Author: RJ Smith

In Defence of the Past

Auguste Comte was one of the most famous and admired thinkers of the early nineteenth century, but fell into obscurity in the course of the twentieth. This is a shame, because Comte’s philosophy is an optimistic one, and his methods are useful in resolving many of the problems we face in the West today. Comte is best known as the inventor of positivism. His “law of three stages” theory earned him admirers such as John Stuart Mill in England, the Young Turks (not the YouTube commentators), and nineteenth century Mexican educational reformers. The motto ordem e progresso (order and progress) on the Brazilian flag is derived directly from Comte’s ideas. According to Comte, civilizations pass through three stages of development: the theological stage, the metaphysical stage and the positive stage. In the theological stage, the society believes that all things were created and are controlled by a supernatural being. In the metaphysical stage, the society resorts to reason to explain observed phenomena while still embracing aspects of theology. In the third stage, reason and scientific …