What [Comte] had done in 1842, when the sixth and last volume of the Philosophie Positive was published, was to show that the facts of Sociology, of Man and Society, were — like the facts of Biology and astronomy — amenable to law. They followed regular laws of coexistence and succession, and therefore they afforded scientific basis for action. By observing what were the permanent conditions in every state of society, Comte showed what were the institutions it was necessary to preserve. This was the basis of Order. By pointing out laws of growth followed everywhere and in all times, he indicated true principles of change. Here was the foundation of Progress.
To take elementary instances, Family and Government are uniformly persistent. They belong to Order, which is the Basis. On the other hand, the belief in God is not uniformly persistent. In Chinese civilization and in Buddhist societies it does not exist. It is therefore not part of the permanent fabric of human civilization.  Indeed, on further examination, a law of change shows itself — the Law of Three Stages faintly perceived by Hume and Turgot. Progress in all conceptions is from Fictive to Positive, first in simple thoughts such as those of astronomy, later in complex thoughts such as those which deal with society.
At the end of the Philosophie Positive Comte had shown the application of these principles to many of the problems of society and of life. In particular he had dwelt on moral education, consisting in the
wise regulation of habits and of prejudices, destined from childhood to vigorous development of the social instinct and of the sense of duty, and afterwards to be supplied with a rational basis, by instruction in the laws of human nature and society; so as to fix firmly and definitely the universal obligations of civilized man, beginning with personal morality, passing thence to family and social morality, and then studying the various modifications due to the different positions created by modem civilization.
Comte points out the extreme incompetence of theology in dealing with moral education. For, in the first place, theology no longer unites. It is one thing to a Unitarian, another to a Catholic. Secondly, the doctrine of personal salvation was never very favourable to the highest morality. Thus this great problem had been present to Comte long before he wrote the Politique Positive, The same is true of Social Commemoration, and also of that vast aspect of the problem of reorganization which may be called temporal or material. The great conception that in a healthy state of society every citizen will be regarded as a public functionary holding his proper place in the industrial army- that conception which contains the germs of the solution of the whole problem of Wealth and Labour and Poverty — this too is to be found clearly stated in the first work.
We may ask then, What was left for the great afterwork? The answer is given in the Final Invocation to the Politique Positive.
Six years elapsed between the conclusion of the Philosophie in  1842 and the publication of the Discours sur l’ensemble du positivisme in 1848. In the interval he published the Geometry in 1843, and the Astronomy in 1844. In 1845 there came the great crisis of his life, his friendship with Madame de Vaux. In 1846, six months after her death, he wrote the Dedication of the Politique and in the next year he delivered the course of lectures corresponding to the General View.
What was the renovation now effected in Comte’s life? It was this. The moral realities of human life were brought nearer to him. Society was no longer a distant astronomical object pursuing its way through the ether in obedience to a fixed law. It was a complex of human lives, each real, swayed by stirring desires, needing guidance, support, consolation. He had seen life, as a wise philosopher sees it, from a distance, from a height as in a bird’s eye view. He now saw it as a good and merciful woman sees it, at first hand, glowing with warm blood, quivering with pain and passion. On the one hand his abstract thoughts were now translated into the language of common life; on the other, a moral renovation was effected in himself, with a new purity, gentleness, patience.
[... 313] Let us take the definition of Humanity given by Comte. "Humanity is the sum of the beings, past, future, and present, who freely work together in rendering the order of the world more perfect." He condenses this shortly afterwards, defining Humanity as the sum of convergent beings. But now we want the fuller definition. Note that, while the Past comes first, next to the Past comes the Future. Beings not yet born are considered as existent, no less than those who have done their work and who seem to have passed away. This seems at first sight paradoxical and fanciful; but in truth it is extremely real and obvious, being indeed one of those truths so obvious that they escape our notice till some one comes to lift back the veil of familiarity — i.e., to reveal them.
What are the elements that go to make up Humanity? We cannot reduce these to individual men and women, for an isolated life has no meaning. We can, however, see that Humanity is made up of different communities- England, France, China, and so on — and that each of these is in turn made up of numberless families. Let us take the Nation first, and then the Family. Consider ancient Rome or modern England as the object of patriotic feeling. " England expects every man to do his duty." How very real and at the same time how very complex is that word England! All her past and all her future are focussed in it. [...] And the Family shows the same thing on a smaller scale, but more constant, more vivid — in a word, more familiar. A family is a collective life, of which the members now living by no means form the whole, or even the most important part. [...] It is very necessary to dwell on these illustrations drawn from Country and Family; for a clear conception of Humanity can hardly be obtained without looking at other and simpler collective forms where subjective, invisible life acts on objective, visible life.
But yet these illustrations are inadequate. The man without a family, the orphan outcast, is still human. The exile who is deprived of his country has still his manhood left. But if we try to conceive Man without Humanity, we strip off from him, feature by feature, every mark that separates him from the higher vertebrate animals. [...].
This may enable us to realize that half of the life of Humanity which lies behind us. But, as in the case of Country and Family, we have to combine with this infinitely great past an infinitely greater future. We need something to live for, to work for. From this point of view Humanity is the meeting point of all our highest aspirations. The Past represents Order, the government of the dead; the Future represents Progress, duty, the purification of life. Thus Humanity really represents everything that is venerable and precious. It is a firm foundation; it is an anchor of hope, a centre of religion. It unites love and duty. [...315]
Such, then, is the first step forward taken in the Positive Polity: the condensation of the whole scheme of Positivism, doctrine, aspirations, work, in the religious conception of Humanity.
2. The Subjective Method
The question of human knowledge, apparently so abstruse, is really less difficult than it seems. Knowledge has two elements, the knower and the thing known, subject and object. Kant first brought this into prominence. Comte generalized it as coming under the definition of all life; the continuous adjustment of Organism and Environment.
The first conception of the World is mainly subjective — drawn from Man’s inner consciousness. Men construct the world of the gods in the likeness of the world of their own passions. But from Greek times to our own there has been a gradual growth of positive science. The objective method, beginning in Cosmology,  had finally been applied not only to the element that is known" bat to the element that knows. life. Society, and Ethic have become matters of positive science. The impulse given by Bacon has been continued by Home, Target, Condorcet, Gall. Objective science baa reached Humanity, and these studies have led to a revival of the subjective method in a new form. Under this aspect all subjects of inquiry are to be viewed in their relation to Man; for Man is the only centre possible. The stars are infinite. This concentration implies no narrow utilitarianism, no thought of immediate application to practical purpose or of material wellbeing. It means that the question will be asked of any investigation, What light does it tend to throw on Man and his work on earth? The subjective method asks questions, guided by a sense of human needs; the objective method answers them.
[...] The number of questions that may be asked of Nature is infinite. Our powers are finite, and so also are our needs. Of the millions of problems that present themselves, ninety-nine per cent will profit us little. The Subjective Method consists in the wise choice among this infinite labyrinth. Moral elevation, poetic imagination, are needed to prompt this choice.
The most important facts have been left unstudied because men had lost the sense of them. People could not speculate about music, if they had no ear for it; or on painting, if they were colour-blind. So with human sympathies. How can the man who has no fine sense of honour or of justice, who has no experience of unselfish  devotion, turn his thoughts to suoh things as these? They have no existence for him. The highest and most difficult field of positive science needs, therefore, the culture of the Imagination and the culture of the Heart.
3. The Theory of Human Nature
[...320] As usual, the highest truth was found in the poets who painted what they saw, just as in Greek sculptors, who knew nothing of anatomy, but watched the movements of the limbs. Among philosophers the truth began to appear about the middle of the eighteenth century in Bishop Butler and Vauvenargues, and more especially in Hume’s Essays on human nature and Leroy’s Letters on Animals. But Gall first put it into systematic form. He gave coherence and precision to it by attributing to the unselfish sympathies a distinct place in the structure of the brain. It is noticeable how rich were his observations on this point, showing the innate propensity to do good or to revere. But his general scheme of localization and classification was extremely faulty and incoherent, especially in all that related to the intellectual functions. Comte’s method was avowedly subjective, so far as the localization of organs went. He took functions as seen in animals and developed in the growth of human society. He assumed the connection of function with organ, and that like organs would be near together. On this he built up his cerebral hypothesis, very much of which he frankly avowed was not anatomically proved.
 It may be asked, Why not wait? But we cannot wait till anatomists have investigated and defined each one of fifty million cells. That may or may not come in the course of the next thousand years. We want, for our practical necessities, the best working hypothesis as to the organization of the human body and its relation with moral and intellectual functions.
Comte took a calm survey of human nature as a whole. Then he examined the parts. He was led to a threefold division — first, the Heart, impulses, desires; second, the Intellect, the reasoning and observing powers; third, the Character, the practical qualities. The first he subdivided into seven self-seeking impulses and three altruistic ones. The Intellect he divided into Conception and Expression, and the former he divided again into Observation and Meditation, each of which was further subdivided. Observation into concrete, relative to Beings, and abstract, relative to Events, while Meditation could be either Inductive, leading to Generalization, or Deductive, leading to Systematization. Finally, the Character was analysed into Courage, Prudence, and Firmness. The problem is how to act so that the resultant actions shall be harmonious with those of our fellows. This can only be by the supremacy of the social sympathies over our selfish feelings; and for this the sole way is that the intellectual functions should be subordinate to the social sympathies. The Intellect must present an ideal which kindles the sympathies, and must then in turn show the ways in which that ideal may be realized. Progress will result from the union of Love with Order.
4. Ethics, the Crowning Science
In Comte’s first arrangement of the Sciences they were six in number in the following order of succession: Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Sociology. The last-named. Sociology, dealt with the laws of the growth and structure of society, and therefore included implicitly the laws of the growth and structure of each element thereof. Intrinsically, he recognized this by proposing to conclude the educational course by a year’s teaching of the art of life, the practical application of scientific knowledge to Morals. But in the second volume of the Positive Polity Ethics is separated from Sociology and appears as a distinct science, so that the scheme now stands thus: Cosmology  (Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry), or the study of the inorganic world; Biology, or the study of life, including man as the highest of the animals; Sociology, or the study of continuous social existence and the laws of filiation; Ethics, or the study of the individual as the creature of Humanity, including in that study all the differences of age, sex, temperament, etc., which distinguish one man, woman, or child from another, and ending with the rules of practical conduct and of education.
Great progress was involved in this change. It means that the perfection of political organization is not the he-all and end-all. Tou may have good government and just statesmen, yet the people governed may be mean and poor. This is seen in the best days of the Boman Empire. The ultimate test and the ultimate aim is that the individual human unit in any given state of society shall be noble, brave, intelligent, energetic, self-denying. This is the first goal — all else is secondary and subservient to this.
But, on the other hand, there is no possibility of separating Morals from Sociology [...] Positive Morals are inseparable from Sociology, just as Sociology is inseparable from Biology and Biology from Cosmology. Free action springing from noble motives and cultivated intelligence in a justly ordered Society — such is the Positivist ideal; and to this all efforts, speculative and practical, are subservient. Morals or Ethics thus viewed is the final science, including all other sciences, as it includes also every one of the arts of life. 
5. Sociocracy, Based on Separation of Church and State
Comte, having analysed the struoture of Society into its various elements — material wealth, family, language, government, etc. — proceeds to consider in the sixth chapter of the second volume of the Positive Polity, the volume devoted to Social Statics, how these elements are combined and how they work together in practice. The three chief forms of association are the Family, the State or City, and the Church. A man is a son, a husband, a father of a family; he is a citizen, he is a member of a church. The question then arises: Which of these is to take precedence, which is most important? Many would answer at once that Humanity must be supreme, that the Church, as the widest form of association, must be predominant, reducing the others to insignificance. This was not Comte’s view. The Church, taking the word in its broadest significance, exists for the propagation of ideas and ideals. But man is born by the necessities of his existence to do solid, practical work — and the widest association that can directly co-operate in practical work is the State. Therefore, for practical purposes, the State, the City must be predominant, and the man must be before all things a citizen. It is impossible to give greater emphasis to the positive character of Comte’s views of life and society. They are before all things real and founded on fact: in this case, the fact that man has to work for his living.
The State, however, in this connection, must not be conceived of as a vast Empire, where, as in India, some thousands of officials dominate — or even as a great nation like Germany, France, or England. Comte was thinking of a political community like Holland or Denmark, where citizens can know something of one another, and work together practically, and develop real civic feeling in their daily intercourse in the workshop, and it may be in the club. We are far from this here, and perhaps London or Birmingham offers a nearer approach to it than the United Kingdom. Gradually, the great centres of life in England and Scotland — Liverpool and Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow — will gather this kind of civic feeling round them.
The State, then, is the dominant form of association, but it is not the only one. The others are indispensable. Over the State, modifying it, moralizing it, but in no way subverting it, comes the Church. Underneath the State, penetrating each element of it with  strong emotions and affections, moulding the character of each citizen, comes the Family. The Church and the Family continue to mould and modify the State; but they will never displace it. The Family gives affections; the Church supplies ideals; but the State supplies each man with the conditions that render his daily work possible, and that is a paramount necessity of life. In the ancient world Rome gave us an imperishable model of patriotism, of common civic action for the good of the Roman State. But the old Roman ideal needs transformation from military to industrial civilization, from the conquest of men to the conquest of Nature, the moulding of raw substance into solid products of use and beauty. In the future, work must be made noble, and between the States of the future noble emulation must take the place of ignoble and wasteful and destructive competition — emulation in making the Earth beautiful, in subduing Nature most effectively, in building houses and temples that shall endure, in rearing strong and vigorous breeds of cattle, in culture of soil, in painting, music, and sculpture. Here lies the field for the patriotism of the future. In the brotherhood of nations one will surpass another in glory.
On this central association the smaller and the larger will constantly rain their beneficent influences, the Family filling the citizen with tender and generous impulses, the Church supplying him with noble ideals, bringing nations into wholesome, selfrespecting, friendly contact, dissipating antagonisms and jealousies, ever developing and spreading new thoughts and new ideals of action.
Now, the very essence of a Church is that it should be free. Libera Chiesa in libera Stato. A Church that domineers or a Church that is enslaved, neither of these deserves the name. When the Church of Humanity is spread throughout the world, as it may be far sooner than we think, all kinds of religious organizations will go on, very likely, for a long time to come side by side with it, some of them drawing nearer and nearer to it, some perhaps holding out to the last. Positivism will insist that these organizations should have every inch of freedom which we claim for ourselves. So far as they are genuine expressions of human ideals, they will be really working with us under other forms; so far as they are merely obstructive, they are foredoomed to failure.
This, then, is the fifth new feature of the Positive Polity — the relation of the three chief forms of human association in the  Sociocracy of the future, wherein the Family represents Love, and the Church represents Order, scientific thought and poetic ideals, both acting on the State to urge it along the path of true Progress.
6. Affinity of Fetishism and Positivism
The words, Love, Order, Progress, which we have seen to be so intimately connected with the first five steps, the five new thoughts already spoken of, are still more closely associated with the last two. In the sixth step we see how the Heart intervenes in our conception of the Order of the World through every stage of human Progress; and in the seventh we are taught that a right state of the Heart is even more helpful to Progress than a right state of the Understanding.
The third volume of the Positive Polity, which deals with the historic evolution, is full of remarkable thoughts, as, for instance, that all history, from that of Greece to the French Revolution, is a transition from Theocracy to the Positive stage, or, to take another instance, the description of Theocracy itself. But perhaps the most essential thought of all, containing the germ of all the others, is the affinity between Fetishism and Positivism. All the other phases pass away: this endures and will endure: it is the only permanent element of the fictive stage, considered as a whole. The word Fétichisme was first used by the President de Brosses in the eighteenth century, but a recognition of the thing is to be found in Hume’s Essay on Religion, and even earlier. In its essence it is man’s tendency to attribute his own emotions and volitions to the world around him. It is distinct from Theism, for, though the Deities under Theism may be fashioned in the likeness of men, they are not identified with any particular object: they may control a whole class of objects. Astrology, the worship of the heavenly bodies, or of the vault of heaven itself, is at once the highest phase of Fetishism and the transition to Theism. The worship of the heavenly bodies needed a priesthood because of their inaccessibility, their regularity, their universality; and the rise of a priesthood prepared the way for the still more inaccessible Gods. In China  this transition did not take place. The Heaven, the Earth, the Wind, etc., are still, with Ancestor-Worship, the basis of the national religion. To some, indeed, the worship of ancestors has seemed to include the whole religion of primitive man, but it is really a particular case of this tendency. To the dead are attributed the passions of the living. The broad result is that unknown phenomena are interpreted by attributing to them human emotion. In practical matters real knowledge, however limited, an incipient Positivism, always dominated; but it was modified by Fetishistic awe, of which we can still see the traces in such words as religio, sacer, taboo.
To Fetishism we trace the beginnings of spiritual government, due to the combination of the instinct of reverence with the instinct of self-preservation. [...]
To Fetishism we trace also the love of the soil, the dolce nido of Petrarch, the first germs of patriotism; the training of animals; the observation of plants. [...327]
Comte’s final conception of the relation between Positivism and Fetishism is put forward in his Synthèse Subjective. We are ignorant of the Universe in itself. We only know it as it affects us. Space is but a form of thought; objectively we know nothing of it. In regard to these. Logic of Signs we have none. Logic of Images we have none; the Logic of Feeling alone is left. It is open to us to give way to it, provided we are without any illusion as to the reality or unreality of its conclusions. Under this condition, we may conceive Space as the seat of Destiny, and the Universe as instinct with Love.
7. Cult before Doctrine: Service weightier than Creed
The Synthese Subjective, Comte’s last work, opens with this passage:
To subordinate Progress to Order, Analysis to Synthesis, Egoism to Altruism; such are the three statements, practical, theoretical, and moral, of the problem which man has to solve, and by solving to attain a complete and stable unity. Severally peculiar to the three parts of our nature, these three distinct ways of stating the same question are not merely closely connected, but equivalent, by virtue of the interdependence of activity, intellect, and feeling. They necessarily coincide, and yet the last of the three surpasses the two others, as being alone in relation with the immediate source of the  common solution. For Order presupposes Love, and Synthesis can only be a consequence of Sympathy; intellectual unity and practical unity are then impossible without moral unity; thus Religion is as superior to Philosophy as it is to Politics. The problem for man is in the last resort reducible to the construction of unity of feeling, by the development of altruism and the compression of egotism; and therefore improvement is subordinate to conservation, and the spirit of detail to the genius of synthesis.
Thus we see that, however important is the question of precedence, we must bear in mind that both Cult and Doctrine still remain essential, even though the first may be of greater weight than the second.
What is Cult? "Worship" is a most imperfect and inadequate rendering of the French word culte. Worship suggests almost irresistibly the attitude of petition to a powerful being outside us who is able to grant or refuse our requests. Hence there has arisen a tendency among some Positivists to address Humanity somewhat in the way in which Christians or Mohammedans address God. I think a more careful reading of Comte would have led to a different path. The subject we are now treating is dealt with in the second chapter of the fourth volume of the Positive Polity.
Cult or culture is simply tilth, in its primitive meaning of the artificial modification of the soil so that it may bear better fruit, as in such words as agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture, the first beginnings of Man’s modification of the world, the origin of Progress. Carry this meaning a step further to the modifications of our own nature, physical, intellectual, emotional. Of these the last is the most important; the culture of the Heart is central. Cult, then, is culture of the highest thing we have: the Heart within us.
But can we have Cult without dogma or discipline? Can culture of the Heart go on alone? On one hypothesis it could: that the function of nutrition was as easy as respiration. Then there would be no work in the world but Art, and we should live in an eternal Golden Age. This could only be if Man were set free from material necessities. But we have to strive against a hard destiny. The struggle has inevitably strengthened the selfish passions. Man is  not born corrupt; but he is born with an immense preponderance of self-love over love of others. [...]. Mysticism, considered as the culture of the heart apart from intellect and character, deserves severe blame; as much so as the culture of the reason apart from the sympathies.
Besides, if we do not have a care, this culture of the heart alone, this mysticism, defeats its own ends. It leads to barrenness and hardness. [...]
 This brings us to two conclusions. First, the practice of good works must come before any kind of Cult: to do good is the most powerful of all agencies for feeling good. Secondly, private cult should come before public both in time and in efficiency. It is a necessary condition of the genuineness of public cult. [...]
Now, of the three forms of Cult — private, domestic, public — Comte, as we know, put in practice the first two; private confessions and prayers, and the Sacraments, the intervention of Society in the events of family life. The third — public cult — he did not inaugurate. When pressed to institute liturgical forms, he remarked that, till the public mind was better prepared, such a thing would be, like the formulas of freemasonry, wanting in reality. [...]
 Calendar had for its primary purpose to penetrate men’s minds with the sense of continuity, to show that we are not of yesterday, and to stimulate reverence for the great men who have led us on. But it does not pretend to cover the whole of life. It is thus important to make ourselves familiar with the abstract and permanent Calendar. This, like the other, consists of thirteen months, divided here into three groups. The first six months represent the bonds that knit society together — Humanity, Country, City, and the Family in all its relations. The next three months commemorate the preparatory stages of Humanity — Fetishism, Polytheism, Monotheism. The last four are devoted to the normal functions of Humanity — Womanhood, the Priesthood, the Direction of Industry, Labour. The abstract, like the provisional Calendar, ends with the Day of All the Dead, to which is added in leap-years the Day of Noble Women.
Now, it is hard to see what aspect of Humanity is here left out. We have a series of eighty-one festivals, in some weeks — one, in others — two, giving a complete picture of the whole organization of life at which Positivism aims. We have the central conception — Humanity. We have the family tie very copiously insisted on. We have the long struggle of Humanity through infancy and youth to maturity; the strife of creeds, the rivalry of nations; the long, painful transition from theology to Positivism, from the civilization founded on war to the civilization founded on work. In this struggle every brave toiler has his place, on whatever side he fought. [...]
 I say that in this conception of the Positivist cult there is a vivid, palpable, synthetic mode of implanting the vital truths of Positivism into heart and head alike, of making them part of the very fibre of our being, which transcends infinitely all that the best and clearest systematic teaching could do. It is for this reason that Comte summed up the whole of the fourth volume of the Positive Polity in the conception that in Positivism the Cult stood before the Doctrine.
And, indeed, this final seventh step sums up all the others. Humanity; the Subjective Method; the picture of the Functions of the Brain; the supremacy of Ethics; the Sociocratic State, moralized by the Family and guided by a free Church; the permanent alliance of Fetishism and Positivism — these are all contained in this final truth, the precedence of the Cult, conceived as Comte conceived it, over the systematic Doctrine. The Doctrine is necessary, let me again repeat. Without the systematic intellectual teaching mapped out for us by Comte, and continually growing with the growing years, we should lose firmness and clearness of conviction, we should give way here, we should wander into extravagances there — the Doctrine is a systematic appeal to the Intellect to recognize the ascendancy of the Heart and freely to devote itself to the Heart’s service. But the Cult is an appeal to the whole nature of man at once — an appeal to bodily sense, to deep thought, to strong emotion, in order that the whole man and the whole community may act together for the service of Humanity.
1852: Catéchisme positiviste, ou Sommaire Exposition de la religion universelle en treize entretiens systématiques entre une femme et un prêtre de l’humanité, par Auguste Comte. Édition apostolique. Paris; Rio de Janeiro; London, 1891. gallica.bnf.fr
1830-1842: Cours de philosophie positive
1853 The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. Freely translated and Condensed by Harriet Martineau in two volumes. London John Chapman, vol. 1 / vol. 2 [Google Books].