By Andrew Wernick
This e-book deals an exhilarating reinterpretation of Auguste Comte, the founding father of French sociology. Andrew Wernick offers the 1st in-depth critique of Comte's inspiration of faith and its position in his pondering on politics, sociology and philosophy of technology. He locations Comte's principles in the context of post-1789 French political and highbrow background, and of contemporary philosophy, in particular postmodernism. Wernick relates Comte to Marx and Nietzsche as seminal figures of modernity and examines key gains of contemporary and postmodern French social idea, tracing the inherent flaws and disintegration of Comte's approach.
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Extra info for Auguste Comte and the Religion of Humanity: The Post-theistic Program of French Social Theory
Car, celle-ci reÂsultera toujours d'une induction purement empirique, quoique devenue, depuis longtemps, irreÂsistible . ' (x:174). The system and its logic (1) 39 never know, even supposing that the very notion of `cause' was not itself metaphysical41 ± but observable and predictable regularities. From Newton's celestial dynamics to Gall's phrenology, scienti®c laws were just faits geÂneÂrales which connected, with maximum economy, all the known facts in a domain by relations of resemblance, concomitance or succession (i:3±4; x:173±4).
Conjectures, he argued, including quite abstract ones about the general nature of the ®eld, were necessary to mentally organise (however wrongly) what was known, and to stimulate research into what was not. There could have 45 It is in just this sense that Heidegger af®rms the essentially `mathematical' character of modern science. `Ta mathemata means for the Greeks that which man knows in advance in his observation of whatever is and in his intercourse with things' (1977a:118). `[P]hysical science does not ®rst become research through experiment; rather, on the contrary, experiment ®rst becomes possible where and only where the knowledge of nature has become transformed into research.
Such pre-theory was always to be regarded as heuristic and hypothetical. As for its content, the distinction to be drawn at the most fundamental level was between the kind of preconceptions which mysti®ed things in advance, and those which pictured the object of knowledge as, and in the form of, something which could in principle be scienti®cally known. However, in clarifying this further, Bacon's unalloyed empiricism, and his heteroclite list of `idols' to be demolished, was of little help. Some `positive' working conception of the knowledge domain in question was always needed; and in de®ning this we required criteria for distinguishing, even in the most general terms, between scienti®c and non-scienti®c modalities of picturing it.