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1760-1825

Claude Henri de Rouvroy

Saint-Simon, early XIX century

It was the genius of Saint-Simon who proposed, at the dawn

of science, to unify all existing sciences into one (in this he is similar to Tsiolkovsky who proposed rocket flight into space before the airplane was invented). Saint-Simon writes: “The general system of our knowledge shall be reorganized in accordance with the hypothesis that the Universe is governed by a single unchangeable law” (“A Note on the Science of a Man”).

Saint-Simon’s students, in 1820’s, talked about a need for a grand synthesis of facts accumulated by various sciences. One attempt at this was made by Auguste Compte (1798-1857), one of the first philosophers of science and a founder of positivism. The picture below represents Compte’s theory of science. At the basis of science is mathematics and physics. Astronomy, or cosmology, as we call it today, is a derivative of these two aspects of science. Then, we study the formation of molecules, in chemistry. From chemistry we proceed to the development of life, and a study of it (zoology, botany, theory of evolution). Then, we deal with the most complex phenomena: human society, which is based upon the previous evolution of Universe, and our study of it.

Positivism

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