Auguste Comte: An Intellectual Biography by Mary Pickering

By Mary Pickering

This quantity starts to discover the existence and works of Auguste Comte in the course of his so-called moment occupation, the debatable interval that all started in 1842 and lasted till his demise. This quantity covers the years from 1842 to 1852, while Comte remodeled his optimistic philosophy right into a political and non secular flow. It represents the 1st in-depth learn of that circulate. concentrating on key books, resembling the Discours sur l'ensemble du positivisme, Mary Pickering connects Comte's highbrow improvement to the tumultuous ancient context and to episodes in his own lifestyles, in particular his recognized dating with Clotilde de Vaux. The booklet examines for the 1st time why employees, medical professionals, ladies, and well-known writers, akin to John Stuart Mill, George Henry Lewes, and Emile Littré, have been interested in his idea.

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58 The Trait´e e´l´ementaire de g´eom´etrie analytique appeared in March 1843. Comte sent the work to his father, wife, friends (such as Mill), colleagues, the Ecole Polytechnique, and Laville, who ran the preparatory school. 59 However, the book was merely a well-composed textbook, “without originality,” as one modern commentator put it. 60 Nevertheless, the book sold very well in the beginning. Comte acknowledged that many students bought it in the hope of doing better on the admissions examinations for the Ecole Polytechnique that he gave in the summer and fall.

See folder entitled “Examinations et tourn´ees,” MAC. Massin to Comte, December 8, 1842, MAC. Minutes of the meeting of May 19, 1843, Registre: Proc`es-Verbal du Conseil d’Instruction, vol. 8, EP. Comte to the Mar´echal Duc de Dalmatie, Minister of War, January 25, 1844, CG, 2:230, 234. Comte to Barbot de Chement, May 26, 1843, CG, 2:159. Comte said that he would commend Poinsot in the second edition of the Cours, where he would complete his preface by relating the story of his struggle of 1843.

Yet nothing came of his plan. 64 Perhaps, on the one hand, it was too abstruse as a textbook because it contained a hefty amount of mathematical philosophy; on the other hand, it may have frustrated philosophers of science because of the lengthy discussions of elementary geometry. 65 Although, during the trial against Bachelier, Claude-Louis Mathieu, a permanent examiner and Arago’s brother-in-law, had threatened to have him fired, Comte had been optimistic about his future at the school. 67 Thus he was surprised to learn in early April 1843, about a month after the publication of his Trait´e, that two mathematics professors, Joseph Liouville and Charles-Franc¸ois Sturm, were working to have him ousted.

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