Intros to European Philosophy: Comte

ISIDORE AUGUSTE MARIE FRANCOIS COMTE (1798-1857)

Previously read: non

Key texts: General View of Positivism, the. Ch. I and VI (abr.)

Overall impression: He’s way too fond of the word ‘Positivism’ and was keen to consistently aver that it solved many problems, only he could never seem to successfully explain how.  Needless to say, I was rolling downhill in the European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche and Comte warranted less mental energy than Mach (a pleasant surprise) or Nietzsche.

Surprises:

occasion for theology

“It is to the fact that theology arose spontaneously from feeling that its influence is for the most part due. (European Philosophers, ed. M. Beardsley: p. 735)”

In the previous sentence he states that the life of the individual and of the race is always based in feeling, so this is not a particularly mean or weak conception.  But he’s convinced that the new philosophy will eventually supersede theology’s place in society.  Perhaps there has been a blending such that most theology is this ‘new philosophy’, but he never satisfactorily explains for me what means he by this new philosophy – this positivism(http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/comte/).  So I’m disinclined to be so generous with my analysis.

  • trivia note, as per Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (entry by Michael Bourdeau): Brasil’s motto, Ordo e Progresso is at least in part a signal of Comte’s influence

 

atheism is too theistic

“Atheism, even from the intellectual point of view, is a very imperfect form of emancipation; for its tendency is to prolong the metaphysical stage indefinitely, by continuing to seek for new solutions of Theological problems, instead of setting aside all inaccessible researches on the ground of their utter inutility. (ibidem, p 745)”

This seems most logical; if I were atheistic I would be so in the truest sense and therefore anti-theism on theological grounds would occupy as little of my precious time as possible.  That is, true emancipation would n’t look like the antithesis of theism, but theistic concerns would be minimal at best.  In taking up the opposing point, one legitimates the opponent even as the right for the opponent to occupy that discursive space is argued.

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