Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill
Comte is featured far more strongly in Mill’s autobiography than Tocqueville, with whom Mill remained in touch for a more extended period, making this point of influence of Comte over Mills reasonably straightforward. But on the other hand, Mill made significant contributions to the rise of positivism. Mill published his work on Comte in 1865, which was very well received, and Mill himself was occasionally referred to as a positivist.
In Mill’s work “Auguste Comte and Positivism, he maintains Comte’s Law of the Three Stages and categorization of the sciences as critical elements of positivism, rejecting his normative assertions about the Positive society. The Law of the Three Stages is an effort to illustrate the stages of growth that all civilizations go through and the types of thinking that are exclusive to each level.
While Mill agreed with the categorization since he thought it accurately reflected the sequence in which sciences become positive, he was not yet prepared to agree with Comte that the era of positivism had begun.
He followed Comte’s theories on the historical, sociological method. Still, he was also interested in proving that Comte was mistaken in thinking this was the only way to do sociological research.