Philosophy and Sociology

Part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures book series


We hear nowadays in literary criticism of a type of novel that is an ‘anti-novel’ and of a type of hero who is an ‘anti-hero’. I recently read an article which argued, rather well in my opinion, that the later philosophy of Wittgenstein is an anti-philosophy. One could say the same of the philosophie positive of Auguste Comte, who is often called the father of sociology. The principle with which Comte starts off his philosophy, ‘the fundamental law of mental development’, would put an end to philosophy as traditionally conceived, and would replace it by science. According to Comte, human inquiry goes through three stages. In the first stage, the theological or fictive, men try to give explanations in terms of supernatural beings. At the second stage, the metaphysical or abstract, theological explanation has given way to explanation in terms of abstract entities such as Absolute Motion or Absolute Justice. In the third stage, the scientific or positive, metaphysical explanations have given way to scientific explanations, that is to explanations which do not refer to any unobservable entities but instead simply correlate observable phenomena with each other. This is a picture of intellectual history in which philosophy takes the place of theology and then science takes the place of philosophy.


Television Programme Inductive Logic Social Usefulness Traditional Authority Absolute Motion 
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© The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1971

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