Comte and Hegel

Edited by Bruce Caldwell

in Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226321097
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226321127 | DOI:
Comte and Hegel

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This chapter is about two thinkers who are commonly regarded as complete intellectual antipodes: the German “idealist” Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the French “positivist” Auguste Comte. In some respects, these two men do indeed represent such complete extremes of philosophical thought that they seem to belong to different ages and scarcely even to talk about the same problems. Their philosophical systems as a whole have had a great influence on social theory. The similarity of the treatment of social evolution by Hegel and Comte goes far beyond these methodological aspects. For both, society appears as an organism in a fairly literal sense. Both compare the stages through which social evolution must pass with the different ages through which individual man passes in his natural growth. And for both, the growth of the conscious control of his destiny by man is the main content of history. The chapter is a complete illustration of the far-reaching effects of the most abstract ideas by these two thinkers.

Keywords: Hegel; Auguste Comte; positivist; Saint-Simon; scientific reformer; natural science; modern socialism; positivism

Chapter.  10372 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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