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The Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment

Auguste Comte – High Priest of Positivism
by Caspar Hewett

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Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte [1798 – 1857] was the father of Positivism and inventor of the term sociology. He played a key role in the development of the social sciences and was highly influential on thoughts about progress in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Comte believed that the progress of the human mind had followed an historical sequence which he described as the law of three stages; theological, metaphysical and positive. In the first two stages, attempts were made to understand the nature of things through supernatural and metaphysical explanations. In the positive stage, by contrast, observation and experiment became the principal means to search for truth. Applying the law of three stages first to the development of the sciences, Comte later claimed that it applied to human intellectual development in general and that it held the key to the future progress of humanity.

Comte represents a general retreat from Enlightenment humanism that has continued to this day. His positivist ideology, rather than celebrating the rationality of the individual and wanting to protect people from state interference, fetishised the scientific method, proposing that a new ruling class of technocrats should decide how society should be run and how people should behave. This idea has its seeds in Saint-Simon’s thought but finds its expression in a much more developed authoritarian form in Comte.

Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte was born in Montpellier, France in 1798, just four years after the death of Condorcet. Montpellier was one of the worst cities for Royalist agitation and was in a state of siege when Comte came into the world. His parents were, in Comte’s own words, “eminently Catholic and monarchical.” They rejected the scepticism and republicanism that followed the French Revolution. The young Isidore was contemptuous of his family’s views, sympathising deeply with the Revolution and embracing the causes of individual freedom and republicanism from a young age. An advanced and brilliant child, at the age of fourteen he declared he had “naturally ceased believing in God” and had already “gone through all the essential stages of the revolutionary spirit.” His rejection of both the Catholicism and royalism of his parents resulted in a difficult relationship with his family throughout his life. However, when one looks at the ideas of the mature Comte it is clear that he was more influenced by his upbringing than he would have cared to admit – his aim to impose order through his High Church of science (with him at the head) has explicit links to both his Catholic background and his father’s character and is a far cry from the hatred he expressed for the dictatorial new Emperor Napoleon in his youth.

His early education was at the local lycée, where he studied rhetoric, philosophy, mathematics, humanities and grammar, all of which he excelled at. He was a self-disciplined, hard working student which, combined with an exceptional memory, ensured he did very well. At the age of sixteen he entered the prestigious École Polytechnique. However, in 1816 he got involved in a protest at the school and got himself expelled. He set about filling in the gaps in his knowledge by reading up on subjects such as biology and history and developed a strong interest in thinkers who had attempted to understand the history of human society. Amongst those was Condorcet, whose Sketch for an Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind was to be highly influential on his thinking, Comte himself once describing Condorcet as “my immediate predecessor.”

In 1816, soon after his expulsion from the École Polytechnique, Comte wrote his first political essay My Thoughts: Humanity, truth, justice, liberty, the fatherland. Reconciliations between the regime of 1793 and that of 1816, address to the French people. In this surprisingly mature essay Comte wanted to get to grips with the problem of explaining La Terreur without giving up on defending the Revolution itself. This shows clearly that he was well aware of the ideas abroad at the time, including those of Madame de Staël and the Idéologues, who were grappling with the same dilemma. The Right at this time were keen to blame the horrors of the Revolution on Enlightenment philosophy and reason. In My Thoughts Comte explicitly disagreed with this notion, arguing that the government’s attempt to repress the progress of the sciences would increase the likelihood of further tyranny: Censoring criticism only reinforced the ideas of those who supported the old tyrannical order. The essay was not published but it does provide important insights into Comte’s political thought at this early age.

There are clear contradictory tendencies at play in My Thoughts that would continue into his later thought. He expressed his strong belief in government by popular consent but also revealed his ambivalence towards the masses, whose judgment he deeply distrusted. On the one hand he shared the Enlightenment philosophes conviction that, if free from those who would stifle reason and freedom of thought (the church, the monarchy, the aristocracy), the people would be able to create a new and better society in which justice and liberty would flourish. On the other he felt that the people were too easily swayed and needed the guidance of philosophers and scientists to find their way.

Comte returned to Paris in 1816 and got to know many important figures of the time including the Idéologues George Cabanis and Comte de Volney, and this was to be an important influence on his thinking. He also became very interested in the relatively newly formed United States of America. Developing a highly idealised view of the country he was quite keen to emigrate there, but this never happened. He was particularly enamoured with Benjamin Franklin who Comte felt embodied what the leaders of the future should be like. One aspect of Franklin’s thought that struck a particular chord with Comte was his emphasis on individual merit – Franklin had come from humble origins and had become successful through hard work and perseverance. Franklin thus epitomised the American dream – a person who was recognised for what they did rather than what family they came from.

Failing in his plans to emigrate, Comte decided to become a political journalist, a job that had a distinctly revolutionary pedigree at this time. This was his way of involving himself directly in politics, something he felt was particularly important at a time of economic slump and famine where “every moment one meets workers without bread and without work, and nevertheless … luxury? Luxury! Ah! How revolting it is when so many individuals lack absolute necessities.” It was also to be a key moment in his intellectual development as his new employer was none other than Henri de Saint-Simon, the great synthesist, who was to be highly influential on Comte, introducing him to a variety of ideas and providing him with opportunities to publish his work (see notes on Saint-Simon).

Comte did not sign his name to any of his early publications, mainly in order to avoid confrontation with his family over the path he had chosen, publishing in a number of Saint-Simon’s journals: l’Industrie (Industry) [1817 – 1818], Le Politique (Politics) [1819], l’Organisateur [1819 – 20] and Du Système Industriel (On the Industrial System) [1820 – 22] and Le Catéchisme des Industriels (Catechism of the Industrialists) [1823 – 24].

In l’Industrie Comte openly attacked religious belief and argued that science held the key not only to understanding the natural world, but also the social. Like Condorcet and Saint-Simon before him, he maintained that only by understanding the past could one make the right choices for the future, thus history would be the ultimate foundation of social science. Revealing an ongoing tension within his own thought, he contended that government should not interfere in the productive sphere, but at the same time was critical of liberal thought for failing to be moved by social inequality. Even at this early stage he had little faith political parties or in the ability of politics to deliver the changes necessary for a better society. Thus, although he felt strongly about the injustices heaped on the mass of people, it was inevitable that he would diverge drastically from liberal ideals.

There is another striking contradiction evident in the work in l’Industrie. On the one hand Comte contended that the positive system, by which we can read the methods of science combined with the study of history, political economy and morality, would provide certainty regarding how society should be structured and run. On the other hand there is a strong streak of relativism. At one point, Comte states “the only absolute is that everything is relative … especially when social institutions are concerned.”

Comte’s work in l’Industrie shows clearly that his views on politics had already moved a long way from the Enlightenment ideas he had started out with. He now, like Saint-Simon, embraced history and political economy as the key to politics and morality. The theory of the rights of man had been appropriate for the eighteenth century, but knowledge had moved on. His relativism suggested that “the political institutions and ideas of each epoch of a people must be relative to the state of enlightenment of this people in this epoch.”

In the light of his later work, when even freedom of thought had been expelled from Comte’s vision, it is worth noting a speech he wrote in 1818 for the banker Casimir Périer, defending freedom of the press at a time when the government were trying to introduce censorship. It seems that Comte was quite passionate about free speech at this time, describing it in a letter to a friend in November 1818, as “the sweet liberty of saying everything that passes through one’s head.” Three of the articles he wrote for Le Politique also defended freedom of the press, arguing that journalists had a central role in keeping government in check. He also defended the liberal and moral ideas of the Enlightenment. Describing Madame de Staël’s Thoughts on the Main Events of the French Revolution as “infinitely superior” to any other book on the subject of the aftermath of the Revolution and the positive place enlightened thinkers had to play in completing its historical task. However, contradictory tendencies were clearly already at play in Comte’s thought with respect to individual freedom, for in the third volume of l’Industrie he had argued that a single moral code was needed to make everyone’s ideas similar. This notion would eventually find its full expression in his vision for a positive system. Positivism would transcend politics and would provide the moral, political and spiritual framework that all would have to adhere to.

There was also an ongoing tension in his thought between serving and forming public opinion. On the one hand, he saw public opinion as a rational, objective blend of the ideas of the most enlightened individuals in society. On the other, he thought that rationality should stand above political parties, social classes or individuals. However, these ideas are less contradictory than they might seem. It is worth remembering that, although some thinkers such as Condorcet had already argued for it, the demand for universal suffrage was not widespread at this time – this only happened later in the century. Eventually Comte was to recant the views expressed in the articles in l’Industrie, placing his new faith in the High Priests of his Religion of Humanity rather than journalists or the public.

By 1819 Comte was growing in confidence and reputation, and began to work and publish independently, writing articles and book reviews for Le Censeur Européen, a leading journal of the liberal opposition of the period. In an article published in June 1819, Comte showed clearly how far he was moving away from the Universalist ideas of the Enlightenment. He explicitly argued against equal access to jobs in government, maintaining that “only capable men” should hold such positions.

In July 1819 Comte wrote an article which was destined not to be published until 1854, when he appended it to his Système de Politique Positive (System of Positive Polity) as a demonstration of the continuity of his thinking from youth to old age. Entitled General Separation Between Views and Desires, and later referred to as the First Opuscule, it revealed a new attitude on Comte’s part towards democracy and his increasing disdain for the opinion of the people. Developing his previous suggestion that only enlightened men should take part in journalism or government, he argued that only those specifically trained in political science should play an active role in politics. Clearly aware that he was in danger of sounding like the present administration he emphasised that, despite their lack of knowledge, the people had legitimate desires for “freedom, peace, industrial prosperity, economical public expenditure, and good use of taxes.” They should thus contribute to deciding on the overall aims of society, but should leave the means of achieving them to those who knew what they are talking about, that is, the social scientists. Revealing his authoritarian and elitist tendencies, he proclaimed that social scientists should rule, and that the liberty of everyone else should be restricted accordingly.

Two of Comte’s contributions to l’Organisateur, the eighth and ninth letters, are also revealing in tracing his intellectual development. Later republished as the Second Opuscule in the 1854 edition of his Système de Politique Positive, they represent Comte at his theoretical best, and are certainly amongst the more significant of his writings. Three things are most noteworthy. First he presented for the first time a global perspective on the French Revolution, something that had not been done before. Second, he made the struggle of ordinary people for freedom and enlightenment the focus of his historical description; the history of France was that of its people, not the powerful men who had dominated them. Third, he used history to explain and legitimise the French Revolution.

In these articles Comte traced the struggle for emancipation all the way back to the Middle Ages, stressing the continuity of history. Like Saint-Simon, (and unlike the Enlightenment philosophes, who were so scathing of the period,) he respected the Middle Ages, characterising it as the beginning of the end for the old order. However, unlike Saint-Simon he was able to describe methodically how the new system evolved from the old. His model of social change highlighted both the decline of the old feudal, papal system and the inchoate emergence of the new that began in the eleventh century. However, it was hundreds of years before the new system was strong enough to overthrow the old. He described these countering forces as the negative and positive movements of history, later reformulating them as the metaphysical and positive stages in his “law of three stages.” He also set out a revised description of the development of the sciences, contending that they became positive in an order related to their distance from humanity. Thus astronomy was the first to become positive, followed by physics, chemistry and physiology. This was to remain his model in his later work, with of course the social sciences following those that had already reached the positive stage.

Showing an astute understanding of the significance of Martin Luther’s challenge to the Roman Catholic establishment in the sixteenth century, Comte pointed to Luther’s declaration of freedom of conscience and the importance of its embracement by the Revolution. He described Luther as having made the first gains for the ‘negative movement’ of history by espousing the right to question theological dogma. The split between the monarchy and the church that resulted from the rise of Protestantism boded the beginning of the end for the old system. He also stressed the importance of the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, enabling the discoveries of the Scientific Revolution to spread and helping to destroy the foundations of theological dogma, especially the idea that humanity was at the centre of a universe created for its benefit. This all led into his argument that, once the social sciences, especially morality, became positive, it would be adopted by the education system as the other sciences had been. At this point society would finally be free of control of the church. What is more, he argued, since scientific theories are always open to revision and disproof, there was no danger of a new scientific elite wielding arbitrary authority like the elites of the past – individuals would not have to abandon their own reason, even if a certain amount of trust in the expertise of scientists would be necessary. However, having stated explicitly that the individual would be able to think for him- or herself, his conviction that a single moral code was absolutely necessary for a stable society was too strong to truly allow freedom of thought or conscience in his new society since “once beliefs are left to the discretion of each individual, there will not be perhaps even two professions of faith that are entirely uniform.”

In 1821 Comte began working on his Prospectus on the Scientific Work Required for Society’s Reorganisation, a work that later became known as the Fundamental Opuscule. The Prospectus, originally intended for publication in Du Système Industriel, was truly Comte’s philosophical debut, and the young man struggled with it for over a year, even then publishing it in what he considered an unfinished form. The Fundamental Opuscule was first published in April 1822, with the title Système de Politique Positive, volume 1, part 1, and the subtitle Plan for the Scientific Work Required for Society’s Reorganisation. However, only a hundred copies were printed and it was not until two years later that it was distributed more widely in Saint-Simon’s journal Le Catéchisme des Industriels.

It was the publication of the Plan that proved to be the catalyst for the end of Comte’s relationship with Saint-Simon. Comte felt he had been unfairly treated by his former mentor. He had hoped that the work would launch his public career and thus wanted a much wider circulation for it as the first part of his Système. Saint-Simon was insulted by Comte’s accusations that he was jealous and intentionally holding him back. In fact their ideas were diverging long before this argument arose and it is unlikely that their collaboration would have remained very fruitful. Saint-Simon was increasingly pushing for practical reforms in advance of theoretical development and was focusing on getting those he wanted to call themselves industrialists on side, primarily because he needed their financial backing. Comte, on the other hand, still held that theory had to come before practice and had stuck with the idea that scientists had to have equal, or even greater, authority than the industrial class. Only that way would social transformation be successful, since a truly positive understanding of society would then inform social changes. These social scientists would be responsible for providing the blueprint for the new society and as such they would be very powerful indeed. Comte was also no doubt uncomfortable with Saint-Simon’s renewed interest in deism, although comments he made years later suggest that this was not high on his list of concerns at the time.

The main focus of the Plan was how to reorganise the spiritual power in order to complete the historic mission begun by the French Revolution. One striking aspect of this work is that Comte’s anti- democratic tendencies come to the fore more clearly than ever, indicating the trajectory his thought was taking. He contended that sovereignty of the people would put power in the hands of those unfit to rule both morally and intellectually, “replacing the arbitrariness of kings by the arbitrariness of people, or rather, by that of individuals.” What was needed was a new “organic doctrine” that would be supported by all, kings and ordinary people alike. Rather than limiting the power of the state to protect people from arbitrary authority, Comte now argued that the government should be made the “head of society,” uniting people and focusing everyone’s activities on common goals. He was also highly critical of the notion of freedom of conscience: “there is no liberty of conscience in astronomy, physics, chemistry, physiology, in the sense that everyone would find it absurd not to believe with confidence in the principles established in these sciences by competent men.” Thus even the right to question science on the basis of one’s own rationality that Comte had retained to some degree in the First Opuscule seems to have gone out of the window. In a similar vein, he argued that only an educated elite should be entitled to freedom more generally:

    “Liberty … in a reasonable proportion is … useful to … people who have attained a certain degree of instruction and have acquired some habits of foresight … [but] is very harmful to those who have not fulfilled these two conditions and have the indispensable need, for themselves as much as for others, to be kept in tutelage.”

With his newly discovered law of three stages, Comte was convinced that politics could now be raised to “the rank of the sciences of observation.” This would enable the scientists to create the spiritual doctrine needed to replace religion. These scientists would be generalists trained in all of the sciences – this idea, first proposed in the Plan, was to become a key theme in his later work. Political science, based on a historical understanding of the past (and future) would ultimately provide a blueprint, or at least some clear ideas, for what a new society would look like. It would provide a guide for practical action and would make it possible to maximise useful activity by directing society towards humanity’s “natural” tendency to modify nature to suit its needs.

In February 1825 Comte married his live-in lover Caroline Massin. Although they were quite happy initially, their marriage was not to be a happy one. One problem was that they were very poor, so much so that Comte found it hard to work. At one point Comte toyed with the idea of returning to Montpellier, but that was off the agenda after a disastrous visit there with Caroline, who refused even to visit there again. It seems that a major factor in their unhappiness was that Comte was not able to handle his wife’s intelligence. Never very good at negotiating equal relationships he was not happy that she was not in awe of his intellect and made comments in his letters about the advantages of women of “intellectual mediocrity.” It is notable that his views on the role of women became much more conservative than they had been in his younger days – he now felt that equality of the sexes threatened family and therefore society.

In late 1825 Comte agreed to write for Le Producteur, a new weekly journal that had been founded by some of Saint-Simon’s followers just after his death. Comte at this time was clarifying and expanding his account of the three stages of historical development. Six of these articles were later republished as his fourth and fifth opuscules. In these works we see Comte’s ideas about the structure of his positivist society solidifying. Gone is any remnant of his old libertarian and egalitarian principles. In place of the existing institutions Comte now envisaged a fixed social hierarchy strictly controlled by a positivist elite. Expressing an admiration for primitive societies because of the absolute power held by the spiritual leaders, he proposed a form of theocracy with a ‘clergy’ made up of his social scientists. The spiritual authority would have an explicitly repressive function, playing the role that the Catholic Church had played in the Mediaeval period, but more powerful. His positive clergy would be moral and political philosophers, men with general knowledge of all the sciences backing their social science. Control over ideas would be an essential element of the state. Thus education would be a key tool, helping to link theory and practice, and teaching people to know their place in the social order.

Comte now argued that the law of three stages applied not only to each science and society, but also to the development of each individual. Thus a person was a theologian as a child, a “metaphysician” as a youth and a scientist as an adult.

Turning his back on other aspects of this earlier thought, Comte was now concerned about the harmful effects of the growth of industry, and increasingly critical of political economy. He was particularly concerned that there was a lack of attention paid to the moral and spiritual realms in liberal ideas and in general conceptions of progress. Such approaches were, according to Comte, alienating and would lead to unwanted social disintegration. This was his primary reason for wanting to impose a moral order. The spiritual power in his new society would keep growing, so much so that the temporal power would eventually be little more than a bureaucracy to facilitate the day to day running of the system.

Referring to the recent work of Thomas Malthus, Comte also argued for “permanent repression” of humanities “viscous” sexual desires, proposing abstinence as a cure to overpopulation and thus to social problems. This was another theme that was to run through the rest of his work, and shows the deeply anti-human slant his philosophy was taking, despite Comte’s claims to be moving towards a Religion of Humanity.

The fourth and fifth opuscules received a great deal of attention – some of it highly critical, about which Comte was very happy as it satisfied his sense of self-importance. He was particularly pleased to have attracted the comments of the Idéologue Benjamin Constant, who accused him of proposing a theocratic society, bringing back the mentality of the Inquisition of the sixteenth century. Although he was careful to draw attention to the division of temporal and spiritual powers in the new society after receiving this criticism, there can be no doubt that Comte believed that it would be necessary to suppress freedom of conscience in the positive system, something that brought him close to certain Catholic reactionary thinkers.

At the beginning of 1826 Comte began to disseminate his ideas through a series of lectures to a private audience at home. Rather than a grand plan he thought of this as a distraction from his principal tasks, but it was a way out of his financial troubles and represented a pragmatic response to circumstances. The course, designed to provide the general education needed to train the social scientists of the future, covered the fundamentals of mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, physiology and, of course, ‘social physics.’

However, his course was to be short lived – this was a time of major crisis for Comte. For one thing he was torn between rewriting his Fundamental Opuscule and working on the historical section of the Système. He was also struggling with whether social science or positive philosophy should come first. Plus he was deeply unhappy with his relationship with Caroline and bitter about over his break with Saint-Simon. Whatever the causes, by the end of March 1826 he was experiencing “violent derangements” ending with a complete mental breakdown it would take two years to recover from. This was no minor illness, Comte was delusional and paranoid, at times delirious, at others violent. He even tried to kill himself on more than one occasion. Although he and Caroline had separated just before his “folie” took hold, his wife stood by him throughout the illness and, despite being slandered at the time and afterwards, undoubtedly played a key role in bringing him back to ‘normality.’

Comte was to have two more periods of mental illness after this – in 1838 and 1845, although neither were as severe or long-lasting as the first. It has been argued by some that he was never totally sane again after 1826, especially in the light of the bizarre nature of some of his later thoughts. It is for this reason that I have focused here on the earlier work to show (as he himself was keen to do) that there was a clear trajectory to his thought from his early writings through to the later work – his rejection of liberalism in favour of authoritarianism, his distrust of the people, his belief that social science could provide the blueprint for the society of the future, his desire to train a new spiritual elite, all lead in the direction of establishing the Religion of Humanity that Comte was to propose.

It was early in 1828 before Comte was again well enough to resume teaching his course. By 1829 the interest in his work had grown sufficiently for him to complete it at the prestigious Royal Athenaeum. In 1830 he began work on his Cours de Philosophie Positive (Course of Positive Philosophy). This would be the new encyclopaedia used to train his elite of social scientists, the generalists who would lead the new society spiritually. Solving the conundrum that had bothered him so much in 1826, Comte decided that there could be no distinction between a positivist philosopher and a social scientist – his new clergy would have to be both. Comte spent the next twelve years working on the Cours, publishing the last volume in 1842. It is worth remembering that, while on the surface the Cours can read as anti-religious and even scientistic, it was always supposed to be the educational tool needed to train the leaders of a spiritual and moral authority.

Soon after completion of the Cours, Comte met Clothilde de Vaux for whom he fell deeply in love with in 1845 but who sadly died of tuberculosis the following year. The obsession he developed for Clothilde and her imagined perfection was to influence his thoughts on the role of women in the positivist society he hoped to establish. Clothilde became the angel of his new religion, representing simplicity, purity and willing subjugation, while Caroline Massin came to represent all that could be wrong with women – independent, opinionated, domineering. Thus Comte’s position on women at the end of his life was deeply conservative and could not have been further from where he was as a young man, when he had admired independent, intelligent women such as Madame de Staël.

After the death of Clothilde, Comte spent a number of years developing his ideas further and completing his formulation of sociology, publishing his Discours sur l'Ensemble du Positivisme (A general view of Positivism) in 1848 and finally finishing his Système de Politique Positive (System of Positive Polity) in 1851 (with the opuscules, showing the link between his early and late work, added to the 1854 edition as appendices).

Throughout the later works, Comte continued to maintain that the scientific method was the best tool in the search for answers about all areas of knowledge, but increasingly emphasised that morality should be humanity’s central concern in continuing to progress. Comte’s Positivism can be considered as a humanist philosophy in that it placed humanity at the centre of its concerns, and of course had no place for God. However, it could have been further from Enlightenment humanism, even though that had been his start point. He rejected democracy and freedom of the individual in favour of a powerful elite who would rule with an iron hand. Only the enlightened few would have any say in his new society. His Religion of Humanity, with himself in role of pope, would tell people what to think and how to act. His proposed structure for spiritual leadership was so much like that of the Catholic church, that T.H. Huxley described his later ideas as ‘Catholicism minus Christianity.’

Comte’s understanding of the notion of progress was highly influential on much of the thought that followed. His historical account of the struggle for human emancipation was a particularly valuable contribution which, though it owed much to his predecessors (especially Condorcet and Saint-Simon), contained some strikingly original ideas. In particular, his presentation of history in terms of ordinary people as opposed to the rich and powerful is still influential today. However, despite this, and despite his extensive knowledge of Enlightenment thought, his vision is peculiarly devoid of a sense of agency. He was convinced from an early stage that theory had to precede practice and really believed that the social scientists, the generalists trained by his Cours, would provide a blueprint for a perfect society. It is this that led Karl Marx to be so disparaging of Comte’s ideas, who denied ever trying to write “Comtist recipes for the cookshops of the future.” Marx, in contrast, extended the notion of agency to the common people – for him the proletariat – the new class that emerged from the industrial revolution and the establishment of capitalism – were the people with the history making potential for the future. Comte, as we have seen, had a deep distrust of the masses, and thus, while he started out as a proponent of freedom of speech, he ended up proposing a system in which people were told what to think by an intellectual elite. The very idea of Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat would have been truly terrifying for Comte.

In the last few years of his life his work was disseminated widely and he built quite a following, with positivist societies appearing all over the world. However, his increasing extremity and the alliances he formed (particularly with the Catholic church) succeeded in driving away most of his followers and friends, leaving him unhappy and alone when he died in September 1857.

Notes written by Caspar J M Hewett for
Progress of the Human Mind: From Enlightenment to Postmodernism
A workshop held in September 2008

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