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the case, no one of them being transposable without a violation
of the rational order. As for their completeness as a whole,
this follows from their giving us even now the means of satis-
factorily regulating all healthy investigation. "We may regard,
then, as realised the noble aspiration of Bacon, the construction
of a first, a prime philosophy, qualified to direct us in all our
scientific meditations, nay even to aid us in the exercise of our
practical reason.

The power of this philosophy as an instrument of system-
atic thought, will become palpable by the construction of the
Positive hierarchy of phenomena and conceptions, on the basis
of a relative view of the whole order of the world.

This hierarchy, the grand result of the course of objective
investigation which prepared the way for the ultimate synthesis,
has for its legitimate object the completion of the synthe-
tic, the direction of the analytic, constitution of the Positive


The synthetic form, the direct offspring of the fundamental Thesyn-
f>n/-i , Th ' i^i'.i thetic con-

theory of the (xreat Being, finds its complete ideal expression stitntion.

in the worship, and condenses all the various theories in Morals,
for in Morals "we study human nature for the government of
human life. All our real speculations, the most abstract and
the most simple not excepted, necessarily converge towards
this human domain, for indirectly they help us to the know-
ledge of man under his lower aspects, on whicli the nobler are
dependent. Strictly speaking, there is no phenomenon within Aupheno-
our cognisance which is not in the truest sense human, and that San? ^^'
not merely because it is man who takes cognisance of it, but
also from the purely objective point of view, man summarising
in himself all the laws of the world, as the ancients rightly felt.
Yet each class of attributes must be studied with reference to
the simplest cases ; that is, in beings where it exists, if not
isolated, at any rate freed from all complication with the higher
attributes, which we eliminate provisionally by abstraction, the
better to understand their foundations. Thus beginning with the
simplest phenomena, we gradually increase the complication of
our enquiries by the introduction in succession of higher pro-
perties, so training ourselves by a course of decreasing abstrac-
tion for the normal state of the scientific reason. When we
have reached it, we enter on the regime of complete synthesis,
the regime in which man, viewed directly as indivisible by
nature, is the constant object of all theories calculated to make
him more fit for the service of the Grreat Being. Abstraction
thus loses its scientific preeminence and retains solely its logical
utility ; we habitually concentrate all our efforts on the most
important problems, recurring to the lower only to meet the
wants, in particular respects, of the higher domain.

Our intellectual life, however, as here sketched, will alwavs Anindm-

. -^ dual prepa-

require a training of the individual analogous in kind to the '^"tJoi

' ° ... . needed to

initiation of the race ; a training m which objective analysis "■*'ai° this

provides us with the necessary basis of the subjective synthesis ^^e study oi
which, in the normal state, is to be paramount. In the second sciences wiu

call for new

place, the direct cultivation of the higher domain will often call researches in

t. ° the lower.

■ for new researches, logical or scientific, in the various inferior ^^ both

cases the

sciences. Now the training and the researches equally must be hierarchy
guided by the Positive hierarchy which is a consequence of the
threefold system of universal laws above given. That hierarchy
realises the confused wish of Bacon as to, the construction of a




scala intelleMs, having for its object the enabling us to pass,
in both directions, without a breach of continuity from any one
class of researches to any other. This encyclopsedic scale, insti-
tuted in my philosophy, and become an integral part, by con-
stant use, of the present work, requires no further explanation
here except as to its immediate connection with the subjective
Scientific The conception of the hierarchy of the sciences from this

oFthe°Posi-° point of view implies, at the outset, the admission, that the sys-
ive sea e. ^gmatic study of man is logically and scientifically subordinate
to that of Humanity, the latter alone unveiling to us the real
laws of the intelligence and activity. Paramount as the theory
of our emotional nature, studied in itself, must ultimately be,
without this preliminary step it would have no consistence.
Morals thus objectively made dependent on Sociology, the next
step is easy and similar ; objectively Sociology becomes depen-
dent on Biology, as our cerebral existence evidently rests on our
purely bodily life. These two steps carry us on to the concep-
tion of Chemistry as the normal basis of Biology, since we allow
that vitality depends on the general laws of the combination
of matter. Chemistry again in its turn is objectively subordi-
nate to Physics, by virtue of the influence which the universal
properties of matter must always exercise on the specific
qualities of the different substances. Similarly Physics become
subordinate to Astronomy when we recognise the fact that the
existence of our terrestrial environment is carried on in perpetual
subjection to the conditions of our planet as one of the heavenly
bodies. Lastly, Astronomy is subordinated to Mathematics by
virtue of the evident dependence of the geometrical and me-
chanical phenomena of the heavens on the universal laws of
number, extension, and motion.
Logical ap- When it has reached this term, the subjective arrangement

PosMve"' °* of the objective hierarchy is complete, by its termination in
®™'^" the one science which has no other below it, and which there-

fore can be the direct object of study on the basis of certain
spontaneous inductions independent of all deduction. Although
the encvclopeedic series is here rested solely on the ground of
scientific relations, yet, as at the outset, the ground so taken
always coincides with its logical appreciation. For although the
Positive method is necessarily uniform, nevertheless, it is only
in the simplest branches of study that its deductive capacity

Chap. Hi.] THE DOCTRINE. 163

can find its proper developement. Its inductive properties
must come into view subsequently, as in due and gradual course
more complicated phenomena introduce observation in Astro-
nomy, experiment in Physics and Chemistry, comparison in
Biology, filiation in Sociology. When induction has thus com-
plemented deduction, the final science brings the two into
their normal and direct combination by its construction of the
subjective method, properly speaking peculiar to Morals.

Such, under its two aspects, is the connection by virtue of sapremacy

' r 3 J ot Morals.

which this supreme science organises, one after the other, all
the Positive sciences, the culture of which henceforth will be
controlled by the inseparable relations which exist between
them and the science of man. Morals, as the synthetical
terminus of the whole scientific construction, is as superior to
its various preliminaries in rationality as it is in utility, since
the phenomena which are its proper subject matter necessarily
influence us in our examination of all the rest. At first, it is
true, they must be kept out of view, but as our speculations are
not in the fullest sense real till this temporary abstraction has
ceased, we must not continue it longer than is necessary.

To appreciate at its just value the hierarchy above given, it TheWerar-
is necessary to recognise its competence to guide us in the sub- ^lunthf^
division of each special science no less than in the coordination each'spedai
of the whole body of distinct sciences. The same principle of ^°'™'^'
the interdependence and simplification of studies by virtue of
the degree of generality in the phenomena, will give us in all
cases our subdivisions of each of the seven fundamental sciences,
provided that we attain sufficient precision in our classification.
It follows, from the necessarily homogeneous character of these
several subdivisions, that in combination they perfect our
scientific scale, in relation to its most important attribute, by
developing its continuity. In this way thought may habitually
pass from the lowest mathematical speculations to the sublimest
moral conceptions, or vice versa, by a series of intermediate
steps so easy as to require no effort to a well-trained mind.
To whatever degree we specialise our enquiry, the unity of
human science remains intact, the student never losing sight of
the two or three consecutive subdivisions which connect each
particular branch of science with the general hierarchy.

Again, the full appreciation of this Positive scala vntellectus The concrete
as a logical and scientific institution, involves our looking on it toe'wraM-'

M 2


chy, that is,
applied to

Here again
the hierar-
chical prin-
ciple Talua-
ble for sub-

. as equally adapted to represent the interdependence of beings
or existences as that of phenomena and speculations. Under
its concrete aspect, when viewed as a whole, it forms a series of
states which rise in dignity in a direct ratio with their compli-
cation, each resting upon its predecessor. The result is the
relative conception of the order of the world, an order neces-
sarily distributed into seven categories, superimposed one on
the other in such a way that each modifies that which precedes,
and commands that which succeeds. This series of modifying
and commanding influences issues in presenting man as the
true condenser and spontaneous regulator of the social, vital,
and inorganic milieu, in dependence on which he developes.
But his personal action, as it has for its object the modification
for the better of destiny by will, is efficient and noble only on
this condition : that it be freely devoted to the constant service
of the Great Being, the being of which the individual is the
indivisible element and the necessary product. When his
activity thus takes its normal direction, man is continually
improving the order to which he is subject, by strengthening
the reaction of its vital influences on its material, avaihng
himself, for this purpose, of the ever-growing cooperation of all
his voluntary associates. We thus see how our relative concep-
tion of the economy of the world, by using, both in theory and
practice, the Positive hierarchy, is able, in an equal degree, to
give systematic expression to the dignity of the individual,
and his devotion to society.

To this concrete application of the encyclopaedic scale I
must extend the observation above explained when treating of
the abstract hierarchy, the object of which was to introduce iato
it greater continuity. The classification on the principle of
increase of complication and decrease of generality, is as appli-
cable in the subdivision of the hierarchy of beings as in that of
attributes, so as to connect, by sufficiently easy steps, all the
intermediate terms whatsoever. Its power in this respect is
most sensible in regard to the higher beings, in Biology, that
is, first, and then in Sociology, whilst it is in the lower domain
that the abstract subdivision finds its most appropriate sphere.
Thus we form, in as full developement as our enquiries can
possibly require, a general scale of co-existent beings, and as
the completion of such scale, a series of states offered to our
view by the only being capable of continuous advance. So


constituted, the Positive hierarchy becomes the condensation of
all real sciences, and the basis of all practical conceptions, as it
brings the classification of the arts into coincidence with that of
the sciences.

The conclusion here reached is the last step in our explana- The First

, I p , Philosophy

tion of the construction of the doctrinal system, which from the in its fuii
synthetical point of view is now complete. Before, however, I
enter on its analytical constitution, it is important to throw out
into relief the threefold preamble just accomplished by affixing
to it a name adapted to remind us of it as a whole. For this we
may use the expression First Philosophy, limited by me above
to the system of the fifteen universal laws, so giving definiteness
to the vague design of Bacon, after making his aspiration a
reality. Since this system of laws is but the intermediate and
principal portion of the basic introduction to the definitive co-
ordiaation of the Positive doctrine, the denomination which I
originally reserved for it, being practically at liberty, may be
applied to the whole introduction. All that is requisite is to
treat it as inseparable from the institution of abstraction on
which it rests as its basis, and from the hierarchical construc-
tion for which it gives the basis. Thus viewed, the First
Philosophy forms a distinct and definite whole, a whole which
gives systematic form to the subjective synthesis idealised in
the worship, and which must be our guide in our objective
analysis, to enable us to develope the Positive doctrine on a
scale answering to its destination. I shall bring out the impor-
tance of this First Philosophy in the following chapter, by
making it the object of a special study at the outset of our
encyclopaedic education, where it is our only direct safeguard
against degeneration into scholastic puerilities.

There is and can be but one svnthetical arrangement of the Analytical

^ ^ , " o form of the

Positive dogma, for such arrangement treats the several sciences dogma ad-
as branches of moral science, without ffivinsr beforehand any several ar-

' o o J rangements.

specific division, but leaving the way open for all suitable sub-
divisions. The contrary is trae of the analytical arrangement ;
it admits of several distinct forms, according to the degree of
connection we introduce between the different terms of the
encyclopasdic hierarchy. From the objective point of view, it is
not possible to fix the number of the sciences, since the generali-
sation of thought is as appropriate for theory, as the specialisation
of action is requisite for practice. In reality the name attached



to each science merely indicates the group of investigations
generally acknowledged to have a certain unity, and this may
vary at different times and for different minds. From the sub-
jective point of view', the division of the sciences is equally
fluctuating, as when so considered it marks the several resting
places of the intelligence in its encyclopaedic course, and that
course may always be continuous whatever the number of its

Be this as it may, the seven sciences which we established
ment?^' ^^ ^^® result of the preparatory evolution of the race, will not
need, as a rule, subdivision, when the human mind has attained
greater power of synthesis, allowing always for educational
requirements. At the same time the number is one that will
always lend itself to the establishment of a satisfactory con-
tinuity. But their hierarchical combination, with the object cf
bringing objective analysis into closer relations with subjective
synthesis, — this admits of many different forms. Of all the
forms possible in the abstract, I select for present treatment
those only which have a real utility both for theory and
practice. The selection gives the seven analytical arrange-
ments of the Positive sciences, which I proceed to explain, one
after the other, in the order in which they are derived from ths
synthetical arrangement above examined.
Two Bi- One and the same subdivision of the synthetical arrange-

(a) Dogma- mcnt givos two binary arrangements, the one more objective
logy, sodo-" and dogmatical, the other more subjective and historical. The
f°)^Histori- first sanctions the most marked distinction admissible through-
Natu- ) Phi- out the whole range of real investigations, the distinction, that
MoraiJ phy! IS, between the domain of the inorganic world and the system of
the organic, in other words between the study of the earth and
the study of man. Cosmology and Sociology. In the second we
break up the one great whole by separating the external or
physical order from the human or moral order; hence the
division of the general term philosophy into natural and moral.
Thus the two binary arrangements of the doctrinal system of
Positivism differ only as to Biology, Biology standing in the
one case as the introduction to Sociology, in the other as the
complement of Cosmology. This last conception best represents
the natural course of scientific education, the other is the most
appropriate for our ultimate studies, as manifesting the imprac-
ticability of an objective synthesis. If we look to practica].


2. Vital

3. Hu-


/I. Phy-
2. Intel,
S. Moral



results, the two modes have distinct yet equivalent merits. We
find that the historical arrangement fixes attention especially
on the highest kind of progress, by marking off into a separate
class the most modifiable phenomena, those in which invaria-
bility was but of late recognition. The dogmatical arrange-
ment on the other hand expresses the systematisation of the
activity of the Great Being, which consists in bringing all vital
power whatever to bear on the modification of the world of
pure matter.

This last dualism would seem as valuable as the other, yet two Ter-
it is the other, as more easily divisible, to which we have ,i.' Mate-
recourse for our ternary arrangements, from which we likewise
draw the succeeding ones. Subdivide the external order or the «•<
human order, and the result is two ternary arrangements, each
endowed with important properties. The first best gratifies
the craving for continuity, as viewing the order of the world
in reference to the normal series — material, vital, and human.
The second is more favourable to the dignity of our studies and
practical exertions ; in it the Positive hierarchy is formed by
the subordination of physical to intellectual and both to moral
laws. This last mode represents the theory of the brain and
the economy of Sociocracy, whereas the other is the systematic
expression of the abstract evolution and the concrete series of

As the two are of equal importance, it will be often advisable two Qua-
to combine them, and form a quaternary arrangement by a sub- *^™*'^"
division of the human order or of the physical laws. This i. cosmo-
mode was adopted in the second volume, and makes Positive 2. Bioiogy
philosophy consist in the normal hierarchy of Cosmology, i- Morals,
Biology, Sociology, and Morals. It enables us to state clearly
the main series of the introductory sciences, whilst not con-
cealing the science which is their ulterior object.

A second quaternary arrangement may be formed by the ^

combination of each term of the encyclopaedic scale with its The three

^ ^ PI couples with

successor, so that we rise to Morals by a progression formed of Morals as

•^ ■*■ ° their crown,

three couples, inferior, middle, and superior. This mode was in-
troduced in my discourse upon the Positive spirit, and represents Prefixed to
the closest degree of connection which exists between the several Popuhure.
branches of science, since each of the preliminary sciences is
more nearly connected with the one that precedes it than with
the one that follows it, as is shown by the order of their genesis.


One Qui-

1. Mathe-

2. Pljysics.

3. Biology.

4. Sociolo-

I. Morals.

Best of the
chatpter less
the hierar-
chy of the
seven scien-

Only one quinary arrangement is admissible, drawn from
the first quaternary arrangement by breaking up its first term,
on the basis of the distinction between Mathematics and
Physics as a whole. Although this mode, which is at once his-
torical and dogmatical, is less convenient for our liltimate inves-
tigations than for systematic education, it has this advantage,
that it begins the encyclopaedic series with that branch of
study which is directly accessible. At this point, however, our
objective analysis immediately tends to full completeness ; to
return, that is, by virtue of the twofold subdivision of physics to
the primary arrangement of the scale, the only one admitting
of satisfactory continuity.

Such, amid the possible analytical arrangements, are the
seven by which we bridge over the space between the complete
developement of the encyclopaedic series, and the systematic
unity which it is the object of that series to promote or to
prepare. Apply them and compare them, and we shall feel
more fully the value of the subjective synthesis, which alone
■combines in itself all the several excellences of the various
stages of the objective analysis. The comparison wiU at the
same time evidence the main advantages of the Positive scale,
which, in a more or less developed form, suffices for all our
intellectual wants.

To complete the systematisation of the doctrine, the
remainder of the chapter must be devoted to less general con-
siderations, to such an elaboration of the basic hierarchy of the
sciences as may make it an adequate expression of the order of
the world. Each of the seven sciences which it establishes,
will always form a distinct branch of human study, an object
for the speculative and practical reason of man, first during the
period of education, and subsequently even during the whole
course of the normal existence. The maintenance of the dis-
tinction between the sciences is the condition on which the
objective analysis secures for the subjective synthesis its requisite
clearness and coherence. But as these distinct sciences always
tend to divert attention from the general unity, it is important
to reduce them within the narrowest possible Hmits, according
to the rule laid down in the first volume of this work. All I have
to do here is to explain the agreement which necessarily exists
between this law of restriction and all the grounds on which we
properly and persistently eliminate all idle speculations.

Chap. IU.] THE DOCTRINE. 169

Our aims in studying the order of the world are a noble Eaohessen-
submission to, and a wise modification of, that order ;, we must theunlTOreai
therefore examine, singly and by itself, each of its independent bLepSiy
phases, the phases which, following one another in regular invaria-
succession, result in a relative, to the exclusion of any absolute, an Muctive
conception of the whole. Nor is such a separation indispensable ''™'''P'^-
merely to satisfy om* unintermitting need of speculation and of
action, it is the sole condition of our attaining an adequate
conviction of the great primary principle of invariability.
For that principle will never admit of deductive demonstration,
inasmuch as by its nature it is itself the common basis of all
Positive deductions. It will always rest on convictions of an
essentially inductive character, convictions therefore to be
formed separately for each distinct class of irreducible phe-
nomena. Allow its full power to philosophic analogy, and yet
, the whole course of our scientific initiation shows that human
reason persists in not recognising the universal applicability of
the Positive principle, so long as it has not in detail been
applied to each and all of the natm-al categories. Scientific
prejudices notwithstanding, it is possible, and that without
inconsistency, to consider phenomena as generally and in large
majority subject to immutable laws, whilst one exceptional class
is left alone under the dominion of arbitrary wills. This is a
state of mind which is not removed by virtue of the real connec-
tion which exists between the different laws, for such connection
is traceable only when the several laws have been separately
recognised ; its removal can only be the result of a direct and
special extension of the Positive principle to each distinct pro-
vince of the domain of science.

Online LibraryAuguste ComteSystem of positive polity → online text (page 25 of 91)