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THE

POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY

OF

AUGUSTE COMTE.

BOOK VI.
SOCIAL PHYSICS.

CHAPTER I.

NECESSITY AND OPPORTUNENESS OF THIS NEW SCIENCE.

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In the five foregoing parts of this work, our investigation proceeded on an ascertained and undisputed scientific basis ; and our business was to exhibit the progress made in each science ; to free it from entanglement with the ancient philosophy; and to show what further improvements might be anticipated. Our task is a different, and a much harder one, in the case of the sixth and last science that I am about to treat of.. The theories of social science are still, even in the mind of the best thinkers, completely implicated with the theologico-metaphysical philosophy; and are even supposed to be, by a fatal separation from all other science, condemned to remain so involved for ever. The philosophical procedure which I have undertaken to carry through becomes more difficult and bold, from this point onwards, without at all changing its nature or object; and it must so far present a new character as it must henceforth be employed in creating a wholly new order of scientific conceptions, instead of judging, arranging, and improving such as already existed.

It is not to be expected that this new science can be at once

VOL. II.

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POSITIVE

POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY.

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raised to a level with even the most imperfect of those which we have been reviewing. All that can be rationally proposed in our day is to recognize the character of positivity in social as in all other science, and to ascertain the chief bases on which it is founded; but this is enough, as I hope to show, to satisfy our most urgent intellectual necessities, and even the most imperative needs of immediate social practice. In its scientific connection with the rest of this work, all that I can hope to do is to exhibit the

Proposal of general considerations of the case, so as to resolve the

the subject. intellectual anarchy which is the main source of our moral anarchy first, and then of the political, which I shall treat of only through its originating causes. The extreme novelty of such a doctrine and method renders it necessary, before entering upon the immediate subject, to set forth the importance of such a procedure, and the futility of the chief attempts which have been indirectly made to investigate social science. However unquestionable may be the need of such science, and the obligation to discover it, the best minds have not yet attained a point of view from which • they can estimate its depth and breadth and true position. In its nascent state every science is implicated with its corresponding art; and remains implicated with it, as we have seen, the longer in proportion to the complexity of the phenomena concerned. If biological science, which is more advanced than social, is still too closely connected with the medical art, as we have seen that it is, we cannot be surprised that men are insensible to the value of all social speculations which are not immediately connected with practical affairs. We cannot be surprised at any obstinacy in repelling them, as long as it is supposed that by rejecting them, society is preserved from chimerical and mischievous schemes: though experience has abundantly shown that the precaution has never availed, and that it does not now prevent our being daily invaded by the most illusory proposals on social matters. It is in deference to as much as is reasonable in this apprehension that I propose to state, first, how the institution of a science of Social Physics bears upon the principal needs and grievances of society, in its present deplorable state of anarchy. Such a representation may perhaps convince men worthy of the name of statesmen that there is a real and eminent utility in labours of this kind, worthy of the anxious attention of men who profess to devote themselves to the task of resolving the alarming revolutionary constitution of modern societies.

From the point of view to which we have been raised by our study of the preceding sciences, we are able to survey the social situation of our own time in its fullest extent and broadest light; and what we see is that there is a deep and widely-spread anarchy of the whole intellectual system, which has been in this state of disturbance during the long iuterregnum, resulting from the decline

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