Progress and Poverty, 433-439 ? ?The law of human progress, what is it but the moral law?? On retrogressive development in nature, see Weismann, Heredity, 2:1-30. But see also Mary E. Case, ?Did the Romans Degenerate?? In Internat. Journ. Ethics, Jan. 1893:165-182, in which it is maintained that the Romans made constant advances rather. Henry Sumner Maine calls the Bible the most important single document in the history of sociology, because it exhibits authentically the early development of society from the family, through the tribe, into the nation ? a progress learned only by glimpses, intervals and survivals of old usage in the literature of other nations.
2nd . That the religious history of mankind warrants us in inferring a necessary and universal law of progress. In accordance with which man passes from fetichism to polytheism and monotheism ? this first theological stage, of which fetichism, polytheism, and monotheism are parts, being succeeded by the metaphysical stage and that in turn by the positive.
This theory is propounded by Comte, in his Positive Philosophy English transl., 25, 26, 515-636 ? ?Each branch of our knowledge passes successively through three different theoretical conditions: the Theological or fictitious, the Metaphysical or abstract and the Scientific or positive. The first is the necessary point of departure of the human understanding and the third is its fixed and definite state. The second is merely a state of transition. In the theological state, the human mind, seeking the essential nature of beings, the first and final causes, the origin and purpose, of all effects ? in short, absolute knowledge ? supposes all phenomena to be produced by the immediate action of supernatural beings. In the metaphysical state, which is only a modification of the first, the mind supposes, instead of supernatural beings, abstract forces, veritable entities, that is, personified abstractions, inherent in all beings, and capable of producing all phenomena. What is called the explanation of phenomena is, in this stage, a mere reference of each to its proper entity. In the final, the positive state, the mind has given over the vain search after absolute notions, the origin and destination of the universe, and the causes of phenomena, and applies itself to the study of their laws ? that is, their invariable relations of succession and resemblance. The theological system arrived at its highest perfection when it substituted the providential action of a single Being for the varied operations of numerous divinities. In the last stage of the metaphysical system, men substituted one great entity, Nature, as the cause of all phenomena, instead of the multitude of entities at first supposed. In the same way the ultimate
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