Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Auguste Comte

What were Auguste Comte’s sociological ideas?

Comte believed that in all the sciences, there are three historical phases: theological, metaphysical, and scientific or positive. The theological phase contains religious restrictions and belief in the supernatural. The metaphysical phase involves the justification of political rights above authority. In the scientific phase, solutions to social problems can be found. By combining these laws of phases, Comte developed an “Encyclopedic Law,” according to which all of the sciences could be ordered into a hierarchy in which sociology was the greatest and included all of the others. Comte wrote: “If it is true that every theory must be based upon observed facts, it is equally true that facts can not be observed without the guidance of some theories.” He thus posited an interconnection between facts and theories, which holds to this day.


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