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Sunday, May 7, 2017

## Auguste Comte and positivism

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Auguste Comte (1798-1857) is an influential philosopher best known for his contributions to praxeology and positivism. Positivism is the theory that reality is guided by general laws which can be learned through empiricism. Praxeology is a method analyzing human behavior through purposeful behavior. Writer Leo Tolstoy said,

"The only true and scientific method according to Comte is therefore the inductive method and science is only such as is based on experiment. Secondly, the aim and apex of science is the new science of the imaginary organism of humanity or of the super-organic being-humanity: this new imaginary science being sociology." (What then must we do? 1886)

The rest of this post is some quotes from Comte.

### Positivism

"It lays down, as is generally known, that our speculations upon all subjects whatsoever, pass necessarily through three successive stages: a Theological stage, in which free play is given to spontaneous fictions admitting of no proof; the Metaphysical stage, characterized by the prevalence of personified abstractions or entities; lastly, the Positive stage, based upon an exact view of the real facts of the case." (A General View of Positivism, 1848)

### Mathematics

"We may therefore define Astronomy as the science by which we discover the laws of the geometrical and mechanical phenomena presented by the heavenly bodies." (The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, 1853)

"Every attempt to refer chemical questions to mathematical doctrines must be considered, now and always, profoundly irrational, as being contrary to the nature of the phenomena... but if the employment of mathematical analysis should ever become so preponderant in chemistry (an aberration which is happily almost impossible) it would occasion vast and rapid retrogradation... (System of positive polity, 1852)

"Mathematical analysis is... the true rational basis of the whole system of our positive knowledge." (System of positive polity, 1852)