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Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857) was a French philosopher and the founder of positivism and sociology. The sacred formula of positivism:  Love as the principle, order as the foundation, and progress as the goal.

Auguste Comte

Auguste Comte, philosopher of positivism and father of sociology

Sources of quotes: WikiQuotes, EGS, GoodReads, BrainyQuotes, OnlyGoodQuotes, ThePhora, Gutenberg, books.google,


Everything is relative, and only that is absolute.

The purpose of any science is the forecasting.

Indeed, every true science has for its object the determination of certain phenomena by means of others, in accordance with the relations which exist between them.

Knowledge to foresee in order to be able.

Foreknowledge is power.

Ideas govern the world, or throw it into chaos.

Men are not allowed to think freely about chemistry and biology: why should they be allowed to think freely about political philosophy?

A science is not completely known as long as one does not know its history.

The dead govern the living.

Each department of knowledge passes through three stages. The theoretic stage; the theological stage and the metaphysical or abstract stage.

The sacred formula of positivism:  Love as the principle, order as the foundation, and progress as the goal.

Order and Progress

The National flag of Brazil uses Comte’s slogan, Ordem e Progresso

In the positive stage, explanations are based on scientific laws discovered restrict through…experimentation.

Our feeble reason may fret at such restrictions, but without them all its deliberations would be confused and purposeless.

Every theory must be based upon observed facts, it is equally true that facts cannot be observed without the guidance of some theory

The first characteristic of Positive Philosophy is that it regards all phenomena as subject to invariable natural Laws. . . . Our real business is to analyze accurately the circumstances of phenomena, and to connect them by the natural relations of succession and resemblance

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…supposes all phenomena to be produced by the immediate action of supernatural beings.

In the metaphysical state…the mind supposes…abstract forces capable of producing all phenomena

For it is only by knowing the laws of phenomena, and thus being able to foresee them, that we can . . . set them to modify one another for our advantage. . . . Whenever we effect anything great it is through a knowledge of natural laws. . . . From Science come Prevision; from Prevision comes Action

As soon as the synthesis of mental conceptions enables us to form a synthesis of feelings, it is clear that there will be no very serious difficulties in constructing a synthesis of actions. Unity of action depends upon unity of impulse, and unity of design; and thus we find that the co-ordination of human nature, as a whole, depends ultimately upon the coordination of mental conceptions, a subject which seemed at first of comparatively slight importance.

The new science was to be of real benefit to mankind. It would provide the knowledge that would help us reform society. It would establish the natural laws that governed human affairs, establish institutions that would maintain order and guide us in social change.

Modern Age will be governed by industrial administrators and scientific moral guides. The whole human race becomes the main social unit.

Language forms a kind of wealth, which all can make use of at once without causing any diminution of the store, and which thus admits a complete community of enjoyment; for all, freely participating in the general treasure, unconsciously aid in its preservation.

Language ties us to past generations, ties us into a community of our fellows with similar concepts, values, and outlooks. Without common language we cannot attain solidarity and consensus, without common language no social order is possible.

Religion serves to legitimate a society’s institutions, giving them spiritual support and approval, strengthening the status quo, making it seem right and ordained by God.

We have no knowledge of anything but Phaenomena; and our knowledge of phaenomena is relative, not absolute. We know not the essence, nor the real mode of production, of any fact, but only its relations 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 phaenomena together, and the constant sequences which unite them as antecedent and consequent, are termed their laws. The laws of phaenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature, and their ultimate causes, either efficient or final, are unknown and inscrutable to us.

To know rightly what a thing is, we require to know, with equal distinctness, what it is not.

Social positivism only accepts duties, for all and towards all. Its constant social viewpoint cannot include any notion of rights, for such notion always rests on individuality. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. These obligations then increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service. … Any human right is therefore as absurd as immoral. Since there are no divine rights anymore, this concept must therefore disappear completely as related only to the preliminary regime and totally inconsistent with the final state where there are only duties based on functions.

I have now described the fundamental condition of the Positive Synthesis. Deriving its subjective principle from the affections, it is dependent ultimately on the intellect for its objective basis. This basis connects it with the Economy of the external world, the dominion of which Humanity accepts, and at the same time modifies.

With the view of restricting the construction of the objective basis within reasonable limits, there is this distinction to be borne in mind. In the Order of Nature, there are two classes of laws; those that are simple or Abstract, those that are compound or Concrete. In my work on Positive Philosophy, the distinction has been thoroughly established, and frequent use has beer. made of it. It will be sufficient here to point out its origin and the method of applying it.

The great complexity of concrete relations makes it probable that we shall never be able to co-ordinate them perfectly. In that case the synthesis would always remain limited to abstract laws. But its true object, that of supplying an objective basis for the great synthesis of human life, will none the less be attained.

Our theory of development will enable us to see distinctly the real ground of the confusion that exists upon the subject.


COMMENTS on quotations from Auguste Comte

Foreknowledge is power. It is strange that this idea goes back to Sun Tzu’s Art of War 500 BC, and he developed the concept in useful detail relative to social actions. It would seem that this idea is ubiquitous, but it seems to be buried in the inundation of words we live within. [Tao and War by Charles Scamahorn, see Chapter 13 Accurate information page 44, 45, 46, 47.]

[M. Comte, in particular, whose social system, as unfolded in his Systeme de Politique Positive, aims at establishing (though by moral more than by legal appliances) a despotism of society over the individual, surpassing anything contemplated in the political ideal of the most rigid disciplinarian among the ancient philosophers. John Stuart Mill] A moral system would be such a generalized method for individual control, it would seem there is little danger, but state-instituted systems of control have proven records of killing a substantial percentage of their citizens.

Everything is relative, and only that is absolute. That is a  wonderfully valid statement in that everything, is at some level, immersed in a context, except for the Universe itself in the most abstract definition, and perhaps that too. Everything, except that statement itself.

The sacred formula of positivism: love as the principle, order as the foundation, and progress as the goal. ORDEM E PROGRESSO  on the banner on the Brazilian national flag lacked the concept love before those two words. The only star above the banner is the Virgin, so it appears to represent LOVE.

For it is only by knowing the laws of phenomena, and thus being able to foresee them, that we can . . . set them to modify one another for our advantage. . . . Whenever we effect anything great it is through a knowledge of natural laws. . . . From Science comes Prevision; from Prevision comes Action. When Comte wrote these words there were one billion people, living more or less in balance with the natural world, but now there are seven billion, and growing, which means in the short run we presently have an abundance. Of course we are in an overshoot condition on population because of our consumption of one-time-use resources and pollution, but for the time being some six billion people are alive because of scientific progress. The result of progress has been much more bountiful than Comte could have dreamed possible.