L’objet de cet article est de montrer comment Comte conçoit l’esprit humain à la fois comme un phénomène biologique et comme un phénomène historique. Ce qui permet d’articuler ces deux perspectives est une conception aristotélicienne de la nature comme processus finalisé. Ainsi la thèse naturaliste, qui présente le développement collectif de l’esprit humain comme un processus déterminé, continu et fini, n’exclut cependant pas la prééminence de la sociologie. Celle-ci permet seule de connaître le développement historique ainsi que la base organique (...) à partir de laquelle il se déploie. La naturalisation de l’esprit ne débouche donc pas sur une thèse de type éliminativiste. (shrink)
Reissued in its revised 1866 second edition, this work by John Stuart Mill discusses the positivist views of the French philosopher and social scientist Auguste Comte. Comte is regarded as the founder of positivism, the doctrine that all knowledge must derive from sensory experience. The two-part text was originally printed as two articles in the Westminster Review in 1865. Part 1 offers an analysis of Comte's earlier works on positivism in the natural and social sciences, while Part 2 considers (...) its application in areas such as religion and ethics. Mill states that Comte is the first philosopher who has attempted to extend positivism 'to all objects of human knowledge'. Despite being critical of a number of Comte's views, such as the exclusion of psychology from positivist science, Mill acknowledges his fellow philosopher's influence in the face of common negative perceptions of the positivist movement. (shrink)
This article explores the role of phrenology in the work of Auguste Comte. I begin by reviewing the historical and contemporary significance of this doctrine to show the direct lineage that exists between phrenology and what we now call cognitive neuroscience. I then demonstrate the impact of phrenology on Comte’s sociological theory and make the claim that his paradigm exemplifies what TenHouten called ‘neurosociology.’ Following this, I show how Comte’s social epistemology rejected biological reductionism and considered neurophysiology a subfield (...) of sociology. This results in a somewhat startling assertion: Comte saw sociology as a cognitive science. After outlining Comte’s original vision for sociology as a discipline, I place Comte’s system in critical contact with 21st century neuroscience and suggest fruitful ways to move the neurosociology paradigm forward. In this I demonstrate that Comte’s vision for sociology is worth pursuing today, even while the specifics of his doctrine are not. (shrink)
This article focuses on Auguste Comte’s understanding of the organism–environment relationship. It makes three key claims therein: Comte’s metaphysical position privileged materiality and relativized the intellect along two dimensions: one related to the biological organism, one related to the social environment; this twofold materiality confounds attempts to reduce cognition to either nature or nurture, so Comte’s position has interesting parallels to the field of ‘epigenetics’, which sees the social environment as a causative factor in biology; and although Comte ultimately (...) diverged from the ‘postgenomic’ view in crucial ways, he remains a forerunner of the trend towards viewing the social and biological as entangled. Tending to these dimensions challenges the view that Comte is notable from a classical standpoint but ignorable from a contemporary one. It consequently invites renewed attention to his theoretical system. (shrink)
Mon objectif dans cette étude est de montrer l'influence que la philosophie positive d'Auguste Comte a exercée sur la pensée du jeune Brentano durant la période de Würzburg (1866-1874). J'examine d'abord quelques-uns des facteurs qui ont amené Brentano à s'intéresser à la philosophie de Comte et je résume, dans un deuxième temps, les grandes lignes de l'article de Brentano sur Comte dont la version française est reproduite dans ce numéro. Dans la troisième partie de cette étude, je commente brièvement (...) quelques passages de la Psychologie d'un point de vue empirique où Brentano discute de thèmes comtiens. Je conclue cette étude par quelques remarques sur les traces laissées par le positivisme de Comte dans l'œuvre de Brentano. (shrink)
Drawing on a detailed analysis of their correspondence, this books offers a new intepretation of the relation between Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill, which focuses on their controvery over sexual equality.
This book constitutes the first volume of a projected two-volume intellectual biography of Auguste Comte, the founder of modern sociology and a philosophical movement called positivism. Volume One offers a reinterpretation of Comte's "first career," (1798-1842) when he completed the scientific foundation of his philosophy. It describes the interplay between Comte's ideas and the historical context of postrevolutionary France, his struggles with poverty and mental illness, and his volatile relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, including such famous contemporaries as (...) Saint-Simon, the Saint-Simonians, Guizot, and John Stuart Mill. Pickering shows that the man who called for a new social philosophy based on the sciences was not only ill at ease in the most basic human relationships, but also profoundly questioned the ability of the purely scientific spirit to regenerate the political and social world. (shrink)
Labeling, Recovering and Reactivating: The Role of Labels on Microscope Slides in the Finding System on the Basis of Alzheimer's Auguste D. Preparations. This study discusses the role of labels in the process of the reactivation of preparations. Labels on slides together with corresponding lists on cards or sheets build what is here called a specific finding system. In the sciences of the archive the disciplinary memory together with such a finding system are the basis to the ability of (...) the sciences today to reactivate preparations from the beginning of the last century as it occurs with the Auguste D. preparations. The case of Alzheimer's micropreparations of brain parts of Auguste D. – the case that he used to show that hers was a specific brain disease unknown before – serves to describe Alzheimer's writing on the labels. It is compared to slides and labels prepared by other medical researchers between the 1890s and 1920s and the respective finding systems. Being an epistemologicum, micropreparations, as they are data, in their hybrid status of both image and material in one, cross the boundaries between icon and index. This is proven by the reactivation of Auguste D. micropreparations in molecular biological studies over 100 years after their production. (shrink)
Auguste Comte (1798–1857) is the founder of positivism, a philosophical and political movement which enjoyed a very wide diffusion in the second half of the nineteenth century. It sank into an almost complete oblivion during the twentieth, when it was eclipsed by neopositivism. However, Comte's decision to develop successively a philosophy of mathematics, a philosophy of physics, a philosophy of chemistry and a philosophy of biology, makes him the first philosopher of science in the modern sense, and his constant (...) attention to the social dimension of science resonates in many respects with current points of view. His political philosophy, on the other hand, is even less known, because it differs substantially from the classical political philosophy we have inherited. -/- Comte's most important works are (1) the Course on Positive Philosophy (1830-1842, six volumes, translated and condensed by Harriet Martineau as The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte); (2) the System of Positive Polity, or Treatise on Sociology, Instituting the Religion of Humanity, (1851-1854, four volumes); and (3) the Early Writings (1820-1829), where one can see the influence of Saint-Simon, for whom Comte served as secretary from 1817 to 1824. The Early Writings are still the best introduction to Comte's thought. In the Course, Comte said, science was transformed into philosophy; in the System, philosophy was transformed into religion. The second transformation met with strong opposition; as a result, it has become customary to distinguish, with Mill, between a “good Comte” (the author of the Course) and a “bad Comte” (the author of the System). Today's common conception of positivism corresponds mainly to what can be found in the Course. (shrink)
Recent theories concerning the origins of the idea of “the West” have missed the most important link in the story, the writings and tireless propagandizing efforts of Auguste Comte. It was Comte who first developed an explicit and elaborate idea of “the West” as a sociopolitical concept, basing it on a historical analysis of the development of the “vanguard” of humanity and proposing a detailed plan for the reorganization of that portion of the world, before it could serve the (...) rest of humanity to achieve the same “positive” state of development. Previous authors who had used “the West” did not go beyond employing it casually and interchangeably with “Europe.” Thus the modern political idea of “the West” was anything but an imperialistic project in its inception, despite widespread arguments in the literature that attribute its emergence to the needs of high imperialism. Comte's West was meant to abolish empires of conquest and establish world peace. (shrink)
This book offers an exciting re-interpretation of Auguste Comte, the founder of French sociology. Following the development of his philosophy of positivism, Comte later focused on the importance of the emotions in his philosophy resulting in the creation of a new religious system, the Religion of Humanity. Andrew Wernick provides the first in-depth critique of Comte's concept of religion and its place in his thinking on politics, sociology and philosophy of science. He places Comte's ideas in the context of (...) post-1789 French political and intellectual history, and of modern philosophy, especially postmodernism. Wernick relates Comte to Marx and Nietzsche as seminal figures of modernity and examines key features of modern and postmodern French social theory, tracing the inherent flaws and disintegration of Comte's system. Wernick offers original and fascinating insights in this rich study which will attract a wide audience from sociologists and philosophers to cultural theorists and historians. (shrink)
Auguste Comte is widely acknowledged as the founder of the science of sociology and the 'Religion of Humanity'. In this fascinating study, the first major reassessment of Comte’s sociology for many years, Mike Gane draws on recent scholarship and presents a new reading of this remarkable figure. Comte’s contributions to the history and philosophy of science have decisively influenced positive methodologies. He coined the term ‘sociology’ and gave it its first content, and he is renowned for having introduced the (...) sociology of gender and emotion into sociology. What is less well known however, is that Comte contributed to ethics, and indeed coined the word ‘altruism’. In this important work Gane examines Comte's sociological vision and shows that, because he thought sociology could and should be reflexive, encyclopaedic and utopian, he considered topics such as fetishism, polytheism, fate, love, and the relations between sociology, science, theology and culture. This fascinating account of the birth of sociology is an unprecedented introductory text on Comte. Gane’s work is an essential read for all sociologists and students of the discipline. (shrink)
This article explores and critically contextualises the photographic production of heliotherapist Auguste Rollier (1874–1954), specifically the ‘patient portraits’ photographed at his Leysin sanatoria over a substantial period of four decades, c.1903–1944. It argues that these photographs, ignored in secondary literature, were particularly persuasive in communicating the natural healing powers of sunlight and through their international dissemination brought Rollier's work professional acclaim and prestige. Always presenting anonymous patients, and most often children, the images produced for Rollier's work interweave aesthetic and (...) medical interests. Whether through the aesthetics of the photograph, of the positioning and appearance of the patient's body, or of the language used to describe these, issues of beauty and harmony were significant preoccupations for Rollier and the dissemination of his heliotherapeutic practice. The article argues that these aesthetic preoccupations drove his work, that the patient's progress and final cure, and thus the therapy's efficacy, were determined by aesthetic criteria—read through the body itself and its photographic representation. This legibility, of the body and its photography, was crucial to articulating the sun's perceived natural ability to improve, heal and even ‘rebuild’ individual patients into socially and physically productive citizens. As such, the article contends, Rollier privileged image over word, conceiving the former as possessing an unequalled ‘eloquence’ to communicate the efficacy and social potential of heliotherapy. (shrink)
Comment, à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, la physiologie cérébrale est progressivement intégrée dans la philosophie positive, puis modifiée en fonction des objectifs théoriques et politiques poursuivis par Auguste Comte.
When the 15-year-old Auguste Böhmer, daughter of Caroline Schlegel and stepdaughter of August Wilhelm Schlegel, died on 12th July 1800, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling was accused of being responsible for this tragic event, because he tried to treat her according to the medical system of John Brown. The ensuing scandal became a symbol for the danger of every progressive movement of that time: the Romantic literature, the natural philosophy of Schelling and Brownianism in its German version, represented by Andreas (...) Röschlaub. An attempt is made to analyse the social and political background of the scandal and to argue the historical meaning as a fight against a fundamental reform of medicine. (shrink)
Nicolas-Auguste Tissot published a series of papers on cartography in which he introduced a tool which became known later on, among geographers, under the name of the Tissot indicatrix. This tool was broadly used during the twentieth century in the theory and in the practical aspects of the drawing of geographical maps. The Tissot indicatrix is a graphical representation of a field of ellipses on a map that describes its distortion. Tissot studied extensively, from a mathematical viewpoint, the distortion (...) of mappings from the sphere onto the Euclidean plane that are used in drawing geographical maps, and more generally he developed a theory for the distortion of mappings between general surfaces. His ideas are at the heart of the work on quasiconformal mappings that was developed several decades after him by Grötzsch, Lavrentieff, Ahlfors and Teichmüller. Grötzsch mentions the work of Tissot, and he uses the terminology related to his name. Teichmüller mentions the name of Tissot in a historical section in one of his fundamental papers where he claims that quasiconformal mappings were used by geographers, but without giving any hint about the nature of Tissot’s work. The name of Tissot is missing from all the historical surveys on quasiconformal mappings. In the present paper, we report on this work of Tissot. We shall mention some related works on cartography, on the differential geometry of surfaces, and on the theory of quasiconformal mappings. This will place Tissot’s work in its proper context. (shrink)
Auguste Comte et William Whewell sont contemporains. Tous les deux ont écrit sur de nombreux sujets : histoire et philosophie des sciences, astronomie, mécanique, philosophie morale et réflexions sur l’éducation. Leurs œuvres de philosophie des sciences sont parmi les plus importantes du XIXe siècle. Mais si celle du premier a marqué le siècle, celle du second n’a fait que de timides apparitions. C’est probablement par John Stuart Mill, à la fois disciple et sectateur de Comte et farouche opposant de (...) Whewell, que les deux philosophes ont connu chacun l’œuvre de l’autre. Leurs œuvres présentent des ressemblances dans la démarche et dans la méthode mais elles s’opposent sur de nombreuses questions de fond. On cherche à montrer la grandeur du philosophe britannique à qui l’histoire n’a pas fait la place que l’immensité de son œuvre aurait dû lui valoir.Auguste Comte and William Whewell are contemporaries. Both wrote on numerous topics : i.e. history, philosophy of sciences astronomy, mechanics, moral philosophy and thoughts on education. Their works are among the most important ones of the 19th century. But whereas those of the former left their mark on the century, those of the latter were but rather shyly prominent. It is most probably through John Stuart Mill, both a disciple and worshipper of Comte’s whilst a fierce opponent of Whewell’s that both philosophers both came across each other’s works. Both their works are similar in the methodological approach but they differ greatly on fundamental topics. One aims at showing the greatness of the British philosopher to whom history never gave the reputation he should have been granted by his works. (shrink)
The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin was originally commissioned by the city of Calais to celebrate a local hero. It then became part of the national culture of the Third Republic, and it can today be found all over the world. This article tells the story of how this statue came into being and also attempts to address the issue of why it has become so popular and why it seems to speak so directly to universalism. Apart from (...) the fact that The Burghers of Calais is an extremely well executed and very inspired piece of art, this monument, I argue, also has to have another quality in order to become so popular. This quality, I suggest, is related to a new way of understanding and depicting heroism. Rodin centered The Burghers of Calais around a modern version of heroism that can be termed ‘civic heroism’, which draws on the collective and civic courage of the average person , rather than on the physical courage of the single and outstanding individual. Or, to put it differently, Rodin turned the statue into a democratic exemplum. (shrink)
“Le biographe tourne autour d’une réalité à deux inconnues. Il y a l’homme et il y a l’image de l’homme dans l’homme. Je dois retrouver Auguste Comte tel qu’il s’est vu; il m’est interdit de renoncer à savoir s’il s’est vu tel qu’il fut. La vie de Comte romancée par Comte est un fragment de son histoire : c’est un fait que le biographe rencontre lorsqu’il regarde l’intérieur de son personnage; mais il simplifierait trop sa tâche s’il n’essayait point (...) de saisir d’autres faits, au delà de la vision qui les déforme.”. (shrink)
Le succès le plus net de Comte en ce qui concerne les mathématiques est d'avoir fixé la géométrie et la mécanique en tant que sciences d'expérience, au même titre que la physique. Il évite ainsi une position de domination des mathématiques, qui pourraient usurper la place vacante de la métaphysique. Mais Comte permet aux mathématiques analytiques, c'est-à-dire au calcul poursuivi pour lui-même, de porter l'analogie, forme de raisonnement associée à l'ancienne scolastique, qui associe des phénomènes physiques apparemment distincts. Cette conception (...) se heurte au principe de simplicité, qui est aussi principe de généralité, et la notion comtienne des « simples faits analytiques », qu'aucune expérience autre que le calcul ne justifie, devient problématique. Il s'agit de comprendre le manque de vigilance épistémologique de Comte à propos des nombres complexes comme une conséquence de sa réhabilitation de l'analogie, dans une stratégie intellectuelle toujours d'actualité. The most obvious success of Auguste Comte as regards mathematics is in his setting geometry and mechanics as expérience science with a very same approach as physics may be. He thus avoids the domination of mathematics liable to usurp the vacant seat of metaphysics. But Comte enables analytic mathematics, i.e. a calculation aimed at by itself to stand analogy, a form of reasoining associated to the ancient scholastics associating physical phenomena apparently distinct. Such a conception collides itself to the simplicity principle which is also a generality principle and the Comtian concept of « mère analytical facts » which no expérience other than calculation evidences, thus becomes problematical. The idea at stake is to understand the lack of Comte's epistemological vigilance whith regard to the complex numbers as being the conséquence of its rehab of analogy, within an everlasting intellectual strategy. (shrink)
Auguste Comte est mort en 1857. Sa philosophie et ses prolongements sociopolitiques et religieux font de la commémoration un devoir important. Aussi a-t-il paru judicieux de profiter de l’occasion pour éclairer une œuvre encore bien méconnue ou réduite à une vulgate triviale. Plusieurs colloques ont scandé l’année 2007 : l’un à la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Paris,..
Dans son Histoire de la divination dans l’Antiquité, Auguste Bouché-Leclercq intègre une présentation de l’incubation à l’étude de la « divination par les songes », cette dernière constituant le premier chapitre de la partie consacrée à la « divination intuitive » . Il y revient notamment, plus longuement, dans le chapitre consacré aux « oracles d’Asklépios ». La relecture de ces pages conduit à une mise à l’épreuve de la classification « divination inductive » / » divination inspirée » (...) dans laquelle l’incubation a trouvé, non sans difficulté, sa place en même temps qu’elle permet, en tenant compte du contexte dans lequel l’ouvrage a été écrit, de souligner la rupture qu’A. Bouché-Leclercq était en train d’opérer dans la conception que l’on pouvait avoir à la fin du XIXe siècle de la relation des Anciens avec le divin.In his History of divination in Antiquity, Auguste Bouché-Leclercq includes a presentation of the practice of incubation in the study of “divination through dreams”, which constitutes the first chapter of the section on “intuitive divination”. He notably returns to the subject, at greater length, in the chapter on the “Oracles of Asclepius”. Rereading these pages leads to a questioning of the classification “inductive divination” / “inspired divination” in which, with some difficulty, incubation has found its place. At the same time, by taking into account the context in which the book was written, it makes it possible to emphasize the break that Bouché-Leclercq was making from the conception of the relationship of the Ancients with the divine, which prevailed at the end of the nineteenth century. (shrink)
In this article I use conceptual frames drawn from autobiography studies and feminist theory to examine the relationships between bodily experience and the social construction of sex, gender and class as they play themselves out in a selection of womens medical consultation letters written to the eminent Swiss physician, Samuel-Auguste Tissot, during the second half of the eighteenth century. My analysis of a selection of consultation letters - all of which are situated and read in the context of a (...) rich archival collection of some 1,200 letters - considers the role that bodily experience plays in the construction of self and suggests that not only the experience, but also the textual articulation of the body, were imagined both through and against accepted understandings of sex, gender and class during this period. (shrink)
A comparison between Ernst Mach and Auguste Comte is perfectly relevant: they both belong to the history of positivism. However relevant, such a comparison is complicated by three main difficulties. Firstly and secondly the scientific and the philosophical contexts are deeply different; thirdly, there is only a small number of direct references to Comte in the works of Mach. From these issues it appears that the comparison between the two authors is necessarily a reconstruction, and not a commentary on (...) explicit passages from Mach’s works.In this chapter we discuss two problems: on the one hand the question of the relationship between the history of science and the theory of knowledge and on the other hand the status of positivist explanation. The result of our enquiry, on both topics, is paradoxical. If we leave aside the system in which they are integrated, many claims endorsed by the two authors have the same ‘positivist’ sound and the area of agreement seem very large. However, if we link these claims with the systems they respectively belong to, it appears that such an agreement rests on a misunderstanding. The definition of the notion of “phenomenon” and the problem of the analysis of sensations will be the core of the disagreement. Such a disagreement explains in particular the non-reception of the Analysis of Sensations in the French twentieth century epistemology. (shrink)
Auguste Comte accorde à l’opinion publique une place centrale dans sa sociologie et, par voie de conséquence, dans la politique qu’il en déduit. Cet intérêt le distingue dans son temps comme dans la tradition sociologique. La singularité d’Auguste Comte s’affirme surtout dans l’analyse qu’il fait de l’opinion publique, lui attribuant le statut de force sociale par excellence, jouant d’abord un rôle majeur, au cours de la phase intermédiaire, dans la résistance de la société aux forces de dispersion, puis, (...) à l’âge positif, un rôle de gouvernement des affections bienveillantes et du lien social. C’est l’opinion publique organique. La tâche de défendre la société assignée par Auguste Comte à la philosophie positive, place ainsi la sociologie dans une relation symbiotique avec l’opinion publique.Auguste Comte puts public opinion at the heart of sociology and, as a consequence, the politics that flows from it. This sets Comte apart from his contemporaries and from mainstream sociology. Auguste Comte’s singularity can be seen above all in his analysis of public opinion. Comte sees public opinion as a social force par excellence, playing a major role first of all in the intermediate phase, as society resists dispersion forces, then, in the positive age, a governing role over benevolent affection and social networks. It is organic public opinion. The job of defending society assigned by Comte to positive philosophy means that there is a symbiotic relationship between sociology and public opinion. (shrink)
My aim in this study is to show that the philosophical program elaborated by Brentano in his Psychology is largely indebted to the research conducted by Brentano on British empiricism and Comte's positive philosophy at Würzburg. This research represents the starting point of, and backdrop to, the project for philosophy as science, which is at the heart of his Psychology, and sheds new light on the philosophical stakes of many debates he leads in that work. Furthermore, Brentano's research informs us (...) about his philosophical preoccupations during the Würzburg period, and simultaneously provide us with a new perspective on the evolution of his thought from his habilitation at Würzburg in 1866 to his arrival in Vienna in 1874. In this study, I propose to examine some of the factors that motivated Brentano's interest in Comte's philosophy and to evaluate the influence that the latter exerted on Brentano's thought during the Würzburg period and beyond. (shrink)
Acte essentiellement privé, le mariage grec a pour traits constants, aux époques classique et hellénistique, la dation de la mariée au marié par son père (ekdosis), ainsi que le versement d'une dot directe (proïx ou phernè) par le père ou son substitut. La riche monographie que lui consacrent A.-M. Vérilhac et Cl. Vial, à l'issue d'une collaboration de plus de dix ans, leur permet d'en étudier les différentes dimensions (sociale, économique, juridique, rituelle…) et d'en souligner ains..