"OUR VIEW OF HISTORY ITSELF, OWES A GOOD DEAL TO HIS TEACHING AND INFLUENCE": FIRST EDITION OF JOHN STUART MILL'S SEMINAL WORK, AUGUSTE COMTE AND POSITIVISM, 1865
MILL, John Stuart. Auguste Comte and Positivism. London: N.Trubner, 1865. Octavo, original blind-stamped brown cloth rebacked with original spine laid down. $1500.
First edition of Mill's important work on French philosopher Auguste Comte, viewed as the father of positivism, a long-time colleague and powerful influence on Mill, here noting his immense debt to Comte as he attempts "to sever what is true, from the much less which is erroneous” in Comte.
"Comte's lasting legacy and the source of his enormous influence on European and American thought" is his widely-viewed role as the father of positivism (Putnam, "Question of Realism"). Here Mill, whose philosophy was deeply influenced by his older colleague, assesses Comte's "valuable thoughts… to sever what is true, from the much less which is erroneous" (5). While opposing Comte's views on women and religion, Mill's philosophy, with its "assumption of a close, predetermined, connection between political institutions, physical environment, and mental stage of advancement, reflected his debt to Comtean thought, as did his continuing emphasis on the explanatory power of variations in national character" (ODNB). At Comte's death in 1857 Mill continued "to recognize his debt to Comte, especially for the historical conception of sociology, the three ages of mankind, and also for the 'inverse deductive method" (Preface, Correspondence, xx). To Isaiah Berlin, "Comte is worthy of commemoration… our view of history itself, owes a good deal to his teaching" (Four Essays on Liberty, 41). F.A. Hayek, in his critique of Comte, links him with Hegel and Marx, noting: "the number of those who have absorbed most of the important elements of his system… is very large indeed" (Counter-Revolution, 188). With rear page of publisher's advertisements. Serially issued in the Westminster Review (April, July 1865). Godwin, Cyclopaedia of Biography, 218. The inscription, "From the Author," is not in the author's hand. Owner inscription, "Paris Mai 1891." Title page with tiny red line affecting one letter of author's surname.
Interior fresh with expert repair to inner paper hinges, pg 199 and front free endpaper, light spotting to cloth. A scarce near-fine copy.