Positivist calendar

The positivist calendar was a calendar reform proposal by Auguste Comte in 1849. Revising the earlier work of Marco Mastrofini, or an even earlier proposal by "Hirossa Ap-Iccim" (Hugh Jones), Comte developed a solar calendar with 13 months of 28 days, and an additional festival day commemorating the dead, totalling 365 days.

This extra day added to the last month was outside the days of the week cycle, and so the first of a month was always a Monday. On leap years, an additional festival day (also outside the week cycle), to celebrate holy women, would join the memorial day of the dead. The scheme followed the Gregorian calendar rules for determining which years are leap years, and started on January 1. Year 1 "of the Great Crisis" (i.e. the French Revolution) was equivalent to 1789 in the standard Gregorian system.

Much like Comte's other schemas, the positivist calendar never enjoyed widespread use.

The months were named, in chronological historical order, for great figures in Western European history in the fields of science, religion, philosophy, industry and literature. Each day of the year was named after neither Catholic Saints as in the Gregorian calendar nor after Île-de-France agriculture as in the French Republican calendar but after figures in history in various fields. Weeks and days were also dedicated to great figures in history as a secular version of the concept of saint's days. In all, the Positivist Calendar "contains the names of 558 great men of all periods, classified according to their field of activity."[1] Villains of history were also commemorated in order to be held up for "perpetual execration".[2] Napoleon, according to Comte, was especially deserving of this fate.[2]

Months were named:

  1. Moses
  2. Homer
  3. Aristotle
  4. Archimedes
  5. Caesar
  6. Saint Paul
  7. Charlemagne
  8. Dante
  9. Gutenberg
  10. Shakespeare
  11. Descartes
  12. Frederick
  13. Bichat

In 1849, Comte wrote that he called his calendar a "breach of continuity" with the old way of thinking, and his Humanistic calendar was part of that breach. He called it, "a provisional institution, destined for the present exceptional century to serve as an introduction to the abstract worship of Humanity."[3]

Aside from the religious references the calendar carried, Duncan Steel, author of Marking Time, believes the novelty of the calendar's month names alone helped prevent the wide acceptance of this proposal.

The main reason that his suggestion [for calendar reform] failed to find favor with many people seems to have been that he insisted on naming the months for various notable persons from historical to modern times, ... One must admit that it would seem strange to give the date as the third day of Homer, and with a month named for the bard a reference to "Shakespeare's Twelfth Night" would be ambiguous.[4]

Author Tricia Lootens writes that the idea of naming days after literary figures, as if they were Catholic Saint days, didn't catch on outside the Positivist movement.

Outside of positivist circles, canonization of literary secular saints was nearly always slightly tinged with irony or nostalgia, and positivist circles were never large.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Edward Cary Hayes; Ulysses G. Weatherly, Social Progress: Studies in the Dynamics of Change, J. B. Lippincott, 1926, p.255.
  2. ^ a b John Bowle, Politics and Opinion in the Nineteenth Century: An Historical Introduction, Oxford University Press, New York, 1954, p.131.
  3. ^ Comte, A: "System of Positive Polity", page 346. Longmans, Green and Co. 1877 edition.
  4. ^ Steel, D: "Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar", page 308. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2000.
  5. ^ Lootens, T. Lost saints: silence, gender, and Victorian literary canonization, page 15. University of Virginia Press. 1996.

External links

Adrien-Jean-Pierre Thilorier

Adrien-Jean-Pierre Thilorier (16 February 1790 – 2 December 1844) was a French inventor who was the first person to produce solid carbon dioxide ("dry ice").

Auguste Comte

Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte (pronounced [oɡyst kɔ̃t] (listen); 19 January 1798 – 5 September 1857) was a French philosopher and writer who formulated the doctrine of positivism. He is sometimes regarded as the first philosopher of science in the modern sense of the term.Influenced by the utopian socialist Henri Saint-Simon, Comte developed the positive philosophy in an attempt to remedy the social malaise of the French Revolution, calling for a new social doctrine based on the sciences. Comte was a major influence on 19th-century thought, influencing the work of social thinkers such as Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and George Eliot. His concept of sociologie and social evolutionism set the tone for early social theorists and anthropologists such as Harriet Martineau and Herbert Spencer, evolving into modern academic sociology presented by Émile Durkheim as practical and objective social research.

Comte's social theories culminated in his "Religion of Humanity", which presaged the development of non-theistic religious humanist and secular humanist organizations in the 19th century. Comte may have coined the word altruisme (altruism).

Calendar era

A calendar era is the year numbering system used by a calendar. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era (the Coptic Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox churches have their own Christian eras). The instant, date, or year from which time is marked is called the epoch of the era. There are many different calendar eras such as Saka Era.

In antiquity, regnal years were counted from the accession of a monarch. This makes the Chronology of the ancient Near East very difficult to reconstruct, based on disparate and scattered king lists, such as the Sumerian King List and the Babylonian Canon of Kings. In East Asia, reckoning by era names chosen by ruling monarchs ceased in the 20th century except for Japan, where they are still used.

Calendar reform

Calendar reform or calendrical reform, is any significant revision of a calendar system. The term sometimes is used instead for a proposal to switch to a different calendar design.

Clotilde de Vaux

Clotilde de Vaux, born Clotilde Marie (April 3, 1815 in Paris – April 5, 1846 in Paris), is known to have inspired the French philosopher Auguste Comte's Religion of Humanity.

Hugh Jones (professor)

The Reverend Hugh Jones (1691–1760) is the most famous and accomplished of a sometimes confusing array of Anglican clergymen of the same name from the American colonies of Virginia and Maryland. Jones is best known for his authorship of The Present State of Virginia, and a short view of Maryland and North Carolina (London, 1724). For several years he taught mathematics at The College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, where Jones Hall is named for him.

International Fixed Calendar

The International Fixed Calendar (also known as the Cotsworth plan, the Eastman plan, the 13 Month calendar or the Equal Month calendar) is a solar calendar proposal for calendar reform designed by Moses B. Cotsworth, who presented it in 1902. It divides the solar year into 13 months of 28 days each. It is therefore a perennial calendar, with every date fixed to the same weekday every year. Though it was never officially adopted in any country, entrepreneur George Eastman adopted it for use in his Eastman Kodak Company, where it was used from 1928 to 1989.

J. Thomas Looney

John Thomas Looney (14 August 1870 – 17 January 1944) was an English school teacher who is notable for having originated the Oxfordian theory, which claims that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550–1604) was the true author of Shakespeare's plays.

Looney came from a Methodist religious background, but later converted to the rationalistic Religion of Humanity, becoming a leader of its church in Tyneside. After the failure of the local church, Looney turned to the Shakespeare authorship question, publishing in 1920 his theory that de Vere was the author of most of the poems and plays published in Shakespeare's name. He later argued that de Vere had also written works published under the names of other poets.

List of calendars

This is a list of calendars. Included are historical calendars as well as proposed ones. Historical calendars are often grouped into larger categories by cultural sphere or historical period; thus O'Neil (1976) distinguishes the groupings Egyptian calendars (Ancient Egypt), Babylonian calendars (Ancient Mesopotamia), Indian calendars (Hindu and Buddhist traditions of the Indian subcontinent), Chinese calendars and Mesoamerican calendars.

These are not specific calendars but series of historical calendars undergoing reforms or regional diversification.

In Classical Antiquity, the Hellenic calendars inspired the Roman calendar, including the solar Julian calendar introduced in 45 BC. Many modern calendar proposals, including the Gregorian calendar itself, are in turn modifications of the Julian calendar.

Perennial calendar

A perennial calendar is a calendar that applies to any year, keeping the same dates, weekdays and other features.

Perennial calendar systems differ from most widely used calendars which are annual calendars. Annual calendars include features particular to the year represented, and expire at the year's end. A perennial calendar differs also from a perpetual calendar, which is a tool or reference to compute the weekdays of dates for any given year, or for representing a wide range of annual calendars.

For example, most representations of the Gregorian calendar year include weekdays and are therefore annual calendars, because the weekdays of its dates vary from year to year. For this reason, proposals to perennialize the Gregorian calendar typically introduce one or another scheme for fixing its dates on the same weekdays every year.


Positivism is a philosophical theory stating that certain ("positive") knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all certain knowledge. Positivism holds that valid knowledge (certitude or truth) is found only in this a posteriori knowledge.

Verified data (positive facts) received from the senses are known as empirical evidence; thus positivism is based on empiricism.Positivism also holds that society, like the physical world, operates according to general laws. Introspective and intuitive knowledge is rejected, as are metaphysics and theology because metaphysical and theological claims cannot be verified by sense experience. Although the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of western thought, the modern approach was formulated by the philosopher Auguste Comte in the early 19th century. Comte argued that, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other absolute laws, so does society, and further developed positivism into a Religion of Humanity.

Religion of Humanity

Religion of Humanity (from French Religion de l'Humanité or église positiviste) is a secular religion created by Auguste Comte, the founder of positivist philosophy. Adherents of this religion have built chapels of Humanity in France and Brazil.In the United States and Europe, Comte's ideas influenced others, and contributed to the emergence of ethical societies and "ethical churches", which led to the development of Ethical culture, congregational humanist, and secular humanist organisations.

Shapland Hugh Swinny

Shapland Hugh Swinny (30 January 1857, Dublin – 31 August 1923, London) was an Irish economist and Comtean positivist.

Shapland Hugh Swinny was born in Dublin in 1857, the son of Captain Shapland Swiny. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1880 and M.A. in 1884.He joined the London Positivist Society immediately after graduating from Cambridge and succeeded Edward Spencer Beesly as President of the London Positivist Society (1901–1923). He also was editor of the Positivist Review .

He was the Chairman of the Council of the Sociological Society from 1907 to 1909.

He was a co-founder of the Church of Humanity, together with Philip Thomas.

Swinny was a personal friend of several Indian nationalists, including Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Shapland Hugh Swinny died in 1923.

Solar calendar

A solar calendar is a calendar whose dates indicate the season or almost equivalently the apparent position of the Sun relative to the stars. The Gregorian calendar, widely accepted as standard in the world, is an example of a solar calendar.

The main other type of calendar is a lunar calendar, whose months correspond to cycles of Moon phases. The months of the Gregorian calendar do not correspond to cycles of Moon phase.

Tranquility Calendar

The Tranquility Calendar is a solar calendar proposal for calendar reform proposed by Jeff Siggins in 1989. It is a derivative of the International Fixed Calendar as well as the earlier Positivist Calendar published in 1849 by French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857), providing for a year of 13 months of 28 days each, with one day at the end of each year belonging to no month or week, and a leap day approximately every 4 years.

Nearly universal
In wide use
In more
limited use
By specialty
Displays and
Year naming

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