History and Theory 21 (2):248-266 (1982)

Warren Schmaus
Illinois Institute of Technology
Comte's three-state law concerns the historical development of our methods of cognitive inquiry. Comte believes he can defend his three-state law either by :,rational proofs" based upon our knowledge of the human mind or upon 'historical verifications." Comte then uses the three-state law of scientific progress to argue for the existence of industrial and multistate political laws of progress. Here Comte strays from his positivism. He attributes a kind of causal efficacy to scientific progress which leads him to look for laws of social dynamics describing the social progress which result from the scientific. Here Comte is guilty of Popper's "poverty of historicism" charge. Comte's three-state law of scientific development is more easily defended than his concept of historical method
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DOI 10.2307/2505247
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