Auguste Comte and Positivism HTML version

"conspiracy of silence" concerning his later performances. The reader can now judge
whether such reticence is not more than sufficiently explained by tenderness for his fame,
and a conscientious fear of bringing undeserved discredit on the noble speculations of his
early career.
M. Comte was accustomed to consider Descartes and Leibnitz as his principal precursors,
and the only great philosophers (among many thinkers of high philosophic capacity) in
modern times. It was to their minds that he considered his own to bear the nearest
resemblance. Though we have not so lofty an opinion of any of the three as M. Comte
had, we think the assimilation just: thes were, of all recorded thinkers, the two who bore
most resemblance to M. Comte. They were like him in earnestness, like him, though
scarcely equal to him, in confidence in themselves; they had the same extraordinary
power of concatenation and co-ordination; they enriched human knowledge with great
truths and great conceptions of method; they were, of all great scientific thinkers, the
most consistent, and for that reason often the most absurd, because they shrank from no
consequences, however contrary to common sense, to which their premises appeared to
lead. Accordingly their names have come down to us associated with grand thoughts,
with most important discoveries, and also with some of the most extravagantly wild and
ludicrously absurd conceptions and theories which ever were solemnly propounded by
thoughtful men. "We think M. Comte as great as either of these philosophers, and hardly
more extravagant. Were we to speak our whole mind, we should call him superior to
them: though not intrinsically, yet by the exertion of equal intellectual power in a more
advanced state of human preparation; but also in an age less tolerant of palpable
absurdities, and to which those he has committed, if not in themselves greater, at least
appear more ridiculous.