ABSTRACT

As the chief characteristic of positive philosophy is the preponderance of the social point of view through the whole range of speculation, its efficiency for the purposes of practical life is involved in the very spirit of the system. When this spirit is rightly understood, we find that it leads at once to an object far higher than that of satisfying our scientific curiosity—the object, namely, of organizing human life. Conversely, this practical aspect of positive philosophy exercises the most salutary influence upon its speculative character. . . . But this general connection between theory and practice would not by itself be sufficient for our purpose. It would be impossible to secure the acceptance of a mental discipline, so new and so difficult, were it not for considerations derived from the general conditions of modern society, considerations calculated to impress philosophers with a more definite sense of obligation to do their utmost towards satisfying the wants of the time. By thus arousing public sympathies and showing that the success of positivism is a matter of permanent and general importance, the coherence of the system as well as the elevation of its aims will be placed beyond dispute. We have hitherto been regarding positivism as the issue in which intellectual development necessarily results. We have now to view it from the social side, for until we have done this, it is impossible to form a true conception of it.