By Robert C. Scharff
This ebook offers the single distinctive, systematic reconsideration of the missed nineteenth-century positivist Auguste Comte at present to be had. except supplying a correct account of what Comte really wrote, the publication argues that Comte's positivism hasn't ever had larger modern relevance than now. supplying a lucid exposition of Comte and expert via substantial new scholarship on his paintings, this booklet can be useful to philosophers, in particular philosophers of technology, a variety of highbrow historians, and to historians of technological know-how and psychology.
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Additional info for Comte after Positivism (Modern European Philosophy)
For in this way, something currently worth considering (that is, his idea that philosophy must account for itself historico-critically) can be brought to bear against those boring options of positivism and historicism with which we have since become all too familiar. In Chapter 4, I analyze the tension in Comte's works between historicalminded and dogmatic/ahistorical treatments of science and the scientific stage. As if in anticipation of things to come, the influence of the latter tends to gain ascendancy over the former, so that Comte often displays a "reflexive" and ahistorical overconfidence in the somehow already justified superiority of scientific rationality that repeatedly undermines his more "reflective" and context-sensitive efforts to present it as an emergent and defensible mode of knowing.
See also Pickering, PIC, 597-601. 28 CPP3(45), 778-85 [Ml, 462-66]; cf. CPP3(43), 618-19. Comte traces the "gratuitous" opposition to theories of human instincts to Descartes, and it is hard to ignore the irony here. Within 15 years of Descartes' death, his works were all on his church's index of forbidden books - for, among other things, daring to extend the mechanistic hypothesis to human bodies. By Comte's time, however, the fact that Descartes was willing to extend the latest scientific conceptions only to human bodies is read as the last vestige of a religious agenda.
I propose, therefore, to delay the question of how we should now respond to Comte's idea. Instead, I want to identify one central problem connected with it - in order, on the one hand, to prepare for the discussion of Mill's critique of Comte and, on the other, to show that Comte's idea, even by today's standards, is at least no mere muddle. " In Comte's view, there are in science "four modes of the art of obser31 CPP(l), 36-37 [F, 21], Comte's emphasis; see also CPP3(45), 774-76 [Ml, 461-62].