Le positivisme
September 14, 2021 3:00 AM   Subscribe

Massimiliano Simons (@MassSimons), a philosopher of science at the University of Ghent, is tweeting charming illustrated threads about French philosophers of science and positivists from the turn of the 19th/20th century, figures who sometimes get forgotten or lazily lumped together in anglophone history and philosophy of science.

Here are some direct links to Simon's individual threads, plus wikipedia articles:
 Léon Brunschvicg (wikipedia)
"as promised: why Brunschvicg claimed “Aristotle had the mental age of an 8-year old."

Émile Meyerson (wikipedia)
"Apparently, Émile Meyerson has a short scifi text about a historian from the 6th Millenium looking back at the vulgar times of the 20C, who through his archival work, comes to the conclusion that Meyerson and Henri Bergson are the same person."

Auguste Comte (wikipedia)
"Any decent positivism sees itself as having the task to rethink and reorganize these social conventions, to improve society and our emotional lives. Hence, [Compte's] Religion of Humanity. The influence of positivism as a religion is known, most famously in Brazilian flag "Ordem e Progresso" ("Order and Progress"), going back to Comte ("Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal"). Some of positivist temples still stand."

Abel Rey (wikipedia)
"Even Lenin found Abel Rey worthwhile to write about in his Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1909). Lenin characterized Abel Rey as “a muddlehead and half a machist”. Obviously, he disagreed with Rey. "

Marcel Boll (wikipedia)
"Boll would write : “The end of Antiquity should be dated around 1920 – for ‘modern times’ benefit from intellectual methods and material means without any common measure with that of previous ages.” (Mercure de France, Sept. 15, 1937, p. 608.)"

Charles-Ernest ('Général') Vouillemin (without a wikipedia page)
"[Vouillemin] would also apply his positivism to warfare, pleading for instance about improving the scientific education of soldiers (so that they no longer follow orders slavishly, but can practically wage war on the battlefield: each their own war)."

• Louis Rougier (wikipedia)
"Rougier defends conventionalism: our knowledge is ultimately based on a set of freely chosen conventions. Rationalism, in contrast, confuses the formal necessity of logical deductions with that of the premises on which these deductions are founded. But Rougier also applies this conventionalism to politics: every political system is ultimately based on a ‘mystique’: a groundless dogma that inspires passionate conviction, but is, in the end, nothing but a convention mistaken for an absolute."

Simons' series seems to be ongoing.
posted by Joeruckus (1 comment total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good snack size stories! I get more of the history than the philosophy out of the tweets but maybe that’s because I knew more of the history to start with.

Also, no wonder one of my favorite SF authors makes quiet little references to Comte outside the fiction.
posted by clew at 7:57 AM on September 14


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