Positivist Church of Brazil

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Positivist Church of Brazil

Positivist Church of Brazil, a politically influential civic-religious organization founded on the tenets of Auguste Comte (1798–1857), the French philosopher and political theorist who founded the school of positivism. After studying in Paris from 1877 to 1881, Miguel Lemos returned to his native Brazil to promote the writings of Comte. In 1881 Lemos founded the church in Rio de Janeiro in order to cultivate positivism in Brazilian public and private life. The Positivist church's institutional mission reflected the later, more spiritual tenets of Comte's views on the value of positivist thinking and practice in social organization. Thus, the Positivist church developed elaborate ecclesiastical structures and religious rituals that were not to be found in the more political-technical redoubts of positivism, such as the Escola Politécnica and military academies, or among the disciples of a Brazilian positivist as prominent as Lemos—Benjamin Constant Botelho De Magalhães.

Active in the political and rhetorical jockeying that followed the fall of the monarchy on 15 November 1889, as well as later in the republican period, members of the Igreja Positivista (orthodox positivists, as opposed to the heterodox positivists who never became active church members) were vocal advocates of public education, literacy, social harmony, and cultural nationalism. Although still functioning in the twenty-first century, the church has experienced a steadily declining influence in the intellectual and cultural formation of Brazil's social and political elite.

See alsoPositivism .


Miguel Lemos, Resumo histórico do movimento positivista no Brasil (1882; 1981).

Robert G. Nachman, "Brazilian Positivism as a Source of Middle Sector Ideology" (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1972).

José Murilo De Carvalho, A formação das almas: O imaginário da república no Brasil (1990), pp. 129-140.

Additional Bibliography

Moussatché, Iara, Maria Isabel Gomes de Sant'Anna, and Regina Célia Alves. Igreja Positivista do Brasil: Acervo bibliográfico. 2nd ed. Rio de Janeiro: Museu da República, 1994.

Soares, Mozart Pereira. O positivismo no Brasil: 200 anos de Augusto Comte. Porto Alegre: AGE Editora: Editora da Universidade, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 1998.

                                         Daryle Williams