This book offers an exciting reinterpretation of Auguste Comte, the founder of French sociology. Following the development of his philosophy of positivism, Comte later focused on the importance of the emotions in his philosophy resulting in the creation of a new religious system, the Religion of Humanity. Andrew Wernick provides the first in-depth critique of Comte's concept of religion and its place in his thinking on politics, sociology and philosophy of science. He places Comte's ideas in the context of post-1789 French political and intellectual history, and of modern philosophy, especially postmodernism. Wernick relates Comte to Marx and Nietzsche as seminal figures of modernity and examines key features of modern and postmodern French social theory, tracing the inherent flaws and disintegration of Comte's system. Wernick offers original and fascinating insights in this rich study which will attract a wide audience from sociologists and philosophers to cultural theorists and historians.