Positivism was a philosophical and social movement that exerted significant influence on various aspects of Brazil’s history, including the creation of its national flag. This ideology emerged in the 19th century, amidst significant social and political changes, and had the French thinker Auguste Comte as one of its main proponents.

Positivism preaches the idea that knowledge can only be obtained through empirical and scientific observation, valuing the scientific method as the primary means of understanding the world and society. Additionally, this philosophical movement upholds the notion of social progress based on a positive hierarchy of values, placing order and development as fundamental for the advancement of humanity.

Positivism and the creation of the Brazilian Flag
Brazilian Republican Flag.

In Brazil, positivism gained strength in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially during the end of the Brazilian Empire. The Republic Coup on November 15, 1889, brought about a new political context in the country, and positivism became an important ideological influence for the rulers of the time.

It was within this changing landscape that the national flag of Brazil was conceived. Manuel Pereira Reis, Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, Décio Villares, and Miguel Lemos, all adherents of positivism, were responsible for the design of the flag officially adopted a few days after the coup.

The influence of positivism can be seen in the symbols and elements present in the Brazilian flag. The motto “Order and Progress,” inscribed on the white band, is inspired by the positivism motto of Auguste Comte: Love as a principle, Order as the basis, and Progress as the end, translated version from French.

Positivism and the creation of the Brazilian Flag
The Prototype of the National Flag of Brazil is an oil painting by brazilian artist Décio Villares (1851-1931).

In 2010, the mold of the republican flag, made by Décio Villares, was stolen from the Positivist Church, located in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The relic, over 120 years later, was stolen and its whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

Matheus Araújo - Brazilian History
Matheus Araújo
Founder and Editor at Brazilian History | Website

Matheus is an entrepreneur at Araujo Media, where he serves as CEO and Creative Director. He shares analyses on his personal blog "matheusaraujo.me" and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising and Propaganda. Moreover, he has a passion for history, particularly that of Brazil, which led him to become the founder and editor of the Brazilian History portal.