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By Andrew Wernick

This publication bargains an exhilarating reinterpretation of Auguste Comte, the founding father of French sociology. Andrew Wernick presents the 1st in-depth critique of Comte's inspiration of faith and its position in his considering on politics, sociology and philosophy of technology. He areas Comte's rules in the context of post-1789 French political and highbrow heritage, and of contemporary philosophy, specially postmodernism. Wernick relates Comte to Marx and Nietzsche as seminal figures of modernity and examines key beneficial properties of recent and postmodern French social thought, tracing the inherent flaws and disintegration of Comte's procedure.

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Extra resources for Auguste Comte and the Religion of Humanity: The Post-theistic Program of French Social Theory

Sample text

After Durkheim, the secularising attempt to conceive, and institute, the human collectivity as a divine ensemble irrevocably collapsed. Nevertheless, the work of Bataille, Althusser, Baudrillard and Nancy is adduced to show that drawing the non-catastrophic consequences of this collapse has enabled revised versions of (what I will call) socio-theology to generate a new (or renewed) ®eld of questions still pertinent to a politically charged manner of thinking about the social. In explicating Comte himself, the order of inquiry could no doubt have been different.

It is precisely because I consider M. Comte to have been a great thinker, that I regard it as a duty to balance the strong & deeply felt admiration which I express for what I deem the fundamental parts of his philosophy by an equally emphatic expression of the opposite feeling I entertain towards other parts. It is M. Comte himself, who, in my judgement, has thrown ridicule on his own philosophy by the extravagance of his later writings' (letter of Mill to Richard Congreve, 8 Aug. 1865, cited in Pickering, 1993:697).

11 Those, including Comte's estranged wife Caroline Massin, who had morally and ®nancially supported him in his losing battles to gain a permanent teaching post at the  cole Polytechnique,12 were henceforth no longer seen as friends but E backsliding congregants who had a duty to support le sacerdoce. By the end of the decade, his disabling mood swings between depression and mania had been replaced by an impersonal calm. ' 9 10 11 12 illness. After his recovery he gave an abridged but public version of the cours at the AtheneÂe (Pickering, 1993:365±71, 429±30).

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