1 Cf. Lévy-Bruhl, La philosophie d'Auguste Comte, Paris: Alcan, pp. 398-399.
2 Cf. chapter XII, p. 326.
3 This is why Comte could write: "While Hume is my main philosophical precursor, Kant plays only a secondary role; his fundamental notion was really systematized and developed only by positivism." Catéchisme positiviste (1852), 3rd edition, 1890, Paris, 10 Monsieur-le-Prince St., p. 10.
1 Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953, 26-27; Cambridge: C.U.P., 1954.
1 Cf. Leo Strauss, op. cit., chapter II.
2 On this point I refer to the studies of Peter Geach who is an authority on ethics as found in the works of Wittgenstein.
3 See chapter XII, pp. 327-329.
1 Such is the position -- so it seems -- held by Lévy-Bruhl in his book La morale et Ia science des moeurs, 9th edition, Paris: Alcan, 1927.
2 As if it were obvious that just as health is the good of the body, so what profits society -- but in what would this consist? in the domination of the whole over the individuals? in the free development of these individuals? in the power of the State and its expansion all over the world? in its imperial mission? in the economic productivity of the nation? in peace or in war?; all the ethical problems are already seen coming in through the window -- as if it were obvious, I say, that what profits society is the good of the whole of man.
1 Cf. his letter to Engels, July 7, 1866: "I am also studying Comte now, as a sideline, because the English and French make such a fuss about the fellow. What takes their fancy is the encyclopaedic touch, the synthesis. But this is miserable compared to Hegel. (Although Comte, as a professional mathematician and physicist, was superior to him, i.e. superior in matters of detail, even here Hegel is infinitely greater as a whole.) And this positivist rot appeared in 1832." Selected Correspondence, 1846-1895, London, 1934.
Similarly, in a letter to Professor Beesly of University College, London, June, 1871: "I as a Party man have a thoroughly hostile attitude towards Comte's philosophy, while as a scientific man I have a very poor opinion of it." Ibid.
The very notion that Marx had of the economic basis of historical development reflects this opposition between historical materialism and positivism. It has been rightfully said that economic factors, in the name of which material-efficient causality dominates Marxist thought, are not "economic factors in the raw state, as they were in that other materialism (positivist materialism) which in fact is the classical liberal economy. The Marxists, with much more penetration, will insist on the productive forces of society on the one hand, and the relationships of production between men on the other hand; the latter and their relations to the former dominate the laws of social evolution." (Louis Gardet, "L'Homme marxiste", Nova et Vetera, October - December 1955, p. 248). It is so because dialectics goes beyond the "phenomenon" and the "laws among phenomena's in Comte's meaning. Cf. further on, p. 291-294.
2 Le Plan des travaux scientifiques nécessaires pour réorganiser la société, preface by Saint-Simon (1822). Gustave d'Eichtal says that Hegel lauded this little work to him. Cf. Georges Dumas, Psychologie de deux messies positivistes, Paris: Alcan, 1905, p. 157.
3 To A. Bain, Nov. 4, 1867 -- The Letters of John Stuart Mill, ed. H. S. R. Elliott, London, 1910, II, p. 93.
4 Cf. F. Dittmann, "Die Geschichts-philosophie Comtes und Hegels", Viertellforsschrift fur wissenschaftliche Philosophie und Sociologie, XXXVIII (1914) and XXXIX (1915); F. A. Hayek, The Counter-Revolution of Science (The Free Press: Glencoe, Ill., 1952) Third Part. -- From the view-point of epistemology, Emile Meyerson insisted upon the resemblance between Hegel's and Comte's attitude in regard to science. Neither one, when he speaks of science, means what his contemporaries understood by that term. For Comte science is a science remade according to his principles, without microscopes and astral astronomy. For Hegel it is his own Naturphilosophie. (Cf. De l'Explication dans les sciences, pp. 453 ff.)
5 op. cit., pp. 196 ff.
1 Discours sur l'esprit positif (ed. 1918), p. 118; Cours, VI, p. 590 -- "This whole is the only reality, and the individual exists only by an abstraction, an abstraction which is moreover indispensable." Correspondance inédite, III, p. 114 (to Mr. de Tholouze, 15 Gutenberg 64).
2 Cours, IV, p. 298. "They are the very organs of a predetermined movement."
3 "The rational, in so far as the substantial, is necessary, and we are free if we recognize it as law and if we obey it as the substance of our own being; then the objective and the subjective wills can be reconciled, and they form the same calm totality." Philosophie de l'histoire, Introd., trans. Gibelin, p. 46.
4 Cours, IV, p. 147. Cf. Catéchisme positiviste, p. 86: "Our real liberty results essentially from a worthy submission"; Ibid., pp. 209-210: "If human liberty consisted in following no law, it would be even more immoral than absurd, since it would make impossible any regime whatsoever, whether individual or collective. Our intelligence shows its greatest liberty when it becomes, following its normal purpose, a faithful mirror of the exterior order in spite of the physical or moral impulses which would tend to disturb it. . . . Thus, real liberty is found everywhere inherent and subordinated to order, human as well as exterior."
5 Cf. Catéchisme positiviste, pp. 344-345: "No regime could deserve such censure except during its decadence. It would never have arisen nor prevailed if the major part of its dominance had not been sufficiently in conformity with our nature, and even quite favorable to our progress."
6 Cf. F. A. Hayek, op. cit.
1 In his opinion this was "the most profound political statement of the nineteenth century". He found it in a speech of the Prince-President. "The author of this admirable maxim," he added, "as well expressed as it was thought out, yet offers nothing outstanding from the intellectual aspect." Catéch. positiviste, p. 8.
2 Cours, V, p. 205.
3 "To theology as dogma, corresponded theocracy as regime and theolatry as cult. Similarly, to sociology as final dogma, must correspond sociocracy as regime and sociolatry as cult." Corresp. inédite. 2, p. 42 (to Pierre Laffitte -- 1st Guthenberg 61).
What Comte sees in medieval Catholicism is above all "the general perfecting which the social organism received in the Middle Ages, under the political ascendancy of Catholic philosophy". Cours, V, 3eme Edition, p. 231. (Italics ours.)
1 Georges Dumas, op. cit., pp. 1-3.
2 Ibid., p. 5. "After repeatedly stigmatizing him," continues the author, "after having expressed the wish to dedicate a day in the positivist calendar to cursing his memory, in 1854 he ended up by demanding that the Vendome column be demolished, that it might be replaced by the statue of Charlemagne, whom he considers as one of the most eminent precursors of the positive regime. 'This parody of a Roman trophy,' he said (Syst. de politique positive, IV, p. 397) 'must be replaced by the worthy effigy of the incomparable founder of the Western republic'."
1 Cf. my Le songe de Descartes, Paris: Corrêa, 1932, pp. 3-31. In his summary of the Olympica, Baillet writes that Descartes had noted that "the genius that heightened in him the enthusiasm which had been burning within him for the past several days, had forecast these dreams to him before he had retired to his bed", and that "the human mind had no part in them".
2 "Far from arousing the least protest, this event soon caused to appear among several of my Western correspondents the external address: To the reverend high-priest of humanity -- a manifestation especially decisive under the papal coat of arms, in the monthly letters sent to me from Rome by your former Polytechnic class-mate, Alfred Sabatier, whom you would in no way dare accuse of servility, although you may never realize to what degree he surpasses you in heart, mind and even character." Auguste Comte, Lettres inédites à C. de Blignières, Paris: Vrin, 1932, p. 136 -- June 27, 1857.
3 This armchair, "since it had always been Madam de Vaux's chair during her holy Wednesday visits, I set it up as a home altar, even during her life, and especially after her death. . . . It will be able to fulfil this office as long as it lasts, along with the flowers that my holy colleague especially made for me, which, though long since faded, I have at our public rites steadfastly put in their vase." Testament, p. 19.
Three times a day, for thirteen and a half years, Auguste Comte performed the exercises of the cult rendered to Clotilde.
"As soon as he arose, at half-past five, he prayed for an hour, a prayer made up of a commemoration and a great pouring forth of sentiments.
"The commemoration lasted for forty minutes. Comte, kneeling before the armchairaltar, would evoke Clotilde's image, recite some verses in her honor and relive in thought, and in chronological order, the whole year of happiness he had lived with her. . . .
"The pouring forth of sentiments would last twenty minutes. Comte, kneeling before Clotilde's flowers, would first of all evoke her image and would recite some Italian verses, 
then he would arise and come closer to the altar and, standing, he would address invocations to his beloved in which he mixed the language of the mystics with the expression of his love. He would say to her: 'One, union, continuity; two, ordering, combination; three, evolution, succession . . . man becomes more and more religious -- submission is the foundation of authority. -- Good-bye, my chaste eternal companion. -- Good-bye, my beloved pupil and worthy colleague. Good-bye sister. Good-bye dear daughter. Good-bye chaste spouse! Good-bye holy mother! Virgin mother, daughter of your son, good-bye. Addio sorella. Addio cara figlia. Addio casta sposa! Addio, sancta madre! Virgine madre, figlia del tuo figlio, addio.' Then he would kneel again and with open eyes would repeat some sentences from the beginning of the commemoration. Finally, on his knees before the altar-chair in its slip-cover, he would invoke Clotilde again, speak to her, and would repeat three times: 'Amem te plus quam me, nec me nisi propter te!' At ten-thirty, the same ceremony would begin again and would last twenty minutes; this was the prayer for the middle of the day.
"Finally, in the evening, a new commemoration which he made sitting up in bed, a new pouring forth of sentiments once he had lain down, and always the same thanksgiving, the same verses, the same mystical sentence from the Imitation of Christ." Georges Dumas, op. cit., pp. 214-216.
1 "As the main personal recompense for the noble works which remain for me to accomplish under your powerful invocation, I shall perhaps obtain that your name will finally become inseparable from mine in the most distant memories of grateful humanity." Système de politique positive. Dedication to Clotilde de Vaux.
2 "From the age of twenty-five, he thinks as a Providence-man." Georges Dumas, op. cit., p.3.
"When he reflected on himself -- and he often did -- it was his social life, his work as a reformer and as a founder, his 'incomparable mission', that he considered; he never descended into his intimate self to analyse and discuss himself; he accepted himself as he accepted science, without asking any complex questions about the origin and value of his deep propensities; examination of conscience was foreign to him; he seems never to have had the least remorse or the shadow of a doubt. It was as social projection that he saw himself, under the form of a new providence; he was the one, he thought, who, by the positive philosophy, was to end forever the period of crisis inaugurated by the negative philosophy of the Revolution. He would be, not the new God, but the high-priest of the new power, the spiritual father of men, the undisputed head of the Western republic, and later, when 'his objective life' would have been long since terminated, he promised himself an endless 'subjective life' in the most distant memories of humanity. Great visions filled these dreams of social glory: the banner of humanity waving over his tomb, Clotilde representing humanity on the pavilion of the West, the Pantheon resounding with the sound of the organs and the singing of the faithful, and the women, worthy daughters of humanity, lauding the Founder." Georges Dumas, op. cit., pp. 248-249.
1 We have tried to indicate the nature of both Hegel's (chapter VII) and Marx's (chapter X) primitive intuition. This term "primitive intuition" is not applicable to Auguste Comte. His original discovery was not the revelation of any reality seized in the density of what is, but only a prise de conscience concerning the proper course of the science of phenomena. That is why we here use, purposely, the word "observation" rather than "intuition". No philosopher was less intuitive than Comte. No light shed on things in his whole work. A mind with a thirst for organization, not for seeing.
2 Cf. Emile Meyerson, Identité et Réalité, 3rd ed., Paris: Alcan, 1926; De l'Explication dans les sciences, Paris: Payot, 1927.
"Science," writes Meyerson, "is not positive and does not even contain positive data, in the precise sense, as given this term by Auguste Comte and his followers, of data deprived  of any ontology. Ontology is one with science itself and cannot be separated from it. . . . The positivist plan then is truly fanciful." Identité et réalité, p. 438; cf. De l'explication dans les sciences, pp. 32-39.
When he uses the word ontology in this way, Meyerson merely means that there are things, a reality independent of the mind and of our sensations, a reality that the scientist does not doubt in the least, and that he undertakes to scrutinize in his own manner. But this does not at all mean (and on this point Meyerson remains equivocal) that this manner itself aims at being as such, or to put it another way, this does not at all mean that science approaches the mystery of being in becoming, via an ontological approach in the strict sense of the word (resolving concepts in the intelligible being). This ontological approach is proper to philosophy; the approach proper to science is empiriological, it resolves concepts in the observable and the measurable as such. Cf. my work Les degrés du savoir, First Part.
Let us note again that in a purely positivist theory of science (such as Mach and Kirchhoff, and, to a more or less degree, Poincaré and Duhem, were to adopt), science, having no interest whatsoever in the processes of causation at work in the real, has for goal only to describe in the most suitable or the most economical fashion what appears to our senses, or to "save phenomena". That is what Greek astronomy proposed to do, in a spirit certainly very different from Auguste Comte's but with equivalent epistemological positions. Alexander Koyré observes that these positions were those of Proclus and Simplicius, and that Averroës adhered to them. "Positivism," he writes, "is the son of failure and renunciation. It was born of Greek astronomy and its best expression is Ptolemy's system. Positivism was conceived and developed not by the philosophers of the thirteenth century [as A. C. Crombie claims in his book on Robert Grosseteste], but by the Greek astronomers. . . . Alexander Koyré, "Les origines de la science moderne", in Diogenes, no. 16, October 1956.
1 In his chapter "Figures et Traditions familiales", Henri Gouhier remarks: "Auguste Comte's father seems to have been a model functionary whose life was divided up with administrative precision. When the aging philosopher will set up a systematic use of his time, he will know again, without suspecting it, the regular rhythm that had punctuated the exemplary existence of an office manager. Pierre Laffitte wrote: the master 'inherited from his father habits of order and regularity that the latter described at the beginning of his brochure, and that his very duties as book-keeper were to perfect'. Perhaps we should add that certain pages of Politique positive and Synthèse subjective will call to mind a large cash-book meticulously kept." Henri Gouhier, La jeunesse d'Auguste Comte, Paris: Vrin, 1933, t. I, p. 33.
2 As Lévy-Bruhl observes, "positive philosophy aspires to nothing less than directing them [the sciences] and 'regenerating' them". (op. cit., p. 195.) We know that in the sixth volume of the Cours Comte proscribed the "alleged sidereal astronomy, which to-day constitutes the sole serious scientific aberration proper to the celestial studies". (Cours, VI, p. 751.) "Ten years later, in the first volume of the Politique positive, he 'regenerates' astronomy from the synthetic point of view. He is no longer satisfied to restrict it to the knowledge of the solar system. He encloses the particular study of our world between narrow limits. . . . Comte ends up by saying, in the fourth volume of the Politique positive,  that, if need be, it would be enough to study the sun and the moon. We may add the ancient planets, but not the little telescopic planets. (Pot. pos., IV, 212). . . . The Newtons and the Laplaces of the past have fulfilled a necessary function. . . . But, now that their efforts have led to the foundation of positive philosophy, and this philosophy itself to the 'final religion', there is no longer any reason for continuing research which mankind can henceforth do without. We must even 'prune many trifling acquisitions' (Pot. pos., I, 508-513). In a word, from the religious point of view, Comte, in order to remedy the 'anarchy' of science, suppresses its liberty." L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 174-176. Comte is very hard on the use of mathematical analysis in physics (Cours, II, 317). He rejects as useless the theory of undulation in optics. He forbids to physicists the hypotheses of ethers and of fluids in the theory of heat, light and electricity. "Every hypothesis should bear exclusively on the laws of phenomena, and never on their modes of production." He condemns organic chemistry and biological chemistry (Cours, III, 186-195). Similarly he condemns microscopic investigations (cf. Meyerson, Identité et réalité, pp. 6 and following), doubtless because he believes that microphenomena are subject to laws inaccessible to the human mind (cf. Meyerson, De l'explication dans les sciences, pp. 99 and following), but also because with the sure instinct of a high-priest he mistrusts investigations which threaten to shake the dogmatic edifice and the definitive security of science such as he wishes it.
1 I use this word purposely, for the claim to exclude from scientific knowledge every element of explanation whatsoever (that is, every effort in any way to-render-intelligible-the-datum) is one of the untenable over-simplifications of Comte.
1 Politique positive, I, 673. In consideration of which the "cerebral chart" of Comte will contain 18 irreducible faculties, 10 for the heart, 5 for the mind and 3 for character, a special organ being assigued to each one.
1 Cf. Synthèse subjective, p. 39: "We must, therefore, establish the final regime . . ." p. 43: "It has, however, prepared the final regeneration . . ."; Catéchisme positiviste, p. 379: ". . . A truly steadfast philosophy, which would lead to the establishment of the final religion . . . ."
2 This "fundamental opuscule" was inserted in a volume of Saint-Simon (Suite des travaux ayant pour objet de fonder le système industriel), whose secretary Comte was at that time. Comte reproduced the opuscule in question under the title Plan des travaux scientifiques pour réorganiser la société, in the appendix of volume IV of his Système de politique positive.
3 "Each branch of our knowledges" here means each of the fundamental sciences, astronomy, physics, chemistry, physiology. . . Cf. Henri Gouhier, op. cit., vol. III, p. 290.
4 Cours, I, p. 3.
1 Syst. de polit. pos., III, p. 28.
2 L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 43.
3 The event took place in February or March 1822. Comte was twenty-four years old. "I have heard Auguste Comte say," writes Pierre Laffitte, "that the law of the three stages was discovered one morning, after a long night of continuous meditations; and that it was almost immediately afterwards that he discovered the law of the scientific hierarchy, which is, really . . . absolutely inseparable from it." Revue occidentale, 1895, vol. I, pp. 4-5.
We know that the sources of this "discovery" have given rise to numerous discussions, and that Comte's originality has been disputed. But in actual fact, as far as his fundamental law is concerned, he owes nothing to Burdin, Saint-Simon, or Turgot. It is true that a passage of Turgot in the Plan of his Second discours sur l'histoire universelle (written about 1751, published by Dupont de Nemours in 1807) seems to announce a similar law. But, on the one hand, Comte did not know this passage. On the other hand, this passage is only an observation on the history of our knowledge of nature and has none of the universal bearing that characterizes the pseudo-intuition of Auguste Comte. Cf. Henri Gouhier, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 395-403; Henri de Lubac, The Drama of Atheist Humanism, trans. Edith M. Riley, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1950; London: Sheed and Ward, 1949, p. 82: Turgot had formulated his statement "only for one category of phenomena, with no thought of extending it 'to conceptions of a moral and social order' and, above all, with no thought of ever fettering the whole of our intellectual activity with the shackles of the positive state. That is what several disciples of Auguste Comte -- Dr. Audiffrent, Dr. Robinet and E. Semerie -- rightly pointed out in opposition to Renouvier and Pillon. They adduced this simple and incontestable proof; Turgot believed in God."
1 "Again, where Comte saw three successive states, it is actually a case of 'three coexistent modes of thought', corresponding to three different aspects of things; thus progress consists in an increasingly clear distinction between these three aspects, at first perceived in a kind of chaotic unity. If, then, it is true to say that 'physics' (in the sense of the whole of science) began by being theological, it would be just as true to say that theology began by being physical, and the law of evolution does not tend to expel theology any more than science, but to 'purify' both by differentiating them." H. de Lubac, op. cit., p. 82.
2 Cf. our essay "Signe et symbole", in Quatre essais sur l'esprit dans sa condition charnelle, 2e ed., Paris: Alsatia, 1956.
1 Cf. Cours, II, 2e ed., 1864, p. 293.
2 Cf. Cours, III, 2e ed., pp. 321 sq., and Footnote 1.
1 Système de politique positive, vol. IV, Appendix, p. ii.
2 Revue Occidentale, May 1884, p. 331. -- Cf. Henri Gouhier, op. cit., vol. III, p. 184.
3 Ibid., September 1884, p. 169. (Gouhier, op. cit., vol. III, p. 184, note 5.)
1 Opuscules, p. 240; 5th opuscule, March 1826: Considérations sur le pouvoir spirituel. [Reprinted in Pol. pos., IV, App.] -- cf. above p. 268, n. 5.
2 Discours sur l'esprit positif, p. 53.
3 Science, says Auguste Comte, and the truths that it states are necessarily relative to "our organization" and to "our situation". (Discours sur l'esprit positif p. 15). But, as Lévy-Bruhl (op. cit., pp. 84-85) points out, since, according to Auguste Comte, human nature, and therefore our "organization", does not change, it is in terms of our "situation", that is, in terms of the moment in history in which we find ourselves in the evolution of the species, that the system of our ideas, and our science, necessarily vary; it is then the relativity of science in regard to our "situation" that matters above all.
1 Positive philosophy "abandons the chimera of unchangeable truth. It does not consider today's truth as absolutely true, nor yesterday's truth as absolutely false. It 'ceases to be critical towards the whole of the past'." Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 87-88.
2 "Truth, then, in every epoch, is 'perfect logical coherence', or the agreement of our ideas with our observations." Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 87. -- Cf. vol. VI, p. 675.
3 This classic formula "adequation of the mind with being" is itself analogically true, and is not to be understood in the same sense for the truth of philosophical assertions and for the truth of scientific assertions. In this last case, the case of the science of phenomena, it signifies the adequation of our mental constructions founded on observation and measurement, with observable and measurable reality as such.
4 Auguste Comte saw very clearly (cf. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 82-86) that the science of any sector of nature can be unshakeable only if it would be complete, which it will never 
be on any point, and that thus science, not only as a whole but in each of its assertions and theoretical elaborations, is a "progress", not a "state". What he refused to see is that if the term to which it tends is a limit which will never be reached, nevertheless the validity in itself of this final term, ideally considered, is necessarily implied in the movement of science toward it. And, to tell the truth, the term in question is not only ideal. One day all will be known -- but infinitely beyond this ideal term, and by an intuitive knowledge that transcends to the infinite all human science. By a curious paradox the very relativity of the positive sciences and the fact that they are in continuous recasting (I do not mean as regards the real observation they gather, nor even many a theoretical view, more or less complete, I mean as regards what is related to their most general and comprehensive explanations) manifests in them a kind of eschatological aspiration.
1 L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 88.
1 "Not being universal, theological philosophy could only be provisional. Alone will be definitive the philosophy, that is to say, the method of interpretation of natural phenomena, which will apply itself to all phenomena, without exception, from the simplest to the most complicated. For only this philosophy will realize the unity demanded by the understanding." L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 49.
1 "By the very nature of the mind . . . ." "The human mind, by its nature. . . ." Cf. above, pp. 277-278. -- Comte "is not satisfied" with historical verification. Moreover, he claims to deduce the law of the three stages from the nature of man. He will thus give a direct demonstration of it. . . . "This demonstration shows . . . that the successive passage through the three stages, in an invariable order, was the necessary form of the progress of the human mind in the knowledge of phenomena. It is founded on the nature of the mind." Ibid., pp. 44-52.
2 "I consider all discussions on the institutions as utter nonsense, until the spiritual reorganization of society is brought about or at least well advanced." Letter to Valat, December 25, 1824 (Lettres à Valat, pp. 156-157). "Real science, envisaged from the highest point of view, has no other general aim than to establish or unceasingly fortify intellectual order, which is the indispensable foundation of every other order." Cours, IV 147.
3 On the reorganization of education as necessary prerequisite, cf. Politique positive, I, pp. 169 seq., and Synthèse subjective, p. vii. See also Lévy-Bruhl (op. cit., p. 381) and Georges Dumas (op. cit., p. 192).
1 As Saint Thomas teaches (Sum. theol., I, 16, 7), it is only in the divine intellect, which is subsisting Truth, that truth exists with an eternal existence like that of God Himself. Saint Augustine called mathematical truths eternal, but (ibid., ad 1) "dicendum quod ratio circuli, et duo et tria esse quinque, habent aeternitatem in mente divina" -- "it must be said that the ratio of circle, and that two and three are five, have eternity in the divine mind". The truths present in the human intellect are no more "eternal" than this intellect itself, even when they bear on an object that is unchangeable or superior to time and are therefore themselves non-temporal or supra-temporal, and unchangeable.
It is not without reason that those who claim to reject all truth that would be nontemporal or unchangeable in itself, should instinctively resort to an incorrect and obviously exaggerated expression like that of "eternal truths". In this way they manage for themselves a more advantageous position before their public.
1 Cf. the excellent article by Clyde Kluckhohn, late professor of anthropology at Harvard University, "Ethical Relativity: Sic et Non", in The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 52 (November 10, 1955), pp. 663-677.
We are particularly pleased to note the significant affinity between what the author writes about ethical universals (pp. 671-672) and our own observations on the "fundamental dynamic schemes of natural law" (Man and the State, p. 93).
2 "Far from saying with Plato or with his successors that there is no science of the phenomenon, or of what passes, Comte thinks on the contrary that science has for sole object phenomenal reality, as subject to laws. . . . If for a long time the mathematical sciences were the only sciences properly speaking, and if today they are still the most advanced of all the sciences, the fact is that geometric and mechanical phenomena are in reality the simplest of all, and the most naturally linked to each other. . . . But the difference between the mathematical sciences and the other sciences remains nonetheless a difference of degree, not of nature. The mathematical sciences are ahead of the other sciences; they are not on another terrain. In short, the mathematical sciences, like all the other sciences, are natural sciences." L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 143-144. -- Cf. Cours de phil pos., I, 101, sq.
1 Cf. Lesson 58 of Cours de philosophie positive; and Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 124-129, 139, 402-403.
2 Cf. Cours, VI, pp. 667, 670; Pout. pos., 1, pp. 494-495; IV, pp. 173-180; and Lévy Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 113-116.
3 "In Comte's eyes, the philosophy of the sciences is inseparable from the philosophy of history and the theory of progress." L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 137.
4 This notion has a superficial resemblance to Marx's notion (although the idea, central for Marx, that man is one day to become master of his history is lacking here). But it has a very different origin. We think that it is due to that confusion between the necessity of laws and the necessity of the course of events that we pointed out in Les degrés de savoir (pp. 48-54) and which is so general to-day. In spite of his principles, Comte did not escape that hypostasierung of scientific law, especially when it is a question of social dynamics and philosophy of history. And if he observes rightly that we must not confuse "the subordination of any events whatsoever to invariable laws with their irresistible, necessary accomplishment." 
(Cours, III, p. 564), that means for him that the more the phenomena are "noble" or complex, the more the laws that render the event necessary leave it at the same time, from the very fact of their interlacing, a certain margin of contingency, so that the necessity in question is not "irresistible". Wherefore that bastard idea of a non-rigid historical determinism or of a "modifiable fatality" (Polit. pos., II, p. 427), which translates into a poorly conceived philosophical language an obvious truth of fact.
1 Consider for example the law of the three stages, the idea of which flashed into Comte's mind in an incontestably finalist perspective, as Henri Gouhier has well noted (op. cit., vol. III, p. 395, note 2), or the idea that he had of his own mission in the history of mankind. . . .
As for "the principle of the conditions of existence", it offers a pretty example of a functional equivalent masking simply the notion that it is supposed to replace. To say: "from the moment that I have lungs, I can breathe", or: "it is necessary and sufficient that I have a good beef-steak on my table, and the phenomenon called nutrition will actually take place in me", is exactly the same thing -- less the intelligible clarity -- as to say: "I have lungs in order to be able to breathe", or "I have ordered a good beef-steak to appease my appetite". The principle of the conditions of existence, which Comte valued so highly, but which was scarcely to survive him, is the principle of finality turned inside out -- and is of as little use as a glove turned inside out.
1 Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, Parts I & III, ed. R. Pascal, New York: International Publishers, 1947, p. 15.
2 MEGA, I, 5, p. 216.
3 Thus Engels wrote: "As soon as each separate science is required to get clarity as to its position in the great totality of things and of our knowledge of things, a special science dealing with this totality is superfluous. What still independently survives of all former philosophy is the science of thought and its laws -- formal logic and dialectics. Everything else is merged in the positive science of Nature and history." Herr Eugen Diihring's Revolution in Science (Anti-Dühring), trans. E. Burns, New York: International Publishers, 1939, p. 31.
4 Cf. above, chapter X, p. 249, notes 2 and 3.
5 "With what would one observe the mind itself, its operations, its way of proceeding? One cannot divide up one's mind, that is to say, one's brain, into two parts, one of which acts while the other watches it act, to observe the way it proceeds. The so-called observations made of the human mind considered in itself and a priori are pure illusions. What is called logic, metaphysics, ideology, is a chimera and a dream, when it is not an absurdity." Letter to Valat, September 24, 1819 (Lettres à Valat, pp. 89-91). It maybe remarked that if our mind were our brain, Comte would be right; his materialism is on this point more coherent than Soviet materialism. Perfect self-reflection is a privilege of spirituality; and if our mind were our brain there would be no logic.
On the rejection of formal logic by Auguste Comte, cf. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 117-120. There is however a "positive logic" (cf. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., pp. 121-136), but one which has nothing to do with logic properly speaking. It results from the historical and sociological observation of the functioning of the human mind, and in the end this "true logic" will appear to Comte, not as the logic of the mind, "guided above all by artificial signs", but as the logic of the heart, "founded on the direct connection of emotions" (Polit. pos., II, pp. 101-102). "True logic, in which emotions dominate images and signs, has a fetishistic origin." Catéch. posit., p. 337. See Synthèse subjective, pp. 26-55.
1 In spite of all the "essentially"s that stud Auguste Comte's language.
1 Cf. the epilogue, as anti-positivist as possible, written by the well-known physiologist, Dr. Andrew Conway Ivy, to the book The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, ed. J. G. Monsma (New York: Putnam, 1958, pp. 229-231), where are collected testimonies of scientists belonging to the most different fields of specialization. The remarks made by Dr. Ivy on children's intelligence are in relieving contrast with Les ages de l'intelligence by Léon Brunschvicg.
2 I must name here, to speak only of those I have personally known, the renowned geologist Pierre Termier, the eminent chemist Sir Hugh Taylor, the mathematician Marston Morse, the physicists Robert Oppenheimer and Léon Brillouin, the aerodynamics specialist Luigi Crocco, biologists Hans Driesch, Rémy Collin, Hans Andre, W. R. Thompson, the zoo-psychologist F. J. J. Buytendijk, the already mentioned Dr. Ivy, and, connected in particular with the existence of God -- of a personal God -- as required by the intelligibility of the universe, the testimony of Einstein himself.
1 The maxim "Know, so as to foresee, so as to provide for" shows clearly that for Comte the contemplative finality of knowledge, truth to be seen and to be cherished for itself, was completely eliminated. Doubtless he was not unaware that science cannot do without researches that are speculative and without immediate application, but it is then only forgetting temporarily its essentially practical end (cf. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 70). As Meyerson notes (Identité et réalité, p. 36), Comte recognizes the existence of the need for understanding, but he makes it "one of the least imperious needs of our nature".
"I would have very little esteem for scientific works", Comte wrote to Valat in 1819, "if I did not think perpetually of their utility for mankind; I would then just as much amuse myself in working out very complicated riddles. I have a supreme aversion for scientific works whose utility, whether direct or remote, I do not perceive." (Lettres à Valat, September 28, 1819, p. 99.) "To know for the sake of knowing seems to Comte to be a culpable use of the human intellect." L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 175. "Under the positivist regime, one will have to abstain from every exercise of thought which will not have some real utility, whether material or moral; 'science for the sake of science' is a principle not only contemptible but criminal." G. Dumas, op. cit., p. 163.
1 "Science regards the object of its studies precisely as object, an 'it' undefinable without reference to the operations -- the manipulations -- necessary to observe or measure it, and given meaning within mathematical schemata where it is treated as the object of abstract 'handling', of symbolic manipulation. This way of seeing reality, which Herbert Butterfield regards as sharing with the rise of Christianity the position of greatest significance in Western history, was the result, in his words, of our putting on a new thinking cap, rather than of new facts. It derived from the new ability to see the world in terms capable of mathematical expression and manipulation." Thomas F. O'Dea, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "The Secularization of Culture", The Commonweal, April 20, 1956, p. 69.
2 Cf. Max Raphael, La théorie marxiste de la connaissance, French trans., Paris: Gallimard, 1938, p. 121; and our Quatre essais sur l'esprit dans sa condition charnelle, 2e ed., Paris: Alsatia, 1956, pp. 211-213.
3 Cf. Thomas F. O'Dea, article cited, p. 67.
4 Cf. Le philosophe dans la cité, Paris: Alsatia, 1960.
1 Cf. Lettres inédites à C. de Blignières, pp. 102, 110; Lettres à divers, 1, 2, pp. 93, 117, 159-160; Catéch. positiv., p. 22: "The positive priesthood . . . in virtue of its immense encyclopaedic preparation . . ."; ibid., p. 274: "during the seven years which separate him from the complete priesthood, each curate has practised all the encyclopaedic steps . . ."; Testament, pp. 21-22: "I have recently determined, for the priests and curates, the encyclopaedic conditions which will be a guarantee for the public, as also for the High-Priest, of the theoretical aptitude of philosophers, when their moral qualities will be sufficiently estabished. . . ."
2 Synthèse subjective, p. 12.
3 Lettres à divers, I, 2, 58 (to Thales Bernard, 28 Aristotle 62).
1 To-day we see science in the service of the State threatening human liberty in a much less problematic and more tangible form -- that of integral planning. The "integral" or omnilateral plan, as it has begun to be used here and there, is an organic group of reforms, spread out over a certain period, which cover, altogether and in interrelation, the most diverse areas of economic, social and cultural life. The unavoidable result is a general transformation of the living conditions, the customs and the collective psyche of a given population. And the efficacy of the method is such that, though its application in the beginning was limited to under-developed regions, it seems destined inevitably to spread. But such plans can be implemented only by the most painstaking work of numerous teams of experts and scientists, and the State only is in a position to subsidize such an undertaking. That the State should thus have the power to model human life according to the wishes of its planning experts, constitutes a most serious threat to democratic liberties.
As far as we can see, there is only one solution, namely, that, through the intermediary of political parties, the people might be able to choose from among several omnilateral plans (elaborated according to varying perspectives and in the light of differing ultimate objectives) proposed by the various political parties. For this to come true, we would have to hope, on the one hand, that the parties (whose existence is indispensable to the proper functioning of a democratic society) would be regenerated in such a fashion as to become real schools of social and political thought (cf. True Humanism, pp. 157-158); and on the other hand that the State itself would put its planning teams at the disposal of the parties, each one of which would establish an omnilateral plan inspired by its particular conception of the common good. The part the State should play in the de-statization of the life of our modern societies was suggested in our Man and the State, p. 22.
2 Cf. Réflexions sor l'intelligence et sur sa vie propre; The Degrees of Knowledge; Quatre essais sur l'esprit dans sa condition charnelle (Chapter IV); Raison et raisons (Chapter I); Philosophy of Nature.
1 I am thinking in particular of the positions of Alfred J. Ayer. Cf. Language, Truth and Logic, 2nd Ed., 1950, London: Victor Gollancz.
2 This book was published in 1923. We know that in his posthumous work Philosophische Untersuchungen (Philosophical Investigations, ed. Elizabeth Anscombe, 1954) Wittgenstein abandoned much of his radicalism and made his way in a direction clearly incompatible with logical positivism.
1 Quoted by Thomas F. O'Dea, article cited, p. 69.
2 Cf. our essay on "La philosophie et l'unité des sciences", Annex II to Chapter IV of Quatre essais sur l'esprit dans sa condition charnelle, 2e ed., Paris: Alsatia, 1956; and our essay "God and Science", in On the Use of Philosophy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.
1 The Range of Reason, p. 11.
2 Testament, p. 9.
3 January 26, 1857. Revue Occidentale, 1909, vol. 1, p. 15. Cf. Henri Gouhier, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 71, note 5. 4 Op. cit., vol. 1, p. 71.
5 Robinet, Notice sur l'oeovre et la vie d'Auguste Comte, Paris, 1864; 3e ed., Paris: Société positiviste, 1891, p. 100.
6 "Brought up in one of those lycées in which Bonaparte tried in vain to restore, at great expense, the ancient mental preponderance of the theologico-metaphysical regime, I had scarcely reached my fourteenth year when, surveying spontaneously all the essential degrees of the revolutionary mind, I experienced already the fundamental need of a universal regeneration, at once political and philosophical, under the active impulse of the salutary crisis whose principal phase had preceded my birth, and whose irresistible influence over me was the more assured because, in complete accordance with my own nature, it was at that time everywhere about me." Cours, vol. VI, Preface, p. ix.
7 Created by a decree of May 6, 1803, the Montpellier lycée opened its classes the 12th of Brumaire in the 13th year of the first French Republic (November 3, 1804).
1 Cf. above, chapter X, pp. 218-219.
2 "During the thirty years of my philosophical and social career, I have always felt a profound scorn for what is called, under our various regimes, the opposition, and a secret affinity for builders of whatever kind. Those even who sought to build with materials obviously worn out, always seemed to me better than mere destroyers, in a century in which general reconstruction is everywhere becoming the principal need." Catéchisme positiv., p. 6.
"We must regard the mass of conservatives or reactionaries as the true milieu of positivism. . . . Positivism will become for them the sole defense against the communist or socialist subversions." Correspondence inédite, II, pp. 167-168 (to Pierre Laffitte, 8 Gutenberg 65).
It was in 1855 that Comte published his famous Appel aux conservateurs.
1 He is not revolutionary as regards the world and the social order. "The great Western revolution" for which Comte received the mission is essentially a spiritual revolution.
2 Polit. positive, IV, p. 531.
3 Catéch. posit., p. 380; Testament, p. 9; Polit. posit., III, pp. 618-623.
4 Cf. further on, Chapter XII, p. 314, note 2.
1 "No one, doubtless, has ever demonstrated logically the non-existence of Apollo, Minerva, etc., nor that of the Oriental fairies or of the different poetic creations; but this has not at all prevented the human mind from inevitably abandoning the ancient dogmas, when they have finally ceased to fit in with the ensemble of its situation." Disc. sur l'esprit positif., 1844, p. 52. [Comte purposely ignores that many Arabian and Christian philosophers "demonstrated logically" the unicity of God, which logically dismissed Apollo, Minerva, etc.]
"Sound philosophy," Comte says, "sets aside, it is true, all insoluble questions; but, 'in explaining their rejection, it avoids denying anything in their regard, for this would be contrary to that systematic obsolescence through which alone incontestable opinions must die out.' (Comte means: opinions which escape positive discussion.) The problems connected with the essence of the soul or with first substance will vanish as have vanished already most of the metaphysical problems of the Scholastics." L. Lévy-Bruhl, op. cit., p. 80. [A prophecy denied by the course of events.]
2 Speculative atheism, which to reject God stays on the level of rational argumentation, "is only a [useless] abstraction", Marx affirmed in Economie politique et philosophie. Cf. Revue marxiste, February 1, 1929, p. 125.
3 Lettres d'Auguste Comte di John Stuart Mill (1841-1845), Paris, 1877, pp. 252-253.
4 Ibid., p. 352.
5 H. de Lubac, op. cit., p. 95.
6 Ibid., p. 96.
1 The passage deserves to he quoted in its entirety, for it is doubly instructive, both through the violence which animates it and through the flagrant falsity of its accusations, which, since in Comte they are not imputable to bad faith and deceit, can only derive from a characteristic blindness. "Henceforth abandoned spontaneously to its natural corruption, monotheistic belief, whether Christian or Musulman, more and more deserves the reprobation its advent inspired for three centuries in the noblest practitioners and theorists of the Roman world. Being able at that time to judge the system only according to doctrine, they did not hesitate to reject, as an enemy of the human race, a provisional religion which placed perfection in a heavenly isolation. The modern instinct rejects still more an ethic which proclaims benevolent inclinations as foreign to our nature, which ignores the dignity of work to the point of having it derive from a divine malediction, and which sets woman up as the source of all evil." Catéch. positiv., p. 12.
2 Syst. de politique positive, I, p. 353.
3 Lettres à divers, I, I, p. 75.
4 Syst. de politique positive, IV, p. S33. -- On the expression "slaves of God", first used by Comte in one of his lectures in 1851, see H. de Lubac, op. cit., pp. 100-101. -- The preface to the first edition of Catéchisme positiviste begins with the following lines: "'In the name of the past and of the future, the theoretical servants and the practical servants of HUMANITY are arriving to take over deservedly the general direction of terrestrial affairs, in order to build at last the true providence, moral, intellectual, and material; while irrevocably excluding from political supremacy all the various slaves of God, Catholics, Protestants, or Deists, as being at once backward-minded and disturbers.' Such was the decisive proclamation with which, at the Palais-Cardinal, I ended, on Sunday, October 19, 1851, after a summary of five hours, my third Cours philosophique sur l'histoire générale de l'humanité. Since that memorable closing . . ." Catéch. posit., p. 5.
5 Lettres à divers, I, p. 520 (to H. D. Hutton).
6 "Nolite arbitrari quia pacem venerim mittere in terram: non veni pacem mittere, sed gladium. Veni enim separare hominem adversus patrem suum, et filiam adversus matrem suam, et nurum adversus socrum suam: et inimici hominis, domestici ejus." Matt., X, 34-36. "Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against the mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
7 "In a free talk before dinner, in the midst of Saint-Germain forest, I was able to observe at last that the systematic use of the compulsory word: religion and its derivatives, 
no Longer offends M. Littré, who is very affected even by the hope of brushing God aside as irreligious." Correspondance inédite, II, p. 89 (to Laffitte, 17 Shakespeare 61). Cf. Ibid., p. 107 (to Lafitte, 11 Descartes 61): "Whereas the Protestants and the Deists have always attacked religion in the name of God, we must, on the contrary, finally brush God aside in the name of religion."
1 "Since the Western priesthood has become irrevocably reactionary, its belief, given over to itself, tends to develop freely the immoral character inherent in its anti-social nature." Catéch. positiv., p. 13. -- Cf. Polit. positive, III, pp.411 seq.
2 Lettres à divers, I, 1, p. 169; Corresp. inédite, II, p. 371. -- "Pursuing the least good only under the bait of an infinite reward and out of fear of an eternal punishment, their hearts appear to be as degraded as their minds obviously are, seen the absurdity of their beliefs." Catéch. positiv., p. 30; cf. ibid., p. 281.
3 Catéch. positiv., p. 166.
4 H. de Lubac, op. cit., p. 107.
5 Ibid., p. 109.
1 Catéch. positiv., p. 11. -- "A false founder", ibid., p. 353; a "supposed founder", ibid., p. 358.
2 Lettres à divers, 1,1, p. 513.
3 Syst. de pol. pos., III, pp. 408-410. -- Cf. Catéchisme positiv., pp. 353, 358.
4 H. de Lubac, Le drame de l'humanisme athée, Paris: Spes, 1945, pp. 196-197. (Author's translation.)
5 Cf. H. de Lubac, The Drama of Atheist Humanism, p. 110.
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