POSITIVISM, a scheme of philosophy founded by Auguste Comte, which limits speculation and knowledge to observed facts, with their constant antecedents, accom paniments, and consequences. It ignores all laws except those of manifest association; and excludes causes and effects, supernatural and spiritual agencies, hidden forces and immaterial essences. It reduces the intelligible universe to mere phenomena, refusing to search into the essential constitution of things, or to advance beyond the sphere of strictly scientific analysis and construction. It claims thus to pursue purely inductive science, and regards all beyond as not only uncertain but delusive. The system is thus defined by Frederick Harrison, one of its eminent advocates: "By the positive method of tnought we mean that which would base life and conduct, as well as knowledge, upon evidence that can be referred to logical canons of proof, which would place all that occupies man in a homogeneous system of law. On the other hand it turns aside from hypotheses that cannot be tested by any logical canon familiar to science; and from ideal standards which profess to transcend the field of law. We say, life and conduct shall stand for us wholly on a basis of law, and must rest entirely in that legion of science (not physical, but moral and social science) where we are free to use our intelligence in methods which the intellect can analyze." To this may be added the original descrip tion of the system by Comte himself: "In Sue, in the positive state the human mind, recognizing the imposibility of attaining absolute notions, renounces the investigation of the origin arid destination of the universe, and inquiry into the intrinsic causes of phe nomena, and attaches itself instead solely to the discovery, by judicious combination of reasoning and observation, of their invariable relations of succession and re:emblance.
The explication of facts thus reduced to its real terms is, thenceforward, nothing more than the connection established between the diverse phenomena and certain general facts whose number is constantly diminished by the progress of science." Notwithstand ing the apparent originality imparted to the system by its modern dress and forms of thought, acute thinkers detect in it a revival of the old dogma that man is the measure of tile universe. The ancient connection between the macrocosm and microcosm is repeated by limiting the intelligible universe to the image that the human mind can obtain by reasoning on the phenomena that the bodily senses observe. The boundless universe, and the mind, heart, and duty of man, are narrowed down to the mere knowl edge of visible things. "The combined activity of the human powers, organized around the highest of them," it calls " the soul." Sir David Brewster criticises it as " an extravagant transformation of that rational empiricism which professes to take experience for its basis, resulting from insisting ou the prerogatives of experience in reference to external phenomena, and ignoring them in relation to the movements and tendencies of our intellectual nature." See COMTE, ante.