Auguste Comte (1798-1857)

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In History
  • Auguste's Birth

    Originally born Isidore-Auguste-Marie-Francois-Xavier Comte in Montpellier, France(2), he later went by Auguste Comte. Known as the "originator of positivism," (2), he approached the history of science and philosophy in a way that identified knowledge as "the product of empirical observation and experiment," (Fletcher, Barnes). Comte is often referred to as the founder of sociology. Image Citation:
  • Auguste's Death

    Comte died in Paris of stomach cancer on September 5, 1857. In the following YouTube video link, Auguste Comte's life and work can be better visualized and understood in full.
  • References

    (1)Bourdeau, Michel. "Auguste Comte (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 9 May 2018,
    (3)Delaney, Tim. “Auguste Comte.” Free Inquiry, vol. 23, no. 4, Council for Secular Humanism, Oct. 2003, pp. 44–45,
    (2)Fletcher, Ronald, and Harry E. Barnes. "Auguste Comte." Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 Jan. 2020,
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    Course on Positive Philosophy

    Comet's most known philosophy is found within his work Course on Positive Philosophy, in which he states the "laws of the three stages", where he begins to define the theory of social progress.(1) These three laws were: the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive (1). Comte felt there needed to be a paradigm shift of sorts, with science and society freeing itself from the hold of theology and religion (3).
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    Course on Positive Philosophy (cont'd.) The First Law

    Looking further into his law of three stages, there is a further insight to Comte's mind and how he feels the world has changed. The first stage he deemed as "theological", where humankind's perceptions began. In order to understand phenomena in the world or causes of things yet to be understood, humans gave way to God(s) in order to explain what they could not. (1,2)
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    Course on Positive Philosophy (cont'd.) The Second Law

    Continuing to Comte's second law, metaphysical, this is seen as the "transitional" stage. Now we see questions about the natural world are steadfast, yet the answer to them begin to change as people question the science behind them. These were in this stage, explained by abstract ideas or essences (2). Comte found this stage to be the least important, but necessary, as he felt humanity could not bridge the first and third law with some sort of gradual progression (3).
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    Course on Positive Philosophy (cont'd.) The Third Law

    In Comte's final law, he looks at "the positive" stage. In coining this term, he defined positivism as everything being able to be "subject to patterns or laws" (Delaney) and that there was an "awareness to the extent of human knowledge," (Fletcher, et al). This stage looks to create an emphasis on the need for science and rational thought (3). It is also here we see positivism impose its own "religion", "The Church of Humanity", which was influenced by science rather than a God or Gods.
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    System of Positive Polity

    In this work, Comte defined his formation of "sociology" and its meaning (2). In this work, he depicts the grounds of morality and moral progress within a society in relation to political organization (2). Interestingly enough, he intended for it to be coined "social physics" rather than "sociology" (3), but that term was already in use. It was with this, one can see Comte had intentions of modeling his studies in aspect to the hard sciences (3), rather than a pseudo- or non-science.