Auguste Comte 1848

Letter to Sir Robert Peel

Source: Correspondance inédite d'Auguste Comte. 3rd series. Paris, au Siege de la Société Positiviste, 1904;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor.

Paris, Friday September 1, 1848


Though England was the first to nobly receive the new philosophy from which emanates the attached communication, your high practical occupations have perhaps prevented you until now from granting special attention to this theoretical reconstruction by which our century will particularly distinguish itself from the preceding one. In restoring social evolution to natural laws that allow the general march of events to be foreseen without uncertainty, I would be happy if the political usefulness of such a science was seen by the sole truly eminent statesman the West currently possesses; by he who more than others felt the intimate connection between the conditions of order and those of progress.

Of all Western situations the English situation now seems the least close to the final regeneration towards which the whole of the modern movement tends. Nevertheless, the true political leaders there are more susceptible than those elsewhere to seeing the necessary issue from the great crisis that agitates humanity’s elite.

I thus thought it necessary to send you my complete – though summary – systematic exposition of the normal character that the study of the past assigns the Western future according to the fundamental principles of the Positive philosophy. A special opuscule then develops the political application of this sociological theory to France’s current situation in order to determine the provisional regime most apt, by energetically ensuring material order, to facilitate our final transition; while its philosophical elaboration will freely dissipate the intellectual and moral anarchy that today prohibit any definitive construction. This practical conception at first seems little appropriate to your country. But your wise experience will perhaps note there the direct and continuous preponderance of central power, of which England now has such need.

Though not counting on full sympathy, I hope that these readings will make clear to you the reality, and even the opportunity, of the sole philosophy which, eschewing every abstract and absolute consideration, always derives the artificial order from a judicious systematization of the natural order.

Please accept the esteem of
Your devoted servant,
August Comte
Author of the System of Positive Philosophy