Auguste Comte, French Philosopher

Auguste Comte (1798-1857) was a French philosopher, considered the founder of Positivism - a philosophical current that proposes a new social organization. He was the first to use the term sociology.

Isidore-Áuguste-Marie-François-Xavier Comte, known as Auguste Comte, was born in Montpellier, France, on January 19, 1798, where he made his first studies. Son of a Catholic family and monarchist, in 1814, aged 16, he joined the Polytechnic School of Paris, from which he was expelled two years later for leading a protest movement. He started collaborating with newspapers and giving private lessons.

Influence of Saint-Simon

Auguste Comte became a disciple of Caude-Henri de Rouvroy, Earl of Saint Simon, one of the French theorists of utopian socialism, who directed Comte to the study of the social sciences and gave him two basic ideas that guided his thinking. :

  1. that social phenomena, such as physical ones, also obey laws,
  2. that all scientific and philosophical knowledge must be aimed at the moral and political improvement of man.

In 1926, Comte opened a public course to expose his ideas. For 12 years he dedicated himself to the publication of the “Positive Philosophy Course” in six volumes.


According to the philosophical system created by Comte, human knowledge goes through three stages:

  • Theological - in which phenomena are regarded as resulting from the action of a free will,
  • Metaphysical - in which phenomena are attributed to abstraction, called causes,
  • Positive - abandon previous explanations, replacing the first religious and metaphysical hypotheses and causes with scientific laws.

Social Physics or Sociology

Auguste Comte claimed that the various sciences had already reached positivity, but the system was still incomplete. He felt the need for a new discipline, which he called social physics or sociology, which would appear in a framework of sciences arranged in decreasing generality and increasing complexity: mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and sociology. Later, he added another science, morality.

For Comte, sociology should use the same positive methods as previous sciences (observation, experimentation, and comparison), and a new method, historical affiliation. In this way, it would be possible to study and understand society, to reorganize it and reform it later.

Religion of Humanity

From 1847, Comte devoted himself entirely to the establishment of the "Religion of Humanity", which had a strong following and influenced the thinking of theorists around the world. The philosopher was impregnated with mysticism, created a priesthood, sacraments and prayers, and proposed strict discipline for his adherents.

The desire to lay the foundations of Positivism led Comte to propagate his new religion, with public lectures, letters to politicians and intellectuals from around the world. At that time, he published: “Positive Policy System” (1851-1854) and “Positivist Catechism” (1852).

Comte's goal was well matched, winning fans in almost every country, especially in Brazil, Chile and Mexico. The inscription “Ordem e Progresso”, by the Brazilian flag, was based on Auguste Comte's motto that says: “Love as principle, order as base and progress as objective”.

Auguste Comte died in Paris, France, on September 5, 1857.

Works by Auguste Comte

Scientific Work Plan for Reorganizing Society, 1822
Booklets of Social Philosophy, 1816-1828
Positive Philosophy Course, 1830-1842
Discourse on the Positive Spirit, 1848
Discourse on the Positivism Ensemble, 1848
Positivist Catechism, 1852
Positive Policy System, 1851-1854
Appeal to the Conservatives, 1855
Subjective Synthesis, 1856