Auguste Comte

By: Drew Burger


Auguste Comte was born on January 19, 1798 in Montpellier, France. He attended the University of Montpellier and then went onto a higher education institution called Ècole Ploytechnique. His father was a government tax official. Both his parents were devout Roman Catholics and monarchists.


Comte decided to present the world his social theory in a series of lectures when he was 30 years old. Comte was hospitalized because of a mental illness and was only able to give 1/3 of his lectures. Comte was in and out of hospitals for psychiatric problems for the next 15 years, but still wrote influential books. Course in Positive Philosophy, his six-volume book, was his major piece of work. In this Auguste said society, like nature, operates under its own set of laws and should be studied the same way we study nature: with science. He also thought that physical sciences should be complemented with a new type of science. Social sciences. Using the same scientific principles, society would be studied.

Major Ideas

Comte tried to figure out how society works, he looked for patterns in the way that society behaved. Auguste believed Positivism is the idea that the truth only comes from scientific knowledge. He though society was like that. Auguste developed three stages of social evolution. They are the theological stage, the metaphysical stage, and the positive/scientific stage.

Theological Stage: explanation by personified deities. All the phenomena of nature was created by the divine or supernatural.

Metaphysical Stage: Explanation by impersonal abstract concepts. God being an example of an abstract being.

Positivity Stage: Scientific observation based on observation. experiment, and comparison.