Auguste Comte, born January 19, 1798 in Montpellier, died September 5, 1857 in Paris, was a French philosopher. He is considered the founder of positivism and is also considered one of the founders of sociology.
Comte was born in a strict Catholic family. He studied from 1814 at the École Polytechnique in Paris and worked for Saint-Simon, whose influence betrays itself in Comte’s writings. His first work won him recognition by François Guizot and Alexander von Humboldt. He was, however, for expressing his materialistic views, excluded from all official university chairs, and was forced to earn a living by giving private lessons in mathematics and with the help of contributions from friends and supporters. 1832-1851, he was substitute teachers at the same college, and lived on that income.
Towards the end of his life, he received an annual maintenance from his friends. In 1826, he suffered from mental illness with suicidal thoughts and tried to drown himself in the Seine, but was rescued and recovered. About the year 1845, he fell in love with Clotilde de Vaux, and this love exerted a significant influence on his outlook on life and writing.
Comte was the founder of positivism (a term coined by Henri de Saint-Simon) and the first to put this philosophical view of the system. There are, according to him three forms of worldview: the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. The first perceives everything as directed by living wills: either so that every natural object is animated, or so that different areas of the countryside are under immediate influence of various higher being’s, or that the world is created and ruled by a single god. Although the metaphysical worldview differs between the concrete thing and the inner essence, that is the basis for its characteristics and manifestations, but perceive this essence as an unconscious and concepts-like reality. According to the positivism, the human knowledge is limited to the phenomena and, strictly speaking, to their laws or constant conditions. This categorization of the different attempts to explain the world, Comte applied in all areas of human knowledge, and therein laid his originality. With each particular phenomenon, said Comte, man begins with the theological, continues to the metaphysical, and ends with the positive perception.
Positivism has had a major influence on the evolution of ideas in France but also abroad. In the nineteenth century, in France, the Republican Party was largely inspired by positivism. On the contrary, by the twentieth century, the main disciple of Comte became Charles Maurras, the theorist and leader of the French nationalist movement between the two wars.
At first glance, it may seem surprising that positivism was first the doctrine of some men of the left and become then the doctrine of the extreme right.
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