Auguste Comte Advances Theory of Positivism (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: Auguste Comte advances the theory of positivism, advocating a strictly empirical approach to the study of society, or “sociology.”
Summary of Event
Auguste Comte was on a crusade against system builders and others who indulged in unsupported speculation about the nature of humanity, the meaning of life, or what ought to be. He wanted a scientific, “positivist” attack on social problems. It would be based on observation of facts and objective analysis. His views have had a great effect on social theorists down to the present. Of course, these views developed from precedents that went back at least a century before his birth, thus he may also be seen as a link in a long chain of thinkers and theorists.
Although a great many people qualify for inclusion in a list of Comte’s predecessors, his most direct associations begin with Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who suggested a moratorium on scientific speculation until all the experiments anyone could think of had been performed. He believed that a process of induction applied to the resulting mass of data would reveal obvious natural laws without much need for theorizing. This spirit of avoiding prior assumptions and letting the data speak for itself was at the heart of Comte’s system, although he applied the idea to a study of society rather than the physics and biology Bacon had in mind.
Comte received much of his...
(The entire section is 1448 words.)
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