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Auguste Comte
An Intellectual Biography

Volume 2

$133.00 (C)

Part of Auguste Comte Intellectual Biography

  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521513258

$ 133.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This volume begins to explore the life and works of Auguste Comte during his so-called second career, the controversial period that began in 1842 and lasted until his death. This volume covers the years from 1842 to 1852, when Comte transformed his positive philosophy into a political and religious movement. It represents the first in-depth study of that movement. Focusing on key books, such as the Discours sur l’ensemble du positivisme, Mary Pickering connects Comte’s intellectual development to the tumultuous historical context and to episodes in his personal life, especially his famous relationship with Clotilde de Vaux. The book examines for the first time why workers, doctors, women, and famous writers, such as John Stuart Mill, George Henry Lewes, and Emile Littré, were drawn to his thought.

    • This biography examines the life and thought of Auguste Comte, the founder of Positivism, sociology, the history of science, and the Religion of Humanity
    • It offers the first in-depth examination of his disciples and his political movement
    • It provides an analysis of one of the most famous couples in history, Comte and Clotilde de Vaux
    • It is an example of the 'new biography' because it places Comte's life and works in their historical and discursive contexts
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Mary Pickering has now completed what has to be regarded as one of the great biographies of a major nineteenth-century French thinker. What is most obviously impressive about this work is its thoroughness, its mastery of the details of Comte’s life and thought. It is clearly the result of a prodigious effort of research. Hardly less impressive are the depth, the coherence, and the originality of the picture of Auguste Comte that emerges from this biography." —Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz

    "Perhaps remembered most often for coining the word sociology, Auguste Comte was in fact a deeply influential figure in the history of social thought. The positivist movement he helped to shape influenced politics as well as science in Britain as well as France, the Americas as well as Europe. Mary Pickering is to be congratulated on a rich account of Comte and his ideas. Her book is of basic value for the history of social science and intellectual history more generally." —Craig Calhoun, President, Social Science Research Council

    "Mary Pickering has devoted one-third of a century to the study of Auguste Comte and his times, and from this research she has produced a book of the century. With remarkable dexterity and objectivity, she weaves together the intellectual, professional, financial and personal themes of the man and his times. Comte himself emerges with all his interests, his great intellectual systems, his egoistic cravings, his emotional excesses, and his self-destructive ambivalences. One seldom gains the impression that an author has read and knows everything about the life and context of a biographical subject, but Professor Pickering comes as close as anyone I have read. Congratulations to this fine scholar for her exceptional work." —Neil J. Smelser, University Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

    "Sociology still bears the mark of its eccentric founder, Auguste Comte, whose later life is described in magnificent historical and psychological detail by Mary Pickering. Although Comte’s “positivist” philosophy is filled with contradiction and paradox, the questions he asked continue to frame sociology, and are just as flummoxing today as they were in the nineteenth century. This dense and well-written intellectual biography raises important challenges for the contemporary study of gender, emotions, religion, and science. Proponents of “public sociology” will find many of their hidden assumptions laid bare in this brilliant and insightful work." —Christine L. Williams, University of Texas at Austin

    "Pickering's exhaustive and well-argued reconstruction of Comte's intellectual career is sure to become an indispensible reference..." —Biancamaria Fontana, Times Literary Supplement

    "Pickering’s is the most complete work on Comte’s life and thought available in any language. It mines published texts, unpublished writings and correspondence, state archives, and both recent and older secondary literature to offer reliable explications of nearly everything Comte ever wrote, correlating each moment of his intellectual evolution to the vicissitudes of his personal life, professional situation, and political context. Its extensive notes, bibliography, and numerous discoveries demonstrate considerable patience and care (the word “endurance” comes to mind). This will be a definitive reference for anyone working on Comte or Positivism. While Pickering offers a perspective particularly rewarding for social scientists interested in this neglected founder, the work also has much to offer historians and philosophers of science, historians of France, and general historians of modernity." —John Tresch, The Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521513258
    • length: 652 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 35 mm
    • weight: 1kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. 1843–1844: the battle against the pedantocracy
    2. Tensions in Comte's relationships, 1842–1846
    3. Clotilde de Vaux and the initial encounter with Comte
    4. The muse's tragic end
    5. Pain and recognition
    6. The revolution of 1848
    7. Discours sur l'ensemble du positivisme
    8. Personal and professional disappointments
    9. The early development of the Religion of Humanity
    10. The development of the Positivist Movement
    Concluding remarks.

  • Author

    Mary Pickering, San José State University, California
    Mary Pickering is Professor of History at San Jose State University. The author of Auguste Comte: An Intellectual Biography, Volumes I, II, and III, she has published in Journal of the History of Ideas, Journal of Women's History, Historical Reflections, Revue philosophique, and Revue international de philosophie.

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