The worlds of positivism
an analytical synopsis
The legacies of positivism were contradictory: promising to reconcile the study of nature and culture, positivists invented natural science as a distinct field whose superiority over the humanities they asserted. Positivists devised a secular worldview but were deeply steeped in practices of spiritual regeneration, praising religion as an agent of social cohesion. Positivists sought to reconcile their universalism with the promotion of cultural diversity, but often ended up suppressing co-citizens of other languages and creeds. While Comte's disciples demolished Western civilizational superiority and castigated imperialism, colonialism, and Christian missions, Mill's followers often justified empire as the highroad to global representative democracy. Positivism reinvented science, basing it on observable causal regularities of similarity and succession, and it transformed politics by predicating governance on the findings this new science yielded. This chapter provides insights into all of these points.
Feichtinger, J. (2018)., The worlds of positivism: an analytical synopsis, in J. Feichtinger, F. L. Fillafer & J. Surman (eds.), The worlds of positivism, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 349-356.
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