e fo r th e p r e s e n t. This i n f e r i o r i t y , although r e g r e t t a b l e ,
d o es not p rev en t th e p h r e n o lo g ic a l h y p o th e s is* from b ein g p o s i t i v e ,
b eca u se i t does not deal with an u ltim a te ca u se or with th e in tim a te
n a tu r e o f th ou g h t. Comte contends th a t a s c i e n t i s t has always th e
r i g h t t o e la b o r a t e a l o g i c a l e x p la n a tio n 7 o f a phenomenon, as lo n g as
i t does not c o n f l i c t with any s c i e n t i f i c a l l y demonstrated law. In
any c a s e , he adds, we are not c e r t a in t h a t f u tu r e s c ie n c e w i l l not
d e v i s e a method t o prove a p o s t e r i o r i 8 t h a t t h i s a p r i o r i h y p o th e s is
i s t r u e . Gradually Comte f o r g o t 9 th a t h i s p h r e n o lo g ic a l th eory was
a h y p o t h e s is , and began t o c o n sid er i t a demonstrated t r u t h .
1 , L s ttre s h Valat, Letter of September 24, 1919, pp. 59-90; Cours, I, pp. 19-20,
VI, p. -.276; O p u s . p. 219. ^
2 . Goars, I I I , pp. • 407-409.
8- W k * TV1' P*2&4*
Ibidii I l i , ? p . 4 1 9 ; Pol.; I , pp. 668-670, «79t IV, pp. 284-289.
. _
6. 8ae Poeitlwe Theory of Hypotheses, of. p . _44 ielow; C our-S,IffX ,Pp.4^9~4eO.
This aoaoeptlon w ill again be stressed when Conte’s notions on Biology are outlined
f S r ??? ^ 8 4 >r and espeoially when his wiews of the origin of nental phenomena are
41"7 “ & ? r[? fVirp®7 4 5 5 . In PoLt I, p. 677, his hypothesis, from a logioal explanation,
has heoome the subjeotlwe theory of the human mind.
8. Cours, IIT, p. 481.
9. Cat., p. 1 7 0 .
-2 9 Comtean psychology i s now t o b© d e f in e d . The word "psychology"
i s used h ere, in s p i t e o f Comte’s condemnation o f th e stu d y, because
h i s th eo ry o f mental f u n c t io n s p r e s e n ts a com plete psychology. Comtean
p sy ch o lo g y i s e s s e n t i a l l y s o c i a l in c h a r a c t e r .
I t r e v o lv e s about two
n o t io n s , th a t o f humanity and t h a t o f s o c i e t y .
I t may be summarized
as f o ll o w s : The in d iv id u a l man1 i s n othin g but a m etaphysical a b s tr a c ­
t i o n o f th e p h ilo so p h e r . Humanity and t h e s o c i a l man are the on ly
c o n c e iv a b le r e a l i t i e s .
Man2 i s sp o n ta n eo u sly s o c i a l , and he l i v e s in
s o c i e t y from th e day o f h i s b ir t h t o the day o f h i s death.
Comte concedes th a t man i s born with p o t e n t i a l c a p a c i t i e s a s to
i n t e l l e c t , heart and a c t i v i t y , but he m ain tain s t h a t t h e s e are developed
by s o c i a l l i f e . ®
S o c ie t y i n f l u e n c e s man in two ways. I t molds him by
b r in g in g him in t o c o n ta c t with oth er p e r s o n a l i t i e s i d e n t i c a l with h is
own. They, in tu rn , e i t h e r p revent h i s p e r s o n a l i t y from expanding, or
s t i m u la t e i t s growth and tra n sm it t o him t h e accumulated w ea lth 4 o f
p a s t humanity. A mere empty s h e l l i s l e f t when the s o c i a l s e l f i s r e ­
moved. In consequence, th e in d iv id u a l man o f the p s y c h o lo g is t i s
n o th in g but a m eaningless a b s t r a c t i o n .
Although Comte adopted th e fundamental p r i n c i p l e s o f the German
p h r e n o l o g i s t s , he d id not accept t h e i r l o c a l i z a t i o n s and c l a s s i f i c a ­
t i o n s . He labored a l l h i s l i f e on t h e e la b o r a t io n o f a theory o f h i s
own. S t i l l in an embryonic s t a t e in th e Cours, i t r e c e i v e s a f u l l
development in the P o l i t i q u e . ' I t w i l l now be o u t lin e d b r i e f l y , f o l ­
lo w in g , fo r th e sake o f c o n v en ien ce, th e condensed e x p o s it i o n which
he gave in th e Ca t S c h i s me . 5 u
We know alread y th a t human m a n if e s t a t io n s f a l l under three h e a d s ,6
th o u g h ts , f e e l i n g s and v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y . The b rain con tain s th ree
d i s t i n c t anatomical r e g io n s : an a n t e r i o r , more h ig h ly developed in man
than in any other animal; a p o s t e r i o r , and a su b ja cen t p o s t e r io r which
i s th e e x t e n s io n o f th e s p in a l cord . Comte assumes th a t th e a n terio r
p o r t io n harbors the human i n t e l l e c t , th e p o s t e r i o r th e f e e l i n g s , and
t h e t h ir d , which i s a l i k e in man and b e a s t , th e v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y .
Comte f i r s t a n a ly zes mental m a n if e s t a t io n s as a whole, c l a s s i f y i n g
them under e ig h te e n heads. Then he p o i n t s out th a t man’s brain i s not
an u n d i f f e r e n t ia t e d organ, but an ensemble o f e ig h t e e n p a ir s o f d i s t i n c t
o r g a n s .1
He i n f e r s t h a t t h e s e must r e p r e s e n t the l o c a l i z a t i o n s o f th e
e ig h te e n f a c u l t i e s .
He a l l o t s t e n t o th e h ea rt, f i v e t o th e i n t e l l e c t ,
and th ree t o
v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y . He d e s c r ib e s t h e i r mutual
rela tio n s
as f o l l o w s 8 :
Ths ©nssmbl© o f t h o s e e i g h t e e n o e r e b r a l o rg a n a o o n a t i t u t e s
? ? ? » n e SVoufl ®PP4 P a t u a - " h l o h , on t h e one hand, s t i m u l a t e s t h e
i
n u t r i t i o n , <a nd , <oh t h e o t h e r , o o 'o r i i n a t e s t h e l i f e o f
r e l a t i o n , <by o o h n e o t i n g t h e s e two l i v e s w ith eaoh o t h e r . I t s
s p e c u l a t i v e and a o t i v e r e g i o n s o o m a a n io a te i i r e o t l y w ith t h e
e x t e r n a l w o r ld , by t h e s e n s o r i a l o r m oto r n e r v e s . But th e
b r a i n ’s a f f e o t i v e r e g i o n i s o n l y o o n n e o te d w ith t h e v e g e t a t i v e
v i s o e r a e and i s w i t h o u t im m e d ia te o o n n e o t i o n w ith t h e e x t e r n a l
w o r l d . : i t oan oom m unioate w ith t h e l a t t e r o nly th r o u g h t h e
ageno y o f t h e o t h e r two r e g i o n s . '
Comte p o i n t s out th a t th e la c k o f d i r e c t con tact between th e h eart
and the e x t e r n a l world works both ways: th e heart cannot reach the e x ­
t e r n a l world w ithout an in ter m ed ia ry , which i s e it h e r th e i n t e l l e c t or
a c t i v i t y ; and th e e x t e r n a l world cannot reach the heart without e i t h e r
going through th e i n t e l l e c t or through th e a c t i v i t y . He advances th e
theory th a t t h i s su b o r d in a tio n o f th e h eart to the other two r e g io n s
o f th e b ra in i s o f enormous importance in reform. I t i s obvious t h a t
th e e t h i c a l reformer cannot a c t d i r e c t l y on the f e e l i n g s : he needs an
in term ed iary.
I t may be mentioned h ere th a t Comte was a s e n s a t i o n a l i s t in e p i s temology.
"There i s n oth in g in t h e i n t e l l e c t which did not o r i g i n a t e
in s e n s a t i o n . " 4 Van, n e v e r t h e l e s s , i s not p a ss iv e in th e p e r c e p t iv e
a c t . His " con cep tion s r e s u l t from a con tin u ou s r e l a t i o n between th e
world, which s u p p li e s m a tter, and him, who determines the form."®
Human n o tio n s are th e s u b j e c t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f o b j e c t iv e s t i m u l i .
The e ig h te e n f a c u l t i e s o f th e mind d i f f e r in nature and in fu nc­
t i o n s . The te n a f f e c t i v e e le m e n ts , i n s t i n c t s or u rges, are th e motors
o f t h e h e a r t ; th e f i v e o f t h e i n t e l l e c t are properly th e f u n c t i o n s o f
i n s i i h t , and th e t h r e e o f v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y are th e p r a c t i c a l qua l ­
i t i e s of c h a r a c t e r .
The motors determ ine i mpul si on, the f u n c tio n s
c o n tr ib u te c o u n s e l , and th e q u a l i t i e s m a te r ia liz e in e xecut i on.
Let us a n a ly ze f i r s t t h e motors o f th e h e a r t. Seven of th e s e
are s t r i c t l y e g o - c e n t r i c . They are the i n s t i n c t s o f p reserv a tio n :
(1) n u t r i t i v e , ( 2) s e x u a l, ( 5 ) m aternal; t h o s e of improvement: (4)
m ilit a r y d e s t r u c t i v e , and (5 ) i n d u s t r i a l c o n s tr u c t iv e , and t h o s e o f
s o c i a l am b ition , (6 ) wish o f temporal domination, and if?) wish o f sp ir^
i t u a l a p p ro b a tio n . These seven i n s t i n c t s are termed p e r s o n a l by Comte
becau se th e y aim a t th e p r e s e r v a tio n and development o f th e ego or per­
s o n a l i t y . The rem aining t h r e e , (8) attachment, (9) v e n e r a tio n , and (10)
k in d n e ss, are d ir e c t e d toward th e improvement o f the a l t e r e£o, i . e . ,
toward th e w e lf a r e o f s o c i e t y . They are th e s o c i a l i n s t i n c t s , and th ey
r e p r e s e n t s o c i a b i l i t y or a l t r u i s m 1 in the in d iv id u a l.
I t f o l l o w s from t h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f i n s t i n c t s i n t o p erso n a l and
s o c i a l th a t Comte a s c r i b e s a dual nature* t o man. He d e f in e s t h i s d u a l­
ism fu r th e r by s t a t i n g th a t p e r s o n a l i t y 8 i s strong w h ile s o c i a b i l i t y 4 i s
weak. He n o t e s a l s o th a t p erso n a l motors5 appear f u l l y developed at
b i r t h , w h ile th e s o c i a l are on ly a p o t e n t ia lit y ® l a t e r d eveloped through
e x e r c i s e by c o l l e c t i v e l i f e .
Comte, n e v e r t h e l e s s , d o es not imply th a t s o c i a b i l i t y i s l e s s o f a
r e a l i t y than p e r s o n a l i t y .
He m ain tain s th a t humanity does not a cq u ire
new mental t r a i t s as i t p r o g r e s s e s . I t on ly d evelop s e v e r - p r e s e n t char­
a c t e r i s t i c s . 7 S o c i a b i l i t y always e x i s t s in man, whether i t s p resen ce i s
obvious or n o t.
This th e o r y o f
t h e permanence o f human nature i s one o f th e c a r d in a l
n o t io n s o f Comtism,
and i t cannot be over-emphasized, because i t governs
Comte’ s th eory o f e v o lu t io n in b i o l o g y , 9 o f progress in s o c i o l o g y , 9 o f
r e l i g i o n i n . e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n ,10 and h is con cep tion o f P o s i t i v i s t i c
e d u c a t io n .11
The t h r e e a l t r u i s t i c motors may now be d e fin e d . Comte s t a t e s t h a t
th ey are not i d e n t i c a l in v a lu e: r a th e r , they rep resen t a h ie r a r c h y .
Attachment i s th e lo w e s t form o f s o c i a b i l i t y ; v en era tio n comes n e x t, and
k in d n ess l a s t . Man h as t o go through attachment and v en e r a tio n b e fo r e
he can e x p e r ie n c e k in d n e ss , and he i s not t o be deemed a f u l l a l t r u i s t
u n t i l he has reached t h i s u ltim a te phase.
Comte, however, does not d ep lore th e com paratively g rea ter s tr e n g th
o f e g o -c e n tr is m .
He argues t h a t i f th e r a t i o were rev ersed , t h a t i s , i f
a ltr u is m were s tr o n g e r than e g o -c e n tr is m , th e human race would have
disappeared from th e s u r fa c e o f t h e earth lon g ago. He p o i n t s out a l s o
1.
2.
8.
4.
-Coats ooiaed the worA altruism.
Pol. * I . P . 8 9 1 .'
Cours, I I I , p . ' 411, end XV, p. 858.
Ib id .. IV, p. 890.
t: e w & V f c ’ S
9.
9.
10.
11.
Cf.
Cf.
Cf.
Cf.
pp.
pp.
pp.
pp.
S5 S s . v r * *
37-88 below,
95-96-* below.
137-140 below.
154^155 below.
r . L j I , p.
106.
-8 2 t h a t th e e g o - c e n t r i c i n s t i n c t s are th e source o f c o l l e c t i v e a c t i v i t y . 1
He g o es f u r t h e r , and w r it e s t h a t th e preponderance o f p erso n a l i n s t i n c t s
" g ives a d e f i n i t e c h a r a c te r t o s o c i a l e x is t e n c e - by a s s ig n in g a permanent
and e n e r g e t i c g o a l t o our in d iv id u a l a c t i v i t y . " 2 I t a l s o su b o rd in a tes
e s t h e t i c f u n c t i o n s 8 t o th e p u rely i n t e l l e c t u a l in th e in d iv id u a l and in
th e c o l l e c t i v i t y .
Were man f r e e from imperious p h y s ic a l needs, he would
d evote h im s e lf t o th e a r t s and t o p la y , and th e p ro g ress o f humanity
would be s lo w e r .
Comte a v e r s th a t th e r e i s no c o n f l i c t 4 between i n d iv id u a l and c o l ­
l e c t i v e i n t e r e s t s . Man b ein g a s o c i a l c r e a tu r e , c o l l e c t i v e i n t e r e s t i s
n e c e s s a r i l y th e sum o f in d iv id u a l i n t e r e s t s . Comte remarks th a t i t i s
t h i s harmony o f i n t e r e s t s which makes s o c i e t y p o s s i b l e .
Altruism un­
s u s t a in e d by e g o -c e n tr is m would be a "vague and s t e r i l e c h a r it y deprived
of p r a c tic a l e f f i e a c i t y ." 5
N e v e r t h e l e s s , our p r e se n t i l l s are due t o the exaggerated expansion
o f c e r t a i n e g o - c e n t r i c motors, such as th e d e s t r u c t i v e m i l i t a r y i n s t i n c t
and th e w ish f o r approbation and domination, and t o th e e t i o l a t e d s t a t e
o f a lt r u is m . The cure i s o b v io u s. Comte advocates th e c o n tr o l o f ego­
cen trism and th e c u l t i v a t i o n o f a ltr u ism .
But he warns th a t d is c r im in a tio n i s n e c e s sa r y . E g o - c e n t r ic motors
cannot a l l be r e p r e s s e d a l i k e .
The e g o - c e n t r i c i n s t i n c t s o f s e l f p r e s e r v a t io n cannot be a n n ih ila t e d , because th ey are n e c e s sa r y t o l i f e :
Man must e a t and reproduce h im self.® Put they can be kept w ith in proper
bounds. Home o t h e r s , such as th e d e s t r u c t iv e urge, can be r e d ir e c t e d
i n t o a s o c i a l ch a n n el.
Although7 t h i s d e s t r u c t i v e i n s t i n c t i s in h e r e n tly
str o n g e r than th e c o n s t r u c t i v e , because o f man’ s ca rn iv o ro u s h a b i t s , the
i n s t i n c t o f i n d u s t r i a l c o n s tr u c t io n can be s u b s t i t u t e d fo r i t .
Altruism must be c u l t i v a t e d s y s t e m a t i c a l l y . Comte’ s s u g g e s t io n s
f o r i t s development w i l l be o u t lin e d when an account i s g iv en o f the
P o s itiv istic c u lts .3
Comte d is m i s s e s th e q u estio n o f human m o tiva tion a s m eta p h y sica l.
N e v e r t h e le s s , he s t a t e s th a t an inner urge9 prompts man t o l i v e a s w ell
as he can under th e circu m sta n ces in which l i f e has p la ced him. He
1 . ' Pol.i IV ,■p. 95.
2. Cours, I I , p. 297, and IV, pp. 290-291.
p p .•148-144.
8. Pol.j I I , PP.'148-144.
4. I b U i i t , p. 9 . ; .
5. Cours, IV, p. 291.
6. Ib id .t IV, p. 244.
7 . P o l . / H I , Pi 108.
9. Cf. pp. 145-147, bilaw,
9 . Cours, IV, p. 191.
T
*
1 M *
_
a l s o ig n o r e s th e problem o f human h a p p in e s s 1 becau se o f i t s metaphys­
i c a l im p lic a t io n s . However,. he has a th eory on th e s u b j e c t i v e f e e l i n g
o f h a p p in ess. He makes t h i s f e e l i n g r e s u l t from a s u i t a b l e a d a p ta tio n 2
o f th e in d iv id u a l t o h i s environment, and from a normal development8 o f
a ltr u is m , • m th e Cours• I t i s th e outcome o f th e l a t t e r ^ e x c l u s i v e l y
in th e P o l i t i q u e ,
But i t i s time to retu rn t o th e e x p o s it i o n o f th e p h r e n o lo g ic a l
th e o r y . Comte a n a ly z e s th e f i v e i n t e l l e c t u a l f u n c t i o n s . They are th o se
o f co n cep tion: (11) Concrete s y n t h e t i c a l , (IP ) a b s t r a c t a n a l y t i c a l , (IP)
i n d u c t iv e , (14) d e d u c tiv e , and (15) t h a t o f e x p r e s s io n . The a f f e c t i v e
motors and th e four i n t e l l e c t u a l f u n c t i o n s o f co n c e p tio n take two formS:
th e y are e i t h e r p a s s iv e or a c t i v e . P a s s iv e motors are f e e l i n g s , and
a c t i v e motors are urges or p a s s io n s . P a s s iv e f u n c t io n s produce contem­
p l a t i o n , and a c t i v e f u n c t io n s g e n e r a te m e d ita tio n . Comte o f f e r s i n ­
g en iou s e x p la n a tio n s o f h a b i t , s l e e p , dream and i n s a n i t y . The l a t t e r
always i n t e r e s t e d him becau se o f h i s own mental t r o u b le s .
He compares th e range and i n t e n s i t y o f a f f e c t i v e and i n t e l l e c t u a l
a c t i v i t i e s , and he p o i n t s out t h a t th e h e a r t 5 works c o n s t a n t l y , w h ile
t h e i n t e l l e c t does so o n ly i n t e r m i t t e n t l y . He co n clu d es th at the s o c i a l
reform er has a b e t t e r chance o f s u c c e s s i f he a p p ea ls t o th e h ea rt more
than t o th e i n t e l l e c t .
He n o t e s a l s o t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y i s irksome t o th e ordinary
man, and th a t i t i s accompanied with f a t i g u e 6 when p rolon ged . Hence,
he goes on t o say th a t very few men9 le a r n b ecause o f a d i s i n t e r e s t e d
l o v e of knowledge. Furthermore, man9 has a d e l i c a t e body and imperious
p h y s ic a l n eed s. He i s com pelled t o u se h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e c o n s ta n t ly in
order t o improve h i s l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s , d e s p it e the f a c t th a t i n t e l ­
l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y i s a ty p e o f e x e r t io n f o r which he i s p oorly g i f t e d .
From th o se c o n s id e r a t i o n s , Comte co n clu d es th a t knowledge has a u t i l i ­
t a r i a n o r i g i n and end. T his th eo ry i s th e support o f h i s e n t i r e con­
c e p t io n o f s c ie n c e , and we s h a l l r e v e r t t o i t o f te n in o u t li n i n g the
p r i n c i p l e s o f p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y , and a l s o in g iv in g a c r i t i q u e o f i t .
The motors o f th e h ea rt and th e f a c u l t i e s o f th e i n t e l l e c t combine
t o g iv e man a d e s i r e 9 fo r s i m p l i c i t y , c o n t in u it y and g e n e r a l i t y , fo r
order and harmony, and g i v e him an i r r e s i s t i b l e b e l i e f in th e con stan cy
o f natural la w s.
The t h r e e q u a l i t i e s o f ch a r a c te r are now t o be d e fin e d . They are
th o s e o f: (16) cou rage, (1 7 ) prudence, and (18) firm n ess or p e r sev era n ce.
They rep r e se n t v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y , and th ere i s no q u estio n o f p a s s i v i t y
or a c t i v i t y f o r them. They always m a t e r ia liz e in th e same form, which
i s p u rp osefu l a c t i o n . Comte s t a t e s th a t men are o b e d ie n t1 by n a tu re,
t h a t they r e s p e c t s u p e r i o r i t y , and th a t th ey l i k e t o be r e l i e v e d o f
r e sp o n sib ilitie s. ^
After d e f in i n g and c l a s s i f y i n g th e e ig h te e n f a c u l t i e s o f th e b r a in ,
Comte e x p la in s t h a t we sh ou ld not make th e m istake o f b e l i e v i n g them t o
be sep a rate and d i s t i n c t e le m e n ts . Those f a c u l t i e s are a c t u a l l y i n d i ­
v i s i b l e . 2 There i s a c o n s ta n t i n t e r p l a y between them, i r r e s p e c t i v e l y
o f t h e ir p o s i t i o n .
Such an a l l i a n c e e x i s t s because a l l elem en ts are
u n ited fo r one purpose, which i s a ction .® At t h i s p o in t , Comte v o i c e s
a c r i t i c i s m a g a in s t m e ta p h y s ic ia n s . They want us to b e l i e v e t h a t man
i s p rim a r ily a th in k in g c r e a t u r e . All ev id en ce purports t o th e con­
t r a r y . For one t h in g , man i s not th e only th in k in g b ein g: anim als th in k
t o o . For a n o th er, th e y o v erlo o k th e f a c t th a t man i s p r im a r ily a l i v i n g
animal. As l i f e demands a c t i o n , a c t io n i s fundam entally th e end o f a l l
human m a n i f e s t a t i o n s . 4 I n t e l l i g e n c e 5 was developed to " en lig h ten
a c t i v i t y , " and th e i n t e l l e c t always works with a c tio n as i t s g o a l .
In
oth er words, a l l mental p r o c e s s e s have a u t i l i t a r i a n end.
This c o n d i t i o n , a ccord in g to Comte, i s heavy with consequences: i t
d i c t a t e s th e aim o f s c i e n c e . The s c i e n t i s t , as we s h a l l o f t e n have t o
r e p e a t , must be made t o understand th a t s c ie n c e i s not t o be pursued
f o r i t s own sa k e , but f o r t h e sake o f u t i l i t y . ®
The in terdepend en ce o f c e r e b r a l f u n c tio n s having been dem onstrated,
Comte s t u d i e s th e ex a c t nature o f th e r e l a t i o n s o f th e i n t e l l e c t and
th e h ea rt.- He s t a t e s t h a t thought and f e e l i n g always combine, and th a t
t h e outcome o f t h e i r union i s an id e a . Ideas are not i d e n t i c a l in com­
p o s i t i o n , b ecause th e r a t i o o f t h e i r two components w i l l vary. Borne
i d e a s , such as s c i e n t i f i c n o t io n s , co n ta in l i t t l e f e e l i n g , w h ile some
o t h e r s , such as p o e t i c a l c r e a t i o n s , are m ostly composed o f f e e l i n g .
Comte r e c o g n iz e s th e e x i s t e n c e o f im ag in a tion . "This important
f a c u l t y of t h e mind . . . c o n s i s t s in th e a b i l i t y t o c o n c e iv e c l e a r l y
and e a s i l y a v a s t and v a r ia b le ensemble o f f i c t i t i o u s o b j e c t s as i f
th e y were under our e y e s . " 1 Im agin ation , a l s o c a l l e d th e a e s t h e t i c
f a c u l t y o f th e mind, g i v e s b i r t h t o a "sweet mixture o f thoughts and
em o tio n s" 2 which c r e a t e s a d e s i r e f o r i d e a l i t y .
This d e s i r e fo r i d e a l ­
i t y i s a complement t o th e d e s ir e fo r r e a l i t y , 8 which i s in h eren t t o
i n t e l l i g e n c e and n e c e s s i t a t e d by m a teria l l i f e .
I t m a t e r i a l i z e s in
a r t i s t i c ach ievem en ts, b e a u x - a r t s and b e l l e s - l e t t r e s .
Art i s not as
irksome t o man a s s c ie n c e i s , b ecause i t owes more t o the heart than
t o th e i n t e l l e c t . For t h i s rea so n , e s t h e t i c a l l i f e i s a t r a n s i t i o n 4
between th e s p e c u la t i v e and th e p r a c t i c a l l i v e s . P r im it iv e p eop les
became a r t i s t s b e fo r e they developed i n t o s c i e n t i s t s and p h ilo so p h e r s .
I t f o llo w s th a t human c r e a t i o n s a c t u a l l y f a l l under s i x heads:
p h ilo so p h y and s c ie n c e corresp on d in g to I n t e l l i g e n c e , a r t corresponding
t o im a g in a tio n , e t h i c s corresponding t o h e a r t, in d u str y and s o c i a l o r ­
g a n iz a t io n corresponding t o v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y .
This p o in t i s mentioned
b e c a u s e , when Comte s tu d ie d th e e v o lu t io n o f s o c i e t y , he stu d ie d i t
under th o s e s i x a s p e c t s .
Comte then proceeds t o d e f in e th e p art p layed by i n t e l l e c t u a l
a c t i v i t y in s p i r i t u a l o r g a n iz a t io n . His words are as f o l l o w s 5:
The i n t e l l e c t i s i n t e n d e d f o r s e r v i c e , n o t f o r e m p i r e ; when
i t im a g in e s i t s e l f s u p r e m e , • i t i s r e a l l y o n ly o b e y in g t h e p e r ­
s o n a l i n s t e a d of t h e s o c i a l i n s t i n c t s . - I t n e v e r a o t s in d e p e n d ­
e n t l y o f f e e l i n g s , b e t h a t f e e l i n g good o r b a d . The f i r s t c o n ­
d i t i o n o f command i s f o r c e ; now r e a s o n h a s b a t l i g h t ; t h e im­
p u l s e t h a t moves i t mast oome from e l s e w h e r e . . . . T r u e , t h e r e
i s a g e n u in e f e e l i n g o f s a t i s f a c t i o n i n t h e a c t o f d i s c o v e r i n g
t r u t h ; b a t i t i s n o t s u f f i c i e n t l y i n t e n s e t o be an h a b i t u a l
g u i d e o f o o n d u o t. I n d e e d , s o f e e b l e i s o a r i n t e l l e c t , t h a t t h e
im p u ls e o f some p a s s i o n i s n e o e s s a r y t o d i r e c t and s u s t a i n i t
in alm o st e v ery e f f o r t .
In s h o r t, th e i n t e l l e c t has no f o r c e o f i t s own, but r e c e i v e s i t s momen­
tum from t h e h e a r t .
Such a c o n d itio n i s o f utmost importance, because
i t d i c t a t e s th e r e s p e c t i v e d u t i e s o f th e i n t e l l e c t and th e h e a r t6 :
When i t i s s a i d t h a t t h e i n t e l l e c t s h o u l d b e s u b o r d i n a t e d t o
t h e h e a r t , what i s meant i s t h a t t h e i n t e l l e o t s h o u l d d e v o te i t ­
s e l f e x c l u s i v e l y t o t h e p ro b le m s whioh t h e h e a r t s u g g e s t s , t h e
u l t im a te o b je o t b e in g t o f i n d p ro p e r s a t i s f a c t i o n f o r our v a rio u s
w a n t s . W ith o u t t h i s l i m i t a t i o n , e x p e r i e n c e h a s shewn t o o o l e a r l y
t h a t i t would a lm o s t a lw a y s f o l l o w i t s n a t u r a l b e n t f o r u s e l e s s
op i n s o l u b l e q u e s t i o n s , whioh a r e t h e most p l e n t i f u l a n i t h e
e a s i e s t t o d e a l w i t h , s a t when a ny p ro b le m o f a l e g i t i m a t e k in d
l- Qours, I , p. 229.
2.
T*
3 * T h fy ’ v t ' - P* I
5 * P ol.]’ p
p
Positivism , p. 12.
8, Pol,i I , pp.
w r ite r 's . The sane
. *in the English tra n slatio n of J. H. Bridges, A General Vien of
See also coli^ I , pp. 69V-689.
19-20; in Bridges* tra n slatio n , p. 14. The ita lio s are the present
thoughts are expressed in Cows, V, p. 229.
-8 6 -
h ae bean onoe p e o p o s o d , i t i s t h e s o l e ju d g e o f t h e m ethod t o
be p u r s u e d , and o f t h e u t i l i t y o f t h e r e s u l t s o b t a i n e d . I t s
p ro rin o e. i s to i n q u i r e i n t o th e p r e s e n t, in o rd e r to f o r e s e e
t h e f u t u r e and t o d i s o o v e r t h e means of im p ro v in g i t . I n t h i s
p r o v i n o e , i t i s n o t t o b e i n t e r f e r e d w ith . In a w ord, t h e i n ­
t e l l e c t i s t o be t h e s e r v a n t o f t h e h e a r t , not i t s s l a v e .
Comte p o i n t s out t h a t th e sub ord in ation of th e i n t e l l e c t t o th e
heart g iv e s man h i s s o c i a l n a t u r e , 1 a ltr u is t: being a f e e l i n g and not
a th ough t. I f h i s i n t e l l e c t were stron ger than h i s h e a r t , man would
d evote h i s l i f e t o e g o - c e n t r i c p u r s u i t s which would g iv e him immediate
s a t i s f a c t i o n , in s te a d o f working f o r th e common good.
Prom t h e s e c o n s i d e r a t i o n s i t may be deduced t h a t Comte has achieved
a new u n ity o f th e e g o . The on ly d if f e r e n c e between th e P o s i t i v i s t i c
u n ity and th e old m eta p h y sics o f th e p s y c h o lo g is ts i s t h a t th e p r e s i ­
dency i s now giv en t o t h e h e a r t , in s t e a d o f remaining w ith th e i n t e l l i ­
gence .
'Before t h i s ch ap ter i s concluded, some mention may b e made o f Comte’ s
co n cep tio n o f freedom. He con ten d s th a t man i s a f r e e a g e n t , 2 but he
makes freedom c o n s i s t in th e government of man by i n v a r i a b l e law s.
In
the P o l i t i q u e , 8 he advances th e f o llo w in g opinion: "Subjected t o m od ifi­
ab le law s, we are t r u l y f r e e and moral, because t h e i r empire always h e lp s
us t o make our b e s t i n c l i n a t i o n s p r e v a i l ." In s h o r t, Comte d o es not
s o lv e th e m etap h ysical problem o f human freedom.
There i s , p ro p erly s p e a k in g , no e v o lu tio n in Comte's p s y c h o lo g ic a l
t h e o r i e s , but t h e r e i s a r e a l development. His d o c t r in e was e la b o ra ted
throughout a l l h i s mature y e a r s . His i n t e r e s t i s f u l l y awakened in
th e volume on B io lo g y in t h e Cours. He r e a l i z e s th a t a s c i e n t i f i c
^
psychology i s th e n e c e s sa r y fou nd ation o f the s c ie n c e o f e d u c a t io n , 4
but h i s th e o r y i s s t i l l in th e embryonic s ta g e . While d e v o tin g th r e e
hundred-odd pages t o g e n e r a l b i o lo g y , he devotes o n ly f o r t y - f i v e pages
t o p sych olo gy p rop er. V oreover, h i s i n t e r e s t i s i n d i r e c t and somewhat
c o n t r o v e r s i a l . He w r i t e s a ch ap ter on mental m a n if e s ta t io n s i n order
to prove th a t man’ s a c t i o n s are determined by laws, and t h a t th e r e i s 4
no d i f f e r e n c e o f n a tu r e 5 between a n im a lity and humanity, th ereb y main­
t a i n i n g th e c o n t i n u i t y o f n a tu r a l and moral p h ilo s o p h ie s e s s e n t i a l
to th e u n ity o f p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y . However, he a lrea d y ju dges th a t
i . Cours, IV, -pp. "836-293.
s. Cat. , pp. 125-137.•
8. Pol.t IV, p. 169.
4. 'OUTS, I I I , p. 429.
5. bii.t I I I , PP. 489-489.
?
-2 7 p sy c h o lo g y cannot be con fin ed to b io lo g y , ”the e s s e n t i a l human char­
a c t e r i s t i c s b ein g m anifested in s o c i a l l i f e o n l y . 1’
When he w r it e s th e l a s t volumes o f S o c i a l Dynamics in 1842, four
y e a r s l a t e r , he s t a t e s th a t b io lo g y 2 does n o t t a k e i n t o account th e
e v o l u t i o n o f th e human mind, and th a t the stu d y o f th e l a t t e r belongs
to s o c i o l o g y .
Eight y ea rs l a t e r , when he w r i t e s th e P o l i t i q u e , he has
become t h e founder o f a r e l i g i o n and o f a new s o c i a l o r d e r . The value
o f p sych olo gy as a t o o l in education and reform ou tw eigh s i t s u s e f u l ­
n e s s as a weapon a g a in st th e o lo g y . Hence, h i s i n t e r e s t in psychology
i s no lon ger c o n t r o v e r s i a l . His b e l i e f in t h e s o c i a l n ature o f man
has in c r e a se d in such proportion th a t i t submerges a l l h i s other psy­
c h o l o g i c a l t h e o r i e s . P s y c h o lo g y ,8 as a co n seq u en ce, i s promoted to
th e domain o f s o c io l o g y , and b io lo g y 4 does no more than supply informa­
t i o n regarding the p h y s ic a l b a s i s o f mental m a n if e s t a t io n s and a n im a lity .
I t i s s o c i o l o g y 5 which e x p la in s man’s i n t e l l e c t .
Comte a v ers th a t
" it i s o n ly by the p o s i t i v e study of th e g r e a t human e v o lu t i o n th a t
one can d is c o v e r th e r e a l laws of i n t e l l i g e n c e . ” The ”stu d y o f the
i n d iv i d u a l cannot r e v e a l i t . ”5 From th e second tome o f th e P o l i t i q u e
onward, p sy c h o lo g y 7 even transcends s o c i o l o g y , b eca u se i t becomes part
o f t h e seven th s c ie n c e , e t h i c s .
As Comte grew o ld e r , he placed more s t r e s s on the in flu e n c e o f
th e mind” over th e body, and he came t o have d e f i n i t e t h e o r i e s con­
c e r n in g t h e mental o r i g in of f u n c tio n a l p h y s ic a l d i s o r d e r s . 9 At th e
same t i m e , ■i n c o n s i s t e n t l y enough, he d i s p l a y s an in c r e a s e d b e l i e f in
th e n e c e s s i t y o f keeping th e method o f e x p lo r a t io n of psychology
p u r e ly r a t i o n a l , and a corresponding scorn f o r ex p erim en ta l methods
in b i o l o g y and m edicine.19
The p o i n t s d is c u s s e d in t h i s chapter may be summarized as f o ll o w s .
Comte’ s t h e o r i e s on psychology are th e s e : ( 1 ) The o b j e c t o f p o s i t i v e
p sy c h o lo g y i s th e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of mental phenomena according t o
f a c u l t i e s , and the l o c a l i z a t i o n of t h e i r organs o f p rod u ction in the
b r a i n . O b je c tiv e exp erim en tation and i n t r o s p e c t i o n are w o r t h le s s , and
r a t i o n a l e x p lo r a t io n i s th e only a v a ila b le p o s i t i v e method.
(2) Man i s
5.
Ib t i . * P . 4 4 2 .
6. Ibid., I I I , pp. 46-49.
7. Ib id ,, I I , pp. 482-488.
* I$ ,Pp! 281; Re tir e s & I tv e r s , Vol. I, Part I , Letter to Dr. G. Audiffrent,
% * 9t b t i . T K
46 fi85i>, and Pol., IV, p. 225.
-sea s o c i a l animal,
(?) Humanity and th e in d iv id u a l man are born with a
d e f i n i t e number of i n s t i n c t s , which th ey can only develop; th ey cannot
c r e a t e new t r a i t s .
(4) Mental m a n if e s t a t io n s f a l l under th r e e heads,
th o u g h ts, f e e l i n g s and v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y .
(5) There i s harmony and
u n it y in th e ego. The h ea rt d i r e c t s th e i n t e l l e c t toward th e n ecessary
end, which i s a c t io n .
Following t h i s study o f Comters co n cep tio n o f human n ature, i t i s
tim e now to turn toward h i s system i t s e l f .
BOOK III
I ntellectual
Re o r g a n i z a t i o n
I N T R O D U C T I ON
Comte, accord in g t o h i s th e o r y , found th r e e e x i s t i n g o r g a n iz a ­
t i o n s , a l l in need o f r e m o d e llin g . I t has been seen th a t he decided
t o a tten d to th e i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a tio n f i r s t . 1 Although h i s
p h ilo so p h y changed in c o lo r as he aged, he never swerved from the
order of r e o r g a n iz a t io n which he had s e le c t e d in h i s e a r l y t w e n t i e s .
When he f e l l under th e in f lu e n c e o f f e e l i n g s and wrote th e P o l i t i q u e ,
he s t i l l b e lie v e d t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a tio n must precede th e
o th er two. He exp ected c r i t i c i s m 8:
To g iv e su o h p a ra m o u n t i m p o r ta n o s t o t h i s p o r t i o n o f t h e
s u b j e c t may seem a t f i r s t s i g h t i n o o n s i a t e n t w i t h t h e p ro p o ­
s i t i o n j u s t l a i d down, t h a t t h e s t r e n g t h o f t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l
f a c u l t i e s i s f a r i n f e r i o r t o t h a t o f t h e o t h e r e l e m e n t s of
o u r n a t u r e . Tt i s q u i t e o e r t a i n t h a t f e e l i n g and A e t i v i t y have
muoh more t o do w i t h any p r a o t i o a l s t e p t h a t we t a k e t h a n p u re
R easo n . In a t t e m p t i n g t o e x p l a i n t h i s p a r a d o x , we oome a t l a s t
t o t h e p e c u l i a r d i f f i c u l t y o f t h i s g r e a t p ro b lem o f human
U n ity .
Comte proceeds t o j u s t i f y h i s ord er8:
The f i r s t c o n d i t i o n o f u n i t y i s a s u b j e c t i v e p r i n c i p l e ; and
t h i s p r i n c i p l e i n t h e P o s i t i v e sy ste m i s t h e s u b o r d i n a t i o n o f
t h e i n t e l l e c t t o t h e h e a r t . W ith o u t i t t h i s u n i t y we s e e k c a n
n e v e r be p l a o e d on a p e rm a n e n t b a s i s w h e th e r i n d i v i d u a l l y o r
c o l l e c t i v e l y . - I t i s e s s e n t i a l t o have some i n f l u e n c e s u f f i ­
c i e n t l y p o w e r f u l t o p ro d u c e c o n v e r g e n c e amid t h e h e t e r o g e n e o u s
and o f t e n a n t a g o n i s t i c t e n d e n c i e s o f so oomplex an o rg a n is m a s
o u r s . - B u t t h i s f i r s t o o n d i t i o n , i n d i s p e n s a b l e a s i t i s , would
be q u i t e i n s u f f i c i e n t f o r t h e p u r p o s e , w i t h o u t some o b j e o t i v e
b a s i s , ■e x i s t i n g i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f o u r s e l v e s i n t h e e x t e r n a l
w o r l d . - T h e b a s i s c o n s i s t s f o r us i n t h e law s o r o r d e r o f t h e
phenomena by w hioh H um anity i s r e g u l a t e d . - The s u b j e o t i o n o f
human l i f e t o t h i s o r d e r i s i n c o n t e s t a b l e ; and a s so o n as t h e
i n t e l l e o t h a s e n a b l e d us t o oomprehend i t , i t beoomes p o s s i b l e
f o r th e f e e l i n g of lo v e t o s x e r o is e a c o n t r o l l i n g in flu e n o e
o v e r o u r l i s o o r d a n t t e n d e n c i e s . - T h i s , ■t h e n , i s t h e m i s s i o n
a l l o t t e d to th e i n t e l l e o t in th e p o s itiv e s y n th e s is ; in t h i s
s e n s e , i t i s t h a t i t s h o u l d be c o n s e o r a t e d t o t h e h e a r t . -
Comte o f f e r e d a d d it io n a l reaso n s to j u s t i f y h i s o rd er. The most
important of a l l i s th e a c q u i s i t i o n o f a s c i e n t i f i c m ethod.4 For
rea so n s which w i l l be o u t lin e d l a t e r , when th e nature o f s c ie n c e i s
s t u d i e d , t h i s method cannot be acquired u n le ss th e stu d en t c o n s id e r s
1.
2.
8.
4.
Of. pp. 18-14, above.
~ "
rot.* I , p. 2 2 (Bridges' tran slatio n , pp. 14-15).
Ib id .t I, p. 2 2 (Bridges! tra n s la tio n / p. 15).
Cours, VI, pp. 482-498; Pol.f I, p. 22, I I , p. 42; of. p. 45 below.
-3 9 -
f i r s t th e in org an ic world. The second important supplementary reason
i s th a t we must acq u ire a knowledge o f our c o n d it io n s o f e x i s t e n c e
b e f o r e we study l i f e , humanity and s o c i e t y . Comte avers th a t the laws
o f th e more gen eral phenomena which a f f e c t our e x i s t e n c e cannot be
understood u n le s s th ey are s t u d ie d in a s t a t e o f i s o l a t i o n from v i t a l
and s o c i a l co m p lica tio n .
He o b serv es a ls o th a t i f th e in o r g a n ic w o rld 1 be stu d ie d b efo re
th e o r g a n ic , our a r t i f i c i a l or s o c i a l economy appears as the ex ten sio n
o f n a tu r a l economy. He remarks t o o 2 th a t an immutable order, or at
l e a s t a world governed by i n v a r i a b l e law s, i s e s s e n t i a l to th e working
o f th e human mind and t o th e development o f s o c i e t y . 8 U nless we under­
stand t h i s e x te r n a l world, we cannot comprehend th e laws o f th e mind
and o f s o c i e t y .
L a s t ly , th e study o f th e laws o f Nature r e p r e s e n ts a sa lu ta r y
d i s c i p l i n e . The r e c o g n i t i o n 4 o f our en forced sub ord in ation to t h i s
e x t e r n a l order te a c h e s us to s u b j e c t our e g o - c e n t r i c i n s t i n c t s to
a lt r u is m , and shows us th a t th e m o d if ic a t io n o f t h i s order can on ly
be a ch ieved through a co o p e r a tio n o f e f f o r t s .
All th e s e arguments, in s h o r t , concur t o show th a t the regenera­
t i o n o f f e e l i n g s and th e r e c o n s t r u c t io n o f s o c i e t y must be founded on
an i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n . We a lrea d y know th a t th e card in al
p r i n c i p l e s o f the l a t t e r are embodied in Comte's p o s i t i v e philosophy;
t h e r e f o r e , our e x p o s it io n o f th e t e n e t s o f i n t e l l e c t u a l reo r g a n iz a tio n
w i l l c o n s i s t in g iv in g an o u t l i n e o f th e t h e o r i e s o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s ­
ophy. These may be grouped under th r e e heads: (1) th e Comtean concep­
t i o n o f p o s i t i v i t y , s c ie n c e and p h ilosop h y ; (?) th e two laws o f p o s i ­
t i v e p h ilo so p h y , apd (8 ) th e Comtean E ncyclopaedia o f th e S c ie n c e s .
The next s e c t i o n o f t h i s study w i l l be concerned with th e Comtean
c o n c e p tio n o f p o s i t i v i t y , s c ie n c e and p h ilo so p h y .
CHAPTER
I
P o s i t i v i t y — S cience— P hilo soph y
Comte made s i x c la im s f o r th e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t 1; th ey are as f o l ­
lows:
(1 ) R e a l i t y ,
'’P o s i t i v e ” means r e a l , in o p p o s itio n t o v is io n a r y
or c h im e r ic a l. The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t i s " ch a ra cterized by i t s co n stan t
d ev otion t o r e s e a r c h e s t r u l y a c c e s s i b l e to our i n t e l l i g e n c e , and with
th e permanent e x c l u s io n o f th e unfathomable m y ste r ie s which occupied
our c h ild h o o d ." a
(?) U t i l i t y ,
" P o s itiv e " means u s e f u l , in o p p o s it io n t o f u t i l e .
Our sound s p e c u la t i o n s aim at th e improvement o f our in d iv id u a l and
c o l l e c t i v e l i v e s , and not a t th e s a t i s f y i n g o f a s t e r i l e c u r i o s i t y .
( ?) C e r t a i n t y .
The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t s t r i v e s t o f in d n o t io n s which
are th e o p p o s ite o f d o u b tf u l.
(4 )
Precision.
P o s i t i v i t y i s a s t a t e which im p lie s th e o p p o s ite
o f va gu en ess. This fo u r th t r a i t does not d u p lic a te the t h i r d , 8 because
c e r t a i n t y and p r e c i s i o n are not synonymous. A n otio n may be p r e c i s e
w ithout b ein g c e r t a i n , and v i c e v e r s a . The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t i n s i s t s on
th e degree o f p r e c i s i o n co m p a tib le with the nature o f th e phenomenon
under i n v e s t i g a t i o n .
(5?) C o n s t r u c t i v e n e s s .
The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t , in o p p o s it io n t o th e
n e g a t iv e , i s o r i a n i c .
I t d e s tr o y s only what i t can r e b u i l d . I f con­
s t r u c t io n be im p o s s ib le , i t l e a v e s th e old s t r u c t u r e untouched.
(?) R e l a t i v i t y .
The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t i s r e l a t i v e in t h r e e ways.
F i r s t , i t ju d g e s each c a s e a g a in s t i t s
a ctu a l background.
In other
words, i t a p p l i e s th e c r i t e r i a 4 b elon gin g t o th e era c o n s id e r e d , i n ­
stead o f u sin g modern c r i t e r i a to judge t h in g s o f th e p a s t .
Pecond,
i t i s r e l a t i v e in th e e p is t e m o lo g ic a l s e n s e . Our n o t io n s 5 are r e l a t i v e
to the b i o l o g i c a l laws which a f f e c t us as p e r c i p i e n t s . Third, th e
p o s i t i v e s p i r i t i s r e l a t i v e in th e m etaphysical s e n s e . Our n o tio n s
d eal with phenomena, t h a t i s , w ith r e l a t i o n s , and not w ith th e noumenon.
When a c o n c e p tio n answers t o th e s i x claims® o f r e a l i t y , u t i l i t y ,
c e r t a i n t y , p r e c i s i o n , c o n s t r u c t iv e n e s s and r e l a t i v i t y , i t may be termed
1 . Discours sur l-'esprit P o s itif, Part I ,
2. Discours sur I'e s P r it p o s ittf, p; 64.
8. Cours, I , pp. 50-57.
4.
D isc.t
p.
9.9,.
Ch.
I l l , Section I; Pol., I ,
pp. 57—5S.
n -
— 6* Comte aidef's^eeTenth*characterfstio when he beoaae ireligioua, th a t of sympathy
( P o t , IV. p. 547, ani TynfAlse, p. 869). We do not mention i t here, because we are
in te re s te i In s t r i c t l y s o ie n tifio o r ite r ia at the present time.
-4 1
-4 2 p o s i t i v e . Comte found t h a t t h e o n ly t h e o r e t i c a l knowledge worthy o f
t h i s q u a l i f i c a t i o n was s c i e n c e , and he made a d e t a il e d study o f i t .
F i r s t r e f l e c t i n g on th e g e n e r a l aim o f s c i e n c e , he h old s t h a t i t in ­
v o lv e s two d eg rees. The f i r s t phase i s one o f c o o r d in a tio n o f f a c t s .
The th in k e r s t r i v e s t o c o o r d in a te r e l a t e d f a c t s , th a t i s , he p r a c t i c e s
d is c r im in a tio n in t h e . s e l e c t i o n o f d a ta . The second phase in s c ie n c e
i s th e d i s c o v e r y 1 o f th e in v a r ia b l e laws of c o e x is t e n c e and s u c c e s s io n ,
which govern th e appearance o f n a tu r a l phenomena. In s h o r t, s c ie n c e
i s not an e n c y c lo p e d ia o f f a c t s : i t i s an organon o f law s2; i t i s a
system .
Comte, however, did not b e l i e v e t h a t s c ie n c e had a s p e c i f i c n ature.
He rep eated time and again t h a t i t was nothing more "than a sim ple and
m ethodical e x t e n s io n o f a u n iv e r s a l wisdom,"8 th a t i s , o f common s e n s e .
He wrote a l s o t h a t 4 : "Theories g e n e r a l i z e and co o r d in a te th e em p irical
n o t io n s of a u n iv e r s a l r e a s o n , in order t o g iv e them a c o n s is t e n c y and
a development which they would not a cq u ire o th e r w ise , but i t [ s c i e n c e !
i s nothing e l s e . "
After studying th e end o f s c ie n c e , Comte s t u d i e s i t s o r i g i n and
development. He s t a r t s from th e prem ise th at man i s p rim a r ily a l i v i n g
c r e a t u r e , and th a t an i n s t i n c t 5 prompts him t o l i v e as w e ll as he can
under th e circu m sta n ces in which he i s p la c e d . S cien ce i s th e o f f s p r i n g
o f t h i s i n s t i n c t . He o b se rv es th a t s c i e n c e , at t h e very b e g in n in g , did
not appear in i t s p r e s e n t form. Van e m p ir ic a ll y acquired some r u d i­
mentary a r t s by th e t r i a l - a n d - e r r o r method.® G radually, he e x tr a c te d
t h e t h e o r e t i c a l p r i n c i p l e s embodied in t h e s e . This p ro cess was slow ,
and forf a long time th e rudimentary s c i e n c e 7 was one with th e art
w ith which i t was co n n ected .
When th o s e f i r s t p r i n c i p l e s were d e f i n i t e l y severed from t h e i r
m a tr ic e s , th ey became th e b a s i s of r a t i o n a l s p e c u la t io n , and with th e
ad ju n ct o f o b s e r v a tio n , th e y gave b i r t h t o more p r i n c i p l e s ; each newly
d isc o v e r e d p r i n c i p l e a c t in g as th e g en era tor fo r more p r i n c i p l e s .
At
t h i s advanced s ta g e o f e v o l u t i o n , s c i e n c e owes i t s development t o i t ­
s e l f a lo n e , and not t o a r t .
T h erefo re, although s c ie n c e o r ig in a te d
in a r t , 8 i t does not owe t o i t i t s u l t e r i o r development. In s h o r t,
Eisc.f p. 8 1 . •
! l -Drati't d 'as^ronomie facfculatre, p. 45 ; Cours, IV, p. S46j VT, p . 4 57; Disc. * pp.
VI.
69, ‘”li
|.« ■Cflte j P* ' l58# ‘
4.
5. U.f>U-S*i. _p. 98*. Cours, IV, p. 191.
5.
1.
Cours, V I, p. 4B0i
el The word " a r t" »n4 the expression "applied eoienoe" are sjrnonyaoue for Comte.
-4 3 as soon a s th eo ry became independent from a r t , , i t c e a s e d t o owe any­
t h i n g 1 t o th e l a t t e r .
Comte a l s o m aintained th a t th ere was only one u n d i f f e r e n t ia t e d •
s c ie n c e a t th e i n c e p t i o n , but th at very s h o r t ly th e v a r io u s s c i e n c e s 8
began t o branch out from t h i s main trunk. As. soon as t h i s p r o c e s s
o f i n d i v i d u a l i z a t i o n to ok p la c e , th e s c i e n c e s 8 d ev e lo p e d independently
from one a n o th e r.
Comte makes a t h ir d p o in t . I t i s t h a t , although e x p e r ie n c e created
th e p r i m i t i v e a r t s , as soon as the s c ie n c e s were e la b o r a t e d , th e a r t s 4
owes t h e i r f u r th e r development to the s c i e n c e s .
In o t h e r words, the
a r t s o f t h e c i v i l i z e d man o r i g i n a t e in theory.
A ll t h e s e p o in t s are
being emphasized h e r e , becau se i t w i l l be seen l a t e r 5 t h a t p h ilo so p h e r s ,
Spencer e s p e c i a l l y , took o b j e c tio n to them and attem p ted t o r e f u t e them.
Let u s proceed with Comte’ s t h e o r i e s . I t h a s been seen t h a t u t i l i t y
was th e o r i g i n o f s c ie n c e ; i t i s seen now th at u t i l i t y 0 i s a ls o i t s
u ltim a ta end.
Comte a s s e r t s th at the ex tern a l world must be stu d ied
not f o r i t s e l f , but f o r man, or ra th er, fo r hum an ity.7 Knowledge which
s p r in g s from a vain c u r i o s i t y 8 must be tabooed. The o n ly knowledge to
be encouraged i s th a t which s t r i v e s to d isco v er t h e la w s a f f e c t i n g
humanity.
Comte o b se r v e s than th a t i t i s t h i s v ery u t i l i t y which
sa fegu a rd s s c i e n c e and in s u r e s her of a normal d e v e lo p m e n t.9
I t shou ld be mentioned here th a t t h i s c o n te n tio n d id not prevent
Comte from ad v o ca tin g t h e n e c e s s i t y of keeping a r t and s c i e n c e s e p a r a te .
He m aintained t h a t , although u t i l i t y wasthe o r i g i n andth e u ltim a te
end o f s c i e n c e , th e s c i e n t i s t 10 mustworkas i f s p e c u la t i o n were
an end
in i t s e l f .
Re argued t h a t i t was the b e s t p o l i c y from th e stan d p oin t
of u t i l i t y .
Home o f t h e most f r u i t f u l d i s c o v e r i e s , he s a i d , had sprung
from t h e o r i e s which at f i r s t did not seem t o have any r e l a t i o n t o man’ s
w e lfa r e . For t h i s r e a s o n , th e th e o r e tic ia n 11 must f o r g e t th e u ltim a te
u t i l i t a r i a n end o f s c i e n c e w h ile he i s working.
As a consequence o f h i s u t i l i t a r i a n co n c e p tio n , Comte made some
r e s t r i c t i o n s con cern in g th e e x te n t of ground which the s c i e n t i s t might
1. Coursy VI, pp. 457-458: PoLt I I I , p. 16. See Comte's application of th is theory
in biology (of. p. 86 below).
9, Cf. pp. 65-66 "below.
8. Qours, I , p. 15} I I I , pp. "47, 150.
s#
4 . I b t i . , Ti p ." 8 5 ; I I I , p . 1 4 6 .
4.
273—879 below.5. See pp. —
-6. Qours, VI, p. 455.
7. Pol», I , p. 86.
8. Cours, VI, pp. 451, 488.
-9. Qours, I I , p. 5, and VI, p. 488.
lO. T b ii., I , p. 86} I I I , p. 147.
11* ‘Tb%($9p IXj p* 10*
W i •
P } * *
VW
V W
w Wiw
n •
-
44-
e x p lo r e . He d is t in g u is h e d between t h e u n iv e r s e and th e world, th e
world being the s n a i l part o f th e u n iv e r s e in which man's world i s
s i t u a t e d . He contended t h a t th e w orld, and not th e u n iv e r s e , i n f l u ­
e n c e s hunan l i v e s , and t h a t th e n o tio n o f th e u n i v e r s e 1 i s u n i n t e l l i ­
g i b l e t o nan's i n t e l l i g e n c e , w h ile t h a t o f the world i s n o t. Man nuet
now r e s t r i c t h i s e x p lo r a tio n t o th e w orld .
Mention nay be nade here o f a Comtean n o tio n gernane to th e one
j u s t ex p ressed . I t i s t h a t the s c i e n t i s t nust s t r i v e f o r th e p r e c i s io n 8
r e q u ir e d by our p r a c t i c a l n eed s, but n u st not go beyond i t .
Another
n o t io n i s th a t the s c i e n t i s t nust not d e s tr o y a law8 u n le s s he can im­
m e d ia te ly s u b s t i t u t e another in i t s s t e a d .
After studying th e o r i g i n and th e end o f s c ie n c e , Comte analyzed
i t s method. Science u ses th e o b j e c t i v e method. I t com prises two phases,
an in d u c tiv e and a d e d u c tiv e .
Ind u ction c o n t a in s s e v e r a l s te p s which
su cceed one another in a d e f i n i t e o rd er. O b s e r v a t i o n 4 i s th e f i r s t s te p .
In order to be f r u i t f u l , o b se r v a tio n must be s e l e c t i v e .
The s c i e n t i s t
must i s o l a t e c e r t a in f a c t s which are always p r e s e n t. O bservation nust
be p u r p o se fu l, th a t i s , i t nust be guided by an i n t u i t i v e th eo ry 5 as t o
t h e nature o f the phenomenon s t u d ie d . I f o b se r v a tio n were not s e l e c t i v e
and p u rp o sefu l, i t would le a d t o a vague and s t e r i l e em piricism , and
n ot t o s c ie n c e . Comte a l s o a s s e r t s th a t o b se r v a tio n must not be too
e x t e n s i v e . The aim o f s c i e n c e 8 i s t o l i m i t i t as much as p o s s i b l e , and
t h i s r e s u l t i s achieved by making th e l a r g e s t number o f deductions
p o s s i b l e from a small number o f o b j e c t i v e d ata .
Observation le a d s to th e second s te p o f in d u c tio n , which i s the
elabo rat io n of a hypothesis.
Hypotheses d i f f e r , by t h e i r d e f i n i t e n e s s ,
from th e i n t u i t i v e theory which d ir e c t e d o b se r v a tio n : th e s c i e n t i s t ,
guided by th e n o tio n s which he has g a th ered from o b se r v a tio n , e la b o r a te s
a dogmatic and prfecise ex p la n a tio n o f th e immediate cau se o f the phenom­
enon.
The th ir d step c o n s i s t s in e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n . 7 The s c i e n t i s t a r t i ­
f i c i a l l y reproduces the h y p o t h e t ic a l c a u s e , and o b se r v e s the e f f e c t .
With th e corrob oration of th e fo u rth s t e p , compari son , 9 he determines
t h e q u a n t it a t iv e and q u a l i t a t i v e r e l a t i o n s which l i n k th e phenomenon
1.
2 ,
(lours, I I , p. 8 9.‘
Tftti., VI, pp. 458, 456; Dtsc. , pp. 47-48.
8. C.OUTS, VI, p. •454.
4. i,bsd., I I , p. *v.
5. Ib id .t IV, p. 850.
8.
I . P. ?2*
'!'• i-btd.i I I , P* '2*
9* ■I ' p I I | 1p«'
-4 5 t o i t s a n te c e d e n t. With t h e com p letion o f t h i s s t e p , in d u ction has
f u l f i l l e d i t s o f f i c e , and th e s c i e n t i s t tu rn s toward i e i u o t i o n .
V e r i f i c a t i o n , l o g i c a l and exp erim en tal, en a b les him t o f in d out
whether the phenomenon i s a c t u a l l y due t o the h y p o th e t ic a l ca u se, and
whether the s a id cause always produces th e given phenomenon. Gener a l ­
i z a t i o n then perm its him t o u n i v e r s a l i z e h i s d is c o v e r y . When t h i s
u ltim a te s te p has been com p leted , th e th in k er has added a new law t o
th e s c i e n t i f i c system a lr e a d y in e x i s t e n c e .
Before d e s c r ib in g th e f u n c tio n s of s c ie n c e and t h e nature o f a
s c i e n t i f i c law, th e q u e s tio n o f method may be li q u i d a t e d . Comte a v ers
th a t o b se r v a tio n , ex p erim en ta tio n and comparison rep r e se n t the th ree
modes o f r a t i o n a l e x p lo r a t io n o f the o b j e c t i v e method. He n o tes th a t
no s c ie n c e i s p e r f e c t , and t h a t none u ses th e th r e e modes t o th e same
e x t e n t . The s i x s c i e n c e s have s p e c i f i c c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and s p e c i f i c
needs, and th e o b j e c t i v e method has t o be adapted to t h e s e . The p rocess
o f ad ap tation i s o f two k in d s. In some c a s e s , th e s c ie n c e under c o n s id ­
e r a tio n does not u se a c e r t a i n mode o f e x p lo r a tio n , because th e very
nature o f i t s phenomena makes them i n a c c e s s i b l e by t h a t mode. Astron­
omy,1 f o r example, cannot u se exp erim en tation : astron om ical phenomena
are not m o d ifia b le by man. I t has t o la y comparison a s id e , because i t
does not y i e l d v a lu a b le in fo rm a tio n .
This s c ie n c e , as a r e s u l t , i s
r e s t r i c t e d t o o b s e r v a tio n .
On the other hand, some s c o n c e s 2 d e v ise supplementary modes o f
i n v e s t i g a t i o n which compensate f o r th e inadequacy o f t h e reg u la r modes.
Chemistry c r e a t e s th e a r t o f nomenclature,® b io lo g y th e art o f c l a s s i ­
f i c a t i o n , 4 and s o c i o l o g y th e h i s t o r i c a l method.5
Comte s t u d i e s th e f u n c t i o n s o f s c i e n c e . They are two in number.
Scien ce e n a b le s man to p r e d i c t fu tu r e phenomena,8 and i t te a c h e s him
t h e l i m i t s w ith in which he may hope t o modify Nature fo r th e s a t i s ­
f a c t i o n o f h i s n eed s. The g r e a t advantage o f p r e v is io n i s th a t i t
perm its the s c i e n t i s t t o do away with fu tu re o b se rv a tio n and e x p e r i­
m entation7 a l t o g e t h e r .
The second f u n c t io n i s f u l f i l l e d only fo r phenomena which are
a c c e s s i b l e t o man. V o d if.ic a tio n , in any c a s e , always bears on secondary
1.
p.
3.
4.
e!
V.
Cours,
ib ii'i
Of. p.
Of. p.
Cours’,
Cours,
I I , p. V.
IT, p. 185 IV, p. 287.
82 below.
85 below.
I I , bpi’a*8i; Pol.> IV, p. 2; Use. t pp. 24-25.
VI, p. 425.
-4 6 -
c h a r a c t e r s . 1 Man cannot modify th e order o f phenomena; he can only
modify t h e i r i n t e n s i t y .
I t w i l l be seen l a t e r th a t t h e s e two f u n c t i o n s , p r e v is io n .a n d
m o d if ic a t io n o f th e phenomena, are complementary. The s c i e n c e 2 which
o f f e r s th e most p e r f e c t p r e v is io n o f f e r s at the same tim e the l e a s t
m o d i f i a b i l i t y , and th e s c ie n c e with th e l e a 3 t p r e v i s i o n o f f e r s th e
b e s t m o d i f i a b i l i t y . The two f u n c tio n s which Comte bestow s on s c ie n c e
are another example o f h i s u t i l i t a r i a n co n c e p tio n o f i t . '
Comte d e f in e s th e nature o f th e s c i e n t i f i c law. Be s t a t e s th a t
i t s two fundamental c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s are i t s i n v a r i a b i l i t y ® and i t s
u n i v e r s a l i t y . 41 Those two t r a i t s are r e s p o n s i b l e fo r th e e x i s t e n c e o f
p r e v i s i o n . Comte fu r th e r d e f in e s p r e v is io n by d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g between
r a t i o n a l and r e a l p r e v i s i o n s . Man en cou n ters d i f f i c u l t y when he t r i e s
t o apply h i s a b s t r a c t laws t o c o n c r e te c a s e s .
"In order t o a b s t r a c t ,
man has to s i m p l i f y .
When he goes from the a b s t r a c t t o th e co n c r e te
a g a in , he i s con fro n ted with a c o m p lica tio n which h i s law cannot
h a n d l e . 1,5
R ecog n izin g, in th e l a t t e r part o f h i s l i f e , th e s u b j e c t i v e aspect
o f s c i e n t i f i c law s, Comte favored a com bination o f dogmaticism and
e m p ir ic is m ,6 and s t a t e d th a t laws were7 approxim ations and not a per­
f e c t r e p r e s e n t a t io n o f r e a l i t y .
A fter a n a ly z in g th e nature of a s c i e n t i f i c law , Comte stu d ie d th e
in tim a te nature o f s c i e n c e . He h eld th a t science® d e s c r ib e d proximate
c a u s e s , and did not d e f in e u ltim a te ca u s e s and th e nature o f elem en ts.
In oth er words, s c ie n c e d e s c r ib e s th e r e l a t i v e r e a l i t y , th e phenomenon
and i t s d i r e c t c a u s e , and i t does not d e f in e t h e a b s o lu t e r e a l i t y with
i t s u ltim a te c a u s e s and i t s e lem en ts. He summed up h i s th eory by
s t a t i n g t h a t s c i e n c e 9 s t u d i e s th e how and does not reach th e why.
T his co n c e p tio n w i l l o f t e n reappear during t h e p r e s e n t ex p o se, e s p e ­
c i a l l y in th e o u t l i n i n g and weighing o f Comte’ s c o n c e p tio n o f p h i l o s ­
o p h y .1®
Mention may h ere be made o f an important c o r o l l a r y o f such a-con c e p t io n o f s c i e n c e .
1.
2.
8.
4.
5.
6
.
7.
5*
'9 .
to.
11.
I t i s Comte’ s Theory o f P o s i t i v e Hypotheses*
Pol. , I , p. 54; Opus, i p. 24.
C£: p. 65 Tselow. ,
Pol. t I, p. 54; DtSC.f pp. 26-83.
Pol.j I , pp. 426-487.
Ib id .i I , p. 427.
Uoe. a t .
b i d . i I I I , PP. 96-97.
P* •
Loc. ' c t t r ■
Of. pp. 4®>-50> 54 T>Plow.
Cours, I I , pp. 224-286.
-4 7 He formulated i t in h i s book on p h y s io s (Cours, tome I I , 193F) be­
cau se p h y sic s was th e f i r s t s c ie n c e o f th e class i f to at ion which made
u se o f i t ; but i t a p p l i e s t o a l l th e n atu ra l s c i e n c e s .
According t o
t h i s th eo ry , t r u l y p o s i t i v e h y p o th eses "always p resen t the ch a ra cter
o f sim ple a n t i c i p a t i o n s o f what e x p e r ie n c e and reason in g are capable
o f at once d is c o v e r in g when th e circu m sta n ces o f th e problem are more
f a v o r a b le ." 1 S p e c i f i c h y p o th eses concerning th e r e l a t i v e r e a l i t y are
s u s c e p t i b l e o f v e r i f i c a t i o n , b ecause they f a l l w ith in th e realm o f
r a t i o n a l e x p lo r a t io n , w h ile th e g en era l ones concerning th e a b so lu te
r e a l i t y transcend i t .
Hence, t h e f i r s t ones s a t i s f y th e demands o f
p o s i t i v i t y , w hile th e o t h e r s do n o t . The f i r s t are p o s i t i v e w hile th e
second are m e ta p h y s ic a l.2 H e e d le ss to say, Comte en jo in ed th e s c i e n ­
t i s t t o s t e e r c l e a r o f th e l a t t e r .
The Comtean d o c t r in e o f s c ie n c e has been o u tlin e d as i t i s found
s c a t t e r e d through th e s i x tomes o f th e Cours and the four o f th e PoZitlcfue. The e v o lu tio n which i t underwent i s y e t to be in d ic a te d .
There i s a growing tendency in Comte t o p la c e more s t r e s s on th e
u t i l i t a r i a n end of s c i e n c e . He is s u e d th e f o llo w in g ukase8 : "New de­
velopments in s c ie n c e s h a l l be made t o answer p r a c t i c a l needs but not
t o a n t ic i p a t e them." G rad u ally, he came t o hold th a t th e u t i l i t y o f
each s c ie n c e was not measured by i t s adequateness to answer p r a c t i c a l
needs, as much as i t was by i t s a b i l i t y to prepare f o r th e coming o f
th e next s c ie n c e o f th e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . 4 F i n a l l y , Comte en jo in ed th e
s c i e n t i s t t o r e s t r i c t th e development o f h i s own s c ie n c e to t h i s pre­
paratory preamble.
There i s found a l s o in th e o ld e r Comte a tendency to be more
l i b e r a l toward h y p o th e se s. He e n la r g e s t h e i r domain. He s t i l l main­
t a i n s th a t p o s i t i v e h y p o th e se s d e a l w ith th e r e l a t i v e r e a l i t y , but he
a llo w s th in k e r s to fo rm u la te h y p o th eses th a t are not s u s c e p t i b l e of
immediate v e r i f i c a t i o n , 5 as lon g as th ey do not c o n f lic t ® with e x i s t i n g ,
law s, and provided th ey h e lp fu r th e r r e s e a r c h . The only c o n d itio n 7
which he imposes i s t h a t th o s e h y p o th eses must be th e sim p le st exp lan a­
t i o n s which can account f o r th a phenomena under i n v e s t i g a t i o n . We fin d
Comte endorsing th e m olecular and corp u scu la r t h e o r i e s o f m a tt e r .8
1 . Cours, IT, pi■
■286, i n th e t r a n s l a t i o n o f S. H. Lewes, Comte's Philosophy o f the
Sciences, p p . '105-106.
2 . LiOHrS, J-J-, p . 1
2
.
,
.
8. Pol.t I , p. 548; I I , p . 4 8 f o f . p . 132 below,
4 . Pol.; I ,_ p . 471} C a t.; p . 1 0 8 .
5. Cours, VI, p p . .454—457.
6. tb id . , VI, ■p .
455.
7. I b i i .i
VI, p . 456.
S. Pol. i I I I , p . 805} IV, p . 54.
-4 8 These new p e r m is s ib le hyp oth eses are g iven th e name o f " lo g ic a l a r t i ­
fic e s ."
A new t r a i t t o be d isco v er ed in Comte i s h i s budding i n t e r e s t in
m etap h ysical s u b j e c t s . He does not h e s i t a t e t o - a s s e r t t h a t laws are
p a r t ly s u b j e c t i v e . Our n o tio n of p h y s ic a l l a w , 1 he o b s e r v e s , p resu p ­
p o ses l o g i c a l law s. In oth er words, he i s ready t o a ccep t th e n o tio n
t h a t s c i e n t i f i c laws are our s u b j e c t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f o b j e c t i v e
fa cts.
An o u t l i n e has been g iv en of Comte’s c o n c e p tio n o f th e end o f s c i ­
e n ce, o f i t s o r i g i n and f u n c t io n . This has been f o llo w e d by a d e s c r ip ­
t i o n o f th e p o s i t i v e method, and a d e f i n i t i o n o f th e nature o f th e
s c i e n t i f i c law as Comte saw i t .
I t now remains t o c o n s id e r p h ilo so p h y .
I t must a t once be p o in te d out th a t Comte does not use th e word
"philosophy" in i t s commonly accepted meaning o f to d ay . The word
" p h ilo so p h y ," when used in co n n ection with a p r o p o s i t i o n a l o b je c t such
as mathematics or s c i e n c e , has a s p e c i f i c meaning and r e f e r s t o th e
g en era l p r i n c i p l e s which are a b s t r a c t a b le from mathematics or s c i e n c e .
P u t, when i t i s used w ithout a m o d ifier, i t means s p e c u la t i o n s on the
unknown. Comte d id not use th e word "philosophy" in the l a t t e r a ccep ta ­
t i o n ; r a t h e r , he adopted fo r i t th e o ld A r i s t o t e l i a n meaning, t h a t o f
a g en era l system o f s c i e n t i f i c n o t io n s . I f t h i s be c l e a r l y understood,
i t becomes e v id e n t t h a t , fo r Comte, th e word "philosophy" has a s i g n i f i ­
cance d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed t o th a t which i t has f o r moderns in g e n e r a l.
P h ilo so p h y , in th e Comtean s e n s e , i s not s p e c u la t io n con cern in g th e
unknown; i t i s , on th e c o n tra ry , th e system o f g en era l s c i e n t i f i c
t r u t h s con cern in g th e known. I t may be noted in p a ss in g t h a t t h i s
c o n c e p tio n o f p h ilo so p h y e x p la in s why Comte was a b le t o make th e same
demands fo r s c ie n c e
and fo r p h ilo so p h y . For Comte, p h i l o s o p h y , 2 l i k e
s c i e n c e , i s a q u est
f o r th e r e l a t i v i t y ,
th e how, and not f o r th e abso­
l u t e , th e why. This p o in t , n e e d le s s t o
sa y , i s th e key n o tio n o f h i s
whole p h i l o s o p h i c a l
system , and governs
a ll h is th eo ries.
Now t h a t th e nature o f p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y has been made c l e a r ,
i t s method o f e l a b o r a t io n may be o u t li n e d . Comte s t a r t s from th e
s i x s c i e n c e s . Those s c i e n c e s supply him with s p e c i f i c law s, which
are g e n e r a l t r u t h s s u s c e p t i b l e o f c o o r d in a tio n . He c o o r d in a te s s e p ­
a r a t e l y th e law s o f each of th e s i x s c i e n c e s .
Polrm |
2# COCfc* |
T, pa 4-4 la
P* 56a
When t h i s p r e lim in a r y work i s done, he has a p hilosophy f o r each
s c ie n c e . Then he t a k e s a l l t h o s e s p e c i a l p h ilo s o p h ie s and makes them
i n t o a system by c l a s s i f y i n g them in a determined order. The outcome
o f t h i s s y n t h e s is i s p h i l o s o p h y , 1 in th e Comtean sen se o f th e word.
I t f o llo w s t h a t a l l th e elem en ts o f philosophy are t o be found in
s c ie n c e , and th a t p h ilo so p h y i n h e r i t s i t s nature from s c i e n c e . In
order to c h a r a c t e r i z e p h ilo s o p h y , i t would be n ecessary to r e p ea t
ev ery th in g th a t has been s a id fo r s c i e n c e . Philosophy, l i k e s c i e n c e ,
i s p o s i t i v e knowledge9: t h a t i s , i t s a t i s f i e s the cla im s o f th e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t , r e a l i t y , u t i l i t y , c e r t a i n t y , p r e c i s io n , c o n s t r u c t i v e n e s s
and r e l a t i v i t y .
I t w i l l not be n e c e s sa r y t o enlarge on t h e s e c la im s ,
ex cep t th a t o f r e l a t i v i t y . R e l a t i v i t y , in p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y , assumes
a major p a rt, so much so t h a t , fo r Comte, " r e la tiv e " came to be syhonymous with " p o s i t i v e ," and " a b so lu te" with " t h e o l o g i c a l ."
P o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y i s r e l a t i v e in our metaphysical sen se: phenom­
ena rep resen t r e l a t i o n s . 8 G r a v it a t io n , fo r in sta n c e , r e p r e s e n ts a
r e l a t i o n between two m asses.
P o s i t i v e philosophy i s r e l a t i v e in th e
e p is t e m o lo g ic a l s e n s e . Our p h i l o s o p h i c a l con cep tio n s are dependent
upon our i n t e l l i g e n c e , which i s th e product of th e consensus o f an
organ and i t s environm ent. They are th e o f fs p r in g of s e n s a t io n and
s u b j e c t iv e l o g i c .
In s h o r t , p o s i t i v e philosophy i s r e l a t i v e t o l o g i c ,
s e n s a t io n , organs and t h e e x t e r n a l w orld. L ast, p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y
i s r e l a t i v e to our s ta g e o f e v o l u t i o n .
P o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y , l i k e s c i e n c e , i s founded on o b s e r v a t i o n , 4
and, again l i k e s c ie n c e , i t i s composed o f law s5 which do not d e f in e
th e in tim a te nature o f t h i n g s and do not in q u ire in t o u ltim a te c a u s e s .
P h ilo sop h y, l i k e s c i e n c e , i s a q u est f o r th e how and not f o r th e why,
and s t i l l , l i k e s c i e n c e , i t h a s a u t i l i t a r i a n end, which i s th e w e lf a r e
o f mankind.
Comte termed t h i s p h ilo so p h y s e c o n i ph ilosop h y, and i t i s t h i s
which i s commonly c a l l e d p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y or Comtism. He advanced
th e n otion t h a t i t was not u l t i m a t e , and th a t a higher degree o f
a b s t r a c t io n and s y s t e m a t i z a t i o n cou ld be reached. P r i n c i p l e s could
be e x tr a c te d from th e s e c o n i p h ilo so p h y and coord in ated, in t h e i r tu r n ,
t o form the system o f u n i v e r s a l p r i n c i p l e s which p r e s id e over th e
1.
Lettres hV ulot, L e t t e r o f Septem ber 24, 1S19, Pp. 93—
91} Cours, 1, p . 17.
-5 0 -
formation of human concepts.- Comte, in memory of Bacon, called this
system the f i r s t philosophy. 1
A c o n c r e t e example w i ll help us t o understand t h i s p r o g r e s s iv e
p rocess o f in te g r a tio n .
Astronomy rev ea led t o Comte th a t th e th ree
g r e a t la w s of c e l e s t i a l mechanics, K ep ler’s , G a l i l e o ’s and Newton’ s,
tr a n sc e n d e d t h e i r f i e l d and a c t u a ll y belonged t o th e u n iv e r s a l realm
o f p h ilo s o p h y . He w r i t e s 2:
P o s i t i v i s m r e p r e s e n t s eaoh o f t h o s e a s t h e n e o e a s a r y s e e d s
o f muoh l a r g e r la w s u n d e r l y i n g a l l a c t i v e phenom ena, a l t h o u g h
a t f i r s t t h e y seemed t o be l i m i t e d t o t h o s e o f m o tio n . T hus,
K e p l e r ’ s law beoomes a p a r t i o u l a r i n s t a n c e o f t h e law o f p e r s i s t e n o e w hich r e i g n s e v e ry w h e re , and from w hioh a r e d e r i v e d
h a b i t i n l i v i n g b o d i e s and o o n s e r v a tis m i n s o c i e t i e s . Tn t h e
same m anh9r, G a l i l e o ’ s law i s p a r t o f a g e n e r a l law w hioh con­
c i l i a t e s t h e a o t i v i t y of t h e p a r t s w i t h t h a t o f t h e w hole and
fro m w hioh t h e f u n d a m e n ta l harmony b e tw e e n o r d e r and p r o g r e s s
i n s o c i o l o g y may be d e d u c e d . P a s t , N e w to n 's law e x o l a i n a ev en
more o l e a r l y t h e p o s s i b l e l i m i t a t i o n o f a o t i o n a n d r e a o t i o n .
The f i r s t p r i n c i p l e s of philosophy are now t o be enumerated; they
are f i f t e e n in number. However, th ey are not a l l u n i v e r s a l i z e d s c i ­
e n t i f i c la w s.
While some have been obtained by th e p r o c e s s which has
j u s t been d e s c r ib e d , o th ers are p la in l o g i c a l a p r i o r i axiom s, psycho­
l o g i c a l assum ptions and m etaphysical p o s t u l a t e s .
( l ) The th in k e r must look for the s im p le s t h y p o t h e s i s . 2
( ?) Laws are c o n s ta n t .
(8 ) Wan can modify th e i n t e n s i t y o f phenomena, but he may not a l t e r
t h e i r order of appearance.
(4) S u b j e c t iv e c o n s tr u c t io n s are always su b o rd in a ted t o o b j e c t i v e
m a te r ia ls.4
(5 ) Mental r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s are l e s s v iv id than e x t e r n a l p e r c e p t i o n s .5
(6 ) Normal mental r e p r e s e n ta t io n s are s tr o n g e r than th e d e lu sio n s
f o s t e r e d by c e r e b r a l o v e r - s t im u la t io n .
(7 ) I n t e l l i g e n c e undergoes th e e v o lu tio n d e s c r ib e d by th e law of
t he t h r e e s t a t e s .
(8 ) The h ea rt e v o l v e s from ego-cen trism t o altru ism .®
(9 ) P u rp o sefu l a c t i v i t y e v o lv e s from conquest t o i n d u s t r i a l lab or,
p a s s i n g through a s ta g e o f d e f e n s iv e a c t i v i t y . 7
1‘
IV* p* 4 9 4 .
seme* th e o ry i s ex p ressed in Cours, V I, pp. 436-489, and
Cat;> p. 1 1 V.
8. C a t... p . 88.
4. IbtdLi p p .
196;
<5 . Pol. . i f x . pp. i9-sa: Cati, p; 80.
6 . O f. p p . 16-17 above, and
7 . O f. p p . 1 6 -IV above, and pp. 1 0 6 -1 0 7 , 187-141 below .
b ®low *
-5 1 (10) Law of i n e r t i a .
(11) Any system p r e s e r v e s i t s c o n s t i t u t i o n s when a l l i t s p a r ts
undergo the same change.
(12) There i s an e q u iv a le n c e between a c t io n and r e a c t i o n .
( l c ) Progress i s th e development o f order.
(14) A p o s i t i v e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s always based on th e p r i n c i p l e
o f decreasin g g e n e r a l it y .
(15) Phenomena must be s t u d i e d in t h e i r order o f d ep en d en ce.1
I t may be pointed cu t t h a t Comte hardly did more than enumerate
th e f i f t e e n p r i n c i p l e s o f th e f i r s t philosophy; but as t h e s e rep resen t
h i s theory o f knowledge, i t has seemed n ecessa ry to mention them h ere.
Analyzing the f i e l d o f th e f i r s t and second p h ilo s o p h ie s , he i n ­
d i c a t e s that th ey do not r e p r e s e n t th e t o t a l i t y o f p h ilo so p h y . A t h i r d
philosophy* i s c o n c e iv a b le , t h e p h ilo so p h y o f the ap p lied s c i e n c e s ,
i . e . , the a r t s . The most v i t a l o f th e t h r e e i s the second, b ecause
th e other two are derived from i t , th e one by a b s t r a c t io n , th e other
by con cretism .
When Comte s ta r t e d h i s c a r e e r , the second philosophy was hiss aim,
and he spent tw elve years o f h i s l i f e e la b o r a tin g i t , doing no more
than mentioning the other t w o . 8 However, when th e Cours was completed
and the second permanently c o n s t i t u t e d , he began to sen se th e importance
o f d e fin in g i t s p o s i t i o n and range in r e l a t i o n t o the f i r s t and the
t h i r d . As a r e s u l t , he m ed itated f r e q u e n t ly on the f i r s t p h ilosop h y
a f t e r 1842.- In the Synt hSs e, w r i t t e n in 1856, he speaks o f t h e n e c e s ­
s i t y 4 of preparing th e a d o le s c e n t f o r th e study o f s c ie n c e by g iv in g
him seventeen l e s s o n s on t h e f i r s t p h ilo so p h y . I t may be surmised that
h i s i n t e r e s t would not have waned su d d en ly , and th a t he would have
g iv en a more developed form t o h i s f i r s t p h ilo sop h y , had he not died
prem aturely.
As fo r th e t h ir d , he d e f in e d i t s f i e l d and then d e l i b e r a t e l y turned
away from i t , bequeathing i t s e l a b o r a t io n t o h i s d i s c i p l e s .
Before we go any f u r t h e r , th e main p o i n t s elab orated in t h i s chap­
t e r may be r e c a p i t u la t e d .
A d e f i n i t i o n has been given o f Comte’ s n otion
o f p o s i t i v i t y , and an o u t l i n e has been made o f th e aim, o r i g i n , method,
n atu re and fu n c tio n of s c i e n c e .
I t has been shown th a t s c ie n c e i s a
1.
Fro* th e Cat S chi sine on, C o ats o f t e n o o a b in e s th e l a s t two p r ln o i p l e s i n t o one,
whioh he e x p re s se s in th e fo llo w in g axiom: "The n o b le r phenomena everyw here a r e s n b o ri i n a t e d to th e g r o s s e r . " C a i., p . I07j Pol,, I I I , P. IS*
8 . Pol. > IV, pp. 847-848.
8. Cours, VI, p . 588.
4. Synth, j pp. v i i , 67.
u t i l i t a r i a n p u r s u it , th a t i t employs th e o b j e c t i v e method, d is c o v e r s
th e how and ig n o r e s th e why, and t h a t i t s f u n c t io n s are th e p r e v is io n
and m o d if ic a t io n o f Nature by man. The Comtean co n cep tio n o f p h i l o s ­
ophy has been s t r e s s e d , namely, th at p h ilosop h y i s g e n e r a liz e d s c ie n c e .
The p o s i t i v e second p h ilo so p h y has been d e fin e d in r e l a t i o n t o th e
f i r s t and t h ir d p h i l o s o p h i e s . '
I t i s time now t o tu rn to the c o n ten t o f p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y . l e
a lrea d y know th a t i t i s rep resen ted by two laws and an e n c y c lo p e d ia .
We b eg in w ith the f i r s t law, which i s the la® o f the t h r e e S t a t e s .
CHAPTER
I I
Law o f t h e T hree S t a t e s
Human i n t e l l i g e n c e does not remain s t a t i o n a r y . I t f o llo w s a d e f ­
i n i t e curve o f e v o lu tio n c h a r a c t e r iz e d by th r e e s u c c e s s iv e s t a g e s o f
d evelop m ent.1
The f i r s t i s th e t h e o l o t i c a l or f i c t i t i o u s s t a t e . Py th e o lo g y ,
Comte means the "general system o f c o n c e p tio n s concerning th e u n iv e r ­
s a l i t y o f phenomena which e x p la i n s th e appearance o f th o se by th e w i l l s
o f g o d s." 2 This s t a t e i s marked by an i n t e r e s t in i n s o l u b l e q u e s t i o n s , 8
such as th o se concerning th e in tim a te nature o f t h in g s , and f i r s t and
f i n a l c a u s e s. I t s s p i r i t i s a b s o l u t e , s p e c u la t i v e , i r r a t i o n a l and
a n th r o p o c e n tr ic .f Pecause t h i s s t a t e c a l l s fo r im a g in a t io n ,5 i t does
not e x e r c is e man’ s reaso n , and hence does not teach him to ob serv e.
The second i s th e m e t a p h y s i c a l or a b s t r a c t s t a t e . The d iv in e w i l l
i s r ep la ced by a c t iv e a g e n t s , by e n t i t i e s or by p e r s o n if ie d a b str a c ­
t i o n s 8 such as g r a v i t a t i o n , h e a t , f l u i d s , e t h e r s , e t c . , and fo r th a t
reason t h i s s t a t e i s a l s o c a l l e d th e o n t o l o g i c a l . "The fundamental
c h a ra cter o f m etaphysical c o n c e p t io n s ," Comte a v e r s , 7 " is to look on
phenomena as independent o f th e o b j e c t s which m an ifest them, and to
a t t r i b u t e t o the p r o p e r t ie s o f each substance an e x i s t e n c e d i s t i n c t
from i t s own." He h o ld s t h a t i t s c o n sta n t a c t io n has one r e s u l t ,
t h a t o f undermining t h e o lo g y . Nor t h i s reason , Comte speaks o f the
n e g a t iv e or " d isso lv in g " a c t i o n 9 o f t h i s s t a t e .
Im agination9 no lon ger dom inates, but sy ste m a tic o b se rv a tio n has
not y e t appeared. However, t h e m etap h ysical s t a t e i s o rg an ic in one
r e s p e c t . I t d evelop s man’ s i n t e l l i g e n c e by f o s t e r i n g a s p i r i t o f
d is c u s s i o n . stu d yin g the e v o lu t io n o f m etap h ysics, Comte avers th a t
th e m u ltip le e n t i t i e s 10 o f t h e b e g in n in g o f th e s t a t e are grad u a lly
fu se d i n t o one s i n g l e e n t i t y , Nature. This Nature r e p r e s e n ts th e
m etap h ysical e q u iv a le n t o f th e God o f monotheism.
The t h ir d s t a t e i s th e p o s i t i v e .
Man le a r n s t o o b serve, and to
su b ord in ate h i s im agin ation t o h i s reason.11 He hereby a cq u ires th e
1.
139-146;Disc.;
Disc.;P aPrat r tI, I , Ch. I.
Cours, I, pp. 2-9; OPus. >pp. 189-14S',
The Philosophy o f Auguste Comte, p. 87,
Disc. > p. 3.
Pol. j I I I , pp. 29-29.
Cours, IV, p . 8 5 l; V I, p.292.
Disc; > pp. 12-13.
„ . ,
A. ,
Cours', ??,* pf*282, in S. H. Lewaa, Comte's Philosophy of the Sciences, p. I l l
2 . L. L 4vy-B rahl,
8.
4.
5.
0.
7*
11.
Cours, tv, p. 154; Disci, pp. 19-19,
-53-
-5 4 n o t io n o f n a t u r a l law, 1 and s u b s t i t u t e s i t f o r t h a t o f d i v i n e w i l l .
His u n i v e r s e i s no l o n g e r under the r u l e of c a p r i c i o u s gods, as i t
was during the t h e o l o g i c a l s t a t e , or under t h e s u b j e c t i o n o f a g e n t s,
as i t was in the m eta p h y s ica l.
I t i s now governed by i n v a r i a b l e laws.
The a c q u i s i t i o n o f t h e p r i n c i p l e of i n v a r i a b i l i t y of natur al laws was
not a sudden one. I t was "the la b o r io u s and gen er al r e s u l t o f a slow
and gradual p r o c e s s for the s p e c i e s and the i n d i v i d u a l . " p Van f i n d s
t h a t the s e a r c h 3 f o r the a b s o lu t e r e a l i t y and the whu i s devoid o f
meaning, and he i s s a t i s f i e d with t h e study o f th e r e l a t i v e r e a l i t y ,
t h a t i s , th e phenomenon, and t h e how.
Comte a s s e r t s t h a t the f i r s t two s t a g e s 4 are e i t h e r i n i t i a l or
t r a n s i t o r y , and th e t h i r d alon e i s f i n a l and s c i e n t i f i c .
He demon­
s t r a t e d the law of t h e t h r e e s t a t e s , a p o s t e r i o r i , by p o i n t i n g out
t h a t h i s t o r y v e r i f i e d h i s h y p o t h e s i s . He showed th a t every r a c e began
by t h e use of t h e o l o g y , and gr a d u a lly learned to view t h i n g s p o s i t i v e l y .
He demonstrated the law, a p r i o r i , 5 l o g i c a l l y , by arguing t h a t the i n ­
t e l l e c t cou ld not f o l l o w any other co urse. According t o him, th eo lo g y
s t i m u la t e d man t o t h i n k i n g in two ways. F i r s t , i t provided him with
an i n i t i a l t h e o r y .
At t h e i n c e p t i o n , man was placed in a v i c i o u s
c i r c l e . 6 He needed t o observe in order t o be able t o fo rm u la te a
h y p o t h e s i s , and he needed a h y p o t h e s is in order t o ob serve f r u i t f u l l y .
This s i t u a t i o n would have been without i s s u e , had not t h e o l o g y su pp lied
him with a sim ple th eory which gave him a s t a r t .
Second, t h e o lo g y
s t i m u l a t e d man i n t o t h in k i n g by g i v i n g him an an t h r o p o c e n tr ic view
*7
o f the world. Had he had a c l e a r con ce ption o f h i s i n s i g n i f i c a n c e ,
he would have been t o o discouraged t o make any i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Had he
had a c l e a r co n c e p t io n o f th e imm uta bility o f the e x t e r n a l world, he
would not have engaged in any a c t i v i t y . Thus, t h e o lo g y was the n e c ­
e s s a r y awakening o f man’ s i n t e l l i g e n c e .
Analyzing the m etaphysical s t a t e , Comte s u g g e s t s t h a t i t h olds
c o n f l i c t i n g t e n d e n c i e s , and t h e r e f o r e r e p r e s e n t s a c o n d i t i o n o f un­
s t a b l e e q u i l i b r i u m . One may, f o r example, c o n s id er t h e metaphysical
con c e p t io n p r e v a l e n t in the e i g h t e e n t h ce ntury , t h a t o f a God who i s
Cours, IV, p. 155? U sc .i pp. 19, 90.
Cours, V, p. S5.
I b t d . i V I, pp. 840, 519.
Pol.t I , p. 88; Cat.i p. 835; Dtsc.* pp. 8-8.
I ^ ,Ppp. 851-354; PoZ.> I I I , pp. 30-31; Vise. t pp. 9,
7. Cours, IV, p. 356.
3. Pol. t I I I , p. S i;.
9 . Cours, VI, pp. 155, 481.
1.
g.
8.
4.
10.
c r e a t o r of i n v a r i a b l e la ws .
I t i s a c t u a l l y a hyb rid 1 co n t a in in g the
v e s t i g e s o f the t h e o l o g i c a l n o t io n o f a God and the fundamental p o s i ­
t i v e p r i n c i p l e o f i n v a r i a b l e n atur a l la w s. Such a combination cannot
but be temporary. Comte, a c o h s t r u c t e r by temperament, f e l t an i n n a te
d i s l i k e f o r t h i s s t a t e , and he came t o use the word "metaphysical" as
a synonym f o r " o b j e c t i o n a b l e . " E v e r y t h i n g bad was metaphysical, and
c o n v e r s e l y , e v e r y t h in g m et ap hys ical was bad.
The metaphysical and the t h e o l o g i c a l s t a t e s have two t r a i t s in
common. They a s c r i b e phenomena t o an e x t e r n a l power, be i t god or
e n t i t y , and they use i m a g i n a t io n 3 i n s t e a d o f o b s e r v a tio n . Hence, they
both s p e c u la t e on t h e a b s o l u t e , and attempt t o e x e r t an a r b i tr a r y
a c t i o n on Nature.
Metaphysics bein g a worn and faded t h e o l o g y , 8 th ere are a c t u a l l y
o n ly two s p i r i t s f a c i n g one an ot he r, the t h e o l o g i c a l and the p o s i t i v e .
One e x p l a i n s the u n i v e r s e by gods, the other by laws. One use s imag­
i n a t i o n , the other o b s e r v a t i o n . Both are s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t and s e l f c o n t a in e d . Hence, th ey are independent from one another.
Although the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t w i l l e v e n t u a l l y e r a d i c a t e the t h e o ­
l o g i c a l 4 co m p le te ly , Comte g i v e s t h e warning t h a t they are not t o be
c o n s id ere d mutually e x c l u s i v e . 5 A. given phenomenon cannot be i n t e r ­
p r e t e d t h e o l o g i c a l l y and p o s i t i v e l y by the same i n d i v i d u a l ; but o f two
independent phenomena, one can be given a t h e o l o g i c a l e x p la n a tio n and
t h e other a p o s i t i v e by t h e same i n d i v i d u a l .
Comte acc ou n ts f o r t h i s s i t u a t i o n thus: Human nature does not
c r e a t e anything6 ; t h e r e f o r e , man was born with a p o t e n t i a l i t y f o r both
s p i r i t s , and the two had t o c o e x i s t from the s t a r t . The t h e o l o g i c a l
develop ed f i r s t b ec ause i t req u ir ed th e l e a s t g e s t a t i o n , but i t was
never a b s o l u t e l y u n i v e r s a l , 7 and t h e p o s i t i v e e x i s t e d in a rudimentary
f o r m . 9 The l a t t e r was spontaneous and c o n c r e t e . 9 The simple f a c t s o f
d a i l y exp erien ce were viewed p o s i t i v e l y . They l e n t themselves t o an
ea s y p o s i t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n because they were s u s c e p t i b l e o f p r e ­
v i s i o n . 10 In other words, t h e p r i n c i p l e o f i n v a r i a b i l i t y o f natur al
laws was acknowledged u n c o n s c i o u s l y f o r simple t h i n g s .
As Adam Smith
o b s e r v e d , 1 g r a v i t y was never ascribed t o a super natu ra l power, and
t h e r e never was a god o f weight. There were other s i m i l a r n o t io n s .
When a l l t h o s e became numerous and important enough, t h e i r combined
f o r c e s began t o a f f e c t t h e o l o g y . Comte p o i n t s out t h a t t h e supremacy
o f t h e o l o g y was d e s tr o y e d t h e day man d is cover ed t h a t s e v e r a l natural
phenomena5*' were s u s c e p t i b l e o f previsiion and o f m o d i f i c a t i o n by him.
However, th e r e was no open war between the two s p i r i t s , because
t h e o l o g y was not c o n s c i o u s o f i t s p e r i l .
The pa ss age from t h e o lo g y
t o p o s i t i v i t y was i n s i d i o u s and, so t o speak, au tom atic.
As t h e same
phenomenon cou ld not be accounted f o r by an i n v a r i a b l e law and a d i ­
v i n e w i l l , a t h e o l o g i c a l n o t io n was re placed by a p o s i t i v e . P o s i t i v i t y
appeared so innocuous t h a t t h e o lo g y allowed i t t o grow under i t s pro­
tection.
I t i s only when most o f the inor ga nic world has gone over to
p o s i t i v i t y t h a t t h e o lo g y b e g in s t o sense the danger8 ; and then i t i s
t o o l a t e . P o s i t i v i t y was almost u n i v e r s a l , and although t h e antagonism
was m a n if e s t , t h e o lo g y was t o o weakened t o do anything about i t .
A d e s c r i p t i o n has been given of the passage from t h e o lo g y t o p o s i ­
t i v i t y in th e domain o f s c i e n c e . There remains f o r c o n s i d e r a t i o n
Comte’s co n c e p t i o n o f the passage from t heo lo gy t o p o s i t i v i t y i n the
domain o f p h i l o s o p h y .
At t h e in c e p t i o n , he a v e r s , s c i e n c e and p h i l o s ­
ophy were d i s t i n c t . One was s p e c i a l and c o n c r e t e , w h i l e t h e ot her was
g e n e r a l and a b s t r a c t .
They w i l l be separate as long as t h e in organ ic
and the o r g a n i c 4 have d i f f e r e n t methods, and the f i e l d o f gen eral s c i ­
ence w i l l not be as e x t e n s i v e as that of phil oso p h y.
I t i s o n l y when g
s c i e n c e w i l l have become p o s i t i v e throughout t h a t the domain o f s c i e n c e
w i l l c o i n c i d e with t h a t o f p hiloso ph y. For t h i s r ea s o n , Comte found
i t n e c e s s a r y t o study s e p a r a t e l y the e v o lu t i o n o f i n t e l l i g e n c e in
s c i e n c e and i n p h i l o s o p h y .
Theology, from t h e p o i n t o f view of phil oso p hy, i s e s s e n t i a l l y a
r e l i g i o u s s t a t e , acc ord in g to Comte.
All the a s p e c t s o f l i f e are regu­
l a t e d by r e l i g i o u s d o c t r i n e s . He h o ld s , however, t h a t e v o l u t i o n i s
gradual and c o n t i n u o u s , and t h a t t h eo logy i s not a uniform s t a t e .
It
a c t u a l l y c o n t a i n s t h r e e s u c c e s s i v e s u b - s t a t e s which i n s e n s i b l y prepare
man f o r p o s i t i v i t y .
They are f e t i c h i s m , p olyth eism and monotheism.
The f e t i c h i c s t a t e may f i r s t be o u t li n e d .
It i s necessary to s tr e s s
t h i s s t a t e , as Comte r e t a i n e d f e t i c h i s m in h i s P o s i t i v i s t i c r e l i g i o n ,
1 . Cours, I V , p . 8 8 5 .
2 . Tbtd.i I I I , P . 8 8 , aa d I V , p . 8 8 9 .
S . Ibid»i V I , p . 4 1 5 , s a l V I , p . 48P ; IV , p . 869.
4 . T b iX i V I, p p . '1 8 - 1 8 .
-F 7 and a l s o because, according t o h i s t h e o r y , i t s e v o l u t i o n e x p la in s the
g en era l e v o l u t i o n of human i n t e l l i g i e n c e .
Comte demonstrates a p o s t e r i o r i and a p r i o r i t h a t f e t i c h i s m rep re ­
s e n t s t h e i n i t i a l stage of a l l r e l i g i o n .
He s t a r t s from the premise
t h a t humanity f o ll o w s a n im a lit y in t h e l i v i n g h ie r a r c h y . Then he makes
t h e f o l l o w i n g claims f o r the higher animals: they are i n t e l l i g e n t and
have f e e l i n g s . 1 They have a c e r t a i n amount o f s p e c u l a t i v e a c t i v i t y , 8
and they animate t h e i r environment with a l i f e i d e r i t i c a l to t h e i r own.
In s h o r t, animals are f e t i c h i s t s , 8 according to Comte. How he argues
t h a t man i s superior t o animals in' i n t e l l i g e n c e , and he concludes that
humanity cannot begin any lower than where an im a li t y l e a v e s o f f .
Since
t h e higher animals are f e t i c h i s t s , man b e g i n s h i s e v o l u t i o n as a f e t i c h i s t too.
The founder o f P o s i t i v i s m remarks a l s o that i t i s l o g i c a l l y impos­
s i b l e t o con ce ive of a p r elim in ary s t a t e without r e l i g i o n . R e li g io n i s
t h e p r i m i t i v e form assumed by p h i lo s o p h y , and p hilos oph y i s the natural
product o f i n t e l l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y .
A s t a t e without r e l i g i o n , t h e r e f o r e ,
would mean a s t a t e without i n t e l l i g e n c e .
This i s an im p os sible surmise,
s i n c e humanity4 does not c r e a t e any t r a i t . Mankind i s i n t e l l i g e n t now;
i t had t o be i n t e l l i g e n t at th e o u t s e t .
Comte conclu des that man has
never been without r e l i g i o n .
He advances the idea t h a t f e t i c h i s m i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by s p o n t a n e i t y , 1'
u n i v e r s a l i t y , c o n c r e t e n e s s 8 of c o n c e p t i o n s , and by t h e in d i v i d u a l nature
o f i t s w o r s h ip . 7 He d i s t i n g u i s h e s two phases in the development o f a
t h e o r y , a p r i m i t i v e spontaneous and a f i n a l s y s t e m a t i c . Comparing the
i n i t i a l s t a g e o f human i n t e l l i g e n c e , f e t i c h i s m , 3 with i t s f i n a l s t a g e ,
P o s i t i v i s m , he avers that f e t i c h i s m i s man’ s spontaneous p h i l o s o p h i c a l
r e a c t i o n t o the ex te rn al world, w h i le P o s i t i v i s m i s h i s s ystem atic r e ­
a c t i o n . Poth are u n i v e r s a l s y n t h e s e s , inasmuch as they embrace both
man and th e world. Poth are s u b j e c t i v e , 9 because th ey both adopt the
human p o i n t of view. They d i f f e r o n l y i n one r e s p e c t 1 ; one i s ego­
c e n t r i c and a b s o lu t e , and e x p l a i n s t h e u n i v e r s e by ca uses and w i l l s ,
w h i l e th e other i s s o c i a l and r e l a t i v e , and e x p l a i n s i t by laws.
1.
Pol. , I , pp. 800, 808; I I , p. 849.
10. I& td ., I I , 32.
Moreover, i f we s to p t o co nsid er t h a t human n o t io n s have t o be
spontaneous beforfe t h e y can become s y s t e m a t i c , i t i s ev id e n t t h a t
f e t i c h i s m 1 i s man’ s spontaneous s y n t h e s i s , w h i le P o s i t i v i s m i s h i s
systematic.
Comte g o e s even f u r t h e r in h i s th eory.
He s t a t e s t h at
man’ s tendency i s t o use c a u s es whenever he cannot determine l a w s . 2
Many natural laws are s t i l l undiscovered. I t ensues t h a t f e t i c h i s m 8
has a p l a c e today in p h ilo s o p h y .
I t i s as n eces sary t o gr e a t minds
a s p o s i t i v i t y . Pursuing h i s idea t o i t s very end, Comte c l a i m s that
t h e r e i s a fundamental a f f i n i t y 4 between f e t i c h i s m and P o s i t i v i s m ,
because one adores m a t e r i a l s , w hile the other r e v e r e s p rodu cts.
The founder o f P o s i t i v i s m contends that f e t i c h i s m e v o lv e d in a
way which in i t s e l f was t y p i c a l o f the e v o l u t i o n of human i n t e l l i g e n c e .
As soon as t h e f a m il y was f u l l y c o n s t i t u t e d * ^ i t s e a r l y b e g in n i n g s ,
man spontaneously acquired the habit of worshipping h i s dom est ic
f e t i s h e s 6 and h i s a n c e s t o r s . 7 The permanent e s t a b li s h m e n t o f t h i s
worship r e v o l u t i o n i z e d human ways. Man was l o a t h to le a d a nomadic
l i f e , so fraught with hazards f o r h i s worship, and he adopted a seden­
t a r y mode of l i f e , 9 which insured gr eater s e c u r i t y t o h i s f e t i s h e s .
In consequence, he gave up h i s e a r l i e r way o f l i v e l i h o o d and took t o
t i l l i n g t h e s o i l . 9 A g r i c u l t u r e , once i n s t i t u t e d , modified r e l i g i o n
b ec au se i t bred new h a b i t s o f thought. Man observed the heavens,
and h i s f e t i c h i s m turned i n t o a s t r o l a t r y . This change, ac cording t o
Comte, was a m i l e s t o n e 10in t h e e v o lu t i o n of the human mind from the
p h i l o s o p h i c a l poin t o f view, because the animus l e f t e a r t h l y matter,
and withdrew t o t h e s t a r s , as soon as a s t r o l a t r y r e ig n e d ,
f i t h the
e x c e p t io n of a few o b j e c t s remaining animate, matter11 turned i n e r t .
Comte claim s t h a t the change from f e t i c h i s m to a s t r o l a t r y was
caused by the m etaphysical s p i r i t , namely, by the human f a c u l t y of
IS
a b s t r a c t i o n a t work. Man re co gn iz ed the bond of s i m i l a r i t y
t o be
found in n o n - i d e n t i c a l phenomena. A f e t i s h could not p e r t a i n t o s e v ­
e r a l b o d ie s a t once, s i n c e the fundamental ch ara ct er o f a f e t i s h i s
i t s individuality.
Accord ingly, when the animus had t o be d iv id ed
1. Synth. , p . 39.
Pol., IV, pp. 42- 43. TTr
8 . Ibid., i l , pp. *5-905 I I I , p p . 99, 77, 32-84; IV,
4. Ibid. , I l l ,
o. 119, a n l IV, pp. 39, 105; Cat., p.
5. Ibid., I l l ,
p. 109.
8. Cours, V, p . 46.
7. c o l. i I I I , p. i l l .
S. Ib id ., I I I , p. 112.
9 . Cours, V, p . 44..
tO. Ibid. , V, p . 50;'
11; Ib id ., V, pp. 5 1 -5 2 ..
T h ir i.' VV, W.
P o l . . I I ,. t>.
IS . Ibid.,
p . 540i
540; Pol.,
p. 94.
9.
^
p. 204
829.
-5 9 amo’ng s e v e r a l b o d i e s , f e t i c h i s m disappea re d. The f e t i s h e s o f s everal
groups were re p laced by an a b s t r a c t b e i n g , d i r e c t i n g t h e ensemble o f
phenomena from o u t s i d e . These b e i n g s , numerous at f i r s t , decreased
in number as i n t e l l i g e n c e progr es se d and more s i m i l a r i t i e s 1 were d i s ­
cover ed .
Comte a s s e r t s th a t t h e tra n sf o rm a t io n began with the more
g e n e r a l and independent phenomena,8 the i n f l u e n c e o f which was univer­
sa l.
The s t a r s 8 were f e t i s h e s at f i r s t , as they were adored as i n d i ­
v i d u a l s ; then th ey g rad u all y became gods.
As t h i s happened, th e gods
were endowed with power. So was f e t i c h i s m transmuted i n t o polytheism.
The same process of a b s t r a c t i o n l a t e r transformed p o ly th eis m 4 in t o
monotheism. Comte s e e s the i n f l u e n c e o f t h e metaphysical s p i r i t 5 behind
t h i s e v o l u t i o n , because i t e s s e n t i a l l y c o n s i s t e d in t h e transformation
o f c o n c r e t e l i f e i n t o i n e r t matter endowed with an a b s t r a c t property
which permitted i t t o r e c e i v e an impulsion from supernatural ag en ts.
I t may be noted in p as sin g t h at Comte’ s fondness f o r f e t i c h i s m
does not extend t o th e other two forms o f t h e o lo g y . He e s p e c i a l l y
d i s l i k e d monotheism. The l a t t e r , he f e l t , lacked th e spontaneity®
which endeared f e t i c h i s m to him. I t should be mentioned t h a t , for
Comte, the development o f t h e o lo g y r e p r e s e n t e d a d e c r e a s e 7 o f the
religiou s sp irit.
Comte dec la re d t h a t the law of t he t h r e e s t a t e s was u n i v e r s a l ,
and he p r o f f e r e d t h r e e types of argument in support of h i s a s s e r t i o n .
F i r s t , the law® a p p l i e s t o ontogeny as w e l l as t o phylogeny. The i n ­
d i v i d u a l r e c a p i t u l a t e s the i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n o f the r a c e . Child­
hood i s t h e o l o g i c a l , adoles ce nc e i s m eta p h y s ica l, and maturity alone
i s p o s i t i v e in i t s ou tlook.
Second, the law a p p l i e s t o a l l f i e l d s of
i n t e l l e c t u a l in q u ir y, t h at i s , t o a l l t h e s c i e n c e s . This poin t w i l l
b e d i s c u s s e d more f u l l y when a study i s made o f the law of c l a s s i f i ­
c a t i o n of t h e s c i e n c e s . 9 Third, i t a p p l i e s t o a l l t y p e s o f human
m a n i f e s t a t i o n , t o f e e l i n g s and v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y as w e l l as t o
thought.
This c o n d i t i o n i s due t o the f a c t t h a t cur i n t e l l e c t u a l
c o n c e p t i o n s 10 govern the e v o l u t i o n o f our h e a r t and of our a c t i v i t y .
Although the order of e v o l u t i o n i s unchangeable, the speed with
which the th ree s t a t e s succeed one another v a r i e s . Due t o environmental
1. Cours, V, p. 55.
p . Ib id .i V, pp. 55-58.
s.
4.
U i & i
Z>
**'52*
Tbtd. i V, p. 59.
5 . Ibid. i V* pp. 57-59, {>44-845; Dtsc. ; p . 1 6 .
0 . Pol.f I I I , p. 79.
I: C w l : ij p.*
IV, p. 851; Vol.i I I I , p. 199; l i n t . i p. i s .
9 . C f. p.
below .
10. Cours, IV, pp. 848-848, and o f. pp. 18-14.
-eoc o n d i t i o n s , 1 which Comte s t u d i e d in h i s s o c i o l o g y , some i n d i v i d u a l s
and some r a c e s reach t h e p o s i t i v e s t a t e b e f o r e o t h e r s .
Comte conceded t h a t th e law of the t hree s t a t e s was not an exact
r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e r e a l i t y in a l l i t s d e t a i l s , but he maintained
t h a t t h i s did not matter.
I t i l l u s t r a t e s f a i t h f u l l y th e general trend
o f human i n t e l l i g e n c e , and acco rd in g t o h i s b e l i e f t h a t i s s u f f i c i e n t ,
s i n c e s o c i a l p hiloso p hy i s i n t e r e s t e d only in r e s u l t a n t f o r c e s .
Comte did not p r e s e n t the th eory o f the law of the t h r e e s t a t e s
in i t s d e f i n i t i v e form in h i s e a r l y works. I t g rad ually developed as
he created h i s s o c i o l o g y and r e l i g i o n .
Although he mentions the i n ­
f l u e n c e of the p o s i t i v e and meta physica l s p i r i t s in the f i r s t volumes
o f the Cours, i t i s on ly with t h e l a s t th r e e tomes that he becomes fond
of fetichism .
As h i s thought turned toward r e l i g i o n , h i s p r e d i l e c t i o n
for t h i s increased.
In th e Synt hese only does he make i t an i n t e g r a l
part of p h il oso p hy. U n t i l then he was not w i l l i n g t o admit that the
human mind could not be s a t i s f i e d without cau s es.
This chapter may be summarized as f o ll o w s : The f i r s t law of in­
t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n i s t h e law o f the t h r e e s t a t e s , which de­
s c r i b e s the e v o l u t i o n o f i n t e l l i g e n c e from t heo logy to p o s i t i i v i t y ,
with an intermediary s t a t e o f m eta phys ics. Comte a s s e r t s th a t th ere
i s an a f f i n i t y between f e t i c h i s m , t h e i n i t i a l phase of th e f i r s t s t a t e ,
namely t h e o lo g y , and P o s i t i v i s m .
Fe tic hism and P o s i t i v i s m are the
two p o l e s of human t h ough t, one embodying the spontaneous form of
r e l i g i o n , th e oth er embodying t h e s y s t e m a t i c and e t e r n a l .
I t i s time now t o turn t o th e second law o f p o s i t i v e p h il o so p h y —
t he law of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f t he s c i e n c e s .
1.
Cours, IV, pp. PO9-21.0.
CHAPTER
Law
of
C la s s ific a tio n
III
of
the
Sciences
Comte c la im s t h a t s p e c i a l i z a t i o n and empiricism have c r e a t e d
chaos and anarchy in t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l r e a l m . 1 What i s needed i s "the
r a t i o n a l but s p e c i a l c u l t u r e o f the d i f f e r e n t branches o f natural
ph ilo so p h y under the p r e lim in a ry impulsion and predominating d i r e c t i o n
o f a g en er al system o f n o s i t i v e p h il oso p h y, a c t i n g a s - a common b a s i s
and uniform l i n k f o r a l l the t r u l y s c i e n t i f i c w o r k s . r? The need f o r
order and c o n t r o l i s so imper ativ e t h a t th e p h i lo s o p h e r must take upon
h i m s e l f the t a s k o f r e o r g a n iz in g human knowledge. He, and he alone
among t h i n k e r s , i s q u a l i f i e d f o r such an undertaking.
The s c i e n t i s t i s u n f i t f o r the t a s k , b ecause he i s acquainted with
only a s i n g l e f i e l d o f knowledge, and because he has become immured8
in i t .
The p h i l o s o p h e r , 4 on t h e c o n t r a r y , has s t u d i e d a l l the s c i e n c e s
and t a r r i e d with none. In consequence, he has an im p a r t i a l and general
view o f t h e ensemble. To him, and t o him a lo n e, should be d e le g a t e d the
t a s k o f b r i n g i n g order
i n t o the p res en t i n t e l l e c t u a l chaos. He has two
d u t i e s t o perform: f i r s t , he must s e l e c t the n o t io n s worthy o f being
k ep t, and second, he must c l a s s i f y t h e s e and c o o r d i n a t e them i n t o a
lo g ic a l system .5
Comte s t a t e d t h a t th e need for order was f e l t by p a st p h i l o s o p h e r s , 6
and t h a t th ey p r o f f e r e d c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s , but t h a t none had been l a s t i n g ,
b ec au se p o s i t i v i t y had
been l a c k i n g .
The cau ses o f f a i l u r e were o f two
sorts.
F i t h e r t h e p h il o s o p h e r s based t h e i r c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s on a r b i tr a r y
and metap hys ical f a c u l t i e s of t h e mind, or they co n s id ere d the s c i e n c e s
in t h e i r temporary i n f a n t i l e s t a t e , in s t e a d o f c o n s id e r in g them in
t h e i r p o t e n t i a l ad u lt s t a t e .
Comte o b se rv es t h a t a r a t i o n a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f the s c i e n c e s must
f i r s t s a t i s f y t h e demand o f a l l r a t i o n a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s , 7 which i s that
i t be based on a general p r i n c i p l e common t o a l l o b j e c t s , but varying
q u a n t i t a t i v e l y with each. Then, i t must f u l f i l l two c o n d i t i o n s imposed
by t h e nature o f s c i e n c e .
The f i r s t i s th a t i t be b u i l t on an et e r n a l
f o u n d a t io n , which cannot be a f f e c t e d by t h e s t a t e o f e v o l u t i o n o f human
1.
f>.
3.
4.
Cours,
Ibid. i
Ibid .i
Ib ii.i
VI, pp.
I I I , p.
I , pp.
I I , pp i
172, 897.
__
______
51.
15-16, ana VI, pp. 259-259.
859-859, n o te .
-e ? intelligence.
Fuch a f o u nd a t io n , p e r f o r c e , l i e s o u t s i d e Van’ s f a s t changing s c i e n t i f i c patrimony. Comte found i t in Nature h e r s e l f . 1 He
averred t h a t her phenomena are e x p r e s s i o n s o f a ch a n g e l e s s order. These
phenomena are a l l g e n e r a l , 7 and th ey vary as t o the degree o f g e n e r a l i t y
which they embody. Comte n o t e s t h a t each phenomenon8 p l a c e s i t s e l f spon­
t a n e o u s l y in dependence on th e phenomenon which precedes i t in g e n e r a l i t y .
A c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f t h e s c i e n c e s must f u l f i l l a second c o n d i t i o n ,
which i s t h at i t c o n s i d e r s the s c i e n c e s in t h e i r adult p o s i t i v e s t a t e ,
i n s t e a d of t h e i r p res en t embryonic c o n d i t i o n . Comte r e f e r s here t o the
p o t e n t i a l form o f the s c i e n c e s , namely to t h e i r nature, aim and method,
and not t o t h e i r c o n t e n t , t h a t i s , the laws which they w i l l e v e n t u a l l y
discover.
Comte did not pretend t o f o r e t e l l the future d i s c o v e r i e s o f
th e s c i e n c e s , but he thought he could t e l l a c c u r a t e l y what t h e i r i d e a l
forms were.
A c l a s s i f i c a t i o n which r e s p e c t s th ose i n j u n c t i o n s o f f e r s
a foundation which cannot be shaken by th e onslaught o f i n t e l l e c t u a l
advance.
Comte then proceeds t o study t h e nature o f human knowled ge, 4 and
he f i n d s t h a t i t i s o f two t y p e s .
I t i s e i t h e r s p e c u l a t i v e and t h e o r e t ­
i c a l , or ap p lied and p r a c t i c a l .
The l a t t e r , he a vers , i s e r e c t e d with
t h e data y i e l d e d by t h e former. He concludes that a l l p r a c t i c a l n o t i o n s
have t h e i r homologues in t h e o r y , and he r e s o l v e s t o exclude a p p lie d
knowledge from h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
Comte, a t t h i s p o i n t , makes a second r e s t r i c t i o n . He h o ld s th a t
t h e r e are two t y p es o f t h e o r e t i c a l s c i e n c e s . Some are "abstract and
g e n e r a l , and have as t h e i r o b j e c t t h e d i s c o v e r y of the laws which govern
t h e d i v e r s e c l a s s e s o f phenomena . . . w h i l e the o t h e r s, c o n c r e t e , par­
t i c u l a r , d e s c r i p t i v e . . . c o n s i s t in the a p p l i c a t i o n of t h e s e laws t o
t h e h i s t o r y o f e x i s t i n g b e i n g s . " 5 In s h o r t , the f i r s t deal with a b s t r a c t
la w s 8 and the second with c o n c r e t e b e i n g s .
Thus, general p h y s io lo g y i s
an a b s t r a c t s c i e n c e , w h i l e zoology and botany are c o n c r e t e . Comte s t a t e s
t h a t t h e f i r s t i s fundamental7 and the other two are d er ived from i t .
He r e c o g n i z e s t h a t c o n c r e t e s c i e n c e s a l s o c o n t a in laws, but he con ten d s8
t h a t a b s t r a c t laws are few i n number and fundamental, while t h e c o n c r e t e
are combinations o f t h e a b s t r a c t , and in consequence innumerable. Comte
1* <
f b HdS* I* p* 4s*
il Pol. > * I l t f Pp . 44S, ana o f . p .
5 1 , f o u r te e n th and f i f t e e n t h p r in o ip le s o f th e f i r s t
p h ilo so p h y .
'
4. Cours, I , pp. 34-39, and V I, p. 461.
5* * 5 i I , p . " 89*
8# ■
j ■la pp* ^ 3 * 8 ^ 41.
7. Cours, V I, p. 409.
Bm'Polm't 1, p. 4S5, a n i Ca£.> p . 99.
-F c-
a c c o r d i n g l y s t i p u l a t e s t h a t the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n w i l l bear on the a b s t r a c t
s c i e n c e s , and w i l l d isreg a r d the c o n cret e s c i e n c e s a l t o g e t h e r .
He undert akes the study o f the v a rio u s c a t e g o r i e s o f phenomena. He
a v e r s t h a t th ey are s p e c i f i c and i r r e d u c i b l e to one a n o t h e r , 1 and he ta kes
t h e i r i n v e n t o r y , 2 preparatory t o c l a s s i f y i n g them. This preliminary sur­
vey r e v e a l s t h a t one c a t egory, that o f s o c i a l phenomena,® has been o v er­
lo o k e d . B i o l o g y d e a l s with man as a l i v i n g organism, but no bona f i d e
s c i e n c e d e a l s with him as a s o c i a l c r e a t u r e . However, s o c i a l phenomena*
are s u i f e n e r i s and i r r e d u c i b l e t o the b i o l o g i c a l .
Hence they are en­
t i t l e d t o a s e p a r a t e study o f t h e i r own, and on t h e s t r e n g t h o f t h i s
o p i n i o n , Comte founded t h e h i t h e r t o i n e x i s t i n g s c i e n c e o f s o c i o l o g y .
There are in a l l s i x orders o f s p e c i f i c n at ur al phenomena, mathe­
m a t i c a l , a s tr o n o m i c a l , p h y s i c a l , chemical, b i o l o g i c a l and s o c i a l , and
s i x s c i e n c e s , a b s t r a c t and fundamental, corresponding t o t h e s e . Placed
i n t h e i r p o s i t i v e sequence, they are: mathematics, astronomy, p h y s i c s ,
c h e m i s t r y , b i o l o g y and s o c i o l o g y . This s e r i a l arrangement r e p r e s e n t s
t h e p o s i t i v e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the s c i e n c e s .
According to Comte, t h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n has f i v e ad vantages. The
f i r s t advanta ge1" i s th a t i t brings out the r e l a t i v e deg ree of i n t e r d e ­
pendence o f phenomena to be found in Nature, y a t h e m a t i c s i s c l a s s e d
f i r s t , and we n ote t h a t mathematical phenomena are s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t and
independent from a l l the o t h e r s . Astronomy i s p l a c e d d i r e c t l y a f t e r
A
mathematics, and we find t h a t astronomical phenomena are s u b j e c t to
mathematical laws b e s i d e t h e i r own, and t o no o t h e r .
P h y s i c s i s ranked
t h i r d , and we f i n d t h a t p h y s i c a l phenomena7 obey mathematical and
a s tr on om ical laws b e s i d e s t h e i r own, and no o t h e r .
In t h e same f a s h i o n ,
we f in d t h a t each of the f o l l o w i n g s c i e n c e s depends upon t h o s e preceding
i t and i s independent o f t h o se f o llo w in g i t .
When we reach s o c i o l o g y , we find that t h i s s c i e n c e i s dependent
upon t h e o t h e r f i v e and t h a t i t governs none. The p o s i t i o n o f s o c i ­
o l o g y 3 i s j u s t i f i e d r a t i o n a l l y by the f a c t t h at man has t o obey a l l the
laws o f N a t u r e , 9 and t h a t Nature would not be p e r c e p t i b l y a l t e r e d , were
man t o d is a p p e a r from her midst. Let us repea t: each s c i e n c e i s depend­
en t upon t h o s e prec ed in g i t and independent of t h o s e f o l l o w i n g .
1.
9
V* V 5 .
Pol.t I , p p . 39-40.
Cours, I , pp. 11—13, and IV, p . 95.
Ib id . , I, P. 53. . , TTT
Cat. > P. 93, and Pol., I l l , p. 43.
Cours, I I , pp. 13-14.
7. Ib id ., I I , p. 14.
9.
I b i d . i IV, p . 218.
9.
f t i S . ' II, P. 15, and I I I , p. 38.
2.
8.
4.
5.
6.
-eaComte, however, did not c o n s i d e r th is - m u t u a l dependence a tyranny,
and he s e t very d e f i n i t e l i m i t a t i o n s t o i t 1: "Although the l e s s genera l
phenomena are n e c e s s a r i l y accomplished under t h e unavoidable preponder­
ance of the more gen er al phenomena, t h i s subordination cannot a l t e r
t h e i r own laws in any way. Tt a l t e r s only t h e i r range and the duration
o f t h e i r m a n i f e s t a t i o n s . " The chemical phenomenon, for i n s t a n c e , i s
c o n d it i o n e d by the p h y s i c a l , but i t i s s p e c i f i c .
The s c ie n c e o f chem istry u t i l i z e s t h e f in d i n g s of p h y s ic s , and
through i t those o f mathematics and astronomy, but i t has a method and
a s p i r i t which d i f f e r e s s e n t i a l l y from t h o s e o f p h y s i c s . Were t h e chemist
t o use the method o f p h y s i c s e x c l u s i v e l y , he would have to do away with
t h e a r t o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n ® and the p r o c e s s o f a n a l y s i s and s y n t h e s i s ,
and h i s research would be i n e f f e c t i v e .
Comte c a l l e d materialism® the
encroachment of one s c i e n c e upon t h e n e x t , and he c o n s i s t e n t l y repeated
t h a t s c i e n t i s t s 4 were apt t o err t h i s way, e s p e c i a l l y geometers5 and
a l g e b r a i s t s who t r i e d t o dominate astronomy and p h y s ic s , p h y s i c is t s ®
who t r e s p a s s e d in t o ch em ist ry , and c h e m i s t s 7 who ventured i n t o b i o l o g y .
The second advantage of the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n ® c o n s i s t s i n i t s a p t i ­
tude t o i l l u s t r a t e the hie ra rchy which spontaneously ordains phenomena.
These vary as to g e n e r a l i t y , s i m p l i c i t y and a b s t r a c t i o n , or , a n t i t h e t ­
i c a l l y speaking, as to p a r t i c u l a r i t y , complexity and c o n c r e t e n e s s .
Comte remarks that the more gen er al phenomenon, that i s , t h e l e s s par­
t i c u l a r , has t o be the more s im p le 9 and the more a b s t r a c t , that i s ,
t h e l e s s complex and t h e l e s s c o n c r e t e . The phenomenon which comes
next in decreasing g e n e r a l i t y i s p e r f o r c e a l s o next in dec re asin g sim­
p l i c i t y and a b s t r a c t i o n , or in i n c r e a s i n g complexity and c o n c r e t e n e s s .
Comte s t a t e s that the s e r i a l arrangement o f th e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s such
t h a t i t r e s p e c t s t h i s n at ural h ie r a r c h y .
Mathematics,10 the f i r s t s c i e n c e o f the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , i s th e most
g e n e r a l , th e most simple and t h e most a b s t r a c t , namely, the l e a s t par­
t i c u l a r , t h e l e a s t complex and the l e a s t c o n c r e t e . In the same f a s h i o n ,
astronomy, t h e second s c i e n c e , i s l e s s g e n e r a l , l e s s simple and l e s s
a b s t r a c t than mathematics, but i s more so11 than p h y s i c s . And so on
Cours, IV, pp. 205-283.
p. Of. pp. 45-46, above.
5. Pol. * I I I , p. 48.
4 . Cours, V I, p. 497.
5 . I b i d . i V I, pp. 494, 493, 497; Pol.t I , p. 473.
6. Cours, V I, p. 500.
7. Ibid . , V I, pp. 503-507.
'
___
5. Tbid. t I , p . 58, and I I I , p. 385; Pol. < H I , p. 423.
9 . Cours, I , p. 49, and Cat. < p. 85.
1 0 i Cours, I , p . 63.
11. Ibid. i I , p . 50, and I I , p. 315.
1.
-e?-
down t h e s e r i e s ,
S o c i o l o g y , the l a s t s c i e n c e , i s t h e l e a s t g e n e r a l ,
t h e l e a s t sim ple and t h e l e a s t a b s t r a c t , or, to put i t d i f f e r e n t l y ,
t h e most p a r t i c u l a r , t h e most complex and t h e most c o n c r e t e o f t h e s i x .
Thus i t i s seen t h a t the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n has two p o l e s . - At one
end sta nds t h e s c i e n c e with the maximum g e n e r a l i t y , s i m p l i c i t y and ab­
s t r a c t i o n , and a t the other the s c i e n c e with the maximum p a r t i c u l a r i t y ,
c o m p le xit y and c o n c r e t e n e s s . Comte, at t h i s p o i n t , informs t h e student
t h a t t h e i n c r e a s e in phenomenal com plexity does not determine a decrease
in p o t e n t i a l s c i e n t i f i c achievement, because the means of i n v e s t i g a t i o n 1
exoand with th e co m p le x it y . The s c i e n c e which i s th e most complex has
at the same time the most means of i n v e s t i g a t i o n a t i t s d i s p o s a l .
Comte s t a t e s t h a t t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n a l s o b r i n g s out the harmonious
p r o g r e s s i o n which e x i s t s in th e two f u n c t i o n s of s c i e n c e , namely, p re­
v i s i o n 2 and m o d i f i a b i l i t y o f phenomena by man. The c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , he
m a in t a in s, shows th a t t h e s e two3 are complementary, and t h a t t h e r e i s
a d e c r e a s in g p r o g r e s s i o n in the case o f p r e v i s i o n and an i n c r e a s i n g one
in t h e i n s t a n c e o f m o d i f i a b i l i t y . 4 P r e v i s i o n reach es i t s peak in mathe­
m ati cs and i t s minimum in s o c i o l o g y , w hile t h e contrary i s t r u e for
m od ifiab ility.
Comte claim s th a t such a c o n d i t i o n i s l o g i c a l . The
sim pler a phenomenon i s , the l e s s laws have t o be taken i n t o account,
and th e e a s i e r i t i s t o p r e d i c t f u tu re phenomena. In a complex s c i e n c e ,
many laws have t o be co n s id e r e d , and i t i s harder t o compute t h e i r
resultant.
The r e v e r s e i s tr u e for m o d i f i a b i l i t y , b ecause th e nearer
a phenomenon i s t o man, th e e a s i e r i t i s 5 f o r him t o modify the gener­
a t i n g ca u se.
For t h i s reason , i t i s a b s o l u t e l y beyond man’ s power to
a l t e r mathematical c o n d i t i o n s , whereas i t i s w ithin h i s power t o modify
so cia l conditions.
Comte med itated on the question of m o d i f i a b i l i t y throughout h i s
e n t i r e c a r e e r , and he became convinced th a t human a c t i o n 6 i s l i m i t e d .
Van cannot a l t e r the s u c c e s s i o n o f modifiable phenomena, no matter what
they are; he can only a l t e r t h e i r i n t e n s i t y .
I t w i l l be seen l a t e r that
t h i s c o n cep t io n played a d e c i s i v e part in h i s th eory o f p o l i t i c a l
action.7
Comte s t a t e s t h a t the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n has a t h i r d advantage, th a t
of showing t h e order o f appearance9 of the s c i e n c e s and t h e i r subsequent
1.
p.
8.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Cours, I I , p . 7, and IV, p. 215.
Ib id ., I , o . 56.
Ib id . , I I I , pp. 82—34.
Pol. , I , p . 55.
n
Cours, VI, p . 499, a n i Pol. > I, pp. 2,9-30.
Pol.i I l £ pp. T r - v s r a t . pp. ©», 96, 101-102 below .
Cours, I , p . 55.
-eeattainment o f p o s i t i v i t y . 1 He b e l i e v e d , as we already know,? t h a t th ere
was an u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d s c i e n c e at the b egin nin g, and t h at the s i x s c i ­
en c e s sprang from t h i s common trunk. He contends now th a t t h e s e s i x
s c i e n c e s did not emerge s i m u l t a n e o u s l y .
"Fach branch of the s c i e n t i f i c
system severed i t s e l f from the common trunk when i t had assumed the d i ­
mensions warranting an i n d i v i d u a l c u l t i v a t i o n . " 9
The c l a s s i f i c a t i o n r e s p e c t s t h e c h r o n o l o g i c a l order in which the
s c i e n c e s not only made t h e i r appearance, but a l s o r e c e iv e d t h e i r p o s i ­
t i v e c o n s t i t u t i o n . 4 Comte deemed t h a t the h i s t o r y o f each s c i e n c e 5 was
an i n t e g r a l part o f p o s i t i v e p h i lo s o p h y , because i t shed l i g h t on th e
development o f the p h i l o s o p h i c a l s p i r i t .
He always devoted se v e r a l
pa ge s t o the h i s t o r y o f each s c i e n c e at t h e beginning of each book,
ani i t i s in t h e s e p ass ages t h a t he d i s p l a y s h i s grea t e r u d i t i o n and
breadth o f v i s i o n .
Comte s t a t e s that h i s t o r y shows the s c i e n c e s were not born p o s i t i v e ,
and th a t t h e i r development was c o n t r o l l e d by the law of i n t e l l e c t u a l
e v o l u t i o n . When the s c i e n c e s emerged from the common trunk as independent
b o d i e s , they were f i r s t t h e o l o g i c a l , t h e i r s p e c i f i c phenomena being ac­
counted for by the a c t i o n o f a superna tu ral power. Then,, l a t e r , a b s t r a c t
a g e n t s repla ce d th e gods. I t was on ly when the s c i e n c e s were ab le t o
r i d them selves o f a l l e n t i t i e s t h a t th ey became p o s i t i v e . Vathematics,
t h e f i r s t s c i e n c e of the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , was cr ea ted f i r s t , and became
p o s i t i v e with the a n c i e n t s .
Astronomy was cre a t e d by the Chaldeans and
became p o s i t i v e with the sc hoo l o f
Alexandria, although i t remained
rudimentary. P hysics was d i f f e r e n t i a t e d l a t e r than astronomy, and i t s
p o s i t i v e e v o l u t i o n was i n i t i a t e d by Kepler. Chemistry emerged from the
limbo of alchemy during the Vid dle Ages, and became p o s i t i v e when La­
v o i s i e r l a i d down the p r i n c i p l e s c f q u a l i t a t i v e and q u a n t i t a t i v e an aly­
s i s at the end of the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y . Biology was made p o s i t i v e at
t h e end of the e ig h t e e n t h and b e g in n in g of t h e n i n e te e n t h c e n t u r i e s by
Puffon , Cecffroy S a i n t - H i l a i r e , Linrig, J u s s i e u , Bichat and o t h e r s .
S o c i o l o g y , the l a s t s c i e n c e , was founded by Comte h i m s e l f , and, l i k e
Vinerva, i t came out f u l l y armed from the mind o f i t s p rogen ito r .
Comte p o i n t s cut t h a t the f a c t t h a t the s c i e n c e s reached t h e i r
p o s i t i v e s t a t e in t h i s sequence shows t h a t the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s a
i. Loc. cit.
p.
4 *.
C f.
p.
43
above.
\\ V a l o u r s , t, pp. 4 6 -4 7 , 55;
5. Cours, I I , pp. PS6-287.
Pol. , I I I , pp. 41-42.
-P 7-
"natural complement o f the law of t he t h r e e s t a t e s ,
upon i t f o r i t s very e x i s t e n c e . " 1
and i s dependent
fie cl aim s t h a t th e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f f e r s a fourth a d v a n t a g e , 2 that
o f conforming t o th e em p ir ic a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n c u r r e n t l y in use among
scien tists.
F i f t h l y , th e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s v a lu a b le from the ped agogica l view­
p o i n t . 8 I t determines th e order in which the s c i e n c e s must be s t u d i e s .
Comte maintains t h a t a stu den t cannot obtain a r e a l understanding o f a
s c i e n c e u n l e s s he has s tu d ie d t h o s e which precede i t .
This i s due to
th e f a c t t h a t th e phenomenon o f a given order i s dependent on t h o se
prec ed in g i t in t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
Chemical phenomena, f o r i n s t a n c e ,
are s u b j e c t t o mathematical, astronomical and p h y s i c a l i n f l u e n c e s . The
s tu d en t cannot acquire a c l e a r co ncep tio n of chemical f o r c e s u n l e s s he
understands the a c t i o n s t o which they are subjec ted ; nor can he d i f f e r ­
e n t i a t e them p rop erly from t h e more general f o r c e s , t h at i s , from the
astro nom ica l and t h e p h y s i c a l .
In order to be able to do t h i s , he needs
t o have a r e a l knowledge o f t h o se s c i e n c e s .
For another r ea s o n , i t i s neces sary for the student t o study the
s c i e n c e s in t h e i r p o s i t i v e order. The p o s i t i v e method cannot be taught
fo r m a lly , i n d e p e n d e n tly 4 o f the s u b j e c t - m a t t e r .
Each s c i e n c e , as we
al re ad y know,5 adopts a c e r t a i n mode and develops i t t o i t s f u l l p oten ­
t i a l i t y . Mathematics t e a c h e s deduction; astronomy, ob se r v a tio n ; p h y s i c s ,
ex perim entation; b i o l o g y , comparison; and s o c i o l o g y , the h i s t o r i c a l
method. Un les s t h e s tu dent has stu d ie d each p a r t i c u l a r s c ie n c e ,® he
w i l l not be acquainted pro perly with a l l th ose modes.
The c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s v a l u a b l e from the d i d a c t i c viewpoin t f o r
another rea son.
Comte h o ld s t h at the aspe ct assumed by th e s p e c i f i c
laws o f a s c i e n c e v a r i e s with the p o s i t i o n of the ob se rver. When exam­
i n e d 7 in t h e i r own f i e l d of d i s c o v e r y , they re p resen t a p o s t e r i o r i
t r u t h s , but when th ey are examined from that of a f o l l o w i n g s c i e n c e ,
they l o s e t h e i r a p o s t e r i o r i c h a ra ct er and become a p r i o r i axioms.
Thus, t h e p h y s i c i s t a c c e p t s without d i s c u s s i o n a l l astro nom ica l laws.
Hence, each science® i s a t o o l o f l o g i c f o r t h a t which f e l l o w s .
This
f a c t i s most important in edu catio n, and i t becomes ev id e n t t h a t the
1.
Cours,
p. Ibid..
3. Tbid.i
TV, p .
87p.
I, p. 54.
_ .
I , pp.
5 7-01, a n i V I, pp. 4PP-4P8; Cat. , p.
4 .C ours, I, pp. P1—PP, 59-59, ana IV, pp. 151-15P; Pot.i TV, pp. p O O - P O I j Tratte
d 'astronomie bobulaire, pp. 46-47.
8.* C o u r s * ' 'p ^ 5 9 ^ ° I l i pp. PP8-PP4, and IV, p. P77; Cat., pp. 105-1.06.
7 . Cours, IV, p.
2,92,and VI, p. 486; Pol., I , p. 44.
9 . Cours, I I , p.
P02.
,
-6 8 s tu d e n t cannot gain a mastery o f t h i s l o g i c a l instrument u n l e s s he
s t u d i e s t h e s c i e n c e s in t h e i r p o s i t i v e order o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
L a s t ly , the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i n d i c a t e s the e x t e n t t o which any given
s c i e n c e 1 must be s t u d i e d .
All the s c i e n c e s , except s o c i o l o g y , must be
c u l t i v a t e d only t o the e x t e n t t h a t humanity needs them, in order to
r i s e t o the next .
The f i v e advantages o f f e r e d by the p o s i t i v e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n have
been enumerated. Tt w i l l now be n e c e s s a r y t o turn chce more to the
Cours, in order t o o u t l i n e the s a l i e n t p o i n t s o f the Comtean e n c y c l o ­
p e d ia .
1.
Pol., I , pp. 471, 5S l.
CHAPTER
T he
Comtean
IV
Encyclopedia
of
the
Sc i e n c e s
I t w i l l be b e s t t o e x p l a i n at the o u t s e t why Comte spe nt so much
time on the s c i e n c e s , although he announced in the f i r s t l e s s o n 1 o f
the Cour3 t h a t t h e o b j e c t o f h i s t r e a t i s e was p o s i t i v e ph iloso p hy and
not p o s i t i v e s c i e n c e .
Pecause of t h e u l t i m a t e aim2 of p o s i t i v e p h iloso ph y, which was
s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , Comte could not do other wise than he d id . He
was compelled by l o g i c t o take a complete inventory o f the whole s c i ­
e n t i f i c domain. The r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f s o c i e t y i s not a t h e o r e t i c a l
affair.
I t i s e s s e n t i a l l y p r a c t i c a l in -nature; i t i s an a r t , and,
according t o Comte’ s c o n c e p t io n of a r t , 2 i t r e q u ir e s t h e support of
a p o s i t i v e a b s t r a c t s c i e n c e , t h a t i s , o f s o c i o l o g y . T her efo re , Comte
was bound by l o g i c not t o d e v i s e a p o s i t i v e s o a i a l ar t u n t i l he had
c r e a t e d the h i t h e r t o i n e x i s t e n t s c i e n c e of s o c i o l o g y .
This e x p l a i n s
why the Cours had to c o n t a i n a complete s o c i o l o g y . I t a l s o e x p l a i n s
why i t had t o c o n t a in an e n c y c lo p e d ia of a l l the other s c i e n c e s . The
p o s i t i v e method4 cannot be learned formally; i t has t o be lear ned
e m p i r i c a l l y , by s tu dy in g the method of the preceding s c i e n c e s o f the
classification .
S o c i o l o g y i s the l a s t s c ie n c e ; hence i t r e q u i r e s a
knowledge o f a l l t h e o t h e r s . For t h i s reason, Comte could not c r e a t e
a p o s i t i v e s o c i o l o g y u n t i l he had made a complete study of a l l t h e
oth er s c i e n c e s , and t h e Cours had t o co ntain an e n c y c l o p e d ia o f a l l
th e a b s t r a c t s c i e n c e s .
After d e f i n i n g the n o t i o n s of p o s i t i v i t y , s c i e n c e and p hiloso p hy,
and form ula ting h i s laws o f i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o rg a n iza g io n , Comte under­
took t o study s e p a r a t e l y each o f the s i x s c i e n c e s . He took g r e a t pains
t o p res en t an a c c u r a t e d e f i n i t i o n o f each one, contending that": "Fvery
s c i e n c e f a l l s sh o r t o f i t s d e f i n i t i o n ; but the use of a p r e c i s e and
s y s t e m a t i c d e f i n i t i o n i s n e v e r t h e l e s s the f i r s t symptom o f s c i e n t i f i c
c o n s i s t e n c y for a d o c t r i n e , and i t i s at the same time the b e s t means
t o measure i t s p r o g r e s s a c c u r a t e l y . "
After c a r e f u l l y f o rm u la tin g the o b j e c t of each s c i e n c e , he d i s ­
c u s s e s the natur e of the s p e c i f i c phenomenon which i t s t u d i e s .
Then
he d i s c u s s e s what he terms t h e "nature” of the s c i e n c e , which i s the
1. Cours,
I,
p.
13 .
P. Pol., I , Pp. 59-60, 189.
8. Of. pp. 42-48 above; Cours, TV, p p . ■95,■815. ■
4. Of. pp. 67-69 above.
5. Cours, I I I , p . 11.
-
39-
-7 0 degree o f p o s i t i v i t y i t has al re ady a t t a i n e d , and the degree which i t
can a t t a i n in the f u tu r e . Fe proceeds t o o u t l i n e i t s domain, and he
d e s c r i b e s i t s method and means o f i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Fe j u s t i f i e s i t s
rank in the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , and det er min es i t s r e l a t i o n t o the p re ­
ced in g and f o l l o w i n g s c i e n c e s , and t o n o s i t i v e philosophy as a whole.
Then he s p e c u l a t e s on i t s f u t u r e d i s c o v e r i e s , and on i t s i n f l u e n c e on
human w e l f a r e .
These c o n s i d e r a t i o n s b ein g completed, he c l a s s i f i e s the various
branches o f each s c ie n c e ac cording t o t h e i r r e l a t i v e degree o f a b s t r a c ­
t i o n . Fe examines the conten t o f each o f t h o s e branches under t h e i r
s t a t i c and dynamic a s p e c t s .
The s t a t i c a s p e c t o f a s c i e n c e i s r ep re­
s e n te d by the d e s c r i p t i o n o f c o n d i t i o n s o f production of the phenomenon,
and the dynamic aspe ct i s rep r e s e n te d by th e d e s c r i p t i o n of the phenom­
enon i t s e l f ; t h e s e two a s p e c t s 1 b eing i n t e r r e l a t e d and mutually explana­
tory.
F t a t i c s ? must precede dynamics. The s c i e n t i s t has f i r s t t o
determine fundamental c o n d i t i o n s o f e x i s t e n c e ; then, and not b efore,
i s he ab le t o a p p recia t e the s u c c e s s i v e phases of e x i s t e n c e .
Geometry i s the s t a t i c a l form of c o n c r e t e mathematics, while
mechanics i s i t s dynamical. B i o l o g i c a l s t a t i c s s t u d i e s the s tr u c t u r e
o f organs, while b i o l o g i c a l dynamics s t u d i e s t h e i r f u n c t i o n s . In the
more genera l domain of p h i l o s o p h y , 8 the law of t he t h r e e s t a t e s r ep re­
s e n t s t h e law o f p h i l o s o p h i c a l dynamics, and t h e law of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n
t h a t of p h i l o s o p h i c a l s t a t i c s .
Comte f u r t h e r advances th e id e a t h a t s t a t i c s i s the study o f order,
w h i l e dynamics i s that of p r o g r e s s ,
k d e f i n i t e r e l a t i o n l i n k s the one
t o the o t h e r . Fe claims t h a t p r o g r e s s i s t he development o f o r d e r . 4
Fe c o n s i d e r s t h i s p r o p o s i t i o n so important t h a t he makes i t one o f the
f i f t e e n p r i n c i p l e s 5 of h i s f i r s t p h il o s o p h y , and i t w i l l r e p e a t e d l y be
met with in h i s s o c i o l o g y , where i t p la y s a v i t a l p a r t .
I t i s not t h e w r i t e r ’ s i n t e n t i o n t o g i v e a complete summary o f
t h e Comtean en c y c lo p e d ia . Mention w i l l on ly be made of the p o i n t s
which are worthy o f a t t e n t i o n , e i t h e r because of t h e i r p h i l o s o p h i c a l
i m p l i c a t i o n s or because they are s t i l l open t o d i s c u s s i o n . We begin
with mathematics.
i . C tsc.> p . 39.
p. Cat.} p . 79.
p! i89*4»n4nP o l” ' l ? i , 1pI 5. T h is p r o p o s itio n w i l l b e an a ly se d l a t e r (o f .
p * SS9 ) •
5 . C f. p . S i above.
-71-
1. Mathematics
Comte makes t h e f o l l o w i n g a s s e r t i o n s : The o b j e c t o f m a t h e m a t ic s , 1
broadly speaking, i s th e i n d i r e c t measure o f magnitudes.
It con sists
in "determining one magnitude from another, by means of the ex a ct r e l a ­
t i o n s which e x i s t between them."2 The mathematical s p i r i t regards the
Q u a n t i t i e s p r e s e n te d by phenomena as mutual r e l a t i o n s which can be de­
duced from one a n o t h e r.
As th e r e i s no phenomenon which does not lend
i t s e l f t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n s o f t h i s t y p e , 8 Comte a s s e r t s t h a t , from the
r a t i o n a l point o f view, mathematics i s u n i v e r s a l .
He reminds us t h a t s c i e n c e has two i d e a l s , the one t o p r e s e n t a
p e r f e c t c o o r d i n a t i o n o f f a c t s , , and the other to s u b s t i t u t e r a t i o n a l
p r e v i s i o n f o r e m p ir ic a l o b s e r v a t i o n . Mathematics i s the most p e r f e c t
o f a l l the s c i e n c e s , because i t o f f e r s a c o o r d in a tio n of f a c t s and a
r a t i o n a l p r e v i s i o n second t o none.
Mathematics i s r a t i o n a l •throughout; but i t should not be i n f e r r e d
t h a t i t i s a d e d u c t i v e s c i e n c e a l t o g e t h e r . Because o b s e r v a t i o n of
n a t u r a l phenomena i s no longer needed in t h i s s c i e n c e , i t should not
be i n f e r r e d t h a t i t never was needed there. The o b s e r v a t i o n 4 o f ma­
t e r i a l t h i n g s gave man h i s f i r s t mathematical n o t i o n s . No a p r i o r i
t h in k i n g could have e l a b o r a t e d geometrical and mechanical da ta . More­
ov er, i n t u i t i o n s t i l l p l a y s an important part in the g e n e s i s of mathe­
m ati cal h y p o th e s e s . bop t h e s e reasons, mathematics5 w i l l always remain
an i n d u c t i v e s c i e n c e , in s p i t e o f i t s r a t i o n a l method of e x p o s i t i o n .
Comte a s s e r t s t h a t the mathematician must acc ep t e m p ir ic a l data
without s p e c u l a t i n g on t h e i r nature and o r i g i n . Buch s p e c u l a t i o n s , in
h i s judgement, would be metaphysical in ch ar ac ter .
Mathematics h o l d s an i n t e r n a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
I t i s spon ta neo usly
d i v i d e d i n t o a b s t r a c t and c o n c r e t e .
Abstract mathematics, coming f i r s t ,
i s re p resen te d by c a l c u l u s and i t s s u b d i v i s io n s , and c o n c r e t e mathe­
m atics i s r e p r e s e n t e d by geometry and mechanics.
The f a r t h e r from
c a l c u l u s th e branch t o be s t u d i e d i s , the l e s s a b s t r a c t , the l e s s gen­
e r a l and t h e l e s s sim p le i t w i l l prove t o be.
Concrete mathematics6 d i s c o v e r s the equation s which l i n k phenomena
t o one another, w h i l e a b s t r a c t mathematics s o l v e s t h o s e e q u a t io n s .
Comte i n f e r s t h a t c o n c r e t e mathematics i s dependent
an t h e nature of
\
p. 7l; In tha tra n sla tio n of 3. H. Leirea,Comte's Philosophy
Fexences^p.
^
_ vi, p. 897; Pol., rv, p . 9 0 4 ; Cat., p. 113.
4. Cours, I , p. 63, and PoZ., IV, pp. 901-909.
5. Cours, I , p. 76; Pol., I , p . 464; and ^ a f ., p. 1,00.
6. Cours, loc. e x t.; Pol., lo t. e x t.; Cat., loe. ext.
9!
of the
phenomena, and he d e f i n e s the mathematical phenomenon as f o ll o w s : All
n a t u r a l phenomena, whether a s tr o n o m i c a l , p h y s i c a l , chem ical, b i o l o g i c a l
or s o c i o l o g i c a l , take p la c e in space or in tim e. Therefore, they are
a l l e i t h e r geometrical or mechanical. Hence, any phenomenon, when con­
s id e r e d from the s p a t i a l or temporal v ie w p o in t, i s mathematical. In
conseauence, concr et e mathematics a p p l i e s t o a l l orders of natural
phenomena, and i t i s u n i v e r s a l .
Calcu lu s, c a l l e d mathematical a n a l y s i s in i t s advanced form, i s
u n i v e r s a l because "any qu es tio n can always be con sid er ed as c o n s i s t i n g
o f th e determination of one q u a n tit y from another, according to given
relations.
Fence, a l l q u e s t i o n s are r e d u c i b l e to a simple computation
o f f i g u r e s . " 9 Analysis or a b s t r a c t mathematics d i f f e r s in nature from
c o n c r e t e mathematics, inasmuch as c o n c r e t e mathematics s t i l l r e t a i n s
the c h a ra ct er of an "experimental, p h y s i c a l and phenomenal s c i e n c e , "
w h ile a b s t r a c t mathematics i s " l o g i c a l and r a t i o n a l . " 8
A n aly sis , as part of a b s t r a c t mathematics, comes before concrete
mathematics in the i n t e r n a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the branches of the
sciences.
I t s p r i o r i t y , however, i s l o g i c a l and not g e n e t i c . Geometry
and mechanics were d isco v er ed b e f o r e a n a l y s i s , and the l a t t e r o r ig in a te d
in l o g i c a l deductions drawn from g eo m etrica l and mechanical s p e c u l a t i o n s .
Pecause th e mathematical phenomenon i s the substratum o f a l l
n a t u r a l phenomena, mathematics4 i s the foundation o f a l l conceptual
thinking.
"The more general and a b s t r a c t part of mathematics may be
c o n s i d e r e d , in i t s v a s t ensemble, as a s o r t o f immense accumulation
o f l o g i c a l means prepared f o r the u l t e r i o r needs of deduction and c o ­
o r d i n a t i o n of the d iv e r s e s c i e n t i f i c c a s e s . " 8 The formal Logic of
A r i s t o t l e , as a method for a t t a i n i n g t r u t h , does not e x i s t , because
i t i s im p o s s ib l e t o sever the form o f th ought6 from i t s c o n t e n t. The
on ly
a v a i l a b l e l o g i c 7 i s mathematical l o g i c .
I t should
be noted here
t h a t Comte con sid er ed mathematics9 th e "spontaneous c r a d l e o f r a t i o n a l
p o s i t i v i t y . " In other words, mathematics, f o r Comte, i s the c r e a t o r 9
o f t h e p o s i t i v e method. He b e l i e v e d mathematics to be the
id e a l
s c i e n c e , because o f i t s s i m p l i c i t y 10 andp e r f e c t i o n , and he contended
1 . Cours, I , p. 6 1 .
9. Cours, I , p. Si.
tb e
la
_
I.* I ^ l a ' t o ' b p ' n o t e a ^ h e r e ^ h a t t f i e ^ r e n s h d i f f e r e n t i a t e b e t w e e n les mathimtiques,
m a t h e m a t i c a l s o i e n o e s , a n i la mthemtxque, t h e m a t h e m a t i c a l l o g i c . F o r C o m t e ,
mathtmatique a n d n o t les mathematiQues w o u l d o o n s t i t u t e f o r m a l l o g i c .
Cours, VI, pp. 467 and 494.
Qf. p. 67 above.
Cours, I , pp. 81, 61.
Ibid. i VI, p. 428; Vol., I , PPi 4a, 461.
Cours", I , ’ p . 89, a n d VI, p . 467: Opus, i p. j l 8 l .
10. 6ours, 1 , pp. 72, 80-81, a n d Poi.> IV, p. 906.
5.
6.
7.
9.
9.
t h a t i t would always r e p r e s e n t the b e s t s c h o o l 1 o f t h e o r e t i c a l p o s i ­
tiv ity .
Comte mentioned t h a t the u n i v e r s a l i t y of c a l c u l u s was s t r i c t l y
t r u e from the t h e o r e t i c a l p o in t o f view, but that i t was only p a r t i a l l y
so from the p r a c t i c a l . 2 The reason f o r t h i s p r a c t i c a l i n f e r i o r i t y i s
t h a t we are not always ab le to e s t a b l i s h eq u atio ns.
I t i s easy t o
e s t a b l i s h eq u a t io n s in astronomy and in p h y s i c s , but i t becomes i n ­
c r e a s i n g l y d i f f i c u l t t o do so in chemistry, and i t i s a l t o g e t h e r im­
p o s s i b l e 8 in th e o r g a n ic world. Our d i f f i c u l t i e s spring from s e v e r a l
sources.
In some c a s e s , our power o f obse rv at ion i s too slow f o r the
f a s t - c h a n g i n g nature o f phenomena, o f the v i t a l e s p e c i a l l y ; in o t h e r s ,
too many f a c t o r s 4 are i n t e r a c t i n g . VanTs l i m i t e d i n t e l l i g e n c e cannot
d e v i s e the complex e q u a t io n s which would ex pres s t h e i r r e s u l t a n t s .
Hence, he cannot always e s t a b l i s h eq u a t io n s . Comte remarks at t h i s
p o i n t t h a t e s t a b l i s h i n g an equation i s only the f i r s t s t e p , and th a t
f i n a l s u c c e s s depends upon our a b i l i t y to s o l v e i t .
He s t a t e s th a t
our i n t e l l e c t u a l a b i l i t y t o co n c e iv e new e q u a t io n s 5 i s a gr eat deal
l a r g e r than are our r e s o u r c e s t o answer them. We can o f t e n e s t a b l i s h
eq u a t io n s which we cannot s o l v e . Comte concludes by averring t h a t
mathematical a n a l y s i s i s not u n i v e r s a l from the p r a c t i c a l p o in t of
view.
A few words may be s a id about Comtean geometry. Comte s t a t e s
t h a t t h i s s c i e n c e measures e x t e n s i o n . 6 All i t s data come7 from ex per p
i e n c e . The geometer c r e a t e s an i d e a l and ab st r a c t space” in which he
t r a n s p o s e s t h e s e and s t u d i e s them. Comte observes t h a t t h i s i d e a l
space (which he does not wish t o have confused with the metaphysical
space of the p h i l o s o p h e r ) s t i l l s m e l l s of i t s e a r t h l y o r i g i n .
"Sur­
f a c e s and l i n e s are s t i l l conce ived with three dimensions. In f a c t ,
i t would be im p o s s i b le t o form a mental image o f a l i n e other than an
ex tremely t h i n t h r e a d . " 9 This f i c t i t i o u s space i s o f grea t v a l u e t o
t h e geometer, because i t enables him t o study h y p o t h e t i c a l or s i m p l i ­
f i e d forms.
D e s c a r t e s 1° i s t h e f a t h e r of modern geometry. Py showing t h a t
forms could be exp re sse d by e q u a t io n s , he made i t p o s s i b l e f o r modern
1.
?.
g.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Cours, I I , P. 217, IV, p.2,90, and VI, p. 466} Opus., p. 181.
Cours, I , pp. 74, 98-87.
Ibid ., VI, p p .'897-899; Opus., p. 123.
Cours, I I , p . 217.
Ibid., I , p. 111.
Ibid ., I , p p . 1 9 4 , 1 9 9 .
Ib id i, I , p. 193.
-7 4 geometers t o r i s e to the con cep tio n o f n o t i o n s 1 not thought o f by the
ancients.
Comte s t u d i e s mechanics. This branch o f the s c i e n c e i s divided
i n t o a b s t r a c t or r a t i o n a l and c o n c r e t e .
In a b s t r a c t mechanics, we a s ­
sume t h a t a l l b o d i e s 1 are i n e r t , and t h a t the f o r c e s which act upon
them come from without, w h ile we r e s t o r e a c t i v e p r o p e r t i e s to them in
c o n c r e t e mechanics. The s c i e n t i s t en counters insurmountable d i f f i c u l t i e s
when he t r i e s to apply the p r i n c i p l e s 2 o f a b s t r a c t mechanics to concrete
cases.
Our l i m i t e d i n t e l l e c t u a l power cannot cope with the complexity
and m u l t i p l i c i t y o f natural f o r c e s .
At p r e s e n t , a b s t r a c t mechanics has
o n ly one a p p l i c a t i o n , which i s t h a t o f g r a v i t y 8 in p h y s i c s .
Rat ional or a b s t r a c t mechanics i s founded on t h r e e laws disco ver ed
by o b s e r v a t i o n . 4 They are K e p le r ’ s law o f i n e r t i a , ' Fewtori’s law of
a c t i o n ani r e a c t i o n , 8 and G a l i l e o ’ s law o f independence or of c o e x i s t e n c e
7
o f movements.
Vechanics d i s t i n g u i s h e s two o r d e r s , 9 t h e s t a t i c a l and the dynamical.
P f e t i c s s t u d i e s the c o n d i t i o n s of e q u i lib r i u m , and dynamics th ose o f
movement. The one9 does not reckon with time, and the other does.
Hence the former i s more sim ple than the l a t t e r .
Pecause of i t s g rea t er
s i m p l i c i t y , s t a t i c s was d is c o v e r e d b e f o r e dynamics. The a n c ie n t s ( e . g . ,
Archimedes) acquired a knowledge o f some fundamental t r u t h s r e l a t i v e to
t h e e q u il ib r iu m of f l u i d s , 10 w hile they remained ignorant o f dynamics.
A b r i e f e x p o s i t i o n has been g i v e n o f Comte’ s t h e o r i e s on mathe­
m a t ic s , as th ey are to be found in the f i r s t tome of the Cours, w ritte n
in 18P0. When he wrote t h e S y n t h e s e , in 19PP, h i s i d e a s had evo lved.
Pome o f h i s s c i e n t i f i c n o t io n s had changed, and he had introduced some
P o s i t i v i s t i c or m y s t i c o - e t h i c a l n o t i o n s .
F i r s t , h i s general a t t i t u d e toward mathematics i s modified. In
t h e Cours, he had co n sid ere d th e development o f mathematics as y e t i l ­
l i m i t a b l e , while in th e Synt hes e he c o n s i d e r s i t s domain i r r em ed ia b ly ..
cir c u m s c r ib e d , and "deems the e l a b o r a t io n o f the s c i e n c e t erm inated ."
The mathematician i s not to make any more d i s c o v e r i e s , and h i s mission
i s one o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and o f ed u c a t io n .
1.
2.
S.
4.
5.
6.
7.
9.
•9.
10.
11.
Cours, I , pp.
818-214, ana Synth., p. 78.
Cours, I, p. 805; Pol., I , p. 426.
Cours, pp. 848-849.
807, 810-811.
Ib id ., f , pp.
Ib id ., T,
806-809; Cat.,
Cat., p.p. 115,
115, ani Pol., I , p. 498.
Ibid.,
T,PP.
PP. 806-809;
Cours, I , pp. 809-810; Cat., p. 1 1 6 , ani Pol., T, p. 498.
Cours, I , pp. &10-817; Cat., p. 1 1 6 , ani Pol., I, p. 498.
Qours, I , p. 8 1 8 .
Ibid., I , pp. 819-328.
Ib id ., I , pp. 319-322.
Synth., p. xvii.
-7 F A.mong the new r a t i o n a l n o t io n s o f Comte th e r e i s to be found an
emphasis on th e l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n 1 o f mathematics, to the detriment o f
i t s independent s c i e n t i f i c r S l e .
He went so far as t o change t h e name
of mathematics f o r t h a t o f L ogic, and the s u b - t i t l e o f the Synt hSse,
Syst&me i e l o i l q u e p o s i t i v e ou Tratt'e i e Pht l os ophi e mat ni matl que, i s
i n d i c a t i v e o f t h i s new o r i e n t a t i o n .
At the same time, he s t r e s s e s the
i n t u i t i v e and e m p ir ic a l o r i g i n o f mathematical d i s c o v e r i e s 5 and the
i n d u c t i v e n a t u r e 5 o f mathematical s c i e n c e more than he had done in the
lours.
Among the e t h i c a l a d d i t i o n s , th e r e i s found the n o t io n t h a t mathe­
m atics i s an instrument o f e t h i c a l d i s c i p l i n e . Comte b e l i e v e s t h a t the
study o f mathematics d e v e lo p s s t a b i l i t y o f c h a r a c t e r 4 and r e s i g n a t i o n 5
in the f a ce o f the u n a l t e r a b l e and in e sc a p a b le laws o f the e x t e r n a l
world. Fuch a d i s c i p l i n e , in h i s e s t i m a t i o n , e f f e c t i v e l y c o u n t e r b a l­
ances the c o n c e i t and arrogance engendered by the c u l t i v a t i o n o f a
s c ie n c e p res en te d d e d u c t i v e l y .
Comte’ s mysticism in trod uce d s e v e r a l new t h e o r i e s . The most im­
p ortan t of a l l i s t h e s u b j e c t i v e t h e o r y of numbers. According t o t h i s
t h e o r y , 8 the f i r s t seven numbers have a p h i l o s o p h i c a l and r e l i g i o u s
sign ifican ce.
The f i r s t t h r e e prime numbers, one, two and t h r e e , are
sacred because "a p r o g r e s s i o n i s r e a l l y normal only i f i t be reduced
t o t h r e e terms.
A. combination cannot ever admit more than two el em en ts ,
a r a t i o being always composed o f two terms and a s y n t h e s i s becoming
i l l u s o r y when i t o r i g i n a t e s from more than one p r i n c i p l e . ”7
The numbers f o l l o w i n g t h e s e t h r e e , although not s acr ed , n e v e r t h e ­
l e s s enjoy s p e c i a l d i s t i n c t i o n s .
The number fou r8 co n tri buted t o th e
c r e a t i o n of c a l c u l u s by t e a c h i n g t h a t two plu s two i s equal t o t h r e e
p l u s one. Five i s t h e s o c i a l number.
’’I t s cddness shows i t s a p t it u d e
t o s o l v e c o l l e c t i v e c o n f l i c t s when two cou ples gather under a s i n g l e
c h i e f t a i n . ”9 For s i m i l a r and e q u a l l y s u r p r is i n g re asons, s i x and seven
have a domestic v a l u e .
Q
Comte recommended the i n s t i t u t i o n o f a se pte n at e numeration, on
t h e ground t h a t t h e human mind cannot gain an i n t u i t i v e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n
1.
2.
8.
4.
5.
6.
7.
q9.
9.
10.
Synth. , pp. v l, 58; Pol., IV, p. 206.
Svnth., p. 198.
Ibid.i p. 263, ani Cat. * p. lOO.
Synth. ■, p. -889.
Ibid. >pp. tOO, 627.
Ibid., pp. 106 f f .
Ibid., p. 109, a n l Pol., I l l , p. 1 8 0 .
' Cu-ifc..
$ynth., on.
pp. 109-110.
109-110.
Ibid., p. 110.
Ibid., pp. 127, 146.
N E W YORK U N IV E R S IT Y
S C H O O L O F E D U C A T IO N
o
LIB R A R Y
•
-7 eo f numbers high er than seven, and f o r the same reason he advocated
septenate c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s .
The Comtean t h e o r i e s of mathematics may now be summed up. F i r s t ,
mathematics i s a n at ur al s c i e n c e . I t s o r i g i n a l data are e m p ir ic a l,
and i t i s an i n d u c t i v e s c i e n c e . Second, i t i s u n i v e r s a l . All natur al
phenomena can be co n s id e r e d r e l a t i o n s , and mathematics i s u n iv ersa l
log ic.
2. Astronomy
Next t o be o u t l i n e d i s Comte’ s co n cep tion o f astronomy. He s t a t e s
t h a t astronomy1 i s the s c i e n c e o f heavenly b o d i e s . R ational explora ­
t i o n 5 i s l i m i t e d t o v i s u a l o b s e r v a tio n . Hence, t h e on ly knowable a s t r a l
p r o p e r t i e s are t h o s e o f forms, d i s t a n c e s , magnitudes and movements. The
A
astronomer must g i v e up a l l s p e c u l a t i o n s concerning the c r e a t i o n of the
heavens and t h e in t i m a t e nature of t h e cosmos. He must be s a t i s f i e d
with t h e study o f i t s t r a n s f o r m a t io n s . The o b j e c t o f astronomy i s ”the
d i s c o v e r y o f t h e laws o f the g eo m et ri ca l and mechanical phenomena pre­
s e n t e d t o us by the heavenly b o d i e s . ”4 In s h o r t , astronomy5 i s the
d i r e c t a p p l i c a t i o n o f c o n c r e t e mathematics. Because o f i t , and a l s o
b ecause th e astro nom ica l phenomenon i s i n f i n i t e l y remote from us, as­
tronomy8 has an a p r i o r i c h aracter, and i s almost as a b s t r a c t as mathe­
matics.
Comte ave rs t h a t astronomy f u l f i l l s two f u n c t i o n s , a p r a c t i c a l and
a theoretical.
The p r a c t i c a l 7 c o n s i s t s in p r e d i c t i n g with c e r t a i n t y the
a c t u a l s t a t e o f the heavens at a more or l e s s d i s t a n t f u t u r e p e r i o d .
Huch a knowledge i s req uired by c e r t a i n o c c u p a t i o n s , a g r i c u l t u r e and
n a v i g a t i o n in p a r t i c u l a r .
I t may be noted her e t h a t , f a i t h f u l t o h i s
u t i l i t a r i a n c o n cep t io n o f s c i e n c e , Comte upholds f o r astronomy the r e ­
s t r i c t i o n 8 which he imposed on s c i e n c e , and he e n j o i n s the astronomer
t o l i m i t h i s e x p l o r a t i o n t o the s o l a r s y s t e m . 9 He c la im s t h a t t h e
s c i e n t i s t would be wasting h i s time, were he t o attempt an i n v e s t i g a ­
t i o n o f th e s i d e r e a l syst em s. For one t h in g , no wo rt h-while f a c t s
co n cern ing the s t a r s l y i n g beyond our s o l a r system ca n-b e d i sco v er ed .
We cannot c a l c u l a t e s i d e r e a l d i s t a n c e s and magnitudes.
For another,
2!
id.> 11^ p. 7. Comte was oonvinoed th a t speotral analysis of heavenly bodies
was impossible.
8. Ibid.i I I , pp. 193-191.
. .
4 . a. H. Lewes, Comte'sPhilosophy
of the Sciences, p. 76.
6. Cours, I I , pp. 9-9, 800; VI,pp. 890, 4 7 1 , 491; C at., pp. 1 1 2 ,
119.
Cours, VI, pp. 491-492.
7. lb\d.t I I , p. 11.
I*. Cour^V Ilf~ pp.a4-7*‘ 99; VI, pp. 498-498; Cat. i p. 1 2 0 ; Pol.t I , pp. 506-512.
10. Cours, I I , pp. 58-58, 55.
-7 7 adm itting t h a t knowledge might be gained, i t would be u s e l e s s , because
our p l a n e t 1 i s not a f f e c t e d by e x t r a - s o l a r bodies .
Astronomy performed a most important t h e o r e t i c a l m i s s i o n . 3 I t gave
t h e f i r s t n o t i o n 8 o f n a t u r a l law, and i t emancipated t h e human mind from
t h e o lo g y . The d i s c o v e r y o f th e motions o f the e a r t h 4 s h a t t e r e d the
anthropocentriC view o f t h e u n i v e r s e and th e b e l i e f in f i n a l c a u s e s .
Astronomy5 was th e b a t te r in g - r a m which made the f i r s t breach in the
t h e o l o g i c a l s tr o n g h o ld .
As p o s i t i v e philosophy d e s t r o y s only when i t
can r e b u i l d , i t r e p la c e d t h o s e c o n c e i t e d t h e o l o g i c a l n o t i o n s by a stimu­
l a t i n g f e e l i n g o f i n t e l l e c t u a l p r i d e 6 in human i n t e l l i g e n c e . Comte
mentions t h a t astronomy i s the only s c i e n c e completely f r e e from th eo­
l o g i c a l and metaphysical i n t e r f e r e n c e 7 at the pre sen t tim e.
Comte’ s astronom ical d o c t r i n e did not change g r e a t l y through the
y e a r s . However, as h i s u t i l i t a r i a n conception o f s c i e n c e became narrower,
he en jo ined th e astronomer t o r e s t r i c t h i s e x p lo r a t io n t o the f i v e l a r g e
p l a n e t s o f the s o l a r system, and t o th e e a r t h ’s s a t e l l i t e .
3. Phys i cs
Comte b e g i n s h i s e v a l u a t i o n o f p h y s i c s by d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g the phys­
i c a l phenomenon9 from the ch em ical. This done, he d e f i n e s the o b j e c t
o f the s c i e n c e .
I t i s t h e study o f "the laws which govern the genera l
p r o p e r t i e s o f b o d i e s o r d i n a r i l y viewed in t h e i r mass, and c o n s t a n t l y
p l a c e d in ci rcu m st ances c ap ab le o f maintaining i n t a c t t h e com position
o f t h e i r m o le c u le s , and most f r e q u e n t l y even t h e i r s t a t e o f a g g r e g a t i o n . ”8
This s c i e n c e made important c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o p o s i t i v e p h ilo s o p h y . I t
d e a l t a blow9 t o t h e o l o g y . Natural phenomena i n a c c e s s i b l e t o man in
astronomy became m o d if i a b l e by him in p h y s i c s , and t h i s inher en t modif l a b i l i t y d e s tr o y e d th e awe i n s p i r e d in man by Natu re ’ s s e c r e t f o r c e s .
With the awe went the r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s . P h ysic s a l s o fought meta­
physics.
I t s f i e l d has been t h e arena in which t h e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t 10
began i t s war a g a i n s t meta physica l c a u s e s .
Comte p ro ce ed s t o an a l y z e the method o f p h y s i c s .
Hes t a t e s t h a t
obse rvation11 i s r i c h e r in p h y s i c s than in astronomy, because
i t i s no
1.
g.
8.
4.
5.
S.
7.
Cours,
Ibid. i
-0)ld»i
Ibid.,
Cours,
Ibid.,
Ibii.t
II,
II,
VI,
II,
II,
II,
TO,
II*
Sciences, p. 97.
1 0 . Qours, I I ,
l±. lb td .i I I ,
pp. 1*79, 199-200.
pp. 16-17.
p. 472*
d i
t
pp. 97-93, and VI, p. 140; Pol., I , p. 508.
p. 2 1 6 .
p. 39.
pp. 10, 18, 110.
p?*208f in the tra n s la tio n of 3. H. Lewes, Conte's Philosophy o f the
_
p. 222.
p. 221, and I I I , p. 289.
-7 8 lo n g e r r e s t r i c t e d t o v i s i o n .
Comparison,1 on the )ther hand, does not
y i e l d more r e s u l t s than in t h e pre ce din g s c i e n c e , because p h y sic a l f a c t s
are almost as simple and as gen er al as th e a s tr o n o m i c a l . As for e x p e r i­
m en ta tio n, i t ac qu ires such an e x t e n s i o n t h a t i t i s t h e mode of exp lo ra ­
t i o n o f p h y s i c s par e x c e l l e n c e , and p h y s i c s i s r i g h t l y termed the ex ­
p erim en ta l s c i e n c e . For t h i s reason, p h y s i c s t e a c h e s experimentation*
as no oth er s c i e n c e can, and i t s study i s i n d i s p e n s a b l e t o the student
o f p o s i t i v e philosophy.
Comte aver s t h a t hypotheses are the n e c e s s a r y t o o l o f an experimental
mode o f e x p l o r a t i o n . P h y s i c s , being above a l l an experimental s c ie n c e ,
has more need o f hypotheses than has any oth er s c i e n c e . For t h i s reason,
Comtje in corp orated h i s t h e o r y of p o s i t i v e h y p o t h e s e s 8 i n t o h i s book on
p h y s i c s , although he averred t h a t i t was a gen er al theory applying t o
a l l the sc ie n c e s.
In 1842, in th e l a s t volume of t h e Cours, and not b e f o r e , he per­
m it t e d p h y s i c i s t s t o make use of t h e m olecu lar h y p o t h e s i s 4 because of
i t s l o g i c a l convenience; but n e v e r t h e l e s s he deplored the p e r s i s t e n t
m e ta p h y s i c a l p r o p e n s i t i e s of the modern s c i e n t i s t s .
They ap pre ciat e
t h e s t u p i d i t y o f ex p la i n in g s c i e n t i f i c laws by the p res en ce o f a c t i v e
a g e n t s ; but th ey s t i l l t r y to ex p l a in t h e i n t i m a t e nature o f ph ysi ca l
phenomena. They invented an undulatory th eory o f l i g h t , and account
f o r e l e c t r i c a l m a n if e s ta t io n s by a m yst eriou s f l u i d . 5
Comte e v a l u a t e s the part played by mathematics6 i n p h y s i c s , and
he shows t h a t i t r e c e i v e s more a p p l i c a t i o n s i n t h e l a t t e r than in any
o t h e r s c i e n c e , g i v i n g the laws of o p t i c s and thermodynamics as pro ofs.
Af ter a n a ly zin g the method o f p h y s i c s , Comte s t u d i e s i t s composi­
t i o n , and he d e c l a r e s h im self t o be forced to admit t h a t p h y sic s i s
i n f e r i o r t o t h e other s c i e n c e s in r e s p e c t t o homogeneity. Phys ics does
not have i n t e r n a l u n it y.
While th e other s c i e n c e s p o s s e s s one s p e c i f i c
phenomenon, p h y s i c s 7 owns f i v e which are s p e c i f i c , heterogeneous and
i r r e d u c i b l e t o one another. Placed in t h e i r order of decreasing gen­
e r a l i t y , th ey are th ose o f weight, h eat , l i g h t , sound and e l e c t r i c i t y .
MIn s p i t e o f a l l a r b it r a r y s u p p o s i t i o n s , the phenomenon of l i g h t w i l l
always c o n s t i t u t e a s ut i e n e r i s c ategory n e c e s s a r i l y i r r e d u c i b l e to
1. Cours, I I , p. 509.
n
g. Ib id ., m 'p . 558, and VI, p. 474} Pol., I , pp. 519-550.
8. Cours, I I , pp. 524-886.
4. Ib id i, VI, p. 474, and Pol., I , p. 5SO.
5 . Cours, I I , p p .'854-855; Pol., I , pp. 521-526.
6. Covrs, I I , p. 211.
„_
„ D
, __
ff. Ib td .i I I , pp. 289-889, and VI, p. 495; Pol. * IV, p. 515.
-7 9 any o th er.
s o u n d . 1,1
A l i g h t s h a l l e t e r n a l l y be h e t e r o g e n e o u s' t o motion or t o
Comte, then, s t a t e s t h a t such a c o n d it i o n i s not t o be viewed
pessim istically.
A m o n i s t i c e x p la n a tio n o f t h e u n i v e r s e 9 c o n s t i t u t e s
in i t s e l f an absurd Ut o pia, and although i t i s p l e a s i n g t o the human
mind, i t i s not i n d i s p e n s a b l e t o the e l a b o r a t i o n of a p h i l o s o p h y . 3
Unity of method, which a c t u a l l y e x i s t s in a l l th e s c i e n c e s , and u n i t y
o f poin t o f v i e w , “ t h a t o f humanity, are s u f f i c i e n t to g i v e harmony
t o p o s i t i v e p h i lo s o p h y .
Comte proceeds with the e v a l u a t i o n of the f i v e branches o f p h y s i c s .
He s t a t e s t h a t t h e l a s t branch, e l e c t r i c i t y , i s the l o g i c a l l i n k between
p h y s i c s and ch e m ist r y , bec au se e l e c t r i c a l cu r r e n t s have an a c t i o n on
t h e i n t r a - m o l e c u l a r c o n s t i t u t i o n o f matter. He n o t e s t h a t i t w i l l never
become an important branch o f p h y s i c s .
Three f a c t s are t o be r e t a i n e d . F i r s t , Comte e n j o in s the p h y s i c i s t
t o adhere t o the p r i n c i p l e s embodied in the p o s i t i v e t h e o r y o f hy po t he s e s .
Second, p h y s ic s i s a h et erogen eou s s c i e n c e holding f i v e s p e c i f i c and
i r r e d u c i b l e c a t e g o r i e s . Third, i t has un ity of method.
d. Chemi st ry
Comte b e g in s h i s e v a l u a t i o n o f chemistry by comparing the chemical
phenomenon with t h e p h y s i c a l and t h e b i o l o g i c a l . He ob se rv es that the
s c i e n c e s which correspond t o t h o s e t h r e e 6
oan be c o n c e i v e d a s h a v i n g f o r t h e i r o b j e c t t h e s t u d y of
t h e m o l e c u l a r a o t i v i t y of m a t t e r i n a l l t h e d i f f e r e n t modes o f
wh ic h i t i s s u s o e p f c i b l e . • Now, un d e r t h i s p o i n t of v i e w , . e a c h of
them c o r r e s p o n d s t o one o f t h e t h r e e p r i n c i p a l and s u o o e s s i v e
d e g r e e s o f a o t i v i t y , which a r e d i s t i n g u i s h e d from e a c h o t h e r by
t h e b r o a d e s t and most n a t u r a l d i f f e r e n o e s . • I n o h e m io a l a c t i o n
we have e v i d e n t l y s o m e t h i n g more t h a n s i m p l e p h y s i o a l a c t i o n ,
and s o m e t h i n g l e s s t h a n v i t a l a o t i o n , n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h e vague
a n a l o g i e s t h a t may be drawn b e t w e e n t h e t h r e e o r d e r s o f phenom­
ena on p u r e l y h y p o t h e t i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . '
Comte then d e f i n e s the p h y s i c a l phenomenon1*:
(jours, I I , p. •?se.
8*.
V$,Pp .?4*26. He i® le ss dogmatio ten year® la te r, when he write® in the
Pol.. I , p. 528: NThe d iv e rsity of the brandies of physio® iB due more to the diver­
s ity of our: senses than to the corresponding d istin c tio n in external pro p erties.
Henoe, th e ir m u ltip licity re s u lts neoessarily from our constitution instead of having
an objeotive o rig in ."
4 . Cours, I, p. 80; Etsc. i pp. 88-88.
5. •P ol.i I, p. 579.
*
6. Cours, I I I , p. 5; Lewes, p. 114.
7. Ibid.i I I I , p. 5; Lewes, pp. 114-115.
1.
-eoThe o n l y m o l e o u l a r p e r t u r b a t i o n s whioh p h y s i o a l a o t i v i t y ,
p r o p e r l y a o - o a l l e d , oan p ro du c e i n b o d i e s , a r e m o d i f i o a t i o n s
whioh a r e g e n e r a l l y of no g r e a t e x t e n t and most f r e q u e n t l y of
a t e m p o r a r y n a t u r e ; i n no oa a e i s t h e a u b s t a n o e a l t e r e d . - ’
These c o n s i d e r a t i o n s enable him to d e f i n e the chemical phenomenon more
a c c u r a t e l y 1:
Ohemioal a c t i v i t y , ' on t h e o o n t r a r y , - a l w a y s p r o d u c e s an e s s e n ­
t i a l and p e r m a n e n t ch an ge i n t h e v e r y c o m p o s i t i o n of t h e p a r t i ­
c l e s , ' o v e r and above t h e a l t e r a t i o n s i n s t r u c t u r e and s t a t e of
a g g r e g a t i o n ; t h e s u b s t a n o e s o r i g i n a l l y p r e s e n t a r e n o t now t o
b e r e c o g n i z e d , s o muoh ha s t h e e n s e m b le of t h e i r p r o p e r t i e s
been a l t e r e d .
Comte t h us c h a r a c t e r i s e s the p h y s i o l o g i c a l phenomenon*:
P h y s i o l o g i c a l phenomena m a n i f e s t m a t e r i a l a o t i v i t y i n a s t i l l
g r e a t e r d e g r e e of e n e r g y ; f o r a s so on as a c h e m i c a l C om b in a ti o n
i s e f f e c t e d t h e b o d i e s become c o m p l e t e l y i n e r t ; w h e r e a s t h e
v i t a l s t a t e i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d , n o t o n l y by t h e p h y s i o a l and ehemi o a l phenomena whioh i t c o n s t a n t l y p r o d u o e s , b u t a l s o by a d o u b l e
movement, more o r l e s s r a p i d , b u t a lw ay s n e c e s s a r i l y c o n t i n u o u s ,
o f c o m p o s i t i o n and d e c o m p o s i t i o n , o a p a b l e o f s u s t a i n i n g w i t h i n
c e r t a i n l i m i t s of v a r i a t i o n , and f o r a p e r i o d more or l e s s c on ­
s i d e r a b l e , t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h e b od y, by e n t i r e l y r e n e w i n g
i t s substances.-
Comte c o n c l u d e s 8: "We thus c o n c e i v e the fundamental gradation o f t h e s e
t h r e e e s s e n t i a l modes of molecular a c t i v i t y which t r u e philosophy can
never permit o f being confounded t o g e t h e r . "
He then proceeds with the for m u lation o f th e s p e c i f i c c h a r a c t e r ­
i s t i c s o f t h e chemical phenomenon. They are two in number. F i r s t ,
t h e chemical phenomenon4 i s e l e c t i v e .
"Whereas p h y s i c a l p r o p e r t i e s
p r e s e n t from one body t o the other but a sim ple d i s t i n c t i o n o f degree,
chem ica l p r o p e r t i e s on the contrary are r a d i c a l l y s p e c i f i c . " 4 Second,
"the n e c e s s i t y o f immediate c o n t a c t o f the a n t a g o n i s t i c p a r t i e s " 5 i s
essen tial.
These c o n s i d e r a t i o n s permit Comte t o d e f i n e the o b j e c t of chemistry.
I t i s "the study o f th e laws o f com position and decomposition, which
r e s u l t from th e mutual molecular and s p e c i f i c a c t i o n o f d i f f e r e n t sub­
s t a n c e s , n a t u r a l or a r t i f i c i a l . " 8 As t h e f i n a l end o f a l l s c ie n c e i s
p r e v i s i o n , the o b j e c t of chem ist ry i s , "given th e chemical p r o p e r t i e s
o f c e r t a i n s u b s t a n c e s , simple or compound, placed in chemical r e l a t i o n ,
under w e l l - d e f i n e d circu m stan ces, to determine e x a c t l y i n what t h e i r
1.
p.
S.
4.
5.
6.
Cours,
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
Ibidi,
Ibidi,
Ibxdi,
I I I , p.
I l l , p.
I l l , p.
I I I , p.
I I I , p.
I I I , p.
5;
5;
5;
e.
V.
6;
Lewes, p. 115.
Lew©*, p. 115.
Lewes, p. 115.
Lewes, p. 116.
-ei-
action w ill c o n s is t,
new p r o d u c t s . " 1
and what w i l l be the p r i n c i p a l p r o p e r t i e s o f the
Comte undertakes t o e v a l u a t e the method. He p o i n t s out t h a t ob­
s e r v a t i o n 8 i s r i c h e r than in any o f the preceding sciences-, because a l l
s e n s e s , even t h e o l f a c t o r y , are u t i l i z e d . Exper im en tat ion 8 i s l e s s
s a t i s f a c t o r y than in t h e oth er s c i e n c e s , because the phenomena under
c o n s i d e r a t i o n are too complex f o r a v a l i d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e modify­
ing ca u s e.
As f o r c om p arison ,4 i t does not y i e l d wort h -w h ile r e s u l t s ;
t h e data t o be compared are too simple and g e n e r a l. For the same
rea s o n , a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n 5 o f chemical phenomena does not throw v a lu ­
a b l e l i g h t on chemical p r o c e s s e s .
I t i s t o be concluded t h a t th e
t h r e e modes o f r a t i o n a l e x p l o r a t i o n are inadequate.
Chemistry would be in a p e r i l o u s s i t u a t i o n were i t not f o r an
a d d i t i o n a l and s p e c i f i c mode c r e a t e d by the ch em ist. This mode i s the
doubl e pro ce ss o f a n a l y s i s and s y n t h e s i s , 8 which e n a b l e s him t o decom­
pose and recompose s u b s t a n c e s , and r e v e a l s the nature o f chemical
a g g r e g a t i o n . Comte remarks t h a t a n a l y s i s 7 i s c o n c l u s i v e in i t s e l f ,
and t h a t s y n t h e s i s i s a d i s p e n s a b l e mode of v e r i f i c a t i o n .
He s t u d i e s t h e a t t a i n a b l e r e s u l t s , and he shows t h a t p r e v i s i o n 8
i s l e s s p e r f e c t in ch em istry than in p h y s i c s , but m o d i f i a b i l i t y o f the
phenomena9 by man i s g r e a t e r in chem istry. Chemistry has t h r e e f i e l d s :
t h e study o f v i t a l phenomena, t h e study o f the natural h i s t o r y o f the
e a r t h , and i n d u s t r i a l a p p l i c a t i o n s .
Comte s t u d i e s th e nature of chem istry, and he h o l d s t h a t i t de­
v e l o p e d 10 much l a t e r than p h y s i c s .
I t i s s t i l l in the metaphysical
s t a g e . For one t h i n g , i t i s encumbered with "die-hard" metaphysical
n o t i o n s . Chemists11 have not y e t been ab le t o r i d t h e m s e lv e s o f the
th eory of a f f i n i t i e s .
He w r i t e s 15:
Tf t h e e l e o t r i o a l f l a i l and t h e lum in ou s e t h e r a r e r e a l l y
noth ing b u t m a t e r i a l i z e ! e n t i t i e s ; are th e se a f f i n i t i e s any­
t h i n g e l s e t h a n p u r e e n t i t i e s , a s vague and i n d e t e r m i n e d as
t h o s e whioh f l o u r i s h e d i n t h e s o h o l a s t i o p h i l o s o p h y of t h e
Middle Ages? The p r e t e n d e d s o l u t i o n s whioh we have b e e n i n
t h e h a b i t o f d e d u o i n g from them e v i d e n t l y p o s s e s s t h e e s s e n t i a l
«
1. Cosrs, T il, p. S; Lewes, p.
116.
p p .’P4 -2 5 .‘
p. 84; Lewes, p. 188.
a h a r a o t e r i a t i o o f m e t a p h y a i o a l e x p l a n a t i o n s — t h e s im p le end
n a iv e r e p r o d u c tio n , in a b s tr a c t te rm s, o f th e v ery sta tem en t
o f t h e phenomenon.-
Chemistry i s not p o s i t i v e , because i t s data have not been coor­
d in a te d as y e t . The need o f s y s t e m a t i z a t i o n i s p r e s s i n g . Although
comparison y i e l d s poor r e s u l t s , and t h e composit ion o f many substances
i s not y e t known, the c h e m is t 1 can group chemical compounds according
t o a b in ary p r i n c i p l e o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
Thus he i n s t i t u t e s the a r t
o f n o m 8 n o l a t u r s . PJ This a r t , Comte n o t e s , i s no c o n t r i b u t i o n to th e
g e n e r a l p o s i t i v e method, i t s advantages being p u re ly r e s t r i c t e d t o
c h e m is t r y .
Chemistry, in s p i t e of i t s p res en t d e f i c i e n c i e s , i s bound t o play
an important part in the d i f f u s i o n o f t h e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t . The p r i n c i p l e
o f the c o n s e r v a tio n of m a t t e r , 8 which emanates from chemical laws, w i l l
e v e n t u a l l y stamp out the t h e o l o g i c a l n o t io n o f c r e a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n .
Comte then proceeds t o study t h e com posi tio n o f t h e s c i e n c e , and
he contends t h a t i t s d i v i s i o n i n t o in o r g a n ic and org an ic i s i r r a t i o n a l , 4
a r b i t r a r y , 5 s c h o l a s t i c and v i c i o u s . 8 He mainta in s t h a t organic chemistry
i s a b astard study le a d in g t o "numerical charlat anism "7 and without the
r i g h t 9 to e x i s t .
Home of the phenomena ccmpartmented i n organic chem­
i s t r y belong t o in o rg a n ic chem istr y, t h a t i s , t o chemistry proper,
w h i l e o t h e r s 9 by r i g h t belong t o p h y s i o l o g y .
All the phenomena which
can be ex p l a in e d without th e i n t e r v e n t i o n o f p h y s i o l o g i c a l agents are
p a r t o f ch em istry. Those which cannot be accounted f o r without the
i n t e r v e n t i o n o f v i t a l p r o c e s s e s belong t o b i o l o g y . Comte s t a t e s that
t h e p r e s e n t d i v i s i o n o f chemistry i n t o in o r g a n i c and organ ic i s d e t r i ­
mental t o p o s i t i v e p hiloso ph y, because i t a u t h o r iz e s ch em is ts to t r e s ­
p a s s on p h y s i o l o g i c a l grounds. As they do not p o s s e s s proper b i o l o g i c a l
k n o w l e d g e , t h e y hamper the development o f b i o l o g y .
This l a s t a s s e r t i o n in tr o d u c e s t h e study o f the next s c ie n c e of
t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , namely b i o l o g y . Bef ore e n t e r i n g t h e organic f i e l d ,
i t may be w e l l to sum up Comte's t h e o r i e s regard in g ch em istry. The
most important of a l l i s h i s d e f i n i t i o n o f th e chamical phenomenon in
r e l a t i o n t o the p h y s i c a l and th e b i o l o g i c a l .
The ot her important poin t
i 3 h i s s t i g m a t i z a t i o n o f orga nic ch e m ist r y .
. C n n r s , I I I . P. 60, ani PoZ., I , pp. 551-555.
5.
B iology
B iology i s "the a b s t r a c t theory o f L i f e . " 4 Comte s t a t e s t h a t i t
must be dominated by t h e study o f man,? although man i s on ly one l i v i n g
organism among many. U t i l i t y i s the end o f a l l s c i e n t i f i c q u e s t , and
man i s the o n ly l i v i n g b e i n g 8 o f whom we have an immediate co n s c io u s n e s s
He h o l d s a l s o t h a t the s c i e n t i s t must avoid a b l i n d admiration o f Nature
Nature4 i s f a r from p e r f e c t , and, in many i n s t a n c e s , man eould have con­
t r i v e d b e t t e r than she d i d .
We meet examples o f her la c k o f f o r e s i g h t
and o f her w a s t e f u l n e s s at every s t e p .
Some o r g a n s , 5 such as t h e eye,
have an i r r a t i o n a l c o n s t r u c t i o n , and o t h e r s , l i k e the human blad der ,
have c o n f i g u r a t i o n s which render them s u s c e p t i b l e t o d i s e a s e s .
B i olo gy has been the b a t t l e - g r o u n d 0 o f the m a t e r i a l i s t s and s p i r ­
i t u a l i s t s , and, l i k e a l l war a reas , i t has s u f f e r e d . True t o h i s con­
c e p t i o n o f p o s i t i v i t y , Comte g i v e s up a l l attempt at in q u i r y 7 i n t o th e
f i n a l c a u s es o f l i f e , and i s s a t i s f i e d with a study of i t s proximate
laws of p ro d u ct io n . We are already acquainted with h i s e v a l u a t i o n o f
th e p h y s i o l o g i c a l phenomenon® in r e l a t i o n t o t h e a c t i v i t y o f matter.
He now undertakes t o d e s c r i b e the s p e c i f i c v i t a l phenomenon, and he
adopts B l a i n v i l l e ' s d e f i n i t i o n , namely th a t "Life i s t h e t w o - f o l d i n ­
t e r n a l movement o f com position and decom position, at once gen er al and
continuous."9
Comte v o i c e s h i s famous t h e o r y of c o n d i t i o n s o f e x i s t e n c e ,
start­
ing with the premise t h a t l i f e presupposes two f a c t o r s , an organism
and an environment, he h o ld s t h at l i f e i s present only when a c e r t a i n
r e l a t i o n occ u rs between t h e two.
In other words, l i f e i s dependent on
a harmony10 between t h e organism and i t s mi l i e u . Up t o now, b i o l o g y
has been in t h e hands o f m etaphysician s who have lacked breadth o f
v i s i o n . They have e i t h e r c o n s id ere d the environment11 r e s p o n s i b l e for
t h e p res ence o f l i f e , or th ey have conce ntr ated on the organism i t s e l f
without paying a t t e n t i o n t o the mi l i e u .
They have ignored th e f a c t
that l i f e
i s a consensus o f the two.
B o s i t i v e b i o l o g y r e c o g n i z e s that a given organism r e q u i r e s a d e f ­
i n i t e environment, determined by s p e c i f i c p h y s i c a l c o n d i t i o n s of g r a v i ­
t a t i o n , atmospheric and h y d r a u l i c p r e s s u r e s , motions o f th e e a r t h ,
1.
Pol., I, p. 595i the same thought
is expressed in the Cours,T,p.
58.
p. Pol. ^
i , p. eei.
8. Cours, I I I , p. 'IBS.
4 . Pol., I, pp. 8 1 , 4 9 .
5 . Cours, i l l , pp.' 2 4 P-P4 8 , note.
VI, p. 55>S.
7 . Ibid. > I , p. 49.,
S. Cf. p. 90 ahore; Cours, I I I , p. 861.
”9. Cours, I I I , p . -155; Loses, p. 171.•
±9. Ibid.i I I I , p. '151} Pol., I , pp. 418, 640.
1 1 . Ibid. i VI, p. 164.
h e a t , l i g h t and e l e c t r i c i t y , and by given p h y s i o l o g i c a l c o n d i t i o n s o f
a i r and water. Comte p o i n t s out t h a t although the higher organisms
are l e s s s u s c e p t i b l e t o en viron me ntal changes than-the lower o n e s , i t
i s s t i l l t r u e , on t h e whole, t h a t a given organism1 demands a d e f i n i t e
environment, and t h a t i t p e r i s h e s i f comparatively s l i g h t changes take
p l a c e . He mentions t h a t t h e l i m i t s o f v a r i a t i o n s of th e m i l i e u 5 com­
p a t i b l e with l i f e have not y e t been s tu d ie d , and that l i f e w i l l not be
understood u n t i l t h i s stu dy has been made. In short, Comte s e e s t h e
need of a s c ie n c e o f e c o l o g y .
Analyzing t h e c o n s e n s u s s t i l l f u r t h e r , 8 he f in d s t h a t t h e a c t i o n
o f the environment on th e organism i s fu rth er completed by a r e a c t i o n
o f t h e organism on t h e environment. This mutual a c t i o n , h e . o b s e r v e s ,
i s an in st a n c e o f t h e u n i v e r s a l i t y o f t h e law of mechanics,4 which asks
t h a t the a c t i o n be f o l l o w e d by an e a u i v a l e n t r e a c t i o n . He n o t e s t h a t
t h e r e a c t i o n 5 i s not p e r c e p t i b l y marked in the case o f low organ ism s.
I t reaches i t s peak with man; but even with him, t h i s r e a c t i o n d o es not
m aterially a lte r physical nature.
He remarks t h a t b i o l o g y i s d i s l i k e d by t h e o lo g i a n s because o f i t s
a b i l i t y t o show the i n t i m a t e r e l a t i o n s which e x i s t between man’ s i n t e l ­
l e c t and h i s environment, and beca use of i t s c o r r e l a t i v e tenden cy 6 t o
d e s t r o y the b e l i e f in the c o n t i n g e n c y of man’ s a c t i o n s .
Studying the double movement o f composition and dec om position i n ­
h er en t in l i f e , he avers t h a t i t i n v o l v e s the n ot ion7 o f an o r i a n and
o f a f u n c t i o n , and o f a c o n s e n su s o f the two. In consequence, th e
p r a c t i c a l problem for the r e s e a r c h b i o l o g i s t i s the f o l l o w i n g 8 : "Given
t h e organ or the o r g a n ic m o d i f i c a t i o n , t o find the f u n c ti o n or t h e a c t ,
or r e c i p r o c a l l y . " As the end o f a l l s c i e n c e i s p r e v i s i o n , t h e s p e c i f i c
aim of the resea rc h i s t o 9 " f o r e t e l l how a given organ w i l l a c t i n c e r ­
t a i n circumstances or t o det er min e t h e organic c on d it ion which produces
a given a c t i o n . "
Comte compares t h e b i o l o g i c a l approach10 with that of t h e other
s c i e n c e s , and s t a t e s t h a t i t i s ' the o p p o s i t e . Whereas the oth er s c i e n c e s
go from the genera l t o t h e p a r t i c u l a r , b i o lo g y goes from the p a r t i c u l a r
t o the general: t h a t i s , from th e n otio n o f the i n d iv id u a l t o t h a t o f
s p e c i e s , and from t h a t of organ t o t h a t o f l i v i n g being.
1.
p.
8.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Cours, IV, p . ?65.
Ibid., I l l , p . 199.
Ibid., I l l , p. 1-57.
...
x. i .. ,
.
Of, p. 51 above, th e t w e l f t h p r i n o ip l e o f th e f i r s t p h ilosophy.
Pol., I , p. 646, and I I , p. 7.
Gours, I I I , p . 989.
Pol., I , p. 640;
-99-
After d e f i n i n g the approach o f b i o l o g y , Comte a n a ly z e s i t s method.
Fe s t a t e s t h a t d i r e c t obse rvation i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , because o f the
c o m p le x it y o f the environment and o f t h e organism. For the same reason,
e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n 1 l e a v e s much to be d e s i r e d , and he p o i n t s out t h at i t i s
re n dered even l e s s c o n c l u s i v e than o b s e r v a t i o n by the f a c t that the ex­
perim en te r i s d e a l in g with an eminently m o d i f i a b l e f o r c e . Living or­
ganisms e i t h e r r e a c t to the experimental s t i m u lu s by dying i f the change
be t o o g r e a t , or they do not react at a l l i f t h e change5 be too s l i g h t .
They may, on the other hand, rea ct by a d a p t i n g 5 t h e m s e lv e s to th e change,
by changing t h e i r c o n s t i t u t i o n , or th ey may a l t e r the environment, as i s
t h e c a s e with man.
Comte, in any c a s e , fo rb id s bloody e x p e r im e n t a t io n 4 and d i s s e c t i o n .
Fe n o t e s t h a t the s c i e n t i s t f o r t u n a t e l y has an i n d i r e c t way of e x p e r i ­
menting: i t c o n s i s t s in observing p a t h o l o g i c a l c a s e s . 5 These d i f f e r from
t h e norm in i n t e n s i t y and not in n at ur e, and hence pathology i s magnified
physiology.
Comte h o ld s t h a t comparison i s the mode o f e x p l o r a t i o n o f b io lo g y
par e x c e l l e n c e .
I t i s t o be used in f i v e ways : comparison o f the
v a r i o u s p art s of an organism, comparison between t h e two sex es o f the
s p e c i e s , comparison between the v a r i o u s s t a g e s o f development o f an
organism, comparison between the v a r i a t i o n s in t h e s p e c i e s , and compar­
i s o n between the v a r io u s s p e c i e s .
B io lo g y p e r f e c t s the art of nomenclature i n i t i a t e d by chemistry,
and i t becomes the a r t o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . 7 I t r e c e i v e s a development
h e r e t o f o r e unknown. The organisms t o be c l a s s i f i e d are numerous and
varied.
The b i o l o g i c a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n ren d ers a g r e a t s e r v i c e t o i t s
s c i e n c e , because i t enables the s c i e n t i s t t o gain a r a t i o n a l view of
t h e h i e r a r c h y immanent in l i v i n g organisms.
Comte a n a ly z e s the various m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of l i f e , and observes
t h a t th ey a l l d i s p l a y the same t r a i t , which i s s p o n t a n e i t y . 5 He then
p r o c e e d s to c l a s s i f y those m a n i f e s t a t i o n s , and he av er s th a t l i f e as­
sumes two forms. I t i 3 e i t h e r v e g e t a t i v e or ani mal.
The v e g e t a t i v e ,
a l s o c a l l e d o r g a n i c , i s present in a l l l i v i n g b o d i e s , v e g e t a b l e s and
an imals a l i k e , no matter how rudimentary or how complex they may be.
The animal l i f e i s superimposed on th e v e g e t a t i v e and e x i s t s in animals
1. Cours,
5. Ibid.i
h i , pp. ■sio-sn.
III,
p.
169, a n i IV, p . 2?5.
p. Pol. s I I , p. 87.
5 : CoirSL n i , P?p.4m S 5 ,
4 5 5 -4 5 6 ;
III,
6. Cours,
-Cours,
9 . Ibid.,
7.
pp. 71, 7 5 .
and
IV, pp. 225-829; PoUt I , P . *53, H , pp. 4 4 2 - 4 4 4 ,
I I I , p. 135; Pol.i I , pp. 058-655.
V I, pp. 476,
506-507.
V I, p . 507.
-eeo n ly. I t s aim i s t o "provide th e b e s t m a t e r ia ls t o v e g e t a t i v e l i f e
and to ward o f f u nfa vor able i n f l u e n c e s . " 1 I t g rad ually i n c r e a s e s in
importance and co m p le x it y .
When we reach man, we f in d that animal l i f e
has assumed such p r o p o r t io n s t h a t the order i s r e v e r s e d . 2 V e g e t a t i v e
l i f e appears t o be s ubord inated t o animal l i f e , and t o e x i s t so t h a t
the l a t t e r may be p o s s i b l e .
Comte analyzes the nature o f both types o f l i v e s , and he p r e s e n t s
the idea t h at the v e g e t a t i v e 8 i s c h a r a c t e r iz e d by two f u n c t i o n s , absorp­
t i o n and e x h a l a t i o n , w h i l e t h e animal4 i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by two o t h e r s ,
s e n s i b i l i t y and i r r i t a b i l i t y — t h a t i s , in n ervati on and m o t i l i t y .
The
v e g e t a t i v e f u n c t i o n s 5 o r i g i n a t e in c a p i l l a r i t y , hygrometry and r e t r a c t i b i l i t y , and t h e i r b a s i s 6 i s p h y sic o - c h e m ic a l. Because o f t h i s c o n d i t i o n ,
they are comparable t o t h e phenomena o f the in o r g a n ic world. When we
study the f u n c t i o n s of animal l i f e , we f i n d that we e n t er a t o t a l l y new
domain, and that t h e nature o f the f u n c t i o n s i s f o r e i g n 7 t o the i n o r ­
g a n i c . The laws o f p h y s i c s and chemistry cannot account f o r th e p resence
o f nervous and mental phenomena,3 and, in conseauence, mental phenomena
have t o be co n s id e r e d as s p e c i f i c . 9 They a c t u a l l y r ep res en t t h e b i o l o g ­
i c a l phenomenon, w h i l e t h o s e o f v e g e t a t i v e l i f e are t o be viewed as
p h y sic o-ch em ic a l r e a c t i o n s t a k in g p l a c e in b io -o rgan is m s . I t i s n ec­
e s s a r y t o emphasize t h i s p o in t here , because Comte, n e v e r t h e l e s s , always
d e c r ie d v i t a l i s m and claimed t h at b i o l o g y was to be regarded as a s c i e n c e
which did not d i f f e r from t h o s e o f the in o rg a n ic world.
Comte d iv id ed b i o l o g y i n t o c o n c r e t e and a b s t r a c t . Concrete b i o l o g y
i s i t s e l f composed of n a t u r a l h i s t o r y and pathology, t h e l a t t e r b eing
a l s o c a l l e d the medical a r t .
These two branches o f b i o l o g y study b e in g s
and not laws; t h e r e f o r e , th ey do not i n t e r e s t the p h il o s o p h e r . I t may
be mentioned here t h a t Comte advocated a permanent s e g r e g a ti o n 10 o f medi­
c a l a r t from b i o l o g y , alth ough he admitted that medicine had been the
s t a r t i n g - p o i n t of b i o l o g y .
For reas on s which we know,11 he maintained
t h a t b i o l o g y , now a f u l l - g r o w n s c i e n c e , could not gain any v a lu a b le
information from one o f i t s a r t s .
1. Cours, I I I , p. 374.
Ibid., I l l , p. 374; and IV, pp. 329-389.
8. Ib id ., I I I , pp. 321.-885.
4. Ibid.* I l l , pp. 868-490.
5. Ibid. i I I I , p. 349.
0. Ibid. i I I I , p. 22.
, „
7 . Ibid.i I I I , pp. 5 -0 , n o t e , and V I, pp. 505-506.
9 . Ibid. i I I I , pp. 162-163.
9 . Ibid., I l l , p p . '3 6 9 -3 6 9 .
10. Cours, I I I , p. 149, and V I, p . 134.
11 . C f. pp. 42-43 above.
2.
-9 7 Abstract b i o l o g y i s d i v i d e d i n t o s t a t i c s and dynamics. B i o l o g i c a l
s t a t i c s s t u d i e s e i t h e r t h e s t r u c t u r e o f each
i n d i v i d u a l s e p a r a t e l y , or
t h e v e g e t a b l e and animal kingdoms as wholes.
Under i t s f i r s t form i t
i s termed anatomy, and under i t s sedond i t r e p r e s e n t s the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n
o f a l l organisms. The l a t t e r embodies the h ier arc hy which i s t o be
found in Nature. At the bottom we f i n d the low es t v e g e t a b l e , and at i t s
apex the h i g h e s t mammal, man,1 with a co ntin uous and im per cep tib ly graded
c h a i n 2 o f v e g e t a b l e s and animals between the two.
Comte s p e c u l a t e s on man’ s p o s i t i o n among l i v i n g organisms, and
s t a t e s 3:
Our s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n i s t h e f i n a l t e r m of a p r o g r e s s i o n whioh
h a s o o n t i n u e i from t h e s i m p l e s t v e g e t a b l e s and most i n s i g n i f i o a n t
a n i m a l s t h r o u g h t h e h i g h e r r e p t i l e s , t o t h e b i r d s and t h e mammif e r s , and s t i l l on t o t h e o a r n i v o r o u s a n i m a l s and monkeys, t h e
o r g a n i o o h a r a o t e r i s t i c s r e t i r i n g and a n i m a l p r e v a i l i n g more and
more, t i l l t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l and mo r a l t e n d t o w a r d s t h e a s c e n d e n c y
whi c h c an n e v e r be f u l l y o b t a i n e d e ve n i n t h e h i g h e s t s t a t e of
human p e r f e c t i o n t h a t we c an c o n c e i v e . '
I t may be noted here t h a t Comte did not g i v e the Darwinian accepta­
t i o n t o th e word e v o l u t i o n .
He did not i n t e r p r e t h i s hiera rc hy as a
c o n c r e t e r e a l i t y e n t a i l i n g a p h y s i c a l adap ti ve p r o c e s s through times,
but as a nominal and ex t ra -t em p o ra l n o t i o n 4 emanating from a r a t i o n a l
classification .
It was "a l o g i c a l a r t i f i c e " 5 or a metaphor. Therefore,
t h e word e v o l u t i o n i s f o r him nothing more than a f i g u r e of speech.
His a t t i t u d e on t h e s u b j e c t o f e v o l u t i o n was not an opinion utte red
l i g h t l y , but was, on the con trary, the r e s u l t o f mature r e f l e c t i o n . He
was w e ll acquainted with Lamarck’ s transformism, and although he was a
b e l i e v e r in h e r e d i t y , he r e j e c t e d i t .
He maintained t h a t the d i s c o n ­
t i n u i t y o f th e s p e c i e s 8 and t h e i r f i x i t y 7 were proven f a c t s , and that
d i s c o n t i n u i t y and permanency” were the r a t i o n a l s i n e qua non co n d itio n s
o f th e n o t io n s of s p e c i e s and o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . 9
Therefore the term e v o l u t i o n , which re cu rs c o n s t a n t l y in Comte’ s
w r i t i n g s , when applied t o t h e i n d i v i d u a l , i s t o be understood as meaning
t h e natural changes wrought in him by age, ed u catio n and s o c i e t y . When
a p p li e d t o l i f e in g e n e r a l , i t i s t o be co n s id ere d as meaning the l o g ­
i c a l as p e ct assumed by the a b s t r a c t c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of a l l l i v i n g organisms.
1.
Pol., I l l , p. 189, ana IV, p. 219; Opus.; p . 99.
t . f b i T ’i v t,Ppp. ^840-341; t r a n s l a t e d by H. M artin ea u , The Positive Philosophy of
Auguste Comte, I I , p . '7 9 .
4. Cours, I i r , p . 294.
5 . ' Cot.i p . 129.
6 . Cours, I I I , p. "301, and Cat. , p. 129.
7 . Pol. i I I I , p . 125.
9 . Cours, I I I , p. 299.
9 . • Ib id . > I I I , p. 295.
V #
A A A *
p #
1
-DB­
As a proof o f t h i s c o n t e n t i o n , i t may be pointed out t h a t the c l a s s i f i ­
c a t i o n o f the s p e c i e s i s part o f b i o l o g i c a l s t a t i c s .
Had Comtp b e l i e v e d
in Darwinian or Lamarckian e v o l u t i o n , i t would have been incorporated
in b i o l o g i c a l dynamics.
B i o l o g i c a l dynamics i s what i s commonly c a l l e d p h y s i o l o g y . I t com­
p r i s e s t h r e e s t u d i e s ; t h o s e o f v e g e t a t i v e l i f e , of animal l i f e , and o f
mental l i f e .
Mental phenomena o r i g i n a t e in s e n s i b i l i t y .
Therefore, they
are animal1 in n a t u r e. Comte e x p l a i n s th a t he makes t h e i r study, p sy ­
chology, a d i s t i n c t part o f p h y si o lo g y for p r a c t i c a l r e a s o n s , and only
tem p ora ri ly s o. Mental phenomena have not been s t u d i e d p o s i t i v e l y up
t o now, and th ey w i l l r e c e i v e more c a r e f u l a t t e n t i o n i f th ey are s e g r e ­
gated from t h e o t h e r b i o l o g i e a l branches while they are bein g s t u d i e d .
As soon as th ey are understood, they w i l l resume2 t h e i r normal p o s i t i o n
in b i o l o g y , t h a t i s , t h a t o f a branch o f animal p h y s i o l o g y .
Comte p o i n t s out t h a t the study o f mental phenomena r e p r e s e n t s the
l i n k which u n i t e s b i o l o g y t o s o c i o l o g y , the l a s t s c i e n c e o f th e c l a s s i ­
f i c a t i o n . Both s c i e n c e s 3 study man, but the one s t u d i e s the i n d i v i d u a l ,
w h il e the o t h e r s t u d i e s the c o l l e c t i v i t y .
Comte's c o n c e p t io n o f b i o l o g y did not a l t e r through the y e a r s . The
only n o t i c e a b l e change i s t h a t in thg Cours he l o o k s on t h e t i s s u e as
t h e b a s i s o f l i f e , whereas in the P o l i t i q u e he has ac cep ted the newly
d i s c o v e r e d c e l l , and makes i t the s e a t o f l i f e .
However, he ra t e d b i ­
ology d i f f e r e n t l y .
As he progres sed through the four volumes o f the
P o l i t i q u e , h i s b e l i e f in t h e s o c i a l nature of man g r a d u a l l y submerged
a l l other n o t i o n s , and b i o l o g y 4 became the s c i e n c e o f l i f e in i t s most
genera l and a b s t r a c t a s p e c t .
I t came to be a simple i n t r o d u c t i o n t o
sociology.
S o c i o l o g y alone s tu d i e d the i n t e l l e c t u a l and moral f u n c t i o n s
o f humanity.
Before o u t l i n i n g Comte's t h e o r i e s on s o c i o l o g y , i t may be w e l l t o
sum up h i s n o t i o n s reg ar din g b i o l o g y . They are: (1) His theo ry o f con­
d i t i o n s of e x i s t e n c e , which b r in g s out the harmony e x i s t i n g between the
organism and i t s m i l i e u .
(?) His conception o f a dual form o f l i f e , a
v e g e t a t i v e and an animal; the former being p h y s ic o - c h e m ic a l in nature,
and th e second s p e c i f i c .
(?) His theory of the animal nature o f mental
phenomena.
1.
g.
8.
4.
(4) His s t a t i c con ce ption o f e v o l u t i o n .
Cours, I I I , p . S75.
Tbid.i I I I , p. 405.
I b i i i , I , P. 51.
_
Pol., I I , p p. 487-4S9; Cat., pp. 97, !•-!.
CHAPTER V
S o c i 0 L 0 3 v— G e n e r a l
C onsiderations
I t i s n e ces sa ry t o mention f i r s t th e s o c i a l r ea s o n s which urged
Comte t o found the s c i e n c e o f s o c i o l o g y . T h e r e a f t e r , h i s d e f i n i t i o n
o f th e s o c i a l phenomenon and o f the s o c i o l o g i c a l method w i l l be given .
Comte cl aim s t o be t h e founder o f s o c i o l o g y . 1 S o c i o lo g y , he s ays,
was2 "prepared by A r i s t o t l e , announced by the S c h o l a s t i c s o f the Middle
Ages, conce ived as t o i t s s p i r i t by Paeon and D e s c a r t e s , " but he c r e d i t s
h i m s e l f with th e honor o f having given i t i t s p o s i t i v e form.
He b eg in s h i s e x p o s i t i o n by demonstrating th e need o f a p o s i t i v e
s o c i a l s c i e n c e . He a n a ly zes t h e p res en t s t a t e of s o c i e t y , taking Trance®
as an example because her e v o l u t i o n , acc or d in g to h i s b e l i e f , i s more
advanced, t h e r e f o r e more t y p i c a l than t h o s e o f th e other European coun­
tries.
France, he c la im s , i s in a s t a t e o f unre st and anarchy4 caused
by the i n t e r n a l s t r u g g l e of c o n f l i c t i n g i n f l u e n c e s .
A b i o l o g i c a l or­
ganism i s composed of t i s s u e s and organs.
S i m i l a r l y , the s o c i a l o r­
ganism5 i s composed of f a m i l i e s , c a s t e s and c i t i e s .
The b i o l o g i c a l
n o t io n s of s t r u c t u r e and f u n c t i o n are t r a n s l a t e d in s o c i o l o g y i n t o
t h o s e o f order and p r o g r e s s .
France, he s ays, i s re n t asunder b eca u s e her order and progre ss do
not belong t o the same s t a g e of e v o l u t i o n . The d o c t r i n e s o f order are
v e s t i g e s 6 o f Ca th olicis m and feud ali sm , namely t h e o l o g y , while those
o f p ro g res s are e x p r e s s i o n s of. th e r e v o l u t i o n a r y d o c t r i n e s voiced by
t h e Convention Assembly and in s p i r e d by the metaphysics o f the e i g h t ­
eenth cen t u ry .
In s ho r t, order and p ro g res s belong t o two d i f f e r e n t
s c h o o l s of thought which are i n h e r e n t l y in c o m p a t ib le .
Theology c o n f l i c t s with p r o g r e s s becau se i t i s a n t a g o n i s t i c 7 by
nature t o s c i e n c e and i t s daughter, i n d u s t r y , i . e . , the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t .
Metaphysics c o n f l i c t s with order because i t a t te m p ts to make a permanent
and normal s t a t e out of the t r a n s i t o r y p a t h o l o g i c a l s i t u a t i o n of the
end o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h cen t u ry . I t i s permeated with PousseaU's theory
o f t h e s o c i a l c o n t r a c t , and, in consequence, ign ore s the s o c i a l nature
o f man. I t r e p r e s e n t s the government5 as t h e n a t ur a l enemy o f s o c i e t y
1.
Comte coined th e word sociology in th e 47 th le e s o n o f th e Cours, IV, p . 18?. P re ­
v io u s ly , he need th e e x p re s s io n social physics. The neologism met w i t h c o n s i d e r a b l e op­
p o s i t i o n a t f i r s t . I t s etym ology, p a r t L a tin and p a r t G reek, shooked th e p u r i s t s .
P. Cours, VI, p. 895.
8. lj>ii.i IV, p . 7.
PoZ.>#I I , , ppI ?99-?98. Comte o o n s ta n tly r e f e r s t o t h a t s i m il e , b u t he r e s t r i o t s
i t s u se by s t a t i n g t h a t s o o ie ty i s formed o f s e p a ra b le elem e n ts which s u rv iv e when sev­
e re d from t h e i r a g g re g a te (Pol.t I I , p. 889), wfcile th e same th in g cannot be s a id o f
o rg a n s and t i s s u e s .
6. Cours, IV, p. 9.
7. Of. p. 56 above.
9. Cours, IV, p. g.4, and Opus., p. 58.
-8 9 -
-90-
and r e s t r i c t s i t s power t o t h a t o f a n a t io n a l p o l i c e .
With meta physics,
s o c i a l a c t i v i t y and development are l e f t - w i t h o u t d i r e c t i o n . I t s key
n o t io n , the r i g h t t o freedom o f t h o u g h t , 1 i s expressed by the p r i n c i p l e
o f s o c i a l e q u a l i t y and o f supremacy o f the masses in p o l i t i c s .
Theology i n v e s t s r o y a l t y with d i v i n e r i g h t s and does not r e c o g n i z e
individual r ig h ts .
I t i s r e t r o g r a d e because i t asks guidance from the
p a s t . Vet ap hysi cs , on t h e oth er hand, hates the past and wants t o erad­
i c a t e i t e n t i r e l y from t h e p r e s e n t b e f o r e going ahead. However, t h e o lo g y
and metaphysics re c o g n iz e d in each other an enemy o f equal s t r e n g t h , and
th ey r e a l i z e d t h a t th ey co u ld not a n n i h i l a t e i t without d e s t r o y in g them­
s e l v e s in t h e p r o c e s s .
Ho they decided t o compromise.
They have acted as f o l l o w s : t h e o lo g y g i v e s "freedom o f the c i t y " t o
s c i e n c e , and even lo ok s f a v o ra b ly * on industry; i t g i v e s up the p r i n c i p l e
o f s e p a r a tio n o f powers which i s th e very e s sen ce of monotheism, and ad­
v o c a t e s the r i g h t o f every one to i n t e l l e c t u a l freedom, going as f a r as
invoking i t in i t s own b e h a l f . Vetaphysics a c c e p t s r o y a l t y and the
e x i s t i n g order.
A f u s i o n p a r t y , the s t a t i o n a r y , 5 i s born out o f t h e compromise. I t
attem pts to c o n c i l i a t e order and p r o g r e s s 4 by maintaining t h e m ate ri al
s t a t u s quo. I t a c c e p t s r o y a l t y , 5 but i t r e s t r i c t s i t s r i g h t s by making
it constitutional.
I t r e c o g n i z e s i n t e l l e c t u a l freedom and p o l i t i c a l
e q u a l i t y , but i t l i m i t s them b o t h 9 by curbing the freedom of t h e p r e s s
and u n i v e r s a l s u f f r a g e .
The en tra nce o f t h i s b ast ard d o c t r i n e i s heavy with consequences.
F i r s t , t h e r e i s an i n c r e a s e in t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l anarc hy.7 Every i n d i ­
v i d u a l 9 t h in k s h i m s e l f ca pab le o f s o l v i n g p o l i t i c a l q u e s t i o n s , and s o c i a l
t h e o r i e s 9 spring up -like mushrooms. Second, th e r e i s a d eg en era t io n of
the p u b lic m oralit y.13 P a s s i o n s can no longer be r e s t r a i n e d by outworn
r e l i g i o u s c r e e d s . They are e x t o l l e d by contemporary l i t e r a t u r e and given
f r e e r e i n 11in -ev e ry d a y l i f e .
Varriage i s l o s i n g i t s s a n c t i t y and s t r e n g t h ,
and t h e family1* i t s c o h e s io n . Egoism15 re ig n s everywhere. Syst em ati c
corruption14 i s e r e c t e d as a means o f governing. The government b r i b e s
l . Cours, IV, p. 95. p . Ib id., TV, pp. 14-17.
S. Ibid ., IV, pp. 54—55.
4 . Ib id., IV, p. 59.
. 5 . Ibid., IV, pp. 59-59.
5. Ib id., IV, p. 59.
V. Opus., p. 159.
9 . Cours, IV, p. 69.
9 . Ibid .. IV, pp. 68-64.
1 0 . Ibid.i IV, p. 67; Of)us., pp. 1 9 5 - 1 9 6
1 1 . Ibid ., TV, p . 70.
19. U i i ‘ >
P- 89.
1 4 *.
Ib id .’, Vf\ pp. 70-71, 199-199; Opus., p. 159.
t h e p eop le i n t o a s s e n t by bestowing h o n o r i f i c d i s t i n c t i o n s and m u lt i­
p l y i n g 1 c i y i l s e r v i c e p o s t s . This rdgime has brought t h e r e i g n of
h y p o c r i s y . 8 Third, t h e material point o f view6 p re p on der at es over the
s p i r i t u a l in a l l p o l i t i c a l Questions. The government t r i e s t o ac t on
i n s t i t u t i o n s by en a c t in g laws in st ea d of a c t in g on b e l i e f s . 4 Fourth,
t h e government has f a l l e n i n t o the hands of mediocre D c l i t i c i a n s , 5
law y er s and l i t e r a t i , in ca p able of c o n s t r u c t i v e t h i n k i n g .
These c o n s i d e r a t i o n s lead Comte t o s t a t e t h a t s o c i a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n
i s needed, and t h a t i t can be e f f e c t i v e only i f i t i s based on a theory
which c o n c i l i a t e s 6 order and p ro gr es s. Huch a t h e o r y cannot be t h e o ­
l o g i c a l , s i n c e t h e o lo g y ig nore s pro gr es s. I t cannot be m et aph ys ic al,
s i n c e metaphysics i g n o r e s order. As a theory i s e i t h e r t h e o l o g i c a l ,
m eta p hysical or p o s i t i v e , i t f o l l o w s that the c o n c i l i a t o r y d o c t r i n e
has t o be p o s i t i v e , and Comte d ec id ed 7 to e l a b o r a t e i t h i m s e l f .
He does not f i n d i t n ecessa ry t o demonstrate th e e x i s t e n c e of s o c i a l
order, because i t s r e a l i t y i s e v id e n t, but he d em on stra tes the e x i s t e n c e 8
o f p r o g r e s s . He h o ld s t h a t modern man® i s u n q uest ionab ly s u p er io r to
t h e p r i m i t i v e barbarian in every r e s p e c t . His l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s are
b e t t e r , h i s mores l e s s c r u e l , h i s - s o c i a l f e e l i n g s on th e g a i n , while
h i s bad i n s t i n c t s are .losing t h e i r s tren gth and h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e i s
greater.
Comte plan s t o c r e a t e a s c ie n c e of s o c i e t y ,
s t a r t i n g from the
premise t h a t nothing p o s i t i v e has been done in t h i s d i r e c t i o n , he con­
c l u d e s t h a t he has t o e l a b o r a t e the whole s c i e n c e .
I t i n v o l v e s th ree
s t e p s . F i r s t , d e f i n e th e s o c i a l phenomenon; second, adapt t h e ~ p o s i t i v e
method t o t h e needs of s o c i o l o g y , and t h i r d , d i s c o v e r t h e law^° o f
s o c i a l development. When a l l t h ese s t e p s have been com pleted, s o c i ­
o l o g y w i l l be a - s c i e n c e in i t s own r i g h t .
The p h i lo s o p h e r w i l l be
a b l e t o p r e d i c t 11 f u t u r e s o c i a l phenomena and t o s e t t h e l i m i t s w i t h in
which s o c i e t y may be modified by the purposeful a c t i o n o f i t s l e a d e r s .
Comte d e f i n e s t h e s o c i a l phenomenon as f o l l o w s . He obse rves f i r s t
t h a t s o c i e t y i s the r e s u l t of a consensus^ between humanity and i t s
1. Qours, TV, p. 75.
p. XjbiA., p. 76.
„
S. lb id . , IV, pp. 77-93; Opus., pp. 196-197.
-9 ? -
environment.
The in o rg a n ic s c i e n c e s 1 supply th e dat a r e l a t i v e to the
environment, and b i o l o g y 5 s u p p l i e s t h o s e r e l a t i v e t o the i n d i v i d u a l man.
The p h il o s o p h e r avers t h a t , d e s p i t e the help which b i o l o g y len ds t o s o ­
c i o l o g y , the l a t t e r 8 cannot be con sider ed a department of b i o l o g y . Eio l o g y does not take i n t o account t h e i n f l u e n c e o f su c ceed in g g e n e r a t io n s ,
and the s o c i a l nhenomenon i s e s s e n t i a l l y the product o f th ose i n f l u e n c e s .
I t remains f o r e i g n 4 t o the only approach s u s c e p t i b l e of u n i v e r s a l i t y .
S o c i o l o g y , t h e r e f o r e , i s d i s t i n c t from b i o l o g y , although i t may be super­
imposed upon i t .
I t has i t s own s p e c i f i c f i e l d o f resea rc h and i t s sui
g e n e r i s phenomenon.5
Comte reminds th e reader th a t b i o l o g y t r a n s l a t e d the f i n a l causes
o f l i f e i n t o the p o s i t i v e study of c o n d i t i o n s o f e x i s t e n c e , 6 and s t a t e s
t h a t s o c i o l o g y 7 proceeds s i m i l a r l y towards i t s f i n a l c a u s e s . Pe observes
t h a t the b e l a t e d c r e a t i o n o f s o c i o l o g y i s ex p la in e d by the f a c t t h at i t
needed th e h e l p of a l l the other s c i e n c e s , and t h a t i t could not come
i n t o b e in g 9 u n t i l they had a l l become p o s i t i v e .
Eocial t h e o r i e s have been e lab orated from remote t im es , but a l l
f a i l e d becau se of t h e i r la ck o f p o s i t i v i t y .
A r i s t o t l e ® had no notion
o f s o c i a l law, and, l i k e the other a n c i e n t s , no n o t i o n 10o f p r o g r e s s.
E ossu et 11 was obse ss ed with th e t h e o l o g i c a l c o n c e p t i o n of p r o v i d e n t i a l
d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . Vo ntesquieu 15had t h e n otio
n o f s o c i a l determinism, but
*
he was b li n d e d by h i s admiration of the En glish c o n s t i t u t i o n - a n d by h is
b e l i e f i n th e a l l - p o w e r f u l i n f l u e n c e of c l i m a t e s .
Ccndorcet,18 Comte’s
" s p i r i t u a l f a t h e r " 14 as he c a l l s him, understood the f i l i a t i o n of s o c i a l
s t a t e s , but he b e l i e v e d in the i n f i n i t e p e r f e c t i b i l i t y of human nature;
he d e s p is e d th e past, and did not suspect the t r a n s i t o r y nature o f the
Trench R e v o lu t io n .
P o l i t i c a l economists15 had a s c i e n t i f i c approach, but they lacked
c l e a r n o t i o n s and a s c i e n t i f i c method. Their d e s i r e t o i s o l a t e economy
from the ge n e r a l s o c i a l s c ie n c e proves t h e i r complete ignorance cf the
s o l i d a r i t y o f t h e va rio u s a s p e c t s of human n a t u r e . Their d o c t r i n e of
laissez-faire
1.
g.
4.
5.
0.
i s e s s e n t i a l l y metaphysical.
Cours, IV, bp. 2 6 0 , 2 6 6 ; VI, p. 610; Pol. > I , pp. 4 1 -4 ? .
Ibid .i IV, p . 252, VI, pp. 50?, 511; Pol. ; I , P. *2.
...
Cours, IV, pp. 2 8 6 - 2 3 7 , 254-255, VI, pp. 41.9 , 509; Qfius. , pp. 1 2 9 -1 2 9 ..
Cours, VI, p . 4 1 9 . .
Lbid. i TV, p . 237.
Ibid., IV, p . 253, and V, p. 13.
S e e p. 93 above;
Cours, IV, pp. 119-120, 125.
Ibid . ; IV, p . 120.
Pol. i I , p. 60; o f . pp. 167-168 "below. •
7.
a.
9.
10.
11. C o u r s , IV, p . 1 4 7 ; o f . pp. 1 74 - 1 7 5 ’*eIow . •
M>. I b i d .; IV, pp. 127-130; o f , p p . 173-174 below .
IS. Ibid. i IV, pp. 1 3 3 - 1 3 6 ; Pol., Ti p.'_64.
1 4 . Pol. / 111, pp. *v, 18 ; o f . pp. l j f " l ^
'
1 5 . Cours, IV, p p . 1 8 9 - 1 4 4 ; o f. p. 185 below .
-9P -
Comte obse rv es t h a t th e contemporary s o c i a l s c i e n c e i s a mixture
o f art and t h e o r y , 1 but he s t a t e s t h a t t h i s must be expected from a
branch o f knowledge which i s s t i l l in an i n f a n t i l e phase. Because o f
t h e con fu si on o f th eory and p r a c t i c e , t h e o r i s t s have launched i n t o the
most d i s o r d e r l y and dangerous em p ir ic a l e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n . s They assume
t h a t s o c i a l phenomena3 are m o d if i a b l e according t o the whims o f law­
makers.- Their d o c t r i n e i s a b s o l u t e in i t s p o in t o f view, inasmuch as
th ey are hunting f o r the i d e a l government,4 without con sid erin g t h a t
t h e government must be made t o f i t t h e s t a g e o f c i v i l i z a t i o n , and that
t h e b e s t government f o r one phase o f development might be b a l e f u l for
an other.
In s h o r t, th ey do not co n ceivd t h a t s o c i e t y 5 has laws o f i t s
own which no government can a l t e r .
Before studying the p o s i t i v e method o f s o c i o l o g y , Comte analyze s
i t s mode o f approach. He s t a t e s t h a t s o c i o l o g y u se s the approach of
b i o l o g y , 5 which, as we know, i s the o p p o s i t e of t h a t o f the other s c i ­
ences.
S o c i o lo g y , l i k e b i o l o g y , proceeds from the complex to the sim ple,
because s o c i e t y , l i k e b io - o r g a n i s m s , i s known b e t t e r as a whole than in
i t s p a r t s , i . e . , in i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s .
Comte, then, s t u d i e s th e method which s o c i o l o g y i n h e r i t s from the
preced ing s c i e n c e s .
The th r e e modes o f r a t i o n a l e x p l o r a t io n are even
l e s s s a t i s f a c t o r y in s o c i o l o g y than th ey were in b i o l o g y , because the
s o c i a l phenomenon i s morfe complex than the v i t a l . Pure ob se rv a tio n i s
d ifficu lt.
Fo p o s i t i v e t h e o r y 7 t o guide i t i s y et a v a i l a b l e . The
s o c i a l f a c t 5 more than any other has t o be observed
in r e l a t i o n t o i t s
ensemble, and t h a t ensemble i s not y e t understood.
On t h e other hand,
o b s e r v a t i o n 3 has a wide f i e l d o f e x p l o r a t io n at i t s d i s p o s a l .
D ir e c t exper im en tation i s not y e t p r a c t i c a b l e , and even i f i t were,
i t would be i n c o n c l u s i v e , 10 bec ause t h e co mplexity o f f o r c e s makes i t
d i f f i c u l t t o fin d the d e c i s i v e f a c t o r .
However, i n d i r e c t experimenta­
t i o n , t h a t i s , p a t h o l o g i c a l o b s e r v a t i o n or o b se r v a tio n o f r e v o l u t i o n , 11
is possible.
In s o c i o l o g y , comparison15proper has not the s i g n i f i c a n c e which i t
has in b i o l o g y , although i t i s v a l u a b l e .
1.
2.
8.
A.
e!
7.
?.
--9.
St
12,
Comparison o f human s o c i e t i e s
Cours, IV , p p . 8 - 4 , 1 5 9 , 8 5 8 ; V I , p . 4 5 2 .
Ibid. i IV , p . 1 8 2 .
Ibid. i IV , p p . 1 5 9 , .1 6 1 .
Ib id . i IV , p . 1 5 7 ; Opus.* p . 9 7 .
..
OtTpp. T94-l5 a b o v e ; Cours, TV , p p . 199-199; Opus. > p p . 184-186.
Cf. p. 44 above; Cours, IV, p. 221.
Ibid. i IV , p . 2 2 8 .
Ib id. t TV, p . 2 2 4 .
T b it - IV; p p . ^ 2 2 5 - 2 2 9 ; Pol., I I , p p . 4 4 8 - 4 4 6 , 4 5 9 .
Ib id . i IV , p p . 2 2 9 - 2 8 5 .
-9 4 -
with animal a g g r e g a t e s i s not r e v e a l i n g , because s o c i a l a n im a ls 1 are
in a s t a t e o f a r r e s t e d development; but comparison o f d i v e r s e human
s o c i e t i e s has a d e f i n i t e worth. The pre sen t s t a t e o f re tard ed s o c i ­
e t i e s i s s i m i l a r 0 t o p a st s t a g e s o f our own c i v i l i z a t i o n , and th us
th e s c i e n t i s t may, so t o speak, study our past in v i v o .
Comte o b se rv es t h a t such a method, n e v e r t h e l e s s , i s not always
sound or c o n c l u s i v e .
For one t h i n g , i t does not bring out* t h e f i l i a ­
t i o n of p ast s t a t e s . For another, i t might lead the t hin ker t o assume
t h a t secondary m a n i f e s t a t i o n s 4 are major phases o f development, and
make him co n fu se the i n f l u e n c e o f the r a c e 5 with t h a t o f th e s o c i a l age.
This mode, however, makes one c o n t r i b u t i o n .
I t shows t h a t the s e r i a l
c l a s s i f i c a t i o n 5 o f s o c i a l s t a t e s i s comparable t o the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n
o f animals in b i o l o g y from the poin t of view o f l o g i c .
I f s o c i o l o g y had only t h o s e t h r e e modes o f e x p l o r a t io n , no s o c i a l
law could be d i s c o v e r e d , and s o c i o l o g y would not be a s c i e n c e . Fortu­
n a t e l y , i t may a v a i l i t s e l f of a complementary mode which makes up a l l
t he d e f i c i e n c i e s o f the t h r e e p r e v i o u s l y mentioned, and promotes s o c i ­
o logy to the d i g n i t y o f a s c i e n c e . This mode, which has been c r e a t e d
by Comte,7 i s the h i s t o r i c a l n e t h o i .
This method, which i s e n t i r e l y
new, i s derived from a combination9 o f b i o l o g i c a l ob se r v a ti o n and com­
p a r is o n , but i t t a k e s on such expansion with s o c i o l o g y t h a t i t becomes
a method in i t s own r i g h t , and the method o f s o c i o l o g y par e x c e l l e n c e .
This mode an a ly zes h i s t o r i c a l f a c t s along t h e i r general l i n e s 9
i n s t e a d of viewing them i n d i v i d u a l l y .
Ins tea d of r e t a i n i n g the con­
c r e t e p o in t o f view o f t h e h i s t o r i a n , i t adopts the a b s t r a c t approach
o f the p h ilo s o p h e r . H i s t o r i c a l f a c t s 10 are weighed as part o f a har­
monious whole, and in r e l a t i o n t o c o e x i s t i n g phenomena, and in t h e i r
f i l i a t i o n with prec ed in g and succeeding s t a t e s . With t h e help o f t h i s
method, the s o c i o l o g i s t i s ab l e t o draw l a r g e s e r i e s of s o c i a l s t a t e s ,
11
and to study the c o n d i t i o n s of e x i s t e n c e and th e e v o l u t i o n o f every
order of human m a n i f e s t a t i o n s .
Two t y p e s o f i n f e r e n c e are made: (1) When i t i s noted t h a t a
c e r t a i n c l a s s o f m a n i f e s t a t i o n s i n c r e a s e s c ontin u ously w h ile another
1.
p.
8.
4.
5.
3.
P.
9.
"9.
10.
11.
Co ur s, TV, p. 230.
Ibid., TV, p. 232.
Ib ii .i IV, p. 284.
ijbii.i IV, pp.234-285.
Ibid.) IV, p. 285.
Ibid. , IV, p . 240.
Pol. i II," p. 420.
Cours, IV, p. 236, ani VI, p. 509
ibid., VI, pp. 482-408.
_
Ibid., IV, p. 214, ani V, p. 10.
Ibid.) IV, p. 24.
.O K .
d e c r e a s e s s im u lta n eo u s ly in the same r a t i o , i t i s concluded t h a t a d e f ­
i n i t e r e l a t i o n l i n k s the one to the oth er or l i n k s them both t o the same
c a u s a l anteced ent;
(?) The study of the p ast combined with t h a t of the
p r e s e n t e n a b les the s o c i o l o g i s t t o p r e d i c t what the future1 i s going t o
b e.
In s h o r t , the h i s t o r i c a l method en a b l e s him t o d i s c o v e r t h e laws
o f pro duction o f the s o c i a l phenomenon, and t o use p r e v i s i o n ; i t g iv e s
i t s s c i e n t i f i c nature5 to sociology.
Tt must be remembered, Ccmte
c l a i m s t h a t the c r e a t i o n of the h i s t o r i c a l method promotes s o c i o l o g y
from the rank o f l i t e r a r y study t o t h a t of p o s i t i v e s c i e n c e .
Comte obse rv es t h at the method i s not f o o l - p r o o f .
Pe p e r c e i v e s a
danger in i t , which i s t h a t of s e e in g a tendency t o e x t i n c t i o n 5 in a l l
co n tin u ou s d e c r e a s e s — i . e . , the mathematical i n f l u e n c e ,
/eeordingly,
he e n j o i n s the s o c i o l o g i s t t o f o rb id entrance i n t o h i s f i e l d t o a l l
mathem aticians.
I f t h i s danger i s avoided, the h i s t o r i c a l method can
o f f e r nothing but good r e s u l t s .
F i r s t , i t b rin g s out the s o l i d a r i t y 4 o f a l l s o c i a l a s n e c t s .
Second,
i t shows t h a t human s o c i e t y i s not a h eter ogen eo us aggre gat e o f i n d i ­
v i d u a l s , each one f o ll o w i n g h i s own urges i r r e s p e c t i v e l y and independ­
e n t l y of t h o se o f h i s companions, but t h a t , on the con tra ry , i t i s one
l a r g e , harmonious f a m i l y , 5 in which the a c t i o n s o f a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s are
d i r e c t e d toward a common end. Third, i t b r i n g s out the r e l a t i v i t j ? o f
a l l s o c i a l phenomena.
£ s o c i e t y i s always as advanced7 as the consensus
o f i n f l u e n c e s permits i t t o be.
Comte remarks th a t the p r i n c i p l e o f s o c i a l determinism5 must not
become an apology for any e x i s t i n g order and a j u s t i f i c a t i o n 9 f o r the
d octrine of l a i s s e z - f a i r e .
The f a c t t h a t an order i s spontaneous does
not mean th a t i t i s p e r f e c t — we already know t h a t Comte had no blanket
admirat ion f o r Na tu re ’ s ways10— and does not warrant a n o n - in t e r v e n t io n
p olicy.
Fcience shows t h a t s o c i a l change e n t a i l s p r o g r e s s . I t r e v e a l s
t h e d i r e c t i o n of t h i s p r o g r e s s , and i t t e a c h e s t h e nature and e x t e n t of
t h e m o d i f i a b i l i t y of s o c i a l phenomena by man. From t h e s e data, the
p h i l o s o p h e r may deduce the form which human i n t e r v e n t i o n 11must assume.
T his p o in t w i l l be taken up again in studying s o c i a l s t a t i c s and s o c i a l
1.
2.
s.
4.
5.
6.
7.
9.
9.
1i i0i ._
11.
Cours,
IV,
p. 24?, & a i P o l . i
IV,p.15.
Sours, IV, p. 24?.
Ibid. ; TV, p. 244.
Ibid. f
IV,
p. 239.
Ibid. i
IV,
pp. 214, 294.
Ibid. i
IV,
pp. 203-204.
U >i d . t IV, pp. 203-209.
U)id.i
IV,
pp. 179-190.
Ibid, i IV, pp. 191, 203.
!r r
Of. pp. 93-34~ above; Pol. ; I ,f pp.;31-32._
Cours, IV,pp. 1 8 8 , i8t; of. pp. 101-102 below.
vyj. •
pui
c
aw W
’
j
* wv* |
■
—
9
v j.
>•»-’■
reorganization.1
theories.
I t i s n e e d l e s s t o emphasize the importance o f such
Comte avers t h a t s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n 4 r e p r e s e n t s an u nfold in g o f human
t r a i t s , and t h a t i t does not i n v o l v e a c r e a t i o n o f new f a c u l t i e s .
He
h o l d s a l s o t h a t th e s o c i a l phenomenon i s r e l a t i v e to the s t a t e o f i n t e l ­
l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n . The s t a t e o f i n t e l l e c t u a l development d i c t a t e s the
e t h i c s o f the t im e s , the i n d u s t r i a l development and the p o l i t i c a l con­
stitution.
In other words, the e v o l u t i o n o f s o c i e t y i s a c o r o l l a r y o f
the law of the t h r e e s t a t e s , and the law o f s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n 5 can be
deduced from the law o f the t h r e e s t a t e s .
For t h i s reason, he p l a n s to
use the current p h ilosop h y o f the times as the c r i t e r i o n 5 f o r each phase.
Put at t h i s p o i n t he f i n d s t h a t i t i s not an err o r - p r o o f c r i t e r i o n . The
t h r e e s t a t e s c o e x i s t , 4 and t h e r e i s no homogeneity in nhil oso ph y. For
i n s t a n c e , the in o r g a n ic p h i l o s o p h y 5 became p o s i t i v e long b e f o r e the o r­
ga n ic became so . The re fore , i t i s a d v i s a b l e to use through the ages the
same branch o f p h ilos oph y as a c r i t e r i o n . Comte s e l e c t s e t h i c s 8 f o r
t h i s purpose.
I f i t be t h e o l o g i c a l , the period w i l l be rated as t h e o ­
l o g i c a l by him. I f i t be m eta p h ys ical, i t w i l l be rated as m eta p hysical.
Comte s t u d i e s the modifying f o r c e s 7 o f s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n . They are,
according to him, the r a c e , the c l i m a t e , ' and p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n . He b e ­
l i e v e s t h a t the d i v e r s i t y o f r a c e s 9 was c r e a t e d by the adaptation o f
man t o d i f f e r e n t environments, b u t he assumes t h a t , once th e r e was a
r a c i a l d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n , each r a c e 10acquired c e r t a i n s p e c i f i c t r a i t s .
The white race i s p r im a r il y i n t e l l e c t u a l , the black a f f e c t i v e , and th e
y e l lo w a c t i v e .
S o c ie t y i s a l s o mod ified by the c l i m a t e , although i t s e f f e c t 11 here
has been exa gg er at ed .- The e f f e c t of p o l i t i c a l a c t io n had not been
stu d ie d s c i e n t i f i c a l l y u n t i l the time o f Comte. The p h ilo so p h er s t a t e s
t h a t s o c i a l reformers15 have a l s o o v e r - r a t e d i t s importance.
He d i v i d e s th e study o f s o c i o l o g y i n t o s t a t i c s and dynamics. S t a t i c s
i s the study o f t h e laws of c o e x i s t e n c e , namely, th e study o f order, while
dynamics i s the study o f the laws o f s u c c e s s i o n , t h a t i s , o f p r o g r e s s .
3 1 - 3 2 above; Cours, IV, pp. 87, 245; Pol., I , pp. 106, 245; C at., p. 1.39.
Cours, IV, p. 345.
8. Ibid., V, pp. 14-15.
1. Of. pp.
2.
4. Of. pp. V5-56' above.
5. Of. pp. 102-103 below.
8 . Cours, IV, p. 196, an! V. pp. 14-15.
_
7. Tbid., TV, pp. 209-210; Opus. >_PP. ^107-109.
-97-
Comte s t a t e s t h a t he r e s t r i c t s h i m s e l f to one s o c i a l s e r i e s , the s e r i e s
o f Western Eu rop e,1 and t h a t he i s not concerned with the s o c i e t i e s of
t h e F a s t and with Islam.
The method having been founded, he i n q u i r e s i n t o s t a t i c a l and dy­
namical la w s. Be r e a d i l y admits t h a t he has g iv e n i t s f i n a l c o n s t i t u ­
t i o n t o th9 method on ly, and t h at s o c i a l l a w s 5 are hardly more than ou t­
lined.
He c l a i m s th a t t h i s i s o f no consequence: the c r e a t i o n of the
method i s what matters in philosophy.
He h o l d s t h a t the f i n a l elab or a­
t i o n o f th e h i s t o r i c a l method r e a c t s on the whole system of p o s i t i v e
p h i l o s o p h y , and he p r o f f e r s the f o l l o w i n g r eason s f o r h i s a s s e r t i o n .
F i r s t , i t co m p le te s the p o s i t i v e method and, by making i t a p p lic a b l e
t o the study o f a l l orders o f phenomena, i t render s i t u n i v e r s a l .
Hecond, i t i s by the use of i t s method th a t s o c i o l o g y r e v e a l s t h e i r
r a i s o n d ' e t r e t o the other s c i e n c e s .
I t a s s i g n s them t h e i r aim, u t i l ­
i t y , and t h i s end can be d isc over ed by s o c i o l o g y o n ly .
Third, s o c i ­
o l o g y , by t h e same pro ce ss and in s u i t e o f i t s pre sen t undeveloped
s t a t e , d em on strate s 4 a p o s t e r i o r i the law o f th e th r e e s t a t e s and the
law o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the s c i e n c e s , thereby r e v e a l i n g the h i s t o r y
o f human th ought. I t i s time now t o proceed with s o c i a l s t a t i c s and
dynamics.
1 . Cours, v , p. ?. ?. I b i d . * V I, p. 491. ■
s . Ib id. > IV, p. 247; Po-l., I , pp. 44-45, 419-420.
4. Ibid., VI, pp. 514—515.
CHAPTER VI
Soci al
St a t i c s
and
Dy n a m i c s
S t a t i c s i s the r a t i o n a l study o f t h e a c t i o n s and r e a c t i o n s of
t h e components of s o c i e t y — o f i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s — with the e x c l u s i o n of
i t s forward movement. Comte s t a t e s t h at wherever ther e i s a consen­
s u s , 51 th ere i s an i n t e r n a l s o l i d a r i t y of the elements which form the
system. He observes t h a t t h e s o l i d a r i t y o f s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s 8 has
been rec ogn ized by t h i n k e r s .
A r i s t o t l e , 4 the founder of s o c i a l s t a t i c s ,
brought out th e s u b o r d i n a t io n o f c i v i l law to the mores, but he did not
a p p r e c ia t e the s u b s e r v ie n c e o f the i n s t i t u t i o n s to the s ta g e o f c i v i l ­
ization.
Comte hold s t h a t both p o l i t i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s and s o c i a l mores5
ex pre ss th e degree of i n t e l l e c t u a l development of humanity.
S o c ie t y , he co n ten ds, i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by two a t t r i b u t e s , 6 s o l i d ­
a r i t y and c o n t i n u i t y .
The agent which i n s u r e s th ose i s the f a m il y . He
aver s t h a t s o c i e t y h o ld s t h r e e e l e m e n t s 7 which correspond to t h r e e d i f ­
f e r e n t degrees of g e n e r a l i t y , a l l t h r e e forming a hie rarchy. Those e l e ­
ments are the i n d i v i d u a l , t h e f a m i l y , and s o c i e t y . Put s o c i e t y at l a r g e ,
he p o i n t s out, must be regarded as composed of f a m i l i e s and not of i n d i ­
v i d u a l s . The fa m il y i s t h e s o c i a l u n i t .
It is self-su fficien t.
A
f a m i l y 8 can l i v e in a s t a t e of i s o l a t i o n , whereas an in d iv id u a l cannot.
Comte proceeds t o an aly ze t h e composition of the fa m il y, and he
ob se rves t h a t i t comprises two mates, the husband and the w if e , t h e i r
o f f s p r i n g , t h e i r aged p a r e n t s , and t h e i r s e r v a n t s , i f t h e i r economic
s t a t u s warrants such an a d d i t i o n . T h e o r e t i c a l l y speaking, the p a t e r ­
f a m i l i a s goes out i n t o the world to make a l i v i n g , w hile the wife s t a y s
at home t o attend t o domestic d u t i e s and t o educate the c h il d r e n . Comte
s t a t e s th a t the family d e r i v e s i t s s o c i a l importance from the f a c t th a t
i t c o n t a in s a l l the germs o f s o c i e t y .
I t s very a c t i v i t y 10 i s founded on
two p r i n c i p l e s , d i v i s i o n of lab or and c o o p e r a t i o n c f e f f o r t s , which are
t h e foundation of s o c i e t y .
In s h o r t , the family11 r e p r e s e n ts a miniature
s o c i e t y , or a s o c i e t y in embryo.
i . Qours, IV, pp. 170, 190.
p'. Ibid.' iv; pp.'iseiis*.
8. I b i d . i IV, p. 174.
4. PoZ.j I I , p. 851V a“A 111> P* 819•
5. Cours, IV, pp. 176, P04.
_ ,
8. Pol. i IV, p. 8P;
7. Cours, IV, pp. 284 aad 8P81Pol., I , p . ' 94.
189, l S l - 1 8 ?, 289; TV, p.
e. Cours, IV, pp. P1 4 , 809;?oZ.> i t , pp.
81.
_oo_
Comte h o l d s t h a t f a m il y l i f e i s "the c r a d l e o f s o c i a l f e e l i n g . * 1
from the mutual r e l a t i o n o f parents and c h i ld r e n s p r in g s l o v e , s and
from the d i v i s i o n o f labor and cooperation of e f f o r t s come f o r t h f e e l ­
in g s of g r a t i t u d e and abnegation. Love, g r a t i t u d e and abnegation are
t h e germs o f a l t r u i s m . 8 f o r t h i s reason, the f a m ily i s the s o c i a l
school o f th e h e a r t .
Tt f o l l o w s t h a t any a t ta c k on the f a m ily , or any s o c i a l change which
weakens i t s i n t e g r a t i o n , has a b a l e f u l i n f l u e n c e on f e e l i n g s , and accord­
i n g l y has a noxious r e p e r c u s s i o n 4 on s o c i e t y . Prompted by t h i s c o n v ic ­
t i o n , Comte d is co u n t en a n ces d ivorc e and a l l the p h i l a n t h r o p i c or s o c i a l ­
i s t i c i n s t i t u t i o n s , 5 such as k in der gart ens and h o s p i t a l s , which aim at
l i g h t e n i n g t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of the home. On the oth er hand, Comte
a f f i r m s t h a t , because such i n s t i t u t i o n s e x i s t 6 and i n f l u e n c e domestic
l i f e , s o c i e t y can modify the fa m ily.
Ftudying the c o n s t i t u t i o n of the family from the p h i l o s o p h i c a l
p o i n t of view, he ob se rv es th a t i t embodies two t y p e s o f s u b o r d i n a t i o n , 7
t h a t of the ages and t h at o f th e s e x e s . The sub ord in a tion of the ages9
cannot be c o n t e s t e d , because c h i l d r e n are dependent upon t h e i r parents
fo r support, p r o t e c t i o n and informal ed u ca t io n . I t has a d e f i n i t e
e f f e c t on the c h i l d r e n .
I t f o s t e r s 9 in them a f e e l i n g which l a t e r w i l l
assume the form o f l o y a l t y to s o c i e t y .
It a c t s on the o l d e r gen era tion
by s t i m u l a t i n g an a b i l i t y t o command.
The s u b o r d in a t io n of t h e s e x e s i s l e s s e v id e n t , although ,iust as
marked and n e c e s s a r y .
The p r i n c i p l e s o f d i v i s i o n o f labor and coOperat i o n imply c o o r d in a t io n " o f e f f o r t s , th a t i s , su bordin atio n o f a l l
workers t o one l e a d e r .
This p r i n c i p l e i s an i n s t a n c e o f t h e u n i v e r s a l
p r i n c i p l e which r e q u i r e s t h a t a l l phenomena11 spontaneously arrange
t h em s elv es acc ord in g t o t h e i r degree of d ecreas in g g e n e r a l i t y .
As the
f a m ily i s a m in iature s o c i e t y , the p r i n c i p l e of sub or din ation h old s
t r u e for th e f a m i l y .
E ith er man has t o submit t o the woman of h i s
household, or she has t o bow t o h i s a u t h o r it y .
Comte a p p r a i s e s woman and a s s e r t s t h a t she i s u n f i t f o r command.
Her c o n d i t i o n i s one of continuous infancy.19 Hhe r e t a i n s throughout
her adult y e a r s t h e d i s l i k e of i n t e n s e and p e r s i s t e n t ce r e b r a l e x e r t i o n 18
1.
Pol., I , p . 94, and I I , op. 1 8 9 - 1 9 4 .
p. Cours, IV, pp. 9 1 0 - 8 1 1 ; Pol., I , pp. 95-96.
8 . Cours, IV, pp. 8 1 5 - 8 1 6 .
4. Ibid., IV, p. ?95.
g. Pol., I , p . 1 6 ?; IV,pp. 4 P9 ,
486.
6.
ib id .,
I I , p. 189,andIV, p. P5.
7.
Cours,
IV,p. ?97.
o. Ib id.,
IV,p. 938.
"9 . Ib id .,
IV,p. 804.
10.
Ibid., IV, p. 800.
11. P o l . , 'T i g P. « 8 .
IP.
18.
Cours,
Ibid. >
TV,p.800.
IV,p. 801.
-1 0 0 -
which i s t y p i c a l o f c h i l d r e n .
She has no c a p a c it y for p h i l o s o p h i c a l
a b s t r a c t i o n s , and she a l l o w s her f e e l i n g s t o guide her. The does not
acquire general views. As command r e q u i r e s 1 t h ese q u a l i t i e s e s p e c i a l l y ,
she i s u n f i t for e x e c u t i v e work as w e l l as f o r s p e c u la t i o n , and the
husband must be the master o f t h e f a m i ly .
Woman, on the other hand, i s s u p er io r t o manin regard t o t h e h e a r t .
Her s o c i a l f e e l i n g s 2 are s tr o n g e r than h i s , and her i n t u i t i o n s s u r e r .
Tor th ose re a s o n s, she i s b e t t e r f i t t e d f o r domestic d u t ie s and th e edu­
c a t i o n o f c h il d r e n than he i s .
With the man out in the world t o make a
l i v i n g , and the w ife at home a t t e n d i n g t o d o m e s t ic i t y , ther e i s a natur al'
and s a t i s f a c t o r y d i v i s i o n of l a b o r .
Comte never swerved from t h i s op in io n . When he wrote the Cours,
he paid l i t t l e a t t e n t i o n t o t h e h e a r t , and he saw mostly woman's8 lack
of in te llig e n c e .
He s e g r e g a t e d her in t h e home, not so much because of
her ap t it u d e to f o s t e r s o c i a l f e e l i n g , as t o keep her away from man's
world. When he wrote t h e F o l i t i o u e , he s t i l l considered her 4 i n f e r i o r
t o man i n t e l l e c t u a l l y .
He s t i l l b e l i e v e d that a c t i v i t y required phys­
i c a l f o r c e and i n t e l l i g e n c e .
However, by that time he was c h i e f l y i n ­
t e r e s t e d in f e e l i n g s .
The r e l i g i o u s importance o f the home and the
female a f f e c t i v e s u p e r i o r i t y made i t more important than ever f o r women
t o s t a y at home.
Studying the home s t i l l f u r t h e r , Comte avers that th e s e x e s are
complementary, and t h a t th e two combine t o form a complete p s y c h o l o g i c a l
u n i t . The heart i s r e p r e s e n t e d by woman, i n t e l l i g e n c e and i n d u s t r i a l
a c t i v i t y by man. Comte a l s o p o i n t s out that the family i s t h e organ6
of s o c ia l continuity.
The p r o g e n i t o r s g i v e to t h e i r c h ild r e n t h e knowl­
edge which th ey them selve s have i n h e r i t e d from, t h e i r paren ts.
Comte s t u d i e s th e o r i g i n of s o c i e t y , and he notes t h a t t h e theory
o f s o c i a l c o n t r a c t 6 i s l o g i c a l l y u n te nable. The u t i l i t y o f s o c i e t y , he
a v e r s , did not become ev id e n t u n t i l s o c i e t y had assumed a l a r g e d e v e lo p ­
ment.
S o c i e t y , t h e r e f o r e , preceded a l l notion of i t s u s e f u l n e s s .
Studying other t h e o r i e s , he ob se rves t h a t the o r i g i n o f s o c i e t y cannot
be accounted f o r by man's h a i r l e s s n e s s 7 or by h i s prolonged i n f a n c y . '
He concludes by s t a t i n g t h a t s o c i e t y e x i s t s because the s o c i a l i n s t i n c t
1.
2.
p.
4.
5.
6.
7#
9.
9.
Cours, IV, p. 857.
Ibid. i TV, p . 802.
Of. pp. 20—21 abovev
'
Pol. i I , pp. 2 0 0 - 2 1 1 ,,2 * 5 -2 4 9 , 259-253; I I , p. 8 1 8 .
Cours, i v , p. 805; P o l.i I I , pp. 194-135.
Cours, IV, p. 204.
tOuof I» 1pi 639#
_ .
Cours, IV, p. 296; Pol. > I , p. 084.
Of. pp. 29, 31-32 above.
-101-
i s d e e p ly roo ted in nan’s nature. However, he does not in q u ir e i n t o
t h e o r i g i n of t h i s i n s t i n c t , the laws o f p o s i t i v i t y f o rbid din g hi® t o
s p e c u l a t e on f i r s t c a u s e s .
He then proceeds to study s o c i e t y . He s t a t e s t h a t d i v i s i o n of
lab or and i t s c o r r e l a t i v e , co operation of e f f o r t s , p r e v a i l 1 spontane­
ously.
He remarks t h a t a new power, t h a t of government, makes i t s
appearance when one p a s s e s from the family t c s o c i e t y .
The government
i s t o s o c i e t y what the a u t h o r it y of the p a t e r f a m i l i a s i s t o the f a m ily.
Government i s always p res en t in s o c i e t y . Comte says t h at i t i s as
i m p o s s i b l e t o imagine a " s o c i e t y without government as a government
•
£
«
w ithout s o c i e t y . "
He cla im s t h a t i t a r i s e s spontaneously'" as a d i r e c t
consequence of d i v i s i o n of lab or. D i v i s i o n of l a b o r 4 g e n e r a t e s spe­
c i a l i z a t i o n , which in turn f o s t e r s sub ordin ation of some i n d i v i d u a l s
t o o t h e r s . Subordination on the s o c i a l s c a l e i s submission t o the gov­
ernment. I t f o l l o w s t h at th e c h i e f f u n c ti on o f a government i s to
" r e t a i n an e s p r i t 2 ’ensembl e,
the aim of which i s t o c o r r e c t the
e v i l s o f d i s p e r s i o n inherent t o s p e c i a l i z a t i o n .
A government, th en, i s the r e s u l t a n t o f t h e consensus o f natural
forces.
Comte i n f e r s t h a t i t cannot be a r t i f i c i a l l y c r e a t e d .
He s t u d i e s the nature and value of p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n . Tar from
denying t h a t such an a c t i o n i s p o s s i b l e , he avers t h a t the s o c i a l phe­
nomenon, being the l a s t one o f the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y
t h e most m od if ia b le of a l l .
N e v e r t h e l e s s , he ob se rves t h a t t h in k e r s
have misunderstood the nature o f p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n . Not r e a l i z i n g that
s o c i e t y ^ f o l l o w s i n v a r i a b l e laws, they have f a i l e d to a p p r e c ia t e t h at
p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n 7 i s e f f i c a c i o u s only in th e measure in which i t con­
forms with the t e n d e n c ie s inherent t o the s o c i e t y c o n s id e r e d . Instead
o f r e c o g n i z i n g th a t a u t h o r i t y 9 d e r iv e s i t s f o r c e from the s o c i a l con­
s e n s u s and from no other source, t h a t "Van f i d g e t s and Humanity le ad s
h im ," 9 they have b e l i e v e d th e convers e, or, to put i t another way,
t h e y have overlooked the f a c t t h a t p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n i s i n e f f e c t i v e
u n l e s s i t be accompanied with the asse n t of the governed.
Comte informs t h e reader th a t the aim of government i s t o prevent
"the p a r t i a l d e v i a t i o n s , the b a l e f u l d elays and the s e r i o u s incoherences"10
1 . Cours, IV, p. 319; P o l., I l l , pp. 293-299.
p. P o l ., I I , p. 96*7; Cat., p. 250.
S. C a t., p. 250.
4.
Cours,
IV,
p. 319;P ol., IT , pp. 293-299.
5. Cours,
IV,
p . 320.
5 . Cours,
IV,
p . 20V.
7. Ibid., IV, pp. 210-211.
9. Ibid., V
I , p. 177.
-9. Pol., I I , p. 455.
10. Ibid;, I , p. 9; I I , P*
-1 0 ? -
apt t o be found i n a complex system.
I t a c h i e v e s such an end by "con­
t a i n i n g and d i r e c t i n g " s o c i a l a c t i v i t y .
In s h o r t , the fu n c tio n o f gov­
ernment i s t o s y s t e m a t i z e the spontaneous e v o l u t i o n o f s o c i e t y .
Let us, d i g r e s s at t h i s p o in t and mention Comte’ s theory of gen iu s.
He contends t h a t i n d i v i d u a l g e n i u s , be i t s c i e n t i f i c , a r t i s t i c , indus­
t r i a l or p o l i t i c a l , does not a r i s e indep en den tly o f the c o l l e c t i v e de­
velopment of the human mind. Man has t o ta ke up s c i e n c e , a r t , industry
or p o l i t i c s where h i s a n c e s t o r s l e f t i t .
A g e n i u s 8 i s one whose mind
s e n s e s f i r s t the mental r e v o l u t i o n t ak ing p l a c e in the s o c i e t y in which
he l i v e s , and h a s t e n s 4 i t s na tura l advent. Comte s t a t e s th a t the sound­
n e s s of h i s th eory i s corroborated by the f a c t t h a t s e v e r a l men,5 unknown
t o each o th er, make t h e same d i s c o v e r y in d i f f e r e n t p l a c e s at th e same
tim e.
Were genius s t r i c t l y i n d i v i d u a l , such an occurrence would not
arise.
Comte proceeds t o analyze the c o n s t i t u t i o n of s o c i e t y , and he con­
te n d s t h a t c i v i l i z a t i o n 8 i s based on the i n e a u a l i t y o f a p t i t u d e s . Hocie t y 7embodies the fundamental d i v i s i o n o f th eory and p r a c t i c e . There are
two s o c i a l orders: the s p i r i t u a l , embodying the i n t e l l i g e n c e and the
h e a r t , and re p res en te d by the p h i l o s o p h i c a l , s c i e n t i f i c , e t h i c a l , and
e s t h e t i c a l elements of s o c i e t y ; and the temporal, embodying i n d u s t r i a l
activ ity .
Comte c l a s s i f i e s each p r o f e s s i o n or c r a f t according t o i t s degree
o f g e n e r a l i t y . He mentions t h a t th e s p i r i t u a l and temporal h i e r a r c h i e s
are not purely l o g i c a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s , and t h at th ey correspond, on the
c o n t r a r y , t o an o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y , 9 owing t o the f a c t th a t phenomena
spo n tan eo u sl y order th em selves acco rd in g t o t h e i r degree of dec re asin g
generality.
At the top o f the s p i r i t u a l order, t h e r e are the p h il osop h ers and
the s c i e n t i s t s .
Comte i s compelled t o d i s t i n g u i s h between the two tem­
p o r a r i l y , he a s s e r t s , on account of th e s t i l l p r e v a i l i n g separation10 of
t h e in o rg a n ic and o r g a n ic . The f i e l d of gen er al s c i e n c e i s not as ex­
t e n s i v e as t h a t o f p h ilosop h y. When s c i e n c e has become p o s i t i v e
throughout, then t h e org anic w i l l no longer be s eg re ga te d from t h e
1 '. Cours*, TV,*p? 2 7 8 ; Pol. > I ,
8. Cours, VI, p. 449.
4 . Obus.i p. 94. ”
5.
8.
p . 442, I I , pp. 49-55, 256, 896; C at. > p. 276.
Cours, TV, p . 196.
Ibid, i IV, p. 823.
7. 'P o l., I , p . '9 9 .
9 . C o u r s , VI, pp. 9 -9 .
9 . I b i d . i V I, p. 8 f ' C a t . i
lOi Cours, V I, pp. 12-18.
pp. 809-310.
-1 0 ? -
in o r g a n ic by a p o r t io n o f humanity, and the domain1 o f s c i e n c e w i l l
c o i n c i d e with t h a t o f p h i lo so p h y . Philosophy and s c i e n c e w i l l be one.
E t h i c s w i l l become a d e d u c t iv e s c ie n c e i s s u e d from p h ilo s o p h y . Scien ­
t i s t s w i l l be m o r a l i s t s as w e l l as p h i l o s o p h e r s .
A r t i s t s come l a s t in
t h e s p i r i t u a l h i e r a r c h y . They r e p r e s e n t 8 the t r a n s i t i o n between th eory
and p r a c t i c e , t h a t i s , between the s p i r i t u a l and the temporal. When
p o s i t i v i t y i s u n i v e r s a l , th e th ree n ee d s8 o f human n at ur e, for the tru e,
the good and the b e a u t i f u l , w i l l be s a t i s f i e d , and t h e p h i l o s o p h e r s c i e n t i s t - m o r a l i s t w i l l be an a r t i s t ' as w e l l .
Peminding t h e reader t h a t government i s formed s pontan eo usly wher­
ever t h e r e i s d i v i s i o n o f labor and cdoperation o f e f f o r t , Comte avers
t h a t t h e r e are two e x e c u t i v e powers, a s p i r i t u a l and a temporal or po­
l i t i c a l , and two c l a s s e s o f i n d u s t r i a l men,4 t h e workers and the e n t r e p r e m u r s.
Each i n d u s t r i a l occupation i s c l a s s i f i e d according t o i t s
degree of g e n e r a l i t y . Panking5 comes f i r s t , because i t d e a l s with
f i g u r e s , which are a b s t r a c t n o t i o n s . Then comes commerce, fo llo w e d
by manufacturing, and l a s t l y comes a g r i c u l t u r e .
After c l a s s i f y i n g o ccu p a t io n s , Comte compares t h e s t a t e o f contem­
porary s o c i e t y with h i s f i n d i n g s , and shows t h a t t h e r e i s a great d i s ­
crepancy between what s o c i e t y should be and what i t i s .
The Europe o f
th e n i n e t e e n t h ce ntu ry f a i l s t o r e c o g n i z e th e n e c e s s a r y s e p a r a tio n of
s p i r i t u a l and temporal powers. The s p i r i t u a l government i s absorbed
by t h e temporal, and as t h e l a t t e r cannot a p p r e c ia t e t h e needs o f men’ s
s o u l s , humanity i s allowed t o lead a purely m a teria l l i f e .
P o c ia l dy­
namics, t o be d e s c r ib e d p r e s e n t l y , w i l l r e v e a l more about th e s i t u a t i o n
and i t s remedy.
Comte con tends t h a t t h e study o f dynamics i s more important
to
i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n than t h a t of s t a t i c s . The id e a o f progress
which dynamics embodies i s newer and l e s s accepted than t h a t o f order.
He adds t h a t dynamics has never before been s t u d i e d s y s t e m a t i c a l l y , and
t h a t i t r e p r e s e n t s , in consequence, the most o r i g i n a l part o f h i s con­
t r i b u t i o n t o p o s i t i v e p h il o s o p h y . While he b a r e l y o u t l i n e s s t a t i c s in
f o r t y - t h r e e p ages of t h e Cours, he d ev o t es e i g h t hundred and s i x t y - f o u r
pages t o dynamics proper. The P o l i t i q u e o f f e r s s e v e r a l a d d i t i o n s t o
s o c i a l s t a t i c s ; dynamics, however, remains t h e more important aspe ct
o f Comte’ s s o c i o l o g y .
1.
22..
Cours, VI, p. 154.
Ibid.
asi'V I, p. 542.
Ib
id . > V, p. 79;"
79," and
8. I b i d . , VI, pp."10-11
4 . Pol.> II , pp. 326-82'
5. Cours, V I, P. 2 V.
pp. 190-191, 287.
-1 0 4 Cc
^omte
f i r s t e s t a b l i s h e s t h e r e l a t i o n which u n i t e s dynamics t o
s t a t i c s . The same r e l a t i o n 1 which l i n k s t h e notion of movement t o
t h a t o f e x i s t e n c e , and o f f u n c t i o n t o t h a t o f organ, i s t o be found
in s o c i o l o g y ; progress i s t h e development o f o r d e r . 8 Comte thought
t h i s statement so v a lu a b le th a t he made i t one8 o f the p r i n c i p l e s o f
h i s f i r s t philosophy.
Tn t h i s second branch o f s o c i o l o g y , Comte s t u d i e s 4 the general
d i r e c t i o n , the speed and th e s u c c e s s i o n o f th e vario us s t a g e s o f human
e v o l u t i o n , without s p e c u l a t i n g on the f i n a l c a u s e 5 of human improvement.
The s o c i a l i n s t i n c t had exp la i n e d s o c i a l order; th e i n s t i n c t 6 o f e t h ­
i c a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l improvement, which was encountered at the o r i g i n
o f s c i e n c e , accounts for man’ s s o c i a l p r o g r e s s .
Dynamics r e v e a l s t h a t t h i s e v o l u t i o n e n t a i l s a p r o g r e s s i v e ascend­
en cy7 of humanity over a n i m a l i t y , or of s o c i a b i l i t y over p e r s o n a l i t y ,
and o f reaso n8 over im agin at io n . Van becomes "more i n t e l l i g e n t , a c t i v e
and l o v in g " 9 as humanity expands through tim e.
Tn s h o r t , human e v o l u ­
t i o n i s ch a r a c t e r iz e d by an i n c r e a s i n g i n f l u e n c e of t h e s p e c u l a t i v e l i f e
over the a c t i v e l i f e .
Action10 remains the end of human e f f o r t , because
man i s a l i v i n g organism, but he l e a r n s net t o indulge in gross se xual
p l e a s u r e s , and h i s a c t i o n i s more and more dominated by i n t e l l i g e n c e .
Comte adds t h at t h i s e v o l u t i o n 11 i s spontaneous, and that man pro­
g r e s s e s without c o n s c i o u s l y s t r i v i n g t o b e t t e r h i m s e l f . I t should-be
mentioned here that he did not regard humanity as being n e c e s s a r i l y the
h i g h e s t rung on the animal la d d e r , and t h at he s t a t e d that a s p e c i e s
more i n t e l l i g e n t , and kinder, could be imagined. Fe considere d, t oo,
t h a t humanity19might begin t o d e c l i n e and d ie out a f t e r a t t a i n i n g i t s
maximum progress.
Comte contends t h a t t h r e e f a c t o r s c o n t r i b u t e to g i v e s o c i a l e v o lu ­
t i o n the ch aracter which i t assumes. The f i r s t i s man’ s d e s i r d 8 for
ha p p in ess . The second i s the short span14 o f h i s l i f e .
As soon as he
has reached maturity, he s t a r t s t o d e c l i n e . He b egin s l i f e with a strong
d e s i r e for i n n o v a tio n s , and ends i t with an e q u a l l y strong longing for
1. Pol... I I , p. 2 1 .
I b i d . , I, pp. 104-108, TI, p. 2 , ana IV, p. 179.
8. Cf. p. 51 above.
4. Cours, IV, pp. 843-344.
5. I b i d . , IV, p . 44.
3 . I b i d . , TV, pp. 191, 831; of. p. 42 above.
7. I b i d . i IV, pp. 829-330, 832; VI, p. 5l6.
9. I b i d . , V, p. 24.
9. P o l.i I I I , p. 72.
10. Cours, VI, p. 804.
l i t Ibid,. i 1h \ ‘, pp. 72-78.
14I
ivj pp.S3l4-S85; PoZ.> II , pp. 447-449.
2.
-105-
conservatism.
/ s a r e s u l t , the i n s t i n c t of in n ovati on on t h e part o f
t h e younger members o f s o c i e t y i s almost n e u t r a l i z e d by t h e conserva­
t i v e i n s t i n c t o f the o l d . The t h i r d f a c t o r i s the c o n s t a n t i n c r e a s e
in p o p u l a t i o n , * which i n t e n s i f i e s co m petition as humanity grows older.
L a t e r , Comte added a f o u r t h f a c t o r , 5 which comprised the mutual r e a c ­
t i o n s of one type o f c i v i l i z a t i o n on the o t h e r s .
Humanity dev el op s c o n t in u o u s l y 8 according to i n v a r i a b l e laws, which
w i l l be for mulate d p r e s e n t l y . Observing that s o c i a l movement4 i s the
accumulation o f gradual and p a r t i a l changes, Comte h o l d s t h a t the r a t e
o f change i s not uniform, and that i t p r e s e n t s a s e r i e s o f o s c i l l a t i o n s . 5
This i s due t o the f a c t t h a t the passage from one s t a t e t o the next must
be preceded by a per io d o f seeming anarchy® during which t h e old system
i s being d e s t r o y e d . ' While the n eg a t iv e f o r c e s are at work, t h e forward
f o r c e s do not have f r e e p la y , and the p rocess of r e c o n s t r u c t i o n i s hidden
and p a r t l y n e u t r a l i z e d by the work of d e s t r u c t i o n o f th e o l d .
I t may be mentioned at t h i s po in t t h a t Comte b e l i e v e d t h a t inorganic
c o n d i t i o n s 7— i . e . , the environment— did not a f f e c t t h e laws o f human
development. They on ly modify the speed of change.
Comte v o i c e s the key notion of h i s theory o f s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n . I t
i s t h a t s o c i e t y i s r u le d by i n t e l l i g e n c e ; in other words, t h a t s o c i e t y 9
e x p r e s s e s t h e s t a g e of i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n .
I n t e llig e n c e influences
man’ s a c t i o n s d i r e c t l y by g i v i n g a constant and p e r s i s t e n t c o n t i n u i t y
t o h i s b eh a v io r; and, t h e s o c i a l organism being founded on a common
s t o r e o f knowledge, i n t e l l i g e n c e i n f l u e n c e s s o c i e t y i n d i r e c t l y .
Comte
th en con tends t h a t a l l t h e other a s p e c t s of s o c i e t y , 9 the e t h i c a l and
i n d u s t r i a l in p a r t i c u l a r , are determined by t h e s t a t e o f e v o l u t i o n o f
intelligen ce.
In s h o r t , the e t h i c s and in dustry of a period are what
t h ey are b e c a u s e i n t e l l i g e n c e has reached a c e r t a i n l e v e l .
These two Comtean n o t i o n s , the supremacy of i n t e l l i g e n c e in s o c i ­
e t y and the s o l i d a r i t y o f a l l s o c i a l a s p e c ts with i n t e l l i g e n c e , are
most important, because th ey determine h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f h i s t o r y .
His s o c i a l dynamics r e p r e s e n t s h i s e f f o r t to demonstrate t h e i r r e a l i t y .
The s t u d y o f t h e v a r i o u s r a c e s , 10 he contends, shows t h a t the human
mind i s the same everywhere, that i t f o l l o w s the same l i n e o f e v o l u t i o n ,
1.
3.
3.
4.
5.
Cours, IV , pp. 387-33?.
P o l.) II * p . 453.
Iv ,
p p . "194, 199.
TV,
p . 193.
IV,
p. pi3; Pol., I l l , p. 72.
Cours,
Ibid .,
Ibid.,
8. Cours,
7.
9.
9.
10.
Cowrs,
Ibid:,
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
IV,
IV,
IV,
TV,
IV,
pp.
19- 21,
"
283-565; ubus. t p. 179; Pol., I l l , p. 508.
p . 254.
p . 341, ana V, p . 14.
p p . 342-343.
p p . 442-443.
and t h a t human l o g i c 1 assumes t h e same a s p e ct everywhere. Comte . in f e r s ,
from t h e s e pre m ises , t h a t t h e law of i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n answers f o r
a l l o f humanity, and c o n s e q u e n t ly t h a t i t i s i n v a r i a b l e and u n i v e r s a l . 8
This l a w , 8 with which we are alre ad y f a m i l i a r , i s the law of t he t h r e e
states.
I t e x p l a i n s a l l t h e gr e a t phases o f humanity, the p a r t i c i p a t i o n
o f each of t h e s e in ge n e r a l p r o g r e s s , and t h e i r s u c c e s s i o n .
It also
i n tr o d u c e s a p e r f e c t u n i t y and a r i g o r o u s c o n t i n u i t y in human e v o l u t i o n .
Comte con cludes t h a t t h e s e f a c t s make t h i s law the ab st r a c t e x p r e s sio n
o f an e x i s t i n g r e a l i t y , and t h a t i t s t r u th i s demonstrated a p r i o r i
l o g i c a l l y and a p o s t e r i o r i e m p i r i c a l l y . He f u rth er claims t h a t t h i s
o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y of the law e n t i t l e s him t o deduce the f u t u r e from the
p a st and p r e s e n t , and t h a t i t s u p p l i e s him with t h e d i r e c t i o n which must
be given to s c i e n c e 4 t o make i t c o i n c i d e with the spontaneous movement
of society.
Van has i n t e l l i g e n c e , hea rt and a c t i v i t y .
The law of t he t h r e e
s t a t e s i s the i n v a r i a b l e law o f e v o l u t i o n o f i n t e l l i g e n c e . Two other
laws, which w i l l account f o r the e v o l u t i o n o f the heart and o f a c t i v i t y ,
must be d is c o v e r e d . Comte fo rm u lates the law of a f f e c t i v e or e t h i c a l
e v o l u t i o n . I t i s t h at a lt r u is m or humanity gra dually ga in s supremacy
over eg o - cen tris m or p e r s o n a l i t y . Van, at the in c e p tio n of h i s c a r e e r ,
i s s e l f - c e n t e r e d , then p r o g r e s s i v e l y he becomes an a l t r u i s t . The i n ­
v a r i a b l e law o f a c t i v e e v o l u t i o n i s t h a t a c t i v i t y e v o l v e s from m i l i t a r y pred ato ry t o i n d u s t r i a l - p e a c e a b l e , p a s s in g through an intermediary s t a g e
of m ilitary-defensive.
Fxpressed in other terms, a c t i v i t y 5 i s f i r s t
d i r e c t e d towards conquest, then towards d e f e n s e , and l a s t towards l a b o r .
I t must be repeat ed again t h a t t h e s e two laws are not fundamental;
th e y are the consequence o f the law of t he t h r e e s t a t e s , and the l a t t e r
alone i s fundamental. I t i s t h e s t a g e of i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n which
d e c i d e s the e t h i c s and t h e nature o f a c t i v i t y for the period under
scrutiny.
Pecause o f t h i s dependence of the heart and a c t i v i t y on i n t e l l i ­
gence, s o c i e t y could not advance on th e th r e e l e v e l s at the same time.
F i r s t i t developed i n t e l l i g e n c e / When t h i s had been done, th e newly
acquired i n t e l l i g e n c e developed a c t i v i t y , which in turn rea c t e d on the
f e e l i n g s . These p o i n t s w i l l be d i s c u s s e d again in studying the e v o l u ­
tio n of s o c ie ty .
1.
p.
3.
4.
Cours,
Ibid. >
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
IV,
IV,
VI,
VI,
p.
p.
p.
p.
443.
124,
SOC.
300.
CHAPTER V I I
T he T h e o l o 3 i c a l
State
In order t o demonstrate the v a l i d i t y o f t h e s e th r e e laws and
t h e i r s o l i d a r i t y , Comte a n a ly zes each major phase o f the h i s t o r y of
O ccid en ta l Furope and i t s ancien t a n t e c e d e n ts from the po in t of view
o f p h ilo s o p h y , s c i e n c e , e t h i c s , e s t h e t i c s , i n d u s t r y , s o c i a l c o n s t i t u ­
t i o n , and governments (temporal and s p i r i t u a l } .
The h i s t o r i c a l method
has alre ad y been d e f in e d , but i t i s neces sary t o g i v e a f u rth er de­
s c r i p t i o n o f i t s approach. Comte, as we know, i s not i n t e r e s t e d in
d e s c r i p t i v e , im p a r t ia l h i s t o r y . He a p p l i e s a s e l e c t i v e and t e l e o l o g i c a l p r o c e s s t o the study of the p a s t . He t a k e s t h e view t h a t each
type among the p a s t c i v i l i z a t i o n s i s not only determined by i t s own
a n t e c e d e n t s , but i s a l s o f i n a l l y determined by th e u l t i m a t e s t a t e
towards which humanity i s moving.
Second, Comte b e l i e v e d t h a t , in order t o e n t e r t h e f e l i c i t o u s
s t a g e of p o s i t i v i t y , humanity1 needed t o acq uire a d e f i n i t e number of
g i v e n accomplishments. He thought that each p ast c i v i l i z a t i o n came
i n t o being in order t o ach ieve and p e r f e c t a c e r t a i n t r a i t .
He argued
t h a t i f such were t h e c a s e — and he did not doubt t h a t i t was— he could
e v o l v e a p e r f e c t c i v i l i z a t i o n by determining t h e c o n t r i b u t i o n s o f each
phase and s y n t h e s i z i n g them i n t o one system. Ther efore , when he e la b ­
ora ted h i s s o c i a l dynamics, h i s aim was t o bring out t h e p o s i t i v e
f e a t u r e s 2 o f each type of past c i v i l i z a t i o n ^ in order t o u t i l i z e them
l a t e r in h i s s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n . We s h a l l o u t l i n e the c o n t r ib u ­
t i o n s which he a s c r i b e d t o each major phase o f t h e p a s t , o m it t i n g most
o f h i s extr an eo us c o n s i d e r a t i o n s .
Comte advances the theory t h a t , s i n c e human e v o l u t i o n i s gradual
and c o n t in u o u s , the th ree s t a t e s describe d by the law of t he t hree
s t a t e s are a s i m p l i f i e d view of r e a l i t y .
Fach s t a t e a c t u a l l y contained
s e v e r a l degr ee s which i n s e n s i b l y evolved and blended them se lv es with
th e n e x t . The pre sence of th ree s u b - s t a t e s may be d e t e c t e d in each
state.
The th r e e s u b - s t a t e s o f th eo lo g y are f e t i c h i s m , polytheis m and
monotheism. The t h r e e s u b - s t a t e s of metaphysics a l l exp ress a f e e l i n g
of r e v o lt against theology.
The f i r s t i s spontaneous. The second,
P r o t e s t a n t i s m , i s s y s t e m a t i c . In the l a s t phase, Deism, th e d e s i r e
f o r r e b e l l i o n , which up to then had been s o l e l y d i r e c t e d toward the
1. Pol. > I I , p . 175.
p. Ibid. > IV, pp. 4, 16.
-1 0 7 -
-1 0 8 s p i r i t u a l , invades t h e temporal as w e l l , and i t arms at th e d e s t r u c t i o n
o f t h e e x i s t i n g s o c i a l ord er . This l a s t s u b - s t a t e culminates in the
French Revolution of 17PP.
The p o s i t i v e s t a t e c o n t a i n s t h r e e phases: a p r o v is i o n period of
s t a t u s quo, which Comte c a l l s the Interregnum, then a period o f e s t a b ­
lish m en t of p o s i t i v i t y , and l a s t , the f i n a l and durable P o s i t i v i s t i c
state.
The c o n t r i b u t i o n s of t h e t h e o l o g i c a l s t a t e are f i r s t t o be c o n s i d ­
ered . Comte reminds the reader t h a t t h e o lo g y i s e s s e n t i a l l y a r e l i g i o u s
s t a t e , because a l l the a s p e c t s o f l i f e are reg u la t e d by r e l i g i o n . Pe
h o ld s t h at i t i s by nature a m i l i t a r y s t a t e , because throughout i t s
whole e v o l u t i o n m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y i s t o be found. I n d u s t r i a l a c t i v i t y ,
which i s going t o supersede i t , does not become marked u n t i l the l a s t
p ar t of the t h i r d s u b - s t a t e , monotheism.
L i t t l e need be s a id here about f e t i c h i s m , which has been analyzed
from th e p h i l o s o p h i c a l p o in t o f view in t h e e x p o s i t i o n of the law of
i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n . 1 I t may, however, be added that f e t i c h i s m
s y s t e m a t i z e d the f a m i ly , and t h a t , with a s t r o l a t r y , i t gave b i r t h t o
a s a c e r d o t a l c l a s s . Far from c r i t i c i z i n g th e advent of such a c a s t e ,
Comte looked f avorab ly upon i t .
P r i e s t s aided in the development of
i n t e l l i g e n c e , because th ey had l e i s u r e and could devote t h e i r time t o
in t e lle c t u a l pursuits.
Polytheism was e s p e c i a l l y f a v o r a b le t o the development o f imagina­
t i o n , 55 because of the very nature o f i t s r e l i g i o u s cr ee d.
I t made two
major c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o mankind. The f i r s t i s the s y s t e m a t i c develoDment8
o f t h e s a c e r d o t a l c l a s s , s po n t a n eo u sly i n i t i a t e d by f e t i c h i s m . I t r e ­
s u l t e d in the c r e a t i o n of c h u r c h e s . 4 Churches are s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s ,
and as such th ey f o s t e r e d the s p i r i t 5 o f c o n t i n u i t y and s o l i d a r i t y which
i s in d i s p e n s a b l e to s o c i e t y .
I t must be re pea ted th a t Comte regards
c o n t i n u i t y and s o l i d a r i t y 6 as d i s t i n c t i v e s o c i a l f e a t u r e s .
The second c o n t r i b u t i o n was t h e i n s t i t u t i o n of s l a v e r y . 7 The m i l i ­
t a r y a c t i v i t y 5 which had been e r r a t i c and sporadic in f e t i c h i s m i s or­
ganized permanently with p o ly t h e is m . War p r i s o n e r s 9 had p r e v i o u s l y
been exterminated, but p olyth eis m keeps them a l i v e and makes them work.
I . C f. pp. 56-59 above.
p. Pol., I I , p. 00.
_ ,
p. Cours, V, p. S9,“ and Pol. > I I , 99.
4. Pol., I l l , p. P1 2 V
5. Ib id ., I l l , p. 2 1 1 .
6.
7.
8.
9.
C f. p . 98 above.
Cours, V, p. 90;"
Pol., I I I , p. 190.
Ib id ., ITT, p . 107.
This change o f trea tm en t was of ominous consequence, because i t i s
s l a v e r y i . e . , compulsory la b o r —which g i v e s man r e g u la r h a b i t s o f
work and t e a c h e s him the valu e of permanent e f f o r t .
I t may be noted here t h a t Comte ascribe d a dual o r i g i n 1 t o m i l i ­
tary a c t i v it y .
Repugnance f o r d a i l y prod uctiv e l a b o r , and the d e s t r u c ­
t i v e i n s t i n c t , both had t h e i r share in the i n s t i t u t i o n o f war as a
r e g u la r mode o f a c t i v i t y .
Comte, the a p o s t l e o f p eace, did net condemn
war u n r e s e r v e d ly . Fe claimed that i t had served a c e r t a i n purpose.
From the e t h i c a l po in t of view, i t cre a t e d d i s c i p l i n e , and f o r a long
time i t was th e b e s t sc hool t o t r a i n in command and o b ed ien ce. V i c t o r y 2
f o s t e r e d f e e l i n g s of g e n e r o s i t y in th e c h i e f s .
Far, through i t s o f f ­
s p r in g , s l a v e r y , taught the valu e of p e r s i s t e n t e f f o r t . Van9 i s l a z y
by temperament, and he could never have learned the advantages of steady
work, had not such work been imDOsed upon him by an e x t e r n a l a g en t . The
men who had been s l a v e s became f r e e i n d u s t r i a l workers when s l a v e r y was
a b o l i s h e d . Py t h a t t im e , work was a ha bit with them, and th ey i n s t i l l e d
t h e i r own h a b it i n t o t h o s e whose b i r t h had placed them above the need
c f supplying m a teria l n e c e s s i t i e s .
War gave r i s e t c a c l a s s o f war lor ds who were a n t a g o n i s t i c t o
priests.
There are two forms4 of p oly th eis m . The f i r s t and mere prim­
i t i v e i s the t h e o c r a t i c , in which t h e s a c e r d o t a l c l a s s i s supreme in
every f i e l d o f endeavor. War has net y e t become the r e g u la r occupation
c f f r e e men. The second i s the m i l i t a r y , in which war predominates over
every et h e r ty pe c f a c t i v i t y .
The army c h i e f s hold the r e i n s o f govern­
ment.
As war needs r e l i g i o u s c o n s e c r a tio n f o r ev id en t r e a s o n s , ge n e r a l s
and p r i e s t s 5 work t o g e t h e r ; b u t . t h e s p i r i t u a l and temporal powers6 remain
d istin ct.
The s a c e r d o t a l c l a s s 7 cannot have a b s o l u t e a u t h o r i t y in war;
t h e r e f o r e , t h e r e i s a s e p a r a t e m i l i t a r y power, and i t i s bound t o gain
ascendancy over th e s a c e r d o t a l . Polytheism i s p e r f o r c e m i l i t a r y .
The b e l l i c o s e i n s t i n c t v a r i e s in i n t e n s i t y .
When i t i s r e l a t i v e l y
weak, i t l e a v e s room f o r other i n t e r e s t s . Love of i n t e l l e c t u a l p u r s u i t s
may then be marked. Puch a combination gave r i s e in t h e past t c the
i n t e l l e c t u a l p oly th eism o f Greece.
A strong m i l i t a r y i n s t i n c t overpowers
a l l other urg es , and th e form o f polytheism t o which i t g i v e s b i r t h i s
t h e s o c i a l p oly th eism o f Pome.
I. Ibid., T II, pp. 55Ibid., I l l , p . 971.
S . Ibid., TIT, pp." 594. Cours, V, p. 119.
5. Pol., I l l , p . 2 0 1 .
6. Ibid., I l l , p . 209.
5.
-1 1 0 -
The co n trib u tio n s, o f Greece are o f an i n t e l l e c t u a l and e s t h e t i c a l
nature. Per a c t i v i t y 1 was not c o n s t a n t l y absorbed by war, and so a c l a s s
o f p h il o so p h ers emerged. F i r s t , t h e y developed the s c a t t e r e d elements
o f mathematics and astronomy and u n ite d them i n t o a system, thereby c r e ­
a t i n g r a t i o n a l p o s i t i v i t y . 9 Second, they b u i l t a metaphysical ph iloso ph y
o f the a b s o l u t e 8 around th e u n i v e r s a l mathematical p r i n c i p l e s which th ey
had discover ed .
At a l a t e r d at e, t h e s c h o o l o f Alexandria4 d iv id ed philosophy i n t o
n atur al and moral, t hus g e n e r a t i n g t h e d i s t i n c t i o n so dear t o s c h o l a s ­
t i c s , and which s t i l l p e r s i s t s today in the sep ara ti on of the orga nic
and the in organic.
The A r i s t o t e l i a n co nce p tio n of a s i n g l e s p i r i t r u l i n g
t h e u n iv e r se , and the m et aphysical approach which a l l Greek philosophy
fa vored , l a t e r became i n co rp o ra t ed i n t o the philosophy of th e C atholic
monotheism.
Greek p o ly th e i s m 5 had t o disappear in order to f u l f i l l i t s f u n c t i o n .
I t s c o n t r i b u t i o n could not become e f f e c t i v e u n le s s the Greeks placed
s p e c u la t i o n above a c t i v i t y , and such an a t t i t u d e could only r e s u l t in
t h e degradation of t h e o rd in ary p o p u la tio n .
Roman polytheism came a f t e r t h e Greek and subjugated i t . Comte
obse rv es t h a t , both p o l y t h e i s m s 6 being m i l i t a r y , they were mutually
e x c l u s i v e , and only one n a t i o n could g iv e f r e e play t c i t s m i l i t a r y
a c t i v i t y and conquer th e world. While Greece had been i n t e l l e c t u a l
and e s t h e t i c a l , Rome was p r i m a r i l y a c t i v e .
Rome made th ree c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o humanity. The f i r s t was a mar­
v e l l o u s s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n and p o l i t i c a l ad m in is tr a t i o n . The s e n a t o r i a l
c l a s s , 7 with i t s e x e c u t i v e d u t i e s , was a f i n e example of temporal gov­
ernment. The second c o n t r i b u t i o n was i t s system of e t h i c s . 9 Rome
s yst em atized monogamy, which i s the p o s i t i v e form of marriage, and rose
t c a high degree o f i n d i v i d u a l and domestic e t h i c s , unknown b e f o r e t h a t
tim e.
I t s p a t r i o t i s m 9 was t h e f i r s t seed of s o c i a l e t h i c s ever implanted
i n t o man. The t h ir d c o n t r i b u t i o n was th e ext e r m in a t io n 10of m i l i t a r y
p r e d a t o r i n e s s . Rome ac hieved t h i s end by allowin g the i n s t i n c t of
p r e d a t o r i n e s s t o spend i t s e l f .
When i t had expanded t o i t s f u l l
1. Cours, v, p. 181.
Ibid., V, p. 154.
8. Ibid., V, p. 187.
4. Ibid., V, p. 189, and VI, p. 154.
E. Pol., I I I , p. 850.
6. Cours, V, p. i'4i.
<7. Ibid., V, p . 148.
9 . hoc. ctt.
-8. Pol., I ll, pp. 349, 888-865.
1 0 . Cours, V, p. 145.
p.
-1 1 1 p o t e n t i a l i t y , i t oould go no f u r t h e r , and was forced t o d e c l i n e .
was
th e
had
ity
It
then transmuted i n t o a s p i r i t o f d e f e n s i v e m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y .
As
p r i n c i p l e o f t e r r i t o r i a l expansion was her r a i s o n d ' e t r e , no sooner
Rome conquered t h e world than she s t a r t e d to d i s i n t e g r a t e .
Human­
was then ready f o r monotheism.
Monotheism,1 as Comte s e e s i t , i t the outcome of an e c l e c t i c and
s y n t h e t i c p r o c e s s . F i r s t , from the point of view of t h e i n t e l l e c t ,
t h e r e was a growing c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f the i n v a r i a b i l i t y o f n a t u r a l laws
— i . e . , a r i s e o f the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t . 2 The Greeks had shown t h e
p h i l o s o p h i c a l s u p e r i o r i t y of p h i l o s o p h i c a l monotheism over t h e old
p o ly th eis m , but t h e i r e l a b o r a t i o n had been m e t a p h y s i c a l , 9 and t h e i r
p h ilo s o p h e r s had t e e n d iv id e d i n t o many f a c t i o n s . They had not been
a b le t o o f f e r a unique t h e o r y . The o v e r - i n t e l l e c t u a l nature c f t h e i r
s p e c u l a t i o n s , 4 and t h e i r c o r r e l a t i v e disregar d of the economic a s p e c t
of l i f e , had prev en te d t h e i r d o c t r i n e s from becoming u n i v e r s a l .
Con­
s e q u e n t ly , alth ou gh Greece was making i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n t r i b u t i o n s ,
monotheism could not be a ch ie ved through her work a l o n e .
Second, from the s o c i a l poin t of view, Rome had g iv e n humanity
t h e notion o f a bend5 which would bring togeth er a l l i n d i v i d u a l s under
one r u l e . Rome, however, could not be the permanent instrument o f
u n i f i c a t i o n , because i t s a c t i v i t y was e s s e n t i a l l y m i l i t a r y and temporal,
wh il e such a bond had t o be s p i r i t u a l as w e l l . Rome had no s p e c u l a t i v e
c o n t r i b u t i o n t o o f f e r . From the e t h i c a l point c f view, a d e f i n i t e need
f o r s p i r i t u a l g u i d a n c e 6 was f e l t .
Rome had a high system o f e t h i c s
during her r e p u b l i c a n e r a , and had created i d e a l s c f i n d i v i d u a l , domes­
t i c and c i v i c v i r t u e s , but her mores had degenerated during the Fmpire.
Her n a t i o n a l r e l i g i o n did not s a t i s f y the e t h i c a l need, and the Roman
world was ye arn ing f o r a new, strong moral code, independent o f p o l i ­
tics.
I t f o l l o w s , t h e r e f o r e , t h at although both made c o n t r i b u t i o n s ,
n e i t h e r Greece nor Rome c ould o f f e r a doctrine which would s a t i s f y
t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l , s o c i a l and e t h i c a l cravings of humanity.
There was,
however, in a far-away corn er o f the Fmpire, a small n a t i o n , Judaea,
which p r a c t i s e d a r e l i g i o u s monotheism. ?he had a complete code c f
e t h i c s . Her p a t r i o t i s m , which was i n t i m a t e ly blended with her r e l i g i o u s
1. Comte i s o n ly o o n o e rn e i w ith C a th o lio monotheism. He d is re g a rd s Mohammedanism as
a l (Cours, ”, p . 1591.
?. Cours, V, p. 147.
S. Ibid.i 1, pp. 1 4 9 , 369-369.
4. I b i d . , V, p. 161.
5. Ibid., V, p . ISP.
a ty p ic
e. Ibid. > v, p. 153.
t r a d i t i o n s , mads her look upon h e r s e l f as t h e Chosen Pe ople, and the
ooming o f a Vessiah was expec ted .
Such a p e o p l e 1 was eminently f i t t e d
by i t s d o c t r in e and i t s temperament for the work of u n i f i c a t i o n . The
i d e a l s o f G a l i l e e , symbolized in t h e person o f Jesus C h ris t, were to
be t h e instrument o f p rogres s.
I t must be noted here t h a t Comte did not c o n s id e r Christ the o r i g ­
i n a t o r o f Occidental monotheism. According t o him, Chris t only supplied
t h e i n i t i a l s ti m ulu s and t h e e t h i c a l s p i r i t o f t h e d o c t r i n e . I t was
P a u l 9 who, with h i s Pcman t r a i n i n g and Poman e x e c u t i v e a b i l i t y , gave the
g e n e r a l s p i r i t and founded the temporal and s p i r i t u a l forms c f the r e ­
ligion .
Hildebrand l a t e r p e r f e c t e d i t s s o c i a l c o n s t i t u t i o n .
Let i t be remarked, a l s o , t h a t Ccmte co n s id ere d the Cat holic Church
t he d i r e c t h e ir c f the Poman s o c i a l t r a d i t i o n s b ecause o f the work of
°aul.
C h r i s t i a n i t y without Paul, he contended, would have been inchoate
and would have remained one of the innumerable s e c t s o f the Femitie race
which never c ro s sed the Vediterranean Hea.
L a t e r , C h r i s t i a n i t y , ? under the i n f l u e n c e o f the Church f a t h e r s ,
i n co rp o ra t ed t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f Greek monotheism.
In s h o r t , Catholicism
i s Judaism, p l u s Poman o r g a n i z a t io n and Greek p hiloso ph y.
Comparing monotheism t o the other two phases cf t h e o lo g y , Comte
m ain tain s that i t corresponded t o a decrease o f t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g . 4
He o b s e r v e s t h a t polytheism was t h e most durable form of t heo lo gy from
th e p h i l o s o p h i c a l and s o c i a l p o i n t s of view, and t h at monotheism r e p r e ­
s e n t e d the f i n a l decadence6 of the system. I t was e s s e n t i a l l y unstab le
b e c a u s e i t held c o n f l i c t i n g t e n d e n c i e s , which are t o be studied l a t e r .
I t had one broad f u n c t i o n , which was t o prepare man f o r s o c i a l l i f e . 6
That in v o lv ed two s t e p s : t o s y s t e m a t i z e e t h i c s by deve lopin g the h e a r t ,
and s t i m u l a t e t h e development of the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t 7 and of industry.
ps soon as i t had achieved t h o se ends, i t d i s i n t e g r a t e d .
C a t h o l ic monotheism6 s lo w ly emerged in t h e f i f t h century; i t a t ­
t a i n e d i t s apogee in the tenth and began t o d i s i n t e g r a t e in the t h i r ­
teenth.
I t s gen er al c o n t r i b u t i o n t c humanity was the sep ara tio n of
p o w e r s . 9 The C a t h o l ic Church governed men’ s s o u l s , and the feudal
o r g a n i z a t i o n governed t h e i r a c t i v i t y .
I t should be noted here that
?.
p.
4.
5.
Cours', V* p*. P05; Pol'.', I*
Cours, V, p. 159.
pp^ios-lO S, and I I I ,
Ibid. i V, pp. P44-P45.
*Ibid. i V, p. ?6l»
e . I b i d . , V, p. 159; P o l., I I , p. 104.
p p
.
409-410; Cat., p. 355.
-1 1 ? Conite1 had a s e n tim e n ta l admiration for the Viddle Ages, and t h a t t h i s
era appealed t c him e s p e c i a l l y because o f t h i s separati on o f powers,
which i t embodied.
Comte a s c r i b e s the f o l l o w i n g f e a t u r e s to the C atholic Church: f i r s t ,
i t s remarkable o r g a n i z a t i o n .
I t s hierarchy*1 was founded on i n t e l l e c t u a l
and moral worth.
I t was at th e same time e l a s t i c and s t a b l e .
I t was
dem ocratic8 in s p i r i t , t h e heads being s e l e c t e d by the su b o r d in a t e s, and
t h e j u d i c i o u s enforcement o f c e l i b a c y 4 preventing the r i s e of a s a c e r ­
d o t a l c a s t e . The Church i n s i s t e d upon a high degree of e d u c a t io n 5 among
its clerics.
The adoption of L a t i n 5 as a sacred language enabled p e o p le s
o f d i f f e r e n t tongues t o communicate with one another, and, at th e same
time, i t made p o s s i b l e the c o n c e n t r a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l power.
The Church’s second source of s tr en gth la y in the e d u c a t io n a l f u n c­
t i o n which i t imposed upon i t s e l f .
I t undertook7 t o o f f e r u n i v e r s a l
education t o i t s communicants, t h a t i s , the same education f o r both s exes
and f o r a l l s o c i a l s t r a t a .
During the whole period of monotheism, t h e
Church was the only school o f the i n t e l l e c t and the h e a r t . I t was wise
enough t o r e a l i z e t h a t i t s power would be g r e a t l y in cr ea sed i f i t ex­
tended education t o ad u lt i n d i v i d u a l s , and i t achieved t h i s end by
i n i t i a t i n g c o n f e s s i o n 8 and sacram ent s9 f o r the c l i m a c t i c epochs o f
human l i f e .
I t presented th e p u b l i c with a code of simple e t h i c s , 10 which s t i p u ­
l a t e d the d u t i e s of the i n d i v i d u a l towards h i m s e l f , h i s f a m ily and h i s
community. Tt confirmed the emancipatiion o f woman, which had been i n i ­
t i a t e d by Pome. Comte advances the view that t h i s code o f e t h i c s was
u n i v e r s a l l y accepted by C a t h o l ic p eo p les for two re a s o n s. Cne i s t h a t
i t was no in n ovati on : t h e Church wasonly c r y s t a l l i z i n g t h e current
i d e a l s of t h e t im e s . Pyc o n s t i t u t i n g i t s e l f
the regular organ11of
common opin ion,
i t derived i t s i n f l u e n c e from
the very f o r c e o f t h o s e
o p i n io n s . Second,
th e moral i n f l u e n c e of the
Churchwasr e i n f o r c e d by
i t s remarkable o r g a n i z a t i o n , 18 which f a c i l i t a t e d the propagation o f the
d o c t r in e .
1.
p.
S.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
P ol., T , p p . 7 6 , 9 6 .
Cours, v , p . t ? S .
I b i d . , v, p. 194.
I b i d . , V, p.
190; P o l., I I , p. IPO.
Cours, V, p. 195.
I b i d . , V, p. 199.
I b i d ., V, p.
194; P o l., I , pp. 11 1W .
Cflurs, V, pp. 197-199.
Ib id ’/ , v 'p S .’
P I 1’, 9 3 8 -9 9 6 ; P o l., I l l , p p . 4 4 9 -4 5 9 .
Cours, V, p . 595.
ip . to e. c it ;
1 0 .*
11.
'•'Omte a l s o c l a i m e d t h a t C a t h o l i c i s m had a s o c i a l - t e m p o r a l v a l u e . 1
I t e n j o in e d su bm ission t o e s t a b l i s h e d governments,
and a t t h e same t im e
s u b j e c t e d g o v e r n m e n t s 5’ t o t h e r u l e s o f u n i v e r s a l e t h i c s .
Oomte a v e r s t h a t t h e a n c i e n t s ’ a l t r u i s m had n e v e r go ne beyond
p atriotism .
further.
The Church5 was t h e f i r s t
eth ical
i n s t i t u t i o n w hich went
I t p r o c l a i m e d t h a t a l l men were b r o t h e r s and t h a t c h a r i t y was
a cardinal v ir tu e .
In o t h e r w or d s, t h e C a t h o l i c Church was t h e f i r s t
i n s t i t u t i o n w hich c u t an e m p h a si s on k i n d n e s s . 4
At t h e same t i m e ,
it
a t t e m p t e d t o l a y t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f i n t e r n a t i o n a l l a w , * and t r i e d t o
impos e humane r e g u l a t i o n s a s t o war.
The c r e a t i o n o f c h i v a l r y 5 was
most r e m a r k a b l e , b e c a u s e o f i t s s o c i a l c o n s e a u e n c e s .
be m e n t io n e d l a t e r ,
poses. 7
attempted t o r e s u r r e c t i t
Comte, as w i l l
for p o s i t i v i s t i c pur­
The two n o t i o n s o f t h e b r o t h e r h o o d o f man and o f c h a r i t y r e p r e ­
sen ted a step forward.
human p r o g r e s s ,
Comte,
criticism s:
Had C a t h o l i c i s m made no o t h e r c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o
i t would s t i l l b e e n t i t l e d t o our g r a t i t u d e .
in s p i t e o f h i s admiration fo r th e
on e i s t h a t t h e co d e o f e t h i c s ,
V i d d l e Ages, o f f e r s two
so wonderful in i t s e l f ,
d o m in a te d b y t h e e g o - c e n t r i c n o t i o n c f i n d i v i d u a l s a l v a t i o n . 5
the a f t e r - l i f e
icism ,
it
icism i s
more i m p o r t a n t th a n e a r t h l y l i f e ,
was
Py making
and a d v o c a t i n g a s c e t ­
e n t i c e d men away from p r a c t i c a l p u r s u i t s .
-The s e c o n d c r i t ­
t h a t t h e p h i l o s o p h y o f C h r i s t i a n m o no the ism 9 was va g u e and l e d
t o t o o many
in terp retation s.
arousing o f
relig io u s
Pen ce t h e e p i d e m i c s o f h e r e s y and t h e
i n t o l e r a n c e which marred t h e s e r e n i t y o f t h e
V id d le Ages.
We h a v e b e e n c o n s i d e r i n g t h e c o n t r i b u t i o n s o f t h e s p i r i t u a l power.
We h a v e now t o v i e w t h o s e o f t h e t e m p o r a l power, t h a t i s ,
Comte deems t h a t t h e most v i t a l
p o l i t i c a l po we r,
and i t s
that i s ,
o f a l l were i t s
feudalism .
d ecen tralization of
the form ation c f s e v e r a l p o l i t i c a l
a b o litio n of slavery.
states,
These two c o n t r i b u t i o n s came a s t h e
d i r e c t r e s u l t o f t h e new c h a r a c t e r assumed by m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y a t t h e
t i m e o f t h e p r o m u l g a t i o n o f t h e Homan f m p i r e .
When w ars o f a g g r a n d i z e ­
ment w e r e no l o n g e r p o s s i b l e , war became p r o t e c t i v e ,
and was d i r e c t e d
t o w ar d p r e v e n t i n g t h e b a r b a r i a n t r i b e s from i n v a d i n g t h e f m p i r e .
Cours, V, p . 175.
?. P o Z . / l / p . Ser Cat., pp. 857-859.
g . Cours, V, pp. 285-386; Po l., T, p. 87.
A. Pol.i I I I , p . 428.
1.
H i s t o r y shows t h a t a l l t h e f e u d a l w a r s 1 were d e f e n s i v e ,
The m i l i t a r y g e n e r a l s
never o f f e n s i v e .
became p o l i t i c a l a d m i n i s t r a t o r s and l a n d o w n e r s .
G r a d u a l l y t h e Roman c o n c e n t r a t i o n g a v e p l a c e t o a p o l i t i c a l d i s p e r s i o n .
Comte a d v o c a t e d c e n t r a l i z a t i o n f o r t h e s p i r i t u a l power and d e c e n t r a l ­
i z a t i o n 9 for th e tem poral.
two p r i n c i p l e s .
His p o s i t i v i s t i e
s o c i e t y i s founded on t h o s e
F l a v e - t r a d i n g became i n c r e a s i n g l y d i f f i c u l t ,
as human s t o c k s c o u l d
no l o n g e r b e r e p l e n i s h e d by m i l i t a r y i n c u r s i o n s i n t o f o r e i g n l a n d s .
C l a v e s became h e r e d i t a r y and s u b s e q u e n t l y were a t t a c h e d t o t h e l a n d .
Thus s l a v e r y was t u r n e d i n t o s e r f d o m . 4
At t h e same t i m e ,
f e n s i v e c h a r a c t e r o f war5 ch an ged t h e n a t u r e c f t h e army.
a c t i v i t y was r e s t r i c t e d t o a s m a l l group o f i n d i v i d u a l s .
t h e new d e ­
V ilitary
T h is l e f t
more men and more t i m e f o r t h e p u r s u i t o f p r o d u c t i v e a c t i v i t y .
w er e g r a d u a l l y e m a n c i p a t e d ,
and communes became f r e e c i t i e s .
? e r f s fi
The c l a s s
c f f r e e i n d u s t r i a l w or k er s was formed.
I t i s n e c e s s a r y t c m e n t io n h e r e Comte’ s r e f u t a t i o n o f t h e g e n e r a l
criticism
o f t h e V i d d l e Ages,
na mely, t h a t t h i s p e r i o d was a n t a g o n i s t i c
t o t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f i n t e l l i g e n c e . 17
Fe c o n t e n d s t h a t t h e R e n a i s s a n c e
c o u l d n o t c o r r e s p o n d t o an awakening o f i n t e l l i g e n c e ,
r e a s o n t h a t i n t e l l i g e n c e had n e v e r b ee n a s l e e p .
m onotheism p r o v e d t o be d i f f i c u l t
f o r t h e good
A cco rdi ng t o h i s t h e o r y ,
of estab lish m en t,
so t h a t a l l t h e
s u p e r i o r minds c o n c e n t r a t e d on i t and had no t i m e l e f t f o r o t h e r p u r ­
su its.
After i t
was s e c u r e l y e s t a b l i s h e d , by t h e b e g i n n i n g c f t h e
eleven th century,
t h o s e men c o u l d ,
and d i d , resume normal o u t s i d e
in terests.9
Comte a l s o a v e r s t h a t t h e u n i v e r s a l e d u c a t i o n which t h e c l e r g y
o f f e r e d i t s communicants was t h e b e s t t h e t i m e s c o u l d p r o v i d e .
i n c u l c a t e d sound i d e a s on t h e moral n a t u r e . o f man.
It
The d e s i r e t c
dem onstrate th e s u p e r i o r i t y c f C a t h o lic is m 9 over eth e r f a i t h s i n i t i a t e d
th e notion of p rogress,
which i s o f such im p o r t a n c e t o d a y .
It also
c o n t r i b u t e d t o i n t e l l e c t u a l d e v e l o p m e n t by f o s t e r i n g a s p i r i t o f 3 o c i a l
d i s c u s s i o n . 10
op h y ,
I t allowed th e fr e e -d e v e lo p m e n t o f m etaphysical p h i l o s ­
and, by d i v i d i n g k n o w l e d g e 11 i n t o t h e o r y and p r a c t i c e ,
i t was
in s t r u m e n t a l in c r e a t i n g th e p r i n c i p l e o f the s e p a r a t io n o f powers.
1 . Pol. > I I I ,
8.
4.
tfO L.,
X I,
p. 62.
p.
Cours, V , p . 2 1 0 ;
5 . Cours, V, p. 209.
e. Ibid., V, p. 219.
7. Ibid., V, p. 299.
9 . Ibid. , V, p. 240.
r
n .7
' t
_
a., t t
u a t.,
Pol.,
-
pp.
i l l
M A^
A
ftA C
149-150,
905.
pp. 41.4-415, 445
.in
Pol.i
11
. uours,
xv, p .
cpw.
I , p. s»v.
-lie-
C o n t r a r y t o t h e common b e l i e f ,
ta g o n istic to scien ce.
b ility
m e d ie v a l C a t h o l i c i s m was n o t an­
Comte o b s e r v e s t h a t t h e p r i n c i p l e o f i n v a r i a ­
o f n a t u r a l l a w s was n o t y e t r e c o g n i z e d i n a l l f i e l d s ,
and c o n ­
s e q u e n t l y t h e r e was no c o n f l i c t b e t w e e n t h e t h e o l o g i c a l and t h e p o s i ­
tive sp ir its.
Comte a d v a n c e s t h e v i e w t h a t t h e Church had a r a t h e r
p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e toward f a c t s o f e x p e r i e n c e ,
m i r a c l e s i n g r e a t number,
i n any c a s e ,
since i t
discouraged-
adding t h a t the r e c o g n i t i o n o f m i r a c l e s , 1
presupposes the b e l i e f
in i n v a r i a b l e l a w s .
a l s o r e s t r a i n e d o r a c l e s , ? and t h i s
attitu d e.
The Church
i s another proof o f i t s p o s i t i v e
Comte c l a i m s t h a t monotheism i n i t s e l f c o u l d n o t be a n t a g o n i s t i c
to th e development o f s c i e n c e . 5
I t s vague e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e u n i v e r s e
in vited i t s
Voreover, the f a c t th a t i t s
e x p l o r a t i o n by man.
dogma4
c o n c e n t r a t e d on man a l l o w e d t h e t h i n k e r t c d e v o t e h i m s e l f t c n a t u r a l
philosophy.
feelin g
its
The d i s c o v e r y c f n a t u r a l and i n v a r i a b l e l a w s l e d t o a
o f a d m i r a t i o n f o r t h e supreme wisdom.
m o n o t h e i s t i c f o rm ,
Pence t h e o l o g y ,
under
a c t e d a s a bond f o r t h e budding s c i e n c e s .
Comte c o n t e n d s a l s o t h a t C a t h o l i c i s m c o n t r i b u t e d t c t h e d e v e l o p ­
ment o f t h e s c i e n t i f i c
s p i r i t by i t s
l a t i v e and c o n t e m p l a t i v e l i f e , *
tio n s.*
Anatomy,
m athem atics,
erab ly developed.
g e n e r a l en co u ra ge m en t o f s p e c u ­
and by i t s i n t e r e s t i n u n i v e r s a l q u e s ­
a l g e b r a and t r i g o n o m e t r y 7 were c o n s i d ­
The a r t s * r e c e i v e d a s t i m u l a t i o n h e r e t o f o r e unknown.
The Church c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e d ev el o p m en t c f i n d u s t r y by a d v o c a t i n g
t h e a b o l i t i o n o f s e r f d o m , 9 t h e r e b y h e l p i n g t o s e t a moneyed v a l u e on
human l a b o r .
As a c o n s e a u e n c e ,
it
was i n s t r u m e n t a l i n s t a r t i n g t h e
u t i l i z a t i o n o f n a t u r a l f o r c e s 10 t o s a v e human l a b o r .
ven tion s,
such a s w a t e r and wind m i l l s ,
t h e Church.
Vechanical i n ­
were t h e n p a r t l y t h e work o f
Comte n e v e r t h e l e s s a d m i t s t h a t C a t h o l i c i s m o p p o s e d t h e
w o r ld t o Cod, and t h a t t h e b e l i e f i n a p r o v i d e n t i a l o r d e r 11 was an
o b s t a c l e t o d r a s t i c m o d i f i c a t i o n s o f t h e e x t e r n a l world by i n d u s t r y .
In s p i t e o f a l l
i t s value,
monotheism was bound t o d e c a y s h o r t l y . 1^
I t s f u n c t i o n from t h e s p i r i t u a l s t a n d p o i n t had b ee n t o e l a b o r a t e a co d e
t . Pol., T IT , p . 4S 3; Cours, IV , p . 3 54.
p. Pol., T IT , 0 . 4 8 4 .
s. Cours, VI, pp. 1SP-1P4.
. Pol. i I I I , P . 43®.
5 . Cours, IV , p p . '3 5 9 - 8 6 0 .
4
e . T b i i . i v i , p . 146.
7- Thtim •
o, ■Tbii.i
9 , Cours,
? ? : ■ $ * d .’i
1 p. Cours,
V. op#
v, pp. P46-P4V; Pol ., I l l , pp. 441-444.
VI,
op.
v;
V, p . ? 4 9 .
4 9 , IV , p .
9®4; Pol.,
Ill,
p p . 5 P P -5 P 8 .
-1 1 7 o f e t h i c s w hic h would u n i t e hu m ani ty ;
i t s f u n c t i o n from t h e t e m p o r a l
s t a n d p o i n t had b e e n t o p r o t e c t t h e d e v e l o p m e n t c f t h e p o s i t i v e and
in d u strial
to liv e
sp irits.
/Is soon a s t h e s e had p r o g r e s s e d enough t o b e a b l e
unprotected,
monotheism d e c l i n e d .
Comte o f f e r s t h e f o l l o w i n g r e a s o n s f o r i t s
a lly ,
decadence:
In tellectu ­
t h e o l o g y 1 c o u l d not modify i t s e l f w i t h o u t c h a n g i n g i t s
altogeth er.
nature
C a t h o l i c i s m was n o t h o s t i l e t o i n t e l l i g e n c e , b u t i t c o u l d
n o t head an i n t e l l e c t u a l d e v e l o p m e n t .
When monotheism saw i t s e l f o u t ­
d i s t a n c e d 9 by t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l movement,
of in tellig en ce;
F th ically,
it
t r i e d t o r e t a r d t h e growth
h en ce i t became s t a t i o n a r y ,
its
and t h e n r e t r o g r a d e .
o f f i c e had b e e n t o f o r m u l a t e a c o d e o f e t h i c s .
£s
s o o n as t h i s was done, C a t h o l i c i s m 9 was no l o n g e r n e e d e d from t h e p o i n t
of view o f u t i l i t y .
Comte o b s e r v e s t h a t t h e e t h i c a l i n f l u e n c e o f t h e
C hu rc h 4 was bound up w i t h i t s
the l a t t e r ,
t h e former went w i t h i t .
C a t h o l i c i s m was s o c i a l ,
so cia l fe e lin g .
therefore,
i n t e l l e c t u a l su pr em a cy ,
inasmuch a s i t
However,
and when i t
lost
Fe n o t e s a l s o t h a t t h e aim o f
was s u p p o s e d t o d e v e l o p 5 t h e
i t s d o c t r i n e c e n t e r e d on t h e i n d i v i d u a l ;
a s soon a s i t had f e s t e r e d s o c i a l f e e l i n g ,
it
had t o become
r e t r o g r a d e , b e c a u s e i t c o u l d n o t r e b u i l d i t s dogma on t h i s new f e e l i n g .
In t h e t e m p o r a l o r d e r ,
had b e e n e v o l v e d t o r e s i s t
an a n a l o g o u s p r o c e s s t o o k p l a c e .
invasion s.
•
F e u d a li s m
£
When t h o s e i n v a s i o n s c e a s e d ,
t h e r e was no l o n g e r any n e c e s s i t y f o r i t s
d e fe n s iv e system.
The f e u d a l
r e g i m e was n o t e s p e c i a l l y f a v o r a b l e t o t h e i n d u s t r i a l movement, which
b y now p r e d o m i n a t e d o v e r a l l o t h e r t e m p o r a l a c t i v i t i e s .
became c r i t i c a l
in th e t h i r t e e n t h c e n tu r y ,
and ended a b r u p t l y t h e p e r i o d
o f s upr em acy o f t h e C a t h o l i c o - f e u d a l s y s t e m .
p h y s i c a l Deriod.
l . Cours, v , p. ?50.
p. I b i d . , IV, pp. S6P-96S, ani V, o . P55.
9. Ibid., V, p. 851.
4. I b i d . , V, p. p55.
5.
Pol .,
I l l ,
pp.
4 9 4 -4 9 P .
<*. Cours, V, p. pse.
a
This s i t u a t i o n
Furope e n t e r e d t h e meta­
CHAPTER V I I I
The
V e t a p h v s i c a l
St
a te —
I n t e r r e s n u v
and
Advent
of
P o s i t i v i t v
The b e g i n n i n g o f t h e f o u r t e e n t h c e n t u r y 1 i n a u g u r a t e d t h e m eta ­
p h y s i c a l or r e v o l u t i o n a r y e r a .
t h e p a s s a g e from one s o c i a l
I t h a s b e e n a l r e a d y m e n t i o n e d 55 t h a t
s t a t e t c t h e n e x t i s a lw a y s p r e c e d e d by
a p e r i o d o f s e e m in g a n a r c h y .
Anarchy was more pr onounced i n t h e p a s s a g e
from t h e o l o g y t o m e t a p h y s i c s t h a n i n any o t h e r p r e v i o u s s o c i a l t r a n s i ­
tion ,
b e c a u s e t h e o l d s t r u c t u r e had t o be e n t i r e l y wiDed ou t b e f o r e
p o s i t i v i t y c o u l d ha ve f r e e p l a y .
Accordingly,
i s the c r i t i c a l
Comte d i s t i n g u i s h e s two d i s t i n c t movements.
The f i r s t
or n e g a t i v e movement o f d e c o m p o s i t i o n , 9 which d e s t r o y e d
t h e t h e c l o g i c o - m i l i t a r y s y s t e m un der t h e i n f l u e n c e o f t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l
sp irit.
The s e c o n d i s t h e o r g a n i c movement o f r e - c c m p o s i t i o n , which t o o k
p l a c e at t h e same t i m e under t h e i m p e t u s o f t h e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t .
two movements were d i s t i n c t ,
but t h e y were i n t e r r e l a t e d .
Thes e
Although t h e
n e g a t i v e movement4 had t o h a v e a headway o ve r t h e p o s i t i v e ,
the r a te s
o f d e c o m p o s i t i o n and r e - c o m p o s i t i o n v a r i e d s i m u l t a n e o u s l y .
When decom­
p o s i t i o n was a c c e l e r a t e d d u r i n g t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , r e - c o m p c s i t i c n
was a l s o a c c e l e r a t e d t o t h e same e x t e n t .
In ea ch c f t h e s e movements Comte f i n d s t h r e e p h a s e s :
t a n e o u s , t h e s e c o n d and t h i r d
were t h e P r o t e s t a n t ,
religion ,
spon­
Thes e two s y s t e m a t i c p h a s e s
i n w hic h t h e d e s t r u c t i v e p r o c e s s was r e s t r i c t e d t o
and t h e d e i s t i c , *
s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l
system atic.
the f i r s t
in which t h e c r i t i c a l s p i r i t in v a d e d t h e
d o m a in s .
Comte s t u d i e s t h e movement o f d e c o m p o s i t i o n f i r s t .
He s t a t e s t h a t
t h e r e were two f u n d a m e n t a l c a u s e s f o r t h e d ec a y c f t h e C a t h o l i c o - f e u d a l
rggime.
The f i r s t one was t h e p r e m a t u r i t y * c f t h e s e p a r a t i o n
Both s p i r i t s , t h e m i l i t a r y
and a b s o l u t e .
o f power.
and t h e
s a c e r d o t a l , were s t i l l
They were n o t y e t am enab le t c r e a s o n ,
Accordingly,
cf
powers.
to o grasping
and t h e y were a v i d
t h e y c o v e t e d each e t h e r ’ s do mains.
The Church
in p a r t i c u l a r could not r e s i s t t h e o c r a t i c am b ition s.
The s e c o n d c a u s e o f d e c o m p o s i t i o n was t h e i r s p o n t a n e o u s d i s i n t e ­
gration.
F i r s t the e c c l e s i a s t i c a l d i s c i p l i n e ,
i . Pol., I , p. 35.
p. Of. p. 105 above.
8. Cours, V, pp. P3P-P65.
4. Pol., T, p. 33.
5. Cours, V, pp. 897-899.
3. Ibid., V, p. 874, ani
7. Cours, v , p. 179, a n i
9. Cours, v , p. 877.
Pol., I ,
Pol., I ,
p. 99.
p. 99,
ITT, p. 474.
-ne-
then the h ierarchy,^
and
l a s t l y t h e dogma1 became c o r r u p t .
oppressive,
t o be
and p r i e s t s no l o n g e r l i v e d up t o t h e i d e a l s o f t h e Church.
N a t i o n a l c l e r g i e s " were formed,
t h e pa p a l a u t h o r i t y .
royalty,
P e l i g i o u s d i s c i p l i n e was f e l t
and t h e y e n t e r e d i n t o c o n f l i c t s w i t h
In t h e t e m p o r a l a u t h o r i t y , 5 t h e t h r e e p o w e r s ,
a r i s t o c r a c y and l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s ,
were a t o d d s ,
and two
o f them— e i t h e r r o y a l t y and l o c a l a u t h o r i t y or a r i s t o c r a c y and l o c a l
a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s — c o n tr a c te d a l l i a n c e s a g a in s t th e tyranny of the t h i r d .
Comte a v e r s t h a t t h e c r i t i c a l
The v a g u e n e s s o f t h e dogma,
movement came from t h e o l o g y i t s e l f .
as p r e v i o u s l y s t a t e d , 4 p e r m i t t e d p e r s o n a l
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and f o s t e r e d 5 a s p i r i t
ir. Comters j u d gm e nt ,
tantism .
of d is c u s s i o n .
Th es e two t r a i t s ,
were d i r e c t l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e b i r t h o f P r o t e s ­
He c l a i m s a l s o t h a t t h e n o t i o n o f o m n i p o t e n c e was i n c o m p a t i b l e
w ith th a t of i n f i n i t e
goodness.5
The s t r u g g l e o f t h e s p i r i t u a l and tem­
p o r a l ended e v e r y w h e r e in t h e v i c t o r y o f t h e s e c u l a r a u t h o r i t y — i n t h e
a b s o r p t i o n o f t h e s p i r i t u a l 7 by t h e t e m p o r a l t h r o u g h o u t Furcpe..
The
i n s t r u m e n t s o f d i s s o l u t i o n - 9 f o r t h e s p i r i t u a l were e c c l e s i a s t i c a l
la stics
at f i r s t ,
then the
literati.
scho­
For t h e t e m p o r a l t h e y were f i r s t
d o c t o r s and la w m a k er s , and t h e n p l a i n l a w y e r s .
When m e d i e v a l f e u d a l i s m 9 d i s a p p e a r e d ,
it
was r e p l a c e d e i t h e r by an
a b s o l u t e r o y a l t y and a weak a r i s t o c r a c y ,
as i t was i n F r a n c e ,
weak r o y a l t y and a p o w e r f u l a r i s t o c r a c y ,
as i t
case,
the o r ie n ta tio n
was in F n g l a n d .
or by a
In e i t h e r
w a s- t c w a r d a c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f t e m p o r a l a u t h o r i t y .
The s p i r i t u a l P e f o r m a t i o n 10 b ro u g h t w i t h i t c e r t a i n p o l i t i c a l e f f e c t s .
In the C a t h o l ic c o u n t r i e s ,
the dim inution o f papal a u t h o r it y fo llo w e d
t h e s u b j e c t i o n o f n a t i o n a l c l e r g i e s 11 t o t e m p o r a l g o v e r n m e n t s .
Dr o t e s t a n t
lands,
In t h e
s p i r i t u a l a u t h o r i t y was a l m o s t c o m p l e t e l y d e s t r o y e d
as a r e s u l t o f t h e a b o l i t i o n o f c l e r i c a l c e l i b a c y and t h e c o n f e s s i o n a l .
In b o t h i n s t a n c e s ,
Comte f i n d s t h a t s p i r i t u a l g u i d a n c e 19 i s r e d u c e d t o
that o f the in d iv id u a l,
and t h a t t h e e r s t w h i l e i n d e p e n d e n t r e l i g i o n
h a s become a p o l i t i c a l a u x i l i a r y o f t h e k i n g s .
Comte h a t e d P r o t e s t a n t i s m under a l l i t s a s p e c t s .
I t was i n h i s
mind i n d i s s o l u b l y a s s o c i a t e d wit h t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l s p i r i t ,
Tb i d. , V. p. 850.
Pol., I l l , p. 5S5.
g. Cours, V, pp. PVS-P79.
1.
4 . Of. p.
116 above.
5. Cours, V, p. P98. ’
fl. P ol., I l l , pp. -J31-4SP.
r,. C o u r s , v, p. ?P^Hol.a, III, P .T53 ^
coa_KoQ. n
and we know
-1?0h i s w h o l e s a l e d i s l i k e 1 f o r a n y t h i n g whioh he had l a b e l l e d m e t a p h y s i c s .
He condemned P r o t e s t a n t i s m f o r s e v e r a l r e a s o n s .
so o n became as r e t r o g r a d e 9 a s C a t h o l i c i s m .
He c l a i m e d t h a t i t
Its fir st
cardinal p r i n c i p l e /
which was t h e s u b j e c t i o n o f t h e s p i r i t u a l t o t h e t e m p o r a l , r e s u l t e d in
a l o s s 4 of n r e s tig e of the s p i r i t u a l .
is
a social
n e c e s s i t y at a l l tim e s ,
gression .
free
Hi nc e a s t r o n g s p i r i t u a l power
Dr o t e s t a n t i s m r e p r e s e n t e d a r e t r o ­
Tts secon d c a r d i n a l p r i n c i p l e ,
inquiry,
made f o r
which was t h a t o f i n d i v i d u a l
" a b s o l u t i s m and i n d e f i n i t e n e s s . " *
I t was bound
t o s l e w up i n t e l l e c t u a l d e v e l o p m e n t by f o s t e r i n g a f e e l i n g o f c r i d e p
in th e uneducated,
and l e a d i n g them t o b e l i e v e t h a t t h e y were m e n t a l l y
e q u i p p e d t o s o l v e t h e most comp lex p r o b l e m s .
^ r e e i n q u i r y 7 l e d t o freedom o f s p e e c h ,
to th e s o v e r e ig n ty 9 of the m u ltitu d e,
at w i l l ;
to universal p o l i t i c a l
o f t h e p r e s s and o f a c t i o n ;
w hic h t h e n ca n c r e a t e and d e s t r o y
e q u a l i t y 9 and t o t h e a b s e n c e o f i n t e r ­
n a t i o n a l p e a c e l a w s . 10
Comte a v e r s t h a t P r o t e s t a n t i s m
s i o n . 11
a l s o e n t a i l e d an e t h i c a l r e t r o g r e s ­
P e f o r m a t i o n was f o l l o w e d by a g e n e r a l d i s i n t e g r a t i o n o f e t h i c s
in th e P r o t e s t a n t c o u n t r ie s .
The c l e r i c s who had t i r e d o f c e l i b a c y
foun d an e x c u s e f o r t h e r e l e a s e o f t h e i r p a s s i o n s ,
a n o t h e r e x c u s e f o r c o v e t i n g Church p r o p e r t y .
and t h e n o b l e s found
The i n s t i t u t i o n o f d i ­
v o r c e 19 d id away w i t h t h e s a n c t i t y o f m a r r i a g e .
Comte, ho we v er , n o t e s
t h a t t h e e t h i c a l d e c l i n e was n e t as s e r i o u s a s i t might have b e e n .
The C a t h o l i c Church15had i n s t i l l e d
s u c h good h a b i t s i n t o t h e p e o p l e
t h a t moral anarch y c o u l d n o t t a k e r e a l h o l d on them.
relig io u s,
were i t s
h e found a d d i t i o n a l r e a s o n s t o h a t e P r o t e s t a n t i s m .
a b o l i t i o n o f t h e dogma o f p u r g a t o r y ,
and t h e s a i n t s ,
of the i n s t i t u t i o n
t r a n s s u b s t a n t i a t i o n . 14
In t h e te m p o r a l r e a l m ,
tion
although th e subjuga­
1. O f. p p . 5 4 -5 5 a b o v e .
p. Cours, V, p. 314.
5. I b i d . ,
V, p. S IS .
V, p. 941.
p*
ifa % C L m p
I b i d . , v, p. 319.
_ ,
I b i d . , V, p. 33V, andV o l . ,
Cours, TV, p. 34,
_
_ ^
T II, p. 530.
p. 33?.
a n i V,
IV, p. 34.
Ibid., TV, pp. 95-86.
I b i d . , TV, pp. 87-39, and V, p. 969.
I b i d . , V, p. 363; l i s c . , p. 1 0 6 .
Cours, V, p. 361.
Ibid.,
Cat.,
p.
sv i.
1 5 . Cours, V, p. 391.
As t h e r e
m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y 1" was t u r n e d i n t o
p o l i t i c a l channels.
14.
p ersisted ,
and o f t h e dogma o f
o f t h e b a r b a r i a n s removed t h e r e a s o n f o r i t s c o n t i n u a n c e .
4. I b i d . ,
They
of the c u l t of th e Virgin
of confession,
war s t i l l
was no f u r t h e r need o f p r o t e c t i o n ,
e.
7.
o.
-9.
10.
11.
IP.
18»
When he became
Comte proceeds with h i s a n a l y s i s of the d e i s t i c p erio d . Fe s t a t e s
t h at France1 was fa ted t o play t h e more important part in t h i s phase.
^he had not en.ioyed the h a lf- f r e e d o m of the P r o t e s t a n t c o u n t r i e s , and
acco rd in g ly she was t h i r s t i n g f o r l i b e r t y . Her a r i s t o c r a c y 5 was dead,
and in i n t e l l e c t u a l and e s t h e t i c a l development she was f a r super ior t o
the other n a t io n s .
Comte observes t h a t the movement o f decomposition was hastened by
t h e o lo g y i t s e l f . 5 Py t h i s tim e i t was ac ce n tin g the d i s c u s s i o n of h i s
dogmas, and t h i s c o n c e s s i o n to t h e s p i r i t of f r e e i n a u iry contribu ted
t o t h e propagation of s k e p t i c i s m .
Comte avers that Deism and net atheism
was n e c e s s a r i l y the l a s t s t e p 4 of metaphysics.
Atheism would have
f r i g h t e n e d the p u b l i c , and Deism had the advantage of d e s tr o y i n g r e l i g i o n
in the name of the r e l i g i o u s p r i n c i p l e .
Skepticism was no lon ger r e s t r i c t e d to r e l i g i o u s matters, and i t
had invaded th e domain of p o l i t i c s and o f e t h i c s .
The c h i e f r e p r e s e n t a ­
t i v e s of Deism were V o l t a i r e and Pcusseau. F h il e V o lt a ir e '5 was the agent
o f i n t e l l e c t u a l d e s t r u c t i o n , Pou ss ea u 6 was the instrument of p o l i t i c a l
disintegration.
Tt should be noted th a t Comte d i s l i k e d Fousseau a grea-t
deal more than he did V o l t a i r e .
Fe claimed th a t Deism7 was a temporary
phase with V o l t a i r e , w hile i t was the very b a s i s of s o c i a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n
with Fousseau. He a l s o contended that Pcusseau was r e s p o n s i b l e for a l l
the crim inal e x a g g e r a t io n s of t h e French P e v o lu t i c n , because o f h i s
appeal t o the p a s s i o n s and h i s demand for a complete s o c i a l upheaval.
Comte stu d ie d the o rgan ic movement of r e - c c m p c s i t io n which developed
along p a r a l l e l l i n e s with th e n e g a t i v e .
Speculating ever the p h il o s o p h ­
i c a l a s p e c t , he claimed t h a t t h e s p i r i t of d e t a i l 5 governed most o f the
philosophical elaborations.
Few s o c i a l elements were showing th em selves,
but philosophy adopted an a t t i t u d e of l a i s s e z - f a t r s 3 toward them.
T h i n k e r s ^ e i t h e r devoted t h e i r l a b o r s t o the exact s c i e n c e s , or favored
m etaphysical s p e c u l a t i o n s on th e a b s t r a c t nature of human understanding.
Paeon and Desca rtes11 were th e only p h ilo s o p h e r s of the metaphysical
p erio d who attempted t o form ulate the p o s i t i v e method and t o make a
s y n t h e s i s . They were bound to f a i l , because part of the inorganic"
V, p.
and P o l . ,
I , pp. “O-PS, ITT, pp. 58P, 590.
-1??-
was forbidden bn t h e o l o g i c a l grounds. Valebranche and L e i b n i t z 1 could
not succeed any b e t t e r than t h e s e two d id . Comte s t a t e s t h a t the next
attempt at s y n t h e s i s was h i s own,5 and t h a t i t was s u c c e s s f u l only be­
cause C a l l 5 had e la b o r a t e d a p o s i t i v e t heo ry of human nature, while
Condorcet had ela b o r a t e d a theory o f p r o g r e s s .
Comte makes two remarks about th e s c i e n t i f i c development o f the
m etaphysical p e r i o d . The f i r s t i s t h a t i t i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the d i s ­
p e r s i v e s p i r i t 4 which i s prev a len t in p hiloso p hy. Pe ac counts for i t
by th e h et ero g en eo u sn es s of the s o c i a l and p h i l o s o p h i c a l environment in
which s c i e n c e has had t o develop. The second i s t h a t the temporal gov­
ernment5 became aware of the importance of s c i e n c e during the Pr ote sta n t
p hase , and supported i t a c t i v e l y and s y s t e m a t i c a l l y during the P e i s t i e .
Comte n o t e s t h a t th e metaphysical period could not be as f a v o r a b l e 6
t o the a r t s as th e medieval era had been.
The c u l t which had u t i l i z e d
them was l o s i n g i t s supremacy. The absence of u n i t y in s o c i a l t h e o r i e s ,
and the p o l i t i c a l i n s t a b i l i t y , 7 were not compensated for by the system­
a t i c p r o t e c t i o n 9 provided by the governments.
Comte proceeds t o analyze the i n d u s t r i a l movement. The importance
o f th e forthcoming c o n s i d e r a t i o n s cannot be overemphasized. They repre­
s e n t Comte's t h e o r i e s on i nd ustry, and the p c s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y i s to
be founded upon them.
After reviewing the e v o l u t i o n of t h e s o c i a l s t a t u s
of the worker9 from s l a v e r y to freedom of the communes, he v o i c e s the
follow ing doctrines.
The t r an sform ation o f a c t i v i t y 10 from m i l i t a r y t o i n d u s t r i a l rep re ­
s e n t s the g r e a t e s t r e v o l u t i o n ever undergone by humanity.
I t put an
end to the a d o le s c e n c e of humanity in the p r a c t i c a l domain, and made i t
e n t e r i t s mature and f i n a l s t a g e .
I n d u s t r i a l l i f e i s t h e most s u i t a b l e
mode of a c t i v i t y for the i n t e l l e c t u a l m e d io c r i t y — t h a t i s , for the
m a j o r i t y —because i t " in v o lv e s c l e a r and c o n cret e q u e s t i o n s o f narrow
range, s u s c e p t i b l e o f d i r e c t and immediate s o l u t i o n and r e a u i r i n g an
eas y but p e r s e v e r a n t a t t e n t i o n , and always d e a lin g with occu pations
engendered by th e d3ar es t i n t e r e s t s of t h e c i v i l i z e d man."
Put Ccmte,
in s p i t e o f h i s high op inion of the i n d u s t r i a l la b o r e r , co n sid ere d him
1 . Cours, VI, p. 1 8 ?.
p. Pol., I . pp. 84—88.
3 . Cours, vT, o. 1 8 S.
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
h id ,,
o. Ibid.,
-9. Ibid.,
I.0. I b i d . ,
I I . Ibxd.,
8.
8.
7.
V I,
V I,
V I,
V I,
V I,
V I,
V I,
V I,
p.
p.
p p.
p.
pp.
pp.
p.
p.
t5p .
14 4 .
9P -93.
98.
108, 109,
113.
PO-P®, P 9 - S 0 .
341.
35.
-12P-
u n f i t f o r p o l i t i c a l and e x e c u t i v e d u t i e s , because o f the very nature
o f h i s s p e c i a l i z e d work.
Comte maintains t h a t i n d u s t r i a l l i f e does not lack s p i r i t u a l v a l u e .
I t f e s t e r s a l t r u i s m 59 by i n s t i l l i n g the n o t io n s o f s o c i a l u t i l i t y and
p u b l i c w e lf a r e . I t s t r e n g t h e n s domestic t i e s 8 by s t r e s s i n g the work o f
th e male over that o f the f em ale, thus subordinating woman to man. At
th e same time, i t l i g h t e n s t h e d u t i e s 4 o f w iv es , and l e s s e n s t h e an c ie n t
dependence of c h ild r e n on t h e i r p a r e n t s .
From the s o c i a l p o i n t o f view, Comte holds that in d u s t r y 5 a b o l i s h e s
th e c a s t e system in favor of a hie rarch y founded on f i n a n c i a l wealth.
Veanwhile, i t e n n o b le s 8 work by g i v i n g i t a s o c i a l v alu e. Comte a l s o
maintained t h at in d u s t r y f o s t e r e d a s p i r i t of c o n c i l i a t i o n 7 and coopera­
t i o n which was d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed t o the troublesome and j e a l o u s
s e n s i t i v e n e s s of the m i l i t a r y s p i r i t .
For t h e s e re ason s, i n d u s t r y 8
r e p r e s e n t s a t i e between n a t i o n s , i n s t e a d o f being an o b s t a c l e t o u n i­
v e r s a l peace, as th e m i l i t a r y s p i r i t i s everywhere.
Comte i s forc ed t o r e c o g n i z e th e growing antagonism o f e n t r e p r e n e u r s
and workers, but he a s c r i b e s i t t o t h e r e c e n t use of mechanical ag en ts,
and t o t h e b li n d s e l f i s h n e s s and exaggerated demands9 o f both p a r t i e s .
The e n t r e p r e n e u r s want t o become feudal c h i e f s , and hope t o keep t h e i r
hold on t h e i r employees by obscurantism. pcth camps ignore t h e i r r e ­
spective duties.
Industry i s not r e s p o n s i b l e for t h i s s i t u a t i o n . The
l a t t e r w i l l s t r a i g h t e n i t s e l f out spontaneously when p o s i t i v e e t h i c a l
n o t i o n s have pen etrate d i n t o t h e i n d u s t r i a l domain. Comte, l a t e r on,
w i l l o f f e r a s o l u t i o n when he c r e a t e s the p c s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y . 10
Analyzing the i n d u s t r i a l s p i r i t s t i l l f u r t h e r , he contends t h a t i t
i s a n t i - r e l i g i o u s 11 by nature.
I t i s i n h e r e n t l y opposed to preoccupa­
t i o n with e t e r n a l s a l v a t i o n .
Hence i s explained the i n s t i n c t i v e p r e d i l e c t i c n 1?o f the i n d u s t r i a l c l a s s e s f o r the temporal i n s t i t u t i o n s — e i t h e r
r o y a l t y or a r i s t c c r a c y — which were l e s s in i m ic a l t o t h e i r development.
Comte avers t h a t the i n d u s t r i a l s p i r i t was shewing i t s p h i lo s o p h ­
i c a l character18 by the end c-f th e e i g h t e e n t h century.
i.
Cours, V I , p . 4S ; Pol., I , P . 15 4 .
p . Pol.i I T , p p . 1 5 3 - 1 5 4 .
5.
Cours, V I , p . am.
4.
T b i i . , V I , p . pp.
5.
Ibid., V I, p. 59.
9. Tbii., V I , p . 9 9 .
P. Tbii., V I , p . 4 0 .
o.
Tbii., V I , p . 4 1 .
-9.
Ib id ., V I. p. 946.
O f. o p . 1 5 9 -1 6 1 b e lo w ,
i'll Cours, V I , p. * 5 , a n ! Pol., H I , p p .
ip .
Cours, V I , p . 4 5 .
in.-Ibii., V I , P . 9 0 .
495,
595-5P 9.
The in ven ti on
-
15: 4 -
o f th e stea m -e ngin e and of the a e r o s t a t proved the tendency o f industry
t o organ ize s y s t e m a t i c a l l y t h e a c t io n of man on the e x t e r n a l world. At
t h a t tim e, th e i n d u s t r i a l s p i r i t became openly in com patible with the
t h e o l o g i c a l s p i r i t , and demanded a p o l i t i c a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n which would
allow i t s f u l l expansion.
Comte n o t e s t h at m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y had not become e x t i n c t a l t o g e t h e r
during th a t l a s t phase of metaphysics, but that w a r s , 1 from being p o l i t ­
i c a l , had become economic.
In other words, the m i l i t a r y s p i r i t , under
a m isco nce ption of th e nature of the i n d u s t r i a l s p i r i t , hoped to su r viv e
by p u t t i n g i t s s e r v i c e s
at the d i s p o s a l of in d u stry.
Comte a n a ly z e s the nature
of the l a s t phase of t h e D e i s t i c p eriod —
th e French d e v o l u t i o n .
Fe deems i t the "salutary e x p l o s i o n " 5* which gave
t h e l a s t touch t o t h e decomposition of the old rggime, and at the same
time shewed the impotency of metap hys ics8 for s o c i a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n .
Comte s e v e r e l y condemns the f i r s t two c o n s t i t u t i o n a l a s s e m b l i e s . They
compromised with r o y a l t y and re s u r r e c t e d a r i s t o c r a c y , 4 and evolved a
Callicanism.
In s h o r t , th ey were prompted by a b l i n d admiration of the
F n g li s h system.
Par c o n t r a , Comte p r a i s e s the Convention Assembly5 and i t s "admir­
a b l e p o l i t i c a l i n s t i n c t . " 9 I t did away with r o y a l t y , a r i s t o c r a c y and
t h e o l o g y a l t o g e t h e r , and with a l l th e e x i s t i n g m etaphysical c o r p o r a t io n s.
I t a p p r e c i a t e d the v a lu e and f o r c e of popular a s s e n t . 7 I t did net t ry
t o act c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y and t o b u i ld f o r e t e r n i t y , 8 i t s members realizing,
t h a t t h e i r m is s io n was temporary. Comte i s aware o f t h e Convention’s
f a u l t s , but he c la im s t h a t i t was not r e s p o n s i b l e f o r there. I t s errors
came from t h e s p i r i t o f F o u s s e a u , 9 which was not y e t dead. Fe contends
a l s o t h a t t h e m etaphysical s p i r i t caused the r e a c t i o n w h i c h took plac e
a f t e r Tbermidor.
F s t im a t in g t h e s p e c i f i c c o n t r i b u t i o n s of the Convention, he advances
t h e view t h a t t h i s Convention o f f e r e d no organic s o c i a l theo ry . I t s t i l l
regarded s o c i e t y as i n d e f i n i t e l y m o d if ia b le, and b e l i e v e d th a t an ade­
quate l e g i s l a t i o n could f o s t e r e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n .
Cours, V I , p . 7 3 , a n i P o l I I I , p . 5 ? 5 .
I b i d . , V I , p . i « ? , a n i Pol., T, p . 5 9 .
Cours, V I , p . l 9 t .
4.
Ibid., V I, p p . 1 9 4 -1 9 5 .
5 . I b i d . , V I , p p . 1 9 7 - 1 9 9 , a n i Pol., I , p .
6 . Pol ., I , P . 9 0 .
i.
P.
S.
7.
Ibia.i
a. I b i d . ,
9 . Cours,
1 0 . Sours,
T, p . 1 9 1 .
I , pp. I l l , ' 115.
V I, pp. ? 0 ? -P 0 9 ,
V I, p. ?09.
ani
Pol.,
I, p.
111.
11?.
-1?F-
Comte shows t h a t t h e Convention had t o have powerful armies in
order to r e p e l t h e a g g r e s s o r .
When war ceased a f t e r the Thernidorian
r e a c t i o n , 1 they were no l o n g e r busy, and i t was i n e v i t a b l e th a t the
metaphysical s p i r i t , which condones m il it a r y a c t i v i t y , should u t i l i z e
their,. This e x p l a i n s t h e d i c t a t o r s h i p of Bonaparte. I t goes without
saying t h at Ccirte d es p is ed th e p e t i t caporal .
Fe claimed th a t Fapoleon?
lacked a p o l i t i c a l d o c t r i n e , and th a t he irade war3 a c t i v e and permanent
by re p r e s e n tin g i t as an instrument of c i v i l i z a t i o n .
Comte, n e v e r t h e l e s s , s e e s a S e e d point in the Napoleonic e p i s o d e .
I t aroused a general d e s i r e f o r freedom.4 Un fo rtu nately, the Fcurbons5
made the mistake of a s c r i b i n g the longing for peace to a lo v e of the
monarchy. The c o n s t i t u t i o n a l regime o f the P e s t c r a t i c n was a Utopia,
because the Fourbcn d y n a s t y 6 had a b s o l u t i s t t r a d i t i o n s and could not
avoid lo a th in g t h e dim in u tion of i t s power. P chronic c o n f l i c t 7 between
the d e s ir e for p ro g res s in t h e country and the ret ro gr ad e p r o p e n s i t i e s
in the government took shape.
Comte ob se rv es at t h i s poin t t h at there was a l a t e n t c o n t r a d i c t i o n 9
between the r e t r o g r a d e n e s s o f the rggime and the peace which i t was
try in g t o maintain. The attempt t o r e v i v e Catholicis m9 as a s t a t e r e ­
l i g i o n f a i l e d . The C r l e a n i s t government!'0 was no b e t t e r than i t s prede­
c e s s o r . I t was, i f a n y t h i n g , even more i n e r t .
I t was c o n t e n t t o main­
t a i n the material s t a t u s q u o .
The ph ilosop h er d i s c e r n s the sudden rise- of a new power at t h i s
s ta g e o f e v o l u t i o n : i t i s t h a t o f the p r e s s . 11 Fe claims th a t th e d i c ­
t a t o r s h i p of the newspaper had been heret o fo re unknown, and he a s c r i b e s
i t s meteoric e l e v a t i o n t o t h e absence o f s p i r i t u a l d i r e c t i o n .
I f the
country at l a r g e had not e x p e rie n ced an u n s a t i s f i e d d e s i r e for s p i r i t u a l
r e o r g a n i z a t i o n , such an i n s t i t u t i o n would not have taken h o ld . Comte
avers that t h e s i t u a t i o n i s not l i m i t e d to France, and t h a t a l l European
c o u n t r ie s pre sen t the same symptoms.
The p e a c e t? which r e i g n s without and within i s not the outcome of
harmony: i t i s t h e r e s u l t o f gen er al apathy. With the e x p u ls i o n o f her
1.
p.
S.
4.
5.
<*.
7.
p.
P.
lO .
n .
IP .
Qpurs, V I , p . a i o .
I b i d . , v i , p. ? t a .
I bi d. , V I , p. P i 4 .
I b i d . , V I , p. P i 5 .
Tbtd., V I , p. P i 7 , a n i Pol.,
Cours, V I , p . P l S .
I b id . , V I , p . PPC.
I b id . , V I , p. p p i .
Tbtd., V I , p . p p p .
Tbii., V I , p . PPS.
I b i d . , v i , pp. ppa-pp?.
Pol . , I , p . 1 1 4 .
I,
p. a s.
-126-
l a s t kin g, France has en ter ed t h e p r o v i s i o n a l phase o f p o s i t i v i t y , which
Comte a l s o terms the interregnum. He p ro ce ed s t o demonstrate that the
decom position i s complete. Theology i s dead as a power. F t h icsJ has
emancipated i t s e l f from r e l i g i o n and i s independent. The masses* are
f r e e from Catholic i n f l u e n c e .
The c l e r g y has l o s t i t s vigor-. P r i e s t s
are w i l l i n g t o have a s s e m b l ie s o f laymen v o t e t h e i r s t i p e n d , 8 and they
do not t r y t o rea ct a g a i n s t th e d e c a y - o f t h e Church by remodeling i t s
c o n s t i t u t i o n on the medieval p a t t e r n , 4 which had proved s u c c e s s f u l .
Comte s t u d i e s the s t a t u s o f m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y and makes the con­
cluding assertio n s.
The m i l i t a r y c a s t e 5 has l o s t i t s p r e s t i g e s in c e
th e wars of the Fmpire.
All t h e Furopean governments,6 with the excep­
t i o n o f Fngland, have l o s t i n t e r e s t in c o l o n i a l exp ansio n. Fconomic
wars are over.
It f o l l o w s t h a t the only wars which might break out now
are wars of p r i n c i p l e s , and t h o s e are in c o m p a t ib l e 7 with the dissemina­
t i o n of r e v o l u t io n a r y d o c t r i n e s in the Occident. Therefore, peace* i s
c e r t a i n t o endure spontaneously u n t i l p o s i t i v i t y can e s t a b l i s h i t on a
s y s t e m a t i c fou nd ation .
Comte proceeds t o po in t out th e el em ents o f r e - c o m p o s i t i o n . He
s t a t e s t h a t th e French R evolu t io n determined a r e d i s t r i b u t i o n of w e a l t h . 9
The new p l u t o c r a t s are c a p t a i n s o f i n d u s t r y . The r e c e n t development
assumed by the banking system10 has out l a r g e c a p i t a l s i n t o t h e i r hands,
and has allowed them t o undertake e n t e r p r i s e s on a s c a l e h i t h e r t o un­
known.
Industry i s in c l o s e r c o n t a c t with s c i e n c e than ever b e f o r e .
As a consequence, i t i s d evelopin g by l e a p s and bounds. The inventio n
o f a r t i f i c i a l locomotion i s an example o f i t s p r o g r e s s .
Comte analyze s th e development o f t h e s c i e n c e s .
Among s e v e r a l good
omens, he n o t e s the u n iv e r s a l i n t e r e s t awakened in the p u b lic by p o l i t ­
i c a l q u e s t i o n s 11 and the m u lt i p l e d i s c o v e r i e s 1* made in a l l f i e l d s .
However, he d ep lore s the s p i r i t o f d i s p e r s i v e s p e c i a l t y 1 which s t i l l
governs s c i e n t i s t s .
He a l s o ob se rves t h e i r egotis m , t h e i r empiricism,
and t h e i r over t o p p o s i t i o n 14t o s p i r i t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n . He opines
1.
2.
8.
4.
5.
6.
7.
a.
9.
10.
11.
Cours, V I, p . 2 3 8 .
Pol.i I , pp . 185-188, 198.
Cours, V I, p .
28l .
IbiA.i V I, p p . 2 89-885.
I b i d . i V I, pp. 285-286.
I b i d . i V I, p. 280, a n i Cat., p . 805.
Cours, V I, p. 287.
Pol. , I I , p p . 1 8 3 -1 8 4 .
Cours, V I, p . 244.
I b i d . i V I, p . '2 4 5 .
I bi d. i V I, p . 247.
II: fbit: li; r wtPSl:,
1 4 . Cours, V I, p . 255.
n ,
pp. s ie - s iv ;
Disc., p p . 125-126.
t h a t while p r i e s t s are s u p e r io r t o t h e i r r e l i g i o n , s a v a n t s 1 are i n f e r i o r
t o t h e i r s c i e n c e . He n o t e s t h a t s c i e n t i s t s * remain metaphysicians^
Their academies are h o s t i l e t o g e n e r a l i t i e s and do not d i s t i n g u i s h 8
between sound p o s i t i v e g e n e r a l i t i e s and p se u d o - p h il o so p h ic a l f a l l a c i e s .
Comte ap p ra ises curr en t p h i l o s o p h i e s . He avers th a t t h ey, l i k e
s c i e n c e , have a d i s p e r s i v e s p e c i a l t y . Psych ology4 i s an i n t r o s p e c t i v e
s c i e n c e , and t h e v a rio u s branches of e t h i c s and p o l i t i c a l s c i e n c e 5 are
a l l o t t e d t o d i f f e r e n t academies. He concludes th a t the times are r i p e
f o r a p h i l o s o p h i c a l s y nt h e s is ® and f o r the c r e a t i o n o f a s p i r i t u a l
a u t h o r i t y . The old s p i r i t i s o b s o l e s c e n t and has shown i t s lack of
a u t h o r i t y , and no temporal agency nowadays s t r i v e s for s p i r i t u a l dom­
i n a t i o n . The assumption o f power by the p o s i t i v e p h ilo s o p h e r s w i l l be
e as y, because no opponent w i l l
contest th eir rights.
Comte does not doubt t h a t
s c i e n c e has proved i t s a b i l i t y t o found
an all-e m bra cing p h il oso p hy, and he proceeds t o d e f in e the p o l i t i c a l
s c i e n c e of the f u t u r e .
I t w i l l be the d i r e c t a p p l i c a t i o n of s o c i o l o g y ,
th a t i s , i t s l o g i c a l d ed u c t io n . The law of t he t hr e e s t a t e s 7 and i t s
two s u b s i d i a r i e s have shown t h e i r c a p a c i t y t o ex p la i n a l l th e grea t
phases of past h i s t o r y and t h e i r s u c c e s s i o n . Common s e n s e i n d i c a t e s
t h a t they w i l l be j u s t as e f f i c a c i o u s t o c o n s t r u c t f u tu re s o c i e t y .
Comte a s s e r t s t h a t a l l t h e components of general r e g e n e r a t io n have
been e l a b o r a t e d , and t h a t the on ly work which remains to be done i s to
assemble them. He s t a t e s t h a t th e r e o r g a n i z a t i o n 8 w i l l be f i r s t i n t e l ­
l e c t u a l , secondly e t h i c a l , and t h i r d l y p o l i t i c a l . The passage from one
s u b - r e o r g a n iz a t io n t o the nex t
w i l l be spontaneous. From
the
study of
s o c i o l o g y , based on a knowledge o f the other s c i e n c e s and o f th e p o s i ­
t i v e method, everybody w i l l a c a u ir e the notion o f s o c i a l w e lf a r e , and
with the l a t t e r w i l l appear t h a t of s o c i a l duty. As soon as th e major­
i t y has become e t h i c s - c o n s c d o u s , the second s u b - r e o r g a n iz a t io n w i l l be
e f f e c t e d . Knowing why and hew t o a c t , humanity w i l l spontaneously
adapt s o c i e t y t o i t s new i d e a l s , and the s o c i a l r e o r g a n i z a t io n w i l l
take p l a c e .
The past four c h a p t e r s may now be summarized.
Comte’ s i n i t i a l act
was t o demonstrate the need o f a p o s i t i v e s o c i a l s c i e n c e .
1. Cours,
2 . Ibid.i
8 . Ibid. *
4 . Ibid.i
r«.vj
V I,
V I,
V I,
V I,
--
p. 258.
pp. 2 8 0 -2 8 1 .
pp. ' 261-2 8 2 .
p. 278.
Then he
-128-
d e f in e d th e nature of t h e s o c i a l phenomenon, s t a t i n g t h a t i t was char­
a c t e r i z e d by t h e accumulated i n f l u e n c e of succeeding g e n e r a t i o n s . When
t h i s was done, he founded t h e method of s o c i o l o g y — th e h i s t o r i c a l method.
This method enabled him t o d i s c o v e r the laws o f s o c i e t y .
The study of
s t a t i c s — o f ord er — r e v e a l e d t h at th e f am ily i s the s o c i a l u n i t , t h a t both
t h e fam ily and the c o l l e c t i v i t y are founded on d i v i s i o n o f labor and
cofiperation of e f f o r t s , and th a t government, whether f a m i l i a l or c o l ­
l e c t i v e , i s o f spontaneous o r i g i n . S t a t i c s a l s o d i s c l o s e d t h a t s o c i e t y
i s composed of two or d e r s , a s p e c u l a t i v e and a p r a c t i c a l , and t h a t two
powers must e x i s t , a s p i r i t u a l and a temporal.
I t showed t h a t s o c i e t y
i s spon taneou sly d iv id ed i n t o s o c i a l c l a s s e s determined by c o n g e n i t a l
differen ces of ap titu d es.
These c l a s s e s spontaneously form a hiera rc hy
in which each occ upat ion a u t o m a t i c a l ly ranges i t s e l f under the one which
i s higher in g e n e r a l i t y .
S o c io l o g y shows t h a t t h e r e i s a r e l a t i o n between s t a t i c s — the study
o f order— and dynamics— t h e study of progres s — and t h a t the l a t t e r i s
t h e development o f the former. Dynamics r e v e a l s t h a t s o c i e t y i s con­
s t a n t l y changing, and t h a t i t i s e v o l v i n g towards a b e t t e r s t a t e . Three
laws determine i t s p r o g r e s s , one f o r i n t e l l i g e n c e , one f o r the heart and
one f o r a c t i v i t y ; th e l a s t two being c o r o l l a r i e s of th e f i r s t .
Fach s t a t e o f i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n made c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o humanity.
F eti ch ism shook i n t e l l i g e n c e from i t s i n i t i a l to rpor, developed f e e l i n g s ,
and p re sen te d a s u b j e c t i v e , a b s o lu t e and spontaneous s y n t h e s i s . P o ly ­
theism c r e a t e d a s a c e r d o t a l or s p e c u l a t i v e c l a s s and developed imagina­
t i o n . Under i t s "reek form, i t s ti m u la t ed the growth o f mathematics and
gave the world a m et ap hys ical ph iloso phy. Under i t s Roman form, i t con­
t r i b u t e d a remarkable s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t io n , and domestic and c i v i c e t h i c s .
Both p olyth eis m s i n i t i a t e d the development of in d u st ry by th e i n s t i t u t i o n
o f s l a v e r y . Rome changed m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y from predatory t o d e f e n s i v e .
Monotheism gave a p e r f e c t but premature s e p a r a tio n of powers and
c r e a t e d independent a l t r u i s t i c e t h i c s . By the manumission o f s l a v e s ,
i t c o n s t i t u t e d an i n d u s t r i a l f r e e c l a s s which became the backbone of
society.
Metaphysics destr oyed t h e t h e o l o g i c a l s t r u c t u r e , developed t h e
s c i e n c e s , and brought them f a l l except s o c i o l o g y ) t o t h e door of p o s i ­
tiv ity .
I t gave a new impetus t o in d u st ry by removing the t h e o l o g i c a l
i n h i b i t i o n s , and, under i t s domination, m i l i t a r y a c t i v i t y became p o l i t ­
i c a l and l a t e r econofeic.
-1 2 9 The interregnum— the p r o v i s i o n a l phase o f p o s i t i v i t y — i s c h a r a c t e r ­
i z e d in the s p i r i t u a l order by the c r e a t i o n o f s o c i o l o g y and o f p o s i t i v e
p h ilo so p h y , and in the temporal by the d o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l and m i l i t a r y
s t a t u s quo. The second phase, t h a t o f t h e advent o f p o s i t i v i t y , i s
b e in g prepared by Comte.
The reader may perhaps think t h a t t o o much d e t a i l has been given
in t h i s e x p o s i t i o n o f s o c i o l o g y .
I t should be po in ted ou t, however,
t h a t P o s i t i v i s m , the l a t e r phase o f Comtism, cannot be understood u n le ss
p o s i t i v e philosophy has become q u i t e c l e a r in th e mind.
500K
E th ic a l
IV
Re9eneration
CHAPTER
P o sitiv ism
Versus
I
P o s itiv ity
Comte l e a v e s t h e domain o f p o s i t i v e ph iloso p hy and e n t e r s that
o f P o s i t i v i s m , he dep art s from s t r i c t p o s i t i v i t y and adopts-new stand­
a rd s . These standards are now t o be examined. Fight y e a r s 1 elap se d
between t h e end o f p o s i t i v i t y and the beginning o f P o s i t i v i s m , and t h o se
e i g h t y ears , spent in m e d i t a t i o n , shaped the e t h i c a l regen eration which
in turn determined marked m o d i f i c a t i o n s in th e g en er al d o c t r i n e .
The e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n 2 was at f i r s t conce iv ed as one o f two
e a u a l l y v a lu a b le and n e c e s s a r y s t e p s which were going t o bring about
t h e reform of s o c i e t y .
Put t h o s e e i g h t years incr ea se d the r e l a t i v e
importance of the e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n , while they had the opp osi te
e f f e c t on th e i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n . Two rea so ns account for the
change of standards.
As
The f i r s t and more v i t a l o f the two has t o do with t h e change in
Comte’ s temperament. Whether C l o t i l d e i s r e s p o n s i b l e for i t i s i r r e l e ­
vant here . I t i s not n e c e s s a r y t o c h a r a c t e r i z e the change in r e l a t i o n
t o her, because t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g i s the same, no matter what may
be th e o b j e c t of a d o r a t io n .
The important f a c t i s t h a t in the eigh t
y e a r s which passed between the end of t h e Cours and t h e beginning of
t h e P o l i t i q u e , Comte has become i n t e n s e l y r e l i g i o u s .
The Cours was r a t i o n a l i s t i c in s p i r i t . The outcome o f h i s l o g i c a l
r e f l e c t i o n was a s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r e a t i s e appealing t o
r e a s o n . The P o l i t i q u e i s a poem, an e p i c o f humanity, with a c a l l to
emotions, and e s p e c i a l l y t o t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g l a t e n t in every man.
Comte’ s pass ion i s so c o n t a g i o u s and h i s s i n c e r i t y so ev id en t t h a t one
cannot read the P o l i t i q u e without f e e l i n g the d i v i n e a f f l a t u s which
i n s p i r e d i t s four tomes. Comte i s now consumed with a sacred f i r e
which le a v e s him no p e a c e .
I t d i c t a t e s h i s word, and impels him t o
a c t . We f in d under h i s pen the e x p r e s s i o n s used by medieval m y s t ic s .
Like them, he l o v e s , he wants t o preach the good word, and bring a
new kingdom on e a r t h .
Mystics do not n e c e s s a r i l y d e s p i s e the mind, but they r a t e the
h e a r t h ig h e r . Comte f o l l o w s t h e m y s t i c s ’ t r a d i t i o n in t h i s i n s t a n c e .
He g i v e s up the r a t i o n a l i s t i c p o i n t of view and method of the Cours
1 . O f. p . 18 f f . , a b o v e ,
p . o f . p p . 1 8 -1 4 , ab o v e.
-1 3 0 -
f o r an appeal t o t h e h e a r t .
Be claim s now that good use o f t h e i n t e l ­
l i g e n c e depends p r i m a r i l y on the h e a r t . 1 Buman i l l s come1from e v i l
f e e l i n g s , and no lo n g e r from erroneous i d e a s . True union? comes from
th e h e a r t .
This new a t t i t u d e g r a d u a l l y developed during the "interregnum,"
and as he came t o t h e a c t u a l working of the e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n , he
was alre ad y convinced t h a t t h i s reform was th e most important o f the
th r e e r e o r g a n i z a t i o n s .
Bowever, i t would be m is lead in g t o convey the
impression t h a t Comte had c o m p le t e l y ignored the valu e o f the heart in
th e f i r s t part of h i s l i f e .
Comte s t a t e d in the Cours5 t h a t more
kindness meant more i n t e l l i g e n c e .
When he began the com pos it ion o f the P o l i t i q u e , he r e a l i z e d th a t
he would be accused of d e s t r o y i n g h i s former gods, and he attempted to
r e c o n c i l e the s p i r i t of th e Cours with that o f the P o l i t i q u e by s t a t i n g
t h a t i n t e l l i g e n c e i s o r i e n t e d by i n t u i t i o n , whose e x i s t e n c e he had a l ­
ways i m p l i c i t l y r e c o g n i z e d .
As i n t u i t i o n 4 i s f e e l i n g , he argued that
one cannot reform i n t e l l i g e n c e u n t i l one has reformed t h e h e a r t . Thus,
a l l i l l s , 5 no matter what t h e i r o r i g i n may be, have an e t h i c a l s o l u t i o n .
Be b e l i e v e s t h a t medieval C a t h o lic is m 6 had the r i g h t id ea when i t
gave the supremacy t o t h e h e a r t , but t h at i t made a mistake when i t did
t h i s by r e p r e s s i n g i n t e l l i g e n c e and preventing i t s n at ur al development.
According t o Comte, the Church c r e a t e d a chronic c o n f l i c t between the
heart and i n t e l l i g e n c e .
P o s i t i v i s m has come t o s t r a i g h t e n out the
situation.
I t m aintain s t h e supremacy of the h e a r t , so e s s e n t i a l t o
an e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n , b u t, at the same time, i t f r e e s i n t e l l i g e n c e
from i t s f e t t e r s by making i t t h e m in is t e r of the h e a r t . Comte a l s o
speaks of P o s i t i v i s m as o f t h e new s p i r i t u a l i s m , 7 and f r e q u e n t l y r e f e r s
t o the human s o u l . 9
The second ca u se o f the new o r i e n t a t i o n o f Comte i s t h a t he has
extended the f i e l d o f h i s m i s s io n . Be wants P o s i t i v i s m t o be u n i v e r s a l
i n domain.9 I t has t o embrace f e e l i n g s as well as i n t e l l i g e n c e . Be
a l s o wants i t t o be u n i v e r s a l in an peal. Be had been s a t i s f i e d with
the i n t e l l e c t u a l a s s e n t o f t h e " i n t e l l i g e n t s i a , " but as h i s thought
d eveloped, be a p p r e c i a t e d t h e f a c t t h a t the masses, and women, had
l . P o l . , I , p . 1 08 , a n a I I , p . 8 8 7 .
p . Ibid., I V , p . x z x v i .
8 . Cours, TV, p . 8 9 8 .
4 . P o l . . I , pp. 8 8 8 , 8 0 1 - 8 0 8 , and I I ,
5. L b i d I , pp. 1 68, 1 9 1 - 1 9 8 .
p.
887.
-1?2-
more t o do with the s t a t e of s o c i e t y than a s mall educated minority,
and he f e l t th e n e c e s s i t y of c o n v e r t in g a l l s t r a t a o f s o c i e t y and both
s e x e s t o h i s d o c t r i n e . As he b e l i e v e d t h e average man and woman1 t o
be guided more by heart than by i n t e l l i g e n c e , he was im pelled by l o g i c
t o modify h i s appeal, and to r e l y on f e e l i n g s more than on t h e i n t e l ­
lect.
These two m o d i f i c a t i o n s , t h e one in temperament and t h e ot her in
h i s e s t im a t e o f the range of reform, combined t o make him g i v e the
supremacy t o t h e e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n at t h e expense o f t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l
r e o r g a n i z a t i o n . This change of a t t i t u d e d i c t a t e d changes o f conceptions
in s e v e r a l domains. He formulated the t h eory o f the u n i t y o f the ego,
which has been described at the end o f t h e ch ap te r or p s y c h o l o g y . 5
Comte avers t h a t the only p o s s i b l e - c o n c e i v a b l e u n i t y 5 i s based on s o ­
c i a b i l i t y , because the p e r s o n a l i t y i s made up o f m u l t i p l e and divergent
i n s t i n c t s . Van can exp er ience u n it y only when he makes s o c i a b i l i t y h is
g u id e . This u n i t y , Comte obse rves, i s not an id ea only; i t i s a r e a l i t y ,
because s o c i a l l i f e always g en era t es a lt r u is m .
At the same time, he g i v e s up a l l concern f o r the i n d i v i d u a l , and
i s now s o l e l y preoccupied with t h e c o l l e c t i v i t y .
I n d i v i d u a l i s m , 4 he
s a y s , i s the i n s u r r e c t i o n of t h e i n d i v i d u a l a g a i n s t t h e s p e c i e s , and i t
i s nothing more than a modern d i s e a s e .
The i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t io n not only l o s e s in importance, but
a l s o changes i n i n t e r n a l co m p osi tio n . A s even th s c i e n c e , e t h i c s , i s
added t o t h e s i x o f the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . S c i e n t i f i c laws l o s e in i n t r i n s i c
v a l u e as narrow u t i l i t y 6 becomes the p r a c t i c a l end of s c i e n c e . Vethod,
however, r e t a i n s i t s l o g i c a l worth, but s c i e n c e 6 i s co n s id ere d as a mere
preamble t o ph iloso p hy and a r t . P hilosophy, i n turn, i s appraised only
as an i n t r o d u c t i o n t o e t h i c s and s o c i a l a c t i o n . General h y p o t h e s e s , 7
M i l i e u x s u b j e c t i f s , as Comte now terms h i s " l o g i c a l a r t i f i c e s , " 8 are
op en ly p e r m i s s i b l e . He avers t h a t i t i s i m p o s s i b l e t o demonstrate the
n o n - e x i s t e n c e of w i l l s , 9 and he a l lo w s the t h in k e r t o endow Hature with
f e e l i n g s 10whenever t h e laws of phenomena are unknown. He goes even
f u r t h e r in t h e Synthese and s t a t e s t h a t , s i n c e laws do not embrace the
li
In
whole o f r e a l i t y , i t i s n e ces sa ry t o complement them by w i l l s ,
s h o r t , Comte r e i n s t a t e s t h e o l o g i c a l cau ses under a new name.
p p . 2 7 , 8 8 - 8 4 a b o v e ; Pol. i I , p p . 1.5,
p . 86 a b o v e .
a t . i pp. 4 8 -4 9 .
8
4 . Jol., T I I , p . 8 8 8 .
5. I b i d . , I I , p. 48.
6 I b i d . i I . p p . 224, 322, 482.
7 . I b i d . , I l l , p . 8 05} I V , p p . 5 4 , 2 0 4 .
8. O f . p p. 4 7 - 4 8 a b o v e .
I b i d . , IV, p . 2 1 8 .
t Oi Ibid.i rV, p p . 4 2 - 4 8 , 517; Synth . , p . 8 0 .
1 1 . S y n th .; p. 25.
1.
2.
.
.
e.
Cf.
Cf.
21.
Pome o f h i s s p e c i a l t h e o r i e s are modified.
S o c i e t y 1 i s now founded
on f e e l i n g s , and Comte c o n s i d e r a b l y e n l a r g e s the scope of h i s s o c i o l o g i c a l
s t a t i c s , which, as we know,? had been t r e a t e d p e r f u n c t o r i l y in th e Cours.
In t h i s work, he had co n s id ere d the f am ily as th e s i n g l e component o f
society.
In the P o l i t i q u e , he adds two o t h e r s , C a p it a l, or material
ownership, and Language. His t h e o r y of c a p i t a l w i l l be studied in o u t ­
l i n i n g the P o s i t i v i s t i c r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , and h i s conception of language
i s now t o be summarized.
Language i s a component of s o c i e t y because i t i s the agent of s o l i d ­
a r i t y and c o n t i n u i t y .
It i s t h e instrument o f s o l i d a r i t y * by being the
medium of i n t e r a c t i o n of t h e f a m i l y and s o c i e t y , and the organ of e t h i c a l
prog re ss and o f c a p i t a l .
I t i s the t o o l of c o n t i n u i t y , 4 because i t i s
through language t h a t knowledge i s t r a n s m itt e d from one generation t o
th e newt. Language,5 in tu rn, r e a c t s to humanity and s o c i e t y , and r e f l e c t s
the e v o l u t i o n of both.
The "slogan" of s o c i o l o g y in the Cours had been, "Progress i s the
development of order." In t h e P o l i t i q u e i t i s "Love as a p r i n c i p l e , order
as a b a s i s , and progres s as the a i m ," 5 and i t c o n s t a n t l y recu rs under
Comte's pen.
Another con ce ption worthy o f n o t i c e i s Comte’ s new theory c f l o g i c .
He developed i t g ra dually through t h e P o l i t i q u e , and gave i t i t s d e f i n i ­
t i v e form in th e Synth&3e.
P o s i t i v e l o g i c " i s the normal combination of
s en tim en ts , images, and s i g n s which i n s c i r e us with the conceptions which
s u i t our e t h i c a l , i n t e l l e c t u a l and p h y s i c a l n e e d s . " 7 In t h i s combination,
s i g n s , sentim ents and images are not on an eaual f o o t i n g . Pigns and
images9 are subordinated t o f e e l i n g s . Comte s t a t e s t h at he i s the f i r s t
ph ilosopher who has not r e s t r i c t e d l o g i c to the realm o f s i g n s . The
l o g i c of s i g n s , 9 he admits, i s more v o lu n ta r y than the l o g i c of images
and f e e l i n g s , but i t i s l e s s p o w erf u l. I t i s a l s o l e s s sure, because
i t i s l e s s i n s t i n c t i v e . The l o g i c o f f e e l i n g s , 10 because of the gre at er
energy of a f f e c t i v e motors, o r i g i n a t e s t h e most v a lu a b le i n s p i r a t i o n s •
of i n t e l l i g e n c e . Comte argues t h a t t h e f u n c t i o n of the l o g i c o f s i g n s 11
i s t o help the other two, and n ot hing more.
i. Pol., i, p. ess.
p.
8.
4.
5.
8.
V.
10.
11,
o r , pp. i o s - i o « a o o v e .
£ o l . , I I , p . 217.
I b i d . , I I , p . 256.
I b i d . , I I , p . 26 0 .
I b i d . , I , p. 321, a n i I I ,
Py nt h. , p . 2 9 .
Ibid., II,
Ibid., II,
Ibid., IT,
o . 24 1 ,
p . 289.
p . 240.
p.
65,
-1 P 4 Following t h i s survey o f th e new s t a t e o f mind c f Comte, and of
the major changes in h i s d o c t r i n e , i t i s f i t t i n g t o en t e r t h e f i e l d
of e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n .
To sum up th e preceding argument: P o s i t i v i s m
d i f f e r s from p o s i t i v i t y by i t s r e l i g i o u s c o l o r , and by the u n i v e r s a l i t y
o f i t s appeal.
I t i n i t i a t e d a new concept ion c f mental u n i t y , t h i s
u n it y being the r e s u l t o f t h e supremacy c f a ltr uis m .
P o s i t i v i s m s t r e s s e s the importance of the e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t io n .
Comte at the same time e n l a r g e s h i s s o c i a l s t a t i c s and b rin g s fo rth
h i s theory o f p o s i t i v i s t i c l o g i c .
CHAPTER I I
E t h i c s — T he
Seventh
Science
The e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n r e s t s on t h e c r e a t i o n c f th e s c i e n c e of
e t h i c s and on the a p p l i c a t i o n o f i t s f i n d i n g s t o d a i l y l i f e .
The domain1
o f e t h i c s has t o do with the f e e l i n g s . F t h i c s i s a true s c i e n c e , because
i t d e a l s with the v a r i a t i o n s of a s p e c i f i c phenomenon,
*
* and Comte d e f i n e s
th e l a t t e r as c o n s i s t i n g o f the r e a c t i o n o f humanity on t h e i n d i v i d u a l .
The e t h i c a l phenomenon i s "the p r o v i d e n t i a l a c t i o n of humanity, t h e l a t t e r
p r o t e c t i n g each man a g a i n s t the l e s s noble i n f l u e n c e s by modifying them
more and more."8
F t h i c s , according t o Comte,8 d i f f e r s
. . .' from t h e tw o p r e o e d in g s o i a n o e s in a sm u ch a s i t c o m b in e s them
b o th i n t i m a t e l y . - C o n s id e r i n g b i o l o g y as an i n i t i a t i o n t o t h e s t u d y
o f human e x i s t e n c e ,
a c o o r d in g to th e stu d y o f v e g e t a t iv e and a n i­
mal f u n c t i o n s ;
so cio lo g y ,
a lon e,
afterw a rd s r e v e a ls our i n t e l l e c ­
t u a l a n i m o ra l a t t r i b u t e s b u t a p p r e c i a t e s them o n l y in t h e i r c o l ­
le c tiv e a ction .
H ence,
the tr u ly f in a l s c ie n c e ,
eth ics,
can system ­
a t i z e th e s p e c i a l k n ow led ge o f our in d i v id u a l n a tu r e a c c o r d in g t o
a s u i t a b l e c o m b in a t io n o f t h e tw o p o i n t s o f v ie w , b i o l o g i c a l a n i
3 o o i'o lo g ica l.
In other words, b i o l o g y s t u d i e s the i n d i v i d u a l without c o n s id e r i n g
the i n t e r a c t i o n o f men; s o c i o l o g y s t u d i e s the s o c i a l c o l l e c t i v i t y without
r e f e r e n c e t o th e in dividual,- and e t h i c s s t u d i e s the r e a c t i o n s o f the
individual to the c o l l e c t i v i t y .
I t i s t o be deduced from the preceding statement t h a t e t h i c s i s the
l a s t s c i e n c e 4 c f the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , and th a t i t can occupy no other
position.
I t can be ela b o ra t ed only a f t e r the s i x s c i e n c e s have become
p o s i t i v e , t h a t i s , a f t e r Comte h im s e l f has founded s o c i o l o g y . Comte
r e a d i l y admits5 t h a t i t was in 184P, and not b e f o r e , t h at he a p p r e c i­
ated t h e n e c e s s i t y of s e g r e g a t i n g e t h i c s from s o c i o l o g y .
He e l a b o r a t e s a method for t h i s seventh s c i e n c e , and he c a l l s i t
the s u b j e c t i v e .
He h o ld s th a t i t i s not a new method. I t i s t h e old
f e t i c h i s t i c method® in a s y s t e m a t ic garb. This method, as i t s name
i n d i c a t e s , c o n t r a s t s at ev ery poin t with th e o b j e c t i v e method, which,
as we know, i s t h e method o f the other s c i e n c e s . Comte d e f i n e s i t by
1
. P o l . . I I I . o. 50. ana IV, pp. 7-S.
, pp. 94, 153.
-135-
-lee-
opposing th e two. They d i f f e r 1 fundamentally in approach. While the
s c i e n t i s t 8 went from th e e x t e r n a l world t o man, th e e t h i c a l ph iloso pher
goes from man t o the e x t e r n a l world; that- i s , i n s t e a d o f using the
sequence of p o s i t i v e ph iloso ph y and going from mathematics t o s o c i o l o g y ,
he goes from s o c i o l o g y t o mathematics. While the s c i e n t i s t preserved
a u n i v e r s a l and im p a r t ia l outlook, the m o r a l i s t 8 adopts t h e p a r t i a l and
r e s t r i c t e d p o in t of view of humanity.
The methods do not d i f f e r in p o i n t s o f view only; th ey d i f f e r
e q u a l l y in t h e i r manner of employing i n t e l l i g e n c e .
While th e o b j e c t i v e
method4 r e s o r t e d t o a n a l y s i s e x c l u s i v e l y , t h e s u b j e c t i v e method5 uses
s y n t h e s i s and combines0 the two according t o t h e c a s e .
"The long an­
tagonism between a n a l y s i s and s y n t h e s i s i s changed i n t o an e t e r n a l
co o p e r a t io n in which each method complements t h e main i m p e r fe c t io n s of
t h e o t h e r . "«
Comte avers t h at the o b j e c t i v e method i s never e n t i r e l y s a t i s f a c t o r y
even f o r the s c i e n t i s t h i m s e l f .
I t s e t s him. no p r e c i s e aim, and i t i s
t h e s u b j e c t i v e which g i v e s him one. The s u b j e c t i v e 7 a lon e, with i t s
s y n t h e t i c po in t o f view, can teach him the e x t e n t t o which a s c i e n c e
must be pursued.
I t a l s o g i v e s him th e u n i t y 9 which the o b j e c t i v e cannot
p ro vide on account o f t h e p l u r a l i s t i c nature o f p h y s i c a l phenomena.
Comte a l s o mentions t h a t th e s u b j e c t i v e method9 combined deduction and
i n d u c t i o n , adopting the mode or combining the two modes in the order
more s u i t a b l e t o the c u e s t i o n t r e a t e d .
The s u b j e c t i v e , however, i s
p r i m a r i l y d e d u c t iv e , and Comte p l a i n l y d i s c l o s e s i t s nature when he
s t a t e s t h a t the aim of h i s system i s t o "induce in order t o deduce
with c o n s t r u c t i o n as an end."
He o b s e r v e s t h a t th e s u b j e c t i v e method11 i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the
c r e a t i o n o f t h e p o s i t i v e l o g i c , t h a t i s , f o r the combining of t h e thre e
t y p e s of l o g i c . Before le a v i n g the s u b j e c t o f method, i t should be
mentioned t h a t the s u b j e c t i v e method i s no in n o v a ti o n of the P o l i t i q u e ,
and t h a t Comte had im plied i t s e x i s t e n c e in the Cours. His u t i l i t a r i a n
co n cep tion of s c i e n c e e n t a i l s the use c f th e s u b j e c t i v e method, and he
a d m it t e d 18 i t s e x i s t e n c e openly when he s a id t h a t the s c i e n t i s t must
1 . Cf, p. 24 above.
2. Pol., I, pp. 448—444.
3.
I b i d . , TV, p. 199.
4.
I b i d . , TV, p. 161.
5. I b i d . , I, p. 449.
6. I b i d . , I , pp. 4A5-446.
7.
Ibid.,
I,
p.
449.
S.
I b i d . , IV, pp. 194,
199.
•9 .
I b i d . , II,
p.834; Cat., p. 74.
l l ! Po?ff*^,Pp! 449. Cf. pp. 183-134 above. Comte added a seventh o h arao teristio to
th r p o s itiv e s p ir it at the sane time; of. p. 41, note 6.
1 8 . Cours, IV, p. 847.
a s s o c i a t e th e im par tia l o b j e c t i v e viewpoin t o f s c i e n c e with the p r i s t i n e
and a n t h r o p o c e n tr ic a t t i t u d e of t h e t h e o l o g i a n .
The p o s i t i o n of e t h i c s as t h e l a s t s c i e n c e o f the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s
heavy with consequences.
I t means t h a t e t h i c s 1 c o n t a i n s s u b j e c t i v e l y a l l
t h e other s c i e n c e s , and t h a t i t i s the most com p le te 8 and u s e f u l o f them
all.
This p o s i t i o n , moreover, d i c t a t e s th e nature c f e t h i c s .
This l a s t
s c i e n c e o f t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , p e r f o r c e , r e p r e s e n t s t h e t r a n s i t i o n be­
tween s p e c u l a t i o n 8 and a c t i o n , or between t h eo ry and a r t . With one p o l e , 4
e t h i c s to uch es a b s t r a c t s o c i o l o g y , t h a t i s , ph ilos ophy; and with the
o t h e r 5 i t t ou ch es p o l i t i c a l a r t , or the ar t o f s o c i a b i l i t y .
This hybrid
natur e i s l o g i c a l l y e x p l a i n a b l e . Comte w r i t e s 6 : "Abstraction d ec re ases
with independence and s i m p l i c i t y , so t h a t t heo ry and p r a c t i c e are coming
c l o s e r t o one another as our c o n c e p t i o n s become l e s s general o b j e c t i v e l y
and more so s u b j e c t i v e l y , " and t h e t h e o r e t i c a l s p i r i t , "having l o s t
g r a d u a l ly i t s i n i t i a l a b s t r a c t i o n , s y s t e m a t i c a l l y u n i t e s i t s e l f t o the
p r a c t i c a l , a f t e r having ended i t s n e ces sa ry p r e p a r a t i o n s . " 7
A c c o r d i n g l y , Comte d i s t i n g u i s h e s two b r a n c h e s o f e t h i c s , 9 an a b s t r a c t
and a c o n c r e t e .
A b s t r a c t e t h i c s 9 i s t h e d i r e c t s t u d y o f man, w h i l e c o n ­
c r e t e e t h i c s e m b od ie s t h e p r a c t i c a l r u l e s o f c o n d u c t .
He p la n n e d , a s we
know10 t o c o v e r a b s t r a c t e t h i c s i n t h e s e c o n d tome c f t h e Synth&se, but
h e d i e d b e f o r e he had t i m e t o g i v e w r i t t e n e x p r e s s i o n t o h i s t h e o r i e s .
However, he l e f t p r e c i s e i n d i c a t i o n s a s t o what t h e y w ere ,
c e s s o r to the P o s i t i v i s t i c S o c ie ty , P ie r r e L a f f i t t e ,
and h i s s u c ­
d e l i v e r e d a c o u r s e 11
i n s p i r e d by them in 1 8 7 9 - 1 8 7 9 .
As f o r
h a s no s u r e
the concrete
eth ics,it
n e v e r was e l a b o r a t e d ,
way o f f i n d i n g o u t what Comte i n t e n d e d i t
to be.
and
th estudent
However,
o.ne may s u r m i s e t h a t t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c c u l t and r e g i m e were g o i n g t o be
p a rts of i t .
The f a c t t h a t e t h i c s i s ded uc ed from s o c i o l o g y d o e s n e t p r e v e n t i t
from h a v i n g a law o f i t s own,
phraseology,
and t h i s la w ,
e x p r e s s e d i n t h e Comtean
i s th a t s o c i a b i l i t y g r a d u a l l y p r e v a i l s over p e r s o n a l i t y .
T h i s e v o l u t i o n 18 i s a c h i e v e d by t h e p r o g r e s s i v e f o c u s s i n g o f a l l human
*• G ?*v p p *
03*
p. I b t d . , pp. 102-10S.
_ .
„A,
3 . Pol., I , p. 91; H I , pp. 5, 49; TV, p. 2 8 0 ; Cat., pp. 103-104.
4.
j I , p. 91.
5. Ibid. > I , pp. 91, 94.
(S. Ib id., IV, p. 172.
7. Cat., p. 108.
9 . Pol. i IV, pp. 245-246.
9 . I b i d . , IV, p. 280.
10. Cf. pp. 25-20 .above.
1 1 . C f. revue Occtdentale, Vol. I (l97P > , pp. 099-71P.
ip . Pol . , I , p . 092.
-i?ew a n i f e s t a t i o n s about humanity,
jSs th© aim o f a l l scisnc© i s p r o v i s i o n
and m o d if i c a t io n , Comte s t u d i e s t h e g e n e s i s and e v o lu tio n o f t h e e t h i c a l
f e e l i n g in order t o be a b le to p r e d i c t i t s f u tu re development and th e
l i m i t s w i t h in which man may s u c c e s s f u l l y modify i t .
Psychology has ex p l a in e d t h e working o f th e human mind. I t has
shown t h a t man1 was born with seven e g o - c e n t r i c i n s t i n c t s which needed
r e p r e s s i o n , and th r e e a l t r u i s t i c f e e l i n g s which needed c u l t i v a t i o n .
S o c io l o g y , on the other hand, has r e v e a l e d t h at s o c i a l and domestic
l i f e developed c e r t a i n a s p e c t s c f th e h e a r t , f t h i c s w i l l perform i t s
s c i e n t i f i c f u n c t i o n by making t h i s spontaneous development s y s t e m a t i c ,
namely, by p u t t in g an emphasis on the s o c i a l elements which have a d i r e c t
a c t i o n on f e e l i n g s .
Comte averred in s o c i o l o g y t h a t fam ily l i f e 8 i s the school o f the
h e a r t , and he now a n a ly z e s domestic e x i s t e n c e from the po in t c f view of
e t h i c a l development. He b e g i n s by s t a t i n g that the f am ily i s a pre­
human i n s t i t u t i o n . Prompted by t h e sexual urge, animals mate. S t i l l
dominated by an i n s t i n c t , the maternal t h i s time, the mother c a r e s f o r
her o f f s p r i n g .
£s soon as the i n s t i n c t s have f u l f i l l e d t h e i r aim, t h e
male l e a v e s the female, and the female her c h i l d . Vankind, however,
does not stop short at t h o s e animal i n s t i n c t s .
Sexual i n t e r c o u r s e and
maternal care e s t a b l i s h r e l a t i o n s which p e r s i s t a f t e r the i n s t i n c t s
have been s a t i s f i e d .
I nstead o f each one going h i s own way, as animals
do, the parents and c h i l d r e n remain in c l o s e a s s o c i a t i o n and form a
permanent group, which i s t h e human f a m i l y .
fa m ily l i f e deep ly molded t h e i n d i v i d u a l in the past by f o s t e r i n g
s p e c i f i c t r a i t s in him. Under t h e i n f l u e n c e of a s s o c i a t i o n , i n s t i n c t s
became f e e l i n g s . Comte c la im s t h a t the f i r s t l o v e which woman e x p e r i ­
enced was for her c h i l d ; t h a t t h e f i r s t lo v e which man8 f e l t was for
h i s mother, and t h a t sex u al r e l a t i o n s 4 were the o r i g i n of conjugal l o v e
in th e m a le . 5 Gradually human b e in g s learned t o love both t h e i r p a r e n t s ,
i r r e s p e c t i v e of sex; men lea rn ed t o l o v e t h e i r c h i l d r e n , and b r o t h e r s
and s i s t e r s came t o l o v e one another. In s h or t, the home has been the
sch ool of attachment, and attachment* has been the f i r s t degree i n the
h ier arc hy of t h e h e a r t .
1. Cf. pp. 3 1-?? above,
p. C f, p. 90 above; Pol., I , p. 95.
8. Pol. , IV, p. p et.
5*. Women, b e in g * p u re r and more a f f e c t i v e , needed no se x u a l stim u lu s to lo v e t h e i r
husb an d s, ao o ording t o Comte (Pol., I , p. ? 3 5 ^ Comte b elo n g s to th e era i n which no
one expeoted women to have se x u a l u r^ e s.
6. Cf. pp. S t-3 ? above.
*11 t h i s took p l a c e during t h e period o f f e t i c h i s m .
Now l o v e o f
kin i s n atur al t o mankind; th e home, n e v e r t h e l e s s , has not o u t l i v e d i t s
e t h ic a l value.
I t i s s t i l l an a f f e c t i v e s chool. I t i s the school of
attachment f o r t h e c h i l d , and i t i s the sanctum in which man p e r f e c t s
h i s own f e e l i n g s .
Comte a l s o v o i c e s h i s theory of P o s i t i v i s t i c marriage. V a r r i a g e 1
has evo lved so f a r beyond i t s sexual o r i g i n that i t s p resen t aim i s not
p r i m a r i l y th e r a i s i n g o f a f am ily or the sexual s a t i s f a c t i o n o f the male,
but th e s p i r i t u a l improvement of t h e two mates. I t i s "the com pletion
and c o n s o l i d a t i o n of th e edu ca tio n cf the heart by the development c f
the p urest and s t r o n g e s t of a l l human s y m p a t h i e s . * s t h e i n f l u e n c e o f
t h e w if e on her husband i s s p i r i t u a l , i t i s not nec es sa ry t h a t her presen
be m a t e r i a l .
Phe i s as u s e f u l to him i n her "su b jec ti ve" or dead form as
in her o b j e c t i v e s t a t e .
Cofcte observes that the c u l t of a s u b j e c t i v e
w i f e would be w o r t h l e s s , were the a t t e n t i o n o f the widower d i s t r a c t e d
by a second o b j e c t i v e w i f e . Voncgamy, s to be complete, has t o be accom­
panied by e t e r n a l widowhood.
Comte a l s o s t r e s s e s the poin t th a t woman f u l f i l l s her m is sio n only
i f her e x i s t e n c e remains dom estic.
Phe must, in consequence, be r e l i e v e d
o f the n e c e s s i t y o f ea rn in g a l i v i n g : "Van must support woman"4 (L'homme
i o i t n o u r r i r l a f ewne) .
This i s t h e Comtean precept summing up h i s
theory.
In exchange, "Noman must g i v e up a l l f i n a n c i a l am bition . Phe
mu3t not own any c a p i t a l . " 5 This w i l l be insured by a b o l i s h i n g the
i n s t i t u t i o n of dowers.
I t f o l l o w s from what has been said that f o r Comte t h e home, f a r
from having l o s t i t s p r i m i t i v e u t i l i t y , has an e t e r n a l f u n c t i o n which
c i v i l i z a t i o n cannot modify. This f u n c t i o n g i v e s the home a sacred
c h a r a c t e r , 8 which P o s i t i v i s m w i l l s t r i v e to emphasize.
Prom dom es tic l i f e Comte p a s s e s to c o l l e c t i v e e x i s t e n c e . Pe ob­
s e r v e s t h a t f a m i l i e s do not l i v e in i s o l a t i o n .
They form f i r s t com­
m u nit ies and then c o u n t r i e s . Poth types of ag greg ates demand e x t e n s i v e
d i v i s i o n o f labor and c l o s e cooperat ion o f e f f o r t s , and t her eb y d e t e r ­
mine new t y p e s o f l i f e , commonly c a l l e d ' c i v i c and c o l l e c t i v e .
These .
l i v e s keep man i n c o n s t a n t co ntact with h i s countrymen, whom he comes
t o know w e l l .
As soon as he i s i n t i m a t e l y acquainted with them, he
r e a l i z e s t h a t t h e y are i d e n t i c a l in nature with h i s r e l a t i v e s .
loving
kin and not l o v i n g th e non-kin seems i l l o g i c a l t o him on account o f
t h e s i m i l a r i t y between t h e two. Therefore, reason prompting him, he
e x t en d s t o the former t h e f e e l i n g s o f benevolence which animate him
towards t h e l a t t e r .
Thus c i v i c l i f e c r e a t e s lo v e o f o n e ' s f e l l o w countrymen and lo v e o f o n e ' s country. P a t r io t i s m b eing v e n e r a t i o n ,
c i v i c l i f e f o s t e r s t h e second degree o f l o v e .
Comte avers t h a t mankind does not stop t h e r e . Man i s a s p e c u la ­
t i v e c r e a t u r e . Ther e fo re, he qu ic k ly wakes up t o th e r e a l i z a t i o n of
t h e f a c t t h a t a l l men are a l i k e , whether they l i v e on h i s s i d e o f the
s t a t e l i n e or on t h e o t h e r . He f i n d s out t h a t t h e r e i s no reason why
he should lo v e one and not th e o th er, and, l o g i c working ag ain , he em­
b r a c e s a l l humanity in h i s f e e l i n g o f l o v e . Thus man re ach es t h e u l t i ­
mate form o f l o v e , k in d n e s s , or Love o f Humanity. This f i n a l form of
l o v e i s u n ta in t e d by e g o - c e n t r i s m , and i t r e p r e s e n t s th e d e f i n i t i v e
and p u res t form o f a l t r u i s m .
Reviewing t h e h i s t o r y o f t h i s f e e l i n g , Comte avers t h a t human
s o c i a b i l i t y 1 was domestic during f e t i c h i s m , c i v i c with Roman p olyth eism,
c o l l e c t i v e in t h e Middle Ages, and th a t i t i s now ready t o reach th e
u n i v e r s a l s t a t e with P o s i t i v i s m .
I t i s e v i d e n t t o Comte t h a t when man has a t t a i n e d t h i s l a s t degree
o f a l t r u i s m , he cannot r e g r e s s . His whole outlo ok on l i f e i s modified
by i t .
He i s so c o n s c io u s o f the w e lf a r e o f o t h e r s t h a t h i s uppermost
d e s i r e i s t o improve c o l l e c t i v e happin ess, and t h i s change o f h e a r t at
once provokes ominous ch anges . Righ t2 disappears and i s r e p l a c e d by d uty , b ecause a lt r u is m has e x p e l l e d eg o-ce ntr ism . Man f i n d s h a p p in e s s 8
i n doing h i s duty.
"Live f o r o t h e r s " 4 becomes the "slogan" o f P o s i ­
t i v i s t i c e t h i c s . P o l i t i c s , 5 then, i s subordinated to e t h i c s as p u b l i c
l i f e 6 wins ascendancy over p r i v a t e e x i s t e n c e , and t r i b u n a l s are a b o l­
ished.
Man understands so w e l l the e g o - c e n t r i c nature and d e s t r u c t i v e ­
n e s s o f war7 t h a t peace i s insured f o r e t e r n i t y .
Comte b e l i e v e d t h a t man had reached t h i s s t a g e u n c o n s c i o u s l y and
sp o n t a n e o u s ly during t h e m i d - f i f t i e s of h i s ce n tu ry. He deemed .it
n e c e s s a r y t o make t h i s e v o l u t i o n s y s t e m a t ic in order t o check a l l
p o s s i b l e i n v o l u t i o n . He ap p r e c i a t e d the point t h a t a f f e c t i o n f o r
o b j e c t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s was never pure, and th a t e g o - c e n tr is m always
-141r e m a i n e d i n a permanent th o u g h h i d d e n fo rm .
l e n t 1 i n some f a m i l i e s ,
feelin g
might e x i s t
Domestic egotism i s preva­
and Comte f e a r e d t h a t t h e same e g o - c e n t r i c
in p a t r i o t i s m . ?
Mo reover,
a l t h o u g h war was dead,
human a c t i v i t y might resume a p r e d a t o r y form t h r o u g h monopoly, d e s p o ­
t i s m o f w e a l t h or o f number.
again st those e v i l s .
He meant t o t a k e p r e v e n t i v e m e a s u r e s 8
He a l s o a p p r e c i a t e d t h e v e n e r a t i o n and k i n d n e s s
th a t created the P o s i t i v i s t i c r e l i g i o n ,
In resumd, t h e f i e l d
which w i l l now b e c o n s i d e r e d .
of e th ics is fe e lin g .
b e c a u s e t h e phenomenon which i t
I t i s a true scien ce
s t u d i e s — the r e a c tio n of the individual
to the c o l l e c t i v i t y — i s s p e c i f i c .
I t s method i s t h e s u b j e c t i v e ,
w hic h t h e p h i l o s o p h e r g o e s from man t o t h e w o r l d ,
in
w h i l e he had done t h e
o p p o s i t e i n t h e o b j e c t i v e method.
It avails i t s e l f
method,
t h a t o f f e e l i n g s and im a g es with
w hich c o m b in es a l l
logics,
o f the P o s i t i v i s t i c
th e age-old lo g ic of s ig n s .
fth ics,
and a r t ,
as th e l a s t
science,
i s th e t r a n s i t i o n between s c ie n c e
or b e t w e e n s p e c u l a t i o n and a c t i o n .
I t c u l t i v a t e s system at­
i c a l l y the heart,
which h a s b e e n s p o n t a n e o u s l y d e v e l o p e d by t h e d o m e s t i c
and c i v i c l i v e s .
I t b r i n g s man t o t h e h i g h e s t d e g r e e o f l o v e ,
is
lo v e c f humanity.
1 . Pol.. I I , D. 5>!4.
p. l b i i . , IV ,• p r ?55.
8. C f. pp. 162-163 below.
which
CHAPTER I I I
RELIGION— D03 MA AND CULT
It i s necessary f i r s t
t c o u t l i n e C o m t e' s c o n c e p t i o n c f r e l i g i o n .
Fe s t a t e s that r e l i g i o n i s p o l i t i c a l l y indispensable.
Just as s o c i e t y
presupposes the e x is t e n c e of a government, so a government presupposes
the existen ce of a r e l i g i o n , to consecrate and reg u la te command.1 . He
analyzes r e l i g i o n from the point of view of the p s y c h o lo g is t . In the •
C o u r s , he had advanced the notion that i t answered a most prim itive
need of the human i n t e l l e c t , 9 but he had neither severed the r e l i g i o u s
f e e l i n g from i t s t h e o l o g i c a l envelope, nor yet evinced any in t e r e s t in
s t r i c t l y r e l i g i o u s Questions.
Fight years l a t e r ,
he o f f e r s a c o m p l e t e t h e o r y o f r e l i g i o n
I t i s as f o l l o w s :
Folittpue.
R eligion
proper adjustment o f the f a c u l t i e s .
i s t o t h e bod y.
humanity.
an d,
in the
in the in d iv id u a l in d ic a t e s a
I t i s t c t h e s o u l 8 what good h e a l t h
R e l i g i o n means u n i t y — u n i t y i n t h e ego and harmony in
Comte s t a t e s :
"Van i s b eco m in g more and more r e l i g i o u s , " 4
"the whole h i s t o r y o f h u m a ni ty i s n e c e s s a r i l y c o n d en s ed in t h a t o f
relig io n ." '
py t h i s he meant t h a t ,
as man e v o l v e s and p r o g r e s s e s ,
e g o 8 becomes b e t t e r i n t e g r a t e d under t h e supremacy c f a l t r u i s m .
b e l i e v e d t h a t r e l i g i o n meant harmony7 b e t w e e n p r i v a t e l i f e
his
He a l s o
and c o l l e c t i v e
existence.
Comte d ed u ce s from t h o s e p r e m i s e s t h a t t h e aim c f r e l i g i o u s i n s t i ­
tu tion s is
"to g u i d e t h e i n d i v i d u a l and u n i t e t h e c o l l e c t i v i t y " 9 ( r i i l e r
I ' tn iiviiu
et
and u n i t i n g ,
a s he c a l l s
ra llier
la
o o lle c tiu ite
involve the s e l e c t i o n
it,
the i r r e s i s t i b l e
Hence,
He a v e r s t h a t bo th e n d s , g u i d i n g
o f an e x t e r n a l po wer, a p r o v i d e n c e 9
supremacy10 c f which s h a l l be e v i d e n t ,
and about which men can be u n i t e d .
Humanity.
).
Va n’ s g r e a t m a s te r and p r o t e c t o r i s
Humanity i s t h e e x t e r n a l power which man h as t o ob e y ,
and Comte p o s t u l a t e s t h a t i t w i l l
g u i d e and u n i f y him.
He c a l l s Humanity
th e Great-Reing for t h i s r e l i g i o u s purpose.
The n o t i o n o f Humanity i s
n o t new w i t h Comte.
In t h e C o u r s ,
he
had a l r e a d y s t a t e d t h a t t h e c o n c e p t i o n o f Humanity was l o f t i e r th a n t h a t
1* PoZ*| IT, pi f94.
C o u rs, V, p . 1.9•
8*
I I i P* 9 .
2.
4« Ibid * p I I I , p. ■10.
5* C a t• p pp. 33 9 -3 3 9 .
8.
Po
?!
I b li .i I I ) p.* 5’. Comte makes th e w ori " r e l i g i o n " ooae from th e L a tin verb religare.
Tbii., IT , p . 59.
Tbii., T I, p . 1 2 .
-g.
10.
^ P• 9 .
-14 2-
o f a g o d , 1 and th a t mankind must honor i t s gr e a t d e a d . 7 With the P c l t t i p u e he develops i t t o i t s f u l l p o t e n t i a l i t y .
The Creat-Peing i s not
a l l of mankind.
"It i s the ensemble o f b e i n g s , p a s t , f utu re and p r e s e n t,
who f r e e l y c o n t r i b u t e d t o th e improvement o f u n iv e r s a l order."® That i s ,
the Creat-Peing i s composed o f t h o s e 4 who have l e f t or w i l l lea ve t h e i r
mark, be they t h in k e r s , a r t i s t s , l o v e r s , s c i e n t i s t s , p o et s or statesmen.
All men, however, must be taught t o adore the Creat-Peing, because
l o v e of Humanity i s the means of r e g e n e r a t i o n . Comte hastened to s t a t e
t h a t the Creat-Peing i s a p o s i t i v e o b j e c t of adoration.
I t i s r e a l and
p r e c i s e , 5 being composed o f d e f i n i t e and separable u n i t s .
It is neither
a b s o l u t e nor im m ob ile, 5 i t s formation being gradual and continuous.
L a s t l y , i t obeys natural l a w s . 7
Prom t h i s co ncep tion c f the Cre at-P eing, he deduces h i s theory c f
subjective l i f e .
Van has two l i v e s : a f i r s t , o b j e c t i v e , material and
e a r t h l y ; and a second, s u b j e c t i v e , l i v e d in the mind c f et h e r s a f t e r
death, i f h i s e x i s t e n c e has proved t c be worthy of s p i r i t u a l s u r v i v a l .
"During the o b j e c t i v e e x i s t e n c e , the domination o f the human order by
th e ex t e r n a l world i s as d i r e c t as i t i s continuous; but in the s u b j e c ­
t i v e , the e x t e r n a l world i s pu re ly p a s s i v e . . . . Cur cher is he d dead
are no longer governed by th e r i g o r o u s laws of the material and even
v i t a l order.
In s h o r t , t h e o b j e c t i v e l i f e g i s dominated by the
p h y s i c a l laws, while the s u b j e c t i v e i s governed s o l e l y by moral laws.
The o b j e c t i v e l i f e i s f i n i t e , while the s u b j e c t i v e i s i n f i n i t e .
Thus Comte r e i n s t a t e s im m o rt a lity , but he cl aim s that P o s i t i v i s m "def­
i n i t e l y transforms the c h i m e r ic a l and gro ss n otio n of o b j e c t i v e immor­
t a l i t y , t h e temporary e f f i c a c i t y o f which i s exhausted, i n t o the d e f ­
i n i t e dogma, as noble as
it
is
real, of
th e s u b j e c t i v e immortality
becoming the worth o f humann a t u r e . " 10 As t h i s immortality
grad ually
forms, the i n d i v i d u a l soul i s l i b e r a t e d from i t s e g o - c e n t r i c impulses,
and i t s altr u is m alone i s l e f t .
While o b j e c t i v e 17 l i f e r e s u l t s in a c t i o n , s u b j e c t i v e l i f e culm in at es
i n impulsion. Comte u t t e r s th e f o l l o w i n g aphorism, which he w i l l convert
1.
VT, p. 417.
V, p . i87.
8. Pol. i iv, p. SO; a l s o I , p. 411, a n i
4. Cat., p. 89, and Pol., IV, p. 4i.
Cours,
;>. I b i d . ,
_
Cat.,
o. 09.
-144i n t o one o f t h e t e n e t s o f P o s i t i v i s m 1 : ’’The l i v i n g a r e a l w a y s more and
more do m in a ted by t h e d e a d , ” t h a t i s ,
i t y ’s past.
He a l s o w r i t e s ?
our a c t i o n s a r e d i c t a t e d by Human­
"We a l w a y s work f o r our d e s c e n d a n t s ; b u t we
do s o under t h e i m p u l s i o n o f our a n c e s t o r s ,
from whom we d e r i v e t h e com­
p o n e n t e l e m e n t s and t h e m eth od s o f our o p e r a t i o n s ”2 ; and,
”The dead are
our p r o t e c t o r s and our m o d e l s ” 5 ; ”The dead l o v e and t h i n k i n us and
by u s . ”4
Comte d e f i n e s r e l i g i o n
i s o f human o r i g i n :
an e t h i c a l
in r e l a t i o n to th e Great-Peing.
therefore,
and a p r a c t i c a l .
it
The l a t t e r
h as t h r e e a s p e c t s , 5 an i n t e l l e c t u a l ,
L i k e man,
it
is
"governed by s e n t i m e n t ,
e n l i g h t e n e d by i n t e l l i g e n c e and s u s t a i n e d by a c t i v i t y . ”6
He a l s o c l a i m s
t h a t r e l i g i o n 7 must p r e s i d e o v e r a l l t h r e e t y p e s o f human m a n i f e s t a t i o n s ,
and c o n s e o u e n t l y he e l a b o r a t e s a s p e c i f i c i n s t i t u t i o n f o r each t y p e .
The i n t e l l e c t u a l
aspect
in th e in d iv id u a l i n t e l l e c t ;
a t e s lo v e in th e h e a r t,
g e n e r a l aim o f P o s i t i v i s m
is to
more by knowing h e r b e t t e r . " 6
as i n t e l l e c t
its
e t h ic a l aspect
i s t h e c u l t which g e n e r ­
and t h e a c t i v e a s p e c t i s t h e r 6 i i % a which d e t e r ­
m in es t h e s o c i a l c o n s t i t u t i o n .
religion
o f r e l i g i o n i s t h e i o i ma which f e s t e r s f a i t h
Dogma,
c u l t and r eg i m e i n t e r a c t ,
”a d c r e Humanity
Dogma and
i n o r d e r t o s e r v e h er
c u l t s t i m u l a t e one a n o t h e r i n
and h e a r t do in t h e i n d i v i d u a l .
th e o r i g i n a l plan of r e f o r m ,9 in th e f i r s t
and i n t h e C a t i c h i s m e ,
and t h e
Comte f o l l o w e d
two vo lumes o f t h e P o l i t i q u e
and p l a c e d t h e dogma10 b e f o r e t h e c u l t ;
r e v e r s e d t h e o r d e r 11 i n t h e l a s t two v o lu m es o f t h e P o l i t i q u e ,
b u t he
contending
t h a t t h e h e a r t d e v e l o p s b e f o r e i n t e l l i g e n c e i n t h e i n d i v i d u a l and i n
t h e phylum.
The dogma may now be o u t l i n e d .
of r e lig io u s creeds,
was s p o n t a n e o u s ,
A n a l y z i n g t h e g e n e r a l e v o l u t i o n 12
Comte a d v a n c e s t h e v ie w t h a t t h e f e t i c h i s t i e dogma
the p o l y t h e i s t i c
in sp ired ,
the m on oth eistic rev ea led ,
and t h e P c s i t i v i s t i c d e m o n s t r a t e d .
T h i s a s s e r t i o n d i s c l o s e s t h e n a t u r e o f t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c dogma.
Since i t
i s demonstrated,
and s i n c e a dogma i s what one b e l i e v e s ,
can be no o t h e r t h a n P o s i t i v e
1 . Pol.,
I I , p . 6 1 , a n i Cat., p .
P. Pol.,
IV , p . 8 4 .
а. Ibid., iv , p. a s .
4 . Cat., p . 1 9 1 .
б . Pol., IV , p . 1 6 7 .
6 . Cat., p . 14 0 .
c h i l o s o c h y . i3
70.
7. Pol., I , pp. 409-408; I I , PP.
9.
-0.
10.
11.
IP .
13.
I b i d . , IV , p . 9 9 , a n i o a t ., p p . 9 9 - 9 8 .
O f . p p . 1 9 -1 .9 a b o v e .
Cat., P . 6 1 .
Pol.,
TV, p p . x, 9 5 , 1 8 5 , 9 5 1 .
I b i d . , I , p . 4 0 9 , a n i I I , P . 7 ; Cours, V I , p .
Cat., p. 53.
991.
it
"Thus, t h e fu n d a m en t a l dogma
-145of the universal r e lig io n c o n s is t s
i n t h e knowledge o f an u n c h a n g e a b l e
o r d e r t o which a r e s u b j e c t e d e v e n t s o f e v e r y k i n d . ” 1
r e p r e s e n t e d by t h e s e v e n s c i e n c e s .
The dogma2 i s
The P o s i t i v i s t i c c o n v e r t must b e
i n i t i a t e d t o P o s i t i v i s m by a s t u d y o f t h e Cours.
Tt f o l l o w s t h a t t h e
p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h e r s a r e more t h a n p l a i n p h i l o s o p h e r s .
exalted p o s itio n .
eth ics
nouncement i s
ica l
They a r e t h e p r i e s t s o f t h e new r e l i g i o n ,
is a scien ce,
philosophers.
They a r e i n v e s t e d w i t h a s a c r e d c h a r a c t e r .
law ,
A g r e a t d e a l more w i l l be s a i d on t h i s s u b j e c t
i s now t o b e c o n s i d e r e d .
to f o s t e r a l t r u i s t i c
society.5
Comte c l a i m s t h a t i t s a im 4 i s
f e e l i n g s by a s y s t e m a t i c c u l t i v a t i o n o f l o v e .
a r g u e s t h a t e x e r c i s e 5 d e v e l o p s human f a c u l t i e s ,
mads t o e x e r c i s e s y s t e m a t i c a l l y .
o f the heart i s prayer.
"To p r a y i s
oral,
of generous f e e l i n g s ,
Tt i s
inasmuch a s i t
I t i s a "solemn e f f u s i o n ,
d if­
is
never
in dividual
p u r i f i e d from a l l p e r s o n a l d e s i g n . ”p
i f p r a y e r remain
e i t h e r t o l o v e w h i l e t h i n k i n g or t o t h i n k w h i l e
a c c o r d i n g t o t h e dominant d i s p o s i t i o n .
t h e n t o p ra y i s
"daily dozen”
Comte t e l l s u s ,
a t t h e same t i m e t o l o v e and t o t h i n k ,
p u rely mental.
loving,
The s p e c i f i c
t h e o l o g i c a l namesake,
a b e g g i n g f o r f a v o r s from t h e d e i t y .
Fe
and t h a t t h e h e a r t w i l l
The c o s i t i v i s t i c p r a y e r ,
f e r s f u n d a m e n t a l l y from i t s
or c o l l e c t i v e ,
Their p r o ­
i n e v e r y s e n s e o f t h e word, and t h e w ho le t h e o r e t ­
in o u t l i n i n g t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s t i c
expand i f
and, a s
t h e y a r e m o r a l i s t s as w e l l as s c i e n t i s t s and
world i s t h e i r s .
The c u l t
They h o l d an
to lo v e ,
I f t h e p r a y e r become
t o t h i n k and t o a c t . ”7
Comte p o i n t s o u t t h e p r a c t i c a l a d v a n t a g e s o f p r a y e r .
v e n t l y t o become more a f f e c t i o n a t e ,
"To w is h f e r ­
mere w o r s h i p p i n g or more c o u r a g e o u s
i s t o a c c o m p l i s h a l r e a d y i n some d e g r e e t h e d e s i r e d a m e l i o r a t i o n by a
s i n c e r e avowal o f our p r e s e n t i m p e r f e c t i o n s ,
i m p r o v e m e n t . ”9
This co n cep tio n of prayer,
con trad iction to p o s it iv it y .
and i t
is the co n d itio n of
Comte c o n t e n d s ,
is
n ot i n
During t h e f i r s t p a rt o f h i s c a r e e r ,
had no p e r s o n a l i n t e r e s t i n p r a y e r ;
p r a y e r was
sa lu ta r y in i t s e f f e c t s ,
fe e lin g of
Comte
c o n f id e n c e in
p roceeds with
n e v e r t h e l e s s he
because i t
had o b s e r v e d 9 t h a t
gave th e
h i m s e l f and i n t h e wo rld.
h i s d e f i n i t i o n of prayer. It
o f an o b j e c t i v e member o f hu manity t o t h e C r e a t - F e i n g ,
1 . C a t . , p. 73; a ls o Pol., I I , p. 79.
P. Pol. , i t ; W . 178-1?4.
3. Of. pp. 150-151, 151-153 below.
4-. C o t . , p. 195.
*
5 . Pol ., IV, p. 99, and Cat., p. 195.
8 . Pol., I , p. 980.
7. Tbid., I I ; p. 76; a l s o Cat., p. 193.
9 . Cat. , p. 193.
9 . Cours, IV, p ; 354.
Comte
individual a
i s the e ffu s io n
that i s ,
an
e f f u s i o n o f an o b j e c t i v e man t o s u b j e c t i v e hum ani ty .
by t h e medium o f p r a y e r ,
Fenc e t h e c u l t ,
i s t h e l i n k 1 o f o b j e c t i v e and s u b j e c t i v e l i v e s .
S i n c e t h e G r e a t - P e i n g i s composed o f p a s t men, t h e c u l t
ancestor-w orship,
a l t h o u g h t o t h e l a t t e r i s added d e s c e n d a n t - w o r s h i p . 3
Comte d e s c r i b e s t h e v a r i o u s forms o f c u l t .
in s o c i e t y ,
is prim arily
the in d iv id u a l,
There a r e t h r e e d e g r e e s
t h e f a m i l y and t h e c o l l e c t i v i t y .
are t h r e e c u l t s , 4 t h e i n d i v i d u a l ,
Fence th e r e
t h e d o m e s t i c and t h e p u b l i c .
Comte
o b s e r v e s t h a t t h e n o t i o n o f Fuman ity i s vague and re m ot e t o t h e u n i n i ­
tiated ,
and t h a t man n e e d s t o be l e d g r a d u a l l y t o i t by an i n t e r m e d i a r y
£
w orship."
is le s s
Tn o t h e r w o r d s , he n ee d s t o adore at f i r s t
an o b j e c t which
a b s t r a c t and n e a r e r t o him.
Comte c o n t e n d s t h a t F e m i n i n i t y r e p r e s e n t s t h i s f i r s t i d e a l s t e p
t ow a rd s t h e c u l t o f F u m a n it y .
Woman8 i s t h e b e s t n a t u r a l o b j e c t i v e
r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f mankind, b e c a u s e she i s h e a r t above a n y t h i n g e l s e .
D o m e s t i c l i f e 7 h a s t a u g h t man t o l o v e h i s w i f e w i t h a t t a c h m e n t , h i s
mother w it h v e n e r a t i o n ,
and h i s d a u g h t e r w it h k i n d n e s s .
l e a r n e d a l t r u i s m from woman,
Fe n ce h e h a s
and c o n s e q u e n t l y he i s r e a d y t o r e g a r d
womanhood as t h e b e s t e x p r e s s i o n o f l i v i n g Fumanity.
F i s f e e l i n g f o r l i v i n g women, ho we ver , c a n n o t be p e r f e c t l y f r e e
from, e g o - c e n t r i s m ,
and h i s c u l t ,
around a s u b j e c t i v e F e m i n i n i t y .
must t a k e i s t o s e l e c t
When t h i s
i s done,
t o be p u r e l y a l t r u i s t i c ,
Therefore,
th e f i r s t
must c e n t e r
s t e p which he
a s u b j e c t i v e p a t r o n s a i n t 9 worthy o f v e n e r a t i o n .
h e must a d o r e h e r in p r a y e r t h r e e t i m e s a d a y9 ( a b o u t
two h o u r s o f e v e r y t w e n t y - f o u r a r e t o b e d evo ted t o t h o s e p r a y e r s ) ,
s p e c i a l w e e k l y c e l e b r a t i o n s and i n y e a r l y commemoration.10
cult,
i f co n sc ie n tio u sly practiced ,
Fem ininity,
easy,
in
This p r i v a t e
w i l l r a i s e man from womanhood t o
and w i l l r e n d e r t h e p a s s a g e from F e m i n i n i t y t o Fum anity
s i n c e F u m a n it y i t s e l f
is
s y m b o l i z e d by F e m i n i n i t y .
Fow we p a s s on t o t h e d o m e s t i c c u l t .
t o do w i t h a d o r a t i o n .
T h is s e c o n d t y p e h a s n o t h i n g
I t c o n s i s t s o f nine sacraments co n fer r ed a t f i x e d
d a t e s and d e s t i n e d t o remind man o f t h e c l i m a c t i c p h a s e s
presentation at b ir th
(read b ap tism ),
communion), a d m i s s i o n a t t w e n t y - o n e
of h is lif e :
i n i t i a t i o n at fou rteen
(read f i r s t
( g r a d u a t i o n from t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c
-147school ),
d e s tin a tio n at tw enty-eight
(when th e young man h a s bee n o u t
i n t h e w o rl d f o r s e v e n y e a r s and h as beccire a c o n c r e t e P o s i t i v i s t ) ,
m a r r i a g e ( n o t b e f o r e t w e n t y - e i g h t f o r men and t w e n t y - f o u r f o r women),
m atu rity at f o r ty -tw o ,
death
retirem en t at s i x t y - t h r e e ,
( r e l ig io u s funeral;
d efin ite
date to t h i s
for obvious rea so n s,
sacram ent),
T h i s new form,
l i k e the p r iv a te ,
Tt r e q u i r e d t h e c r e a t i o n o f a P o s i t i v i s t i c
c a l e n d a r , 1 which Comte d u l y e l a b o r a t e d .
t e e n months,
Comte c a n n o t a s s i g n a
and i n c o r p o r a t i o n s e v e n y e a r s l a t e r .
We now come t o t h e p u b l i c c u l t .
i s o f the-.w orshipping kind.
tran sform ation at
He i n s t i t u t e d 5 a y e a r o f t h i r ­
ea ch month b e i n g composed o f f o u r w ee k s.
He g a v e t h e name
o f a member o f t h e C r e a t F e i n g 9 t o each day ( l i k e t h e s a i n t s o f a
C atholic calen dar),
o f a human s t a t e .
Under i t s
and a s s i g n e d a week and a month t o t h e w o r s h i p p i n g
This p u b lic c u l t
c o n c r e t e form,
it
i s e i t h e r c o n c r e t e or a b s t r a c t .
adores d e f i n i t e
subjective in d ivid u als,
w h i l e u nde r i t s a b s t r a c t form i t c e l e b r a t e s a p h as e o f Humanity.
o f t h e t h i r t e e n m on t hs ,
human c o n d i t i o n s ,
ticity ,
the f i r s t
marriage,
past s t a t e s ,
fetichism ,
s i x are devoted to the c e l e b r a t i o n of
fatherhood,
f e m i n i n i t y and h u m a n i t y .
and p r o l e t a r i a t e .
human
in stitu tio n s.
"sonhood,n brotherhood,
domes­
The n e x t t h r e e a re d e v o t e d t o t h e
polytheism ,
monotheism.
v o t e d t o t h e normal human o c c u p a t i o n s ,
ciate
Thus,
The l a s t
fo u r are de­
womanhood, p r i e s t h o o d ,
p a tri­
The s e v e n days o f t h e week a l s o c e l e b r a t e
The c a l e n d a r i s s c c o m p l e t e t h a t ev en
beggarhood4
i s remembered and w o r s h i p p e d .
Comte c r e a t e d what he c a l l e d h i s Ut opi a s .
all
The most im p o r t a n t o f
i s t h a t o f t h e V i r g i n V o t h e r , 8 which he i n t e n d e d t o r e p r e s e n t Human­
ity .
It
s h o u l d b e m e n t i o n e d i n p a s s i n g t h a t he began t o h a t e '’s e x " a s
p u r i t y and a s c e t i c i s m
i n c r e a s e d in charm f o r him.
women would b e r e l i e v e d o f a l l s e x u a l f u n c t i o n s ,
c o n c e p t i o n 8 would b e commonly p r a c t i c e d .
He i n v e n t e d t h r e e g o d d e s s e s , 7 V a t e r i a l i t y ,
He hoped t h a t soon
and t h a t im ma cu la te
V i t a l i t y and Humanity,
w hic h
had t o b e a d o re d in t h e t r u e P o s i t i v i s t i c s t y l e .
H ell9
and P u r g a t o r y ,
He r e s u r r e c t e d
and he a d v i s e d t h a t ea ch c h i l d be p u t
p r o t e c t i o n o f two s a i n t s 9 a t b i r t h ,
u n de r t h e
and b e g i v e n g o d p a r e n t s . 10
1 . The P o s i t i v i s t i c Calendar was p u b lish ed s e p a r a te ly , b u t i t i s t o b e found a ls o in
the'Cat 4chi sue and in th e Pol iti que .
p . Cat ., pp. 837--SSS.
Pol.j TV, p. ISA.
Ibid. * IV, p. 152.
Ibid. > TV, pp. 514, 304.
0. Ibid., TV, p.
273.
7 . Ibid. i TV, p.
512.
1* ^oZ*^ ?* of 345. and IV, p. i l l . Comte a ls o approved o f th e s a n o ti f l o a t io n of
9.
4.
5.
i n d i v id u a ls , and in t&e Cours (V, p. 237> he had a lre a d y s t a t e d t h a t h i s p h ilo so p h y would
exp'and t h i s i n s t i t u t i o n . •
10.
Cat. f p . 2 1 4 .
f
\
-148-
A l l p u b l i c a d o r a t i o n s wohld t a k e t h e form o f c e l e b r a t i o n s in
t e m p l e s , 1 f o r a l l o f which Comte m i n u t e l y p l a n n e d t h e number, dimen­
sion s,
A rt ,
architecture,
he c l a i m e d ,
orientation,
and e v e n t h e o u t s i d e l a n d s c a p i n g .
would become an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f t h e c u l t .
These who
h a v e h i t h e r t o b e e n s c i e n t i s t s - p h i l o s o p h e r s - m o r a l i s t s a r e now t o become
p o e t s 9 and a r t i s t s a s w e l l .
hierarchy o f h is clerg y .
resid en ce,
^ riest
uniforms,
(read pope).
etc.,
Comte c a r e f u l l y p r e p a r e d t h e i n t e r n a l
Pe d e c i d e d 9 on t h e Q u a l i f i c a t i o n s ,
o f i t s members.
salaries,
I t s head w i l l b e a C r e a t -
I t i s u s e l e s s t o m e n t i o n t h a t Comte nominated
him self the f i r s t C reat-P riest.
P a r i s 4w i l l be t h e P o l y C i t y t e m p o r a r i l y .
has been c o n v e r te d ,
When t h e w h o l e o f Furope
C o n s t a n t i n o p l e w i l l t a k e t h e p l a c e o f Da r i s .
t r a d it i o n s of the l a t t e r ,
and i t s g e o g r a p h i c p o s i t i o n ,
s tr a te g ic P o s it i v is t ic center.
make i t t h e
I t a l i a n 8 w i l l be th e sacred language.
The o u t l i n e o f t h e c u l t b e i n g now f i n i s h e d ,
the regime.
it
i s time t o pass to
I t r e p r e s e n t s t h e s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n which Comte had
p l a n n e d t o o f f e r t o t h e world when he was t w e n t y y e a r s o l d .
past f i f t y - f i v e
when he p u t s i t
idea,
Comte’ s t h e o r y o f r e l i g i o n
that i t
o u i t e d i f f e r e n t i n s p i r i t from
i t r e p r e s e n t s a b e a u t i f u l ex a m p le o f p e r s e v e r a n c e .
Tn t h i s l a s t c h a p t e r ,
meant u n i t y .
Pe i s
i n t o w r i t i n g and g i v e s i t t o t h e p u b l i c .
And a l t h o u g h h i s p r e s e n t e l a b o r a t i o n i s
h is fir s t
th e P o s i t i v i s t i c r e l i g i o n has been
h a s been o u t l i n e d ,
described.
shewing t h a t r e l i g i o n
There has b ee n an a n a l y s i s o f t h e dogma, p o i n t i n g cu t
was p o s i t i v e
rhiloscphu.
The c u l t h a s bee n v i e w e d ,
and i t s
aim h a s b e e n fou n d t o be t h e s y s t e m a t i c e x e r c i s e o f t h e h e a r t ,
p r a y e r s and p u b l i c c e r e m o n i e s .
Its
f o r m s h a v e b e e n d e s c r i b e d under i t s
in d iv id u a l,
5.
Ibi d. ,
TV, pp . 156, „
a n d Pol., T V ,
355-356.
I , p. 9 3 , a n d I V , p .
T V , p . a°p.
p . POC,
IV , pp.
p.
573.
57?.
thro ug h
d o m e s t i c and p u b l i c
c o n c r e t e and a b s t r a c t a s p e c t s .
I t now r e m a i n s t o o u t l i n e t h e r e g i m e .
t . Po l. ,
p. Cat.,
5 . Pol.,
i. Ibid.,
The
800K
SOCIAL
V
RECONSTRUCT10N
CHAPTER
T he
Spir itu a l
Or o e r
( I ncluding
Comte s t a t e s t h a t h i s aim i s
or k i n g ,
under t h e o n l y no rm al,
the s o c i a l - f e e l i n g ,
a ctiv ity ." 1
I
Ed u c a t i o n )
t o " r e o r g a n i z e s o c i e t y w i t h o u t god
p r i v a t e and n u b l i c ,
preponderance o f
p r o p e r l y a s s i s t e d by p o s i t i v e r e a s o n and r e a l
Comte in d u c e d in o r d e r t o d e d u c e ,
The s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n ,
therefore,
w it h c o n s t r u c t i o n as an end.
i s the a p p lic a tio n of the p rin ­
c i p l e s em a n a t in g from t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n and t h e e t h i c a l
regeneration ,
what i t
and i t
i s p o s s i b l e t o i n f e r from t h e p r e c e d i n g c h a p t e r s
i s going to be.
The p h i l o s o p h e r i n t e n d s t h e new s o c i e t y t o a b i d e by t h r e e g e n e r a l
p rin ciples:
itu al
( 1 ) s e p a r a t i o n o f t h e o r y and p r a c t i c e , 9 by which t h e s p i r ­
and t e m p o r a l s h o u l d be k e p t d i s t i n c t :
(I?) c o n c i l i a t i o n o f o rd er
and p r o g r e s s , -' s i n c e o r d e r must be p r o g r e s s i v e and p r o g r e s s o r d e r l y ;
and ( ? ) s y s t e m a t i c supremacy o f a l t r u i s m o v e r e g o - c e n t r i s m .
t o achieve t h i s t r i p l e
past c i v ili z a t io n ,
He p l a n s
end by c o m b i n i n g 4 t h e p o s i t i v e f e a t u r e s o f each
that i s ,
t h e s o c i a l g e n i u s o f a n t i q u i t y and o f t h e
V i d d l e Ages, w i t h t h e p o l i t i c a l program o f t h e C o n v e n t i o n .
Studying th e s t a t i c com p osition o f P o s i t i v i s t i c
t h a t s o c i e t y normally c o n t a i n s 8 four s o c i a l c l a s s e s :
ing the i n t e l l e c t ;
and p r o l e t a r i a t e ,
society,
priesthood,
womanhood, p e r s o n i f y i n g t h e h e a r t ;
representing v o lit io n a l
Tt might seem s t r a n g e a t f i r s t
sig h t,
s h o u l d c o n s t i t u t e an i n d e p e n d e n t c l a s s ,
and p a t r i c i a t e
Comte a d m i t s , t h a t women
s in c e r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f the
but he c l a i m s
no m a t t e r what t h e s o c i a l l e v e l o f t h e husband i s ,
whe re h a s t h e same f u n c t i o n ,
embody­
a ctiv ity .
f e m a l e s e x a re t o be found i n t h e o t h e r t h r e e c l a s s e s ;
that,
he f i n d s
woman e v e r y ­
which i s t o be t h e supreme human r e g u l a t o r .
"Che s p o n t a n e o u s l y i n s u r e s t h e c o n t i n u o u s s u b o r d i n a t i o n o f r e a s o n and
a c t i v i t y t o u n i v e r s a l l o v e , by p r e v e n t i n g a s much as p o s s i b l e t h e d i v a *
ft
g a t i o n s o f one and t h e p e r t u r b a t i o n s o f t h e e t h e r . "
\\
99,
p. 03. S f. pp. 45-43 above.
3. Po l. , I , pp. 73-73.
4. I b i d . , I , p. 390.
5.
0
Cat., p.
. Pol.,
I,
193, 328-334, 583; I I , PP. 315-819; IV, pp. 79-90? Opus.,
327.
p. 305.
-149-
Pin ce s o c i e t y has t o have two d i s t i n c t o rd er s, a t h e o r e t i c a l and
a p r a c t i c a l , p r i e s t s form the f i r s t , and p a t r i c i a n s and p r o l e t a r i a n s
the second.
As for women, th ey are the i n s p i r a t i o n of th e two orders,
and belong t o both.
Tt has already been s t a t e d t h a t a government1 i s formed spontane­
o u s l y whenever ther e i s a s s o c i a t i o n . P o s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y has two
d i s t i n c t or d ers. usnce i t has two s e p a r a te governments, one for the
s p i r i t u a l and another for the temporal. Comte hold s th a t t h i s separa­
t i o n o f cowers was t r i e d e m p i r i c a l l y in the Viddle A g es ,9 but t h a t i t
could net be permanent then because the p r i n c i p l e underlying i t — the
d i v i s i o n of th eory and p r a c t i c e — was not s c i e n t i f i c a l l y understood,
and was c o n f l i c t i n g in s p i r i t with the a b s o lu t e chara ct er of monotheism
The same cannot be sa id tod ay .
P o s i t i v e p h i l os ophy i s e s s e n t i a l l y r e l a
t i v e in s p i r i t , and the study of s c i e n c e , philoso p hy, and e s p e c i a l l y
s o c i o l o g y , has r ev ea led t o a l l t h e dangers inherent in a confusion of
powers. Therefore, n e c e s s i t y for s e p a r a t i n g the two powers i s evident
t o everyone, and i t s e s t a b lis h m e n t i s d e f i n i t i v e .
Comte a s s e r t s t h a t the P o s i t i v i s t i c s p i r i t u a l power9 has complete
a u t h o r it y ever the s o u l s of men ( t h e i r i n t e l l i g e n c e , heart and imagina­
t i o n ) , while th e temporal power has charge of t h e i r b o d i e s , i . e . , t h e i r
activity.
Tn no case i s the s p i r i t u a l to be allowed t o take an a c t i v e
part in p o l i t i c s ; Comte contends t h a t t h e p r a c t i c a l i n c a p a c ity of
t h e o r i s t s 4 has been amply demonstrated by e x p e r ie n c e . The s p i r i t u a l
power i s now to be d e s c r ib e d .
Comte obse rv es t h a t t h e r e w i l l be no i l l - w i l l toward t h i s power
on t h e part of t h e s u r v iv i n g t h e o l o g i c a l c l e r g i e s , 8 because they w i l l
r e c o g n i z e the f a c t t h a t the P o s i t i v i s t i c Church i s t h e i r l o g i c a l h e i r .
A few words may be s a id about i t s o r g a n i z a t i o n . Comte c o p i e s the
i n t e r n a l h ier arc hy o f the C a t h o l ic Church, as he had copied i t s s a c r a ­
ments and seme o f i t s d e v o t io n a l p r a c t i c e s . Furcpe^ w i l l have twenty
thousand p r i e s t s (one for every s i x thousand i n h a b i t a n t s ) d i s t r i b u t e d
over seven n a t io n a l c l e r g i e s .
When a l l mankind has become converted,
t he eart h w i l l have one hundred thousand " d i v i n e s . " The head, the
C r e a t - P r i e s t , i s the soul and hea rt of th e s p i r i t u a l power, and i s
i n v e s t e d with a b s o lu t e a u t h o r i t y .
"Tt i s in him alone t h at ther e
1 . Cf. p.
101 above.
P. P o l . , I , p. 91; IT ,pp. 113. 943.
3. I b t i . i I I I , pp. x x v ii-x jc v ili, 54.
-1 F 1 c o n s i s t s the s a c e r i o c e whose members he can a l l change without having
t h e s p i r i t u a l organism a l t e r e d s e r i o u s l y . Papacy, always hampered by
t h e Facred C o l le g e and o f t e n by c o u n c i l s , never could obtain the a s ­
cendancy which a f u l l s e p a r a t i o n o f powers w i l l spontaneously procure
t o the p o n t i f i c a t e o f Humanity.1,1
Pach p r i e s t 2 w i l l be a s s i s t e d by seven v i c a r s , and ther e w i l l be
c o n g r e g a t i o n s o f p e n s i o n e r s 5 (read monks).
Only a mind f r e e from f i n a n c i a l w o r r ie s can devote i t s whole time
t o a m is s io n , and i t i s e s s e n t i a l th a t the c le r g y enjoy undisturbed
financial security.
Tn order t o i n s u r e t h i s , the pries th ood i s t o r e ­
c e i v e a regu la r s a la r y from t h e temporal government. Comte even s t i p u ­
l a t e s how th e c l e r i c s are t o spend t h e i r emoluments. Averring t h a t
pecuniary d i s t r a c t i o n s 4 come as much from having to take care o f i n ­
vestments as from not having enough money to pay the b u t c h e r 's b i l l ,
he e n j o i n s p r i e s t s t o avoid t h e accumulation o f c a p i t a l and t o l i v e up
t o t h e i r income. They w i l l t h us be e n t i r e l y above monetary c o n s i d e r a ­
tions.
I t should be p oin te d out t h a t the f i n a n c i a l s t a t u s o f p r i e s t s
i s s i m i l a r t o t h a t o f women.5
Comte o bse rves t h a t t h i s method of remuneration and the absence
of c a p i t a l among the c l e r g y puts t h e s a c e r d o t a l c l a s s under the domina­
t i o n of the temporal. He c l a i m s t h a t t h i s i s as i t should b e.
Action
being the end of a l l s p e c u l a t i o n , t h e temporal must dominate the s p i r ­
i t u a l in the p r a c t i c a l world.
This domination o f f e r s y e t another
advantage, t h a t o f making i t im p o s s i b l e f o r p r i e s t s to abuse t h e i r
powe r. 8 They are expect ed t o c o n v i n c e 7 by moral means and not t o com­
mand by the rod; but, human nature bein g what i t i s , there might be
danger of the s p i r i t u a l power becoming greedy for temporal domination,
and of i t s using unorthodox methods of p ers u a sio n . With t h i s f i n a n c i a l
arrangement,9 the temporal government has the upper hand, and, by s t o p ­
ping payment of th e s t i p e n d , i t can put an end to a l l s p i r i t u a l abuse s.
Comte em p h a tic a lly orders p r i e s t s t o marry,9 and warns t h a t no
b ach el o r w i l l be admitted i n t o the s p i r i t u a l hierarchy.
As i t i s only
through consta n t c o n t a c t with a woman t h a t man's heart i s developed,
i t i s more important f o r a p r i e s t than f o r any one e l s e to be under
t h e e t h i c a l i n f l u e n c e of a w i f e ,
i . P o l . , IV , p . ? 5 7 .
9. Ibid., IV, p. 72
- The f u n c t i o n s o f the c l e r g y are now to be co nsider ed. They are
two1 in number, and are t h e c o n s u l t a t i v e and the e d u c a t io n a l.
Although
they are the two forms o f s p i r i t u a l domination, they need to be s tu d ie d
s e p a r a t e l y , b e g i n n i n g with t h e c o n s u l t a t i v e .
H i r s t , t h e Church i s t h e r e c i p i e n t of i n t e l l e c t u a l knowledge.
Hence, i t g i v e s c o u n s e l t o th e temporal power whenever t h e advice o f
t e c h n i c a l e x p e r t s i s needed.
The i n d u s t r i a l c l a s s i s busy with pro­
d u c t iv e la b o r .
I t s members, having r e c e i v e d a s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h ­
i c a l ed ucatio n, are ac q u ain te d with the variou s s c i e n c e s , but t h e i r
knowledge i s rudimentary.
When a problem req u ir in g advanced t e c h n i c a l
knowledge a r i s e s , be i t mathematical, p o l i t i c a l , or even m e d i c a l , ? they
c o n s u l t th e p r i e s t s .
Second, t h e Church has a monopoly over s c i e n t i f i c r e s e a r c h .
It
has l a b o r a t o r i e s f o r every s c i e n c e . When a c l e r i c makes an i n t e r e s t i n g
d i s c o v e r y , and one s u s c e p t i b l e o f p r a c t i c a l a p p l i c a t i o n , i t i s imparted
t o the l a i t y by t h e p r i e s t s .
Third, the l a t t e r , as we know, are m o r a l is t s and a r t i s t s 8 as wel l
as s c i e n t i s t s and p h i l o s o p h e r s .
Hence, the s a cerd o ta l c l a s s i s the
ju dge4 in a l l moral q u e s t i o n s .
An i n t e n s e e t h i c a l t r a i n i n g has made
the p r i e s t s e x p e r t s in a l l problems p e r t a in in g to the h e a r t . The f a c t
t hat a l l problems have an e t h i c a l s o l u t i o n 5 enhances t h e i r importance.
I t f o l l o w s t h a t the c l e r g y i s the a r b i t e r in a l l temporal d i f f i c u l t i e s .
Comte i n v e s t s t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c p r i e s t with ana u thor it y which
even a medieval d i v i n e of t h e e l e v e n t h century never hoped to w i e l d .
Pe i s en join ed by Comte t o become acquainted p er s o n a ll y with every member
of h i s community and t o be t h e f a m i l i a r g u e s t 8 of every home. He i s t h e
judge of a l l c u a r r e l s , dom estic or o th erw ise.
As duty7 has re p laced
r i g h t and t r i b u n a l s no lo n g e r e x i s t , no agency competes with h i s moral
i n f l u e n c e , and he i s the s o l e mediator in a l l l i t i g a t i o n s , no matter
what t h e i r nature may be.
Comte f i n d s i t n e c e s s a r y to weight the c l e r i c a l au thor it y with
weapons, and he d e v i s e s t h r e e forms o f s a n c t i o n s , 5 blame, excommunica­
t i o n and s u b j e c t i v e r e p r o b a t i o n , each one stronger than t h e p reced in g .
I'
Po!-p 4a; l o L f ' l V , t>. 74. P rie a ta are the phyaioians of th e new era.
8. C a t . / P. 199- P a l . / 1, p. 343, ani IV, p. 74. Cf. a lso p. 14? above.
4. Cat. * p. 353.
F. Cf. p. 131 above.
_ ,
e. Cat. i pp. 351-353, and Pol., IV, pp. 813-31?.
-1PP-
Tf s p i r i t u a l c h a s tis e m e n t f a i l s , the r e b e l i s turned over t o th e tem­
poral power, whioh c o n f i s c a t e s 1 h i s p o s s e s s i o n s .
Comte f u l l y r e a l i z e d t h at th e c l e r g y could not e x e r c i s e act u al
c o n t r o l over eve ry member of s o c i e t y at a l l tim es , and he /judged i t
e xped ie n t to extend and r e i n f o r c e th e s a c e r d o ta l i n f l u e n c e by the ad­
j u n c t c f an e v e r - p r e s e n t and watchful s ervan t. Comte s e l e c t e d p u b l ic
o p i n i o n 9 for t h i s purpose, arguing t h a t th e Church could mold i t t o
s u i t i t s aim. Comte adopted t h e means o f propaganda rendered so f a m i l i a r
today by th e p r a c t i c e s o f the contemporary t o t a l i t a r i a n s t a t e s . He b e ­
g i n s by a b o l i s h i n g not only the freedom o f the p r e s s , but the c r e s s 9
itself.
News of p u b l ic i n t e r e s t w i l l be placarded in the s t r e e t s . No
new l i t e r a t u r e i s t o be p u b lish e d , except a few manuals and worthy
t r a c t s , 4 which t h e s p i r i t u a l government w i l l p r i n t with i t s own p r e s s ,
at i t s own expense, and c i r c u l a t e f r e e of charge. T h ea t ers 9 (except
o per a-h ouse s) w i l l be c l o s e d ; tav er ns w i l l be a b o lis h e d , and replaced,
by s o c i a l c l u b s 8 and s a l o n s 7 p re sid ed over by d i g n i f i e d p a t r i c i a n and
p le b e i a n l a d i e s .
The freedom c f tea ch in g w i l l be abrogated, and p r i v a t e
s c h o o l s 9 w i l l no lo nger e x i s t .
Thus, by t h e s e means, p u b l i c opinion w i l l become the s u b s e r v ie n t
t o o l of the c l e r g y and w i l l complement i t s c o n t r o l .
The Church, by
i t s c o n s u l t a t i v e f u n c t i o n and the molding o f p u b lic o p in io n , w i l l be
ab le t o r e t a i n t h e a b s o l u t e domination9 which i t has held ever the
s o u l s of c h i l d r e n . This l e a d s t o the second f u n c tio n of the Church,
the e d u c a t io n a l one.
Pefore o u t l i n i n g th e P o s i t i v i s t i c educat ion , i t w i l l be nece ssa ry
t o d e s c r ib e Comte's g e n e r a l d o c t r i n e c f education. The aim o f education
i s "to develop the s o c i a b i l i t y and l e s s e n the p e r s o n a l i t y , "
or "to
-prepare t h e i n d i v i d u a l t o l i v e f o r o t h e r s in order t o l i v e in o t h e r s . " 11
In s h o r t , th e aim o f e d u c a t io n i s to forward the development o f altr u is m
in the i n d i v i d u a l .
Comte av er s t h a t , from the s u b j e c t i v e view p oin t,
educa tion r e p r e s e n t s the expansion of the whole ego, with t h e u n fo ld in g
of p o t e n t i a l i t i e s t h a t are i n t e l l e c t u a l , im agin ative, a f f e c t i v e and
1. Pol. i
p.
Opus.,
IT ,
p.
p. 419.
198.
e. £<*£•>
s\
ta s te
z l t i i , T I ^ , Pp !
to
4 4 0 ! C o m te l o v e d
in flu e n o e h is re a s o n .
I , p p .:19 4, 982.
I , p . 93 2; IV , p p .
IV , p . 259.
6. ibid.t
7 . Ibid.,
p . Ibid.,
9 . Ibid. > I I , p. 416.
* > . Ibid.* I , p . ? 4 s .
11. Ibid. > I I , p . 3 7 1 .
Ita lia n
3 1 4 -8 1 6 ,
959.
o p e ra s ,
and p r o b a b ly
a llo w e d
h is
in d iv id u a l
p r a c t i c a l . O b j e c t i v e l y speaking, educat ion i s nothing more than the
s y s t e m a t i c speeding up c f t h i s natural p ro ces s o f e v o l u t i o n , based on
a s c i e n t i f i c understanding of human nature and with an emphasis l a i d
on the e t h i c a l elem ent. Education, c c n s e a u e n t l y , i s not a compulsory
molding from w ith out, but an i n t e r n a l p r o c e s s of growth, c l e v e r l y a s ­
s i s t e d by an ex t e r n a l guidance.
Comte, as i t has been pointed out sc many tim e s , b e l i e v e d that
ontogeny r e c a p i t u l a t e d phylogeny, and t h i s co n ce p tion i n f lu e n c e d h i s
i d e a s on e d u c a t io n .
Studying ontogeny from the e d u c a t io n a l v i e w p o i n t , 9
he cla im s t h a t the c h i l d , from b i r t h to the age o f se ve n, i s a f e t i c h i s t ;
from seven t o f o u r t e e n , a p o l y t h e i s t ; and t h a t i t i s only during the
years from f o u r t e e n t o twenty-one t h a t he e v o l v e s from monotheism t o
Positivism .
Fducation must not and cannot i n t e r f e r e with t h i s e v o l u t i o n .
Tt must help the c h i l d t o be in turn a f e t i c h i s t , then a p o l y t h e i s t , and
l a s t a m on ot heist.
Tt w i l l bring him g ra du all y t o P o s i t i v i s m , a f t e r he
has gone through the previou s s t a g e s , and when h i s nature i s spontane­
o u s l y ready for the change.
Theology e n t a i l s e g c - c e n t r is m . Hence the young c h i l d must be a l ­
lowed t o be e g o - c e n t r i c .
Tt i s only when he e n t e r s l a t e a d o le s c e n c e
t h a t , with Nature a b e t t i n g the p r o c e s s , he can be helped t o become an
altru ist.
Comte em p h a tic a ll y s t a t e d t h a t a lt r u is m should not be
s t r e s s e d f o r m a lly u n t i l th e s o c i a l i n s t i n c t had developed i t s e l f .
T h is , c f co u r s e , does not imply t h a t e t h i c a l ed uca tion cannot be
s t a r t e d b e f o r e the c h i l d i s f o u r t e e n .
All i t means i s t h a t , u n t i l the
c h i l d i s f o u r t e e n , e t h i c a l education must remain spontaneous and i n f ormal.
Comte advances th e idea t h a t the Church i s not t h e s o l e educator
of youth. Tt shares t h i s mission with women. The woman i s t h e angel
o f her home, and she symbolizes Humanity. Hhe i s le a d in g a thoroughly
domestic l i f e , and, p e r f o r c e , i s in consta n t c o n t a c t with her o f f s p r i n g .
Tt f o l l o w s t h a t she i s bound t o play an important part in t h e i r edu­
cation.
Observing th a t any phenomenon i s spontaneous b e f o r e becoming s y s ­
t e m a t i c , Comte a s s e r t s t h a t education has to have a spontaneous or
informal phase b e f o r e i t assumes a s y s t e m a t i c or formal a s p e c t . Comte
tu rn s the informal part over t o woman, and r e s e r v e s t h e formal t o p r i e s t s .
t. Cf. pp. 59-60 above.
P. Cat., pp. 256-968; Pol., I, pp. 172-177.
-1FF-
He avers that women are the l o g i c a l informal e d u c a t o r s , 1 f o r other
r e a s o n s b e s id e s t h o s e p r e v i o u s l y mentioned. They are a l l sp o ntanei ty ;
hence, they are the obvious t e a c h e r s o f spontaneous ed u ca t io n . They
are a l l heart; t h e r e f o r e , th ey w i l l u n c o n s c io u s ly s t r e s s e t h i c a l t r a i n ­
i n g . Comte g i v e s them complete c o n t r o l over c h i l d r e n from b i r t h t o the
f o u r t e e n t h year . Let us, however, have no i l l u s i o n on t h i s s u b j e c t .
The p r i e s t does net a c t u a l l y r e l i n q u i s h h i s a u t h o r i t y , s i n c e he manages
women through h i s c o n s u l t a t i v e f u n c t i o n .
Comte claims that th ose f o u r t e e n y e a r s 9 have t o be devoted to
e s t h e t i c a l , e t h i c a l and p h y s i c a l t r a i n i n g .
The f i r s t seven are absorbed
by an e n t i r e l y informal type o f e d u c a t io n .
I t c o n s i s t s in the forming
o f good h a b it s and the i m i t a t i o n o f good examples, in the learn in g of
poems and songs, and in p l a y . P.y t h i s method, im ag in atio n, e s t h e t i c
s e n s e and h ea lth are developed .
When the c h i l d rea ch es the age of
se ve n, th e t r a i n i n g becomes more formal. The mother t ea ch es him. the
t h r e e P Ts , and begin s h i s t r a i n i n g in the seven modern languages, a
knowledge c f which i s in d i s p e n s a b l e t o the P o s i t i v i s t s .
As they t r a v e l
e x t e n s i v e l y on the Continent in order t o become acauainted with t h e i r
fe llo w-m en , they have to have a speaking knowledge of a l l t h e s e seven
lan gu ages.
I t i s only when I t a l i a n has become the u n i v e r s a l language
t h a t the o ther s may be dropped. The mother a l s o b e g in s the c h i l d Ts
i n d u s t r i a l t r a i n i n g by te a c h i n g him a r t - c r a f t s and rudimentary concrete
activ ity .
When the c h i l d rea ch es puberty, at f o u r t e e n , an important change
t a k e s p l a c e in h i s make-up. F e r e t o f o r e , he has used h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e
on ly t o learn; now he b egin s t o use i t to s p e c u l a t e . Therefore, the
time has come f o r a new o r i e n t a t i o n in education: i t must become formal.
While the informal education was maternal, domestic and t u t o r i a l , the
formal education i s s a c e r d o t a l , s c h o l a s t i c and p u b l i c . Comte formulates
t h e aim c f s c h o l a s t i c education in t h e f o l l o w i n g words: "The aim of
g en era l education c o n s i s t s in making a s i n g l e mind, probably mediocre,
reach in a few years the same degree c f development which has been
a t t a i n e d a f t e r a long seauence o f c e n t u r i e s by a gr e a t number c f superior
g e n e r a t i o n s , each in d i v i d u a l app lying s u c c e s s i v e l y during a l i f e t i m e a l l
h i s f o r c e s t o the s'tudy of the same s u b j e c t . " 5
Pol.j 11, p. 579.
Tbii.A XV. p p . P 6 0 -5 6 4 .
8. Cours', I , ' pp. 45—44.
1.
P r i e s t s are, by temperament and t r a i n i n g , a l l system; hence th ey
are e s p e c i a l l y f i t t e d f o r th e ed u ca tio n of a d o l e s c e n t s .
F h i l e informal
edu ca tio n had taught spontaneous l o v e and the e u l t , formal i n s t r u c t i o n
t r a i n s in the dogma and in s y s t e m a t i c l o v e .
Tt i s r e l i g i o u s throughout.
The s c h o o l 1 i s a p a v i l i o n annexed t o the church, and the dons are
p riests.
Tt i s a day i n s t i t u t i o n .
The c h i l d r e n l i v e at home during
t h e i r whole formal t r a i n i n g , and th e mother con t in u e s the spontaneous
education which she had begun a t t h e i r b i r t h . P.y t h i s arrangement,
the spontaneous and the formal t r a i n i n g develop along p a r a l l e l l i n e s ,
and complement one another.
Comte avers that a l l f u t u r e members c f s o c i e t y have to r e c e i v e an
e n c y c lo p e d ic ed ucatio n , because i t i s only through such an education
t h a t one may lea rn s y s t e m a t i c a l t r u i s m . There are seven s c i e n c e s , and
the s c h o o li n g l a s t s f o r seven y e a r s .
It i s obvious that the natural
order of the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n w i l l be f o l l o w e d . Tn order t o emphasise
the s u b j e c t i v e u n it y of human knowledge, the same p r i e s t t ea ch es the
seven s c i e n c e s , the stud en t r e t a i n i n g the same tea ch er f o r the f u l l
seven y e a r s . The e t h i c a l and s o c i a l aim c f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y ' i s
c o n s t a n t l y s t r e s s e d , and th e l a s t yea r, which i s devoted to e t h i c s ,
appears as the resumd of a l l th e o t h e r s . Fhen the stu den t graduates
from the Church School, he i s a confirmed P o s i t i v i s t .
Veanwhile, Comte does not ove rloo k the development o f imagination,
and he makes Latin and Creek part o f the s y l l a b u s on account o f t h e i r
e s t h e t i c a l v a l u e . Students are a l s o made t o le arn a v o c a t i o n a l occupa­
t i o n while they r e c e i v e t h e i r p h i l o s o p h i c a l e d ucatio n . Comte, an
examiner by t r a d e , was i n t e r e s t e d in t e s t s , and he planned the numerous
examinations which the s t u d e n t s would have t o take in order t o graduate.
fit tw enty-one, when t h e i r graduation occurs, they are a b s t r a c t
Do s i t i v i s t s , but t h e i r t r a i n i n g i s not ever . They have t o become
co n c r e t e po s i t i v i s t s as w e l l , and can do i t only by spending t h e next
seven years in p r a c t i c a l , l i f e .
£t t w e n t y - e i g h t , they know p r a c t i c e
as w e ll as th eo ry , and th ey are f u l l - f l a d g e d P o s i t i v i s t s . They are
now ready t o l i v e for o t h e r s in o t h e r s .
Comte wants h i s educa tion t o be u n i v e r s a l * in every sense o f the
word. I t i s already u n i v e r s a l in range," s i n c e i t i s a f f e c t i v e , e t h i c a l ,
i n t e l l e c t u a l , e s t h e t i c a l and p r a c t i c a l . To be t r u l y u n i v e r s a l , i t has
t o be the same for both s e x e s .
Tt might seem i n c o n s i s t e n t at f i r s t
s i g h t to have women r e c e i v e as thorough an e n c y c l o p e d i c a l grounding as
t h e men, on account o f t h e i r a f f e c t i v e and domestic f u n c t i o n , and t h e i r
in tellectu al in ferio rity .
Comte avers t h at a formal education w i l l not
s p o i l t h e i r s p o n t a n e i t y , and t h a t i t w i l l improve1 t h e i r i n t e l l i g e n c e .
Their e d u c a t io n a l function*5 makes i t imperative for them t o a p p r e c ia t e
t h e t r u e nature of a l t r u i s m , and th ey w i l l do so only by going through
the r e g u la r t h e o r e t i c a l P o s i t i v i s t i c t r a i n i n g .
The edu ca tio n i s u n i v e r s a l in s t i l l another r e s p e c t .
Tt i s the
same for a l l s o c i a l c l a s s e s . ' Comte observes t h a t i t i s ,iust as impor­
t a n t for a p r o l e t a r i a n t o understand s o c i a l w elf a re as i t i s f o r a
patrician.
He cannot a p p r e c i a t e the d i g n i t y c f h i s own humble labor
u n l e s s he j u s t l y comprehends th e nature of s o c i e t y .
Comte h o l d s t h a t the s ch o o l performs a most v a lu a b le s o c i a l fu nc­
tion .
I t i s t h e agent of s o c i e t a l s e l e c t i o n . Py d e t e c t i n g a p t i t u d e s ,
i t a s s i g n s t h e proper l e v e l t o every member of s o c i e t y .
The s tu d e n t s
who are found t o be i n t e l l e c t u a l l y and ’' s y n t h e t i c a l l y ” i n c l i n e d are
ad vis ed t o j o i n the s n i r i t u a l order and t r a i n t h em sel ves f o r the p r i e s t ­
hood. The o t h e r s are t o l d t o remain in the temporal order. No d e c i s i o n ,
however, i s made u n t i l the young man has completed h i s p r a c t i c a l e x p e r i ­
ence, that i s , u n t i l he has passed h i s tw en ty -ei gh th b ir t h d a y . There i s
no r u l e a g a i n s t an i n d i v i d u a l ’ s s h i f t i n g from one order to the e t h e r ,
but changes are p rop erly d isco ura ged .
CHAPTFP
T he
Temporal
II
Or d e r
We have alre ad y gathered f i v e t y p e s o f data r e l a t i v e to the tem­
p ora l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , which are t h e f o l l o w i n g . F i r s t , a s s o c i a t i o n 1
sp on tan eo u sly c r e a t i n g . l e a d e r s h i p , t h e r e are two t y p es o f temporal i n ­
d i v i d u a l s , the e n t r e p r e n s ur s or p a t r i c i a n s , and the workers or p r o l e ­
tarians.
Fecond, phenomena spontaneou sly c l a s s i f y i n g th em selves ac­
co rd ing t o t h e i r r e l a t i v e degree of d e c r e a s in g g e n e r a l i t y , * D r o f e s s i c n s
form a r ig o r o u s s o c i e t a l h ie r a r c h y . Third, po s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y 5 i s
e s s e n tia lly industrial,
fou rth , p r i v a t e l i f e 4 i s subordinated to public
w e l f a r e . F i f t h , p o l i t i c s 5 are subordinated to e t h i c s .
These f i v e p r i n c i p l e s , however, do not s u f f i c e t o e x o l a i n the
s o c i e t y which Comte planned: an ac au ain ta nce with h i s t h e o r i e s on
p o l i t i c a l economy, e s p e c i a l l y t h o se o f c a p i t a l and lab or, i s a l s o
necessary.
These t h e o r i e s may be summarized as f e l l o w s .
The temporal
order i s the domain o f a c t i v i t y , which ■* 'ans t h a t a c t i o n 5 must p r e v a il
over a l l oth er human m a n if e s t a t i o n s in t h i s f i e l d .
Action r e a u i r e s
m a t e r i a l f o r c e ; t h e r e f o r e , in the temporal, m ate rial f o r c e 7 must pr e v a il
over the s p i r i t u a l .
Comte d e f i n e s a c t i v e f o r c e as being a combination
o f " w i l l ” and " d o . ” The p a t r i c i a n s " w i l l ” and the p r o l e t a r i a n s "do,"
o r , t o put i t another way, the former9 embody co nce ntra te d f o r c e and
the l a t t e r d isp e r siv e strength.
Again, seen from a d i f f e r e n t angle,
a c t i v e f o r c e 9 emanates from wealth ( p a t r i c i a t e ! and from number (pro­
l e t a r i a t e ) , the one insu ri ng c o n t i n u i t y 10 and the other s o l i d a r i t y .
Comte p roceeds to v o i c e h is th eory of c a p i t a l . pc s i v i s t i e s o c i ­
e t y i s founded on in d u stry.
Industry11 i s the product of e x t e n s i v e
IP
d i v i s i o n of labor and c l o s e co op er atio n of e f f o r t s . Fcth o p erat ion s
1P
r e q u i r e l a r g e o u t l a y s o f money, t h a t i s , o f c a p i t a l .
Wealth ' i s not a
s i g n o f m a te r ia l f o r c e , as i t i s u s u a l l y b e l i e v e d , t u t i t s r ai s on d ' e t r e ,
and P o s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y has to be c a p i t a l i s t i c .
This ex p la n a tio n s o lv e s
*
•
1.
p.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
C f.
Cf.
Cf.
Cf.
p. 101 above,
p. 103 ab'Ave.
pp. 1PP-1P3 and 1PA-1P7 above.
p. 140 above.
O f . p. 141 above.
P o l . , I , p. PIP, and TV, p. 14.
Tbid. i I , p. 194.
t h e c o n f l i c t which seems t o s e p a r a t e the notion c f c a p i t a l from th a t o f
a l t r u i s t . Capitalism.,1 acco rd in g t o Comte, has i t s o r i g i n in eg o-ce n tr ism ,
but i t i s the very b a s i s o f a l t r u i s m .
Pe avers t h a t , t h i s being t h e c a s e , a s o c i e t y which i s one hundred
per cent i n d u s t r i a l , as th e P o s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y i s going t o be, has to
be s u p e r - c a p i t a l i s t i c .
Wealth must not be d i s t r i b u t e d among a larg e
number o f owners, as i t i s today; i t must be in the hands* o f a few
plutocrats,
^bout o n e - t h i r t i e t h o f t h e p opula tion must p os s es s the en­
t i r e c a p i t a l o f the s p e c i e s .
These p l u t o c r a t s must not be mere f i n a n c i a l
managers, to whom i s e n t r u s t e d a c a p i t a l which i s not t h e i r s . They must
be the unco nditional owners* o f t h e i r f o r t u n e , and bound by no r e s t r i c t i o n
whatsoever.
Comte contends t h a t h e r e d i t y of wealth c r e a t e s fa vora ble d i s p o s i t i o n s 4
towards a proper use o f f o r t u n e , and t h a t p l u t o c r a t s must own t h e i r wealth
o u t r ig h t and be able to disDose o f i t in any way they see f i t .
They ac­
quire i t by i n h e r i t a n c e and beaueath i t to t h e i r h e i r s . Pe, however, did
not want to c r e a t e a w o r t h l e s s p l u t o c r a t i c c a s t e , and he mitigat ed the
a b s o l u t e h e r e d i t a r i n e s s o f money by i n s t i t u t i n g the custom of adoption.
P a t r i c i a n s are to s e l e c t the f i t t e s t s u c c e s s o r t h at they can fin d ; i f
t h e i r own descendants do not i n c l u d e a s u i t a b l e h e ir , they are to choose
hi® o u t s i d e of t h e i r immediate f a m i l y . Fy t h i s in n o v a tio n , no incompe­
t e n t p lu to c r a t w i l l endanger the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e .
Comte advances the idea t h a t no e v i l w i l l come of t h i s super-ccnc e n t r a t i c n of money. Cn the one hand, the p l u t o c r a t s have received an
i n t e n s i v e f i n a n c i a l and e x e c u t i v e t r a i n i n g , and no one can compete with
them as far as c a p a b i l i t y i s concerned. Cn the oth er , t h e i r standard
c o s i t i v i s t i c education has made them complete a l t r u i s t s . They have
1 earned5 devotion to the l e s s f o r t u n a t e , and they are en ligh tened as to
t h e nature of t h e i r duty6 t o s o c i e t y .
They a p p r e c i a t e 7 the f a c t that
t h e y are s e r v a n ts of the T r e a t - F e in g , in the same way as the humblest
man. Contending that the b e s t way to i n su re a worthy use o f material
str e n g t h i s to r e s p e c t i t * ( n o t l s s s s o b l i g e ) , Comte s t a t e s that P o s i ­
t i v i s m w i l l s t r i v e to i n c u l c a t e 9 r e s p e c t for the r i c h , ,iust as i t has
already f o s t e r e d r e s p e c t f o r the g r e a t . Thus, between d ev otio n to the
p a t r i c i a t e and v e n e r a t i o n f o r the p r o l e t a r i a t e , 1 th ere w i l l be no room
l e f t for abuses.
Comte proceeds with h i s theory o f lab or . C e n e t i c a l l y speaking,
work i s not the d i v i n e m a le dict io n * which t heo lo gy r e p r e s e n t s i t t o be;
i t i s nothing more than th e r e a c t i o n * of man on h i s environment. From
the s o c i o l o g i c a l v i e w p o i n t , work i s the c o n t r ib u t io n c f the i n d i v i d u a l
to Humanity. Tt co rresponds t o a g iv e- a n d - t a k e system, the ’’give"
being always l e s s
*.n the " t a k e . ” Fach g e n e r a t i o n 4 i n h e r i t s the work
of the past g e n e r a t i o n s and g i v e s i t s own in re turn . Labor, t h e r e f o r e ,
cannot have a market v a lu e , t h a t i s , i t cannot be bought or s o ld , s in c e
i t r e p r e s e n t s a compensation f o r what has already been taken by man,
and i s payment t o Humanity f o r merchandise r e c e i v e d .
Tt must be gra­
tuitous.
The worker r e c e i v e s a s a l a r y , but t h i s s a la r y i s not a recompense
for h i s lab or, i t i s an allowan ce given him to s a t i s f y h i s p h y s i c a l
needs. Pi s r e a l c o n t r i b u t i o n to general w el far e i s paid in g r a t it u d e '’
and in r e c i p r o c i t y . 3 This development may be summarized by s t a t i n g t h a t ,
for Comte, work always has a s o c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , and t h a t i t i s gra tu ­
i t o u s . Another n o t io n has t o be s t r e s s e d here. Tt i s t h a t wealth ,
being the counterpart c f labor (the p a t r i c i a n o f f e r s wealth w h ile the
p r o l e t a r i a n g i v e s l a b o r ) , i s a l s o a public f u n c t i o n . 7 Tt f o l l o w s t h at
p r i v a t e occ up atio n s r a t e S o c i a l l y as high as p u b lic s e r v i c e , and the
p r i v a t e owner o f an e n t e r p r i s e i s as much o f a f u n c t io n a r y as the member
o f the e x e c u t i v e c o u n c i l of a country.
Comte d i v i d e s s a l a r i e s i n t o two parts: one i s the allowance de­
signed t o s a t i s f y t h e worker’ s needs, and the other i s a bonus deducted
from h i s employer’ s p r o f i t s * and p ro p or tion at e to h i s a c t i v i t y .
Fach
man owns9 what he u s e s u n c o n d i t i o n a l l y , h i s home in cl ud ed .
Py t h i s method o f r e t r i b u t i o n
in the e n t r e c r e n s u r s
and t h e i n c u l c a t i o n o f l o f t y
id eals
and i n t h e l a b o r e r s , 1' Comte h o p e s to s o l v e t h e
Q u e s t i o n o f unemployment and l a b o r t r o u b l e s .
t h a t t h e r e was a l a t e n t
He a p p r e c i a t e d t h e f a c t
a n t a g o n i s m be tw ee n t h e m a s s e s and w e a l t h , but
he thought t h a t he was p u t t i n g an end t o i t by s a t i s f y i n g 1 the poor
w h ile re a s s u r i n g the r i c h .
However, he granted t o labor the r i g h t t o
s t r i k e * and to form unions, while t o employers he granted the r i g h t o f
lock-out.
Put under no c i rcu m st a n ces was v i o l e n c e 5 to be used. Re­
f u s a l s to act or t c agree were the on ly P o s i t i v i s t i c labor weapons.
Tt goes without saying t h a t the s p i r i t u a l power was t o mediate in a l l
s e r i o u s arguments.
Te know t h at Comte en,icined the c l e r g y not t c s a v e . 4 Te find now
t h a t he gave the same advice t o the p r o l e t a r i a t e .
T h r i f t , he argued,
was a metaphysical and b ou rg eo is notion which should net be encouraged
in th e masses. He portrayed th e P o s i t i v i s t i c worker in the f ollow in g
glowing terms5 :
P u r i f i e d from a l l a n a r c h i c a l d i s p o s i t i o n by a w i s e e d u c a t i o n
i n w h i c h t h e t r u e k no wl e d ge o f our i n d i v i d u a l a n i c o l l e c t i v e
n a t u r e i s p r e d o m i n a n t , he w i l l r e s p e c t and w i l l make a l l r e s p e c t
a 3 o c i a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , t h e b e n e f i c e n c e o f w h i c h he w i l l c o n ­
t i n u o u s l y f e e l . Not w o r r i e d a b o u t m a t e r i a l n e c e s s i t i e s , he w i l l
c h e r i s h th e c o n c e n t r a t i o n of c a p i t a l as th e fundamental c o n d i­
t i o n of c i v i c e f f i c i e n c y .
As a r e s u l t 3 :
I n l i g h t e n e d by t h e h e a r t a n d 3 p i r i t on t h e t r u e n a t u r e o f f e ­
l i c i t y , h s w i l l f e e l t h a t he i s much more c a l l e d t o e x p e r i e n c e
i t t h a n h i s s p i r i t u a l a n i t e m p o r a l c h i e f s b e c a u s e he p l a o e s i t
i n t h e f r e e e x p a n s i o n o f d o m e s t i c a f f e c t i o n s and s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s
w h i c h he c a n e n .io y b e c a u s e o f h i s l a c k o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .
Comte ob se rv es t h a t , the p r o l e t a r i a n ’ s l i f e being conducive7 t o domestic
hap p in ess much more than the p a t r i c i a n ’ s, the labore r i s b e t t e r e t h i c a l l y
than the p a t r i c i a n . Comte con cludes in the f o ll o w i n g terms*: "Tt i s f e l t
t h a t each p r o l e t a r i a n c o n s t i t u t e s , in many r e s p e c t s , a spontaneous p h i­
l o s o p h e r , as a p h il osop h er, in o t h e r s , r e p r e s e n t s a s y st e m a t ic p r o l e ­
tarian. ”
Comte avers that a l l men are b r o t h e r s , but he ob se rv es that f r a t e r ­
n i t y 9 does not e n t a i l s o c i a l e a u a l i t y . Ven are not eaual by nature, and
never w i l l be. The P o s i t i v i s t i c t r a n s l a t i o n o f the metaphysical p r i n c i p l e
o f p o l i t i c a l e q u a l i t y i s t o o f f e r the same e d u c a t io n a l opportunity t c a l l ,
th ereby allo wing each i n d i v i d u a l t o f in d h i s s o c i a l l e v e l . 1 He holds
the view that n r o l e t a r i a n s are a b s o l u t e l y u n f i t for e x e c u t i v e d u t i e s ,
and t h a t under no account should they take a c t i v e p a r t 55 in the govern­
ment.
However, t h i s c c l i t i c a l d i s c r i m i n a t i o n does net imply that the
p r o l e t a r i a t e has no i n f l u e n c e at a l l .
Tn f a c t , i t has an i n f l u e n c e ,
but the l a t t e r i s s p i r i t u a l .
The p r o l e t a r i a t e u n i t e s with f e m i n i n i t y
and the pri es th ood t c form th e moderating power of the temporal, that
i s , th e power which r e g u l a t e s 3 m ate rial f o r c e . Women supply p urit y and
s p o n t a n e i t y , p r i e s t s g iv e con sta ncy and wisdom, and p r o l e t a r i a n s o f f e r
energy and a c t i v i t y .
Thus the r e g u l a t i n g power4 i s f i r s t e t h i c a l ,
s ec on dly r a t i o n a l , and t h i r d l y a c t i v e .
A few i n d i c a t i o n s may be given concerning the p o l i t i c a l c o n s t i t u ­
t i o n of the temporal power.
N a t i o n a l i s t i c fervor breeds hatreds and
wars, and a ccord in gly p a t r i o t i s m must be e r a d i c a t e d .
Tt con tr ibute d in
th e past to develop a ltr u is m , but now t h at altruis m i s f u l l y c o n s t i t u t e d ,
i t only hampers i t s normal f u n c t i o n .
Tn ccnsepuence, the la r g e European
c o u n t r i e s which are the hotbeds c f p a t r i o t i s m must be dismembered and
re p lace d by several p r i n c i p a l i t i e s .
Furcpe w i l l be d ivided i n t o sixtyd i s t r i c t s * of the s i z e of Felgium.
There w i l l be in Furcpe* two thousand bankers, one hundred thousand
manufacturers, two hundred thousand m erch an dis e-dealers, and four hundred
thousand master-farmers.
Fach p r i n c i p a l i t y 7 w i l l be governed by three
bankers, and a supreme t r i u m v i r a t e of bankers3 w i l l govern the whole
s p e c i e s and insure the l i a i s o n with the s p i r i t u a l .
Comte studied c a r e f u l l y the advent of s o c i a l P o s i t i v i s m , and pre­
pared e x t e n s i v e plans for h a s t e n in g i t , as e a r l y as the Cours.
Tt w i l l
net be n ecessary t c go i n t o t h e s e plan3 here, but some of h i s major
p r o p o s i t i o n s may be i n d i c a t e d .
He expected a period o f t r a n s i t i o n
between the present anarchy and the general a p p l i c a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s m .
The len g th c f t h i s period o f t r a n s i t i o n , he observed, would vary with
th e country. He b e l i e v e d t h a t in France i t would be s h o r t . H I the
l a t t e r needed was a d i c t a t o r who would maintain material order while
th e s p i r i t u a l power was being b u i l t .
-l«c-
The immediate measure which he deemed necessary was the suppression
of a l l n a t io n a l budgets f o r ed uca tio n and r e l i g i o n . This would put
° o s i t i v i s m on an eaual f o o t i n g with th e accepted creeds and g iv e i t a
chance to expand without handicap. The temporal r e c o n s t r u c t io n would
c l o s e l y f o ll o w the s p i r i t u a l r e o r g a n i s a t i o n . Comte was convinced that
France would be P o s i t i v i s t i c throughout be f o r e the end of the nin et ee nth
cen tu ry.
The C a t h o lic c o u n t r i e s , I t a l y and Foain, would be converted by a
female a p o s t l e . They have alre ad y s u b s t i t u t e d the c u l t o f the Virgin
f o r t h a t cf C h r is t , and th ey w i l l e a s i l y adopt the adora tio n c f Fumanity,
p e r s o n i f i e d a l s o by a woman. The convers ion of P r o t e s t a n t c o u n t r ie s ,
such as England and Germany, would be more d i f f i c u l t because c f t h e i r
p r e v a i l i n g metaphysical h a b i t s of d i s c u s s i o n , but i t would come in time.
£s for ^ e t i c h i s t i c p e o p l e s , they w i l l accept P o s i t i v i s m at once
"because of the profound a f f i n i t y which l i n k s P o s i t i v i s m t c pe t i c h is m .
Tetich ism d i f f e r s from Dc s i t i v i s m only in dogma by i t s co nfu sion of
a c t i v i t y and l i f e , and in the c u l t by the ador at ion cf m a te r ia l s in stead
of f i n i s h e d p r o d u c t s . " 1 The po s i t i v i s t i c s y n t h e s i s , as we have s e e n , ?
i s nothing more than the r e l a t i v e and s y s t e m a t ic t r a n s l a t i o n of i t s
spontaneous and a b s o l u t e s y n t h e s i s .
Pith pc s i t i v i s t i c h e l p , f e t i c h i s t s
w i l l skip the in ter mediary s t a g e s o f polytheism and monotheism and adore
immediately the G rand-V ilieu , and thereby enter P o s i t i v i s m . The i n t e l ­
lectu a l in it ia t io n w ill follow .
The s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n i s completed new, and with i t cur long
e x c e s s of the u n i v e r s a l reform c f humanity.
i . Cat., p. S?9.
p. Cf. pp. £7-5? above.
CHAPTER
III
Recap i t u l a t i o n
The l o g i c a l as pe ct o f Comtism has been s t r e s s e d in t h i s o u t l i n e ,
and a l l important p o i n t s have been summarized in the cours e o f the
argument. Tt does not seeir neces sary t c present new a general r e ­
c a p i t u l a t i o n of t h e s e p a r t i a l summaries. However, i t iray be a d v i s a b l e
t o mention th e t h e o r i e s which, in the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s e s t i m a t i o n , are
t y p i c a l l y Ccmtean. This w i l l be dene without r e f e r r i n g t c t h e i r im­
portance or c o n c a t e n a t i o n .
The aim o f Oomtism i s a s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n based on a s c i e n t i f i c
c o n cep t io n of s o c i e t y .
?uch an end req u ir e s the c r e a t i o n of a s o c i a l
s c i e n c e , and Comte a c c o r d in g ly c r e a t e s i t .
F o c ic lo g y , in turn, demands
a
new a p p r a i s a l of a l l s c i e n t i f i c c r i t e r i a .
F c c i e t y i s founded cn a common c a p i t a l of i d e a s .
The Comtean c o n cep t io n c f human nature d i c t a t e s t h a t s o c i a l reform
be preceded by an i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n iz a t io n and a s o c i a l r e g e n e r a t i o n .
Comte emphasizes u t i l i t y in a l l domains, and does not r e c o g n i z e
any other aim f o r human a c t i v i t y , whether material or? s p i r i t u a l .
He had an overpowering d e s i r e f o r u n i v e r s a l i t y under a l l i t s a s p e c t s ,
approach as w e l l as f i e l d s c f in q u iry.
Pe d e f i n e s p o s i t i v i t y as a combination of r e a l i t y , u t i l i t y , c e r t a i n t y ,
p r e c i s i o n , c c n s t r u c t i v e n e s s and r e l a t i v i t y .
Pe p o s t u l a t e s i d e n t i t y c f nature in s c i e n c e , ph ilosophy and r e l i g ­
iou s dogma.
He f o rm u la t es h i s t h e o r i e s c f s c i e n c e .
Fcience p rim a r il y d e a l s with
laws of c o e x i s t e n c e and s u c c e s s i o n , taws are i n v a r i a b l e , and s c i e n c e i s
an organon of co ord inate d f a c t s and laws. The aim of s c i e n c e i s the
p r e v i s i o n c f f u t u r e phenomena and t h e i r m o d if ic a t io n by man. The mcdif i a b i l i t y of natura l phenomena i s ob vio usl y r e s t r i c t e d t c th e phenomena
a c c e s s i b l e t o man, and, even in t h a t c a s e , he cannot a l t e r t h e i r mode c f
appearance and t h e i r order; he can only modify t h e i r i n t e n s i t y .
The method of s c i e n c e i s the o b j e c t i v e , and i t car.nct be learned
f o r m a ll y apart from the co n t en t cf s c i e n c e . Comte sharply d i s t i n g u i s h e s
between t h e o r e t i c a l and p r a c t i c a l knowledge, that i s , between s c i e n c e
and a r t . The o r i g i n c f s c i e n c e i s a r t , t u t i t dees net ewe t c the l a t t e r
i t s subsequent development. Tn f a c t , the r e v e r s e i s t r u e , for modern
a r t s come from s c i e n c e .
The v a rio u s s c i e n c e s branched cut s e p a r a t e l y
and p r o g r e s s i v e l y from the u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d p r i m i t i v e s c i e n c e , and grew
-164-
-1HF-
in d ep en d en tl y of one another. Comte d i s t i n g u i s h e s two t y p e s
r e t i c a l s c i e n c e , the c o n c r e t e and the a b s t r a c t , and concerns
with t h e l a t t e r type e x c l u s i v e l y .
He e l a b o r a t e s a th eory of
h y p o th e s e s , and a s s e r t s t h a t s c i e n c e i s a c u e s t f o r the how,
f o r the why.
of theo­
h i m s e lf
positive
and never
He c o n c e i v e s p o s i t i v e philosophy as a system o f g e n e r a l i z e d s c i e n ­
t i f i c t r u t h s ; i t , t oo, i s a quest for the how and not f o r the why. For
t h i s reason , he fo rm ally e j e c t s c l a s s i c a l metaphysics from philosophy.
Tn form, p o s i t i v e philos ophy i s dogmatic and r e a l i s t i c .
I t corresponds
t o a r e l a t i v i s t i c and ph en om enalisti c i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of th e universe
from t h e point o f view of eo i s t e m c lo g y , and t o a dualism in s t r a i g h t
m eta ph ysics, Comte opposing man to the u n i v e r s e , i n e r t matter to l i f e ,
and eg o - cen tris m to a l t r u i s m . Do s i t i v e ph il oso p hy i s composed o f three
p a r t s : the dynamic law of t he t hr ee s t a t e s , which e x p l a i n s the whole of
human i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n ; the s t a t i c law o f c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the
s c i e n c e s , which s y s t e m a t i z e s man’ s knowledge, and a s c i e n t i f i c e n c y c lo ­
p e d ia .
Comte g i v e s to s o c i o l o g y p r i o r i t y over the other s c i e n c e s ; s o c i o l ­
ogy governs them by d i s c o v e r i n g t h e i r aim and by b rin g in g out the laws
o f human e v o l u t i o n .
He v o i c e s h i s laws o f e t h i c a l and p r a c t i c a l e v o l u t i o n s , whereby
man i s seen as a creature longing f o r peace and i n d u s t r i a l occ u patio ns,
and f o r u n i v e r s a l l o v e .
Poth laws are s u b s i d i a r i e s o f the law of the
three states.
He b e l i e v e s that the o r i g i n of s o c i e t y i s t c be found in the s o c i a l
i n s t i n c t of man, and c o n s id e r s altruism an epi-rhencmenon of t h i s i n ­
s t i n c t , developed in th e i n d i v i d u a l by s o c i a l l i f e .
He a s s e r t s that a l l s o c i e t i e s f o l l o w a d e f i n i t e and i d e n t i c a l curve
o f e v o l u t i o n , which man cannot a l t e r .
The e f f i c a c y o f man’ s a c t i o n i s
r e s t r i c t e d t o i n c r e a s in g the speed o f t h i s e v o l u t i o n .
Comte has an unbounded f a i t h in human p ro g res s and i n man's goodness.
He i s a b e l i e v e r in t e l e o l o g i c a l s o c i a l determinism. He c o n c e i v e s man
as a body pushed from behind by h i s s o c i a l i n s t i n c t and a t t r a c t e d from
above by th e i d e a l s t a t e toward which he t e n d s .
Fach phase o f past
c i v i l i z a t i o n came i n t o being t o make a d e f i n i t e c o n t r i b u t i o n t o Humanity.
He d is r e g a r d s the w e l f a r e of the i n d i v i d u a l in favor of t h a t of the
c o l l e c t i v i t y , but does not co nsid er that he i s s a c r i f i c i n g t h e one to
t h e o t h e r , because he b e l i e v e s that i n d i v i d u a l and p u b l i c i n t e r e s t s
co nverge.
P ositivism
is p o sitiv ity
plus f e e l i n g — i t
permeated w it h a m y s t i c a l i n t e r e s t
tempt f o r i n t e l l e c t u a l i t y .
i s p o s i t i v e philosophy
i n t h e h e a r t and a c o r r e l a t i v e c o n ­
Whereas p o s i t i v e s o c i e t y was based on a c a p i t a l o f common id e a s ,
Do s i t i v i s t i c s o c i e t y i s founded on a c a p i t a l o f common f e e l i n g s , and
s o c i a l i l l s have an e t h i c a l cure.
Comte c r e a t e s a r e l i g i o n t o s a t i s f y h i s own r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g , t o
i n s u r e the s y s t e m a t i c growth of a l t r u i s m , and t o f i l l a permanent human
need rev ea le d t o the p h ilo so p h er by the study o f oast s o c i e t i e s .
Pe e l a b o r a t e s a g e n e t i c th eo ry of the family to e x p l a i n the dev elop ­
ment o f a ltr u is m , and he d e f i n e s t h e s o c i a l func ti on o f woman in r e l a t i o n
t o a ltr uis m .
Fe o f f e r s a g e n e t i c t h eorv o f lo v e c f humanity, from which he deduces
h i s adoration o f the Cre at-P ei ne and h i s do ctrine of p o s i t i v i s t i c immor­
ta lity .
ue r e c o n s t r u c t s s o c i e t y along the l i n e s d ic ta t e d by p o s i t i v e and
Do s i t i v i s t i c s o c i o l o g i e s .
The end o f Do s i t i v i s t i c s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n i s t o f a c i l i t a t e the
development of in d u st ry and o f a lt r u is m .
Pe v o ic e s h i s theory of th e s e p a r a tio n of powers. P r i e s t s , with
t h e help of an enslaved p u b l i c o p in io n , have complete s p i r i t u a l a u t h o r it y ,
w h i le p a t r i c i a n s hold the c o l l e c t i v e purse s t r i n g s and have temporal
control.
Pe avers th a t i n d u s t r y demands a s u p e r - c a p i t a l i s t i c d i s t r i b u t i o n
of wealth.
Pe b e l i e v e s t h a t wealth and la bor are complementary, and t h a t they
both re p resen t a n e c e s sa r y c o n t r i b u t i o n to s o c i e t y . Work i s the payment
in kind made by the i n d i v i d u a l to Humanity for value r e c e i v e d . Hence
t h e worth o f labor i s s o c i a l , and work cannot be bought or s o l d . Wealth
a l s o has a s o c i a l v a l u e , s i n c e i t i s i n d i s p e n s a b l e to the proper f u n c ­
t i o n i n g of in d u st ry .
Although ownership i s not t o be s u b j ect ed t c
r e s t r i c t i o n s , the p o s s e s s i o n o f wealth e n t a i l s s o c i a l d u t i e s .
HOOK VI
P o s i t i v i s t i c
S ources
Tt can be t r u l y s a id of Comte, as much as of any man who has ever
l i v e d , t h a t he f e l t the n e c e s s i t y o f "giving t h e d e v i l h i s due." Imbued
with the c o n v i c t i o n that in d i v id u a l g e n i u s 1 has a c o l l e c t i v e o r i g i n , he
f r a n k l y admitted h i s pr e c u r s o r s. Urged by t h e c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f h i s worth,
and by the l o v e o f tr uth and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , he found i t n e ces sa ry to
d e f i n e s c r u p u lo u s ly h i s r i g h t s to fame: t h a t i s , t o i n d i c a t e with pre­
c i s i o n the p o i n t s in which he had been an in n ov at or , and t h o se in which
he had simply adopted or developed t h e o r i e s o f h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s .
Focial
dynamics and t h e R e l i g i o n of Humanity were h i s , he maintained, but he
f r e e l y admitted t h a t h i s p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e toward f a c t s o f experience,
h i s r e j e c t i o n of c l a s s i c a l metaphysics, and most of h i s s c i e n t i f i c and
economic n o t io n s were not new, and he c o n s c i e n t i o u s l y i d e n t i f i e d t h e i r
origin.
Fence, Comte tra ce d a c l e a r path f o r the stu dent o f P o s i t i v i s t i c
sources.
Our concern here w i l l not be with m a teria l s o u r c e s , and we s h a l l
on ly an alyze t h o s e p e r t a i n i n g t o t h e o r i e s . These belong two t y p e s .
They are e i t h e r general n o t io n s or a t t i t u d e s , such as the b e l i e f in the
a p o s t e r i o r i nature of s c i e n t i f i c knowledge, or s p e c i f i c t h e o r i e s , such
as t h a t o f the spontaneous o r i g i n o f the d i v i s i o n o f labor in domestic
and s o c i a l groups.
Tn most c a s e s , t h e same t h i n k e r s s u p p lied Comte
with i n s p i r a t i o n of both t y p e s .
F i r s t t o be consider ed are A r i s t o t l e , Paccn and D e s c a r t e s .
We place
t h e s e t h r e e t o g e t h e r , because Comte h i m s e l f grouped them s o.
According
t o h i s judgement, they have much in common. They attempted a u n iversal
s y n t h e s i s o f knowledge, and spe cu lat ed on the s c i e n c e s and t h e i r c l a s s i ­
f i c a t i o n . pu t , owing t o the embrvonic c o n d i t i o n of s c i e n c e in t h e i r
t im e s , they did not succeed in brin gin g f o r t h a s y n t h e s i s which p o s t e r i t y
co uld a c c e n t . T h is , n e v e r t h e l e s s , did not prevent Comte from acknowledging
h i s in d e b te d n e s s to them.
A r i s t o t l e , he a v e r s , in d i c a t e d th e nature of
t h e s y n t h e s i s which had t o be made; Paeon and D e s c a r t e s , complementing
one an other, su p p l ie d i t s s p i r i t .
We begin with A r i s t o t l e / Comte t r i e d t o emulate h i s u n i v e r s a l o u t ­
look and e n c y c l o p e d i c knowledge, and he f e l t t h a t he owed s e v e r a l d e f i n i t e
?! V * ' 7% l i e r ° , i & l > e k * P h U b s o t h v ,
pp. i° t - ? ? t : J. L. S to ck s, A r i s t o t e l i a n i s m ,
-167-
1 6 F pp.
-1PP-
n o t i o n s to the P o l i t i c s .
Tn h i s e s t i m a t i o n , i t was the perusal o f t h i s
work which taught him t h a t s o c i a l m a n if e s t a t i o n s could be t r e a t e d r e a l ­
i s t i c a l l y , l i k e any other n a t ur a l phenomenon. Although he did not ac­
cept a l l the t h e o r i e s o f t h e P o l i t i c s , e s p e c i a l l y th ose concerning gov­
ernments, and deplored t h e p h i l o s o p h e r ’ s ignorance of dynamic s o c i o l o g y ,
he o f t e n repeated t h a t h i s s o c i a l s t a t i c s were no other than the A r i s to ­
telian .
As a matter of f a c t , A r i s t o t l e s t r e s s e d the s o c i a l nature o f man,
made the family the s o c i a l u n i t , and ap preciated the i n t e r a c t i o n of the
f a m il y and the c o l l e c t i v i t y .
Fe a l s o showed that some men were equipped
by Nature t o lead , and o t h e r s t o f o l l o w . Fe made education a matter of
p u b l i c concern, and he o f f e r e d sound t h e o r i e s regarding i t .
Fe divided
i t i n t o s e v e r a l p e r i o d s , each one designed to f i t the development of
th e c h i l d .
Fe did not o v e r lo o k the c u l t i v a t i o n of the imagination, and
he showed the importance o f complementing t h e o r e t i c a l i n s t r u c t i o n with a
practical social training.
All the p o i n t s concerning education which
Comte ret a in e d from a n t i q u i t y were to be found in P l a t a , but Comte de­
s p i s e d A r i s t o t l e ’ s master f o r h i s id e a l i s m , and ignored him com pletely.
Comte made another a c q u i s i t i o n from the same source, t h i s one in
th e p s y c h o lo g i c a l f i e l d .
Fe borrowed A r i s t o t l e ’ s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n c f
human m a n i f e s t a t i o n s i n t o t h o u g h t s , f e e l i n g s and v o l i t i o n a l a c t i v i t y .
Paeon i s now t c be c o n s i d e r e d . 1 Comte found in the works of t h i s
p h ilo s o p h e r , and e s p e c i a l l y in the Novum Orianum, t h e o r i e s concerning
ph iloso p hy and the s c i e n c e s , and part of a s c i e n t i f i c method. Paeon
was a herald of Comte in s e v e r a l r e s p e c t s . He s t a t e d that the o b ject
o f a l l s c ie n c e i s to r e e s t a b l i s h t h e imperium hominis over Nature.
Fuch a conception i s very c l o s e to Comte’ s notion of the f u n c t io n s of
s c i e n c e , namely, p r e v i s i o n and m o d if i c a t io n o f Nature by man.
Paeon affirmed in c o n c l u s i v e terms that the s c i e n t i s t could not
d i s c o v e r t r u t h s concerning Nature with the help of the A r i s t o t e l i a n
s y l l o g i s m alone, and he h e ld t h a t a l l c e r t a i n knowledge came from
o b s e r v a t i o n , making t h i s t h e o r y th e f i r s t aphorism of the *>ovw, Orianum.
V ethodical " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " of Nature, and net " a n t i c i p a t i o n s , " i s the
fo undatio n of s c i e n c e .
Paeon a l s o advise d t h e c u l t i v a t i o n of an open and c r i t i c a l mind
toward f a c t s , and warned a g a i n s t preconceived n o t io n s . Pis a t t i t u a e
in ph ilosophy i s a forerunner o f Comtism. Fe i s the enemy o f s c h o l a s ­
t i c i s m , and does not ac ce pt a u t h o r i t y as a c r i t e r i o n of t r u t h . He
t
C h a rle s S in g e r,
B. Rand,
Orpanum," i n
" B a c o n , » i n VncvcloPaedia Britannica,
Modern Classical Philosophies, p p .
1 4 th e d i t i o n .
" B a c o n , Novum
-in ­
s t a t e s t h a t form c a n n o t be i n v e s t i g a t e d s u c c e s s f u l l y ,
t h i n k e r t o c o n c e n t r a t e on m a t t e r .
d irection ,
and e n j o i n s t h e
Pe ev en g o e s f u r t h e r i n t h e p o s i t i v e
and a v e r s t h a t not a l l
t h e s e c r e t s o f m a t t e r may b e d e c i p h e r e d
s e c o n d a r y a u a l i t i e s a l o n e a r e d i s c o v e r a b l e — and he c o n c l u d e s t h a t t h e
mharshy1 and not t h e v he r e f r or .
Another n o t i o n i s
i s the p r a c tic a l lim it of th e p h ilosop h er.
found h e r e which Comte w i l l
emphasize a l s o .
in common wit h h i s namesake o f t h e t h i r t e e n t h c e n t u r y ,
Paeo n,
holds th a t the
s c i e n c e s branch o u t from a common body o f g e n e r a l t r u t h s which he terms
pr i vet ph i. l osoph i a.
T h i s was t h e i n s p i r a t i o n o f t h e f i r s t
philosophy,
which Comte d e v e l o p e d i n t h e l a t t e r p a r t o f h i s l i f e .
pri va philosooiii a,
Prom t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f t h i s
Paeon e r e c t s a
p y r a m id a l s t r u c t u r e composed o f t h r e e s t o r i e s and an a p e x .
l a y e r i s o c c u p i e d by n a t u r a l h i s t o r y ,
and t h e t h i r d i s t a k e n by m e t a p h y s i c s .
peak o f u n i t y ,
The f i r s t
t h e s ec on d b e l o n g s t o p h y s i c s ,
The ap ex ,
which he t er m s t h e
i s r e p r e s e n t e d by t h e kno wledg e o f t h e one law which
binds togeth er a l l
t h e phenomena o f Mature.
may n o t b e a t t a i n a b l e by man.
T h i s summit,
we a r e t o l d ,
The py ra m id al d i s p o s i t i o n o f t h e s c i e n c e s
a c t u a l l y r e p r e s e n t s an a t t e m p t a t t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e .
apex,
w it h i t s
one p r i n c i p l e ,
t h e Comtean c l a s s i f i c a t i o n ,
The
i s co m p ar ab le t o t h e s e v e n t h s c i e n c e o f
which u n i t e s t h e o b j e c t i v e and t h e s u b j e c t i v e
scien ces.
Paeon made y e t a n o t h e r c o n t r i b u t i o n t o p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y ,
though t h i s i s mentioned l a s t ,
it
and
may be t h e most i m p o r t a n t o f a l l .
He p r e p a r e d f o r t h e a d v e n t o f t h e o b j e c t i v e method by d e f i n i n g t h e f i r s t
elem ents of in d u ctio n .
Pemarking t h a t Nature ap p e a r s t o t h e c a s u a l ob­
s e r v e r t o be a h o p e l e s s a g g r e g a t e o f phenomena, he h e l d t h a t t h e s c i e n ­
tist
had t o b r i n g some o r d e r i n t o t h i s seeming c h a o s .
and e x p e r i m e n t w i t h phenomena.
Pv t h e c r e a t i o n o f " t a b l e s o f i n s t a n c e s , ”
he e l i m i n a t e s g r a d u a l l y t h e c o n t i n g e n t f a c t o r s ,
ever-present.
proffers
and r e t a i n s o n l y t h e
When t h i s p r e l i m i n a r y work i s done,
a x io m s .
Pvorn p a r t i c u l a r
more g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s ,
Induction,
Pe must o b s e r v e
he i n t e r p r e t s and
a xi o m s , he p r o g r e s s i v e l y r i s e s t o
and a t l a s t r e a c h e s u n i v e r s a l t r u t h s .
a s s e e n by Paeon,
was no t o n l y l e f t
incom plete, but i t
did not r e p r e s e n t a p r a c t i c a l t o o l o f r e s e a r c h , b ecau se i t
was fo unded
on a m i s c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e c h a r a c t e r o f s c i e n t i f i c i n v e s t i g a t i o n .
t h o u g h he r i g h t l y u n d e r s t o o d t h e a p o s t e r i o r i n a t u r e o f s c i e n c e ,
Al­
he
d i d n o t s e e t h a t d i s c o v e r y i s n o t t h e outcome o f a t e d i o u s and mechan­
ica l
i.
in v en to ry o f Nature,
\'ovum Orpanum,
p. * 5 .
but t h a t ,
on t h e c o n t r a r y ,
it
is a selectiv e
-170-
p r o c e s s i n v o l v i n g i n t u i t i o n and c r e a t i o n .
P is m isconception of the
method p r e v e n t e d him from a p p r e h e n d i n g t h e p a r t p l a y e d by h y p o t h e s e s ,
s y s t e m a t i c e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n and v e r i f i c a t i o n .
that
Tt i s e v i d e n t t o u s t o d a y
i n d u c t i o n w i t h o u t t h o s e w e l l - d e f i n e d s t e p s i s no t a means t o rea c h
truth.
Tt f e l l t o c a c o n ' s s u c c e s s o r ,
w o r k a b l e method.
D escartes,
t o make i n d u c t i o n a
D e s c a r t e s 1 did n o t s u p p l y Comte w it h s p e c i f i c n o t i o n s .
t h e s c i e n c e o f h i s day t a k e s e v e r a l s t e p s f o r w a r d ,
in v e n to r of a n a l y t i c a l
f r a c t i o n of l i g h t .
a scien tific
Pe was t h e
g e o m e t r y and t h e d i s c o v e r e r o f t h e laws o f r e ­
Put i f we c o n s i d e r t h a t t h e o r i g i n a l d i s c o v e r e r o f
law l o s e s h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l
l e a d e r s h i p a s soon as h i s d i s ­
c o v e r y i s p e r f e c t e d by t h e n e x t g e n e r a t i o n ,
and t h a t *Tew tcn , L e i b n i t z ,
L a p l a c e and La Crange o u t d i s t a n c e d D e s c a r t e s ,
t h e l a t t e r had but s l i g h t
Powev er ,
ho we ver .
Pe made
i n f l u e n c e on Comte’ s s c i e n t i f i c
what has j u s t been s a i d
hold tr u e for p h ilosop h y.
i t becomes e v i d e n t t h a t
is restricted
notions.
t o s c i e n c e and d o e s not
The s p i r i t o f a p h i l o s o p h i c a l d o c t r i n e i s
e t e r n a l and s u r v i v e s a l l t h e d i s c o v e r i e s o f s c i e n c e ,
and C a r t e s i a n i s m
d e e p l y i n f l u e n c e d Comte.
Tt s h o u l d be p o i n t e d o u t a t t h e s t a r t t h a t D e s c a r t e s and Comte
were k i n d r e d s p i r i t s .
They were p r i m a r i l y m a t h e m a t i c i a n s ,
minds had b ee n s e a s o n e d by t h e same d i s c i p l i n e .
was bound t o s t i r
a r e s p o n s i v e chor d i n Comte.
and t h e i r
Any t h e o r y o f D e s c a r t e s
D escartes,
and Pa eo n , o f f e r e d a u n i v e r s a l s y n t h e s i s o f k n o w l e d g e .
lik e A ristotle
Pe c r e a t e d a
m e t a p h y s i c s which p ro v ed t h e e x i s t e n c e o f Cod, from which he deduced
a p h y s i c s which e x p l a i n e d t h e e x t e r n a l w o r l d ,
As h i s a o r t o r t
supreme d e i t y ,
and a s c i e n c e o f man.
c o n s t r u c t i o n was e n t i r e l y b u i l t
about t h e n o t i o n o f a
t h e s y s t e m a s a w ho le c o u l d no t r e c e i v e Comte’ s s a n c t i o n ;
b u t C a r t e s i a n i s m i s much more t h a n a s y n t h e s i s ,
it
i s a method which
en ab les the philosopher to a t ta in truth;
that i s ,
to w ar d f a c t s o f e x p e r i e n c e and a l o g i c .
Tt i s as an a t t i t u d e and a
l o g i c th a t Cartesianism
D e s c a r te s ’ general
it
i s an a t t i t u d e
c o n t r i b u t e d t o Comtism.
a t t i t u d e in p h ilo s o p h y i s dogmatic.
t o c r e a t e a s y s t e m which i s permanent and c e r t a i n .
doubt at th e i n c e p t i o n ,
but he p l a i n l y
a r t i f i c e r e s o r t e d t o in
order to reachc e r t i t u d e .
His
aim i s
Pe u s e s s y s t e m a t i c
sta te s thati t
i s atemporary
Pe has no u s e
for
Dy r r h o n i s m w h a t s o e v e r , h i s famous a p h o r i s m — c o ^ i t o ,
er&o s u m- - demon­
s t r a t i n g t o h i s mind t h e u n s o u n d n e s s o f s k e p t i c i s m and p r o v i n g t h e
1 . P e so a r te s, E i s c o u r s s u r l a m e t h o l e , in tro d u ctio n i e
V. Charpentier
H aohette, 18S no. >; A. Wolf, " P esoartes," F n c v c l o f i a e d i a B r t t . a n m c a , 14th e d itio n .
'f:
-
n e c e s s i t y o f d o g m a t is m .
171 -
One c a n n o t h e l p t h i n k i n g t h a t Comte,
who was
l e a n i n g to w ar d dogmatism by temperament, found a v i n d i c a t i o n o f h i s
in n a te d i s p o s i t i o n in C a rtesia n ism .
D escartes’ lo g ic
t i c method,
i s now t o be c o n s i d e r e d .
Repudiating th e s c h o la s ­
he d o e s n o t a c c e p t a u t h o r i t y as a c r i t e r i o n
he p r e s u p p o s e s t h e i n v a r i a b i l i t y o f n a t u r a l l a w s .
of truth,
Pis f i r s t
and
action i s
t o c r e a t e a method which w i l l e n a b l e him t o o b t a i n k n ow le d ge o f t h e s e
law s,
and a t t h e same t i m e s a t i s f y h i s r e a s o n .
mathematical l o g i c .
T o l l c w i n g t h e Dl a t o n i c t r a d i t i o n ,
the study o f mathematics i s
and s c i e n c e ,
in the
he a v e r s t h a t
the necessary beginning o f a l l p h ilo so p h y
b u t h e d e e s n o t vi e w t h e u n i v e r s e i n t h e P y t h a g o r e a n l i g h t .
method on l a v.atheyratiaue and n o t on l es
Re b a s e s h i s p h i l o s o p h i c a l
fraw uifones.1
retains,
Pe foun d i t
it
but i t s
is
n o t t h e s u b j e c t - m a t t e r o f m a t h e m a t i c s which he
method.
Tn o t h e r words, he d o e s n o t e x p e c t t o f i n d
number t h e e s s e n c e o f a l l
in t h e u n i v e r s e ,
t h i n g s and t h e p r i n c i p l e o f r a t i o n a l
b u t u s e s m a t h e m a t i c s as an i n s t r u m e n t ,
order
and p r o c e e d s
in p h i l o s o p h y as t h e t h i n k e r d e e s in m a t h e m a t ic s .
Pe s t a r t s from s i m p l e and i r r e f u t a b l e n o t i o n s and g o e s t o t h e more
co m p le x ,
deducing a l l
goes along.
philosophy,
This i s
p o s s i b l e c o n c l u s i o n s from each p r o p o s i t i o n a s he
e x a c t l y t h e method employed by Comte in p o s i t i v e
and he r e p e a t e d
t i m e and a g a in t h a t
la mat*i&matiaue was
the rat i onal c r a d l e 5 o f o o s i t i v i t y .
Voreover,
D escartes
method e x c l u s i v e l y .
d i d no t c o n c e r n h i m s e l f w i t h t h e d e d u c t i v e
Pe was a s c i e n t i s t and t h e d i s c o v e r e r o f one o f
t h e most i m p o r t a n t l a w s o f o p t i c s ,
as w e l l as a m e t a p h y s i c i a n .
P i s own
work had t a u g h t him t h e v a l u e o f e x p e r i e n c e 4 in r e s e a r c h and t h e e x i s t ­
ence of a v o s t e r i . o r i t r u t h s .
Acccrdinglv,
out o f s h e e r n e c e s s i t y ,
p e r f e c t e d t h e i n d u c t i v e method i n h e r i t e d from Paeo n.
system atic experim entation,
a n a l y s i s of in d u c t i o n .
Pe m e n t io n e d
in d ic a te d the nature o f h y p o th e se s ,
la id the foundation o f v e r i f i c a t i o n ,
Tn s h o r t ,
he
and
a l t h o u g h he made no s e p a r a t e
D e s c a r t e s p re p a re d t h e l a s t
stretch
o f road which l e d t o t h e o b j e c t i v e method.
D e s c a r t e s made s t i l l
l a t e d on t h e r e l a t i o n
th e natural
a n o t h e r c o n t r i b u t i o n t o Comtism.
o f s c i e n c e and a r t ,
development o f s c i e n c e .
more r e s p e c t .
Pe s p e c u ­
and m a i n t a i n e d t h a t a r t was
And he i n f l u e n c e d Comte i n one
Pe became a p h i l o s o p h e r b e c a u s e he was d i s s a t i s f i e d w it h
1 . Of. p. vp, note 4, above.
p. Of. o . . v p above.
S. t o e . c i t .
4 . t i scours sur la mSthoie, p .
•mv.
- 1 1? ? -
everyday standards.
Pe saw t h e n e c e s s i t y o f a G e n e r a l r e f o r ir o f e t h i c s ,
and t h e b a s i c aim o f h i s s y n t h e s i s was a Gene ral r e a p p r a i s a l o f human
valu es.
He was n o t r e v o l u t i o n a r y , h ow ev er:
he wante d man t o l i v e
in
c o m f o r t a b l e m a n s i o n s w h i l e he was t e a r i n g down h i s own abcde and b u i l d i n g
a new.
Comte, a s we know,
portance of t r a n s it io n s .
was no r a d i c a l ,
and a l w a y s s t r e s s e d t h e im­
Tt s h o u l d be r e p e a t e d t h a t A r i s t o t l e ,
Paeon and L e s c a r t e s gave
Comte t h e n o t i o n o f u n i v e r s a l s y n t h e s i s b as ed on a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n
knowledge,
sophical
less
and s u g g e s t e d t h e s p i r i t
method.
of
and t h e ma.ior e l e m e n t s o f a p h i l o ­
The p h i l o s o p h e r s who a r e now t o be c o n s i d e r e d made
" sen sa tio n al" c o n tr ib u tio n s to P o s itiv is m ,
n evertheless d ecisiv e,
C artesian tr a d itio n ,
Pour p h i l o s o p h e r s ,
fortified
They a re G io rd a n o pr u n c ,
b u t t h e i r i n f l u e n c e was
f o l l o w i n g t h e Paconian' and
Ccrnte i n h i s a t t i t u d e to ward m e t a p h y s i c s .
Hobbes,
Locke and Pume,
all
f o u r o f whom b r i n g
o u t some a rg u m en t s t o p r o v e t h e u n s c u n d n e s s o f s c h o l a s t i c p h i l o s o p h y .
Pruno1 s t a t e d th a t n a tu ra l philosop h y could o n ly i n c u i r e in t o th e
p h ysical,
and t h e p h i l o s o p h e r might no t a t t a i n k n o w l e d g e o f t h e f i r s t
c a u s e and t h e u l t i m a t e n a t u r e o f t h i n g s .
Id ols,
ments.
P c b b e s ? d e v e l o p e d t h e Pa co n ia n
h e r e b y p r o v i d i n g t h e opponent o f m e t a p h y s i c s w i t h l o g i c a l a r g u ­
Locke r e b e l l e d
against authoritarianism ,
m e t a p h y s i c s formed t h e c o n t e n t i o u s e l e m e n t o f a l l
Locke and Hume, h o w e v e r ,
th is
new t h e o r y ,
p h ilo s o p h ic a l systems.
did mere toward t h e c r e a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s m
t h a n s i m p l y t o g i v e n e g a t i v e ar gu m en t s .
of sch olasticism ,
and Pume o b s e r v e d t h a t
Hot c o n t e n t w i t h t h e d e s t r u c t i o n
t h e y o f f e r e d a new d o c t r i n e t o t a k e i t s p l a c e ,
and
which was founded on e x p e r i e n c e and on t h e a p o s t e r i o r i
n a t u r e o f k n o w l e d g e , became t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l b a s i s o f Ccmtism.
L o c k e ' s 5 s’s s a u Conc e r n i n i t h e Human U n d e r s t a n d i n g d o e s n o t p r e s e n t
a p s y c h o l o g y p u re and s i m p l e .
o f analyzing exp erien ce.
th eories,
I t o f f e r s an e o i s t e m o l c g y and a method
Vaking a t a b u l a r a s a o f a l l
t h e o n l y c r i t e r i o n which he a c c e p t s i s
f a c u l t i e s and
experience,
and he
r e c o n s t r u c t s human k n ow le d g e about t h e two n o t i o n s o f s e n s a t i o n and
reflectio n .
He l e f t
one problem u n s o l v e d , 4 t h a t o f f i n d i n g t h e p r i n ­
c i p l e which u n i t e s t h e s e p a r a t e i d e a s o b t a i n e d from e x p e r i e n c e :
h is successor,
i . G. Bruno,
p.
Philosophies,
Fncyclofiaea
Hume, u n d e r t o o k t o s o l v e i t ,
The Cause,
the Principle and the One,
__
but
t o t h e e x t e n t t o which he
in B. Rana,
. . 4.
Vodern Classical
..
tn
-173-
thought i t
solvable.
R e s u r r e c tin g t h e A r i s t o t e l i a n concep tion c f con­
n e c t i o n by s i m i l a r i t y and c o n t i n u i t y ,
tio n .
However,
he e l a b o r a t e d a d o c t r i n e o f c a u s a ­
he a d m i t t e d t h a t t h e r e a l n a t u r e o f t h e c o n n e c t i o n r e ­
m ained unknown, and he h e l d t h a t t h e u l t i m a t e c a u s e was beyond man’ s
power o f i n q u i r y .
The a p o s t e r i o r i
n a t u r e o f human k n o w l e d g e ,
the p r in c ip le o f causa­
tio n ,
and t h e n o t i o n t h a t t h e f i r s t c a u s e i s
know,
t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s m . Tt s h o u l d a l s o be o b s er v ed t h a t
the three philosophers,
b u t i o n t o Ccmtism.
Fcbbes,
u n a t t a i n a b l e became,
as we
Locke and Fume, made y e t a n o t h e r c o n t r i ­
The t h r e e s t r e s s e d t h e r e l a t i v i t y
o f human kno wl edg e,
and h e r e b y s u p p l i e d Comte w i t h one o f t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f p o s i t i v i t y .
Kant
i s new t o b e c o n s i d e r e d .
t h e ap o s t e r i o r i
n a t u r e o f knowledge a t e n e t
was n e t a r a b i d ' e m p i r i c i s t ,
ism.
Al though Comte made t h e d o c t r i n e c f
o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y , he
and Kant 1 made one c o n t r i b u t i o n
Comte a d m it s n o t h a v i n g r e a d t h e O r i t i q u e s ,
works on Penman p h i l o s o p h y ,
sensation,
b u t he knew C o u s i n ’ s
and t h r o u g h him he had become a c q u a i n t e d
w i t h Want’ s t h e o r y o f a p r i o r i
consequence,
to P o s i t i v ­
in tu ition ,
and had a c c e p t e d i t .
As a
he a ck no wl ed ged t h a t t h e human mind was n o t p a s s i v e i n
and t h a t i t s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e world was c o n d i t i o n e d by
s u b je c tiv e notions.
He i n c o r p o r a t e d
seme a p r i o r i
p r in c ip le s into his
f i r s t p h i l o s o p h y , b u t , owing t o h i s d i s t a s t e f o r m e t a p h y s i c s , he d id
no t d i s c u s s t h e i r o r i g i n , and n e v e r became t h o r o u g h l y a c q u a i n t e d w it h
K a n t is m .
The s o c i o l o g i c a l
s o u r c e s c f Do s i t i v i s m
a r e n e x t t o be examined.
Tt w i l l n o t be n e c e s s a r y t o i n q u i r e i n t o t h e o r i g i n o f t h e h i s t o r i c a l
m a t e r i a l which Comte u s e d f o r h i s e l a b o r a t i o n .
stricted
The i n q u i r y w i l l b e r e ­
t o t h e s o u r c e s which p e r t a i n e i t h e r t o t h e t y p e o f approach
and t h e p r i n c i p l e s which g o v e r n e d h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n ,
o f t h e h i s t o r i c a l method.
or t o t h e g e n e s i s
P i n e t h i n k e r s a r e t o be c o n s i d e r e d .
a r e F c b b e s , V o n t e s q u i e u , Hume, F c s s u e t ,
Condorcet, V a is t r e ,
They
Haint-Fimon,
V i c o and T u r g o t .
Ho b b es’5 i n d i c a t e d t h e n e c e s s i t y o f a d o p t i n g a r e a l i s t i c a t t i t u d e
t o w a r d s o c i a l phenomena.
The u l t i m a t e end o f h i s Le v i a t ha n was t o g i v e
an a c c o u n t c f human c o n d u c t in s o c i a l
relation s,
n ee d o f c o n t r o l l i n g human p a s s i o n s by p o l i t i c a l
and t o e x p l a i n t h e
authority.
The i n f l u ­
e n c e o f Hobbes upon Comte would h a ve b ee n more marked i f Comte had been
less
'
opposed t o th e c o n c l u s i o n s o f th e H nglish p h ilo s o p h e r .
Art*.* wPsyoSoloayJ ^ r h c y l l o h a l d U ^ B A t a n n i c a , P\ 4 t h e d itio n , p. 709, o o l. l .
-174The French nobleman, j u r i s t and p h i l o s o p h e r Montesquieu i s one o f
t h e p i l l a r s o f th e Comtean s o c i o l o g i c a l method.
Mo ntesquieu1 i s known
as t h e f i r s t propounder o f t h e p r i n c i p l e o f s o c i a l dete rminism , and i t
i s i n t h i s c a p a c i t y t h a t he makes h i s c o n t r i b u t i o n t o Comtism.
an eminent j u r i s t , and was endowed with a. s p e c u l a t i v e mind.
p r e f a c e of h i s E s p r i t i e s L o i s , he e x p l a i n s h i s method
He was
Tn th e
’’’i r a t , T e x a m i n e d man a n d f o u n d t h a t , i n t h a i n f i n i t e i i v e r 3 i t V o f l a w s an d m o r e s , t h e y w e r e n o t s o l e l y l e d by t h e i r f a n o y .
T l a i d down d e n s r a l p r i n a i p l a s and T saw t h a t i n d i v i d u a l o a s e s
c o n fo r m ed w i t h them s p o n t a n e o u s l y , t h e h i s t o r i e s o f a l l t h e n a ­
t i o n s w e r e t h e i r i e d u o t i o n s a n d e a c h p a r t i c u l a r l a w wa 3 i n t e r ­
r e l a t e d t o a n o t h e r o r d e p e n d e d u p o n o n e more G e n e r a l .
He adds : "T d id n o t draw my p r i n c i p l e s
from my p r e j u d i c e s ,
th e nature o f t h i n g s . "
M o n t e s o u ie u a p p l i e d t h e p r i n c i ­
In o t h e r words,
p l e s o f determinism to t h e stud y o f s o c i a l m a tters,
but from
and he founded h i s
r e a s o n i n g on c o n s i d e r a t i o n s deduced from o b s e r v a t i o n .
Py making t h e
s t u d y o f t h e l a w s and f o l k w a y s o f a l l t h e p e o p l e s o f t h e e a r t h h i s g e n ­
e r a l aim,
and i n q u i r i n g
i n t o t h e i r p h y s i c a l and moral c a u s e s , he p r e ­
pared t h e roa d which Comte was t o f o l l o w .
He shewed t h a t i n s t i t u t i o n s c o u l d n o t be m o d i f i e d a t w i l l by t h e
leg isla to r,
clim ate,
and t h a t t h e y w er e t h e outcome o f many f a c t o r s ,
nature of the s o i l ,
government and r e l i g i o n .
geographical co n fig u ra tio n ,
race,
type of
He a l s o d e m o n s t r a t e d t h e f a c t t h a t i n s t i t u ­
t i o n s p r o g r e s s e d and f o l l o w e d a d e f i n i t e c u r v e o f e v o l u t i o n ,
studied p o li t i c a l
including
and he
l a w s i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e v a r i o u s forms o f go ve rn m en t.
Comte r e a d i l y a d m i t t e d t h a t he owed t o M o n t es q ui eu t h e n o t i o n o f
s o c i a l determinism,
but i t
is
owed him a g r e a t d e a l more.
e v i d e n t t o t h e modern s t u d e n t t h a t he
As A l e n g r y 4 has p o i n t e d o u t ,
Mo nt esquieu
i n d i c a t e d t o Comte t h a t s o c i o l o g y had t o be fo unded on o b s e r v a t i o n and
rela tiv ity .
Tf we c o n s i d e r t h a t M o n t e s q u i e u t o u c h e d on a c o u n t l e s s
number of s o c i a l p r o b l e m s ,
f l u e n c e was g e n e r a l ,
it
must be a d m i t t e d t h a t M o n t e s q u i e u ’ s i n ­
and t h a t he h e l p e d Comte t o f i n d h i m s e l f .
Comte i n d i c a t e d t h a t Hume was a n o t h e r o f h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s .
The
H c o t t i s h p h i l o s o p h e r , 5 who was h i m s e l f d e e p l y i n f l u e n c e d by M on te s q u i eu ,
w r o t e a Hi s t o r y of Vni l a nd which was an i n n o v a t i o n i n t h e realm o f t h e
1 . Montesquieu,
p.
EsPrit des L o is ,
f s p r i t d e s L o i s , p. 1.
Pari3: *’irmin Diaot, t Q45, 600 pp.
i* mrf*A3en?ry, ^ s s a i h i s t o r i p u e et. c r i t i p u e s u r l a s o c i o l o g i e c h e z A u g u s t e C o n t e ,
PP*S? D. Hume, E n o u i r y C o n c e r n i n g t h e Human U n d e r s t a n d i n g , in F n g l i s h P h i l o s o p h e r s o f
t h e S e v e n t e e n t h and E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r i e s , The Harvard g l a s s i e s . Vol. XXXVTI, pp. oO._445. Art. "Hume," E n c y c l o p a e d i a B r i t . a n m c a . P. Hume, H i s t o r y ot n g l a n d , Lippineott
and Company, S v o l s .
-17F -
h istorian s.
He was t h e f i r s t t h i n k e r who d i d n o t c o n c e n t r a t e on p o l i t ­
i c a l h i s t o r y and w a r s ,
e r a r y and a r t i s t i c
who a p p r e c i a t e d t h e s o c i a l
achievem ents,
A lthough he r e j e c t e d
sig n ifica n ce of l i t ­
and s t r e s s e d e co n om ic c o n d i t i o n s .
a l l p rovid en tial
in terp retation of h istory,
wOmte a d o p t e d P c s s u e t ’ s method o f a p p r o a c h ,
and r a t e d him a s a p r e d e ­
d isco u rs sur 1'histoi.rg u n iv e rse lle , 1
P o s s u e t e x p r e s s e d t h e o p i n i o n t h a t t h e h i s t o r i a n must c o n s i d e r e v e n t s
cessor of P o sitiv ism .
Tn h i s
from a l o f t y a l t i t u d e ,
t h a t he must s t r e s s g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s
of f a c t s ,
present.
instead
and t h a t he must c o n s i d e r t h e o a s t a s a p r e p a r a t i o n f o r t h e
Condorcet,
who i s
n e x t t o be c o n s i d e r e d ,
was h i m s e l f d e e p l y i n f l u ­
en ced by t h e t h r e e h i s t o r i a n s who have p r e v i o u s l y been m e n t io n e d .
co n trib u tio n s to P o s itiv is m
t h o r o u g h l y ex a m in ed .
Pis
a r e s o e x t e n s i v e t h a t h i s d o c t r i n e must be
C cndorcet's c o lle c t e d
b u t as Comte- was p r i n c i p a l l y
w ritings f i l l
i n f l u e n c e d by h i s
P squisse
t w e l v e v o lu m e s ,
i'u n
tableau'
h i s t o 1" i Q u e i e s p r o f r e s i e I 1 e s p r i t b u m a i n , o n l y an a n a l y s i s o f t h i s work
w i l l be g i v e n h e r e .
I t was w r i t t e n i n s i x months, durin g t h e T e r r o r ,
w h i l e Cond orc et was h i d i n g
from h i s p o l i t i c a l
enemies.
Tn h i s mind,
t h e t a b l e a u was n o t h i n g more than t h e rough d r a f t o f a h i s t o r y c f
Humanity which he p la n n e d t o w r i t e a s soon as t h e r e v o l u t i o n a r y storm
had blown o v e r .
Comte c a l l e d C o n d o r c e t h i s
c o u l d have i l l u s t r a t e d
son r e s e m b l e s h i s s i r e ,
" s p i r i t u a l f a t h e r , " and no e x p r e s s i o n
more a p t l y t h e r e l a t i o n c f t h e two men.
w ithout being h i s exact r e p lic a ,
As a
s c Comte i n ­
h e r i t e d some t r a i t s from C o n d o r c e t , b u t d i f f e r e d from him in s e v e r a l
others.
Tt w i l l be b e s t t o exam ine f i r s t
c e t , ? that i s ,
what Ccrnte t o o k from Condor-
t o s t a t e what t h e y have i n common.
Comte t o o k a s h i s own C o n d o r c e t f s a t t i t u d e to wa rd human h i s t o r y .
The two t h i n k e r s l o o k a t hu m a ni ty from t h e p l a n e o f p h i l o s o p h y .
are i n t e r e s t e d
They
in g e n e r a l s o c i a l f o r c e s and n o t iri c o n c r e t e f a c t s .
po t h b e l i e v e i n human e v o l u t i o n ,
and b o t h a s c r i b e p r o g r e s s " t o t h e
d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l s p i r i t .
the h is to r y of the s c ie n c e s m inutely,
cance to t e c h n ic a l d i s c o v e r i e s .
Poth s t u d y
and g i v e t h e same s o c i a l
sig n ifi­
Pot h l o o k down on m e t a p h y s i c s .
1 . Bossuet, Hscours sur I ’h i s t o i r e uni versel le,
a r t ; " B o s s u e t , " Encyclopaedia Britannica.
.
Both
P. Didot I ’ aind, Pari s , 1 °?^, ? v o l s . ;
l
.•
„
p. Condoroet, E s p u i s s e d ' u n t a b l e a u h i s t o n p u e d e s P r o p r k s de I e s p r i t h u m a in , Bureau
de l a bibliothfeque e h o i s t e , P a r i s , 19P9, 431 pp. 5 J. S,~
^ f n^ or £ e
Con d o r
of Liberalism, Hew Yorks Haroourt, Braoe and company, 1984, e l l PP‘ »
0 ?
cet On the Progress of the Human Mind, Haharoff Lecture f o r 198P, Oxford: At t he clarendon
Pre ss , 1983, ?8 p n . ; J. Cuillaume, a r t . "Condoroet," Grande Encyclopedic.
?. Condoroet, Tableau, p. 89?.
4. T b l d , , p. 90.
-17ft-
p o s t u l a t e t h e i n v a r i a b i l i t y 1 o f n a t u r a l l a w s and adopt s o c i a l d e t e r m i n ­
ism.
Both, a s a c o n s e q u e n c e ,
from t h e p a s t .
a v e r t h a t t h e f u t u r e may be p r e d i c t e d
Both b e l i e v e t h a t t h e m a t h e m a t i c a l phenomenon* i s u n i v e r s a l .
t h in k th a t i n t e l l i g e n c e f o l l o w s a curve o f e v o l u t i o n ,
le c tu a l progress
r e s u l t s i n e t h i c a l improvement.
education i s th e instrum ent of p ro g ress.
o f hum ani ty ,
Both
and t h a t i n t e l ­
Both a s s e r t t h a t
Both a c c e n t t h e animal n a t u r e
and b o t h p o s t u l a t e t h e s o c i a l n a t u r e * o f man.
Both b e l i e v e t h a t go vernment* i s t h e n a t u r a l outcome o f a s s o c i a t i o n .
Both a p p r e c i a t e t h e s o c i a l
l e c t i v e and i n d i v i d u a l
outcome o f s c i e n c e ,
in f l u e n c e c f the masses.
. i n t e r e s t s 7 a r e on e.
and t h a t p o l i t i c a l
Both h o l d t h a t c o l ­
Poth a v e r t h a t a r t ° i s t h e
a r t ” has t o be b u i l t on s o c i a l
science.
Put h e r e t h e r e s e m b l a n c e s t o p s ,
and from t h e n on, Comte abandons
h i s f a t h e r ’ s f o o t s t e p s and p r o c e e d s on an i n d e p e n d e n t r o a d .
C on d o rc et was t h e f r i e n d o f t h e F n cy cl o b ’£ d i s t e s ,
d ’ Alembert e s p e c i a l l y ,
and he e s p o u s e d t h e i r i d e a s .
fervent partisan of the
to
i t s creation .
Fence,
and o f free dom under a l l
o f V o l t a i r e and
Hot o n l y was he a
" r e v o l u t i o n a r y m e t a p h y s i c s , " b u t he c o n t r i b u t e d
C o n d or c et was an a p o s t l e o f p o l i t i c a l e q u a l i t y 10
its
s o c i a l f o rm s .
was o b s e s s e d w i t h a h a t r e d o f p o l i t i c a l
L i k e t h e P n c y c l o p ' £ d i s t e s , he
and r e l i g i o u s t y r a n n y , and he
t h o u g h t t h e words " r e l i g i o n " and " s u p e r s t i t i o n " synonymous.
itself
is
T h i s in
s u f f i c i e n t t o s e p a r a t e Comte from him.
p or C o n d o r c e t , h i s t o r y 1 i l l u s t r a t e d t h e s t r u g g l e and e n s u i n g v i c ­
t o r y o f f r e e t h o u g h t a g a i n s t r o y a l o p p r e s s i o n and r e l i g i o u s o b s c u r a n t i s m .
His g e n e t i c th e o r y o f r e l i g i o n
ra n as f o l l o w s :
i s a r e v e l a t i o n o f h i s s t a t e o f mind.
P elig io n originated
go d s c r e a t e d i n man’ s own ima ge.
in stitu tio n s.
in t h e b e l i e f i n s u r v i v a l ,
and in
Buch n o t i o n s ga ve r i s e t o r e l i g i o u s
Fach p r i m i t i v e p e o p l e had a s a c e r d o t a l c l a s s which s t u d i e d
t h e s c i e n c e s and e l a b o r a t e d a s i m p l e m e t a p h y s i c a l e x p l a n a t i o n 10o f t h e
u niverse.
T h i s was c o u c h e d i n a l l e g o r i c a l f a b l e s ,
l i t e r a l l y by t h e i g n o r a n t m a s s e s .
1 . Condoroet, Tableau, pp. P47-P49.
p. Ibi d. , p. P47.
p.
pt>.
4.
p. 79.
pp. pl-PP.
p. 94.
p. P75.
Ibi d. ,
I bi d. ,
5. Ifiid.,
g. I bi d. ,
7. I bi d. ,
a, Ibi d. ,
- 0 . I bi d. ,
10. Ibi d. ,
11. I bi d. ,
IP. I bi d. ,
p.
p.
It
P 65-P 66.
?67.
p7 1 .
_
pp. 73-74, 193-194, 197, pOO-POl.
pp. 86-67.
pp. 56-57.
which were t a k e n
-177-
The p r i e s t s were q u i c k t o p e r c e i v e t h e p r o f i t s - w h i c h t h e y c o u l d
d e r i v e from s u c h g r o s s b e l i e f s ,
and e n c o u r a g e d th em 1 by a l l a v a i l a b l e
means,
Moreover, t h e y r e a l i z e d t h a t t h e i g n o r ­
ev e n by d i s h o n e s t o n e s .
a n c e o f t h e p e o p l e was t h e i r c h i e f a s s e t ,
ested
in th e s c i e n c e s th e m se lv e s,
and a l t h o u g h t h e y were i n t e r ­
and c u l t i v a t e d them, t h e y s y s t e m a t ­
i c a l l y prevented the d issem in ation of s c i e n t i f i c
m asses.
n o t i o n s among t h e
C ondorcet0 in clud ed C h r i s t i a n i t y in h i s g e n e r a l h atred of r e l i g i o n .
He c o n t e n d e d t h a t t h e Church had a lw a y s h a t e d s c i e n c e and p e r s i s t e n t l y
suppressed fr e e
origin al,
inauiry.
C h r i s t i a n e t h i c s * a r e w o r t h y , b u t t h e y a r e no t
and C a t h o l i c i s m h as c r e a t e d a m u l t i t u d e o f r e l i g i o u s d u t i e s
and i n v e n t e d i m a g i n a r y s i n s .
su c c e s s fu l for
lated
easily:
several
I t s e f f o r t t o im po se o b s c u r a n t i s m was
cen tu ries,
b e c a u s e k n o w l ed g e c o u l d n o t be c i r c u ­
b u t when p r i n t i n g 4 was i n v e n t e d ,
s t r u g g l e a g a i n s t t h e t i d a l wave o f s c i e n t i f i c
t h e Church c o u l d no l o n g e r
inform ation,
and i t
lost
i t s b a ttle.
C on d o rc et t h e r e f o r e h a t e d t h e Midd le Ages,
apogee o f C h r is t ia n it y ,
and termed t h e p e r i o d one o f "deep n i g h t . " *
He found no r e d e e m i n g f e a t u r e s in f e u d a l i s m ,
its
which r e p r e s e n t e d t h e
and e s p e c i a l l y s t i g m a t i z e d
l e g a l s y s t e m * and t h e o p p r e s s i o n 7 o f t h e common man.
Comte and C o n d or c et d i f f e r i n t h e i r a t t i t u d e to wa rd t h e e v o l u t i o n
of in tellig en ce.
to
in tellig en ce
hazy.
Whereas Comte a s s i g n s d e f i n i t e and p r o g r e s s i v e s t e p s
in h i s
the
three
s t a t e s , C o n d o r c e t rs t h e o r y i s
He b e l i e v e d t h a t c e r t a i n p e r i o d s had b e e n c h a r a c t e r i z e d by a
d o w n - gr a d e movement,
Ages,
law o f
as,
f o r i n s t a n c e , t h e dee p n i g h t o f t h e V i d d l e
and he d i d n o t e x p l a i n c l e a r l y t h e c a u s e s o f i n t e l l e c t u a l p r o ­
g r e s s fo r each e r a .
Comte had t h r e e s t a t e s ;
Condorcet has nine epochs,
w hi ch he d o e s n o t d e f i n e s y s t e m a t i c a l l y i n t h e l i g h t o f i n t e l l e c t u a l
progress.
Home o f h i s e p o c h s a r e d e t e r m i n e d by an i n d u s t r i a l i n v e n t i o n ,
such as th e development o f p r i n t i n g ,
and o t h e r s by a s o c i a l movement,
such as the Crusades.
The e i g h t h epoch i n c l u d e s t h e French R e v o l u t i o n .
s e n t s the p i c t u r e c f the fu tu r e Utopia,
o f t h e whole book.
fa ith
I b i d . , p p . 1.09, 13 1 ,
I b i d . t p. 113.
6. I b i d . ( p. 1.19.
7. I b i d . > p. ■1.9.1, ■
4.
5.
i s t h e most o r i g i n a l p a r t
I t i s p er m ea t ed by an e x t r a o r d i n a r y e n t h u s i a s m and
i n human n a t u r e ,
t . I b i d . * pp. 54-55.
p. I b i d . > p. 106.
p. I b i d . i p. i s ? .
and i t
The n i n t h p r e ­
and one c a n n o t h e l p a d m i r i n g t h e man who found
-178t h e c o u r a g e t o p a i n t such a s m i l i n g p i c t u r e o f t h e f u t u r e , a t t h e v e r y
t i m e when he was b e i n g h u n t e d down l i k e a c r i m i n a l f o r t h e g e n e r o s i t y
o f h i s views.
Tt i s t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h i s l a s t epoch which shows how
f a r a p a r t Comte and C o n d o r c e t r e a l l y a r e .
H chaoiro1 has c a l l e d Condorcet a l i b e r a l ,
appropriate.
In an e r a o f e x t r e m e s and e x t r a v a g a n c e s ,
main mod erate and i m p a r t i a l .
humaneness."
and no e x p r e s s i o n i s more
His m o t t o w a s 0 : "Reason,
he s t r o v e t o r e ­
t o l e r a n c e and
Comte c o u l d n o t s u b s c r i b e w h o l e - h e a r t e d l y t o t h e program
i n v o l v e d i n t h o s e t h r e e words.
He a d v o c a t e d humaneness and r e a s o n , but
h e d i d n o t ha ve t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y ’ s e x a l t e d o p i n i o n o f t h e l a t t e r ,
and h e was t o o much t h e champion o f dogmatism t o f a v o r t o l e r a n c e .
For C o n d o r c e t ,
nation s,
f u t u r e s o c i e t y i s b a s e d on e q u a l i t y ' :
e q u a l i t y o f a l l men i n t h e n a t i o n ,
e q u a lity of
and e q u a l i t y o f b ot h s e x e s . 4
He r e c o g n i z e d a n a t u r a l i n e q u a l i t y b r o u g h t on by d i f f e r e n c e s o f a p t i t u d e s
and s o c i a l
stra tifica tio n ,
and e d u c a t i o n .
and an a r t i f i c i a l
i n e q u a l i t y fo un de d on la w s
He d i d n o t e x p e c t t o do away w i t h t h e f i r s t ,
t o s o f t e n i t by d e s t r o y i n g t h e s e c o n d .
b u t h e hoped
We know how Comte f e l t about t h e
e q u a l i t y o f t h e s e x e s and p o l i t i c a l e q u a l i t y i n g e n e r a l .
Comte and C on d orc et b o t h f o r e s a w an e r a o f u n i v e r s a l p e a c e * and
b r o t h e r l y l o v e , b u t C o n d or c et had n o t Co m te’ s c o n c e p t i o n o f p r o g r e s s .
For Comte, f a c u l t i e s were i n n a t e ,
and t h e i r d e v e l o p m e n t was s t r i c t l y
l i m i t e d by t h e i r u n c h a n g e a b l e p o t e n t i a l i t y .
t i o n f o r Condorcet.
He b e l i e v e d t h a t ,
ment and c i v i l i z a t i o n ,
scien ce,
un der t h e i n f l u e n c e o f e n l i g h t e n ­
human n a t u r e * was i n d e f i n i t e l y p e r f e c t i b l e .
The two men d i f f e r i n s t i l l
se r tio n that p o l i t i c a l
There was no such r e s t r i c ­
another r e s p e c t .
In s p i t e o f h i s a s ­
art req u ir es the prelim inary c r e a tio n o f a so c ia l
C o nd or c et did n e t c r e a t e a s o c i o l o g y and a s o c i o l o g i c a l method.
He hoped t o b r i n g i n t h e m i l l e n n i u m by a d e q u a t e l e g i s l a t i o n ,
education,
and r e m e d i a l m e a s u r e s .
universal
A l l t h o s e r e m e d i a l m e a s u r e s were
b a s e d on t h e t h e o r y o f p r o b a b i l i t y . 7
C o nd o rc et a s c r i b e s t o t h i s m a t h e m a t i c a l p r i n c i p l e a q u a s i - m a g i c a l
power i n a l l f i e l d s ,
he c o n t e n d e d ,
social
e s p e c i a l l y in th e s o c i a l
comes from l a c k o f f u n d s ,
insurance.
and p o l i t i c a l .
and i t ca n b e cu r e d by l i f e
4.
5.
6.
7.
9.
I b i d . > p. 976.
Ibid.i
p. 977.
and
As t h e r a t e o f i n s u r a n c e i s c a l c u l a t e d w i t h t h e h e l p
1 . -J. S. S o h a p i r o , Condorcet and the Rise of Liberalism.
p. T ab l ea u, p. 197.
8 . I bi d. , p. 949.
I b i d . , p. 908.
I b i d . , p. 979.
I b i d . , pp. 959-959.
Q
Pau p eri sm ,"
-17P .
o f t h e p r i n c i p l e o f p r o b a b i l i t y , a l l r e m ed ia l r ef orm s, p e r f o r c e , corre
from t h i s p r i n c i p l e .
Comte c o u l d not a g r e e t o a method which reduced
t o i n s i g n i f i c a n c e t h e s c i e n c e t h a t he d e a r l y l o v e d .
Moreover, he had a
p e t a v e r s i o n f o r t h i s m at h e m ati c al p r i n c i p l e , which he c o n s i d e r e d a
s t e r i l e i n v e n t i o n o f t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l mind.
He c a r r i e d h i s d i s l i k e t o
extremes.
In s p i t e o f th e f a c t t h a t t h e s t u d y o f t h i s t h e o r y was p a r t
o f t h e P o l y t e c h n i o u e c u r r ic u l u m , he r e f u s e d t o t e s t the s t u d e n t s on t h e i r
knowledge o f i t .
Tt g o e s w ith ou t s a y i n g t h a t he s t r o n g l y c r i t i c i z e d
Condorcet f o r h i s ad o p ti o n o f t h e p r i n c i p l e .
Co ndorcet t a u g h t Comte t h a t s o c i a l p r o g r e s s was t h e r e s u l t o f t h e
development o f the s c i e n t i f i c
and p h i l o s o p h i c a l s p i r i t ,
and t h a t e t h i c a l
improvement f o l l o w e d e n l i g h t e n m e n t .
He t a u g h t Comte t o l o o k a t g e n e r a l
f o r c e s and n e t at h i s t o r i c a l
On t h e o t h e r hand,
facts.
approve o f C ondorcet’ s d e s i r e f o r p o l i t i c a l
eoualitv,
t h e e x t i n c t i o n o f r e l i g i o n p r o p h e s i e d by t h e l a t t e r .
th eory of the i n f i n i t e p e r f e c t i b i l i t y
o f p r o b a b i l i t y as a panacea fo r a l l
Comte d i d not
and d i d no t a c c e p t
He r e j e c t e d t h e
o f human n a t u r e , and t h e p r i n c i p l e
social e v ils .
The name o f Kant i s o f t e n m e n t i o n e d in c o n n e c t i o n w it h P o s i t i v i s t i c
h isto rica l
sources, but i t
th is error.
should not b e.
L i t t r g 1 was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r
I t i s t r u e t h a t Kant p u b l i s h e d a t r a c t e n t i t l e d
e i n e r a l l i e m e i n e n d e s o h i c h t e in w s l t b ' u r i e r l i o h e r 4 b s i c h t ,
s p i r e d by a f i n a l i s t i c d e t e r m i n i s m ,
In a l e t t e r d a t e d December 10,
ago,
it
t r e a t i s e o f Kant.
I had bee n a c a u a i n t e d w i t h i t
would ha ve s a v e d me a l o t o f w o r k ."
in the n egative.
As f o r S a in t - H im o n ,
However,
and he w r i t e s 0 :
It i s p rodigious
s i x or s e v e n y e a r s
In 18P4, as Comte s a y s , 5
h e was a l r e a d y i n f u l l p o s s e s s i o n o f h i s s y s t e m ,
no l o n g e r i n f l u e n c e him.
in ­
1.8P4, Comte t h a n k s h i s f r i e n d FugSne
"I h a v e rea d and r e - r e a d t h e l i t t l e
and i f
i n 17 8 4,
b u t Comte knew n o t h i n g about i t .
d ’ F i c h t h a l f o r h i s t r a n s l a t i o n o f t h e t r a c t i n t o Fre nch,
f o r th e time,
I dee zu
and Kant ’ s t r a c t c o u l d
T h is a n s w e r s t h e a u e s t i o n o f Ka ntian s o u r c e s
Comte a l w a y s s t a t e d t h a t he owed n o t h i n g t o him.
i n v i e w o f t h e f a c t t h a t some o f t h e most i m p o r t a n t t e n e t s o f
p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y a r e t o be fo u n d i n t h e w r i t i n g s o f Hai nt-Himon, pub­
l i s h e d b e f o r e he had met Comte,
here,
it
i s i m p o s s i b l e t o t a k e Comte’ s word
and i t becomes n e c e s s a r y t o exa m in e t h e Hai nt- Hi m on ian d o c t r i n e
1 . m. L i t t r d , Auguste Comte et la philosophic posi t i ve, op. 54-69.
? . Correspondence ft divers, V o l . TT, p . 7 7 .
a\ 3 . B o u s K , L ’oeuvre d 'Henri de faint-fimon, A l c a n , P a r i s , x x x i i + 9 6 4 p p . , ^>8.
b o o k i s a c o l l e c t i o n o f e x t r a c t s fr o m S a i n t - S i m o n ' s w r i t i n g s . A l l r e f e r e n c e s G i v e n h e r e
t o t h a t a u t h o r a r e t a k e n fr om t h i s b o o k .
a s a p l a u s i b l e s o u r c e o f Oomtism.
The p r e p o s i t i o n s common t o bo t h w i l l
f i r s t be enumerated, w i t h o u t comment.
problems o f Comteana,
L ate r,
in a n a l y z i n g t h e v a r i o u s
i t w i l l be f i t t i n g t o i n d i c a t e t h e n a t u r e o f th e
c o n t r o v e r s i e s which a r o s e among Comte’ s commentators r e g a r d i n g t h e
r e c i p r o c a l i n f l u e n c e which t h e two men had on one a n o t h e r .
The g e n e r a l
aim o f Paint-Pimon i s t o g i v e s o c i e t y a permanent o r ­
g a n i z a t i o n which w i l l
i n s u r e a l a s t i n g pe ac e.
War0 i s t h e i n e v i t a b l e
co n s e q u e n c e o f t h e e v o l u t i o n o f i d e a s , and i f i d e a s a r e s t a b i l i z e d , war
w i l l disappear.
The F n c y c l c o ^ d i s t e s 8 d e s t r o y e d and did not r e b u i l d .
I f i t i s t o be f i n a l ,
t h e r e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f s o c i e t y must be based
on a s c i e n t i f i c p o l i t i c a l s c i e n c e ,
servation.
that i s ,
on a s c i e n c e bas ed on ob­
S c i e n t i s t s 4 can p r e d i c t f u t u r e phenomena, and inasmuch as s o c i a l
r e l a t i o n s * ar e i d e n t i c a l wit h p h y s i o l o g i c a l phenomena,
i t follow s that,
as soon as p h y s i o l o g y * has become a s c i e n c e , e t h i c s and p o l i t i c s w i l l
be s c i e n c e s .
Dh y s i o l o g y 7 i s t h e most important o f a l l the s c i e n c e s .
There i s no brea k in c o n t i n u i t y 0 between th e p a s t and t h e f u t u r e .
H i s t o r y 0 w i l l be a s c i e n c e when i t b r i n g s out th e c o n n e c t i o n b e ­
tween f a c t s and g i v e s a g e n e r a l view of human development.
4T)
Human i n t e l l i g e n c e p r o g r e s s e s .
At f i r s t s p e c u l a t i o n s were ba s e d
on i m a g i n a t i o n , b u t g r a d u a l l y o b s e r v a t i o n came t o s u p e r s e d e i m a g i n a t i o n .
When a branch o f l e a r n i n g i s c o m p l e t e l y b u i l t on o b s e r v a t i o n ,
i t is a
science.
There a r e two p h i l o s o p h i c a l methods'1: t h e a p r i o r i and t h e a pos­
teriori.
The a p o s t e r i o r i i s t h e t r u e s c i e n t i f i c method.
A s c i e n c e g o e s through two s t a g e s , 10 a c o n j e c t u r a l or t h e o l o g i c a l ,
and a p o s i t i v e .
Astr onomy19was t h e f i r s t p o s i t i v e s c i e n c e ; i t was t h e n f o l l o w e d by
c h e m i s t r y . ’ P h y s i o l o g y 14 i s s t i l l i n t h e c o n j e c t u r a l s t a t e .
When i t
1. C f. pp. 2 1 3 -2 1 6 b e lo w .
p . Mmoire sur la science de I [home.
191.8,
-6,7* '
. ,
9 . I n t r o d u c t i o n aux t r a v a u x s c i e n t i f i Q u e s du u f i e m e s i b c l e , 1907, p. 4 5 .
4 . Let t r es d'un habitant de Geneve b ses contemPorains, 1909, op. 18- 1,4 .
5.
Ibid. i
p.
17.
#
-
6 . Vimoire sur la science de I'howhe,
7*
1919, v, 6 S.
p*'*e7
9 ! L e t t r e - s ^ V ’un habi tant , d e Genlve a s e s contemPorains,
1 9 0 2 , p.
1 6 ; ^woiriB sar l a
s c i e n c e de I'homme, 1918, o. 57; I n t r o d u c t i o n aux t r a v a u x s c i e n t i f i o u e s du xiYieme
S t o ! ‘i ntroduction aux travaux s ci e nt i f i o ue s du XIfitme siecle,
la gravitation uni ver sel l e, 1 . 9 1 8 , - p . 8 5 .
1 1 . Memoire sur la science de I'homme, l a 18 , pp. - 6 , 60.
i s \ \ % t r V s ‘d 'un habitant deGenbve h ses contemPorains,
1907,
l ? 0 2 , p.
p.
46;
Travail
sur
1 6 ; Mgmoire sur la
Genive h ses contemPorains, \809, p. 1 8 ; Vtmoire sur la
i4 .
L e t t r e s -d 'un h a b i t a nde
t de
Genivt
s c i e n c e de I'homme, 1913, pp. 61-62.
science dej^^
c h a s e s p h i l o s o p h e r s , m o r a l i s t s and m e t a p h y s i c i a n s from i t s
w i l l become p o s i t i v e .
I n t e l l i g e n c e 1 has understood th a t i t
f o r f a c t s and f o r t h e one c a u s e .
s c i e n c e , and l a s t r e l i g i o n .
Philosophy
ences.
it
must c o n c e n t r a t e on t h e s e a r c h
I t f i r s t p ro du ced p h i l o s o p h y ,
i s general science.
then
I t i s t h e sum o f p a r t i c u l a r
P h i l o s o p h y w i l l be p o s i t i v e o n l v when a l l
en ces are p o s i t i v e th e m s e lv e s .
field ,
sci­
the p a r tic u la r s c i ­
As l o n g a s p h y s i o l o g y i s c o n j e c t u r a l ,
p h ilo s o p h y w i l l be c o n j e c t u r a l a l s o .
Paeon and D e s c a r t e s * a r e t h e f a t h e r s o f modern s c i e n c e .
P h i l o s o p h y 4 or g e n e r a l s c i e n c e i s t h e b a s i s o f r e l i g i o n , p o l i t i c s ,
eth ics,
and e d u c a t i o n .
When i t
is p ositive,
t h e r e w i l l be a g en era l
r e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f t h e c l e r g y and s o c i e t y .
Animals and humans5 form a c o n t i n u o u s c h a i n .
was a t f i r s t h a r d l y s u p e r i o r t o t h a t c f
i t and made i t
what i t
anim als,
Van’ s i n t e l l i g e n c e
but l a n g u a g e d e v e l o p e d
is.
P o l y t h e i s m 5 was t h e f i r s t form o f r e l i g i o n .
under t h e i n f l u e n c e o f S o c r a t e s ,
I t e v o lv e d i n t o theism
w h o ' i s t h e f a t h e r o f modern t h o u g h t and
o f t h e modern e r a .
There a r e two o r d e r s , t h e
te m p o r a l and t h e s p i r i t u a l .
The V i d d l e Ages'7 were no t
t h e deep n i g h t p i c t u r e d by t h e F n e y c l o -
p gd istes.
The Church had a c i v i l i z i n g
in fluence,
and t h e c l e r g y 5 a lw ay s
fought the b e l l i c o s e p r o p e n s itie s c f sovereigns.
e n c e 9 waned,
As so o n a s i t s
in flu ­
wars i n c r e a s e d .
The Church g r a d u a l l y f e l l under t h e te m p o r a l d o m i n a t i o n .
The C a t h o l i c C hu rc h 10 i s o b s o l e s c e n t .
The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t u a l o r d e r 11i s composed o f t h e p r o m in e n t s c i e n ­
tists,
in d u stria lists
large,
so t h a t t h e y ca n c o n c e n t r a t e on r e s e a r c h and make t h e s c i e n c e s
progress.
Individual
and a r t i s t s who must be s u p p o r t e d by s o c i e t y a t
and c o l l e c t i v e i n t e r e s t s a r e o n e .
1 . Introductions am travaux sci ent i f i oues du Ylyitne siecle, 1 9 0 9 , p.
?.
s.
4.
5.
n
?!
50*
V&moire sur la science de I [home, 1918, p. 59.
_
Introduction am t r a va m s c i e nt i f i oue s du YIYibme siecLe,
Mtmoire sur la science de I 'howr-e, 1^ 1 9 , P p . 59-53, 5 4 .
Travail sur la gravi t at i on universelle, 1918, pp. 59-53,
ppl 9 4 - 3 5 ;
8 f>.
1909, pp. 99-91.
99.
Introduction am travam s ci ent i f i oues du YlYibme si ecl e,
9. * Reorganisation de la societe eurobeenne, 1914, p. 79.
9. i b i d . , p. 99.
.
.
,,
1 0 . Travail sur la gravi tati on universelle, 1.918 , p. .85,
11
Let t res d'un habitant de Geneve S ses contemboratns, 1 9 0 ?, pp. 9, 1 9 .
1907,
The aim o f s o c i a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n i s t o in su re peace permanently,
and t h i s can be achieved only by doin^ away with n a t i o n a l i s t i c p o l i c i e s
and r e p l a c i n g i n d i v i d u a l s o v e r e i g n t i e s with a Furopean s p i r i t u a l power.
Faint-F im on's t h e o r i e s concerning the nature o f th is , power evolved con­
s i d e r a b l y from the L e t t r e s i ' u n h a b i t a n t i e Geneve a s e s o o n t e v v o r a i n s ,
p ub lish ed in 1P0F, t o La r e o r g a n i s a t i o n i e la s o c i H e surot si enne, which
was launched in 191.4. In 1P0F, he pro vid es t h a t the supreme assembly,
Fewton’ s c o u n c i l , 1 composed o f r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of mathematics, p h y s i c s ,
c hem istry, p h y s i o l o g y , l i t e r a t u r e , p a in tin g and music, i s t o be at the
head c f the n a t io n a l s.u b-c oun ci ls. They have two f u n c t i o n s , that of
h o n o r in g 9 Vewton and t h e b e n e f a c t o r s o f humanity, and that of making
the sciences progress.
Tn 1D14, Faint-Fimon has a d i f f e r e n t co n c e p t io n , ^e avers that
t h e r e i s only one good government, the F n g l i s h , 9 and one good s o c i a l
c o n s t i t u t i o n , the f e u d a l. Pe plans t o combine th e.t w o by using the
medieval s o c i a l c o n s t i t u t i o n and r e p l a c i n g i t s fe udal hierarchy with
parliamen ta ry a s s e m b l i e s .
Pe s e e s a f e d e r a t i o n 4 o f n a t io n s administered
by a Furopean pa rliamen t, each nation r e t a i n i n g i t s independence, but
subm ittin g t o t h e a u t h o r i t y o f the supreme assembly f o r matters of
g en era l i n t e r e s t .
Faint-Fimon enumerates th e d u t i e s o f t h i s Furooean supreme co u rt .
Tt w i l l d ec id e on a l l q u e s t i o n s p e r t a i n i n g t o s c i e n c e , a r t , l e g i s l a t i o n ,
commerce, in d u s t r y , a d m in i s t r a t io n and e t h i c s .
While in IPO? the forma­
t i o n of Fewton's c o u n c i l s depended upon the advent o f p o s i t i v i t y in
p h ilo so p h y , and was th e work o f an outst an ding s c i e n t i s t , in 1P14 the
Furopean parliament owes i t s e x i s t e n c e t o a p o l i t i c a l movement. I t
comes i n t o being when the two c o u n t r i e s with a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e government,
France and Fngland, d e c i d e 5 t o form a supreme c o u n c i l .
As the other
n a t i o n s gr adually adopt the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l form of government, they
j o i n t h e supreme c ou rt.
I t might seem l o g i c a l t o i n f e r t h a t Comte derived h i s opinion of
t h e Viddle Ages from Faint-Fimon, but he always re f u se d to make such
a sta t em en t , and ascrib e d t o another w rit er th e i n f l u e n c e which one
would o t h erw ise t r a c e to Faint-Fimon.
According t o Comte’ s own t e s t i ­
mony, i t was J. de V a i s t r e who r e h a b i l i t a t e d the Viddle Ages for him.
Lettres d'tin habitant de Genbve & ses contemPorains, p. 90.
3. Rgqrgamsation de la soci£t& europienne, 1914, p. 99.
4 . Tbid. i pp. 9 ? - 9 9 .
5 . Ibid. i p p . 9 9 - 1 0 9 .
1.
fin ultramontane of the uost v i o l e n t type, V a i s t r e was p a s s i o n a t e l y
at tached to the t r a d i t i o n s o f the Ancient Rggime, and had at h i s command
an unusual t a l e n t for p o lem ics , a most b i t i n g s e n se of humor, and a r e ­
markable mastery o f th e French language. Tn Vu P a p e , 1 he answered a l l
the charges brought a g a i n s t the Church by the phi l os ophi e s , and demon­
s t r a t e d that the popes, who p e r s o n i f i e d Cath olicism, had been t h e organs
c f p rogres s. F i t t i n g two b i r d s with one sto ne, he a l s o proved th a t the
Viddle Ages, f a r from being the deep night dep icte d by Condorcet, were,
on the co n t ra ry , an era c f p r o s p e r it y and achievement55;
0
I
holy
Ohuroh
of
use
i t
3 o ie n o e
a n !
h o lin e s s .
l i 5 h t
l i d
Thou
to
not
the
oheok
h a st
pu t
d ic e s ,
th e
g ers
c o u ld
in
Rome!
s h a l l
f a r
So
Ions
p r a i s e .
Pal v e ,
o o rn e r s
th y
a
th y
o f
3 to p
to
as
T retain
s a lu t e
th e e ,
>r.agna par e ns !
th e
i n f l u e n c e ,
o r u e l
b l a c k
n iS h t
of
no t
p e n e t r a t e ,
I
e a r t h ,
and
and
o f t e n
the
Thou
h a s t
e v e ry w h e re
even
in fam o u s
power
e t e r n a l
i n
speak,
s p re a d th e
u n s e e in g
s p i t e
cu sto m s,
to
m o th er of
o f
powers
them .
b a l e f u l
p r e j u ­
ig n o r a n c e ,
and
th e r e
w h ere
th.y
m essen­
th e
c i v i l i z a t i o n
is
no t
c o m p le te .
V a i s tr e undoubtedly i n f l u e n c e d Comte in another r e s p e c t . Pe helped
him f in d h im s e l f by d i s c u s s i n g the s u b j e c t s which i n t e r e s t e d him. V a is t r e
evinced a d e s i r e f o r u n i t y c f d i r e c t i o n and i n f a l l i b i l i t y c f b e l i e f , and
a hatred of " h e r e s y , " which were c e r t a i n to appeal to Comte.
The o r i g i n s o f the n o t i o n s c f u n i v e r s a l s y n t h e s i s , and o f the c l a s s i ­
f i c a t i o n of the s c i e n c e s , have now been in d ic a t e d .
Tt remains to t r a c e
©
the sources of the l a * o f t h e t h r e e s t a t e s .
Comte observed t h at V i c e -'
,
4
had been a d i s t a n t p r e d e c e s s o r of h i s , inasmuch as V i e c Ts l au o f c y c l e s
had reduced h i s t o r y t o t h r e e s t a t e s , the d iv in e , the h e r o i c and the human;
but he refu sed t o see in t h i s conce ptio n any ac tu al c o n t r i b u t i o n t o h i s
o h ilo s c p h y , because the I t a l i a n thinker had ignored p ro gre ss and made
h i s t o r y re p e a t i t s e l f .
Comte r e c o g n iz e d no other s o ur c e s. However, s e v e r a l elem ents o f the
l av of t he t h r e e s t a t e s are to be found in two et h e r w r i t e r s , namely,
Faint-Fimon and Turgot.
Faint-Fimon, as i t has been p r e v i o u s ly pointed c u t , 5 had a law of
two s t a t e s , which, in s p i t e of i t s ab o rt iv e form, a s crib e d two e v o l u ­
t i o n a l s t a g e s t o i n t e l l i g e n c e , a t h e o l o g i c a l and a p o s i t i v e .
He did not
cla.im any o r i g i n a l i t y in the matter, and explained that a Dr. Furdin had
1 . J. de V ai s t r e ,
x x x v iij ^
V.
Pu Pape, L i b r a i r i e g<*n<Jrale oatholique et o l a s s l q u e , Lyon, 199?,
p p , 1- ! 3 0
P o l . ’/ I ? V ' 1384, I I , p. 4?9, and I I I , Pi ' £99.
4. Art. "Vioo," Pncyclopaedta Britanmca, 14th e d i t i o n .
5. Cf. P P . 190-1.91 above.
3 . Vimotre sur la science de I 'howe, p . 6 0 .
imparted t h e law to him o r a l l y in 17PP. This e x p l a i n s why Comte could
t r u t h f u l l y say th a t Raint-Pimon did not i n f l u e n c e him. *
Another element of the law of t he t h r e e s t a t e s i s t o be found in
Paint-Pimon. Re held t h a t i n t e l l i g e n c e 1 evolved from imagination t c
observation.
As t h i s n o t io n , however, did not i n v o l v e grea t o r i g i n a l i t y
o f thought, i t may be surmised that Comte had had th e same idea b ef ore
he met Paint-Pimon.
There i s y et a t h ir d source for the law, and t h i s one i s t r a c e a b l e
d e f i n i t e l y t o Turgot. In h i s f t s o o u r s sur t ' h i s t o i r e u n i v e r s e l l e , pub­
l i s h e d in 17F®, he writes^:
B e f o r e k n o w i n g t h e i n t e r r e l a t i o n o f p h y a i o a l e f f e c t s , t h e r e was
n o t h i n g more n a t u r a l t h a n t o s u p p o s e t h a t t h e y w e r e p r o d u c e ! b y
b e i n g 3 who w e r e i n t e l l i g e n t and i n v i s i b l e b u t l i k e o u r s e l v e s —- i n
s h o r t, gods.
This i s a d e s c r i p t i o n of the Comtean t h e o l o g i c a l s t a t e .
with the metaphysical*:
When
th e
p h ilo s o p h e r s
l a t i o n s ,
b u t
h i s t o r y ,
th e y
s t r a c t
i f
d id
no t
t h e y
h a v in g
a tte m p te d
e x p r e s s io n s ,
e e lv e s
as
w it h o u t
w ere
o f
a p p r e c ia t e d
t o
l i k e
c o u rs e
b e in g s
or
y e t
a c q u ir e d
e x p la i n
essences
e x p la i n
new
the
th e
and
a b s u r d i t y
sound
causes
.
.
b u t
o f
th o s e
kn o w le d g e
o f
faculties,
a n y th in g ;
d e i t i e s .
Re proceeds
o f
phenomena
w h ic h
th e y
i n
fa b u n a t u r a l
by
ab ­
th e m -
d is c u s s e d
them
.
Re c o n clu d es by i n d i c a t i n g the beginning of the p o s i t i v e philosophy,
w it h o u t , however, using the word " p o s i t i v e ”4:
Vuch
have
w h ic h
on
l a t e r ,
one
a f t e r
a n o th e r ,
m a th e m a tio s
o b s e r v in g
th e
t h e y
from
drew
d e v e lo p e d
and
m e c h a n ic a l
m ech an ic s
e x p e r ie n c e
a c t i o n
o t h e r
w h ic h
b o d ie s
h y p o th e s e s
v e r i f i e d .
Rere, then, are the embryos of the t h ree s t a t e s .
L i t t r d * stu d ie d the o r i g i n s of Comte's law c f i n t e l l e c t u a l e v o lu ­
t i o n , and exonerated him from a l l charges o f
w i l f u l p l a g i a r i s m . Pe
p o i n t s out t h a t the law in Turgot's f i s a o u r s appears as ani n c i d e n t a l
remark u t t e r e d without any mention whatsoever of i t s s o c i o l o g i c a l cons e a u e n c e s, and t h a t under no circumstances can i t be in t e r p r e t e d as a
d i r e c t i n g p r i n c i p l e of Tu rg ot 's philosophy.
L i t t r 6 b e l i e v e d that Comte had read the
pass age ouoted j u s t above,
tut
t h a t i t had made no con scio u s impression
on h i s mind at t h e time,
b ec au se Turgot h i m s e l f had attached no importance t o h i s remark. Tt
1.
C f . p. 190
Turfiot,
above.
Oeuvres, S u l l l a u a i n , P a r i s , 1 P 4 4 , V o l . I T , p . - f c . - f l .
9 . toe• eitm
4. toe* Clt»
_
. ,.
,* • ,
_ .a
5* ■E. L i t tr r f , Auguste Comte et la thilosophie positive, op. 4 ,- 4 . *
was, however, a seed which f e l l on f a v o r a b le ground; and, unknown t o him
who r e c e iv e d i t , i t grew and combined with other elements. Tt was t h i s
p r o c e s s o f growth and s y s t e m a t i c s y n t h e s i s which gave i t the ch aracter
o f a u n i v e r s a l p r i n c i p l e and perm itted the c r e a t i o n o f a whole philosophy
c e n t e r i n g around i t .
L i t t r g co n clu d es t h a t the law of t he t hr ee s t a t e s
as i t stands in p o s i t i v e p h ilos oph y i s
i n v e s t i g a t o r agr ee s with him.
o r i g i n a l l y Comtean, and the p res en t
Tn the f i e l d o f economics, Comte f o llo w e d the school o f Pmith, Ri­
cardo and Pentham, whom he commended f o r t h e i r r e a l i s t i c approach. Pe
became acquainted with t h e i r t h e o r i e s p r im a r ilv through t h e i r French
p o p u la r iz e r , J . - P . Pay, and he accented the l a t t e r ' s o r i g i n a l co n trib u ­
t i o n t o economics, i . e . , the n otio n o f immaterial products. Tt should
not be b e l i e v e d , however, t h a t Comte was e n t i r e l y under the i n f l u e n c e
o f the economists .iust mentioned.
As i t has been pointed o u t , 1 he never
accepted t h e i r p r i n c i p l e of l a i s s e z - ^ a i r e .
This app ra is al of the Comtean sour ces w i l l be terminated by i n d i ­
c a t i n g the p s y c h o l o g i c a l p r e d e c e s s o r s of t h i s p h il oso p h er. Comte's
psychology i s e s s e n t i a l l y e c l e c t i c .
Tt combines the fundamental p r i n ­
c i p l e s o f the s e n s a t i o n a l i s t s , Locke, Pume and Con dillac, with the
t h e o r i e s of the French p h y s i o - p s y c h o l o g i s t s of the end of the e ig h te en th
and beginning o f the n in e te e nt h c e n t u r i e s , Cabanis, P r c u s s a is , Pichat
and P e s t u t t de Tracy, and with t h e d o c t r i n e o f th e p h r e n o l o g i s t s , Call
and Ppurzheim. To the French s c i e n t i s t s * he owes h i s p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e
toward mental phenomena.
All t h e s e men re f u se d to b u i l d t h e i r system
on an on tolo gy, and remained w it hin the l i m i t of ex p erience. Cabanis,
as the founder c f p h y s io - p s y c h o lo g y , e s p e c i a l l y in f lu en ced Comte. Pe
s t u d i e d the p h y s i o l o g i c a l b a s i s o f s e n s a t i o n and th e r e l a t i o n s o f the
p h y s i c a l o r g a n i z a t io n t o f a c u l t i e s , and he advanced t h e theory of i n ­
nateness of f a c u l t i e s .
P r o u s s a is made an e q u a l l y important c o n t r i b u t i o n to Comtism. Re
f o ll o w e d in Cabanis' f o o t s t e p s , and s t u d i e d the o r i g i n of mental a c t i v ­
ity.
Re held t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l phenomena were of a nervous nature,
thereby making philosophy dependent upon p h y s io lo g y .
This c o n t r ib u t i o n
a c q u i r e s i t s f u l l meaning when i t i s remembered that the whole s tr u c t u r e
o f Do s i t i v i s m i s er ected on the p r i n c i p l e o f i d e n t i t y of nature of a l l
t h e s c i e n c e s . P e s t u t t de Tracy prepared the Comtean s o c i a l psychology
by studying s o c i a l f e e l i n g s ,
p.‘
The
Encyclopaedia Britannico
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Cpurzheim i s rated as a charlatan today, but Ca ll s t i l l has the
r e p u t a t i o n o f having been an outstanding an at omis t. U n fortu n ately,
Comte adopted only the p e r i s h a b l e Dart of h i s system.
Other t h i n k e r s might be added to t h i s already long l i s t of Comtean
s o u r c e s , but t h o s e al re ady considered are the n h i l c s c r h e r s who made
v i t a l c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o Comtism. The o t h e r s did not ao p r e c ia b ly add to
the general a s p e ct o f the system.
With t h i s l a s t remark, the study of t h e Comtean s o u r c e s comes to
a close.
Tt i s time now t o proceed with th e e v a l u a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s m
and i t s founder.
PfiPT
T7/0
I M T E P P P E T 4 T I ON
I NTRODUCT ION
The s a l i e n t e v e n t s of Comtek l i f e have been narr ate d, h i s system
has been o u t l i n e d , and i t s sources have been t r a c e d . Poth Comte the
man, and h i s p h iloso ph y, provoked the p a s s i o n a t e comments which a per­
s o n a l i t y so marked and a system so e x t e n s i v e and r i g i d were bound to
excite.
Comte died e i g h t y yea rs ago.
Time has dimmed t h e l o v e and hatred
which he fomented, and has given the proper p e r s p e c t i v e which reason
needed f o r a more i m p artial e s t im a t e o f the n h i lo so p h e r and th e p h i ­
loso phy.
An attempt w i l l be made here t o weigh both the man and h i s work.
The arduousness o f t h i s assignment i s f u l l y understood. Fpual f a i r n e s s
in c r i t i c i s m and in p r a i s e i s always d i f f i c u l t ; but in the pres ent c a s e
i t seems almost i m p o s s i b l e .
Comte was dogmatic; he was convinced that
he held the only a v a i l a b l e t r u t h , and he accepted no d e v i a t i o n in h i s
d iscip les.
Anyone who did not accept u n c o n d i t i o n a l l y the system in i t s
i n t e g r i t y was branded with the name of a p o s t a t e , a n a r c h is t or metaphysi­
cian.
No compromise, no matter how s l i g h t , was t o l e r a t e d .
As d i f f e r e n c e
of o pin io n aroused h i s i r e and scorn, i t aroused antagonism and b i a s in
the d iss e n te r .
Comte’ s death did not change th e s i t u a t i o n , because he poured h i s
whole ego i n t o h i s p hiloso p hy. His s p e c t r e i s f o r e v e r p res en t t o the
r e a d e r , and an unprejudiced and open e v a l u a t i o n o f the p r i n c i p l e s of
P o s i t i v i s m s t i l l ta k es th e asDect o f a duel with the man. Pecause of
t h e d i c t a t o r i a l and dogmatic a t t i t u d e o f the "master," one i s confronted
with a dilemma: one i s tempted e i t h e r t o accept t h e most ou t la n d is h
d e d u c t io n s f o r the sake o f some sound n o t i o n s , or t o r e j e c t h i s whole
system.
With a f u l l c o n s c io u s n e s s o f th e p i t f a l l s p res en te d by the
un dertaking, an attempt w i l l be made here t o judge P o s i t i v i s m and i t s
founder as th ey would have been judged i f Comte had i n v i t e d and wel­
comed c r i t i c i s m .
Another s e t of d i f f i c u l t i e s w i l l a l s o be encountered, and t h e s e
have a d i f f e r e n t o r i g i n from those p r e v i o u s l y mentioned. The problem
i s one o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f Comte’ s thought. He was a rapid and pro­
l i f i c w r i t e r . Driven by h i s c r e a t i v e impetus, he wrote on every p o s s i b l e
s u b j e c t , and, impelled by h i s d e s i r e f o r thoroughness, he exhausted h i s
top ic.
As a consecuence, he at tim es l o s t h i s b e a r i n g s , and made s t a t e ­
ments which, although sound i n d i v i d u a l l y from the p o i n t of view of common
-157-
-1P 8-
s e n s e , wsre in c o n t r a d i c t i o n to some o f the most important p o i n t s in
h i s system.
Tt i s n eces sary, in f a i r n e s s to Comte, t o d is c r im in a t e
among h i s u t t e r a n c e s . Of any given p a ir p.f c o n t r a d i c t o r y sta tem en ts
which he made, i t i s obvious t h a t one r e p r e s e n t s 1 h i s r e a l thought and
must be rated as such, while the o t h e r must be consider ed as a propo­
s i t i o n which sli p p e d in at an unguarded moment. The commentator i s
u n f a i r u n l e s s he e x e r c i s e s t h i s type of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n .
Positivism, and i t s founder have been the s u b j e c t o f a grea t many
treatises.
Almost every man who wrote on s c i e n c e , s o c i o l o g y , p o l i t i c a l
economy or philosophy during the l a s t s e v e n t y - f i v e y e a r s , e s p e c i a l l y in
France, has given h i s opinion concerning ComteTs theory on th e s p e c i f i c
p o in t he was t r e a t i n g , and th ere i s , in ccnseauence, a superabundance
o f comments. These are not a l l of eoual v alu e, however, and only those
w i l l be mentioned here which, in the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s op in ion , re presen t
an o r i g i n a l c o n t r i b u t i o n .
The commentators may be ranged in two groups: t h o se that belong
d e f i n i t e l y t o the nin ete e nth cent ury, and t h o se t h at are more modern.
Those o f th e f i r s t group are e i t h e r contemporaries o f Comte, or belong
t o t h e g en eration which immediately f ollo wed h i s .
Among them are the
orthodox P o s i t i v i s t s : Dr. P o b i n e t , 9 J. Lonchampt,9 Pr. G. Au d iffre n t,
P. L a f f i t t e , 4 Viss V a r t i n e a u , 5 Pr. J. H. F r i d g e s , 6 Pr. Harrison and
P.- Congreve; the d i s s i d e n t P o s i t i v i s t s , F. L i t t r £ , 7 John Ftuart V i l l , "
3.
H. L e w e s , 9 and t h e in d e p e n d e n t b u t i n i m i c a l p h i l o s o p h e r s *
H e rb er t
Gpencer,10 Thomas Pu x le y ,11 J. P i s k e ^ a n d Herman G r u b e r , 1" t h e m o u t h p i e c e
of the C a th o lic s.
Gecond, t h e r e are t h o s e who became i n t e r e s t e d in P o s i t i v i s m at the
turn o f the century and are s t i l l so today— the moderns. Vost of th ose
who w i l l be mentioned here belong t o the d i s s e n t i n g f a c t i o n or t o the
indep en den ts.
Among the independent p h i l o s o p h e r s may be c i t e d F. Caird,1
o f Gcotland, who spoke for th.e P r o t e s t a n t s ; Faguet, F o u i l l £ e ,
Alengry,
L£vy-Bru’h'l1? in France, and Le ster Ward1' in the United Gtates.
1, For an i l l u s t r a t i o n o f t h i s point, o f . pio. 277-279 below.
? . D r . R o b i n e t , Notice sur I'oeuvre et. la vie d'Auguste Comte.
T . L o n o h a m p t , Prf.cis de la vie et des A.crits i'Auguste Conte.
. P. L a f f i t t e , a r t i o l e s i n t h e Revue. Orientale. •
H . M a r t i n e a u , The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte.,
g. Dr. J.-H.-Briases, The Unity of Comte's Lif e and doctrine.
7.
F . L i t t r d , Auguste Comte et la philosophie Positive.
S.
J o h n S t u a r t V i l l , Auguste Comte and P
o s i t i v i s m .
' 9 , ■ G. H . L e w e s , History of Philosophy; Comte's Philosophy of the Sciences.
1 0 . H e r b e r t S p e i o e r , The Classification of the Sciences; Reasons for dissenting from
the Philosophy of V. Comte; The Genesis of Science.
.
. TSf
1 1 . T h o m a s H u x l e y . The S c i e n t i f i c Aspects o f Positivism; On the Physical Basis of Life.
1 ? . J . F i s k e , Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy.
. . .
.
,
. ■
1 9 . H . C r t t b e r , Auguste Comte, fondateur du p o $ i t i v i s m e : s a vi e , sa doctrine.
1 4 . F . C a i r d , The Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte.
i H . TT. F a S u e t , Politiaues et Horalist.es du yTTihme siecle .
1 6 . A. F o u i l l t f e , Le mouvement Positiviste.,
■,
• r.ho„ A,jaUete Comte.
1 7 . F r . 4 1 e n p r y , Fssai historique et critioue sur la sociologie chex AugusteLomte.
1 9 . L . L 6 v y - B r t t h l . The Philosophy of Auguste Comte.
1 9 . L e s te r Ward, dynamic Sociology.
9.
a
s.
se n s e , were in c o n t r a d i c t i o n t o seme o f th e most important p o i n t s in
h i s system.
Tt i s n ec es sa ry , in f a i r n e s s to Comte, t o d i s c r im in a te
among h i s u t t e r a n c e s .
Of any given p a ir o f c o n t r a d i c t o r y statements
which he made, i t i s obvious t h a t one r e p r e s e n t s 1 h i s r e a l thought and
must be rated as such, while the ot h e r must be co n sid ere d as a propo­
s i t i o n which s l ip p e d in at an unguarded moment. The commentator i s
u n f a i r u n l e s s he e x e r c i s e s t h i s type o f d i s c r i m i n a t i o n .
P o s i t i v i s m and i t s founder have been t h e s u b j e c t o f a grea t many
treatises.
Almost every man who wrote on s c i e n c e , s o c i o l o g y , p o l i t i c a l
economy or philosophy during the l a s t s e v e n t y - f i v e y e a r s , e s p e c i a l l y in
Prance, has given h i s opinion concerning Comte's theory on the s p e c i f i c
p o in t he was t r e a t i n g , and t h e r e i s , in ecnseauence, a superabundance
o f comments. These are not a l l o f eoual v a lu e , however, and only those
w i l l be mentioned here which, in the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s op in ion , re p re sen t
an o r i g i n a l c o n t r ib u t i o n .
The commentators may be ranged in two groups: t h o s e that belong
d e f i n i t e l y t o the nin etee nth century, and t h o s e that are more modern.
Those o f the f i r s t group are e i t h e r contemporaries o f Comte, or belong
t o the g en er ation which immediately foll ow e d h i s .
Among them are the
orthodox P o s i t i v i s t s : Dr. P o b i n e t , 9 J. Lonchampt,8 Pr. 3. Aud iffre nt,
P. L a f f i t t e , 4 Viss V a r t i n e a u , 5 Pr. J. H. F r i d g e s , 6 Tr . Harrison and
P. Congreve; the d i s s i d e n t P o s i t i v i s t s , F. L i t t r £ , 7 John Ftuart V i l l ,
3. H. L ew es ,9 and the independent but i n i m i c a l p hilosophers * Herbert
Fpencer,10 Thomas Huxley,11 J. ^ i s k e ^ a n d Herman Cruber,1’" the mouthpiece
of the C a t h o l i c s .
Cecond, t h e r e are t h o se who became i n t e r e s t e d in P o s i t i v i s m at the
turn o f th e century and are s t i l l so to d ay— t h e moderns. Vost of th ose
who w i l l be mentioned here belong t o the d i s s e n t i n g f a c t i o n or t o the
independents.
Among the independent p h i l o s o p h e r s may be c i t e d F. Caird,14
o f Ccotland, who spoke for the P r o t e s t a n t s ; Faguet, F o u i l l ‘6e, Alengry,
Llvy-Friih'l19 in Trance, and Les ter l a r d 1' in t h e United Htates.
1 , f o r an i l l u s t r a t i o n of t h i s p o in t, o f. ptj. 277-279 below ,
p. Dr. R o b inet, Notice sur I 'oeuvre et la vie d 'Auguste Comte.
S. 7. Lonohampt, Prf.cis de la vie et des J.crit.s d'Auguste Comte.
P. L a f f i t t e , a r t i o l e s in th e Revue Orientale. ■
m. H. M artiae au , The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte._
s . D r. J . H. B rid g e s,
The Unity of Comte's Li f e and Loctrme.
7.
K. L i t t r 4, Auguste
Comte et- la philosophie posit ive.
9 . John S tu a rt V i l l , Auguste Comte and Positivism.
9 . G. H. Lewes, History o f Philosophy; Comte's Philosophy o f t h e c i e n c e s .
10.
H e rb e rt Spenoer, The Cl as si f i cat i on of the Sciences; Reasons for Ttssenting
from
the Philosophy of V. Comte; The Genesis of Science.
.
.
, ...
I t . Thomas Huxley. The S c i e n t i f i c Aspects o f Positivism; On the Physical Basis of Life.
IP . J . f i s k e , Outlines
of Cosmic Philosophy.
. . .
.
, . .
15. H. Grflber, Auguste
Comte, fondateur du positivisme.: sa v i e, sadoctrine.
Ik . m. C a ird , The Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte.
1. 5 . If. f a s u e t , Politiaues et Horalist.es du yiYibme sikcle.
1 6 . A. f o u i l l tf e , Le mouvement Pos i t i vi s t e.
. ,
.
,
Comte
1-7 . f r . A lenpry, Vssai
historique et critique sur la sociologie chexAuguste Co te.
IS .
L. L S w -B rn h l.
The
Philosophy of Auguste Conte.
1 9 . L e s te r Ward, Vynamic Sociology.
-1 P 0 _
Tt should be mentioned t h at P r o f e s s o r H. C o u h i e r , 1 o f L i l l e Uni­
v e r s i t y , has undertaken the p u b l i c a t i o n of a most complete and im par tia l
study o f t h e o r i g i n s o f P o s i t i v i s m , in connec tion with a biography of
Comte’ s youth.
As he reproduces a l l the documents p e r t a i n i n g t o the
s u b j e c t , i t seems c l e a r t h a t h i s work, when completed, w i l l be the f i n a l
a u t h o r it y on the s u b j e c t .
The f i r s t part of the pre sen t c r i t i q u e w i l l be devoted t o Comte the
man, and the second to h i s phil oso ph y.
Tt should be made p l a i n at the
o u t s e t t h a t the i n v e s t i g a t o r has a genuine admiration for Comte. His
e n c y c lo p e d ic knowledge, combined with h i s d eter min atio n t o improve the
c o n d i t i o n of mankind, g i v e s him a claim t o true g r e a t n e s s . P i s eru d i ­
t i o n was stupendous. Pe was pri m aril y a mathematician, but he was a l s o
ve rs ed in a l l the oth er ex act s c i e n c e s .
Pe had an e x t e n s i v e knowledge
o f h i s t o r y and economics. Pe knew Latin , and he read four modern l a n ­
guages. Po f i e l d o f human endeavor was f o r e i g n to him. I t i s with truth
t hat Vaurras9 sa id t h a t h i s u n iv e r s a l e r u d i t i o n was comparable in range
only t o th a t o f the Renaissance Humanists, and t h a t he was the l a s t
r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of t h e i r gr ea t t r a d i t i o n .
Comte assigned h i m s e l f a Titanesaue task when he was twenty years
o l d , and he worked u n t i r i n g l y for t h i r t y - n i n e y e a r s to bring i t to com­
pletion.
Death alon e made him stop h i s unceasing l ab or. Pe never a l ­
lowed any i n t e r f e r e n c e frQm without, and he never compromised with b i s
i d e a l s . He planned th e r e g e n e r a t io n o f Humanity, and, although one may
not approve of h i s method in every r e s p e c t , one has to admit that he
brought f o r t h a complete and s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g system.
Comte w i l l f i r s t be evaluate d as a w r i t e r , s i n c e i t i s in t h i s
c a p a c i t y t h a t t h e reader f i r s t encounters him. Then he w i l l be ap­
p r a is e d as a p h i l o s o p h e r . L a s t l y , an a n a l y s i s w i l l be made of variou s
problems d ealin g with Comteana.
1. W. G o a h i er , La ieunesse J'Auguste Comte.
Romantisme et Revolution, V o l . I l l ,
9 . Ch. Maurraa,
p.
1P7.
3 0 OK
I
CpVITE
CHAPTER
The
I
W riter
Comte’ s s t y l e w i l l f i r s t be con sid er ed here, and then h i s method
o f e x p o s i t i o n . Of h i s s t y l e , Faguet1 s a id t h a t i t had "no name in any
la n g u a g e." Although t h i s c r i t i c did not expect h i s words to be taken
l i t e r a l l y , he expressed w ell the f e e l i n g s of one f i r s t dipping in to
Comte.8
The s e n te n c e s are overload ed with words.
The French language allows
t h e use of m o d if ie r s both b e f o r e and a f t e r nouns.
A v a ilin g h im s elf of
t h i s advantage, Comte pre cedes each s u b s t a n t i v e by two a d j e c t i v e s , such
as " c o l l e c t i v e " and " i n d iv id u a l," - a n d f o l l o w s i t by two more, such as
"spontaneous" and " s y s t e m a t ic ." In a d d it io n t o t h i s p le t h o r a c f modi­
f i e r s , the Comtean s e n ten ce i s r e p l e t e with long adverbs ending in -merit
and with a b s t r a c t nouns ending in - i o n , and b u r s t i n g with i n c i d e n t a l
clauses.
As a ccnseauence, th e word-laden s e n t e n c e s are long and i l l sounding, and they repel even the most a t t e n t i v e rea d er .
Comte’ s s t y l e a l s o conveys an impression o f s t r a n g e n e s s , due to the
unusual a c c e p t a t i o n s which he g i v e s t o words. The l e * a l aspe ct of a s c i ­
ence, with him, i s not what the reader might surmise from the common
meaning- of the word l e i a l .
Tt i s the branch of the s c i e n c e which dea ls
with i t s laws fin the s c i e n t i f i c a c c e p t a t i o n of the t erm l. The ex pres ­
s i o n , "vu la commune i n s u 1>f i s a n c e i e s m o t i f s l e t a u x , ' ® does not mean
"owing to the usual inadequacy of l e g a l m o t i v e s ," but "owing to the
gen er al d e f i c i e n c y o f ex p la n a tio n by s c i e n t i f i c la w s ." The "Polytechnic
s p o l i a t i o n " 4 i s h i s d i s m i s s a l from th e f a c u l t y o f h i s Alma Vater.
Comte d i s l i k e d r e f e r r i n g t o i n d i v i d u a l s by t h e i r proper names-; he
p r e f e r r e d p e r i p h r a s e s , such as "the most p h i l o s o p h i c a l o f the great
geometers"5 f o r D e s c a r t e s . Pe never used c l i c h e s or current e x p r e s s io n s .
The b ridge over the S ein e, Do n t - N e u f , 6 has been c a l l e d by that name for
at l e a s t two c e n t u r i e s ; y e t Comte, without any apparent d e s i r e t o change
i t s name, c a l l s i t "Do n t - P o u v e a u . " This i s one example among many.
1 . X. Waguet,
"A ususte Comte e t I. S tu a r t V i l l , "
Revue, p ol i t i que et
l i t t t . r a i r e,
srfrie
’ 9 . C om te's wor&s a re much more re a d a b le in t h e i r B nfflish v e r s io n th a n i n th e o r i g i n a l ,
b eo au se th e t r a n s l a t o r s a id no t h e s i t a t e t o l ig h te n h i s s t y l e . S e v e n ty -fiv e y e a rs a p a rt
and in d i f f e r e n t la n g u a g e s, two p h ilo s o p h e rs have . i u s t i f i e d th e same s t r i c t u r e s f o r t h e i r
s t y l e : Comte and John Dewey.
S. Synth, i p. 95.
4. Pol. * TT, p. v i.
5.
Synth. ,
p.
196.
6 . Ch. V a u rras,
oP.
cit.,
p . t?C.
-
190-
-1P 1-
Comte o f ten re f u se d t o employ t h e accepted term in ology of the
sciences.
He exp lain ed h i s rea son s f o r depar ting from convention in
a l e t t e r t o h is childhood f r i e n d 1 : "You have no id ea o f the d i f f i c u l t y
which I f in d in e x p r e s s i n g such new c o n c e p t i o n s .
I am c o n s t a n t l y h in ­
dered by the need of new e x p r e s s i o n s , f r e e from t h e o l o g i c a l and meta­
p h y s i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s . " His reason b eing what i t may, the f a c t remains
t h at absence of ready-made e x p r e s s i o n s adds to t h e d i f f i c u l t y of under­
standing s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r i e s .
As t h e s e s t r i c t u r e s
s t a t i n g t h a t Comte wrote
gen iu s, while carrying a
the n i c e t i e s of p o l i s h e d
have w r it t e n at a l l .
may appear u n f a i r , they should be so ft e n e d by
under the driving, impetus o f h i s c r e a t i v e
heavy t e a c h i n g lo ad . Had he not disregarded
w r i t i n g , as he s ays h i m s e l f , 8 he would not
This c r i t i c i s m o f s t y l e r e f e r s t o the Dours in p a r t i c u l a r . When
Comte wrote the P o l i t i a u e , he had heard o f the co m plain ts o f the reading
p u b l i c , and he t r i e d a c c o r d in g ly to sho rten h i s s e n t e n c e s . Hence the
s t y l e of the P o l i t i s u e i s l e s s f o r b id d i n g .
As f o r th e Opuscul es, they
were w r i t t e n when time and i n s p i r a t i o n were not so p r e s s i n g , and t h e i r
s t y l e i s vigorous and c l e a r .
Tt should not be i n f e r r e d , e i t h e r , t h a t Comte was incapable of
a t t a i n i n g l i t e r a r y beautv.
He had won p r i z e s in p u b l i c sneaking and
French composition in h i s youth, and he could always e x p res s h im s elf
with e a s e .
When he was c a r r i e d away by a sweet emotion, l a t e r in l i f e ,
p o e t i c a l e x p r e s s i o n s came f o r t h n a t u r a l l y , and most o f h i s maxims are
gems worthy of i n c l u s i o n in a n t h o l o g i e s .
After e v alu ati n g h i s s t y l e , i t i s n eces sary t o c r i t i c i z e h i s method
o f e x p o s i t i o n . His works are s u r p r i s i n g l y la c k i n g in smoothness. When
once s t a r t e d on a pet idea , he could not l e t i t go, and kept returning,
t o i t when away from i t .
Hence h i s w r i t i n g s are teeming with r e p e t i ­
t i o n s and d i g r e s s i o n s . One source of t h i s t r o u b l e i s t h a t he wrote as
i f he were l e c t u r i n g .
A speaker i s o b v i o u s l y allowed mere freedom than
a treatise-w riter.
The l e c t u r e r may emphasize important p o i n t s of h i s
d o c t r i n e by c o n s id e r a b le r e p e t i t i o n and d i g r e s s i o n , but a w r i t e r i s
expected t o gi ve a more' c o n v e n t io n a l and s y s t e m a t i c e x p o s i t i o n of h i s
theories.
He must emphasize the important p o i n t s o f h i s system by
f o r c e f u l language and not by r e p e t i t i o n s .
Comte, u n f o r t u n a t e l y , did
not p e r c e i v e the d i f f e r e n c e between t h e two typ es o f e x p o s i t i o n .
t.
p.
Let tres h Valat, December
Pol., I, p re fa c e , p. 7.
l9 ?4 , t>. 159. Dewey made th e same sta te m e n t,
-19?-
I t must a l s o be remembered t h a t he pu blish ed h i s works s e r i a l l y ,
sometimes l e t t i n g s e v e r a l y e a r s e l a p s e between the p r i n t i n g of two
p a r t s , and t h a t he did not compose a tome u n t i l he was ready t o send
i t t o the p r e s s . N atu rally enough, h i s id e a s underwent some changes
between the v a r io u s i n s t a l l m e n t s of t h e s e works. In some c a s e s they
became more d e f i n i t e , while in o t h e r s th ey were m a t e r i a l l y a l t e r e d ,
i s a r e s u l t , every time he wrote a new volume o f one o f h i s main
t r e a t i s e s , he f e l t impelled t o d e f i n e more a c c u r a t e l y , or t o modify,
t h e t h e o r i e s which he had expressed in t h e preceding tome. This method
o f work e x p l a i n s why the reader does not f in d a complete e x p o s i t i o n of
th e general p r i n c i p l e s and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f p o s i t i v e philosophy in
t h e prolegomena of h i s works. The stu den t has to glean th ose as he
pushes h i s way through the numerous tomes.
Tt mav a l s o be mentioned
i n passing t h a t the student of po s i t i v i s m has to have a most i n t r i c a t e
system of f i l e s .
These d e f e c t s of e x p o s i t i o n render the peru sa l of
Comte’ s works d i f f i c u l t and t ir e s o m e .
CHAPTER
T he
I|
P h il o s o p h e r
This chapter w i l l c o n s i s t o f d e s t r u c t i v e c r i t i c i s m , so far as most
of i t s statements are concerned.
I t w i l l i n d i c a t e the p s y c h o lo g ic a l
c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Comte which, in the w r i t e r ’ s e s t i m a t i o n , ex p la in the
f la w s o f h i s system. That pc s i t i v i s m has f l a w s , nobody doubts. I t had
one aim: s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n . Fven th e most ardent supporters of the
d o c t r i n e have admitted th a t s o c i a l reform along P o s i t i v i s t i c l i n e s i s
not l i k e l y t o take p l a c e . The re fore , the e x i s t e n c e of errors in con­
c e p t io n i s to be assumed, and i t i s planned here to t r a c e t h e i r source
t o Comte’ s type of mind. Vest of them may be exp lained by Comte’ s tem­
perament and the p e c u l i a r c a s t of h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e . F i r s t t o be ana­
lyze d w i l l be t h o se which sprang from temperamental t r a i t s .
The c h i e f source of e rro r, in the .judgement of the i n v e s t i g a t o r ,
l a y in Comte's dogmatism. Pe e r e c t e d th e l a t t e r i n t o a p r i n c i p l e 1:
D o g m a t is m i s t h e n o r m a l s t a t e o f human i n t e l l i g e n o e an 3 t h a t
t o w a r d w h ic h i t t e n d s , by i t s n a t u r e , c o n t i n u o u s l y and i n a l l
f i e l d s , e v e n when i t se e m s t o be away fro m i t .
S k ep ticism is
o n l y a te m p o r a r y c r i s i s w h ic h i n e v i t a b l y r e s u l t s from th e i n ­
t e l l e c t u a l i n t e r r e g n u m w h i c h o c c u r s e v e r y t i m e t h a t t h e human
mind i s c a l l e d t o c h a n g e d o c t r i n e . I t i s , a t t h e same t i m e , an
in d is p e n s a b le in stru m e n t used e i t h e r by th e in d iv id u a l or the
s p e c i e s t o p e r m it t h e t r a n s i t i o n from one d o g m a tism t o a n o t h e r
and t h a t c o n s t i t u t e s t h e f u n d a m e n t a l u t i l i t y o f d o u b t.
When Comte u t te r e d t h e s e words, he was only tr y in g t c . j u s t i f y a
b l i n d urge of h i s nature. Fag u e t ? claimed r i g h t l y that Comte was a
combination of ’’th e p reco ciou s c h i l d , the P o l u t e c h n i c i e n and the
t e a c h e r , " and t h at t h e s e th ree a s p e c t s of h i s ch ara ct er made for con­
summate dogmatism.
On analyzing t h i s a s s e r t i v e a t t i t u d e f u r t h e r , one f in d s four e l e ­
ments in i t : f i r s t , a l o v e o f d e f i n i t e and c l e a r op in ion s, r e in f o r c e d
by an i n n a te and v i o l e n t a v ers io n f o r Pyrrhonism of any type; second,
a tendency to draw h ast y and sweeping g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s from scan ty data,
t h i s p ro p en sit y being in accordance with h i s d e s i r e to l i m i t observa­
t i o n 4 ; t h i r d , a bli nd f a i t h in the soundness o f h i s own reasoning powers
( a f t e r Comte had once formed an o p i n io n , he never c o n s c io u s l y changed i t
th e f a c t t h a t he was the author of i t guaranteed i t s truth in h i s eyes ,
? ! “^ u PetP;
$olitiQties et
4. Cf. pp. 44-4E above.
Moraliste.s
rlu
VlYibme si>cle,
Vol. I I , p
-194-
and he n e v e r f e l t t h e nee d t o r e t u r n t o e x p e r i e n c e f o r new e v i d e n c e ) ;
fourth,
a blin d fa ith
in t e l e o l o g i c a l
determinism.
t h a t t h e p r e s e n t was d e t e r m i n e d bv t h e p a s t ,
Comte c o n t e n d e d
w it h a d e f i n i t e f u t u r e as
an end; t h e r e f o r e t h i n g s c o u l d not be but as t h e y were.
fa ta listic
attitu d e,
it
w i l l be s e e n l a t e r ,
This c u a s i -
e f f e c t i v e l y counterbalanced
h i s b e l i e f in t h e e v o l u t i o n a l r e l a t i v i t y o f human n o t i o n s .
I t seem s t h a t t h e s e c o n d major c a u s e o f f a i l u r e i s t o be a s c r i b e d
t o Comte’ s l a c k o f c u r i o s i t y .
b lin d s."
He went through l i f e
v o l u n t a r i l y "wearing
Pe knew t h a t t h e s e s h u t away from him a p a r t o f r e a l i t y ;
but,
a s he had s u c c e e d e d in p e r s u a d i n g h i m s e l f t h a t what he d i d no t s e e was
not worth s e e i n g ,
he d i d n o t f e e l
g e n ita l lack of c u r i o s i t y
sa tisfied
t h e d e s i r e t o remove them.
This con­
a c c o u n t s f o r h i s c o n v i c t i o n t h a t man c o u l d be
with a o u e s t f o r t h e ho’v and not f o r t h e why.
the nature of p o s i t i v e p h ilosop h y,
reference w ill
In a n a l y z i n g
a g a i n be made t o h i s
lack of c u r i o s i t y .
Another c a u s e o f f a i l u r e can be found in h i s mania f o r o r d e r ,
cla ssifica tio n
and o v e r - s i m p l i f i c a t i o n ,
tr u th fu lly h is
" s p i r i t o f m ed d li n g s y s t e m a t i z a t i o n and r e g u l a t i o n . " 1
Comte f e l t
tra it,
im pelled to s o r t ,
indeed,
what Huxley ter m s u n k i n d l y but
l a b e l and p i g e o n h o l e a l l n o t i o n s .
i n c r e a s e d w it h age and mental t r o u b l e ,
t h e l e s s p r e s e n t i n h i s e a r l y w ork s.
but i t
i s never­
Throughout h i s e n t i r e c a r e e r ,
made b i n a r y c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s b a s e d on a n t i t h e t i c d e f i n i t i o n s .
f e e l i n g s and t r e n d s were f i r s t
was e i t h e r
s c i e n c e was e i t h e r
Another t r a i t
Comte’ s f a i t h
or
etc.
e x p l a i n i n g many f l a w s i n t h e l o g i c o f P o s i t i v i s m
i n w o rd s.
and n o t h i n g e l s e ,
is
He seem s t o have b e l i e v e d i m p l i c i t l y t h a t words
always corresponded to r e a l i t i e s .
wo rds,
action
n o t i o n s were e i t h e r p r a c t i c a l
a b s t r a c t or c o n c r e t e ,
Comte
Thus,
s p o n t a n e o u s and th en s y s t e m a t i c ;
i n d i v i d u a l or c o l l e c t i v e ;
th eoretical;
This
The i d e a t h a t words might m e r e l y be
a p p e a r s n e v e r t o have o c c u r r e d t o him.
Tor
t h i s r e a s o n , h e n e v e r d o u b t e d t h a t h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s w ere t h e e x p r e s ­
sion o f fa c tu a l t r u t h s . ?
way.
This f a i t h
i n words was a p p a r e n t i n a n o t h e r
He c o u l d d e l u d e h i m s e l f i n t o t h i n k i n g t h a t he had p u r i f i e d a n o t i o n
o f a l l t h e o l o g i c a l or m e t a p h y s i c a l
cha n ge d i t s
name.
Thus,
im plications,
when he had s i m p l y
g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s 5 were u n n o s i t i v e ,
" l o g i c a l a r t i f i c e s , " h i s new name f o r them, were p o s i t i v e .
sensed th a t h i s s c i e n t i f i c
w hile
He n e v e r
la w s* were c a u s e s i n t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l s e n s e .
1. Thomas H u x l e y , ' "The S c i e n t i f i c A speots of P o s itiv is m ," in Lav Persons, pp. 170-171..
p. C f. pp. 271—272 below ,
p. C f. p p .' 47-4S above.
4. Cf. p. 277 below.
Anot her s o u r c e o f e r r o r i s t o be found i n Comte’ s l a c k o f i n t u i t i o n
or
tact.
I t may seem s t r a n g e t h a t t h e man who s t r e s s e d t h e i m p o r t a n c e
of
i n t u i t i o n t o t h e d e g r e e he did in h i s l a t e r l i f e ,
devoid of i t h im s e lf ;
should have been so
y e t such was t h e c a s e .
Comte c a r r i e d f r a n k n e s s t o a t a c t l e s s e x t r e m e .
trained
least,
in t h e e x a c t
scien ces,
L ik e most men
he had a v e n e r a t i o n f o r T r u t h , o r ,
f o r what he te rm ed t h e t r u t h .
at
"t o u t s v<£rit.4
pe did no t s e e t h a t
n ' e s t pas h o m e a l i r e . "
He did n o t d i f f e r e n t i a t e b e t w e e n s a y i n g
b u t t h e t r u t h " and s a v i n g
"the whole t r u t h , " and he did n ot s e e t h a t t h e r e
were t i m e s when s i l e n c e was b e s t .
which a c t u a l l y o r i g i n a t e d
" n ot h in g
p i s tempestuous o u tb u r sts o f s i n c e r i t y ,
i n a c h i l d i s h t a c t l e s s n e s s , we re n a t u r a l l y
a t t r i b u t e d by s t r a n g e r s t o an e n v i o u s d i s p o s i t i o n ,
and he s u c c e e d e d in
a n t a g o n i z i n g a l l t h e s c i e n t i s t s wrho were not d y e d - i n - t h e - w c o l Do s i t i v i s t s .
The f o l l o w i n g e p i s o d e w i l l
grounds.
shew that- t h e i r i l l - w i l l
Comte had a s i n c e r e r e g a r d and a f f e c t i o n f o r t h e b i o l o g i s t
P la in v ille,
who had been a f a i t h f u l
and l i f e l o n g f r i e n d ,
him a s s i s t a n c e when he was p e n n i l e s s and i n s a n e .
died,
Comte i n s i s t e d
th e ir w ishes,
he f e l t
P l a i n v i l l e
i t
h ie
b e a u t i f u l
p e r s i s t e n t l y
to
enoe
o l a 3 s i f i o a t i o n 3
su oo eed
th e
in
e n t i r e l y
be
c o o r d in a t e
as
s u o o e 3 3 i v e ly
and
an v.
by
an
.
movement
l i m i t e d
t o
a n i
g r a d u a l
t o
.
.
f o r
in v a d e d
Tn
of
o f
to
w it h r u n n i n g a g a i n s t
a
on
in
tim e ,
h is
th e
o ann ot
He
be
te n d e n c y
from
f r a n k l y
Io n *
.
.
.
t i m e , ?
.
.
.
th e
d id
.
.
w h io h
p a r t i c i p a t i n g
Thus,
a
e x te n d e d
w h ieh
had
a t
t h i s
f a t a l
d e c lin e
l a t e r
s h a l l
one
.
e x i s t no t
.
Tt
a lw a y s
i n
th e
r e t r o g r e s s i o n ,
P o s t e r i t y
mind
n e v e r
t r i e d
e x p la in e d
a
r e t r o g r a d e
He
s t r u o t u r e ,
o rg a n is m s .
r e s u l t
he
bu t
pow er.
e d u o a tio n .
3c ie n c e .
t r u t h ,
in
He began i n t h i s manner1:
m a th e m a tio a l
o e n tu r y .
a
was
l i v i n g
f a t a l
s p i r i t
p o l i t i e s
ev en
.
.
h is
d e g e n e r a t io n
.
.
o f
i m m o r t a l i t y .
n e n t
T h is
.
A re a t
g e n e r a l
ophy,
.
m is s io n
i t
t h e o r i e s
i n s u f f i c i e n t
a t t r i b u t e d
p r e v e n t s ! H h i 3
d e s p i t e the.
i m p e l l e d t o g i v e h i s r e a l e s t i m a t e o f t h e man
f e l t
aa
Yet when p l a i n v i l l e
Hot s a t i s f i e d
i n s t e a d o f pronouncing th e customary e u lo g y .
f o llo w e d
and had g i v e n
upon making a s p ee ch at h i s f u n e r a l ,
o b j e c t i o n s o f t h e dead man's f a m i l y .
must
was n e t w i t h o u t
tim 3
.
.
t o
p h i l o s ­
n o te
r e a l
l e f t
t h i s
o la im
perm a­
e tc .
Then he p r o c e e d s w i t h an a t t a c k on t h e dead man’ s p r i v a t e l i f e ,
had b e e n t h a t o f a r e t i r i n g b a c h e l o r .
and l a t e r e x p l a i n s t h a t
which
He f i r s t condemns h i s e g o t i s m ,
" h i s l a c k o f e t h i c a l o r g a n i z a t i o n " was r e ­
sp onsib le for h is f a il u r e s
in s c i e n c e . 5
The men p r e s e n t a t t h e d e ­
l i v e r y o f t h e s p e e c h were so i n d i g n a n t a t Comte’ s b e h a v i o r t h a t t h e y
1. P o l . , T, Appendix, pp. 787-74?.
8 . B l a i n v i l l e was a r o y a l i s t .
8 . Pol ., I , Appendix, p. 7 4 8 .
-1 o s left
b e f o r e he had f i n i s h e d .
Pe d id n o t r e a l i z e t h a t he was b e i n g r e ­
buked f o r h i s l a c k o f t a c t , and he a t t r i b u t e d t h e i r a c t i o n t o a meta­
p h ysical d is lik e of P ositivism .
Comte could, no t a b i d e by t h e e t h i c s o f t h e s a v a n t s '
freemasonry.
P c i e n t i s t s u s u a l l y accent, c r i t i c i s m s o f t h e i r t h e o r i e s w it h w i l l i n g n e s s ,
b u t t h e y e x p e c t t h e i r op p o ne nt t o s t a y on t h e n e u t r a l g rou nd s o f s c i e n c e
and rem a in c o u r t e o u s .
These t h i n g s Comte c o u l d n e v e r do.
t h e p r e m i s e t h a t he c o u l d n o t e r r ,
w o r d in g t o h i s s t r i c t u r e s ,
S t a r t i n g from
he gave a d o g m a t i c and u n i v e r s a l
o r d i n a r i l y i n s i n u a t i n g t h a t s uch g r o s s e r r o r s
c o u l d o n l y s p r i n g from fu n da m en ta l v i c e s
in t h e p e r s o n a l i t y o f t h e i r
creators,
and e n d in g by o p e n l y s t a t i n g t h a t t h e i r o r i g i n must l i e
p olitical
lu st
observe that
and a b s e n c e o f i n t e g r i t y . 1
At o t h e r t i m e s ,
s a v a n t s show s u p e r i o r i t y i n a s i r a l l f i e l d ,
in
he would
b u t t h a t in
e v er y o th e r r e s p e c t th ey are i n f e r i o r t o th e o r d in a r y man.?
Comte a c q u i r e d t h i s a t t i t u d e c o m p a r a t i v e l y e a r l y i n h i s c a r e e r .
Pe
a l w a y s l a c k e d t h e i n t u i t i o n which would have t a u g h t him hew t o keep in
t h e good g r a c e s c f t h e s e who c o u l d be o f s e r v i c e t o him.
a c o s t from an academv, b u t demanded i t
as h i s d u e ,"
Pe n e v e r asked
in tim a tin g at the
same t i m e t h a t he d id no t e x p e c t t o r e c e i v e h i s due from such a g r o s s l y
in cap ab le c o r p o r a t io n .4
Pe f i n a l l y l a u n c h e d an open a t t a c k a g a i n s t Arago,
who was a l l - p o w e r f u l
nique.
in the s e l e c t i o n of the
Pe c a l l s him t h e "famous merchant o f
th e astronomer,
teachersfor
theP c ly te c h -
sub.iectivep la n ets," *
s p e a k s o f t h e " d i s a s t r o u s i n f l u e n c e e x e r t e d by t h e f a i t h f u l
and
and spon­
t a n e o u s m o u t h p i e c e o f t h e p a s s i o n s and a b e r r a t i o n s common t o t h e c l a s s
which he d o m in a t ed so d e p l o r a b l y t o d a y . " ”
r e g a r d t o a n o t h e r d ep a rt m en t h ead , Do i s s o n ,
m a c h i n a t i o n s of. a p o w e r f u l s c i e n t i f i c
Pe p r o c e e d s s i m i l a r l y w it h
and a l l u d e s t o
"the sha meful
i n d i v i d u a l who w a n t s t o s a t i s f y an
ig n o b le p r iv a te resentm ent."7
The
p u b l i s h e r was s o a g h a s t a t C o m t e' s a t t a c k s i n t h e p r e f a c e o f
the l a s t
volume o f t h e Hours t h a t he
i a t e d by
b r i n g i n g s u i t a g a i n s t him. Pe won l e g a l l y ,
was c o m p e l l e d t o p r i n t
refused to p rin t i t .
h i s d i a t r i b e , b u t Comte l o s t
Comte r e t a l ­
and t h e p u b l i s h e r
the co n sid era tio n
o f t h e w ho le p r o f e s s i o n .
1 . Hours,
TV,pp.11P-119, n o te ;
VI, pp. 954-0*$, J5S5; P o l . , T, pp. 470-471; ITT, p. 51?.
p. Cours, VT, p. ?f>q. Amoni? a l l s c i e n t i s t s ,
Comte e s p e c i a ll y d i s l i k e d m ath em atician s,
whom h e accused o f tr y in d t o r u le on a l l th e sc ie n o e s .
P . Cours, VT, p . x v .i . Ibid.i V I, pp. 199, P5P-765, P79, ??1 n o te .
5. P o l . i I I , p. v i i .
S. Cours,
7.
lb i d. ,
V I, p .
VT, p.
x.
ix .
-1P7-
Pe l a c k e d t h e i n t u i t i o n
Whenever he made p r e d i c t i o n s
g u e s s e d wrong.
which g i v e s some men d e n i a l
"hunches,”
(and he made them f r e q u e n t l y ) ,
he alw ays
Pe was a c q u a i n t e d w i t h T.amarck’ s T ra n s f o rm is m ,
had m e d i t a t e d d e e p l y on t h e s u b j e c t o f e v o l u t i o n ;
and h e
y e t he m a i n t a i n e d
t h a t t h e v e g e t a b l e and a n im a l kingdoms embodied a s t a t i c h i e r a r c h y , 1
and he n e v e r s e n s e d t h e t h e o r y which was g o in g t o r e n d e r Darwin famous
a few y e a r s l a t e r .
m edicine,
He o s t r a c i s e d e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n in p h y s i o l o g y and
and d i s c o u r a g e d s c i e n t i s t s
from t h e us e o f t h e m i c r o s c o p e .
In C a l l he saw t h e p h r e n o l o g i s t and ig n o r e d t h e d i s t i n g u i s h e d
anatom ist,
and he r a t e d C u v i e r 51 as o n l y s u p e r f i c i a l .
which were b r e w in g i n Eu ro p e, he had no p r e m o n i t i o n ;
power o f t h e m a s s e s ,
no r e a l
c f . s c i e n c e , no i n k l i n g .
consciousness;
Cf t h e t r o u b l e s
o f t h e grow ing
o f the fu tu r e o r i e n t a t i o n
I t a l m o s t seems as though Comte n e v e r m i s s e d
t h e o p p o r t u n i t y c f making t h e wrong p r e d i c t i o n .
I t may app ear u n f a i r
and u n s c i e n t i f i c t o r e p r o a c h him f o r n et b e i n g a c r y s t a l - g a z e r ; b u t ,
after a ll,
a r e no t g e n i u s e s t h o s e who a n t i c i p a t e t h e d i s c o v e r i e s c f
t h e n ex t g e n e r a t i o n ?
Another c a u s e o f f a i l u r e was Comte’ s l a c k o f human u n d e r s t a n d i n g .
He b e l i e v e d t h a t t h e r e s t o f mankind was endowed w it h h i s own o b s t i n a t e
d e t e r m i n a t i o n and h u m a n i t a r i a n i d e a l s ,
incurable o p tim is t.
and, as a c o n s e q u e n c e , he was an
The f a i l u r e o f h i s r e l i g i o n ,
we a r e c o n v i n c e d ,
was
p a r t l v due t o h i s h i g h o p i n i o n o f human n a t u r e . 5
One more t r a i t
s h o u l d be m en tio n ed he re:
o f a s e n se o f humor.4
he would no t ha ve s p e n t
i t was h i s c o m p l e t e l a c k
Had he b e e n a b l e t o s e e t h e amusing s i d e o f t h i n g s ,
s o many h o u r s e l a b o r a t i n g t h e l u d i c r o u s d e t a i l s
c f some o f t h e Do s i t i v i s t i c r i t e s .
All t h e t y p e s o f e r r o r s a f o r e m e n t i o n e d sprang from te m p er am en ta l
tra its.
C o n s i d e r a t i o n must a l s o be g i v e n t o t h o s e which found t h e i r
o r i g i n in Co m te' s i n t e l l e c t .
he e n t e r e d .
com b at .
he.
At e v e r y s t e p ,
He was a r e f o r m e r i n a l l t h e f i e l d s which
he e n c o u n t e r e d i d e a s which he wanted t o
Yet no t h i n k e r was l e s s
o f a c o n t r o v e r s i a l i s t or d e b a t e r th an
He d id n ot a t t e m p t t o r e f u t e t h e n o t i o n s which he wanted t o d e s t r o y .
Pv s i m p l y s t a t i n g t h a t t h e y b e l o n g e d t o t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l o r t h e o l o g i c a l
era,
he t h o u g h t t h a t he had e f f e c t i v e l y
d i s p o s e d o f them.
words5:
i . O f. pp.
above.
p . Pol,, I , " p . 5 9 9 .
S. C f . p p . 8 0 2 - 3 0 8 b e l o w .
. . .
a, John S t u a r t V i l l , iwust.e Comte, and Positivism,
S. Le t t r es h f al at , S e p t e m b e r 9, 1.994, p. 1 4 4 .
p.
1M .
I n h i s own
The h a b i t o f r e d a r i i n d as i n e x i a t e n t a l l t h e a t t e m p t s whioh
p r e o e d e i t h e a d v e n t of p o s i t i v e a e i e n o e i s v e r v r e a s o n a b l e .
Taki ng s uoh a t t e m p t s i n t o e o n a i d e r a t i o n woul d o n l y h i n d e r t he
p r o g r e s s of 9 o i e n t i a t s .
Per t h i s r e a s o n ,
o f God,
a l t h o u g h h i s whole p h i l o s o p h y r e s t e d on t h e a s s u m p t i o n o f h i s
n on -existen ce.
term inism .1
that
he n e v e r found i t n e c e s s a r y t o r e f u t e t h e e x i s t e n c e
He n e v e r d e m o n s t r a t e d t h e e x i s t e n c e o f u n i v e r s a l d e­
The t h e o r y o f p r o b a b i l i t y 5 he d i s m i s s e d w i t h t h e s t a t e m e n t
" its s t e r i l i t y
was o b v i o u s , " and l e t
it
Debates are in v a lu a b le to the th in k e r ,
i s t e s t e d by t h e i r a b i l i t y
go a t t h a t .
b e c a u s e t h e worth c f i d e a s
t o w i t h s t a n d argu men t.
A t h i n k e r who r e f u s e s
t o p r o v e h i s p o i n t by measuring i t w it h t h a t o f h i s o p p o n e n t ,
not o n l y
l e a v e s t h e l e t t e r ’ s s t r e n g t h undau nt ed, b u t a l s o f a i l s t o t e s t h i s own.
He i s l i k e l y
first
t o r e t a i n e r r o n e o u s i d e a s which would h av e succumbed a t t h e
co n flict,
or t h e o r i e s t h a t c o n t a i n d e f e c t s i n l o g i c .
t o engage in d i s c u s s i o n ,
Fy r e f u s i n g
Comte r e t a i n e d many unsound n o t i o n s ,
and some
p r i n c i p l e s which were m u t u a l l y e x c l u s i v e /
His la c k o f i n t e r e s t
i n m e t a p h y s i c a l a u e s t i o n s was c l o s e l y a l l i e d
to h is lack of d i a l e c t i c a l
h is
system v u l n e r a b l e . 4
modern,
He
and h i s i g n o r a n c e in such m a t t e r s made
Ccmte had re a d t h e p h i l o s o p h e r s ,
b u t he had re a d them
had s t u d i e d
th eir
sense,
a n c i e n t and
for th e ir extra-m etaphysical
conceptions.
A r i s t o t l e f o r h i s t h e o r i e s c o n c e r n i n g t h e s c i e n c e s and
cla ssifica tio n ,
and above a l l f o r h i s n o t i o n s o f s o c i a l r e f o r m .
He knew Paeon a s t h e pro po und er of t h e i n d u c t i v e method i n s c i e n c e ,
and
D e s c a r t e s as t h e c r e a t o r o f a n a l y t i c a l geo m et ry and t h e p h i l o s o p h e r o f
m athem atics.
Ag f o r P a n t ,
i t h a s a l r e a d y been s t a t e d F t h a t h e b a r e l y
knew him.
Another s o u r c e o f e r r o r ,
of
logical
sense.
i t s ee m s ,
is
t o be found i n Comte’ s l a c k
D ri v en by h i s c r e a t i v e u r g e ,
mankind b e t t e r and h a p p i e r t h a t he p a i d l i t t l e
c o n s t r u c t io n c f h i s system.
T irst,
As a r e s u l t ,
he was s c b u sy making
a t t e n t i o n to the l o g i c a l
he made two t y p e s o f m i s t a k e s .
he made unsound s y l l o g i s t i c d e m o n s t r a t i o n s .
?e did not
d e f i n e and l i m i t b e f o r e h a n d t h e terms which he was u s i n g /
words w hic h had s e v e r a l a c c e p t a t i o n s ,
cep tation
1.
He employed
and he d i d n o t u s e t h e same a c ­
in the th r e e p r o p o s it io n s o f the s y l l o g i s m .
He a l s o had
O f . P» 2 7 7 b e l o w .
p. Fynt'h., p.' xxi;
4 ! C o m t e , f o r i n s t a n c e , n e v e r d i s t i n g u i s h e d b e t w e e n t h e " s c i e n t i f i c ” o a u s e and t h e
" m e t a p h v s i o a l " o a u s e . O f. p p . ' 2 7 5 —27 8 b e l o w .
O f . n n . 1 7 ? , 17? a b o v e .
.
.
.
- ?i' H i s l o o s e e m p lo y m e n t o f t h e word "law" i s an e x a m p l e o f t h i s t e n d e n c y , o r , p p .
260-261 below.
_1 op_
propositions of d iffe r e n t values.
n e i t h e r sound nor v a l i d ,
As a c o n s e o u e n c e , h i s d e d u c t i o n s a re
Second, h e used t h e d e d u c t i v e method o f d e m o n s t r a t i o n when t h e i n ­
d u c t i v e a l o n e was p e r m i s s i b l e .
In stead o f using the in d u c tiv e f i r s t ,
and t h en em plo yi ng t h e d e d u c t i v e f o r g e n e r a l i z a t i o n and v e r i f i c a t i o n ,
he was o f t e n c o n t e n t w it h t h e d e d u c t i v e a l o n e .
d e m o n s t r a t e d ab a b s t ^ a c t o t h a t c e r t a i n
In o t h e r words, he
t h i n g s must t a k e p l a c e ,
and he
d i d n e t go t o e x p e r i e n c e t o f i n d o u t w het he r h i s s u r m i s e s were r i g h t . 1
T h is e x c e s s i v e u s e o f d e d u c t i o n may be s a t i s f a c t o r i l y e x p l a i n e d by
t h e f a s t t h a t Comte was p r i m a r i l y a m a t h e m a t i c i a n ,
and t h a t h i s e a r l y
m a t h e m a t i c a l e d u c a t i o n f a s h i o n e d h i s method o f r e a s o n i n g f o r t h e r e s t o f
h is l i f e .
He l i v e d in t h e b e a u t i f u l w o rl d c f m a t h e m a t ic a l a b s t r a c t i o n s ,
where e v e r y t h i n g i s p e r f e c t ,
t h i s universe,
rea lity .
certain ,
p r e c i s e and e a s y t o c l a s s i f y .
In
t h e mere c o n c e p t i o n c f a n o t i o n i s s u f f i c i e n t t o g i v e i t
Comte was t h e dem iurg e o f a wo rld i n which t h e l i m i t a t i o n s c f
human i n t e l l i g e n c e a r e t h e o n l y c h e c k t o man’ s e l a b o r a t i o n s .
ue did n o t e n c o u n t e r t h e r i g i d
and d i s o r d e r l y wo rld of f a c t s u n t i l
h i s mind was a l r e a d y molded by a p r o l o n g e d so.iourn i n t h i s Fden.
stu d ied the experim ental
h is logic.
sciences;
b u t i t was t h e n t o o l a t e t o a l t e r
Tt sh ou ld be n o t e d t h a t h i s
k no wl edg e o f s c i e n c e was
t h e o r e t i c a l and o f t h e t y p e g a i n e d from t h e s t u d y o f t e x t b o o k s .
e x p e r i m e n t e d or t r i e d
th e.d iscip lin e
facts.
He
independent r e s e a r c h :
therefore,
purely
He n e v e r
he n e v e r a c a u i r e d
and h u m i l i t y which a r e f o r c e d upon s c i e n t i s t s by c o l d
Coming from a world i n which A i s a l w a y s e o u a l t o C i f
A be
e c u a l t o F and D t o C, he was i l l - p r e p a r e d t o co p e w it h a world i n which
A i s not at a l l
equal t o C b ec a u se A i s
a l m o s t t u t not q u i t e e o u a l t o F,
and D a lm o s t b u t not q u i t e e o u a l t o 0 .
?e was w e l l aware c f t h e d a n g e r s a t t e n d i n g a s t r i c t l y m at h e m a t ic a l
train in g,
and h e warned s c i e n t i s t s
a g a in st allowing the tr e sp a ssin g of
mathematicians in t o t h e i r t e r r i t o r y ,
counsel.
b u t he d i d n et a b i d e by h i s own
Trorr t h e h e i g h t o f h i s m a t h e m a t i c a l Vcunt F i n a i , he u t t e r e d
o r a c l e s and T a b l e s o f l a w s on a l l
p ossible subjects.
*To wonder t h e y
were no t sound from t h e p o i n t o f v i e w o f o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y !
1 . X x a m o le s o f t h e s e m i s t a k e s w i l l b e g i v e n t h r o u g h o u t t h e d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e s y s t e m .
An i n s t a n c e o f h i s i g n o r a n c e o f v e r i f i c a t i o n i s f o u n d i n h i s p h r e n o l o g i c a l h y p o t h e s i s
(oS. p . 99 a b o v e ^ .
CWAPTFg ! I I
Covte a n a :
Unity
of
Life
Doctrine
and
Comte t o o k h i m s e l f most s e r i o u s l y .
Pe did n e t doubt t h a t p o s t e r i t y
would r e g a r d him as t h e g r e a t l i g h t o f modern t i m e s .
his p h ilosophical fin d in g s
A risto tle,
j o i n e d him t o t h e i l l u s t r i o u s
c acon and D e s c a r t e s ,
lineage of
and t h a t h i s c r e a t i o n c f t h e f i n a l r e ­
l i g i o n o f mankind made him g r e a t e r than F t .
t em p o ra ry monotheism;
He t h o u g h t t h a t
p osterity,
Paul,
in c o r s e a u e n e e ,
the o r ig in a to r of
would c h e r i s h h i s memory,
and t h e i n t e r e s t which h e r e t o f o r e had been e v i n c e d i n t h e s m a l l e s t i n c i ­
d e n ts of C h r i s t ’s l i f e
would' be t r a n s f e r r e d t o h i s own.
Comte was m e t h o d i c a l ,
fu tu re hagicgraphers;
( v i u r e au * r a n i j o u r ) ,
he w r o t e ,
and he wanted t o make work e a s i e r f o r h i s
so he p r a c t i c e d h i s maxim and l i v e d
i n t h e open
k e p t c o p i e s o f t h e most i m p o r t a n t l e t t e r s which
and t a l k e d f r e e l y w it h h i s d i s c i p l e s ab ou t h i s p r i v a t e a f f a i r s .
He t h o u g h t t h a t he had s u c c e e d e d
make h i s l i f e
i n g i v i n g a l l t h e f a c t s which would
r e a d l i k e an open boo k.
Unfortunately,
he had. no t r e c k o n e d
w it h t h e m u l t i p l i c i t y o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s t o which t h e most i n n o c e n t
a c t i o n can g i v e r i s e :
so,
in s p i t e o f t h e w e a l t h o f d e t a i l a v a i l a b l e ,
t h e r e a r e s e v e r a l p r o b l e m s o f Comteana which e v e r y s t u d e n t s o l v e s
a c c o r d i n g t o h i s own i d e a s .
Cne c a n n o t i g n o r e t h e s e p o i n t s o f d e b a t e ,
b e c a u s e t h e p h i l o s o p h y and t h e p h i l o s o p h e r a r e i n s e p a r a b l e .
most a c a d e m i c a l l v - m i n d e d t h i n k e r s ,
such a s P m i le P o u t r o u x ,
Fven t h e
f i n d them­
s e l v e s i m p e l l e d t o d i s c u s s t h e n a t u r e o f h i s romance w i t h C l o t i l d e .
Four p r o b le m s h a ve t o be w e i g h e d .
are:
the u n ity of l i f e
and d o c t r i n e o f Auguste Comte, t h e r e l a t i o n o f
Do s i t i v i s m . t o C a t h o l i c i s m ,
F a i n t - F i m o n on Comte,
The f i r s t
ered.
p oin t,
Tn. o rd er o f i m p o r t a n c e , t h e y
t h e n a t u r e and e x t e n t o f t h e i n f l u e n c e c f
and t h e c a u s e s o f t h e f a i l u r e c f Co m te’ s m a r r i a g e .
unity cf l i f e
and d o c t r i n e ,
now t o be c o n s i d ­
The c o m p l e t e P o s i t i v i s t s , 1 i n c l u d i n g Comte h i m s e l f ,
t h i s u nity e x i s t s ,
as migh t be e x p e c t e d .
and i n d e p e n d e n t p h i l o s o p h e r s ,
u n ity,
1 . -J. H. R r i a g e s , The Unity of Comte's Li f e and t octrine,
C o m t e ' s l a t e r w r i t i n g s , a M r e s s e - i t o J , P.
I sq-*-. •
? . L i t t r S , Auguste Comte et la fhilosophie^ Positive.
John S tu art V ill,
Auguste Comte and Positivism.
Fcience et Religion,
-
Wh ile t h e d i s ­
such as l i t t r £ ? and V i l l , '
t h e t e n d e n c y among t h e more modern p h i l o s o p h e r s ,
4 . W. B o u t r o u x ,
claim that
Among i n c o m p l e t e P o s i t i v i s t s
d e n i a l i s not u na nim ous .
t i n c t l y n in eteen th -cen tu ry th in k ers,
?.
p.
is
200-
denied
pcu tro u x ,
a reo lv to
s t r i o t u r e s on
-?01-
t^vy-rPruhl, P e r g s o n , s Frunetifere5 and Gouhier,-4 i s to ta ke the opnos i t e view and a s s e r t that t h e l a t e r e v o l u t i o n o f Conte i s in p e r f e c t
harmony with the i n c l i n a t i o n s he d i s p l a y e d in h i s e a r l y maturity,
Gouhier goes even f u r t h e r 5 and wonders t h a t the c r e a t i o n o f the r e ­
l i g i o n was delayed so long,
The present i n v e s t i g a t o r agr ee s with the
moderns, and most h e a r t i l y b e l i e v e s t h a t Comte’ s l i f e and doct rine
have u n i t y .
In f a c t , two cl aim s are t o be made here . The f i r s t i s
t h a t the e v o l u t i o n s t a r t e d b e f o r e th e P o l i t i a u e , and the other that i t
was the r e s u l t o f a natural development o f Comte's p e r s o n a l i t y .
Applying to h im self t h e d e f i n i t i o n of a great l i f e given by Alfred
de V i g n y , 5 Comte sa id that h i s c a r e e r r e p res en ted a "thought o f youth
exe cu ted in maturity" tune v e n s e e i e . j e une s s e e x e c u f e e oar t ' a ^ e v u r ) ,
and he claimed that s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n had been the aim o f th e Opus­
cules.
No one diSDutes t h i s p o i n t .
However, Comte did not succeed in
s i l e n c i n g h i s c r i t i c s , because the q u e s t io n r a i s e d was not whether
s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n was the a c t u a l aim of t h e p hiloso phy, but whether
s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n t hr ough r e l i g i o n was com patible with the s c i e n ­
t i f i c s p i r i t of the p o s i t i v e p h ilosop h y.
A c t u a lly , t h i s problem of u n i t y o f l i f e and d o c t r i n e i s complex,
and r e q u i r e s an a n a l y s i s o f not one but f i v e p o i n t s , which have to be
t r e a t e d s e p a r a t e l y . They are: (1) Is t h e P o l i t i q u e a complete departure
from the Cour s? (?) I s the l a t e r e v o l u t i o n o f Comte in harmony with
t h e nature he d is p la y e d in h i s e a r l y maturity? (?) Is r e l i g i o n the
l o g i c a l outcome of the thought o f h i s e a r l i e r y ears ? (A) I s C l o t i l d e
t h e cause of th e e v o lu t i o n ? (5) Did Comte become in sane, and i f so,
when?
The f i r s t poin t i s now t o be d i s c u s s e d , t h a t i s , the r e l a t i o n of
t he P o l i t i q u e t o the Cours.
The i n v e s t i g a t o r b e l i e v e s th a t the former
i s the l o g i c a l development of the l a t t e r .
F it h er n in e te e n t h - c e n tu r y
re ad ers of the Cours were s h o r t - s i g h t e d , or th e modern student has the
advantage o f r e t r o s p e c t i o n .
I t i s e v i d e n t t o us t h at the contemporaries
o f Comte’ s f i r s t phase did not a p p r e c i a t e the f a c t t h a t the Cours was
not an only c h i l d , as they thought, but was the f i r s t - b o r n of three
children.
In other words, Comte meant t o c r e a t e a u n i v e r s a l s y n t h e s i s ,
and h i s p o s i t i v e philosophy (or i n t e l l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n ) , in stead
■t. L. LSvy- Brt lhl, The Philosophy o f tuauste Comte.
Be r g s o n , Les deux sources de la morale et de La religion.
a . F. B r u n et i & r e , Pur les chemins de la croyance.
.
4 . 1 . S o u h i e r , La jeunesse d'Jluguste Comte et la formation du positivtsme.
5. Tbid., V o l . I , P. SO.'
a . Pol., I , p r t ff aoe , p. 1.
p. H.
-PO Po f b ein g th e whole o f t h e system ,
as they thought,
was o n l y one o f i t s
t h r e e r e o r g a n i z a t i o n s , t h e o t h e r two b e i n g t h e e t h i c a l r e g e n e r a t i o n and
the s o c ia l r e c o n s tr u c tio n .
They made a n o t h e r e r r o r o f ju d g e m e n t .
They d i d n o t s e n s e t h a t t h e
w h o l e s y st e m was b a s e d on a p s y c h o l o g y t h a t t h e Cours had h a r d l y com­
menced t o o u t l i n e ,
and w h i c h ,
a s soon a s i t was f u l l y d e v e l o p e d ,
g i v e t h e g e n e r a l t o n e and d i r e c t i o n t o t h e p h i l o s o p h y .
Comte i n t i m a t e d
i n t h e Co ur s 1 t h a t man embodied f e e l i n g more than i n t e l l e c t ,
e v i d e n t t o us t h a t ,
system,
was bound t o l o s e in r e l a t i v e
it
and i t
a s so o n as h i s t h e o r y was f u l l y e l a b o r a t e d ,
i n t e l l e c t u a l part of h i s
would
is
the
t h e o n l y one c r e a t e d by t h e Cour s,
importance.
P i s r e a d e r s d id n o t s e n s e
at the tim e.
Another m i s t a k e w hic h t h e y made was t o c l o s e t h e i r e y e s t o t h e e v o ­
l u t i o n 5 o f h i s t h o u g h t d u r i n g t h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f t h e Cours.
never s t a t i c ,
and t h e p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y o f t h e l a s t volume o f t h e Cours
i s not the p o s i t i v e p h ilo so p h y of the f i r s t .
ra tio n a listic,
Comtism was
Comte be gan w i t h a l i m i t e d ,
r e a l i s t i c and o b j e c t i v e d o c t r i n e ,
p h i l o s o p h y which was more g e n e r a l ,
and more i d e a l i s t i c .
and he ended w i t h a
le ss ra tio n a listic,
le s s objective
An ex am p le o f t h i s e v o l u t i o n i s c l e a r l y marked
in h i s c o n c e p tio n o f a s c i e n t i f i c law.
At t h e i n c e p t i o n o f t h e Cours,
i n v a r i a b l e l a w s h a v e an o b j e c t i v e e x i s t e n c e 5 i n d e p e n d e n t o f t h e p e r ­
cipien t,
w h i l e l a t e r he t e n d s t o admit t h a t such la w s a r e our s u b j e c t i v e
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n 4 o f n a t u r a l phenomena.
Comte was one o f t h o s e r a t h e r p o n d e r o u s and s i n c e r e s o u l s t h a t
exu de t r u t h f u l n e s s and i n s p i r e c o n f i d e n c e .
s y s t e m was f u l l y c o n s t i t u t e d
tim e,
Pe had c l a i m e d 5 t h a t h i s
i n 1PP9 and had no t ch an ged s i n c e t h a t
and h i s r e a d e r s a c c e p t e d h i s word f o r i t .
f i r s t one t o b e d e c e i v e d ,
n o t h i n g was f u r t h e r from t h e t r u t h .
as i t has been s a i d a l r e a d y ,
th eir f ir s t
Although he was t h e
Comte,
was w e a r in g i n t e l l e c t u a l b l i n d s , 5 and
e f f e c t was t o keep him from s e e i n g t h e m u t a t i o n s o f h i s
own s y s t e m .
Pe was h e l p e d in t h i s d e l u s i o n by h i s c h i l d i s h g u l l i b i l i t y a s f a r
a s words were c o n c e r n e d .
Pe p e r m i t t e d n o t i o n s which he had f o r m a l l y
e j e c t e d by t h e f r o n t d oo r t o s n e a k i n t h e back way under a d i s g u i s e ;
that is ,
1.
?.
3.
4.
5.
6.
O f.
O f.
O f.
O f.
C f.
O f.
when he fou nd t h a t he n ee d ed them, he welcomed a g a i n ,
p.
pp.
p.
p.
p.
p.
PV a b o v e .
1 9 1 -1 9 ? a b o v e .
4? a b o v e .
46 ab ove.
10 a b o v e .
1.94 a b o v e .
one by
one,
t h e o l d t a b o o e d n o t i o n s under a new w o r d in g .
of th is
A c o n s p i c u o u s example
i n t e l l e c t u a l p r o c e s s i s h i s a t t i t u d e toward g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s .
i n t h e s e c o n d tome o f t h e C o u r s , 1' he o s t r a c i z e d
We know t h a t ,
" a l l an­
t i c i p a t i o n s n o t s u s c e p t i b l e o f im m ed ia te v e r i f i c a t i o n . "
Yet,
l a s t v o lu m e,
"logical a r t i ­
he a l l o w e d p h y s i c i s t s t o u s e what he termed
Pe g o e s ev en f u r t h e r i n t h e P u n t h e s e ,
fices."
s u b j e c t i ? s . "p
Put,
in the
u s i n g t h e n h r a s e "m i l i e u x
Those l o g i c a l a r t i f i c e s a r e b o n a
fiie
general hypotheses.
b e c a u s e he i n t r o d u c e d them under a new name, he d i d n o t r e c o g n i z e
t h e w o l f in s h e e p ’ s c l o t h i n g ,
changed.
and assumed t h a t h i s d o c t r i n e had n o t
The co n t e m p o r a r y r e a d e r s o f Comte were t h i n k e r s who were d i s s a t i s ­
fied
with the i n t e l l e c t u a l
"ax t o g r i n d . "
They re a d t h e C o u r s
c e r t a i n p et n o t io n s in i t ,
t h e i r own c o n v i c t i o n s .
t o s e e them,
and i t
fa ll
s t a n d a r d s o f t h e i r day and had a p h i l o s o p h i c a l
w it h t h e e x p r e s s p u r p o s e o f f i n d i n g
and d i s r e g a r d e d t h e o n e s t h a t d i d n o t f i t
However,
simply b eca u se t h e s e p e r s o n s r e fu s e d
t h i s d o e s no t mean t h a t o t h e r n o t i o n s were n o t p r e s e n t ;
i s n o t f a i r t o p l a c e on Comte t h e blame which by r i g h t s h o u l d
on h i s e a r l y r e a d e r s .
In t h e l a s t volume o f t h e C o u r s ,
p o w e r.
Comte c l e a r l y o u t l i n e s a s p i r i t u a l
He a l s o h i n t s a t a c u l t o f p a s t b e n e f a c t o r s o f h u m a n i t y , s and
I f p e o p l e had rea d t h e C o u r s
s p e a k s o f t h e good e f f e c t o f p r a y e r . 4
t h e p r o p e r d i s c r i m i n a t i n g and open s p i r i t ,
th eories,
and l a t e r ,
when t h e P o l i t i q u e
have r a i s e d t h e cry o f a p o s ta s y .
in
t h e y would h a v e n o t i c e d t h o s e
d e v e l o p e d them, t h e y would no t
I t i s e v i d e n t t o us t h a t t h e P o l i t i q u e ,
f a r from b e i n g a d e p a r t u r e from t h e C o u r s ,
is
its
lo g ic a l offspring.
The s e c o n d p o i n t o f t h e problem o f u n i t y i s now t o be c o n s i d e r e d ,
that
is,
t h e s e n t i m e n t a l e v o l u t i o n o f Comte.
I t i s the i n v e s t i g a t o r ’s
c o n t e n t i o n t h a t Comte n e v e r changed h i s a t t i t u d e ,
o f 184? was t h e Comte o f 1p3 0 .
heart,
and t h a t t h e Comte
I t i s b e l i e v e d t h a t Comte a l w a y s had a
b u t t h a t c i r c u m s t a n c e s i n d e p e n d e n t o f h i s w i l l p r e v e n t e d him
from e x e r c i s i n g h i s c a p a c i t y f o r l o v e .
P e c a u s e he had n ot l o v e d when he was yo un g, h i s c o n t e m p o r a r i e s t o o k
it
f o r g r a n t e d t h a t he had no h e a r t ,
s o m e t h i n g new and p a t h o l o g i c a l .
and t h a t h i s l a t e r e v o l u t i o n was
I t must b e a d m i t t e d i n t h e i r d e f e n s e
t h a t t h e y had no way o f knowing t h e man.
a s p e c t of th e p h ilo so p h er in the C o u r s ,
1.
C f.
do.
p.
C f.
p.
4 6 -4 7
182
above,
ana,
above.
Cf. pp. 1 4 2 - 1 4 9 above,
i . Cf. pp. 1 4 5 - 1 4 6 above.
P.
fo r
th e
fin a l
fo rm
They saw o n l y t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l
and a man d o e s n ot u s u a l l y wear
of
h is
th e o ry ,
o f.
p.
59
above,
-?04h is heart.on h is sle e v e ,
to V alat,
heart,
ev en w i t h h i s f r i e n d s .
t h e comrade o f h i s y o u t h ,
However, h i s l e t t e r s
d i s c l o s e t h a t he p o s s e s s e d a warm
t u t n e v e r had t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o u s e i t .
away from home,
supr eme ,
H i s y o u th was s p e n t
i n " c l o i s t e r e d h a l l s , " 5 where t h e i n t e l l e c t r e i g n e d
and no e f f o r t was made t o f o s t e r or t o c u l t i v a t e t h e f e e l i n g s .
The f a c t t h a t he s u f f e r e d s c much from h i s e a r l y e n v i r o n m e n t p r o v e s
t h a t he had a h e a r t when he was youn g.
It
might be argu ed a g a i n s t him t h a t h e had l o v i n g p a r e n t s ,
he d i d n o t r e c i p r o c a t e t h e i r l o v e a s he s h o u l d h a ve d o n e .
t h a t he was n o t a c o n s i d e r a t e s e n , b u t t h i s
much a g a i n s t him.
Tor one t h i n g ,
I t i s true
should n et be counted too
he was a t home s o l i t t l e
no o p p o r t u n i t y r e a l l y t o become a c q u a i n t e d w it h
another,
and t h a t
t h a t he had
t h e e l d e r Comtes.
For
c h i l d r e n do not r e a l i z e t h e e x t e n t o f t h e i r p a r e n t s ’ s a c r i f i c e s
u n l e s s t h e y a r e t o l d about them r e p e a t e d l y ,
and h i s p r o g e n i t o r s were o f
t h e s e l f - e f f a c i n g t y p e who d e v o t e t h e m s e l v e s i n s i l e n c e .
I t must be remembered a l s o
thein te n s ity
t h a t c h i l d r e n h a v e no way c f knowing
of th eir p a ren ts’ love.
F a t h e r s and m o th e r s u s u a l l y h i d e
t h e i r f e e l i n g s from t h e i r o f f s p r i n g under a c l o a k o f s e v e r i t y and f r e auent nagging.
Children,
f u l l y aware o f t h e i r own s h o r t c o m i n g s , do n ot
s e e why t h e i r e l d e r s s h o u l d e n j o y p a r e n t h o o d .
V e s t young p e o p l e do n ot
u n d e r s t a n d t h e e x t e n t o f p a r e n t a l l o v e u n t i l t h e y a r e no l o n g e r c h i l d r e n
— o f t e n not u n t i l
t h e y have c h i l d r e n o f t h e i r own.
I t i s because of
t h i s s t a t e o f t h i n g s t h a t youth f r e q u e n t l y a p p e a r s u n g r a t e f u l and c a l l o u s .
When Comte r e a c h e d t h e age o f a p p r e c i a t i o n ,
o p i n i o n s had drawn him away from h i s p a r e n t s .
h is ch oice of a career,
life
and c o n f l i c t i n g
They did n o t ap pro ve o f
and were sh ock ed a t h i s r e j e c t i o n o f C a t h o l i c i s m .
He had m a rr i ed ;
h i s w i f e and h i s mother had a u a r r e l e d ,
and he had s i d e d
w i t h h i s mate.
The f i l i a l
t h e r e f o r e , be
c o l d n e s s c f Comte must n o t ,
taken as a proof of lack of heart.
When h i s l i a i s o n w i t h C a r o l i n e b eg a n ,
he was hungry f o r l o v e .
The
l e t t e r s which he w rot e t o V a l a t a t t h e t i m e o f h i s m a r r i a g e and i n t h e
s u b s e o u e n t y e a r show t h a t he had been l o o k i n g f o r w a r d t o a l i f e
a f f e c t i o n a t e comradeship,
of
and t h a t he s u f f e r e d k e e n l y from t h e d i s ­
i l l u s i o n m e n t w hich f o l l o w e d t h e l e g i t i m a t i o n o f h i s
liaison.
He a t ­
t e m p t e d t o ove rcome h i s u n h a p p i n e s s th ro u g h a b s o r p t i o n i n h i s work.
He remarked a t t h e t i m e t h a t he was t r y i n g t o f o r g e t '
i
. Lett.res h Valat,
L e t t r e s ’ h* V a l a t ,
e s p e o ia lly
L e tte r
of
th o s e
w r itte n
N ovem ber
1.6,
in
1925,
1 .9 2 5 .
p.
1V6 .
t h a t he had on ce
-P O N ho p ed f o r s e n t i m e n t a l b l i s s and t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l
t h a t was l e f t t o him.
s a t i s f a c t i o n was a l l
Puch words p r o v e t h a t he had a h e a r t .
Comte’ s m a r r i a g e was c h i l d l e s s , 4 t o h i s g r e a t s o r r o w .
The s t e r i l ­
i t y o f h i s w i f e d e p r i v e d him o f a n o t h e r normal o u t l e t o f t h e h e a r t .
Comte t h e r e f o r e r e a c h e d t h e m id d l e f o r t i e s w i t h o u t e v e r h a v i n g l o v e d ,
a l t h o u g h he had a lw a y s d e s i r e d t o do s o .
The t h i r d p o i n t which must be d e c i d e d i s t h e r e l a t i o n be tw een h i s
relig io u s
is
f e e l i n g and h i s e a r l y s e l f .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r f e e l s
i n l o g i c a l harmony w it h h i s c o n g e n i t a l make-up.
first,
ho we ve r,
I t w i l l be n e c e s s a r y
to in te r p r e t the id ea o f r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g ,
be d i s t i n g u i s h e d s h a r p l y from t h e g e n e r a l term r e l i g i o n .
f e a r element a s id e ,
ious fe e lin g
w hic h i s
b e c a u s e Comte was n o t
pu t t i n g t h e
the r e l i g ­
a combination o f love
by e a r t h l y a f f e c t i o n s and o f an i n t e l l e c t u a l
d e s i r e t o e x p l a i n man’ s p o s i t i o n
in th e u n iv e r s e .
s h a r e e q u a l l y in t h e g e n e s i s o f t h e r e l i g i o u s
is
which i s t o
i n f l u e n c e d ' by f e a r ,
i n t h e e d u c a t e d man c f our day i s
not s a t i s f i e d
that t h i s
These two f a c t o r s
feelin g,
and one a l o n e
not s u f f i c i e n t to g iv e b ir th to i t .
I t h a s b ee n d e m o n st r a t e d p r e v i o u s l y t h a t Comte had a c a p a c i t y f o r
love,
and h i s l a t e r l i f e
p ro ved how s t r o n g
it
was; t h e r e f o r e ,
i t w ill
o n l y be n e c e s s a r y t o c o n s i d e r h e r e t h e s e c o n d e l e m e n t of t h e r e l i g i o u s
feelin g,
that is ,
th e i n t e l l e c t u a l d e s i r e to e x p la in the u n iv e r s e .
Comte was not a s k e p t i c .
I t s h o u l d be p o i n t e d o u t t h a t t h e s k e p t i c
b e l o n g s t o one o f two t y p e s .
He i s e i t h e r
d o u b t s h i s power t o go beyond a p p e a r a n c e s :
enjoys the
"mol o r e i l l e r i u i o u t e . "
l i k e P y r r h o , and c h i e f l y
or l i k e V o n t a i g n e , and
In e i t h e r c a s e ,
he a d m it s h i s
i m p o t e n c y t o know, and he i s r e s i g n e d t o i t .
The man who i s a c o n ­
g en ital
s c w it h Comte.
s k e p t i c n e v e r becomes r e l i g i o u s .
Comte needed dogmatism and c e r t i t u d e .
ence;
b u t , by h i s own a d m i s s i o n ,
t o t h e bow,
vot
He found c e r t i t u d e i n s c i ­
t h i s c e r t i t u d e was s t r i c t l y l i m i t e d
and did not i n c l u d e t h e whu.
b e n t f o r dogmatism c o u l d be s a t i s f i e d
No man w i t h such a s t r o n g
with a li m it e d c e r t i t u d e ,
t h o u g h he would not admit t h e d e f e a t o f h i s p h i l o s o p h y .
n o t go beyond s c i e n c e ,
and when l o v e e n t e r e d t h e a r e n a ,
his
ga ve him t h e a n s w e r .
Such an e v o l u t i o n was in l o g i c a l harmony w it h Comte’ s e a r l y s e l f ;
b u t n a t u r a l l y i t t o o k t im e t o come i n t o b e i n g .
*1 .
lif e .
As he c o u l d
he had t o f i n d a n o t h e r method o f c e r t i t u d e
( o n e i s tem pt ed t o s a y e s c a p e ) ,
heart
even
The w r ite r
T h is p o in t
b e lie v e s t h a t th e
w i l l b e d ia o u s s e d
He c o u l d n o t d i s c o v e r
f a c t o f C o m t e 's S h i I d l e s s n e s s d e e p l y
l a t e r ( o f . p p . 2 1 7 -2 1 8 b e lo w l.
in flu e n o e d
h is
-?oet h a t s c i e n c e had f a i l e d him u n t i l he had e x h a u s t i v e l y a n a l y z e d t h e
v a rio u s branches o f le a r n in g .
of s c ie n c e .
The C o u r s r e p r e s e n t e d h i s e x p l o r a t i o n
He d i d n o t r e a l i z e in t h e p r o c e s s t h a t he was g o i n g t o
s e e k t h e s o l u t i o n o f t h e p ro b le m s o f t h e u n i v e r s e from a n o t h e r s o u r c e ;
and, f o r t h i s r e a s o n , t h e r e i s no i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y o f s p i r i t between
t h e C o u r s and t h e P o l i t i q u e .
One t u r n s now t o t h e f o u r t h p o i n t ,
which c o n s i s t s in d e f i n i n g t h e
e x t e n t o f t h e i n f l u e n c e which C l o t i l d e e x e r t e d on P o s i t i v i s m .
The i n ­
v e s t i g a t o r t h i n k s t h a t Comte’ s l o v e f o r h e r a c c e l e r a t e d t h e a d v e n t o f
h i s r e l i g i o n by g i v i n g i t
a d e f i n i t e o b j e c t o f a d o r a t i o n , b u t d o e s not
admit t h a t i t was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f t h e r e l i g i o u s
feelin g.
The l a t t e r had g r a d u a l l y d e v e l o p e d b e f o r e t h e romance b eg a n .
Lgvy-Pruhl1 cla im s th at th e O o u s c u l e
t r a u a u x s c l e n t i fii q u s s
necessaires
o f IF??,
pour re o ria n ise r
Plan ie s
l a s o c i e t e , shows
en titled
th e i n t e n t io n of app lyin g th e p r i n c i p l e s o f p o s i t i v e philosophy t o the
foundation of a r e l i g i o n .
d isagrees.
With t h i s
statem ent the present in v e s tig a to r
Comte e m p h a s i z e s two s t a t e m e n t s i n t h i s e s s a y :
first,
that
moral a u t h o r i t y i s b e s t o w e d on s a v a n t s 5 b e c a u s e ev e r y b o d y h a s t o bow t o
s c i e n t i f i c evidence,
and s e c o n d ,
th a t s c i e n t i s t s are i n t e l l e c t u a l l y
e q u i p p e d t o found t h e s c i e n t i f i c b a s i s o f f u t u r e s o c i e t y .
We f i n d no
i n t i m a t i o n o f t h e a b s o l u t e moral a u t h o r i t y which he was g o i n g t o c o n f e r
on t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c c l e r g y ,
and,
abo ve a l l ,
t h e r e i s n o t an i n d i c a t i o n
of r e lig io u s fervor.
In 1???,
Comte had n o t y e t d i s s o c i a t e d t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g from
i t s t h e o l o g i c a l garb.
of t h i s contention.
The f o l l o w i n g p a s s a g e d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e s o u n d n e s s
The d i s c i p l e s o f t h e l a t e F a i n t - F i m o n h a v i n g a c ­
c u s e d him o f not b e i n g w i t h them i n t h e i r r e l i g i o u s v e n t u r e ,
he answered
them in t h e s e w o r d s 5 :
The S a i n t - S i m o n i s t m a t h e r s know p e r f e c t l y w e l l t h a t I h a v e
n e v e r h e 3 i t a t e d t o p r o c l a i m l o u d l y a t any tim e t h a t th e i n f l u ­
e n c e o f r e l i g i o u s i d e a s , e v e n w h en l e a s t d e v e l o p e d , i s t o d a y
t h e p r i n c i p a l o b s t a o l e t o t h e p r o g r e s s o f human i n t e l l i g e n c e
a n d t o t h e g e n e r a l i m p r o v e m e n t o f t h e s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n among
t h e more a d v a n c e d p e o p l e s .
Then he p r o c e e d e d t o j u s t i f y h i s s t a n d i n no u n c e r t a i n t e r m s 4 :
i.
1 .9 9 9 ,
P.
3.
4.
L.
L 6 v y -B r flh l,
p.
423.
opus, i
q u o te d
Loc.
"La
op. 41, 79,
by L ittr d ,
cit.
o e n te n a ire
76,
i'A u g u s t e
C o m te ,"
Revue, ies ieu* monies,
2C 5.
/Suguste Comte et la PhilosoPhie Positive,
p.
194.
J a n u a ry
i5 ,
{
r—
The e o i e n t i f i o r o a d , w h i o h h a s a l w a y s b e e n m i n e , an d t h e w o r k
w h i o h T h a v e o b s t i n a t e l y p u r s u e d i n an e f f o r t t o r a i s e s o c i a l
t h e o r i e s to th e rank o f p h y s i c a l s c i e n c e , are e v i d e n t l y in r a d i ­
c a l and a b s o l u t e o p p o s i t i o n w i t h a l l t y p e s o f r e l i g i o u s or m e t a ­
p h y s i c a l t e n d e n c y . . . . Tf y o u r c h i e f s , a f t e r f o l l o w i n ' * f o r
s o me t i m e t h e p o s i t i v e d i r e c t i o n . . . s e e f i t t o t a k e a r o a d
e n t i r e l y opposed t o i t , th e y u nd oubtedly th in k t h a t th e y are
d o in g t h e r i g h t t h i n g ; but T c a n n o t p r e v e n t m y s e l f from f i n d i n g
i t p e c u l i a r t h a t y o u s h o u l d a c o u s e me o f c h a n g i n g my c o u r s e a n d
s l o w i n g up.
Comte’ s la n gu ag e i s c l e a r 1: "The p o s i t i v e s p i r i t i s i n r a d i c a l and ab­
s o l u t e o p p o s i t i o n w it h a l l t y p e s o f r e l i g i o u s or m e t a p h y s i c a l t e n d e n c y . "
As l a t e as J u l y , 1 9 4 ? , h i s a t t i t u d e i s o u t w a r d l y t h e same.
Speak­
in g o f F a i n t - F i m o n ’ s l a t e r e t u r n t o C h r i s t i a n i t y ,
he m e n t i o n s 5 "the
vague r e l i g i o s i t y w hic h comes s o f r e q u e n t l y from t h e s e c r e t f e e l i n g o f
p h ilosophical
i m p o t e n c y i n t h o s e who u n d e r t a k e s o c i a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n
w i t h o u t b e i n g p r e p a r e d by s u f f i c i e n t i n d i v i d u a l men ta l r e n o v a t i o n . "
However, we b e l i e v e t h a t t h e v e r y b e g i n n i n g o f t h e r e l i g i o u s e v o l u ­
t i o n d a t e s from 194?,
b e c a u s e t h a t y e a r marked t h e end o f t h e c o m p o s i t i o n
o f t h e Cours.
There were two d i s t i n c t t r a i t s
i n Comte's make-up:
an o b s e s s i o n f o r
t h o r o u g h n e s s which i m p e l l e d him t o keep working on a s u b j e c t u n t i l he had
exhausted i t ,
and a d e s i r e f o r u n i v e r s a l i t y which made him c o v e r a l l
f i e l d s o f human e n d e a v o r .
Up t o 194 ?, he was t o o b u sy w i t h t h e i n t e l ­
l e c t u a l r e o r g a n i z a t i o n to t h in k of anything e l s e .
Put t h i s y e a r ,
b r i n g i n g t h e Cour s t o a c l o s e and e n d i n g t h e s c i e n t i f i c s u r v e y ,
t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o t u r n to w a rd a n o t h e r t a s k .
after
h e had
His g e n e r a l p l a n o f r e o r ­
g a n i z a t i o n e n j o i n e d him t o s t u d y t h e n e x t domain, which was t h a t o f t h e
heart.
F i t h t h e s y s t e m a t i c d e t e r m i n a t i o n which was h i s ,
new l a n d .
It is
lo g ica l
he e n t e r e d t h i s
t o assume t h a t t h i s m e t h o d i c a l s c r u t i n y o f
a f f e c t i v e v a l u e s h a s t e n e d h i s r e l i g i o u s e v o l u t i o n by showi ng him t h e
e v e r - p r e s e n c e and f o r c e o f f e e l i n g s .
T h is i s n o t ,
however,
an a t t e m p t t o i n f e r t h a t 194? marked a c l i ­
m a c t i c and sudden c h a n g e i n Comte’ s mind.
had shown i t s e l f b e f o r e t h i s y e a r .
His i n t e r e s t i n t h e h e a r t
In 19PB, a c c o r d i n g t o h i s own t e s t i ­
mony, 3 he had awakened t o e s t h e t i c b e a u t y ,
and had begun t o e n j o y music
and p o e t r y .
Py 1944, he had s p e n t a c o n s i d e r a b l e amount o f ti m e i n m e d i t a t i o n
on s p i r i t u a l q u e s t i o n s .
1.
The
sa«e
th o u g h t
J a n u a ry 7 , 1 9 3? ,
?•
V I,
9 , Lettr&s'h
Cours,
is
As he met C l o t i l d e at th e end o f t h a t y e a r ,
e x p re s s e d
pp. 1 9 0 -1 9 1 .
p* v i i i , n o te ,
Valat, L e t t e r o f
4. Cf. p. 19 above, *
in
Lettres h divers,
T I,
__
Vay
1s t ,
19 * 1 ,
1 -P 9 2 ,
L e tte r
to
A rm a n d M a r r a s t ,
it
i s obvious th a t the i n i t i a l
a lity
change which t o o k p l a c e i n h i s p e r s o n ­
was not p ro vo k ed by h i s romance, but p r e c e d e d i t .
There i s no
d o u b t t h a t h i s romance had an u l t e r i o r i n f l u e n c e on h i s p h i l o s o p h y .
The o n l y a t t e m p t h e r e i s t o p r o v e t h a t t h e e v o l u t i o n was a l r e a d y in
f u l l s w in g when he met C l o t i l d e .
There r e m a i n s f o r c o n s i d e r a t i o n t h e l a s t p o i n t ,
which i s t h e
problem o f i n s a n i t y .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r ’ s b e l i e f i s t h a t Comte was san e
when he f e l l
s a n e when C l o t i l d e d i e d , but t h a t he r e a c t e d
in l o v e ,
p a t h o l o g i c a l l y t o h e r d e a t h and g r a d u a l l y gave i n d i c a t i o n s o f p s y c h o s i s
a s h e r d e a t h sank i n t o t h e p a s t .
However,
it
i s not b e li e v e d that h is
r e l i g i o u s o b s e s s i o n was t h e p r o d u c t o f h i s p s y c h o s i s ,
It
is f e lt ,
rather,
a s some have s a i d .
t h a t h i s i n s a n i t y assumed t h e m y s t i c a l
form s i m p l y
b e c a u s e r e l i g i o n was h i s major p r e o c c u p a t i o n .
W y r o u b o f f 1 c o n t e n d e d t h a t Comte was on t h e v e r g e c f s e n i l i t y when
he f e l l
in lo v e ,
and t h a t h i s mind was t o o o l d t o s t a n d t h e e x e r t i o n
of a strong f e e l i n g .
forty -six
T h i s seems n ot a l i t t l e
a t t h e t i m e o f h i s romance,
at f o r ty " then,
rid icu lou s.
a n d ‘a l t h o u g h l i f e
d i d n o t "begin
a man o f f o r t y - s i x was no t an o l d man.
Tn t h e p r e s e n t w r i t e r ’ s ju dgme nt,
Wyrouboff a t t a c h e d t o o much im­
p o r t a n c e t o t h e e x t r a v a g a n t l y l y r i c a l o u t b u r s t s o f Comte.
t h a t t h e p h i l o s o p h e r was a c o n t em p o ra ry o f L a m a r t i n e ,
and V u s s e t ,
and t h a t ,
i n t h e d ays o f F o m a n t ic i s m ,
a c a p i t a l L, t h e l o v e d one was an a n g e l ,
b e c o u c h e d in p l a i n l a n g u a g e .
being insane,
It
air,
He f o r g o t
Cha te a ub ri an d
l o v e was s p e l l e d w it h
and no amorous f e e l i n g c o u l d
La m a rt in e,
whom nobody e v e r a c c u s e d o f
a l s o e l a b o r a t e d a c u l t t o t h e memory o f h i s dead m i s t r e s s .
i s no b o l d s u r m i s e t o i n f e r t h a t Comte,
hygiene,
Comte was
in s p i t e o f h i s c e r e b r a l
had a b s o r b e d a c e r t a i n amount o f t h e l y r i c i s m
which was i n t h e
and t h a t he was a P o m a n t i c i s t l i k e t h e p o e t s o f h i s g e n e r a t i o n .
I f we a c c e p t t h i s
idea,
t h e n Co m te' s way o f l o v i n g d o e s n o t appear
u n u s u a l any l o n g e r .
For i s t h e r e any p a t h o l o g i c a l i n d i c a t i o n t o be fou n d i n h i s r e v e l i n g
i n h i s own f e e l i n g .
loving
in i t s e l f
A ll t h o s e who h av e e x p e r i e n c e d a r e a l l o v e know t h a t
i s a great joy,
and t h a t i t makes on e f e e l u p l i f t e d and
enriched,
and pr om pt s one t o b e s t o w a warm a f f e c t i o n 5 on t h e r e s t o f
mankind.
I f t h e world l o v e s a l o v e r ,
world.
Therefore,
th e lo v e r in exchange lo v e s the
t h e r e was n o t h i n g abnormal i n Co mt e’ s t h i n k i n g t h a t
1 . 3. Wyrouboff, art . "Comte," L a Grande VncyclofiSdie.
_
?. Several months a f t e r writinst t h i s nassaSe, t he i n v e s t i g a t o r found t h at Aidous Hux­
l e y had expressed the same idea in almost the same words in Ends and Means, PP. 859-..80.
-509l o v e had e n r i c h e d h i s p e r s o n a l i t y 1 b e c a u s e i t had made him a p p r e c i a t e
" the a f f e c t i v e a s p e c t o f h u m a n i t y . " 5
The o n l y t h i n g t o be wondered at
i s t h a t he d i s c o v e r e d t h e s e t h i n g s s o l a t e i n l i f e :
p r e v i o u s l y be en p o i n t e d o u t ,
but th a t,
i s t o b e e x p l a i n e d by c i r c u m s t a n c e s .
h a lf of the Po l i ­
There i s no symptom o f p s y c h o s i s i n t h e f i r s t
tique,
in th e p r e s e n t w r i t e r ' s e s t i m a t i o n .
e m o t i o n , but r e a s o n h as n o t d e s e r t e d him.
given p r i o r i t y over i n t u i t i v e b e l i e f s ,
c o n t a c t w it h r e a l i t y .
a s i t h as
Comte i s
l i f t e d by a g r e a t
F c i e n t i f i e evidence i s
still
and t h e r e i s no s i g n o f l o s s o f
The o n l y argument which might be advanced a g a i n s t
h i s s a n i t y i s t h a t t h e n o t i o n s e x p r e s s e d a r e n ot new, and t h a t t h e
P o l i t i q u e i s t h e Cours d r e s s e d i n a new c l o a k .
I f f a i l u r e t o renew
o n e ' s s e l f i s enough f o r a d i a g n o s i s c f p s y c h o s i s ,
‘is
in good company.
ho we ver ,
t h e n Comte
Vany a good t h i n k e r who h a s d i s c o v e r e d a sound
p r i n c i p l e has made t h e m i s t a k e o f working i t t o d e a t h .
Fobody,
sc far
a s we know, h a s e v e r a c c u s e d praud o f b e i n g i n s a n e b e c a u s e he e x p l a i n e d
alm ost a l l
mental phenomena by v a r i o u s l i b i d o m a n i f e s t a t i o n s .
What h a s been s a i d o f t h e f i r s t
t r u e fo r i t s second h a l f ,
P o sitiv istic treatise.
h a l f o f th e P o l i t i q u e i s not as
and i s no l o n g e r t r u e a t a l l f o r t h e l a s t
The Punt bds e s u b j e c t i v e ,
shows r e a l s i g n s o f m en ta l d e t e r i o r a t i o n .
p e r m e a t e d t h e domain o f s c i e n c e ,
than l o g i c ;
expense,
i n our j u d g em en t,
S e n t i m e n t a l i t y h as now
and b l i n d e m o t i o n s a r e r a t e d h i g h e r
s c i e n t i f i c r e a s o n i s t r a m p l e d under f o o t ,
im agination i s g l o r i f i e d .
and,
at i t s
The i n v e s t i g a t o r t h i n k s t h a t a
m y s t i c a l a d o r a t i o n o f prime n u m b e r s , 3 an u n c o n t r o l l a b l e a t t r a c t i o n
fo r binary c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s
and an u n q u e s t i o n e d f a i t h
in the o b j e c t iv e
r e a l i t y o f a n t i t h e s e s a r e i r r e f r a g a b l e p r o o f s o f m en ta l d i s i n t e g r a t i o n
i n a s c i e n t i s t who was o n c e a r a t i o n a l i s t and a r e a l i s t .
It i s also
b e l i e v e d t h a t t h e e f f o r t t o prom ote an a l l i a n c e b e t w e e n P o s i t i v i s m
and C a t h o l i c i s m 4 shows a p a t h o l o g i c a l l o s s o f c o n t a c t w it h r e a l i t y ;
o n l y a d i s e a s e d mind c o u l d h a v e had such a m i s c o n c e p t i o n o f C a t h o l i c
p o licies.
The p s y c h o l o g i s t s who h a ve s t u d i e d t h e n a t u r e o f m y s t i c i s m do
not a l l agree, but i t
i s p r e t t y w e l l a d m i t t e d t h a t m y s t i c i s m , when n o t
ac co m p a n ie d by p s y c h o t i c symptoms, i s a s a n e s t a t e .
c a n n o t be c o n s i d e r e d i n s a n e b e c a u s e he was a m y s t i c .
Therefore,
On t h e o t h e r hand,
p s y c h i a t r i s t s hold th a t i n s a n i t y always ad ep ts th e l i n e of l e a s t
1.
p.
P o l . , I , c L S iie a o e ,
I b i d . , 1, p . ? 1 9 .
4.
C f.
C f.
p.
pp.
pp.
7 5 -7 6
pp.
above.
2 5 -2 6 a b o v e .
iv -v ,
v ii.
Comte
-510resistan ce,
and as su m es t h e form which i s dominant i n t h e p e r s o n a l i t y .
of the in d iv id u a l.
Comte was a m y s t i c ,
and b e c a u s e he was a m y s t i c ,
h i s p s y c h o s i s assumed t h e r e l i g i o u s a s p e c t .
An a c c o u n t h a s a l r e a d y been g i v e n o f t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l p r o c e s s
which t r a n s f o r m e d t h e a d o r a t i o n o f C l o t i l d e rs memory i n t o t h e w o r s h i p
o f Hum anity.1
Tt r e m a i n s now t o i n d i c a t e t h e m o d i f i c a t i o n o f h i s p e r ­
s o n a l i t y which,
liefs
i n t h e w r i t e r ’ s ju d gem en t,
determined t h i s .
The b e ­
e x p r e s s e d h e r e ha ve b e e n l a r g e l y shaped by t h e p e r u s a l o f some
a r t i c l e s w r i t t e n by ^ o u v r e , P a grandneohew o f C l o t i l d e and a g ra n d s on
o f V axim ilien V arie,
teacher to h is
t h e young m a t h e m a t i c i a n who i n t r o d u c e d h i s former
sister.
He had c o l l e c t e d a g r e a t d e a l o f f a m i l y g o s s i p ,
and he p r e s e n t s t o t h e r e a d e r a most human and c o n v i c i n g p o r t r a i t o f
the p hilosopher.
normal i n t e r e s t
He s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e shock o f her d e a t h k i l l e d Comte’ s
in t h e o t h e r s e x .
c o m p l e t e l i g h t on h i s l a t e r
Let us f i r s t
T h is a s s u m p t i o n ,
we t h i n k ,
th ro w s
in n ovation s.
a n a l y z e t h e f e e l i n g s which Comte e x p e r i e n c e d w h i l e
C l o t i l d e was a l i v e .
A man who l o v e s i d e a l i z e s h i s b e l o v e d .
Therefore,
t h e r e was n o t h i n g e x t r a o r d i n a r y in Comte’ s t h i n k i n g t h a t C l o t i l d e p e r ­
s o n if ie d the b est t r a i t s
o f womanhood.
a s s u m e s an o b s e s s i o n a l c h a r a c t e r .
r e l a t i o n s are e s t a b l i s h e d ,
it
Love in i t s
l o s e s t h i s a s p e c t in most c a s e s ,
and from
Alt ho ug h he s t i l l
her a n g e l i c o u a l i t y f a d e s away,
a s an o r d i n a r y human b e i n g .
stage usually
However, a s soon a s normal s e x u a l
t h e n on t h e man v i e w s h i s mate w i t h d i f f e r e n t e y e s .
c o n s id e r s her lo v a b le ,
first
L i f e i s commonplace a g a i n .
and he s e e s h er
Th es e c a s u a l
o b s e r v a t i o n s c a n p r o b a b l y be s u p p o r t e d by t h e common e x p e r i e n c e o f
mankind.
Comte was n e v e r p e r m i t t e d t o rea c h t h i s r a t i o n a l s t a g e o f l o v e .
His romance t o o k an u n n a t u r a l form from t h e f i r s t .
not r e c ip r o c a te d ,
on."
and C l o t i l d e ,
as i t
H is f e e l i n g was
i s vulgarly expressed,
T h i s was n ot m eanness on her p a r t .
" le d him
Phe knew t h a t s h e d i d n o t
l o v e him1: b u t s h e a p p r e c i a t e d h i s f r i e n d s h i p and c o m p a n i o n s h i p ,
wanted v e r y much t o r e s p o n d t o h i s f e e l i n g .
undergo a change o f h e a r t ,
day s h e would b e h i s
h erself u n til
\\
15,
C h a r le s
Peoam ber
de
"true w i f e . "
15,
Fowever,
sh e was n o t g o i n g t o g i v e
and i n t h e meantime s h e i n s i s t e d on
t o t h e dismay o f t h e poor l e v e r .
lo u v r e ,
1 ana
Fhe hoped t h a t s h e would
and went so f a r a s t o t e l l him t h a t some
s h e was in l o v e ;
Platonic r e la tio n s,
and
" L 'a m o u r e u s e
191.5,*
J a n u a ry
h is to ir e
15,
1917.
i ’ A u s u a te
C o m te ,"
Revue de P a r i s ,
N ovem ber
-P ll-
Comte, who l o v e d p a s s i o n a t e l y ,
p ar ox ys m ,
was k e p t i n a c h r o n i c s t a t e o f
which was a g g r a v a t e d by a h y p e r s e x e d te m p er a m en t .
The p l a ­
t o n i s m o f t h e i r i n t e r c o u r s e p r e v e n t e d him from a d v a n c i n g beyond t h e
id e a liz in g stage.
n o t by Comte,
Those c o n d i t i o n s were b r o u g h t on by C l o t i l d e and
and u n t i l t h e n ,
under t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s .
he behaved a s any normal l o v e r would
Puch was t h e s t a t e o f a f f a i r s when s h e d i e d .
L et us now c o n s i d e r what happened a f t e r h e r d e a t h .
t h a t Comte’ s a t t i t u d e became p a t h o l o g i c a l .
I t seems c l e a r
A man who i s p r o f o u n d l y in
l o v e d o e s no t l o o k a t t h e r e s t o f t h e o t h e r s e x d u r i n g t h e b e g i n n i n g o f
h is
in fatu ation .
n ervous shock,
d iffic u lt
independent of h i s g r i e f ,
p rocess o f readjustm ent.
be i n t e r e s t e d
awakens,
i n a m o r a t a d ies,
I f his
does,
and he h a s t o go t h ro u g h a
Tt may be some t i m e b e f o r e he can
in th e o th e r sex again;
and when i t
he e x D e r i e n c e s a s e r i o u s
but e v e n t u a l l y t h i s i n t e r e s t
he resumes a normal o u t l o o k on l i f e .
One d o e s n o t n e e d t o be a d i s c i p l e o f Treud t o s e e t h a t C l o t i l d e ’ s
death,
coming a f t e r months o f s t e r i l e
b l o w t o Comte’ s n e r v o u s s y s t e m .
s i m p l y s h oc k him.
sexual s tim u la tio n ,
Put i t
was a s e v e r e
seems t o h a ve done more than
I t i s as i f h e r d e a t h had had a p erm an en t i n h i b i t o r y
e f f e c t on h i s w h o l e p e r s o n a l i t y .
H is l o v e was a t t h e i d e a l i z i n g and
o b s e s s i o n a l s t a g e when sh e d i e d , and i t re m ai ne d at t h a t s t a g e h e r e ­
after.
He n e v e r r e g a i n e d 1 a normal i n t e r e s t i n women and a r a t i o n a l
o u t l o o k on l i f e .
to t e l l ;
sex less.
Whether h i s v i r i l i t y
disappeared,
it
i s im possible
but he c e r t a i n l y began t o a c t and t h i n k a s i f
he had become
We do n o t a s s e r t t h a t a l l men would h a v e s o a c t e d .
e v i d e n t t o us t h a t a v i r i l e Comte,
even wit h a s l i t t l e
It is
kn ow le dg e o f
human f o i b l e s
a s he had, would have u n d e r s t o o d t h a t t h e w o r s h i p o f
livin g
e t e r n a l w id o w h o o d , 9 p o s t - n u p t i a l c h a s t i t y 1 and unc on ­
women,
summated m a r r i a g e s , 4 f a r from p u t t i n g s e x - c o l o r e d t h o u g h t s i n t h e b a c k ­
ground,
would on t h e c o n t r a r y make men o v e r - c o n s c i o u s o f t h e o t h e r s e x ,
and c a u s e them t o become o b s e s s e d by s e x u a l t h o u g h t s ,
o f t h e m e d i a e v a l monks.
T h is s e x l e s s n e s s combined w i t h h i s p s y c h o s i s
t o b r in g f o r t h th e second h a l f of the P c l i t i a m
1.
^Ofite
led
a
ehaste
lif e
a fte r
th e
P o l . , I , n . ? S 7 , I I , D . 197, IV,
S. P o l . ,
TV, p p . 1 7 7 , 7 7 3 - 7 7 = .
a. Ibid.,
T, p p . 7 4 0 - 7 4 1 .
p.
a s were s o many
lo s s of
p. 177;
C lo tild e ,
C a t . , p.
and t h e P u n t h e s e .
u n til
h is
own
death,
CH4PTFR
Co v t e a n a :
IV
Ot h e r
Pr o r l e v s
Tt i s t i m e now t o t u r n t o t h e s e c o n d major prob lem o f Comteana,
w hic h i s t h e r e l a t i o n o f P o s i t i v i s m t o C s t h o l i c i s m .
The Q u es t io n asked
i s w he th e r Co m te' s r e l i g i o u s e v o l u t i o n may be a s c r i b e d t o a d i s g u i s e d
retu rn t o the f a i t h of h is youth.
Tt i s i m p o s s i b l e t o g i v e a s i m p l e answer t o t h i s
t h e problem h a s s e v e r a l
angles.
applied to C atholicism ,
to P ositivism ,
question, because
The term " r e l i g i o n , " whether i t be
or t o any o t h e r s e c t ,
t h o s e g e n e r a l and vag ue words which h a v e many a c c e p t a t i o n s .
among many i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s ,
feelin g;
i s one o f
P eligion,
may be u n d e r s t o o d t o s i g n i f y r e l i g i o u s
i t may be used in t h e s e n s e o f r e l i g i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n s w it h
th eir r itu a ls,
and i t
t o examine Do s i t i v i s m
may mean e t h i c a l p h i l o s o p h y .
I t w i l l be n e cessa ry
in r e l a t i o n t o C a th o lic ism in t h e s e th r ee a s p e c t s ,
i n o r d e r t o g i v e an an s w er .
Tn a l l t h r e e c a s e s ,
w i l l be made o f t h e e l e m e n t o f dogma.
com plete a b s t r a c t io n s
P o s i t i v i s m w i l l f i r s t be exam­
i n e d as r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g .
I f t h e word " r e l i g i o n " be u n d e r s t o o d i n t h e s e n s e o f r e l i g i o u s f e e l ­
in g,
t h e n Comtism c a n n o t be r e g a r d e d a s a r e v e r s i o n t o C a t h o l i c i s m .
relig io u s feelin g,
denom inational,
no m a t t e r what t h e c r e e d may b e ,
and a l w a y s i d e n t i c a l
religiou s feelin g
It i s evident, th erefo re,
i s no t C a t h o l i c any more th an i t
Wor i s i t
in ter­
^or ex a m p le , t h e
o f a Yogi d o e s not d i f f e r e s s e n t i a l l y from t h a t o f
a C a r t h u s i a n monk.
feelin g
with i t s e l f ,
is universal,
The
t h a t Co mte's r e l i g i o u s
i s P u d d h i s t or Vohammedan.
p o s s i b l e t o a t t r i b u t e t h e development o f P o s i t i v i s m t o
a return t o C atholicism ,
i f by " r e l i g i o n " one i s t o u n d e r s t a n d r e l i g ­
io u s in s t i t u t i o n s alone.
T h i s s t a t e m e n t i s made i n s p i t e o f t h e f a c t
t h a t Comte modeled h i s r e l i g i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n s on t h e C a t h o l i c p a t t e r n .
Pe p o s t u l a t e d b e f o r e h a n d t h a t he would c o m b i n e 1 t h e p o s i t i v e f e a t u r e s
o f every phase o f c i v i l i z a t i o n ,
adopting the C a th o lic h ie r a r c h y .
and h e o f f e r e d l o g i c a l r e a s o n s f o r
P i m i l a r arg um en ts l e d him t o c r e a t e
t h e P o s i t i v i s t i c s a c r a m e n t s 5* a l o n g t h e l i n e s o f t h e C a t h o l i c .
I f by r e l i g i o n one u n d e r s t a n d s e t h i c a l
g e n e r a l o u t l o o k on l i f e
C o m t e 's r e l i g i o n i s
tique,
1.
O f.
p. Cf.
and a way o f l i v i n g ,
fundam entally C a t h o l i c .
philosophy,
that i s ,
a
i t must b e agreed t h a t
One c a n n ot read t h e P o l i ­
t h e C z t g c h i s v e and t h e P u n t H s e w i t h o u t b e i n g reminded o f t h e
pp.
pp.
1 0 7 -1 0 ° ab o ve,
146 - t 4 7 a b o v e .
-?12-
-512-
m y s t ic s d e s c r i b e d by Voragine in h i s Gol i en l e i e n i .
Comte d i s l i k e s
"sex"; he wants p u r i t y in women and c h a s t i t y in men. He arranges for
h i m s e l f a l i f e o f a s c e t i c i s m and prayers, and he makes g i f t s t o the
poor. Like the m y s t i c s , he e x t o l l s the heart at the expense of the
in telligen ce.
These id e a s are not the e x c l u s i v e property c f t h e Homan
C a t h o l ic Church, and are to be found in other s e c t s —Puddhism, in par­
t i c u l a r , a d v o ca t es c h a s t i t y , contemplation and c h a r i t y —but the com­
b i n a t i o n o f t h e s e with a contempt for i n t e l l i g e n c e i s e s s e n t i a l l y
Catholic.
I t must be remembered that Comte was c o n s t a n t l y under the
i n f l u e n c e o f medieval C a t h o l ic is m . The I mi t a t i o n , which c o n t a in s the
Quintessence o f C a t h o l ic thought, was h i s b r e v i a r y .
According to e y e ­
w i t n e s s e s , 1 he even began t o look l i k e a medieval saint..
In s h o r t,
th e r e i s no doubt t h a t the Comte of th e l a t e r days was s t r o n g l y a t ­
t r a c t e d t o C a t h o lic m yst ici sm .
However, between t h i s admission and the a s s e r t i o n t h a t he returned
t o C a t h o lic is m , t h e r e i s a d i f f e r e n c e .
In the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s judgment,
Comte did not r e t u r n t o t h e f a i t h of h i s parents, for th e reason t h a t
he had never l e f t i t .
This statement r e a u ir e s some e x p l a n a t i o n . The
a t t i t u d e of Comte, as d es crib e d above, was new with him as f a r as the
element of pure mysticism was concerned, but i t was not new in regard
t o h i s o u tlo ok on l i f e .
Comte had never been an e t h i c a l i c o n o c l a s t ,
and had always a c c e p t e d th e e t h i c a l standards of h i s country and genera­
t i o n . These sta ndards were e s s e n t i a l l y C a t h o lic .
France i s C a t h o l i c , not only because th e majorit y of her l i v i n g
c i t i z e n s are C a t h o l ic communicants (the French are noted f o r t h e i r i n ­
d i f f e r e n c e in t h e matter c f r e l i g i o u s o b se r v a n c e ! , but because her
t r a d i t i o n s and e t h i c a l c u l t u r e are Catholic . French c h i l d r e n spend
t h e i r for m at ive y e a r s stu dying such c l a s s i c s as t h e works of C o r n e i l l e ,
Pacine and P a s c a l .
These men were Catholic at h e a r t , and an important
p o r t i o n of t h e i r w r i t i n g s d e a l s with r e l i g i o u s problems, which the
s t u d e n t s are made to a n a ly z e thoroughly. From t h e s e s t u d i e s they
acou ire a system of e t h i c s e s s e n t i a l l y based on the C a t h o l ic i d e a l
of i n d i v i d u a l p e r f e c t i o n and s a i n t l i n e s s .
I t i s t ru e t h a t they are
a l s o exposed t o t h e r a t i o n a l i s t i c in flu e n c e o f th e e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y
nh i l o s o p h e s .
Put t h i s comes much l a t e r , when t h e c h i l d has reached
h i s s i x t e e n t h or s e v e n te e n t h year , when h i s code i s a lr e a d y formed and
he i s l e s s s e n s i t i v e t o o u t s i d e i n f l u e n c e s .
i . Of. p. PS above.
-514-
Tt should a l s o be pointed out t h a t t h e c h i l d r e n are but s l i g h t l y
removed from the C atholic atmosphere, even when they study the p h i l o s ophes.
All t h o se t h i n k e r s , with the e x c e p t i o n o f Housseau, had r e ­
c e i v e d a C a t h o lic t r a i n i n g t h e m s e lv e s , and combated Catholicis m with
t h e weapons th ey had acquired from t h e i r own C a t h o lic ed uca tion . Tt
f o l l o w s t h a t the French people have lea rn ed to look at l i f e with
C a t h o l i c ey e s , so t h at even t h o se who are outwardly l a b e l e d Jews or
^ r o t e s t a n t s have a C atholic a t t i t u d e .
This stat ement may appear to
be p a r a d o x ic a l, but i t i s borne out by the w r i t e r ' s pers onal e x p e r i e n c e . 1
While the ex p e r i e n c e s of others may d i f f e r , s t i l l i t seems c l e a r , in
t h e l i g h t of a l l the evid en ce th a t can be summoned, t h a t Comte never
l e f t C a t h o lic is m .
The t h i r d problem of Comteana i s concerned with the in f l u e n c e of
Faint-Fimon.
Orthodox P o s i t i v i s t s , a c c e n t i n g Comte's e s tim a te c f Fa in tFimon, reduce t h i s i n f l u e n c e to no thin g, w h i le t h e i r opponents contend
t h a t Comte did l i t t l e more than develop and c o o r d in a te the id ea s of
Faint-Simon. The i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s c o n v i c t i o n i s t h at Comte was in flu en ce d
by Faint-F imon’ s e a rly w r i t i n g s , but t h a t t h e i r subsequent c o l l a b o r a t i o n
did not add m a t e r i a l l y to h i s f i r s t s t i m u l a t i o n .
Prom the perusal of Fa in t-F im cn's t r a c t s one a cq u ir es a f a i r l y
c l e a r p i c t u r e o f the man. Pe was the p e r f e c t a n t i t h e s i s of Comte in
ev ery r e s p e c t .
While the l a t t e r had a s i n g l e - t r a c k mind and fo rever
meditated on t h e same n o t io n s , Faint-F im on ’ s i n t e l l e c t was c o n s t a n t l y
on the watch f o r new i d e a s . Comte f e l t the n e c e s s i t y c f sy st em a t izin g
a l l t h e o r i e s , while Faint-Fimon was f o r e v e r making heterogeneous c o l ­
l e c t i o n s of id e a s taken at random and u n s y s t e m a t i c a l l y from a l l the
e x i s t i n g sy stem s.
Faint-Fimon had a f e r t i l e and o r i g i n a l mind, but h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e
was s u p e r f i c i a l .
We could not dwell long enough on any s i n g l e notion
t o study i t thoroughly and give i t a l o g i c a l form. Couhier s a y s 5:
’’Faint-Fimon does not know the most elementary r u l e s of a r c h i t e c t u r e .
His ambition, n e v e r t h e l e s s , i s t h a t c f an a r c h i t e c t . His b u i l d in g s
have no s t a i r s , but they have s t o r i e s .
P u t t in g up lad ders i s th e only
way t o i n s p e c t them." This judgement e x p r e s s e s admirably the f e e l i n g s
o f the w r i t e r , s i n c e i t im p lie s t h a t Faint-Fimon was ab le to e r e c t
b u i l d i n g s o f some s o r t , in s p i t e o f h i s ig norance o f a r c h i t e c t u r e .
1 . The w r i t e r w as b r o u g h t up i n P a r i s , away fr o m t h e C a t h o l i c f a i t h , and i n an a t ­
m o s p h e r e w h io h w o u ld h a v e seem ed t o t h e c a s u a l o b s e r v e r m o s t u n f ; a v o r a b l e -b o . ^ a t h o l i o
i n f l u e n o e ; y e t , o n c o m in g t o t h i s c o u n t r y and l i v i n g among A n g l o - S a x o n P r o t e s t a n t s ,
s h e s p e e d i l y fo u n d o u t how C a t h o l i c s h e w a s i n h e r w a y s a ?d Au^ 2 e m e n y s .
p . H . S o u h i e r , La jeunesse. i ' A u o u s t e Comte et. l a f o r m a t i o n i u b o s i t i v i s m e , I I ,
p . P7S.
-P 1 5 -
P i s systems had many f la w s , but th ey were systems none the l e s s , and
th ey contained many n o t io n s which were sound.
Faint-Fimon had a g i f t of e x p o s i t i o n . Pe wrote l i k e a colu m n ist,
with a " f l a i r " for the s e n s a t i o n a l , and he knew how to s t r e s s t h e im­
p or tan t p o i n t s of h i s t h e o r i e s .
He exp re ssed h im s e l f wel l and c l e a r l y .
Tt has been s aid of him t h a t he was "a man of genius and nothing e l s e , " 1
t h a t he was "an e x p l o s i v e g e n i u s , " ? th a t he was "a burning animator with
t h e soul o f a student,"'0 and t h a t he had "genial i n t u i t i o n s . " 4 The word
"genius" recurs in t h e s e judgements, and they imply t h at he was a man
o f ou tst an din g p e r s o n a l i t y , with v a lu a b l e p e r c e p t i o n s .
Added t o t h e s e
Q u a l i f i c a t i o n s he had, in s p i t e o f a bad r e p u t a t i o n , the p r e s t i g e o f
e x p erien ce and a r i s t o c r a t i c b i r t h .
Tt would have been unnatural i f
Comte’s a t t e n t i o n had not been a r r e s t e d by Faint-FimonTs w r i t i n g s .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r t h e r e f o r e does not agree a p r i o r i with the orthodox
Do s i t i v i s t s , who refuse d to admit any Faint-Fimonian i n f l u e n c e .
On pursuing the i n v e s t i g a t i o n f u r t h e r , and comparing Comte’ s Opus­
c u l e s with the t r a c t s 5 which Faint-Fimon published prior t o h i s meeting
with Comte, t h i s assumption i s changed i n t o c e r t i t u d e . The kinship
between them and the Opuscules i s t o o marked to be exDlained by pure
coincidence.
Fven i f i t i s admitted t h a t "the d i r e c t i n g p r i n c i p l e s of
P o s i t i v i s m do not belong t o Faint-Fimon any more than to Comte, and that
they are the common d e s i r e s of a world which re c e iv e d i t s impetus from
th e P e v o lu t i o n , and from t h i s con tin u ou s r e v o l u t io n which i s modern
s c i e n c e , " 6 i t must s t i l l be r e c o g n iz ed that Faint-Fimon presented those
p r i n c i p l e s in a condensed and c l e a r form, capable o f a r r e s t i n g the
a t t e n t i o n of the young p h ilo s o p h e r .
In s h o r t , Comte could not help
bein g in fl u en ced by the w r i t i n g s which Faint-Fimon published bef or e
t h e i r meeting.
The w r i t e r ’ s c o n v i c t i o n , however, i s th a t the i n f lu e n c e stopped
t h e r e , and t h a t Comte did not, at a l a t e r p erio d , a ccu ire anything
f u r t h e r from h i s a c t u a l c o l l a b o r a t i o n with Faint-Fimon. On comparing
t h e w r i t i n g s which the two men p u b l is h e d a f t e r t h e i r a s s o c i a t i o n began,
i t i s found t h a t they have nothing in common. The two took s ep ara te
ro ad s.
I t i s t ru e t h at a s l i g h t Comtean f l a v o r permeates Faint-Fimon’ s
l a t e r w r i t i n g s . Re had adopted some of the e x p r e s s io n s o f Comte. Pe
1,
p.
p.
4.
B.
6.
L.
3,
S.
Pr.
C f.
H.
B r u n s c h v i o ? , q u o t e d b v S o u h i e r , ot>. c it.,
B r u n e t , q u o t e d b y S o n n i e r , | o e » cit.
B r u n e t , q u o t e d b y G o u h i e r , loc. cit..
3 . P um as, q u o t a ! b y G o u h i e r , loc. cit-.
p p .
l7 S - t9 4 above.
S o u h i e r , op. cit-. > I , p. ?■*?.
TT, p .
BBS.
-?1«-
speaks of metaphysics more than he did in h i s e a r l i e r works, and of a
b ast ard p o l i t i c a l doctrine"''; but t h e n o t io n s which he e x p r e s s e s are
not Comtean. On the oth er hand, t h e r e i s nothing Saint-Simonian in
Comte's w r i t i n g s . He c o n c e n t r a te s p a i n s t a k i n g l y on th e s p i r i t u a l r e ­
o r g a n i z a t i o n , while Saint-Himon d is r e g a r d s i t c o m p le tely and b u s i e s
h i m s e l f with t h e s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n . ' Haint-Himon's new idea i s
t h a t th e only way to reach u n i v e r s a l peace i s t o use i n d u s t r i a l methods
in p o l i t i c s .
He wants e nt r e p r e ne ur s t o govern and ad m in is te r s o c i e t y
s p i r i t u a l l y and p r a c t i c a l l y .
This in i t s e l f shows the width o f the
abyss which sep ara ted the two t h i n k e r s . p
Saint-Himon, who had always been a D e i s t , returned t o C h r i s t i a n i t y
toward t h e end o f h i s l i f e , and t r i e d t o r e j u v e n a t e C a t h o lic is m . His
death occurred only a few months a f t e r h i s f i n a l quarrel with Comte, and
a f t e r the break had come, th ere was no f u rth er exchange of i d e a s .
The l a s t problem cf Comteana i s connected with h i s unhappy married
life.
Which one c f th e two, Comte or h i s w i f e , was th e more to blame
f o r th e f a i l u r e of t h e i r marriage? The orthodox P o s i t i v i s t s 5 compla­
c e n t l y r e p r e s e n t Comte as a persecuted angel and h i s w if e as a wanton
harpy, harrying him during l i f e and v i l i f y i n g h i s memory a f t e r death.
Oth er s4 show him as an i r a s c i b l e husband, d r iv i n g h i s w i f e away from
home by the meanness of h i s temper.
Ttseems c l e a r , however, t h a t both
husband and w i f e must share the blame.
I f one a c c e p t s the testimony of the l e t t e r s which Comte wrote to
h i s w i f e while he was away on examination t o u r s , i t seems t h a t he was
ver y fond o f her.
His co rr espondence5 i s f r i e n d l y and i n t i m a t e , and
he appears t o be very much concerned about her comfort and p l e a s u r e s .
Fven a f t e r t h e i r s e p a r a t io n , the tone o f h i s l e t t e r s did not change
fo r a time.
Tt was only when he began t o love C l o t i l d e th a t h i s f e e l ­
ing o f f r i e n d s h i p turned t o v i o l e n t hatred . This occurred without any
apparent p rovocatio n on th e part of h i s w i f e .
Vadame Comte undoubtedly was f a r from p e r f e c t , but she had her
good p o i n t s .
Che had nursed him back t o reason a f t e r t h e p s y c h i a t r i s t
had pronounced him a h o p e l e s s maniac, and she could not be accused of
du plicity.
When Comte married her, he was aware of her s t a t u s .
It
t . S a i n t - S in o n , Fu systbme indust r ie l , i n 3. BouslS, L'oeuvre d'henri de Caint-Simon,
4 Sai'nt-Simon, Fu systbme industrial, lBPt-iBPP,
i q o j j _ t 9 p 4 , i n B o u 3 l £ , Op. cit.
8. Vf. W o l f f , "Le sig n a g e d 'A u ff u a te O o m t e , " Her cure
L ittr ^ ,
and Cattchisme de s Indust riel s,
„
de Prance, Va r c h
Jlupuste Comte et la philosophic Positive, P a r t I I ,
15, 1951,
up.
C h ap ter X lili,
"P u b lis h e d i n p a r t by L i t t r £ i n th e pages r e f e r r e d t o i n n o te 4, above.
pp.
-?17-
must be s a id in her d e f e n s e , a l s o , t h a t she had not s e l e c t e d her p r o f e s ­
s io n h e r s e l f : her own mother had s o ld her t o a man when she was b ar ely
sixteen.
./Omte accused her l a t e r o f having o f f e r e d t o welcome moneyed l o v e r s
at t h e beginning of t h e i r union. Her proposal was net d e l i c a t e , but we
cannot gauge the e x t e n t o f her unmorality, and we do not know e x a c t l y
how s t r a i t e n e d t h e i r circu m st ances were.
I t was the s u r e s t way she knew
t o get out of debt.
tfhen two i n d i v i d u a l s q u a r r e l, u s u a l l y both are somewhat to blame.
Comte accused h i s w i f e of being domineering. Fhe probably was, but i t
must be remembered t h a t any woman with a mind of her own would have been
con s id ere d domineering by a man who could net accept d i s s e n t of any kind.
Vadame Comte very l i k e l y was an ordinary housewife and wanted most of a l l
a r e g u l a r allowance t o maintain her home. Husbands with m ission s are apt
to f o r g e t that the g r o c e r ’ s and b u t c h e r ' s b i l l s have to be paid.
Her d e s i r e for a ste ady income le d her t o p r ef er dependable worldly
rewards t o uncertain r e c o g n i t i o n by p o s t e r i t y .
Fhe could not se e, e i t h e r ,
why the two aims could not be pursued s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . 1 Ccrnte accused her
o f t r y i n g to turn him i n t o an "academic machine." Ho one can blame her
f o r wanting her husband t o compete f o r o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n s , or for asking
him t o c o n c i l i a t e important p e o p le .
Fhe had f a i t h in h i s g i f t s , and she
saw t h a t o f f i c i a l s avants were r e s p e c t e d by the country and wel l rewarded
by the government. There was nothing e v i l in her d e s i r e t c see him
emulate them.
Vadame Comte exp lained t h e i r m a rita l t r o u b le s by saying that her
husband was i l l - t e m o e r e d .
There seems t o be no doubt t h at her a c cu s ati on
was well founded.
a man with psy chop ath ic t e n d e n c i e s i s u su a ll y h i g h strung and d i f f i c u l t to l i v e wit h . uowever, no attempt w i l l be made here
to ab solv e her. M s bad d i s p o s i t i o n was a good reason for a se p ara ti on ,
but i t was no excuse for her own conju ga l i n f i d e l i t i e s .
Commentators do not a t t a c h any importance to the f a c t that Comtehad
no c h i l d r e n .
Tn the w r i t e r ' s e s t i m a t i o n , i t was one o f the most c r u c i a l
f a c t o r s , i f not indeed the most c r u c i a l f a c t o r in h i s l i f e .
Had Comte
been a f a t h e r , as he so much wanted t o b e , ? h i s career would almost
c e r t a i n l y have been q u i t e d i f f e r e n t , because he would have showered on
h i s sons and daughters a l l h i s c a p a c i t y f o r l o v e . His c h i l d r e n ' s w e lf a r e ,
1. C la u ie Bernard i s t h e t y p i c a l exam p le o f a s o i e n t i s t - p h i l o s o p h e r w ith n o v e l i d e a s
who managed t o c o n c i l i a t e o f f i c i a l s u p p o r t and r e o o ^ n i t i o n w i t h o r i g i n a l r e s e a r o h .
p. E v e r y t i m e h e w r o t e t o V a l a t t o c o n g r a t u l a t e h im on t h e b i r t h o f a c h i l d , h e men­
t i o n e d h i a own d i s a p p o i n t m e n t i n t h a t r e s p e c t .
-?ie-
and not h i s m is s io n , would have dominated h i s thought, and the means o f
l i v e l i h o o d would have been o f g r e a t e r concern t o him.
Tf th e r e had been c h i l d r e n in the home, Comte's r e l a t i o n s with h i s
w ife would probably have been more p e a c e f u l . They would have had one
bond in common, lo v e o f t h e i r o f f s p r i n g .
Fhe would very l i k e l y have
been l e s s promiscuous, and he would have accepted her shortcomings with
more p a t i e n c e , because he would have r e s p e c te d in her the mother o f h i s
children.
He would a l s o have needed her badly as a housekeeper, and he
would not have dared t o g iv e f r e e r e i n t o h i s bad temper, for f e a r of
l o s i n g her s e r v i c e s .
Fhe would have had a firmer hold on him, and the c h i ld r e n would have
been her ex cuse for asking him t o do t h in g s t h a t he did not l i k e .
He had
a strong sense o f moral o b l i g a t i o n , and i t would have been easy f o r her
t o persuade him th a t t h e i r daughters needed dowers and t h e i r sons expen­
s i v e e d u c a t io n s . Tor t h e i r sa ke, he would more e a s i l y have compromised
with h i s i d e a l s .
On Hew Year's Hay, he would have donned h i s formal
b lack s u i t and s i l k h at , taken h i s white kid g loves and paid the t r a d i ­
t i o n a l c a l l s on h i s c h i e f s , i n s t e a d of going out o f h i s way to antagonize
them.
Under t h e s e c ir c u m s t a n c e s , Comte d o u b t l e s s would have res en te d h i s
way of l i f e , as a l l men do who cannot f o l l o w t h e i r a s p i r a t i o n s , but he
would have submitted t o n e c e s s i t y .
In due time he would have been made
a p r o f e s s o r at th e P o ly t e c h n io u e and at the C olleg e de Trance, and would
have ended h i s o f f i c i a l c a r e e r as an academician. He would have w r i t t e n
t r e a t i s e s , because he had t h e c r e a t i v e urge, but he would have concen­
t r a t e d on the p hiloso p h y of mathematics. Trom time to time he would
have w r i t t e n a t r a c t on s o c i a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , but not with complete
disre gar d of i t s p o s s i b l e e f f e c t s on h i s o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n .
In s h o r t , Comte as a f a t h e r would not have been Comte. Of cours e,
t h i s i s only a sur mise, but t h e w r i t e r f e e l s that i t i s a p l a u s i b l e one.
The i n f l u e n c e o f h i s p a r e n t a l s t a t u s upon the development of h i s p h i l o s ­
ophy would have been i n c a l c u l a b l y great; i t may be guessed t h at t h i s
i n f l u e n c e would have been n e g a t i v e , i f not, indeed, d e s t r u c t i v e .
Resume
The f i r s t chapter of the present book gave the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s opinion
o f Comte as a w r i t e r .
I t was poin ted out th a t h i s s t y l e was overloaded
with long and i l l - s o u n d i n g words, and t h a t the p r e s e n t a t i o n of h i s doc­
t r i n e was la ck in g in method and u n i t y .
The second ch apter d es cribe d the temperamental and i n t e l l e c t u a l
t r a i t s o f Comte which, in the w r i t e r ’ s judgement, accounted for the
f la w s of h i s system. Here i t was shown that he was dogmatic t o an ex­
treme, lacked c u r i o s i t y , had a mania for c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and o v e r - s i m ­
p l i f i c a t i o n , and was d e f i c i e n t in t a c t and i n t u i t i o n ;
I t was i n d i c a t e d
a l s o t h a t he had no d i a l e c t i c a l and l o g i c a l s e n s e , and no s o l i d meta­
p h y s i c a l f o u nd a t io n .
The t h ir d and fourth ch apters of t h i s book h3ve been devoted t o the
major problems of Comteana. The f i r s t q uestion , as to whether t h e r e was
u n i t y between h i s l i f e and d o c t r i n e , was found t o be answered in the
affirm ative.
C on s id er ati on was then given t o the second, which concerns
the r e l a t i o n of P o s i t i v i s m t o Ca th olicism.
Although i t was not admitted
t h at Comte’ s r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g and h i s Do s i t i v i s t i c i n s t i t u t i o n s were
i n s p i r e d by a retu rn to C ath olic is m , s t i l l the c o n c lu s io n was reached
t h a t h i s e t h i c a l p h ilosop h y was d i s t i n c t l y C a t h o lic . The student i s
not t o f in d in t h i s , however, a conversion to C ath olic is m , inasmuch as
Comte always had a d e f i n i t e l y C ath olic ou tlook.
The t h ir d problem o f Comteana was next analyzed, which d e a l s with
the e x t e n t of t h e i n f l u e n c e o f Faint-Fimon upon the e a r l y thought of
Comte. Tt was admitted t h a t the w r i t i n g s of Faint-Fimon pu b li sh ed p r i o r
t o t h e i r meeting had i n f lu e n c e d Comte, but i t was a l s o pointed out that
t h e i r subsequent c o l l a b o r a t i o n had exerted no furt her i n f l u e n c e upon him.
The arguments given by both s i d e s concerning th e f a i l u r e o f Comte’ s
marriage have a l s o been weighed, and the c on clu si on has been reached
t h a t n e i t h e r he nor h i s w if e was b la m e l e s s . F i n a l l y , t h e s u g g e s t i o n
has been hazarded t h a t h i s care er would have been e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t
i f he had had c h i l d r e n .
The next book w i l l pre sen t an e v a lu a tio n of h i s system.
E0OK I I
Foi ence
and
P hilosophy
CHAPTEH I
COMTISW AND SC IENCE
v^omte’ s t h e o r i e s on s c i e n c e , philosophy and r e l i g i o n are now t o be
evaluated.
Tt i s im p o s s ib le to separ ate the t h r e e , because in P o s i t i v i s m
they are one.
Comte began with a s c i e n t i f i c e l a b o r a t i o n ; he transformed
i t i n t o o h i l o s o c h y f i r s t , and in to r e l i g i o n afterward. The same n o t i o n s ,
t h e r e f o r e , have t o be stu d i e d from three d i f f e r e n t p o i n t s of view.
Two d i f f e r e n t l i n e s of thought are t o be followed here. F i r s t , i t
w i l l be n eces sa ry t o bring out the i n f l u e n c e ex erted by Comte’ s t h e o r i e s
on th e o p in io n s current in h i s days regarding s c i e n c e .
Second, an e v a l u ­
a t i o n w i l l be given of Do s i t i v i s m in r e l a t i o n to the s o - c a l l e d s c i e n t i f i c
sp irit.
Tn beginning with the f i r s t p o in t, i t w i l l be b e s t to i n d i c a t e
beforehand t h e tendency a g a in s t which t h e student must be on h i s guard.
whenever new id ea s appear in the world, they meet with disappro val
and r e s i s t a n c e .
After they have proved t h e ir valu e, th ey are g ra dually
adopted by th e m a jo rit y , and they become an i n t e g r a l part of man’ s
spiritual capital.
As th ey are adopted, they shed t h e i r r e v o l u t i o n a r y
sk in and emerge as t r u is m s . Their new a n o d e i c t i c aspe ct i s very much
in c o n t r a s t with the p arad oxical and i c o n o c l a s t i c cha ra ct er which they
appeared t o p o s s e s s at f i r s t .
This i s p a r t i c u l a r l y true of s c i e n t i f i c
theories,
^or i n s t a n c e , the layman of today takes the laws c f c e l e s t i a l
mechanics for granted, and endows them with a l o g i c a l and a v r i o r i
nature.
Yet, four hundred years ago, t h ese views seemed s c f a r from
l e g i t i m a t e t h a t men l o s t t h e i r l i v e s for holding them.
Ernest Penan draws a t t e n t i o n to a point which i s r e l e v a n t here.
Pe e x p r e s s e s h i m s e l f t h u s 1: "Writings intended t o f i g h t an er ro r d i s ­
appear with t h e error which they combated.
After a r e s u l t i s ob tain ed ,
i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o f i g u r e out the amount of labor i t has c o s t .
A genius
was re qu ired t o conquer what l a t e r becomes the domain o f a c h i l d . " This
statem en t a p p l i e s p a r t i c u l a r l y wel l to Comte. Pecause h i s id e a s l a t e r
became common property, one i s apt to f o r g e t t h a t they were novel and
o r i g i n a l one hundred years ago.
1 E rn e s t Henan, L 'avenir -ie la Science, p. P ie. m0r i n s t a n c e , th e r e a d e r o f Thomas
H u x le v 's ^ s s a v s aannot h e lp t h i n k in g t h a t Huxley wasted h i s time a t t e m p t i n g t o prove
what i s s e l f - e v i d e n t . We f o r n e t t h a t i t was n ot s e l f - e v i d e n t f i f t y y e a r s a9o.
-5>2 0 -
The s t a t e o f mind of the l i t e r a t e in d iv i du a l o f the t w e n tie t h
centu ry i s so d i f f e r e n t from th a t of an average educated man o f th e
e a r l y n i n e t e e n t h t h at i t i s d i f f i c u l t f o r us t o a p p recia t e the back­
ground o f Comte’ s a c t i v i t y .
All of us, even th ose who have not majored
in s c i e n c e , have acquired c e r t a i n major s c i e n t i f i c p r i n c i p l e s .
We are
imbued with t h e s o - c a l l e d s c i e n t i f i c a t t i t u d e toward f a c t s , and we have
a l l a ccep ted s c i e n c e as an i n t e g r a l part of our l i f e .
At the same time,
we r e a l i z e t h a t s c i e n c e does not e x p la in a l l the r.iddles of the u n iv e r s e .
f’he s i t u a t i o n was v a s t l y d i f f e r e n t in Comte’s days. There were
two s c h o o l s o f thought then . On one s i d e , there were t h o s e who had
r e c e i v e d a c l a s s i c a l ed u ca t io n , and whose s c i e n t i f i c i vve1i v, ent a con­
s i s t e d merely of a sm atte ring of mathematics. They worshipped art in
a l l i t s forms.
They regarded s c ie n c e as a meaningless c o l l e c t i o n of
b i z a r r e formulae, and as a r u l e they simply ignored i t .
They could
maintain t h i s a t t i t u d e of s u p e r i o r i t y toward i t because i t held no
c onspic u ous p l a c e in t h e i r l i f e .
Cut suddenly s c i e n c e was forced upon t h e i r a t t e n t i o n by t h e i n t r u ­
s io n o f i n d u s t r i a l i n v e n t i o n s , such as r a i l r o a d s and f a c t o r i e s , which,
t o t h e i r horror, began to mar the beauty and s e r e n i t y o f Nature. They
regarded t h e s e t h i n g s with v i o l e n t resentment. They saw in s c i e n c e
not t h e h e l p e r of humanity, but the def ac er of the beauty which they
c h e r i s h e d . Fence, t h e i r f e e l i n g o f i n d i f f e r e n c e turned t o hatred, and
they t r i e d t o r e s i s t the i n v a s i o n . This a t t i t u d e 1 i s very marked in
th e w r i t i n g s o f th e French Ro m a n t i c i s t s who were the contemporaries of
Comte, such as Th^ophile Cautier.
On t h e ot her s i d e , t h e r e were t h o s e who were acouainted with s c i ­
ence, and were watching i t s p ro d ig io u s growth with se n ti m en ta l and
b l i n d adm ira tion .
Judging i t s f u tu r e s t a t e by i t s past and pres ent
speed of ex p an si on , they b e l i e v e d t h a t i t s power nas i n f i n i t e . Fenan
put t h o s e f e e l i n g s i n t o words when he wrote*: " fcience i s a r e l i g i o n .
P e r e a f t e r , s c i e n c e alone w i l l c r e a t e symbols. Faience alone can s o l v e
th e e t e r n a l problems which human nature wants so imper iously t o s o l v e . ”
Comte must be admired for the stand which he took on t h i s problem.
Fy h i s t r a i n i n g he belonged
in t h e i r dithyrambic p r a i s e
middle c o u r s e . He V?as both
nature le d him to undertake
1 . F o u rs, v, p. 78* n o te .
? . B. P e n a n , ot>. cit.., p .
1.0°,
to the second group, but he refuse d to j o i n
of s c i e n c e , p r e f e r r in g i n s t e a d to f o l l o w a
a teacher and a reformer, and h i s dual
two m is s io n s .
As a t each er, he f e l t the
???-
n e c e s s i t y o f imparting s c i e n c e t o those who did not know i t .
He showed
them th a t i t was more than an apparent k i l l e r o f beauty, and at the
same time he impressed upon them th e f a c t that i t had sained a permanent
p l a c e in t h e i r l i v e s , and hence could not be ignored any l on ger. As a
reformer, he demonstrated t o t h o s e who b e l i e v e d in s c i e n c e that i t was
not the omnipotent Scddess whom, they had complacently p i c t u r e d . He t o l d
them t h at i t could not "so lve the e t e r n a l problems which human nature
wants so i m p er io u s ly t o s o l v e , " and he defined e x a c t l y i t s p o t e n t i a l i t y
and i t s l i m i t a t i o n s .
Py the time he had f i n i s h e d with t h i s work, ev ery ­
body r e c o g n iz e d the importance of s c i e n c e and had accepted i t s i n t r u s i o n
i n t o d a i l y l i f e ; but, on the et her hand, no one ventured t o make e x t r a v a ­
gant cl aim s for i t .
f o l l o w i n g t h i s ex p la n a tio n of the general ch ar act er o f Comte's i n ­
f l u e n c e , i t i s time to turn to the system and examine i t s s p i r i t .
Comte’ s
a t t i t u d e toward f a c t s w i l l f i r s t be co nsider ed. I t has been s a i d th a t
t h i s a t t i t u d e was not t r u l y s c i e n t i f i c .
Pefore accep tin g t h i s c r i t i c i s m ,
i t w i l l be b e s t t o e x p l a i n what we understand by the ex p r e s s io n s c i e n t i f i c
spirit.
The t y p i c a l s c i e n t i f i c s p i r i t , in the judgement o f the i n v e s t i g a t o r ,
i s a f r e e , open, i m p a r t i a l , a l e r t and c r i t i c a l a t t i t u d e toward e x p e r i e n c e .
A s c i e n t i s t imbued with th e orthodox s c i e n t i f i c s p i r i t never compromises
with t r u t h , b ecause he l o v e s i t b e t t e r than any system in the world.
When he undertakes some new r e s e a r c h , he does i t with an open and f r e e
mind, and with the dete rm in at ion t o accept the truth which Hature s e e s
f i t t o r e v e a l , no matter what t h i s tr uth may be. Tf the system which
he had e la b o r a t e d beforehand does not f i t in with the new d isc o v e r y ,
he c a s t s o f f the system and r e t a i n s th e t r u th , even though the system
may r e p r e s e n t the work cf a l i f e t i m e .
Claude Pernard wrote1: "We must
a l t e r theory t o adapt i t t o n a t u r e , but not nature to adapt i t t o t h e o r y ."
The s c i e n t i f i c s p i r i t , at the same time, e n t a i l s a c r i t i c a l a t t i t u d e
toward matters of e x p e r ie n c e .
The s c i e n t i s t does not accept a new
n o t io n without p u t t i n g i t to se vere t e s t s .
An i m p artial a t t i t u d e i s e s p e c i a l l y necessary for the s o c i o l o g i s t ,
because he d e a l s with complex r e a c t i o n s which have t c be judged by sub­
jective c r ite r ia .
He can reach tru th only by taking i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n
a l l f a c t s , t h o s e t h a t are unfavorable as well as f avorable t o h i s th eo ry .
Ldon Prunschvicg w r i t e s 9: "Tf one pretends to draw u s e f u l l e s s o n s from
quoted by J . V. P. Olmsted, Clauie Bernard,Physiologist, p. PSP.
i L. B ru n seh v i 0 3 , Les states ie la bensfe n.at.himatiQue, p. v i.
h i s t o r y , i t i s e s s e n t i a l t h a t one should not begin by s e l e c t i n g th ose
which one would l i k e t o r e c e i v e . "
Comte committed t h e error a g a i n st
which Prunschvicg i s s u e s t h i s warning.
Although he was unconscious of
i t , he lov ed h i s system b e t t e r than he did the t r u t h , and he d is c r i m ­
in a t e d among f a c t s , a c c e n t in g only t h o s e which f i t t e d i n t o h i s system.
^or i n s t a n c e , a c a r d i n a l p r i n c i p l e o f P o s i t i v i s t i c s o c i a l reco n­
s t r u c t i o n was t h a t the d e s t r u c t i v e urge had died in Furore.
A new war
meant the downfall of h i s system.
Therefore, when h o s t i l i t i e s began
between France, Fngiand anj P u s s ia , he refu sed to co n s id e r tham as re al
a c t s of war and averred t h a t they were only an i n s i g n i f i c a n t i n c i d e n t .
The f a c t t h a t s o l d i e r s were k i l l i n g each other in the good o l d - f a s h i o n e d
way of b e l l i g e r e n t s made no d i f f e r e n c e .
P o s i t i v i s m i s a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c in a second r e s p e c t . Comte did not
d i s t i n g u i s h c r i t i c a l l y between proved f a c t s and surmis es. P i s phreno­
l o g i c a l psy chology i s the b e s t example o f t h i s a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c s p i r i t .
Comtism i s a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c in s t i l l another way. I t s founder en­
j o i n e d s c i e n t i s t s net t o go beyond the p r e c i s i o n which was re au ire d for
th e demonstration of t h e i r hypotheses and the needs of humanity. Comte
did not r e c o g n i z e t h e t r u th t h at many important d i s c o v e r i e s had been
made simply because s c i e n t i s t s had gone furth er than i t appeared n e c ­
e s s a r y at th e time.
Another a s s e r t i o n of h i s which i s a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c i s h i s opinion
regarding the d e s t r u c t i o n of old
laws. He advances the thought t h a t a
s c i e n t i s t should not demonstrate
the unsoundness o f a law which has been
working s a t i s f a c t o r i l y from the p r a c t i c a l viewpoint, u n t i l he i s ready
to o f f e r a b e t t e r one to take i t s p l a c e .
Comte did not apprehend th e p o in t that the only l e t h a l weapon
a v a i l a b l e t o t h e s c i e n t i s t i s a new law. He did not sense the f a c t
t h a t laws do not become o b s o l e t e gr a du all y, l i k e machinery; t h a t they
are a g e l e s s , and always d ie in t h e i r prime from a v i o l e n t d e a t h . 1 A
new house cannot be b u i l t over a f a u l t y e x i s t i n g s t r u c t u r e . The old
b u i l d i n g must be torn down, and th ere must be a period o f t r a n s i t i o n
during which no h a b i t a t i o n oc c u p ie s the s i t e .
I t i s not so with laws.
There i s no period o f t r a n s i t i o n between the old and th e new, and an
old law i s not destr oy ed b i t by b i t b e f o r e a new one i s e r e c t e d to
take i t s p l a c e .
I t f a l l s suddenly, without warning, when the s c i e n t i s t
produces a b e t t e r one. The new law d e s tr o y s the old a u t o m a t i c a lly ;
hence, t h e r e i s no danger o f humanity being without
1 . E. Meyerson,
le I 'explication ians les sciences, p. a t .
a law.
-p rd -
P o s i t i v e ph ilos op hy has been accused of being a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c for
a f i f t h reason.
The f o l l o w i n g stateir.ent of Comte, s i n g l e d out bu Puxle.V, i s u s u a l l y quoted to support t h i s a s s e r t i o n 1:
No m a t t e r h o w h i £ h a d e c r e e o f e i u o a t i o n i s r e a c h e d b y t h e
ma33es in th e f u t u r e ,
i t i s e v i d e n t t h a t most o f t h e G enera l
i d e a 3 i e 3 t i n e d t o b e c o m e common w i l l h a v e t o b e a c c e p t e d b v
them t h r o u g h f a i t h and n o t t h r o u g h d e m o n s t r a t i o n s . . . .
There
i s no f r e e d o m of t h o u g h t in a s t r o n o m y , in p h y s i c s , in c h e m i s t r y
and in p h y s i o l o g y ,
i n a s m u c h a3 i t w o u l d be deemed a b s u r d n o t t o
b e l i e v e i n t h e s c i e n t i f i c p r i n c i p l e s e s t a b l i s h e d bv c o m o e t e n t
men.
Puxley took up the c u d g els f o r freedom of thought, and answered Comte
in t h e s e words’ :
N o t h i n 5 i n u l t r a m o n t a n e C a t h o l i c i s m c a n , i n my . " j u d g e m e n t , b e
m ore c o m p l e t e l y s a c e r d o t a l ,
more e n t i r e l y a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c ,
than
h is dictum.
411 th e i r e a t 3 t e p s in t h e a d v a n cem en t o f s c i e n c e
h a v e b e e n mad e b y . j u s t t h o s e men w ho h a v e n o t h e s i t a t e d t o d o u b t
"the p r in c i p le s e s t a b lis h e d
in th e s c i e n c e s by c o m p e te n t p e r s o n s " ;
and t h e 2 r e a t t e a c h i n g o f s c i e n c e — t h e i r e a t u s e o f i t a s an i n ­
strum ent of mental d is c ip l in e is i t s constant in c u lc a tio n of the
maxim t h a t t h e
sole
Ground on w h ic h any s t a t e m e n t h as a r i g h t t o
be
b e lie v e d is the im p o ssib ility to refu te it.
H u xle y's r e t o r t i s c a u s t i c , but, in th e w r i t e r ' s judgement, i t does not
r e f u t e Comte's c o n t e n t i o n at a l l , because Huxley did not grasp the point
which
Comte made, and thereby confused the i s s u e .
Comte’ s thought i s
t o be
i n t e r p r e t e d as f o l l o w s . I t c o n t a i n s
two separate and u n relate d
a s s e r t i o n s : (1) t h a t th e masses have to learn by f a i t h , and (?) that
t h e r e i s no freedom in s c i e n c e .
These two n o t io n s appear t o be i r r e f u ­
table.
The f i r s t a s s e r t i o n may now be analyzed.
It i s true th a t the masses
have t o accept many s c i e n t i f i c t r u t h s by f a i t h without j u s t i f i c a t o r y
dem o n st ra tio n s .
I t i s t r u e that they r e c e i v e a b e t t e r education as
c i v i l i z a t i o n p r o g r e s s e s and the per iod o f formal t r a i n i n g i s extended.
However, nobody w i l l d is p u t e the f a c t that the scope and the a b s t r u s e ­
n e s s o f s c i e n c e are i n c r e a s i n g in a r a t i o which i s eaual t o , i f not
g r e a t e r than, t h a t by which edu ca tio n p r o g r e s se s .
I t f o l l o w s that edu­
c a t i o n , although i t i s c o n s t a n t l y becoming more e x t e n s i v e , has t o em­
brace a grea t deal more m ate ri al than i t did in former t im es . The day
when t h e masses can le a r n ev ery t h in g by demonstration, in s t e a d o f by
f a i t h , i s at l e a s t as remote now as i t was in the times o f Comte.
Thomas Huxley, The Scien ti fic Astects of Positivism, i n £ay Sermons, Vol. IT, p.
i v?.
-??F Tn t h e w r i t e r ' s e s t i m a t i o n , Comte was in so l i t t l e danger o f e r r i n g
in t h i s r e s p e c t t h a t he might w e l l have made h i s s t a t e m e n t more swe eping,
and embraced t h e g l i t e with t h e m as se s .
In th e good old days o f Human­
ism, which were not f a r behind Comte from t h e p o i n t o f view o f a c t u a l
s c i e n t i f i c dev e lo pm e nt ,
s c i e n c e was so l i m i t e d t h a t a s i n g l e mind could
l e a r n e v e r y t h i n g by d e m o n s t r a t i o n .
In Comte's own t i m e s , s u p e r i o r minds
- Comte h i m s e l f among them— c ou ld s t i l l emul at e th e Humanists. ?ut t h o s e
t i m e s a r e p a s t , never t o r e t u r n .
In t h e middle o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y t h e r e was, b r o a d l y s p e a k i n g ,
one advanced s c i e n t i f i c l e v e l ,
had a b r i l l i a n t
which c o u l d be a t t a i n e d t v a l l t h o s e who
i n t e l l i g e n c e and a mathematical turn o f mind.
above t h i s advanced l e v e l ,
t h e r e are h i g h e r s t r a t a where i t
Today,
i s the p r i v i ­
l e g e o f a few " i n t e l l e c t u a l g i a n t s " t o walk in t h e i r s p e c i a l f i e l d s .
?hen H e l a t i v i t v was f i r s t propounded,
we heard a competent mathematician
say t h a t t h e r e were not more than s i x men in th e world, who c ou ld under­
stand F i n s t e i n ' s demonstration.
He h i m s e l f had done some o r i g i n a l work
i n t h e f i e l d o f pure mathematics; y e t he f e l t t h a t i t would t a k e him
tw e n ty y e a r s t o become r e a l l y at home with t h e new t h e o r y .
i s g i v e n in or de r t o show t h a t s c i e n t i s t s sometimes
f a i t h , l i k e common m o r t a l s .
c ut t h i s i s not a l l .
T h i s example
have t o l e a r n
by
The major s c i e n c e s known t o Comte have v i r t u a l l y d is a p p e a r e d on the
h i g h e r l e v e l , and made way f o r br an c he s which have become ind ep en d e n t
s c i e n c e s in t h e i r own r i g h t ,
with s p e c i f i c t e c h n i q u e s .
Instead of s ix
s c i e n c e s , t h e r e are a dozen or more.
I t i s n e c e s s a r y a l s o t o t a k e i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n t h e sp e ed o f d e v e l ­
opment o f t h e s e s c i e n c e s .
D i s c o v e r i e s s ucc ee d one anoth er so f a s t t h a t
t h e s c i e n t i s t has h a r d l y time t o d i g e s t a new n o t i o n and weigh i t s c on­
s e q u e n c e s b e f o r e he ha s t o c o n c e n t r a t e on a s t i l l newer o n e .
Therefore,
not o n l y are t h e r e mere s c i e n c e s
now than t h e r e were in t h e mid dle o f
the nin eteenth century,
of t h e s e s c i e n c e s d e v e l o p s with a speed
but each
which was a b s o l u t e l y un h e a rd -o f at t h a t ti m e.
These t h r e e t e n d e n c i e s o f contemporary s c i e n c e — a b s t r u s e n e s s , com­
p l e x i t y and a c c e l e r a t e d speed o f p r o g r e s s — compel t h e s e who want t o
become m a s te r s t o s p e c i a l i z e e a r l y and e x h a u s t i v e l y .
Tf t h e y have
d i f f i c u l t y in ke ep in g a b r e a s t o f one s c i e n c e , t h a t i s , i f a l l t h e i r
l a b o r s have t o be s pe nt on l e a r n i n g one s c i e n c e by d e m o n s t r a t i o n , i t
f o l l o w s t h a t t h e y ca nn ot do more than throw a p e r f u n c t o r y g l a n c e a t
t h e o t h e r s , and t h e y have t o a c c e p t on f a i t h much t h a t i s o b t a i n e d
from o t h e r "competent men." Penc e, t h e g l i t e a l s o l e a r n by f a i t h .
Comte’ s s t a t e m e n t , which was v a l i d f o r the ma s se s , a p p l i e s e q u a l l y t o
th e £ l i t e today.
-??eAn a n a l y s i s may now be given o f h i s second a s s e r t i o n , t h a t which
concerns freedom o f b e l i e f in s c i e n c e . I;dvy-Pri3hl makes-a r e l e v a n t
sta tem ent on t h i s p o i n t . He n o t e s t h a t f a i t h in s c i e n c e 1 "does not
i n v o l v e a voluntary a b d i c a t i o n of t h e i n t e l l e c t in presence o f a mys­
t e r y , but a submission t o f a c t which in no way encroaches upon the
r i g h t s o f r e a s o n ." Comte’s p r o p o s i t i o n i s a c c e p t a b l e t o every one,
i f modified by the i n c i d e n t a l p r o p o s i t i o n f o r t he ma j o r i t y , which, in
our e s t i m a t i o n , was implied by Comte. The apophthegm then reads:
"There i s no freedom in s c i e n c e f o r th e m a j o r i t y . "
We do b e l i e v e that t h ere i s no freedom in s c i e n c e f o r the majority,
even f o r an educated m ajo rity. The average man can do no more than to
understand what has been l a i d down by h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l s u p e r io r s and
accept i t .
For him, s c i e n t i f i c l o g i c has th e c h a ra ct er o f a c a t e g o r i c a l
im p e r a t i v e . We know by personal e x p e r i e n c e t h a t the average student
plowing h i s way through a demonstration, be i t a mathematical deduction
or t h e r e l a t i o n of an experiment, has no c h o i c e in the matter o f b e l i e f :
he i s compelled t o b e l i e v e .
I t should be pointed out t h a t Huxley i s not r e f e r r i n g t o t h i s
c o l o r l e s s though educated majorit y. He has i n mind t h o s e few c r e a t i v e
g e n i u s e s who are r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the advancement o f knowledge. We agree
with Huxley t h a t t h o se men are a law unto t h e m s e lv e s , or, t o be more
e x a c t , t h a t th ey c r e a t e the laws which t h e m ajo rity has t o f o l l o w . In
o t h e r words, t h i s small minority has freedom o f b e l i e f , w h ile t h e major­
i t y has n o t .
I t i s evident from the two c o n t e x t s t h a t Comte was r e f e r ­
r i n g t o t h e majority and Huxley t o the m in o r it y . Since they are not
spe akin g o f the same i n d i v i d u a l s , th ey may both be r i g h t , and th us the
argument l o s e s i t s r a i s o n d ’ e t r e .
There i s one more c r i t i c i s m t o be o f f e r e d , and i t concerns the
p e r f u n c to r y treatment which Comte gave t o the o b j e c t i v e method. He
was s a t i s f i e d with a mere enumeration of i t s v a r i o u s s t e p s . But s i n c e
t h e method was th e foundation of h i s whole system, i t o b v io u s ly demanded
an e x h a u s t i v e and c r i t i c a l a n a l y s i s . This decided weakness in p o s i t i v e
p h i lo s o p h y i s - e x p l a i n e d by Comte’ s type o f i n t e l l i g e n c e and i n t e r e s t s .
He had always conce ntr ated on th eory. His s c i e n t i f i c knowledge had
been acquired by the study of t e x t b o o k s , and he had never pursued ex­
p erim en ts of h i s own. Therefore, he had no per son al acquaintance with
t h e method.
1.
L. L<vy-Brflhl, The Philosophy of Auguste Comte, p. ?4.
-P ? 7 -
Another j u s t c r i t i c i s m has been made. Lewes1 and c e r t a i n l o g i c i a n s
ta ke th e stand th a t Comte did not pay enough a t t e n t i o n t o v e r i f i c a t i o n .
V i l l ’ cl aim s t h a t s in c e Comte did not ac ce pt the s y l l o g i s m as a means
o f re ach in g t r u t h , he was bound by l o g i c not t o use deduction t o v e r i f y
induction.
The same t h in ker argued t h a t , in order t o be c o n s i s t e n t with
h i m s e l f , Comte should have o f f e r e d a3 "general c r i t e r i o n by which t o
d e c i d e whether a given i n f e r e n c e i s c o r r e c t or n o t . " V i l l ' s obse rvation
cannot be r e f u t e d . Comte o f f e r s no c r i t e r i a o f t r u th anywhere except
t h o s e of naive common s e n s e . This i s not enough f o r a system o f p h i l o s ­
ophy. This corr ob or at es once again the a s s e r t i o n which has been made
b e f o r e , namely, t h at Comte was no l o g i c i a n . 4
Two d i f f e r e n t l i n e s o f thought have been f o ll o w e d in the present
c h a n t e r . F i r s t , the general nature o f Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e on s c i e n t i f i c
n o t i o n s has been t r a c e d . This i n f l u e n c e was dual: he i n i t i a t e d the a r t t r a i n e d " i n t e l l i g e n t s i a " to the m erits o f s c i e n c e , and a t the same time
"debunked" i t f o r t h o s e who had an exaggerated opin ion of i t s worth.
Second, t h e r e was a d i s c u s s i o n of t h e reproach aimed a g a in s t t h e SDirit
o f p o s i t i v e philosophy: namely, t h a t i t was a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c .
I t was agreed t h a t , in most c a s e s , t h i s reproach was j u s t i f i e d .
Comte’ s a t t i t u d e was a n t i - s c i e n t i f i c in t h e se nse t h a t he re f u se d t o
accept f a c t s which did not f i t i n t o h i s system, and he welcomed evidence
with out weighing i t c r i t i c a l l y .
He a s s e r t e d t h a t s c i e n t i s t s should not
go beyond t h e p r e c i s i o n req uired f o r u t i l i t y and the v e r i f i c a t i o n o f
t h e i r h yp oth es es , and he o f f e r e d an erroneous i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the
method which s c i e n c e use s t o d e s tr o y unsound s c i e n t i f i c laws. He gave
t oo p e r f u n c to r y a treatment of th e o b j e c t i v e method, and he o f f e r e d no
l o g i c a l c r i t e r i o n of tr u th .
On the oth er hand, acc eo tance has not been given t o Huxley’s
c r i t i c i s m regarding Comte’ s n o t io n o f ed u catio n by f a i t h , and of f r e e ­
dom o f b e l i e f in s c i e n c e . An a n a l y s i s w i l l now be given of the aims
which Comte a ssi g ned to s c ie n c e and p h i lo s o p h y .
1.
p.
s.
k.
a. H. Lewes, History of Philosophy, Vol. I I , p. 7?4.
John Stuart M ill, Auguste Comte and Positivism, p. 55.
Loc. cit.
Of. pp. 199-199 above.
C H A P T E R II
Sc i e n c e
The f i r s t part
i s known t h a t Comte
changed h is mind on
was not s t a t i c , and
and
Philosophy:
Their
Aims
o f t h i s d i s c u s s i o n w i l l be devoted t o s c i e n c e .
It
c o n s id ere d u t i l i t y the aim of s c i e n c e , and never
t h i s p o i n t . However, h i s conception o f u t i l i t y
i t was m a t e r i a l l y a l t e r e d through the y ears .
We
are concerned with t h e d o c t r i n e which he expres sed in the Cours, 1 and
s h a l l ignore that of the P o l t t i a u e a l t o g e t h e r . When he became a mys­
t i c , 2 philosophy sank from, i t s former e x a l t e d s t a t u s t o t h a t o f a
l o g i c a l preamble to r e l i g i o n .
Scien ce f e l t the e f f e c t s o f the change.
Comte l o s t i n t e r e s t in the s p e c i f i c g i f t s o f the in d i v i d u a l s c i e n c e s
t o human w e lf a r e , and devoted h i s e n t i r e a t t e n t i o n t o the methodolog­
i c a l c o n t r i b u t i o n s of the o b j e c t i v e s c i e n c e s t o the s u b j e c t i v e s c i e n c e .
Appraisal of t h i s new d o c t r i n e i s unnecessary here, s i n c e we are i n t e r ­
e s t e d in the aim o f s c i e n c e viewed alo ne and independently from i t s
c o n t r i b u t i o n s to p h il os op h y.
In h i s e a r ly theory, Comte f o r b id s the p u r su it o f s c i e n c e f o r the
l o v e of knowledge. Only th e f i e l d s which can produce a harv es t u s e f u l
t o man are t o be c u l t i v a t e d .
In p e r f e c t f a i r n e s s , i t must be mentioned
t h a t Comte i s l i b e r a l in h i s n o t i o n s as t o what i s p r o f i t a b l e t o humanity.
He does not r e s t r i c t u t i l i t y t o p h y s i c a l w e lf a r e , but al low s i t a l s o t o
embrace i n t e l l e c t u a l and e t h i c a l w e l l - b e i n g . N e v e r t h e l e s s , he s t r e s s e s
t h e poin t t h a t the p u r s u i t o f knowledge for t h e sake o f knowing i s not
a s p i r i t u a l need of human nat ure.
He emphasized a l s o the idea t h a t the
end of i n t e l l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y i s a c t i o n .
I t f o l l o w s from t h e s e two l i n e s
o f thought t h a t Comte r e j e c t s d i s i n t e r e s t e d lo v e of knowledge as an aim
o f s c i e n c e , and r e t a i n s u t i l i t y o n ly.
Two important o b j e c t i o n s are t o be made t o Comte’ s theo ry . The
f i r s t i s th a t i t s e t s the problem o f t h e aim o f s c i e n c e on a t h e o r e t i c a l
and narrow foundation, and the second i s t h a t i t i s based on an unaccept­
ab le conception of human n a t ur e. As t h e s e two o b j e c t i o n s are c l o s e l y
r e l a t e d t o each o th er, they w i l l be t r e a t e d sim u lta n eo u s ly . I t should
be made c l e a r at the o u t s e t t h a t t h e sta tem en ts t o be made deal' with
t h e p u r su it o f s c i e n c e , t h a t i s , with th e ouest for new knowledge,
e . g . , the i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f the unknown. They do not deal with the
study o f the s c ie n c e alre ad y in e x i s t e n c e , the aim of the student being
o b v i o u s l y q u i te d i f f e r e n t from t h a t o f the res ea rc h worker.
1 . C f. p p . 8 8 -8 4 , 4 P -4 8 a b o v e,
p . C f. p p . 47—49, IS P -1 8 8 a b o v e .
-sae-
The concept o f aim i n v o l v e s two n o t io n s , t h o s e o f o r i g i n and o f
end. They c o i n c i d e in s c i e n c e , in t h e sense that the f o r c e s which
were r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e beginning o f s c i e n c e s t i l l s t i m u la t e man to
extend i t s domain. For t h i s rea so n, i t w i l l not be n ec es sa ry t o d i s ­
t i n g u i s h between t h e two: one and the other w i l l be analyzed i n d i f f e r ­
e n t l y , and t h e r e s u l t s obtained from both sources w i l l be combined.
Comte i s not r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e manner in which the problem of
th e aim of s c i e n c e was form ulate d. I t was expres sed in the dilemmatic
form, which i s c l a s s i c tod ay, long b e f o r e h i s time.
I t must be men­
t io n e d , however, t h a t i t became a c r u c i a l question in the n in e te e n t h
ce ntury only because i t was at t h a t time and not b e f o r e that s c i e n c e
began t o have many a p p l i c a t i o n s .
The dilemma g i v e s a c h o i c e between u t i l i t y and d i s i n t e r e s t e d lo v e
of knowledge, the t h i n k e r s e l e c t i n g the motive which harmonizes b e t t e r
with the general s p i r i t o f h i s system. Some i n d i v i d u a l s , l i k e Comte,
the Fconomists, John Stuart W ill, and t h e V a rx is ts in p a r t i c u l a r , de­
ci d ed for u t i l i t y , w h ile the Creek p h ilosop h ers unanimously adopted t h e
d i s i n t e r e s t e d l o v e o f knowledge. Vost contemporary t h in k e r s f o l l o w the
Greek t r a d i t i o n , not only because o f the inherent tendency o f t h e i r
d o c t r i n e , but a l s o b ec ause exp e r ie n c e has proved that i t was t h e b e t t e r
approach t o u t i l i t y .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r does not approve of the form given t o the problem.
For one t h in g , i t adopts an a u t h o r i t a t i v e , r h e t o r i c a l and a v r i o r i p o in t
o f view. I t t e l l s man what t o do without in q uirin g beforehand i n t o the
a c t u a l motives which prompt him t o c r e a t e a body of knowledge, and w i t h ­
out f in d i n g out whether e i t h e r u t i l i t y or d i s i n t e r e s t e d l o v e o f knowl­
edge can a c t u a l l y be the aims of the s c i e n c e .
The w r it e r claim s t h a t s c i e n c e i s a r e a l i t y and t h a t i t should be
viewed as such, t h a t i s , e m p i r i c a l l y .
I t i s a l s o e v id e n t t h a t we cannot
c o n t r o l i t s development. I t appears t o f o l l o w r u l e s of i t s own, which
man can d i s c o v e r , but cannot d i r e c t .
As a consequence, the only s e n s i b l e
a t t i t u d e to be assumed in th e pre sen t case i s th a t which views s c i e n c e
as a phenomenon. The q u est io n r e s o l v e s i t s e l f i n t o f i n d i n g out what
man does when he c r e a t e s s c i e n c e , then i n f e r r i n g what h i s motives are,
and l e t t i n g i t go at t h a t .
Furthermore, t h e c l a s s i c mode of p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e problem does
not do j u s t i c e t o th e a c t u a l co m plexity of s c ie n c e . On an alyz in g the
nature of s c i e n c e , i t i s found t h a t i t has two d i f f e r e n t forms, a s t a t i c
and a dynamic.
I t s dynamic mode i s re p res en te d by progr es s: s c i e n c e i s
f o r e v e r growing. I t s s t a t i c a s p e c t embodies order: s c i e n c e c l a s s i f i e s
-?80-
and s y s t e m a t i z e s n o t i o n s .
The two a s p e c t s are c o r r e l a t e d , s i n c e th ey
a v a i l t h em s elv es o f the same d a t a . N e v e r t h e l e s s , th ey d i s p l a y marked
d ifferen ces.
They vary in order of appearance.
A d i s c o v e r y i s made;
then i t i s c l a s s i f i e d and incorporated in t o th e e x i s t i n g body o f
knowledge. Hence, s c i e n t i f i c progre ss precedes s c i e n t i f i c order.
The dynamic s c i e n c e of today i s the s t a t i c s c i e n c e o f tomorrow, and,
t o use the Comtean p h rase olo gy, s c i e n t i f i c order i s t h e development
of s c i e n t i f i c progress.
The l o g i c a l o b j e c t i o n which comes to mind at once i s th a t s t a t i c
s c i e n c e i s th e s t a r t i n g - p o i n t o f dynamic s c i e n c e , namely, t h a t p ro gre ss
i s t h e development o f order. This, however, i s a a u e s t i o n of the point
o f view. Comte had in mind s c i e n c e as a whole. I t i s ev i d e n t that
dynamic s c i e n c e a v a i l s i t s e l f of the f in d i n g s of s t a t i c s c i e n c e , and
s t a r t s where t h e l a t t e r ends. But we have in mind s p e c i f i c d i s c o v e r i e s .
A new n o t io n i s always d isc o v e r e d f i r s t , bef or e i t i s sy st em a t ized ;
t h e r e f o r e , order i s t h e development of progress in t h i s c a s e .
I t should
a l s o be noted t h a t important d i s c o v e r i e s are u s u a l l y complete departures
from accepted i d e a s , so much so that the ex p res sio n " r e v o lu tio n o f s c i ­
ence" i s c o n s t a n t l y used t o c h a r a c t e r i z e them.
The two forms of s c i e n c e d i f f e r a l s o in human o r i g i n .
The dynamic
s c i e n t i s t i s comparable t o th e ex p lorer who d i s c o v e r s new lan d s, and
th e s t a t i c savant t o t h e c o l o n i z e r who f o ll o w s in h i s wake and c u l t i ­
v a t e s t h e new t e r r i t o r y .
One important d i s t i n c t i o n should be made at
t h i s p o in t: the dynamic s c i e n t i s t i s i n t e r e s t e d in the unknown, w hile
t h e s t a t i c s c i e n t i s t i s i n t e r e s t e d in the known. J u s t . a s t h e e x p lo r e r
and the c o l o n i z e r are men of d i f f e r e n t types in a s p i r a t i o n s and t r a i n i n g ,
so a l s o are t h e dynamic and s t a t i c s c i e n t i s t s . Prom t h e s e f a c t s i t can
be i n f e r r e d t h a t the two forms of s c ie n c e are u s u a l l y pursued by d i f f e r e n t
men and f o r d i f f e r e n t m oti ves. While we w i l l i n g l y admit t h a t s t a t i c
s c i e n c e owes i t s l i f e and nature t o u t i l i t y , lo ve o f knowledge, or both,
we claim t h a t dynamic s c i e n c e owes i t s v i t a l i t y t o c u r i o s i t y and t o
man's enjoyment o f the very a c t o f i n v e s t i g a t i n g Nature.
An i n a u i r y i s now t o be made i n t o the reaso ns which l e d man to ex ­
p l o r e the world which surrounded him. According t o Comte, two i n s t i n c t s 1
are r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e b i r t h of s c ie n c e : the n e c e s s i t y t o s a t i s f y e x ­
a c t i n g p h y s i c a l needs, and th e i n s t i n c t of improvement. But the i n v e s ­
t i g a t o r i s not s a t i s f i e d with t h i s th eory. The e x i s t e n c e o f the f i r s t
i n s t i n c t i s acknowledged, which i s th e combination o f t h e n u t r i t i v e ,
1.
C f. pp. 98 a n i 4? above.
-? ? 1 -
maternal and s ex u a l urges d es c r ib e d by Comte in h i s phrenology1; but
t h e second i s not accepted without r e s e r v a t i o n .
I t must be admitted
t h a t appearances are in f avor o f th e e x i s t e n c e of such an i n s t i n c t ,
but an o b j e c t i o n i s here r a i s e d t o Comte's b l i n d acce pta nce of i t .
For one t h i n g , he does not d e f i n e i t , and l e a v e s us in the dark
as t o i t s p s y c h o l o g i c a l o r i g i n , s i n c e i t i s not one o f t h e ten motors
o f the h e a r t . One u r g e , 5 t h e c o n s t r u c t i v e or i n d u s t r i a l , i s , o f course,
c l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o i t ; but Comte does not e x p l a i n how i t i s transformed
i n t o the complex i n s t i n c t of improvement.
For another t h i n g , we contend t h a t , i f Comte were going to take
i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n i n d e f i n i t e urges not in cluded among th e motors, he
was bound t o r e c o g n i z e the e x i s t e n c e o f the c o n s e r v a t i v e or re a c t io n a r y
i n s t i n c t which prompted man, and s t i l l prompts him, t o be s a t i s f i e d with
t h i n g s as they are and t o be a f r a i d of change.
As t h i s urge works in a
d i r e c t i o n co ntra ry to the d e s i r e f o r improvement, t h e l a t t e r can be f e l t
o n l y in the measure in which i t exceeds th e c o n s e r v a t i v e i n s t i n c t . In
th e w r i t e r ’s e s t i m a t i o n , t h e r e i s no evid en ce t h at i t i s g r e a t e r , and
t h e u t i l i t a r i a n motive i s reduced t o the b i o l o g i c a l n e c e s s i t y . This
i n s t i n c t alo ne cannot e x p l a i n the r i s e o f s c i e n c e .
I t should be pointed out t h a t Comte b e l i e v e s t h a t man i s i n t e l ­
l e c t u a l l y l a z y , ’- t h at mental e f f o r t ir k s him, and t h a t h i s h e d o n i s t i c
p r o p e n s i t y prompts him t o avoid i n t e l l e c t u a l e x e r t i o n . How i s t h e in ­
s t i n c t o f improvement going t o play a d e c i s i v e part i f man t r i e s t o
avoid th in k in g whenever he can? According t o such a th eo ry , s c i e n c e
would be the o f f s p r i n g o f i n t e r m i t t e n t and d e s u l t o r y s p e c u la t i o n .
S c i e n c e , with i t s com p le xit y, c o h e s io n and con stancy , i s e v i d e n t l y
t h e outcome of a p e r s i s t e n t and purposive e f f o r t . P o s i t i v e t r a i t s
and not vague urges must be made t o account f o r i t .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r ’ s own theory w i l l now be o u t l i n e d . The stand
taken i s d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed t o t h a t o f Comte. The c o n t e n t io n i s
t h a t man’ s mind i s not l a z y .
In making t h i s statement th e i n v e s t i g a t o r ,
l i k e Comte, has in mind humanity at l a r g e , without any d is c r i m in a tio n
on t h e b a s i s of t y p e s , r a c e s and e r a s . The ex p erien ce o f the ages
proves a p o s t e r i o r i t h a t man l i k e s t o t h in k , and l o g i c co rrob orates
th is a priori.
L i f e e n t a i l s a c t i v i t y . Man i s a l i v i n g mind as w e ll as a l i v i n g
body. The same law of Nature, the b i o l o g i c a l , which s t i m u l a t e s h i s
1 . C f. p. .31 above.
J)» ' LiOCm '
5 . Cf. p. S3 above.
-952bo dy t o a c t i v i t y and makes him e n j o y p h y s i c a l e x e r c i s e ,
also stim ulates
h i s mind t o t h o u g h t and makes him e n j o y u s i n g h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e .
The
i n d i v i d u a l s who a c c e p t C o m t e ' s t h e o r y w i l l answer t o our a s s e r t i o n t h a t
man a s we know him h a t e s t o t h i n k ,
by p u r s u i t s which p r e c l u d e a l l
ch e a p m o v i e s ,
listen in g
s i n c e he a t t e m p t s t o d i v e r t h i m s e l f
use o f i n t e l l i g e n c e ,
such a s g o i n g t o
t o r a d i o " t h r i l l e r s , ” or r e a d i n g i n a n e f i c t i o n ;
and t h a t t h e p r o g r e s s o f s c i e n c e i s due t o t h e work o f a f e w g e n i u s e s
and n o t t o t h e c o l l a b o r a t i o n
of the m ajority.
We s h a l l an sw er t o t h i s
argument t h a t g e n i u s e s a r e n o t d i f f e r e n t from t h e r e s t o f h u m a n i t y ,
and
t h a t t h e y o n l y p o s s e s s a g r e a t e r s h a r e o f t h e i n t e l l i g e n c e w hic h e v e r y ­
one p o s s e s s e s .
I t i s t i m e now t o r e v e r t t o t h e s u b j e c t .
cu riosity.
In te llig en ce generates
The most i n t e l l i g e n t a n i m a l s a r e t h e most c u r i o u s ,
of c u r i o s i t y in a c h i l d
g e n c e and c u r i o s i t y ,
in s te a d of always,
i s a reco gn ised sign of im b e c ility .
therefore,
u s u a l l y go hand i n hand.
b e c a u s e a p p a r e n t l y some i n t e l l i g e n t
and l a c k
In te lli­
We s a y u s u a l l y
i n d i v i d u a l s ar e
e x c e p t i o n s t o t h e r u l e and do n e t e x p e r i e n c e c u r i o s i t y — Comte h i m s e l f
b e i n g t h e i d e a l e x a m p le o f s u ch an anomaly.
in to con sid eration,
a r e t o t h e body:
because i t
C u r io s ity has t o be taken
i s t o i n t e l l i g e n c e what p h y s i c a l n e e d s
a p ow erfu l urge to a c t i o n .
T h is p o i n t must b e s t r e s s e d ,
b e c a u s e Comte i g n o r e d t h e d r i v i n g f o r c e o f c u r i o s i t y .
While i n t e l l i g e n c e
m ig h t c o n s e n t t o p a s s i v e s p e c u l a t i o n on t h e known, c u r i o s i t y i n s i s t s
upon an a g g r e s s i v e a c t i v i t y d i r e c t e d toward t h e unknown.
The f i r s t
effect
of in te llig e n c e
•m ystery which s u r r o u n d s him,
i s t o make' man c o n s c i o u s o f t h e
and t h e f i r s t e f f e c t o f c u r i o s i t y
is to
b i d him i n v e s t i g a t e t h i s
mystery.
I f we a n a l y z e our r e a c t i o n t o m y s t e r y ,
we f i n d t h a t we l o s e a l l
i n t e r e s t i n t h e s u b j e c t which h a s a r o u s e d our
c u r i o s i t y as soon as th e l a t t e r has been s a t i s f i e d ,
th e m ysterious q u a l i t y has d isap peared .
been l e a r n e d ,
to e x i s t .
A ridd le,
that i s ,
a s s o o n as'
a f t e r t h e an sw er has
i s n o t h i n g but a s o a p - b u b b l e t h a t h a s b u r s t :
i t has ceased
The b e l i e f t h a t our a t t r a c t i o n t o t h e unknown i s d u e t o i t s
e l e m e n t o f m y s t e r y i s c o r r o b o r a t e d by r e a s o n .
The unknown and t h e known a r e i d e n t i c a l o b j e c t i v e l y ,
a r e p a r t o f t h e same r e a l i t y .
s in c e they
Yet t h e i r s u b j e c t i v e v a l u e s a r e d i f f e r e n t .
One f a s c i n a t e s u s , w h i l e we a c c e p t t h e o t h e r in a m a t t e r - o f - f a c t way.
One c o n t a i n s m y s t e r y ,
a b l e t o as sum e,
c a u s e d by i t s
cu riosity.
w h ile th e oth er does not;
as s t a t e d above,
q u a lit y of m ystery.
therefore,
it
i s reason­
t h a t our a t t r a c t i o n t o t h e unknown i s
Hence,
scien ce i s the o ffsp r in g o f
I t s h o u l d a l s o be n o t e d in p a s s i n g t h a t t h e e l e m e n t o f m y s t e r y in
N a t u r e awakens man’ s p u g n a c i t y .
in tellig en ce.
He c o n s i d e r s i t
a ch allen ge to h is
When he i n v e s t i g a t e s t h e unknown h e f e e l s t h a t he i s
w r e s t i n g s o m e t h i n g p r e c i o u s from N a t u r e , and t h a t he h a s a c c o m p l i s h e d
a noteworthy f e a t .
I t i s contended th a t,
w h ile lo v e o f knowledge,
u tility ,
or both,
might account f o r t h e e x i s t e n c e o f s c i e n t i f i c n o t i o n s ,
n either of these
two c a n e x p l a i n t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y dynamism o f s c i e n c e ,
that i s ,
evident
i n s a t i a b i l i t y o f t h e dynamic s c i e n t i s t .
for u t i l i t a r i a n
in vestigatin g,
reasons,
the
I f h e pu rs ued s c i e n c e
a f t e r he had made a d i s c o v e r y he would s t o p
and b e g i n t o s u r v e y i t s p r a c t i c a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s .
a s a m a t t e r o f f a c t he d o e s not do t h i s :
Put
he u s u a l l y l e t s o t h e r s dedu ce
the in d u s tr ia l a p p lic a tio n s of h is d iscovery.
I f he e x p l o r e d N at ure
f o r t h e mere l o v e o f k n o w l e d g e , he would spend h i s t i m e a d m ir i n g h i s
" f i n d s , " l i k e t h e c o l l e c t o r who h as added a new p i e c e t o h i s s t o r e o f
treasures.
tist
Put t h i s i s e x a c t l y what h e d e e s n o t d o.
appears to l o s e a l l
A dynamic s c i e n ­
i n t e r e s t in h i s o a s t d i s c o v e r i e s .
ways w a t c h i n g t h e h o r i z o n ,
He i s a l ­
and d o e s n o t t u r n t o l o o k b a c k .
I t may a l s o be s a i d t h a t d i s c o v e r i e s whet h i s t h i r s t i n s t e a d o f
ouenching i t .
T h i s s t a t e o f t h i n g s can o n l y b e e x p l a i n e d b y t h e a s ­
sumption th a t h i s i n t e r e s t
to l i f t
the v e i l
l i e s e x c l u s i v e l y i n t h e unknown.
from m y s t e r y .
He d e s i r e s
Not b e i n g a t t r a c t e d b y p o t e n t i a l u t i l i ­
t a r i a n k n o w l e d g e , h e jumps from one pro blem t o a n o t h e r .
e v e r y t h i n g t e n d s t o p r o v e t h a t man p u r s u e s s c i e n c e ,
In s h o r t ,
not fo r t h e sake
o f u t i l i t y or f o r a d i s i n t e r e s t e d l o v e o f k n o w l e d g e , b u t f o r t h e s a t i s ­
f a c t i o n o f a p r i m e v a l and s t r o n g e r u r g e ,
A very n a tu r a l
be t o l d
cu riosity.
o b j e c t i o n comes t o t h e mind o f t h e r e a d e r .
t h a t t h e dynamic s c i e n t i s t knows t h a t h e i s p e r f o r m i n g a m i s s i o n
fo r humanity,
and t h a t he i s i n f l u e n c e d by t h i s k n o w l e d g e .
g a t o r a g r e e s w i t h t h i s i d e a , but not w i t h t h e s p i r i t
given.
We s h a l l
The i n v e s t i ­
i n which i t
is
When t h e s c i e n t i s t i n v e s t i g a t e s N a t u r e , h u m a n i t a r i a n i s m i s h i s
" a l i b i " and n o t h i s r e a l m o t i v e .
The f a c t t h a t a l t r u i s m and e g o t i s m
h a v e t h e same end d o e s n o t chan ge t h e n a t u r e o f t h e q u e s t i o n .
T h i s p o i n t o f v i e w may b e made c l e a r e r by means c f an i l l u s t r a t i o n .
We a l l
know many s i n c e r e women who n e v e r m i s s a m e e t i n g o f t h e i r church
sewing c i r c l e ,
and f e e l v e r y v i r t u o u s a b o u t t h e i r r e g u l a r a t t e n d a n c e .
I f p h i l a n t h r o p y w e r e t h e i r r e a l end,
t h e y w o ul d do t h e i r s e w in g a t home,
b e c a u s e t h e y c o u l d work t w i c e a s f a s t when u n d i s t u r b e d .
Pueh an o b v i o u s
i d e a d o e s n o t come i n t o t h e i r minds, b e c a u s e t h e p r i m a r y r e a s o n f o r t h e i r
-234r e g u l a r a t t e n d a n c e i s no t c h a r i t y b u t t h e d e s i r e f o r a good t i m e .
are gregarious;
They
t h e y e n j o y m e e t i n g f r i e n d s and p a r t a k i n g o f c o f f e e and
d o u g h n u t s in t h e i r company.
p r i s t i n e urge,
However, fe w would l i k e t o admit s uch a
b e c a u s e t h e human r a c e l i k e s t o j u s t i f y a l l
i t s actions
by l o f t y m o t i v e s .
Hence t h e women p e r s u a d e t h e m s e l v e s t h a t c h a r i t y i s
t h e i r u nderlying urge.
So i t
i s w i t h t h e s c i e n t i s t and u t i l i t y .
He may s i n c e r e l y b e l i e v e
t h a t he i n v e s t i g a t e s F a t u r e t o a l l e v i a t e t h e burden o f humanity; but in
t h i n k i n g so he d e l u d e s h i m s e l f .
h i s own i n s t i n c t .
He i s p r i m a r i l y i n t e r e s t e d
in s a t i s f y i n g
I t s h o u l d a l s o be n o t e d t h a t i f a t h i n k e r were b en t
on h e l p i n g h i s f e l l o w - m a n ,
t h e r e a s o n a b l e t h i n g f o r him t o do would be
t o a p p l y t h e s c i e n c e which h a s a l r e a d y p r o v e n i t s worth i n s t e a d o f s t a r t ­
i n g on u n c e r t a i n r e s e a r c h ,
a b i r d i n t h e hand b e i n g worth two i n t h e b ush .
We may b e t o l d t h a t m e d i c i n e i s a s h i n i n g r e f u t a t i o n o f our t h e o r y ,
s i n c e b a c t e r i o l o g i s t s a r e g u i d e d by t h e o b v i o u s n e e d s o f hum ani ty .
Put
t h e i r c a s e d o e s n o t seem t o i n v a l i d a t e t h e t h e o r y which has been s e t
fo rth here.
U t i l i t y s e l e c t s the o b ject o f p a th o lo g ic a l research,
does not c r e a t e th e i n v e s t i g a t i n g u r g e . J
from r e s e a r c h ,
as a r u le ,
but
The b e s t t h e r a p e u t i s t s a b s t a i n
and a s c i e n t i s t u s u a l l y d e c i d e s t h a t he w i l l
d e v o t e h i s e n e r g y t o r e s e a r c h b e f o r e he s e l e c t s t h e o b j e c t o f h i s r e ­
search.
I t i s hoped, t h e r e f o r e ,
d isin terested
t h a t p r o o f h a s b e e n g i v e n t h a t u t i l i t y and
l o v e of. knowledge a re n o t t h e a c t u a l aims o f t h e s c i e n t i s t
who d e v o t e s h i s l a b o r s t o t h e advancement o f s c i e n c e .
Several other ob jectio n s
theory of sc ie n c e .
may b e o f f e r e d t o C o m t e' s u t i l i t a r i a n
The f i r s t
i s p s y c h o l o g i c a l in n a tu re.
We co n t en d
t h a t i f mail were t o i n q u i r e i n t o F a t u r e f o r t h e s a k e o f u t i l i t y
s c i e n c e would l o s e most o f i t s dynamism i m m e d i a t e l y .
i s h e s o n l y where s p o n t a n e o u s n e s s and freedom r e i g n .
of i t s
very n a tu re,
e n t a i l s compulsion.
only,
C uriosity flo u r ­
U tility ,
because
I f u t i l i t y w ere c o n s t a n t l y
p r e s e n t in t h e mind o f t h e s c i e n t i s t , r e s e a r c h would l o s e i t s most
precious stim ulus.
Another c r i t i c i s m
Veyerson.
a g a in s t the u t i l i t y
t h e o r y h a s b ee n v o i c e d by
He a v e r s 9 t h a t human i n t e l l i g e n c e
way t h a t man a l w a y s g o e s f u r t h e r t h a n i s
1 . Hans Sinaw er, th e b a c t e r i o l o g i s t , w r ite s :
b ra n o h of work fepidem iology! from a nnmber o f
o o n so io u s d e s ir e t o do good. The o o in t i s t h a t
s i t i o n s l e f t f o r in d iv id u a ls who f e e l th e need
Lice and History,
p.
15. 1
, .
.
,
,
i s c o n s t i t u t e d i n such a
in d isp en sable for h is n e c e ssity .
"As a m a tte r o f f a c t , men go i n t o t h i s
m o tiv e s, th e l a s t of which i s a s e l f i t rem ains one o f th e few s p o r tin g propo­
of a c e r t a i n amount o f ex c ite m e n t. f.Yats,
S. 15. V eyerson, De I 'e x p l i c a t i o n dans l e s s c i e n c e s , p . cPS.
The n e x t s t r i c t u r e i s o f a s e n t i m e n t a l o r d e r .
I t d e a ls with th e
r e l a t i v e s u p e r i o r i t y o f on e h o rn o f t h e dilemma o v e r t h e o t h e r .
had t o c h o o s e b e t w e e n l o v e o f k n o wl ed ge and u t i l i t y ,
would f a v o r t h e f i r s t .
kn owled ge i s ,
I f we
we most c e r t a i n l y
Pursuing s c ie n c e fo r a d i s i n t e r e s t e d lo v e o f
i n our e s t i m a t i o n ,
natu re than pursuing i t
a g r e a t d e a l more worthy o f human
fo r th e sake of u t i l i t y .
We l i k e t o t h i n k ,
w i t h V e y e r s o n , 1 t h a t s c i e n t i s t s work " f o r t h e g l o r y o f t h e human mind”
( I s s 3avants t r a v a i l l e n t
pour V h o n n e u r i e la r a i s o n huwa i ne ) .
The
same p h i l o s o p h e r a l s o q u o t e s t h e words o f P a s c a l 9 : "All our d i g n i t y
c o n s i s t s in thought,
i n t h i s t h o u g h t which u n d e r s t a n d s t h e u n i v e r s e or
a t l e a s t t r i e s to understand i t . ”
N o t h i n g more can be added t o t h e
u t t e r a n c e o f one o f t h e g r e a t s p i r i t s
Th is p a r t o f t h e d i s c u s s i o n w i l l
jection.
o f a l l tim e.
be ended w it h a n o t h e r l o g i c a l ob­
Comte i s no t c o n s i s t e n t w i t h h i m s e l f when he a s s i g n s u t i l i t y
a s t h e end o f s c i e n c e ,
impassable b a r r ie r .
^ irst,
Second,
he s e p a r a t e d t h e o r y and p r a c t i c e 9 by an
he a s s e r t e d t h a t both a s D e c t s o f s c i e n c e 4
a r e n ot t o be p u rs ue d by t h e same men.
These two p r o p o s i t i o n s a r e no t
o n l y i n l o g i c a l harmony, b u t a r e a l s o d e f e n s i b l e .
t o ask th e t h e o r e t i c a l
s c i e n t i s t t o work as i f
However, he p r o c e e d s
a b s t r a c t s c i e n c e were an
end i n i t s e l f , p and a t t h e same t i m e t o keep i n mind t h a t t h e v a l u e o f
a discovery i s
in p r o p o r t i o n t o i t s u t i l i t y .
These l a s t two p r o p o s i ­
t i o n s a r e i r r e c o n c i l a b l e from t h e p o i n t o f v i e w o f p u re l o g i c .
A k n ow le d ge o f Co m te’ s mind,
n evertheless,
so lv e s the ra tio n a l
c o n f l i c t by sh o w in g t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l o r i g i n c f t h e two n o t i o n s .
Ccmte
was t o o w e l l a c a u a i n t e d w i t h t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e s c i e n c e s n o t t o a p p r e ­
c i a t e t h e f a c t t h a t t h e most f r u i t f u l
view of u t i l i t y ,
of u t ilit y .
d iscoveries,
came from r e s e a r c h which a t f i r s t
and a s i f
d isin terested
l o v e o f knowledge were t h e i r e n d .
However, he was s u s p i c i o u s o f i n t e l l i g e n c e .
i n h i s mind w i t h v a i n m e t a p h y s i c a l p r e o c c u p a t i o n s ,
an a n a r c h i s t which knew no l a w .
He had t o f i n d a f o r c e ,
force,
in the l a s t r e s o r t ,
I t was c l o s e l y a l l i e d
and he c o n s i d e r e d i t
He wanted t o impose r e g u l a t i o n s upon
p o w e r f u l and c o n s t a n t , which would subdue
i t s d isin tegratin g tendencies.
u tility ,
ap pe are d t o be d e v o i d
T h i s i s why he wanted s c i e n t i s t s t o work i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f
p ractition ers,
it.
from t h e p o i n t o f
Man i s t h e s l a v e o f h i s n e e d s ,
i s h is master.
As i t i s a c o n t i n u o u s
he was s u r e n o t t o wander i f he f o l l o w e d i t s o r d e r s .
1. Mejrerson, ot>, e i t . > p.-f595. ■
p. I b i d . i p . 6 8 0 .
S. Of. p . 48 above.
t. Of. p. 4? above.
5. O f. pp.
4 8 -4 4 abo v e.
and
-? ? e-
We h a ve a n a l y z e d Comte’ s t h e o r y c o n c e r n i n g t h e aim o f s c i e n c e i n
r e l a t i o n t o our own.
We s h a l l p r o c e e d in t h e same f a s h i o n w i t h h i s
c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e end o f p h i l o s o p h y .
Philosophy,
i n t h e Comtean s e n s e ,
t h e f i r s t , knowledge,
each i s u t i l i t y .
As k n o w l e d g e ,
science,
is
u tility .
and t h e s e c o n d , e s p r i t
4 ’ e n s e mb l e , and t h e aim o f
i s e i t h e r g e n e r a l s c i e n c e 1 ( s e c o n i D h i l o s o p h y ) or
s c ie n c e 2 ( f i r s t p h ilosop h y).
u n iversalized
is
it
i s a c t u a l l y two u n r e l a t e d t h i n g s :
Under b o t h f o r m s ,
and p e r f o r c e i n h e r i t s i t s aim from s c i e n c e .
As e s p r i t
philosophy
Hence, t h e end
4 ’ e ns e mbl e (we u s e t h e French e x p r e s s i o n b e c a u s e t h e
E n g l i s h l a n g u a g e h as no e q u i v a l e n t ) ,
p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y i s an a t t i t u d e .
On t h e one hand, Comte was k e e n l y c o n s c i o u s o f t h e i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e o f
n a t u r a l phenomena, o f t h e l e s s g e n e r a l phenomenon t o t h e more g e n e r a l ,
o f organs to th e organism,
of in s t it u t io n s to s o c ie t y ,
s c ie n c e s to the s u b je c tiv e scien ce .
of the o b j e c tiv e
On t h e o t h e r hand, h e r e a l i z e d t h a t
t h e c o m p le x it y o f Nature rendered s p e c i a l i z a t i o n a n e c e s s i t y ;
afraid of i t s d isp e r siv e e f f e c t s .
b u t he was
He t h o u g h t t h a t t h e b e s t way t o make
man m i n d f u l o f t h e i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e o f phenomena, and t o remedy t h e d i s ­
p ersion ,
was t o as k man t o r e t a i n a g e n e r a l v i e w o f t h e w h o l e .
r e p r e s e n t e d t h e s e c o n d aim o f p h i l o s o p h y .
ophy s t i l l
performs a s e r v ic e :
Therefore,
we s t i l l
hence,
In t h i s new a s p e c t , p h i l o s ­
i t s aim i s a g a i n u t i l i t y .
w h e t h e r we l o o k a t i t s s u b j e c t - m a t t e r or a t i t s
fin d u t i l i t y
This
sp irit,
a s t h e end o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y .
We a r e l e s s a t o d d s w i t h Comte in p h i l o s o p h y t h a n we were i n s c i e n c e .
We do no t c o n s i d e r p h i l o s o p h y a s y s t e m o f l a w s ,
m oderns, we r e g a r d i t
a s h e d o e s ; w i t h most
a s an organon o f p r i n c i p l e s .
However,
w i t h him t h a t p h i l o s o p h y i s a l s o an e s p r i t 4 ' e ns e mbl e .
we a g r e e
The p u r p o s e o f
p h i l o s o p h y , b o t h a s an or ga n on and a s an e s p r i t 4 1e ns e mb l e ,
i s to in ter­
p r e t and c o r r e l a t e t h e many r e a l i t i e s which a s s a i l man from a l l s i d e s ;
in sh o r t,
a p h i l o s o p h y i s an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e w o r l d which s u r r o u n d s u s .
S i n c e man c a n n o t a c t and l i v e u n l e s s he h a s c o r r e l a t e d t h e s e v a r i o u s
rea lities,
it
down by Comte,
migh t b e s a i d t h a t p h i l o s o p h y h a s t h e u t i l i t a r i a n end s e t
and i n t h i s r e s p e c t we a g r e e w i t h him.
However, what we
s a i d i s t r u e o n l y on t h e s u r f a c e .
A c t i o n r e q u i r e s a r u d i m e n t a r y p h i l o s o p h y which r e m a i n s on t h e p h e ­
nomenal l e v e l .
V e t a p h y s i c i s t s a r e n o t s a t i s f i e d w i t h s uch a p h i l o s o p h y .
1 . C f. pp. 48-49 above,
p. C f. po. 49-50 above.
-PP7They a r e b e n t upon d e l v i n g beyond t h e phenomenon, e v e n i f
it
i s t o prove
l a t e r t h a t man c a n n o t or need n o t l e a v e t h e phenomenal r e a l i t y .
l a t i o n on t h e a b s o l u t e i s f o r e i g n t o u t i l i t y .
an alysis,
cerned,
u tility
Therefore,
i s n o t t h e aim o f p h i l o s o p h y .
Sp ecu­
in th e l a s t
As f a r a s we a r e c o n ­
t h e m en ta l t r a i t s which prompt man t o Dursue s c i e n c e a r e a l s o
t h o s e which make him p h i l o s o p h i z e ;
b u t more w i l l b e s a i d on t h i s s u b j e c t
in t h e f o l l o w i n g c h a p t e r .
The p r e s e n t c h a p t e r may now b e summed up.
An a n a l y s i s was f i r s t
g i v e n o f t h e aim which Comte a s s i g n e d t o s c i e n c e ,
that i s ,
u tility .
T h i s was r e j e c t e d , on t h e grounds t h a t i t was founded on a l i m i t e d con­
c e p t i o n o f what t h e aims o f s c i e n c e might b e , and on a f a u l t y e v a l u a t i o n
o f human n a t u r e .
We advanced t h e id e a t h a t t h e p u r s u i t o f s c i e n c e had
i t s o r i g i n in man’ s c u r i o s i t y and h i s c o r r e l a t i v e a t t r a c t i o n t o t h e un­
known.
A d d i t i o n a l o b j e c t i o n s were o f f e r e d t o th e u t i l i t a r i a n t h e o r y .
I t was o b s e r v e d t h a t s c i e n c e r e c e i v e d
p ursuit,
i t s dynamism from s p o n t a n e i t y o f
and t h a t i t would l o s e t h i s c h a r a c t e r i f u t i l i t y
aim o f s c i e n c e .
were made t h e
We a l s o remarked t h a t i t was more s a t i s f y i n g t o our
p r i d e t o t h i n k t h a t man c u l t i v a t e d s c i e n c e f o r a d i s i n t e r e s t e d
knowledge than f o r u t i l i t y .
L astly,
love of
i t was shown t h a t Comte was not
c o n s i s t e n t w i t h h i m s e l f when he i n s i s t e d upon u t i l i t y .
I t was a l s o b r o u g h t o u t t h a t p h i l o s o p h y .in t h e Comtean a c c e p t a t i o n
is
scien tific
k n o w l e d g e — g e n e r a l s c i e n c e ( s e c o nd p h i l o s o p h y ) p l u s u n i ­
( f i r s t p h i l o s o p h y ) — and an e s p r i t d ' e n s e mb l e .
In
both c a s e s , p h ilo so p h y s e r v e s u t i l i t y .
Although we r e f u s e d t o r e g a r d
v ersa lized
scien ce
p h i l o s o p h y a s an org an on o f s c i e n t i f i c l a w s ,
it
was an e s p r i t
i'ensemble.
we a g r e e d w i t h Comte t h a t
The u t i l i t a r i a n end h a s a l s o b e e n e n d o r s e d ,
t o t h e e x t e n t o f a g r e e i n g w i t h Comte t h a t p h i l o s o p h y r e p r e s e n t e d an
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e w o r ld s u r r o u n d i n g u s ,
t a r i a n end.
and a s s u ch s e r v e d a u t i l i ­
Pu t we a t o n c e p a r t e d from Comte a g a i n ,
when we p o i n t e d
o u t t h a t m e t a p h y s i c i s t s go beyond t h e phenomenon i n t o t h e a b s o l u t e
r e a l i t y where an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s n o t n e c e s s a r y t o a c t i o n ,
u tility .
i.e .,
CHAPTER
SC I E
NOE
AND
PHILOSOPHY
IN
To t h e f o u n d e r o f P o s i t i v i s m ,
is,
change,
I I I
RELATION
TO
THE
HUMAN
V|ND
s c i e n c e d e s c r i b e s phenomena, t h a t
and i n v e s t i g a t e s t h e l a w s which g o v e r n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s ;
in o t h e r words,
it
s t u d ie s the r e l a t i v i t y .
I t c a n n o t d e f i n e t h e perma­
n e n t r e a l i t y — t h e a b s o l u t e — which u n d e r l i e s phenomena, and c a n n o t s u c ­
cessfu lly
inquire in to f i r s t
and f i n a l c a u s e s .
Hence,
s p e c i f i c hypothe­
s e s which r e p r e s e n t man’ s e f f o r t t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e r e l a t i v i t y can be
verified ,
w h i l e g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s w hic h r e p r e s e n t h i s a t t e m p t t o com­
p r eh en d t h e a b s o l u t e c a n n o t .
ster ile .
On t h e
Tt
The f i r s t
a r e f r u i t f u l and t h e s eco nd
s t r e n g t h o f t h i s argu men t, Comte f o r b a d e g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s .
h a s bee n s e e n how, a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f h i s c a r e e r ,
t i o n t o t h i s r u l e , 1 but how,
As
l a t e r on, h e p e r m i t t e d c e r t a i n c o n c e s s i o n s . 55
he found o u t t h a t s c i e n t i s t s needed
th eir
he made no e x c e p ­
general th eo r ie s to co rrela te
s p e c i f i c h y p o t h e s e s and f o r t h e s a k e o f f a c i l i t a t i n g r e s e a r c h ,
he
p e r m i t t e d them t o f o r m u l a t e g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s such a s t h e c o r p u s c u l a r
or m o l e c u l a r .
Tt must be remembered, t h o u g h ,
t h a t he p l a i n l y i n d i c a t e d
t h a t t h o s e t h e o r i e s were n o t h i n g more th a n a i d s t o s p e c i f i c h y p o t h e s e s ,
and e m p h a t i c a l l y a v e r r e d t h a t t h e y were n e v e r t o be c o n s i d e r e d a s en ds
in th e m s e lv e s .
In s h o r t ,
s c i e n c e re m a i n e d a a u e s t f o r t h e how, not
f o r t h e whu.
Tt h as t o be p o i n t e d ou t t h a t Comte n e v e r c o n s c i o u s l y b r o u g h t t h i s
new s p i r i t o f t o l e r a t i o n
f o r t h e how,
in to philosophy.
and t h e how o n l y .
P h i l o s o p h y re m a in e d a a u e s t
I t s f u n c t i o n was t o s y s t e m a t i z e and
le$al fin d in g s of s c ie n c e .
As t h o s e g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s
we re working t o o l s and n o t l a w s , t h e y were r o t a d m i t t e d i n t o t h i s new
g e n e r a liz e the
realm.
Veyerson observed t h a t th e P o s i t i v i s t i c
lim ita tio n of scien ce to
t h e l e g a l domain was in l o g i c a l a c c o r d 5 w i t h t h e g e n e r a l s p i r i t o f t h e
system .
The aim o f Comtism i s a c t i o n . 4
prevision is
Action r e a u i r e s p r e v i s i o n ,
g i v e n by t h e k n o w le d ge o f l a w s and n o t by t h e kn ow le dg e o f
th e in tim ate nature of th in g s .
Tt was,
therefore,
p e r fe c tly ration al
f o r Comte t o l i m i t s c i e n c e t o l e g a l i t y .
1. C f. pp.
4 6 -4 7 ab o v e.
p.
C f.p o .
4 7 -4 3
4.
C f.
3 . HI. V eyerson,
p.
94
and
above.
.
De I Explication dans les sciences, pn.
above.
-2 38-
.
„
4 5 , 4 - , 6 ^..^.
We f i n d t h a t Comte i n q u i r e s i n t o t h e n a t u r e s o f s c i e n c e and p h i ­
l o s o p h y w i t h t h e a u t h o r i t a t i v e and f o r m a l s p i r i t which he had a d o p t e d
t oward t h e i r a i m s .
realism .
As f o r u s ,
we s h a l l p e r s e v e r e in our e m p i r i c a l
R e g a r d in g s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y a s phenomena, we s h a l l
i n q u i r e i n t o t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l t r a i t s which a c c o u n t f o r t h e i r n a t u r e ,
and t h e n s e e i f Comtism p r o v i d e s them w i t h p ro p er o u t l e t s .
In s t u d y i n g t h e aim o f s c i e n c e ,
a d i s t i n c t i o n was made b e t w e e n
s t a t i c s and d yn a m ic s ; b u t t h i s p r o c e d u r e w i l l not be f o l l o w e d i n t h e
p r e s e n t i n s t a n c e , b e c a u s e our c o n c e r n now i s with s c i e n c e as an o r ­
g a n ic whole.
I t w i l l be n e c e s s a r y to carry th e p s y c h o lo g ic a l a n a l y s i s
f u r t h e r than i t has p r e v i o u s l y been c a r r i e d .
I f i n t e l l i g e n c e and c u r i o s i t y a c c o u n t f o r t h e b i r t h and d e v e l o p m e n t
of science,
th ey are not s u f f i c i e n t t o e x p la in the d i s t i n c t i v e nature o f
s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l
t o be c o n s i d e r e d .
system s.
S e v e r a l o t h e r mental t r a i t s ha ve
The t h i r d and most o b v i o u s i s r e p r e s e n t e d by man’ s
d i s l i k e o f t h e c h a o s and m u l t i p l i c i t y which Natur e o f f e r s t o h i s e y e s ,
and h i s c o r r e l a t i v e b e l i e f t h a t o r d e r and parsimony u n d e r l i e t h e s e mani­
festation s.
Van i n q u i r e s i n t o N a t u r e w i t h t h e e x p r e s s p u r p o s e o f d i s ­
c o v e r in g t h o s e hidden q u a l i t i e s .
He d o e s not deem t h a t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n
h a s b ee n s u c c e s s f u l u n l e s s he h a s f o u n d them.
portant, because i t
T h i s t r a i t i s v e r y im­
i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e s c h e m a t i c n a t u r e assumed by
b o t h s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y .
A fourth c h a r a c t e r i s t i c p la y s a v i t a l r81e.
faith
in N atu re’ s r a t i o n a l i t y .
I t i s man’ s i m p l i c i t
He t h i n k s t h a t sh e b e h a v e s a s h e would
under t h e same c i r c u m s t a n c e s , 1 and h e n c e he b e l i e v e s t h a t he c a n d ed u ce
h e r ways p a r t l y from h i s r e a s o n .
This t r a i t accounts f o r th e f a c t th a t
man c o n s i d e r s h i s s p e c u l a t i o n s w o r t h - w h i l e , and i t a l s o e x p l a i n s t h e
d e d u c t i v e c h a r a c t e r which s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y assume a s t h e y emerge
from t h e i r c h r y s a l i s .
A f i f t h t r a i t w hic h h a s t o b e a n a l y z e d i s man’ s i m a g i n a t i o n .
not only p e r c e iv e s o b j e c t s ,
but im agines t h in g s .
Van
Although i m a g i n a t i v e
c r e a t i o n s a r e l e s s v i v i d t h a n p e r c e p t i o n s in t h e making, t h e y a r e j u s t
a s v i v i d a s t h e memo rie s l e f t by p a s t p e r c e p t i o n s /
Figments o f h i s
i m a g i n a t i o n and d a t a coming from p a s t e x p e r i e n c e ar e t h e t h r e a d s which
man i n d i f f e r e n t l y u s e s t o weave t h e f a b r i c o f h i s s y s t e m s .
There i s
?: I ^ m lk in g t h i « CB taieB ent® 7 t h a Pa o t 2 l ‘ o r i g i n of im a g in a tiv e d a ta i s p u rp o se ly i g ­
n o re d . The f a o t t h a t im a g in a tio n goes t o p a s t e x p e rien ce fo r d a ta is im m a te ria l, s in c e
i t s h u f f le s th e se d a ta and oomhines them i n t o o a tte r n s whioh a re not found in N a tu re .
-P 4 0 no s u b j e c t i v e ,
f o o l - p r o o f c r i t e r i o n by which h e ca n a s c e r t a i n t h e e x a c t
origin of h is
ideas.
about f a c t s .
Tt i s n e c e s s a r y t o em p h a s i z e t h i s t r a i t ,
s e e soon t h a t
i t p l a y s an im p o r t a n t p a r t i n p h i l o s o p h y and i n s c i e n c e .
A sixth
Re i s a p t t o m i s t a k e f a b l e s f o r t h o u g h t s b u i l t
and l a s t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ,
but n e v erth eless d iffe r e n t,
c l o s e l y r e la te d to the preceding,
h a s t o be b r o u g h t o u t .
f o r s u s p e n s e and i g n o r a n c e .
b e c a u s e we s h a l l
I t i s man's d i s l i k e
I t i s s a i d t h a t N a t u r e h a t e s a vacuum.
may b e s a i d w i t h e q u a l t r u t h t h a t man h a t e s t o be w i t h o u t an a n s w er ,
t h a t he i s n e v e r w i t h o u t one when l e f t t o h i s own d e v i c e s .
r e a s o n f a i l s him,
w ith one.
answer,
he i n v e n t s o n e ,
When h i s
asked a q u e s t i o n f o r which he h a s no
that is ,
he o f f e r s a h y p o t h e s i s .
At f i r s t he
a p p r e c i a t e s t h e f a c t t h a t h i s answer i s n o t h i n g b u t a s u r m i s e .
a truth.
He i s
o f t e n en ou gh ,
led to t h i s
im aginative elu c u b ra tio n s.
however,
sists
he c o n v i n c e s h i m s e l f t h a t i t
T h i s power o f a u t o - s u g g e s t i o n
is
i s a great
c h i l d r e n and morons t h a n among i n ­
and e d u c a t e d men t r a i n e d i n t h e s c i e n c e s ; b u t i t
in th e l a t t e r .
I f he
s e l f - d e l u s i o n by t h e v e r i s i m i l i t u d e o f h i s
d e a l more marked among p r i m i t i v e s ,
tellig en t
and
h i s i m a g i n a t i o n comes t o h i s r e s c u e and s u p p l i e s him
I f an i n d i v i d u a l i s
has to re p e a t i t
It
still
per­
S c i e n t i s t s b e l i e v e f o r c i b l y in t h e i r t h e o r i e s ,
Comte h i m s e l f r e p r e s e n t i n g an i d e a l example o f such a t e n d e n c y .
A f t e r e x a m i n i n g t h e human t r a i t s which a c c o u n t f o r t h e n a t u r e o f
s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y a s t h e v s t a n d t o d a y ,
mode o f a c t i o n .
I n t e l l i g e n c e and c u r i o s i t y ,
th e c o n s c io u s n e s s o f a surrounding mystery.
q u e s ti o n s about Nature.
a l i t y of Nature,
i s time to study t h e i r
a s we h a v e s e e n ,
g i v e man
They prompt him t o ask
D esire for s im p lic ity , b e l i e f
im agination,
forms of t h e s e q u e s ti o n s ,
it
in th e r a t io n ­
and h a t r e d o f s u s p e n s e c o n d i t i o n t h e
and even s u p p l y t h e fo rm s o f t h e a n s w e r s .
A com plete e x p la n a tio n in v o lv e s fin d in g th ree answers,
one t o a
what (what i s i t made o f ? > , one t o a whu (why d o e s i t h a p p e n ? ) , and
one t o a how (how d o e s i t come i n t o b e i n g ? ) .
L e t us compare t h e whu
and t h e how q u e s t i o n s .
The two ar e e q u a l l y i m p o r t a n t , b e c a u s e t h e y
g i v e r i s e t o a n s w e r s which d i s c l o s e two d i f f e r e n t a s p e c t s o f r e a l i t y .
The a n s w er t o how i s v a l u a b l e f o r u t i l i t a r i a n r e a s o n s ,
as i t has
a l r e a d y b e e n p o i n t e d o u t , b u t t h e answer t o whu i s a g r e a t d e a l more
revealin g.
F irst,
it
tells
more about t h e scheme o f t h i n g s .
We f e e l
t h a t we know more a b ou t a t h i n g when we know why i t came i n t o b e i n g
t h a n when we know how i t was c o n t r i v e d .
cause,
i.e .,
if
it
i s s u f f i c i e n t l y p r im a r y ,
t h e means,
S ec on d,
t h e whu,
i.e .,
the
i s ap t t o d e t e r m i n e t h e how,
whereas th e r e v e r s e i s never t r u e .
C uriosity,
-?4lt h s r e f o r e , demands t h e why more th a n t h e how,
l i e s i n t h e for m er more t ha n i n t h e l a t t e r .
and t h e e x p l i c a t i v e v i r t u e
s p o n t a n e o u s l y more i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e why than
The f a c t t h a t man i s
i n t h e how i s p r o v e d by t h e t y p e o f q u e s t i o n s which c h i l d r e n f i r s t formu­
The i n f a n t ’ s i n a u i r y i s a l w a y s a why, and i t
la te.
t h a t he l e a r n s t o ask how.
d oings,
i s much l a t e r i n l i f e
When a d u l t s a r e c o n f r o n t e d w i t h u n us u al
t h e y ask why a t o n c e .
Hence man’ s i n c l i n a t i o n
i s to p refer the
why t o t h e how.
However, t h e f a c t t h a t he a s k s why d o e s no t mean t h a t
he g e t s a n s w e r s which t e l l him why.
The o l d French p r o v e r b , ’’Van p r o ­
p o s e s and God d i s p o s e s ” ( I' howme p r o p o s e e t T)ieu d i s p o s e ) , h o l d s t r u e
for science.
The s c i e n t i s t may f e e l t h a t he h a s a b s o l u t e c o n t r o l ove r
h is questions;
b u t he h a s t h e i m p r e s s i o n t h a t he h a s none o ve r t h e c o n ­
t e n t o f t h e a n s w e r s which Mature s e e s f i t
t o g i v e him.
Consequently,
t h e f a c t t h a t he d o e s n o t g e t why a n s w e r s d o e s no t d i s p r o v e t h e f a c t
t h a t he wante d them.
However,
it
s h o u l d n o t be i n f e r r e d from what h a s b e e n s a i d t h a t
t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r b o m p l e t e l y d i s a p p r o v e s o f Comte’ s r e s t r i c t i o n o f s c i ­
e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y t o l e l B l i t u .
b e s e e n in i t :
it
is sen sib le.
There i s
a t l e a s t one good p o i n t t o
Comte t h o u g h t t h a t he had s u c c e s s f u l l y
d e m o n s t r a t e d t o h i s o o n * £ n l r e s t h a t ' t h e y c o u l d n o t go b e l o w t h e phenom­
enal surface,
and he t o o k i t f o r g r a n t e d t h a t t h e y were w i s e enough t o
a l t e r t h e i r ways a c c o r d i n g l y .
favor of t h i s theory.
Th ere i s a g r e a t d e a l t o be s a i d i n
Van a c t u a l l y d o e s n o t ask f o r t h e moon,
he d i d when he was v e r y y ou ng ,
although
and i n g e n e r a l h e d o e s n o t demand t h i n g s
w hich he knows t o be beyon d h i s r e a c h .
Comte, n e v e r t h e l e s s ,
made two e r r o r s i n ju d g e m e n t .
F i r s t , he
s t a r t e d from a wrong p r e m i s e i n t h e b e l i e f t h a t u t i l i t y was t h e aim
of scien ce,
when i n f a c t t h e aim was t h e s a t i s f a c t i o n o f c u r i o s i t y ;
and s e c o n d , he m i s t o o k man’ s r e s i g n a t i o n t o t h e i n e v i t a b l e f o r a l a a k
of d esire.
To be r e s i g n e d t o not g e t t i n g
what one d e s i r e s ,
and t o
s t o p d e s i r i n g , a r e two d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s .
Man ca n c o n t r o l h i s a c t i o n s up t o a c e r t a i n p o i n t ; b u t he can n ot
control h is ta s te s .
For i n s t a n c e ,
an i n d i v i d u a l may s t o p d r i n k i n g when
he i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t l i q u o r i s bad f o r him; b u t no e f f o r t o f t h e w i l l
c a n make him s t o p l i k i n g l i q u o r .
When Comte a t t e m p t e d t o p r o v e t h a t
man c o u l d n o t f i n d t h e why and had b e s t r e s i g n h i m s e l f , h e c o u l d n o t
a l t e r man’ s a c t u a l d e s i r e .
Van s t i l l
w a n t s t o know t h e why, e v e n a f t e r
i t h a s b e e n p r o v e d t h a t he c a n n o t l e a r n i t .
r e s is t a n c e the w i l l o f f e r s to strong d e s ir e s .
We a l l know what l i t t l e
When i t
i s c o n s ii d e r e d
-9&9~
t h a t Courte was t r y i n g t o o p p o s e one o f t h e s t r o n g e s t u r g e s which a n i ­
mate hum ani ty ,
cess.
i t must b e a p p r e c i a t e d how s m a l l was h i s c h a n c e o f s u c ­
O u t s i d e o f t h e f a c t t h a t man’ s c u r i o s i t y i s not s a t i s f i e d w i t h t h e
how, t h e r e a r e o t h e r r e a s o n s which make i t n e c e s s a r y t o r e . i e c t Comte’ s
conception of s c ie n c e .
a u e s t i o n s from N a t u r e ,
F irst,
he d o e s n o t a c t u a l l y know what he i s a s k i n g .
His Q uestions are i n d e f i n i t e
interrogation p o in ts.
he d i d n o t r e a l i z e t h a t when man a s k s
’’f e e l e r s ” which a r e n o t h i n g more t ha n
We a l l
la tin g p recise au estion s,
know t h a t c h i l d r e n have t r o u b l e formu­
and t h a t p a r e n t s ha ve t o f i g u r e o u t what
t h e y want t o ask b e f o r e t h e y can answer them.
t h e unknown,
i s not d i f f e r e n t
n o t know what he w a nt s t o a s k .
Van, c o n f r o n t e d wit h
from what he was a s a c h i l d .
He d o e s
Therefore h i s q u estio n s lack p r e c is io n ,
and a r e n e i t h e r whys nor how s.
I t must a l s o be o b s e r v e d t h a t t h e unknown i s ,
s u b j e c t iv e ly speaking,
an amorphous magma i n w hi ch t h e how and t h e why a r e i n d i s s o l u b l y b l e n d e d .
A man c a n n o t t e l l b e f o r e he h a s h i s answer w he the r he was a s k i n g f o r a
why or a how.
In o t h e r w ord s,
a man w i t h t h e b e s t p o s i t i v e i n t e n t i o n s
h a s no a v a i l a b l e c r i t e r i o n by which he can a s c e r t a i n t h e n a t u r e o f h i s
a u e s t i o n s a t t h e t i m e he f o r m u l a t e s them.
I t i s n ot t h e q u e s t i o n which
d e t e r m i n e s t h e form o f t h e a n s w e r , b u t t h e answer which r e t r o s p e c t i v e l y
shapes th e q u e s tio n .
There i s a n o t h e r o b j e c t i o n which must be o f f e r e d t o Comte’ s t h e o r y .
We do no t t h i n k t h a t h y p o t h e s e s ha ve an i n d e p e n d e n t and c o n s t a n t n a t u r e ,
and,
in c o n s e q u e n c e ,
c l a i m t h a t Comte had no j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r r e j e c t i n g
c e r t a i n t y p e s o f h y p o t h e s e s on t h e ground t h a t t h e y were g e n e r a l .
We
b e l i e v e th a t h y p o th e ses d e r iv e t h e i r c h a r a c te r of g e n e r a l it y or s p e c i ­
f i c i t y n o t from i n t r i n s i c t r a i t s b u t from t h e p o s i t i o n which t h e y occupy
i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e known a t t h e t i m e t h e y a r e f o r m u l a t e d .
A h y p o t h e s e s i s s p e c i f i c when no o t h e r h y p o t h e s i s s e p a r a t e s i t from
t h e known, and i t
other hypotheses.
is
general i f
it
i s s e p a r a t e d from t h e known by s e v e r a l
A, g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s i s e v e n t u a l l y becomes s p e c i f i c when
o t h e r h y p o t h e s e s w hic h s t o o d b e t w e e n i t
For i n s t a n c e ,
and t h e known have b e e n v e r i f i e d .
t h e a t o m i c t h e o r y was g e n e r a l f o r many c e n t u r i e s ; b u t now
t h a t s c i e n t i s t s h av e fo u n d ways o f r e a c h i n g t h e atom,
with i t ,
of breaking i t
of experimenting
i n t o i t s c o n s t i t u e n t p a r t i c l e s and o f s t u d y i n g
them, t h e e r s t w h i l e a b s o l u t e r e a l i t y o f t h e atom h a s become r e l a t i v e
add phe no men al.
Hence,
general to the s p e c if i c .
t h e a t o m i c h y p o t h e s i s h a s advanced from t h e
It follow s that,
as s c ie n c e p ro g resses,
each new v e r i f i e d h y p o t h e s i s
p e n e t r a t e s more d e e p l y i n t o t h e for m er a b s o l u t e r e a l i t y .
the s c i e n t i s t ,
a s he a d v a n c e s ,
The f a c t t h a t
s e n s e s a new and more p rof ou n d a b s o l u t e
which had n o t b e e n s u s p e c t e d h e r e t o f o r e , and which a p p e a r s u n e x p . l o r a b l e
fo r th e p r e s e n t, does not a l t e r the q u estion .
We c o n c l u d e t h a t Comte e r r e d when he condemned g e n e r a l h y o o t h e s e s .
He, no d o u b t , wo uld h a v e s t r o n g l y o b j e c t e d t o our t h e o r y , and p o i n t e d
cut t h a t i t
did n o t i n v a l i d a t e h i s ,
s i n c e we r e c o g n i z e t h a t h y p o t h e s e s
h av e t o become s p e c i f i c t o b e v e r i f i a b l e ,
n o t go beyond t h e how a t any t i m e .
and t h a t l e g a l s c i e n c e d o e s
He would be r i g h t i n t h i s r e s p e c t .
However, ou r dy namic c o n c e p t i o n o f s c i e n c e b r i n g s ou t a f a c t which he
overlooked,
n am ely ,
of yesterday,
nomenon,
t h a t t h e phenomenal r e a l i t y o f t o d a y i s t h e a b s o l u t e
and t h e r e f o r e t h a t s c i e n c e a c t u a l l y g o e s beyond t h e p h e ­
i.e.,
t h e how.
I t g o e s w i t h o u t s a y i n g t h a t we want t o m a i n t a i n g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s e s
i n t h e p o s i t i o n which t h e y h e l d b e f o r e t h e a d v e n t o f P o s i t i v i s m ,
which t h e y s t i l l
hold today.
been given in t h e i r fa v o r ,
and
F e s i d e s t h e argu ment s which ha ve a l r e a d y
t h e r e i s a n o t h e r which may be o f f e r e d .
c l a i m t h a t t h e y a r e t h e s i n e rjua non c o n d i t i o n o f t h e s p e c i f i c .
We
If
t h e s c i e n t i s t w ere n o t i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e i n t i m a t e n a t u r e o f t h i n g s ,
would n o t t h i n k i t
f o r e x a m p le ,
worth h i s w h i l e t o i n v e s t i g a t e N a t u r e .
A b io lo g ist,
undertakes r e s e a r c h in t i s s u e s because he i s a r d e n tly i n ­
t e r e s t e d in L if e i t s e l f .
m anifestation,
Were h e no t i n t e r e s t e d i n L i f e a s a g e n e r a l
he would f i n d s p e c i f i c r e s e a r c h a w a s t e o f t i m e and
energy.
When an e x p l o r e r p r e p a r e s f o r a new e x p e d i t i o n ,
journey i s planned so th a t i t
trip
he
w i l l b r i n g him n e a r e r t o h i s g o a l .
i s u n d e r t a k e n o n l y b e c a u s e s u ch a g o a l e x i s t s .
a l w a y s b e e n l i k e n e d t o an e x p l o r e r ,
tain ly ju stifie d .
each s t a g e o f h i s
The
The s c i e n t i s t h a s
and t h i s h ack ne yed s i m i l e i s c e r ­
His g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s is r e p r e s e n t s h i s u lt im a t e end,
and h i s s p e c i f i c h y p o t h e s e s r e p r e s e n t t h e n e c e s s a r y and s u c c e s s i v e s t e p s
o f h is journey.
goal,
I f one t a k e s away t h e g e n e r a l h y p o t h e s i s ,
that i s ,
the
one a t t h e same t i m e d e s t r o y s t h e r a i s o n i ’ e t r e o f t h e s p e c i f i c
hypotheses.
Up t o t h i s p o i n t ,
we h a v e b e e n c o n s i d e r i n g t h e Comtean c o n c e p t i o n
o f s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y i n r e l a t i o n t o man’ s c u r i o s i t y ,
that it
could not s a t i s f y th e l a t t e r .
and h av e h e l d
The same n o t i o n s w i l l now be
a n a l y z e d i n r e l a t i o n t o m an 's d e s i r e f o r o r d e r and p a r s im o n y .
Comtism a c t u a l l y b r i n g s o r d e r .
The c l a s s i f i c a t i o n not o n l y s o r t s ,
l a b e l s and p i g e o n h o l e s a l l phenomena, b u t c o n v e r t s them i n t o a h i e r a r c h y .
-?4 4 However,
it
does not p r o v id e parsimony.
Comte made a v a g u e a t t e m p t at
monism when he a d va n ce d t h e i d e a t h a t t h e m a t h e m a t i c a l phenomenon1 was
universal;
b u t he l a t e r d e s t r o y e d i t when he s t a t e d t h a t m a t h e m a t i c s ?
c o u l d n o t be a p p l i e d t o t h e o r g a n i c w o r l d .
T h i s comment i s n o t a t a l l
meant t o be c o n s t r u e d as an i n d i c t m e n t o f p l u r a l i s m .
i s n o t p r e j u d i c e d a g a i n s t t h i s form o f o n t o l o g y ,
man o b j e c t s t o i t i n g e n e r a l .
N evertheless,
it
The i n v e s t i g a t o r
and d o e s no t t h i n k t h a t
d o e s n o t seem t o t h e w r i t e r t h a t p l u r a l i s m i s a c ­
c e p t a b l e t o man u n l e s s i t f u l f i l l s
three c o n d itio n s .
r e p r e s e n t an e f f o r t a t s i m p l i f i c a t i o n .
F irst,
it
must
Van e x p e c t s s e i e n c e and p h i l o s ­
ophy t o r e d u c e t h e number o f c a t e g o r i e s which nai've r e a l i s m h a s g i v e n
him*
Do s i t i v i s m
P ositivism ;
failed
in t h i s r e s p e c t .
Van had f i v e phenomena b e f o r e
he had s i x a f t e r t h e c r e a t i o n o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y ,
and
s e v e n a f t e r t h e e l a b o r a t i o n o f t h e R e l i g i o n o f Humanity.
Seco nd ,
i t must embrace t h e whol e o f r e a l i t y .
c e e d in t h i s r e s p e c t e i t h e r ,
Comtism d id n o t s u c ­
s i n c e i t s founder took i n t o c o n s id e r a t i o n
t h e world and n o t t h e u n i v e r s e .
T h ir d ,
categories,
it
must c o n t a i n a u n i v e r s a l p r i n c i p l e which s y n t h e s i z e s a l l
^ h i s i s a l s o l a c k i n g in p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y .
Comte o f f e r s
a u n i v e r s a l p r i n c i p l e by v i r t u e o f which t h e l e s s g e n e r a l phenomena a r e
d e p e n d e n t upon t h e more g e n e r a l .
However,
As s t a t e d a b o v e ,
on s t u d y i n g t h i s p r i n c i p l e more c l o s e l y ,
i t does not r e a l l y p e n e t r a t e r e a l i t y .
e a c h o r d e r o f phenomenon i s
ceding i t
in g e n e r a l i t y .
an c e o f t h e l e s s g e n e r a l ,
it
c r e a te s a hierarchy.
i t w i l l b e fo und t h a t
I t remains e x t e r n a l t o i t ,
since
s p e c i f i c and i s n o t a l t e r e d by t h o s e p r e ­
The more g e n e r a l phenomena g o v e r n t h e a p p e a r ­
but do n ot a f f e c t t h e i r n a t u r e .
Fence, the
p r i n c i p l e i s n o t h i n g more th a n a t a x i n c m i c a l t o o l .
On
l o o k i n g a t t h e n e x t human t r a i t , which c o r r e s p o n d s t o t h e d e s i r e
for r a tio n a lity
o f N a t u r e and t h e b e l i e f i n i t s d e d u c i b i l i t y ,
it
is
ob ­
s e r v e d t h a t Comte u n d e r s t o o d t h e s e b e t t e r t h a n he did t h e p r e c e d i n g .
He
i m p l i c i t l y a c c e p t e d them* when he a v e r r e d t h a t t h e aim o f s c i e n c e was t o
r e d u c e o b s e r v a t i o n t o a minimum, and t h a t man4 i n d u c e d i n o r d e r t o d e d u c e ,
w i t h c o n s t r u c t i o n a s an en d.
Tt must be remarked t h a t C o m t e 's a c t i o n in
t h e r a t i o n a l domain o f s c i e n c e was e s p e c i a l l y s a l u t a r y , b e c a u s e w h i l e
a d m i t t i n g t h e d e d u c i b i l i t y he f o u g h t * t h e t e n d e n c y o f s c i e n t i s t s
i . Of.pp. 71, 7? above.
s! Ctl
pp! -A4-A 5 a b o v e ;’ *!. V eyerson, De I • e x p l i c a t i o n dans l e s s c i e n c e s , p. 99.
i . Of. p. 19 above..
5 . Meyerson, ot>. c i t . , p. 4 9 t.
and
p h i l o s o p h e r s t o d ed uc e e v e r y t h i n g from m a t h e m a t i c s and m e c h a n ic s by
s t r e s s i n g t h e im p o r t a n c e o f e x p e r i e n c e .
The l a s t two t r a i t s a r e now t o be ex a m in e d ,
and h a t r e d o f s u s p e n s e .
In s p i t e o f i t s
nam ely,
im agination
founder’s a sse rtio n ,
p h i l o s o p h y o f f e r s no o u t l e t f o r t h e s e human c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s .
i n t h e Sunt hks e t h a t Do s i t i v i s t i c
p ositive
Comte s a i d
f e t i ' c h i s m 1 was t o make i t p o s s i b l e f o r
man t o g i v e f u l l p l a y t o i m a g i n a t i o n ,
and he s t i p u l a t e d t h e manner in
which t h i s was t o be d on e.
Natur e was t o b e endowed w i t h f e e l i n g s w her eve r
t h e r e were c a u s e s ,
whenever man c o u l d n o t i n v e s t i g a t e .
that is ,
Comte made two e r r o r s h e r e .
im agination.
F irst,
he m i s u n d e r s t o o d t h e n a t u r e o f
He t o o k i t f o r g r a n t e d t h a t i m a g i n a t i o n was i n d i s s o l u b l y
a llie d to fe e lin g s ,
and he d i d n o t s e e t h a t t h e r e was an i n t e l l e c t u a l
i m a g i n a t i o n which d e a l t w i t h c o n c e p t s .
S e c o n d , he o v e r l o o k e d t h e f a c t
t h a t ' f e e l i n g s and t h o u g h t s have d i f f e r e n t s u b j e c t i v e t e x t u r e s and t h a t
t h e y c a n n o t be u sed i n t e r c h a n g e a b l y .
can t a k e t h e p l a c e o f a c o n c e p t ,
v
Van d o e s n o t t h i n k t h a t an em ot ion
and v i c e v e r s a .
he l i k e s t o c r e d i t t h e d e i t y w i t h g o o d n e s s ,
h e d o e s n o t deem t h a t t h i s
goodness can’ take the p la ce of r a t io n a l law s.
ration al causes,
not f e e l i n g s ,
T h er e fo r e , although
He wants t o im a g i n e
whenever he c a n n o t d i s c o v e r them.
Obvi­
o u s l y , Comte f a i l s in t h i s r e s p e c t .
T h i s c h a p t e r h a s p r e s e n t e d an a n a l y s i s o f t h e m e n t a l t r a i t s which
a c c o u n t f o r s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y a s t h e y a r e .
h a v e b e e n fo u n d :
im p licit fa ith
in tellig en ce,
t h e n ee d o f o r d e r ,
I t was f o u n d ,
1.
Of.
pp.
h o w e v e r , t h a t Comtism d i d answer
and t h e d e s i r e f o r t h e r a t i o n a l i t y and d e d u c i b i l i t y
A s t u d y w i l l now be made o f t h e n a t u r e o f Comtean s c i e n c e
and p h i l o s o p h y .
,
d e s i r e f o r o r d e r and parsim on y,
i n t h e r a t i o n a l i t y and d e d u c i b i l i t y o f Mature, i m a g i n a t i o n ,
and h a t r e d o f s u s p e n s e .
o f Nature.
cu riosity,
Pix c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s
P 5 -P 6 ,
5 V -5 P ,
and
1 3 P -1 3 S
above.
CHAPTER
Science
Tor Comte,
n o t h i n g more.
and
the
IV
° hilosophical
scienoe i s s t r i c t l y
Synthesis
in
Comtism
a q u e s t f o r t h e laws o f N a t u r e, and
T h is m u t i l a t i o n o f s c i e n c e c a n n o t be a c c e p t e d .
The i n ­
v e s t i g a t o r has ad op ted t h e i d e a s w hi ch V e y e r s o n e x p r e s s e s on t h e s u b j e c t
in h i s t r e a t i s e s e n t i t l e d
De I *e x p l i c a t i o n i a n s l e s s c i e n c e s and Du
cheni ne' nent i e la v e n s i e .
t i o n oi
This p h ilo s o p h e r r e j e c t s the p o s i t i v e l i m i t a ­
s c ie n c e 1 to l e g a l i t y ,
and c l a i m s t h a t Comte t o o k one p a r t f o r t h e
w h o l e when he c o n c e n t r a t e d on t h e l e g a l a s p e c t o f s c i e n c e and i g n o r e d
everything e l s e .
leg a lity ,
He a v e r s t h a t
science i s
which c o r r e s p o n d s t o t h e how,
which d e a l s w i t h t h e r e s t .
composed o f two p a r t s :
the
and t h e t h e o r y or e x p l a n a t i o n ,
The p r e s e n t w r i t e r a g r e e s w ith V e y e r s o n .
Experience v e r i f i e s V ey erso n ’s c o n te n tio n .
h a s a lw a y s bee n s o m e t h in g more t h a n l a w s .
p o p u l a r among l a y t h i n k e r s ,
Tor s c i e n t i s t s ,
The p o s i t i v e d o c t r i n e was
such a s L i t t r S and V i l l ;
i g n o r e d by p r o f e s s i o n a l s c i e n t i s t s .
science
but i t was r o y a l l y
S c i e n c e was a s " m e t a p h y s i c a l " i n
t h e s e c o n d h a l f o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y as i t had been in t h e f i r s t
h alf,
and i t
i s now much more s o t h a n i t e v e r was.
If,
f i f t y y e a r s ag o,
t h i s m e t a p h y s i c a l c o n d i t i o n c o u l d b e a c c o u n t e d f o r by v i c i o u s mental
h a b i t s c o n t r a c t e d by t h e s c i e n t i s t s
in t h e i r youth,
i t was, t h e same argument c a n n o t b e i n v o k e d t o d a y .
a s Comte a s s e r t e d
Fnough t im e has
e l a p s e d t o p e r m it p o s i t i v e i d e a s t o work t h e i r way t h ro u g h e v e r y s c i e n ­
tific
field ,
and c o n t e m p o r a r y men o f s c i e n c e h a ve b ee n t r a i n e d in t h e
p r in c ip le s of p o s it iv e philosophy.
It i s necessary,
then,
p h y sic a l trend of s c ie n c e .
n a t u r a l l y t o mind,
because i t
t o f i n d a n c t h e r r e a s o n f o r t h e p r e s e n t meta­
The most l o g i c a l ,
and t h e one which comes
i s th a t s c i e n c e a ttem p ts to ex p la in the ab solute
i s a c t u a l l y more t h a n l e g a l i t y .
Not b e i n g s a t i s f i e d w i t h t h e s i m p l e r e c o g n i t i o n o f a s ec o n d p a r t
in s c ie n c e ,
theory,
¥eyerson? a s s e r ts th a t i t
and n o t t h e l e g a l i t y ,
scien tist.
P i s e n t i r e b oo k ,
i s th e second p a r t,
the
w hic h c o n s t i t u t e s t h e a c t u a l aim o f t h e
De I ' e x p l i c a t i o n i a n s l e s s c i e n c e s ,
long j u s t i f i c a t i o n of t h i s c o n t e n t io n .
i c a l arguments which he p r o f f e r s ,
is a
From t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l and l o g ­
t h o s e w hic h have im p r e s s e d t h e i n ­
v e s t i g a t o r most have b ee n s e l e c t e d f o r p r e s e n t a t i o n h e r e .
1 . -E. Weyeraon, De I
i.e.,
'explication dans les sciences, p . 460.
p. Ibid.i C hapter IT, pp. 45-61.
-248-
-547S t a r t infi from t h e p r e m i s e t h a t man d o e s no t t h i n k s c i e n c e h a s f u l ­
filled
i t s f u n c t i o n u n l e s s i t p e r m i t s him t o d ed uce N a t u r e ,
Veyerson
a v e r s t h a t man n e e d s a s t a b l e and permanent s t a r t i n g - p o i n t f o r h i s d e ­
ductions.
Phenomena a r e e s s e n t i a l l y
chan ge; t h e r e f o r e ,
t h e y do n o t
Qualify fo r t h i s fu n c tio n .
The a b s o l u t e , 1 on t h e c o n t r a r y ,
h e n c e , i t m e e t s t h e demand o f s c i e n c e .
i s permanent;
He a l s o remarks t h a t la w s ^ a r e more than p l a i n s t a t e m e n t s o f r e l a ­
tion s.
They c o n t a i n i m p l i c a t i o n s on t h e e x i s t e n c e o f a permanent r e a l i t y
u n d e r l y i n g phenomena and s u p p o r t i n g them.
by two e x a m p l e s .
He i l l u s t r a t e s h i s c o n t e n t i o n
He o b s e r v e s t h a t t h e e x p l a n a t i o n o f phenomena8 which
t a k e p l a c e in t i m e r e s t s on t h e p ermanen ce o f s o m e t h i n g ,
and t h a t t h e
e l a b o r a t i o n o f any p r i n c i p l e o f c o n s e r v a t i o n o f e n e r g y 4 p r e s u p p o s e s t h e
b e l i e f i n t h e permanence o f an e l e m e n t .
Taking up H e g e l ' s a rg u m en t ,
of lo g ic ,
nent,
he c l a i m s t h a t ,
from t h e p o i n t o f vie w
t h e n o t i o n o f c h a n g e i s d e f i n e d by i t s a n t i t h e s i s ,
and t h e n o t i o n o f t h e d i v e r s e b y t h e u n i f o r m .
t h e perma­
He c o n c l u d e s t h a t
phenomena c a n n o t be s e v e r e d from t h e a b s o l u t e r e a l i t y .
Vany p h i l o s o p h e r s h a v e p o n d e r e d o v e r Comte’ s o p i n i o n c o n c e r n i n g t h e
e x i s t e n c e o f an a b s o l u t e r e a l i t y ,
and ha ve d i s a g r e e d w i t h him.
L6vy-
P r Q h l , 5 u s u a l l y a most u n d e r s t a n d i n g e x p o n e n t o f C o m t e' s t h o u g h t ,
as­
s e r t e d t h a t Comte d i d n ot r e c o g n i z e any a b s o l u t e e x c e p t t h e p r i n c i p l e
of i n v a r i a b i l i t y o f law s,
contrary.
The l a t t e r
w h i l e C a i r d , 19 an a n t i - C o m t i s t ,
arg u ed t o t h e
s t a t e d t h a t when Comte w r o t e t h a t we c o u l d o n l y
d i s c o v e r phenomena, he i m p l i c i t l y a d m i t t e d a b e l i e f i n an a b s o l u t e
rea lity .
We s i d e w i t h C a ir d a g a i n s t L g v y - P r u h l .
and a g a i n :
Put h i s
"Pverything i s r e l a t i v e ,
that i s
" e v e r y t h i n g ” did n o t mean r e a l i t y ;
the only
Comte s a i d a g a i n
absolute
i t meant k n o w l e d g e ,
apophthegm s h o u l d b e i n t e r p r e t e d a s meaning:
tive;
True,
p rin cip le.”
and h i s
"knowledge i s a l w a y s r e l a ­
t h a t i s t h e o n l y a b s o l u t e p r i n c i p l e o f which we a r e c e r t a i n . ”
Py t h e s e wor ds,
Comte c a t e g o r i c a l l y a d m i t t e d t h e r e a l i t y o f t h e a b s o l u t e .
Tt must a l s o b e n o t e d t h a t Comte a d o p te d L o c k e ’ s t h e o r y o f o u a l i t i e s .
According t o t h i s c o n c e p t i o n ,
man d o e s n o t p e r c e i v e pr im ar y a u a l i t i e s .
He p e r c e i v e s s e c o n d a r y q u a l i t i e s ,
which a r e t h e e f f e c t s o f t h o s e p ri m a ry
a u a l i t i e s upon h i s s e n s e - o r g a n s .
Prom Comte’ s a c c e p t a n c e o f t h i s t h e o r y ,
i t c a n be i n f e r r e d t h a t he b e l i e v e d t h a t man p e r c e i v e s e f f e c t s .
1 .
F. V eyerson, oP, c i t . , p . "192. ,
. , ,
p. F. V eyerson, i b i d , , n. 551? t u c h e m i n e m e n t de La
3.
e
!
F. V eyerson,
The
Cocial Philosophy and Religion
.
p e n s ee,
p. 1 6 0 .
Be I ' explication ians l es sciences,
L? *L«vy-Brflhl *”f/f e * P h i l o s o p h y o f Auguste Comte,
6 . Fd«ard C a ird ,
.
p
.
95.
o f Comte,
_ _
p.
_
p. 121.
79.
His
determinism compelled him t o think t h a t t h o s e e f f e c t s were due t o a
c a u s e, i . e . , t o an a b s o l u t e .
Veyerson proceeds t o p o in t out t h a t , s u b j e c t i v e l y spe aking, l a w s 1
are f u r t h e r from t h i n g s than t h e o r i e s . Laws appear extraneou s with
r e s p e c t t o t h i n g s , whereas t h e o r i e s seem t o be i n t e r n a l .
Furthermore,
laws appear t o f o l l o w t h e o r i e s and to be t h e i r natural consequences.
Veyerson w r i t e s ' : "Far from l i m i t i n g s c i e n c e t o laws, or c o n s i d e r i n g
h y p o th e s e s as a temporary surrogatum t o f u tu r e laws, s c i e n t i s t s sub­
o r d i n a t e m a n i f e s t l y and c o n s t a n t l y the second t o the f i r s t . ” In s h or t,
ac co rd in g t o Veyerson, i t i s the theory and not th e law which i s the
ideal of scie n c e.
The p res en t w r i t e r a c c e p t s t h i s assumption.
It is
not n e c e s s a r y t o say, however, that Comte would have consid er ed Veyers o n ’ s stand i n a c c e p t a b l e .
Cur r e j e c t i o n of Comte’ s conception of s c i e n c e does not prevent us
from s e e in g t h a t h i s i n f l u e n c e was for the b e t t e r . The s c i e n t i f i c doc­
t r i n e s o f L e s c a r t e s , L e i b n i t z and d ’ Alembert were inadequate f o r n i n e ­
t e e n t h - c e n t u r y s c i e n c e , and no philosopher tr a i n e d in s c i e n c e had y e t
o f f e r e d a p h ilosop h y which took i n t o account th e current development
o f s c i e n c e . Comte was the f i r s t a u a l i f i e d t hin k er t o do t h i s .
Fven
though t h e reproach of h i s having m utilated s c i e n c e 4 in t h e p rocess was
j u s t i f i e d , he p r e s e n te d c r y s t a l l i z e d notions^ which provided the nec­
e s s a r y s t a r t i n g - p o i n t for f u r t h e r d i s c u s s i o n s .
I t i s time now t o turn t o Comte's theory o f p h il osop h y. For him,
s c i e n c e and p h ilosop h y have the same domain, that of l e g a l i t y .
However,
he somewhat com plicat ed matters b y . s t a t i n g t h a t philosophy i s t h e f i n a l
a u t h o r i t y in a l l l e g a l q u e s t i o n s . These two p r o p o s i t i o n s appear t o be
in com p atib le at f i r s t .
One i s bound t o ask: I f s c i e n c e and ph ilosophy
be i d e n t i c a l in nature, how can one ha.ve more a u t h o r it y than t h e other?
A c l o s e r examination r e v e a l s the cause o f t h i s apparent i n c o n s i s ­
t e n c y . The Comtean p h il o so p h er i s not a philosopher in the c l a s s i c
s e n s e of the term: he i s a s u p e r - s c i e n t i s t .
I t i s , th en, l o g i c a l to
g i v e him c o n t r o l over p l a i n s c i e n t i s t s in the matter of l e g a l i t y .
N e v e r t h e l e s s , the i n v e s t i g a t o r does not agree with Comte. I t i s
t h e s c i e n t i s t , and not t h e p h il osop h er, who d i s c o v e r s and v e r i f i e s laws.
W averson, He I 'explication dans les sciences, p . S9P.
V eyerson, ib id t> p. 117; Eu cheminement de la penste, pp. 18«,?PS.
V eyerson, Ee I'explication dans les sciences, p p . ,115-116.
W eyerson, ib id . , p. 19; I)u cheminement de la pensee, p. P4S; V. P e fo u rn y , Le
r i l e Ao I s s o e i o l o s i e dans l e p o s i t i v i s m s ," Revue Uo-Rcolastique, L ouvain, ann<Se 9
1.
p.
s.
4.
®.
F.
F.
F.
^ s f ^ T t ^ i s ^ p e r m i s s i b l e to ig n o re th e f a o t t h a t Com te's knowledge of se ie n o e d id not
ta k e in a l l th e m ost r e c e n t d is o o v e r ie s .
-? 4 p -
Fence t h e s c i e n t i f i c knowledge of th e p h ilo so p h er i s second-hand, and
t h e s c i e n t i s t i s the b e t t e r equipped of the two t o act as judge on a l l
le g a l auestions.
This n otio n i s corroborated by f a c t s .
In p r a c t i c e , p h ilo so p h e r s
d e f e r t o the a u t h o r i t y o f s c i e n t i s t s in l e g a l matters, while s c i e n t i s t s
do not r e c i p r o c a t e with regard to p h i l o s o p h e r s . P hilos oph ers do not
c o n t e s t the soundness o f a s c i e n t i i f i c law on t h e ground t h a t i t con­
f l i c t s with t h e i r metaphysics, and i f th ere i s a d is cre pan cy between
t h e i r t h eo ry and s c i e n c e , they scrap the theory of t h e i r own accord.
S c i e n t i s t s , on th e contr ar y, have no such oualms in r e s p e c t to p h i l o s ­
ophy. They c o n s t a n t l y a n n i h i l a t e metaphysical t h e o r i e s with th e argu­
ment t h a t th ey do not f i t s c i e n c e .
Veyerson g i v e s a sound i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h i s s i t u a t i o n . He ob­
s e r v e s 1 t h a t . i t i s easy f o r p h iloso ph ers t o accep t l e g a l s c i e n c e , s in c e
i t i s one at a given period; but t h a t the same i s not t r u e f o r s c i e n t i s t s
in regard t o p h ilo sop h y, s i n c e they are c on f ron te d at a l l tim es with
several irreconcilable theories.
We may be t o l d th a t ex per ie nce shows t h a t p h ilo s o p h e r s have not a l ­
ways r e c o g n iz e d th e a u t h o r it y o f s c i e n c e .
We s h a l l be reminded that the
S c h o l a s t i c s r e f u s e d t o accept C a l i l e c ’s d i s c o v e r y on the ground that i t
c o n f l i c t e d with A r i s t o t l e ’ s philosophy.
As t h e s e men were a c t i n g under
t h e d e l u s i o n t h a t P e r i p a t e t i c i s m was true s c i e n c e , they thought that
t h e y were combating a new and erroneous s c i e n t i f i c n o t io n with one that
had a lr e a d y proved i t s worth. This h i s t o r i c a l oc currence, t h e r e f o r e ,
does not i n v a l i d a t e ou r .th e o r y in t h e l e a s t , and i t may be said that
p h i lo s o p h y always a c c e p t s the judgement o f l e g a l s c i e n c e as f i n a l .
The f a c t t h a t philosophy cannot be the p art ner of s c i e n c e in the
realm of l e g a l i t y does not, however, preclude t h e i r owning another domain
join tly.
The i n v e s t i g a t o r b e l i e v e s that they do, and t h a t t h e i r common
f i e l d i s t h a t o f e x p la n a t i o n . However, s i n c e we are i n t e r e s t e d prim arily
i n Const ism and net in the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f p h ilosop h y and s c i e n c e , no
f u r t h e r i n a u i r y w i l l be made i n t o t h i s new common f i e l d .
In order t o make an a n a l y s i s of the nature o f the Comtean s y n t h e s i s ,
i t w i l l be n e c e s s a r y now to weigh p o s i t i v e philoso ph y as a body o f spe­
c i f i c t r u t h s . Vention w i l l f i r s t be made of the c r i t i c i s m s which have
been v o ic e d a g a i n s t i t s gen er al c o n t e n t, and t h e s e w i l l be r e f u t e d when­
ever r e f u t a t i o n i s j u s t i f i a b l e .
1 . B. Meyeraon,
De I'explication dans les sciences, p. 509.
The most important s t r i c t u r e concerns th e o r i g i n a l i t y o f Comtism.
I t has been s a id that Comte was not an o r i g i n a l t h in k e r , and some com­
mentators appear to have d e l i g h t e d in b rin g in g out i n s t a n c e s of h i s lack
of o r ig in a lity .
Fpencer contended t h a t the n o t io n s o f i n v a r i a b i l i t y of
l a w s 1 and of r e l a t i v i t y o f knowledge5 were net h i s .
C o u h ier,s although
he did not mention i t in a d ep recatory s p i r i t , made the same type of
c r i t i c i s m because Comte fo rsoo k the search a f t e r causes for t h a t a f t e r
laws.
The i n v e s t i g a t o r wishes t o p o in t out t h a t t h i s tyoe o f s t r i c t u r e i s
most u n f a i r . Comte never claimed o r i g i n a l i t y along t h o se l i n e s , and,
what i s more, he v o l u n t a r i l y gave out t h e names o f h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s .
Consequently, he should not be accused o f p l a g ia r i s m .
Lewes, V i l l , John Vorley and Fenouvier have answered or a n t ic i p a t e d
these criticism s.
F eno uvier 4 observed t h a t the p r i n c i p l e of r e l a t i v i t y
had been poorly understood by Fume, and t h at Comte alone had given i t
i t s f u l l development.
Lewes,' V i l l * and V orley7 averred t h a t the s y s ­
t e m a t ic and s y n t h e t i c treatment which Comte gave a l l t h e s e o r i g i n a l
p r i n c i p l e s had t r u l y made them h i s .
The next s t r i c t u r e i s a more s e r i o u s one.
I t has to do with the
a d v i s a b i l i t y o f c r e a t i n g a system at a l l .
Weber0 contended th a t the
p o s i t i v e s p i r i t not on ly did not demand a s y n t h e s i s , but was e s s e n t i a l l y
opposed to i t , s in c e i t p r o f e s s e d t o be s a t i s f i e d with p l a i n exp erien ce.
Utaa advanced the notion that Comte e n t i r e l y misunderstood the nature
o f s c i e n c e when he asked p hiloso p hy t o u n i f y and or ga nize knowledge.
Fe claimed that s c i e n c e o r g a n i z e s and u n i f i e s i t s e l f spontaneously
without any help from o u t s i d e .
Weber's and TTta's c r i t i c i s m s are sound
and i r r e f u t a b l e from t h e o b j e c t i v e p o i n t of view, but the o b j e c t i v e
p o i n t of view i s i r r e l e v a n t here . Weber and Uta did not see t h a t the
s u b j e c t i v e viewpoint was the v i t a l one in t h i s i n s t a n c e . Van b u i l d s
p h i l o s o p h i e s because he l o v e s t o s p e c u l a t e , and not because he has t o
do s o. F i s nature b i d s him e r e c t sy stem s. Father than have no system
at a l l , he w i l l e l a b o r a t e one t o prove t h a t he does not need any. Fe
1 . H e rb e rt Spenoer,
"Reasons f o r D is s e n tin a from th e P h ilo so p h y of M. Com te," in
Recent Discussions.in Peience, Philosophy and florals, p . 8 P.
a* H. Gouhi’e r , La jeunesse i'Auguste Comte, Vo l . T I, p. t o .
4 . Ch. P en o u v ier, h'istoire ies probVemes metaphysiques, p. 895.
H. 3 . H. Lewes, history of Philosophy, V ol. IT,, p . 698.
8 . John S tu a r t M ill, Auguste Comte and Positivism,m p. 9.
7 . J . W orley, "Auguste C om te," Critical Miscellanies, V ol. I I J , pp.
,
? . L. Weber. " P o sitiv ism s e t P a t i o n a l is m e ," Pevue de mHaphysioue et de morale,
VOl9 . V”
U t a f t i I h ffr ie du savoir dans la philosophie d'Auguste Comte, PP. x v i - x v i i .
-PF1-
knows t h at s c i e n c e and ph ilosop h y u n i f y themselves sp on tan eo u sl y. Yet
he f e e l s impelled t o an aly ze both minutely to prove t h a t i t i s s o .
In
consequence, Weber's and U t a ’ s arguments are b e s id e the p o i n t .
Fey1 a l s o claimed t h a t Comte mistook the p o p u l a r i z a t i o n o f th e
s c i e n c e s f o r t h e i r p h il o s o p h y .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r does not accept t h i s
stricture.
I t has been shown in th e present o u t l i n e th a t P o s i t i v i s m
c o n t a i n s both a p h il o s o p h y o f the s c i e n c e s and an en c y c lo p e d i a o f the
s c i e n c e s , and i t has been e x p l a i n e d 5 why the l a t t e r was e s s e n t i a l .
The forthcoming c r i t i c i s m s concern the a d v i s a b i l i t y of u si n g s c i e n ­
t i f i c data as b u i l d i n g m a t e r i a l s for a p h i l o s o p h i c a l system. F e y s ob­
served t h a t a ph ilosop h y b u i l t out of s c i e n t i f i c data was bound t o lag
behind s c i e n c e . He i n f e r r e d th a t such a system i s e i t h e r u s e l e s s or
harmful.
A complementary c r i t i c i s m has been voiced by Pertrand P u s s e l l .
s p e c u l a t i n g on the methods o f philosop hy in g e n e r a l , 4 he p o i n t s out
t h a t s c i e n t i f i c laws are bound t o be superseded sooner or l a t e r by more
c o r r e c t ones, and, in consequence, that they are the l e a s t tru stwor thy
part of s c i e n c e ; and he a d v i s e s a g a i n s t t h e i r use in p h i l o s o p h i c a l
synthesis.
I t has a l s o been s t a t e d t h a t a s c i e n t i f i c s y n t h e s i s d e f e a t s i t s own
purpose.
Obviously, the aim o f such an undertaking i s t o promote the
development o f s c i e n c e .
Put i t i s apt* t o have the o p p o s i t e e f f e c t .
F c ie nc e, because of i t s dynamism, s u p p l i e s the ph il oso p her with e v e r changing m a t e r i a l s .
Fe, on the oth er hand, needs durable and f i x e d
data for h i s s t r u c t u r e .
F i s i n s t i n c t i v e tendency i s to a r r e s t the
development o f s c i e n c e in ordar t o i n s u r e the d u r a b i l i t y o f h i s syn­
th esis.
This i s e x a c t l y the p o l i c y pursued by Comte. Fven though he was
unconscious o f such an i n t e n t , he attempted t o stop the growth of s c i ­
e n c e . F i r s t , he claimed t h a t he could p r e d i c t the gen er al d i r e c t i o n of
s c i e n t i f i c progress.
When he sensed t h at h i s judgement was not r e l i a b l e ,
he decided t h at i t was b e t t e r t o e x p l o i t th e t e r r i t o r i e s alre ady d i s ­
covered than t o p ro s pe ct for new ones; in other words, he forbade s c i ­
e n t i s t s t o open new f i e l d s .
L a s t l y , * he enjoined them not t o propose
changes in t h e o r i e s u n t i l th e need o f them was f e l t by the t h in k in g
1 . A. Hey, "Vera le p o a itiv ia m e a b a o lu ," Revue philosophique, V ol. LXVII ft9 0 9 > ,
p . 48?.
p. Of. pp. 89-70 above.
s . A. Hey, Zop. p i t .
. . . . . .
m -i
it
- ~
4 . B e rtra n d H u a s e ll, On S c ie n tific Method m Philosophy, pp. 9 -9 .
5. M. U ta, op. c it. t p . 9 9 ?.
6 . Of. p . 47 above.
-PSP-
world, and he attempted t o reduce the u t i l i t y o f s c i e n c e 1 t o i t s method­
o lo g ic a l contributions to subjective science.
All t h o s e moves, whether
Comte was aware of i t or n ot , had one aim, which was t o i n s u r e r i g i d i t y
and permanency t o h i s system. No one w i l l deny t h a t he was k i l l i n g the
dynamism o f s c i e n c e in the p roces s: t h e r e f o r e , th e c r i t i c i s m s o f Fey,
F u s s e l l and Uta have t o be l e f t unanswered.
The p r e s e n t chanter may now be summed uo. Comte's l i m i t a t i o n of
s c i e n c e t o l e g a l i t y has been r e j e c t e d , and i t has been shown t h a t e x ­
p l a n a t i o n i s t h e r e a l aim o f s c i e n c e . P i s theory concernin g t h e author­
i t y o f p h ilo so p h y in s c i e n c e has been disproved.
Then the s t r i c t u r e s
which have been v o ic e d a g a i n s t the general co nten t of h i s s y n t h e s i s have
been i n d i c a t e d and r e f u t e d .
Tn the f o ll o w in g ch ap ter, an examination
w i l l be made o f t h e s p i r i t of p o s i t i v e philosophy and th e co n t en t of
second p h ilo so p h y .
1 . O f. Dpi 47-49 and p p .
1 8 9 - 1.88 above.
chapter
T he E p i r i t
of
v
Oo v t i s m : S e c o n d P h i l o s o p h y
We know that Ccmtism i s a s p i r i t as wel l as a body of d o c t r i n e .
Consequently, i t i s n e ces sa ry t o look i n t o t h e s p i r i t and t h e content
o f p o s i t i v e p h ilo sop h y,
i t s s p i r i t w i l l f i r s t be examined.
The s p i r i t o f Comiism, in f a c t , has alre ad y been d e f in e d , through
t he stat ement t h a t i t was an e s p r i t d ’ens embl e, 1 The i n v e s t i g a t o r
t h orou ghly approves o f t h i s , and b e l i e v e s t h a t i t should be welcomed
by a l l t h i n k e r s . Nobody can deny that ph iloso p hy should be such a
s p i r i t , no matter what e l s e i t i s b e s i d e s .
We may be t o l d th a t t h i s
s p i r i t i s not a c r e a t i o n of Comte, and t h at a l l good t h i n k e r s have a l ­
ways h e ld gen er al views and understood the inter dependence o f p a rt s
with t h e whole. This i s undoubtedly tru e. N e v e r t h e l e s s , Comte was an
in n ovato r in the se nse t h a t he l a i d e x p l i c i t emphasis on a q u a l i t y
which b e f o r e h i s time had been understood i m p l i c i t l y o n l y .
As t h i s
e s p r i t i ' e ns enbl e undeniably makes for sound th in k in g , we claim t h a t
t h e s p i r i t o f p o s i t i v e ph ilosophy should be accepted by a l l t h in k e r s .
Put, on a na ly zin g th e s p i r i t o f Comtism f u r t h e r , i t i s found to
be more than an e s p r i t i ' e n s e v b l e .
Tt i s a l s o a d e f i n i t e a t t i t u d e
toward e x p e r i e n c e .
Tt i s the r e a l i s t i c or s o - c a l l e d s c i e n t i f i c a t t i ­
tude toward f a c t s which Comte d es c r ib e d 9 when he d efin ed t h e charac­
t e r i s t i c s of t h e p o s i t i v e s p i r i t .
Tt i s ev id en t th a t a l l t r a n s c e n ­
d e n t a l p h i l o s o p h e r s must make a thorough inven to ry of e x p e r ie n c e b efore
t h e y attempt t o $o beyond i t , and that they must do sc in the s p i r i t
s u g g e s t e d by Comte. I t should a l s o be remarked that Comte gave a most
e x c e l l e n t treatment of th e n otio n of r e l a t i v i t y . 5 Pence, p o s i t i v e
p h ilo s o p h y as an a t t i t u d e must a l s o be r e t a i n e d .
The f a c t t h a t Comte h i m s e l f did not abide by the i d e a l which he
drew so b e a u t i f u l l y i s not an indictment of t h e i d e a l .
I t i s a con­
demnation of h i s a c t i o n s , and nothing more. The old s a y i n g , "Co as I
say and not as T do," i s v e r i f i e d once again,
Comti 3m, however, i s more than an e s p r i t d' ensembl e and an
atti­
tude toward f a c t s .
Tt i s a l s o ameans of reaching t r u t h .
I t repre­
s e n t s two complementary methods, the o b j e c t i v e and the s u b j e c t i v e .
It
i s not n e c e s s a r y to p o in t out t h e advantages o f th e o b j e c t i v e method
1.
Of. pt). PSR-pPV above,
Cf. P P . A l - A P above,
s . Of. p. 4? above.
p.
-?53-
-P P4 -
i n p h i lo s o p h y , because they have been d i s c u s s e d at length by th in k ers
o f a l l t y p e s , by m e t a p h y s i c i s t s , l o g i c i a n s and l o g i s t i c i a n s .
As for
t h e s u b j e c t i v e , we r e f u s e t o j o i n in the chorus o f denuncia tio ns which
surrounds i t .
Tt does seem c l e a r , however., t h a t i t was g r o s s l y misin­
t e r p r e t e d by th e enemies of Comte’ s l a t e r thought, and t h a t i t should
be r e h a b i l i t a t e d . Mill and L i t t r S 1 s t i g m a t i z e d i t .
Tittr*?5 complained
t h a t Comte confused t h e d ed uct ive and s u b j e c t i v e methods. M i l l 5 objected
t o the absence of c r i t e r i a o f pro of , and added that Comte considered
t h e o r e t i c a l coherency s u f f i c i e n t , because he e n t e r t a i n e d the b e l i e f that
he was i n f a l l i b l e .
There i s t r u th in both t y p e s of c r i t i c i s m s .
The
s u b j e c t i v e method i s d ed u ctiv e. Comte used i t t o e x c e s s , and he did not
v e r i f y h i s ded uctio n s e m p i r i c a l l y .
N e v e r t h e l e s s , L i t t r g and Mill both made a mistake. They confused
t h e method and i t s s p i r i t with th e use which Comte made of i t .
We do
not condemn s c i e n c e en bl oc because man employs i t to fu rth er e v i l ends.
There i s no more reason t o r e j e c t the s u b j e c t i v e method on account of
Comte’ s misuse of i t .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r a c c e p t s i t s s p i r i t , b e l i e v i n g with Comte that sub­
j e c t i v i t y i s always pre sen t in s c i e n c e , and a f o r t i o r i in philosophy,
and t h a t i t cannot be done away with. Van s t u d i e s Nature in order t o
s a t i s f y d e f i n i t e p h y s i c a l and mental a p p e t i t e s , and he n e c e s s a r i l y adopts
a d i s c r i m i n a t i v e a t t i t u d e in h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n . He c o n cen trate s on the
elem en ts which furn is h food t o t h e s e a p p e t i t e s .
Pubjectivity, therefore,
i s always p resent in s c i e n c e and in ph ilos oph y.
The w r i t e r a l s o b e l i e v e s , with Comte, t h at when man has explored
Nature with a l l the o b j e c t i v i t y o f which he i s cap ab le, h i s work i s only
h a l f done. Pince the end which he pursues i s e g o - c e n t r i c , h i s task i s
completed on ly when he has analyzed h i s c o n c l u s i o n s in r e l a t i o n t o t h e i r
e f f e c t s on h i s ways and thought, and when he has re e v a lu a t e d h i s own
p o s i t i o n in t h e u n i v e r s a l scheme, in t h e l i g h t of t h e new data which
he has gather ed . Tn s h o r t , th e o b j e c t i v e approach, whether i t be s c i ­
e n t i f i c or p h i l o s o p h i c a l , has t o be complemented by the s u b j e c t i v e .
The mistake which Comte made c o n s i s t e d in not s e e in g th a t the s u b j e c t i v e
method could not stand a l o n e , and t h a t at a l l tim es i t needed the support
and help o f t h e o b j e c t i v e . Roughly speaking, Comte devoted the f i r s t
1 . L 'ittr d i s in bad odor w ith p ro -C o m tists and a n ti-C o m tis ts a l i k e nowadays. I t i s s a id
t h a t he p re s e n te d th e n e g a tiv e s id e of th e p o s i t i v e a o o tr in e .
t i o n s du p o s i t i v i s m s , ” Grande Revue, P a r i s , V ol. L I V f 1909), p. 8 VI5 L. Ldvy-Brflhl, Le
d s n t e n a i r e d"A uguste C om te,” Revue des deux mondes, Ja n u a ry , l9 9 _ , p. -94.
p. f . L i t t r d , Auguste Corr.te et la bbilosophie positive, p . -8 9 .
o. John S tu a r t M ill, Auguste Comte and Positivism, p. 1.96.
-P F F -
h a l f o f h i s l i f e to t h e o b j e c t i v e and the second t o the s u b j e c t i v e .
What he should have done was t o use the two methods s im ulta neo usly and
complementarily during h i s whole c a r e e r .
The p res en t e v a l u a t i o n o f the s p i r i t of p o s i t i v e philosophy may be
summed up by s t a t i n g t h a t the w r i t e r endorses i t in i t s three forms,
t h a t i s , as an e s p r i t d 1e nse mb l e, as an a t t i t u d e toward ex perie n ce, and
as a method.
Tt i s nece ssa ry now t o make an examination o f the content o f p o s i ­
t i v e philoso ph y.
Whereas we h e a r t i l y subscribed t o the s p i r i t o f the
d o c t r i n e , we f e e l compelled t o r e j e c t a great deal of i t s c o n t e n t.
Tt
i s neces sary here to weigh the second and f i r s t p h i l o s o p h i e s , beginning
with an a n a l y s i s of the second p h il o so p h y .
L i t t r d claimed t h a t 1 " p o s i t i v e ph iloso ph y was composed, not of
p a r t i a l s c i e n c e s , but o f p a r t i a l p h i l o s o p h i e s . " His a s s e r t i o n i s c o r ­
rect.
Comte o u t l i n e d the method employed by s c ie n c e , gave general con­
s i d e r a t i o n s regarding the nature of each s c i e n c e , and described the
laws discovered by t h e s i x s c i e n c e s , thereby e l ab oratin g true p h i l o s o ­
p h ie s of th e s c i e n c e s . However, we th in k t h a t t h o s e p h i l o s o p h i e s are
n e c e s s a r i l y in co mplete, Comte having ignored the explanatory part of
science.
L i t t r d went on t o say t h a t t h o s e p a r t i a l p h i l o s o p h i e s 5* were t r a n s ­
formed i n t o a homogeneous system by the v r t n c i t l e of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r does not agre e with him. Tt i s recognized t h a t t h e s e
p h i l o s o p h i e s become one p h il osop h y in the se nse that th ey have a family
resemblance. They u se t h e same e s n r i t i ’ ensembl e, the same a t t i t u d e
toward experier^®; and t h e same method. N e v e r t h e l e s s , they remain d i s ­
t i n c t and s ep arate e n t i t i e s .
The second philosophy i s e i t h e r a c o l l e c t i o n
o f p a r t i a l and incomplete p h i l o s o p h i e s o f the s c i e n c e s , as Gruber' main­
t a i n e d , or e l s e a c o l l e c t i o n o f p h i l o s o p h i c a l s c i e n c e s , as Goblot4 wrote
in h i s pre face t o Ut aTs commentaries.
Everything t h at could be s a id pro and con P o s i t i v i s m has been s a id ,
and Alengry* o f f e r e d an argument t o prove t h a t p o s i t i v e philosophy was
r e a l l y a system.
Implying t h a t a group o f t h e o r i e s formed a system when
i t o f f e r e d u n it y , he ventu re d t o say t h a t the p a r t i a l p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o ­
p h i e s became one by the c r e a t i o n o f s o c i o l o g y . This i s a true P o s i t i v i s t i c
ob. c i t . , po. 104-105.
.. ..
8* S * 3 p u b ? r .''%’p uste Comte, f o n d a t e u r du p o s i t i v i s m s so v ie , sa doctrine, p p . lP t- 1 ? 4 .
I. fd . S o b l o t / p r a f L e t o V. n t a 'a la th to rie du savotr dans la bhtlosofihie d'Au?uste
historiaue et critique sur la sociolopie chez tucuste Comte,
1 . HI. Littr<5,
p. 559.
argument.
Comte,
a s we know,
six ob jective scien ces,
raison
o l o g y ga v e i t s
s t a t e d t i m e and a g a i n 1 t h a t t h e r e were
b u t o n l y one s u b j e c t i v e s c i e n c e ,
i ^ t r e
and t h a t s o c i ­
to the other f iv e .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r d o e s n o t t h i n k t h a t A l e n g r y ’ s argument i s a c c e p t ­
able.
Do s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y ,
fours,
is str ic tly
o f the s c i e n t i s t
ob jective,
throughout.
t h e most im p o r t a n t s c i e n c e ;
was t o be l a t e r ,
sp irit.
A theory
is ob jective,
that i s ,
t h e p h i l o s o p h y embodied i n t h e
and Comte m a i n t a i n s t h e d e t a c h e d v i e w p o i n t
S o c i o l o g y i s ack n o wl ed g ed by him t o be
but i t
and t h e s i x
has to be k i l l e d
i s n o t y e t t h e h o l y s t u d y w hic h i t
s c i e n c e s a r e r e g a r d e d i n t h e same o b j e c t i v e
on i t s own g r o u n d s .
P ositive
philosophy
and h as t o be combated on o b j e c t i v e t e r r i t o r y .
A lengry's
argument i s d e c i d e d l y s u b j e c t i v e ;
therefore,
i t h a s t o be r e j e c t e d in
the p resen t in s t a n c e .
The n e x t
eve n
if
two o b j e c t i o n s a r e t h e w r i t e r ’ s own.
i t w ere a s y s t e m ,
P ositive
would b e a t b e s t a f a u l t y s y s t e m .
t h e l o g i c a l c o n s i s t e n c y which i s t h e s i n e
philosophy,
Tt l a c k s
a u a n o n condition of a p h ilo ­
so p h ica l system.
Comte r e j e c t e d
f o r m a l l o g i c . 0 Pe s t r e s s e d t h e p o i n t t h a t l o g i c c o u l d
not be s e v e r e d from i t s
content,
and t h a t i t had an a p o s t e r i o r i
and t h a t t h e o n l y c r i t e r i o n o f t r u t h was e x p e r i e n c e .
Yet he u s e d l o g i c a l
a rg u m en ts and p o s t u l a t e s w hen ev er he f e l t l i k e d o i n g s o .
notions,
origin ,
Pe welcomed
such a s h i s p h r e n o l o g i c a l t h e o r y , 51 b e c a u s e t h e y s a t i s f i e d h i s
sense of lo g ic ;
and whe ne ve r he e s t a b l i s h e d l a w s — f o r i n s t a n c e ,
law o f th e th r e e s t a t e s
he foun d i t n e c e s s a r y t o o f f e r a p r i o r i
form ulated4 th e
when he
and t h e l a w o f
c la s s ifio a t ion,
l o g i c a l v e r i f i c a t i o n s f o r them.
Puch a p r o c e d u r e d o e s no t confor m w i t h h i s b e l i e f i n t h e n o n - e x i s t e n c e
o f formal l o g i c .
Comte p r o f e s s e d t o b u i l d an e m p i r i c a l p h i l o s o p h y .
ophy, by d e f i n i t i o n ,
Puch a p h i l o s ­
d o e s n o t t r a n s c e n d e x p e r i e n c e a t any t i m e .
Yet
he embodied i n h i s p h i l o s o p h y p r i n c i p l e s which a r e o b v i o u s l y a p r i o r i .
They a r e 5 : "The t h i n k e r must l o o k f o r t h e s i m p l e s t h y p o t h e s i s " ;
tiv e c la ssific a tio n
erality" ;
"A p o s i ­
i s a l w a y s b a s e d on t h e p r i n c i p l e o f d e c r e a s i n g g e n ­
and "Phenomena must be s t u d i e d in t h e i r o r d e r o f d e p e n d e n c e . "
Tt must be remarked t h a t no f a c t u a l e v i d e n c e i n d i c a t e s t h a t man s h o u l d
1. Of.
p. Of.
s . Of.
4 . Of.
5. Of.
o. 97 above.
VP. S 7 .8 P , 7P above.
p. PP above.
p. 54 above.
pp. 50-51 above.
-PF7a b i d e by them.
The f a c t t h a t e x p e r i e n c e v e r i f i e s t h e i r u t i l i t y d o e s
n o t a l t e r t h e i r a pr i or i , n a t u r e .
Comte i s n o t t o be condemned f o r h a v i n g i n t r o d u c e d e x t r a - e m p i r i c a l
elem ents in to h is philosophy,
c o u l d h a v e done o t h e r w i s e .
abstractions,
and i t
for i t
d o e s n o t seem p o s s i b l e t h a t he
S c i e n c e d e a l s w it h i d e a l phenomena and with
is essen tia lly selectiv e.
Tt d i s c r i m i n a t e s 1 among
f a c t s and r e t a i n s t h o s e which a p p e a l t o t h e t h i n k e r f o r one r e a s o n or
another.
tist.
The s c i e n t i f i c f a c t 0 i s i n g r e a t p a r t t h e work o f t h e s c i e n ­
S i n c e s c i e n c e a c c e p t s t h e g u i d a n c e o f some e x t r a - e m p i r i c a l
p rin cip les,
s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y a r e n o t s t r i c t l y
m i s t a k e which Comte made,
A fourth p r in c ip le ,
m etaphysical.
accepts f i n a l i t y ,
w hile i f
order.
The
was n o t in a c c e p t i n g a p r i o r i
but in i m p l y i n g t h a t h i s p h i l o s o p h y was e n t i r e l y a p o s t e r i o r i .
p rin cip les,
tin ctly
therefore,
em pirical.
Tt c e n t e r s about t h e a u e s t i o n o f t e l e s i s .
Tf one
one s u r m i s e s t h a t o r d e r i s t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f p r o g r e s s ,
one r e j e c t s
Tn any c a s e ,
it,
one i n f e r s t h a t p r o g r e s s i s t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f
t h e r e l a t i o n o f o r d e r and p r o g r e s s c a n n o t be d e c i d e d
upon s c i e n t i f i c g r o u n d s ,
judgement.
"Progress i s th e development o f o r d e r , " 8 i s d i s ­
and i t
is
the ex p ressio n o f a m etaphysical
Tt s h o u l d a l s o be n o t e d t h a t a s s e r t i n g -sr- n e g a t i n g a meta­
p h y s i c a l p r o p o s i t i o n amounts t o t h e same t h i n g from t h e p o i n t o f vi e w
of lo g ic.
It
i s p r o ffe r in g a metaphysical op inion.
Tf p o s i t i v e p h i l o s ­
ophy had b ee n t r u l y n o n - t r a n s c e n d e n t a l , Comte would h a v e i g n o r e d t h e
auestion a lto g e th e r .
Tt h a s b e e n remarked t h a t Comte was n o t c o n s i s t e n t ev e n i n t h e
m e t a p h y s i c a l a u e s t i o n o f r e l a t i o n o f o r d e r and p r o g r e s s .
telesis
as t h e o l o g i c a l .
Yet he a c c e n t e d s o c i a l f i n a l i t y
He r e j e c t e d
im p licitly
when he a d v an ce d t h e n o t i o n t h a t h u m a n i t y 4 was c o n s t a n t l y moving tbward
an i d e a l s t a t e .
progress l i e
The f a c t t h a t he r e s t r i c t e d
i n t h e u n f o l d i n g o f p o t e n t i a l a u a l i t i e s 5 d o e s n ot a l t e r
the situ a tio n .
H e re , a g a i n ,
telesis
it.
f i n a l i t y by making t h i s
Comte i s not t o b e c r i t i c i z e d f o r h a v i n g i n t r o d u c e d
in s c i e n c e .
Ye a r e c o n v i n c e d t h a t he c o u l d n o t h a v e a v o i d e d
An e x p l a n a t i o n n e c e s s a r i l y i n c l u d e s an e l e m e n t o f f i n a l i t y , 8
sin ce the s c i e n t i s t
sequent.
i n d u c e s t h e unknown a n t e c e d e n t from t h e known c o n ­
Fven t h e c o n c e p t o f phenomenal s p e c i f i c i t y ,
which a p p e a r s a t
1. V. V eyerson, Du cheminement ie la pens4e, pp.
,
7
. n
?. U . ■L eroy, "On p o a itiv is m e nouveau," Revue de m4taphysiaue et de morale, annee 9,
1901, p . 145.
9.
O f. p . 5 i a b o v e .
4. O f. pp. 99, 31-59 above.
Cf. pp. 95-96 above.
.
Ar)
6 . X. V eyerson, De I'explication dans les sciences, pp. 4S-50.
first
a p o s t e r i o r i n o t i o n , c o n t a i n s t h e same
s i g h t t o bs an e s s e n t i a l l y
f i n a l element,
s i n c e i t p r e c l u d e s t h e e x p l a n a t i o n o f a phenomenon by
phenomena o f a d i f f e r e n t o r d e r .
Fo r i n s t a n c e ,
the v i t a l i s t i c
theory
d o e s not p er m it us t o e x p l a i n b i o l o g i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s by p h y s i c o ­
chem ical r e a c t io n s .
In s h o r t ,
it
d o e s n o t seem t h a t Comte can be i n ­
d i c t e d f o r h a v in g i n t r o d u c e d t e l e s i s
cized,
ho we ver ,
into scien ce.
for not having r e a l i z e d
In t h i s c h a p t e r ,
the s p i r i t
s t a t e m e n t has bee n made t h a t i t
Fe i s t o be c r i t i ­
t h a t he had done s c .
o f Ccmtism h a s b ee n a n a l y z e d ,
s h o u l d be r e t a i n e d .
and t h e
C t h e s s has been
p l a c e d on t h e n e c e s s i t y o f a c c e p t i n g t h e s p i r i t o f t h e s u b j e c t i v e method
N evertheless,
i t has b e e n a d m i t t e d t h a t Comte did n ot make a pr op er us e
of t h i s .
An a n a l y s i s has a l s o be en g i v e n o f t h e g e n e r a l c o n t e n t o f p o s i t i v e
philosophy.
A c r i t i q u e o f t h e s e c ond p h i l o s o p h y has been p r e s e n t e d .
h a s bee n o b s e r v e d t h a t
it
con tain ed p h i l o s o p h i e s o f the s c ie n c e s ;
It
tu t at
t h e same t im e i t has b ee n remarked t h a t t h e s e were not formed i n t o a
s y s t e m by c l a s s i f i c a t i o n .
sisten t,
Tt h as b e e n shown t h a t Comte was not co n ­
b e c a u s e he u se d a p r i o r i
r e a s o n i n g and i n t r o d u c e d t e l i c n o t i o n s
a l t h o u g h he had n e g a t e d t h e e x i s t e n c e c-f t h e former and d e c l a r e d th e
la tte r u n scien tific.
so,
is
However,
f a r from c r i t i c i z i n g him f o r h a v i n g done
i t has been p o i n t e d c u t t h a t he c o u l d n e t have done o t h e r w i s e .
Pe
open t o r e p r o a c h s i m p l y f o r n o t h a v i n g s e e n what he had done.
Tt i s t im e now t o t u r n t o t h e e v a l u a t i o n o f t h e f i r s t , p h i l o s o p h y .
CHAPTER VI
First
Philosophy
f i r s t , p h i l o s o p h y - h a s a l r e a d y b e e n d e f i n e d , and i t s growth in
Do s i t i v i s m d e s c r i b e d . 1
Tt h a s b e e n shown t h a t Comte began h i s c a r e e r
w i t h o u t any d e f i n i t e o p i n i o n c o n c e r n i n g t h e n e c e s s i t y and t h e n a t u r e
of a f i r s t
philosophy;
and t h a t when he d i e d ,
th e system.
t h a t he g r a d u a l l y awakened t o i t s
importance,
f i r s t , p h i l o s o p h y had become a v i t a l p a r t o f
Tt seems c l e a r t h a t most co m m en t a t or s have f a i l e d t o a p p r e c i a t e
t h e t r u e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h i s e s s e n t i a l p a r t o f Ccmtism.
Pome have
t h e y h a v e a l l o w e d t h e g l a r e o f t h e s e c ond
b ee n g u i l t y o f o v e r s i g h t :
p h i l o s o p h y t o b l i n d them c o m p l e t e l y t o t h e e x i s t e n c e o f t h e f i r s t .
O t h e r s ha ve d e t e c t e d
formed a w h o l e ,
its
p rin cip les,
b u t ha ve no t p e r c e i v e d t h a t t h e y
and so ha ve d i s c u s s e d them t o p i c a l l y a l o n g w i t h t h e
t h e o r i e s o f t h e s e c o nd p h i l o s o p h y .
these p rin cip les
The i n v e s t i g a t o r b e l i e v e s t h a t
s h o u l d b e r e g a r d e d a s t h e components o f a s e l f - s u p ­
p o r t i n g u n i t which h a s a d e f i n i t e f u n c t i o n
in P o s i t i v i s m .
Let us s e e
what t h i s f u n c t i o n i s .
Comte i n f o r m s u s t h a t f i r s t
t h e mature m i n d . 0
p h ilo s o p h y e x p la i n s the workings o f
According t o h i s th e o r y ,
a c c o u n t f o r t h e g e n e s i s and f i n a l
it s fifte e n p rinciples
d ev el o p m en t o f human t h o u g h t .
He
r e g a r d s them a s s c i e n t i f i c b e c a u s e he c l a i m s t h a t s c i e n c e h as d i s c o v ­
e r e d them.
Tt s h o u l d be n o t e d t h a t t h i s s c i e n t i f i c o r i g i n in i t s e l f
i s o f paramount i m p o r t a n c e ,
because i t
g iv e s i t s function to f i r s t
philosophy.
The r e a s o n f o r t h i s may now b e shewn,
f i r s t philosophy i s s c ie n c e ,
s i n c e i t s p r i n c i p l e s h a v e b ee n d i s c o v e r e d by s c i e n c e .
it
i s philosophy,
sin ce i t
is
u n i v e r s a l k n ow le d ge.
At t h e same t i m e ,
Pence,
f i r s t p h ilo s­
ophy r e p r e s e n t s t h e l i n k which u n i t e s t h e two forms o f k n o w l e d g e , s c i e n c e
and p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y ,
t o one a n o t h e r ,
thereby a ch ievin g the i d e n t i f i -
c a t i o n o f p h i l o s o p h y and s c i e n c e . '
T h i s s p e c i a l and v i t a l f u n c t i o n o f f i r s t
l o o k e d by t h e c o m m e n t a t o r s .
philosophy has been o v er­
They h av e n o t r e a l i z e d t h a t f i r s t p h i l o s o p h y
was t h e k e y s t o n e o f t h e Comtean p h i l o s o p h i c a l s t r u c t u r e .
I t s h o u l d be remar ke d t h a t t h e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f p h i l o s o p h y and
s c i e n c e was sound o n l y t o t h e e x t e n t t h a t t h i s l i n k was sound.
Tf
-?H 0-
f i r s t p h i l o s o p h y t u r n e d o u t t o be unsound, t h e n t h e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f
p h i l o s o p h y and s c i e n c e c o u l d n o t t a k e p l a c e .
th is
i d e n t i f i c a t i o n was e f f e c t e d ,
soundness o f th o s e f i f t e e n
In o r d e r t o s e e w h e t h e r
i t w i l l be n e c e s s a r y t o t e s t t h e
p rin cip les.
Comte i n d i c a t e d t h e method
which s h o u l d be f o l l o w e d when he a v e r r e d t h a t t h e y ' w e r e u n i v e r s a l l a w s .
I t must be a s c e r t a i n e d w h e t h e r t h e y a c t u a l l y a r e l a w s ,
possess u n iversality.
both r e s p e c t s .
and w h e t h e r t h e y
Tt h a s be en s u g g e s t e d t h a t t h e y f e l l
P eg in n in g with th e a n a l y s i s o f t h e i r l e g a l i t y ,
n e c e s s a r y t o agree with th e c r i t i c s .
t h e s c i e n t i f i c s e n s e o f t h e word.
Comte h a t e d t h e h a i r - s p l i t t i n g
s h o r t in
on t h i s p o i n t i t
Thes e p r i n c i p l e s a r e n o t la w s in
d i s c u s s i o n s o f p h i l o s o p h e r s , which
he c o n s i d e r e d mere t w i t t i n g s on words,
and he had- no s e n s e o f l o g i c .
We k n o w . t h a t he u s e d t er m s w i t h o u t d e f i n i n g t h e m 1 p r o p e r l y ,
p a y i n g no
h ee d t o t h e f a c t t h a t words a r e e l a s t i c and h a ve many m e a n i n g s .
tra its
These
l e d him t o m i s u s e t h e word " l a w ," as he m i s u s e d many o t h e r s .
Tn e v e r y d a y l a n g u a g e ,
t h e term "law" h a s m u l t i p l e a c c e p t a t i o n s .
The layman o f t e n em p lo y s i t
b ility
is
or f i n a l i t y .
t o co n v e y an i m p r e s s i o n o f t r u t h ,
irrefu ta­
When he s a y s t h a t a p r i n c i p l e i s a la w , he i s n ot
t h i n k i n g o f a g i v e n and s p e c i f i c s c i e n t i f i c la w .
A l l he h a s i n mind i s
t h a t t h e r e i s no a p p e a l from i t .
When he s a y s t h a t an e v e n t happened
ac c o r d : ng t o t h e l a w s o f N a t u r e ,
a l l he i n t e n d s t o s u g g e s t i s t h a t i t
cou ld not have been a v o id ed ,
and n o t h i n g more.
Comte more o r l e s s c a r r i e d o v e r t o p h i l o s o p h y t h i s l o o s e common
m ea n in g ,
and he c a l l e d
"law" any a p r i o r i or a p o s t e r i o r i p r i n c i p l e
whi ch seemed t o him i r r e f r a g a b l e or i n e s c a p a b l e .
Guch a u s e o f t h e word, h ow e ve r,
c a n n o t be a c c e p t e d .
The i n v e s t i ­
g a t o r b e l i e v e s t h a t t h e term "law" has a r e s t r i c t e d meaning i n s c i e n c e ,
and t h a t i t
correspcnds t o a d e f i n i t e concept.
A s c i e n t i f i c law e x ­
p r e s s e s t h e r e l a t i o n o f a g i v e n phenomenon t o one or more phenomena
whose v a r i a t i o n s d i r e c t l y r e a c t on t h e phenomenon under s t u d y .
consequence,
In
a law i n v o l v e s a ch an ge i n r e l a t i o n t o o t h e r c h a n g e s ,
i t p o s t u l a t e s t h e n o t i o n o f an e f f i c i e n t c a u s e .
and
Fven t h o u g h t h e a n t e ­
c e d e n t may n o t b e c o n s i d e r e d a s t h e c a u s e i n t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l s e n s e o f
t h e word, i t
n e v e r t h e l e s s e n t a i l s a r e l a t i o n which i s more t h a n p l a i n
s u c c e s s i o n or c o e x i s t e n c e .
body f a l l i n g
The law which' f o r m u l a t e s t h e v e l o c i t y o f a
f r e e l y i n r e l a t i o n t o two v a r i a b l e s ,
i s a p e r f e c t e x a m p le o f a s c i e n t i f i c la w .
1 . C f. pp.
1 9 F -1.99 above.
a c c e l e r a t i o n and t i m e ,
-SP1Eurthermore, i t im p l i e s i n v a r i a b i l i t y .
I n v a r i a b i l i t y i t s e l f pos tu­
l a t e s th r e e n ot ions: f i r s t , t h a t o f u n if o r m it y ( t h e r e i s no ex cep tion to
s c i e n t i f i c laws, and they se r v e f o r the whole ca teg ory o f phenomena);
second, t h a t o f d e p e n d a b ilit y (we may be c e r t a i n t h a t a c e r t a i n phenom­
enon w i l l take p la c e i f c e r t a i n a n t e c e d e n t s are p r e s e n t ) , and t h i r d , that
o f n e c e s s i t y (we cannot prevent the phenomenon from occu rr in g i f the
a n t e c e d e n t s are p r e s e n t ) .
The i n v a r i a b i l i t y o f l a w s 1 was not o n l y s e e n by Comte, but p r o f u s e l y
s t r e s s e d by him.
However, he o v e r l o o k e d t h e r e l a t i o n a l a n g l e .
It is
t r u e t h a t he w r o te t i m e and a g a i n t h a t l a w s d e a l t w i t h r e l a t i o n s ;
but
by r e l a t i o n s he meant p h e n om en a, 0 phenomena r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e r e l a t i v e
rea lity .
E x p r e s s e d in h i s l a n g u a g e ,
p lain rela tio n s.
phenomena.
a scien tific
law d o e s not s e t f o r t h
Tt e x p r e s s e s t h e i n v a r i a b l e r e l a t i o n s o f v a r i a b l e
Tt s h o u l d be n o t e d t h a t r e l a t i o n a l p r i n c i p l e s do n o t h a ve t o assume
a m a t h e m a t i c a l or q u a n t i t a t i v e form i n o r d e r t o be l a w s .
law s e x i s t ,
and t h e y a r e t o be fou n d i n a l l t h e n a t u r a l s c i e n c e s .
was k e e n l y aware o f t h e i r e x i s t e n c e ,
d i s l i k e d them f o r no good r e a s o n s .
a r e n o t c o n t e n t w i t h such l a w s ,
form s,
Q ualitative
Comte
and e v e n c o m p l a i n e d t h a t s c i e n t i s t s
H i s remark was j u s t i f i e d .
S cien tists
and t h e y t r y t o g i v e them c u a n t i t a t i v e
o f t e n at the expense of tr u th .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r d o e s n o t t h i n k t h a t t h i s
a ttra ctio n to p recise
f o r m u l a e i s o f any c o n s e a u e n c e so f a r a s t h e e x i s t e n c e o f a u a l i t a t i v e
law s i s concerned.
e s ta b lis h e d here,
Tf p r i n c i p l e s a b i d e by t h e r u l e s w hich h av e been
th ey are laws,
whether they are m a th em atically e x ­
p r e s s e d or n o t .
S i n c e l a w s d e a l w i t h t h e r e l a t i o n s o f phenomena,
it
i s obvious that
a b s o l u t e s t a t e m e n t s and l o g i c a l a x io m s a r e n o t la w s ; f u r t h e r m o r e , p r o p o ­
s i t i o n s which s i m p l y s t a t e t h e e x i s t e n c e o f a phenomenon,
phenomena t o one a n o t h e r w i t h o u t c o n n o t i n g any e f f i c i e n t
r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e m , a r e not l a w s .
On e x a m i n i n g t h e f i f t e e n la w s o f t h e f i r s t ,
t h a t o n l y two o f them a r e g e n u i n e l a w s .
le o 's
la w ) and t h e t w e l f t h
(N ewton's).
or compare two
and i n v a r i a b l e
philosophy,
it
i s found
They a r e t h e e l e v e n t h ( G a l i ­
Comte e x p r e s s e d b o t h o f t h e s e
i n n o n - m a t h e m a t i c a l t e r m s in o r d e r t o g i v e them a u n i v e r s a l s c o p e ,
follow s:
"Any s y s t e m p r e s e r v e s i t s
u n d e r g o t h e same c h a n g e , " and,
and r e a c t i o n . " 3
1 . Of. P D . 45-46 above.
2. C f. pp. 41, 46 above.
3 . C f. pp. 50—51 above.
c o n s t i t u t i o n when a l l
as
i t s parts
"There i s an e c u i v a l e n c e b e t w e e n a c t i o n
-?ppI t should be p o in te d out t h a t t h e t e n t h ,
of in e r tia ,
c a n n o t b e c a l l e d a la w ,
A ll the other s o - c a l l e d
because i t
" law s" ( t h e f o u r t h ,
K e p l e r ' s law or p r i n c i p l e
i s an a b s o l u t e s t a t e m e n t .
fifth
and s i x t h p r i n c i p l e s )
e x p l a i n t h e G e n e s i s o f s u b j e c t i v e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s and compare them t o
o b j e c t i v e m a t e r i a l s and p e r c e p t i o n s .
They a re i n v a r i a b l e ,
by one o f t h e p r e r e q u i s i t e s o f a s c i e n t i f i c
the e f f i c i e n t
Pence,
thus abiding
law; but t h e y do n o t i n d i c a t e
a c t i o n o f o b j e c t i v e m a t e r i a l s on s u b j e c t i v e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s .
t h e s e p r i n c i p l e s s a t i s f y o n l y one o f t h e two c r i t e r i a o f l a w s ,
and a r e not t o be c o n s i d e r e d as r e a l l a w s .
Co mte's t h r e e l a w s o f human e v o l u t i o n i n d i c a t e an i n v a r i a b l e t r e n d ,
that is ,
an i n v a r i a b l e c h a n g e ,
cedent.
Tn c o n s e q u e n c e ,
but t h e y do no t c o n n e c t i t w i t h an a n t e ­
t h e y s h o u l d no t be termed l a w s .
Tannery1 e s p e ­
c i a l l y o b j e c t e d t o C o m t e ' s u s e o f t h e word "law" t o d e s i g n a t e t h e p r i n ­
c ip le s of in t e lle c t u a l evolu tion ,
and he a v e r r e d t h a t i t
s h o u l d have
b e e n c a l l e d t h e "f or m ul a o f t h e t h r e e s t a t e s " i n s t e a d o f t h e
law o f t h e
three s t a t es .
The q u e s t i o n o f u n i v e r s a l i t y
i s now t o be c o n s i d e r e d .
t i n g u i s h e d b e t w e e n o b j e c t i v e and s u b j e c t i v e u n i v e r s a l i t y ,
that h is psychological
laws
Tt o n l y r e m a i n s
ophy from t h e p o i n t o f v i e w
and o b s e r v e d
and l a w s o f e v o l u t i o n 5* were u n i v e r s a l s u b ­
j e c t i v e l y and not o b j e c t i v e l y ,
ence here.
As Comte d i s ­
it
i s not n e c e ssa ry to study t h i s d i f f e r ­
t o weigh t h e p r i n c i p l e s c f t h e f i r s t
cf plain u n iv ersa lity .
p h ilo s­
Tt i s o b v i o u s t h a t
C o m t e 's s t a t e m e n t s o f e x i s t e n c e and l o g i c a l axioms a r e u n i v e r s a l ,
and
a l l t h a t i s n e c e s s a r y h e r e i s t c d e t e r m i n e whether h i s two g e n u i n e l a w s
are a ls o u n iv e r s a l.
The im p o r t a n c e o f u n i v e r s a l i t y f o r a l l
stressed.
u n iversal.
Comte meant t h e ? i r s t
p h i l o s o p h y t o be a hundred p e r c e n t
Tt c o u l d b e s o o n l y i f
must be obEerved t h a t ,
f i f t e e n p r i n c i p l e s must be
e v e r y p r i n c i p l e were u n i v e r s a l .
Tt
from t h e p o i n t o f vi e w o f t h e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f
p h i l o s o p h y and s c i e n c e ,
genuine s c i e n t i f i c law s,
it
was c f v i t a l
i m p o rt a n ce t h a t t h e o n l y two
C a l i l e o ' s and N e w t o n ' s , would p ro ve t o be
tru ly universal.
Tt i s t o be n o t e d t h a t Comte d i d n o t i n c o r p o r a t e t h e s e two la w s
i n t o h i s system in t h e i r
forms,
t h e y a p p ly t o t h e m a t e r i a l o r d e r ; h e n c e ,
sp ecific.
1.
o r i g i n a l and m a t h e m a t i c a l f o r m s .
Tn o r d e r t o b e u n i v e r s a l ,
P. T an n ery ,
they are d e c id e d ly
t h e y had t o ap p ly t o t h e s p i r i t u a l
" A u * u » te C o m te e t l ' h i s t o l r e i e a s c i e n c e , "
p . ^ t ? , o o l a . 1 a n .i P .
p u r e s e t appl iances ,- V o l . XVT
p . Pol., TV, p . 1 7 ? .
Tn t h e s e
Revue ?6nf.rale d e s s c i e n c e s
-?«F-
order as w e l l ,
and Comte c o n v e r t e d them i n t o u n i v e r s a l l a w s by e x p r e s s ­
i n g them i n g e n e r a l t e r m s which c o u l d a p p l y bo th t o s p i r i t
That he s u c c e e d e d
Put t h i s
in g i v i n g them a u n i v e r s a l w or d in g , t h e r e i s no d o u b t .
i s not s u f f i c i e n t .
and N e w t o n ' s p r i n c i p l e s
law s.
I t must be a s c e r t a i n e d w h e t h e r G a l i l e o ' s
i n t h e i r u n i v e r s a l i z e d forms a r e s t i l l
The i n v e s t i g a t o r c l a i m s t h a t t h e y a r e n o t .
be o f f e r e d t o s u p p o r t t h i s a s s e r t i o n :
one b a s e d on e x p e r i e n c e .
P irst,
law s.
and m a t t e r .
true
Three arg um en ts w i l l
two b a s e d on a p r i o r i l o g i c and
The l o g i c a l a s p e c t w i l l f i r s t b e c o n s i d e r e d .
C o m t e 's own l o g i c m i l i t a t e d a g a i n s t t h e u n i v e r s a l i z a t i o n o f
When we u n i v e r s a l i z e a law , we a p p ly i t t o phenomena which b e l o n g
t o o r d e r s d i f f e r e n t from t h e one in which i t
was d i s c o v e r e d and v e r i f i e d .
Comte b a s e d h i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n on t h e a s s u m p t i o n t h a t t h e r e were s e v e r a l
s p e c ific categories
determinism of
its
in N a t u r e ,
own, which su p e ri m p o s ed i t s e l f on t h e d e t e r m i n i s m s
o f the orders preceding i t
cip les,
and on t h 9 b e l i e f t h a t ea ch f i e l d had a
in g e n e r a l i t y .
A cco rdi ng t o t h o s e two p r i n ­
t h e same c a u s e c a n n o t pr od u ce t h e same e f f e c t
Therefore,
in d i f f e r e n t orders.
a u n i v e r s a l i z e d law i s no l o n g e r a t r u e la w .
S eco n d ,
it
must be n o t e d t h a t Comte u sed i n d i f f e r e n t l y t h e words
" g e n e r a l " and " u n i v e r s a l , " w he re a s we d i s t i n g u i s h s h a r p l y b e t w e e n t h e
two.
G e n e r a l i t y and u n i v e r s a l i t y a re n e t t h e same t h i n g .
s e p a r a t e d by t h e a u e s t i o n o f d e g r e e .
sa lity .
A law i s
They a r e
G enerality is a lim ite d u n iv er­
a l w a y s g e n e r a l in t h e s e n s e t h a t i t a p p l i e s t o a
w h o l e c l a s s o f phenomena and p r e s e n t s no e x c e p t i o n in t h a t c l a s s .
is
u n i v e r s a l o n l y when i t
ica l
law s,
for in stan ce,
a p p l i e s t o a l l o r d e r s c f phenomena.
are o b v io u s ly not u n i v e r s a l ,
and c a n n o t a p p l y t o t h e i n o r g a n i c .
would b e t r u l y u n i v e r s a l
orders.
if
Tt
B iolog­
s i n c e t h e y do not
Vathematical law s,
on t h e o t h e r hand,
i t c o u l d be proved t h a t t h e y g o v e r n e d a l l
T h i s would b e t r u e i f t h e r e were a m a t h e m a t i c a l e l e m e n t in
e v e r y c l a s s o f phenomena.
Put t h e e x t r a - m a t h e m a t i c a l e l e m e n t o f t h e s e
phenomena o b v i o u s l y would n o t a b i d e by t h e l a w s o f m a t h e m a t i c s .
When Comte i n f e r r e d t h a t K e p l e r ' s , G a l i l e o ' s and N e w t o n ' s l a w s 1
we re r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e fu n d a m en ta l t r a i t s o f s o c i e t y ,
he s i n n e d a g a i n s t
h i s own l o g i c ,
mechanics t o th e
b e c a u s e he a p p l i e d t h e laws o f c e l e s t i a l
psych ological aspect of s o c ie ty ,
ed g ed t o be n o n - m a t h e m a t i c a l .
i.e.,
t o t h e e l e m e n t w hich he a c k n o w l­
Tn c o n s e q u e n c e , h i s u n i v e r s a l i z e d la w s
h a v e t o be r e j e c t e d f o r t h e s a k e o f sound l o g i c .
1
Cf d o . 4 9 -* 0 a b o v e . Tn m ak in a t h i s s t a t e m e n t we a r e r e a s o n i n g w i t h C o m te ’ s d a t a ,
an d p u r p o s e l y i a n o r i n a t h e new l i a h t o a s t b y m i n s t e i n on t h e s o u n d n e s s o f t h o s e l a w s .
-m T h ir d ,
TmpirioigjPi a l s o p r o v e s t h a t la w s c a n n o t be u n i v e r s a l i z e d .
The u n i v e r s e h a s more t h a n one l e v e l ,
do n o t g o v e r n t h e micr oco sm .
to serve a ll
lev els.
and t h e la w s o f t h e macrocosm1
When l a w s a r e u n i v e r s a l i z e d ,
t h e y a r e made
Pe n c e t h e y a r e no l o n g e r t r u e in t h i s e x t e n d e d
fo rm .
C h e v a l i e r q u o t e s some i l l u m i n a t i n g words o f P r o f e s s o r Lan gevin
on t h i s s u b j e c t 9 :
Tt i 3 t r u e t h a t t h e p h e n o m e n a o f f l u o t u a t i o n ( B r o w n i a n m o t i o n ,
b l u e n e s s of th e 3ky, e t o . ) a re in fo rm a l o o n t r a i i s t i o n w ith the
p r i n o i p l e o f C a r n o t . Tn v i r t u e o f t h i s p r i n e i p l e , a s y s t e m w h i o h
h a s r e a o h e d a maxi mum e n t r o p i o o o n f i g u r a t i o n o a n n o t m o v e f r o m i t
without ex tern al in te r v e n tio n .
A moving p a r t i o l e in a f l u i d
s h o u l d , n o m a t t e r how s m a l l , l o s e p r o g r e s s i v e l y i t s v e l o o i t y b y
f r i o t i o n a nd n e v e r s t a r t m o v i n g a g a i n a f t e r i t h a s s t o p p e d , and
i t s k i n e t i o en erg y sh o u ld be tr a n s fo r m e d i n t o h e a t. W ell, th e
B r o w n i a n m o t i o n s h o w s u3 t h e e o n t r a r y .
C h e v a lie r c o n c lu d e s 3:
Everything is
mined d i v e r s e l y .
probably determ ined; but
There are s e v e r a l s c a l e s
everything is deter­
in the u n iv e rse .
P h e n o m e n a , b e i n g s , s t r u c t u r e s a n d l a w s do n o t r e p e a t t h e m s e l v e s
a c c o r d i n g t o an i d e n t i c a l f o r m u l a a f f e c t e d by a s p e c i f i c c o e f ­
f i c i e n t . P e r f e c t s i m i l i t u d e d o e s n o t e x i 3 t , no t e v e n i n mechan­
i c s : a 3 m a ll a i r p l a n e i s not th e s i m p le r e d u c t i o n of a la r g e
o n e . Thu s , t h e m o t i o n o f atom3 i 3 n o t e x o l i o a b l e by t h e l aws
w h i c h g o v e r n t h e m o t i o n s o f t h e 3 t a r s ; t h e o r g a n i s m and t h e
b e h a v io r of a l i v i n g b ein g are not determined l i k e .the s t r u c ­
t u r e and g r o w t h o f a c r y s t a l , and wh e n I p e r f o r m a n a c t a f t e r
h a y i n g t h o u g h t , d e l i b e r a t e d a n d w i l l e d , T do n o t a c t a s a s t o n e
whioh i s f a l l i n g .
It is
im possible to c r i t i c i z e
Comte f o r n o t h a v i n g known what was
g o i n g t o be d i s c o v e r e d s e v e r a l d e c a d e s a f t e r h i s d e a t h ,
namely, t h a t
t h e r e i s a s u b - m o l a r w o rl d which d o e s n o t a b i d e by t h e l a w s o f t h e
m olar.
Put he c o u l d have s e e n t h a t l a w s c a n n o t l e a v e t h e i r f i e l d s ;
that
perfect
s i m i l i t u d e i s not met i n t h e macrocosm on d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s ,
a
s m a l l dog h a v i n g n e v e r b e e n t h e e x a c t r e p r o d u c t i o n o f a l a r g e one.
H o b e r ty makes a v a l u a b l e c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e c r i t i q u e o f t h e f i r s t
philosophy.
He o b s e r v e s t h a t t h e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f s c i e n c e and p h i l o s ­
o p h y 4 c o u l d t a k e p l a c e o n l y i f a l l n a t u r a l la w s were s u b j e c t e d t o t h e
u n iversalizin g orocess,
and t h a t Comte p r o v o k e d t h e f a i l u r e o f h i s
p h i l o s o p h y by d i s c r i m i n a t i n g among n a t u r a l l a w s and u n i v e r s a l i z i n g
t h o s e o f c e l e s t i a l mechanics,
criticism
1.
to th e e x c lu sio n of the o th e r s .
Foberty's
cannot be r e f u t e d .
E. Meyerson, Le I ' e x p l i c a t i o n i a n s l e s s c i e n c e s , p. P76, and tu cheminement i e la
^ p f ^ e f t e r ^ f P r o f e s s o r Langevin, quotad by J. C h e v a lie r i n La v i e i e I ' e s P r i t ,
d i x , p. 9k.
p. C h e v a l i e r , oP. c t t . , p. PP.
,
4 . E. De P o b e rty , La p h i l o s o p h t e du s i > . cl e, p. 159.
Appen­
N evertheless,
t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r t h i n k s t h a t C omte's d i s c r i m i n a t i v e
a t t i t u d e i s e a s i l y accounted f o r .
of l o g i c a l .sense.
Tt i s a n o t h e r i n s t a n c e o f h i s l a c k
Pe d i d n o t r e a l i z e t h a t h e m i s t o o k t h e g e n e r a l i t y o f
m e c h a n i c a l la w s f o r t h e i r u n i v e r s a l i t y .
For t h e c a s u a l o b s e r v e r ,
those
l a w s an oe ar u n i v e r s a l b e c a u s e t h e y a p p l y t o a l l m a t e r i a l phenomena.
The s n e c i f i c i t y o f t h e o t h e r n a t u r a l la w s was so marked t h a t Comte
c o u l d no l o n g e r d e c e i v e h i m s e l f a s t o t h e i r u n i v e r s a l i t y ,
what t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s he c o u l d make them u n d e r g o .
t r y t o i n c o r p o r a t e them i n t o h i s
a sound f i r s t
philosophy,
P en ce , he did n e t
? i r s t philosophy.
The f o l l o w i n g c o n c l u s i o n s a r e t o be drawn.
in u n i v e r s a l i z i n g law s.
As a r e s u l t ,
and h e n c e ,
he f a i l e d
Comte did n e t s u c c e e d
in h i s e f f o r t t o c r e a t e
t o i d e n t i f y p h i l o s o p h y and s c i e n c e .
This chapter has e x p la in e d t h e f u n c t i o n of th e f i r s t
Comtism,
and has shown t h a t i t
con sisted
f i c a t i o n o f p h i l o s o p h y and s c i e n c e .
d i d n o t s u c c e e d in t h i s ,
p h i l o s o p h y in
in making p o s s i b l e t h e i d e n t i ­
The i n v e s t i g a t o r c l a i m s t h a t he
b ecau se t h i r t e e n out of h i s f i f t e e n p r i n c i p l e s
a r e n o t la w s in t h e s c i e n t i f i c
u n i v e r s a l i z e d la w s ,
no m a t t e r
a c c e p t a t i o n o f t h e term,
t h e r e m a i n i n g two p r i n c i p l e s ,
and b e c a u s e h i s
ar e no l o n g e r t r u e .
CHAPTER V I I
FPISTEVOLOSY
AND
Comte was i d e n t i f y i n g
strictly
POSITIVISW
T h i s made i t p o s s i b l e f o r hiir t o i g n o r e
p h i l o s o p h i c a l p ro b le m s
u s ed i n t h e c l a s s i c
IN
p h i l o s o p h y w it h a s c i e n c e which he had
U n ited to le g a lit y .
a l l the s c - c a ll e d
physics,
Vl ETAPHYSI CS
s e n s e 1),
( " p h ilo s o p h ic a l" b e in g here
s u ch a s t h o s e o f e p i s t e m o l o g y and m e t a ­
and t o do s o w i t h o u t h a v i n g t o j u s t i f y h i s a c t i o n .
I t i s no t n e c e s s a r y t o s a y a n y t h i n g h er e c o n c e r n i n g h i s a t t i t u d e
toward m e t a p h y s i c s , b e c a u s e i t
i s w e l l known.
he d id no t s a y a n y t h i n g a g a i n s t e p i s t e m o l o g y ,
I t i s t o be n o t e d t h a t
and one i s bound t o won­
der what h i s s t a n d was i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r r e s p e c t .
silen ce
is easy to d isc o v e r .
The r e a s o n f o r h i s
P p i s t e m o l o g y i n h i s t i m e s was n o t t h e
s e p a r a t e br an ch o f p h i l o s o p h y w hic h i t
p h y s i c s and r a t i o n a l p s y c h o l o g y .
i s today;
i t was p a r t o f m eta ­
As Comte denounced t h e s e t w o ,
it
may
be deduced t h a t e p i s t e m o l o g y s h a r e d i n t h e odium w i t h which he r e g a r d e d
the oth ers.
It
i s u s u a l l y a d m i t t e d t h a t P o s i t i v i s m d o e s n ot c o n t a i n t h e o r i e s
o f b e i n g and o f c o g n i t i o n ,
b e c a u s e Ccmte e m p h a t i c a l l y s t a t e d t h a t
did n o t.
does not accept t h i s o p in io n , but b e l i e v e s
The i n v e s t i g a t o r
it
t h a t h i s r e j e c t i o n o f m e t a p h y s i c s and e p i s t e m o l o g y was n o m in a l and no t
real.
It
i s e a s y t o s e e why t h i s had t o b e s o .
He i s a t h i n k i n g a n i m a l ,
Van a c t s and p e r c e i v e s .
and he c a n n o t h e l p making c o n j e c t u r e s a b o u t
t h e n a t u r e o f h i s e n v i r o n m e n t and t h e way in which he b ec o m es a c q u a i n t e d
w ith i t .
is
Therefore,
he h a s t h e o r i e s c f b e i n g and c o g n i t i o n ,
aware o f p o s s e s s i n g them or n o t ,
w h e t h e r he
and Comte c o u l d n o t e s c a p e t h e r u l e .
However, b e c a u s e he d id n o t a p p ro v e c f s p e c u l a t i o n on s u c h s u b j e c t s ,
d id no t g i v e a s y s t e m a t i c e x p o s e o f h i s t h e o r i e s .
he
The s t u d e n t h a s t o
e x t r a c t them from h i s works and s y s t e m a t i z e them f o r h i m s e l f .
Hi s e p i s t e m o l o g y may f i r s t be a n a l y z e d .
Lgvy-Prffhl1 i s t h e only
p h i l o s o p h e r who, w i t h i n t h e w r i t e r ' s k n ow le d g e, h a s c r e d i t e d Comte w it h
h a v i n g an e p i s t e m o l o g y .
o? t hs t h r e e s t a t e s .
w e ll as h i s t o r i c a l .
Fe c l a i m s t h a t i t was r e p r e s e n t e d b y t h e
A c c o r d i n g t o him, t h i s law i s p s y c h o l o g i c a l a s
L 6 v y - P r u h l ' s p o i n t can r e a d i l y be s e e n .
a c t u a l l y d e a l s w it h c o g n i t i o n ,
sin ce it
L . L S v y - B r tl h l,
4
N evertheless,
The P h i l o s o p h y o f A w u s t e Comte, p. 4fl.
-5S3-
T h i s law
e x p la in s the d i f f e r e n t p o in t s
o f v ie w a d op te d by man t o i n t e r p r e t r e a l i t y .
1.
law
d esp ite
-P «7-
L £ v y - P r u h l Ts a u t h o r i t y i n Comtean p h i l o s o p h y ,
t o r e g a r d t h i s law a s an e p i s t e m o l o g y .
t h e law o f t he t h r e e s t a t e s d o e s not
In t h e w r i t e r ' s j u d g e m e n t ,
t h r e w l i g h t on t h e n a t u r e o f c o g n i t i o n ;
of cogn ition,
penetrate it s
th is
furtherm ore,
sim ply c l a s s i f i e s the r e s u l t s
and d o e s n o t
The end o f e p i s t e m o l o g y i s t o examine
law or t he t h r e e s t a t e s i s n o t an
s e n s e o f t h e word.
Pence,
e p i s t e m o l o g y in t h e r e a l
Notwithstanding,
it
works from t h e o u t s i d e ,
i n t i m a t e mech an ism .
internal process.
tem ology.
it
the in v estig a to r refu ses
the
t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r c l a i m s t h a t Comte had an e p i s ­
The r e a d e r i s r e f e r r e d t o t h e o u t l i n e o f h i s p s y c h o l o g y which
h a s a l r e a d y been g i v e n . 1
P i s t h e o r y o f c o g n i t i o n was t h e r e d e s c r i b e d .
I t was shown t h a t he a c c e n t e d t h e e m p i r i c a l o r i g i n o f our c o n c e p t s ,
and
t h a t he n e v e r t h e l e s s c r e d i t e d t h e human mind w i t h an a c t i v e r d l e in
perception,
t h e r e b y c o n v e y i n g t h e n o t i o n t h a t he was not an o r t h o d o x
sen sa tio n a list.
T h i s s u b j e c t i v e e l e m e n t was n o t d e s c r i b e d , b e c a u s e he
h i m s e l f d id not d e s c r i b e i t .
is
th a t h is epistem ology,
w riter
The c o n c l u s i o n which must be drawn now
although r e a l ,
re m a in e d r u d i m e n t a r y .
i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h i s c o n d i t i o n was tem p or ar y,
would h a v e r em e di ed i t
if
Pe as on; t h e r e f o r e ,
it
and t h a t Comte
he had n o t d i e d p r e m a t u r e l y .
When Comte s t a r t e d t o t h i n k ,
and P c c t c h F m p i r i c i s t s .
he a d o p t ed t h e t h e o r i e s o f t h e T n g l i s h
Pe was no t a c o u a i n t e d w it h t h e C r i t i q u e of Pure
was n a t u r a l f o r him t o a c c e n t t h e i r main p r i n c i p l e s
w ithout in q u iring p e r s o n a lly in t o th e nature o f c o g n itio n .
in h i s f o r t i e s ,
The
When he was
a chan ge i n h i s p e r s o n a l i t y c o m p e l l e d him t o s p e c u l a t e ,
and a t t h e same t i m e op en ed new v i s t a s f o r him.
This change was c h a r ­
a c t e r i z e d by t h e awakening o f h i s l a t e n t r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g ; b u t t h e
a p p e a r a n c e o f t h e l a t t e r was o n l y one o f s e v e r a l c h a n g e s .
Comte began
t o d e v e l o p a new a t t r a c t i o n t o p u r e l y p h i l o s o p h i c a l s u b j e c t s ,
the o u t­
come o f which was t h e c r e a t i o n o f a f i r s t p h i l o s o p h y .
Put t h i s was no t a l l .
p e became c o n s c i o u s o f t h e s u b j e c t i v i t y o f
our s c i e n t i f i c n o t i o n s .
In o t h e r w o rd s, he g r a d u a l l y e v o l v e d toward
p h ilo s o p h ic a l id ealism .
It
is
l o g i c a l to in fe r that th ese slow ly i n ­
c r e a s i n g t e n d e n c i e s would h a v e f i n a l l y made him s e e t h e im p o r t a n c e o f
a s y s t e m a t i c study o f the p r o c e s s o f c o g n i t i o n .
As a l r e a d y i n t i m a t e d ,
t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r b e l i e v e s t h a t Comte would h a ve o f f e r e d a more e l a b o r a t e
e p i s t e m o l o g y , had he no t d i e d when he d i d .
The q u e s t i o n o f m e t a p h y s i c s novr p r e s e n t s i t s e l f .
a n s w e r s t o two q u e r i e s : f i r s t ,
This i n v o l v e s th e
had Comte t h e r i g h t t o condemn m eta p h ys ­
i c s ? • S e c o n d , what i s t h e r e a l n a t u r e o f h i s i m p l i c i t m e t a p h y s i c s ?
1. C f. p .
SO a b o v e .
- < a ° ~
The f i r s t
Comte,
q u e s t i o n i s t o be answered w i t h an e m p h a t i c n e g a t i v e .
i n t h e w r i t e r ' s j u d ge m en t , had not t h e r i g h t t o condemn me ta ­
physics
in t h e w h o l e s a l e manner i n which h e d i d .
sp ect the op in ion of a l l philosophers,
of d iffe r e n t
p h ilosop h ical
of a system .
However,
o f Do s i t i v i s m .
We s h a r e i n t h i s r e ­
save orthodox P o s i t i v i s t s .
Ven
s c h o o l s u s u a l l y d i s a g r e e on t h e major p o i n t s
t h e y have not d i s a g r e e d i n r e g a r d t o t h i s f e a t u r e
They have bee n unanimous i n t h e i r d e n u n c i a t i o n o f Comte's
ban on m e t a p h y s i c s ,
and no o t h e r t h e o r y o f Ccmtism. h a s b e e n c e n s u r e d as
vehem ently as t h i s one.
They have o f f e r e d sundry r e a s o n s t o j u s t i f y
'
th e ir disapprobation.
C a i r d 1 a v e r r e d t h a t Comte u t t e r e d t h i s p r o h i b i t i o n b e c a u s e he d i d
n o t u n d e r s t a n d t h e w o r k i n g s o f h i s own mind.
He a l s o w r o t e 0 t h a t Comte
d i d not a s s i g n any p l a c e t o m e t a p h y s i c s in h i s s y s t e m b e c a u s e he ga v e a
narrow s e n s e t o t h e word m e t a p h y s i c s ,
its
nature.
and had an e r r o n e o u s c o n c e p t i o n o f
P e n o u v i e r 5 c l a i m e d t h a t he did n ot j u s t i f y c l e a r l y h i s i n ­
t e r d i c t i o n o f m etaphysical s u b je c ts.
Caird* and V i l l " b o t h s a i d t h a t
Comte d i s c u s s e d m e t a p h y s i c a l prob lem s w i t h o u t knowing i t ,
states
t h a t Do s i t i v i s m
c o u l d no t h e l p b e i n g a m e t a p h y s i c s ,
a reaction again st c la s s ic
sp irit
of p c s itiv itv
and P c b e r t y *
metaphysics.
s i n c e i t was
C ru ter '7 c o n t e n d e d t h a t t h e v e r y
f o r b a d e a t t a c k s on m e t a p h y s i c s .
A n a lly ,
a l l these
c r i t i c s h a v e m a i n t a i n e d 0 t h a t Do s i t i v i s m s h o u l d h a v e c o n t a i n e d a c r i t ­
ica l
a n a ly sis of experience,
s i n c e e x p e r i e n c e was i t s
foundation.
These
arguments a r e i r r e f u t a b l e .
The c o n t e m p o r a r y Trench p h i l o s o p h e r , V e y e r s o n , o f f e r s
argument w hi ch p r o v e s d e f i n i t e l y f o r us t a t o n t o l o g y 0 i s
part of p h ilo so p h y .
an a d d i t i o n a l
a legitim ate
He b a s e s h i s r e h a b i l i t a t i o n o f t h i s b ra n ch o f
m e t a p h y s i c s on t h r e e a s s e r t i o n s .
he c l a i m s t h a t t h e w or ld o f
common s e n s e
He r e a s o n s a s f o l l o w s :
is
itself
a bold on tolog y.
p e r i e n c e s e n s a t i o n s which a r e by n a t u r e e s s e n t i a l l y s u b j e c t i v e .
assume t h a t t h e y a r e c a u s e d by e x t e r n a l s t i m u l i which e x i s t
We e x ­
Yet we
independently
o f our s e n s a t i o n s ,
and t h a t t h e y p e r s i s t when our s e n s a t i o n s a r e g o n e .
Huch an i n f e r e n c e ,
Meyerson c o n t e n d s ,
i s a bold o n t o l o g i c a l a s s e r t i o n .
The Social Philosophy and Pelipion of Comte, p . P S .
? ! C h ^ P e n o u v i e r , Pistoire des trohlkn.es n.Hathysioues, p . S 9 S . ■
jS h n ^ u a r t^ V iil/W a s te
Comte and Positivism, p p . 1 . S - 1 * .
e> ma. i e Roberty, La thilosothie du siecle, p . , ? ? .
.
.
7 ’ - H . S r n b s r , Jupust.e Comte, fondateur du bositivtsme, sa vie, sa doctrine,
1 ? * P .l 9 a i i r a , ot. eit., p p .
A. F o u i l W e , Le mouvemnt Positiviste, p . P .
o . T . V e y e r s o n , Ee I'explication dans les sciences, C h a p t e r s I - I I .
1. | .
C a ir c l,
pp.
-? e 9-
>.econd, he a v e r s t h a t t h e world o f s c i e n c e i s no t t h e wo rld o f
common s e n s e .
p oin t,
b u t he p r o v e s t h a t s c i e n c e g r a d u a l l y d e s t r o y s i t
by a n o t h e r .
q u a lities,
tie s.0
He g r a n t s 1 t h a t s c i e n c e t a k e s t h i s wo rld a s i t s
The world o f common s e n s e i s
startin g-
and r e p l a c e s i t
made up o f p a r t i c u l a r s and
w h i l e t h a t o f s c i e n c e i s composed o f u n i v e r s a l s and q u a n t i ­
With a C a l l i c p i c t u r e s q u e n e s s o f l a n g u a g e ,
he e x c l a i m s * :
"What
i s t h e r e in common b e t w e e n t h i s g r e y i s h p i c t u r e and t h e r e a l i t y o f our
im m e d i a te p e r c e p t i o n which i s
Third,
t h e o l d o n e,
mad w i t h c o l o r ,
h e a t and sound?"
he p o i n t s o u t t h a t t h i s new world i s
since i t
our e x p e r i e n c e .
j u s t a s o n t o l o g i c a l as
a l s o in v o lv e s b e l i e f in a r e a l i t y
independent o f
V e y e r s o n t h e n p r o c e e d s t o shew4 t h a t t h e s e two o n t o l o g ­
i c a l worlds c o n f l i c t .
He g i v e s s e v e r a l i r r e f r a g a b l e ex am p le s o f t h i s .
He o b s e r v e s t h a t t h e s c i e n t i f i c c o n c e p t o f t h e s p h e r i c i t y o f t h e e a r t h
is
d i a m e t r i c a l l y op po se d t o our e v e r y d a y n o t i o n o f i t s
a ls o s t a t e s that sc ie n c e t e l l s
nature,
He
us t h a t h e a t and c o l o r have t h e same
w h i l e common s e n s e a s c e r t a i n s t h e c o n t r a r y .
th in k e r s are c o n s c io u s o f t h i s
flatn ess.
co n flict,
He n o t e s t h a t
and t h a t t h e y u s u a l l y p l a y
t h e one a g a i n s t t h e o t h e r whenever t h e y want t o d e s t r o y a t h e o r y .
g o e s on t o s t a t e t h a t t h e d i f f e r e n c e c a n n o t be b r i d g e d ,
He
because sc ie n c e
c a n n e v e r go back t o cc m m o n - s en se o n t o l o g y and h as p ro v ed once f o r a l l
th a t the l a t t e r
i s untrue.
He draws t h r e e c o n c l u s i o n s .
ogy,
H irst,
p h ilo s o p h y cannot r e j e c t o n t o l ­
s i n c e s c i e n c e and corrmon-sense w o r l d s ar e o n t o l o g i c a l .
Second,
p h i l o s o p h y has t o a c c e p t t h e o n t o l o g y o f s c i e n c e and r e j e c t t h a t o f
common s e n s e ,
s in c e the l a t t e r
ontology of scien ce c r i t i c a l l y ,
i s untrue.
since i t
Third,
it
must weigh t h e
c o n f l i c t s w i t h t h a t o f common
sense.
Comte’ s i n v o l u n t a r y m e t a p h y s i c s must now be w e i g h e d .
a d m i t t e d a t o n ce t h a t i t
con trad iction s.
i s f u l l of lacunae,
I t must be
i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s and even
Comte r e t a i n e d com m on -s en se m e t a p h y s i c s .
We g i v e t o
common s e n s e t h e a c c e p t a t i o n u s e d by V e y e r s o n i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h o n t o l ­
ogy.
Hy common-sense m e t a p h y s i c s we s i m p l y mean t h e i n t u i t i v e t h e o r y
o f b e i n g o f t h e modern West ern l a y t h i n k e r ,
tem atic d octrine of p h ilosop h ers.
u n ified .
in o p p o s itio n to th e s y s ­
Common-sense m e t a p h y s i c s i s not
We a r e not s h o c k e d by c o n t r a d i c t i o n s
and we p e a c e f u l l y harb or many o f them.
1 . ff. V g y a r a o n , Du cheminement de l a pensSe,
IS. V e y e rs o n *
p.
I b i d , , ,p. 5 1 ?.
Tj Q c *
cit»
We a c c e p t
p.
11 a .
t e 1 9e x p l i c a t i o n dans l e s s c i e n c e s , p .
4. .
in e v e r y d a y t h o u g h t ,
sim u lta n eo u sly the
-P 70n o t i o n s o f f r e e and d e t e r m i n e d w i l l s ,
i d e a l i s t s at o th ers,
We a r e r e a l i s t s
i r o n i s t s in some i n s t a n c e s and d u a l i s t s in o t h e r s .
When Comte r e t a i n e d h i s l a y m e t a p h y s i c s ,
c o n t r a d i c t i o n s i n h e r e n t in t h e l a t t e r .
notions,
together.
a t t i m e s and
he p e r f o r c e kept t h e
Pe added some p h i l o s o p h i c a l
and he n e v e r t r o u b l e d t o f i n d o u t w h e th e r t h e y a l l f i t t e d
Hence he o f f e r s many i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s .
The f o l l o w i n g c h a n t e r s
w i l l p r e s e n t an e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e t h r e e forms o f h i s m e t a p h y s i c s :
that i s ,
h is ontology,
c o s m o l o g y and r a t i o n a l p s y c h o l o g y *
C H A P T g q VI I I
Ve t a p h y s i o s :
On t o l o s y
P e g i n n i n g f i r s t w i t h an a n a l y s i s o f h i s o n t o l o g y ,
a t on c e t h a t Comte i s
rea lity
a nai've r e a l i s t .
one f i n d s ou t
He i m p l i c i t l y b e l i e v e s
in a
i n d e p e n d e n t o f h i s e x p e r i e n c e and r e v e a l e d by t h i s v e r y e x p e r i ­
ence.
Pe c r e d i t s r e a l i t y w i t h a du al n a t u r e ,
an a b s o l u t e and a r e l a ­
t i v e ; a c l u s t e r o f phenomena b e i n g h e l d t o g e t h e r by a common and perma­
nent substratum.
P i s d o c t r i n e o f a b s o l u t e r e a l i t y may be c o n s i d e r e d f i r s t .
P h ilos­
o p h e r s have c l a i m e d t h a t Comte had no t h e o r y c o n c e r n i n g t h e n a t u r e o f
the. a b s o l u t e .
T h e ir a s s e r t i o n
th in g e x p l i c i t regarding
it.
is
ju stified .
Comte d o es not s a y a n y ­
f u r t h e r m o r e , he d o e s n ot drop any i n d i r e c t
s t a t e m e n t which might h e l p us t o r e c o n s t r u c t h i s b e l i e f .
I t must be
i n f e r r e d t h a t h i s i n n a t e l a c k o f c u r i o s i t y and mental d i s c i p l i n e p r e ­
v e n t e d him from h a v i n g any t h e o r y on t h i s p o i n t .
Pe was l e s s r e t i c e n t a b o u t f o r m u l a t i n g a t h e o r y o f t h e r e l a t i v e
rea lity ,
that i s ,
a t h e o r y o f t h e phenomenon.
N evertheless,
it
i s fou nd
t h a t most o f h i s a s s e r t i o n s h a v e t o do w it h t h e n a t u r e o f our n o t i o n s
c o n c e r n i n g phenomena,
and n o t w i t h t h e v e r y n a t u r e o f t h e s e phenomena.
In some r e s p e c t s ,
in o th e r s ag a in ,
Comte was a p l u r a l i s t ;
a m onist.
s p e c i f i c i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y
of natural orders.
Pe ev en c a r r i e d h i s
P i s p h y s i c a l phenomenon5’ i s a c t u a l l y com­
and t h e b i o l o g i c a l o f
As he d id n o t s a y w h e t h e r t h i s p l u r a l i s m went d e e p e r than t h e
phenomenal s u r f a c e ,
we h a v e no way o f f i n d i n g out whether h i s u n i v e r s e
was o b j e c t i v e l y one or many.
In some i n s t a n c e s Comte was a d u a l i s t .
we opposed t h e world t o
th e universe,
to in organ ic r e a l i t y ,
man t o t h e w o r l d ,
mind t o body and s c i e n c e t o a r t .
of h is
dualisms;
organic l i f e
T h es e are t h e most c o n s p i c u o u s e x a m p le s
but many more migh t be added t o t h e l i s t .
w hic h l e d t o h i s b e l i e f
T'he road
in t h e s e d e s e r v e s c o n s id e r a t i o n .
Comte used d u a l i s m s a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f an i n v e s t i g a t i o n .
convinced th at the f i r s t
pD.
pp.
Pe was
s t e p o f any r e s e a r c h c o n s i s t e d in c l a s s i f y i n g
t h e d a t a which c o n f r o n t e d t h e t h i n k e r .
1. C f.
p. C f.
and
some c a t e g o r i e s w it h s e v e r a l
posed of f i v e s p e c i f i c ty p es o f m a n if e s t a t io n s ,
three.
a d u alist,
Pe was a p l u r a l i s t when he s t r e s s e d 1 t h e
p l u r a l i s m t o an ex t r e m e by c r e d i t i n g
irred u cib le su b -ca te g crie s.
in o t h e r s ,
38-S4 ab o v e,
7S-7<? a b o v e .
—9 7 1 —
Pe r e a l i z e d a t t h e same t i m e
th a t i t was im p o s s ib le t o e la b o r a t e a Comdex c l a s s i f i c a t i o n when l i t t l e
was known o f the problem. Pe argued that a bin ary taxonomy1 was always
p r a c t i c a b l e , s i n c e the t h in k e r could always f in d a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c not
p o s s e s s e d by a l l terms.
Such a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , in h i s judgement, s a t i s ­
f i e d our need f o r order, in s p i t e of i t s p e r f u n c t o r i n e s s , s i n c e i t
p ig eo n holed a l l n o t i o n s .
Pe concluded that dual c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s were
the i d e a l t o o l of resea rc h at the beginning o f an i n v e s t i g a t i o n .
Comte used dualisms at the end of a study a l s o . D e t a i l s appeared
unimportant t o him, and he wanted the th in ker t o r e t a i n general views.
Complex c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s are apt to make one l o s e c o n s c io u s n e s s of the
whole. The danger i s reduced t c a minimum through the use of d i c h o t o ­
mie s. Ther efore , Comte claimed th a t dualisms were e x c e l l e n t t o o l s for
summarizing c o n c l u s i o n s .
Pis dualisms were l o g i c a l in t h e i r o r i g i n , but they did not long
remain s o . Pe c r e d i t e d words with an o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y .
As a r e s u l t ,
hi3 l o g i c a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s gradually acouired an independent e x i s t e n c e .
Pence, from l o g i c a l t o o l s they became o n t o l o g i c a l r e a l i t i e s .
I t has been e x p la in ed why 3nd how’ Comte can be con sid er ed a p l u r a l ­
i s t and a d u a l i s t .
I t remains to show in which r e s p e c t he was a ironist.
Pe was a monist in h i s Do s i t i v i s t i c conception of Pumanity. Pe reached
t h i s b e l i e f by the f o ll o w i n g process c f re as oning: The u n iv e r s e i s
d iv id ed i n t o s i x c a t e g o r i e s ,
Pach o f the s i x natur al c a t e g o r i e s holds
a p r o p o r t i o n a t e share c f the r e a l i t y .
I t a l s o h old s th e e s s e n c e of the
c a t e g o r i e s p re ce d in g i t in g e n e r a l i t y , as i t obeys t h e i r laws. Pumanity
i s the f i n a l c a t e g o r y .
Pence, i t co n t a in s the Quintessence of a l l
categories.
At t h e same tim e, i t i s one. There fore, through h i s
t h eory of t h e Creat-P eing Comte reached a m o n is t ic con ce ptio n o f the
universe.
I t should be poin ted out that Pumanity i s an a b s o l u t e in P o s i t i v i s m .
Comte undoubtedly would have refused to acknowledge t h i s f a c t , s in c e
the word "absolute" was connected in h i s mind with the t h e o l o g i c o m etao hysical s p i r i t : but i t i s obvious t h a t h i s Pumanity could not
es ca p e b ein g an a b s o l u t e .
Fach ca te go ry holds both t y p e s of r e a l i t y ,
th e phenomenal and i t s a b s o l u t e substratum. As Pumanity i s t h e incarna­
t i o n of a l l c a t e g o r i e s , i t p er forc e embodies Q u a l i t a t i v e l y a l l th e ab­
solute.
Peveral commentators, t € v y - P r u h l P e s p e c i a l l y , have understood the
a b s o l u t e Q u ality of th e C re at-F eing. Powever, they have not seen that
?!
L f ‘ L < 5 v y -B rO h l
^The Phtlosothy of Jiupuste Coite,
p.
Comte's m yst ical i n t u i t i o n was supported by the l o g i c a l arguments which
have been o u t li n e d above.
Comte u n t i r i n g l y r e cea t ed t h a t phenomena alone were d is c o v e r a b le ,
and t h at the a b s o l u t e was f o r e v e r beyond cur reach. Taking f o r granted
t h at we have a f i r s t - h a n d knowledge of Pumanity, Druneti& re1 implied
th a t Comte's notion o f unkn cw ab ilit y was i r r e c o n c i l a b l e with h i s b e l i e f
t h a t the ab so lu t e was embodied in Pumanity.
In cur judgement, P r u n et i§ re
did not understand Comte's t h e o r y .
Pe assumed that Comte thought that
we knew Pumanity because we were part c f i t .
Comte never made such a
sta t em en t , and i t i s easy t o prove th a t he never thought of making i t ,
e i t h e r in p o s i t i v e philosophy cr in P o s i t i v i s m .
According to p o s i t i v e p h ilo s o p h y , man can study the Creat-Peing by
two r a t i o n a l methods, the s u b j e c t i v e and the o b j e c t i v e ("these two terms
bein g here used in t h e i r common a c c e p t a t i o n and not in the Ccmteanl, but
he cannot be e n l i g h t e n e d by e i t h e r .
The s u b j e c t i v e method may f i r s t be co n s id ere d . I n t r o s p e c t i o n i s
i t s t o o l . Comte b e l i e v e s i t t o be e n t i r e l y w o r t h l e s s . 9 In consequence,
he i s c e r t a i n th a t man cannot a c c u i r e any knowledge of the a b s o lu t e by
stu d yin g h is ego. Tor ot her r e a s o n s , the o b j e c t i v e method i s no more
satisfactory.
In using i t , we study Pumanity in other men. Fe r e s o r t
t o ex p e r ie n c e .
The l a t t e r r e v e a l s phenomena. Pence, we do not reach
th e a b s o lu t e when we study Pumanity o b j e c t i v e l y . Therefore, the only
two a v a i l a b l e r a t i o n a l methods do not enable us t o reach the a b s o l u t e .
According to Do s i t i v i s m , t h ere i s a t h ir d method, that o f the h e a r t ,
and through r e l i g i o n man can reach Pumanity. P.y t h i s method, however,
he l e a r n s to lo v e Humanity, rath er than to know i t .
Consequently,
P o s i t i v i s m does not lea d to an i n t e l l e c t u a l knowledge c f the a b s o l u t e ,
and the l a t t e r remains unknowable f o r e v e r .
The use o f the term "unknowable" i s so c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d with the
name of Spencer th a t one cannot employ i t in connection with Comte with­
out f e e l i n g compelled to compare t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s .
The two unknowables have one element in common: they are both made
o f an u l tim a te r e a l i t y which tr an scen d s ex p e r i e n c e . However, they pre­
s e n t s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n c e s . Whereas Spencer’ s unknowable i s superhuman
or extra-human, Comte's i s n at ur al and human. Spencer’ s i s l i m i t l e s s
and s u s c e p t i b l e of i n d e f i n i t e e x t e n s i o n , w hile Comte’ s i s f i n i t e and
- 1 . F. B ru neti& re, "La *S taphy siq ue p o 9 i t l v i s t e , " Revue 4es ieux rronies, Ootober 1 ,
l9CP, p. 59V.
p. Cf. p. P? above.
-?74-
closed.
S p en cer's i s made of c o n s t r u c t i v e s p e c u l a t i o n s , while Comte's
c o n t a i n s c u t - a n d - d r i e d p r o h i b i t i o n s concerning t h i s very type o f specu­
lation.
^or t h i s rea s o n , Spencer's unknowable has a f e r t i l e r i c h n e s s
which Comte's n e g a t i v e unknowable l a c k s .
It should be remarked that
t h e former l e a v e s some q u e s t io n s open so t h a t the stu den t can s o lv e
them acco rd in g t o h i s own i n c l i n a t i o n , w h ile the l a t t e r does not.
Commentators have disagreed on t h i s p o i n t . V i l l ' s t a t e d that
Comte l e f t no open q u e s t i o n s , while F r u n e t i £ r e ? s a i d t h a t he p e r s o n a ll y
favored P o s i t i v i s m because Comte had allowed some q u e s t i o n s t o remain
cr en .
Cuch a c o n t r a d i c t i o n in judgement i s s u r p r i s i n g at f i r s t s i g h t .
However, i f we r e c a l l to mind the f a c t th a t th e r e i s a d iscrepa ncy be­
tween what Comte thought he did and what he a c t u a l l y did, the d i f f e r e n c e
o f op in io n s i s e x p l a i n e d . V U l took Comte at h i s word l i t e r a l l y , while
Dr u n e t ib r e judged P o s i t i v i s m bv i t s r e s u l t s .
fin open qu est ion may be one of two t h i n g s .
I t i s e i t h e r a study,
t h e boundaries of which ^ave not been s e t : or i t i s a problem for which
s e v e r a l s o l u t i o n s are o f f e r e d and none imposed. There i s no doubt in
th e mind of th e w r i t e r th a t Comte did not inten d t o l e a v e any ques tio n
open. H ith er h i s dogmatism supplied him with answers, or he deemed
t h a t no answer was a v a i l a b l e , and in the l a t t e r c a s e he forbade t h in k ers
t o look for any. Fo query was l e f t open in e i t h e r i n s t a n c e . Therefore,
t h e o r e t i c a l l y spe ak ing, V i l l was r i g h t .
In p r a c t i c e , t h i n g s were d i f f e r e n t , and unknown t o h im s e lf Comte
l e f t some q u e s t i o n s open. pe did sc when he formulated a theory in
terms which l e n t th em s elves to more than one i n t e r p r e t a t i o n .
An example
of t h i s w i l l be giv en l a t e r in the chapter, in d i s c u s s i n g h i s conception
of d e t e r m i n i s m . 5 He did i t a l s o when he propounded a th eory which con­
t a i n e d s e v e r a l heter og en eo us n o t io n s . The t h in k e r co uld then make a
s e l e c t i o n and adopt t h e doctrine which appealed t o him most. The b e s t
i n s t a n c e of t h i s i s h i s th eory of l i f e , 4 which w i l l be studied in the
n ext chap ter.
I t should be pointed out that Comte's method o f r e f u t a t i o n was a l s o
p a r t l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e e x i s t e n c e of t h e s e oren q u e s t i o n s . We are
alr'eady a c q u a in t e d ’’ with h i s d i a l e c t i c s .
We know t h a t he simply turned
away from t h e n o t io n s which did not meet with h i s approval, and asked
Aupuste Comte ani Positivism, p. 15.,
_ , o WeiV,
,
p# F. B ru n etife re, "La r e l i g i o n oomme a o c i o l o s i e , " ?evue les ^eur r.onaes, F eb ruary
1 . John S t u a r t M i l l,
1 SO®
o* ®?5®•
O f. p p . 2 7 7 - 2 7 9 b e lo w ,
i . C f. p p . 2 8 1 - 2 8 8 b e lo w .
5 . O f. PP. 197-198 above.
K
o t h e r s to do l i k e w i s e .
Fence, he did not des tr oy the problems which
had been formulated b e f o r e h i s tim e, and they s t i l l e x i s t e d as open
q u e s t i o n s for t h o se who r e f u s e d t o c l o s e t h e i r ey es t o t h e i r e x i s t e n c e .
Tt f o l l o w s , t h e r e f o r e , t h a t P r u n e t i S r e had ample ground for proving
t h a t Comte had l e f t open q u e s t i o n s .
The notion of the s up er natu ral i s one of the open q u e s t i o n s 1 in
Do s i t i v i s m . Comte did not a c t u a l l y attempt to r e f u t e the e x i s t e n c e of
C c d , ? or put any other p r i n c i p l e in h i s p l a c e . This e x p l a in s why some
orthodox r e l i g i o n i s t s f e l t t h a t th ey could accept some of the p r i n c i p l e s
of p o s i t i v e philosophy without bein g g u i l t y of apost asy. However, when
they did t h i s , they overlooked the f a c t t h at the s p i r i t of Comtism. was
in complete op p osition t o the a t t i t u d e f o s t e r e d by t h e o l o g i c a l b e l i e f s .
Comte's and Fpencer's a t t i t u d e s toward the notion of cause are
rad ically different.
F h i l e Spencer r i g h t l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d between the
f i r s t caus e, which he included in the unknowable, and secondary c a u s e s,
which he incorporated among t h e knowables o f s c i e n c e , Comte did no such
t h i n g . Tor "hirr, the notion o f c a u s e , whether the l a t t e r be primary or
secondary, i s t h e o l o g i c a l and m e ta p h y s i c a l, and hence unworthy o f con­
sideration.
I t i s obvious that Comte's treatment o f cau ses sprang from a mis­
apprehension of t h e i r nature.
He responded em ot ionally to words. The
very term "cause" was anathema t o him, and t h e bare mention of i t was
s u f f i c i e n t to make him l o s e h i s c r i t i c a l s e n se . P h ilo s o p h e r s ' d i s ­
t i n g u i s h between the s c i e n t i f i c or e f f i c i e n t cause and the metaphysical
or l o g i c a l reason. Comte ignored such a d i s t i n c t i o n . Tor* him, a l l
c a u s e s 1 belonged t o the second, group.
Tt i s noted a l s o t h a t he r e t a i n e d in t h i s c a s e the t h e o r e t i c a l and
dogmatic a t t i t u d e which he had adopted for the purpose o f s c i e n c e .
Without f i r s t inquiring i n t c t h e urges which prompt man to i n v e s t i g a t e
Mature, he s ta t e d that knowledge was not to be pursued for i t s own sake.
He proceeded s i m i l a r l y with t h e concept of cause. He did not ask h im s e lf
whether the human mind could do without causes when he e x p e lle d them from
p o s i t i v e thought.
As a r e s u l t , he did net s e e , as HpencerP and V i l l ”
d id , that the n ot ion of cause was i n d e l i b l y imprinted on our minds,
1 . John S t u a r t v m ,
Auouste Comte ani Positivism, o. 1<J; F. Caro, V, L i t t r f et le
Positivisme, p. 1?°.
p. Cf. pp. 197-19? above.
t
V o l.
F . I'e l l l l l l y ^ l T p U l o ^
T, PP. ?S -o o.
.
* • w a r a , T y n a m tc FociologV,
H e rb ert S p e n c e r,R e a s o n s for f i s s e n t i n e from the Philosophy of V. Comte, p. S7.
7. John S t u a r t M ill, op. c i t . , p. 57.
-97*-
and th a t the t heo ry o f c o n d i t i o n s of e x i s t e n c e 1 could not p o s s i b l y take
i t s place.
Let us once more look at Comte’s u n iv e r s e and s ee how he i n t e r p r e te d
i t s workings.
I t has a lread y been s t a t e d t h at he d e f in e d phenomena by
change. Pe p o s t u l a t e d t h a t change was not haphazard, and that u n i f o r m i t y , ?
determined by i n v a r i a b l e laws of s u c c e s s i o n and c o e x i s t e n c e , was underlying
it.
He made no f u r t h e r a n a l y s i s c f change.
His th eory, i n e v i t a b l y , provoked comment, ^ o u i l i e e c l a i m e d ? that
i t was too rudimentary, and that a philosophy which was founded on phe­
nomena demanded a thorough a n a l y s i s of the concent c f laws.
Adopting
^ o u i l l ^ e ’ s view s, Leroy4 i n d i c a t e d one v u ln era b le point o f the Comtean
d o c t r i n e , t h a t of v e r i f i a b i l i t y o f laws. Pe remarked t h a t Comte had not
th e r i g h t t o take v e r i f i c a t i o n for granted.
Pe argued th a t laws "them­
s e l v e s c o n s t i t u t e the c r i t e r i o n on which are b u i l t the apparatus and
methods which we use t o t e s t t h e i r v a l i d i t y , " c and concluded t h at laws
are u n v e r i f i a b l e .
Foeaking of the gen er al p r i n c i p l e o f i n v a r i a b i l i t y o f t h e s e laws,
Dou tr ou x” d i s t i n g u i s h e d between ab so lu t e and r e l a t i v e i n v a r i a b i l i t i e s .
Pe s t a t e d t h a t laws are i n v a r i a b l e r e l a t i v e l y to our minds.
As we have
no way of t e s t i n g th e i n v a r i a b i l i t y of the l a t t e r , we cannot be sure
t h a t laws are i n v a r i a b l e in the ab so l u t e s e n s e . These I c g ic o -m e ta o h y s i c a l o b j e c t i o n s cannot be r e f u t e d .
We s h a l l o f f e r another s t r i c t u r e .
Comte maintained that laws must
describe conditions c f e x iste n c e .
Fuch an a s s e r t i o n i s in accord with
t he modern d o c t r i n e which regards laws7 as the e x p r e s s i o n o f the rhythm
of change. However, i t must be admitted that Comte does not remain
tr u e to h is t h e o r y , and t h a t laws occupy in h i s system a p o s i t i o n which
i s c u i t e d i f f e r e n t from t h a t which h i s statement led us t o e x p e c t . Pis
laws are not h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of change. They are a c t u a l l y th e agent
o f change.
Instead o f accounting for change a f t e r i t has occurred, they
govern i t s appearance.
In other words, laws0 are ante-phenomenal and
not post-phenomenal in Comtism. ^ence, they are a b s o l u t e c a u s es in the
metaphysical sense of the word,? and we f in d t h a t Comte, a f t e r a l l , did
not succeed in e l i m i n a t i n g causes from h i s p h iloso p hy.
1.
p.
p.
4.
Cf. p. a ? above.
Cf. pp. 45-46 above.
. . .
A. F o u i l l ^ e rf Le mouvevent i> o sitiv is te . p.
Fd. Leroy, "TJn p o s i t i v i s m e nouveau," revue de M6tat>hysiQUe et. de Morale, 1901, p. 144.
6 ! Quoted by D. P a r o d i , La P h ilo s o th ie contem1>oraine en France, p. IPS.
a! T h i s * a u t o m a t i c a l l y shows t h a t Dewey, o th erw ise a d e v o tee of th e o b j e c t i v e method,
and a s o o rn e r o f o l a s s i o .m e t a p h y s i o s , cann ot ev e r be r e s a r d e d as a C om tist.
9. A. F o u illrf e , of. r t f . •, p. 9.
-P77-
Tf we i n c u i r e f u r t h e r i n t o h i s a b s o l u t e conce ption of natural
laws, we see th a t i t i s the one commonly accepted by s c i e n t i s t s .
For
th e l a t t e r , exper im en tation seems w o rt h -w h ile and valu able only t o the
e x t e n t in which laws are c a u s e s .
The th eory adopted by philosophers
i s d i f f e r e n t . They go beyond t h i s notion and aver th a t laws may not
be ca u s es at a l l , but the e x p r e s s i o n o f the rhythm o f change.
Comte rev e r s e d the order o f the two t h e o r i e s .
Tn s c i e n c e he s t a t e d
t h a t laws are not c au s al agents; hence, he adopted the metaphysicia n’ s
conception.
In philosophy he in tim a te d t h a t laws govern phenomena,
th er eb y u n i n t e n t i o n a l l y acc e p t in g t h e s c i e n t i s t ’ s th eo ry .
I t i s ev id ent a l s o t h a t Comte form ally e v i c t e d ca uses by t h e f r o n t
door, only t o allow them to sneak in again by th e back entrance. This
procedure i s net new with him. Tt has been shown e a r l i e r 1 t h a t he be­
haved in a s i m i l a r f a sh i o n f o r gen er al h yp ot h es es ,
^ere, once more, i s
t h e proof of a discrepancy between what he thought he did and what he
a c t u a l l y did.
At the same time, we have an a d d i t i o n a l evidence c f the
f a c t t h at the notion of cause cannot be stamped out o f the human mind.
We do not c r i t i c i z e Comte f o r not having r e t a i n e d the concept: we merely
b e r a t e him for not having seen t h a t he had done so.
The Comtean u n i v e r s e , m at er ial and s p i r i t u a l , i s s t r i c t l y determined.
Penouvier was r i g h t when he claimed' t h a t Comte had negated contingency
without the support of arguments. Comte simply took for granted that
apparent contin ge ncy came from our ignorance o f the r e a l laws of nature,
and not from o b j e c t i v e in determinism.
Therefore, he i s held u d as the
p e r f e c t example o f a ph ilosop h er who i m p l i c i t l y and wholeheartedly be­
l i e v e d in u n i v e r s a l determinism.
Yet a c e r t a i n statement made by him throws some doubt on the tr uth
o f 't h i s assertion.
In the l a s t volume of the Cours he wrote”: "According
t o the r e l a t i v e s p i r i t o f sound p h il oso p h y, we must r e c o g n i z e that n atural
la w s, which are the tr u e o b j e c t of our study, are not r i g o r o u s l y com­
p a t i b l e with a too d e t a i l e d i n v e s t i g a t i o n . " Fe went on t o say th a t no
law would appear t ru e i f the s c i e n t i s t were t o employ too p r e c i s e an
instrument of i n v e s t i g a t i o n .
Veyerson’ s a t t e n t i o n was a r r e s t e d by t h o s e words, and he speculated
on t h e i r meaning. Fe wondered whether Comte b e l i e v e d t h at u n iv ersa l
indeterminacy was underlying the s u p e r f i c i a l molar determinism. We
1. C f . pn. 47-49, 194-195 a b o v e .
„ ,
V o l.
4 *.
9 9 -4 00 ;
?.
. . . . .
Fistoire des brobHmesimPtabhysiques,
C^V'txtlicatim dans le,s sciences, p p .
Ch. H e n o u v ie r,
bensie,
p. °0.
TT
II,
p.
?9~.
F.u chelement de la
d i s a g r e e with Veyerson for two r e a s o n s. F i r s t , Gorrte wro te 1: "I have
o f t e n exp erien ced in w r it in g t h a t e xpressi on sometimes precedes con­
c e p t i o n by two or t h r e e s e n t e n c e s . " Tn s hor t, by h i s own test im on y
Comte was not always master of h i s pen. I t f o l l o w s that h i s s a y in g s
are not a l l of eaual v a l u e , and that they have to be a s s e s s e d i n d i ­
vidually.
We a l s o know t h a t he did not h e s i t a t e to repeat h i m s e l f end­
l e s s l y on s u b j e c t s which were c l o s e to h i s h eart.
I t i s e v i d e n t , then,
t h a t an id ea which he mentioned once, and c a s u a l l y , without proper i n ­
t r o d u c t i o n , c o n c l u s i o n s and customary r e p e t i t i o n s , as i s the c a s e with
the one under c o n s i d e r a t i o n , was one which did not mean much t o him.
The acc ep tan ce of sub-molar indeterminism would have r e p res en ted
such a p e r i l t o h i s system t h a t he would have f e l t impelled to d e f in e
i t f u l l y and e x p l a i n why i t did not a f f e c t the p r i n c i p l e o f molar de­
terminism, on which p o s i t i v e philosophy was founded. Tn s h o r t, i t would
have r e c u i r e d c o n s i d e r a b l e development.
In the w r i t e r ’ s e s t i m a t i o n ,
Veyerson should not have a t t r i b u t e d such importance to an i s o l a t e d
statement.
Second, Comte did not e x p l a i n what th e s c i e n t i s t might f i n d under
molar determinism i f he used a p r e c i s i o n instrument. Veyerson t h in k s
that Comte had indeterminism in mind, but t h i s i s merely a gu es s.
We
b e l i e v e i t more l i k e l y t h a t Comte was contemplating a l e g a l i t y d i f f e r e n t
from the one on which he had b u i l t h i s system,
and which would des tr oy
both the p r e s e n t l e g a l i t y and the philosophy b u i l t on i t .
This i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Comte’ s words f i t s in with our genera l knowl­
edge of h i s i d e a s . P o s i t i v i s m was the f l e s h o f h i s f l e s h , and as h i s
a t t i t u d e toward i t was maternal, h i s o b se ss io n was t o p r o t e c t i t from
the onslau ght o f any and a l l p o s s i b l e enemies. The most dangerous f o e s
of the system were f u t u r e laws which might destroy t h e s e on which P o s i ­
t iv i s m was b u i l t .
He was t o o imbued with the s p i r i t of s c i e n c e and to o
w e ll acquainted with the h i s t o r y of i t s development not t o understand
that new in st ru m en ts might com p lete ly r e v o l u t i o n i z e the e x i s t i n g l e g a l ­
ity.
As he i n s t i n c t i v e l y lo ved h i s system b e t t e r than t r u t h , h i s sub­
co n s c io u s mind was doing i t s utmost t o prevent
the e c l o s i o n o f t h e new
l e g a l i t y which h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e could not help surmising.
The b e s t
method of p r o t e c t i o n t h a t he could d e v i s e was t o discoura ge s c i e n t i s t s
from using in st ru m en ts o f p r e c i s i o n .
1
DoZ.
m e n ts,
th a t
anoes.
C f.
I
i t
pp.
p . 9 1 8 . T h i s i s whv t h e s t a t e m e n t w as m ade, a t t h e b e g i n n i n g
w as u n f a i r t o C o m te ’ s th o u g h t t o s e t t h e sam e v a lu e up o n a l l
iP 7 -l? 9
above.
o f o u r com ­
h is u tte r -
-P 7P -
This i s the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Comte’ s words which we f a vo r, and
we are convinced that Veyerson need have no f e a r concerning Comte’ s
b e l i e f in u n i v e r s a l determinism!. From t h i s d i s c u s s i o n two p o i n t s b e ­
come c l e a r . Hey1 was r i g h t when he s t a t e d th a t a s c i e n t i f i c s y n t h e s i s
had t h e tendency to retard the development of s c i e n c e , and we have an
i r r e f r a g a b l e proof of the f a c t t h a t Comte l e f t at l e a s t one open Ques­
t i o n in h i s p h il osop h y .
This chapter and the preceding one are t o be summed up b efore o f ­
f e r i n g a c r i t i q u e of Comte's cosmology and r a t i o n a l psychology.
at the
beg in nin g c f Chapter VII i t was s t a t e d that Ccmts had an epistemology
and a metaphysics, although he discla im ed having e i t h e r .
An examination
o f h i s ep ist em o lo g y showed that he accepted the em pirical and s e n s a t i o n a l
o r i g i n of cur n o t io n s , but at t h e same time c r e d i t e d the mind with an
a c t i v e and d i s c r i m i n a t i n g r61e in the p erc e p t io n of them. P is condemna­
t i o n c f metaphysics was then analyzed, and i t was explain ed why t h i s
could not be ac cepted .
A study was made o f h i s inv oluntary metaphysics,
and i t s e x i s t i n g lacunae and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s were e x p la in e d .
Tn the
p res en t cha pte r, an a p p r a isa l has been made of h i s on tolo gy.
Tt has been p oin te d out th a t he was a naive r e a l i s t , and that he b e l i e v e d
i m p l i c i t l y in th e e x i s t e n c e of a r e a l i t y both a b s o l u t e and r e l a t i v e , the
one unknowable and the other d i s c o v e r a b l e .
Tt was averred t h a t he was
a p l u r a l i s t , a d u a l i s t or a ironist, according t o the poin t o f vantage
adopted by t h e ob se rv er .
Atte ntion was then given t o h i s theory of the
absolute.
I t was shown t h at no e x p l i c i t d o c t r i n e o f the ab so lu t e could
be found in h i s ph ilos oph y, but t h at Pumanity played the part of one in
P ositivism .
Tt was expla ined why t h i s new a b s o lu t e was unknowable, in
s p i t e of i t s human nature.
Comte's unknowable was then compared with f p e n c e r ’ s, and i t was
e x p l a i n e d why Comte had u n w it t i n g l y l e f t some q u e s t i o n s open. Then an
a n a l y s i s was made of h i s " r e l a t i v e r e a l i t y . " Tt was p oin te d out that
h i s th eory of change was rudimentary; t h at he had not succeeded in
e l i m i n a t i n g c a u s es from phil oso p hy, and t h a t natur al laws assumed that
f u n c t i o n in h i s o n t o lo g y . L a s t ly , t h ere was a d i s c u s s i o n c f h i s con­
c e p t i o n o f na tura l determinism.
1 . Of. p.
951 above.
CHAPTER IX
Ve t a p h v s i c s :
C o s m o lo 3 /
a n d
Ra t i o n a l
PsrcHOLoav
Coirte never adopted a s y s t e m a t i c cosmology. N e v e r t h e le s s , he
weighed two typ es of t h e o r i e s , pan-mathematicism and pan-physicism.
Although he did not make a creed of e i t h e r , h i s i n t e r e s t in both was
more than c u r i o s i t y .
?’e s h a l l f i r s t c o n s id e r h i s a t t i t u d e toward panmathematicism.
Cn t h i s p o i n t , Comte wavered a l l h i s l i f e between p a r t i a l i t y and
str ong d i s l i k e .
His i n c l i n a t i o n i s proved by the nature of some cf
h i s statements concerning the mathematical phenomenon. When he w r o t e 1
t h a t a l l natural phenomena could be termed mathematical because they
took place in space and tim e, he was adopting one of the a r t i c l e s c f
t h e pan-matheiraticist f a i t h .
His d i s l i k e of t h e d o c t r i n e was i l l u s t r a t e d by the antagonism which
he displayed toward h i s c o n f r e r e s . Veyerson5* observes that h i s f e e l i n g
was not as personal as h i s a t t a c k s on i n d i v i d u a l s might lead one to
i n f e r , and he b e l i e v e s t h a t Comte’ s anim osity was due rather t o f ea r
t h a t the s p i r i t of mathematics might invade the f i e l d of natural s c i e n c e .
He goes on to say t h a t th e founder of P o s i t i v i s m thought ex p er ien ce the
only c r i t e r i o n f o r the natur al s c i e n c e s .
Any i n f l u e n c e which would d et er
s c i e n t i s t s from r e c o g n i z i n g th e supremacy of reason was bound t o be b a l e ­
f u l and had to be e l i m i n a t e d . . The one t o be feared most was t h a t of
mathematicians. Vathematics has become a s t r i c t l y r a t i c c i n a t i v e s c i e n c e ,
in s p i t e of i t s em p ir ic a l o r i g i n .
Recause o f t h e i r t r a i n i n g , mathemati­
c i a n s disregard e x p e r ie n c e and o f f e r r a t i o n a l ex p lan ati on s of phenomena.
When they en ter th e domain o f th e natural s c i e n c e s , they br.ing with them
t h e i r usual outlook and methods, which cannot but be dangerous in pur­
s u i t s for which e x p e r ie n c e i s the only v a l i d c r i t e r i o n of t r u t h . Pence,
t h e i r in tr u s io n must be avoided at a l l c o s t s .
Comte does not appear t o have r e a l i z e d that there was a c o n t r a d ic ­
t i o n between h i s f a i t h in th e u n i v e r s a l i t y of the mathematical phenomenon
and h i s d e s i r e t o Quarantine mathematicians. Consequently, he compla­
c e n t l y harbored both t e n d e n c i e s ,
^e have here another example of h i s
la c k o f concern for t h e l o g i c a l u n it y of h i s t h e o r i e s .
His i n t e r e s t in p an -phys icism was never as potent as t h a t which he
evin ced toward pan-mathematicism.
I t developed in the second phase of
?! PL *Vayersoa, Ce*I'explication dans les sciences, p». 490-49?.
-P 90-
-PP1-
his l i f e .
It' was on ly then t h at he considere d th e molecular h y p o t h e s is
at a l l , and allowed s c i e n t i s t s t o use i t .
The f a c t t h at he never per­
m itted i t t o en ter the f i e l d of philosophy proves in i t s e l f t h a t he did
not regard i t as a s a t i s f a c t o r y explanat io n of the cosmos.
As no other
th eory a t t r a c t e d h i s a t t e n t i o n , i t may s a f e l y be concluded th a t he never
adopted any s y s t e m a t i c cosmology.
Pefore weighing any c f the a s p e c t s c f Comte’ s r a t i o n a l p syc hology,
a few words may be s a id concerning the anth r opc cen tr ic q u a l i t y o f h i s
p h iloso p h y.
Tt has been s e v e r e l y c r i t i c i z e d , and unduly s c in th e
w r it e r ’s estim ation.
While we did not approve of the u t i l i t a r i a n aim
which he a s cribe d t o s c i e n c e , we have no o b j e c t i o n t o the anthropocent r ism of P o s i t i v i s m .
Comte s t a t e d from the beginning that he was ex ­
c l u s i v e l y i n t e r e s t e d in man. Pe was f r e e t o adopt such a poin t of view
i f he f e l t s c i n c l i n e d , and th e r e i s nothing t h e o l o g i c a l in such an
attitude.
Comte never wrote t h a t man was the masterpiece c f Nature or i t s end,
as any t h e o l o g i a n would have averred.
All he implied was t h a t Pumanity
was her most complex work up t o date. No o b j e c t i o n can be made t o such
a sta tem en t. He f r a n k ly admitted that man was unimportant in t h e u n i ­
v e r s a l scheme, and, in f a c t , i t was for t h i s very reason t h a t he d i s r e ­
garded the u n i v e r s e 1 and co ncen trate d f i r s t on the world and l a t e r on
the e a r t h . Furthermore, he did not say th a t the l a t t e r was man’ s prop­
e r t y ; he only conveyed the n ot ion that man was gradu ally taking p o s s e s ­
s io n of i t .
Nobody can d is p u t e the tr uth of t h i s l a s t a s s e r t i o n , or
r e b e l a g a i n s t an anthrooocentrism of t h i s type.
Tt i s , in f a c t , l e s s
extreme than John Dewey’ s humanism.
Tn turn ing now t o Comte’ s r a t i o n a l psychology, the d i s c u s s i o n w i l l
be l i m i t e d t o p o i n t s which are s t r i c t l y metaphysical, such as h i s con­
c e p t i o n of l i f e , of e v o l u t i o n and o f p r o g r e s s, h i s negation of t h e i n d i ­
v i d u a l , and h i s t h e o r y o f human freedom.
P i s th eory o f l i f e ? i s worthy of c o n s id e r a t i o n , b ein g , in th e
w r i t e r ’ s judgement, one o f t h e f i n e s t p o i n t s of Dc s i t i v i s m .
Tt must
not be i n f e r r e d t h a t he negated the s p e c i f i c i t y of the b i o l o g i c a l phe­
nomenon because he p o s t u l a t e d 8 t h a t i t was composed o f p h ysico- ch em ic al
r e a c t i o n s . On th e c o n t r a r y , he upheld i t , by av erring t h a t t h o s e r e ­
a c t i o n s were combined i n t o p a t t e r n s unknown in the in o rg a n ic world.
1.
p.
p.
Of. pp. 4?-44 above,
Of. pp. ? ? - ? ? above.
Of. pp. ° 6 - Q° above.
^oc
However, he was d e c e i v i n g h i i r s e l f when he thought that h i s theory
was s c i e n t i f i c .
Tt was meta physical, and could not be anything e l s e .
Tor one t h i n g , organic oheir.istry, b io - c h e m i s t r y and p h y s i o l o g y o f f e r e d
no support for i t at the time he propounded i t .
They were s t i l l in t h e i r
infancy.
Tor* another, i t was answer in si a d e f i n i t e need of h i s system.
The worth of t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n was p ro p o rt io n a t e t o i t s u n i t y .
Comte
had p o s t u l a t e d that in o r g a n i c phenomena were determined. The c l a s s i f i c a ­
t i o n was homogeneous only i f t h ere was no break between the inor ganic
and t h e org an ic: th a t i s , i f organic phenomena could abide by the d e t e r ­
minism o f the i n o r g a n i c . °y g ivin g a p h ysico-ch em ic al foundation t o the
b i o l o g i c a l phenomenon, he a u t o m a t i c a l ly made the l a t t e r share in the
determinism of th e in org an ic ; thus making determinism u n i v e r s a l , and the
u n i t y of t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n an i n c o n t e s t a b l e f a c t .
I t should be noted t h a t the metaphysical nature of the theory does
not a l t e r the potency of h is c o n c l u s i o n s ,
f Creek p h il o so p h er discover ed
th e atom through the channel of metaphysics t w e n t y - f i v e hunareid years
b e f o r e s c i e n t i s t s did so. This c a s e i s not i s o l a t e d , and, as Comte him­
s e l f observed, many f r u i t f u l s c i e n t i f i c no t io n s went through a t r a n s i t o r y
meta physica l s t a t e .
Tt i s a l s o noted that general s c i e n t i f i c hypotheses
do not d i f f e r in nature from t h e i r metaphysical c o u n t e r p a r t s , save for
th eir expressions.
Tn making t h e s e remarks, of co urse, t h e o r i e s are
judged by t h e i r s p e c u l a t i v e worth and not by t h e i r immediate u t i l i t a r i a n
resu lts.
ComteTs co ncep tion o f l i f e may now be f u rth er analyze d. His theory
o f t h e con sen su s of c o n d i t i o n s of e x i s t e n c e 1 r e v e a l s th a t he favored a
compromise between the v i t a l i s t and m ech anis tic h ypo th eses.
In the
w r i t e r ' s judgement, h i s theory i s most s a t i s f y i n g .
I t i n c l u d e s th e good
p o i n t s of both the v i t a l i s t and th e m ech an is tic h yp oth es es , without
adopting t h e i r o b j e c t i o n a b l e a s p e c t s . Py p o s t u l a t i n g the s p e c i f i c i t y
of th e b i o l o g i c a l phenomenon and t akin g the dynamism o f l i f e for granted,
i t bows t o v i t a l i s m , and by acknowledging the i n f l u e n c e c f the en viron­
ment on the organism, i t tak es the b es t po in t of mechanicism. On th e
other hand, by r e f u s i n g t o c o n s id er l i f e as a m a n if e s t a t i o n of an un­
knowable n atur e, i t dees away with the c h i e f d e f e c t o f v i t a l i s m , and
by d e c l i n i n g t o admit t h a t the complexity and e v o l u t i o n of l i f e i s the
outcome of a purely mechanical proces s, i t e l i m i n a t e s the most o b j e c ­
t i o n a b l e as p e ct of mechanicism.
1 . Of. pp.
qp - q4 above.
I t should be remarked t h at Comte's d o c t r i n e i s not o b s o l e t e . The
t r a d i t i o n a l v i t a l i s t and m ec h a n is t ic t h e o r i e s have g e n e r a l l y l o s t favor
and made way for hybrid n o t io n s which are germane to Comte's. The l a t ­
t e r , in i t s general l i n e s , i s in complete accord 1 with the d i s c o v e r i e s
which b i o l o g y has made r e c e n t l y .
In f a c t , we are l i a b l e to undervalue
i t s o r i g i n a l i t y , simoly because i t i s now a part, of the s c i e n t i s t ' s
c r eed .
This d o c t r i n e o f f e r s obvious advantages.
I t does not s e t any lim­
i t a t i o n to s p e c u l a t i o n . Comte contemplated a t r a n s i t i o n 9 between veg­
e t a b l e and animal l i v e s ; he
implied t h a t humanity might not be the l a s t
o f f s p r i n g of Nature, and he
allowed s c i e n t i s t s to imagine intermediary
s p e c i e s wherever rungs were
missing in the l i v i n g ladder,
i l l those
s u p p o s i t i o n s and s u g g e s t i o n s concurred to enlarge the f i e l d c f b i o l o g y .
True to the id e a l which he had formulated for the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t ,
Comte forbade' b i o l o g i s t s t o i n q u ire i n t o the causes of l i f e ; but the
very nature of h i s theory i n v i t e d such an i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Fe urged
s c i e n t i s t s t o analyze the b i o l o g i c a l s p e c i f i c i t y in r e l a t i o n to i t s
p h ysico- ch em ic al p a t t e r n s : hence, he prompted them to study the g e n e s is
of l i f e .
I t f o l l o w s th a t h i s th eo ry , with a l l i t s r a m i f i c a t i o n s , pro­
v i d e s p o s i t i v e philosophy with a genuine open question o f the type
d efin ed in th e preceding c h a p t e r . 11
An a n a l y s i s w i l l now be given of Comte’ s a t t i t u d e toward the p r i n ­
c i p l e of e v o l u t i o n . The only s c i e n t i f i c theory of e v o l u t i o n e x i s t i n g
in h i s days was that o f Transfcrmism.
V’e cannot blame him for having
r e j e c t e d i t , s in c e we do sc to o, even though we do not combat it, with
h i s arguments. Tf he had contemplated t h e type of e v o l u t i o n which was
going t o be expounded by Carwin and Fpencer, i t would no doubt have been
a f l a s h of genius; bu t, bec au se of the lack c f s c i e n t i f i c eviden ce , i t
would have been nothing more than a lucky gu e s s .
I t must a l s o be kept in mind that we have net solved the problem
o f the o r i g i n of the s p e c i e s t o our e n t i r e s a t i s f a c t i o n . We take the
e v o l u t i o n a l p ro ces s f o r granted, y e t we admit ignorance as t o i t s i n ­
t e r n a l mechanism. Ther efore , in a l l f a i r n e s s , we cannot condemn Comte
f o r having envisaged a s t a t i c h i e r a r c h y , p where we see a dynamic evo­
l u t i o n through time.
1 . One oannot read th e b i o l o g i c a l t r e a t i s e , r e c e n t l y
i f * 11.* tb o n ? 1"
l a b o r a t i o n w ith Ph. Wells and J u l i a n Huxley, and e n t i t l e d The . cience of Life, w ithout
beoominsr aware of th e rem arkab le modernism of Com te's t h e o r i e s i n b io lo g y .
p. Cf. on. 98-P7 above.
p. Of. p. PP above.
4. Cf. P . PV4 above.
5. Cf. pp. 97-°P above.
-??4-
The f a c t that Comte did not b e l i e v e in Transfcrm.isir does net mean
th at he negated a l l id e a s o f e v o l u t i o n .
On the contrary, h i s whole
system i s b u i l t cn the n o t io n o f change.
The law of* t hs t hr e s s t c t s s ^
e n t a i l s b e l i e f in two p a r a l l e l and r e l a t e d e v o l u t i o n s , an c n t c g e n ic and
a p hylog en ie.
Pe a p p r e c ia t e d the po in t 'that the in d i v i d u a l reproduced
the e v o l u t i o n c f the phylum, and t h at embryology would re v e a l p recio u s
information about t h i s r e c a p i t u l a t i o n , when once i t had become a r e a l
science.
Therefore, although Ccnr.te came toe e a r l y to formulate the
law c f r e c a p i t u l a t i o n in the l a s t i n g form which was to make Haeckel
famous, s t i l l he had an i n t u i t i o n c f i t .
However, on examining h i s theory c f change, i t i s found that he
did not succeed in p r e s e n t i n g an exp la nati on which was s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g .
He did net r e s o r t to a p r i n c i p l e comparable to that c f natural s e l e c t i o n ,
which i s s u f f i c i e n t in i t s e l f .
He employed a d i f f e r e n t read, that of
t e l i c development. Comte, no doubt, would have greeted t h i s a s s e r t i o n
with i n d ig n a tio n , but he could net have proved that i t was untrue.
S t a t i n g that man de ve lo ps in a d i r e c t i o n which i s d i c t a t e d by inherent
p o t e n t i a l i t i e s i s only another way c f saying that h i s e v o l u t i o n i s pre­
determined, that i s , t e l i c .
Mow, i f we p o s t u l a t e t e l e s i s , we admit a
purpose. A purpose cannot stand alone; i t has to come from some source.
Therefore, when we imply the e x i s t e n c e of a purpose, we at once i n t r o ­
duce the t h e o l o g i c a l n o t io n c f a c r e a t i v e agent.
Comte went f a r enough on the t h e o l o g i c a l road to admit the e x i s t e n c e
of a purpose; but he went no f u r t h e r . He would not take the l a s t n e c e s ­
sary step and r e c o g n i z e a c r e a t o r .
Puch an admission would have teen
in c o n f l i c t with the main t e n e t s of p o s i t i v e p hiloso phy, and he ignored
the c r e a t i v e agent a l t o g e t h e r .
I t f e l l o w s that h i s d e s c r i p t i o n o f the
e v o l u t i o n a l p rocess i s l e f t in co mplete, and t h a t i t does net account
s a t i s f a c t o r i l y for change.
The theory i s d e f i c i e n t from another angle. Cur reason demands that
the cr eator of th ose p o t e n t i a l i t i e s be th e one who watches over the.ir
fu lfillm en t.
As he i s t h e agent who thought i t worth while to c r e a t e
them, i t i s l o g i c a l to i n f e r t h at he i s the one most i n t e r e s t e d in t h e i r
u nfo ld ing; hence, t h a t he w i l l be the one t o watch over them. Yet, in
P o s i t i v i s m , t h i s i s not t h e c a s e .
Two f o r c e s here account for man’ s
development: s o c i a l l i f e , which i s a b l in d f o r c e and a c t s mechanically,
and man h i m s e l f . He i s c o n s c io u s c f the futu re s t a t e toward which he
1 . Cf. pp.
S0-PO above.
i s going, and he wants t o h asten i t s advent.
I t f o l l o w s that t h e un­
f o l d i n g of human p o t e n t i a l i t i e s i s not d ir e c t e d by the agent which c r e ­
ated them.
Puch an assumption shocks our l o g i c a l sen se.
ComteTs co ncep tion o f p ro g res s i s now to be con sid ere d. The term
"progress" i s synonymous with the word "evolution" under h i s pen, s i n c e
change i n e v i t a b l y b r in g s man nearer h i s futu re s t a t e .
Ccnseouently,
Comte’ s f a i t h in p ro g res s i s dust another aspect o f h i s b e l i e f in ev o­
l u t i o n , and i s determined bv i t .
Tn any c a s e , whether h i s f a i t h in
p ro g res s were the outcome o f h i s b e l i e f in e v o l u t i o n or not, i t had to
be expected from a p h ilo s o p h e r who was a s o c i a l reformer and a s c i e n t i s t .
Poth ty p es of men are m e l i o r i s t s by temterament.
P e l i e f in p ro g res s i s the s i ns Qua non c o n d i t i o n of s o c i a l a s p i r a ­
tion s.
v0 t hin k er would ever contemplate the r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f s o c i e t y
u n l e s s he had been born with an unshakeable b e l i e f in the p e r f e c t i b i l i t y
o f the human r a c e . Comte was a s c i e n t i s t t o boot.
All s c i e n t i s t s have
f a i t h in human p r o g r e s s .
Cne cannot study the h i s t o r y of th e s c i e n c e s
without a c a u ir i n g in the p r o c e s s a b e l i e f in i n t e l l e c t u a l progre ss and
an admiration for man’ s i n t e l l i g e n c e and t e n a c i t y .
As we i n t u i t i v e l y
t hin k th a t more i n t e l l i g e n c e means more kindness (whether such an a s ­
sumption i s tr u e or not i s b e s i d e the point 1, the s c i e n t i s t i s led t o
b e l i e v e t h a t man p r o g r e s s e s in e v e r y f i e l d , e t h i c a l as well as i n t e l ­
lectual .
Pince Comte s t a r t e d with such a strong f a i t h in p ro gre ss, we can
only commend him for having r e s t r a i n e d h i s admiration and pre se nted a
moderate view of i t .
^or one t h in g , he took a m a t t e r - c f - f a c t a t t i t u d e ,
and never waxed se nti m en ta l over human achievements, f e do not find
coming from h i s nen the paeans o f Condorcet. Per another t h in g , Comte's
co ncep tio n of pro gre ss i s in l o g i c a l accord with h i s theory of e v o l u t i o n .
Ve did not a c c e p t t h e d o c t r i n e c f i n d e f i n i t e p e r f e c t i b i l i t y voiced by
P r ic e and Dr i e s t l y , and l a t e r adopted by the author of the Tableau.
Pe s t a t e d that p r o g r e s s 5* could only develop the higher human t r a i t s ,
t h a t i s , t h a t i t made man f u l l y kind, i n t e l l i g e n t , i n d u s t r i o u s , pea ce lo v i n g and s o c i a l l y - m i n d e d ; but he maintained that i t l e f t him e s s e n t i a l l y
human, and did not breed a race of supermen. I f he had thought that
p ro gre ss was i n f i n i t e , as Dr i c e , P r i e s t l y and Condorcet did, i t would
have amounted to admitting th a t mankind was gr ad ually l o s i n g i t s char­
a c t e r i s t i c s and becoming another s p e c i e s . Pe had p o s t u l a t e d that
1. Of. p. 9? above.
P. O f . o p .
P-1-3P 813076.
_
s p e c i e s were no t c o n t i n u o u s .
ited p e r f e c t i b ili t y ,
T h e r e f o r e , he was c o n s i s t e n t when he l i m ­
and h i s c o n c e p t i o n of p r e p r e s s i s
i n harmony w i t h
h is general theory of e v o lu tio n .
F is views are sane in another r e s p e c t . Fe did not con fu se t ech n o­
l o g i c a l advance with General human improvement. Fe f u l l y ap pre ciated
th e poin t t h a t s o c i a l p ro g res s was prim arily founded on the s p i r i t u a l
advance of t h e trasses.
Pe thought t h a t the l a t t e r would f o l l o w the
betterm en t o f general m a te r i a l c o n d i t i o n s , which would a u t o m a t i c a l ly
ensue with the d i f f u s i o n o f t h e o r e t i c a l progress i n s t i g a t e d by the £ l i t e .
Tt i s obvious that he took to o f l a t t e r i n g a view of the f u t u r e , and
t h a t ev en t s have b e l i e d h i s sm i lin g p i c t u r e . Powever, we must not f o r g e t
t h a t the f u t u r e appeared a grea t deal more premising then than i t does
now. P i s age warranted optimism.
The m i d - f i f t i e s c f the n in e te e n t h
cen tury were an era of i n d u s t r i a l expansion, of peace and c f hope. Tt
was the heyday of l i b e r a l i s m and humanitarianism. Da t r i o t i s m did not
assume the form c f mass xenophobia. Tar was not dead, but hatred of
t h e enemy seemed t o be d e c r e a s i n g .
When one reads c h r o n i c l e s of the
Crimean War, one i s s u r p r is e d at the lack of h ate which the Trench and
E n g li s h ex per ience d for t h e i r f e e s , the pu s s i a n s . The b e l l i g e r e n t
armies behaved almost l i k e gentlemen toward one another.
Figher
Fu s sian o f f i c e r s who had been made p r i s o n e r s by the Trench were con­
s id e r e d the g u e s t s of Trance, more than i t s h o s t a g e s . They met with
f r i e n d l i n e s s everywhere. This a t t i t u d e was not an i s o l a t e d one. The
mistake which Comte made was in s e t t i n g too high a value on i t , and
s e e i n g a vigorous tendency in something which u n fo r tu n a t e l y was only
an ephemeral phenomenon.
I t must not be f o r g o t t e n , e i t h e r , that po s i t i v i 3 m as Comte p i c ­
tu re d i t was l e s s r e v o l u t i o n a r y than the change wrought by e a r l y
C hristianity.
Ven gave up t h e i r worldly p o s s e s s i o n s and comfort t o
l i v e as a s c e t i c s .
Comte did not ask h i s contemporaries t o a l t e r t h e i r
ways as much as our a n c e s t o r s had t o do at that time.
The Comtean t h e o r i e s which bear d i r e c t l y on man are now t o be
c o n s id e r e d . We begin with the neg atio n of the i n d i v i d u a l , which he
formulated in th e f o l l o w i n g words1: "Van proper i s but an a b s t r a c t i o n .
Pumanity, above a l l in t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l and moral order, alone i s
r e a l . " This apophthegm n a t u r a l l y aroused the i r e and d i a l e c t i c a l
s e n s e of p h i l o s o p h e r s .
I t i s ev i d e n t that Comte sinned in t h r e e ways
when he u t t e r e d such a s ta t e m e n t . Fe overlooked the immediate
i . Cours, VI, p. 41Q.
- ? ?
7-
c o n s c i o u s n e s s of our ego which we exp er ience at a l l t i n e s . Pe confused
the r e a l and e v e r - p r e s e n t ego with the schematic i n d i v i d u a l of the psy­
c h o l o g i s t , which i s a c o l l e c t i o n of f a c u l t i e s , f e e l i n g s and i n s t i n c t s ,
and he did not see t h a t the term "humanity" was j u s t as much o f an ab­
s t r a c t i o n as the word " i n d i v i d u a l ."
Although we cannot accept Comte’s negation o f the i n d i v i d u a l , we
can s ee t h a t two r e a s o n s , a p h il o s o p h ic a l and an e t h i c a l , prompted him
t o make such a s ta t e m e n t .
Pis p h i l o s o p h i c a l reason was the f o ll o w in g :
Pe wanted t o do away with i n t r o s p e c t i o n , because i t was one o f the
s t r o n g h o l d s o f m eta ph ysic s. Py negating the i n d i v i d u a l , he accomplished
h i s purpose permanently and without e f f o r t , because i t rendered u s e l e s s
th e method which was employed t o study the ego, to w i t , i n t r o s p e c t i o n .
Prom t h e poin t of view of p r a c t i c a l e t h i c s , i t was j u s t as impor­
t a n t for him to wipe out the i n d i v i d u a l . Comte was co nfr on ted with a
d if f ic u lt situation,
v g wanted h is congdn§res to devote themselves to
th e good of the c o l l e c t i v i t y .
Vet he knew that e g o - c e n t r i c i n s t i n c t s
were s t r o n g e r than a l t r u i s m , and that in everyday l i f e th e i n t e r e s t cf
t h e i n d i v i d u a l was o f t e n in complete op p osi tio n to th a t c f the c o l l e c ­
tiv ity .
c y negating the i n d i v i d u a l , he was d e s tr o y in g t h e opponent of
the c o l l e c t i v i t y , and thereby s o lv in g the c o n f l i c t .
Cf c o u r s e , th e mistake which Comte made was in b e l i e v i n g t h at h i s
words could a l t e r the e x i s t i n g s i t u a t i o n . Powever, we should not be
s u r p r is e d at t h i s , because we have p r e v io u s l y had o c c a s i o n to observe
h i s f a i t h in words.
P i s t h eo ry of human freedom is' most e q u iv o c a l , t o say the l e a s t .
Var from, neg atin g human f reed om ,1 he a s s e r t s i t s e x i s t e n c e , t u t he makes
i t c o n s i s t in f o l l o w i n g laws. There i s no c h o ic e in determinism, by d e f ­
i n i t i o n ; hence, we are led to conclude that Comte contemplated a freedom
from which c h o i c e was ab s e n t , i . e . , that he a s s e r t e d t h e e x i s t e n c e 01 a
t h in g t h a t could not e x i s t ; which in i t s e l f i s n o n s e n s i c a l .
No twith sta nd in g, such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of h i s t h e o r y i s not s a t i s ­
f a c t o r y , because i t i s obvious that Comte’ s u t t e r a n c e s always made sense,
although a t tim es they were lacking in p e r f e c t l o g i c a l c o n s i s t e n c y .
If
we lo ok a t h i s words over again, we find th a t th ey i n v o l v e a d e f i n i t i o n
of human behavior and not a statement of f a c t s reg ar din g freedom. Pe
a c t u a l l y ex p la i n e d what freedom would be, i f i t e x i s t e d ; he did not s t a t e
whether i t e x i s t e d or n o t .
As he did not say c a t e g o r i c a l l y t h a t man
i . Cf. pp. Sa-?v above.
_?cp_
could not avoid f o l l o w i n g laws, we cannot be c e r t a i n t b at he did not
e n v i s a g e a c e r t a i n amount of freedom, and we are l e f t in doubt as to
h i s inner c o n v i c t i o n .
We p e r s o n a ll y b e l i e v e th a t Comte f e l t compelled t c accord a r e l a ­
t i v e freedom, t c man. At the same tim e, he r e a l i z e d the consequences
t h a t such a r e c o g n i t i o n would have f o r h i s system. Fe h e s i t a t e d to
grant i t , but could not prevent h i m s e l f from doing s c .
As a r e s u l t ,
he did not s t a t e openly and u n h e s i t a t i n g l y t h a t freedom e x i s t e d . Pe
r e s o r t e d , spontaneously and unknowingly, to h i s f a v o r i t e t r i c k .
When
he decided to r e i n s t a t e general hypotheses and c a u s e s , he made them
sneak back i n t o h i s system under new names. Fe proceeded s i m i l a r l y
with freedom: he gave a vague e x p la n a ti o n o f human b eh avior, which
harboured both determinism and freedom, without saying fran kly that
he had a l t e r e d h i s v i e w s /
Comte was placed in a most embarrassing s i t u a t i o n .
As the founder'
c f p o s i t i v e philosop hy, he had to upheld i n t e g r a l determinism; t h at i s ,
he had t c negate human freedom. Fcwever, he was mere than a p hiloso pher .
Fe was an ed ucat or, a s o c i a l reformer, a r e l i g i o n i s t and a m o ralis t as
w ell.
Fe could not negate freedom in any one o f th ose r o l e s .
^s an educator, he had t c b e l i e v e in both determinism, and c o n t i n ­
gency, according t o the point o f view which he adopted. Education un­
doubtedly i s p a r t ly determined, s in c e i t i s net a matter c f chance.
Environment a c t s on the i n d i v i d u a l .
The t e a c h e r can p r e d i c t q u ite
a c c u r a t e l y the e f f e c t c f h i s s t i m u l i , and can r e g u l a t e them a ccord in gly.
Therefore Comte, the educator, up t c t h i s point saw eye t c eye with
Comte, th e p h ilo so p h er.
Fcwever, educa tio n i s a most complex p r o c e s s . Nurture i s net ev ery­
t h i n g , and Nature a l s o plays i t s p a r t . The l e a r n e r p o s s e s s e s c e r t a i n
t r a i t s which c o n s id e r a b ly retard or a c c e l e r a t e the lea r n i n g p r o c e s s .
P u t t in g a s i d e the elements which belong to h i s n a t iv e makeup, such as
i n t e l l i g e n c e , the w i l l t c le a r n , an^ a p t i t u d e s f o r c e r t a i n s u b j e c t s ,
which might be ascr ib ed e n t i r e l y t c h e r e d i t y or t c brain power, ther e
are two t r a i t s which do not appear t o be determined. They are h i s
i n t e r e s t in c e r t a i n s u b j e c t s , which does not n e c e s s a r i l y correspond to
h i s a p t i t u d e for them, and the l i k e or d i s l i k e he f e e l s for h i s teach er.
Although the l a t t e r can do a great d e a l , he i s o f t e n p ow erless t c de­
velop t h e s e q u a l i t i e s in the s tu d e n t .
These t r a i t s vary with the i n ­
d i v i d u a l , and in the i n d i v i d u a l , without d e t e c t a b l e ca u se, and no i n ­
v a r i a b l e laws seem t o r e g u l a t e t h e i r m a n i f e s t a t i o n . In s h o r t , they
-? p c _
appear t o be c o n t in g e n t .
Comte, who was a s u c c e s s f u l educator, could
not overlook their. Pe t r i e d t o make room f o r them In the general de­
termined scheme in the b e s t way he could, by saying that freedom con­
s i s t e d in not impeding the cours e of Mature.
As a s o c i a l refcrtrer, Comte took th e views of the educator, sin.ce
reform i s founded on e d u c a t io n .
In other words, he upheld determinism
while he accepted freedom.
The tr uth c f t h i s a s s e r t i o n i s proved by
the f a c t th a t Comte was not a p a r t i s a n of l a i s s e z - f a i r e . 1 Tt i s ob­
v io u s th a t the only p o l i c y a c c e p t a b le to the i n t e g r a l d et e r m in is t i s
t h a t of the l a i s s s z - ? a i r e s c h o o l.
*s a m o r a l i s t , Comte’ s acceptance of freedom was even more marked.
pe had t o emphasize the f r e e element and minimize determinism. I t would
be a waste of time to preach a code of e t h i c s which e n t a i l e d s e l f - d e n i a l
t o i n d i v i d u a l s who were not r e s p o n s i b l e for t h e i r a c t s . R e s p o n s i b i l i t y
in v o lv e s, freedom. Consequently Comte, the teach er of e t h i c s , had to
c o n s id e r man f r e e . Pe had to do the same, as a r e l i g i o n i s t .
*s i t was t o be ex p ec ted , Comte's b e l i e f in a p a r t i a l freedom was
t h e f r u i t of h i s l a t e r y e a r s .
In the Hours, he was i n t e r e s t e d in s c i ­
ence and in s u b j e c t s which required determinism e x c l u s i v e l y . There was
no reason for him t o ac ce pt freedom. Pis i n t e r e s t e d had. changed when he
wrote the P o l i t i o u s .
Py t h a t time he was concerned with ed ucation,
reform, e t h i c s and r e l i g i o n . Pe was a l s o preoccupied with a f f e c t i v e
m anifestations.
Pis b e l i e f in freedom was then n eces sary.
In t h i s chap te r, the a n a l y s i s o f the Ccmtean metaphysics has been
completed. I t has been noted t h a t Comte never adopted a s y s t e m a t ic
cosmology. Various a s p e c t s of h i s r a t i o n a l psychology have been weighed,
in c lu d in g b i s t h e o r i e s of l i f e , c f e v o l u t i o n and c f progress. Pis nega­
t i o n of the i n d iv id u a l and h i s co n cep tion of freedom have been d i s c u s s e d .
I t has been showYn th a t h i s d o c t r i n e of l i f e was a f r u i t f u l open q u est io n .
Uis theory of e v o l u t i o n has been s t u d i e d , and i t has been exp lain ed why
t h i s was not s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g . The moderation of h i s views on progres s
has been pointed cu t.
The r eason s which prompted him to negate th e
in d i v i d u a l have been e x p l a i n e d . P i s th eory o f human freedom has te e n
weighed, and i t s vagueness o f wording and i t s s e l f - c o n t r a d i c t o r i n e s s
have been d i s c u s s e d .
The a n a l y s i s o f the s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l elements of Comtisn.
w i l l be concluded with a r a t i o n a l survey of the in f l u e n c e exerted by
Comte’ s s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l thought.
1. Cf. op.
of-PB
above.
chapter
A Ra t i o n a l
S urvey
of
the
x
I nfluence
of
Co v t i s v
Comte wandered i n t o a l l i n t e l l e c t u a l f i e l d s .
Pis i n f l u e n c e , con­
s e q u e n t l y , was u n i v e r s a l .
Tt was e i t h e r d i r e c t or i n d i r e c t .
Those who
had a f i r s t - h a n o knowledge c f p o s i t i v e philosophy experienced i t s e f ­
fects directly.
Those who were not acquainted with i t f e l t i t , never­
t h e l e s s , as th ey came i n t o co n tact with d o ct rine s which were in s p i r e d
by i t .
In t h e i r case the i n f l u e n c e caire i n d i r e c t l y , but s t i l l i t was
real.
Tn s h o r t , Comtism a f f e c t e d a l l types of thought.
An attempt t o t r a c e CoirteTs i n f lu e n c e on each eirinent t h in k er of
the n i n e te e n t h and t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r i e s i s beyond the scope of the present
study. The survey w i l l be l i i r i t e d to an examination of the nature of
t h i s i n f l u e n c e , and of the rea sons which gave the i n f l u e n c e the form i t
assumed.
Tt i s t o be s t a t e d at once that Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e was c f the
d i f f u s e and s t i m u l a t i n g t y p e .
This means that p o s i t i v e ph ilosophy acted
on the gen er al a t t i t u d e c f t h in k e r s rather than on t h e i r s p e c i f i c
t h e o r i e s , and was an i n c e n t i v e t c f u rth er study.
Oomtism c o n t a in s a ph ilosophy of s c ie n c e and an ency cl op aed ia of
the s c i e n c e s .
Tn consequence, it_ i s necessary t c d i s s o c i a t e and t o
analyze s e p a r a t e l y th e s t r i c t l y s c i e n t i f i c and the p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n f l u ­
ences cf Do s i t i v i s m .
We s h a l l be concerned f i r s t with the s c i e n t i f i c
i n f l u e n c e of Comte’ s thought on s c i e n t i s t s . Later, we s h a l l c o n s id er
the e f f e c t s o f h i s p h ilos oph y on s c i e n t i s t s and p h il o s o p h e r s .
Obviously, Comte o f f e r e d sound r u l e s t o the s c i e n t i s t s ,
^or t h e i r
b e n e f i t , he d e f in e d the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t ; he described the s u c c e s s i v e
s t e p s c f th e o b j e c t i v e method, and brought cut th e f a c t t h a t , no matter
what e l s e s c i e n c e may be, i t i n v o l v e s the discovery of natural laws.
P is warning a g a i n s t metaphysical e x p l a n a t i o n s 1 c f phenomena was s e n s i b l e
ad vice f o r a l l tim es and f o r a l l the s c i e n c e s .
P c i e n t i s t s worthy c f
the name could not help heeding Comte’ s precep ts.
Put h i s i n f l u e n c e on s c i e n c e did not stop t h e r e . Pe undoubtedly
was a powerful s t i m u la t o r t c p o t e n t i a l s c i e n t i s t s .
Pis dogmatism, that
most annoying dogmatism, was the cause of h i s i n f l u e n c e .
Comte a f f e c t e d in the same fashion a l l readers who had r e t a i n e d a
modicum o f c r i t i c a l s e n s e .
Pe i n v a r i a b ly (tc'.iudge by the w r i t e r ' s own
experience^ provoked in them the d e s ir e to prove that he was wron^.
When Comte a s s e r t e d th a t A was white, the student f e l t at once the
1.
C f. p c . 9 1 - ° ? a b o v e .
- ?
90-
-?P 1-
u r -8 t o prove th a t i t was black, or at l e a s t grey.
Tn the p r o c e s s , the
l a t t e r was apt t o stumble on the f a c t that P was red.
Therefore Comte,
fcv lte rely s t a t i n g t h a t A was white, had a c t u a l l y helped a l a t e r i n v e s ­
t i g a t o r t o f in d out t h a t i t was red. P is part in th e d isc o v e r y was
r e a l , though n e g a t i v e .
P i s i n f l u e n c e had been p o t e n t, although i t had
been of the d i f f u s e typ e.
l e t i t be s a id , then, t h at Comte was a stimu­
l a t o r for s c i e n t i s t s , i r r e s p e c t i v e l y of the c o lo r o f h i s own i d e a s , and
of t h e ir s .
Pe a f f e c t e d the s c i e n t i s t ' s thought in another roundabout way. Pe
engaged in no independent res earch , not even in h i s s p e c i a l f i e l d , that
o f mathematics.
P i s m is s io n , in h i s j u d g e m e n t , was t o e x p l a i n the d i s ­
c o v e r i e s c f o t h e r s to the thinking but lay p u b l i c .
Tt i s t c be noted
t h a t he succeeded, with the help c f l i t t r ^ . 1 pi s works were widely read.
The l a y p u b l i c does not c o n t r ib u t e d i r e c t l y t o the pro gre ss c f s c i ­
ence: but i t i s the moulder of the coming g e n e r a t io n , t o which i t t r a n s ­
m its i t s t a s t e s .
The a s p i r a t i o n s o f parents are r e a l i s e d by t h e i r c h i l ­
dren, and a s c i e n c e - c o n s c i o u s p ub lic giv es b i r t h t c s c i e n t i s t s .
Comte
made the p u b l i c s c i e n c e - c o n s c i o u s .
In t h i s s e n s e , he was p a r t ly r e ­
s p o n s i b l e for the ex trao rd in ary blossoming o f s c i e n c e which began with
th e second h a l f o f the n i n e te e n t h century. This type of i n f l u e n c e was
s t i l l d i f f u s e and i n d i r e c t .
The p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n f l u e n c e exerted by Comte on s c i e n t i s t s was a l s o
sign ifican t.
Pe made metaphysicians out of a good many o f them. This
c o n t e n t i o n might appear paradoxical at f i r s t s i g h t , s i n c e Comte r e p e a t ­
e d l y t o l d s c i e n t i s t s not to bother about an u n a t t a i n a b le a b s o l u t e , and
gave p l e n t y o f reaso ns t c support h i s idea . Put the idea i s not para­
doxical
when one t h in k s of the "contrary streak " e x i s t i n g in most men.
Tt must
a l s o be kept in mind th a t Comte e f f e c t i v e l y ce n tered the a t t e n ­
t i o n of h i s rea d er s on metaphysical problems.
Statesmen and newspaper
men know t h a t the b e s t way t o a n n i h i l a t e a r i s i n g , nox ious s o c i a l f o r c e
i s to k i l l i t with s i l e n c e , in st e a d of preaching a g a i n s t i t .
Comte
f o llo w e d the second a g g r e s s i v e p o l i c y , and gave metaphysics superb and
prolonged p u b l i c i t y .
Speaking of the c a p a c i t y f o r f a l l i n g in l o v e , La Pcchefoucauld
remarked t h a t many men would not f a l l in lo v e as o f t e n a s they do, i f
they had not heard of lo v e beforehand. Pis maxim a p p l i e s to almost any
urge, and t o the metaphysical in p a r t i c u l a r , Comte reminded every
t h in k e r
1 . Of.
t h a t a metaphysician la y dormant in him.
pp. 17-lS above.
-PPP-
m
t h e s e arguments l e a d us t o i n f e r that, Scmte was in some d e c re e
r e s p o n s i b l e for th e m e t a p h y s i c a l p r o p e n s i t i e s which c h a r a c t e r i z e most
emine nt men o f s c i e n c e o f t h e end o f the n i n e t e e n t h and b e g in n in g of th e
t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y , such as P o i n c a r e , J e a n s , F’d d i n g t c n , V i l l i k a n , and
Tinetein.
I t sh oul d be added t h a t Comte's m e t a p h y s i c a l i n f l u e n c e on
s c i e n t i s t s has had a b e a r i n g on t h e i r g e n e r a l i n t e r e s t s and not on t h e i r
s p e c i f i c t h e o r i e s in o n t o l o g y or co sm olo gy .
I t has been ge n e r a l and
d i f f u s e , and has been e s s e n t i a l l y a n o n - l c e a l i z e d s t i r r u l u s .
The n a t u r e o f Comte's i n f l u e n c e on p h i l o s o p h e r s proper was d u a l.
^or one t h i n g , he co m pe lle d their t o g i v e a s c i e n t i f i c c o n t e n t t o t h e i r
systems.
Pe showed t h a t the o n l y c o n c l u s i v e l y sound knowledge of r e a l ­
i t y was gain ed through s c i e n c e .
T h e r e f o r e a l l p h i l o s o p h e r s , whether
t h e y were i d e a l i s t s or r e a l i s t s ,
tific
had t o account f o r r e a l i t y in s c i e n ­
terrrs, even i f th e y assumed t h a t t h i s e x t e r n a l r e a l i t y was net
t h e whole o f r e a l i t y and t h a t t h e r e were a d d i t i o n a l
a c q u a i n t e d with i t .
is a r e su lt,
irost o f th e irodern s p e c u l a t i v e t r e a ­
t i s e s have a d i s t i n c t s c i e n t i f i c f l a v o r ,
p o e t l i k e P e r gs on .
Sian v i t a l ,
ways of becoming
even t h o s e o f an i d e a l i s t and
P i s p h i l o s o p h y c e n t e r s around t h e n o t i o n o f th e
and t h i s c o n c e p t i s t h e pr odu ct o f a sea so ne d e v o l u t i o n i s m ,
o f t h e contemporary s t u d i e s o f i n s t i n c t and i n t e l l i g e n c e made by a n t h r o ­
p o l o g i s t s and e n t o m o l o g i s t s .
I t i s e q u a l l y founded on cur re nt psycho­
l o g i c a l f i n d i n g s , and i t t a k e s i n t o ac c o u n t t h e r e c e n t d i s c o v e r i e s in
the physical scie n c e s.
The i n f l u e n c e o f Oom.te on p h i l o s o p h e r s m a n i f e s t e d i t s e l f in another
way.
Pe a c t u a l l y drove them t o re-vamo p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y , f o r t h e
sake of the
said philosophy i t s e l f .
The brunt o f
t h e i r c r i t i c a l work
b o r e on t h e p h i l o s o p h y o f s c i e n c e .
P o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y i s a s p i r i t and a body o f d o c t r i n e s .
i s t h e s o - c a l l e d s c i e n t i f i c a t t i t u d e toward f a c t s ,
The s p i r i t
coupled with t h e be­
l i e f t h a t s c i e n t i f i c knowledge i s th e o n l y sound fo u n d a t io n of p h i l o s o p h y .
The body o f
of science,
d o c t r i n e s i s t h e e n s e mb l e o f
t h e o r i e s r e g a r d i n g t h e nature
i t s end and method, p l u s th e o r f a n o n o f laws d i s c o v e r e d by
s c i e n c e , namely, by ,the s c i e n t i f i c s p i r i t .
£s t h e s p i r i t of p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y d i s c o v e r s th e d o c t r i n e s ,
it
p r e c e d e s them i n t im e , and i s t h e i r s i n e Qua non c o n d i t i o n o f e x i s t e n c e ;
h e n c e , i t i s t h e more important o f th e two.
Some s t u d e n t s , as h i s t o r y shows, welcomed u n c r i t i c a l l y and unauest i o n i n g l y t h e s p i r i t and t h e body o f d o c t r i n e s .
were a m i n o r i t y .
Put t h o s e genuine C om ti st s
The m a j o r i t y o f t h i n k e r s examined p o s i t i v e ph il o s o p h y
critically.
They n o t e d t h e i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y o f seme o f i t s d o c t r i n e s
w it h i t s s p i r i t ,
and d i s c a r d e d t h e d o c t r i n e s in order t o r e t a i n t h e
sp irit.
This i s one o f t h e r e a s o n s which co mp elle d p h i l o s o p h e r s t o
remodel Comte’ s p h i l o s o p h y o f s c i e n c e .
A second r e a s o n i s t h e f o l l o w i n g : Pcier.ce deve loped a f t e r Comte’ s
death much f a s t e r than he had a n t i c i p a t e d , and in f i e l d s whose very
e x i s t e n c e he had h a r d l y s u s p e c t e d . 1 The s c i e n c e which came i n t o b e in g
was not th e s c i e n c e on which he had s p e c u l a t e d .
Third, a new c o n c e p t i o n o f law was n e c e s s a r y .
as
sccn ag
was
found out t h a t th e s u t - m c l a r world behaved in an " i l l e g a l " f a s h i o n , i t
became e v i d e n t t h a t s c i e n t i f i c laws c o u ld no lo n g e r be regarded as gov­
e r n in g t h e appearance o f phenomena.
^curt h, r e s e a r c h un de rt ak e n in a p u r e l y d i s i n t e r e s t e d s p i r i t ,
in f i e l d s which gave l i t t l e pre mi se of l i k e l y u t i l i t a r i a n h a r v e s t ,
proved t o be t h e i n e x h a u s t i b l e s o u r c e o f p r a c t i c a l
applications.
and
As
a c o n s eq u e n c e, u t i l i t y c o u ld no l o n g e r be viewed as the d e s i r a b l e or
a c t u a l master of s c i e n c e .
T ifth,
i t must be remarked a l s o t h a t Comte l e f t gaps in h i s p h i ­
lo s o p h y o f s c i e n c e .
TJi s s tu d y o f t h e o b j e c t i v e method^ and of t h e
c r i t e r i a of v e r i f i c a t i o n 5 had be e n p e r f u n c t o r y .
These d e f e c t s were
more n o t i c e a b l e as s c i e n c e expanded and i t s c o m p l e x i t y i n c r e a s e d .
Tor a l l t h o s e r e a s o n s ,
t h e men who had been taught by Comte t o
reg ar d s c i e n c e as t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f a l l p h i l o s o p h y f e l t bound t o c o r ­
r e c t and complement h i s c r i t i q u e o f s c i e n c e f o r the sake o f sa v in g
h i s most important b e l i e f .
P in e e th e y were ben t upon s a v in g h i s s p i r i t
more than h i s d o c t r i n e , Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e was with them o f a d i f f u s e
o r d e r , as i t had been with t h e s c i e n t i s t s .
P o s i t i v e p h il os oph y was
a l s o a s t i m u l u s f o r t h o s e who were net C c m t i s t s in any s e n s e o f the
word, such as i d e a l i s t s and t h e o l o g i s t s .
Dc s i t i v e p h il o s o p h y o b v i o u s l y
was a dangerous enemy, a g a i n s t whom p r e p a r e d n e s s was i n d i c a t e d .
They
had t o r e f u r b i s h t h e i r arg um ent s, under t h e new l i g h t thrown upon them
by Comtism.
Thus the c r e a t o r o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y was a s t i m u l a t o r
f o r a l l p h i l o s o p h e r s , r e g a r d l e s s of th e c o l o r o f t h e i r c re e d.
Tt i s net c la im e d h e r e t h a t Comte was t h e o n ly th i n k e r who moulded
t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l t h o u g h t o f t h e second h a l f o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y .
There i s no attem pt t o m in im iz e t h e p a r t pl a y e d by f e r b e r t Ppencer and
1.
p.
p .
O f . - p . me, a o t e 5; p . 7 P ,
O f. p p . P P P -P P 7 a b o v e .
O f . p . PP7 a b o v e .
ani
p.
157
above,
-?04_
th e members o f h i s s c h o o l .
However, i t must be remembered t h a t Comte
preceded Hpenoer by f o r t y y e a r s a t l e a s t ,
Fpencer h i m s e l f f e l t t h e
i n f l u e n c e o f Comte: b u t , by h i s own a d m i s s i o n , h i s a c q u a in ta n c e with
p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y was s u p e r f i c i a l .
He had made no s y s t e m a t i c study
o f t h e f o u r s ; but he l i v e d in i n t e l l e c t u a l
in ti m ac y with t e w e s , who was
th e author o f a p o c k e t e d i t i o n o f t h a t work.
I t i s not t o o bold t o
surmise t h a t he owed Comte even a g r e a t d e al more than he thought he
di d , and t h a t i f he h e l p e d t o tu rn out a new breed o f s c i e n t i f i c a l l y minded p h i l o s o p h e r s , he did i t
Comte’ s t h e o r i e s upon him.
in a measure be c a u s e of the e f f e c t of
A time e le m en t e n t e r s i n t o t h e ma tter of Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e on s c i ­
e n t i s t s and p h i l o s o p h e r s .
The e f f e c t s o f p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y were net
f e l t i m m e d ia t e ly .
They became m a n i f e s t on ly a f t e r Comte’ s work had been
t h e c au s e o f e d u c a t i o n a l c h a n g e s .
The f o u r s was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r a r e ­
modeling o f s c h o o l c u r r i c u l a , and a new g e n e r a t i o n of s c h o l a r s had t c
reach m a t u r it y b e f o r e p h i l o s o p h y and s c i e n c e showed t h e i r new c h a r a c t e r s .
The i n f l u e n c e o f Comtism in e d u c a t i o n came d i r e c t l y from i t s a u t h o r ­
i t y among l a y t h i n k e r s and t h o s e who s u p e r v i s e d e d u c a t i o n a l p o l i c i e s .
Up t o t h e t im e o f Comte, mathematics had been the only study which had
a f i x e d and r e c o g n i z e d p l a c e in t e a c h i n g .
t h a t s c i e n c e was th e s t a f f o f p r o g r e s s .
He co nv in c e d h i s r e a d e r s
Ty th e same means, he showed
th e n e c e s s i t y o f making t h e p h y s i c a l and na t u r a l s c i e n c e s an i n t e g r a l
part of t h e s c h o o l c u r r i c u l u m .
This i s not meant t o imply t h a t the s c h o o l s did not o f f e r s c i e n ­
t i f i c c o u r s e s b e f o r e t h e d i f f u s i o n o f Comtism.
That would be an un­
warranted s t a t e m e n t .
What i s meant t c be claimed i s t h a t the s c i e n c e
c o u r s e s did not have t h e s t a t u s , academic and s o c i a l , t h a t th e y have
now. They were r a t h e r e l e c t i v e s , r e s e r v e d fo r t h e s e who had a d r i v i n g
urge fo r s c i e n t i f i c s t u d i e s .
S'ven s c , p h y s i c s and c h e m is tr y a l o n e were
o f f e r e d in c e r t a i n s c h o o l s .
Comte’ s l v o g e in V o n t p e l l i e r , f o r i n s t a n c e ,
made no p r o v i s i o n fo r t h e t e a c h i n g o f p h y s i o l o g y and b i o l o g y .
An e d u c a te d man was one f a m i l i a r with L a ti n and Creek a u t h o r s ,
and not one v e r s e d i n t h e s c i e n c e s .
were t h o s e endowed wi th p r e s t i g e .
As a r e s u l t ,
litera ry subjects
4 g e n t l e m a n ’ s son who in te n de d to
d e v o te h i s l i f e t o s c i e n t i f i c p u r s u i t s had t o spend th e b e s t pa r t of
h i s adolescence stud ying the c l a s s i c s .
When h i s l i t e r a r y t r a i n i n g
was o v e r , and not b e f o r e , he s t a r t e d h i s r e a l i n i t i a t i o n i n t o s c i e n c e .
Fd ucati on i s alw a y s c o n d i t i o n e d t o a g r e a t deg ree by s o c i a l co n­
ventions.
Comte made an i n v a l u a b l e c o n t r i b u t i o n t o th e f u t u r e of
-?PF_
s c i e n c e when he de m o n st r a te d t h e v a l u e o f a s c i e n t i f i c e d u c a t i o n .
His
em o ti o n a l d i s s e r t a t i o n s on t h e be aut y o f the p o s i t i v e s p i r i t gave s c i ­
ence th e s o c i a l p r e s t i g e which h e r e t o f o r e had been p o s s e s s e d by l i t e r ­
ary t r a i n i n g a l o n e .
He was ne t o n ly r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the advent o f t h e
s o - c a l l e d Hew H u m a n it i e s , but was a l s o r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i r s o c i a l
recognition,
and f u r t h e r ,
f o r th e e v e n t u a l r i g h t granted every s t u d e n t
t o l i m i t h i s la n gu age s t u d i e s t o a minimum and t o s p e c i a l i z e in s c i e n c e
from th e s t a r t .
Huqtt then on, th e o l d Humanities became s p e c i a l i z e d
knowledge r a t h e r than fundamental knowledge.
The e d u c a t i o n a l change was, o f c o u r s e , g r a d u a l.
A f u l l generation
o f s c h o l a r s brought up in Comtean p r i n c i p l e s was r e q u ir e d in order t o
make i t a r e a l i t y .
In HrancS} UD t o about 1P00, p a r e n t s were s t i l l
s i s t i n g that t h e ir
in­
so ns r e c e i v e a thorough grounding in L a ti n and " r ee k ,
b e f o r e a l l o w i n g them t o d e v o t e t h e m s e l v e s t c i n t e n s i v e s c i e n t i f i c s t u d i e s .
The s t a t e o f mind o f e d u c a t o r s was somewhat t h e same in t h i s c o u n t r y ,
ju d g in g by t h e r e l u c t a n c e o f seme c o l l e g e s t o grant the d e g r ee of
pachelor of S cience.
To be e n t i r e l y t r u t h f u l ,
i t must be s a i d t h a t Comte h i m s e l f was not
in fa v o r o f such a d r a s t i c change.
He had nc n o t i o n o f s u b s t i t u t i n g th e
Hew Hum anities f o r t h e c l a s s i c s 1 ; he wanted t o add them t c t h e l a t t e r .
Owing t o a temporary d e c r e e o f Napoleon, Creek was n e t a p a r t o f t h e
lyCde cu r ri c u l u m when Comte was a s t u d e n t , ? and he always mourned h i s
i n a b i l i t y t o read t h e Creek a u t h o r s in t h e o r i g i n a l .
Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e on puench e d u c a t i o n may be f u r t h e r c h a r a c t e r i z e d .
I t must be a dm itt e d t h a t , o u t s i d e o f h i s c r e a t i o n o f t h e He w Hum anities
and h i s s u c c e s s f u l
" s a le " o f them to th e p u b l i c , he did very l i t t l e ;
far l e s s ,
than c o u l d have been e x p e ct ed from a man who was
in f a c t ,
known f o r h i s f o r c e f u l t e a c h i n g .
The c r e a t o r o f p o s i t i v e p h i l c s c c h y was not an e d u c a t i o n a l r e f o r m e r .
He had t h r i v e d on t h e pr enoh s yst e m , and he contemp lated nc change.
meant t o have t h e s c i e n t i f i c c o u r s e s added to the ar t cu r ri c u l u m ,
Pe
as
s t a t e d above, and he did not s to p t c c o n s i d e r t h a t the lo ad would be
t o o heavy f o r t h e s t u d e n t o f av e rag e a b i l i t y .
He was s a t i s f i e d with
the e x i s t i n g methods o f t e a c h i n g , marking and t e s t i n g .
I t i s t r u e t h a t he sook e o f the b l e s s i n g s o f manual and v o c a t i o n a l
tra in in g ."
1.
O f.
Pe a l s o s t a t e d t h a t e d u c a t i o n 4 meant th e development and
pt>.
above.
-
p. F. Oouhier, l a j e u n e s s e 1 ' / u e u s t e Coo.te, Vol. T, o.
P.
O f. p p .
i.FF-1'F* a b o v e .
a.
Of .
iFF-im a
pp.
above.
_pO<3_
growth c f t h e whole i n d i v i d u a l .
pu t ,
for e x tr a -cu rr ic u la r a c t i v i t i e s ,
and he meant t o r e t a i n t h e o v e r - i n t e l ­
lectual
system c f t h e Trench s c h o o l s .
in p r a c t i c e ,
he o f f e r e d nc pla n
In s h o r t , Comte's p r a c t i c a l c on­
t r i b u t i o n t o e d u c a t i o n c o n s i s t e d e x c l u s i v e l y in showing t h e n e c e s s i t y
o f t e a c h i n g t h e s c i e n c e s in th e sec ond ary s c h o o l s .
T h e r e f o r e , we are
e n t i t l e d t o say t h a t Comte's i n f l u e n c e cn e d u c a t i o n was c f t h e d i f f u s e
t y p e , l i k e h i s i n f l u e n c e on s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o r h y .
The a u t h o r i t y o f Corrte in th e s o c i o l o g i c a l f i e l d w i l l n e t be d i s ­
c u s s e d h e r e , as th e s u b j e c t has been e x h a u s t i v e l y t r e a t e d bv rrcdern
s o c ia l philosophers.
i t s ho ul d be p o i n t e d cut t h a t h i s i n f l u e n c e among p s y ­
ver cont ra,
c h o l o g i s t s has not been g iv e n i t s due.
The importance c f p s y c h o lo g y in
h i s p la n c f u n i v e r s a l reform. has a l r e a d y been emph asiz ed.
It i s i l l o g ­
i c a l t c b e l i e v e t h a t a t h e o r y of human n a t u r e, as c om p le te as h i s , would
have no e f f e c t on t h e minds o f h i s s t u d e n t s .
I t i s o b v i o u s t c us t h a t
h i s p s y c h o l o g y c o n t a i n s the s e e d s o f t h r e e jr.a.ior p s y c h o l o g i c a l s c h o o l s
of today.
Vv h i s emphasis on th e s o c i a l c h a r a c t e r o f man,1 he s u g g e s t e d
the n e c e s s it y of c r e a tin g a scie n c e of so c ia l psychology.
Pe prepared
t h e way f o r e x p e r i m e n t a l p s y c h o lo g y by s t a t i n g 5 t h a t mental phenomena
sh o u ld be s t u d i e d l i k e any o t h e r ty p e c f na t u r a l phenomenon, and t h a t
t h e y s ho ul d be approached by means o f th e o b j e c t i v e method.
Tven though
he did not f o l l o w h i s own e x c e l l e n t c o u n s e l , he a c t u a l l y gave out some
p r i n c i p l e s which were t o d i r e c t t h e p s y c h o l o g i s t s .
come p o s i t i v e s c i e n t i s t s ,
The l a t t e r ,
o n l y had t o do as Comte s a i d ,
to be­
and not as
he did.
Comte was a f o r e r u n n e r o f t h e b e h a v i o r i s t i c s c h o o l when he advanced
t h e t h e o r y t h a t i n t r o s p e c t i o n 5 was w o r t h l e s s as a t o o l o f r e s e a r c h , and
t h a t e g c - c c n s c i c u s n e s s 4 was a m e t a p h y s i c a l n o t i o n .
4n o b j e c t i v e i n t e r e s t
in r e l i g i o u s m a n i f e s t a t i o n s i s t y p i c a l c f our e r a .
Comte's law o f i n ­
t e l l e c t u a l e v o l u t i o n and h i s c r e a t i o n of th e P e l i g i c n o f Humanity no
doubt he lp e d t o tu rn a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s and p s y c h o l o g i s t s toward t h e stud y
o f t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g and r e l i g i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n s .
I t may be s a i d , t c c , t h a t h i s n o t i o n o f t h e supremacy o f t h e h e a r t , "
and h i s b e l i e f in t h e e x i s t e n c e o f i n t u i t i o n , were i d e a s which f e l l on
p r o p i t i o u s s o i l when t h e y were examined by F e r g so n ,
c o n s c ie n t io u s student of P o sitiv ism .
t. Cf. p. PC above.
p. Cf. p . . P° above.
S. Loc. c i t .
4 . Loc.
cit.
Cf. pp.
above.
a self-acknowledged
Again,
i t rr.av be seen t h a t Comte's i n f l u e n c e i n t h e domain c f
p s y c h o l o g y can be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as o f a d i f f u s e and s t i m u l a t i n g n a t u r e .
I t f o l l o w s , th en , t h a t Comte's i n f l u e n c e , nc matter what f i e l d i s
examined, has always been o f t h e S3me t y p e ,
s t i m u l a t i n g kind.
that i s ,
o f a d i f f u s e and
The p r e s e n t c h a p t e r mav be summed up as f e l l o w s .
Comte's i n f l u ­
ence on s c i e n t i f i c thou ght c o n s i s t e d in g i v i n g cut sound p r e c e p t s t c
t h e r e s e a r c h worker, a r o u s in g a f r u i t f u l an ta gon is m,
p u b l i c c o n s c i o u s c f th e worth o f s c i e n c e .
and making t h e
ue i n f l u e n c e d th e p h i l o s o p h ­
i c a l t h o ug ht o f s c i e n t i s t s ky i n t e r e s t i n g them in t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l
problems which spri ng up around th e b o r d e r s o f s c i e n c e .
edge
o f r e a l i t y should be based on s c i e n t i f i c n o t i o n s ,
them
t o improve h i s c r i ' t i c u e c f s c i e n c e .
and in promptin
Dc-th s c i e n c e and p h i l o s o p h y
e x p e r i e n c e d t h e e f f e c t s c f Comtism a f t e r e d u c a t i o n had been i n f l u e n c e d
by p o s i t i v e p h i l o s o p h y .
Comte co m pe lle d t h e s c h o o l s t c p r o v i d e a com­
p le te s c i e n t i f i c training,
and he made them s e t th e few h u m a n i t i e s on
a par with th e c l a s s i c s .
Comte l e d p s y c h o l o g i s t s t c found s c h o o l s c f s o c i a l ,
e x p e r im e n ta l
and b e h a v i o r i s t i c p s y c h o l o g i e s , and t c st ud y t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g and
religiou s in stitu tion s.
° i s th eo r y o f th e supremacy o f th e h e a r t was
a s t e p toward the a n t i - i n t e l l e c t u a l ism o f F e r gso n .
The n a t u r e o f Comte’ s i n f l u e n c e has been a u a l i f i e d by s a y i n g t h a t
it
was everywhere c f a d i f f u s e and s t i m u l a t i n g t y p e .
I t i s tim e new t o turn toward Comte’ s r e l i g i o u s t h o u g h t .
■)X\
Comte's i n f l u e n c e on p h i l o s o p h e r s c o n s i s t e d i n shewing t h a t knowl­
°00f<
I I I
^ E L I 3 I ON
I NT R O D U C T I O N
Corrte's
as
it
religious
were
with
their
afraid
m aster's
Oooonents
soecific
did
im rediate
that
natriotisT
to
love
were
repeat
theories
bound
their
the
bean
studied
at
it
wetaphysical
that
a
be
to
the
brought
as
ot-iectively
critically, because
s p i r i t , an d , iirbued
"deTcnstrated"
faith
that
which
or
"picked"
animated
the
Ccrrte’s c o n te ir p c r a r ie s
and t h e i r
with
philcscrbical
aspect
of
the
and t c
the
the
cf
absolute,
was T o r e p r o g r e s s i v e
for
they
the
love
point
that
loftier
dcTestic
of PuTanity.
ccrrTent
and
Tt
on t h e i r .
than
love
is
and
net
They a r e
neces­
sound
and
fields.
scientific
claiT
albeit
a
oriented
and
along a d if f e r e n t
availing
anthropologists
have
theirselves
built
"irade-tc-crdsr, " synthetic
Their
cf
is
viewpoint
and
that
still-born.
predecessors,
sense
spirit
ignorance
out
sociologists
they
the
the
rrodern c c m e n t a t o r s
the
which
data,
tc
varied.
arguTents
of
in
weighing
Puwanitv
respective
Adopting
collected
is
look
thought
of
nc o r e p a r a t i c n
their
in t h e i r
channel,
cf
They a l s o
The a t t e n t i o n
the
net
were p re o c c u p ie d
They o b j e c t e d
of ^od.
final
not
d o l r uch b e t t e r ,
interest
successors
contention
sary
to
they
instead
Their
system.
love
not
points,
undertaking.
the
ideas,
did
has
n c ccTTent.
needed
on
Its a d h e r e n t s
cf s u c c u w b i n g
deserves.
they
elaboration
reasons
a different
are
as
sound
as
cf
on n e w l y
religion
those
cf
order.
whether they b e l o n g t c t h i s century o r t c the p re ce ding, a l l f e e s
have the tendencv t c l o c k down on Dc s i t i v i s i r a n d t c Take f u n c f i t .
lie b e l i e v e t h at the R e l i g i o n o f P u i r a n i t y i s worthy o f a b e t t e r treatment.
There
wa s
a religion.
of
tc
"ranting
success,
possessing
scrap
nothing
still
one
its
it
type
old
ludicrously
that
wTa s
beliefs
huTanity
an a r t i c l e
the
illusion
that
not
illogical.
the
wa s
neither
of r e lig io n
for
cverestiffated
it
his
for
or
insane
wa s
his
in
in
C c T t e Ts f o u n d i n g
undertaken
ncr
another,
new o n e s .
which
cf
a venture
an
cwn p r o d u c t
worth
oresurptucus
constant
was b e t t e r
a ridiculous
Tankind
CcTte
with
wa s
does
only
deirand,
than
elab o ratio n ,'b u t
the
his
cf
little
chance
idea.
Always
not h e s i t a t e
trying
to
provide
and h e h a r b o r e d
old
desire
one.
per
Pe
se
was
_ poo,
f u r t h e r m o r e , Do s i t i v i s m must not be ,iudGed by contemporary c r i ­
teria.
The foundin g c f a r e l i g i o n f o r Comte's Generation was a u i t e a
d i f f e r e n t a f f a i r frcrr what i t would be t o d a y ,
"o uh ie r brinGs f o r t h a
r e l e v a n t p o i n t in h i s f i n s book on th e o r i G i n s c f Dc s i t i v i s m .
the h is t o r ia n ,
Vicfcelet,
w r o t e 1: "The French ^ e v o l u t i o n adopted no Church.
P e c a u s e i t was a Church i n i t s e l f . ”
Why?
Couhier a c c e n t s t h i s i d e a , and
Goes on t o say t h a t t h e r e v o l u t i o n a r y c o n c e p t i o n of the ^ t a t e ^ in th e
e i g h t e e n t h c en tu r y was not s t r i c t l y l a i c ,
had a s p i r i t u a l
and c u l t u a l a s p e c t .
and t h a t th e f i r s t P e c u b l i c
ue b e l i e v e s t h a t Do s it iv is .m was
t h e answer to th e problem bequeathed by the ^ e v o l u t i o n ;
i t was a r e l i G i o u s answer t c a r e l i G i o u s q u e s t i o n .
f a i l e d t c note t h i s a n i l e in Cc s i t i v i s m .
in s h o r t , t h a t
Comte's c r i t i c s
? e t i t i s an important one,
s i n c e i t r e h a b i l i t a t e s r e l i G i c u s ^cmtism bv c le a n si n G i t o f r i d i c u ­
lousness.
The f o l l o w i n g t h r e e c h a p t e r s w i l l be devoted t c ar. i n t e r p r e t a t i o n
c f ’-’o s i t i v i s m .
The f i r s t w i l l p r e s e n t t h e w r i t e r ' s c r i t i c i s m s ;
the
e t h e r s w i l l e x p l a i n why t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r i s Genuinely a t t r a c t e d by t h e
^ e l i s i o n of Pumanitv,
in s p i t e o f i t s drawbacks,
feme of t h e p o i n t s
which w i l l be anal yz ed may not be s t r i c t l y r e l i g i o u s in th e usual
a c c e p t a t i o n o f the term; but inasmuch as Comte c l a s s i f i e d them as
suc h, we s h a l l do so t o o .
1.
r.
O u q t e l bT n . l o u h i e r ,
Thiel. , Vol . I , p. 10.
La i e u n p s s e i ' / l u p u s + p
Vol.
T, p.
m.
CHAPTHD I
D estructive
C riticism
Adverse c r i t i c s o f P o s i t i v i s m have been r i g h t in t h e main, s i n c e
t h i s sy ste ir has f a i l e d t o become a r e a l i t y .
Furthermore, s u p p o r t e r s
o f Comte’ s d o c t r i n e ca nn ot c l a i m t h a t i t s f a i l u r e was due t o p u b l i c
ig no r anc e of i t s e x i s t e n c e .
given i t s chance.
P o s i t i v i s i r was w i d e l y " a d v e r t is e d " and
Yet i n s t e a d o f b e in g t h e u n i v e r s a l r e l i g i o n t o d a y ,
as f o r e s e e n by Conte, i t has been r e l e g a t e d t o a s h e l f along with t h e
U to p i a s of o t h e r s o c i a l r e f o r m e r s .
Common s e n s e t e l l s
us t h a t such a f a t e must have been ca us ed by
fundamental f l a w s in t h e d o c t r i n e i t s e l f .
However, the i n v e s t i g a t o r
does not e n t i r e l y a g r e e with t h e c r i t i c s on t h i s p o i n t .
Y h i l e the
f a i l u r e i s a d m i t t e d , i t i s not t c be a s c r i b e d s o l e l y t o t h e d e f e c t s
which t h e y have p o i n t e d o u t .
The r e a s o n s advanced by o p c c n e n ts iray
be sound and un an sw era bl e i n d i v i d u a l l y ;
are not c o n c l u s i v e .
For one t h i n g ,
n e v e r t h e l e s s , as a body, t h e y
scrre modern r e l i g i o u s c r e e d s shew the same la c u n a e
which are t o be found i n P o s i t i v i s m .
C h r i s t i a n i t y may be tak en as an
example.
Although d i v i n e s d e p l o r e the d e c l i n e in Church a t t e n d a n c e ,
i t cannot v e t be s a i d t h a t C h r i s t i a n i t y i s near death, and f o r the
p r e s e n t i t must be r a t e d as a s t i l l
C hristianity,
vigorous r e l i g i o n .
Yet e n l i g h t e n e d
e s p e c i a l l y Dr o t e s t a n t C h r i s t i a n i t y , te nd s more and more
toward an e l i m i n a t i o n o f m e t a p h y s i c a l problems, and i t s u p p l i e s no
cosmogony t o t h o s e who r e j e c t fu nd am en ta lis m.
In s h o r t ,
i t reveals
th e same d e f e c t s i n t h i s r e s p e c t which have been charged a g a i n s t
Positivism .
S e c o n d ly , i t c an no t be s a i d t h a t l o v e o f Cod i s the f e e l i n g which
gives l o f t y id e a ls to a r e li g i o n ,
s i n c e Duddhism, which i s one o f t h e
most i d e a l i s t i c r e l i g i o n s e x i s t i n g to d a y , does not p r e d i c a t e Cod.
la stly ,
Comte’ s c r i t i c s have d i s r e g a r d e d t h e f a c t t h a t a l l r e l i g ­
i o n s are s y n t h e t i c at t h e s t a r t .
They borrow dogmas, sa craments and
i n s t i t u t i o n s from t h e i r p r e d e c e s s o r s ,
’'’or i n s t a n c e , C h r i s t i a n i t y began
as a mixture o f uebrew V e s s i a n i s i r and V i t h r a i s m .
by Comte, was t h e c o n t i n u a t i o n o f C a t h o l i c i s m ,
Positivism ,
as se e n
and began where the
l a t t e r ended.
The i d e a was not i r r a t i o n a l .
The i n v e s t i g a t o r i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t th e c u l t s and sacraments which
he d e v i s e d were t e n t a t i v e .
They never r e c e i v e d the t e s t c f p r o lo n g e d
experience.
The w r i t e r b e l i e v e s t h a t Comte would have a l t e r e d them,
-300-
-? 0 1 or a l l o w e d u s e t o a l t e r their, i f he had found out t h a t t h e y were d e f e c ­
t i v e i n t h e i r o r i g i n a l form.
Coirte was an i n d e f a t i g a b l e man.
not l e a v e undone t h i n g s t h a t were o b v i o u s l y u n f i n i s h e d .
his r elig io n
i n minute d e t a i l s ;
He c o u ld
He e l a b o r a t e d
but t h i s doe s not mean t h a t he would
have p e r s e v e r e d in t h i s mood, had i t been brought home t o him t h a t . t h e
r e l i g i o n was g e t t i n g on w i t h o u t him.
Ve c o n c l u d e t h a t a l l t h e arguments v o i c e d by t h e opponents o f P o s i ­
t i v i s m , a l t h o u g h sound i n p r i n c i p l e , are net s u f f i c i e n t t o e x p l a i n t h e
c om p le te f a i l u r e o f t h e R e l i g i o n o f Humanity,
nn l o o k i n g once more a t t h o s e adve rse arguments,
t h a t t h e y have one t r a i t
Positivism ,
in common.
i t i s t o be remarked
They c r i t i c i z e o b j e c t i v e a s p e c t s o f
^ow a r e l i g i o n i s s u b j e c t i v e as w e l l as o b j e c t i v e .
It is
a s u b j e c t i v e a c t i v i t y which e x t e r i o r i z e s i t s e l f i n o b j e c t i v e m a n i f e s t a ­
t i o n s , t h o s e b e i n g dogmas, c u l t s and i n s t i t u t i o n s .
We b e l i e v e t h a t t h e c au s e o f t h e f a i l u r e o f r e l i g i o u s Comtism i s t o
be fou nd, not in t h e d e f e c t i v e n e s s o f i t s o b j e c t i v e m a n i f e s t a t i o n s — t h o s e
b e in g a l t e r a b l e — but r a t h e r in t h e l a c k o f soundness o f i t s s u b j e c t i v e
foundation, th a t i s ,
in an e rr o n e ou s c o n c e p t i o n o f s u b j e c t i v e r e l i g i o n .
In or der t o b r i n g ou t t h i s p o i n t ,
i t must f i r s t be e x p l a i n e d what we
mean by s u b j e c t i v e r e l i g i o n .
The s u b j e c t i v e s p i r i t u a l a c t i v i t y which g i v e s b i r t h t o o b j e c t i v e
r e li g i o u s m a n ife sta tio n s i s usually c a lle d the r e li g io u s f e e l i n g .
Tt
i s not p u r e l y a f f e c t i v e , as i t s e rro ne ou s a p p e l l a t i o n might l e a d one t o
b elieve.
I t i s i n t e l l e c t u a l as w e l l .
Poth e l e m e n t s , th e e m o t i o n a l and
t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l , ar e i n d i s s o l u b l y b l e n d e d , and i t i s t h i s i n t i m a t e com­
b i n a t i o n o f t h o u g h t and emotion which c r e a t e s t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g . 1
The c o n s t i t u e n t s o f t h e r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g are not s p e c i f i c .
Phi­
l o s o p h y and r e l i g i o n d e a l wit h t h e same problems.
Fmotions are found
outside of r e l i g i o n .
A p h i l o s o p h i c a l thought assumes a r e l i g i o u s c h a r ­
a c t e r when i t
i s c o l o r e d by a s t r o n g f e e l i n g o f f e a r or o f l o v e ,
and a
f e e l i n g becomes r e l i g i o u s when i t i s a l l i e d with a p h i l o s o p h i c a l n o t i o n .
For i n s t a n c e ,
f e a r o f thunder i s net r e l i g i o u s u n l e s s i t be accompanied
w it h t h e n o t i o n o f a power at work behind i t .
Love o f humanity i s
always a r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g , be c aus e i t i s not mere s e n t i m e n t f o r g i v e n
individuals.
I t i s fou nded on t h e n o t i o n o f t h e brother hoo d o f a l l
men, and t h i s i d e a i s a l s o e s s e n t i a l l y of p h i l o s o p h i c a l o r i g i n .
1. The e t h i c a l a sp ect o f r e l i s i o n w i l l he o o n s i i e r e i l a t e r , in the th ir d chanter of
t h i s s e c t i o n ( p p s 819-326 below ).
-80P Hecause r e l i g i o n i s not p l a i n p h i l o s o p h y , i t m o d if ie s t h e p h i l o ­
s o p h i c a l method.
The r e l i g i o u s mind ha s t h e te n d e n c y t o be s a t i s f i e d
w it h an i n t u i t i v e c o n v i c t i o n and an a c t o f f a i t h .
I t does not loo k
f o r l o g i c a l p r o o f s and f a c t s .
I t i s no t c r i t i c a l .
I t even g o e s f u r t h e r
and r e v o l t s a g a i n s t t h e yoke o f r e a s o n .
Comte1 spoke o f t h e i n s u r r e c ­
t io n of reason against the heart.
I t would have been c l o s e r t o f a c t i f
he had mentioned t h e i n s u r r e c t i o n o f t h e h e a r t a g a i n s t r e a s o n .
The "I
deduce" c f p h i l o s o p h y i s r e p l a c e d by "I b e l i e v e " in r e l i g i o n , and i t
i s a c a s e o f two d i f f e r e n t approaches and two d i f f e r e n t methods, i n t u i ­
tio n versus lo g ic .
To sum up, s u b j e c t i v e r e l i g i o n i s a p h i l o s o p h y
impre gna te d by an e m otio n , and a method.
There i s anot her p o i n t which must be brought o u t .
o f r e l i g i o n s ar e p r o s e l y t i s t s ,
p e r i e n c e t h e i r own f e e l i n g ;
that i s ,
i l l fo u nd e r s
t h e y wish t o make o t h e r s e x ­
and t h e y have a chance o f s u c c e s s o n l y i f
t h e i r s u b j e c t i v e s t a t e conforms t o t h e u s u a l p a t t e r n o f r e l i g i o u s
feelin g,
f e e l i n g s are born by c o n t a g i o n .
One cannot ar ou se a du r a b le
emotion in o t h e r s u n l e s s one i s promoted by t h e em o ti o n a l e x p e r i e n c e
which one wants t o f o s t e r in o t h e r s .
That i s not a l l .
De c o u r s e may be had t o a s i m i l e ta k e n from b i ­
ology.
A bs or p tio n and a s s i m i l a t i o n are two s e p a r a t e p r o c e s s e s .
The
i n d i v i d u a l m3v i n g e s t n c n - a s s i m i l a b l e s u b s t a n c e s i f he c h o o s e s ; but
h i s body w i l l r e f u s e t c r e t a i n them.
mind i n c o n n e c t i o n with r e l i g i o u s
The same p r o c e s s o c c u r s with
c r e e d s . One can f e e d
the
t h e mind with
any c r e e d one wants: o n l y t h o s e t h a t are a s s i m i l a b l e t o t h e r e l i g i o u s
mind have a chance of b e in g r e t a i n e d .
The f i r s t c a u s e c f th e f a i l u r e of P o s i t i v i s m i s t o be found in
Comte’ s p s y c h o l o g i c a l makeup.
man i n av e ry r e s p e c t .
Pe r a t e d h i m s e l f an e s s e n t i a l l y normal
Pe admitted b e i n g endowed w it h an e x c e p t i o n a l
s h a r e o f acumen, f e e l i n g s and c h a r a c t e r ;
in s h o r t , he h e l d t h e c o n ­
v i c t i o n t h a t he was an u n u s u a l l y f i n e man.
Notwithstanding t h i s
r e a s o n a b l e b e l i e f , he never e n v i s a g e d t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f b e i n g d i f ­
f e r e n t i n a s p i r a t i o n s from p l a i n John Doe.
men by h i m s e l f ,
and a l l r e l i g i o u s
T h e r e f o r e , he judged a l l
f e e l i n g s by h i s own. He tho ugh t
t h a t what s a t i s f i e d him would, o f c o u r s e , s a t i s f y e v e r y one e l s e .
T hi s i s e x a c t l y where he made h i s m i s t a k e .
He was not conforming
t o t h e u s u a l t y p e , and he was not aware o f h i s h e t e r o d o x y ,
further­
more, he di d no t alw ays a n a l y z e t h e n a t u r e o f h i s emotion c o r r e c t l y .
1 . Of. pp.
151-tSP above.
f o r i n s t a n c e , he did not sus pec t t h a t h i s r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g was mystic.
As a consecuence, i n t r o s p e c t i o n l e d him t o erroneous c o n c l u s i o n s , and
by e l a b o r a t in g a r e l i g i o n which s a t i s f i e d him he was bound t o f a i l in
h i s e f f o r t t o provide g e n e r a l l y f o r o t h e r s .
Let us a s s e s s now Comte’ s th eory o f s u b j e c t i v e r e l i g i o n .
We s h a l l
c o n s id e r the P o s i t i v i s t i c method1 f i r s t .
Comte was keen ly c o n s c io u s t h a t t h e method of r e l i g i o n was not that
of p h ilo so p h y . This i s proved by the f a c t t h a t he o f t e n repeated that
F c h o l a s t i c i s m 5 had k i l l e d r e l i g i o n with i t s attempt t o g iv e i t a r a t i o n a l
f o u nd a t io n , and a l s o by h is oft- m e n t io n e d d e s i r e 51 t o put an end t o the
i n s u r r e c t i o n of reason a g a i n s t th e
h e a r t . We a l s o know t h at he found the
I m i t a t i o n A meat f o r h i s r e l i g i o u s thought.
This work appeals p rim ar ily
to the heart.
However, he could not put h i s theo ry i n t o p r a c t i c e , because of the
very nature o f h i s cr ee d. He made two moves, f i r s t , he did away with
th e emphasis which he had p r e v i o u s l y placed on demonstration. He
ach iev ed t h i s end by d i s t i n g u i s h i n g 5 between demonstration and dem.cns t r a b l e n e s s , and s t a t i n g th a t demonstrableness was s u f f i c i e n t .
Pecond,
he s t r o v e t o supply Do s i t i v i s m with a new method, a s p e c i f i c a l l y r e l i g ­
i o u s method, which he c a l l e d the s u b j e c t i v e method or method o f the
h e a r t , and which was supposed t o complement or supersede th e o b j e c t i v e .
Tn s h o r t , he was r e l e g a t i n g reason
t c t h e background, hoping to g iv e
more room t o the h eart.
I t should be pointed out th a t he went as f a r as he could toward
e l i m i n a t i n g demonstration.
Tf he had gone any f u r t h e r , he would simply
have k i l l e d s c i e n c e .
As i t was, he endangered the very l i f e o f p o s i t i v e
p h ilo so p h y , s i n c e the strength of the l a t t e r r e s t e d on th e emphasis l a i d
on demonstration,.
U n f o rtu n a t ely , i t was an unnecessary s a c r i f i c e .
Arguments of an
a f f e c t i v e nature could not take t h e p l a c e o f rea son . The philosophy
o f the s c i e n c e s had no appeal whatsoever f o r emotions, and could not
be made t c have any.
is a r e s u l t , p o s i t i v e ph il oso p hy l o s t i t s old
gu id ing s p i r i t and did not acquire a new one.
I t became a ship with
a damaged rudder.
I t i s t o be concluded t h a t Comte understood t h a t r e l i g i o n had a
method of i t s own, but that the very nature o f h i s philosophy prevented
1.
C f.
pp. '1 8 0-1 3? a b o v e .
? . C f. P. i f ? a b o v e.
3. Cf. pp. fS i-iS ? above.
A. Cf , p. PIS above.
, Pol., t v , p . ? e v .
5
hire froir supplying i t e f f e c t i v e l y .
This s t a t e of t h in g s may net have
been th e fundamental cause of th e f a i l u r e o f P o s i t i v i s m , but i t was
nevertheless a contributing fa cto r.
Let us turn now toward the co nten t o f r e l i g i o n .
Comte r eco g n is ed
t h a t s u b j e c t i v e r e l i g i o n had a dual nature and th a t i t s two c o n s t i t u ­
e n t s i n t e r a c t e d . Pe attempted t o provide for both elements. The i n ­
t e l l e c t u a l content o f P o s i t i v i s m i s t h at o f Comtism.
As imagination
and emotion have f r e e r r e i n in r e l i g i o n than in philosophy, a l l th a t
has been s a id p r e v i o u s l y 1 a g a i n s t p o s i t i v e philosophy i s a f o r t i o r i
v a l i d for P o s i t i v i s m .
Comtism i s not a s a t i s f a c t o r y r e l i g i o u s p h i l o s ­
ophy. This shortcoming undoubtedly was a l s o a f a c t o r c o n t r i b u t i n g to
the' weakness o f P o s i t i v i s m .
Next t o be co n sid ere d i s the a n a l y s i s of the P o s i t i v i s t i c emotion.
While the f la w s which were d e t e c t e d in the method and the i n t e l l e c t u a l
aspe ct of Dositivism . were s e r i o u s but not insurmountable, s in c e other
r e l i g i o n s pres en ted them t o o , on reach in g the emotional content of
Do s i t i v i s m i t must be admitted t h a t the l a t t e r co n t a in s d e f e c t s s e r i o u s
enough t o account e n t i r e l y f o r t h e f a i l u r e of the P e l i g i o n of Pumanity.
Comte was r i g h t when he c a l l e d h i s own emotion love; but h i s e v a l ­
u at ion of i t was incomplete, s i n c e he did not sense t h a t i t was mystic
l o v e . Pe hated the word "mystic" almost as much as he loathed the term
" m e t a p h y sic s ," and gave i t a derogatory and unusual sense, j u s t as he
had done for metaphysics. N e v e r t h e l e s s , eve ry thin g purports t o show
t h a t he was a m yst ic .
Mysticism has been s t u d i e d o b j e c t i v e l y t h e s e l a s t f i f t y years by
t h i n k e r s who had no "axe t o g r i n d ," and i t s s p e c i f i c t r a i t s have been
d e f in e d . They need not be enumerated here.
I t i s s u f f i c i e n t t o say
t h a t Comte p o s s e s s e d them a l l .
Only one o b j e c t i o n can be advanced a g a i n s t the v e r d i c t o f m y s t i­
cism in r e l a t i o n t o Comte.
Tt. i s s t a t e d t h a t l o v e of Pumanity i s not
a primary r e l i g i o u s emotion, and t h a t i t succeeds lo v e of Cod or lo ve
of Nature. Because t h e i n d i v i d u a l l o v e s Cod or Nature, he l o v e s a l l
h i s for her) works, and man, b eing the most important work of a l l , i s
loved by him more than any oth er t h i n g .
In s h o r t , love of Pumanity
i s the u l t i m a t e s ta g e of r e l i g i o u s l o v e , and not i t s begin ning.
As lo v e of Humanity appears primary in Comte, i t might seem th a t
he f a i l e d t o d i s p l a y one of the important t r a i t s of mysticism. However,
on i n s p i r i n g i n t o the g e n e s i s o f h i s f e e l i n g , one d i s c o v e r s t h at i t was
t.
Cf. pp.
P41-P4P a b o v e .
not an emotion which came i ' e^nbUe.
I t succeeded h i s lo v e of C l o t i l d e .
He d e i f i e d her; t h e r e f o r e , h i s lo v e for her was the e q u iv a le n t o f lo ve
of Cod in mystic C a t h o lic is m , and was th e springboard o f h i s l o v e c f
Humanity.
P o s i t i v i s m could become a r e a l i t y only t o the e x t e n t t c which a l l
i n d i v i d u a l s experienced lo v e of Humanity, that i s , to th e e xten t t o which
a l l i n d i v i d u a l s were m y s t i c s , *ow, p s y c h o l o g i s t s agree that mysticism i s
a ra re s t a t e , and t h at i t cannot be anything e l s e .
Not only does i t c a l l
f o r an i n t e n s i t y of emotion and a power o f co n c e n t r a tio n which are l a c k ­
ing in the average i n d i v i d u a l ; but it, a l s o r e a u i r e s s p e c i f i c a p t it u d e s
and a strenuous t r a i n i n g .
It f o l l o w s t h a t t h e s e m y st ic a l p r e r e q u i s i t e s
put P o s i t i v i s m at once and for ever beyond the pale c f the common herd.
Do s i t i v i s m , in order t o succeed, needed t o have the f o l l o w i n g o f the
average man; but by i t s requirements o f mysticism, a l l chance o f i t s
u n i v e r s a l acceptance as r e l i g i o n was a u t o m a t i c a lly d es tro y ed .
It should be noted t h a t t h i s mistake o f ComteTs had i t s o r i g i n in
an i n c o r r e c t a n a l y s i s o f h i s own emotion and not in an i n c o r r e c t concep­
t i o n o f mysticism.
He knew mysticism wel l and knew of i t s r a r i t y . Had
he r e a l i z e d that he was a m ys tic, and t h a t P o s i t i v i s m req uired mysticism,
he undoubtedly would have presente d an a l t e r e d r e l i g i o n .
This misconception i s not Comte’ s only mistake. P i s second major
one was r e p res en ted by h i s s h o r t - s i g h t e d , incomplete and o v e r - o p t i m i s t i c
a n a l y s i s of r e l i g i o u s emotion. He es ti m ate d that r e l i g i o u s emotion was
love.
Pe was r i g h t in one sense: r e l i g i o u s emotion i s l o v e among en­
l i g h t e n e d p eo p le. put he was b li n d t o the f a c t t h a t i t was not lo ve
among t h e u n en lig h te n ed , and th a t the average man i s s t i l l u n e n l i g h t ­
ened.
Comte’s th eory o f f e t i c h i s m 1 makes an appeal t o th e im ag in atio n.
We enjoy p i c t u r i n g the savage as a l o v in g c r e a t u r e . However, i t must
be admitted t h at f a c t s do not bear out t h i s theory.
According t o t h e
a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s , t h e b a s i c r e l i g i o u s emotion*1 o f the p r i m i t i v e i s fe a r
f e a r o f th e f o r c e s of Nature, and o f the al ea which b e s e t s h i s l i f e .
He a p p r e c i a t e s N atu re's g i f t s at t h e i r f u l l v a l u e , but he c o n s id e r s
them, h i s due, j u s t as the c h i l d thin ks t h at h i s p a r e n t s ’ d evotio n t o
h i s w e l f a r e i s h i s due.
Tn consequence, th e p r i m i t i v e ’ s f e e l i n g toward
Nature assumes a s e l f i s h form. Tt i s f e a r of the l o s s o f her g i f t s ,
r a t h e r than g r a t e f u l n e s s for her bounty, which p r e v a i l s .
p’ F e a r Po f t h e d e a r i e ’ p u r p o s e l y n o t m e n t i o n s ! , b e c a u s e i t
is ir re lev a n t here.
-?0 « -
Fear and l o v e are mutually e x c l u s i v e , because f ea r breeds d i s l i k e
and even hatre d.
Tt f o l l o w s th a t t h e r e l i g i o n o f the p r i m i t i v e can hold
l i t t l e l o v e . Comte made the mistake of b e l i e v i n g t h a t i t was a l l lo v e .
Tt must be added that i t i s im p o s s ib le f o r the savage t c love Pumanity.
Pe does not s e e f u r t h e r than h i s small group, and lo v e of Pumanity by
d e f i n i t i o n r e a u i r e s a knowledge of more than t h e small group.
All th a t has been said concerning the p r i m i t i v e i s s t i l l t ru e for
t h e modern man, t o a l e s s e r degree in some r e s p e c t s and t c a gre ater one
in o t h e r s .
Twentieth-century men undoubtedly have fewer f e a r s than t h e ir
forebears.
Their knowledge of the laws o f nature enab les them t o d i s ­
c r i m i n a t e between dangerous and harmless f o r c e s , and t o p r o t e c t them­
s e l v e s a g a i n s t the dangerous ones and a g a i n s t al eoe.
powever, the f e e l i n g
c f antagonism f o r the out-grcup does not appear to have abated. On the
c o n t r a r y , i t i s on the i n c r e a s e , to ,iudge by p res en t- d a y e v e n t s .
Comte's misunderstanding of the b a r b a r i a n ' s mind arose from several
c a u s e s , ^or one t h in g , he used h i s f a v o r i t e approach, which was t h e o ­
r e t i c a l , when the em p irical approach would have been t h e only sound one.
He had c o n t r o l over the s e l e c t i o n of pc s i t i v i s m ' s b a s i c emotion, s in ce
he was t h e o r i g i n a t o r of th e H e l ig io n of Pumanity; but the s i t u a t i o n was
d i f f e r e n t with pe t i c h is m . Pe was d e a l i n g t h e r e with a r e a l i t y already
in e x i s t e n c e , th e nature of which was beyond h i s c o n t r o l .
Tf he had
r e s o r t e d t o o b s e r v a ti o n , he would have found out at once t h at lo v e was
not t h e r e l i g i o u s emotion of the p r i m i t i v e .
^or another t h in g , h i s mistake was t h e outcome o f w ishful th in k in g.
P o s i t i v i s m was l o v e , and i t had to be s y s t e m a t i c l o v e , s i n c e everything
p e r t a i n i n g t o Do s i t i v i s m was s y s t e m a t i c .
Love had t o have a spontaneous
phase, s i n c e a l l m a n if e s t a t i o n s had t o be spontaneous b efore becoming
s y s t e m a t i c . Therefore pe t i c h is m , which was th e i n i t i a l sta ge of r e ­
l i g i o n , had to be spontaneous l o v e .
N e v e r t h e l e s s , Comte's misconception o f p r i m i t i v e m e n t a li t y must be
viewed in th e l i g h t of c e r t a i n e x t e n u a t i n g cir c u m st a n c e s. I t was the
f r u i t o f two c o n d i t i o n s : th e ignorance which was p r e v a le n t in h i s times
con ce rn in g such m atte rs, and the i n f l u e n c e of Pousseau.
All t h e wort h-while s t u d i e s of p r i m i t i v e r e l i g i o n s , which culmi­
nated in t h e works of such men as
9. Furnner, Durkheim, Fir James 9.
F r azer, Havelock H l i s , Lgvy-Pruhl, F i v e r s , and o t h e r s , were undertaken
s e v e r a l decades a f t e r the death of Comte. They were s ti m u la t ed by the
J o i n t i n f l u e n c e of Darwin and of Comte h i m s e l f . Darwin in sp ir e d men
l i k e Fpencer, Huxley, Fenan, and t h e i r s c h o o l s , t o study the g e n e s i s
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of r e l i g i o n , and Comte aroused a widespread i n t e r e s t in s o c i a l and r e ­
l i g i o u s e v o l u t i o n . Vsn with in q u ir in g minds hastened t o study r e l i g i o n s
in v i v o , and a s a r e s u l t t h e p r i m i t i v e ' s r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g i s now f a i r l y
well known.
This was not the c a s e , however, when Comte was a l i v e .
N0 one then
had any s c i e n t i f i c in f o r m a t io n on the s u b j e c t . Testimonies o f e x p l o r e r s
and m i s s io n a r i e s were p l e n t i f u l : but they came from men who were not
t rain e d ob se rvers, and who were handicapped by preconceived n o t i o n s .
No com pilation of t h e i r o b s e r v a t i o n s had been made, and t h e i r r e p o r t s
l a y s c a t t e r e d on v a r i o u s l i b r a r v s h e l v e s .
Tt i s small wonder t h a t Comte
was not acquainted with p r i m i t i v e m e n t a lit y .
Rousseau's i n f l u e n c e was a l s o a co n t rib u t in g f a c t o r , as mentioned
above. His t h e o r i e s moulded th e minds o f n in etee n t h - cen tu ry t h i n k e r s ,
even of t hes e who r e j e c t e d h i s i d e a s . Pe had stated th a t man was born
lo v i n g , and th a t he lo v e d Mature r e l i g i o u s l y when he was away from a
corrupting c i v i l i z a t i o n .
Comte d i s l i k e d the author of the Faci al 'Con­
t r a c t ; but, with most o f h i s contemporaries, he u nco n sc iou sly adopted
some of Rousseau’ s v i e w s , and he took f o r granted that spontaneous lo ve
of Nature was the i n i t i a l r e l i g i o n .
I f f e t i c h i s m be not l o v e , t h e r e i s no s p e c ia l a f f i n i t y between i t
and Do s i t i v i s m , and Comte at once l o s e s a la rge proportion o f h i s r e ­
c r u i t s . furthermore, s i n c e the r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g of the unenligh ten ed
c i v i l i z e d man i s net l o v e e i t h e r , P o s i t i v i s m does not answer the need
o f the average contemporary man, and the Rel ig io n of Pumanity again l o s e s
part of i t s remaining f o l l o w e r s .
One more ca u se f o r t h e f a i l u r e of P o s itiv i s m may be added. Comte
did not study th e r e l i g i o u s mind o b j e c t i v e l y , that i s , he did not t r y
t o d isco v er what man wanted t o r e c e i v e from r e l i g i o n .
When one wants
to earn a l i v i n g by t r a d e , i t i s not s u f f i c i e n t merely t o s e l l good
merchandise: one has t c s e l l t h e wares which the p u b lic demands. The
same thing i s tr u e o f r e l i g i o n .
A r e l i g i o n i s s u c c e s s f u l not on ly b e ­
cause i t i s good in i t s e l f , but a l s o because i t answers the needs o f
the i n d i v i d u a l .
Comte heeded th e f i r s t r e q u i s i t e ; he paid no a t t e n t i o n
t o the second.
I f he had proceeded in a r e a l i s t i c s p i r i t , he would
have seen at once t h a t John Poe e x p e c t s r e l i g i o n to e n l ig h t e n him on
the nature and l i f e o f h i s s o u l .
Whether such a d e s ir e i s unworthy
of human nature or not i s b e s i d e t h e point: the f a c t to be c o n s id e r e d
i s t h a t t h i s i s what man wants.
Van i n t u i t i v e l y b e l i e v e s in t h e e x i s t e n c e of h i s s o u l . He wants
r e l i g i o n t o co rrob ora te t h i s b e l i e f and give him a comfortable t h e o r y
-poewhich w i l l assuage h i s doubts. The founder o f the P e l i g i c n of Pumanity
p ro bab ly f e .lt the need o f a s o u l , l i k e irost o t h e r s , s i n c e he wrote that
P o s i t i v i s i r ' 1 was a new s p i r i t u a l i s m . N e v e r t h e l e s s , h i s s p i r i t u a l urge
did not assume the common form. Pe d i f f e r e n t i a t e d between in d iv id u a l
s o u l s , which he abandoned9 contemptuously t o t h e o l o g i a n s , and a c o l l e c ­
t i v e s o u l , th e Creat-Peing, which he made t h e c e n t r a l f i g u r e of h i s
theodicy.
Tt i s obvious t h at Comte misunderstood the nature o f human a s p i r a ­
tion s.
The average man ( t o whom, l e t i t be repeated once more, Comte
was appealing^ mav care for the c o l l e c t i v e s o u l; but he cares a grea t
deal mere for h i s own. Comte’ s d o c t r i n e s t r e s s e s the c o l l e c t i v e s o u l,
but i t ig n o r e s the a l l - i m o o r t a n t i n d i v i d u a l s o u l .
Therefore, Do s i t i v i s m
was bound to f a i l .
Put t h i s i s not a l l .
The i n d i v i d u a l wants t c know what happens to
the s o u l a f t e r death, e i t h e r because he i s a f r a id c f what the departed
may do t o him (the f e t i c h i s t ) , or because he dreads h i s own e x t i n c t i o n
( t h e modern c i v i l i z e d rnanl. In e i t h e r c a s e , t h e problem of an a f t e r - l i f e
i s o f paramount importance in r e l i g i o n .
Comte sensed t h i s somewhat, and
i t may even be thought that he had a p er son al d e s i r e for s u r v iv a l , i f
one a c c e p t s as proof of i t the messages9 which he wrote to C l c t i l d e every
ye ar, a f t e r her death.
P i s urge, however, did not assume th e form which would s a t i s f y
n i n e t e e n t h and t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y i n d i v i d u a l s .
Van, in our judgement,
yea rn s f o r o b j e c t i v e or d i r e c t s u r v i v a l .
The s u r v i v a l involved in the
t h e o r y 4 o f s u b j e c t i v e l i f e i s not
direct.
Tt i s t o o b j e c t i v e s u r v iv a l
what t h e image i s t o the o b j e c t .
Tt la c k s ( i f the word may be used here!
m ateriality.
The image of a l o a f of bread cannot assuage the p.angs of
hunger.
Neither can the d o c t r i n e of s u b j e c t i v e l i f e s a t i s f y man’ s
d e s ir e for survival.
In resume, i t i s t o be concluded t h a t P o s i t i v i s m f a i l e d because
i t n e c e s s i t a t e d mysticism, because Comte thought th a t a l l r e l i g i o u s
emotion was l o v e , and because he did not o f f e r any theo ry of the s o u l .
1. Of. pp. 1S1-1SP a b o v e ,
p . O f. p .
9V a b o v e,
s . C f. p .
PS ab o v e.
a. C f . p p . I * ? - a b o v e .
CHAPTER I|
L o ve
of
Hu m a n i t y
This chapter w i l l not be so much an o b j e c t i v e and c r i t i c a l a n aly­
s i s o f th e good p o i n t s of P o s i t i v i s m , as an account of Comte’ s c o n t r i ­
b u ti on to p res en t t im e s ,
pe gave th e i n d i v i d u a l , p e r s o n a l l y , a way c f
life.
The nature c f the i n f l u e n c e exerted by P o s i t i v i s m on t h o se who did
not s y s t e m a t i c a l l y c l o s e t h e i r minds t o - i t was n e c e s s a r i l y v a r i e d . Tor
i n s t a n c e , L£vy-Prt3hl1 o f t e n allu ded t c the mellowing and broadening e f ­
f e c t o f th e R e l i g i o n of Pumanity. Vaurras, 9 a scholar of the ol d school
and a p o l i t i c a l w r i t e r , was impressed by Comte’ s maxims and p r a i s e d the
mental d i s c i p l i n e in v o lv ed in po s i t i v i s m .
Fuch acknowledgements are
l o g i c a l , and one would ex pec t pc s i t i v i s m to have t h e s e e f f e c t s .
Powever, i t s i n f l u e n c e has sometimes been unaccountable.
Vontesouiou,
a r o y a l i s t of Vaurras’ o o l i t i c a l part y, implied that he owed t o Comte h i s
p o l i t i c a l cr eed . Comte preached law and order, t u t at no time did he ad­
voca te a retu rn t o monarchy and Fta te Catholicism.
Tt can even, be sa id
t h a t such t e a c h i n g s are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed t o the s o i r i t of P o s i t i v i s m .
Yet Vontesouicu claimed th a t t h e P o l i t i o u e orient ed h i s mind toward the
Throne and t h e Altar.
One g a t h e r s from t h e s e examples t h at the r e a c t i o n of the s tu den t t c
po s i t i v i s m i s v a r i a b l e and somewhat unp re d ic ta b le . po s i t i v i s m suggested
to the i n v e s t i g a t o r , p e r s o n a l l y , a wav of l i f e .
Others might net d eriv e
th e same kind o f b e n e f i t from i t ; but t h i s does not mean t h a t i t s i n ­
f l u e n c e in th e p r e s e n t i n s t a n c e has been any the l e s s r e a l .
P e l i g i c n always g i v e s a wav of l i f e t c the b e l i e v e r .
This aspect
o f r e l i g i o n was p urpose ly ignored in the preceding ch ap ter , b ecause the
main i n t e r e s t t h e r e was in t h e content of the r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g , th a t i s ,
in the s u b j e c t i v e foundation of r e l i g i o n .
The present chapter i s con­
cerned with i t s e f f e c t s .
R e l i g i o n c o n s i s t s of th ough ts and f e e l i n g s .
Thoughts and f e e l i n g s
direct action.
I t f o l l o w s t h a t the s o - c a l l e d r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g g i v e s a
s p e c i f i c o r ie n ta tio n to a ction.
Tn t h i s sen se , r e l i g i o n i s a way of
life.
On i n o u i r i n g more deep ly i n t o the co n tro l o f a c t io n by r e l i g i o n ,
i t i s t o be observed t h a t r e l i g i o n c o n d i t i o n s action in two ways.
1 . L.
Mvy- Br Bhl ,
9. Oh. V a u r r a s ,
The Philosophy of Auguste Cov.te.
Volantisv.e et P&volution, r . 11?.
?. L. i e M o n t e s q u io u , Cuelcrues Pnncipes de Conservation sociale, pp. v i , 9, c5.
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F i r s t , i t s u p p l i e s the b e l i e v e r with a p h il o s o p h y o f l i f e .
Fecond, i t
a t te m p ts t o c o n t r o l the means which he u s e s t o a t t a i n the mode o f l