Comte defined it quite deceptively as a continuous sequential law, a law of succession or filiation, a law of the succession of states. The law itself is thus a dynamics (a study of diachronics, succession) and a ‘statics’ (a study of synchronics, ensembles). The argument is that human cultures never begin within an already formed scientific knowledge system. They begin, universally, within a framework which is animistic or as he called it, fetishistic, a general framework he classified as ‘theological’. Scientific thought becomes predominant and established only after a long evolutionary struggle, passing from the theological, through the metaphysical, to the positive state itself. The law holds that between the theological state and the positive or scientific state of knowledge, there is an intermediary period in which the earlier reign of the spirits or the gods gives way to more abstract entities, such as a more abstract worship of a ‘Supreme Being’ or other more secularised equivalents, like the

abstract forces of natural, or submission to the sovereignty of vague social wills (the will of the people, even the individual ‘self’). The third final state, the positive or scientific state, recognises no God or Supreme Being behind the appearances of the world; the world is governed by observable natural laws.