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Saint Simon and Auguste Comte


born 17.10.1760, died 19.5.1825
Early French Socialist. Precursor of Sociology. Wrote
L'Industrie (1817): quotes
L'Organisateur (1819), quotes
Du Systeme Industriel (1821),
Catechisme des Industriels (1823) quotes
Nouveau Christianisme (1825).

John Stuart Mill, Saint Simon and the origins of sociology

Saint Simon and the Saint Simonists

In 1831 the English social theorist, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), published a series of magazine articles, The Spirit of the Age, outlining a theory of history and progress based on the ideas of an early founder of French sociology, Claude Henri Saint Simon (1760-1825). The word "sociology", invented by Saint Simon's colleague and rival Auguste Comte (1798-1857), was not used until 1838. But the idea of a science of society was a preoccupation of Saint Simon and Mill before Comte gave it the name that we now use for it.

Mill was a radical. He was one of a group of utilitarian campaigner's who sought to have society re-structured so that it secured the greatest happiness of the greatest number. As a believer in progress, Mill felt that the spirit of the age was with him. The year before his articles, a revolution in France had replaced a conservative monarchy with a more liberal king. Whilst his articles were being published, he and his friends were campaigning for the Great Reform Bill, which got rid of the English rotten boroughs, evened out the vote across the country, and paved the way for parliamentary democracy in Britain.

Whether people approved of change, or disapproved, almost everybody agreed "that the times are pregnant with change; and that the nineteenth century will be known to posterity as the era of one of the greatest revolutions of which history has preserved the remembrance, in the human mind, and in the whole constitution of human society". The progressives, "the men of the present age, were exulted by the changes and described them as "the march of intellect". The conservatives, "the men of the past", were in terror of the changes, and pleaded for respect for the "wisdom of ancestors".

Mill was a progressive, but, in The Spirit of the Age, he argued that the most important feature of the age was not that it was an age of change, but that it was an age of transition. It was an age of moving between one order of society and another. People had outgrown their old institutions and old doctrines, but they had not yet acquired new ones.

The Rhythm of History.

Although Mill thought that history was moving with him, that society was moving rapidly from things he disliked towards things he wanted, he did not think the world should always be in this state of agitation. He suggested a rhythm to history. Society is always in either a natural or a transitory state:


The natural states are durable.

"The affairs of mankind, or of any of those smaller political societies which we call nations, are always either in one or the other of two states, one of them in its nature durable, the other essentially transitory. The former of these we may term the natural state, the latter the transitional." (The Examiner 6.2.1831)

Conservative theory J.S. Mill and Saint Simon's idea that society has a "natural" state came from reading Conservative theorists who criticised the French revolution of 1789. These conservative theories contributed a great deal to the origin of sociology. There were several conservative critics, but the one I will take as an example is Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the author of Reflections on the French Revolution (November 1790)

Burke, and other critics of the 1789 French Revolution disagreed with the liberal idea that society could be restructured by reason. The radical writer, Rousseau, had argued that laws need to be brought into agreement with the general will of the people. Conservative writers like Edmund Burke did not, necessarily, dispute this. Instead they suggested that the will of the people is not what radicals, basing themselves on Rousseau, think it is.

Burke wrote of "a cabal calling itself philosophic" whose "opinions and systems" were held to be "the true actuating spirit" of the French Revolution.

Rousseau is the philosopher most often quoted with respect to the French Revolution, although Burke doubted if Rousseau would have approved of what his followers did. Burke said that England had its philosophic faction, sympathetic to the revolution. But they were not "the people" but "a handful of people". This handful of philosophers had compiled an abstract bill of rights "in the name of the whole people", but "the people of England have no share in it. They utterly disclaim it". If the philosophic faction tried to base a revolution on their principles, Burke said that the people of England would "resist ... it with their lives and fortunes".

So Burke provides us with an image of a tiny fraction of intellectuals, who claim to speak in the name of "the people" on the basis of their own reasoning. He contrasts this with an image of the real people, who are wiser because they rely on the wisdom inherent in their prejudices. Burke said that the real people know that they depend on custom and expertise. They have an interest in tradition and authority and do not want to make their own laws. The real people are wiser than the radical philosophers.

Theorists like the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, began by following Rousseau's radical views and were won over to the conservatism of Burke, precisely because they perceived the real people to be the workers rather than the intellectuals.

To illustrate Burke's ideas, let us consider a shepherd. He (we will ignore Little Bo Peep) has skills for looking after sheep that have taken centuries to perfect and which have taken him all his life to learn. A man like that does not want to be his own politician or priest - he wants to rely on experts as skilled at politics and religion as he is at sheep-rearing.

Society, according to the conservatives, is naturally hierarchical. We all think about politics to some degree; we all think about science to some degree; we all think about religion to some degree - But some people think a lot more about each of these than others - they are the experts.

Mill's problem is that, on the one hand, he wants people to have collective control of their destiny; whilst, on the other, he does not want them to make a cock-up of it for lack of expertise. The resolution of his dilemma was representative democracy. That is, the people should choose the experts.

Now we can get back to the rhythm of history. We now have two things: A model of society from the conservative theorists, and a theory of history from Mill. According to the conservatives, society is a complex organisation of roles arranged in institutions, which is integrated and animated by ideas. Mill's theory of history is that people can outgrow the institutions and ruling ideas of their society, and when this happens the people need to acquire new ones.

What we have is a succession of social orders, each with its corresponding ideas system, and transitional stages in between that arise because the people outgrow the preceding social order and its ideas. The social orders are natural states. There characteristic is that, in them, worldly power and moral influence are habitually and indisputably exercised by the fittest people that society can provide. The transitional stages are when society contains people more fitted for worldly power and moral influence than those exercising the relevant roles. Later theorists were to refer to the process Mill was describing as a circulation of elites.

Mill says that, on its own, this is a theory of change, rather than a theory of progress. Progress is dependent on building on what has past (culture) and on free discussion.

SAINT SIMON (1760-1825)

John Stuart Mill took the idea of society as complex organisation and the idea of history as rhythm, from Saint Simon. Mill's concern for liberty and democracy are part of the liberal tradition. They are not issues that the Saint Simonians are concerned with. The Saint Simonians thought that freedom and democracy distract from the real issues.

Claude Henri, Comte de Saint Simon was a French aristocrat. He dropped the title "Comte de" during the French Revolution. In 1779, aged 17, he was a French army office, serving abroad. He returned to France in 1789 and, during the revolution, he made a small fortune speculating in confiscated lands. His lavish expenditure, however, led to poverty.

During the period that Napoleon was the ruler of France, Saint Simon developed the ideas that Auguste Comte was later to call "positivism". We can identify four beliefs that characterise Saint Simon's positivist ideas:

1. A unification of sciences is needed to create a new world view.

2. A science of society is needed - analogous to the natural sciences like physics and biology.

3. Science should replace religion ('theology') as coordinator of the moral order.

4. Scientists should become the new leaders of society.

Herbert Marcuse's portrayal of "positivism" puts the emphasis on being positive, rather than negative or critical:

"Saint Simon began with a predominantly optimistic view of industrial society - the rapid progress of all productive forces, he thought, would soon blot out the growing antagonisms and the revolutionary upheavals within this social system. The new industrial order was above all a positive one, representing the affirmation and fruition of all human endeavour for a happy and abundant life. It was not necessary to go beyond the given; philosophy and social theory needed but to understand and organise the facts. Truth was to be derived from the facts and from them alone. Saint-Simon thus became the founder of modern positivism" (Marcuse, H. 1941/1955 p.331, referring to Memoire sur la Science de l'Homme, written in 1813)

In 1815, Napoleon lost his war against the monarchist powers, and the Bourbon King of France was restored. Napoleon went into exile and the royal family and aristocracy returned to rule France. The social position and power of industrialists and bankers was threatened by the return of the old nobility, and Saint Simon began to move into the circle of the threatened groups.

In 1819 Saint Simon published a series of pamphlets called The Organiser. One of these was later nick-named The parable. The Parable caught the public imagination and was twice re-printed. Then, in 1820, the Restoration police arrest Saint Simon for publishing a work offensive to the king. On February 13th 1820, the Duke de Berry (a relative of the French king) was assassinated. Saint Simon's prosecution claimed that the assassin had been

"fanaticized by principles and doctrines similar to those which M. de Saint Simon professes"

Saint Simon was acquitted and the trial gave publicity to his ideas. This was the year that John Stuart Mill met him. Mill was 14, Saint Simon was 60.

So what did the Parable say? It asked two questions. Question one was, if France suddenly lost her 3,000 leading scientists, artists, manufacturers, bankers, farmers and skilled craftsmen, what would be the effect? The answer to this question was that overnight the nation would become a lifeless corpse. It would become inferior to the nations that are its rivals and it would remain so for at least a generation, until it had replaced the people it had lost. The second question was, suppose France lost all the king's family, his royal household, the King's Ministers of State and councillors, his civil servants and all the local government officials - Suppose she lost her judges, her army officers and her leading churchmen - and all her rich landowners who live like nobles - what would be the effect. France would grieve, but not suffer. The country would easily find other people to do their jobs.

The idea behind Saint Simon's parable was that society has layers, and that these layers can get out of order. At the time he wrote, the bottom layer contained people like shepherds and factory hands, the middle layer contained people like scientists, philosophers and industrialists, and the top layer contained people like politicians, priests and army officers. His parable says that the top layer is easily replaced, whilst the middle layer is very difficult to replace. The people at the top have most of the wealth and power, but they are the least useful. Society, at that time, he argued "is a world which is upside down".

Saint Simon wanted a society which would be controlled by scientists and industrialists. He wanted a moral order that would be controlled by positivist philosophers. (Later the Saint Simonians became a religious sect The New Christianity). He believed that the old land-owning, military and catholic elite needed to be replaced by a new industrial and scientific elite.

Saint Simon's theory of history

We now move on to see how this fits in with Saint Simon's theory of history. We will do so with a table that shows the organic and critical periods that he identified in West European history.

Polytheist ideology
Social order based on slavery


Theological ideology
Feudal social order


There are two aspects that I want to highlight. First respecting social organisation, secondly what I have called the rhythm of history.

SOCIAL OrganisATION. Underlying the concept of organic periods of history is the idea that the parts of society fit in with one another. Later sociologists have called this being 'functional'. The old land-owning, military and catholic elite was the best (functional) elite for the medieval world. The analysis of social structure in this way follows the analogy of the body, where parts do not make sense except as part of the whole. This idea, developed by Saint Simon's student, Auguste Comte, was further developed by Emile Durkheim in the creation of Sociology.

RHYTHM OF HISTORY. Looking for the motor that drives history forward leads to what Comte called "dynamics", as distinct from the "statics" of analysing the structure of society. Saint Simon's explanation of the dynamic of history fed directly into marxism.

The dynamic of history, for Saint Simon, came from classes and class conflict. Each era has two ruling classes, the practical organisers and the intellectuals. Which came first as a motor of change? Is it conflict of ideas that moves history forward, or conflict of practical organisation? The basic argument that Saint Simon gave was that it is the conflict of ideas.

We must now move on to make our model of history a little more complicated. Saint simon argued that the social orders overlapped. The new order was conceived when the old order was mature. That is, the old order contained the seeds of its own destruction. When are at the peak of maturity, the germ of a new world arises. An example of this is the granting of charters to towns by medieval kings, an act the facilitates the development of the commercial classes that develop to replace the medieval kings. On the intellectual plane there is the way that arabic scientific teachings enter medieval universities.

Quotes from Saint Simon

L'Industrie (1817),
[E]very social regime is an application of a philosophic system, and... consequently it is impossible to institute a new regime, without having first established the new philosophical system to which it should correspond. (Quoted
Manuel, F.E. 1963 p.233)

The philosophical revolution which then took place consisted in the passage from polytheism to theism. Once this revolution was completed, once theism was organised, a corresponding political revolution resulted, which consisted of the passage from the ancient social order which had existed among the Greeks and the Romans to the one which was later established among modern peoples...

The transition which is now taking place is composed, like the preceding one, of two elements: one philosophical, the other political. The first consists in the passage from the theological system to the terrestrial and positive system; the second, in the passage from a regime of arbitrary rule to a liberal and industrial regime.

The philosophical revolution has long since begun, because we should trace its origins back to the study of positive sciences introduced into Europe by the Arabs more than ten centuries ago. To complete this revolution we have to accomplish only one more thing: we must finish the comprehensive work necessary for the organisation of a positive system, whose elements now exist isolated.

The transition in its political form can be said to date from Luther's Reformation. Although this political transition has been less catastrophic than the political transition from polytheism to theism, it has already produced great misfortunes; it was the issue behind the Thirty years' War, the two English revolutions of the seventeenth century, and the French Revolution. (Quoted Manuel, F.E. 1963 p.221)

L'Organisateur (1819),

Let us suppose that France keeps all of the men of genius which it possesses in the sciences, in the fine arts, and in the trades, but has the misfortune to lose on the same day Monsieur, the brother of the king, Monseigneur the Duke d'Angoulème, Monseigneur the Duke de Berry, Monseigneur the Duke d'Orlèans, Monseigneur the Duke de Bourbon, Madame the Duchess d'Angoulème, Madame the Duchess de Berry, Madame the Duchess d'Orlèans, Madame the Duchess Bourbon, and Mademoiselle de Condé.

Let us suppose that at the same time [France loses] all the great officers of the crown, all the ministers of state (both those with and those without departments), all the councillors of state, all the maîtres-de- requêtes, all the marshals, all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, grand vicars and canons, all the prefects and subprefects, all the employers n the ministries, all the judges, and, in addition to these, the ten thousand richest landowners among those who live as nobles.

This accident will certainly afflict the French for they are a good people, because they would not be able to look with indifference upon the sudden disappearance of so large a number of their compatriots. But this loss of the thirty thousand individuals reputed to be the most important in the State, would only cause them grief in a purely sentimental sense, for it would not result in any political evil for the State. (etc. Quoted Manuel, F.E. 1963 p.211)

Catéchisme des Industriels (1823)

Q. What developments took place in industry from Louis 11 up to and including the reign of Louis 14? What caused this advance and the importance acquired by the industrials?

A. By the fifteenth century the monarchy had already acquired a great deal of strength compared with its position at the time of the conquest of the Gauls by the Franks, when it was merely the generalship of the Frankish army, nominated by the chieftains whose troops made up this army.

When Louis 14 ascended the throne he recognised that the monarchy was still only a very precarious institution with no positive and stable character. He recognised that the sovereign power still belonged collectively to the barons, that the King was in reality only the most important baron, and that those barons descended from chieftains still subscribed to the tradition that the King was a primus inter pares, to be appointed and dismissed according to their wishes. He recognised, finally, the need to fix his attention on the fact that in France the barons were collectively stronger and more powerful than the King, and that under the feudal constitution the monarchy could maintain its supremacy only by keeping the barons divided and attracting some of the most powerful barons to its side.

Louis 14 conceived the bold plan of concentrating all sovereign power in the hands of the monarchy, destroying the supremacy of the Franks over the Gauls, destroying the feudal system, abolishing the institutions of nobility, and making himself King of the Gauls instead of chief of the Franks.

If this plan was to be successful, the King had to merge his authority with the interests of a class strong enough to support him and ensure the success of his enterprise. He united with the industrials.

The industrials wanted the sovereign power to be concentrated in the hands of the monarchy, because this was the only way of destroying the impediments to commerce in France, which resulted from the division of the sovereign power. They also wanted to become the first class in society, as much to satisfy their self-esteem as to achieve the material advantages involved in making the law (the law always favouring its makers). Consequently, the industrials accepted the alliance proposed by the monarchy, an alliance which they have maintained ever since.

Louis 11 may thus be regarded as the founder of the league formed in the fifteenth century between the monarchy and industry against the nobility, between the King of France and the Gauls against the descendants of the Franks.

The struggle between the king and the great vassals, between the chiefs of industrial enterprises and the nobles, lasted for more than two hundred years before the sovereign powers were concentrated in the hands of the monarchy, and before the direction of industrial enterprises by the nobles had completely ceased. But in the end Louis 14 saw the descendants or successors of the most important chieftains (who had subsequently become barons) fill his antechambers in their efforts to obtain household posts. And at last the numerous class of workingmen had no other leaders, in their work, but men drawn from their ranks and whose capacity or wealth had enabled them to become entrepreneurs of some industrial enterprise.

GUSTAVE D'EICHTHAL to J.S.MILL Quoted Manuel, F.E. 1963 p.421

23.11.1829 letter said that for two years none of the disciples was able to grasp the full meaning of Nouveau Christianisme.

1.12.1829 "
The religious doctrine of Saint-Simon has this unitary character which should gather about it all the men of the future. It puts neither spirit above matter, nor matter above spirit. It considers them as intimately united one with the other, as being the condition one of the other, as being the two modes in which being is manifest, living being, sympathetic being."

"Saint-Simon, after having in his early writings tried to reorganise society in the name of Science, after having later renewed the same attempt in the name of Industry, realized that he had mistaken the means for the end; that it is in the name of their sympathies that one must speak to men, and above all, in the name of their religious sympathies which should summarize all others."

Quotes from "The Spirit of the Age", by John Stuart Mill, a series of articles in The Examiner 6.1.1831 to 29.5.1831.

The Examiner 9.1.1831. MillCW22 p.228:
The "Spirit of the Age" is in some measure a novel expression. I do not believe it is to be met in any work exceeding fifty years in antiquity. The idea of comparing one's own age with former ages, or with our notion of those which are yet to come, had occurred to philosophers, but it never before was itself the dominant idea of any age. etc

The conviction is already not far from being universal, that the times are pregnant with change; and that the nineteenth century will be known to posterity as the era of one of the greatest revolutions of which history has preserved the remembrance, in the human mind, and in the whole constitution of human society.

The first of the leading peculiarities of the present age is that it is an age of transition. Mankind have outgrown old institutions and old doctrines, and have not yet acquired new ones. When we say outgrown, we intend to prejudge nothing. A man may not be either better or happier at six-and-twenty, than he was at six years of age: but the same jacket which fitted him then, will not fit him now.

The Examiner 23.1.1831 MillCW22 p.238:
I have said that the present age is an age of transition. I shall now attempt to point out one of the most important consequences of this fact. In all other conditions of mankind, the uninstructed have faith in the instructed. in an age of transition, the divisions among the instructed nullify their authority, and the uninstructed lose their faith in them. The multitude are without a guide ; and society is exposed to all the errors and dangers which are to be expected when persons who have never studied any branch of knowledge comprehensively and as a whole attempt to judge for themselves upon particular parts of it.

The Examiner 6.2.1831. Mill, J.S. 1976 p.176, MillCW22 p.252
The affairs of mankind, or of any of those smaller political societies which we call nations, are always either in one or the other of two states, one of them in its nature durable, the other essentially transitory. The former of these we may term the natural state, the latter the transitional.

Society may be said to be in its natural state, when worldly power, and moral influence, are habitually and undisputedly exercised by the fittest persons whom the existing state of society affords. Or, to be more explicit; when on the one hand, the temporal, or, as the French would say, the material [p.177] interests of the community, are managed by those of its members who possess the greatest capacity for such management; and on the other hand, those whose opinions the people follow, whose feelings they imbibe, and who practically and by common consent, perform, no matter under what original title, the office of thinking for the people, are persons better qualified than any others whom the civilization of the age and country affords to think and judge rightly and usefully.

The Examiner 13.3.1831 MillCW22 p.278:
It is not necessary for me to point out that until a comparatively recent period, none but the wealthy, and even, i might say, the hereditary wealthy, had it in their power to acquire the intelligence, the knowledge, and the habits, which are necessary to qualify a man, in any tolerable degree, for managing the affairs of his country.

The Examiner 3.4.1831 MillCW22 p.289
It has been stated, in the preceding paper, that the conditions which confer worldly power are still, amidst all changes of circumstances, the same as in the middle ages - namely, the possession of wealth, or the being employed and trusted by the wealthy.

The Examiner 15.5.1831 MillCW22 p.304:
In commencing this series of papers, I intended, and attempted, that the divisions of my discourse should correspond with those of my subject, and that each number should comprehend within its own limits all which was necessary to the expansion and illustration of one single idea. The nature of the publication, which, as being read by more persons capable of understanding the drift of such speculations (and by fewer, in proportion, who are unfit for them) than any other single work, I considered myself fortunate in being able to adopt as a vehicle for my ideas, compels me to limit the length of each article more than is compatible with my original plan. I can no longer always hope that every paper should be complete within itself; and the present number, had it appeared in its proper place, would have formed the continuation of the last.

The Examiner 29.5.1831 MillCW22 p.312:
In the countries that remained Catholic, but where the Catholic hierarchy did not retain sufficient moral ascendancy to succeed in stopping the progress of civilisation, the church was compelled, by the decline of its separate influence, to link itself more and more closely with the temporal sovereignty. And thus did it retard its own downfall, until the spirit of the age became too strong for the two united, and both fell together to the ground.

AUGUSTE COMTE, 1798-1857

Disciple of Saint-Simon from 1818-1824. Author of Cours de Philosophie Positive (6 volumes), published 1830-1842; translated into English 1853. Word Sociology first coined in volume four (1838).

Born Montpellier, 19.1.1798. From about the age of 20 (1818?) he taught mathematics in Paris. As a result of his association with Saint-Simon he also wrote philosophical articles for journals. At about 28 (1826?) he began a series of philosophical lectures which attracted considerable attention; but after the third of these, he attempted suicide. Two years later he was well enough to resume his lectures. He maintained himself by teaching and examining mathematics. Lawsuits, however, resulted in his losing a great part of his income. John Stuart Mill (who never met Comte), raised money to support him. When this could not be renewed, Comte broke of relations with Mill. An appeal was made on his behalf by influential men in France, which resulted in a small income, sufficient to live on, for the rest of his life. In 1848 Comte founded the Positivist Society. From 1849 to 1851 he lectured on his philosophy at the Palais Royal.

J.S. Mill's description of Comte's Positivism

"The fundamental doctrine of a true philosophy, according to M. Comte, and the character by which he defines Positive Philosophy, is the following:

"- We have no knowledge of anything but Phenomena; and our knowledge of phenomena is relative, not absolute. We know not the essence, nor the real mode of production, of any fact, but only its relation to other facts in the way of succession or of similitude. These relations are constant; that is, always the same in the same circumstances. The constant resemblances which link phenomena together, and the constant sequences which unite them as antecedent and consequent, are termed their laws. The laws of phenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature, and their ultimate causes, either efficient or final, are unknown and inscrutable to us." (Mill, J.S. 1865/Comte/1969 pp 265-266)

Comte extracts - Cours de Philosophic Positive (Synoptic Table) - 1853 Condensed (English) version

Synoptic Table of the whole of the Cours de Philosophic Positive - 1830-1842

Published in the sixth volume in 1842

1st lecture. Exposition of the aim of the course, or general considerations on the nature and destiny of positive philosophy

2nd lecture. Exposition of the plan of the course, or general considerations on the fundamental hierarchy of the positive sciences

3rd lecture. Philosophic considerations on the whole of mathematical science

4th lecture. General view of mathematical analysis

Then lectures on other aspects of mathematics

15th lecture. Philosophic considerations on the fundamental principles of rational mechanics

16th lecture. General view of statistics


l7th lecture. General view of dynamics

18th lecture. Philosophic considerations on general theorems of rational mechanics

Volume 2 containing Astronomical Philosophy and Physical Philosophy

(The first was written in the month of September 1834, and the second during the first three months of 1835)

... 25th lecture. General considerations on celestial statics

26th lecture. General considerations on celestial dynamics


Volume 3 containing Chemical Philosophy and the Biological Philosophy

(Chemical Philosophy was written in September 1835.)


Volume 4 containing The Dogmatic Part of Social Philosophy

(The whole of this fourth volume was written, with few interruptions from 1 March to 1 July 1839. Publisher's Note.) Author's note.

46th lecture. Preliminary political considerations on the necessity and the opportuneness of social physics, based on a thorough analysis of the present state of politics

47th lecture. Brief appreciation of the principal philosophic attempts undertaken so far to found social science

48th lecture. Fundamental characteristics of the positive method in the rational study of social phenomena

49th lecture. Necessary relations of social physics to the other fundamental branches of positive philosophy

50th lecture. Preliminary considerations in social statics, or general theory on the spontaneous order of human societies

51st lecture. Fundamental laws of social dynamics, or general theory of the natural progress of humanity

Volume 5 containing The Historical Part of Social Philosophy, in everything that concerns the Theological State and the Metaphysical State

52nd lecture. (Written from 21 April to 2 May 1840.) Preliminary -limitation of the historical account-General considerations on the first theological state of humanity: the age of fetishism. Quick sketch of the theological and military regime

53rd lecture. (Written from 7-30 May 1840). General appreciation ol the principal theological state of humanity: the age of polytheism. Gradual development of the theological and military regime

54th lecture. (Written from 15 June to 2 July 1840). General appreciation of the last theological state of humanity: the age of monotheism. Radical modification of the theological and military regime

55th lecture. (Written from 10 January to 26 February 1841). General appreciation of the metaphysical nature of modern societies: critical epoch, or age of revolutionary transition. Growing disorganisation, at first spontaneous and then systematic, of the entire theological and military regime

Volume 6 containing Completion of the Historical Part of Social Philosophy, and General Conclusions

Personal preface (Written from 17- 19 July 1842).

56th lecture. (Written from 20 May to 17 June 1841). General appreciation of the fundamental development of the different elements propel to the positive state of humanity: the age of specialism, or the provisional stage, characterised by the universal preponderance of the spirit of detail over the spirit of the whole. Progressive convergence of the principal spontaneous developments of modern society towards the final organisation of a rational and pacific regime

57th lecture. (The historical part of this lecture was written from 23 June to 14 July 1841, and the dogmatic part from 23 December 1841 to 15 January 1842.) General appreciation of the already accomplished portion of the French or European revolution
-Rational determination of the final tendency of modern societies, in accordance with the human past as a whole: a fully positive state, or age of generality, characterised by a new normal preponderance of the spirit of the whole over the spirit of detail

48th lecture. Fundamental characteristics of the positive method in the rational study of social phenomena


It is plain that in sociology as elsewhere, and even more than elsewhere, the positive method can only be appreciated through it uses, as they emerge, so that there cannot be any question here of a preliminary treatise on method in social physics. On the other hand before proceeding to an examination of sociological science, we must characterise its general spirit, and the resources peculiar to it, as we have done for all the previous sciences: its present imperfect state makes this all the more pressing.

Extracts from Comte/Martineau 1853 The Philosophie Positive of Auguste Comte A Condensed Version of Cours de Philosophie Positive, freely translated into English by Harriet Martineau.

Book one, chapter one:
Account of the aim of this work - View of the nature and importance of the positive philosophy

(¶1.1.1.) A general statement of any system of philosophy may be either a sketch of a doctrine to be established, or a summary of a doctrine already established. If greater value belongs to the last, the first is still important, as characterizing from its origin the subject to be treated. In a case like the present, where the proposed study is vast and hitherto indeterminate, it is especially important that the field of research should be marked out with all possible accuracy. For this purpose, I will glance at the considerations which have originated this work, and which will be fully elaborated in the course of it.

(¶1.1.2.) In order to understand the true value and character of the Positive Philosophy, we must take a brief general view of the progressive course of the human mind, regarded as a whole; for no conception can be understood otherwise than through its history.

(¶1.1.3.) From the study of the development of human intelligence, in all directions, and through all times, the discovery arises of a great fundamental law, to which it is necessarily subject, and which has a solid foundation of proof, both in the facts of our organisation and in our historical experience. The law is this: - that each of our leading conceptions, - each branch of our knowledge, - passes successively through three different theoretical conditions:

In other words, the human mind, by its nature, employs in its progress three methods of philosophizing, the character of which is essentially different, and even radically opposed: viz., the theological method, the metaphysical, and the positive. Hence arise three philosophies, or general systems of conceptions on the aggregate of phenomena, each of which excludes the others. The first is the necessary point of departure of the human understanding; and the third is its fixed and definitive state. The second is merely a state of transition.

(¶1.1.4.) In the theological state, the human mind, seeking the essential nature of beings, the first and final causes (the origin and purpose) of all effects, - in short, absolute knowledge, - supposes all phenomena to be produced by the immediate action of supernatural beings.

In the metaphysical state, which is only a modification of the first, the mind supposes, instead of supernatural beings, abstract forces, veritable entities (that is, personified abstractions) inherent in all beings, and capable of producing all phenomena. What is called the explanation of phenomena is, in this stage, a mere reference of each to its proper entity.

(¶1.1.5.) In the final, the positive state, the mind has given over the vain search after absolute notions, the origin and destination of the universe, and the causes of phenomena, and applies itself to the study of their laws, - that is, their invariable relations of succession and resemblance. Reasoning and observation, duly combined, are the means of this knowledge. What is now understood when we speak of an explanation of facts is simply the establishment of a connection between single phenomena and some general facts, the number of which continually diminishes with the progress of science.

(¶1.1.6.) The Theological system arrived at the highest perfection of which it is capable when it substituted the providential action of a single Being for the varied operations of the numerous divinities which had been before imagined. In the same way, in the last stage of the Metaphysical system, men substitute one great entity (nature) as the cause of all phenomena, instead of the multitude of entities at first supposed. In the same way, again, the ultimate perfection of the Positive system would be (if such perfection could be hoped for) to represent all phenomena as particular aspects of a single general fact; - such as gravitation, for instance.

(¶1.1.7.) The importance of the working of this general law will be established hereafter. At present, it must suffice to point out some of the grounds of it.

(¶1.1.8.) There is no science which, having attained the positive stage, does not bear marks of having passed through the others. Some time since it was (whatever it might be) composed, as we can now perceive, of metaphysical abstractions; and, further back in the course of tune, it took its form from theological conceptions. We shall have only too much occasion to see, as we proceed, that our most advanced sciences still bear very evident marks of the two earlier periods through which they have passed.

(¶1.1.9.) The progress of the individual mind is not only an illustration, but an indirect evidence of that of the general mind. The point of departure of the individual and of the race being the same, the phases of the mind of a man correspond to the epochs of the mind of the race. Now, each of us is aware, if he looks back upon his own history, that he was a theologian in his childhood, a metaphysician in his youth, and a natural philosopher hi his manhood. All men who are up to their age can verify this for themselves.

(¶1.1.10.) Besides the observation of facts, we have theoretical reasons in support of this law.

(¶1.1.11.) The most important of these reasons arises from the necessity that always exists for some theory to which to refer our facts, combined with the clear impossibility that, at the outset of human knowledge, men could have formed theories out of the observation of facts. All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but that which is based on observed facts. This is incontestable, hi our present advanced stage; but, if we look back to the primitive stage of human knowledge, we shall see that it must have been otherwise then. If it is true that every theory must be based upon observed facts, it is equally true that facts cannot be observed without the guidance of some theory. Without such guidance, our facts would be desultory and fruitless; we could not retain them: for the most part we could not even perceive them.

(¶1.1.12.) Thus, between the necessity of observing facts in order to form a theory, and having a theory in order to observe facts, the human mind would have been entangled hi a vicious circle, but for the natural opening afforded by Theological conceptions. This is the fundamental reason for the theological character of the primitive philosophy. This necessity is confirmed by the perfect suitability of the theological philosophy to the earliest researches of the human mind. It is remarkable that the most inaccessible questions, - those of the nature of beings, and the origin and purpose of phenomena, - should be the first to occur in a primitive state, while those which are really within our reach are regarded as almost unworthy of serious study. The reason is evident enough: - that experience alone can teach us the measure of our powers; and if men had not begun by an exaggerated estimate of what they can do, they would never have done all that they are capable of. Our organisation requires this. At such a period there could have been no reception of a positive philosophy, whose function is to discover the laws of phenomena, and whose leading characteristic it is to regard as interdicted to human reason those sublime mysteries which theology explains, even to their minutest details, with the most attractive facility. It is just so under a practical view of the nature of the researches with which men first occupied themselves. Such inquiries offered the powerful charm of unlimited empire over the external world, - a world destined wholly for our use, and involved in every way with our existence. The theological philosophy, presenting this view, administered exactly the stimulus necessary to incite the human mind to the irksome labour without which it could make no progress. We can scarcely conceive of such a state of things, our reason having become sufficiently mature to enter upon laborious scientific researches, without needing any such stimulus as wrought upon the imaginations of astrologers and alchemists. We have motive enough hi the hope of discovering the laws of phenomena, with a view to the confirmation or rejection of a theory. But it could not be so in the earliest days; and it is to the chimeras of astrology and alchemy that we owe the long series of observations and experiments on which our positive science is based. Kepler felt this on behalf of astronomy, and Berthollet on behalf of chemistry.

Thus was a spontaneous philosophy, the theological, the only possible beginning, method, and provisional system, out of which the Positive philosophy could grow. It is easy, after this, to perceive how Metaphysical methods and doctrines must have afforded the means of transition from the one to the other.

(¶1.1.13.) The human understanding, slow in its advance, could not step at once from the theological into the positive philosophy. The two are so radically opposed, that an intermediate system of conceptions has been necessary to render the transition possible. It is only in doing this, that Metaphysical conceptions have any utility whatever. In contemplating phenomena, men substitute for supernatural direction a corresponding entity. This entity may have been supposed to be derived from the supernatural action: but it is more easily lost sight of, leaving attention free for the facts themselves, till, at length, metaphysical agents have ceased to be anything more than the abstract names of phenomena. It is not easy to say by what other process than this our minds could have passed from supernatural considerations to natural; from the theological system to the positive.

(¶1.1.14.) The Law of human development being thus established, let us consider what is the proper nature of the Positive Philosophy.

(¶1.1.15.) As we have seen, the first characteristic of the Positive Philosophy is that it regards all phenomena as subjected to invariable natural Laws. Our business is, - seeing how vain is any research into what are called Causes, whether first or final, - to pursue an accurate discovery of these Laws, with a view to reducing them to the smallest possible number. By speculating upon causes, we could solve no difficulty about origin and purpose. Our real business is to analyse accurately the circumstances of phenomena, and to connect them by the natural relations of succession and resemblance. The best illustration of this is in the case of the doctrine of Gravitation. We say that the general phenomena of the universe are explained by it, because it connects under one head the whole immense variety of astronomical facts; exhibiting the constant tendency of atoms towards each other in direct proportion to their masses, and in inverse proportion to the squares of their distances; whilst the general fact itself is a mere extension of one which is perfectly familiar to us, and which we therefore say that we know; - the weight of bodies on the surface of the earth. As to what weight and attraction are, we have nothing to do with that, for it is not a matter of knowledge at all. Theologians and metaphysicians may imagine and refine about such questions; but positive philosophy rejects them. When any attempt has been made to explain them, it has ended only in saying that attraction is universal weight, and that weight is terrestrial attraction: that is, that the two orders of phenomena are identical; which is the point from which the question set out. . . .

(¶1.1.16.) Before ascertaining the stage which the Positive Philosophy has reached, we must bear in mind that the different kinds of our knowledge have passed through the three stages of progress at different rates, and have not therefore arrived at the same time. The rate of advance depends on the nature of the knowledge in question, so distinctly that, as we shall see hereafter, this consideration constitutes an accessary to the fundamental law of progress. Any kind of knowledge reaches the positive stage early in proportion to its generality, simplicity, and independence of other departments. Astronomical science, which is above all made up of facts that are general, simple, and independent of other sciences, arrived first; then terrestrial Physics; then Chemistry; and, at length, Physiology.

(¶1.1.17.) It is difficult to assign any precise date to this revolution in science. It may be said, like everything else, to have been always going on; and especially since the labours of Aristotle and the school of Alexandria; and then from the introduction of natural science into the West of Europe by the Arabs. But, if we must fix upon some marked period, to serve as a rallying point, it must be that, - about two centuries ago, - when the human mind was astir under the precepts of Bacon, the conceptions of Descartes, and the discoveries of Galileo. Then it was that the spirit of the

(¶1.1.18.) Positive philosophy rose up in opposition to that of the superstitious and scholastic systems which had hitherto obscured the true character of all science. Since that date, the progress of the Positive philosophy, and the decline of the other two, have been so marked that no rational mind now doubts that the revolution is destined to go on to its completion, - every branch of knowledge being, sooner or later, brought within the operation of Positive philosophy. This is not yet the case. Some are still lying outside: and not till they are brought in will the Positive philosophy possess that character of universality which is necessary to its definitive constitution.

(¶1.1.19.) In mentioning just now the four principal categories of phenomena, - astronomical, physical, chemical, and physiological, - there was an omission which will have been noticed. Nothing was said of social phenomena. Though involved with the physiological, social phenomena demand a distinct classification, both on account of their importance and of their difficulty. They are the most individual, the most complicated, the most dependent on all others; and therefore they must be the latest, - even if they had no special obstacle to encounter. This branch of science has not hitherto entered into the domain of Positive philosophy. Theological and metaphysical methods, exploded in other departments, are as yet exclusively applied, both in the way of inquiry and discussion, in all treatment of Social subjects, though the best minds are heartily weary of eternal disputes about divine right and the sovereignty of the people. This is the great, while it is evidently the only gap which has to be filled, to constitute, solid and entire, the Positive Philosophy. Now that the human mind has grasped celestial and terrestrial physics, - mechanical and chemical; organic physics, both vegetable and animal, - there remains one science, to fill up the series of sciences of observation, - Social physics. This is what men have now most need of: and this it is the principal aim of the present work to establish.

(¶1.1.20.) It would be absurd to pretend to offer this new science at once in a complete state. Others, less new, are in very unequal conditions of forwardness. But the same character of positivity which is impressed on all the others will be shown to belong to this. This once done, the philosophical system of the moderns will be in fact complete, as there will then be no phenomenon which does not naturally enter into some one of the five great categories. All our fundamental conceptions having become homogeneous, the Positive state will be fully established. It can never again change its character, though it will be for ever in course of development by additions of new knowledge. Having acquired the character of universality which has hitherto been the only advantage resting with the two preceding systems, it wUl supersede them by its natural superiority, and leave to them only an historical existence.

(¶1.1.21.) - We have stated the special aim of this work. Its secondary and general aim is this: - to review what has been effected in the Sciences, in order to show that they are not radically separate, but all branches from the same trunk. If we had confined ourselves to the first and special object of the work, we should have produced merely a study of Social physics: whereas, in introducing the second and general, we offer a study of Positive philosophy, passing in review all the positive sciences already formed.

(¶1.1.22.) - The purpose of this work is not to give an account of the Natural Sciences. Besides that it would be endless, and that it would require a scientific preparation such as no one man possesses, it would be apart from our object, which is to go through a course of not Positive Science, but Positive Philosophy. We have only to consider each fundamental science in its relation to the whole positive system, and to the spirit which characterizes it; that is, with regard to its methods and its chief results.

(¶1.1.23.) The two aims, though distinct, are inseparable; for, on the one hand, there can be no positive philosophy without a basis of social science, without which it could not be all-comprehensive; and, on the other hand, we could not pursue Social science without having been prepared by the study of phenomena less complicated than those of society, and furnished with a knowledge of laws and anterior facts which have a bearing upon social science. Though the fundamental sciences are not all equally interesting to ordinary minds, there is no one of them that can be neglected in an inquiry like the present; and, in the eye of philosophy, all are of equal value to human welfare. Even those which appear the least interesting have their own value, either on account of the perfection of their methods, or as being the necessary basis of all the others.


(¶1.1.26.) - The general spirit of a course of Positive Philosophy having been thus set forth, we must now glance at the chief advantages which may be derived, on behalf of human progression, from the study of it. Of these advantages, four may be especially pointed out.


1). The study of the Positive Philosophy affords the only rational means of exhibiting the logical laws of the human mind, which have hitherto been sought by unfit methods. To explain what is meant by this, we may refer to a saying of M. de Blain-ville, in his work on Comparative Anatomy, that every active, and especially every living being, may be regarded under two relations - the Statical and the Dynamical; that is, under conditions or in action. It is clear that all considerations range themselves under the one or the other of these heads. Let us apply this classification to the intellectual functions.

(¶1.1.28.) If we regard these functions under their Statical aspect - that is, if we consider the conditions under which they exist - we must determine the organic circumstances of the case, which inquiry involves it with anatomy and physiology. If we look at the Dynamic aspect, we have to study simply the exercise and results of the intellectual powers of the human race, which is neither more nor less than the general object of the Positive Philosophy. In short, looking at all scientific theories as so many great logical facts, it is only by the thorough observation of these facts that we can arrive at the knowledge of logical laws. These being the only means of knowledge of intellectual phenomena, the illusory psychology, which is the last phase of theology, is excluded. It pretends to accomplish the discovery of the laws of the human mind by contemplating it in itself; that is, by separating it from causes and effects. Such an attempt, made in defiance of the physiological study of our intellectual organs, and of the observation of rational methods of procedure, cannot succeed at this time of day.

(¶1.1.29.) The Positive Philosophy, which has been rising since the time of Bacon, has now secured such a preponderance, that the metaphysicians themselves profess to ground their pretended science on an observation of facts. They talk of external and internal facts, and say that their business is with the latter. This is much like saying that vision is explained by luminous objects painting their images upon the retina. To this the physiologists reply that another eye would be needed to see the image. In the same manner, the mind may observe all phenomena but its own. It may be said that a man's intellect may observe his passions, the seat of the reason being somewhat apart from that of the emotions in the brain; but there can be nothing like scientific observation of the passions, except from without, as the stir of the emotions disturbs the observing faculties more or less. It is yet more out of the question to make an intellectual observation of intellectual processes. The observing and observed organ are here the same, and its action cannot be pure and natural. In order to observe, your intellect must pause from activity; yet it is this very activity that you want to observe. If you cannot effect the pause, you cannot observe: if you do effect it, there is nothing to observe. The results of such a method are in proportion to its absurdity. After two thousand years of psychological pursuit, no one proposition is established to the satisfaction of its followers. They are divided, to this day, into a multitude of schools, stiu disputing about the very elements of their doctrine. This interior observation gives birth to almost as many theories as there are observers. We ask in vain for any one discovery, great or small, which has been made under this method. The psychologists have done some good in keeping up the activity of our understandings, when there was no better work for our faculties to do; and they may have added something to our stock of knowledge. If they have done so, it is by practising the Positive method - by observing the progress of the human mind in the light of science; that is, by ceasing, for the moment, to be psychologists.

(¶1.1.30.) The view just given in relation to logical Science becomes yet more striking when we consider the logical Art.

(¶1.1.31.) The Positive Method can be judged of only in action. It cannot be looked at by itself, apart from the work on which it is employed. At all events, such a contemplation would be only a dead study, which could produce nothing in the mind which loses time upon it. We may talk for ever about the method, and state it in terms very wisely, without knowing half so much about it as the man who has once put it in practice upon a single particular of actual research, even without any philosophical intention. Thus it is that psychologists, by dint of reading the precepts of Bacon and the discourses of Descartes, have mistaken their own dreams for science.

(¶1.1.32.) Without saying whether it will ever be possible to establish a priori a true method of investigation, independent of a philosophical study of the sciences, it is clear that the thing has never been done yet, and that we are not capable of doing it now. We cannot as yet explain the great logical procedures, apart from their applications. If we ever do, it will remain as necessary then as now to form good intellectual habits by studying the regular application of the scientific methods which we shall have attained. This, then, is the first great result of the Positive Philosophy - the manifestation by experiment of the laws which rule the Intellect in the investigation of truth; and, as a consequence, the knowledge of the general rules suitable for that object.


2). The second effect of the Positive Philosophy, an effect not less important and far more urgently wanted, will be to regenerate Education.

(¶1.1.34.) The best minds are agreed that our European education, still essentially theological, metaphysical, and literary, must be superseded by a Positive training, conformable to our time and needs. Even the governments of our day have shared, where they have not originated, the attempts to establish positive instruction; and this is a striking indication of the prevalent sense of what is wanted. While encouraging such endeavours to the utmost, we must not however conceal from ourselves that everything yet done is inadequate to the object. The present exclusive speciality of our pursuits, and the consequent isolation of the sciences, spoil our teaching. . . . The specialities of science can be pursued by those whose vocation lies in that direction. They are indispensable; and they are not likely to be neglected; but they can never of themselves renovate our system of Education; and, to be of their full use, they must rest upon the basis of that general instruction which is a direct result of the Positive Philosophy.



4). The Positive Philosophy offers the only solid basis for that Social Reorganisation which must succeed the critical condition in which the most civilized nations are now living.

(¶1.1.39.) It cannot be necessary to prove to anybody who reads this work that Ideas govern the world, or throw it into chaos; in other words, that all social mechanism rests upon Opinions. The great political and moral crisis that societies are now undergoing is shown by a rigid analysis to arise out of intellectual anarchy. While stability in fundamental maxims is the first condition of genuine social order, we are suffering under an utter disagreement which may be called universal. Till a certain number of general ideas can be acknowledged as a rallying-point of social doctrine, the nations will remain hi a revolutionary state, whatever palliatives may be devised; and their institutions can be only provisional. But whenever the necessary agreement on first principles can be obtained, appropriate institutions will issue from them, without shock or resistance; for the causes of disorder will have been arrested by the mere fact of the agreement. It is in this direction that those must look who desire a natural and regular, a normal state of society.

(¶1.1.40.) Now, the existing disorder is abundantly accounted for by the existence, all at once, of three incompatible philosophies, - the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. Any one of these might alone secure some sort of social order; but while the three co-exist, it is impossible for us to understand one another upon any essential point whatever. If this is true, we have only to ascertain which of the philosophies must, in the nature of things, prevail; and, this ascertained, every man, whatever may have been his former views, cannot but concur in its triumph. The problem once recognized cannot remain long unsolved; for all considerations whatever point to the Positive Philosophy as the one destined to prevail. It alone has been advancing during a course of centuries, throughout which the others have been declining. The fact is incontestable. Some may deplore it, but none can destroy it, nor therefore neglect it but under penalty of being betrayed by illusory speculations. This general revolution of the human mind is nearly accomplished. We have only to complete the Positive Philosophy by bringing Social phenomena within its comprehension, and afterwards consolidating the whole into one body of homogeneous doctrine. The marked preference which almost all minds, from the highest to the commonest, accord to positive knowledge over vague and mystical conceptions, is a pledge of what the reception of this philosophy will be when it has acquired the only quality that it now wants - a character of due generality. When it has become complete, its supremacy will take place spontaneously, and will re-establish order throughout society. There is, at present, no conflict but between the theological and the metaphysical philosophies. They are contending for the task of reorganising society; but it is a work too mighty for either of them. The positive philosophy has hitherto intervened only to examine both, and both are abundantly discredited by the process. It is time now to be doing something more effective, without wasting our forces in needless controversy. It is time to complete the vast intellectual operation begun by Bacon, Descartes, and Galileo, by constructing the system of general ideas which must henceforth prevail among the human race. This is the way to put an end to the revolutionary crisis which is tormenting the civilized nations of the world.

(¶1.1.41.) Leaving these four points of advantage, we must attend to one precautionary reflection.

(¶1.1.42.) Because it is proposed to consolidate the whole of our acquired knowledge into one body of homogeneous doctrine, it must not be supposed that we are going to study this vast variety as proceeding from a single principle, and as subjected to a single law. There is something so chimerical in attempts at universal explanation by a single law, that it may be as well to secure this Work at once from any imputation of the kind, though its development will show how undeserved such an imputation would be. Our intellectual resources are too narrow, and the universe is too complex, to leave any hope that it will ever be within our power to carry scientific perfection to its last degree of simplicity. Moreover, it appears as if the value of such an attainment, supposing it possible, were greatly overrated. . . .

(¶1.1.43.) The consideration of all phenomena as referable to a single origin is by no means necessary to the systematic formation of science, any more than to the realization of the great and happy consequences that we anticipate from the positive philosophy. The only necessary unity is that of Method, which is already in great part established. As for the doctrine, it need not be one; it is enough that it should be homogeneous. It is, then, under the double aspect of unity of method and homogeneousness of doctrine that we shall consider the different classes of positive theories in this work. While pursuing the philosophical aim of all science, the lessening of the number of general laws requisite for the explanation of natural phenomena, we shall regard as presumptuous every attempt, in all future time, to reduce them rigorously to one.


Book six Social Physics

Chapter one
Necessity and Opportuneness of the New Science

Chapter two:
Principal Philosophical Attempts to Constitute a Social System

Chapter three:
Characteristics of the Positive Method in its Application to Social Phenomena

Chapter four:
Relation of Sociology to the other Departments of Positive Philosophy

Chapter five:
Social Statics; or Theory of the Spontaneous Order of Human Society

Though the dynamical part of social science is the most interesting, the most easily intelligible, and the fittest to disclose the laws of interconnection, still the statical part must not be entirely passed over. We must briefly review in this place the conditions and laws of harmony of human society...

Every sociological analysis supposes three classes of considerations, each more complex than the preceding; viz, the conditions of social existence of the individual, the family, and society; the last comprehending, in a scientific sense, the whole of the human species, and chiefly, the whole of the white race.


Chapter six:
Social Dynamics; or Theory of the Natural Progress of Human Society

If we regard the course of human development from the highest scientific point of view, we shall perceive that it consists in educing, more and more, the characteristic faculties of humanity, in comparison with those of animality; and especially with those which man has in common with the whole organic kingdom. It is in this philosophical sense that the most eminent civilisation must be pronounced to be fully accordant with nature, since it is, in fact, only a more marked manifestation of the chief properties of our species; properties which, latent at first, can come into play only in the advanced state of social life for which they are exclusively destined. The whole system of biological philosophy indicates the natural progression.



Part 4: A New Theory of Society
19 Epochs Organic and Critical
20 Societies Military and Civil
21 The Physiology of Social Classes
p.244 Classes were the key to Saint Simon's philosophy of history. In its very fabric history was the conflict of classes, and the historical process could be explained solely in these terms. Other factors were subsidiary phenomena, events merely affecting and modifying the class conflict which remained the central thread.

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