August Comte’s theory of development of human intellect. Detailed in his seminal Cours de Philosophie Positive (The Course in Positive Philosophy)

The three stages:

1. Theological

supernatural or divine powers; personified deities fetishism/animism polytheism monotheism

2. Metaphysical

extension of the theological stage abstract forces govern our world

3. Positivist

scientific, rational

extra: Charles Darwin thought it was a great idea! M. Comte’s idea of a theological state of science [is a] grand idea. 1


  1. Notebook N (Metaphysics and Expression). Charles Darwin. Journal’s timespan: fall 1838—summer 1839. page[leaf] 12