Auguste Comte and the Religion of Humanity: The by Andrew Wernick

By Andrew Wernick

This e-book deals an exhilarating reinterpretation of Auguste Comte, the founding father of French sociology. Andrew Wernick presents the 1st in-depth critique of Comte's suggestion of faith and its position in his pondering on politics, sociology and philosophy of technological know-how. He areas Comte's principles in the context of post-1789 French political and highbrow historical past, and of recent philosophy, in particular postmodernism. Wernick relates Comte to Marx and Nietzsche as seminal figures of modernity and examines key beneficial properties of recent and postmodern French social thought, tracing the inherent flaws and disintegration of Comte's approach.

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On the other was the `retrograde party' of royalist counter-revolutionaries attached to the illusory absolutisms of Catholic dogma. Divided by a one-sided attachment either to reason and progress, or to faith and order, both camps were equally doctrinaire and equally incapable of thinking the reconstruction of the shattered social order in line with its actual laws and requirements (iv:8±9). Clearing a theoretical path for a science of society, then, necessitated the establishment of a third camp, free from the sterile antagonism between metaphysicians of progress and theologians of order: a camp, Comte argued, which could only arise ± and in the Comtean project was actually doing so ± from the emerging episteme of science itself.

40 What scienti®c laws represented, in any case, were not real causes ± which we could 40 `Malgre le caracteÁre exclusivement objectif qu'on attribue aÁ ce dogme, je n'ai plus besoin de deÂmontrer sa subjectiviteÂ, moins contestable au fond que l'objectiviteÂ. Car, celle-ci reÂsultera toujours d'une induction purement empirique, quoique devenue, depuis longtemps, irreÂsistible . ' (x:174). The system and its logic (1) 39 never know, even supposing that the very notion of `cause' was not itself metaphysical41 ± but observable and predictable regularities.

In the spring of 1849, according to Gouhier. For the 1846±9 course of Comte's conversion, see Gouhier, 1965:211±13. The PreÂface personnelle to vol. vi of the Cours, published in 1842, details Comte's side of the story and appeals for support against his `persecuteurs'. The title page of the volume notes his part-time (and annually renewable) post at the EÂcole Polytechnique as reÂpeÂtiteur d'analyse and examinateur. That was to remain his only formal connection. For his battles with the EÂcole, see Pickering, 1993:429±76.

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