Linked bibliography for the SEP article "Auguste Comte" by Michel Bourdeau

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Primary Literature

A standard edition of Comte's works does not yet exist and some of the most important ones (the second part of the Course of Positive Philosophy, the whole System of Positive Polity) have been unavailable for many years (in the case of the System, for more than fifty years), until recently. See the Other Internet Resources section below. The most complete edition, which is an anastatic reprint of previously published volumes (essentially 1830–1842 and 1851–1854), is:

  • Auguste Comte, Œuvres, Paris: Anthropos (11 vols.), 1968–1970.

A new edition has yet to appear. For the time being, only one volume has been issued:

  • Auguste Comte, Cours de philosophie positive, leçons 46–51, Paris: Hermann, 2012.

On the other hand, English positivists (Harriet Martineau, Richard Congreve, John H. Bridges, Edward S. Bessly, Frederic Harrisson) translated in the second half of the 19th century the most important works. So, after the original text, we give the reference to these English translations, even if they are not easily accessible.

  • 1820, “Sommaire appréciation du passé moderne”, in L'Organisateur, 8ième et 9ième lettres; reprinted in 1851 (v. 4, appendix) and 1970; translated in 1974 and 1998. (Scholar)
  • 1822, “Plan des travaux scientifiques nécessaires pour réorganiser la société”, in Suite des travaux ayant pour objet de fonder le système industriel, DU CONTRAT SOCIAL, par Saint-Simon, Paris; reprinted in 1851 (v. 4, appendix) and 1970; translated in 1974 and 1998. (Scholar)
  • 1825, “Considérations philosophiques sur la science et les savants”, in Le Producteur, n° 7, 8 et 10; reprinted in 1851 (v. 4, appendix) and 1970; translated in 1974 and 1998. (Scholar)
  • 1826, “Considérations sur le pouvoir spirituel”, in Le Producteur, n° 13, 20 et 21; reprinted in 1851 (v. 4, appendix) and 1970; translated in 1974 and 1998. (Scholar)
  • 1830–1842: Cours de philosophie positive, Paris: Rouen first, then Bachelier (6 vols.); page reference is to the new edition, Paris: Hermann, 2 vols., 1975. Freely translated and condensed by Harriet Martineau: The positive philosophy of Auguste Comte, London: J. Chapman, 1853. Parsons (1961) gives some selections from the sociology lessons. (Scholar)
  • 1843, Traité élementaire de géométrie algébrique, Paris: V. Dalmont.
  • 1844a, Discours sur l'esprit positif, Paris: V. Dalmont; reprinted, Paris: Vrin, 1995 (introduction to 1844b, published separately). Translated as: A Discourse on the Positive Spirit, London: Reeves, 1903.
  • 1844b, Traité philosophique d'astronomie populaire, Paris: V. Dalmont; reprinted, Paris: Fayard, 1985.
  • 1848, Discours sur l'ensemble du positivisme, Paris: Mathias; reprinted, Paris: Garnier Freres, 1998 (introduction to 1851, published separately). Translated as: General View of Positivism, London: Trubner, 1865.
  • 1851–1854, Système de politique positive, ou traité de sociologie instituant la religion de l'Humanité (4 vols.), Paris, Carilian-Goeury. Translated as: System of Positive Polity, London: Longmans, Green and co., 1875–1877.
  • 1852, Catéchisme positiviste, Paris: self-published; reprinted, Paris: Garnier Freres, 1966. Translated as: The Catechism of Positive Religion, London: Trubner, 1891. (Scholar)
  • 1855, Appel aux conservateurs, Paris: self-published. Translated as: Appeal to Conservatives, London: Trubner, 1889. New edition, Paris: Editions du Sandre, 2009. (Scholar)
  • 1856, Synthèse subjective, Paris: self-published. Translated as: Subjective Synthesis, London: Kegan Paul, 1891.
  • 1970, Ecrits de jeunesse: 1816–1828, textes établis et présentés par P. Carneiro et P. Arnaud; Paris:École Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
  • 1973–1990, Correspondance générale et confessions (8 vols.), Paris: École Pratique des Hautes Etudes; La Haye: Mouton.


  • 1974, The Crisis of Industrial Civilisation, The Early Essays of Auguste Comte, R. Fletcher (ed.), London: Heinemann.
  • 1995, The Correspondence of John Stuart Mill and Auguste Comte, O. Haac (ed.), London: Transaction Publishers.
  • 1998, Early Political Writings, H. S. Jones (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Works of Mill

While reading Comte, it is useful to have continual reference to Mill, especially:

  • 1843, System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, London: John Parker; reprinted in Mill 1963ff, vols. 7–8.
  • 1865, Auguste Comte and Positivism, London: Trubner; reprinted in Mill 1963ff, vol. 10, pp. 261–368.
  • 1873, Autobiography, London: Longmans; reprinted in Mill 1963ff, vol. 1, pp. 1–290.
  • 1874, Three Essays on Religion, London: Longmans; reprinted in Mill 1963ff, vol. 10, pp. 369–489.
  • 1963, Earlier Letters, in Mill 1963ff, v. 12–13.
  • 1963ff, Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, J. M. Robson (ed.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Secondary literature

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