“one of the most profound books ever written on the philosophy of the sciences”
FIRST EDITION of one of the major documents of secular philosophy. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) began a course of lectures in Paris in 1826 on positive philosophy which were expanded into this six volume work. The Cours de Philosophie Positive was published over a period of twelve years and is Comte’s magnum opus. It attempts to show that the facts of society are as reducible to general laws as other phenomena.
“His remarkable achievement is the construction of system which embraces all human activity and knowledge. His attempt to link up all science, to relate its development to the progress of society and combine it with a system of improvement with humanity in place of an external supreme being, is still one of the major documents of secular philosophy”. Printing & the Mind of Man.
“Il fonde une ‘Physique Sociale’ ou ‘Sociologie’ pour compléter l’encyclopédie positive de six ‘sciences fondamentales’ (Mathématiques, Astronomie, Physique, Chimie, Biologie, Sociologie)”. En Français dans le Texte.
John Stuart Mill concluded after reading the first five volumes that the Cours was “one of the most profound books ever written on the philosophy of the sciences”. When Comte lost his position as examiner to the École Polytechnique and was dismissed, Mill offered to help and for the last years of his life Comte was dependent on subscriptions raised for him by his friends.
Now for the first time I fell in with Comte’s Cours de Philosophie Positive, or rather with the two volumes of it which were all that had at that time been published...Comte is always precise and profound on the method of investigation, but he does not even attempt any exact definition of the conditions of proof: and his writings show that he never attained a just conception of them....Nevertheless, I gained much from Comte, with which to enrich my chapters in the subsequent rewriting [of Logic]: and his book was of essential service to me in some of the parts which still remained to be thought out. As his subsequent volumes successively made their appearance, I read the with avidity, but, when he reached the subject of Social Science, with varying feelings. The fourth volume disappointed me: it contained those of his opinions on social subjects with which I most disagree. But the fifth, containing the connected view of history, rekindled all my enthusiasm; which the sixth (or concluding) volume did not materially abate...I had been long an ardent admirer of Comte’s writings before I had any communication with him...For some years we were frequent correspondents, until our correspondence became controversial, and our zeal cooled. I was the first to slacken correspondence; he was the first to drop it. J.S.Mill, Autobiography pp.209-213.
Printing & the Mind of Man, no. 295. En Français dans le Text, no.245. Goldsmith 26077. Kress C2485.