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nce has been created, nothing remains in nature of which we conceive the possibility of obtaining an absolute knowledge. “The relative character of scientifi



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c conception is necessarily inseparable from the true notion of natural laws, in the same way as the chimerical tendency to absolute knowledge spontaneously accompanies whatever use we make of the logical fictions or of metaphysical entities.”370 Considered as a whole, the object of positive

upreme idemay

science, according to Comte, necessarily coincides with that of philosophy. For both of them it is the whole of the reality given to us. The human mind cannot exert itself in a vacuum. What


it might draw from itself, without the help of experience, (if such a conception be not absurd), is purely fictitious, and has no objective value. If then the human mind remains attached to a metaphysical philosophy, this can only be in so far as the mind still conceives the whole or a part of reality from th

e absolute point of view, that is to say in so far as it still fails to understand that the laws of phenomena alone are within its reach, and persists in seeking the essence351 and the first or final cause for some among them. There was a time when the whole


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of reality was so understood. The conception of the world was then entirely metaphysical or partly theological. But the human mind has gradually cons

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tituted the positive science, first of the more simple and more general phenomena, and then of the more complicated ones. Finally the most complex of all,