Influences of Comte, Darwin, and Mill

Albert E. Moyer

in A Scientist's Voice in American Culture

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076891
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912137 | DOI:
Influences of Comte, Darwin, and Mill

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This chapter details Newcomb's exposure to the ideas of Auguste Comte, Charles Darwin, and John Stuart Mill. In the years bracketing 1860, many professors, ministers, and other illuminati in the Harvard community were opposed to Comte's positivism, Darwin's evolutionary principles, and Mill's skeptical empiricism. The community was, after all, predisposed to the philosophical precepts of Scottish Realism as intertwined with the theological premises of Unitarianism. Nevertheless, some members of the community—especially among the growing contingent of scientifically minded thinkers—were sympathetic to Comte, Darwin, and Mill. That a young Cambridge scholar, Newcomb, could become so well versed in the provocative views of the three Europeans was due to the coupling of normal Cambridge opportunities with a twofold scientific exposure: his dual tenure at Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School and the Almanac Office.

Keywords: Simon Newcomb; Auguste Comte; positivism; Charles Darwin; evolutionary theory; John Stuart Mill; empiricism

Chapter.  6200 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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