Contents:IntroductionSelected Bibliography Works by Comte in English Translation Works about Comte in EnglishI. The Nature and Importance of the Positive PhilosophyII. The Classification of the Positive SciencesIndex...
|Title||:||Introduction to Positive Philosophy|
|Number of Pages||:||70 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Introduction to Positive Philosophy Reviews
This is a neat introduction to "positivism," which anyone trying to understand modern intellectual history will need to confront. This little pamphlet was originally part of a much longer series of lectures written and delivered by Comte, but it stands on its own as a basic introduction to his premises. The underlying theme is that human intellectual development passes through three stages: Theological, Metaphysical, and Positive. The theological stage is the point at which all phenomena are ascribed supernatural causes through the Will of God or gods. The metaphysical is a stage at which the gods become abstractions or concepts which are seen to act according to their natures. Finally, the positive stage is the scientific understanding that nothing supernatural exists, and that all phenomena have natural explanations which can be understood through observation and reason. It should be obvious that Comte's ideas have been profoundly influential, even though his critics have been many, and one might well argue that today his view of science conforms to that of most educated (and many uneducated) people. He goes on to argue that the crisis of his time (the early nineteenth century) was a result of the incomplete conversion to a positive viewpoint - the theological and metaphysical philosophies were still around causing problems. It seems clear enough to this observer that no "pure" state has ever existed, human beings at least since Ancient Greece have used a combination of the methods he describes to apprehend the Universe. Of course, it can also be argued that the elevation of "reason" to a position of (abstracted) Godhead is itself a kind of metaphyisical tautology. Nevertheless, it is worth reading the man's words for yourself to appreciate his perspective.
Auguste Comte is considered the founder of sociology and of the philosophical doctrine known as positivism. He is credited with introducing the concept of the empirical study of society as a distinct discipline. On the other hand, his view of social science as essentially like physical science has some serious potential problems; for one thing, you can't run controlled experiments with people the way you can with, say, chemicals...According to Comte, the history of human thought has 3 stages. First is the theological stage in which people use the intervention of supernatural beings to explain the universe. The replacement of polytheism with monotheistic religion made the idea of God more like an abstract force, and introduced a way of looking at the world in terms of underlying unifying forces. The second stage is the abstract or metaphysical stage in which abstract forces explain the universe. The third stage of history is the positive stage. In the positive stage observed facts are the only source of reliable knowledge.Comte argues that the current cause of social conflict is disagreement about which of the three views is correct; the disagreement has to be resolved in favor of one view in order to maintain social stability. Comte thinks that the positivist approach is the only one that has continued to make intellectual progress throughout history, so it will eventually win out over the others. He's dismissive of the question of whether this would be a good or bad thing, arguing that the correct philosophy is the one which is most historically influential. This kind of historical determinism was an important influence on Marx.
Comte's book comes from the spirit of the Hegelian age, which postulated that history and thought were progressing to the ideal age in which reason and science would rule, and that religion and metaphysics would become obsolete. This is a thought in which would destroy and partition the human psyche, soul, and spirit.From reading ancient wisdom texts like the I Ching, ancient religion and its wisdom has an upmost practical value in social affairs. we can see the number of people in our society who are completely selfish and have no awareness of what their appetites do to themselves and others. This is what C.S. Lewis said when "hell is when everyone tries to get their way."To say that ancient wisdom and religious metaphysics is to be eventually overcome by an evolution in the maturity of the human mind, is the principle error of this book and of scientists and psychologists like Freud, who said essentially the same thing as Comte that religion is to be overcome as an infantile delusion and crutch for the enfeebled. This why Jung is right when he says that religion is still needed to merge both ancient man to modern man in order to reach self-individuation. The conception of truth is completely wrong too. The book is essentially relative when it says that it needs all disciplines to analyze a subject, and affirming truth in all sciences and all disciplines are needed and that there is NO ONE perspective in which to analyze. Comte even satirizes "thing in themselves" which is an admission that you cannot understand the thing as it is. In Philosophy, one must search for the first philosophy in which all of the other sciences must be understood. If there is no objective truth to be found, then what knowledge are we searching for? Relativism broods itself in this doctrine and cannot be taken seriously in its practical application.Nor does the fact that we have not reached the age in which we have overcome religion.
Auguste Comte, in an introductory lecture in 1830, outlines his positive philosophy. The foundation is built by identifying 3 stages of the human mind, namely the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. The first stage describes a mind captivated by superstition and magic and shrouded in darkness. He could have called it the primitive, but he chose to go with theological as if there is no mature theological thought. Some things Comte did write led me to believe he was resentful towards the resurgence that theology enjoyed in the 1800's, but who knows how he came up with his terminology? The positive stage is simply that of scientific reasoning. So Comte's positive philosophy is just...science. Comte proceeds to take us through his "encyclopedic division of the sciences" which is just as dry as it sounds. Comte explained well the passage of the theoretical abstract to the concrete applications of science. The girders that hold all this together are the "invariable natural laws," and it's the discovery of these which is the holy grail of all this positive philosophy. But when one decides to contemplate the origin of these laws doesn't that take one back to theology? Who is the Architect?
"The preponderance of the positive philosophy has been growing steadily since Bacon's time. It has today acquired, indirectly, so great a hold over even those minds that are the least familiar with its immense development that the metaphysicians devoted to the study of the intellect could only hope to check the decadence of their pretended science by presenting their doctrines as also being founded upon the observation of facts." pg20