Encounters with Positivism

Thomas Dixon

in The Invention of Altruism

Published by British Academy

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264263
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734816 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Encounters with Positivism

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To employ the language of altruism was, for much of the Victorian period, to associate oneself directly with Auguste Comte and his philosophy of ‘positivism’. Even in 1897, almost half a century after its first introduction, the dean of Rochester spoke not just about ‘altruism’ but about Comte’s ‘Altruism’. ‘Sociology’, ‘positivism’, and ‘altruism’ were all Comtean terms which could be used as philosophical watchwords or as political banners. This chapter examines the inventor of ‘altruism’ and how he came to have an impact on the English language.

Keywords: Auguste Comte; sociology; positivism; altruism; philosophy; politics

Chapter.  21973 words.  Illustrated.

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