more from Auguste Comte

Single Idea 12109

[catalogued under 14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 1. Observation]

Full Idea

There is a difficulty: the human mind had to observe in order to form real theories; and yet it had to form theories of some sort before it could apply itself to a connected series of observations.

Gist of Idea

We must observe in order to form theories, but connected observations need prior theories


Auguste Comte (Intro to Positive Philosophy [1830], Ch.1)

Book Reference

Comte,Auguste: 'Introduction to Positive Philosophy', ed/tr. Ferré,Frederick [Hackett 1988], p.5

A Reaction

Comte's view is that we get started by forming a silly theory (religion), and then refine the theory once the observations get going. Note that Comte has sort of anticipated the Quine-Duhem thesis.