Auguste Comte And Positivism by John Stuart Mill

By John Stuart Mill

For it slow a lot has been stated, in England and at the Continent, referring to "Positivism" and "the confident Philosophy." these words, which throughout the lifetime of the eminent philosopher who brought them had made their method into no writings or discussions yet these of his only a few direct disciples, have emerged from the depths and manifested themselves at the floor of the philosophy of the age. it isn't very widely recognized what they signify, however it is known that they signify anything.

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These propositions having been laid down as the first principles of social dynamics, M. Comte proceeds to verify and apply them by a connected view of universal history. This survey nearly fills two large volumes, above a third of the work, in all of which there is scarcely a sentence that does not add an idea. We regard it as PART I. 32 by far his greatest achievement, except his review of the sciences, and in some respects more striking even than that. We wish it were practicable in the compass of an essay like the present, to give even a faint conception of the extraordinary merits of this historical analysis.

34). " But (as he himself remarks) in an inquiry of this sort the vulgarest facts are the most important. A movement common to all mankind--to all of them at least who do move--must depend on causes affecting them all; and these, from the scale on which they operate, cannot require abstruse research to bring them to light: they are not only seen, but best seen, in the most obvious, most universal, and most undisputed phaenomena. Accordingly M. Comte lays no claim to new views respecting the mere facts of history; he takes them as he finds them, builds almost exclusively on those concerning which there is no dispute, and only tries what positive results can be obtained by combining them.

Comte looks on them with as great jealousy as any scholastic pedagogue, or ecclesiastical director of consciences. Every particular of conduct, public or private, is to be open to the public eye, and to be kept, by the power of opinion, in the course which the Spiritual corporation shall judge to be the most right. This is not a sufficiently tempting picture to have much chance of making converts rapidly, and the objections to the scheme are too obvious to need stating. Indeed, it is only thoughtful persons to whom it will be credible, that speculations leading to this result can deserve the attention necessary for understanding them.

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