Positivist Republic: Auguste Comte and the Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865–1920

Paperback | April 8, 2005

byGillis Harp

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Historians have long recognized the influence of Darwinism and German idealism on late Victorian intellectual discourse. In Positivist Republic, Gillis Harp argues that, in America, Auguste Comte's positivism constituted another formative influence—one that has not been fully appreciated. In fact, according to Harp, Comtean positivism was critical to the transformation of Anglo-American social and political thought during the last third of the nineteenth century.

Harp identifies a thread of Comtean ideas running through the writings of Lester F. Ward, Edward Bellamy, Herbert Croly, and several lesser-known individuals, all of whom played a significant role in Gilded Age and Progressive reform. By highlighting this Comtean thread, Harp furnishes a fuller, more complex picture of the fabric of American political thought in this key transitional period and enhances our understanding of the emergence of modern, corporate liberalism by the start of the twentieth century. Although many of these individuals have received scholarly attention before, Harp is the first to study them together as a discreet community and their work as a body of discourse, thus providing fresh insights to help us understand them in their proper intellectual context.

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Historians have long recognized the influence of Darwinism and German idealism on late Victorian intellectual discourse. In Positivist Republic, Gillis Harp argues that, in America, Auguste Comte's positivism constituted another formative influence—one that has not been fully appreciated. In fact, according to Harp, Comtean positivism ...

Gillis J. Harp is Associate Professor of History at Acadia University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.66 inPublished:April 8, 2005Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271026421

ISBN - 13:9780271026428

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“Harp’s study supplies a missing chapter in American intellectual history, and one essential to the emergence of twentieth-century liberalism. He identifies one wing of the intellectual ferment of the 1870s and 1880s, deriving from Auguste Comte, which must be understood in order to fully grasp the character of Ward’s, Bellamy’s, and later Progressive thought. This book bears the best marks of good intellectual history. It is important, exciting, and well-written.”—R. Jeffrey Lustig