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The Loss of the Philosophic Tradition and the Rise of the Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte
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ABSTRACTThis study examines the loss of original principles that distinguish ancient Western philosophy as a valid conceptual framework for political theory and practice. I explore how the Philosophic Tradition as a centuries-old foundation of inquiry and discourse loses its significance and finally its authority in the postmodern world. With the exclusion of metaphysical reflection and reason as a basis for understanding human existential and political phenomena, the transition to Historicism and Philosophic Positivism effectively redefined the nature and application of politics. Critical to this research and serving as a focal point of this study are the works of theorist and originator of the Positive Philosophy, Auguste Comte. I analyze the author's several volumes, these dedicated to establishing a new foundation of political thought, one in which scientific inquiry would serve as the ground for seeking truth and knowledge and as a basis for methodologically directing social and political reorganization. Essentially, Positive politics would as the theorist proposed, be free of abstract speculation (metaphysics) and work to reframe human nature by achieving a universal social state defined by `Order and Progress' and a futuristic system of advancement alike to no other period in human history. As this study examines this prophesy, it takes into view the rise and popularity of the Positive Philosophy from ancient perspectives to modern and postmodern Western thought. It further illustrates the resistance to and eventual replacement of traditional theoretical foundations leaving an indelible imprint on political philosophy which had experienced a profound transformation from its pre-scientific origins. Once as truth-seeking, self-critical and reflective as to moral values and ethical considerations of justice, prudence, and the public good, the Positive Philosophy would serve instead as the ground and authority for, as Comte envisaged, a modification of human existence. Thus politics reformulated was set to task in ordering the social world into its mission of productivity and progress and reconciling its vision of human perfectibility with a proposed end to political conflict.