Thesis ID: CBB368433669

From Perfectibility to Progress: The Search for a Science of Society in France, 1750-1850 (2022)


Cook, Alexander (Advisor)
Lalevee, Thomas (Author)

Cook, Alexander
Australian National University
Publication date: 2022
Language: English

Publication Date: 2022
Physical Details: 300

The early nineteenth century was a defining moment in the emergence of new, future-oriented visions of human progress. This thesis analyses this development of modern thought through a particular case study: the search for a science of society in France in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Through a contextual study of ideas and knowledge production, the chapters examine the successive models of reform and regeneration that defined this search, tracking a shift in the way these models were conceptualised. This shift involved a transition from individual to collective models of improvement, or, more discursively, from perfectibility to progress. This thesis documents this shift by tracing the origins and development of early French social science in the works of Sieyes, Condorcet and the Ideologues, before turning to the reconfiguration of this science effected by Saint-Simon and his followers in the nineteenth century. In doing so, this study provides new insights into the search for a science of society during and after the French Revolution, a revised interpretation of the history of the concept of perfectibility and a fresh perspective on the ongoing contest between science, religion and politics in this period of intense upheaval. It also advances scholarly understanding of the range of moral, philosophical and natural scientific ideas behind early French positivism and socialism. The nineteenth-century fascination, if not obsession, with progress is shown, in this thesis, to have been shaped by the works of theorists with visionary but idiosyncratic imaginations.

Citation URI

This citation is part of the Isis database.

Similar Citations

Chapter Lefèvre, Wolfgang; (2003)
Darwin, Marx, and Warranted Progress: Materialism and Views of Development in Nineteenth-Century Germany (/p/isis/citation/CBB000430211/) unapi

Article Dylan Riley; Rebecca Jean Emigh; Patricia Ahmed; (2021)
The Social Foundations of Positivism: The Case of Late-Nineteenth-Century Italy (/p/isis/citation/CBB782716699/) unapi

Book Leonardo Ciacci; (2023)
Patrick Geddes (/p/isis/citation/CBB502845517/) unapi

Article Tresch, John; (2010)
The Order of the Prophets: Series in Early French Social Science and Socialism (/p/isis/citation/CBB001023530/) unapi

Article Gissis, Snait; (2009)
Interactions between Social and Biological Thinking: The Case of Lamarck (/p/isis/citation/CBB000932272/) unapi

Article Kilborne, Benjamin; (1992)
Positivism and its vicissitudes: The role of faith in the social sciences (/p/isis/citation/CBB000057656/) unapi

Book Beck, Naomi; (2014)
La gauche évolutionniste. Spencer et ses lecteurs en France et en Italie (/p/isis/citation/CBB001510177/) unapi

Article Hansun Hsiung; (2021)
From Harmony to eHarmony: Charles Fourier, Social Science, and the Management of Love (/p/isis/citation/CBB468717595/) unapi

Book Roberta Vittoria Grossi; (2021)
«Contremisce Satana». Storia di un esorcismo nella Francia del XIX secolo (/p/isis/citation/CBB256909263/) unapi

Article Brian, Eric; (2006)
Les phénomènes sociaux que saisissait J. Bernoulli: de Condorcet à Comte (/p/isis/citation/CBB001021376/) unapi

Book Joan Wallach Scott; (2020)
On the Judgment of History (/p/isis/citation/CBB331377064/) unapi

Book Paul Warde; (2018)
The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, c.1500-1870 (/p/isis/citation/CBB208491222/) unapi

Book Eric Herschthal; (2021)
The Science of Abolition: How Slaveholders Became the Enemies of Progress (/p/isis/citation/CBB289630170/) unapi

Chapter Ruse, Michael; (2010)
Evolution and the Idea of Social Progress (/p/isis/citation/CBB001020305/) unapi

Article Vyacheslav Artyukh; (2017)
Elements of Positivism in the Ukrainian Philosophy and Culture of the Second Half of the 19th Century (/p/isis/citation/CBB070290698/) unapi

Chapter Riccardo Cavallo; (2019)
«Sposa affettuosa, madre sublime e donna delinquente». Socialismo giuridico e criminalità femminile (/p/isis/citation/CBB246025070/) unapi

Book Blanckaert, Claude; Porret, Michel; Brandli, Fabrice; (2006)
L'encyclopédie méthodique (1782--1832): des lumières au positivisme (/p/isis/citation/CBB000950640/) unapi

Book Johannes Feichtinger; Franz L. Fillafer; Jan Surman; (2018)
The Worlds of Positivism: A Global Intellectual History, 1770–1930 (/p/isis/citation/CBB298923215/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Beck, Naomi
Blanckaert, C.
Brandli, Fabrice
Brian, Eric
Emigh, Rebecca Jean
Feichtinger, Johannes
Blätter für Technikgeschichte
History of European Ideas
History of Science
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Carocci Editore
Cambridge University Press
Columbia University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté
Science and society
Social sciences
Progress, ideas of
Comte, Auguste
Durkheim, Émile
Charcot, Jean Martin
Condorcet, Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat, Marquis de
Darwin, Charles Robert
Ferri, Enrico
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century, early
16th century
17th century
20th century
Great Britain
North America

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment