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Full text of "A general view of positivism"




FROM THE 

BENNO LOEWY LIBRARY 

COLLECTED BY 

BENNO LOEWY 

1854-1919 

BEQUEATHED TO CORNELL UNIVERSITY 



Cornell University Library 




3 1924 031 175 080 




B Cornell University 

If Library 



The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924031175080 



GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. 



TRANSLATED FROM THE FEBNOH OF 



AUGUSTE COMTE, 



J. H. BEIDGES, M.B., 

Fellow of the College of Physicians ; Late Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. 



SECOND EDITION. 



LONDON: , ^ 

KEEVES & TURNER, 196 STRAND. ^ . 
1880. , •• ,. r fT^W 



ABERDEEN : 
A. KING AND COMPANT. 



EEPUBLIC OF THE WEST— ORDER AND PROGRESS. 



GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM; 

OR, 

SUMMARY EXPOSITION 

OF THE 

SYSTEM or THOUGHT AND LIFE, 

ADAPTED TO THE 

GREAT WESTEEJSr EEPUBLIC, 



FORMED OF THE 



FIVE ADVANCED NATIONS, 



THE FRENCH, ITALIAN, SPANISH, BRITISH, AND GERMAN, 

WHTCH, SINCE THE TIME OF CHARLEMAGNE, HAVE ALWAYS CONSTITUTED 
A POLITICAL WHOLE. 



R^organi^er, sans dieu ni roi, par le culte sysWroatique de I' Himranit^. 

Kul n'a droit qu'a faire jgon devoir, 

Jj'esprit doit toujours 6tre le ministre du coeur, et jamais son esclave. 

Reorganization, irrespectively of God or king, by the worship of Humanity, systemati- 

c£Jly adopted. ' 
Man's only rightis to do his duty. 
The Intellect should always be "Uie servant of the Heart, and should never be its slave. 



AUGUSTE COMTE, 

AUTHOK OP "SYSTEM OF POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY. ' 



PARIS: 

1848. 



NOTICE 



This work was first published separately in 1848. The Second 
Edition, of which' thus is the Translation, was published in 1851, 
as part of the first volume of the Treatise on Positive Polity, to 
which it is the Introduction. The Table of Contents and Marginal 
Notes have been added by the Translator. 

The First Edition of this Translation being exhausted, the 
present re-issue has been put forth by the English Committee in 
London, nominated by M. Pierre Laffitte, the Director of Posi- 
tivism in Paris. 

J. H. BRIDGES. 

■WOODSIDB, WlMBLEDOir, 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 



■*«<- 



CHAPTEE L 
INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM. 



FAQG 



The otject of Philosophy is to present a systematic view of human life as 
a basis for modifying its imperfections 6 

The Theological Synthesis failed to include the practical side of human 
nature.. 7 

'But the Pcsitiye spirit originated in practical life 8 

In human nature, and therefore in the Positive system, Affection is the 
preponderating element..,, 10 

The proper function of Intellect is the service of the Social Sympathies... 11 

Under Theology the Intellect was the slave of the Heart ; under Posi^ 
tivism, its servant 13 

The subordination of the Intellect to the Heart is the subjective principle 
of Positivism 15 

Objective basis of the system : Order of the external 'World, as revealed 
by. Science...., ,, 15 

By it the selfish affections are controlled ; the unselfish strengthened 17 

Our conception of this External Order has been gradually growing from 
the earliest times, and is but just complete 18 

Even where not modifiable, its influence on the character is of the greatest 
value 19 

But in most ca^es we can modify it ; and in these the bjfiwledge of it 
forms the systematic basis of human action 21 

The chief difficulty of the Positive Synthesis was to complete our concep- 
tion of the External Order by extending it to Social Phenomena 23 

By the discovery pf spciplogical laws social questions are made paramount ; 
and thus our subjective princi^ile is satisfied without danger to free 
thought , 25 

Bistinction between Abstract and Concrete laws. It is the former only 
that we require for the purpose before us 28 

In our Theory of Development the required Synthesis of Abstract concep- 
tions already exists : 30 

Therefore we are in a position to proceed at once with the work of social 
regeneration 33 

Errdr of identifying Positivism with Atheism, Materialism, Fatalism, or 

, Optimism. Athfiism, like Theology, discusses insoluble mysteries Z3 ^ 



via TABLE OP CONTENTS. 

Materialism is due to the encroaoliment of the lowei' sciences on the 
domain of the higher, an error which Positivism rectifies 36 

Nor is Positivism fatalist, since it asserts the Extfernal Order to be modi- 
fiable 39 

The charge of Optimism applies to Theology rather than to Positivism. 
The Positivist judges of all historical actions relatively, but does not 
justify them indiscriminately .-• *0 

The word Positive connotes all the highest intellectual attributes, and will 
ultimately have a moral significance *1 



CHAPTER IL 

THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 

The relation of Positivism to the French Revolution 43 

The negative or destructive phase of the Revolution stimulated the desire 

of Progress, and consequently the study of social phenomena 44 

The constructive phase of the Revolution. The first attempts to construct 

failed, being bsised on destructive principles 48 

Counter-revolution from 1794 to 1830... 49 

Political stagnation between 1830 and 1848 60 

The present position, 1848-1850. Republicanism involves the great 

principle of subordinating Politics to Morals 51 

It gives prominence to the problem of reconciling Order and Progress 52 

It brings the metaphysical revolutionary schools into discredit 54 

And it proves to all the necessity of a true spiritual power ; a body of 

thinkers whose business is to study and to teach principles, holding 

aloof from political action 56 

The need of a spiritual power is common to the whole Republic of 

Western Europe 58 

This Republic consists of the Italian, Spanish, British, and German 

populations, grouped round France as their centre 61 

Relation of Positivism to the mediaeval system, to which we owe the first 

attempt to separate Spiritual from Temporal power 63 

But the raediffival attempt was premature ; and Positivism will renew and 

complete it 65 

The Ethical system of Positivism 67 

Subjection of Self-love to Social love is the gi'eat ethical problem. The 

Social state of itself favours this result ; out it may be hastened by 

organized and conscious effort 67 

Intermediate between Self-love and universal Benevolence are the domestic 

affections: filial, fraternal, conjugal, paternal 69 

Personal virtues placed upon a socis5 basis 71 

Moral education consists partly of scientific demonstration of ethical truth, 

but stUl more of culture of the higher sympathies 73 

Organization of Public Opinion 74 

Commemoration of great men 75 

The political motto of Positivism : Order and Progress 76 

Progress, the development of Order 77 

Analysis of Progress : material, physical, intellectual, and moral.. 77 



TABLE OP CONTENTS. ix 

Application of our principles to actual politics. All government must for 

* the present be provisional 80 

Danger of attempting political reconstruction before spiritual 82 

f olitically what is wanted is Dictatorship, with liberty of speech and 

discussion 85 

Such a dictatorship would be a step towards the separation of spiritual 

and temporal power 87 

The motto of 1830, Liberty and Public Order 88 

Liberty should be extended to Education 89 

Order demands centralization 90 

Intimate connection of Liberty with Order 92 



CHAPTEE III. 

THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM UPON THE "WORKING CLASSES. 

Positivism will not for the present recommend itself to the governing 

classes, so much as to the People 93 

The working man who accoepts his position is favourably situated for the 

reception of comprehensive principles and generous sympathies 95 

This the Convention felt ; but they encouraged the People to seek poli- 
tical supremacy, for which they are not fit 97 

It is only in exceptional cases that the People can be really 'sovereign'... 98 
The truth involved in the expression is that the well-being of the people 

should be the one great object of government 98 

The People's function is to assist the spiritual power in modifying the 

action of government 100 

Their combined efifbrts result in the formation of Public Opinion 101 

Public opinion involves, (1) principles of social conduct, (2) their accept- 
ance by society at large, (3) an organ through which to enunciate them 103 

Working men's clubs 105 

All three conditions of Public Opinion exist, but have not yet been com- 
bined 110 

Spontaneous tendencies of the people in a right direction. Their Com- 
munism 110 

Its new title of Socialism 112 

Property is in its nature social, and needs control 113 

But Positivism rejects the Communist solution of the Problem. Property 

is to be controlled by moral not legal agencies 115 

Individualization of functions as necessary as co-operation 116 

Industry requires its captains as well as War. 117 

Communism is deficient in the historical spirit 118 

In fact, as a system, it is worthless, though prompted by noble feelings ..118 

Property is a public trust, not to be interfered withlegalty 120 

Inheritance favourable to its right employment 121 

Intellect needs moral control as much as wealth 121 

Action of organized public opinion upon Capitalists. Strikes 123 

Public Opinion must be based upon a sound system of Education 125 

Education has two stages ; from birth to puberty, from puberty to 
adolescence. The first, consisting of physical and esthetic training, to 

be given at home 127 



X TABLE OF CONTBNTa. 

The second part consists of public lectures on the Sciences, from Mathe- 
matics to Sociology 129 

Travels of Apprentices 131 

Concentration of study 182 

Governmental assistance not required, except, for certain special institu- 
tions, and, this only asL a provisional measure 133 

We are not ripe for this system at present ; and Government must not 

attempt to hasten its introduction 134 

Intellectual attitude of the people. Emancipation from theological belief 136 

From metaphysical doctrines 137 

Their mistaken preference of literary and rhetorical talent to real intel- 
lectual power 138 

Moral attitude of the people. The workman should regard himself as a 

public functionary i 141 

Ambition of power and wealth must be abandoned 142 

The working classes are the best guarantee for Liberty and Order 145 

It is from them that we shall obtain the dictatorial power which is pro- 
visionally required 147 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 

Women represent the affective element in our nature, as philosophers and 

people represent the intellectual and practical elements 151 

Women have stood aloof from the modern movement, because of its anti- 
historic and destructive character '. 162 

But they will sympathize with constructive tendencies ; and will, distin- 
guish sound philosophy from scientific specialities 154 

Women's position in society. Like philosophers and people, their part is 

not to govern, but to modify 155 

The united action of philosophers, women, and proletaries constitutes 

Moral Force 158 

Superiority of the new spiritual power to the old. Self-regarding ten- 
dencies of Catholic doctrine 161 

The spirit of Positivism, on.the contrary, is essentially social. The Heart 

and the Intellect mutually strengthen each other 163 

Intellectual and moral afiinities of women with Positivism 166 

Catholicism purified love, hut did not directly strengthen it 167 

Women's influence over the working classes and their teachers 168 

Their social influence in the salon 170 

But the Family is their principal sphere of action 172 

Woman's mission as a wife. Conjugal love an education for universal 

sympathy 172 

Conditions of marriage. Indissoluble monogamy 175 

Pei-petual widowhood 17g 

Woman's mission as a mother 178 

Education of children belongs to mothers. They only can guide the 

development of character 178 

Modern sophisms about Woman's rights. The domesticity of her life 
follows from the principle of Separation of Powers 180 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. XI 

The position of the sexes tends to differentiation rather than identity 182 

Woman to be maintained by Man... ....?. 183 

The education of women should be identical with that of men 185 

Women's privileges. Their mission is in itself a privilege 188 

They will receive honour and worship from men 188 

Development of mediaeval chivalry , 188 

The practice of Prayer, so far from disappearing, is purified and strength- 

ened'in Positive religion 192 

The*orship of Woman a preparation for the worship of Humanity , 194 

Exceptional women. Joan of Arc 195 

It is for women to introduce Positivism into the Southern nations 198 



CHAPTEE V. 
THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 

Positivism when complete is as favourable to Imagination, as, when 

incomplete, it was unfavourable to it 202 

Esthetic talent is for the adornment of life, not for its government 204 

The political influence of literary men a deplorable sign and source of 

anarchy , 205 

Thedry of Art 208 

Art is the idealized representation of Fact 208 

Poetry is intermediate between Philosophy and Polity,.... 209 

Art calls each element of our nature into harmonious action • 211 

Three stages in the esthetic process: Imitation, Idealization, Expression... 212 
Classification of the arts on the principle of decreasing generality, and 

increasing intensity ^t 

Poetry ?1° 

Music l]l 

Painting. Sculpture. Architecture ■•:••■• ^:}° 

The conditions favourable to Art have never yet been combmed ^u 

Neither in Polytheism • ^1:'a 

Nor under the Mediseval system ^t? 

Much less in modern times ••■ i;-- .••,••;■■ 

Under Positivism the conditions will all be favourable, a here wiU be 

fixed principles, and a nobler moral culture ^^^ 

Predisposing influence of Education *23 

Relation of Art to Religion • ig.. 

Idealization of historical types 

Art requires the highest education ; but little special instruction............ ^io 

Artists as a ^kss will disappear. Their function will be appropriated by ^^^ 

the philosophic priesthood • „„g 

Identity of esthetic and scientific genius • ~^^ 

Women's poetry 231 

People's poetry 231 

Value of Art in the present crisis v ■; " ' ' : '; ' " V 'v " ' ' 'il -i ' 'J^C,, 9'$'? 

Construction of normal types on the basis furnished by philosophy ^^| 

(Pictures of the Future of Man ' '■ 233 

Contrasts with the Past • 



Xlf. TABLE OF CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER yi. 

CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OE HUMANITY. 

Recapitulation of the results oMained 236 

Humanity is the centre to which every aspect of Positivism converges..... 241 
With the discovery of sociological laws, a synthesis on the basis of 

Science becomes possible, science being now concentrated on the study 

of Humanity 244 

Statical aspects of Humanity 245 

Dynamical aspects 246 

Inorganic and organic sciences elevated by, their connection with the 

supreme science of Humanity .^.'.., 248 

The new religion is even more favourable to Art than to Science 249 

Poetic portraiture of the new Supreme Being, and contrast with the old... 250 
Organization of festivals, representing statical and dynamical aspects of 

Humanity 262 

Worship of the dead. Commemoration of their service 254 

AU the arts may co-operate in the service of religion 256 

Positivism is the successor of Christianity, and surpasses it 257 

Superiority of Positive morality 260 

Rise ofthe new Spiritual power 262 

Temporal power will always be necessary, but its action wiU be modified 

by the spiritual 264 

Substitution of duties for rights , 266 

Consensus ofthe Social Organism 267 

Continuity ofthe past with the present 268 

Necessity of a spiritual power to study aud teach these truths, and thus to 

govern men by persuasion, instead of by compulsion 269 

Nutritive functions of Humanity, performed by Capitalists, as the tern- , 

poral power 278 

These are modified by the cerebral functions, performed by the spiritual 

power 274 

Women and priests to have their material subsistence guaranteed 277 

Normal relation of priests, people, and capitalists 278 

We are not yet ripe for the normal state. But the revolution of 1848 is a 

step towards it 279 

First revolutionary motto ; Liberty and Equality 279 

Second motto ; Liberty and Order 280 

Third motto ; Order and Progress 280 

Provisional policy for the period of transition 281 

Popular dictatorship with freedom of speech 282 

Positive Committee for Western Europe 284 

Occidental navy.... 285 

International coinage 285 

Occidental school 2.86 

Flag for the Western Republic .'. 286 

Colonial and foreign Associates of the Committee, the action of which will 

ultimately extend to the whole human race 288 

Conclusion. Perfection of the Positivist ideal 290 

Corruption of Monotheism ., 294 



A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. 



^*Wg tiro of thinking and even of acting ; we never tire of loving." 



In the following series of systematic essays upon Positivism, the 
essential principles of the doctrine are first considered ; I then point 
out the agencies by which its propagation will he effected ; and I 
conclude by describing certain additional features indispensable to 
its completeness. My treatment of these questions wiU of course 
be summary ; yet it will suffice, I hope, to overcome several excus- 
able but unfounded prejudices. It will enable any competent 
reader to assure himself that the new general doctrine aims at some- 
thing more than satisfying the Intellect ; that it is in reahty quite 
as favourable to Feeling and even to Imagination. 

INTRODTTCTOET EEMARKS. 

Positivism consists essentially of a Philosophy and a Polity. 
These can never be dissevered; the former being the basis, and the 
latter the end of one comprehensive system, in which our intellectual 
faculties and our social sympathies are brought into close correlation 
with each other. For, in the first place, the science of Society,, 
besides being more important than any other, supplies the only 
logical and scientific link by which all our varied observations of 
phenomena can be brought into one consistent whole.* Of this 
science it is even more true than of any of the preceding sciences, 
that its real character cannot be understood without explaining its 
exact relation in all general features with the art corresponding to 
it Now here we find a coincidence which is assuredly not fortui- 
tous. At the very time when the theory of society is being laid 

* The establishment of this great principle is the most important result of my " Sys- 
tem of Positive Philosophy". This work was published 1830-1S42, with the title of 
" Course of Positive Philosophy," because it was based upon a coiurse of lectures delivered 
1826-1829. But since that time I have always given it the more appropriate name of 
System. Should the work reach a second edition, the correction will be made formally : 
meanwhile, this will, I hope, remove all misconception on the subject. 

1 



2 A GENKRAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. 

down, an immense sphere is opened for the application of that 
theory ; the direction, namely, of the social regeneration of West- 
em Europe. For, if we take another point of view, and look at 
the great crisis of modern history, as its character is displayed ia 
the natural course of events, it becomes every day more evident 
how hopeless is the task of reconstructing political institutions 
without the previous remodelling of opinion and of life. To form 
then a satisfactory synthesis of all human conceptions is the most 
urgent of our social wants : and it is needed equally for the sake of 
Order and of Progress. During the gradual accomplishment of 
this great philosophical work, a new moral power will arise spon- 
taneously throughout the West, which, as its influence increases, 
will lay down a definite basis for the reorganization of society. It 
will offer a general system of education for the adoption of all civi- 
lized nations, and by this means will supply in every department of 
public and private life fixed principles of judgment and of conduct 
Thus the intellectual movement and the social crisis will be brought 
continually into close connection with each other. Both will com- 
bine to prepare the advanced portion of humanity for the accept- 
ance of a true spiritual power, a power more coherent, as well as 
more progresave, than the noble but premature attempt of mediaeval 
Catholicism. 

The primary object, then, of Positivism is twofold : to generalize 
our scientific conceptions, and to systematize the art of social life. 
These are but two aspects of one and the same problem. They will 
form the subjects of the two first chapters of this work. I shall 
first explain the general spirit of the new philosophy. I shall then 
show its necessary connection with the whole course of that vast 
revolution which is now about to terminate under its guidance in 
social reconstruction. 

This will lead us naturally to another qnesiion. The regenerat- 
ing doctrine cannot do its work without adherents; in what quarter 
should we hope to find them 1 Now, with individual exceptions of 
great value, we cannot expect the adhesion of any of the upper 
classes in society. They are all more or less under the influence of 
baseless metaphysical theories, and of aristocratic self-seeking. They 
are absorbed in blind political agitation, .&nd in disputes for the 
possession of the useless remnants of the old theological and mili- 
tary system. Their action only tends to prolong the revolutionary 
state indefinitely, and can never result in true social renovation. 

Whether we regard its intellectual character or its social objects, 
it is certain that Positivism must look elsewhere for support. It 
will find a welcome in those classes only whose good sense has been 



INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. 3 

left unimpaired by our vicious system of education, and whose gene- 
rous sympathies are allowed to develop themselves freely. It is 
among Women, therefore, and among the "Working dasses that the 
heartiest supporters of the new doctrine will be found. It is in- 
tended, indeed, ultimately for all classes of society. But it will 
never gain much real influence over the higher ranks till it is forced 
upon their notice by these powerful patrons. When the work of 
spiritual reorganization is completed, it is on them that its mainten- 
ance will principally depend; and so too, their combined aid is 
necessary for its commencement. Having but little influence in 
political government, they are the more likely to appreciate the 
need of a moral government, the special object of which it will 
be to protect them against the oppressive action of the temporal 
power. 

In the third chapter, therefore, I shall explain the mode in which 
philosophers and working men will co-operate. Both have been 
prepared for this coalition by the general course which modem his- 
tory has taken, and it offers now the only hope we have of really 
decisive action. We shall find that the efforts of Positivism to 
regulate aaad develop the natural tendencies of the people, make it, 
even from the intellectual point of view, more coherent and com- 
plete. 

But there is another and a more unexpected source from which 
Positivism wiU obtain support ; and not till then wUl its true char- 
acter and the full extent of its constructive power be appreciated. 
I shall show in the four^ chapter how emin^tly calculated is the 
Positive doctrine to raise and regulate the social condition of 
Women. It is from the feminine aspect only that human life, 
whether individually or collectively considered, can really be com- 
prehended as a whole. For the only basis on wMoh a system really 
embracing all the requirements of life can be formed, is the subor- 
dination of intellect to social feeling : a -subordmaition which we 
find directly represented in the womanly type of character, whether 
regarded in its personal or social relations. 

Although these questions cannot be treated fully in the present 
work, I hope to convince my readers that Positivism is more in 
accordance with the spontaneous tendencies df the people and of 
women than Catholicism, and is therdtore better qualified to insti- 
tute a spiritual power. It should be observed that the ground on . 
which the support of both these classes is obtained is, that Positiv- 
ism is the only system which can supersede the various subversive 
schemes that are growing, every day more idafigeioas to AU. the rela- 
tions of domestic and social life. Yet the tendency of the doctrine 



4 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. 

is to elevate the character of both of these classes ; and it gives a 
most energetic sanction to all their legitimate aspirations.^ 

Thus it is that a philosophy originating ia speculations of the 
most abstract character, is found applicable not merely to every 
department of practical life, but also to the sphere of our moral 
nature. But to complete the proof of its imiversality I have still 
to speak of another very essential feature. I shall show, in spite.of 
prejudices which exist very naturally on this point, that Positivism 
is eminently calculated to call the Imaginative faculties into exer- 
cise. It is by these faculties that the unity of human nature is 
most distinctly represented : they are themselves intellectual, but 
their field lies principally in our moral nature, and the result of 
their operation is to influence the active powers. The subject of 
women treated in the fourth chapter, wUl lead me by a natural 
transition to speak ia the fifth of the Esthetic aspects of Positivism. 
I shall attempt to show that the new doctrine by the very fact of 
embracing the whole range of human relations in the spirit of real- 
ity, discloses the true theory of Art, which has hitherto been so 
great a deficiency in our speculative conceptions. The principle of 
the theory is that, in co-ordinating the primary functions of Hum- 
anity, Positivism places the Idealities of the poet midway between 
the Ideas of the philosopher and the Realities of the statesman. 
We see from this theory how it is that the poetical power of Posi- 
tivism cannot be manifested at present. We must wait untU moral 
and mental regeneration has advanced far enough to awaken the 
sympathies which naturally belong to it, and on which Art in its 
renewed state must ■ depend for the future. The first mental and 
social shock once passed, Poetry will at last take her proper rank. 
She wUl lead Humanity onward towards a future which is now no 
longer vague and visionary,, while at the same time she enables us 
to pay due honour to all phases of the past. The great object which 
Positivism sets before us individually and socially, is the endeavour 
to become more perfect. The highest importance is attached there- 
fore to the imaginative faculties, because ia every sphere with which 
they deal they stimidate the sense of perfection. Limited as my 
explanations in this work must be, I shall be able to show that 
Positivism, while opening out a new and wide field for art, supplies 
in the same spontaneous' way new means of expression. 

I shall thus have sketched with some detail the true character of 
the regenerating doctrine. All its principal aspects vrill have been 
considered. Beginning with its philosophical basis, I pass by 
natural transitions to its political purpose ; thence to its action upon 
the people, its influence vdth women, and lastly, to its esthetic 



INTRODUCTOKT REMABKS. 



power. In conduding this work, whicli is but the introduction to 
a larger treatise, I have only to speak of the conception -which 
unites all these various aspects. As summed up in the positivist 
motto, Love, Order, Progress, they lead iis to the conception of 
Humanity, which implicitly involves and gives new force to each 
of them. Eightly interpreting this conception, we view Positivism 
at last as a complete and consLstent whola The subject will natur- 
idly lead us to speak in general terms of the future progress of social 
regeneration, as far as the history of the past enables us to foresee 
it. The movement originates in France, and is limited at first to 
the great family of Western nations. I shall show that it will 
afterwards extend, in accordance with definite laws, to the rest of 
the white race, and finally to the other two great races of man. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE INTELLECTUAL CHAEACTEE OF POSITIVISM. 

The otiect of -^^^ olijeot of all true Philosophy is to frame a 
PhUosophy is system ■wiioh shall comprehend human life under 
sy3tetoati?Tiew every aspect, social as v/eE. as individual. It embraces, 
of human Me, therefore, the three kinds of phenomena of which our 
modifying its life consists, Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions. Under 
imperfections. ^ these aspects, the growth of Humanity is primarily- 
spontaneous ; and the hasis upon which all wise attempts to modify 
it should proceed, can only be furnished by an exact acquaintance 
with the natural process. We are, however, able to modify this 
process systematically ; and the importance of this is extreme, since 
we can thereby greatly diminish the partial deviations, the disas- 
trous delays, and the grave inconsistencies to which so complex a 
growth would be liable were it left entirely to itself. To effect 
this necessary intervention is the proper sphere of politics. But a 
right conception cannot be formed of it without the aid of the philo- 
sopher, whose business it is to define and amend the principles on 
which it is conducted. With this object in view the philosopher 
endea ours to co-ordinate the various elements of man's existence, 
so that it may be conceived of theoretically as an integral whole. 
His synthesis can only be valid in so far as it is an exact and com- 
plete representation of the relations naturally existing. The first 
condition is therefore that these relations be careftdly studied. 
When the philosopher, instead of forming such a synthesis, attempts 
to interfere more directly with the course of practical life, he com- 
mits the error of usurping the province of the statesman, to whom 
all practical measures exclusively belong. Philosophy and Politics 
arc! the two principal functions of the great social organism. Moral- 
ity, systematically considered, forms the connecting link and at the 
same time the line of demarcation between them. It is the most 
important application of philosophy, and it gives a general direction 
to polity. ^Natural morality, that is to say the various emotions of 
our moral nature, will, as I have shown in my previous work, 
always govern the speculations of the one and the operations of the 
other. This I shall explain more fully. 

But the synthesis, which it is the social function of Philosophy 
to construct, will neither be real nor permanent, imless it embraces 



CHAP, ij THE INTBLIiliCTTJAL CHARACTER OF POSniVISM. 7 

every department of human nature, whether speculative, affective, 
or practical. These three orders of phenomena react upon each 
other so intimately, that any system which does not include all of 
them must inevitably be unreal and inadequate. Yet it is only in 
the present day, when Philosophy is reaching the positive stage, 
that this which is her highest and most essential mission can be 
fully apprehended. 

The theological synthesis depended exclusively upon ^» Theoiogi- 
our affective nature ; and to this is owing its original Med^ to'"'S 
supremacy and its ultimate decline. For a long time aSi^ 3^?™$ 
its influence over all our highest speculations was para- human nature, 
mount. This was especially the case during the Polytheistic period, 
when Imagination and Peeling still retained their sway under very 
slight restraint from the reasoning faculties. Yet even during the 
time of its highest development, intellectually and socially,, theology 
exercised no real control over practical life. It reacted, of course, 
upon it t6 some extent, but the effects of this were in most cases 
far more apparent than real. There was a natural antagonism be- 
tween thenij which though at first hardly perceived, went on 
increasing till at last it brought about the entire destruction of the 
theolc^cal fabric. A system so purely subjective could not har- 
monize with the necessarily objective tendencies and stubborn 
realities of practical life. Theology asserted all phenomena to be 
under the dominion of Wills more or less arbitrary : whereas in 
praetical life men were led more and more clearly to the conception 
of invariable Laws. Por without laws human action would have 
admitted of no rule or plan. In consequence of this utter inability 
of theology to deal with practical life, its treatment of speculative 
and even of moral problems was exceedingly imperfect, such pro- 
blems being all more or less dependent on the practical necessities 
of life. To present a perfectly synthetic view of human nature was, 
then, impossible as long as the influence of theology lasted; because 
the Intellect was impelled by Feeling and by the Active powers in 
two totally different directions. The failure of all metaphysical 
attempts to form a synthesis need not be dwelt upon. here. Meta- 
physicians, in spite of their claims to absolute truth, have never 
been able to supersede theology in questions of feeling, and have 
proved still more inadequate in practical questions. Ontology, even 
when it was most triumphant in the schools, was always limited to 
subjects of a purely intellectual nature ; and even here its abstrac- 
tions, useless in themselves, dealt only with the case of individual 
development, the metaphysical spirit being thoroughly incompatible 
with the social point of view. In my work on Positive Philosophy 



8 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

I have clearly proved that it constitutes only a transitory phase of 
Eaind, and is totally inadequate for any constructive purpose. For 
a time it was supreme ; but its utility lay simply in its revolution- 
ary tendencies. It aided the preliminary development of Humanity 
by its gradual inroads upon Theology, which, though in ancient 
times entrusted with the sole direction of society, had long since 
become in every respect utterly retrograde. 

But the Pos- But all Positive speculations owe their first origin to 
^IjI^'"*"^ the occupations of practical life; and, consequently, 
practical life, they have always given some indication of their capa- 
city for regulating our active powers, which had been omitted from 
every former synthesis. Their value in this respect has been and 
still is materially impaired by their want of breadth, and their iso- 
lated and incoherent character ; but it has always been instinctively 
felt. The importance that we attach to theories which teach the 
laws of phenomena, and give us the power of prevision, is chiefly 
due to the fact that they alone can regulate our otherwise blind 
action upon the external world. Hence it is that while the Posi- 
tive spirit has been growing more and more theoretical, and has 
gradually extended to every department of speculation, it has never 
lost the practical tendencies which it derived from its source ; and 
this even in the case of researches useless in themselves, and only 
to be justified as logical exercises. From its first origin in mathe- 
matics and astronomy, it has always shown its tendency to syste- 
matize the whole of our conceptions in every new subject which 
has been brought within the scope of its fundamental principle. It 
exercised for a long time a modifying influence upon theological and 
metaphysical principles, which has gone on increasing ; and since 
the time of Descartes and Bacon it has become evident that it is 
destined to supersede them altogether. Positivism has gradually 
taken possession of the preliminary sciences of Physics and Biology, 
and in these the old system no longer prevails. AH that remained 
was to complete the range of its influence by including the study 
of social phenomena. For this study metaphysics had proved in- 
competent ; by theological thinkers it had only been pursued indi- 
rectly and empirically as a condition of government. I believe that 
my work on Positive Philosophy has so far supplied what was 
wanting. I think it must now be clear to all that the Positive 
spirit can embrace the entire range of thought without lessening, or 
rather with the effect of strengthening its original tendency to regu- 
late practical life. And it is a further guarantee for the stability 
of the new intellectual synthesis that Social science, which is the 
final result of our researches, gives them that systematic character 



CHAP. L] THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OP POSITIVISM. 9 

in wHch they had hitherto been wanting, by supplying the only 
connecting link of which they aU admit. 

This conception is already adopted hy all true thinkers. All 
must now acknowledge that the Positive spirit tends necessarily 
towards the formation of a comprehensive and durable system, in 
which every practical as well as speculative subject sliall be in- 
cluded. But such a system would still be far from realising that 
universal character without which Positivism would be incompetent 
to supersede Theology in the spiritual government of Humanity. 
yFor the element which reaUy preponderates in every human being, / 
that is to say, Affection, would still be left untouched. This ele- 
ment it is, and this only, which gives a stimulus and direction to 
the other two parts of our nature : without it the one would waste 
its force in ill-conceived, or, at least, iiseless studies, and the other 
in barren or even dangerous contention. With this immense defi- 
ciency the combination of our theoretical and active powers would 
be fruitless, because it would lack the only principle which could 
ensure its real and permanent stabihty. The failure would be even 
greater than the failure of Theology in dealing with practical ques- 
tions; for the unity of human nature cannot reaUy be made to I 
depend either on the rational or the active faculties. In the life of 
the individual, and, still more, in the life of the race, the basis of 
unity, as I shall show in the fourth chapter, must always be feel- ; 
ing. It is to the fact that theology arose spontaneously from feeling 
that its influence is for the most part due. And although theology 
is now palpably on the decline, yet it will still retain, in principle 
at least, some legitimate claims to the direction of society so long as 
the new philosophy fails to occupy this important vantage-ground. 
We come then to the final conditions with which the modem syn- [ 
thesis must comply. Without neglecting the spheres of Thought | 
and Action it must also comprehend the moral sphere ; and the very 
principle on which its claim to universality rests must be derived j 
from Feeling. Then, and not tUl then, can the claims of theology i 
be finally set aside. For then the new system will have surpassed 
the old in that which is the one essential purpose of all general 
doctrines. It will have shown itself able to effect what no other 
doctrine has done, that is, to bring the three primary elements of 
our nature into harmony. If Positivism were to prove incapable of 
satisfying this condition, we must give up all hope of systematiza- 
tion of any kind. For while Positive principles are now sufficiently 
developed to neutralize those of Theology, yet, on the other hand, 
the influence of theology would continue to be far greater. Hence 
it is that many conscientious thinkers in the present day are so 



10 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

inclined to despair for the future of society. They see that the old 
principles on which society has been governed must finally become 
powerless. What they do not see is that a new basis for morality 
is being gradually laid down. Their theories are too imperfect and 
incoherent to show them the direction towards which the present 
time is ultimately tending. It must be owned, too, that their view 
seems borne out by the present character of the Positive method. 
While all allow its utility in the treatment of practical, and even of 
speculative, problems, it seems to most men, and very naturally, 
C[uite unfit to deal "with questions of morality. 

In human ^^^ °^ closer examination they will see reason to 
nature, and rectify their judgment. They wiU see that the hard- 
the"'po8itiTO ness with which Positive science has been justly 
ti°'°"ia'^^ reproached, is due to the speciality and want of purpose 
preponderat- with which it has hitherto been pursued, and is not at 
iug element, ^y inherent in its nature. Originating as it did in the 
necessities of our material nature, which for a long time restricted 
it to the study of the inorganic world, it has not till now become 
sufiiciently complete or systematic to harmonize well with our 
moral nature. But now that it is brought to bear upon social 
questions, which for the future will form its most important field, 
it loses all the defects peculiar to its long period of infancy. The 
very attribute of reality which is claimed by the new philosophy, 
leads it to treat all subjects from the moral still more than from the 
intellectual side. The necessity of assigning with exact truth the 
place occupied by the intellect and by the heart in the organization 
of human nature and of society, leads to the decision that Afi'ection 
^ must be the central point of the synthesis. In the treatment of 
social questions Positive science will be found utterly to discard 
those proud illusions of the supremacy of reason, to which it had 
been liable during its preliminary stages. Eatifying, in this 
respect, the common experience of men even more forcibly than 
Catholicism, it teaches us that individual happiness and public 
welfare are far more dependent upon the heart than upon the 
intellect. But, independently of this, the question of co-ordinating 
the faculties of our nature wUl convince us that the only basis on 
which they can be brought into harmonious union, is the prepon- 
derance of Affection over Eeason, and even over Activity. 

The fact that intellect, as well as social sympathy, is a distinctive 
attribute of our nature, might lead us to suppose that either of 
these two might be supreme, and therefore that there might be 
more than one method of establishing unity. The fact, however 
is that there is only one ; because these two elements are by no 



CHAT. I.] THS INTELLECTUAL CHARAOTEB OP POSITIVISM. 11 

means equal in their fitness for assuming the first place. Whether 
we look at the distinctive qualities of each, or at the degree of force 
■which they possess, it is easy to see that the only position for which] 
the intellect is permanently adapted is to be the servant of the social ' 
sympathies. If, instead of being content with this honourable! 
post, it aspires to become supreme, its ambitious aims, which are 
never realised, result simply in the most deplorable disorder. 

Even with the individusd, it is impossible to establish permanent 
harmony between our various impulses, except by giving complete 
supremacy to the feeling which prompts the sincere and habitual- 
desire of doing good. This feeling is, no doubt, like the rest, in 
itself blind ; it has to learn from reason the right means of obtain- 
ing satisfaction; and our active faculties are then called into 
lequisition to apply those means. But common experience proves 
tibat after all the principal condition of right action is the benevo- 
lent impulse ; with the ordinary amount of intellect and activity 
that is found in men this stimulus, if weU sustained, is enough to 
direct our thoughts and raiergies to a good result. "Without this 
habitual spring of action they would inevitably waste themselves in 
barren or incoherent efforts, and speedily relapse into their original 
torpor. Unity in our moral nature is, then, impossible, except so 
fax as affection prepcHiderates over intellect and activity. 

True as this fundamental principle is for the indivi-^ ^^ proper 
dual, it is in public life that its necessity can be function of in- 
demonstrated most irrefutably. The Problem is in ^"^^^^1 
reality the same, nor is any different solution of it So<^ Sym- 
required; only it assumes such increased dimensions, 
that less uncertainty is felt as to the method to be adopted. The 
various beings whom it is sought to harmonize have in this case 
each a separate existence; it is clear, therefore, that the first 
cpndition of co-operation must be sought in their own inherent 
tendency to universal love. No calculations of self-interest can 
rival this social instinct, whether in promptitude and breadth of 
intuition, or in boldness and tenacity of purpose. True it is that 
the benevolent emotions have in most cases less intrinsic energy 
than the selfish. But they have this beautiful quality, that social 
life not only permits their growth, but stimulates it to an almost 
unlimited extent, while it holds their antegonists in constant check. 
Indeed the increasing tendency in the former to prevail over the 
latter is the best measure by which to judge of the progress of j 
Humanity. But the intellect may do much to confirm their influ- 
ence. It may strengthen social feeling by diffusing juster views of 
the relations in which the various parts of society stand to each 



12 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. chap. i. 

other ; or it may guide its application by dwelling on the lessons 
" which the past offers to the future. It is to this honourable service 
that the new philosophy would direct our intellectual powers. 
Here the highest sanction is given to their operations, and an 
exhaustless field is opened out for them, from which far deeper 
satisfaction may be gained than from the approbation of the learned 
societies, or from the puerile specialities with which they are at 
present occupied. 

In fact, the ambitious claims which, ever since the hopeless 
decline of the theological synthesis, have been advanced by the 
intellect, never were or could be realised. Their only value lay in 
their solvent action on the theological system when it had become 
I hostile to progress. The intellect is intended for service, not for 
! empire ; when it imagines itself supreme, it is really only obeying 
I the personal instead of the social instincts. It never acts indepen- 
' dently of feeling, be that feeling good or bad. The first condition 
of command is force ; now reason has but light ; the impulse that 
moves it must come from elsewhere. The metaphysical Utopias, 
in which a life of pure contemplation is held out as the highest 
ideal, attract the notice of our men of science ; but are really 
nothing but illusions of pride, or veils for dishonest schemes. 
True there is a genuine satisfaction in the act of discovering truth ; 
but it is not sufficiently intense to be an habitual guide of conduct. 
Indeed, so feeble is our intellect, that the impulse of some passion 
is necessary to direct and sustain it in almost every effort. When the 
impulse comes from kindly feeling it attracts attention on account of 
its rarity or value; when it springs from the selfish motives of glory, 
ambition, or gain, it is too common to be remarked. This is 
usually the only difference between the two cases. It does indeed 
occasionally happen that the intellect is actuated by a sort of pas- 
sion for truth in itself, without any mixture of pride or vanity. 
Yet, in this case, as in every other, there is intense egotism in 
exercising the mental powers irrespectively of all social objects. 
Positivism, as I shall afterwards explain, is even more severe than 
Catholicism in its condemnation of this type of character, whether 
in metaphysicians or in men of science. The true phUosophec 
would consider it a most culpable abuse of the opportunities which, 
civilization affords him for the sake of the welfare of society, in 
leading a speculative life. 

We have traced the Positive principle from its origin in the 
pursuits of active life, and have seen it extending successively to 
every department of speculation. We now find it, in its maturity, 
and that as a simple result of its strict adherence to fact, embracing 



CHAP. I.] THE INTELLECTUAL CHARA.CTEB OF POSITIVISM. 13 

the sphere of affection, and making that sphere the central point of 
its synthesis. It is henceforth a fundamental doctrine of Positivism, 
a doctrine of as great political as philosophical importance, that the 
Heart preponderates over the Intellect. 

It is true that this doctrine, which is the only hasis ,'^"'*™i, ''^' 
for establishing harmony in our nature, had been, as I teUMtwi tte 
before remarked, instinctively accepted by theological ^^ . °^^f^l 
systems. But it was one of the fatalities of society Positivism, its 
in its preliminary phase, that the doctrine was coupled *'"*"'■ 
with an error which, after a time, destroyed all its value. In 
acknowledging the superiority of the heart the intellect was re- 
duced to abject submission. Its only chance of growth lay in 
resistance to the established system. This course it followed with 
increasing effect, till after twenty centuries of insurrection, the 
system collapsed. The natural result of the process was to stimu-' 
late metaphysical and scientific pride, and to promote views sub-i 
versive of all social order. But Positivism, while systematically 
adopting the principle here spoken of as the foundation of indi- 
vidual and social discipline, interprets that principle in a different 
way. It teaches that while it is for the heart to suggest our 1 
problems, it is for the intellect to solve them. Now the intellect " 
was at first quite inadequate to this task, for which a long and 
laborious training was needed. The heart, therefore, had to take 
its place, and in default of objective truth, to give free play to its 
subjective inspirations. But for these inspirations, aU progress, as 
I showed in my " System of Positive Philosophy," would have 
been totally impossible. For a long time it was necessary that they 
should be believed absolutely ; but as soon as our reason began to 
mould its conceptions upon observations, more or less accurate, of 
the external world, these supernatural dogmas became inevitably 
an obstacle to its growth. Here lies the chief source of the 
important modifications which theological belief has successively 
undergone. No further modifications are now possible without 
violating its essential principles ; and since, meantime. Positive 
science is assuming every day larger proportions, the conflict be- 
tween them is advancing with increasing vehemence and danger. 
The tendency on the one side is becoming more retrograde, on the 
other more revolutionary ; because the impossibility of reconciling 
the two opposing forces is felt more and more strongly. Never 
was this position of affairs more manifest than now. The restora- 
tion of theology to its original power, supposing such a thing were 
possible, would have the most degrading influence on the intellect, 
and, consequently, on the character also ; since it would involve the 



14 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

admission that our views of scientific truth, were to be strained into 
accordance .with our wishes and our wants. Therefore no important 
step in the progress of Humanity can now be made without 
totally abandoning the theological principle. The only service of 
any real value which it still renders, is that of forcing the atten- 
tion of Western Europe, by the very fact of its reactionary 
tendencies, upon the greatest of all social questions. It is owing 
to its influence that the central point of the new synthesis is 
placed in our moral rather than our intellectual nature ; and this, 
in spite of every prejudice and habit of thought that has been 
' formed during the revolutionary period of the last five centuries. 
And while in this, which is the primary condition of social organi- 
zation, Positivism proves more efficient than Theology, it at the 
same time terminates the disunion which has existed so long be- 
tween the inteUeet and the heart. For it follows logically from its 
' principles, and also from the whole spirit of the system, that the 
iuteUeet shall be free to exercise its full share of influence in every 
department of human life. When it is said that the intellect 
should be subordinate to the heart, what is meant is, that the in- 
tellect should devote itself exclusively to the problems which the 
heart suggests, the ultimate object being to fimd proper satisfaction 
for our various wants. Without this limitation, experience has 
shewn too clearly that it would almost always foUow its natural 
bent for useless or insoluble questions, which are the most plenti- 
ful and the easiest to deal with. But when any problem of a 
legitimate kind has been once proposed, it is the sole judge of the 
method to be pursued, and of the utility of the lesidts obtained. 
Its province is to enquire into the present, in order to foresee the 
future, and to discover the means of improving it. In this 
province it is not to be interfered with. In a word the intellect is 
to be the servant of the heart, not its slave. Under these two 
correlative conditions the elements of our nature will at last be 
brought into harmony. The equilibrium of these two elements, 
~ once established, is in little danger of being disturbed. For since 
it is equally favourable to both of fhiem, 'both will be interested in 
maintaining it. The fact that Beason in modern times has become 
habituated to revolt, is no ground for supposing that it will 
always retain its revolutionaiy character, even when its legitimate 
claims have been fully satisfied; Supposing the case to arise, how- 
ever, .society, as I shall show afterwards, would not be without 
the means of repressing any pretensions that were subversive of 
order. There is another point of view which may assure us that 
the position given to the heart under the new sy^em will involve 



CHAP. I.] THE INTELLEC*UAL CHARACTER OP POSITIVISM. 15 

no danger to the growth of intellect. Love, when real, ever desires 
light, in order to attain its ends. The influence of true feeling 
is as favourable iio soumd thought as to wise activity. ^ 

Our doctrine, th«refore, is one which renders Thesubordi- 
hypocrisy alnd oppression alike impossible. And iti iLteU^°i,Sl 
now stands forward as the result of all the efforts of \^\^ij,^" J 
the past, for the regeneration of order, which, whether XfU^Sa^ 
considered individually or socially, is so deeply com- '*™" 
promised by the anarchy of the present time. I^ establishes a 
fundamental principle by which true philosophy and sound polity 
are brought into correlation ; a principle which can be felt as well 
as proved, and which is at once the keystone of a system and a 
basis of government. I shall show, moreover, in the fifth chapter, ' 
that the doctrine is as rich in esthetic beauty as in philosophical \' 
power and in social influence. This will complete the proof of its 
efficacy as the centre of a universal system. Viewed from the 
moral, scientific, or poetical aspect, it is equally valuable ; and it is 
the only principle which can bring Humanily safely through the 
most formidable crisis that she has ever yet undergone. It will be 
now clear to all that the force of demonstration, a force peculiar to 
modern times, and which stiU retains much of its destructive 
character, becomes matured and elevated by Positivism. It begins 
to develop constructive tendencies, which will soon be developed 
more largely. It is not too much, then, to say that Positivism, 
notwithstanding its speculative origin, offers as much to natures of 
deep sympathy as to men of highly cultivated intellects, or of 
en^getic character. 

The spirit and the principle of the synthesis which fM"^"'" Jf**! ^ 
all true philosophers should endeavour to establish, ExtenuS^ or^ 
have now been defined I proceed to explain the ^oria''as«^ 
method that should be followed in the task, and the «aied'by Sci- 
peculiar difficulty with which it is attended. °'"*" 

The object of the synthesis will not be secured until it embraces 
the whole extent of its domain, the moral and practical depart- 
ments as well as the intellectual. But these three departments 
cannot foe dealt with simultaneously. They follow an order of suc- 
cession which, so far from dissevering them from the whole to 
which they belong, is seen when carefully examined to be a 
natural result of their mutual dependence. The truth is, and it is 
a truth of great importance, that Thoughts must be systematised I 
before Feeluigs, Feelings before Actions. It is doubtless, owing i 
to a ccmf used apprehension, of this truth, that philosophers hitherto, ' 
in framing their systems of human nature, have dealt almost 
exclusively with our intellectual faculties. 



16 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. CcE-*P- ■ 

The necessity of commencing with the co-ordination of ideas is 
not merely due to the fact that the relations of these being more 
simple and more susceptible of demonstration, form a useful logical 
preparation for the remainder of the task. On closer examination 
we find a more important, though less obvious reason. If this first 
portion of the work be once efi&ciently performed, it is the 
foundation of all the rest. In what remains no very serious 
diifi-culty will occur, provided always that we content ourselves with 
that degree of completeness which the ultimate purpose of the 

, system requires. 

To give such paramount importance to this portion of the sub- 
ject may seem at first sight inconsistent with the proposition just 
laid down, that the strength of the intellectual faculties is far in- 
ferior to that of the other elements of our nature. It is quite 
certain that Feehng and Activity have much more to do with any 
practical step that we take than pure Beason. In attempting to 
explain this paradox, we come at last to the peculiar difficulty of 
this great problem of human Unity. 

The first condition of unity is a subjective principle ; and this 
principle in the Positive system is the subordination of the intellect 

* to the heart. "Without this the unity that we seek can never be 
placed on a permanent basis, whether individually or collectively. 
It is essential to have some influence sufficiently powerful to pro- 
duce convergence amid the heterogeneous and often antagonistic 
tendencies of so complex an organism as ours. But this first con- 
dition, indispensable as it is, would be quite insufficient for the 
purpose, without some objective basis, existing independently of 
ourselves in the external world. That basis consists for us in the 
laws or Order of the phenomena by which Humanity is regulated. 
The subjection of human life to this order is incontestable ; and as 
soon as the intellect has enabled us to comprehend it, it becomes 
possible for the feeling of love to exercise a controlling influence 
over our discordant tendencies. This, then, is the mission allotted 

I to the intellect in the Positive synthesis ; in this sense it is that it 

' should be consecrated to the service of the heart. 

I have said that our conception of human unity must be totally 
inadequate, and, indeed, cannot deserve the name, so long as it 
does not embrace every element of our nature. But it would be 
equally fatal to the completeness of this great conception to think 
of human nature irrespectively of what lies outside it. A purely 
subjective unity, without any objective basis, would be simply 
impossible. In the first place any attempt to co-orilinate man's 

' moral nature, without regard to the external world, supposing the 



CHAP. I.] THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM. 17 

attempt feasible, ■would have very little permanent influence on\ 
our happiness, whether collectively or individually ; since happi- V 
ness depends so largely upon our relations to aU that exists around / 
us. Besides this, we have to consider the exceeding imperfection ' 
of our nature. Self-love is deeply implanted in it, and when left ' 
to itself is far stronger than Social Sympathy. The social instincts 
would never gain the mastery were they not sustained and called 
into constant exercise by the economy of the external world, an in- 
fluence which at the same time checks the power of the selfish 
instincts. 

To understand this economy aright, we must remem- 
ber that it embraces not merely the inorganic world, Byittha aeif- 
but also the phenomena of our own existence. The ^s^tm^ei- 
phenomena of human life, though more modifiable the unselfish 
than any others, are yet equally subject to invariable ^ engf:™e 
laws ; laws which form the principal objects of Positive specular 
tion. Now the benevolent affections, which themselves act in 
harmony with the laws of social development, incline us to submit 
to all other laws, as soon as the intellect has discovered their 
existence. The possibility of moral unity depends, therefore, even 
in the case of the individual, but stUl more in that of society, upon 
the necessity of recognizing our subjection to an external power. 
By this means our self-regarding instincts are rendered susceptible 
of discipline. In themselves they are strong enough to neutralize 
all sympathetic tendencies, were it not for the support that the 
latter find in this External Order. Its discovery is due to the in- 
tellect ; which is thus enlisted in the service of feeling, with the 
ultimate purpose of regulating action. 

Thus it is that an intellectual synthesis, or systematic study of 
the laws of nature, is needed on far higher grounds than those of 
satisfying our theoretical faculties, which are, for the most part, 
very feeble, even in men who devote themselves to a life of thought. 
It is needed, because it solves at once the most difficult problem of 
the moral synthesis. The higher impulses within us are brought 
under the influence of a powerful stimulus from without. By its 
means they are enabled to control our discordant impulses, and to 
maintain a state of harmony towards which they have always 
tended, but which, without such aid, could never be realised. 
Moreover, this conception of the order of nature evidently supplies 
the basis for a synthesis of human action ; for the efficacy of our 
actions depends entirely upon their conformity to this order. But 
this part of the subject has been fully explained in my previous 
work, and I need not enlarge upon it further. As soon as the 

2 



18 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. CoH*p. I. 

synthesis of mental conceptions enables us to form a synthesis of 
feelings, it is clear that there will be no very serious difficulties in 
constructing a synthesis of actions. Unity of action depends upon 
unity of impulse, and unity of design ; and thus we find that the 
co-ordination of human nature, as a whole depends ultimately upon 
the co-ordination of mental conceptions, a subject which seemed at 
first of comparatively slight importance. 

The subjective prinoiple-of Positivism, that is, the subordination 
of the intellect to the heart is thus fortified by an objective basis, 
the immutable Necessity of the external world ; and by this means 
it becomes possible to bring human life within the influence of 
social sympathy. The superiority of the new syhthesis'to the old 
is even more evident under this second aspect than under the 
first. In theological systems the objective basis was supplied by 
spontaneous belief in a supernatural Will. Now, whatever the 
degree of reality attributed to these fictions, they all proceeded 
from a subjective source ; and therefore their influence in most 
cases must have been very confuse'd and fluctuating. In respect of 
moral discipline they cannot be compared either for precision, for 
■force, or for stability, to the conception of an invariable Order, 
■ actually existing without us, and attested, whether we will or no, 
by every act of our existence. 

This fundamental doctrine of -Positivism is not to be 
tionofthisES attributed in the full breadth of its meanings to any 
■teruai Order single thinker. It is the slow result of a vast process 

has been gra- °. , . i • i i • i 

dually grow- carried out m :separate departments, which began with 
eafuest™iines! ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ of o*^"" intellectual powers, and which is 
and is but just only just Completed in those who exhibit those powers 
comp e . j^ their highest form. During the long period of her 
infancy Humanity has been preparing this 'the most precious of her 
intellectual attainments, as the basis for the only system of life 
■which is permanently adapted to our nature. The doctrine has to 
be demonstrated in all the more essential cases from observation 
only, except' so far as we admit argument from analogy. Deduc- 
tive argument is not admissible, except in such cases as are 
evidently compounded of others in -which the proof given has been 
sufficient. Thus, for instance, we are authorised by sound logic 
to assert the existence of laws bf weather; though 'most of these 
are still, and, perhaps, always will be, unknown. Tor it is clear 
that meteorological phenomena result from a combination of astro- 
nomicdl, Jihysical, and chemical influences, each of which has been 
proved to "be subject to invariable laws. But in all phenomena 
•which are not thus reducible, we must 'have recourse to inductive 



CHAP, r.] THE INTJEIXECTUAL CHARAOTEK OP POSITIVISM. 19 

reasoning ; for a principle whicli is the basis of all deduction can- 
not be itself deduced. Hence it is that the doctrine, being so 
entirely f oreigjj, as it is to our primitive mental state, requires such 
a long course of preparation. "Without such preparation even the 
greatest thinkers could not aiatioipate it. It is true that in some 
eases metaphysical . conceptions jof a, law have been formed before 
the proof really required Oiad been furnished. But they were never 
of much service, except so far as they generalized in a more or less 
confused way the analogies ^naturally suggested ;by the laws which 
had actually been discovered in simipler phenomena. Besides, 
such assertions always remained very doubtful and very barren in 
result, until they were based upon some outline of a leally 
Positive theory. Thus, in spite of the .apparent .potency of this 
metaphysical method, to which modern intellects are so addicted, 
tiie conception of an External Order issfcUl extremely imperfect in 
many of the most cultivated minds, because they have not verified 
it sufficiently ia the .most intricate and important class of phe- 
nomena, ithe phenomena of society. I am not, of course, speaking 
of the few thinkers who accept my discovery of .the principal laws 
of Sociology. Such uncertainty in a, subject so , closely related to 
all .others, produces great confusion in men's minds, and affects 
their perception of an invariable order, even in the simplest sub- 
jects. A proof of this is the utter delusion linto which most 
geonpietricians of the present day liave fallen with respect to ,what 
they call the Calculus of Chances ; a conception which presupposes 
that the phenomena considered are not subject to law. The 
doctrine, therefore, cannot be considered as dfirmly estatjlished in 
any one case,,until it has'been verified specially in every one of the 
primary categories in which phenomena may be classed. But now 
that this difficult condition has really been fulfilled by the faw 
thinkers who have risen to the level. of their age, we haveat;last 
a .firm objective basis on which to establish the harmony of our 
moral .nature. That basis is, that jaU events whatever, the events 
©f our own personal and social life included, are always subject 
to natural relations of sequence' and similitude, which in all 
essential respects lie beyond the leach of our interference. 

This, ;then, is .the external basis of our synthesis,! ^ven where 
which includes the moral and practical faculties, asi notmodiflabie, 
well as the speculative. It rests at every point i^^ the^Xa^ 
upon the unchangeable Order of the world. The right iaoter is of a>e 
understanding of this order is the principal subject of f^ 
our thoughts ; its preponderating influence determines ihe general 
course ,of our ieelings j its gradual improvement is the constant 



20 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. (chap. 1. 

object of our actions. To form a more precise notion of its influ- 
ence, let us imagine that for a moment it were really to cease. 
The result would be that our intellectual faculties, after wasting 
themselves in wild extravagances, would sink rapidly into incurable 
sloth ; our nobler feelings would be unable to prevent the ascend- 
ancy of the lower instiacts ; and our active powers would abandon 
themselves to purposeless agitation. Men have, it is true, been for 
a long time ignorant of this Order. Nevertheless we have been 
always subject to it ; and its influence has always tended, though 
without our knowledge, to control our whole being ; our actions 
first, and subsequently our thoughts, and even our afiections. As 
we have advanced in our knowledge of it, our thoughts have 
become less vague, our desires less capricious, our conduct less 
arbitrary. And now that we are able to grasp the full meaning of 
the conception, its influence extends to every part of our conduct; 
For it teaches us that the object to be aimed at in the economy 
devised by man, is wise development of the irresistible economy of 
nature, which cannot be amended till it is first studied and obeyed. 
In some departments it has the character of fate ; that is, it admits 
of no modification. But even here, in spite of the superficial 
objections to it which have arisen from intellectual pride, it is 
necessary for the proper regulation of human life. Suppose, for 
instance, that man were exempt from the necessity of living on the 
earth, and were free to pass at will from one planet to another, the 
very notion of society would be rendered impossible hy the licence 
which each individual would have to give way to whatever 
unsettling and distracting impulses his nature might incline him. 
Our propensities are so heterogeneous and so deficient in elevation, 
that there would be no fixity or consistency in our conduct, but for 
these insurmountable conditions. Our feeble reason may fret at 
such restrictions, , but without them all its deliberations woidd be 
confused and purposeless. We are powerless to create : all that we 
can do in bettering our condition is to modify an order in which we 
can produce no radical change. Supposing us in posses.sion of that 
absolute independence to which metaphysical pride aspires, it is 
certain that so far from improving our condition, it would be a bar 
to all development, whether social or individual. The true path 
of human progress lies in the opposite direction; in dimLnishing 
the vacUlation, inconsistency, and discordance of our designs by 
furnishing external motives for those operations of our intellectual, 
moral and practical powers, of which the original source was purely 
internal. The ties by which our various diverging tendencies are 
held together would be quite inadequate for their purpose, without 



CHAP. I.] THE INTELLECTUAI, CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM. 21 

a basis of support in the external world, which is unaffected hy the 
spontaneous variations of our nature. 

But, however great the value of Positive doctrine in pointing out 
the unchangeable aspects of the universal Order, what we have 
principally to consider are the numerous departments in which that 
order admits of artificial modifications. Here lies the most 
important sphere of human activity. The only phenomena, indeed, 
which we are wholly unable to modify are the simplest of all, the 
phenomena of the Solar System which we inhabit. It is true that 
now that we know its laws we can easily conceive them improved 
in certain respects ; but to whatever degree our power over nature 
may extend, we shall never be able to produce the slightest change 
in them. What we have to do is so to dispose our life as to sub- 
mit to these resistless fatalities in the best way we can ; and this 
is comparatively easy, because their greater simplicity enables us to 
foresee them with more precision and in a more distinct future. 
Their interpretation by Positive science has had a most important 
influence on the gradual education of the human intellect : and it 
wiU always continue to be the source from which we obtain the 
clearest and most im^pressive sense of Immutability. Too exclusively 
studied they might even now lead to fatalism; but controlled as their 
influence will be henceforward by a more philosophic education, 
they may well become a means of moral improvement, by dis- 
posing us to submit with resignation to aU evils which are 
absolutely insurmountable. 

In other parts of the external economy, invariability ^"* "^ ^"^ 

tt ' , • K t ..-I -I •.! I- cases ve can 

in aU primary aspects is found compatible with modi- modify it: and 
fications in points of secondary importance. These kno^Spi*o1 
modifications become more numerous and extensive as it 1°"°?. ^ 
the phenomena are more complex. The reason of this ^' orhuman 
is that the causes from a combination of which the ac^on. 
effects proceed being more varied and more accessible, offer greater 
facilities to our feeble powers to interfere with advantage. But aU 
this has been fuUy explained in my "System of Positive Philo- 
sophy ". The tendency of that work was to show that our inter- 
vention became more efficacious in proportion as the phenomena 
upon which we acted had a closer relation to 'the life of man or 
•society. Indeed the extensive modifications of which society 
admite, go far to keep up the common mistake that social pheno- 
mena are not subject to any constant law. 

V At the same time we have to remember that this increased \ 
^possibility of human intervention in certain parts of the External 
Order necessarily coexists with increased imperfection, for which it 



2J2 A 6ENEEAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

is a valuable T5Ut very inadequate coiQpBnsatioii. Both features 
alike result from the increase of complexity. Even the laws of the 
Solar System: are very far from' perfectj notwithstanding, their 
gi^eater simplicity, which indeed makes their defects more percep- 
tible. The existence of these defects should be taken into 
careful consideration; not indeed with'the hope of amending theimy 
biut as a check upon unreasoning admiration. Besides, they lead' us 
to a clearer conception of the true position of Humanity, a position 
of which the most striking feature is the necessity of struggling 
against difficulties of every kind. Lastly, by observing thesef 
defects we are less' likely to waste our time in seeking for absolute 
perfection, and so neglecting the vriser course of louking for such 
improvements as are really possible: 

I In aU other phenomena, the increasing iniperfection of the 

I economy of nature becomes a powerful stimulus to aU our faoultiesi 
whether moral, intellectual, or practical. Here we find sufferings 
which can really be alleviated to a large extent by wise and weU- 
sustained coflibination of efforts. This consideration should give a 
fiimness and dignity of bearing, to which Humanity could never 

! attain during her period of infancy. Those who look wisely into 
the fntiire of society will feel that the conception of man becomingj 
without fear or boast, the arbiter, within certain limits, of his Own 

, destiny, has in it something far more satisfying than the old belief 
in Providence, which implied our remaining passive. Social union 
will be strengthened by the conception, because every one will see 
that union forms Our principal resource against the miseries of 
human life. And while it calls out our noblest sympathies, it 
iiiipresses us more strongly with the importance of high inteUectuai 
cnltute, being itself the object for which such culture is required. 
These important results have been ever on the increase in modern 
times'; yet hitherto they have been too limited and casual to be 
apfl'eciated rightly, except so far as we could anticipate the future 
(^ society by the light of sound historical principles. Art, so far 
as it is yet organized, does liot include that part of the econotoy of 
nature v^hich, being the most modifiable, the most imperfect, and 
thfe most important of all, ought on every ground to be regarded as 
to principal object of human exertions. Even Medical Art, 
specially so called, is only just beginning to free itsBlf from its 
primitive rotitine. And Soeial Art, whether moral or political, is 
j)lunged in routine so deeply that few statesmen admit the possibility 
cSf shaking it ofll Yet of ail the arts, it is the one which best 
adniits of being reduced to a system ; and until this is done it wUl 
be impossible to place on a rational basis all the rest of our practical 



CHAR I.] THE INTELLECTUAL CHABACTER OP POSITIVISM. 23 

life. All these narrow views are due simply to insufficient recog- 
nition of the fact, that the highest phenomena are as much subject- 
to laws as others. When the conception of the Order of Nature hasi 
become generally accepted in its full extent, the ordinary definition 
of- Art wiU become as comprehensive and as homogeneous as that 
of Science ; and it wUL then become obvious to all sound thinkers 
that the principal sphere of both Art and Science is the social life 
of man. 

Thus the social services of the Intellect are not limited to reveal- 
ing the existence of an external Economy, and, the'necessity oi> 
submission to its sway. If the theory is to have any influence upon 
our active powers, it should include an exact estimate of the imper- 
fections of this economy and of the limits within which it varies, 
so as to indicate and define the boundaries of human intervention. 
Thus it will always be an important function of philosophy to 
criticize nature in a Positive spirit, although the antipathy to theo- 
logy by which such criticism was formerly animated has ceased 
to have much interest, from the very fact of having done its work 
so effectually. The object of Positive criticism is not controversial. 
It aims simply at putting the great question of human life in a 
clearer light. It bears closely on what Positivism teaches to be the 
great end of life, namely, the struggle to become more perfect; 
which implies previous imperfection. This truth is strikingly ap- 
parent when applied to the case of our own nature, for true morsJitjr ; 
requires a deep and habitual consciousness of our natural defects. 

I have now described the fundamental condition of ^^^ ^^^ 
the Positive Synthesis. Deriving its subjective princi- difficulty of 
pie from the affections, it ia dependent ultimately on sjmtt^'™ 
the intellect for its objective basis. This basis, connects •" compieta 
it with the Economy of the external world, the domi- of the External 
nion of which Humanity accepts, and at the same time ^^^^""14 ^^ 
modifies. I have left many points unexplained; but Social pheuo^ 
enough has been said for the purpose of tiiis work, "'°°*' 
which is only the introduction to a larger treatise. We now come i 
to the essential difficulty that presented itself in the construction | 
of the Synthesis. That difficulty was; to discover the true Theory 
of human and social Development. The first decisive step in this ~^ 
discovery renders the conception; of the Order of Nature complete. 
It stands out then as the fundaments doctrine of an universal 
system, for which the whole course of modem progress has been- 
preparing the way. Eor three centuries men of science have been 
'unconsciously co-operating in the work. They have left no gap of 
any importance, except in the region of Moral and Social pheno- 



24 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

mena. And now ttat man's history has been for the first time 
systematically considered as a whole, and has been found to be, 
like all other phenomena, subject to invariable laws, the preparatory • 
labours of modem Science are ended. Her remaining task is to 
construct that synthesis which will place her at the only point of 
view from which every department of knowledge can be embraced. . 

In my " System of Positive Philosophy " both these objects were 
aimed at. I attempted, and in the opinion of the principal thinkers 
of OUT time successfully, to complete and at the same time co-or- 
dinate Natural Philosophy, by establishing the general law of 
human development, social as well as intellectual. I shall not now 
enter into the discussion of this law, since its truth is no longer 
contested. Fuller consideration of it is reserved for the third : 
volume of my new treatise. It lays down, as is generally known, 
that our speculations upon all subjects whatsoever, pass necessarily ■. 
through three successive stages : a Theological stage, in which free 
play is given to spontaneous fictions admitting of no proof ; the 
Metaphysical stage, characterised by the prevalence of personified 
abstractions or entities ; lastly, the Positive stage, based upon an 
exact view of the real facts of the case. The first, though purely ' 
provisional, is invariably the point from which we start ; the third 
is the only permanent or normal state ; the second has but a modi- 
fying or rather a solvent influence, which qualifies it for regulating 
the transition from the first stage to the third. We begin with theo- 
logical Imagination, thence we pass through metaphysical Discussion, ' ■ 
and we end at last with positive Demonstration. Thus by means of ^^ 
this one general law we are enabled to take a comprehensive and 
simultaneous view of the past, present, and future of Humanity. 

In my " System of Positive Philosophy," this law of Filiation 
has always been associated with the law of Classification, the appli- 
cation of which to Social Dynamics furnishes the second element 
requisite for the theory of development. It fixes the order in which 
our different conceptions pass through each of these phases. That 
order, as is generally known, is determined by the decreasing 
generality, or what comes to the same thing, by the increasing com- 
plexity of the phenomena ; the more complex being naturally 
dependent upon those that are more simple and less special 
Anranging the sciences according to this mutual relation, we find 
them grouped naturally in six primary divisions : Mathematics, 
Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Sociology. Each 
passes through the three phases of development before the 
one succeeding it. Without continuous reference to this classifi- 
cation the theory of development would be confused and vague. 



CHAP. I.] THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM. 25 

The theory thus dierived from the combination of this second or 
statical law with the dynamical law of the three stages, seems at 
first sight to include nothing hut the intellectual movement. But 
my previous remarks wiU have shown that this is enough to guar- 
antee its applicability to social progress also ; since social progress 
has invariably depended on the growth of our fundamental beliefs 
with regard to the economy that surrounds us. The historical portion \ 
of my " Positive Philosophy " has proved an unbroken connection I 
between the development of Activity and that of Speculation ; on 
the combined influence of these depends the development of Afiection. I 
The theory therefore requires no alteration: what is wanted is merely 
an additional statement explaining the phases of active, that is to 
say, of political development. Human activity, as I have long since 
shown, passes successively through the stages of Offensive warfare. 
Defensive warfare, and Industry. The respective connection of 
these states with the preponderance of the theological, the meta- 
physical, or the positive spirit leads at once to a complete explana- 
tion of history. It reproduces in a systematic form the only his- 
torical conception which has become adopted by universal consent ; 
the division, namely, of history into Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modem.' 

Thus the foundation of Social science depends simply upon 
establishing the truth of this theory of development. We do this 
by combining the dynamic law, which is its distinctive feature, with 
the statical principle which renders it coherent ; we then complete 
the theory by extending it tg practical life. All knowledge is, now 
trought within the sphere of Natural Philosophy; and the pro- 
visional distinction by which, since Aristotle and Plato, it has been 
so sharply demarcated from Moral Philosophy, ceases to exist. The 
Positive spirit, so long confined to the simpler inorganic phenomena, 
has now passed through its difficult course of probation. It extends 
to a more important and more intricate class of speculations, and 
disengages them for ever from all theological or metaphysical 
influence. AU our notions of truth are thus rendered homogeneous, 
and begin at once to converge towards a central principle. A firm 
objective basis is consequently laid down for that complete co- 
ordination of human existence towards which aU sound Philosophy 
has ever tended, but which the want of adequate materials has 
hitherto made impossible. 

It wHl be felt, I think, that the principal difficulty Jl^^^, 
of the Positive Synthesis was met by my discovery of oiogicai laws 
the laws of development, if we bear in mind that S^^^Se 
while that theory completes and co-ordinates the obiec- paramount ; 

» .1 . •■ i ji i- 1- ij •! • iuid ttius our 

tive basis of the system, it at the same time nolas it m su.bjativeprin- 



26 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

tii' '^j^JJfj/ subordination to the subjective principle. It is under 
dangerto free/ the influence of this moral principle that the whole: 
thought. I piiiiosophical construction should be carried on. The 
enquiry into the Order of the Universe is an indispensable' task,, 
and it comes necessarily within the province of the intellect ; but, 
the intellect is too apt to aim in its pride at something beyond its- 
proper function, ■which consists in unremitting service of the social 
sympathies. It would willingly escape from all control and follow 
its own bent towards speculative digressions ; a tendency which is 
at present favoured by the undisciplined habits of thought naturally 
I due to the first rise of Positivism in its special departments. The 
influence of the moral principle is necessary to recall it to its true 
function ; since if its investigations were allowed to assume an 
absolute character, and to recognise no limit, we should only be 
repeating in a scientific form many of the worst results of theolo- 
gical and metaphysical belief. The Universe is to be studied not for 
its own sake, but for the sake of Man or rather of Humanity. To , 
study it in any other spirit would not only be immoral, but akO' 
highly irrational, , For, as statements of pure objective truth, our 
scientific theories can never be really satisfactory. They can only 
satisfy us from the subjective point of view ; that is, by limiting 
themselves to the treatment of such questions as have some direct . 
or indirect influence over human life. It is for social feeling to 
determine these limits ; outside which our knowledge will always 
remain imperfect as well as useless, and this even in the case of the 
simplest phenomena ; as astronomy testifies. Were the influence 
of social feeling to be slackened, the Positive spirit would soon fall 
back to the subjects which were preferred during the period of its 
infancy ; subjects the most remote from human interest, and there- 
fore also the easiest. While its probationary period lasted, it was 
natural to investiga;te all ,aecessiMe problems without distinctloiii} 
and this was often justified by the logical value of many problems 
that, scientifically speaking, were useless. But now that the Positive 
method has been sufiiciently developed to be applied exclusively to 
the purpose for which it was intended, there is no use whatever in 
prolonging the period of probation by these idle exercisesi Indeed 
the want of purpose and discipline in our researches is rapidly 
assuming a retrograde character. Its tendency is to undo the chief 
results obtained by the spirit of detail during the time when that 
spirit was really essential to progress^ 

Here, then, we are met by a serious difficulty. The construction; 
of the objective basis for the Positive synthesis imposes two con- 
ditions which seem at first sight, incompatible. On the one hand 



CHAP. I.] THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OP POSITIVISM. 27 

we 'must allow the' intellect to be free, or else we shall not have the 
fMl benefit of its services ; and, on the other, we must control its- 
natural tendency to unlimited digressions. The problem was] 
insoluble, so long as the study of the natural economy did not I 
include Sociology. But as soon as the Positive spirit extends to 
the treatment of social questions, these at once take precedence of 
all otheife, and thus the moral point of view becomes paramount.. 
Objective science, proceeding from without inwards, falls at last' 
iiito natural harmony with the subjective or moral principle, the- 
superiority of which it had for so long a time resisted. As a mere^ 
speculative question it may be considered as proved to the satisf ac- 
tioh of eveiry trtie' thinker, that the social point of view is logically 
and scientifically supreme over all others, being the only point from 
which all oiir seitatifio conceptions caa be ' regarded as a whole.. 
Tet its influence can never be injurious to the progress of other 
Positive studies ; for these, whether for the sake of their method 
or of their subject matter, will always continue to be necessary as 
an introductioii to the final science. Indeed the Positive system 
gives the highest sanction and the most powerful stimulus to all' 
pffeliminary' sciences, by insisting on the relation which each of them 
Bears to the great whole. Humanity. 

Th^s the foundation of social science bears out the statement 
made at the beginning of this work, that the intellect would, under 
Posi'tivism, accept its proper position Of subordinatioh to the heart.. 
The recognition of tlus, which is the subjective principle of Posi- 
Mvism, renders the construction of a complete system of hunlan lif* 
possible. The antagonism which, since the close of the Middle' 
Ages, has arisen between Eeason and Feeling, Was an anomalous 
though inevitable condition. It is now for ever at an end ; and 
lihe only system which can really satisfy the wants of our nature, 
individually or collectively, is therefore ready for our acceptance.. 
As long as the antagonism existed, it was hopeless to expect that 
Social Sympathy could do much to modify the preponderance of 
self-love in the affairs of life. But the case is different as soon as 
reason and syihpathy are brought into active co-operation.. 
Separately, their influence in our imperfect organization is very 
feeble ; but combined it may extend indefinitely. It will neve^,' 
indeed, be able to do aWay with the fact that practical life mustj 
tb a' large extent, be regulated by interested motives ; yet it may 
introduce a standard of morality inconceivably higher than any 
thiat has existed in the past, before these two modifying forces could 
be made to coinbine their action upon our stronger and lowet 
instincts. 



28 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. 1. 

-.... .. In order to give a more precise conception of the 

between Ab- intellectual basis on -which the system of Positive 
cSte kwl'^Tt Polity should rest, I must explain the general principle 
is the fi.rmer by which it should be limited. It should be confined 
require for the to what is really indispensable to the construction of 
purpose before t}jat PoHty. Otherwise the intellect -will be carried 

[ ' away, as it has been before, by its tendency to useless 

' digressions. It will endeavour to extend the limits of its province ; 
thereby escaping from the discipline imposed by social motives, and 
putting off all attempts at moral and social regeneration for a longer 

\ time than the construction of the philosophic basis for action really 
demands. Here we shall find a fresh proof of the importance of 
my theory of development. By that discovery the intellectual 
synthesis may be considered as having already reached the point 
from which the synthesis of afi'ections may be at once begun ; and 
even that of actions, at least in its highest and most difficult part, 
morality properly so called. 

"With the view of restricting the construction of the objective basis 
within reasonable limits, there is this distinction to be borne in mind. 
In the Order of Nature, there are two classes of laws ; those that are 
simple or Abstract, those that are compound or Concrete. In my 
work on " Positive Philosophy," the distinction has been thoroughly 
established, and frequent use has been made of it. It will be suffi- 
cient here to point out its origin and the method of applying it. 

/ Positive science may deal either with objects themselves as they 
exist, or with the separate phenomena that the objects exhibit. 
Of course we can only judge of an object by the sum of its pheno- 
mena ; but it is open to us either to examine a special class of 
phenomena abstracted from all the beings that exhibit it, or to take 
some special object, and examine the whole concrete group of 
phenomena. In the latter case we shall be studying different 
systems of existence ; in the former, different modes of activity. 
As good an example of the distinction as can be given is that, 
already mentioned, of Meteorology. The facts of weather are 
«vidently combinations of astronomical, physical, chemical, biologi- 
cal, and even social phenomena ; each of these classes requiring its 
own separate theories. Were these abstract laws sufficiently well 
known to us, then the whole difficulty of the concrete problem 
would be so to combine them, as to deduce the order in which each 
composite effect would follow. This, however, is a process which 
seems to me so far beyond our feeble powers of deduction, that, 
even supposing our knowledge of the abstract laws perfect, we 
■should still be obliged to have recourse to the inductive method. 



J 



CHAP. 1.] THE INTELLECTUAL CHABACTBR OF POSITIVISM. 2& 

Now the investigation of the economy of nature here contem- 
plated is evidently of the abstract kind. We decompose that 
economy into its primary phenomena, that is to say, into those which 
are not reducible to others. These we range in classes, each of 
which, notwithstanding the connection that exists between all, 
requires a separate inductive process ; for the existence of laws can- 
iiot be proved in any one of them by pure deduction. It is only 
with these simpler and more abstract relations that our synthesis is 
directly concerned : when these are established, they afford a rational 
groundwork for the more composite and concrete researches. The 
great complexity of concrete relations makes it probable that we 
shall never be able to co-ordinate them perfectly. In that case the 
synthesis would always remain limited to abstract laws. But its 
true object, that of supplying an objective basis for the great 
synthesis of human Hfe, wiU none the less be attained. For this, 
groundwork of abstract knowledge would introduce harmony between 
all our mental conceptions, and thereby would make it possible to 
systematize our feelings and actions, which is the object of all sound 
philosophy. The abstract study of nature is therefore all that is 
absolutely indispensable for the establishment of unity in human 
life. It serves as the foundation of all wise action; as the 
pbilosopMa prima, the necessity of which in the normal state of 
humanity was dimly foreseen by Bacon. "When the abstract laws 
exhibiting the various modes of activity have been brought syste- 
Biatically before us, our practical knowledge of each special system 
of existence ceases to be purely empirical, though the greater number 
of concrete laws may still be unknown. We find the best example 
of this truth ia the most difficult and important subject of all, 
Sociology. Knowledge of the principal statical and dynamical laws 
of social existence is evidently sufficient for the purpose of syste- 
matizing .the various aspects of private or public life, and thereby 
of rendering our condition far more perfect. Should this knowledge 
be acquired, of which there is now no doubt, we need not regret 
being unable to give a satisfactory explanation of every state of 
society that we find existing throughout the world in all ages. 
The discipline of social feeling wiU check any foolish indulgence of 
the spirit of curiosity, and prevent the understanding from wasting 
its powers in useless speculations ; for feeble as these powers are, it 
is from them that Humanity derives her most efficient means of , 
contending against the defects of the External Order. The discovery 
of the .principal concrete laws would no doubt be attended by the 
most beneficial results, moral as well as physical; and this is the 
field ia which the science of the future will reap its richest harvest 



30 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, l 

But such knowledge is not indispensable for our present purpose, 
whicii is to form a complete synthesis of life, effecting for the final 
state of humanif)y what the theological synthesis effected for its 
primitive state. For this purpose Abstract philosophy is undoub^ 
tedly sufficient ; so that even supposing that Concrete philosophy 
should never become so perfect as we desire, social regeneration will 
still be possible. 

In my The- Eegarded under this more simple aspect, our system 
"^nt^Se^?' °^ scientific knowledge is already so far elaborated, that 
<juiredSjnthe- all thinkers whose nature is sufficiently sympathetic 
TOncl^tioS may proceed without delay to the problem of moral 
ready exists, regeneration ; a problem which must prepare the way 
for that of political reorganization. For we shall find that the 
theory of development of which we have been speaking, when 
looked at from another point of view, condenses and systematizes 
all our abstract conceptions of the order of nature. 

This will be understood by regarding all departments of our 
knowledge as being really component parts of one and the same 
science ; the science of Humanity. All other sciences are but the 
prelude or the development of this. Before we can enter upon it 
directly, there are two subjects which it is necessary to investigate ; 
our external circumstances, and the organization of our own nature. 
Social life cannot be understood without first understanding the 
medium in which it is developed, and the beings who manifest it. 
"We shall make no progress, therefore, in the 'final science until we 
have sufficient abstract knowledge of the outer world and of 
individual life to define the influence of these laws on the special 
laws of social phenomena. And this is necessary from the logical 
as well as from the scientific point of view. The feeble faculties 
of our intellect require to be trained for the more difficult specu- 
lations by practice in the easier. For the same reasons, the study 
of the inorganic world should take precedence of the organic. For, 
in the first place, the laws of the more universal mode of existence 
have a preponderating influence over those of the more special 
modes ; and in the second place it is clearly incumbent on us to 
begin the study of the Positive method with its simplest and most 
characteristic applications. I need not dwell further upon principles 
so fully established in my former work. 

Social Philosophy, therefore, ought on every ground to be 
preceded by Natural Philosophy in the ordinary sen^e of the word; 
that is to say by the study of inorganic and organic nature. It is 
reserved for our own century to take in the whole scope of science; 
but the commencement of these preparatory studies dates from the 



«HAP. 1.] THE ISTELLBCTOAL CHABACTEB OF POSITITISII. 31 

first astronomical discoveries of antiquity. Ifatural PhUosophy 
•was completed by the modem science of Biology, of which the 
ancients possessed notldng but a few statical principles. The 
dependence of biological conditions upon astronomical is very certain. 
But these two sciences differ too much from each other and are two 
indirectly connected to give us an adequate conception of Natural 
Philosophy as a whole. It would be pushing the principle of 
condensation too far to reduce it to these two terms. One connect- 
ing link was supplied by the science of Chemistry which arose in 
the middle ages. The natural succession of Astronomy, Chemistry, 
and Biology leading gradually up to the final science, Sociology, 
made it possible to conceive more or less imperfectly of an inteUeo- 
tual syntJi^is. But the interposition of Chemistry was not enough : 
because, though its relation to Biology was intimate, it was too 
remote from Astronomy. For want of understanding the mode in 
which astronomical conditions really affected us, the arbitrary and 
chimerical &ncies of astrology were employed, thoo^ of course 
quite valueless except for this temporary purposa Li the seven- 
teenth century, however, the science of Physics, specially so called, 
was founded; and a satisfactory arrangement of scientific concep- 
tions b^an to be formed. Physics included a series of inorga^e 
researches, the more general branch of which bordered on Astronomy, 
the more special on Chemistry. To complete our view of the 
Bcientific hierarchy we have now only to go back to its origin, 
'Mathematics ; a dass of speculations so simple and so general, tiiat 
they passed at once and without effort into the Positive stage. 
Without Mathematics, Astronomy was impossible : and they will 
always continue to be the starting point of Positive education for 
the individual as they have been for the race. Even under the 
most absolute theological influence they stimulate the Positive spirit 
to a certain degree of systematic geowth. From them it extends 
st&p by step to the subjects from which at first it had been most 
rigidly -excluded. 

We see from these brief remarks that the series of the abstract 
sciences naturally arranges itself according to the decrease in 
generality and the increase ia complication. We see the reason for 
tiie ratroduction of each member of the series, and the mutual 
connection between them. The classification is evidently the same 
as that before laid down in my theory of development. That 
theory therefore may be regarded, from the statical point of view, 
as furnishing a direct basis for the co-ordination of Abstract concep- 
tions, on which, as we have seen, the whole synthesis of human life 
Spends. That co-ordinatdcm at once establishes unity in our 



32 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

intellectual operations. It realizes the desire obscurely expressed 
by Bacon for a scala intelledus, a ladder of the understanding, by 
the aid of which our thoughts may pass with ease from the lowest 
subjects to the highest, or vice versa, without weakening the sense 
of their continuous connection in nature. Each of the six terms 
of which our series is composed is in its central portion quite dis- 
tinct from the two adjoining Unks ; but it is closely related in its 
commencement to the preceding term, in its conclusion to the term 
which follows. A further proof of the homogeneousness and con- 
tinuity of the system is that the same principle of classification, 
when applied more closely, enables us to arrange the various theo- 
ries of which each science :;onsists. For example, the three great 
orders of mathematical speculations, Arithmetic, Geometry, and 
Mechanics, follow the same law of classification as that by which 
the entire scale is regulated. And I have shown in my " Positive 
Philosophy" that the same holds good of the other sciences. As a 
whole, therefore, the series is the most concise summary that can 
be formed of the vast range of Abstract truth ; and conversely, all 
rational researches of a special kind result in some partial develop- 
ment of this series. Each term in it requires its own special pro- 
cesses of induction ; yet in each we reason deductively from the 
preceding term, a method which will always be as necessary for 
purposes of instruction, as it was originally for the purpose of 
discovery. Thus it is that all our other studies are but a preparation 
for the final science of Humanity. By it their mode of culture 
will always be influenced, and wUl gradually be imbued with the 
true spirit of generality, which is so closely connected with social 
sympathy. Nor is there any danger of such influence becoming 
oppressive, since the very principle of our system is to combine a 
due measure of independence with practical convergence. The fact 
that our theory of classification, by the very terms of its composition, 
subordinates intellectual to social considerations, is eminently 
calculated to secure its popular acceptance. It brings the whole 
speculative system under the criticism, and at the same time under 
the protection of the public, which is usually not slow to check any 
abuse of those habits of abstraction which are necessary to the 
philosopher. 

The same theory then which explains the mental evolution of 
Humanity, lays down the true method by which our abstract 
conceptions should be classified ; thus reconciling the conditions of 
Order and. Movement, hitherto more or less at variance. Its his- 
torical clearness and its philosophical force strengthen each other, 
for we cannot understand the connection of our conceptions except 



CHAP. L] THE INTELLBCTDAL CHAKACTEB OP P03JT1VISM. 33 

by studying the succession of the phases through which they pass. 
And on the other hand, but for the existence of such a connection, 
it would be impossible to explaiu the historical phases. So we see > 
that for all sound thinkers, History and Philosophy are inseparable. ' 

A theory which embraces the statical as well as the Therefore wo 
dynamical aspects of the subject, and which fulfils the ^ntoprocS 
conditions here spoken of, may certainly be regarded at once vob 
as establishing the true objective basis on which unity ^ciai^regen^ 
can be established in our intellectual functions. And ration, 
this unity will be developed and consolidated as our knowledge of 
its basis becomes more satisfactory. But the social application of 
the system wiU have far more influence on the result than any 
overstrained attempts at exact scientific accuracy. The object of ' 
our philosophy is to direct the spiritual reorganization of the / 
civilized world. It is with a view to this object that aU attempts 
at fresh discovery or at improved arrangement should be conducted. 
Moral and political requirements will lead us to investigate new 
relations; but the search shoidd not be carried farther than is 
necessary for their application. Sufficient for our purpose, if this 
incipient classification of our mental products be so far worked oui 
that the synthesis of Affection and of Action may be at once 
attempted ; that is, that we may begin at once to construct that 
sj'stem of morality under which the final regeneration of Humanity 
will proceed. Those who have read my "Positive Philosophy" 
will, I think, be convinced that the time for this attempt has 
arrived. How urgently it is needed will appear in every part of 
the present work. 

I have now described the general spirit of Positivism, jj^^of j^g^. 
But there are two or three pointe on which some tifying Poa- 
further explanation is necessary, as they are the source Attetam.Ma'tJ 
of misapprehensions too common and too serious to be riaium, 'Eat«i- 
disregarded. Of course I only concern myseH with ism.' Itheism. 
such objections as are made in good faith. dbcu2K'^°ta- 

The fact of entire freedom from theological belief soluble mys- 
ibeing necessary before the Positive state can be *^^ 
perfectly attained, has induced supOTficial observers to confound 
Positivism with a state of pure negation. Now this state was at 
one time, and that even so recently as the last century, favourable 
to progress ; but at present in those who unfortunately stiU remain 
in it, it is a radical obstacle to all sound social and even intsllectuftl 
organization. I have long ago repudiated all philosophical or his- 
torical connection between Positivism and what is called Atheism. 
But it is desirable to expose the errca: somewhat more clearly. 

3 



34 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. i. 

Atheism, even from the intellectual point of view, is a very 
imperfect form of emancipation ; for its tendency is to prolong the 
metaphysical stage indefinitely, by continuing to seek for new- 
solutions of Theological problems, instead of setting aside all 
inaccessible researches on the ground of their utter inutility. The 
true Positive spirit consists in substituting the study of the invari- 
able Laws of phenomena for that of their so-called Causes, 
whether proximate or primary ; in a word, in studying the How 
instead of the Why. Now this is wholly incompatible with the 
ambitious and visionary attempts of Atheism to explain the forma- 
tion of the Universe, the origin of animal life, etc. The Positivist 
comparing the various phases of human speculation, looks upon 
these scientific chimeras as far less valuable even from the intellec- 
tual point of view than the first spontaneous inspirations of 
primeval times. The principle of Theology is to explain everything 
by supernatural Wills. That principle can never be set aside until 
we acknowledge the search for Causes to be beyond our reach, and 
limit ourselves to the knowledge of Laws. As long as men persist 
in attempting to answer the insoluble questions which occupied the 
attention of the cLUdhood of our race, by far the more rational plan 
is to do as was done then, that is, simply to give free play to the 
imagination. These spontaneous beliefs have gradually fallen into 
disuse, not because they have been disproved, but because mankind 
has become more enlightened as to its wants and the scope of its 
powers, and has gradually given an entirely new direction to its 
speculative efibrts. If we insist upon penetrating the unattainable 
mystery of the essential Cause that produces phenomena, there is 
no hypothesis more satisfactory than that they proceed from WiUs 
dwelling in them or outside them ; an hypothesis which assimilates 
them to the efiect produced by the desires which exist within 
ourselves. Were it not for the pride induced by metaphysical and 
scientific studies, it would ■ he inconceivable that any atheist, 
modem or ancient, should have believed that his vague hypotheses 
on such a subject were preferable to this direct mode of explanation. 
And it was the only mode which really satisfied the reason, until 
men began to see the utter inanity and inutility of all search for 
absolute truth. The Order of Nature is doubtless very imperfect 
in every respect ; but its production is far more compatible with 
the hypothesis of an intelligent WUl than with that of a blind 
mechanism. Persistent atheists therefore would seem to be the 
most illogical of theologists : because they occupy themselves with 
theological problems, and yet reject the only appropriate method of 
i handling them. But the fact is that pure Atheism even in the 



CHAP. I.] THE INTBLLBOTUAL CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM. 35 

present day is very rare. What is called Atheism is usually a 
phase of Pantheism, which is really nothing hut a relapse dis- 
guised under learned terms, into a vague and abstract form of 
Fetiohism. And it is not impossible that it may lead to the repro- 
duction in one form or other of every theological phase, as soon as 
the check which modern society still imposes on metaphysical 
extravagance has become somewhat weakened. The adoption of 
such theories as a satisfactory system of belief, indicates a very 
exaggerated or rather false view of intellectual requirements, and a 
very insufficient recognition of moral and social wants. It is 
generally connected with the visionary but mischievous tendencies 
of ambitious thinkers to uphold what they call the empire of 
Eeasou. In the moral sphere it forms a sort of basis for the 
degrading fallacies of modern metaphysicians as to the absolute 
preponderance of self-interest. Politically, its tendency is to 
unlimited prolongation of the revolutionary position : its spirit is 
that of blind hatred to the past : and it resists all attempts to 
explain it on Positive principles, with the view of disclosing the 
future. Atheism, therefore, is not Hkely to lead to Positivism 
except in those who pass through it rapidly as the last and most 
short-lived of metaphysical phases. And the wide diffusion of the 
scientific spirit in the present day makes this passage so easy that 
to arrive at maturity without accomplishing it, is a symptom of a 
certain mental weakness, which is often connected with moral 
; insufficiency, and is very incompatible with Positivism. Negation i 
offers but a feeble and precarious basis for union : and disbelief in ; 
Monotheism is of itself no better proof of a mind fit to grapple with I 
the questions of the day than disbelief in Polytheism or Fetichism, / 
which no one would maintain to be an adequate ground for claiming' 
intellectual sympathy. The atheistic phase indeed was not really -- 
necessary, except for the revolutionists of the last century who took 
the lead in the movement towards radical regeneration of society. 
The necessity has already ceased ; for the decayed condition of the 
old system makes the need of regeneration palpable to all. Persist- 
ence in anarchy, and Atheism is the most characteristic symptom 
of anarchy, is a temper of mind more unfavourable to the organic 
spirit, which ought by this time to have established its influence, 
than sincere adhesion to the old forms. This latter is of course 
obstructive: but at least it does not hinder us from fixing our 
attention upon the great social problem. Indeed it helps us to do 
so : because it forces the new philosophy to throw aside every 
weapon of attack against the older faith except its own higher 
capacity of satisfying our moral and social wants. But in tha 



36 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. Icbat. i. 

•Atheism maintained by many metaphysicians and scientific men of 
the present day, Positivism, instead of -wholesome rivalry of this 
kind, wUl meet with nothing but barren resistance. Anti-theologi- 
cal as such men may be, they feel unmixed repugnance for any 
attempts at social regeneration, although their efforts in the last 
century had to some extent prepared the way for it. Far, then, 
from counting upon their support, Positivists must expect to find 
them hostile : although from the incoherence of their opinions it 
will not be difficult to reclaim those of them whose errors are not 
essentially due to pride. 

MateriaUsm The charge of Materialism which is often made 
i# due to the against Positive philosophy is of more importance. It 
of the lower Originates in the course of scientific study upon which 
domata^rftte *^® Positive System is based. In answering the 
higher : an charge, I need not enter into any discussion of impene- 
PosMvism""'' trable mysteries. Oui theory of development will 
reotifles. enable us to see distinctly the real ground of the 

confusion that exists upon the subject. 

( Positive science was for a long time limited to the simplest 
subjects : it could not reach the highest except by a natural series 
of intermediate steps. As each of these steps is taken, the student 
is apt to be influenced too strongly by the methods and results of 
the preceding stage. Here, as it seems to me, lies the real source 
of that scientific error which men have instinctively blamed as 
materialism. The name is just, because the tendency indicated is 
one which degrades the higher subjects of thought by confounding 
them with the lower. It was hardly possible that this usurpation 
by one science of the domain of another should have been wholly 
avoided. For since the more special phenomena do really depend 
upon the more general, it is perfectly legitimate for each science to 
exercise a certain deductive influence upon that which follows it in 
the scale. By such influence the special inductions of that science 
were rendered more coherent. The result, however, is that each of 
the sciences has to undergo a long struggle against the encroach- 
ments of the one preceding it ; a struggle which, even in the case of 
the subjects which have been studied longest, is not yet over. 
Nor can it entirely cease until the controlliiig influence of sound 
philosophy be estabhshed over the whole scale, introducing juster 
views of the relations of its several parts, about which at present 
there is such irrational confusion. Thus it appears that Material- 
ism is a danger inherent in the mode in which the scientific studies 
necessary as a preparation for Positivism were pursued. Each 
sdience tended to absorb the one next to it, on the ground of 



c?A.p. I.I THE INTELLECTUAL CHARAQT^R OP POSITIVISM. 37 

havmg reached the Positiye stage earlier and more thoroughly. 
The evil then is really deeper and more extensive than is iinagined 
by most of those who deplore it. It passes generally unnoticed 
except in the highest class of subjects. These doubtless are more 
seriously affected, inasmuch as they undergo the encroaching process; 
from all the rest ; but we find the same thing in different degrees,, 
in every step of the scientific scale. Even the lowest step, Mathe- 
matiqSj is no exception, though its position would seem at first sight 
to exempt it. To a philosophic eye there is Materialism in the com- 
mon tendency of mathematicians at the present day to absorb' 
Geometry or Mechanics into the Calculus, as well as in the more, 
evident encroachments of Mathematics upon Physics,, of Physics 
upon Chemistry, of Chemistry, which is more frequent, upon 
Biology, or lastly in the common tendency of the best biologists to 
look upon Sociology as a mere corollary of their own science. In 
all these cases it is the same funds^ijiemtal error : that is, an exagge- 
rated use of deductive reasoning j, and in aU it is attended with the 
same result ; that the higher studies are in constant danger, of being 
disoBganized by the indiscriminate application of the lower. AU 
scientific specialists at the present time are more or less materialists^ 
according as the phenomena studied by them are more or less simpliS 
and general. Geometricians, therefore, are more liable to the error 
than any others; they all aim consciously or otherwise at a synthesis 
in which the most elementary studies, those of Number,, Space, and 
Motion, are m,ade to regulate all the rest. But the biologists who 
resist this encroachment most energeticaUy, are often guilty of the 
same mistake. They not unfrequently attempt, foT instance, to 
explain all sociological facts by the influence of climate and race, 
which axe purely secondary ; thus showing their ignorance of the i 
fundamental laws of Sociology, which can only be discovered by a 
series of direct inductions from history. ^ -- - 4-.^^.^ 

This, philosophical estimate of Materialism explains how it is thalb 
it has been brought as a charge against Positivism, and at the same 
time proves the deep injustice of the charge. Positivism, far from 
eount^aancing so dangerous an error, is, as we have seen, the only 
philosophy which can completely remove it. The error arises from 
certain tendencies which are in themselves legitimate, but which 
Jiave been carried too far ; and Positivism satisfies these tendencies 
in their due measure. Hitherto thS' evil has remained, unchecked, 
except by the theologico-metaphysical spirit, which, by- giving rise 
to what is called Spiritualism, has rendered a very vaJuftUe service., 
But useful as it has been, it could not arrest the active growth qi 
Materialism, which has assumed in the eyes of modern thinkers 



38 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, l 

something of a progressive character, from having been so long 
connected with the cause of resistance to a retrograde system. 
Notwithstanding all the protests of the spiritualists, the lower 
sciences have encroached upon the higher to an extent that seriously 
impairs their independence and their value. But Positivism meets 
the difficulty far more effectually. It satisfies and reconciles all 
that is really tenable iu the rival claims of both Materialism and 
Spiritualism ; and, having done this, it discards them both. It 
holds the one to be as dangerous to Order as the other to Progress. 
This result is an immediate consequence of the establishment of the 
encyclopaedic scale, in which each science retains its own proper 
sphere of induction, whUe deductively it remains subordinate to 
the science which precedes it. But what really decides the matter 
is the fact that such paramount importance, both logically and 
scientifically, is given by Positive Philosophy to social questions. 
For these are the questions in which the influence of Materialism 
is most mischievous, and also in which it is most easily introduced. 
A system therefore which gives them the precedence over all other 
questions must hold Materialism to be quite as obstructive as 
Spiritualism, since both are alike an obstacle to the progress of 

- that science for the sake of which all other sciences are studied* 
Further advance in the work of social regeneration implies the 
elimination of both of them, because it cannot proceed without 
exact knowledge of the laws of moral and social phenomena. In 
the next chapter I shall have to speak of the mischievous effects of 
Materialism upon the Art or practice of social life. It leads to a 
misconception of the most fimdamental principle of that Art, 

' namely, the systematic separation of spiritual and temporal power. 
To maintain that separation, to carry out on a more satisfactory 
basis the admirable attempt made in the Middle-Ages by the 
Catholic Church, is the most important of political questions. 
Thus the antagonism of Positivism to Materialism rests upon 
political no less than upon philosophical grounds. 

With the view of securing a dispassionate consideration of this 
subject, and of avoiding aU confusion, I have laid no stress upon 
the charge of immorality that is so often brought against Material* 
ism. The reproach, even when made sincerely, is constantly 
belied by experience. Indeed it is inconsistent with aU that we 
know of human nature. Our opinions, whether right or wrong, 
have not, fortunately, the absolute power over our feelings and 
conduct which is commonly attributed to them. Materialism had 
been provisionally connected with the whole movement of emanci- 
pation, and it has therefore often been found ia common with the 



CHAP. I] THE INTEajLECTUAL CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM. 39 

noblest aspirations. That connection, however, has now ceased ; 
and it must be owned that even in the most favourable cases this 
error, purely intellectual though it be, has to a certain extent always 
checked the free play of our nobler instincts, by leading men to 
ignore or misconceive moral phenomena, which were left unex- 
plained by its crude hypothesis. Cabanis gave a striking example 
of this tendency in his imfortunate attack upon mediseval chivalry. 
Cabanis was a philosopher whose moral nature was as pure and 
sympathetic as his intellect was elevated and enlarged. Tet the 
materialism of his day had entirely blinded him to the beneficial 
results of the attempts made by the most energetic of our ancestors 
to institute the Worship of Woman. 

We have now examined the two principal charges brought 
against the Positive system, and we have found that they apply 
merely to the unsystematic state in which Positive principles are 
first introduced. But the system is also accused of Fatalism and 
of Optimism ; charges on which it will not be necessary to dwell at 
great length, because, though frequently made, they are not difficult 
to refute. 

The chaise of Fatalism has accompanied every fresh „ ., p •. 
extension of Positive science, from its first beginnings, tivism fatalist. 
Kor is this surprising; for when any series of pheno- J^***]!^!^ 
mena passes from the dominion of Wills, whether order to bo 
modified by metaphysical abstractions or not, to the ™ 
dominion of Laws, the regularity of the latter contrasts so strongly 
with the instability of the former, as to present an appearance of 
fatality, which nothing but a very careful examination of the real 
character of scientific truth can dissipate. And. the error is the 
more likely to occur from the fact that our first types of natural 
laws are derived from the phenomena of the heavenly bodies. ; 
These, being wholly beyond our interference, always suggest the I 
notion of absolute necessity, a notion which it is difficult to 
prevent from extending to more complex phenomena, as soon as 
they are brought within the reach of the Positive method. And it 
is quite true that Positivism holds the Order of Nature to be in its 
primary aspects strictly invariable. All variations, whether spon- 
taneous or artificial, are only transient and of secondary import. 
The conception of unlimited variations would in fact be equivalent 
to the rejection of Law altogether. But while this accounts for 
the fact that every new Positive theory is accused of Fatalism, it is 
equally clear that blind persistence in the accusation shows a very 
shallow conception of what Positivism really is. For, unchange- 
able as the Order of Nature is in its main aspects, yet all pheno- 



4:0 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. Iohap. r. 

mena, except those of Astronomy, admit of being modified in tlieir 
secondary relations, and this the more as they are more complicated^ 
The Positive spirit, when confined to the subjects of Mathematics 
and Astronomy, was inevitably fatalist ; but this ceased to be the 
case when it extended to Physics and Chemistry, and especially to 
Biology, where the margin of variation is very considerable. JSow 
that it embraces Social phenomena, the reproach, however it may 
have been once deserved, should be heard no longer, since these 
phenomena, which wUl for the future form its principal field, admit 
of larger modification than any others, and that chiefly by our own 
intervention. It is obvious then that Positivism, far from en- 
couraging indolence, stimulates us to action, especially to social 
action, far more energetically than any Theological doctrine. It 
removes all groundless scruples, and prevents us from having 
recourse to chimeras. It encourages our efforts everywhere, except 
where they are manifestly useless. 

The charge ^°^ ^^^ charge of Optimism there is even less ground 
of Optimism than for that of Fatalism. The latter was, to a certain 
of^y°* rathOT extent, connected with the rise of the Positive spirit ; 
than to Pom- -jjyj Optimism is simply a result of Theology ; and its 
positiTist jud- ■infl.uence has always been decreasing vrith the growth 
Sricsa actions °^ Positivism. Astronomical laws, it is true, suggest 
reiativeiT/. but the idea of perfection as naturejly as that of necessity. 
turt^em''S- On the other hand, their great simplicity places the 
difloriminateiy. (defects of the Order of Nature in so clear a Ught, that 
optimists would never have sought their arguments in astronomy, 
were it not that the first elements of the science had to be worked 
out under the influence of Monotheism, a system which involved 
the hypothesis of absolute wisdom. But by the theory of develop- 
ment on which the Positive synthesis is here made to rest, Opti- 
. mism is discarded as well as Fatalism, in the direct proportion of 
I the intricacy of the phenomena. It is in the most intricate that 
' the defects of Nature, as well as the power of modifying them, 
become most manifest. With regard, therefore, to social pheno- 
mena, the most complex of aU, both charges are utterly misplaced. 
Any optimistic tendencies that writers on social subjects may 
display, must be due to the fact that their education has not been 
such as to teach them the nature and conditions of the true 
scientific spirit. For. want of sound logical training, great misuse 
has been made in our own time of a property peculiar to social 
phenomena. It is that we find in them a greater amount of spon- 
taneous wisdom than might have been expected from their 
complexity. It would be a mistake, however, to suppose this 



«H.\p. L} THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTEE OF POSITrvISM. 41 

■wisdom perfect. The phenomena in question are those of intelli- 
gent beings who are always occupied in amending the defects of 
their economy. It is ohvious, therefore, that they will show less 
imperfection than if , in a case equally complicated, the agents could 
have heen bUnd. The standard by which to judge of action is^ , 
always to be taken relatively to the social state in which the action 
takes place. Therefore aU historical positions and changes must 
have at least some grounds of justification ; otherwise they would \ 
he totally incomprehensible, because inconsistent with the nature 
■of the agents and of the actions performed by them. Ifow this ' 
naturally fosters a dangerous tendency to Optimism in all thinkers, 
who, whatever their powers may he, have not passed through any 
strict scientific training, and have consequently never cast off 
metaphysical emd theological modes of thought in the higher 
■subjects. Because evray government shows a certain adaptation to 
the civilization of its time, they make the loose assertion that the 
adaptation is perfect ; a conception which is of course chimericaL [ 
But it is unjust to charge Positivism with errors which are 
•evidently contrary to its true spirit, and merely due to the want of 
logical and scientific training in those who have hitherto engaged 
in the study of social questions. The object of Sociology is to 
explain all historical facte ; not to justify them indiscriminately, as 
is done by those who are unable to distinguish the influence of the 
agent from that of surrounding circumstances. 

On reviewing this brief sketch of the intellectual j^^ ^^^^ 
■character of Positivism, it wiU be seen that all ite Positive con- 
essential attributes are summed up in the word highest intet 
Positive, which I applied to the new philosophy at its ^''S^ f^^ 
•outset. All the languages of Western Europe agree in ultimately 
understanding by this word and ite derivatives the two ^Sfiainca*' 
qualities of reality and usefvlness. Combining these, 
we get at once an adequate definition of the true philosophic spirit,r 
which, after all, is noiliing but good sense generalized and put intoj 
a systematic form. The term also implies in all European I 
languages, certainty and precisian, qualities by which the intellect 
of modem nations is markedly distinguished from t^hat of antiquity. . 
Again, the ordinary acceptation of the term implies a directly 
■organic tendency. Now the metaphysical spirit is incapable of . 
•organizing j it can only criticise. This distinguishes it from the 
Positive spirit, although for a time they had a common sphere of 
action. By speaking of Positivism as organic, we imply that it has 
a social purpose ; that purpose being to supersede Theology in the 
spiritual direction of the human race. 



42 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, u 

But the word will bear yet a further meaning. The organic char- 
acter of the system leads us naturally to another of its attributes, 
namely its invariable relativity. Modem thinkers will never rise 
above that criticaT position which they have hitherto taken up 
towards the past, except by repudiating aU absolute principles, 
This last meaning is more latent than the others, but is really con- 
tained in the term. It wOl soon become generally accepted, and 
the word Positive will be understood to mean relative as much as it 
now means organic, precise, certain, useful, and real. Thus the 
highest attributes of human wisdom have, with one exception, been 
gradually condensed into a single expressive term. All that is now 
wanting is that the word should denote what at first could form no 
part of the meaning, the union of moral with intellectual qualities. 
At present, only the latter are included ; but the course of modem, 
progress makes it certain that the conception implied by the word 
Positive, win ultimately have a more direct reference to the heart 
than to the understanding. For it will soon be felt by aU that the 
tendency of Positivism, and that by virtue of its primary charac- 
teristic, reality, is to make Feeling systematically supreme over 
Eeason as well as over Activity. After all, the change consists- 
simply in realising the full etymological value of the word Philo- 
sophy.* For it was impossible to realize it until moral and mental 
conditions had been reconciled ; and this has been now done by the 
foundation of a Positive science of society, 

• Philosophy — the love of wisdom. 



CHAPTEE II. 

THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM, AS SHOWN BY ITa 
CONNECTION WITH THE GENERAL EEVOLUTIONARY MOVE- 
MENT OF WESTERN EUROPE. 

As the chief characteristic of Positive Philosophy is the paramount ' 
importance that is given, and that on speculative grounds, to social j 
considerations, its efficiency for the purposes of practical life is ' 
involved in the very spirit of the system. When this spirit is' 
rightly understood, we find that it leads at once to an object far 
higher than that of satisfying our scientific curiosity ; the object, 
namely, of organizing human Hfe. Conversely, this practical aspect - 
of Positive Philosophy exercises the most salutary influence upon 
its speculative character. By keeping constantly before us the 
necessity of concentrating all scientific efforts upon the social 
object which constitutes their value, we take the best possible means 
of -checking the tendency inherent in all abstract enquiries ta\ 
degenerate into useless digressions. But this general connection ' 
between theory and practice would not by itself be sufficient for 
our purpose. It would be impossible to secure the acceptance 
of a mental discipline, so new and so difficult, were it not for 
considerations derived from the general conditions of modern 
society ; considerations calculated to impress philosophers with a 
more definite sense of obligation to do their utmost towards satis- 
fying the wants of the time. By thus arousing public sympathies 
and showing that the success of Positivism is a matter of perman- j 
ent and general importance, the coherence of the system as well as 1 
the elevation of its aims wiU be placed beyond dispute. We have ' 
hitherto been regarding Positivism as the issue in which intellect- 
ual development necessarily results. We have now to view it from 
the social side ; for until we have done this, it is impossible to form 
a true conception of it. 

And to do this, all that is here necessary is to of''^o"t^f °^ 
point out the close relation in which the new philo- to the French 
sophy stands to the whole course of the French Eevo- '^«™i""o°- 
lution. This revolution has now been agitating Western nations . 
for sixty years. It is the final issue of the vast transition through 
which we have been passing during the five previous centuries. ' 

In this great crisis there are naturally two principal phases ; of 
which only the first, or negative, phase has yet been accomplished. 



gress, Eknd con- 
sequently tbe 
study of social 
phenozaena. 



44 A GENEBAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHiP. il 

In it -we gave the last blow to the old system, hut without arriving 
at any fixed and distinct prospect of the new. In the second or 
positive phase, which is at last beginning, a basis for the new 
social state has to be constructed. The first phase led as its 
ultiniate result to the formation of a sound phUosophioal system ; 
and by this system the second phase will be directed. It is this 
twofold connection which we are now to consider. 

The negative The strong reaction which was exercised upon the 
OT destructive intellect by the first great shook of revolution was ah- 
Re«riuMonsti^ solutely necessary to rouse and sustain our mental 
dSire^of Fr^ efi'orts in the search for a new system. For the greatest 
thinkers of the eighteenth century had been blinded to 
the true character of the new state by the effete rem- 
nants of the old. And the shock was especially ne- 
cessary for the foundation of social science. For the basis of that 
science is the conception of human Progress, a conception which 
nothing but the Revolution could have brought forward into suffi- 
cient prominence. 

Social Order was regarded by the ancients as stationary : and its 
theory under this provisional aspect was admirably sketched out 
by the great Aristotle. In this respect the case of Sociology resem- 
bles that of Biology. In Biology statical conceptions were attained 
without the least knowledge of dynamical laws. Similarly, the 
social speculations, of antiquity are entirely devoid of the conception 
of Progress. Their historical field was too narrow to. indicate any 
continuous movement of Humanity. It was not till the Middle 
Ages that this movement became sufficiently manifest to inspire the 
feeling that we were tending towards a state of incresised perfection. 
It was then seen by all that Catholicism was superior to Polytheism, 
and Judaism; and this was afterwards confirmed by the correspond- 
ing political improvement produced by the substitution of Feudalism 
for Roman government. Confused as this first feeling of human 
Progress was, it was yet very intense and very largely diffused ; 
though it lost much of its vitality in the theological and metaphy- 
sical discussions of later centuries. It is here that we must look if 
we would understand that ardour in the cause of Progress which is 
peculiar to the Western family of nations, and which has beeE; 
strong enough to check many sophistical delusions, especially in 
the countries where the noble aspirations of the Middle Ages have 
been least impaired by the metaphysical theories of Protestantism 
or Deism. 

But whatever the importance of this nascent feeling, it was very 
far from sufficient to establish the conviction of Progress as a fund- 



CHAP. llj THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 45 

amental principle of human society. To demonstrate any kind of 
progression, at least three terms are requisite. Now the ahsolute ) 
diaracter of theological philosophy, by which the comparison he- I 
tween Polytheism and Catholicism was instituted, prevented men ! 
from conceiving the hare possibility of any further stage. The 
limits of perfection were supposed to have been reached by the 
mediaeval system, and beyond it there was nothing but the Chris- 
tian Utopia of a future life. The decline of medieval theology 
soon set the imagination free from any such obstacles ; but it led at 
the same time to a mental reaction which for a long time was un- 
favourable to the development of this first conception of Progress. 
It brought a feeling of blind antipathy to the Middle Ages. 
Almost all thinkers in their dislike of the Catholic dogmas were 
seized with such irrational admiration for Antiquity as entirely to ' 
ignore the social superiority of the mediseval system; and it was '" 
only among the untaught masses, especially in the countries pre- - 
served from Protestantism, that any real feeling of this superiority 
was retained. It was not tUl the middle of the seventeenth century 
that modern thinkers began to dwell on the conception of Progress. 

It re-appeared then under a new aspect. Conclusive evidence had 
by that time been furnished that the more civilised portion of our 
race had advanced in science and industry, and even, though not so 
unquestionably, in the fine arts. But these aspects were only 
partial : and though they were undoubtedly the source of the more 
systematic views held by our own century upon the subject, they 
were not enough to demonstrate the fact of a progression. And 
indeed, from the social point of view, so far more important thaii 
any other, Progress seemed more doubtful than it had been in the 
Middle Ages. 

But this condition of opinion was changed by the revolutionary I 
shock which impelled France, the normal centre of Western Europe, 
to apply itself to the task of social regeneration. A third term of 
comparison, that is to say the type on which modern society is being 
moulded, now presented itself ; though it lay as yet in a distant and 
obscure future. Compared with the mediseval system it was seen 
to be an advance as great as that which justified onr ancestors of 
ohivalrous times in asserting superiority to their predecessors of 
antiquity. Until the destruction of Catholic Peudalism became an 
overt fact, its effete remnants had concealed the political future, and ■ 
the fact of continuous progress in society had always remained un- 
certain. Social phenomena have this peculiarity, that the object 
observed undergoes a process of development as well as and simul- 
'taneously with the'observer. Now up to tlie time of the devolution, 



46 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

political development, on whicL. the principal argument for: the 
' theory of Progress must always be based, corresponded in its imper- 
fection to the incapacity of the scientific spirit to frame the theory 
of it. A century ago, thinkers of the greatest eminence were 
unable to conceive of a really continuous progression ; and Human- 
ity, as they thought, was destined to move in circles or in 
oscillations. But under the influence of the Eevolution a real 
-sense of human development has arisen spontaneously and with 
more or less result, in minds of the most ordinary cast ; first in 
France, and subsequently throughout the whole of Western Europe. 
In this respect the crisis has been most salutary ; it has given us 
that mental courage as well as force without which the conception 
could never have arisen. It is the basis of social science and there- 
fore of all Positive Philosophy ; since it is only from the social 
aspect that Positive Philosophy admits of being viewed as a con- 
nected whole. Without the theory of Progress, the theory of 
Order, even supposing that it could be formed, would be inadequate 
as a basis for Sociology. It is essential that the two should be 
combined. The very fact that Progress, however viewed) is 
nothing but the development of Order, shews that Order cannot be 
iuUy manifested without Progress. The dependence of Positivism 
upon the French Eevolution may now be understood more clearly. 
Nor was it by a merely fortuitous coincidence that by this time 
•the introductory course of scientific knowledge by which the mind 
is prepared for Positivism should have been sufficiently completed. 
But we must here observe that, beneficial as the intellectual 
■reaction of this great crisis undoubtedly was, its effects could not 
be realised until the ardour of the revolutionary spirit had been to 
some extent weakened. The dazzling light thrown upon the 
Future for some time obscured our vision of the Past. It disclosed, 
though obscurely, the third term of the social progression ; but it 
prevented us from fairly appreciating the second term. It 
encouraged that blind aversion to the Middle Ages, which had 
been inspired by the emancipating process of modem times j a 
feeling which had once been necessary to induce us to abandob 
the old system. The suppression of this intermediate step would 
be as fatal to the conception of Progress as the absence of the last ; 
because this last difiers too widely from the first to admit of any 
■direct comparison with it. Eight views upon the subject were 
impossible therefore until full justice had been rendered to the 
Middle Ages, which form at once the point of union and of separa- 
tion between ancient and modern history. 'Now it was quite 
impossible to do this as long as the excitement of the first years of 



CHjip.ji.] THE SOCIAL ASPBCT OP POSITIVISM. 47 

the revolution lasted. In this respect the philosophical reaction, 
.■piganised at the beginning of our century by the great De Maistre, 
was of material assistance in preparing the true theory of Progress, 
His school was of brief duration, and it was no doubt animated by 
a retrograde spirit ; but it will always be ranked among the ne- 
cessary antecedents of the Positive system; although its works 
are now entirely superseded by the rise of the new philosophy, 
, which in a more perfect form has embodied all their chief 
results. 

What was required therefore for the discovery of Sociological 
laws, and for the establishment upon these laws of a sound-~* 
philosophical system, was an intellect in the vigour of youth, / 
imbued with all the ardour of the revolutionary spirit, and yet ^ 
: spontaneously assimilating all that was valuable in the attempts of \ 
the retrograde school to appreciate the historical importance of the 
Middle Ages. In this way and iu no other could the true spirit 
pf history arise. For that spirit consists in the sense of human / 
continuity, which had hitherto been felt by no one, not even by/ 
my illustrious and unfortunate predecessor Condorcet. Meantime/ 
the genius of Gall was completing the recent attempts to systematize 
biology, by commencing the study of the internal functions of the 
brain ; as far at least as these could be understood from the 
phenomena of individual as distinct from social development. 
And now I have explained the series of social and intellectual con- 
ditions by which the discovery of sociological laws, and consequently 
the foundation of Positivism, was fixed for the precise date at , 
which I began my philosophical career: that is to say, one 
generation after the progressive dictatorship of the Convention,! 
and almost immediately after the fall of the retrograde tyranny of 
Bonaparte. 

Thus it appears that the revolutionary movement, and the long 
period of reaction which succeeded it, were alike necessary, before 
the new general doctrine could be distinctly conceived of as a whole. 
And if this preparation was needed for the establishment of | 
Positivism as a philosophical system, far more needful was it for j 
the recognition of its social value. Por it guaranteed free exposi- ' 
tion and discussion of opinion : and it led the public to look to 
Positivism as the system which contained in germ the ultimate 
«olvtion of social problems. This is a point so obvious that we 
need not dwell upon it further. 

Having satisfied ourselves of the dependence of Positivism upon 
the first phase of the Eevolution, we have now to consider it as 
■the future guide of the second phase. 



^8 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. tOHi*. ll. 

tWe°p™ale™of ^* ^^ °^^^^ Supposed that the destniotion of the old 
the Revoiu- regime was brought about by the Eevolution. But 
attempte°*^to tistory when carefully examined points to a very 
oonstruet fail- different conclusion. It shows that the Eevolution 
on'destructive was not the cause but the consequence of the utter 
principles. decomposition of the mediseval system; a process 
which had been going on for five centuries throughout Western 
Europe, and especially in France ; spontaneously at first, and 
afterwards in a more systematic way. The Eevolution, far from 
protracting the negative movement of previous centuries, was a bar 
-to its further extension. It was a final outbreak in which m«n 
showed their irrevocable purpose of abandoning the old system 
altogether, and of proceeding at once to the task of entire recon» 
struction. The most conclusive proof of this intention was given 
by the abolition of royalty ; which had been the rallying point of 
all the decaying remnants of the old French constitution. But 
with this exception, which only occupied the Convention during 
its first sitting, the constructive tendencies of the movement were 
apparent from its outset ; and they showed themselves still more 
clearly as soon as the republican spirit had become predominant. 
It is obvious, however, that strong as these tendencies may have 
been, the first period of the Eevolution produced results of an 
extremely negative and destructive kind. In fact the movement 
was in this respect a failure. This is partly to be attributed to the 
pressing necessities of the hard struggle for national independence 
which France maintained so gloriously against the combined attacks 
of the retrograde nations of Europe. But it is far more largely 
owing to the purely critical character of the metaphysical doctrines 
■ by which the revolutionary spirit was at that time directed. 

The negative and the positive movements which have been 
going on in "Western Europe since the close of the Middle Ages, 
have been of course connected with each other. But the former 
has necessarily advanced with greater rapidity than the latter. 
The old system had so entirely declined, that a desire for social 
regeneration had become general, before the groundwork of the 
new System had been sufficiently completed for its true character 
to be understood. As we have just seen, the doctrine by which 
social regeneration is now to be directed, could not have arisen 
previously to the Eevolutjoa. The impulse which the Eevolution 
gave to thought was indispensable to its formation. Here then 
was an insurmountable fatality by which men were forced to make 
use of the critical principles which had been found serviceable in 
former struggles, as the only aTailable instruments of construction. 



CHAP. IL] THE SOCIAIi ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 49 

As soon as the old order had once been fairly abandoned, there 
was of course no utility whatever in the negative philosophy. 
But its doctrines had become famihar to men's minds, and its 
motto of " Liberty and Equality," was at that time the one most 
compatible with social progress. Thus the first stage of the 
revolutionary movement was accomplished under the influence of 
principles that had become obsolete, and that were quite inadequate 
to the new task required of them. 

For constructive purposes the revolutionary philosophy was 
valueless ; except so far as it put forward a vague programme 
of the political future, founded on sentiment rather than con- 
viction, and unaccompanied by any explanation of the right mode 
of realizing it. In default of organic principles the doctrines 
of the critical school were employed : and the result speedily 
showed their inherent tendency to anarchy ; a tendency as perilous 
to the germs of the new order as to the ruins of the old. The 
experiment was tried once for aU, and it left such ineffaceable 
memories that it is not probable that any serious attempt will 
be made to repeat it. The incapacity for construction inherent in 
the doctrine ia which the revolutionary spirit had embodied itself 
was placed beyond the reach of doubt. The result was to 
impress every one with the urgent necessity for social renovation;; 
but the principles of that renovation were stiU left undeter- 
mined. 

In this condition of philosophical and political counter -i^ 
opinion, the necessity of Order was felt to be para- JJ^I^'igm"' 
mount, and a long period of reaction ensued. Dating 
from the official Deism introduced by Eobespierre, it reached its 
height under the aggressive system of Bonaparte, and it was feebly 
protracted, in spite of the peace of 1815, by his insignificant 
successors. The only permanent result of this period was the 
historical and doctrinal evidence brought forward by De Maistre 
and his school, of the social inutility of modem metaphysics, 
while at the same time their intellectual weakness was being 
proved by the successful attempts, of Cabanis, and stiU more of 
Gall, to extend the Positive method to. the highest biological , 
questions; In all other respects this elaborate attempt to prevent 
the final emancipation of Humanity proved a complete failure; 
in fact, it led to a revival of the instinct of Progress. Strong 
antipathies were roused everywhere by these fruiUess efforts at 
reconstructing a system which had become so entirely obsolete, 
that even those who were labouring to rebuild it no longer 
understood its chanlcter or the conditions of its existence.. 

4 



50 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

A re-awakening of the revolutionary spirit was thus inevitahle ; 
and it took place as soon as peace was established, and the chief 
upholder of the retrograde system had been removed. The 
doctrines of negation were called back to life; but very little 
illusion now remained as to their capacity for organizing. In want 
of something better, men accepted them as a means of resisting 
retrograde principles, just as these last had owed their apparent 
success to the necessity of checking the tendency to anarchy. 
Amidst these fresh debates on worn-out subjects, the public soon 
became aware that a final solution of the question had not yet 
arisen even in germ. It therefore concerned itself for little 
except the maintenance of Order and Liberty ; conditions as 
indispensable for the free action of philosophy as for material 
prosperity. The whole position was most favourable for the 
; construction of a definite solution; and it was, in fact, during 
' the last phase of the retrograde movement that the elementary 
! principle of a solution was furnished, by my discovery, in 1822, 
of the two-fold law of intellectual development. 

Political The apparent indifference of the public, to whom all 

twSfSmd the existing parties seemed equally devoid of insight 

I 18*8. into the political future, was at last mistaken by 

\ a blind government for tacit consent to its unwise schemes. The 

cause of Progress was in danger. Then came the memorable crisis 

of 1830, by which the system of reaction, introduced thirty-six 

years previously, was brought to an end. The convictions which 

that system inspired were indeed so superficial, that its supporters 

came of their own accord to disavow them, and to uphold in their 

own fashion the chief revolutionary doctrines. These again were 

abandoned by their previous supporters on their accession to power. 

, When the history of these times is written, nothing will give 

a clearer view of the revulsion of feeling on both sides, than the 

— debates which took place on Liberty of Education. "Within a 

period of twenty years, it was alternately demanded and refused 

by both ; and this in behalf of the same principles, as they were 

called, though it was in reality a question of interest rather than 

principle on either side. 

All previous convictions being thus thoroughly upset, more room 
was left for the instinctive feeling of the pubHo ; and the question 
of reconciling the spirit of Order with that of Progress now came 
into prominence. It was the most important of all problems, and 
it was now placed in its true light. But this only made the absence 
of a solution more manifest; and the principle of the solution 
existed nowhere but in Positivism, which as yet was immature. 



CHAP, n.] THE SOCIAI. ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 51 

All the opinions of the day had l)ecome alike utterly incompatihle 
both with Order and 'with Progress. The Conservative school 
tmdertook to reconcile the two ; but it had no constructive power ; 
and the only result of its doctrines was to give equal encourage- 
ment to anarchy and to reaction, so as to lie able always to 
neutralize the one by the other. The establishment of Constitu- 
tional Monarchy was now put forward as the ultimate issue of 
the great Revolution. But no one could seriously place any 
real confidence in a system so alien to the whole character of 
French history, offering as it did nothing but a superficial and 
unwise imitation of a political anomaly essentially peculiar to 
England. 

The period then between 1830 and 1848 may be regarded 
as a natural pause in the political movement The reaction which 
succeeded the original crisis had exhausted itself; but the final 
or organic phase of the Revolution was still delayed for want 
of definite principles to guide it No conception had been formed 
of it, except by a small number of philosophic minds who had 
taken their stand upon the recentiy establiished laws of social 
science, and had found themselves able, without recourse to 
any chimerical views, to gain some general insight into the 
political future, of which Condorcet, my principal predecessor, -- 
knew so littie. But it was impossible for the regenerating 
doctrine to spread more widely and to be accepted as the peaceful 
solution of social problems, until a distract refutation had been | 
given of the false assertion so authoritatively made that the par- 
liamentary system was the ultimate issue of the Revolution. This ' 
notion once destroyed, the work of spiritual reorganization should ^ 
be left entirely to the free efibrts of independent thinkers. In i 
these respects our last political change (1848) wUl have accomplished 
all that is required. 

Thanks to the instinctive sense and vigour of ^j^^ 
our working classes, the reactionist leanings of the positian, 1S4S- 
Oileanist government, which had become hostile to the jSjs^^^^ 
purpose for which it was originally instituted, have at voiTes the 
last brought about the final abolition of monarchy in Sf^^^ta^ 
France. The prestige of monarchy had long been lost jtfjjf"'*^ *° 
and it now only impeded Prepress, without being of 
any real benefit to Order. By its fictitious supremacy it directiy 
hindered the work of spiritusd reformation, whilst the measure of 
real power which it possessed was insufBcient to control the 
wretched political agitation maintained by animosities of a purely 
personal character. 



52 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, ik 

Viewed negatively, the principle of EepubUcanism sums up tlie 
first phase of the Eevolution. It precludes the possibility of 
recurrence to Eoyalisni, which, ever since the second half of the 
reign of Louis XTV., has heen the rallying point of all reactionist 
tendencies. Interpreting the principle in its positive sense, we 
may regard it as a direct step towards the final regeneration 
of society. By consecrating aU human forces of whatever kind 
to the general service of the community, republicanism recognizes 
the doctrine of subordinating Politics to Morals. Of course it 
is as a feeling rather than as a principle that this doctrine is 
at present adopted; but it could not obtain acceptance in any 
other way ; and even when put forward in a more systematic 
shape, it is upon the aid of feeUng that it will principally rely, as 
I have shown in the previous chapter. In this respect France 
has proved worthy of her position as the leader of the great 
family of Western nations, and has in reality already entered 
upon the norfnal state. Without the intervention of any theo^ 
logical system, she has asserted the true principle on which society 
should rest, a principle which originated in the Middle Ages under 
■the impxdse of Catholicism; but for the general acceptance of 
which a sounder philosophy and more suitable circumstances 
were necessary. The direct tendency, then, of the French Eepublip 
is to sanction the fundamental principle of Positivism, the pre- 
ponderance, namely, of Feeling over Intellect and Activity. 
Starting from this point, public opinion will soon be convinced 
that the work of organizing society on republican principles is one 
which can only be performed by the new philosophy. 

It gives pro- '^^ whole position brings into fuller prominence the 
minencetothe fundamental problem previously proposed, of reconcil- 
recon^ngOr- ing Order and Progress. The urgent necessity of 
Kress*"'' ^"^ doing so is acknowledged by all ; but the utter inca*- 
pacity of any of the existing schools of opinion to 
-realize it becomes increasingly evident. The abolition of monarchy 
Temoves the most important obstacle to social Progress : but at 
the same time it deprives us of the only remaining guarantee for 
public Order. Thus the time is doubly favourable to constructive 
tendencies; yet at present; there are no opinions which possess 
more than the purely negative value of checking, and that very imr 
perfectly, the error opposite to their own. In a position which 
, guarantees Progress and compromises Order, it is naturally for the 
latter that the greatest anxiety is felt ; and we are still without 
any ojrgan capable of systematically defending it. Yet experience 
shoidd have taught us how extremely fragile .every government 



■CHAP, n.3 THE SOCIAl. ASPECT OP POSITIVISM. 53 

Bitist be -whioli is purely material, that is, ■which is hased solely 
xipon self-interest, and is destitnte of sympathies and convictions. 
On the other hand, spiritual order is not to be hoped for at 
present in the absence of any doctrine which commands general 
respect. Even the social instinct is a force on the poUtical vaJne 
of which we cannot always rely: for when not based on some 
definite principle, it not unfrequently becomes a source of dis- 
turbance. Hence we are driven back to the continuance of a 
material system of government, although its inadequacy is acknow- 
ledged by aU. In a republic, however, such a government cannot 
employ its most efficient instrument, corruption. It has to resort 
instead to repressive measures of a more or less transitory kind, 
■every time that the danger of anarchy becomes too threatening. 
These occasional measures, however, naturally proportion themselves 
to the necessities of the case. Thus, though Order is exposed i 
to greater perils than Progress, it can cOunt on more powerful 
resources for its defence. Shortly after the publication of the 
first edition of this work, the extraordinary outbreak of June, 
1848, proved that the republic could caU into play, And, indeed, 
■could push to excess, in the cause of public Order, forces far 
greater than those of the monarchy. Thus royalty no longer 
possesses that monopoly of preserving Order, which has hitherto 
induced a few sincere and thinking men to continue to support it ; 
^nd henceforth the sole political characteristic which it retains is 
that of obstructing Progress. And yet by another reaction of this 
■contradictory position of affairs, the monarchical party seems at 
present to have become the organ of resistance in behalf of material 
Order. Eetrograde as its doctrines are, yet from their still retaining 
a certain organic tendency, the conservative instincts rally round 
them. To this the progressive instincts offer no serious obstacle, 
their insufficiency for the present needs being more or less distinctly 
lecognized. It is not to the monarchical party, however, that we 
must look for conservative principles ; for in tiiis quarter they are 
wholly abandoned, and unhesitating adoption of every revolutionary 
principle is resorted to as a means of retaining .power ; so that the 
doctrines of the Eevolution would seem fated to close .their existence 
in the retrograde camp. So urgent is the need of Order that we 
are driven to accept for the moment a party which has lost aU. its 
•old convictions, and which had apparently become extinct beefore 
tiie Republic began. Positivism and Positivism alone can dis- 
■entangle and terminate this anomalous position. The principle 
upon which it depends is manifestly this : As long as Progress tends ' 
towards anarchy, so long vrill Order continue to be ietrograd&- / 



54 A GENBEAIj VIBW op positivism. [chap. II. 

But the retrograde movement never really attains its object : indeed 
its principles are always neutralized by inconsistent concessions. 
Judged by the boastful language of its leaders, we might imagine 
that it was destroying republicanism ; whereas the movement would 
not exist at all, but for the peculiar circumstances in which we are 
placed ; circumstances which are forced into greater prominence by 
the foolish opposition of most of the authorities. As soon as the 
instinct of political improvement has placed itself under systematic 
guidance, its growth will bear down aU resistance ; and then the 
reason of its present stagnation will be patent to all. 

It brings the ■^''^^ fo' this Theologism is, unawares, preparing the 
metaphysical -wsiy. Its apparent preponderance places Positivism 
Bohoois into in precisely that position which I wished for ten years 
discredit. ^gQ_ jjjg ^.^q organic principles can now be brought 
side by side, and their relative strength tested, without the complica- 
tion of any metaphysical considerations. Por the incoherence of 
metaphysical systems is now recognized, and they are finally 
decaying under the very political system which seemed at one 
time likely to promote their acceptance. Construction is seen 
by all to be the thing wanted : and men are rapidly becoming 
aware of the utter hoUowness of all schools which confine themselves 
to protests against the institutions of theologism, while admitting its 
essential principles. So defunct, indeed, have these schools 
become, that they can no longer fulfil even their old office of 
destruction. This has fallen now as an accessory task upon 
Positivism, which offers the only systematic guarantee against 
retrogression as well as against anarchy. Psychologists, strictly so 
called, have already for the most part disappeared with the fall of 
constitutional monarchy ; so close is the relation between these two 
importations from Protestantism. It seemed likely therefore that 
the Ideologists, their natural rivals, would regain their influence 
with th* people. But even they cannot win back the confidence 
reposed in them during the great Eevolution, because the doctrines 
in virtue of which it was then given are now so utterly exploded. 
The most advanced of their number, unworthy successors of the 
school of Voltaire and Danton, have shown themselves thoroughly 
incapable either morally or intellectually of directing the second 
phase of the revolution, which they are hardly able to distinguish 
from the first phase. Formerly I had taken as their type a man of 
far superior merit, the noble Armand Carrel, whose death was 
such a grievous loss to the republican cause. But he was a com- 
plete exception to the general rule. True republican convictions 
were impossible with men who had been schooled in parliamentary 



CHAP. U.J THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITITISM. 55 

intrigaes, and who had directed or aided the pertinacious efforts of 
the French press to rehabilitate the name of Bonaparte. Their 
accession to power was futile; for they could only maintain 
material order by calling in the retrograde party ; and they soon 
became mere auxiliaries of this party, disgracefully abjuring all 
their philosophical convictions. There is one proceeding which, 
though it is but an episode in the course of events, will always 
remain as a test of the true character of this imnatural alliance. I 
aUnde to the Soman expedition of 1849 ; a detestable and con- 
temptible act, for which just penalties will speedily be imposed on 
aU who were accessory to it ; not to speak of the damnatory ver- • 
diet of history. But precisely the same hypocritical opposition to 
progress has been exhibited by the other class of Deists, the 
disciples, that is, of Eousseau, who profess to adopt Eobespierre's 
policy. Having had no share in the government, they have not so 
entirely lost their hold upon the people ; but they are at the pre- 
sent time totally devoid of political coherence. Their wild_anarchy 
is incompatible with the general tone of feeling maintained by the 
industrial activity, the scientific spirit, and the esthetic culture of 
modern life. These Professors of the Gmllotine, as they may be 
called, whose superficial sophisms would reduce exceptional out- 
breaks of popular fury into a cold-blooded system, soon found 
themselves forced, for the sake of popularity, to sanction the law 
which very properly abolished capital punishment for political 
offences. In the same way they are now obliged to disown the 
only real meaning of the red flag which serves to distinguish their 
party, too vague as it is for any other name. Equally wrong have 
they shown themselves in interpreting the tendencies of the work- 
ing classes, from being so entirely taken np with questions of 
abstract rights. The people have allowed these rights to be taken 
from them without a struggle whenever the cause of Order has 
seemed to require it ; yet they still persist, mechanically, in main- 
taining that it is on questions of this sort that the solution of all 
our difficulties depends. Taking for their political ideal a short and 
anomalous period of our history which is never likely to recur, they 
are always attempting to suppress liberty for the sake of what they 
call progress. In a time of unchangeable peace they are the only 
real supporters of war. Their conception of the organization of 
labour is simply to destroy the industrial hierarchy of capitalist 
and workman established in the Middle Ages; and, in fact, in 
every respect these sophistical anarchists are utterly out of keeping 
with the century in which they live. There are some, it is true, 
who still retain a measure of influence with the working classes, 



56 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [qKAP.ir. 

incapaMe and imworthy though they be of their position. But 
their credit is rapidly declining; and it is not likely to hecome 
dangerous at a time when political enthusiasm is no longer to be 
won by metaphysical prejudices. The only effect really produced 
by this party of disorder, is to serve as a bugbear for the benefit of 
the retrograde party, who thus obtain official support from the 
middle class, in a way which is quite contrary to all the principles 
and habits of that class. It is very improbaUe that these foolish 
levellers wUl ever succeed to power. Should they do so, however, 
their reign will be short, and will soon result in their final 
extinction ; because it will convince the people of their profound 
incapacity to direct the regeneration of Europe. The position of 
affairs, therefore, is now distinct and clear ; and it is leading men 
to withdraw their confidence from all metaphysical schools, as they 
had abeady withdrawn it from theology. In this general discredit 
of aU the old systems the way becomes clear for Positivism, the 
only school which harmonizes with the real tendencies as well as 
with the essential needs of the nineteenth century. 

Anditproves In this explanation of the recent position of French 
cesrity of "a affairs one point yet remains to be insisted on. We 
true spiritual have Seen from the general course of the philosophical, 
of thmkera and yet more of the political, movement, the urgent 
Sto^studySl'^^'^^^^i^y ^°' * universal doctrine capable of checking 
to teach prin- erroneous action, and of avoiding or moderating popular 
aioo?'from^p? Outbreaks. But there is another need equally 
utioai action. . manifest, the need of a spiritual power, without whicli 
it would be utterly impossible to bring our philosophy to bear upon 
practical life. Widely divergent as the various metaphysical sects 
are, there is one point in which they all spontaneously agree ; that 
is, in repudiating the distinction between temporal and spiritual 
authority. This has been the great revolutionary principle ever 
since the fourteenth century, and more e.speciaUy since the rise of 
Protestantism. It originated in repugnance to the ' mediaeval 
system. The so-called philosophers of our time, whether psycholo- 
gists or ideologists, have, like their Greek predecessors, always 
aimed at a complete concentration of all social powers ; and they 
have even spread this delusion among the students of special 
sciences. At present there is no appreciation, except in the 
Positive system, of that instinctive sagacity which led all the great 
men of the Middle Ages to institute, for the first time, the separation 
of moral from political authority. It was a masterpiece of human 
wisdom ; but it was premature, and could not be permanently 
successful at a time when men were still governed, on theologicd. 



•CHAP-ii.l THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 57 

principles, and praietieal life still Tetained its militaiy character. 
G3iis separation of powers, on which the final organization of society 
wUl -principally depend, is understood and valued nowhere but in 
the new school of philosophy, if we except the unconscious and 
tacit admiration for it whidh still exists in the countries from which 
Protestantism has been excluded. From the outset of the Eevolu- 
tion, the pride of theorists has always made them wish to become 
sofcially despotic ; a state of things to which they have ever looked 
forward as their political ideal Public opinion has by this time 
grown far too enlightened to allow any practical realization of a 
notion at once so chimerical and so retrograde But public opinion 
not being as yet sufficiently organized, efforts in this direction are 
■constantly being made. The longing among metaphysical reformers 
for practical as well as theoretical supremacy is now greater than 
ever ; because, from the changed state of affairs, their ambition is 
no longer limited to mere administrative functions. Their various 
views diverge so widely, and all find so little sympathy in the 
public, that there is not much fear of their ever being able to check 
free discussion to any serious extent, by giving legal sanction to ■ 
thfeir own particular doctrine. But quite enough has been, 
attempted to convince every one how essentially despotic every 
theory of society must be which opposes this fundamental principle 
•of modern polity, the permanent separation of spiritual from 
temporal power. The disturbances caused by metaphysical ambi- 
tion corroborate, then, the view urged so conclusively by the 
a^erents of the new school, that this division of powers is equally 
•essential to Order and to Progress. If Positivist thinkers continue 
to withstand all temptations to mix actively in politics, and go on 
•quietly with their own work amidst the unmeaning agitation around 
them, they will ultimately make the impartial portion of the public 
familiar with this great conception. It wUl henceforth be judged 
irrespectively of the religious doctrines with which it was originally 
■coniiected. Men will involuntarily contrast it with other systems, 
and will se? more and more clearly that Positive principles afibrd 
the only basis for true freedom as weU as for true union. They 
alone can tolerate full. discussion, because they alone rest upon solid 
_proof. Men's practical wisdom, guided by the peculiar nature of 
our political position, wUl react strongly upon philosophers, and 
keep them strictly to their sphere of moral and intellectual infiu- ., 
•ence. The slightest tendency towards the assumption of political 
power vrill be ohedked, and the desire for it -mR be considered afi a 
-certain sign of mental weakness, and indeed of moral deficiency. 
liFow thai royalty is abolished, all true thinkers are secure of perfedt 



58 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, lu 

freedom of thouglit, and even of expression, as long as they abide 
by the necessary conditions of public order. Royalty was the last 
remnant of the system of castes, which gave the monopoly of 
deciding on important social questions to a special fanuly; its 
abolition completes the process of theological emancipation. Of 
course the magistrates of a republic may show despotic tendencies ;. 
' but they can never become very dangerous where power is held on 
so brief a tenure, and where, even when concentrated in a single 
person, it emanates from suffrage, incompetent as that may be. It 
is easy for the Positivist to show that these functionaries know very 
little more than their constituents of the logical and scientific 
conditions necessary for the systematic working out of moral and 
social doctrines. Such authorities, though devoid of any spiritual 
sanction, may, however, command obedience in the name of Order. 
But they can never be really respected, unless they adhere- 
scrupulously to their temporal functions, without claiming the least 
authority over thought. Even before the central power falls into 
the hands of men really fit to wield it, the republican character of 
our government wiU have forced this conviction upon a nation that 
has now got rid of all political fanaticism, whether of a retrograde 
or anarchical kind. And the conviction is the more certain to arise,; 
because practical authorities wUl become more and more absorbed 
in the maintenance of material order, and will therefore leave the- 
question of spiritual order to the unrestricted efforts of thinkers. 
It is neither by accident nor by personal influence that I hava 
myself always enjoyed so large a measure of freedom in writing, 
and subsequently in public lectures, and this under governments 
all of which were more or less oppressive. Every true philosopher 
wiU receive the same licence, if, like myself, he offers the intel- 
lectual and moral guarantees which the public and the civil power 
are fairly entitled to expect from the systematic organs of 
Humanity. The necessity of controlling levellers may lead to 
occasional acts of unwise violence. But I am convinced that 
respect will always be shown to constructive thinkers, and that 
they will soon be called ia to the assistance of public order. For 
order wUl not be able to exist much longer without the sanction of 
some rational principle. 

_ , . The result, then, of the important political changes 
spirituaipowcr which have recently taken place is this. The second 
toe^ZXR^ phase of the Revolution, which hitherto has been 
pubUootwesb- restricted to a few advanced minds, is now entered by 
em urope. ^j^^ public, and men are rapidly forming juster views 
of its true character. It is becoming recognized that the only firm 



CHAP. iL] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 59i 

basis for a reform of our political institutions, is a completa' 
leoi^nization of opinion and of life ; and the way is open for the 
new religious doctrine to direct this work. I have thus explained 
the way in which the social mission of Positivism connects itself 
with the spontaneous changes which are taking place in France, 
the centre of the revolutionary movement. But it would be a 
mistake to suppose that France will be the only scene of these 
reorganizing efforts. Judging on sound historical principles, wfr 
cannot doubt that they will embrace the whole extent of Western 
Europe. 

During the five centuries of revolutionary transition which have- 
elapsed since the Middle Ages, we have lost sight of the fact that 
in all fundamental questions the Western nations form one political 
system. It was under Catholic Feudalism that they were first 
united; a union for which their incorporation into the Eoman 
empire had prepared them, and which was finally organized by the 
incomparable genius of Charlemagne. In spite of national 
diferences, embittered as they were afterwards by theological 
discord, this great Eepublic has in modern times shown intellectual 
and social growth both in the positive and negative direction, to 
wMoh other portions of the human race, even in Europe, can show 
no parallel. The rupture of Catholicism, and the decline of 
Chivalry, at first seriously impaired this feeling of relationship. 
But it soon began to show itself again imder new forms. It rests 
now, though the basis is inadequate, upon the feeling of community i 
in industrial development, in esthetic culture, and in scientific; j 
discovery. Amidst the disorganized state of political affairs, which ' 
have obviously been tending towards some radical change, this 
similarity in civilization has produced a growing conviction that 
we are all participating in one and the same social movement; a 
movement limited as yet to our own family of nations. The first 
step in the great crisis was necessarily taken by the French nation^ 
because it was better prepared than any other. It was there that 
the old order of things had been most thoroughly uprooted, and 
that most had been done in working out the materials of the new. 
But the strong sympathies which the outbreak of our revolution 
aroused in every part of Western Europe, showed that our sister- 
nations were only granting us the honourable post of danger in a 
movement in which all the nobler portion of Humanity was to , 
participate. And this was the feeling proclaimed by the great 
republican assembly in the midst of their war of defence. The- 
military extravagances which followed, and which form tha 
distinguishing feature of the counter-revolution, of course checked 



"60 A GENERAIi VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. n. 

thB feeling of imion on both sides. But so deeply was it rooted 
in aU the antecedents of modern history that peace soon restored 
it to life, in spite of the pertinacious efforts of all parties interested 
in maintaining unnatural separation between France and other 
countries. What greatly facilitates this tendency is the decline of. 
every form of theology, which removes the chief source of former 
disagreement. During the last phase of the counter-revolution, and 
stiU more during the long pause in the political movement which 
followed, each member of the group entered upon a series of 
revolutionary efforts more or less resembling those of the central 
nation. And our recent political changes cannot but strengthen 
this tendency ; though of course with nations less fully prepared 
the results of these efforts have at present been less important than 
in France. Meanwhile it is evident that this uniform condition of 
internal agitation gives increased security for peace, by which its 
extension had been originally facilitated. And thus, although 
there is no organized international union as was the case in the 
Middle Ages, yet the pacific habits and intellectual culture of 
modern life have already been sufficiently diffused to call out an 
instinct of fraternity stronger than any that has ever existed before. 
It is strong enough to prevent the subject of social regeneration 
from being ever regarded as a merely national question. 

And this is the point of view which displays the character of the 
second phase of the Eevolution in its truest light. The first phase, 
although in its results advantageous to the other nations, was 
necessarily conducted as if peculiar to France, because no other 
country was ripe for the original outbreak. Indeed French 
nationality was stimulated by the necessity of resisting the counter- 
revolutionary coalition. But the final and constructive phase 
which has begun now that the national limits of the crisis have 
been reached, should always be regarded as common to the whole 
of Western Europe. For it consists essentially in spiritual 
reorganization ; and the need of this in one shape or other presses 
already with almost equal force upon each of the five nations who 
make up the great Western family. Conversely, the more 
occidental the character of the reforming movement, the greater 
wiU belihe prominence given to intellectual and moral regeneration 
as compared with mere modifications of government, in which of 
course there must be very considerable national differences. The 
first social need of Western Europe is community in belief and in 
habits of life ; and this must be based upon a uniform system of 
education controlled and applied by a spiritual power that shall be 
ajbcepted by all. This want satisfied, the reconstruction of govern- 



CHAP. II.] iHB SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIYISM. 61 

ments may be carrieil out in accordance with the special requirements, 
of each nation. Difference in this respect is legitimate : it will 
not affect the essential imity of the Positivist Eepublic, which will 
be bound together by more complete and durable ties than the 
Catholic Eepublic of the Middle Ages. 

Not only then do we iind from the whole condition of Western . 
Europe that the movement of opinion transcends in importance aU 
political agitation ; but we find that everything points to the 
necessity of establishing a spiritual power, as the sole means of 
directing this free yet systematic reform of opinion and of 
life with the requisite consistency and largeness of view. We now 
see that the old revolutionary prejudice of confounding temporej.; 
and spiritual power is directly antagonistic to social regeneration, 
although it once aided the preparation for it. In the first place it 
stimulates the sense of nationality, which ought to be subordinate 
to larger feelings of international fraternity. And at the same 
time, with the view of satisfying the conditions of uniformity which 
are so obviously required for the solution of the common problem, 
it induces efforts at forcible incorporation of all the nations into- 
one, efibrts as dangerous as they are fruitless. 

My work on Positive Philosophy contains a detailed ,^^ 
historical explanation of what I mean by the expression, lio consists of 
Western Europe. But the conception is one of such spanish,**^- 
importance in relation to the questions of our time, tisii. and Ger- 
that I shall now proceed to enumerate and arrange in Sons, p-oSped 
their order the elements of which this great family of ^'15ieiroenb:°* 
nations consists. 

Since the fall of the Eoman empire, and more especially from 
the time of Charlemagne, France has always been the centre, 
socially as weU as geographically, of this Western region which 
maybe called the nucleus of Humanity. On the one great occasion 
of united political action on the part of Western Europe, that is, 
in the crusades of the 11th and 12th century, it was evidently 
Erance that took the initiative. It is true that when the , 
decomposition of Catholicism began to assume a systematic form, 
the centre of the movement for two centuries shifted its position. | 
It was Germany that gave birth to the metaphysical principles of 
legation. Their first political application was in the Dutch and 
English revolutions, which, incomplete as they were, owing to 
•insufficient intellectual preparation, yet served as preludes to the 
great final crisis. These preludes were most important, as showing 
the real social tendency of the critical doctrinesi But it was 
leseFved for France to co-ordinate these doctrines into a consistent. 



■62 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

system and. to propagate tliein successfully. France then resumed 
her position as the principal centre in which the great moral and 
political questions -were to be worked out. And this position she 
wUl iu all probability retain; as in fact it is only a recurrence to 
the normal organization of the Western Eepublic, which had been 
temporarily modified to meet special conditions. A fresh displace- 
ment of the centre of the social movement is not to be expected, 
unless in a future too distant to engage our attention. It can 
indeed only be the result of wide extension of our advanced 
•civilization beyond European limits, as will be explained in the 
conclusion of this work. 

North and south of this natural centre, we find two pairs of 
nations, between which France will always form an intermediate 
link, partly from her geographical position, and also from her 
language and manners. The first pair is for the most part Protes- 
tant. It comprises, first, the great Germanic body, with the 
numerous nations that may be regarded as its offshoots ; especiaJly 
( Holland, which, since the Middle Ages, has been in every respect 
the most advanced portion of Germany. Secondly, Great Britain, 
with which may be classed the United States, notwithstanding 
their present attitude of rivalry. The second pair is exclusively 
Catholic. It consists of the great Italian nationality, which in 
spite of political divisions has always maintained its distinct 
character ; and of the population of the Spanish Peninsula (for 
Portugal, sociologically considered, is not to be separated from 
Spain), which has so largely increased the Western family by its 
colonies. To complete the conception of this group of advanced 
.^nations, we must add two accessory members, Greece and Poland, 
countries which, though situated in Eastern Europe, are connected 
with the West, the one by ancient history, the other by modern. 
Besides these, there are various intermediate nationalities which I 
need not now enumerate, connecting or demarcating the more 
important branches of the family. 

In this vast Eepublic it is that the new philosophy is to find its 
sphere of intellectual and moral action. It will endeavour so to 
modify the initiative of the central nation, by the reacting influences 
•of the other four, as to give increased efficiency to the general 
movement. It is a task eminently calculated to test the social 
capabilities of Positivism, and for which no other system is 
qualified. The metaphysical spirit is as unfit for it as the theolo- 
gical. The rupture of the mediaeval system is due to the decadence 
of theology : but the direct agency in the rupture was the solvent 
iorce of the metaphysical spirit. Neither the one nor the other 



■CHAP. XI.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 63 

then is likely to recombine elements the separation of which is 
principally due to their own conceptions. It is entirely to the 
spontaneous action of the Positive spirit that we owe those new 
though insufficient links of union, whether industrial, artistic, or 
scientific, which, since the close of the Middle Ages, have been 
leading us more and more decidedly to a reconstruction of the 
Western alliance. And now that Positivism has assumed its 
matured and sycAematic form, its competence for the work is even 
more unquestionable. It alone can effectually remove the national 
antipathies which still exist. But it wUl do this without impairing 
the natiiral qualities of any of them. Its object is by a wise com- 
bination of these qualities, to develop under a new form the feel- 
ing of a common Occidentality. 

By extending the social movement to its proper p^^^'™ ?! 
limits, we thus exhibit on a larger scale the same the medissTai 
features that were noticed when France alone was w^h'we owe 
being considered. Abroad or at home, every great the first at- 
social problem that arises proves that the object of the rate spiritS 
second revolutionary phase is a reorganization of prin- *™™ temporal 
ciples and of Hfe. By this means a body of public 
opinion mil be formed of sufficient force to lead gradually to the 
growth of new political institutions. These will be adapted to the 
special requirements of each nation, under the general superinten- 
dence of the spiritual power, from whom our fundamental 
principles will have proceeded. The general spirit of these prin- 
ciples is essentially historical, whereas the tendency of the negative 
phase of the revolution was anti-historical. Without blind hatred 
of the past, men would never have had sufficient energy to abandon 
the old system. But henceforth the best evidence of having 
attained complete emancipation wiU be the rendering full justice to 
the past in aU its phases. This is the most characteristic feature 
of that relative spirit which distinguishes Positivism. The surest 
sign of superiority, whether in persons or systems, is fair apprecia- 
tion of opponents. And this must always be the tendency of 
social science when rightly understood, since its prevision of the 
future is avowedly based upon systematic examination of the past. 
It is the only way in which the free and yet universal adoption of 
general principles of social reconstruction can ever be possible. 
Such reconstruction, viewed by the light of Sociology, will be 
regarded as a necessary link in the series of hiunan development ; 
and thus many confused and incoherent notions suggested by the 
arbitrary beliefs hitherto prevalent will finaUy disappear. The 
growth of public opinion in this respect is aided by the increasing 



64 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [oBsv. O. 

strength of social feeling. Both combine to encourage the historical 
spirit which distinguishes the second period of the Eevolutionj as 
•we see indicated already in so many of the popular sympathiea' of 
the day. 

Acting on this principle, Positivists will always acknowledgB 
the close relation between their own system and the memorable 
effort of mediBBval Catholicism. In offering for the acceptance of 
Humanity a new organization of life, we would not dissociate it 
with all that has gone before. On the contrary, it is our boast 
that we are but proposing for her maturity the accomplishment etf 
the noble effort of her youth, an effort made when intellectual and 
social conditions precluded the possibility of success. We are too 
I full of the future to fear any serious charge of retrogression towards 
the past. It would be strange were such a charge to proceed from 
those of our opponents whose political ideal is that amalgamation 
of temporal and spiritual power which was adopted by the theo- 
cratic or military systems of antiquity. 

The separation of these powers in the Middle Ages is the 
■greatest advance ever yet made in the theory of social Order. It 
was imperfectly effected, because the time was not ripe for it ; but 
enough was done to show the object of the separation, and some of 
its principal results were partially arrived at. It originated the 
fundamental doctrine of modern social life, the subordination of 
Politics to Morals ; a doctrine which in spite of the most obstinate 
resistance has survived the decline of the religion which first 
proclaimed it. We see it now sanctioned by a republican govern- 
ment which has shaken off the fetters of that religion more com- 
pletely than any other. A further result of the separation is the 
keen sense of personal honour, combined with general fraternity, 
which distinguishes Western nations, especially those who have 
been preserved from Protestantism. To the same source is duo 
the genera] feeling that men should be judged by their intellectual 
and moral worth, irrespectively of social positio>, yet without 
upsetting that subordination of classes which is rendered necessary 
by till) lequirements of practical life. And this has accustomed all 
clashes to free discussion of moral and even of political questions ; 
since every one feels it a right and a diity to judge actions and 
persons by the general principles which a common system of educa- 
tiiiu has inculcated alike on alL I need not enlarge on the value 
of the mediaeval church in organising the political system of West- 
ern Europe, in which there was no other recognised prinoipl6-of 
uniun. All these social results are usually attributed to the 
exciiUence of the Christian doctrine ; but history when fairly 



CHAP. 11.] THE SOCIAIi ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 65 

examined shews that the source from which they are principally 
derived is the Catholic principle of separating the two powers. 
For these effects are nowhere visihle except in the countries where 
this separation has heen effected, although a similar code of morals 
and indeed a faith identically the same have been received elsewhere. 
Besides, although sanctioned by the general tone of modem life, 
they have been neutralised to a considerable extent by the decline 
of the Catholic organization, and this especially in the countries 
where the greatest efforts have been made to restore the doctrine to 
its original purity and power. 

In these respects Positivism has already appreciated Catholicism > 
more fully, than any of its own defenders, not even excepting De 
Maistre himself, as indeed some of the more candid organs of the 
retrograde school have allowed. But the merit of Catholicism does 
not merely depend on the fact that it forms a most important link 
in the series of human development. What adds to the glory of 
its efforts is that, a s history clearly .proves , they were in advance of 
their time. The political failure of Catholicism resulted from the 
imperfection of its doctrines, and the resistance of the social 
medium in which it worked. It is true that Monotheism is far 
more compatible with the separation of powers than Polytheism. 
But from the absolute character of every kind of theology, there | 
was always a tendency in the mediaeval system to degenerate into 
mere theocracy. In fact, the proximate cause of its decline was 
the increased development of this tendency in the fourteenth 
century, and the resistance which it provoked among the kings, 
who stood forward to represent the general voice of condemnation. 
Again, though separation of powers was less difficult in the defensive 
system of mediaeval warfare than in the aggressive system of 
antiquity, yet it is thoroughly repugnant to the military spirit in 
all its phases, because adverse to that concentration of authority 
which is requisite in war. And thus it was never thoroughly 
realised, except in the conceptions of a few leading men among 
both the spiritual and temporal class. Its brief success was princi- 
pally caused by a temporary combination of circumstances. It was 
for the most part a condition of very unstable equilibrium, oscilla- 
ting between theocracy and empire. 

But Positive civilization wiU accomplish what in the ^"^'^attel^t 
Middle Ages could only be attempted. We are aided, was prema- 
not merely by the example of the- Middle Ages, but S^j^"^' 
by the preparatory labours of the last five centuries, new and com- 
New modes of thought have arisen, and practical life 
has assumed new phases ; and all are alie tending towards the 

5 



66 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHAP. ll. 

separation of powers. Wiat in the Middle Ages was tut dimly- 
foreseen by a few ardent and aspiring minds, becomes now an 
inevitable and obvious result, instinctively felt and formally 
recognised by aU. From the intellectual point of view, it is 
nothing more than the distinction between theory and practice ; a 
distinction which is already admitted more or less formally 
throughout civilized Europe in subjects of less importance ; which 
therefore it would be unreasonable to abandon in the most difficult 
of all arts and sciences. Viewed socially, it implies the separation 
of education from action ; or of morals from politics ; and few 
would deny that the maintenance of this separation is one of the 
greatest blessings of our progressive civilisation. The distinction 
is of equal importance to morality and to liberty. It is the only 
way of bringing opinion and conduct under the control of principle; 
for the most obvious application of a principle has little weight 
when it is merely an act of obedience to a special command. 
Taking the more general question of bringing our political forces 
into Imrmony, it seems clear that theoretical and practical power 
are so totally distinct in origin and operation, whether in relation 
to the heart, inteUeot, or character, that the functions of counsel 
and of command ought never to belong to the same organs. All 
attempts to unite them are at once retro^'ade and visionary, 
and if successful would lead to the iutolerable government of 
mediocrities equally unfit for either kind of power. But as I shall 
show in the following chapters this principle of separation will 
soon find increasing support among women and the working 
classes ; the two elements of society in which we find the greatest 
amount of good sense and right feeling. 

Modern society is, in fact,, already ripe for the adoption of this 
fundamental principle of poEty ; and the opposition to it proceeds 
almost entirely from its connection with the doctrines of the 
mediaeval church which have now become deservedly obsolete. 
But there wiU be an end of these revolutionary prejudices among 
all' impartial observers as soon as the principle is seen embodied in 
Positivism, the only doctrine which is wholly disconnected with 
Theology. All human conceptions, all social improvements 
originated under theological influence, as we see proved clearly in 
many of the humblest details of life. But this has never prevented 
Humanity from finally appropriating to herself the results of the 
creeds which she has outgrown. And so it will be with this great 
political principle ; it has already become obsolete except for the 
Positive schoolj which has verified inductively aU the minor truths 
implied in it The only direct attacks against it come from the 



CHAP. IL] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 67' 

metaphysicians, ■whose ambitious aspirations for absolute authority 
would be thwarted by it. It is they who attempt to fasten on 
Bositivism the stigma of theocracy : a strange and in most cases 
disingenuous reproach, seeing that Positivists are distinguished 
firom their opponents by discarding all beliefs which supersede the 
necessity for discussion. The fact is that serious disturbances will 
soon be caused by the pertinacious efforts of these adherents of 
pedantocracy to regulate by law what ought to be left to moral 
influences ; and then the public will become more aUve to the 
necessity of the Positivist doctrine of systematically separating 
political from moral government. The latter should be understood 
to rely exclusively on the forces of conviction and persuasion ; its 
influence on action being simply that of counsel; whereas the 
fonner employs direct compulsion, based upon superiority of physi- 
cal force. 

We now understand what is meant by the constructive character 
of the second revolutionary phase. It implies a union of the social 
aspirations of the Middle Ages with the wise political instincts of 
the Convention. In the interval of these two periods the more 
advanced nations were without any systematic organization, and 
were abandoned to the two-fold process of transition, which was 
decomposing the old order and preparing the new. Both these 
greliminary steps are now sufficiency accomplished. The desire 
for social regeneration has become too strong to be resisted, and a 
philosophical system capable of directing it has already arisen. 
We may, therefore, recommence on a better intellectual and social 
basis the great effort of Catholicism, to bring Western Europe to a 
social system of peaceful activity and intellectual culture, in which 
Thought and Action should be subordinated to universal Love. 
Eeconstniction wUl begin at the points where demolition began 
previously. The dissolution of the old organism began in th» 
fourteenth century by the destruction of its international char- 
acter. Conversely, reorganisation begins by satisfying the intel- 
lectual and moral wants common to the five Western nations. 

And here, since the object of this chapter is to _ ^ Ethical 
Qxplaia the social value of Positivism, I may show system of ro- 
briefly that it leads necessarily to the formation of a ^''™™- 
definite system of universal Morality; this being the ultimate 
object of all Philosophy, and the starting point of all Polity. 
Since it is by its moral code that every spiritual power must be 
principally tested, this will be the best mode of judging of the 
relative merits of Positivism aikd Catholicism. 

To the Positivist the object of Morals is to make our seJi-ioyetoSo- 



68 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap, iu 

'^^t'^^tt'^i sympatlietic instincts preponderate as far as possible- 
problem. The over the selfish instincts ; social feelings over personal 
S^ fOTou?f feelings. This way of viewing the subject is peculiar 
thia result; but to the new philosophy, for no other system has in- 
tend' by ''or- eluded the more recent additions to the theory of 
ganized and imiQan nature, of which Catholicism gave so imper- 

coDBcious ei- „ , J - 

fort. feet a representation. 

It is one of the first principles of Biology that 
organic life always preponderates over animal life. By this 
principle the Sociologist explains the superior strength of the- 
self -regarding instincts, since these are all connected more or less 
closely with the instinct of self-preservation. But although there 
is no evading this fact, Sociology shows that it is compatible with- 
the existence of benevolent affections, affections which Catholicism 
had asserted to be altogether alien to our nature, and to be entirely 
dependent on superhuman Grace derived from a sphere beyond the 
reach of Law. The great problem, then, is to raise social feeling 
by artificial effort to the position which, in the natural condition, is 
held by selfish feeling. The solution is to be found in another 
biological principle, namely, that functions and organs are de- 
veloped by constant exercise, and atrophied by prolonged inaction. 
Now the effect of the Social state is, that while our sympathetic 
instincts are constantly stimulated, the selfish propensities are 
restricted; since, if free play were given to them, human inter- 
course would very shortly become impossible. Thus it compensates 
to some extent the natural weakness of the Sympathies that they 
are capable of almost indefinite extension, whilst Self-love meets 
inevitably with a more or less efficient check. Both these ten- 
dencies naturally increase with the progress of Humanity, and 
their increase is the best measure of the degree of perfection that 
we have attained. Their growth, though spontaneous, may be 
materially hastened by organized intervention, both of individuals 
and of society, the object being to increase all favourable influences 
and duninish the unfavourable. This is the object of the art Of 
Morals. Like every other art, it is restricted within certain limits. 
But in this case the limits are less narrow, because the phenomena, 
being more complex, are also more modifiable. 

Positive morality differs therefore from that of theological as 
well as of metaphysical systems. Its primary principle is the 
preponderance of Social Sympathy. Full and free expansion- of 
the benevolent emotions is made the first condition of individual 
and social well being, since these emotions are at once the sweetest 
to experience, and are the only feelings which can find expression 



■CHAP, ii] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 69 

■simultaneously in all. The doctrine is as deep and pure as it is 
simple and true. It is eminently characteristic of a philosophy 
•which, by virtue of its attribute of reality, subordinates all scien- 
tific conceptions to the social point of view, as the sole point from 
■which they can be co-ordinated into a ■whole. The intuitive 
methods of metaphysics could never advance with any consistency 
beyond the sphere of the individual. Theology, especially Chris- 
tian theology, could only rise to social conceptions by an indirect 
process, forced upon it, not by its principles, but by its practical 
functions. Intrinsically, its spirit was altogether personal; the 
highest object placed before each individual was the attainment of 
his own salvation, and aU human affections were made subordinate 
to the love of God. It is true that the first training of our higher 
feelings is due to theological systems ; but their moral value 
depended mainly on the wisdom of the priesthood. They com- 
pensated the defects of their doctrine, and at that time no better 
doctrine was available, by taking advantage of the antagonism 
which naturally presented itself between the interests of the 
imaginary and those of the real world. The moral value of 
Positivism on the contrary, is inherent in its doctrine, and can be 
largely developed, independently of any spiritual discipline, though 
not so far as to dispense with the necessity for such discipline. 
Thus, while Morality as a science is made far more consistent by 
being placed in its true connection ■with the rest of our knowledge, 
the sphere of natural morality is widened by bringing human life, 
indi-vidually and collectively, under the direct and continuous 
influence of Social Feeling. 

I have stated that Positive morality is brought into jntennediatB 
a coherent and systematic form by its principle of between seii-f 
•universal love. This principle must now be examined Tersafbenerol 
first in its application to the separate aspects of the lence are the 
subject, and subsequently as the means by which the uona : filial, 
various parts may be co-ordinated. jS^^™*'i^I 

There are three successive states of morality answer- nal 
ing to the three principal stages of human life; the 
personal, the domestic, and the social stage. The succession 
represents the gradual training of the sympathetic principle ; it is 
drawn out step by step by a series of affections which, as it 
•diminishes in intensity, increases in dignity. This series foims 
our best resource in attempting as far as possible to reach the 
normal state; subordination of self-love to social feeling. These 
are the two extremes in the scale of human affections; but between 
them there is an intermediate degree, namely, domestic attach- 



^0 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CH4P. ll. 

ment, and it is on this 'that the solution of the great moral problem 
depends. The love of his family leads Man out of his original 
state of Self-love and enables him to attain finally a sufficient 
measure of Social love. Every attempt on the part of the moral 
educator to call this last into immediate action, regardless of the 
intermediate stage, is to be condemned as utterly chimerical and 
profoundly injurious. Such attempts are regarded in the present 
day with far too favourable an eye. Far from being a sign of 
social progress, they would, if successful, be an immense step 
backwards; since the feeling which inspires them is one of per- 
verted admiration for antiquity. 

Since the importance of domestic life is so great as a transition 
from selfish to social feeling, a systematic view of its relations will 
be the best mode of explaining the spirit of Positive morality, 
which is in every respect based upon the order found in nature. 

The first germ of social feeling is seen in the affection of the 
child for its parents. FUial love is the starting-point of our moral 
I education : from it springs the instinct of Continuity, and conse- 
1 quently of reverence for our ancestors. It is the first tie by which 
the new being feels himself bound to the whole past history of 
Man. Brotherly love comes next, implanting the instinct of 
"Solidarity, that is to say of union with our contemporaries ; and 
thus we have already a sort of outline of social existence. With 
maturity new phases of feeling are developed. Eelationships are 
formed of an entirely voluntary nature; which have therefore a 
still more social character than the involuntary ties of earlier years. 
This second stage in moral education begins with conjugal affec- 
tion, the most important of aU, in which perfect fullness of devo- 
tion is secured by the reciprocity and indissolubility of the bond. 
It is the highest type of all sympathetic instincts, and has appro- 
priated to itself in a special sense the name of Love. From this 
most perfect of -unions proceeds the last in the series of domestic 
sympathies, parental love. It completes the training by which 
Nature prepares us for universal sympathy : for it teaches lis to 
care for our successors; and thus it binds us to the Future, as 
filial love had bound us to the Past. 

I placed the voluntary class of domestic sympathies after the 
involuntary, because it was the natural order of individual develop- 
ment, and it thus bore out my statement of the necessity of family 
life as an intermediate stage between personal and social life. But 
in treating more directly of the theory of the Family as the consti- 
tuent element of the body politic, the inverse order should be 
followed. In that case conjugal attachment would come first, as 



CHiP. n.] TSE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 71 

being the feeling tlirougli wMcli the family comes into existence as 
a new social tmit, which in many cases consists simply of the 
original pair. Domestic sympathy, when once formed hy marriage, 
is perpetuated first by parental then by filial affection ; it may 
afterwards be developed by the tie of brotherhood, the only relation 
by which different families can be brought into direct contact. 
The order followed here is that of decrease in intensity, and 
increase in extension. The feeling of fraternity, which I place last, 
because it is usually least powerful, will be seen to be of primary 
importance when regarded as the transition from domestic to soci^ 
affections; it is, indeed, the natural type to which all social 
sympathies conform. But there is yet another "intermediate rela- 
tion, without which this brief exposition of the theory of the 
family would be incomplete; I mean the relation of household 
servitude, which may be called indifferently domestic or social. It 
is a relation which at the present time is not properly appreciated 
on account of our dislike to aU subjection ; and yet the word 
domestic is enough to remind us that in every normal state of 
Humanity, it supplies what would otherwise be a want in house- 
hold relations. Its value lies in completing the education of the 
social instinct, by a special apprenticeship in obedience and 
command, both being subordinated to the universal principle of 
mutual sympathy. 

The object of the preceding remarks was to show the efiicacy of 
the Positive method in moral questions by applying it to the most 
important of all moral theories, the theory of theFamily. For 
more detailed proof, I must refer fo myTreatise oiT'^Tositive 
Polity," to which this work is introductory. I would call atten- 
tion, however, to the beneficial influence of Positivism on personal 
moraUty. Actions which hitherto had always been referred even 
by Catholic philosophers to personal interests, are now brought 
under the. great principle of Love on which the whole Positive 
doctrine is based. 

Feelings are only to be developed by constant Personal vir- 

o J _ r J ,tue3 placed 

exercise ; and exercise is most necessary wnen the upon a social 
intrinsic energy of the feeling is least. It is therefore '^'^" 
quite contrary to the true spirit of moral education to degrade 
duty in questions of personal morality to a mere calculation of self- 
interest. Of course, in this elementary part of Ethics, it is easier 
to estimate the consequences of actions, and to show the personal 
utility of the rules enjoined. But this method of procedure 
inevitably stimulates the self-regarding propensities, which are 
"already too preponderant, and the exercise of which might as far as 



72 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap, ii, 

possible to be discouraged. Besides, it often results in practical 
failure. To leave the decision of such questions to the judgment, 
of the individual, is to give a formal sanction to all the natural 
1 differences in men's inclinations. When the only motive urged is 
\ consideration for personal consequences, every one feels himself to 
\ be the best judge of these, and modifies the rule at his pleasure, 
j Positivism, guided by a truer estimate of the facts, entirely 
' remodels this elementary part of Ethics. Its appeal is to social 
I feeling, and not to personal, since the actions in question are of a 
\ kind in which the individual is far from being the only person 
' interested. For example, such virtues as temperance and chastity 
i are inculcated by the Positivist on other grounds than those of 
^ their personal advantages. He will not of course be blind to their 
individual value ; but this is an aspect on which he will not dwell 
too much, for fear of concentrating attention on self-interest. At 
all events, he will never make it the basis of his precepts, but will 
invariably rest thorn upon their social value. There are cases in 
which men are preserved by an unusually strong constitution from 
the injurious effects of intemperance or libertinage ; but such men 
are bound to sobriety and continence as rigorously as the rest, 
because without these virtues they cannot perform their social 
duties rightly. Even in the commonest of personal virtues, clean- 
liness, this alteration in the point of view may be made with 
I ': advantage. A simple sanitary regulation is thus ennobled by 
, knowing that the object of it is to make each one of us moTe fit 
' for the service of others. In this way and in no other, can moral 
education assume its true character at the very outset. We shall 
become habituated to the feeling of subordination to Humanity, 
even in our smallest actions. It is in these that we should be 
trained to gain the mastery over the lower propensities ; and the 
more so that, in these simple cases, it is less difficult to appreciate 
their consequences. 
I The influence of Positivism on personal morality is in itself 
. a proof of its superiority to other systems. Its superiority in 
domestic morality we have already seen, and yet this was 
the best aspect of Catholicism, forming indeed the principal basis 
of its admirable moral code. On social morality strictly so called, 
I need not dwell at length. Here the value of the new philosophy 
will be more direct and obvious, the fact of its standing at the 
social point of view being the very feature which distinguishes 
it from all other systems. In defining the mutual duties arising 
from the various relations of life, or again in giving solidity 
and extension to the instinct of our common fraternity, neithet 



«HAP. IL] THE SOCIAIi ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 73 

theological nor metaphysical morality can hear comparison ■with 
Positivism. Its precepts are adapted without difficulty to tho 
special requirements of each case, hecause they are ever in harmony 
with the general laws of society and of human nature. But on these 
ohvious characteristics of Positivism I need not farther enlarge, as 
I shall have other occasions for referring to them. 

After this brief exposition of Positive morality I must allude 
with equal brevity to the means by which it will be established and 
applied. These are of two kinds. The first lay down the founder 
tions of moral training for each individual : they furnish principles, 
-and they regulate feelings. The second carry out the work begun, 
and ensure the application of the principles inculcated to practical 
lifa Both these functions are in the first instance performed 
-spontaneously, under the influence of the doctrine and of the 
.sympathies evoked by it. But for their adequate performance 
:a spiritual power specially devoted to the purpose is necessary. 

The moral education of the Positivist is based both. Moral edu- 
upon Eeason and on Feeling, the latter having alwaysj SSS^'rf'^^ 
the preponderance, in accordance with the primary entiflcdemon- 
j)rinciple of the system. _ ... I SuSd" truth! 

The result of the rational basis is to bring moral i""* «™ ""o" 
precepts to the test of rigorous demonstration, and to the highest 
secure them against all danger from discussion, by sympat^es. 
showing that they rest upon the laws of our individual and social 
nature. By knowing these laws, we are enabled to form a 
judgment of the influence of each affection, thought, action, or 
habit, be that influence direct or indirect, special or general, 
in private life or in public. Convictions based upon such know- 
ledge wUl be as deep as any that are formed in the present day 
from the strictest scientific evidence, with that excess of intensity 
due to their higher importance and their close connection with our 
noblest feelings. Nor will such convictions be limited to those who 
are able to appreciate the logical value of the arguments.. We see 
constantly in other departments of Positive science that men will 
Adopt notions upon trust, and cany them out with the same zeal 
and confidence, as if they were thoroughly acquainted with all 
the grounds for their belief. All that is necessary is, that they 
should feel satisfied that their confidence is well bestowed, the 
fact being, in spite of all that is said of the independence of modern 
thought, that it is often given too readily. The most willing 
assent is yielded every day to the rules which mathematicians, 
.astronomers, physicists, chemists, or biologists, have laid down in 
iiieir respective arts, even in cases where the greatest interests are 



74 A GENEEAIi VIEW OF POSITIVISM. i[CHAP. a, 

at stake. And similar assent will certainly be accord*! -to moral 
rules when they, like the rest, shaU be acknowledged to be suscep- 
tible of scientific proof. 

But while using the force of demonstration to an extent hitherto 
impossible, Positivists wiU take care not to exaggerate its import- 
ance. Moral education, even in its more systematic parts, should 
rest principally upon Feeling, as ttie mere statement of the great 
human problem indicates. The study of moral questions, intellect- 
ually speaking, is most valuable; but the effect it leaves is not 
directly moral, since the analysis wiU refer, not to our own actions, 
^1 but to those of others ; for aU scientific investigations, to be im^ 
partial and free from confusion, must be objective, not subjective. 

( Now to judge others without immediate reference to self, is a 
process which may possibly result in strong convictions ; but so far 

I from calling out right feelings, it will, if carried too far, interfere 

' with, or check their natural development. However, the new school 
of moralists is the less likely to err ia this direction, that it would 
be totally iaconsistent with that profound knowledge of human 
nature in which Positivism has already shown itself so far superior 
-to Catholicism. No one knows so well as the Positivist that the 

j principal source of real morality lies in direct exercise of our social 

' sympathies, whether systematic or spontaneous. He will spare no 
efforts to develop these sympathies from the earliest years by every 
method which sound philosophy can indicate. It is in this that 
moral education, whether private or public, principally consists ; 
and to it mental education is always to be held subordinate. I 
shall revert to these remarks in the next chapter, when I come to- 
-the general question of educating the People. 

But however efiBcient the training received in youth, Organization 
it will not be enough to regulate our conduct in after J^o^*'"" ^^^' 
years, amidst aU the distracting influences of practical 

\ life, unless the same spiritual power which provides the education 
prolong its influence over our maturity. Part of its task wUl be 
to recall individualSj classes, and even nations, when the case 
iiequires it, to principles which they have forgotten or misinter- 
;preted,-and to instruct them in the means of applying them wisely. 

^ And here, even more than in the work of education strictly 
so called, the appeal will be to Feeling rather than to pure Eeason-. 
' Its force will be derived from Public Opinion strongly organized. 
If the spiritual power awards its praise and blame justly, public 
.opinion, as I shall show in the next chapter, will lend it the most 
irresistible support. This moral action of Humanity upon each of 
her members has always existed whenever there was any real com- 



CHAP. II.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 75- 

nninity of principles and feelings. But its strength wiU Tdb far 
greater tinder the Positive system. The reality of the doctrine 
and the social character of modern civilization give advantages 
to the new spiritual power which were denied to Catholicism. 
Commemora- ^^^ *^®®® advantages are hrought forward very 
,tion of great prominently by the Positive system of commemoTatioin; 
"°°' Commemoration, when regularly instituted, is 'a most s 

valuable instrument in the hands of a spiritual power for continuing ' 
/the work of moral education. It was the absolute character of 
'Catholicism, even more than the defective state of mediaeval society^ 
that caused the failure of its noble aspirations to become the uni-^ 
versal religion. In spite of all its efforts, its system of commemora- 
ition has always been restricted to very narrow limits, both in time 
and space. Outside these limits, Catholicism has always shown the 
same blindness and injustice that it now complains of receiving 
from its own opponents. Positivism, on the contrary, can yield ' 
^ihe fuU measure of praise to all times and all countries, without 
-either weakness or inconsistency. Possessing the true theory of 
human development, every mode and phase of that development 
Tvfll be celebrated. Thus every moral precept wiU be supported by 
"the influence of posterity ; and this in private life as well as ia 
/.public, for the system of commemoration will be applied in the 
same spirit to the humblest services as well as to the highest. 

While reserving special details for the treatise to which this 
work is introductory, I may yet give one illustration of this import- 
ant aspect of Positivism ; an illustration which probably wiU be 
the first step in the practical application of the system. I would 
Jpropose to institute in Western Europe on any days that may be 
"thought suitable, the yearly celebration of the three greatest of our- 
predecessors, Caesar, St. Paul, and Charlemagne, who are respectively -^ 
the highest types of Greco-Eoman civilization, of Mediaeval Feud- 
alism, and of Catholicism which forms the link between the two- 
periods. The services of these illustrious men have never yet been 
adequately recognised, for want of a sound historical theory enabling 
us to explaia the prominent part which they played in the develop- 
ment of our race. Even in St. Paul's case the omission is notice- 
able. Positivism gives him a still higher place than has been given 
him by Theology ; for it looks upon him as historically the founder ] 
of the religion which bears the inappropriate name of Christianity. / 
In the other two cases the iniiuence of Positive principles is even 
fmore necessary. Por Csesar has been almost equally misjudged by 
theological and by metaphysical writers ; and Catholicism has done- 
"very little for the appreciation of Charlemagne. However, not- 



76 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

withstanding the absence of any systematic appreciation of these 
great men, yet from the reverence with which they are generally 
regarded, we can hardly doubt that the celebration here proposed 
would meet with ready acceptance throughout Western Europe. 

To illustrate my meaning stUl further, I may observe that his- 
tory presents cases where exactly the opposite course is called for, 
and which should be held up not for approbation but for infamy. 
Blame, it is true, should not be carried to the same extent as praise, 
because it stimulates the destructive instincts to a degree which is 
always painful and sometimes iajurious. Yet strong condemnation 
/is occasionally desirable. It strengthens social feelings and princi- 
-ples, if only by giving more significance to our approval. Thus I 
would suggest that after doing honour to the three great men who 
have done so much to promote the development of our race, there 
should be a solemn reprobation of the two priacipal opponents of 
. progress, Julian and Bonaparte ; the latter being the more criminal 
of the two, the former the more insensate. Their influence has 
been sufficiently extensive to allow of all the Western nations join- 
ing in this damnatory verdict.* 

The principal function of the spiritual power is to direct the 
future of society by means of education ; and, as a supplementary 
part of education, to pronounce judgment upon the past in the 
mode here indicated. But there are functions of another kind, 
relating more immediately to the present; and these too result 
naturally from its position as an educating body. If the educa- 
tors are men worthy of their position, it will give them an influence 
over the whole course of practical life, whether private or public. 
Of course it will merely be the influence of counsel, and practical 
men wUl be free to accept or reject it ; but its weight may be very 
-considerable when given prudently, and when the authority from 
which it proceeds is recognized as competent. The questions 
on which its advice is most needed are the relations between 
•different classes. Its action will be coextensive with the diffusion 
of Positive principles ; for nations professing the same faith, and 
sharing in the same education, wUl naturally accept the same intel- 
lectual and moral directors. In the next chapter I shall treat 
this subject more in detail. I merely mention it here as one 
among the list of functions belonging to the new spiritual power. 

The political ■'-* '^^ ^°^ ^°* ^® difficult to show that aU. the 
■motto of Pc8i- characteristics of Positivism are summed up in its 
«md R^ogress.'^ motto. Order and Progress, a motto which has a 

• On reconsideration, Comtc saw fit to withdraw this proposaL See Positive Polity, 
■vol. iv.,oh. 6., p. 361. 



CHAP. iL] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 77" 

philosopliical as well as political bearing, and -which I shall always 
feel glad to have put forward. 

Positivism is the only school which has given a definite signifi- 
cance to these two conceptions, whether regarded from their scientific 
or their social aspect. "With regard to Progress, the assertion will 
hardly he disputed, no definition of it but the Positive ever having 
yet been given. In the case of Order, it is less apparent ; but, as I 
have shown ia the first chapter, it is no less profoundly true. All 
previous philosophies had regarded Order as stationary, a conception 
which rendered it whoUy inapplicable to modern politics. But 
Positivism, by rejecting the absolute, and yet not introducing the - 
arbitrary, represents Order in a totally new light, and adapts it to 
our progressive civilization. It places it on the firmest possible 
foundation, that is, on the doctrine of the invariability of the laws 
of nature, which defends it against aU danger from subjective^ 
chimeras. The Positivist regards artificial Order in Social pheno- 
mena, as in all others, as resting necessarily upon the Order of 
nature, in other words, upon the whole series of natural laws. 

But Order has to be reconciled with Progress : and 
here Positivism is stiU more obviously without a rival. deTeiopment 
.B'eoessary as the reconciliation is, no other system has "^ °'''*"- 
even attempted it. But the facility with which we are now 
enabled, by the encyclopaedic scale, to pass from the simplest 
mathematical phenomena to the most complicated phenomena of 
political life, leads at once to a solution of the problem. Viewed, 
scientifically, it is an instance of that necessary correlation of exist- 
ence and movement, which we find indicated in the inorganic 
world, and which becomes stiU more distinct in Biology. Finding 
it in all the lower sciences, we are prepared for its appearance in a. 
stiU more definite shape in Sociology. Here its practical importance 
becomes more obvious, though it had been implicitly involved 
before. In Sociology the correlation assumes this form : Order la- 
the condition of all Progress; Progress is always the object of 
Order. Or, to penetrate the question still more deeply. Progress 
may be regarded simply as the development of Order; for the- 
order of nature necessarily contains within itself the germ of all 
possible progress. The rational view of human affairs is to look oa 
all their changes, not as new Creations, but as new Evolutions. 
And we find this principle fuUy borne out in history. Every social 
innovation has its roots in the past; and the rudest phases of! 
savage life show the primitive trace of aU subsequent improvement.' 
Analysis of Progress then is in its essence 'identical with Order,, 
teriST^phj^i- and may be looked upon as Order made manifest 



7.8 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. u. 

<»r,4ntenecta- Therefore, in explaining this double conception on 
ai, and moral. Tyj^idj the Science and Art of society depend, we may 
at present limit ourselves to the analysis of Progress. Thus sim- 
plified it is more easy to grasp, especially now that the novelty and 
importance of the question of Progress are attracting so much 
■attention. Por the public is becoming instinctively alive to 
its real significance, as the basis on which all sound moral and poli- 
tical teaching must henceforth rest. 

Taking, then, this point of view, we may say that the one great 
object. of Hfe, personal and social, is to become more perfect in 
■every way ; in our external condition first, but also, and more 
especially, in our own nature. The first kind of Progress we share 
in common with the higher animals; all of which make some efforts 
to improve their material position. It is of course the least 
elevated stage of progress; but being the easiest, it is the point from 
which we start towards the higher stages. A nation that has 
made no efforts to improve itself materially, wiU take but little 
interest in moral or mental improvement. This is the only ground 
on which enlightened men can feel much pleasure in the material 
progress of our own times. It stirs up influences that tend to th& 
nobler kinds of Progress ; influences which would meet with even 
greater opposition than they do, were not the temptations presented 
to the coarser natures by material prosperity so irresistible. Owing_ 
to the mental and moral anarchy in which we live, systematic efforts 
to gain the higher degrees of Progress are as yet impossible ; and 
this explains, though it does not justify, the exaggerated importance 
attributed nowadays to material improvements. But the only kinds 
of improvement really characteristic of Humanity are those whicli 
concern our own nature ; and even here we are not quite alone ; for 
several of the higher animals show some slight tendencies to, 
improve themselves physically. 

Progress in the higher sense includes improvements of three 
sorts ; that is to say, it may be Physical, InteDectual^ or Moral 
progress ; the difficulty of each class being in proportion to its 
value and the extent of its sphere. Physical progress, which again 
might be divided on the same principle, seems under some of its 
■aspects almost the same thing as material. But regarded as a whole 
it is far more important and far more difficult : its influence on the 
weU-being of Man is also much greater. "We gain more, for 
instance, by the smallest addition to length of life, or by any 
increased security for health, than by the most elaborate improve- 
ments in our modes of travelling by land or water, in which birds 
will probably always have a great advantage over us. However, 



•CHAP, n.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM:. 79 

as I said before, physical progress is not exclusively confined to 
Man. Some of the aninials, foi instance, advance as far as deaoli- 
ness, which is the first step in the progressive scale. 

Intellectual and Moial progress, then, is the only kind really 
distinctive of our race. Individual animals sometimes show it, 
but never a whole species, except as a consequence of prolonged 
intervention on the part of Man. Between these two highest 
grades, as betwec-a the two lower, we shall find a difference of 
value, extent, and difficulty ; always supposing the standard to be - 
the manner in which they affect Man's well-being, collectively or 
individually. To strengthen the intellectual powers, whether for 
art or for science, whether it be the powers of observation or those 
of induction and deduction, is, when circumstances allow of their 
being made available for social purposes, of greater and more 
extensive importance, than all physical, and, a fortiori than aU 
material improvements. But we know from the fundamental 
principle laid down in the first chapter of this work, that moral 
progress has even more to do with our well-being than intellectual 
progress. The moral faculties are more modifiable, although the 
effort required to modify them is greater. If the benevolence or 
courage of the human race were increased, it would bring more real 
happiness than any addition to our intellectual powers. Therefore, 
to tibe question. What is the true object of human life, whether^ 
looked at collectively or individually ? the simplest and most 
precise answer would be, the perfection of our moral nature ; since 
it has a more immediate and certain influence on our well-being 
than perfection of any other kind. All the other kinds are 
necessary, if for no other reason than to prepare the way for this ; 
but from the very fact of this connection, it may be regarded as 
their representative; since it involves them all implicitly and 
stimulates them to increased activity. Keeping then to the ques^ 
tion of moral perfection, we find two qualities standing above the 
rest in practical importance, namely. Sympathy and Enei^. > 
Both these qualities are included in the word Heart, which in aU 1 
European Wgnages has a different meaning for the two sexes. 
Both win be devdoped by Positivism, more directly, more continu- 
ously, and with greater result, than under any former system. 
The whole tendency of Positivism is to encourage sympathy ; since 
it subordinates every thought, desire, and action to social feeling. 
Energy is also presupposed, and at the same time fostered, by the 
system. I"or it removes a heavy weight of superstition, it reveals 
the true dignity of man, and it supplies an unceasing motive for 
individual and coUective action. The very acceptance of Positivism 



80 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ir. 

demands some vigour of character; it implies the braving of 
spiritual terrors, which were once enough to intimidate the firmest 
minds. 

Progress, then, may be regarded under four successive aspects : 
Material, Physical, Intellectual, and Moral. Each of these might 
again be divided on the same principle, and we should then discover 
several intermediate phases. These cannot be investigated here ; 
and I have only to note that the philosophical principle of this 
analysis is precisely the same as that on which I have based the 
Classification of the Sciences. In both cases the order followed is 
that of increasing generality and complexity in the phenomena. 
The only difference is in the mode in which the two arrangements 
are developed. For scientific purposes the lower portion of the 
scale has to be expanded into greater detail ; while from the social 
point of view attention is concentrated on the higher parts. But 
whether it be the scale of the True or that of the Good, the con- 
j elusion is the same in both. Both alike indicate the supremacy of 
I social considerations ; both point to universal Love as the highest 
ideal. 

' I have now explained the principal purpose of Positive Philo- 
sophy, namely, spiritual reorganization ; and I have shown how 
that purpose is involved in the Positivist motto. Order and 
Progress. Positivism, then, realizes the highest aspirations of 
medisBval Catholicism, and at the same time fulfils the conditions, 
the absence of which caused the failure of the Convention. It 
combines the opposite merits of the Catholic and the Eevolutionary 
spirit, and by so doing supersedes them both. Theology and 
Metaphysics may now disappear without danger, because the 
service which each of them rendered is now harmonised with that 
of the other, and will be performed more perfectly. The principle 
on which this result depends is the separation of spiritual from 
temporal power. This, it will be remembered, had always been the 
chief subject of contention between the two antagonistic parties. 

AppUcation •'■ ■'^^^® spokcu of the moral and mental reorganization 
of our priiici- of Western Europe as characterizing the second phase 
politics. '^ All of the Eevolution. Let us now see what are its 
govoinnient relations with the present state of politics. Of course 
present bo pro- the development of Positivism will not be much 
TiaiouaL affected by the retrograde tendencies of the day, 

whether theological or metaphysical. Still the general course of 
events wiU exercise an influence upon it, of which it is important 
to take account. So too, although the new doctrine cannot at 
present do much to modify its surroundings, there are yet certain 



CHAf- n] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OP POSITIVISM. 81 

points in •which action may be taken at once. In the fourth 
Tolmne of this treatise the question of a transitional policy mil he 
carefully considered, with the view of faciHtating the advent of 
the normal state which social science indicates in a more distant 
future. I cannot complete this chapter without some notice of this 
provisional policy, which must be carried on until Positivism has 
made its way to general acceptance. 

The principal feature of this policy is that it is temporary. To 
set up any permanent institution in a society which has no fixed 
opinions or principles of Hfe, would he hopeless. "UntU the most 
important questions are thoroughly settled, both in principle and 
practice, the only measures of the least utility are those which 
facilitate the process of reconstruction. Measures adopted with a 
view to permanence must end, as we have seen them end so often, 
in disappointment and failure, however enthusiastically they may 
have been received at first. 

Inevitable as this consequence of our revolutionary position is, \ 
it has never been understood, except by the great leaders of the ' 
republican movement in 1793. Of the various governments that 
we have had during the last two generations, all, except the Con- 
vention, have fallen into the vain delusion of attempting to found 
permanent institutions, without waiting for any intellectual or 
moral basis. And therefore it is that none but the Convention _ 
has left any deep traces in men's thoughts or feelings. All its 
principal measures, even those which concerned the future more 
than the present, were avowedly provisional ; and the consequence 
was that they harmonized well with the peculiar circumstances of 
the time. The true philosopher will always look with respectful 
admiration on these men, who not only had no rational theory to 
guide them, but were encumbered with false metaphysical notions ; 
and who yet notwithstanding proved themselves the only real 
statesmen that Western Europe can boast of since the tiiaie of 
Frederick the Great. Indeed the wisdom of their policy would be 
almost unaccountable, only that the very circumstances which 
called for it so urgently, were to some extent calculated to suggest 
it. The state of things was such as to make it impossible to setUe 
the government on any permanent basis. Again, amidst all the 
vnld extravagance of the principles in vogue, the necessity of a 
strong government to resist foreign invasion counteracted many of 
their worst efiects. On the removal of this salutary pressure, the 
Convention fell into the common error, though to a less extent than 
lie Constituent Assembly. It set up a constitution framed 
according to some abstract model, which was supposed to be final, 

6 



82 A GENERAL VIET OP POSITIVISM. [ckap. a. 

I 

but which did not last so long as the period originally proposed for 
its own provisional labours. It is on this first period of its govern- 
ment that its fame rests. 

The plan originally proposed was that the government of the 
Convention should last till the end of the war. If this plan could 
have been carried out, it would probably have been extended still 
further, as the impossibility of establishing any permanent system 
would have been generally recognised. The only avowed motive 
for making the government provisional was of course the urgent 
necessity of national defence. But beneath this temporary motive, 
which for the time superseded every other consideration, there was 
another and a deeper motive for it, which could not have been 
understood without sounder historical principles than were at that 
time possible. That motive was the utterly negative character of 
the metaphysical doctrines then accepted, and the consequent 
absence of any intellectual or moral basis for political reconstruc- 
tion. This of course was not recognised, but it was really the 
principal reason why the establishment of any definite system of 
government was delayed. Had the war been brought to an end, 
clearer views of the subject would no doubt have been formed ; 
indeed they had been formed already in the opposite camp, by men 
of the Neo-catholic stihool, who were not absorbed by the urgent 
question of defending the Eepublic. What blinded men to the 
truth was the fundamental yet inevitable error of supposing the 
critical doctrines of the preceding generation applicable to purposes 
of construction. They were undeceived at last by the utter 
anarchy which the triumph of these principles occasioned ; and the 
next generation occupied itself with the counter-revolutionary 
movement, in which similar attempts at finality were made by the 
various reactionist parties. For these parties were quite as desti- 
tute as their opponents of any principles suited to the task of 
reconstruction ; and they had to fall back upon the old system as 
the only recognized basis on which public Order could be main- 
tained. 

Danger o£ at- And in this lespect the situation is still unchanged. 
tiSF*™fecon- •'■* ^^^ retains its revolutionary character; and any 
atruetion be- immediate attempt to reorganize political administra- 
fore spmtuai. ^^^^ would only be the signal for fresh attempts at 
reaction, attempts which now can have no other result than 
anarchy. It is true that Positivism has just supplied us with a 
philosophical basis for political reconstruction. But its principles 
are stiU so new and undeveloped, and besides are understood by so 
few, that they cannot exercise much influence at present on political 



CHAP. II.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT 0¥ POSITIVISM. 83 

life. Ultimately, and. by slow degrees, they will mould the 
instituljions of the future; but meanwhile they must work their 
way freely into men's minds and hearts, and for this at least one 
generation wUl be necessary. Spiritual organization is the only 
point ■Hrhere an immediate beginning can be made ; difficult as it 
is, its possibility is at last as certain, as its urgency. When 
sufficient progress has been made with it, it will cause a gradual 
regeneration of political institutions. But any attempt to modify 
these too rapidly would only result in fresh disturbances. Such 
disturbances, it is true, will never be as dangerous as they were 
formerly, because the anarchy of opinion is so profound that it is 
far more difficult for men to a-gree in any fixed principles of action. 
The absolute doctrines of the last century which inspired such 
intense conviction, can never regain their strength, because, when 
brought to the crucial test of experience as well as of discussion, 
their uselessness for constructive purposes and their subversive 
tendency became evident to every one. They bave been weakened, 
too, by theological concessions which their supporters, in order to 
carry on the government at all, were obliged to make. Conse- , 
quently the poHcy with which they are at present connected is one 
which oscillates between reaction and anarchy, or rather which is 
at once despotic and destructive, frpm the necessity of controlling! 
a society which has become almost as adveirse to metaphysical as to 
theological rule. In the utter absence, then, of any general con- 
victions, the worst forms of polit^c3l commotion are not to be 
feared, because it would be impossible to rouse men's passions 
sufficiently. But unwise efforts to set up a permanent system of 
government would even now lead, in certain cases, to lamenta,ble 
disorder, and would at all events be utterly useless. Quiet at home 
depends now, like peace abroad, simply on the absence of disturb- 
ing forces ; a most insecure ba?is, since it is itself a symptom qt 
the extent to which the disorganizing movement has proceeded. 
This singular condition rojust necessarily continue until the inter- 
regnum which at present exists in the moral and intellectual region 
comes to an end. As lopg as there is such an utter want of 
harmony in feeling as well as in opinion, there can be no real 
security against war or inteitnal, disorder. The existing equilibrium 
has arisen so spontaneously that it is no doubt less unstable than is 
generally supposed. StUl it is sirfficiently precarious to excite 
continual panics, both at home and abroad, which are not only 
very irritating, but often exerpise a most injurious influence over 
our policy. J^ow attempts at immediate reconstruction of political 
institutions, instead of improving this state of things, make it 



84 A GENERili VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. It. 

very nmch worse, by giving factitious life to the old doctrines, 
which, being thoroughly worn out, ought to be left to the natural 
process of decay. The inevitable result of restoriug them to oflELcial 
authority will be to deter the public, and even the thinkiug portion 
of it, from that free exercise of the mental powers by which, and 
by which only, we may hope to arrive without disturbance at fixed 
principles of action. 

The cessation of war therefore justifies no change in republican 
policy. As long as the spiritual interregnum lasts, it must retaia 
its provisional character. Indeed this character ought to be more 
strongly impressed upon it than ever. For no one now has any 
real belief in the organic value of the received metaphysical doc- 
trines. They would never have been revived but for the need of 
having some sort of political formula to work with, in default of 
any real social convictions. But the revival is only apparent, and 
it contrasts most strikingly with the utter absence of systematic 
principles in most active minds. There is no real danger of 
repeating the error of the first revolutionists and of attempting to 
construct with negative doctrines. We have only to consider the 
vast development of industry, of esthetic culture, and of scientific 
study, to free ourselves from all anxiety on this head. Such 
things are incompatible with any regard for the metaphysical 
teaching of ideologists or psychologists. Nor is there much to fear 
in the natural enthusiasm which is carrying us back to the first 
days of the Kevolution. It wOl only revive the old republican 
spirit, and make us forget the long period of retrogression and 
stagnation which have elapsed since the first great outbreak ; for 
this is the point on which the attention of posterity will be finally 
concentrated. But while satisfying these very legitimate feelings, 
the people will soon find that the only aspect of this great crisis 
which we have to imitate is the wise insight of the Convention 
, during the first part of its administration, in perceiving that its 
policy could only be provisional, and that definite reconstruction 
must be reserved for better times. We may fairly hope that 
the next formal attempt to set up a constitution according to some 
abstract ideal, will convince the French nation, and ultimately the 
whole West, of the utter futility of such schemes. Besides, the 
free discussion which has now become habitual to us, and the 
I temper of the people, which is as sceptical of political entities as 
of Christian mysteries, would make any such attempts extremely 
difficult. Never was there a time so unfavourable to doctrines 
admitting of no real demonstration : demonstration being now the 
only possible basis of permanent belief. Supposing then a new 



CHAP. II.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 65 

constitution to be set on foot, and the usual time to be spent in the 
process of elaborating it, public opinion will very possibly discard 
it before it is completed ; not allowing it even the short average 
duration of former constitutions. Any attempt to check free dis- 
cussion on the subject would defeat its own object; since free 
discussion is the natural consequence of our intellectual and social 
position. 

The same conditions which require our policy to be _ J,^;^^ 
provisional while the spiritual interregnum lasts, point what is want- 
also to the mode in which this provisional policy ; ^^ ■^Jitt*°Bl 
should be carried out. Had the revolutionary govern- ' berty of speech 
meat of the Convention continued till the end of the ^ cuamon 
war, it would probably have been prolonged up to the present 
time. But in one most important respect a modification would 
have been necessary. During the struggle for independence what 
was wanted was a vigorous dictatorship, combining spiritual with 
temporal powers : a dictatorship even stronger than the old mon- 
archy, and only distinguished from despotism by its ardour in the 
cause of progress. Without complete concentration of political 
power, the republic could never have been saved. But with peace 
the necessity for such concentration was at an end. The only 
motive for still continuing the provisional system was the absence 
of social convictions. But this would also be a motive for giving 
perfect liberty of speech and discussion, which till then had been 
impossible or dangerous. For liberty was a necessary condition 
for elaborating and diffusing a new system of universal principles, 
as the only sure basis for the future regeneration of society. 

This hypothetical view of changes which might have taken 
place in the Conventional government, may be applied to the 
existing condition of affairs. It is the policy best adapted for the 
republican government which is now arising in all the security of a 
settled peace, and yet amidst the most entire anarchy of opinion. 
The successors of the Convention, men unworthy of their task, 
degraded the progressive dictatorship entrusted to them by the 
circumstances of the time into a retrograde tyranny. During the 
reign of Charles X., which was the last phase of lie reaction, the 
central power was thoroughly undermined by the legal opposition 
of the parliamentary or local power. The central government stiU 
refused to recognize any limits to its authority ; but the growth of 
free thought made its claims to spiritual jurisdiction more and more 
untenable, leaving it merely the temporal authority requisite for 
public order. During the neutral period which followed the 
counter-revolution, the dictatorship was not merely restricted to its 



86 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

proper functions, but was legally destroyed; that is the local 
power as represented hy parliament took the place of the central 
power. AH pretentions to spiritual influence were abandoned by 
both ; their thoughts being sufficiently occupied with the inainteii- 
ance of material order. The intellectual anarchy of the timfe made 
this task difficult enough; but they aggravated the difficulty by 
unprincipled attempts to establish their government on the basis of 
pure self-interest, irrespectively of all moral considersitions. Tha 
Restoration of the republic and the progressive spirit aroused by it 
has no doubt given to both legislative and executive a large 
increase of power : to an extent indeed which a few years back 
would have caused violent antipathy. But it would be a grievdUs 
e^or for either of them to attempt to iniitate the dictatorial style 
of the Conventional government. Unsuccessful ill any true sense 
as the attempt would be, it might occasion very serious disturbances, 
which like the obsolete metaphysical principles in which they 
origina,te, would be equally dangerous to Order and to Progress. 

We Sfee, then, that in the total absence of any fixed principles 
on which inen can unite, the policy required is one which shall be 
purely provisional, and limited almost entirely to the maintenance 
Of Inaterial order. If order be preserved, the situation is ia all 
bther respects rtibst favourable to the work of mental and moral 
regeneration which wiU prepare the way for the society of the 
future. The establishment of a republic in France disproves the 
false claims set up by official writers in behalf of constitutional 
government, as if it was the final issue of the Revolution. Mean- 
time there is nothing irrevocable in the republic itself, except the 
moral ;^fiiiciple involved in it, the absolute and permanent prepon- 
derance of Social Feeling ; in other words, the concSiitratioh of all 
the powers of Man upon the common welfare. This is the only 
maxim of the day which we can accept as final. It needs no 
formal sanction, because it is merely the expression of feelings 
generally avowed, all prejudices against it having been entirely swept 
away. But with the doctrines and the institutions resulting from 
them, through which this dominion of social feeling is to become 
an organized reality, the republic has no direct connection ; it 
would be compatible with many difi'erent solutions of the problem. 
Politically, the only irrevocable point is the abolition of monarchy, 
which for a long time has been in France and to a less extent 
throughout the West, the symbol of retrogression. 

That spirit of devotion to the public welfare, Vvhich is the 
noblest feature of republicanism, is strongly opposed to any im- 
mediate attempts at political finality, as being incompatible with 



CHAP. II.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 87 

conscientious endeaTours to find a real solution of social problems. 
For before tbe practical solution can be boped for, a systematic 
basis for it must exist : and this we can hardly expect to find in 
the remnants left to us of the old creeds. All that the true philo- 
sopher desires is simply that the question of moral and intellectual 
reorganization shall be left to the unrestricted efforts of thinkers of 
■whatever schooL And in advocating this cause, he will plead the 
interests of the republic, for the safety of which it is of the utmost 
importance that no special set of principles should be placed under 
1 of&cial patronage. Eepublicanism, then, will do far more to 
protect free thought, and resist political encroachment, than was 
(done during the Orleanist government by the retrograde instincts 
Vf Catholicism. Catholic resistance to political reconstructions was 
strong, but blind : its place will now be more than supplied by wise 
indifference on the part of the public, which has learnt by experi- 
eice the inevitable failure of these incoherent attempts to realise 
nifctaphysical Utopias. The only danger of the position is lest it 
divert the public, even the more reflective portion of it, from deep 
anl continuous thought, to practical experiments based on super- 
fic4 and hasty considerations. It must be owned that the temper 
of ^ind which now prevails would have been most unfavourable 
for the original elaboration of Positivism. That work, however, 
had Wbeady been accomplished under the Constitutional system; 
whim, while not so restrictive as the preceding government, was 
yet siificiently so to concentrate our intellectual powers, which of 
themijelves would have been too feeble, upon the task. The 
origin,l conception had indeed been formed during the preceding 
reign 1 but its development and diffusion took place under the 
parHaiientary system. Positivism now offers itself for practical 
apphcition to the question of social progress, which has become 
again the prominent question, and wiU ever remain so. Un- 
favourlble as the present political temper would have been to the 
rise or Positivism, it is not at all so to its diffusion ; always sup- 
posing [its teachers to be men of sulficient dignity to avoid the 
snare oi political ambition into which thinkers are now so apt to 
fall. By explaining, as it alone can explain, the futility and 
danger pf the various Utopian schemes which are now competing 
with e^h other for the reorganization of society, Po.sitivism wUl 
soon b» able to divert pulalic attention from these political 
chimerai, to the question of a total reformation of principles and of 
Ufe. 

Eepudicanism, then, will offer no obstacle to the 
diffusi-oi of Positivist principles. Indeed, there is one torsMpVouid 



00 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

be a step to- point of view from which we may regard it as the 
warc^ the se- commencement of the normal state. It will gradually 
ritual and tern- lead to the recognition of the fundamental principle 
I poraip'"'™- that spiritual power must be wholly independent of 
<• every kind of temporal power, whether central or local. It is not 
, 1 merely that statesmen will soon have to confess their inability to 
\ I decide on the merits of a doctrine which supposes an amount of 
Mdeep scientific knowledge from which they must necessarily be 
■(precluded. Besides this, the disturbance caused by the ambition 
of metaphysical schemers, who are incapable of understanding the 
times in which they live, will induce the public to withdraw their 
confidence from such men, and give it only to those who are 
content to abandon all political prospects, and to devote them- 
selves to their proper function as philosophers. Thus Kepubl- 
canism is, on the whole, favourable to this great principle of 
Positivism, the separation of temporal from spiritual power, 
notwithstanding the temptations offered to men who wish to cairy 
their theories into immediate apphcation. The principle seems, no 
doubt, in opposition to all our revolutionary prejudices. But the 
public, as well as the government, wUl be brought to it by 
experience. They will find it the only means of saving sodety 
from the consequences of metaphysical Utopias, by which Crder 
and Progress are alike threatened. Thinkers too, those of than at 
least who are sincere, wiU cease to regard it with such blind anti- 
pathy, when they see that while it condemns their aspiratims to 
pohtioal influence, it opens out to them a noble and most extensive 
sphere of moral influence. Independently of social consideritions, 
it is the only way in which the philosopher can maintan the 
dignity to which his position entitles him, and which is at present 
so often compromised by the very success of his political anbition. 
The political attitude which ought for the present to 
i83o,*™iSffiy ^^ assumed is so clearly indicated by all the jircum- 
md ' Piibiic stances of the time, that practical instinct has in this 
i ■ respect anticipated theory. The right view is weU 

expressed in the motto, Liberty and Public Order, which was 
, adopted spontaneously by the middle class at the commeicement 
' of the neutral period in 1830. It is not known who vas the 
author of it ; but it is certainly far too progressive to be coisidered 
as representing the feelings of the monarchy. It is not of course 
the expression of any systematic convictions ; but no metaphysical 
school could have pointed out so clearly the two principsl condi- 
tions required by the situation. Positivism while acceptag it as 
an inspiration of popular wisdom, makes it more complete by 



■CHAP. II.] THE SOCIAL ASPECT OP POSITIVISM. 89 

adding two points which, should have been contained in it at first, 
only that they were too much opposed to existing prejudices to 
have been sanctioned by public opinion. Both parts of the motto 
require some expansion. Liberty ought to include perfect freedom 
of teaching ; Public Order should involve the preponderance of the 
central power over the local. I subjoin a few brief remarks on 
these two points, which will be considered more f uUy in the fourth 
volume of this treatise. 

Positivism is now the only consistent advocate of ... . 
free speech and free enquiry. Schools of opinion should he ex.- 
which do not rest on demonstration, and would conse- u°^tkm.*° ^^' 
quently be shaken by any argumentative attacks, can 
never be sincere in their wish for Liberty, in the extended sense 
here given to it. Liberty of writing we have now had for a long 
time. But besides this we want liberty of speech ; and also 
liberty of teaching ; that is to say, the abandonment by the State 
of all its educational monopolies. Freedom of teaching, of which 
Positivists are the only genuine supporters, has become a condition 
of I the first importance : and this not merely as a provisional 
measure, but as an indication of the normal state of things. In ./ 
the first place, it is the only means by which any doctrine that has 
the power of fixing and harmonising men's convictions can become 
generally known. To legalise any system of education would 
imply that such a doctrine had been already found ; it most 
assuredly is not the way to find it. But again, freedom of teach- 
ing is a step towards the normal state ; it amounts to an admission 
that the problem of education is one which temporal authorities 
are incompetent to solve. Positivists would be the last to deny 
that education ought to be regularly organized. Only they assert, 
first, that as long as the spiritual interregnum lasts, no organiza- 
tion is possible ; and secondly, that whenever the acceptance of a 
new synthesis makes it possible, it will be effected by the spiritual 
power to which that synthesis gives rise. In the meantime no 
general system of State education should be attempted. It will be 
well, however, to continue State assistance to those branches of 
instruction which are the most liable to be neglected by private 
enterprise, especially reading and writing. Moreover, there are 
certain institutions either established or revived by the Convention 
for higher training in special subjects ; these ought to be carefully 
preserved, and brought up to the present state of our knowledge, 
for they contain the germs of principles which will be most valu- 
able when the problem of reorganizing general education comes 
before us. But all the institutions abolished by the Convention 



90 A GBNEBAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ii. 

ought now to be finally suppressed. Even the Academies should 
form no exception to this rule, for the harm which they have done, 
both intellectually and morally, since their reinstalment, has fully 
justified the wisdom of the men who decided on their abolition. 
_j Government should no doubt exercise constant vigilance over all 

I private educational institutions ; but this should have nothing to- 

jdo with their doctrines, but with their morality, a point scan- 
J dalously neglected in the present state of the law. These should 

J be the limits of state interference in education. With these excep- 
tions it should be left to the unrestricted efforts of private 
associations, so as to give every opportunity for a definitive 
educational system to establish itself. For to pretend that any 
satisfactory system exists at present would only be a hypocritical 

, subterfuge on the part of the authorities. The most important 

step towards freedom of education would be the suppression of all 

"i grants to theological or metaphysical societies, leaving each man 

1 free to support the religion and the system of instruction which he- 

I prefers. This, however, should be carried out in a just and liberal 
spirit worthy of the cause, and without the least taint of personal 
dislike or party feeUng. Full indemnity should be given to 
members of Churches or Universities, upon whom these changes- 
would come unexpectedly. By acting in this spirit it will be far 
less difficult to carry out measures which are obviously indicated 
by the position in which we stand. As there is now no doctrine 
which commands general assent, it would be an act of retrogression 
to give legal sanction to any of the old creeds, whatever their 
former claim to spiritual ascendancy. It is quite in accordance 
with the republican spirit to refuse such sanction, notwithstanding 
the tendency that there is to aUow ideologists to succeed to the 
Academic offices held under the constitutional system by psycho- 
logists. 

Order de- ^^^ Positivism will have as beneficial an influence 

mands cen- on public Order as on Liberty. It holds, in exact op- 

1 t iza ion. position to revolutionary prejudices, that the central 

\ power should preponderate over the local. The constitutionalist 
' principle of separating the legislative from the executive is only an 
empirical imitation of the larger principle of separating temporal 
and spiritual power, which was adopted in the Middle Ages. 
There will always be a contest for political supremacy between the 
central and local authorities ; and it is an error into which, from 
various causes, we have fallen recently, to attempt to balance them 
against each other. The whole tendency of French history has 
been to let the central power preponderate, untU it degenerated 



chap; ii.] the SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM. 91 

and became retrograde towards the end of the seventeenth century. 
Gup present preference for the local power is therefore an histori- 
cal anomaly, which is sure to cease as soon as the fear of reaction 
has passed away. And as Eepubhcanism secures us against any 
dangers of this kind, our political sympathies wUl soon resume 
their old course. The advantages of the central power are, first, 
that ,it is more directly responsible than the other ; and, secondly, 
that it is more practical and less likely to set Up any claims to 
spiritual influence. This last feature is of the highest importance, 
and is likely to become every day more marked. Whereas the 
local or legislative power, not having its functions clearly defined, 
is very apt to interfere in theoretical questions without being ia 
any sense qualified for doing so. Its preponderance would, then, 
in most cases be injurious to intellectual freedom, which, as it feels 
instinctiTely, will ultimately result in the rise of a spiritual 
authority destined to supersede its own. On the strength of these 
tendencies, which have never before been explained, Positivists 
have little hesitation in siding in almost all cases with the central 
as against the local power. Philosophers, whom no one can accuse 
of reactionist or servile views, who have given up aU political 
prospects, and who are devoting themselves wholly to the work of 
spiritual reorganization, need not be afraid to take this course j 
and they ought to exert themselves vigorously in making the 
central power preponderant, limiting the functions of the local 
power to what is strictly indispensable. And, notwithstanding aU 
appearances to the contrary, republicanism will help to modify the 
revolutionary feeling on this point. It removes the distrust of/ 
authority caused naturally by the retrograde spirit of the old/ 
monarchy ; and it makes it easier to repress any further tendencies / 
of the same kind, without necessitating an entire change in the / 
character of our policy for the sake of providing against a eontiny 
gency, of which there is now so little fear. As soon as the central 
power has given sufficient proof of its progressive intentions, there 
win be no unwillingness on the part of the French public to 
restrict the powefs of the legislative body, whether by reducing it 
to one-third of its present numbers, which are so far too large, or 
even by limiting its functions to the annual vote of the supplies. 
During the last phase of the counter-revolution, and the long 
period of parliamentary government which followed, a state of 
feeling has arisen on this subject^ which is quite exceptional, and 
which sound philosophical teaching, and wise action on the part of 
government, wUl easily modify. It is inconsistent with the whole 
course of French history ; and only leads us into the mistake of 



92 A GENEBAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. chap. ii. 

imitatiBg the Englisli constitution, vsrhicli is adapted to no other 
country. The very extension which has just been given to the 
representative system will bring it into discredit, by showing it to 
be as fatile and subversive in practice as philosophy had repre- 
sented it to be in theory. 

Such, then, is the way in which Positivism would 
conMctfm of interpret these two primary conditions of our present 
Liberty with policy, Liberty and Public Order. But besides this, it 
"^ °'^' explains and confirms the connection which exists 

between them. It teaches, in the first place, that true liberty is 
impossible at present without the vigorous control of a central 
power, progressive in the true sense of the word, wise enough to 
abdicate all spiritual influence, and keep to its own practical 
functions. Such a power is needed in order to check the despotic 
spirit of the various doctrines now in vogue. As all of them are 
more or less inconsistent with the principle of separation of powers, 
they would all be willing to employ forcible means of securing 
uniformity of opuiion. Besides, the anarchy which is caused by 
our spiritual interregnum, might, but for a strong government, very 
probably interfere with the philosophical freedom which we now 
enjoy. Conversely, unless Liberty in the sense here spoken of be 
granted, it will be impossible for the central power to maintain 
itself in the position which public order requires. The obstacle to 
that position at present is the fear of reaction ; and a scrupulous 
regard for freedom is the only means of removing these feelings 
which, though perhaps unfounded, are but too natural. All fears 
will be allayed at once when liberty of instruction and association 
becomes part of the law of the land. There will then be no hope, 
and indeed no wish, oh the part of government to regulate our 
social institutions in conformity with any particular doctrine. 

The object of this chapter has been to show the social value of 
Positivism. We have found that not merely does it throw light 
upon our Future policy, but that it also teaches us how to act upon 
the Present ; and these indications have in both cases been based 
upon careful examination of the Past, in accordance vsrith the 
fundamental laws of human development. It is the only system 
capable of handling the problem now proposed by the more 
advanced portion of our race to aU who would claim to guide 
them. That problem is this ; to reorganize human Hf e, irrespec- 
tively of ^d or king ; recognizing the obligation of no motive, 
whether pubKe or private, other than Social Feeling, aided in due 
measure by the positive science and practical energy of Man. 



CHAPTEE ni. 
THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM UPON THE "WORKING CLASSES. 



Positivism whether looked at as a philosophical Positivism 

. -, ij!*i ,' , "Will not for tlie- 

system or as an instrument oi social renovation, cannot present recom- 
count upon much support from any of the classes, Se^^own^ 
whether in Church or State, by whom the government classes, a& 
of mankind has hitherto been conducted. There will Peo^e!^*"*^^ 
be isolated exceptions of great value, and these wiU 
soon become more numerous : but the prejudices and passions of 
these classes will present serious obstacles to the work of moral 
and mental reorganization which constitutes the second phase of 
the great Western revolution. Their faulty education and their 
repugnance to system prejudice them against a philosophy which 
subordinates specialities to general principles. Their aristocratic 
instincts make it very difficult for them to recognise the supremacy 
of Social Feeling; that doctrine which lies at the root of social 
regeneration, as conceived by Positivism. That no support can be 
expected from the classes who were in the ascendant before the 
Eevolution, is of course obvious ; and we shall probably meet with 
opposition, quite as real though more carefully concealed, from the 
middle classes, to whom that revolution transferred the authority 
and social influence which they had long been coveting. Their 
thoughts are entirely engrossed with the acquisition of power ; and 
they concern themselves but little with the mode in wliich it is 
used, or the objects to which it is directed. They were quite con- 
vinced that the Eevolution had found a satisfactory issue in the 
parliamentary system instituted during the recent period of politic 
cal oscillation. They will long continue to regret that stationary 
period, because it was peculiarly favourable to their restless. 
ambition. A movement tending to the complete regeneration of 
society is almost as much dreaded now by the middle classes as it 
was formerly by the higher. And both would at all events agree 
in prolonging the system of theological hypocrisy, as far as repub- 
lican institutions admitted of it. That policy is now the only 
means by which retrogression is still possible. Ignoble as it is,. 



94 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

there are two motives for adopting it ; it secures respect and sub- 
mission on the part of the masses, and it imposes no unpleasant 
duties on their governors. All their critical and metaphysical 
prejudices indispose them to terminate the state of spiritual 
anarchy which is the greatest obstacle to social regeneration : while 
at the same time their ambition dreads the establishment of a new 
moral authority, the restrictive influence of which would of course 
press most heavily upon themselves. In the eighteenth century, 
men of rank, and even kings, accepted the purely negative philo- 
sophy that was then in vogue ; it removed many obstacles, it was 
an easy path to reputation, and it imposed no great sacrifice. But 
ff-'we can hardly hope from this precedent that the wealthy and 
\ literary classes of our own time will be equally wUling to accept 
Positive philosophy ; the avowed purpose of which is to discipline 
our intellectual powers, in order to reorganize our modes of 
life. 

The avowal of such a purpose is quite sufficient to prevent 
Positivism from gaining the sympathies of any one of the govern- 
, ing classes. The classes to which it must appeal are those who 
I have been left untrained in the present worthless methods of 
instruction by words and entities, who are animated with strong 
social instincts, and who consequently have the largest stock of 
good sense and good feeling. In a word it is among the Working 
Classes that the new philosophers wUl find their most energetic 
I allies. They are the two extreme terms in the social series as 
I finally constituted ; and it is only through their combined action 
' that social regeneration can become a practical possibility. Not- 
withstanding their difference of position, a difference which indeed 
is more apparent than real, there are strong affinities between them, 
/ both morally and intellectually. Both have the same sense of the 
j real, the same preference for the useful, and the same tendency to 
V subordinate special points to general principles. Morally they 
resemble each other in generosity of feeling, in wise unconcern for 
material prospects, and in indifference to worldly grandeur. This 
at least wiU be the case as soon as philosophers in the true sense of 
that word have mixed sufficiently with the nobler members of the 
working classes to raise their own character to its proper level. 
When the sympathies which unite them upon these essential 
points have had time to show themselves, it vrill be felt that the 
philosopher is, under certain aspects, a member of the working 
class fully trained ; while the working man is in many respects a 
philosopher without the training. Both too wiU look with similar 
feelings upon the intermediate or capitalist class. As that class .is 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 95 

necessarily the possessor of material power, tlie pecuiuary existence 
of both will as a rule be dependent upon it. 

These affinities follow as a natural result from their rpj^^ ^orkinir 
respective position and functions. The reason of their man who ao- 
not having been recognised more distuictly is, that at t^Ms favora- 
present we have nothing that can be caUed a philoso- ably situated 
phic class, or at least it is only represented by a few tionof compra- 
isolated types. Workmen worthy of their position are ^Mes™ *S 
happily far less rare ; but hitherto it is only in France, generous sym- 
or rather ia Paris, that they have shown themselves in ^* ^' 
their true light, as men emancipated from chimerical beliefs, and 
careless of the empty prestige of social position. It is, then, only 
in Paris that the truth of the preceding remarks can be fully 
verified. 

The occupations of working men are evidently far more con- 
ducive to philosophical views than those of the middle classes; 
since they are not so absorbing as to prevent continuous thought, 
even during the hours of labour. And hesides having more time 
for'thkiking, they have a moral advantage in the absence of any 
responsibility when their work is over. The workman is preserved 
by his position from the schemes of aggrandisement, which are 
constantly harrassing the capitalist. Their difference in this res- 
pect causes a corresponding difference in their modes of thought; 
the one cares more for general principles, the other more for 
details. To a sensible workman, the system of dispersive speciality 
now so much in vogue shows itself in its true light. He sees it, 
that is, to be brutalizing, because it would condemn Ms iateUect 
to the most paltry mode of culture, so much so that it will never 
be accepted in France, in spite of the irrational endeavours of our 
Anglo-maniac economists. To the capitalLst, on the contrary, and 
even to the man of science, that system, however rigidly and con- 
sistently carried out, will seem far less degrading ; or rather it will 
be looked upon as most desirable, unless his education has been 
such as to counteract these 'tendencies, and to pve him the desire 
aiid the abUity for abstract and general thought. 

Morally, the contrast between the position of the workman and 
the capitalist is even more -striking. Proud as most men are of 
worldly fiuccess, the degree of moral or mental excellence implied 
in the acquisition Of wealth or power, even when the means used 
have been strictly legitimate, is hardly such as to justify that pride. 
Looking at intrinsic qualities rather than at visible results, it is 
obvious that practical success, whether in industry or in war, 
dspends far more on character than on intellect or affection. The 



96 A GENEEAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

principal condition for it is the combination of a certain amount of 
energy with great caution, and a fair share of perseverance. When 
a man has these qualities, mediocrity of intellect and moral 
deficiency wiU. not prevent his taking advantage of favourable 
chances J chance being usually a very important element in worldly 
success. Indeed it wotild hardly be an. exaggeration to say that 
poverty of thought and feeling has often something to do with 
forming and maintaining the disposition requisite for the purpose. 
Vigorous exertion of the active powers is more frequently induced 
by the personal propensities of avarice, ambition, or vanity, than 
by the higher instincts. Superiority of position, when legitimately 
obtained, deserves respect; but the philosopher, like the religionist, 
and with still better grounds, refuses to regard it as a proof of 
moral superiority, a conclusion which would be wholly at variance 
with the true theory of human nature. 

The life of the workman, on the other hand, is far more favourable 
to the development of the nobler instincts. In practical qualities 
he is usually not wanting, except in caution, a deficiency which 
makes his energy and perseverance less useful to himself, though 
fully available for society. But it is in the exercise of the higher 
feelings that the moral superiority of the working class is most 
observable. When our habits and opiaions have been brought 
under the influence of systematic principles, the true character of 
this class, which forms the basis of modem society, wUl become 
more distinct ; and we shall see that home affections are naturally 
stronger with them than with the middle classes, who are too much 
engrossed with personal interests for the full enjoyment of domes- 
tic ties. Still more evident is their superiority in social feelings 
strictly so called, for these with them are called into daily exercise 
from earliest childhood. Here it is that we find the highest and 
most genuine types of friendship, and this even amongst those 
who are placed in a dependent position, aggravated often by the 
aristocratic prejudices of those above them, and whom we might 
imagine on that account condemned to a lower moral standard. 
,We find sincere and simple respect for superiors, untainted by 
servility, not vitiated by the pride of learning, not disturbed by 
the jealousies of competition. Their personal experience of the 
miseries of life is a constant stimulus to the nobler sympathies. 
In no class is there so strong an incentive to social feeling, at least 
to the feeling of Sohdarity between contemporaries; for aU are 
conscious of the support that they derive from union, support 
which is not at all incompatible with strong individuality of char- 
acter. The sense of Contiauity with the past has not, it is teue, 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF E0SITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 97 

been sufficieatly developed ; but this is a want whidh can only be 
supplied by systematic culture. It wUl hardly be disputed that 
there are more remarkable instances of prompt and unostentatious 
self-sacrifice at the call of a great public necessity in this class than 
in any other. Note, too, that in the utter absence of any systema- 
tic education, all these moral excellences must be looked upon as 
inherent in the class. It is impossible to attribute them to 
theological influence, now that they have so entirely shaken off the 
old faith. The type I have described would be generally con- 
sidered imaginary ; and at present it is only ia Paris that it can be 
fuUy realized. But the fact of its existence in the centre of 
Western Europe is enough for all rational observers. A type so 
fully in accordance with what we know of human nature cannot 
fail ultimately to spread everywhere, especially when these spon- 
taneous tendencies are placed under the systematic guidance lOf 
Positivism. 

These remarks will prepare us to appreciate the wise q^^^^j^^^" 
and generous instincts of the Convention iu looking to felt; but they 
the Proletariate as the maiuspring of its policy ; and the°Peopte to 
this not merely on account of the incidental danger of seek political 
foreign invasion, but in dealing with the larger wS^yare 
question of social regeneration, which it pursued so "i"' fit- 
ardently, though in such ignorance of its true principles. Owing, 
however, to the want of a satisfactory system, and the disorder 
produced by the metaphysical theories of the time, the spirit in 
which this alliance with the people was framed was incompatible 
with the real object in view. It was considered that government 
ought as a rule to be in the hands of the people. Now under the 
special circumstances of the time popular government was un- 
doubtedly very useful. The existence of the republic depended 
almost entirely upon the proletariate, the only class that stood 
unshaken and true to its principles. But in the absolute spirit of 
the received political theories, this state of things was regarded as 
normal, a view which is incompatible with the most important 
conditions of modern society. It-is of course always right ior the 
people to assist' government in carrying out the law, even to the 
extent of physical force, should the case require it. Interference 
of this subordinate kind, whether in foreign or internal questions, 
so far from leading to anarchy, is obviously a guarantee for order 
which ought to exist in every properly constituted society. Indeed 
in this respect our habits in France are still very defective ; men 
are too often content to remain mere lookers ; on, while the police 
to whom they owe their daily protection is doing its duty. But 

7 



98 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chaf. iji. 

for the people to take a direct part in government, and to have 
the final decision of political measures, is a state of things which 
in modern society is only adapted to times of revolution. To 
recognise it as final would lead at once to anarchy, were it not so 
utterly impossible to realise. -; 

tn^ixcmtionS Positivism rejects the metaphysical doctrine of the 
cases that the Sovereignty of the people. But it appropriates all 
Sy* "^Mv^^ tli^t is really sound in the doctrine, and this witli 
reign '. reference not merely to exceptional cases but to, the 

normal state ; while at the same time it guards against the danger 
involved in its application as an absolute truth. In the hands of 
the revolutionary party the doctrine is generally used to justify 
the right of insurrection. Now in Positive Polity, this right is 
looked upon as an ultimate resource, with which no society should 
allow itself to dispense. Absolute submission, which is too 
strongly inculcated by modern Catholicism, would expose us to 
the danger of tyranny. Insurrection may be regarded, scienti- 
fically, as a sort of reparative crisis, of which societies stand iu 
more need than individuals, in accordance with the well-known 
biological law, that the higher and the more complicated , the 
organism, the more frequent and also the more dangerous is the 
pathological state. Therefore, the fear that Positivism, when 
generally accepted, will encourage passive obedience, is perfectly 
groundless ; although it is certainly not favourable to the pure 
revolutionary spirit, which would fain take the disease for the 
■ normal type of health. Its whole character is so essentially 
relative, that it finds no difficulty in accepting subordination as the 
rule, and yet aUowiag for exceptional cases of revolt ; a course by 
which good taste and human dignity are alike satisfied. Positivism 
looks upon insurrection as a dangerous remedy that should be 
reserved for extreme cases ; but it would never scruple to sanction 
and even to encourage it when it is really indispensable. This is 
quite compatible with refusing, as a rule, to submit the decision of 
poHtical questions and the choice of rulers to judges who are 
obviously incompetent; and who, under the mfluence of Posi- 
tivism, will of their own free will abdicate rights which are 
subversive of order. 

The truth in- The metaphysical doctrine of the Sovereignty of the 
ex^wrasion ^'S peoplo, Contains, however, a truth of permanent value, 
that the weu- though in a very confused form. This truth Positivism 
people should Separates very distinctly from its dangerous alloy, yet 
grcat'objeot of without Weakening, on the contrary, with the effect of 
government enforcing, its social import. There are two distinct 



CHAP. III.] THB ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 99 

eonceptions in this doctrine, whicli have hitherto been confounded; 
a political conception applicable to certain special cases ; a moral 
conception applicable to all. 

In the first place the name of the whole body politic ought to be 
invoked in the announcement of any special measure, of which the 
motives are sufficiently intelligible, and which directly concern the 
practical interests of the whole community. Under this head 
would be included decisions of law courts, declarations of war, etc. 
When society has reached the Positive state, and the sense of 
universal solidarity is more generally diffused, there will be even 
more significance and dignity in such expressions than there is now, 
because the name invoked wUl no longer be that of a special 
nation, but that of Humanity as a whole. It would be absurd, 
however, to extend this practice to those still more numerous cases 
where the people is incompetent to express any opinion, and has 
merely to adopt the opinion of superior officers who have obtained 
its confidence. This may be owing either to the difficulty of the 
question or to the fact of its application being indirect or limited. 
Such, for ittstance, would be enactments, very often of great im- 
portance, which deal with scientific principles; or again most 
questions relating to special professions or branches of industry. 
In all these cases popular good sense would, under Positivist 

■influence, easily be kept clear from political illusions. It is only 
under the stimulus of metaphysical pride that such illusions 
become dangerous ; and the untaught masses have but little ex- 
perience of this feeling. 

There is, however, another truth implied in the expression. 
Sovereignty of the people. It implies that it is the first of duties 
to concentrate all the efforts of society upon the common good. 
And in this there is a more direct reference to the working class 
than to any other; first, on account of their immense numerical 
superiority, and, secondly, because the difficulties by which their 

■ life is surrounded require special interference to a degree which for 
other classes would be unnecessary. From this point of view it is 
a principle which- all "true republicans may accept. It is, in fact, 
identical with what we have laid down as the universal basis of 
morality, the direct and permanent preponderance of social feeling 
over all personal interests. Not merely, then, is it incorporated by 
Positivism, but, as was shown in the first chapter, it forms the 
primary principle of the system, even under the intellectual aspect. 

• Since the decline of Catholicism the metaphysical spirit has been 

1 provisionally the guardian of this great social precept. Positivism 
now finally appropriates it, and purifies it for the future from aU 



100 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

taint of anarchy. Eevolutionists, as we should expect from their 
characteristic dislike to the separation of the two powerfe, haiA 
treated the question politicaUy. Positivism avoids all dangei; by 
shifting it to the region of morality. I shall show presently that 
this very salutary change, so far from weakening the ibice of the 
^principle, increases its permanent value, and at the same time 
removes the deceptive and suhversive tendencies which are always 
involved in the metaphysical mode of regarding it. 

The People's What then, it wUl be asked, is the part assigned to 
function is to ^}^g Proletariate in the final constitution of society? 

assist tne spu^- ^ .... „ ... , . . ._ . , y 

tuai power in Ihe similanty 01 position which 1 pointed out be- 
MtSn^oF go^ tween themselves and the philosophic class suggests 
1 vemment. the auswer. They wUl be of the most essential service 
Ito the spiritual power in each of its three social functions, judg- 
iment, counsel, and even education. All the intellectiial and moral 
(qualities that we have just indicated in this class concur in fitting 
khem for this service. If we except the philosophic body, which 
is the recognized organ of general principles, there is no class 
which is so habitually inclined to take comprehensive views of any 
subject. Their superiority in Social Feeling is still more obvious. 
In this even the best jihilosophers are rarely their equals ; and it 
would be a most beneficial corrective of their tendency to over- 
abstraction to come into daily contact with the noble and spon- 
*s taneous iiistincts of the people. The working class, then, is better 
qualified than any other for understanding, and still more for 
sympathising with the highest truths of morality, though it may 
not be able to give them a systematic form. And, as we have seen, 
it is in social morality, the most important and the highest of the 
three branches of Ethics, that their superiority is most observable. 
Besides, independently of their intrinsic merits, whether intollec- 
\ tiial or moral, the necessities of their daily life serve to irdprefe 
! them with respect for the great rules of morality, which in most 
■ cases were framed for their own protection. To secure the appli- 
cation of these rules in daily life, is a function of the sjpiritual 
power in the performance of which they will meet with but slight 
assistance from the middle classes. It is with them that temporal 
power naturally resides, and it is their misuse of power that has to 
be controlled and set right. The working classes are the chief 
sufferers from the selfishness and domineering of men of wealth 
and power. For this reason they are the likeliest to come forward 
in defence of public morality. And they will be all the mote 
disposed to give it their hearty support, if they have nothing to' dci 
directly with political administration. Habitual participatibn in 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF, POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 101 

.temppr^ POT??-' *9; ^^J nothing of i its unsettlipg influence, Wjpuld 
lead tliem away from the best remedy for their sujEferings, of ■w[h,ich 
tjp,e. constitution of society admits. Popular sagapity •vjrill ^oon 
4et^ct the, utter hoUowness of the off-hand S9],u,1;i9ns that are now 
being oibjiruded upon us. Th^ people wiU rapidly become cpp.- 
vinced that the surest method of satisfying al^ legitimate ckims, 
lies in th,e moral agencies which Positivispi offers, though it 
a,pp9fl,ls to them at the same time to a,bdicate political pp^fei; whjcji 
either yields them nothing or results in anarchy. 

So iiatural is this tendency of the people to rally round the 
spiritual power in defence of niorality, that we Spd it to h^rY^ 
been the case even in mediseval times. Indeed this it, is yhich 
explains the sympa,thies which Catholicism still retains, iiptwitli- 
S|tanding its general decline, in the countries where Erotestantism has 
failed to establish itself. Superficial observers often mistake these 
synipathies for evidence of sincere attachment to the old creeds, 
thojigh in point of fact they a,re more thoroughly undermined/in 
those countries tha,n anywhere else. It is an histpripa} ejror which 
will, howevpr, soon be corrected by the reception which thes,e 
nations, so wrongly imagined tp be ipi a backward sjiage of political 
deTjelopraent, will give to Positivism, Fox they will sopn see its 
superiority to Catholicism in satisfying the primary necessity with 
whiph their social instincts are so justly preoccupied. 

in the Middle Ages, however, the relations between tte woicking 
classes and the priesthood were hjipipered by tl^o institution of serf- 
age, which was not whoUy abolished lintU. Catholicism h^d begvj:^i ]bp 
decHiiej. In &pt a careful study of history wiU show jihat one p-f 
the principal qauses of it^ depline w^iS the want of popular suppo^. 
Tl^e mediaeval church was a noble, but premature attempt. Dig- 
belief in its doctrines, and also retrograde tendencies in its direc- 
tors, had virtually destroyed it, before the Proletariate ha4 ajitained 
sufficient social importanpe to support it successfiilly, supposing ij; 
001^1(1 have 4eseryed their support. But we are now sufficiently 
advanced fpr the perfect rpalizatiop of the Catholic i^-cal in Ppgi- 
tivism. And the principal means of realizing it will be the forma- 
tion of an a^jajice l)e,tween philosopher? and thp working classes, 
fpr -^hich lioth are alil{;p prepared by the negative apd positiYe prp- 
grp?s of tlie last fiyp centuries. 

The direct object of' tlieir combined actipp wiU be ^^ .^^^_ 
tp set in motipn th^ Jforce qf Pub]|P Opinion. A]l bined ■ ^|Ef»tp 
views of the futjire condition of society, th,e vie^s of jtemdtiou of 
practical men as well as of philosophic ^inkers, agrpe i^!'™" Oj^i!^on. 
hi the belief th^t the principal f eatnrp of the state tp which we 



102 A GENERAL VIET OP POSITIVISM. [chap. in. 

are tending, will he the increased influence whicli Public Opinion is 
destined to exercise. 

It is in this henefical influence that we shall find the surest guaran- 
tee for morality; for domestic and even for personal morality, as well 
as for social. For as the whole tendency of Positivism is to induce 
,every one to live as far as possible without concealment, the public 
will be intrusted with a strong check upon the life of the individual. 
Now that all theological illusions have become so entirely obsolete^ 
the need of such a check is greater than it was before. It com- 
pensates for the insufficiency of natural goodness which we find in 
most men, however wisely their education has been conducted. 
Except the noblest of joys, that which springs from social sympathy 
when called into constant exercise, there is no reward for doing 
light so satisfactory as the approval of our fellow-beings. Even 
under theological systems it has been one of our strongest aspirations 
to live esteemed in the memory of others. And still more pro- 
minence will be given to this noble form of ambition under 
Positivism, because it is the only way left us of satisfying the 
desire which all men feel of prolonging their life into the Future. 
And the increased force of Public Opinion will correspond to the 
increased necessity for it. The peculiar reality of Positive doctrine 
and its constant conformity with facts facilitate the recognition of 
its principles, and remove all obscurity in their application. They 
are not to be evaded by subterfuges like those to which metaphysical 
and theological principles, from their vague and absolute character, 
have been always liable. Again, the primary principle of Positivism, 
which is to judge every question by the standard of social interests, 
is in itself a direct appeal to Public Opinion ; since the public 
is naturally the judge of the good or bad effect of action upon the 
common welfare. Under theological and metaphysical systems 
no appeal of this sort was recognised; because the objects upheld 
as the highest aims of Ufe were purely personal. 

In political questions the application of our principle is still 
more obvious. For political morality Public Opinion is almost our 
only guarantee. We feel its force even now in spite of the intel- 
lectual anarchy in which we live. Neutralized as it is in most cases 
by the wide divergences of men's convictions, yet it shows itseK on 
the occasion of any great public excitement. Indeed, we feel it to 
our cost sometimes when the popular mind has taken a wrong 
direction ; government in such cases being very seldom able to offer 
adequate resistance. These cases may convince us how irresistible 
this power wiU prove when used legitimately, and when it is formed 
by systematic accordance in general principles instead of by a pr&- 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 103 

carious and momentary coincidence of feeling. And here we see 
more clearly than ever how impossible it is to effect any permanent 
reconstruction of the institutions of society, without a previous re- 
organization of opinion and of life. The spiritual basis is necessary 
not merely to determine the character of the temporal reconstruc- 
tion, but to supply the principal motive force by which the work is 
to be carried out. Intellectual and moral harmony will gradually 
be restored, and under its influence the new political system will 
by degrees arise. Social improvements of the highest importance 
may therefore be realized long before the work of spiritual re- 
organization is completed. We find in mediseval history that 
Catholicism exercised a powerful influence on society during its 
emergence from barbarism, before its own internal constitution had 
advanced far. And this will be the case to a still greater degree 
with the regeneration which is now in progress. 

Having defined the sphere within which Public 
Opinion should operate, we shall find little difficulty ion"invo°ve"i 
in determining the conditions requisite for its proper lVsoS°ran- 
organization. These are, first, the establishment of duct, (2) their 
fixed principles of social action ; secondly, their adop- tSoiSy °°° at 
tion by the public, and its consent to their application ^''s^- @ »" 
in special cases ; and, lastly, a recognised organ to lay which to enun- 
down the principles, and to apply them to the conduct °'**® ^^'^ 
of daily life. Obvious as these three conditions appear, they are still 
so little understood, that it will be weU to explain each of them 
somewhat more fully. 

The first condition, that of laying down fixed principles, is, in fact, i 
the extension to social questions of that separation between theory 
and practice, which in subjects of less importance is universally / 
recognised. This is the aspect in which the superiority of the new 
spiritual system to the old is most perceptible. The principles of 
moral and political conduct that were accepted in the Middle Ages 
were little better than empirical, and owed their stability entirely to 
the sanction of religion. In this respect, indeed, the superiority of 
Catholicism to the systems which preceded it, consisted merely in the 
fact of separating its precepts from the special application of them. 
By making its precepts the distinct object of preliminary study, 
it secured them against the bias of human passions. Yet important 
as this separation was, the system was so defective intellectually, 
that the successful application of its principles depended simply on 
the good sense of the teachers ; for the principles in themselves were 
as vague and as absolute as the creeds from which they were derived. 
The influence exercised by Catholicism was due to its indirect action 



104 A GENBEAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. nr. 

u"pon social feeling in the only mode then possible. But. the claims 
with which Positivism presents itself are far more satisfactory. It is 
based on a complete synthesis ; one which embraces, not the oute* 
world only, but the inner world of human nature. This, while in 
no way detracting from the practical value of social principles, give: 
them the imposing weight of theoretical truth ; and ensures their' 
stability and coherence, by connecting them with the whole series 
of laws on which the life of man and of society depend. For theses 
laws wiU corroborate even those which are not immediately deduced 
from them. By connecting aU our rules of action with the funda- 
mental conception of social duty, we render their interpretation in 
each special case clear and consistent, and we secure it against the 
i sophisms of passion. Principles such as these, based on reason, 
[ ailid rendering our conduct independent of the impulses of the 
moment, are the only means of sustaining the vigour of Social 
I Feeling, and at the same time of saving us from the errors to which 
its unguided suggestions so often lead. Direct and constant culture- 
of Social Feeling in pubUc as well as in private life is no doubt the 
first condition of morality. But the natural strength of Self-Love 
, is such that something besides this is required to control it. The 
course of conduct must be traced beforehand in all important cases 
by the aid of demonstrable principles, adopted at first upon trust, 
and afterwards from conviction. 

There is no art whatever in which, however ardent and sincere 
our desire to succeed, we can dispense with knowledge of the nature 
and conditions of the object aimed at. Moral and political con- 
duct is assuredly not exempt from such an obligation, although 
we are more influenced in this case by the direct promptings of 
feeling than in any other of the arts of life. It has been shown 
[ only too clearly by many striking instances how far Social Feeling 
may lead us astray when it is not directed by right principles. It 
was for want of fixed convictions that the noble sympathies 
entertained by the French nation for the rest of Europe at the 
outset of the Revolution so soon degenerated into forcible oppression, 
I when her retrograde leader began his seductive appeal to selfish 
j passions. Inverse cases are stUl more common ; and they illustrate 
1 the connection of feeling and opinion as clearly as the others. A 
false social doctrine has often favoured the natural ascendency of 
Self-love by giving a perverted conception of publie well-being. 
This has been too plainly exemplified in our own time by the 
deplorable influence which Malthus's sophistical theory of population 
obtained in England. This mischievous error met with very little 
acceptance in the rest of Europe, and it has been already refuted 



■CHAP. in.J THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 105 

by the nobler thinkers of his own country; but it still gives the 
«how of seientific sanction to the criminal antipathy of the governing 
■classes in Great Britain to all effectual measures of reform. 

Next to a system of principles, the most important condition 
foE the exercise of Public Opinion is. the existence ol a strono- 
body of supporters suifieiemt to make the weight of these priociplea 
felt. Now it was here that Catholicism proved so weak ; and 
therefore, even had its doctrine been less perishable, its decline was 
unavoidable! But the defect is amply supplied in the new spiritual, 
■ordra-, which, as I have before shown, wiU receive the iniuential 
support of the working classes. And the need of such assistance, 
is as certain as the readiness with which it will be yielded. Por 
though the intrinsic efficjacy of Positive teaching is far greater than 
that of any doctrine which is not susceptible of demonstration.,, 
yet the convictions it inspires cannot be expected to dispense with 
the aid of vigorous popular support. Human nature is imperfectly 
•organized ; and the influence which Eeason exercises over it ia not 
by any means so great as this supposition would imply. Even 
Social Feeling, though its influence is far grpater than that of 
Reason, would not in general be sufficient for the right guidance of 
praotioal life, if Publie Opinion were not constantly at hand to 
support the good inclinations of individuals. The arduous struggle 
of Social Feeling against Self-love requires the constant assertion 
■of true principles to remove uncertainty as to the proper course of 
action in each case. But it requires also something more. The 
•strong reaction of All upon Each is needed, whether to control 
selfishness or to stimulate sympathy. The tendency of our poor 
and weak nature to give way to the lower propensities is so great 
that, but for this universal co-operation, Feeling and Eeason would 
bealmost inadequate to their task. In the working class we find 
rthe requisite conditions. They will, as we have seen, form the 
principal source of opinion, not merely from their numerical 
isuperiority, but also from their intellectual and moral qualities, as 
well as froni the influence directly due to their social position. 
Thus it is that Positivism views the great problem of human life, 
■and shows us for the first time that the bases of a solution abeady 
•exist in the very structure of the social organism. 

Working men, whether as individuals or, what is working 
still more important, collectively, are now at liberty to ™™'^ "^"■''^ 
criticise all the details, and even the general principles, of the social 
isystem under which they live; affecting, as it necessarily does, 
themselves more nearly than any other class. The remarkable 
-eagerness lately shown by our people to form clubs, though there 



106 A GENEEAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [CHAP. HJ. 

was no special motive for it, and no very marked enthusiasm, was 
a proof that the checks which had previously prevented this 
tendency from showing itself were quite unsuited to our times. 
Nor is this tendency likely to pass away ; on the contrary, it will 
take deeper root and extend more widely, because it is thoroughly 
in keeping with the habits, feelings, and wants of working men^ 
who form the majority in these meetings. A consistent system of; ; 
social truth will largely increase their influence, by giving them a 

1 more settled character and a more important aim. So far from 
being in any way destructive, they form a natural though imperfect 
model of the mode of life which wUl ultimately be adopted in the 
regenerate condition of Humanity. In these unions social 
sympathies are kept in constant action by a stimulus of a most 
beneficial kind. They offer the speediest and most effectual means 
of elaborating Public Opinion : this at least is the case when thero 
has been a fair measure of individual training. No one at present 
lhas any idea of the extent of the advantages which will one day 

.spring from these spontaneous meetings, when there is an adequate 
Isystem of general principles to direct them. Spiritual reorganiza;-, 

I tion will find them its principal basis of support, for they secure 

I its acceptance by the people; and this will have the greater weight, 
because it will be always given without compulsion or violence. - 
The objection that meetings of this kind may lead to dangerous- : 
political agitation, rests Upon a misinterpretation of the events of 
the Eevolution. So far from their stimulating a desire for what 
are called political rights, or encouraging their exercise in those 
who possess them, their tendency is quite in the opposite direction. 
They will soon divert working men entirely from all useless at- 
tempts to interfere with existing political institutions, and bring 
them to their true social function, that of assisting and carrying 
out the operations of the new spiritual power. It is a nobl& 
prospect which is thus held out to them by Positivism, a prospect 
far more inviting than anj^ of the metaphysical illusions of the day. 

I The real intention of the Club is to form a provisional substitute 
for the Church of old times, or rather to prepare the way for the • 
religious building of the new form of worship, the worship of 
Humanity ; which, as I shall explain in a subsequent chapter, will 
be gradually introduced under the regenerating influence of Positive 
doctrine. Under our present republican government all progressive- ' 
tendencies are allowed free scope, and therefore it will not be long 
before our people accept this new vent for social sympathies, which 
in former times could find expression only in Catholicism. 

In this theory of Public Opinion one condition yet remains t» 



CHAP. III.]' THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. lOT 

be described. A philosophic organ is necessary to interpret th& 
doctrine ; the influence of which would otherwise ia most cases be 
■"■ery inadequate. This third condition has been much disputed; 
but it is certainly even more indispensable than the second. And 
in'fact it has never been really wanting, for every doctrine must 
ha,ve had some founder, and usually has a permanent body of 
teachers. It would be difficult to conceive that a system of moral 
and political principles should be possessed of great social influence, 
and yet at the same time that the men who originate or inculcate 
the system should exercise no spiritual authority. It is true that 
this inconsistency did for a time exist under the negative and 
destructive influence of Protestantism and Deism, because men's 
thoughts were for the time entirely taken up with the struggle to 
escape from the retrograde tendencies of Catholicism. During this 
long period of insurrection, each individual became a sort of priest ; 
each, that is, iollowed his own interpretation of a doctrine which 
needed no special teachers, because its function was not to construct 
but to criticise. All the constitutions that have been recently 
established on metaphysical principles give a direct sanction to 
this state of things, in the preambles with which they commence. 
They apparently regard each citizen as competent to form a sound , 
opinion on all social questions, thus exempting him from the 
necessity of applying to any special interpreters. This extension 
to the normal state of things of a phase of mind only suited to 
the period of revolutionary transition, is an error which I have , 
already sufficiently refuted. 

In the minor arts of life, it is obvious that general principles 
cannot be laid down without some theoretical study ; and that the 
application of these rules to special cases is not to be entirely left 
tq-the untaught instinct of the artisan. And can it be otherwise 
with the art of Social Life, so far harder and more important than 
any other, and in which, from its principles being less simple and 
less precise, a special explanation of them in each case is even 
more necessary 1 However perfect the demonstration of social 
principles may become, it must not be supposed that knowledge of 
Positive doctrine, even when it has been taught in the most 
efficient way, will dispense with the necessity of frequently 
appealing to the philosopher for advice in questions of practical 
life, whether private or public. And this necessity of an inter- 
preter to intervene occasionally between the principle and its 
application, is even more evident from the moral than it is from the 
intellectual aspect. Certain as it is that no one will be so well 
aequainted with the true character of the doctrine as the philosopher 



roS A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. Khap. in. 

■flfho teaches it, it is even more certaia that none is so likely as 
himself to possess the moral qualifications of purity, of exalted 
aims, and of freedom from party spirit, witholit which his counsels 
could have but httle weight in reforming individual or social 
conduct. It is principally through his agency that we may hope, 
in most cases to bring about that reaction of All upon Eaoh^ 
which, as we have seen, is of siich indispensable importance to 
practical morality. Philosophers a,re not indeed the principal 
source of Public Opinion, as iatelleptvial pride so often leads them 
to believe. Public Opinion proceeds essentially from the free 
voice and spontaneous co-operation of the people. But in order 
that the full weight of their unanimous judgment may be felt, it 
must be announced by, sopae recognised organ. There are, no doubt, 
rare cases where the direct expression of popular feeling is enough, 
but these are quite exceptional. Thus working men and philo- 
pophers are mutually necessary, not merely in the creation of 
PubHc Opinion, but also in most cases in the manifestation of it. 
Without the first, the doctrine, however well established, would 
not have sufficient force. Without the second, it would usually be 
too incoherent to overcome those obstacles in the constitution of 
man and of society, which make it so difficult to bring practical 
life under the influence of fixed principles. 

In fact this necessity for some systematic organ to direct and 
give effect to Public Opinion, has a,lways been feltj even amidst 
the spiritual anarchy which at present surrounds us, on every 
occasion in which such opinion has played any important part. 
For its eifect on these occasions would have been null and void but 
for some individual to take the initiative and personal responsibility. 
This is frequently verified in private life by cases in which we 
see the opposite state of things ; we see principles which no one 
would think of contesting, practically inadequate, for want of some 
recognized authority to apply them. It is a serious deficiency, 
which is, however, compensated, though imperfectly, by the greater 
facility of arriving at the truth in such cases, and by the greater 
strength of the sympathies which they call forth. But in public 
life, with its more difficult conditions and inore important claims, 
such entire absence of systernatic intervention pould never be 
tolerated. In all public transactions even now we may perceive 
the participation of a spiritual authority of one kind or Other ; the 
organs of which, though constantly varying, are in most cases 
metaphysicians or literary men writing for the press. Thus even 
in the presei;it anarchy of feelings and convictions. Public Opinion 
cannot dispense with guides and interpreters. Only it has to be 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. lUtfi 

content witli men who at the test can only offer the guarantee of 
personal responsibility, without any reliable security either for the- 
stability of their conTictioHs or the pnrity of their feelings. But 
now that the -{jroblem of organizing Public Opinion has once been 
proposed by Positivism, it cannot remain long without a solution. 
It plainly reduces itself to the principle of separating the two 
^bcial powers ; just as we have seen that the necessity of an 
(established doctrine rested on the analogous principle of separating 
theory from practice. It is clear, on the one hand, that sound' 
interpretation of moral and political rules, as in the case of any 
other art, can only be furnished by philosophers engaged in the 
study of the natural laws on which they rest. On the other hand 
these philosophers, in order "to preserve that breadth and generality 
of view which is their principal intellectual characteristic, must 
abstain scrupulously from all regular participation in practical 
affairs, and especially from political life : on the ground that its 
'Specialising influence wonld soon impair their speculative capacity. 
;Ahd such a course is equally necessary on moral grounds. It helps 
to preserve purity of feeling and impartiality of character ; qualities 
essential to their influence upon public as well as upon private life. 
Such, in outline, is the Positive theory of Public Opinion. In 
each of its three constituent elements, the Doctrine, the Power, 
and the Organ, it is intimately connected with the whole question 
of spiritual reorganization ; or rather, it forms the simplest mode 
of viewing that great subject. All the essential parts of it are 
closely related to each other. Positive principles, on the one hand,, 
cannot count on much material support, except from the working 
classes ; these in their turn will for the future regard Positivisin 
as the only doctrine with which they can sympathise. So, again, 
with the philosophic organs of opinion ; without the People, their 
necessary independence cannot be established or sustained. To , 
our literary classes the separation of the two powers is instinctively 
repugnant, because it would lay down systematic limits to the, 
unwise ambition which we now see in them. And it will be das-[ 
liked as strongly by the rich classes, who will look with fear upon 
a new moral authority destined to impose an irresistible check 
upon their selfishness. At present it will be generally understood 
and welcomed only by the proletaryjjlass, who have more aptitude 
for general views and for social sympathy. In France especially 
they are less under the delusion of metaphysical sophisms and bf 
aristocratic prestige than any other class ; and the Positivist view 
of this primary condition of social regeneration wUl find a ready- 
entrance into their minds and hearts. 



110 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [OHAp.; hi. 

All three Qur theory of Public Opinion shows us at once how 

■conditions of ^ , "^ - _ .^ . . , , . 

PubUc Opinion far we have already gone m organizing this great regu- 
no^Vet'beJn ^^^^ «* modem society ; how far we still fall short of 
combined. what is Wanted. The Doctrine has at last arisen : 
there is no doubt of the existence of the Power ; and even the 
Organ is not wanting. But they do not as yet stand in their right 
relation to each other. The effective impulse towards social re- 
I generation depends, then, on one ultimate condition ; the formation 
1 of a firm alliance between philosophers and proletaries. ~ 

Of this powerful coalition I have already spoken. I have now 
to explain the advantages which it offers to the people in the way 
■of obtaining sufficient recognition of all legitimate claims. 
I Of these advantages, the principal, and that by which the rest 
1 will speedily be developed and secured, is the important social 
\ function which is hereby conferred upon them. They become 
auxiliaries of the new spiritual power ; auxiliaries indispensable to 
its action. This vast proletary class, which ever since its rise in 
the Middle Ages has been shut out from the political system, will 
now assume the position for which by nature it is best adapted, 
and which is most conducive to the general well-being of society. 
Its members, independently of their special vocation, will at last 
take a regular and most important part in public life, a part which 
■will compensate for the hardships inseparable from their social 
position. Their combined action, far from disturbing the established 
-order of things, will be its most solid guarantee, from the fact of 
being moral, not political. And here we see definitely the altera- 
tion which Positivism introduces in the revolutionary conception 
, of the action of the working classes upon society. For stormy 
discussions about rights, it substitutes peaceable definition of duti^. 
1 It supersedes useless disputes for the possession of power, by in- 
1 quiring into the rules that should regulate its wise employment. 

- A superficial observer of the present state of things 

tendencies of might imagine our working classes to be as yet very 
f°rig?LW?re^ far from this frame of mind. But he who looks deeper 
tion. Tiieir into the question will see that the very experiment 
ommumsm. .^jj^^jj |^jjgy g^^g jj^^.,^ trying, of extending their political 
rights, will soon have the effect of showing them the hollowness of 
■a remedy which has so slight a bearing upon the objects really 
important to them. Without making any formal abdication of 
rights, which might seem inconsistent with their social dignity, 
there is little doubt that their instinctive sagacity will lead them 
to the stiU more efficacious plan of indifference. Positivism wiU 
leadUy convince them that whereas spiritual power, in order to do 



CHAP. III.) THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. Ill 

its work, must ramify in every direction, it is essential to public 
order that political power should be as a rule concentrated. And 
i this conviction will grow upon them, as they see more clearly that 
the primary social problems which are very properly absorbing 
their attention are essentially moral rather than political. 

One step in this direction they have already taken of their own 
accord, though its unportance has not been duly appreciated. The 
well-known scheme of Communism, which has found such rapid 
acceptance with them, serves, in the absence of sounder doctrine, 
to express the way in which they are now looking at the great 
social problem. The experience of the first part of the Eevolution 
has not yet whoUy disabused them of political illusions, but it has 
at least brought them to feel that Property is of more importance 
than Power in the ordinary sense of the word. So far Communism 
has given a wider meaning to the great social problem, and has 
thereby rendered an essential service, which is not neutralised by 
the temporary dangers involved in the metaphysical forms in which 
it comes before us. Communism should therefore be carefully 
distinguished from the numerous extravagant schemes brought 
forward in this time of spiritual anarchy ; a time which stimulates 
incompetent and ill-trained minds to the most difiScult subjects of 
thought. The foolish schemes referred to have so few definite 
features, that we have to distinguish them by the names of their 
authors. But Communism bears the name of no single author, 
and is something more than an accidental product of anomalous cir- 
cumstances. We should look upon it as the natural progress in 
the right direction of the revolutionary spirit ; progress of a moral 
rather than intellectual kind. It is a proof that revolutionary 
tendencies are now concentrating themselves upon moral questions, 
leaving aU purely political questions in the back-ground. It is 
quite true that the solution of the problem which Communists are 
now putting forward, is still as essentially political as that of their 
predecessors; since the only mode by which they propose to 
regulate the employment of property, is by a change in the mode 
of its tenure. StiU it is owing to them that the question of pro- 
perty is at last brought forward for discussion : and it is a question 
which so evidently needs a moral solution, the solution of it by 
political means is at once so inadequate and so destructive, that it 
•cannot long continue to be debated, without leading to the more 
satisfactory result offered by Positivism. Men will see that it 
-forms a part of the final regeneration of opinion and of life, which 
Positivism is now inaugurating. 
-To do justice to Communism, we must look at the generous 



112 A GBNBEAI, VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

I sympathies by -which it is inspired, not at the shallow theories in 
1 which those sympathies find expression provisionally, until circum- 
stances enable them to take some other shape. Our working classes, 
caring but very little for metaphysical principles, do not attach 
nearly the same importance to these theories as is done by men of 
literary education. As soon as they see a better waiy of bringing 
forward the points on which they have such legitimate claims, 
they will very soon adopt the clear and practical concejptionB of 
Positivism, which can be carried out peaceably and permanently, in 
preference to these vague and confused chimeras, which, as they 
will instinctively feel, lead only to anarchy. Till then they will 
naturally abide by Communism; as the only method of bringing 
forward the most fundamental of social problems in a way which 
there shall be no evading. The very alarm which their present 
solution of the problem arouses helps to stir public attention, and 
fix it on this great subject. But for this constant ^peal to their 
fears, the metaphysical delusions and aristocratic -self-seeking of 
the governing classes would shelve the question altogether, or pass 
it by with indifference. The errors of Communism must be rectified ; 
but there is no necessity for giving up the name, which is a simple 
_ assertion of the paramount importance of Social Feeling. How- 
I ever, now that we have happily passed from monarchy to republi- 
) canism, the name Of Communist is no longer indispensable; the 
I word Repuhliedn expresses the meaning as well, and without the 
, same danger. Positivism, then, has nothing to fear from Com- 
munism ; on the contrary, it will probably be accepted by most 
-Communists among the working classes, especially in France, where 
i abstractions have but little influence on minds thoroughly emanci- 
' pated from theology. The people wUl gradually find that the 
solution of the great social problem Tvhich Positivism ofiers is better 
than the Communistic solution. 

Its new title A tendency in this direction has already shown itself 

of Socialism, gj^^g ^.j^g Q^^ edition of this work was published. The 

j working classes have now adopted a new expression. Socialism, 

[thus indicating that they accept the problem of the Communists 

f while rejecting their solution. Indeed that solution would seem 

to be finally disposed of by the voluntary exile of their leader. 

Tet, if the Socialists at present keep clear of Communism, it is 

Only because their position is one of criticism or inaction. If they 

were to succeed to power, with principles so far below the level of 

their sympathies, they would inevitably fall into the same errors 

and extravagances which they now instinctively feel to be wrong. 

'Gonsequently'the rapid spread of Socialism very naturally alarms 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PliOPLB. 113 

the upper classes ; and their resistance, Mind though it be, is at 
present the only legal guarantee for material order. In fact, the 
problem brought forward by the Communists admits of no solution 
but their own, so long as the revolutionary confusion of temporal 
and spiritual power continues. Therefore the universal blame 
that is lavished on these utopian schemes cannot fail to inspire 
respect for Positivism, as the only doctrine which can preserve 
Western Europe from some serious attempt to bring Communism 
into practical operation. Positivists stand forward now as the 
party of construction, with a definite basis for political action ; 
namely, systematic prosecution of the wise attempt of mediseval 
statesmen to separate the two social powers. On this basis they 
are enabled to satisfy the Poor, and at the same time to restore the 
confidence of the Eich. It is a final solution of our difficulties 
which will make the titles of which we have been speaking un- 
necessary. Stripping the old word Republican of any false meaning 
at present attached to it, we may retain it as the best expression 
of the social sympathies on which the regeneration of society 
depends. Por the opinions, manners, and even institutions of 
future society, Positivist is the only word suitable. 

The peculiar reality of Positivism, and its invariable . 

tendency to concentrate our intellectual powers upon in iti'^nature 
social questions, are attributes, both of which involve „°°j^' ^antrot 
its adoption of the essential principle of Communism ; 
that principle being, that Property is in its nature social, and that 
it needs control. 

Property has been erroneously represented by most modern 
jurists as conferring an absolute right upon the possessor, irre- 
spectively of the good or bad use made of it. This view is 
instinctively felt by the working classes to be unsound, and alii 
true philosophers will agree with them. It is an anti-social theory, 
due historically to exaggerated reaction against previous legislation 
of a peculiarly oppressive kind, but it has no real foundation 
either in justice or in fact. Property can neither be created, nor 
even transmitted by the sole agency of its possessor. The co- 
operation of the public is always necessary, whether in the 
assertion of the general principle or in the application of it to 
each special case. Therefore the tenure of property is not to be 
regarded as a purely individual right. In every age and in every 
country the state has intervened, to a greater or less degree, making 
property subservient to social requirements. Taxation evidently 
gives the public an interest in the private fortune of each indi- 
vidual ; an interest which, instead of diminishing with the progress 



114: A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. in. 

of civilization, has been always on the increase, especially in 
modern times, now that the connection of each member of society 
with the whole is becoming more apparent. The practice of con- 
fiscation, which also is in universal use, shows that in certain 
extreme cases the community considers itself authorised to assume 
entire possession of private property. Confiscation has, it is true, 
been abolished for a time in France. But this isolated exception 
is due only to the abuses which recently accompanied the exercise 
of what was in itself an undoubted right ; aud it will hardly 
survive when the causes which led , to it are forgotten, and the 
power which introduced it has passed away. In their abstract 
views of property, then. Communists are perfectly able to maintain 
their ground against the jurists. 

They are right, again, in dissenting as deeply as they do from 
the Economists, who lay it down as an absolute principle that the 
application of wealth should be entirely unrestricted by society. 
This eiTor, like the one just spoken of, is attributable to instances of 
unjustifiable interference. But it is utterly opposed to all sound 
philosophical teaching, although it has a certain appearance of 
truth, in so far as it recognises the subordination of social pheno- 
mena to natural laws. But the Economists seem to have adopted 
this important principle only to show how incapable they are of 
comprehending it. Before they applied the conception of Law to 
the higher phenomena of nature, they ought to have made them- 
selves well acquainted with its meaning, as applied to the lower 
and more simple phenomena. Not having done so, they have been 
utterly blind to the fact that the Order of nature becomes more 
and more modifiable as it grows more complicated. This conception 
lies at the very root of our whole practical life ; therefore nothing 
can excuse the metaphysical school of Economists for systematically, 
resisting the intervention of human wisdom in the various depart- 
ments of social action. That the movement of society is subject 
to natural laws is certain ; but this truth, instead of inducing us 
to abandon all efibrts to modify society, should rather, lead to a 
I wiser application of such efforts, . since they are at once more 
[ efficacious, and more necessary in social phenomena than in any 
other. 

So far, therefore, the fimdamental principle of Communism is 
one which the Positivist school must obviously adopt. Positivism, 
not only confirms this principle, but widens its scope> by showing 
its application to other departments of human life; by insisting, 
that, not wealth only, but that all our powers shall be devoted in 
the true repubUean spirit to the continuous service of the com- 



CHAT, m.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 115. 

munity. The long period, of reTolution which has elapsed since 
the Middle Ages has encouraged individualism in the moral world, 
as in the intellectual it has fostered the specialising tendency. But 
both are equally inconsistent with the. final order of modem society. 
In all healthy conditions of Humanity, the citizen, whatever his 
position, has been regarded as a public functionary, whose duties 
and claims were determined more or less distinctly by his faculties. 
The case of property is certainly no exception to this general prin- • 
ciple. Proprietorship is regarded by the Positivist as an important 
social function; the function, namely, of creating and administering 
that capital by means of which each generation lays the foundation 
for the operations of its successor. This is the only tenable view 
of property; and wisely interpreted, it is one which, while en- 
nobling to its possessor, does not exclude a due measure of 
freedom. It vsdll in fact place his position on a firmer basis than 
ever. 

But the agreement here pointed out' between socio- t. <. p •« 
logical science and the spontaneous inspirations of ismrejectsthe 
popular judgment, goes no farther. Positivists accept, Stion^f^'iS ' 
and indeed enlarge, the programme of Communism ; problem. Pro- 
but we reject itS' practical solution on the ground TOntroUed" hy 
that it is at once inadequate and subversive. The morainotie^ 
chief difference between our own solution and theirs 
is that we substitute moral agencies for political. Thus we come 
again to our leading principle of separating spiritual frOm temporal 
power ; a principle which, disregarded as it has hitherto been in 
th©' system of modern renovators, wiU be found in every one of 
the important problems of our time to be the sole possible issue. 
In the presentt case, while throwing such light on the fallacy of 
Communism, it should lead us to excuse the fallacy, by reminding 
us that politicians of every accredited school are equally guilty of 
it. At a time when there are so very few, even of cultivated 
mindSj. who have a clear conception of ' this the primary principle 
of modern politics, it would be harsh to blame the people for still 
accepting a result of revolutionary empiricism, which is so imiver- 
saUy adopted by other classes. 

I need i not enter here into -any detailed criticism of the Utopian 
scheme of Plato. It was conclusively refuted twenty-two centuries 
ago, by the great Aristotle, who thus exemplified" the organic 
character, by which, even in its earliest manifestations, the Positive 
spirit is distingtiished. In modern Communism, moreover, there 
is one fatal incdnsisteancy, which while it proves the utter weakness 
of) the system, testifies at the same time to the honourable character 



116 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iir. 

of the motives from which it arose. Modem Communism diflfers 
from the ancient, as expounded by Plato, in not making women 
and children common as well as property ; a result to which the 
principle itself obviously leads. Yet this, the only consistent view 
of Communism, is adopted by none but a very few literary men, 
whose affections, in themselves too feeble, have been perverted by 
vicious intellectual training. Our untaught proletaries, who are 
the only Communists worthy oui consideration, are nobly incon-- 
sistent ia this respect. Indivisible as their erroneous system is, 
they only adopt that side of it which touches on their social re- 
quirements. The other side is repugnant to aU their highest instincts, 
and they utterly repudiate it. 

Without discussing these chimerical schemes in detail, it will he 
well to expose the errors inherent in the method of reasoning which 
leads to them, because they are common to all the other progressive 
schools, the Positivist school excepted. The mistake consists in 
the first place, in disregarding or even denying the natural laws 
which regulate social phenomena; and secondly, in resorting to 
political agencies where moral agency is the real thing needed. 
The inadequacy and the danger of the various Utopian systems 
which are now setting up their rival claims to bring about the 
regeneration of society, are all attributable in reality to these two 
closely-connected errors. For the sake of clearness, I shall continue 
to refer specially to Communism as the most prominent of these 
systems. But it wiU be easy to extend the bearing of my remarks 
to all the rest. 

iDdiTiduau- The ignorance of the true laws of social life under 
ttans'a^'necra- ''''^ch Commuuists labour is evident in their dangerous 
sary as co- tendency to suppress individuality. Not only do they 
opera on. ignore the inherent preponderance in our nature of the 
personal instincts ; but they forget that, in the collective Organism, 
the separation of functions is a feature no less essential than the 
co-operation of functions. Suppose for a moment that the con- 
nection between men could be made such that they were physically 
inseparable, as has been actually the case with twins in certain 
cases of monstrosity ; society would obviously be impossible. 
I Extravagant as this supposition is, it may illustrate the fact that 
in social life individuality cannot be dispensed with. It is neces- 
sary in order to admit of that variety of simultaneous efforts which 
constitutes the immense superiority of the Social Organism over 
every individual life. The great problem for man is to harmonize, 
as far as possible, the freedom resulting from isolation, with the 
equally urgent necessity for convergence. To dwell exclusively 



■CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 117 

upon the necessity of convergence would tend to undermine not 
merely our practical energy, but our true dignity ; since it would 
do away with the sense of personal responsibility. In exceptional 
cases where life is spent in forced subjection to domestic authority, 
the comforts of home are often not enough to prevent existence 
from becoming an intolerable burden, simply from the want of 
sufficient independence. What would it be, then, if everybody 
stood in a similar position of dependence towards a community 
that was indifferent to his happiness ? Yet no less a danger than 
this would be the result of adopting any of those Utopian schemes 
which sacrifice true liberty to uncontrolled equality, or even to an 
■exaggerated sense of fraternity. Wide as the divergence between 
Positivism and the Economic schools is, Positivists adopt sub- 
stantially the strictures which they have passed upon Communism; 
•especially those of Dunoyer, their most advanced writer. 

There is another point in which Communism is industoyre- 
equaUy inconsistent with the laws of Sociology. Act- tains aa well 
ing under false views of the constitution of our modem ^ ^"- 
industrial system, it proposes to remove its directors, who form so 
essential a part of it. An army can no more exist without officers 
than without soldiers; and this elementary truth holds good of 
Industry as well as of War. The organization of modem industry 
has not been found practicable as yet ; but the germ of such 
organization lies unquestionably in the division which has arisen 
spontaneously between Capitalist and Workman. No great works 
could be undertaken if each worker were also to be a director, or if 
the management, instead of being fixed, were entrusted to a passive 
and irresponsible body. It is evident that under the present system 
of industry there is a tendency to a constant enlargement of under- 
takings : each fresh step leads at once to stiU further extension. 
Now this tendency, so far from being opposed to the interests of 
the working classes, is a condition which will most seriously facili- 
tate the real organization of our material existence, as soon as we 
have a moral authority competent to control it. For it is only the 
larger employers that the spiritual power can hope to penetrate with 
a strong and habitual sense of duty to their subordinates. Without 
a sufficient concentration of material power, the means of satisfying 
the claims of morality would be found wanting, except at such 
■exorbitant sacrifices as would be incompatible with all industrial 
progress. This is the weak point of every plan of reform which 
limits itself to the mode of acquiring power, whether public power 
or private, instead of aiming at controlling its use in whosever 
hands it may be placed. It leads to a waste of those forces which, 



118 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. iii. 

when rightly used, form our principal resource ia dealing with grave 
social difficulties. 

Communism ^^^ motives, therefore, from which modern Cqeq- 
is deficient in munism has arisen, however estimable, lead at present, 
i^wt**""'^ in the want of proper scientific teaching, to a very- 
wrong View both of- the nature of the disease and of its 
remedy. A heavier reproach against it is, that in one point it shows 
-~ a manifest insufficiency of social instinct. Communists bpast of 
i their spirit of social union; but they limit it to the union of the 
I present generation, stopping short of historical continuity, which 
' yet is the principal chardoteristio of Humanity. When they have 
matured their moral growth, and have followed out in Time that 
■connection which at present, they only recognise in Space, they will 
at once see the necessity of these general conditions which at pre- 
sent they would reject. They will understand the importance of 
•inheritance, as the natm'al means by which each generation trans- 
mits to its successor the result of its own labours and the means of 
improving them. The necessity of inheritance, as far as the com- 
munity is concerned, is evident, and its extension to the individual 
is an obvious consequence. But whatever reproaches Communist-s 
may deserve in this respect are equally applicable to all the other 
progressive sects. They are all, pervaded by an anti-historic spirit, 
which leads them to conceive of Society as though it had no ances- 
\ tors ;^aitd this, although their own ideas for the most part can have 
no bearing except upon posterity. 

In fact as a ' S^^ious as these errors are, a philosophic mind will 
system, 'it is treat the Communism of our day, so far as it is adopted 
Soughpromp- ^ S°°^ faith, with indulgence, whether he look at the 
; ted by noble motives from which it arose, or at the practical results 
^^' which will follow from it. It is hardly fair to criticise 

the intrinsic merits of a doctrine, the whole meaning and value of 
Which are relative to the peculiar phase of society in which it- is 
proposed. Communism has in its own way discharged an important 
function. It has brought prominently forward the greatestof social 
problems ; and, if we except the recent Posjtivist explanation, its 
mode of stating it has never been surpassed. And let no one sup- 
pose that it would have been enough simply to state thfr problem, 
without hazaiding any solution of it. Those who think so ido, not 
■ understand the exigencies of man's feeble intellect. In fax easier 
subjects . than this, it is impossible to give prolonged attention to 
questions which are simply asked, -without any attempt to answer 
them. Suppose, for instance, that Gall and Broussais had limited 
themselves to a simple statement of their great problems without 



CHAP. Ill,] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 119 

' TrtSHturing on any solution;' their principles, however incontestable, 
" -would have been barren of result, for want of that motive power of 
renovation' which nothing can give but a systematic solution of 
some kind or other, ' hazardous as the ' attempt must be at first. 
Now it is haldly likely that we should be able to evade this condi- 
tion of our mental' faculties in sttbjects which are not only of the 
' highest: difficulty, but also more exposed than any others to the 
■influence of passion. 'Besides, when we compare the errors of 
Communism with those' of other social doctrines which have recently 
received official' sanction, we shall' feel more disposed to palliate 
them. Are they, for instance, more ' shallow and more really dan- 
' gerous ithan the absurd and chimerical notion which was accepted 
in France for a whole generation, and is stiU upheld by so many 
political teachers ; ' the notion that the great ' Kevolution has found 
its final issue in the constitutional system of government, a system 
peculiar to England during her stage of transition 1 Moreover, our 
so-called conservatives only escape the errors of Communism by 
evading or ignoring its problems, though they are becoming every 
day more urgent. Whenever they are induced to deal with them, 
they render themselves liable to exactly the same dangers, dangers 
common to all schools'which reject the division of the two powers, 
and -which consequently are fo'r ever trying to make 'legislation do 
the ■ work of morality. Accordingly we see the governing classes 
now-a-days upholding institutions of a thoroughly Communist 
character, such as alms-houses, foundling hospitals, etc. ; while 
popularfeeling stronglyand rightly condemns such institutions, as 
being incompatible with that healthy growth of home ^affe'ction 
"which should be common to all ranks. 

•Were it not that Communism is provisionally useful in antagon- 
ising other doctrines equally erroneous, it wotdd have, then, no real 
importance, except that due to the motives which originated it; 
since its practical solution is far too chimerical and subversive ever 
to obtain acceptance. 'Yet, from the high morality of these mo- 
tives, it will probably maintain and increase its influence until our 
working men find that their wants can be more effectually satisfied 
by gentler and surer means. Our rep'ublican system seems at first 
i sight favourable to the scheme; but it cannot fail soon to have the 
reverse effect, because, while adopting the social principle which 
constitutes the real' merit 'of Communism, it repudiates its mis- 
chievous illusions. In France, at all events, where property is so 
easy to acquire and is consequently so generally enjoyed, the doc- 
rtrine cannot lead to much practical hatm ; rather its reaction will 
• be beneficial, because it wiU fix men's minds more seriously on the 



120 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ill. 

just claims of the People. The danger is far greater in other parts 
of "Western Europe ; especially in England, where aristocratic influ- 
ence is less undermined, and where consequently the working classes 
are less advanced and more oppressed. And even in Catholic 
countries, where individualism and anarchy have been met by a 
truer sense of fraternity, Communistic disturbances can only be 
avoided finally by a more rapid dissemination of Positivism, which 
will ultimately dispel aU social delusions, by offering the true solu- 
tion of the questions that gave rise to them. 

The nature of the evil shows us at once that the remedy we seek 
must be almost entirely of a moral kind. This truth, based as it is 
on real knowledge of human nature, the people will soon come to 
feel instinctively. And here Communists are, without knowing it, 
preparing the way for the ascendancy of Positivism. They are 
forcing upon men's notice in the strongest possible way a problem 
to which no peaceable and satisfactory solution can be given, except 
by the new philosophy. 

Property is That philosophy, abandoning all useless and irritating 
* ^ttoii^*- discussion as to the origin of wealth and the extent of 
fered with le- its possession, proceeds at once to the moral rules which ' 
^^^- should regulate it as a social function. The distribu- 

tion of power among men, of material power especially, lies so far 
beyond our means of intervention, that to set it before us as our 
main object to rectify the defects of the natural order in this respect, 
would be to waste our short life in barren and interminable dis- 
putes. The chief concern of the public is that power, in whosever 
hands it may be placed, should be exercised for their benefit ; and 
this is a point to which we may direct our efl^orts with far greater 
effect. Besides, by regulating the employment of wealth, we do, 
indirectly, modify its tenure ; for the mode in which wealth is held 
has some secondary influence over the right use of it. 

The regulations required should be moral, not political in their' 
source ; general, not special, in their application. Those who accept " 
them will do so of their own free wUl, under the influence of their 
'■ education. Thus their obedience, whUe steadily maintained, wiU : 
have, as Aristotle long ago observed, the merit of voluntary action. 
By converting private property into a public function, we would ' 
subject it to no tyrannical interference; for this, by the destruction 
of free impulse and responsibility, would prove most deeply degrad- - 
ing to man's character. Indeed, the comparison of proprietors with 
public functionaries wUl frequently be applied in the inverse sense; 
with the view, that is, of strengthening the latter rather than of 
weakening the former. The true principle of republicanism is, that 



CHAP, m.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 121 

all forces shall work together • for the common good. With this 
view we have on the one hand, to determine precisely what it is 
that the common good requires ; and on the other, to develop the 
temper of mind most likely to satisfy the requirement. The condi- 
tions requisite for these two objects are, a recognised Code of prin- 
ciples, an adequate Education, and a healthy direction of Public 
Opinion. For such conditions we must look principally to the 
philosophic body which Positivism proposes to establish at the apex 
of modern society. Doubtless this purely moral influence would 
not be sufficient of itseH. Human frailty is such that Grovernment, 
in the ordinary sense of the word, will have as before to repress 
by force the more palpable and more dangerous class of delinquen- 
cies. But this additional control, though necessary, will not fill so 
important a place as it did in the Middle Ages under the sway of 
■Catholicism. Spiritual rewards and punishments will preponderate 
■over temporal, in proportion as human development evokes a stronger 
sense of the ties which unite each with all, by the threefold bond 
•of Feeling, Thought, and Action. 

Positivism, being more pacific and more efficacious . '^"'^^hi**"?? 
than Communism, because more true, is also broader its right em- 
and more complete in its solution of great social prob- pi°y™™t- 
lems. The superficial view of property, springing too often from 
•envious motives, which condemns Inheritance because it admits of 
possession without labour, is not subversive merely, but narrow. 
From the moral point of view we see at once the radical weakness 
•of these empirical reproaches. They show blindness to the fact 
that this mode of transmitting wealth is reaUy that which is most 
likely to call out the temper requisite for its right employment. 
It saves the mind and the heart from the mean and sordid habits 
which are so often engendered by slow accumulation of capital. 
The man who is born to wealth is more likely to feel the wish to 
be respected. And thus those whom we are inclined to condemn 
as idlers may very easily become the most useful of the rich classes, 
under a wise reorganization of opinions and habits. Of course too, 
since with the advance of Civilization the difficulty of living with- 
out industry increases, the class that we are speaking of becomes 
more and more exceptional. In every way, then, it is a most 
serious mistake to wish to upset society on account of abuses which 
■axe already in course of removal, and which admit of conversion to 
a most beneficial purpose. 

Again, another feature in which the Positivist solu- needli^^^morai 
iion surpasses the Communist, is the remarkable com- control as 
plotenoss of its application. Communism takes no wealth. "^ 



122 A GENEEAl VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iir. 

account of . anything but wealth ; as if wealth were the only- 
power in modem society hadly distributed and administered. 

■ In (reality there are greater abuses connected with almost every 
other power that man possesses; and especially with thei powers of 

. intellect ; yet these our visionaries make not the smallest attempt 

• to lefctify. Positivism being the only doctrine that embraces the 
"Whole sphere of human existence, is therefore the only doctrine 

that can elevate Social Feeling to its proper place, by extending it 
to all departments of human activity without exception. Identifi- 
cation, iu 4 moral sense, of private functions with public duties is 
even more necessary in the case of the scientific man or the artist, 
than in that of the propraetor ; whether we look at the source from 
which his powers proceed, or at the object to^ which they should be 
directed. Yet the men who wish to make material wealth common, 
the only kind of wealth that can be held exclusively by an indivi- 
\ dual, never extend their Utopian scheme to intellectual wealth, in 
which it would be far more admissible. In fact the apostles of 
Communism often come forward as zealous supporters of what they 
call literary property. Such inconsistencies show the shallowness 
of the system ; it proclaims its own failure in the very cases that 
are most favourable for its application. The extension of the prin- 
(ciple here suggested would expose at once the inexpediency of 
/ political regulations on the subject, and the necessity of moral 
rules ; for these and these only can ensure the right use of all our 
faculties without distiaction. Intellectual effort, to be of any Talue> 
; must be spontaneous ; and it is doubtless an instinctive sense of 
/ this truth which prevents Communists from subjecting intellectual 
j faculties to their Utopian regulations. But Positivism can deal with 
these faculties^ which stand in the most urgent need of wise direc- 
tion, without inconsistency and without disturbance. It leaves to 
them their fair measure of free action ; and in the case of other 

• faculties which, though less eminent, are hardly less dangerous to 
repress, it strengthens their freedom. When a pure morality arises 
capable of impressing a social tendency upon every phsiBeof human 
activity, the freer our action becomes the more useful will it be to 
the public. The tendency of modern civilization, far from impeding 
private industry, is to entrust it more and more with functions, 
especially with those of a material kind, which were originally left 
to government. Unfortunately this tendency, which is very "evi- 
dent, leads economists into the mistake of supposing that industry 
may be left altogether without organization. All that it really 
proves is that the influence of moral principles is gradually prepon- 
derating over that of governmental regulations. 



GHAP. III.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 123^ 

The method which is peculiar to Positivism of solving AoHonofor- 
■ our great social prohlems by moral agencies, wiU he g^ifedpubite 
"found applicable also to the settlement of industrial Capitalists.^"'^ 
icdisputes, so far as the popular claims involved are well ^''^^=- 
founded. These claims will thus become clear from all tendency 
to disorder, and will consequently gain immensely in force ; especi- 
-iaUy when they are seen to be consistent with principles which 'are 
' freely accepted by all, and when they are supported by a philo- 
sophic body of known impartiality and enlightenment. This spiri- 
'■' tual power, while impressing on the people the duty of respecting 
their temporal leaders, will impose duties upon these latter, which, 
they will find impossible to evade. As all classes will have received 
a common education, they wUl all alike be penetrated with the 

■ general principles on which these special obligations wUl rest. 
. Aind these weapons, derived from no source but that of Feeling and 
/'Ueason, and aided solely by Public Opinion, wiU wield an influence- 
over practical life, of which nothing in the present day can give any 

i'C&neeption. We might compare it with the influence of Catholicism 
"in the Middle Ages, only that men are too apt to attribute' the- 
results of Catholicism to the chimerical hopes and fears whiishit 
inspired, rather than to the energy with which praise and blame- 
were distributed. With the new spiritual power praise and blame 
' wiU. form the only resource; but it will be developed and consoli- 
" 'dated to a degree which, as I have before shown, was impossible 
.'■for Catholicism. 

This is the only real solution of the disputes that are so constantly 
arising between workmen and their employers. 'Both parties will 
• look to this philosophic authority as a supreme court of arbitration. 
In estimating its importance, we must not forget that the' antagon- 
ism of employer and employed has not yet been pushed to its fuU 
consequences. The struggle between wealth and numbers would 
have ■ been far more serious, but for the fact that combination, 
■without which there can be no struggle worth speaking of, has 
-hitherto only been permitted to the capitalist. It is true that in 
'•'England combinations of workmen are not legally prohibited. But. 
in that country they are not yet sufficiently emancipated either 
' - iittellectuaJlly or morally, to make such use of the power as would bo 
the case in France. When French workmen are allowed to concert 

■ their plans as freely as their employers, the antagonism of interests 
that win then arise will make both sides feel the need of a moral 

■ power to arbitrate between them. Not that the conciliating influ- 
ence of such a power will ever be such as to do away entirely with 
extreme measures ; hut it will greatly restrict their application, and 



124 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. CCHAP. m. 

in cases where they are unavoidable, will mitigate their excesses. 
Such measures should be limited on both sides to refusal of co-oper- 
ation ; a power which every free agent ought to be allowed to 
exercise, on his own personal responsibility, with the object of 
impressing on those who are treating him unjustly the importance 
of the services which he has been rendering. The workman is not 
to be compelled to work any more than the capitalist to direct. 
Any abuse of this extreme protest on either side will of course be 
disapproved by the moral power; but the option of making the 
protest is always to be reserved to each element in the collective 
organism, by virtue of his natural independence. In the most 
settled times functionaries have always been allowed to suspend 
their services on special occasions. It was done frequently in the 
Middle Ages by priests, professors, judges, etc. All we have to do 
is to regulate this privilege, and embody it into the industrial system. 
This will be one of the secondary duties of the philosophic body, 
who will naturally be consulted on most of these occasions, as on 
all others of public or private moment. The formal sanction which 
it may give to a suspension or positive prohibition of work would 
render such a measure far more effective than it is at present. The 
riie operation of the measure is but partial at present, but it might in 
this way extend, first to all who belong to the same trade, then to 
other branches of industry, and even ultimately to every Western 
nation that accepts the same spiritual guides. Of course persons 
who think themselves aggrieved may always resort to this extreme 
course on their own responsibility, against the advice of the philo- 
sophic body. True spiritual power confines itself to giving counsel: 
it never commands. But in such cases, unless the advice given by 
the philosophers has been wrong, the suspension of work is not 
likely to be sufficiently general to bring about any important result. 

This theory of trade-unions is, in fact, in the industrial world, 
what the power of insurrection is with regard to the higher social 
functions ; it is an ultimate resource which every collective organ- 
ism must reserve. The principle is the same in the simpler and 
more ordinary cases as in the more unusual and important. In 
both the intervention of the philosophic body, whether solicited 
or not, whether its purpose be to organize popular effort or to repress 
it, wiU largely influence the result. 

We are now in a position to state with more precision the main 
practical difference between the policy of Positivism, and that of 
Communism or of Socialism. All progressive political schools 
agree in concentrating their attention upon the problem, How to 
give the people their proper place as a component element of modem 



CHAP, m.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 125 

Soeiety, which ever since the Middle Ages has been tending more 
and more distinctly to its normal mode of existence. They also 
agree that the two great requirements of the working classes are, 
the organization of Education, and the organization of Labour. 
But here their agreement ends. "When the means of effecting these 
two objects have to be considered, Positivists find themselves at 
issue with all other Progressive schools. They maintain that the 
Organization of Industry must be based upon the organization of 
Education. It is commonly supposed that both may be begun 
simultaneously : or indeed that Labour may be organized irres- 
pectively of Education. It may seem as if we are making too 
taiuch of a mere question of arrangement ; yet the difference is one 
which affects the whole character and method of social recon- 
struction. The plan usually followed is simply a repetition of the 
old attempt to reconstruct politically, without waiting for spiritual 
reconstruction ; in other words, to raise the social edifice before its 
intellectual and moral foundations have been laid. Hence the 
attemjits made to satisfy popular requirements by measures of a 
purely political kind, because they appear to meet the evil directly ; 
a course which is as useless as it is destructive. Positivism, on the 
contrary, substitutes for such agencies, an influence which is sure 
aid peaceful, although it be gradual and indirect ; the influence of 
a more enlightened morality, supported by a purer state of Public 
Opinion ; such opinion being organized by competent minds, and 
diffused freely amongst the people. In fact, the whole question, 
whether the solution of the twofold problem before us is to be 
empirical, revolutionary, and therefore confined simply to France; or- 
whether it is to be consistent,' pacific, and applicable to the whole 
of Western Europe, depends upon the preference or the postpone- 
ment of the organization of Labour to the organization of Education. 

This conclusion involves a brief explanation of the 
general system of education which Positivism will nion'Suat'^o 
introduce. This the new spiritual power regards as its , based upon a 
•principal function, and as its most efficient means of Lf Education, 
satisfying the working classes in all reasonable demands.V 

It was the great social virtue of Catholicism, that it introduced 
for the first time, as far as circumstances permitted, a system of 
education common to all classes without distinction, not excepting 
even those who were still slaves. It was a vast undertaking, yet 
essential to its purpose of founding a spiritual power which was to 
be independent of the temporal power. Apart from its temporary 
talue, it has left us one imperishable principle, namely that in 
aU education worthy of the name, moral training should be regarded 



126 A GENERAl VXEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

as of greater importance than scientific teaching. Catholic ediloa- 
tion, however, was of course extremely defective ; owing partly to 
the circumstances of the time, and partly to the weakness of the 
doctrine on which it rested. Having reference almost exclusively 
to the oppressed masses, the principal lesson which it taught was 
the duty of almost passive resignation, with the exception of 
certain obligations imposed upon rulers. Intellectual culture in 
any true sense there was none. All this was natural in a faith 
which directed men's highest efibrts to an object unconnected with 
social life, and which taught that all the phenomena of nature were 
regulated by an impenetrable WiU. Catholic Education was con- 
sequently quite unsuited to any period but the Middle Ages ; a 
period during which the advanced portion of Humanity was 
gradually ridding itself of the ancient institution of slavery, by 
commuting it first into serfdom, as a preliminary step to entire 
personal freedom. In the ancient world Catholic education would 
have been too revolutionary; at the present time it would be servile 
and inadequate. Its function was that of directing the long and 
difficult transition from the social life of Antiquity to that of 
Modern times. Personal emancipation once obtained, the working 
classes began to develop their powers and rise to their true position 
as a class ; and they soon became consqious of intellectual and 
social wants, which Catholicism was wholly incapable of satisfyf 
ing. 

And yet this is the only real system of universal education which 
the world has hitherto seen. For we cannot give that name to the 
so-called University system which metaphysicians began to introduce 
into Europe at the close of the Middle Ages j and which offered 
little more than the special instruption previously given to th& 
priesthood; that is, the study of the Latin language, with) the 
dialectical training required for the • defence of their doctrines. 
Morals were untaught except as a part of the training of the pro- 
fessed theologiaiL Ail this metaphysical and literary instructiom 
was of I no great service to social evolution, except so far as it 
developed the critical power ; it had^ however, a certain indirect 
influence on the constructive movement, especially on the develop- 
ment of Art. But its defects, both practical and theoretical, have 
been made more evident by its application to new classes of society, 
whose occupations, whether practical or speculative,, required a very 
diiferent kind of training. And thus, wMle claiming the title of 
Universal, it never reached the working classes, even in Protestant 
countries, where each believer became to a certain extent his- own 
jriest. 



CHAP, in.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM. ON THE PEOPLE. 127 

The theological method being ohsolete, and the metaphysical 
method ' inadequate, the task of founding an efficient system of 
popular education belongs to Positivism ; the only doctrine capable ' 
of reconciling these two orders of conditions, the intellectual and 
the moral, which are equally necessary, but which since the Middle 
Ages have always proved incompatible. Positivist education, 
while securiQg the supremacy of the heart over the understandiag 
more efficiently than Catholicism, will yet put no obstacle in the 
way of intellectual growth., The function of Intellect, in educa- 
tion as in practical life>' will be to regulate Feeling:; the culture of - 
which, beginning <ati birth, will be maintained by constant exercise 
of the three classes of duties relative to Self, to the Family, and 
to Society., 

I have ' already explained' the mode inwhichth'e principles of !■ 
universal morality will.be finally co-ordinated; a task which, as I 
have shown, is connected with the principal function of the new 
spiritual power. I have now only to point out the paramount 
influence o£ morality on every part of Positive Education. It will 
be seen.to be connected at first spontaneously, and afterwards in a 
more systematic form, with the entire system of human knowledge; ; 

Positive. Education, adapting itself to the requirements of the 
Organisiiiii''wi'th which, it has to deal, subordinates intellectual: 
conditions to social. SociaL conditions are considered as:)the main 
object, intellectual as but the means of 'attaining it. Its principal 
aim. is to ^ induce the working classes to > accept their high social, 
function of supporting the spiritual power,' wMlel at the same time 
it' will render them mare efficient intheir own special duties.' 

Presuming, that Education exteads- from, birth; to Education 
manhood^ we may divide it' into two periods,! the first has-twosteges; 
ending: with puberty, that is, at the begiiming,of; in- p^^rty^froS 
dustrial i apprenticeship. Education ■ h^e should' he puberty to ad, 
essentially spontaneous, and should I'bel carried' on, as a^^ consist^ 
far as possible in the bosomof the family. Tihe only a°|°'|aS^' 
studies required should be of: an esthetic kind.; In the training to te 
second period, . Education takes ; a systematic J form, ^^°°-*""'™* 
consisting chiefly of a public course of scientific lectures, explaining!' 
the essential laws of the various orders of fphenomena," These 
lectures will ba the; groundwork of .Moral. Science,' which will co- 
ordinate the whole,"and point' out the relation of eachpart toi the 
social purpose common to aUj Thus, at about the time which long ' 
experience has fixed' as . that of legaL majorityj and iwhemin most 
cases the 'term J of apprenticeship, olosesjithej-workman will be pre- 
pared intellectually and morally; for hisipubiidiandprivatet services 



128 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [casp. in. 

The first years of life, from infancy to the end of the period of 
second dentition, should be devoted to education of the physical 
powers, carried on under the superintendence of the parents, 
especially of the mother. Physical education, as usually practised, 
is nothing but mere muscular exercise; but a more important 
object is that of training the senses, and giving manual skill, so as 
to develop from the very first our powers of observation and 
action. Study, in the ordinary acceptation, there should be none 
during this period, not even reading or writing. An acquaintance 
with facts of various kinds, such as may spontaneously attract the 
growing powers of attention, will be the only instruction received. 
The philosophic system of the infant individual, like that of the 
infant species, consists in pure Fetichism, and its natural develop- 
ment should not be disturbed by unwise interference. The only 
care of the parents will be to impress those feelings and habits for 
which a rational basis will be given at a later period. By taking 
every opportunity of calling the higher instincts into play, they 
will be laying down the best foundation for true morality. 

During the period of about seven years comprised between the 
second dentition and puberty. Education will become somewhat 
more systematic ; but it will be limited to the culture of the fine 
arts; and it wiU be still most important, especially on moral 
grounds, to avoid separation from the family. The study of Art 
should simply consist in practising it more or less systematically. 
No formal lectures are necessary, at least for the purposes of 
general education, though of course for professional purposes they 
may stiU be required. There is no reason why these studies should 
not be carried on at home by the second generation of Positivists, 
when the culture of the parents will be sufficiently advanced to 
allow them to superintend it. They will include Poetry, the art 
on which all the rest are based ; and the two most important of 
the special arts, music and drawing. Meantime the pupU will 
become familiar with the principal Western languages, which are 
included in the study of Poetry, since modem poetry cannot be 
properly appreciated without them. Moreover, independently of 
esthetic considerations, a knowledge of them is most important 
morally, as a means of destroying national prejudices, and of 
forming the true Positivist standard of Occidental feeling. Each 
nation will be taught to consider it a duty to learn the language of 
contiguous countries ; an obvious principle, which, in the case of 
Frenchmen, will involve their learning all the other four languages, 
as a consequence of that central position which gives them so many 
advantages. When this rule becomes generd, and the natural 



CHAP. HI.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 129 

affinities of the five advanced nations are brought fully into play, 
a common Occidental language iviU not be long in forming itself 
spontaneously, without the aid of any metaphysical scheme for 
producing a language that shall be absolutely universal. 

; During the latter portion of primary Education, which is devoted 
to the culture of the imaginative powers, the philosophic develop- 
ment of the individual, corresponding to that of the race, wiU 
carry him from the simple Fetishism with which he began to the 
stage of Polytheism. This resemblance between the growth of the 
individual and that of society has always shown itself more or less, 
in spite of the irrational precautions of Christian teachers. They 
have never been able to give children a distaste for those simple 
tales of fairies and genii, which are natural to this phase. The 
Positivist teacher will let this tendency take its own course. It 
should not, however, involve any hypocrisy on the part of the 

, parents, nor need it lead to any subsequent contradiction. The 
simple truth is enough. The child may be told that these spon- 
taneous beliefs are but natural to his age, but that they will 
gradually lead him on to others, by the fundamental law of all 
human development. Language of this kind will not only have 
the advantage of famUiarising him with a great principle of 
Positivism, but will stimulate the nascent sense of sociability, by 
leading him to sympathize with the various nations who still 
remain at his own primitive stage of intellectual development. 

The second part of Positivist Education cannot be 
conducted altogether at home, since it involves public partoonsistsol 
lectures, in which of course the part taken by the public lectures 

. 1 -, Tt t ±T ' • on the Sci- 

parent can only be accessory. Jiut this is no reason ences, from 
for depriving the pupil of the advantages of family Mathematics 

... .f 9 K ^.. ,, i r,- 1 to Sociology. 

life; it remains as indispensable as ever to his moral 
development, which is always to be the first consideration. It will 
be easy for him to follow the best masters without weakening his 
.sense of personal and domestic morality, which is the almost 
. inevitable result of the monastic seclusion of modern schools. The 
public-school system is commonly thought to compensate for these 
disadvantages, by the knowledge of the world which it gives ; but 
this is better obtained by free intercourse with society, where 
sympathies are far more likely to be satisfied. Eecognition of this 
truth would do much to facilitate and improve popular education ; 
and it applies to all cases, except perhaps to some special profes- 
sions, where seclusion of the pupils may still be necessary, though 
even in these cases probably it may be ultimately dispensed with. 
The plan to be followed in this period of education, will 

9 



130 A GENEEAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

obviously be that indicated by the encyclopaedic law of Classifica- 
tion, which forms part of my Theory of Development. Scientific 
study, whether for the working man or the philosopher, should 
begin with the inorganic world around us, and then pass to the 
subject of Man and Society ; since our ideas on these two subjects 
form the basis of. our practical action. The first class of studies, 
as I have stated before, includes four sciences which we may 
arrange in pairs : Mathematics and Astronomy forming the first 
paic ; Physics and Chemistry the second. To each of these pairs, 
two years may be given. But as the first ranges over a wide field, 
and is of greater logical importance, it will require two lectures 
weekly ; whereas, for all the subsequent studies one lecture will be 
sufficient. Besides, during these two years, the necessities of 
practical life will not press heavily, and more time may fairly be 
spent in mental occupation. From the study of inorganic science, 
the pupil will proceed to Biology : this subject may easily be 
condensed in the fifth year into a series of forty lectures, without 
really losing either its philosophic or its popular character. This 
concludes the introductory part of Education. The student wiU 
now co-ordinate all his previous knowledge by the direct study of 
Sociology, statically and dynamically viewed. On this subject 

lialso forty lectures will be given, in which the structure and growth. 

I of human societies, especially those of modem times, will be clearly 
explained. With this foundation we come to the last of the seven 
years of pupillage, in which the great social purpose of the scheme 
is at last reached. It will be devoted to a systematic exposition of 
Moral Science, the principles of which may be now fully under- 
stood by the light of the knowledge previously obtained of the 
World, of Life, and of Humanity. , 

During this course of study, part of the three unoccupied months 
of each year will be spent in public examinations, to test the degree 
to which the instruction has been assimilated. The pupils will of 
their own accord continue their esthetic pursuits, even supposing 
their natural tastes in this direction not to be encouraged as they 
ought to be. During the last two years the Latin and Greek 
languages might be acquired, as an accessory study, which would 
improve the poetic culture of the student, and be useful to him in 
the historical and moral questions with which he will then be 
occupied. For the purposes of Art, Greek is the more useful of 
the two ; but in the second object, that of enabling us to realize 
our social Filiation, Latin is of even greater importance. 

In the course of these seven years the philosophic development 
of the individual, preserving its correspondence with that of the 



OHAP. m.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 131 

race, will pass througli its last phase. As the pupil passed hefore 
from Fetichism to Polytheism, so he will now pass, as spontaneously, 
into Monotheism, induced by the influence on his imaginative 
powers which hitherto have been supreme, of the spirit of discus- 
sion. K"o interference should be offered to this metaphysical 
transition, which is the horliage that he pays to the necessary 
conditions under' which mankind arrives at truth. There is some- 
thing in this provisional phase which evidently harmonizes well 
with the abstract and independent character of Mathematics, with 
which the two first years of the seven are occupied. As long as^ 
more attention is given to deduction than to induction, the mind 
cannot but retain a leaning to metaphysical theories. TJnder their I 
influence the student will soon reduce his primitive theology to 
Deism of a more or less distinct kind ; and this during his physico- 
chemical studies wUl most likely degenerate into a species of 
Atheism; which last phase, under the enlightening influence of 
biological and still more of sociological knowledge, will be finally 
replaced by Positivism. Thus at the time fixed for the ultimate 
study of. moral science, each new member of Humanity will have 
been strongly impressed by personal experience, with a sense of 
historical Filiation, and will be enabled to sympathise with his 
ancestors and contemporaries, while devoting his practical energies 
to the good of his successors. y 

There is an excellent custom prevalent among the Travels o£ 
working men of France and creditable to their good -ipfrentices. 
sense, with which our educational scheme seems at first sight 
incompatible. I refer to the custom of travelling from place to 
place during the last years of apprenticeship ; which is as beneficial 
to their mind and character, as the purposeless excursions of our 
wealthy and idle classes are in most cases injurious. But there is 
no necessity for its interfering with study, since it always involves 
long residence in the chief centres of production, where the work- 
man is sure to find annual courses of lectures similar to those which 
he would otherwise have been attending at home. As the structure 
and distribution of the philosophic body will be everywhere the 
same, there need be no great inconvenience in these changes. For 
every centre not more than seven teachers will be required ; each 
of whom will take the whole Encyclopaedic scale successively. 
Thus the total number of lectures will be so small as to admit of a 
high standard of merit being everywhere attained, and of finding 
everywhere a fair measure of material support. So far from dis- 
couraging the travelling system, Positivisiji will • give it a new 
■character, intellectually and socially, by extending the range of 



132 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

travel to the whole of Western Europe, since there is no part of it 
in which the workman will not be able to prosecute his education. 
The difference of language wiU then be no obstacle. Not only 
would the sense of fraternity among Western nations be streng- 
thened by such a plan, but great improvement would result 
esthetically. The languages of Europe would be learnt more 
thoroughly, and there would be a keener appreciation of works of 
art, whether musical, pictorial, or architectural ; for these can never 
be properly appreciated but in the country which gave them birth. 
Concentra- Judging by Our present practice, it would seem 
ti.on of study, impossible to include such a mass of important scientific 
studies, as are here proposed, in three hundred and sixty lectures. 
But the length to which courses of lectures on any subject extend 
at present, is owing partly to the special or professional object with 
which the course is given, and still more to the discursive and 
uuphilosophical spirit of most of the teachers, consequent on the 
miserable manner in which our scientific system is organized. 
Such a regeneration of scientific studies as Positivism proposes, 
will animate them with a social spirit, and thus give them a larger 
and more comprehensive tendency. Teachers will become more 
practised in the art of condensing, and their lectures will be far 
more substantial. They will not indeed be a substitute for volun- 
\ tary effort, on which all the real value of teaching depends. Their 
, aim will be rather to direct such effort. A striking example, which 
is not so well remembered as it should be, will help to explain my 
meaning. At the first opening of the Polytechnic School, courses 
of lectures were given, very api^ropriately named Revolutionary 
Courses, which concentrated the teaching of three years into three 
months. What was in that case an extraordinary anomaly, due to 
republican enthusiasm, may become the normal state when a moral 
power arises not inferior in energy, and yet based upon a consistent 
intellectual synthesis, of which our great predecessors of the Revo- 
lution could have no conception. 

Little attention has hitherto been given to the didactic value of 
Peeling. Since the close of the Middle Ages, the heart has been 
neglected in proportion as the mind has been cultivated. But it is 
the characteristic principle of Positivism, a principle as fertile in 
intellectual as in moral results, that the Intellect, whether we look 
at its natural or at its normal position, is subordinate to Social 
Feeling. Throughout this course of popular education, parents and 
masters will seize every suitable occasion for calling Social Feeling 
into play ; and the most abstruse subjects will often be vivified by 
its influence. The office of the mind is to strengthen and to 



CHAP. 111.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 133 

cultivate the heart ; the heart again should animate and direct the 
mental powers. This mutual influence of general views and 
generous feelings will have greater effect upon scientific study, from 
the esthetic culture previously given, in which such hahits of mind 
will have been formed, as will give grace and beauty to the whole 
life. 

"When I speak of this education as specially destined (joTernment- 
for the people, I am not merely using words to denote ai assistance 
its comprehensiveness and philosophic character. It is, "xcept force> 
in my opinion, the only education, with the exception tain special in- 

n , . .11 1 I* 1-1 IT • stitutions,antt 

01 certain special branches, for which public organiza- r this only as 
tionis needed. It should be looked on as a sacred » p™™'°°»1 

f n^easure. 

debt which the republic owes to the working classes./ 
But the claim does not extend to other classes, who can easily pay 
for any special instruction that they may require. Besides such 
instruction will be only a partial development of the more general 
teaching, or an application of it to some particular purpose. There- 
fore if the general training be sound, most people wUl be able to 
prosecute accessory studies by themselves. Apprenticeship to any 
business involves very little, except the practice of it. Even in 
the highest arts, no course of systematic instruction is necessary. 
The false views now prevalent on the subject are due to the 
unfortunate absence of all general education, since the decay of 
Catholicism. The special institutions founded in Europe during 
the last three centuries, and carefully remodelled in France by the 
Convention, are only valuable as containing certain germs of truth, 
which will be found indispensable when general education is finally 
reorganized. But important as they may be from a scientific aspect, 
their practical utility, which seems to have been the motive for 
establishing them, is exceedingly doubtful. The arts which they 
were intended to promote could have done perfectly well without 
them. I include in these remarks such institutions as the Poly- 
technic School, the Museum of Natural History, etc. Their value, 
like that of all good institutions of modern times, is purely pro- 
visional. Viewed in this light, it may be worth our while to 
reorganize them. Positivist principles, discarding all attempts to 
make them permanent, will be all the better able to adapt them to 
their important temporary purpose. Indeed there are some new 
institutions which it might be advisable to form ; such, for instancCj 
as a School of Comparative Philology, the object of which would 
be to range aU human languages according to their true affinities. 
This would compensate the suppression of Greek and Latin profes- 
sorships, which is certainly an indispensable measure. But the 



134 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ni. 

whole of this provisional framework would no doubt disappear 
before the end of the nineteenth century, when a system of general 
education will have been thoroughly organized. The present 
necesnity for a provisional system should lead to no misconception 
of its character and purpose. Working men are the only class who 
have a real claim upon the State for instruction ; and this, if wisely 
organized, dispenses with the necessity of special institutions. 
The adoption of these views would at once facilitate and ennoble 
popular education. Nations, provinces, and towns will vie with 
one another in inviting the best teachers that the spiritual autho- 
rities of Western Europe can supply. And every true philosopher 
wiU take pride in such teaching, when it becomes generally under- 
stood that the popular character of his lectures implies that they 
shall be at the same time systematic. Members of the new 
spiritual power will in most eases regard teaching as their principal 
occupation, for at least a considerable portion of their public Ufe. 

We are not What has been said makes it clear that any organiza- 
ripe for thia tion of such education as this at the present time would 
sratTand^o- be impossible. However sincere the intentions of go- 
no™Stempt"to vernments to effect this great result might be, any 
hasten its in- premature attempt to do it would but injure the work, 
tro uc ion. especially if they put in a claim to superintend it. 
The truth is that a system of education, if it deserve the name, 
presupposes the acceptance of a definite philosophical and social 
creed to determine its character and purpose. Children cannot be 
brought up in convictions contrary to those of their parents ; indeed, 
the influence of the parent is essential to the instructor. Opinions 
and habits that have been already formed may subsequently be 
strengthened by an educational system; but the carrying out of 
any such system is impossible, until the principles of combined 
action and belief have been well established. Tfll then the organ- 
ization that we propose can only be effected in the case of individuals 
who are ripe for it. Each of these will endeavour to repair the 
faults and deficiencies of his own education in the best way he 
can, by the aid of the general doctrine which he accepts. Assum- 
ing that the doctrine is destined to triumph, the number of such 
minds gradually increases, and they superintend the social progress 
of the next generation. This is the natural process, and no arti- 
ficial interference can dispense with it. So far, then, from inviting 
government to organize education, we ought rather to exhort it to 
abdicate the educational powers which it already holds, and which, 
I refer more especially to France, are either useless or a source of 
discord. There are only two exceptions to this remark, namely. 



CHAP, m.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 135 

primary education, and special instruction in certain higlier branches. 
Of these I have already spoken. But with these exceptions, it is 
most desirable that government, whether municipal or central, 
should surrender its unreasonable monopoly, and establish real 
liberty of teaching ; the condition of such liberty being, as I said ; 
before, the suppression of aU annual grants whatsoever for theo- 
logical or metaphysical purposes. Until some universal faith has 
been accepted on its own merits, aU attempts made by Government 
to reform education must necessarily be reactionary ; since they 
will always be based on some one of the retrogressive creeds which 
it is our object to supersede altogether. 

It is with adults, then, that we must deal. We must endeavour 
to disseminate systematic convictions among them, and thus open 
the door to a real reform of education for the next generation. 
The press and the power of free speech offer many ways of bring- 
ing about this result. The most important of these would be a 
more or less connected series of popular lectures on the various 
positive sciences, including history, which may now be ranked 
among them. Now for these lectures to produce their fuU effect, 
they must, even when treating of the most elementary point in 
mathematics, be thoroughly philosophic and consequently animated 
by a social spirit. They must be entirely independent of govern- 
ment, so as not to be hampered by any of the authorized views. 
Lastly, there is a condition in which all the rest are summed up. 
These lectures should be Occidental, not simply National. What 
we require is a free association of philosophers throughout Western 
Europe, formed by the voluntary co-operation of aU who can 
contribute efficiently to this great preliminary work ; their services 
being essentially gratuitous. It is a result which no system but 
Positivisin is capable of effecting. By its agency that coalition 
between philosophers and the working classes, on which so much 
depends, will speedily be established. 

While the work of propagating Positivist convictions is going 
on in the free and unrestricted manner here described, the spiritual 
authority will at the same time be forming itself, and wiU be pre- 
pared to make use of these convictions as the basis for social 
regeneration. Thus the transitional state will be brought as nearly 
as possible into harmony with the normal state ; and this the more 
in proportion as the natural affinity between philosophers and 
workmen is brought out more distinctly. The connection between 
Positivist lectures and Positivist clubs will illustrate my meaning. 
While the lectures prepare the way for the Future, the clubs work 
in the same direction by judging the Past, and advising for the 



136 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CKAP. in. 

Present ; so tliat we have at once a beginning of the three essential 
functions of the new spiritual power. 

We have now a clear conception of popular education in its 
provisional, and in its normal state. Long before the normal state 
can be realised, the mutual action of philosophers and workmen 
will have done great service to both. Meeting with such powerful 
support from the people, the rising spiritual power will win the 
respect if not the aiFection of their rulers, even of those among 
them who are now the most contemptuous of every influence but 
that of material power. Their excess of pride will often be so far 
humbled that they will invite its mediation in cases where the 
people have been roused to just indignation. The force of numbers 
seems at first so violent as to carry all before it ; but in the end it 
usually proves far inferior to that of wealth. It cannot exist for 
any length of time without complete convergence of opinion and 
feeling. Hence, a spiritual power has very great weight in con- 
trolling or directing its action. Philosophers will never, indeed, be 
able to manage the working classes as they please, as some unprin- 
cipled agitators have imagined ; but when they exercise their 
authority rightly, whether it be in the cause of Order or that of 
Progress, they will have great power over their passions and conduct. 
Such influence can only spring from long cherished feelings of 
gratitude and trust, due not merely to presumed capacity, but to 
services actually rendered. No one is a fit representative of his 
own claims ; but the philosopher may honourably represent the 
cause of working men before the governing classes ; and the people 
will in their turn compel their rulers to respect the new spiritual 
power. By this habitual exchange of services the aspirations of 
the people will be kept clear of all subversive tendencies, and 
philosophers will be led to abandon the folly of seeking political 
power. Neither class will degrade itself by making its own interest 
the chief consideration : each will find its own reward in keeping 
to the nobler course of its own social duty. 

inteiiechiai '^'^ complete this view of the political attitude which 
attitude of the Positivism recommends to the working class, I have 
action from Qow to Speak of the intellectual and moral conditions 
Geological be- -which that attitude requires, and on which the character 
of their spiritual leaders depends. What is wanted is 
only a more perfect development of tendencies which already exist 
in the people, and which have already shovm themselves strong in 
Paris, the centre of the great Western movement. 

Intellectually the principal conditions are two ; Emancipation, 
from obsolete beliefs, and a sufficient amount of mental culture. 



■CHAP, in.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 137 

The emancipation of the ■working classes from theology is com- 
plete, at least in Paris. In no other class has it so entirely lost its 
power. The shallow deism, which satisfies so many of our literary 
men, finds Little favour with the people. They are happily un- 
versed in studies of words and abstractions, without which this 
last stage in the process of emancipation speedily comes to an end. 
"We only require a stronger expression of popular feeling on this 
point, so as to avoid all deception and false statement as to the 
intellectual character of the reorganization that is going on. And 
"the freedom that we are now enjoying will admit of these feelings 
being unmistakably manifested, especially now that they have the 
new philosophy for their exponent. A distinct declaration of 
opinion on this subject is urgently.needed on social grounds. That 
hypocritical affectation of theological belief against which we have 
to fight, is designed to prevent, or at least has the effect of prevent- 
ing, the just enforcement of popular claims. These unscrupulous 
attempts to mystify the people involve their mental subjection. 
The result is, that their legitimate aspirations for real progress are 
■evaded, by diverting their thoughts towards an imaginary future 
state. It is for the working classes themselves to break through 
this concerted scheme, which is even more contemptible than it is 
odious. They have only to declare without' disguise what their 
intellectual position really is ; and to do this so emphatically as to 
make any mistake on the part of the governing classes impossible. 
They will consequently reject all teachers who are insufficiently 
■emancipated, or who in any way support the system of theological 
hypocrisy, which, from Eobespierre downwards, has been the refuge 
■of all reactionists, whether democrat or royalist. But there are 
teachers of another kind, who sincerely maintain that our life here 
■on earth is a temporary laanishment, and that we ought to take as 
little interest in it as possible. A prompt answer may be given to 
.guch instructors as these. They should be requested to follow out 
their principle consistently, and to cease to interfere in the manage- 
ment of a world which is so alien to what, in their ideas, is the 
sole aim of life. 

Metaphysical principles have more hold on our work- p^^,^ ^^^^ 
ing classes than theological ; yet their abandonment is piiysicai doo- 
equally necessary. The subtle extravagances by which 
the German mind has been so confused, find, it is true, little favour 
in Catholic countries. But even in Paris the people retains a pre- 
judice in. favour of metaphysical instruction, though happily it has 
not been able to obtain it. It is most, desirable that this last 
illusion of our working classes should be dissipated, as it forms 



138 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. in. 

the one great obstacle to tteir social action. One reason for it is 
that they faU into the common error of confounding knowledge 
■with intelligence, and imagine in their modesty that none but 
instructed men are capable of governing. Now this error, natural 
as it is, often leads them to choose incompetent leaders. A truer 
estimate of modem society would teach them that it is not among 
our literary, or even our scientific men, proud as they may be of 
their attainments,^ that the largest number of really powerful in- 
tellects are to be found. There are more of them among the 
despised practical class, and even amongst the most uninstructed 
working men. In the Middle Ages this truth was better known 
than it is now. Education was thought more of than instruction. 
A knight wordd be appreciated for his sagacity and penetration, 
and appointed to important posts, though he might be extremely 
ignorant. Clear-sightedness, wisdom, and even consistency of 
thought, are qualities which are very independent of learning ; and, 
as matters now stand, they are far better cultivated in practical life 
than in scholastic study. In breadth of view, which lies at the 
root of all political capacity, our literary classes have certainly 
shown themselves far below the average. 

_ . . And now we come to another and a deeper reason 
taken prefer- for the prejudice of which I am speaking. It is that 
^andrhetoril ^^^7 make no distinction between one kind of instruc- 
cai talent to tion and another. The unfortunate confidence which 
tuai powe^r. ' they stUl bestow on literary men and lawyers shows 
\ that the prestige of pedantry lingers among them 

i longer than the prestige of theology or monarchy. But all this 
will soon be altered under the influence of republican government, 
and the strong discipline of a sound philosophical system. Popular 
instinct will soon discover that constant practice of the faculty of 
expression, whether in speech or in writing, is no guarantee for 
real power of thought ; indeed that it has a tendency to incapaci- 
tate men from forming a clear and decided judgment on any 
question. The instruction which such men receive is utterly 
deficient in solid principles, and it almost always either presup- 
poses or causes a total absence of fixed convictions. Most minds 
thus trained, while skilled in putting other men's thoughts into 
shape, become incapable of distinguishing true from false in the 
commonest subjects, even when their own interest requires it. 
The people must give up the feeling of blind respect which leads 
them to intrust such men with their highest interests. Keverance 
for superiors is doubtless indispensable to a well-ordered state; 
only it needs to be better guided than it is now. 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM Oy THE PEOPLE. 139* 

. What then, working men may ask, is the proper training for 
themselves, and consequently for those v(rho claim to guide them ?■ 
The answer is, systematic cultivation of the Positive spirit. It is 
already called into exercise by their daily occupations ; and all 
that is wanted is to strengthen it by a course of scientific study. 
Their daily work involves a rudimentary application of the Posi- 
tive method : it turns their attention to many most important 
natural laws. In fact, the workmen of Paris, whom I take as the 
best type of their class, have a clearer sense of that union of reality 
with utility by which the Positive spirit is characterised, than 
ijaost of our scientific men. The speciality of their employment ia 
no doubt disadvantageous with respect to breadth and coherence of 
ideas. But it leaves the mind free from responsibility, and this is 
the most favourable condition for developing these qualities to 
which all vigorous intellects are naturally disposed. But nothing 
will so strongly impress on the people the importance of extending 
and organizing their scientific knowledge, as their interest in social 
questions. Their determination to rectify a faulty condition of 
society will suggest to them that they must first know what the 
laws of Social life reaUy are ; knowledge which is obviously 
necessary in every other subject. They will then feel how im- 
possible it is to understand the present state of society, without 
understanding its relation on the one hand with the Past, and on 
the other with the Future. Their desire to modify the natural 
course of social phenomena will make them anxious to know the 
antecedents and consequences of these phenomena, so as to avoid 
all mischievous or useless interference. They will thus discover 
that Political Art is even more dependent than other arts, upon its 
corresponding Science. And then they wiU soon see that this. 
science is no isolated department of knowledge, but that it involves, 
preliminary study of Man and of the World. In this way they 
will pass downwards through the hierarchic scale of Positive con- 
ceptions, until they come back to the inorganic world, the sphere- 
more immediately connected with their own special avocations. 
And thus they will reach the conclusion that Positivism is the 
only system which can satisfy either the intellectual or material 
wants of the people, since its subject-matter and its objects are 
identical with their own, and since, like themselves, it subordinates. 
everything to social considerations. AU that it claims is to present 
in a systematic form principles which they already hold instinc- 
tiyely. By co-ordinating these principles of morality and good 
sense, their value, whether in public or in private questions, ia 
largely increased; and the union of the two forms of wisdom,. 



140 A GENERAL VIKW OF POSITIVISM [chap. m. 

theoretical and practical ■wisdom, is permanently secured. When 
all this is understood, the people will feel some shame at having 
entrusted questions of the greatest complexity to minds that have 
never quite comprehended the difference between a cubic inch and 
a cubic foot. As to men of science, in the common acceptation of 
the word, who are so respected by the middle classes, we need not 
be afraid of their gaining much influence with the people. They 
are alienated from them by their utter indifference to social ques- 
tions ; and before these their learned puerilities fade into insigni- 
ficance. Absorbed in the details of their own special science, they 
are quite incapable of satisfying unsophisticated minds. What the 
people want is to have clear conceptions on all subjects, dps claries 
■de tout, as Molifere has it. Whenever the savants of our time are 
drawn by their foolish ambition into politics, ordinary men find to 
their surprise that, except in a few questions of limited extent and 
importance, their minds have become thoroughly narrow under the 
influence of the specialising system of which they are so proud. 
Positivism explains the mystery, by showing that, since the 
necessity for the specialising system now no longer exists,, it 
naturally results if prolonged, in a sort of academic idiocy. 
During the last three centuries it did real service to society, by 
laying down the scientific groundwork for the renovation of Philo- 
sophy projected by Bacon and Descartes. But as sOon as the 
groundwork was sufiiciently finished to admit of the formation of 
true Science, that is, of Science viewed relatively to Humanity, the 
specialising method became retrograde. It ceased to be of any 
assistante to the modem spirit ; and indeed it is now, especially in 
France, a serious obstacle to its difi'usion and systematic working. 
The wise revolutionists of the Convention were well aware of this 
when they took the bold step of suppressing tlie Academy of 
Sciences. The beneficial results of this statesman-like policy will 
soon be appreciated by our workmen. The danger lest, in with- 
drawing their confidence from metaphysicians or literary men, they 
should fall into the bad scientific spirit, is not therefore very great. 
With the social aims which they have in view, they cannot but 
see that generality in their conceptions is as necessary as positivity. 
The Capitalist class by which industry is directed, being more 
, concentrated on special objects, will always look on men of pure 
I science with more respect. But the people will he drawn by their 
political leanings towards philosophers in the true sense of that 
word The number of such men is but very small at present ; but 
it will soon increase at the call of the working classes, and will 
indeed be recruited from their ranks. 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 141 

This, then, should be the attitude of the working jj^^j^, ^^^^_ 
class, intellectually. Morally, what is required is, that i t"de of tho 
they should have a sufficient sense of the dignity of |°.wknmn ^ 
labour, and that they should be prepared for the mis-l ?'?""''J/^s?"''i 

,,, i-ijpii himself aa a 

sion tnat now lies before them. i public func- 

The workman must learn to look upon himself, *""""'y- 
morally, as a public servant, with functions of a special and also of 
a general kind. Not that he is to receive his wages for the future 
from the State instead of from a private hand. The present plan 
is perfectly well adapted to all services which are so direct and 
definite, that a common standard of value can be at once applied 
to them. Only let it be understood that the service is not suffi- 
ciently recompensed, without the social feeling of gratitude towards 
the agent that performs it. In what are called liberal professions, 
this feeling already obtains. The client or patient is not dispensed 
from gratitude by payment of his fee. In this respect the republi- 
can instincts of the Convention have anticipated the teaching of 
philosophy. They valued the workman's labour at its true worth. 
Workmen have only to imagine labour suppressed or even sus- 
pended in the trade to which they may belong, to see its importance 
to the whole fabric of modern society. Their general function as 
a class, the function of forming public opinion, and of supporting 
the action of the spiritual power, it is of course less easy for them 
to understand at present. But, as I have already shown, it follows 
so naturally from their character and position, and corresponds so 
perfectly with their requirements as a class, that they cannot fail 
to appreciate its importance, when the course of events allows, or 
rather compels them to bring it into play. The only danger lies in 
their insisting on the possession of what metaphysicians call political 
rights, and in engaging in useless discussions about the distribution 
of power, instead of fixing their attention on the manner in which 
it is used. Of this, however, there is no great fear, at all events 
in Prance, where the metaphysical theory of Eight has never 
reached so fanatical a pitch with the working classes as elsewhere. 
Ideologists may blame them, and may use their official influence as 
they will; but the people have too much good sense to bo per- 
manently misled as to their true function in society. Deluged as 
they have been with electoral votes, they will soon voluntarily 
abandon this useless qualification, which now has not even the 
charm of a privilege. Questions of pure politics have ceased to 
interest the people ; their attention is fixed, and will remain fixed, 
on social questions, which are to be solved for the most part 
through moral agencies. That substitutions of one person or party 



142 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

for another, or that mere modifications of any kind in the adminis- 
tration should be looked on as the final issue of the great Kevolu- 
tion, is a result in which they 'will never acquiesce. 

And if this is to be the attitude of the people, it must be the 
attitude no less of those who seek to gain their confidence. With 
them, as with the people, political questions should be subordinate 
to social questions ; and with them the conviction should be even 
more distinct, that the solution of social problems depends essen- 
tially on moral agencies. They must, in fact, accept the great 
principle of separation of spiritual from temporal power, as the 
basis on which modern society is to be permanently organized. So 
entirely does this principle meet the wants of the people, that they 
will soon insist on its adoption by their teachers. They will accept 
none who do not formally abandon any prospects they may have of 
temporal power, parliamentary as well as administrative. And by 
thus dedicating their lives without reservation to the priesthood of 
Humanity, they will gain confidence, not merely from the people, 
but from the governing classes. Governments will ofier no impedi- 
ment to social speculations which do not profess to be susceptible 
of immediate application ; and thus the normal state may be pre- 
pared for in the future without disturbance, and yet without 
neglecting the present. Practical statesmen meanwhile, no longer 
interfered with by pretentious sophists, wUl give up their retrograde 
tendencies, and will gradually adapt their policy to the new ideas 
current in the public mind, while discharging the indispensable 
function of maintaining material order. 

For the people to rise to the true level of their posi- 
pow™^ and tion, they have only to develop and cultivate certain 
ST'b'^ d™"d' dispositions which already exist in them spontaneously. 
And the most important of these is, absence of ambition 
for wealth or rank. Political metaphysicians would say that the 
sole object of the Great "Revolution was to give the working classes 
easier access to political and civil power. But this, though it should 
always be open to them, is very far from meeting their true wants. 
Individuals among them may be benefited by it, but the mass is 
left unaffected, or rather is placed often in a worse position, by the 
desertion of the more energetic members. The Convention is the 
only government by which this result has been properly appreciated. 
It is the only government which has shown due consideration for 
working men as such ; which has recognised the value of their ser- 
vices, and encouraged what is the chief compensation for their 
condition of poverty, their participation in public life. All subse- 
quent governments, whether retrograde or constitutional, have, on 



CHAP, in.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 143 

the contrary, done all they could to divert the people from their 
true social function, by affording opportunity for individuals among 
them to rise to higher positions. The monied classes, under the 
influence of blind routine, have lent their aid to this degrading 
policy, by continually preaching to the people the necessity of 
saving ; a precept which is indeed incumbent on their ovm class, 
but not on others. Without saving, capital could not be accumu- , 
lated and administered ; it is therefore of the highest importance \ 
that the monied classes should be as economical as possible. But | 
in other classes, and especially in those dependent on fixed w^ages, i 
parsimonious habits are uncalled for and injurious ; they lower the 
character of the labourer, while they do little or nothing to improve 
his physical condition ; and neither the working classes nor their / 
teachers should encourage them. Both the one and the other will 
find their truest happiness in keeping clear of all serious practical 
responsibility, and in allowing free play to their mental and moral 
faculties in public as well as private life. In spite of the Econo- 
mists, savings-banks are regarded by the working classes with 
unmistakable repugnance. And the repugnance is justifiable ; they 
do harm morally, by checking' the exercise of generous feelings. 
Again, it is the fashion to declaim against vnne-shops ; and yet after ; 
all they are at present the only places where the people can enjoy 
society. Social instincts are cultivated there which deserve our'l 
approval far more than the self-helping spirit which carries men to 
the savings-bank. No doubt this unconcern for money, wise as it 
is, involves real personal risk ; but it is a danger which civilization 
is constantly tending to diminish, without effacing qualities which 
do the workman honour, and which are the source of his most 
cherished pleasures. The danger ceases when the mental and moral 
faculties are called into stronger exercise. The interest which Posi- | 
tivism will arouse among the people in public questions, wiU lead ! 
to the substitution of the club for the wine-shop. In these ques- 
tions, the generous inspirations of popular instinct hold out a model 
which philosophers will do well to follow themselves. Fondness \ 
for money is as much a disqualification for the spiritual government 
of Humanity, as political ambition. It is a clear proof of moral ' 
incompetence, which is generally connected in one way or other/ 
with intellectual feebleness. 

One of the principal results of the spiritual power exercised by 
philosophers and the working classes under the Positivist system, 
will be to compensate by a just distribution of blame and praise for 
the imperfect arrangements of social rank, in which wealth must 
always preponderate. Leaving the present subordination of ofiices 



144 A GENEILAIi VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. nl» 

untouched, each functionary will be judged by the intrinsic worth 
of his mind and heart, without servility and yet without any en- 
couragement to anarchy. It must always be obvious that the 
political importance which high position gives, is out of aU propor- 
tion to the real merit implied in gaining that position. The people 
will come to see more and more clearly that real happiness, so far 
from depending on rank, is far more compatible with their own 
humble station. Exceptional men no doubt there are, whose char- 
acter impels them to seek power ; a character more dangerous than 
useful, unless there be sufficient wisdom in the social body to turn 
it to good account. The best workmen, like the best philosophers, 
win soon cease to feel envy for greatness, laden, as it always must- 
be, with heavy responsibilities. At present, the compensation 
which I hold out to them has not been realized ; but when it exists, 
the people will feel that their spiritual and temporal leaders are- 
combining all the energies of society for the satisfaction of their 
wants. Recognizing this, they will care but little for fame that 
must be bought by long and tedious meditation, or for power bur- 
dened with constant care. There are men whose talents call them 
to tliese important duties, and they will be left free to perform 
them ; but the great mass of society will be well satisfied that their 
own lot is one far more in keeping with the constitution of our 
Dr.ture ; more compatible with that harmonious exercise of the 
faculties of Thought, Feeling, and Action, which is most conduciva 
to happiness. The immediate pressure of poverty once removed, 
the highest reward of honorable conduct will be found in the per- 
manent esteem, posthumous as it may be sometimes, of that portion 
of Humanity which has witnessed it. In a word the title, servus 
servorum, which is still retained by the Papacy from false humility, 
but which originated in anticipation of a social truth, is applicable- 
to all functionaries in high position. They may be described as 
the involuntary servants of voluntary subordinates. It is not 
chimerical to conceive Positivist society so organised that its 
theoretical and practical directors, with all their personal advantages, 
wDl often regret that they were not born, or that they did not 
remain, in the condition of workmen. The only solid satisfaction 
which great minds have hitherto found in political or spiritual 
power has been that, being more occupied with public interests, 
they had a wider scope for the exercise of social feeling. But the 
excellence of the future condition of society will be, that the possi- 
bility of combining public and private life will be open to aH 
The humblest citizen will be able to influence society, not by com- 
mand but by counsel, in proportion to his energy and worth. 



CHAP. III.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 145 

All the views brought forward in this chapter bear out the 
statement with which it began, that the Proletariate forms the 
principal basis of the social system, not merely as finally consti- 
tuted, but in its present state of transition ; and admitting this, the 
present state will be seen to have no essential difference from the 
normal future to which it tends. The principal conditions of our 
transitional policy were described at the conclusion of the last 
chapter. The security for these conditions is to be found in the 
natural tendencies of the people of "Western Europe, and especially 
of France. Our governors will do well to follow these tendencies 
instead of attempting to lead them ; for they are in perfect keeping 
with the two great requirements of the present time, Liberty and 
Public Order. 

Liberty of thought and speech is enjoyed in France, -pte working 
and especially in Paris, to an extent impossible in any classes are the 
other country, and it is due principally to the intellec- teLUrertyand 
tual emancipation of our workmen. They have rid foi^Order. 
themselves of theology in all its forms, and yet have not accepted 
any metaphysical system. At the same time, though totally devoid 
at present of systematic convictions, there is in them a submissive- 
ness of mind which predisposes them to receive convictions 
combining reality with utility. In all other classes there is a 
tendency to use forcible measures in spreading their doctriaes when 
discussion fails. It is only to the people that philosophers can 
look for the support and extension of Liberty, which is so essential 
to their objects ; and from this they derive moral confidence far 
more reassuring than any legal security. However reactionary or 
stationary the views of particular leaders or sects may be, with such 
a population as that of Paris, no real oppression is possible. Of aU 
the claims which France has to the leadership of Europe, this is 
the strongest. The resistance which is still offered to freedom of 
association and freedom of education will soon be overcome by the 
force of its liberal sympathies. A population of such strong social 
feeling as ours will certainly not allow itself to be permanently 
deprived of the power of meeting together freely in clubs ; institu- 
tions most conducive both to its culture and to the protection of its 
interests. It vrUI insist with equal force upon perfect liberty of 
teaching, feeling deeply the need of solid instruction, and the 
incapacity of metaphysicians and theologians to give it. Without 
popular pressure, the essential conditions of educational liberty will 
always be evaded. 

And if Liberty depends upon popular support. Public Order, , 
whether at home or abroad, depends upon it no less. The inclina- 

10 



146 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

tions of the working classes are altogether on the side of peace. 
Their strong dislike of war is the principal reason of the present 
remarkable tranquillity of Europe. The foolish regret expressed by 
all the retrograde parties for the decline of the military spirit is a 
sufficient indication of what the popular feeling is ; but even more 
significant is the necessity for compulsory enlistment, which began 
in France and has extended to other parts of Europe. There has 
been much factitious indignation on the subject, but at least it 
must be allowed, that in oui armies, the officers are the only 
volunteers. Again, the working class is more free than any other 
from international prejudices, which stUl disunite the great family 
of Western nations, although they are very much weaker than 
formerly. They are strongest in the middle classes, a fact princi- 
pally due to industrial competition. But working men feel how 
similar their wants and their conditions are in aU countries, and 
this feeling checks their animosity. And the consciousness of 
union wiU. become far stronger, now that the great social problem 
of their incorporation into modern society is being raised every- 
where. No errors that statesmen can commit, whether in matters 
of war or peace, can prevent this from becoming the preponderating 
question in every European country ; and thus it tends to preserve 
their mutual concord. 

Popular sympathies of this sort are, it may be said, less con- 
ducive to internal tranquillity than to pacific foreign relations. 
But the alarm which is naturally aroused by the spiritual anarchy 
around us must not blind us to the real guarantees for Order which 
popular tendencies, rightly interpreted, hold out. It is to the 
(people that we must look for the ascendancy of central over local 
i power, which, as we have seen, is so indispensable to public order. 
The executive authority, provided only that it gives no cause to 
fear reaction, will always have their support when opposed by an 
assembly the prevalent tendencies of which will usually be adverse 
to their interests. They wUl always turn instinctively to the 
dictatorial rather than to the parliamentary branch of the adminis- 
tration ; feeling that from its practical character and the directness 
of its action, it is more likely to meet their wants. Useless discus- 
sions on constitutional questions may suit ambitious members of 
the middle classes, by facilitating their arrival to power. But the 
people take very little interest in aU this unmeaning agitation, and 
often treat it with merited contempt. They know that it can be 
of no use to them, and that its only result is to evade their real 
wants by undermining the only authority that can do them justice. 
Consequently the people are certain to give their support to every 



■CHAP, jii.] THE ACTION OP POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. ] 47 

government that deserves it ; especially in France, wtere political 
passions have already yielded to the superior and more permanent 
interest of social questions. And while strengthening the govern- 
ment, they may do much to elevate its character ; by confining it 
strictly to its practical function, and resisting any attempts that it 
may make to interfere with opinion. In all these respects the 
spontaneous influence of the working classes will be of material 
assistance in carrying out the systematic conceptions of social 
philosophy. 

But a more striking proof of the political influence it is from 
to be exercised by the people is this. The dictatorship *?*" *''^J^* 
which our transitional policy requires, as long as the the dictatorial^ 
spiritual interregnum lasts, must arise in the first £™pro-Son^ 
instance from their ranks. ally required. 

In the word People, especially in the French language, there is a 
fortunate ambiguity, which may serve to remind us that the 
proletariate class is not, properly speaking, a class at all, but 
constitutes the body of society. From it proceed the various 
special classes, which we may regard as organs necessary to that 
body. Since the abolition of royalty, the last remnant of caste, 
our political leaders have been recruited, and will continue to be 
so, from the working class. In the normal state, however, it wiU 
be required as a preliminary condition, that the holder of dictator- 
ial power shall have first received the political training which is 
given by the exercise of authority in his own busiQess. In a 
settled state of society, Oovemment, strictly so called, is a mere 
extension of civil influence. Ultimately, therefore, political power 
will fall into the hands of the great leaders of industry. As . 
spiritual reorganization proceeds, they will gradually become more 
worthy of it than they are at present. Besides, the tenure of 
power will become less burdensome, because it will be confined to 
duties of a purely practical kind. 

As yet, however, the case is very different; and therefore the 
wealthy, though ultimately they will be the administrators of 
power, are not those to whom it should as a rule be entrusted in 
our present condition. Special departments may be given to them 
with advantage, as we have seen proved recently, and that in cases 
where the functions to be performed had no relation whatever to 
industrial skili But they are not competent as yet for dictatorial 
power, the power which has to supply the place of royalty. Indi- 
vidual exceptions, of course, there may be, though none have 
appeared hitherto, and at least they are not enough for our provi- 
sional system to rely on. As yet the wealthy classes have shown 



148 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. hi. 

themselves too debased in thought and feeling for an office of such 
importance. 'Not do we find greater aptitude for it outside the 
industrial class. Scientific men are most asssuredly unfit for it, 
especially in France, where the system of Academies has narrowed 
the mind, withered the feelings, and enervated the character to 
such an extent, that most of them fail in the conduct of common 
life, and are utterly unworthy of the smallest post of authority, 
even in their own department. 

All other classes failing us, we have to look to the working class, 
which has been left more free to form broad views, and in vf^hich 
the sense of duty has been better cultivated. On historical grounds 
I feel convinced that the workmen of France are more likely than 
any other class to supply men competent for supreme power, as 
long as the spiritual interregnum lasts ; that is, for at least one 
generation. 

On looking at this question calmly and without scholastic or 
aristocratic prejudice, it will be seen, as I pointed out at the 
beginning of this chapter, that the working class is better situated 
than any other with respect to generality of views and generosity 
of feeling. In knowledge and experience of administration they 
would ordinarily be deficient ; they would therefore not be fit for 
the work of any special department. But this is no disqualification 
for the supreme power, or indeed for any of the higher offices 
for which breadth of view rather than special knowledge is 
required. These may be filled by working men, whose good sense 
and modesty will at once lead them to choose their agents for 
special departments from the classes who have usually furnished 
them before. The practical character and progressive spirit of such 
a government being beyond suspicion, special talent of whatever 
kind may be made available, even in the case of men who, if they 
had been placed in a higher position, would have proved thoroughly 
hostile to republican institutions. Of aU the diversified elements 
of modem society, there is not one which may not be of real 
service in assisting the transition. Among soldiers and magistrates, 
for instance, there are many who will join the popukr movement, 
and become sincere supporters of republicanism. A government 
of this kind would tranquillize the people, would obviate the 
necessity for violent compressive measures, and would at the same 
time have a most beneficial influence on the capitalist class. It 
would show them the necessity of attaining to greater purity of 
feeling and greater breadth of view, if they are to become worthy 
of the position for which they are ultimately destined. 

Thus, whether we look at the interests of Public Order, or at 



CHiP. III.] THE ACTION OF POSITIVISM ON THE PEOPLE. 149 

those of Liberty, it appears necessary as a provisional measure, 
during the continuance of our spiritual interregnum, that the 
holders of dictatorial power shaU be chosen from the working class. 
The success of a few working men iu the pursuit of wealth has 
exercised an unsettling influence on the rest ; but in the present 
instance we need not fear this result. It wiU be obvious that the 
career of a proletary governor is a rare exception, and one which 
requires peculiar endowments. 

In examining the mode ia which this anomalous policy shoxdd 
be carried out, we must bear in mind the object with which it was 
instituted. It is most important to get rid of the custom, based i 
on motives of self-interest, which has grown up during the last; 
generation, of insisting on parliamentary experience as an appren-/ 
ticeship for executive power ; executive power being always the 
real object of ambition. We have found from experience what w6 
might have anticipated on theoretical grounds, that this plan 
excludes all except mere talkers of the Girondin type, men totally 
devoid of statesman-like qualities. To working men it ofiers almost 
iasurmountable obstacles ; and even supposing these obstacles to 
be overcome, we may be sure that they would lose the straightfor- 
wardness and native vigour which constitute their best claim to 
the exceptional position proposed for them. 

It is best, then, that they should reach the position assigned to j 
them at once, without the circuitous process of a parliamentary 1 
career. Our transition towards the normal state will then exhibit 
its true character. It wUl be tranquil and yet decisive ; for it wiU 
rest on the combined action of philosophers without political 
ambition, and dictators adverse to spiritual encroachment. The 
teacher who attempts to govern, the governor who attempts to 
educate, wiU both incur severe public censure, as enemies alike of 
peace and progress. The whole result will be a change in our 
revolutionary condition identical with that which the Convention 
would have realised, if, as its founders contemplated, it had lasted 
tiU the Peace. 

Such, then, is the nature of the compact into which all true 
philosophers should enter with the leading members of the proletary 
class. Their object is to direct the organic and final phase through 
which the Great Kevolution is now passing. "What they have to 
do is carefully to prolong the provisional system adopted by the 
Convention, and to ignore, as far as possible, the traditions of 
all succeeding governments, whether stationary or retrograde. 
Comprehensiveness of view and social sympathy predominate alike 
in both members of this great alliance ; and it is thus a guarantee 



150 A GBNEEAl VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [cbap. IIJ: 

for our present state of transition, and a sure earnest of the normal 
future. The people are .the spontaneous representatives of this 
alliance ; the philosophers its systematic organ. The intellectual 
deficiencies of the former will easily be remedied by philosophei's, 
who will show them how essential it is on social grounds that they 
should understand the true meaning of history ; since otherwise 
their conception of the union of mankind must be limited to the 
present generation, ignoring the more importajit truth of the 
continuity of the Present with the Past and the Future. A far 
greater obstacle is the moral deficiency of most philosophers of our 
time. But the wholesome influence of the people upon them, 
combined with a deep philosophic conviction of the preponderance 
of Feeling in every subject of thought, wiU do much to overcome 
the ambitious instincts which weaken and distract their energies in 
the common cause of social renovation. 



CHAPTER ly. 

THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 

In their action, then, upon society, philosophers Tv„,nen re- 
may hope for the energetic support of the working present tiieaf- 
classes. But the regenerating movement requires still Sen™ in our 
the co-operation of a third element, an element indi- ?ature, as phi- 

i-j-L 1 ■ J! 1 I 1 ,1 losopners and 

Gated by our analysis of human nature, and suggested people repre- 
also by historical study of the great crisis of modern f™taai° *"and 

times, practical ele- 

The moral constitution of man consists of some- """'*^- 
thing more than Intellect and Actiyity. These are represented in 
the constitution of society by the philosophic body and the prole- 
tariate. But besides these there is Feeling, which, in the theory 
put forward in the first chapter of this work, was shown to be the 
predominating principle, the motive power of our being, the only 
basis on which the various parts of our nature can be brought into 
unity. Now the alliance between philosophers and working men, 
which has been just described, however perfectly it may be 
realised, does not represent the element of Feeling with sufficient 
distinctness and prominence. 

Certainly without Social Feeling, neither philosophers nor 
proletaries can exercise any real influence. But in their case its 
source is not sufficiently pure nor deep to sustain them in the 
performance of their duty. A more spontaneous and more perennial 
spring of inspiration must be found. 

With the philosopher social sympathies will never be wanting in 
coherence, since they will be connected with his whole system of 
thought; but this very scientific character will deaden their 
vigour, unless they are revived by impulses in which reflection has 
no share. Eoused as he wUl be by the consciousness of public duty 
to a degree of activity of which abstract thinkers can form no 
conception, the emotions of private life wOI yet be not less neces- 
sary for him than for others. Intercourse with the working classes 
win be of the greatest benefit to him ; but even this is not enough 
to compensate the defects of a life devoted to speculation. 

The sympathies of the people again, though stronger and more 
spontaneous than those of the philosopher, are, in most cases, less 



152 A GENEEAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

pure and not so lasting. From the pressure of daily necessities it 
is difficult for them to maintain the same consistent and disin- 
terested character. Great as are the moral advantages virhich will 
result from the incorporation of the people in modern society, they 
are not enough hy themselves to outweigh the force of self-interest 
aroused by the precarious nature of their position. Emotions of a 
gentler and less transient kind must be called into play. Philoso- 
phers may relieve the working classes from the necessity of pressing 
their own claims and grievances ; but the fact still remains, that 
the instincts by which those claims are prompted are personal 
rather than social. 

Thus, in the alliance which has been here proposed as necessary 
for social reorganization, Feeling, the most influential part of human 
nature, has not been adequately represented. An element is 
wanting which shall have the same relation to the moral side of our 
constitution, as the philosophic body has with Intellect, and the 
people with Activity. On this, as well as on other grounds, it is 
indispensable that Women be associated in the work of regenera- 
tion as soon as its tendencies and conditions can be explained to 
them. With the addition of this third element, the constructive 
movement at last assumes its true character. We may then feel 
confident that our intellectual and practical faculties wiU be kept 
in due subordination to universal Love. The digressions of intel- 
lect, and the subversive tendencies of our active powers will be as 
far as possible prevented. 

Women have Indispensable to Positivism as the co-operation of 
from the*mo- women is, it involves one essential condition. Modern 
dem move- progress must rise above its present imperfect character, 
of Its anti- before women can thoroughly sympathise with it. 
ditractiv™^ At present the general feeling amongst them is anti- 
charaoter. pathy to the Ecvolutiou. They dislike the destructive 
character which the Eevolution necessarily exhibited in its first 
phase. All their social sympathies are given to the Middle Ages. 
And this is not merely due, as is supposed, to the regret which 
they very naturally feel for the decline of chivalry, although they 
cannot but feel that the Middle Ages are the only period in which 
the feeling of reverence for women has been properly cultivated. 
But the real ground of their predilection is deeper and less 
interested. It is that, being morally the purest portion of Huma- 
nity, they venerate Catholicism, as the only system which has 
upheld the principle of subordinating Politics to Morals. This, I 
cannot doubt, is the secret cause of most of the regret with which 
women stiU. regard the irrevocable decay of mediaeval society. 



<;hap. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 153 

They do not disregard the progress which modem times have 
made in various special directions. But our erroneous tendencies 
towards bringing back the old supremacy of Politics over Morality, 
are, in their eyes, a retrograde movement so comprehensive in its 
•character that no partial improvements can compensate for it. 
True, we are able to justify this deviation provisionally, since the 
■decay of Catholicism renders political dictatorship necessary. But 
women, having comparatively little to do with the practical 
business of life, can hardly appreciate this necessity without a more 
satisfactory theory of history than they at present possess. It is a 
complete mistake to charge women with being retrograde on 
account of these feelings of regret which are most honourable to 
them. They might retort the charge with far better reason on the 
revolutionists, for their blind admiration of Greek and Koman 
society, which they still persist in asserting to be superior to 
Catholic Feudalism ; a delusion, the continuance of which is 
principally due to our absurd system of classical education, from 
which women are fortunately preserved. 

However this may be, the feelings of women upon these subjects 
are a very plain and simple demonstration of the first condition of 
social regeneration, which is, that Politics must again be subordi- 
nated to Morality ; and this upon a more intelligible, more com- 
prehensive, and more perma;nent basis than Catholicism could 
supply. A system which supplied such a basis would naturally 
involve reverence for women as one of its characteristic results. 
Such, then, are the terms on which women vrill cordially co-operate 
in the progressive movement. Nothing but incapacity to satisfy 
these terms could induce any thinkers to condemn the conception, 
as retrograde. 

It is not, then, to the Eevolution itself that women feel anti- 
pathy, but to the anti-historic spirit which prevailed in its first 
phase. The blind abuse lavished on the Middle Ages wounds 
their strongest sympathies. They care little for metaphysical 
theories of society in which human happiness is made to consist in 
■a continual exercise of political rights ; for political rights, however 
attractively presented, wiU always fail to interest them. But they 
give their cordial sympathy to all reasonable claims of the people ] 
.and these claims form, the real object of the revolutionary crisis. 
They wiU wish all success to philosophers and workmen when they 
see them endeavouring to transform political disputes into social 
compacts, and proving that they have greater regard for duties than 
for rights. If they regret the decline of the gentle influence which 
they possessed in former times, it is principally because they find 



154: A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. ICEiP. 2V. 

it superseded by coarse and egotistic feelings, which are now no 
longer counterbalanced by revolutionary enthusiasm. Instead of 
blaming their antipathies, we should leam from them the urgent 
necessity of putting an end to the moral and intellectual anarchy 
of our times ; for this it is which gives a ground of real justice to 
their reproaches. 

But they wiu Women will gladly associate themselves with the 
wmfcoMtruo- Eevolution as soon as its work of reconstruction is 
tive tenden- fairly begun. Its negative phase must not be prolonged 
distin^h' too far. It is difficult enough for them to understand 
Dh'^faS'''^"'''^ ^"^ ^^''^ * phase could ever be necessary ; therefore 
entiflo specia- thcy cannot be expected to excuse its aberrations. The 
^**^- true connection of the Eevolution with the Middle 

Ages must be fairly stated. History, when rightly interpreted, will 
show them that its real object is, while laying down a surer basis 
for Morality, to restore it to the old position of superiority over 
Politics in which the mediseval system first placed it. Women 
will feel enthusiasm for the second phase of the Eevolution, when 
they see republicanism in the light in which Positivism presents 
it, modified by the spirit of ancient chivalry. 

Then, and not tiU then, will the movement of social regeneration 
be fairly begun. The movement can have no great force until 
women give cordial support to it ; for it is they who are the best 
representatives of the fundamental principle on which Positivism 
rests, the victory of social over selfish afiections. On philosophers 
rests the duty of giving logical coherence to this priuciple, and 
saving it from sophistical attacks. Its practical working depends 
upon the proletary class, without whose aid it would almost aJways 
be evaded. But to maintain it in all its purity, as an inspiration 
that needs neither argument nor compulsion, is the work of women 
only. So constituted, the alliance of the three classes will be the 
foreshadowed image of the normal state to which Humanity is 
tending. It will be the living type of perfect human nature. 

Unless the new philosophy can obtain the support of women, 
the attempt to substitute it for theology in the regulation of soci^ 
life had better be abandoned. But if the theory stated in my first 
chapter be true, Positivism wiU have even greater infiuence with 
women than with the working classes. In the principle which 
animates it, in its manner of regarding and of handling the great 
problem of human life, it is but a systematic development of what 
women have always felt instinctively. To them, as to the people, 
it offers a noble career of social usefulness, and it holds out a sure 
prospect of improvement in their own personal position. 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 155 

Nor is it surprising that the new philosophy should possess such 
qualities. They foUow naturally from the reality which is one of 
its chief claims to acceptance ; in other words, from the exactness 
with which it takes account of the facts of every subject that it 
deals with. Strong as the prejudices of women are upon religious, 
questions, it cannot be long before they find out that Positivism 
satisfies, not merely their intellectual, but their moral and social 
wants better than Catholicism. They will then have no further 
reason for clinging to the old system, of the decayed condition of 
which they are perfectly aware. At present they not unnaturally 
confound Positivism with the scientific specialities on which it is. 
based'. Scientific studies have, as they see, a hardening influence, 
which they cannot suppose that the new school of philosophers,. 
who insist so strongly upon the necessity of studying science, can 
have escaped. Closer acquaintance with the subject will show 
them where their error lies. They will see that the moral danger 
of soisntifio studies arises almost entirely from want of purpose and 
from irrational speoiaUty, which always alienate them from the 
social point of view. But for the Positivist this danger does not 
exist ; since, however far he may carry these preliminary studies, 
he does so simply in order to gain a stronger grasp of social ques- 
tions. His one object is' to concentrate all the powers of Man upon 
the general advancement of the race. And so long as this object 
be kept in view, women's good sense will readily distinguish 
between the training necessary for it, and the puerilities of the 
learned societies. The general spirit of this work, however, makes, 
further explanation unnecessary. 

The social mission of woman in the Positive system women's po- 
follows as a natural consequence from the qualities sitiou in so- 
peculiar to her nature. pKsophci ^ 

In the most essential attribute of the human race, ^"^ pe^i?. 
the tendency to place social above personal feeling, she not to govern, 
is undoubtedly superior to man. Morally, therefore, ^ut to modify. 
and apart from aU. material considerations, she merits always our 
loving veneration, as the purest and simplest impersonation of 
Humanity, who can never be adequately > represented in any mas- 
guline form. But these qualities do not involve the possession of 
political power, which some visionaries have claimed for women, 
though without their own consent. In that which is the great 
object of human life, they are superior to men ; but in the various 
means of attaining that object they are undoubtedly inferior. In 
all kinds of force, whether physical, intellectual, or practical, it is 
certain that Man surpasses "Woman, in aceordance with a general 



156 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. IV. 

law wMoli prevails througliout the animal kingdom. Now prac- 
tical life is necessarily governed, by force rather than by affection, 
because it requires unremitting and laborious activity. If there 
were nothing else to do but to love, as in the Christian utopia of a 
future life in which there are no material wants. Woman would be 
supreme. But life is surrounded with difficulties, which it needs 
all our thoughts and energies to avoid ; therefore Man takes the 
command, notwithstanding his inferiority in goodness. Success in 
all great efforts depends more upon energy and talent than upon 
goodwUl, although this last condition reacts strongly upon the 
others. 

Thus the three elements of out moral constitution do not act in per- 
fect harmony. Force is naturally supreme, and all that women can 
do is to modify it by affection. Justly conscious of their superiority 
in strength of feeling, they endeavour to assert their influence in a 
way which is often attributed by superficial observers to the mere 
love of power. But experience always teaches them that in a world 
where the simplest necessaries of life are scarce and difficult to 
procure, power must belong to the strongest, not to the most 
affectionate, even though the latter may deserve it best. With all 
their efforts they can never do more than modify the harshness 
with which men exercise their authority. And men submit more 
readily to this modifying influence, from feeling that in the highest 
attributes of Humanity women are their superiors. They see that 
their own supremacy is due principally to the material necessities 
of Hfe, provision for which calls into play the self-regarding rather 
than the social instincts. Hence we find it the case in every phase 
of human society that women's life is essentially domestic, public 
life being confined to men. Civilization, so far from effacing this 
natural distinction, tends, as I shall afterwards show, to develop it, 
while remedying its abuses. 

Thus the social position of women is in this respect very similar 
to that of philosophers and of the working classes. And we now 
see why these three elements should be united. It is their com- 
bined action which constitutes the moral or modif3dng force of 
society. 

Philosophers are excluded from political power by the same 
fatality as women, although they are apt to think that their intel- 
lectual eminence gives them a claim to it. Were our material 
wants more easily satisfied, the influence of intellect would be less 
impeded than it is by the practical business of life. But, on this 
hypothesis, women would have a better claim to govern than 
philosophers. For the reasoning faculties would have remained 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 157 

almost inert had they not been needed to guide our energies ; the 
constitution of the brain not being such as to favour their spon- 
taneous development. Whereas the affective principle is dependent u 
on no such external stimulus for its activity. A life of thought is 
a more evident disqualification for the government of the world 
even than a life of feeling, although the pride of philosophers is a 
greater obstacle to submission than the vanity of women. With 
aU its pretensions, intellectual force is not ia itself more moral than 
material force. Each is but an instrument; the merit depends 
entirely upon its right employment. The only element of our 
nature which is in itself moral is Love ; for Love alone tends of 
itself towards the preponderance of social feeling over self-interest. 
And since even Love cannot govern, what can be the claim of 
Intellect ? Li practical life precedence must always depend upon 
superior energy. Eeason, even more than Feeling, must be 
restricted to the task of modifying. Philosophers therefore must 
be excluded from government, at least as rigidly as women. It is 
in vain for intellect to attempt to command ; it never can do more 
than modify. In fact, the morality which it indirectly possesses is 
due to this impossibility of exercising compulsory power, and 
would be ruined by the attainment of it, supposing it were possible. 
Intellect may do much to amend the natural order of things, 
provided that it does not attempt to subvert it. What it can do is 
, by its power of systematic arrangement to effect the union of all 
the classes who are likely to exert a beneficial influence on material 
power. It is with this view that every spiritual power has avaUed 
itself of the aid of women, as we see was the case in the Middle 
Ages, 

Proceeding with our sociological analysis of moral force, we shall 
find an equally striking resemblance between the influence of 
Women and that exercised by the People. 

In the first stage of progress, there is no modifying power except 
what springs from PeeHng ; afterwards Intellect combines with it,. 
. finding itself unable to govern. The only element now wanting is 
Activity; and this want, which is indispensable, is supplied by the 
co-operation of the people. The fact is, that although the people 
constitute the basis on which all political power rests, yet they have 
as little to do directly with the administration of power as philoso- 
phers or women. 

Power, in the strict sense of the word, power, that is, which 
controls action without persuading the will, has two perfectly 
distinct sources, numbers and wealth. The force of numbers is 
■usually considered the more material of the two ; but in reality it 



158 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. rv. 

is the more moral. Being created by co-operation, it involves some 
convergence of ideas and feelings, and therefore it does not give 
such free scope for the self-regarding instincts as the more concen- 
trated power of wealth. But for this very reason, it is too indirect 
and precarious for the ordinary purposes of government. It can 
influence government morally, but cannot take an active part in it. 
The same causes which exclude philosophers and women apply in 
the case of the people. Our material necessities are so urgent, that 
those who have the means of providing for them wiU always be 
the possessors of power. Now the wealthy have these means ; 
they hold in their hands the products of labour, by which each 
generation facilitates the existence and prepares the operations of 
its successor. Consequently the power of the capitalist is one of 
so concentrated a kind, that numbers can very seldom resist it 
successfully. Even in military nations we find the same thing ; 
the influence of numbers, though more direct, afiects only the mode 
of acquiring wealth, not its tenure. But in industrial states, where 
wealth is acquired by other ways than violence, the law is evident. 
And with the advance of civilization it wall operate not less, but 
more strongly. Capital is ever on the increase, and consequently 
is ever creating means of subsistence for those who possess nothing. 
In this sense, but in no other, the cynical maxim of Antiquity, 
Pavels nascUw humanum germs, will always bear a true meaning. 
The few provide subsistence for the many. We come back, then, 
to the conclusion of the last chapter ; that the working classes are 
not destined for political power, but that they tend to become a 
most important source of moral power. The moral value of their 
influence is even more indirect than that of philosophers, and 
■depends even more in their case upon subordination politically. 
In the few cases where government passes for a time into the hands 
of the masses, wealth in its turn assumes a sort of moral influence 
foreign to its nature. It moderates the violence with which 
government is apt to be administered in such cases. The high 
intellectual and moral qualities belonging to the working classes 
are, as we have seen, in great part due to their social position. 
They would be seriously impaired if the political authority that 
belongs to wealth were habitually transferred to numbers. 
\ The united Suoh, in outline, is the Positive theory of Moral 
action of phi- Torce. By it the despotism of material force may be 
men; and' pro- in part controlled. It rests upon the union of the 
tuS^^ °Moi^ three elements in society who are excluded from the 
Force. sphere of politics strictly so called. In their combined 

■action lies our principal hope of solving, so far as it can be solved, 



CHAP. IV.] THE INPLT3ENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 159 

the great problem of man's nature, the successful struggle of Social 
Feeling against Self-love. Each of the three elements supplies a 
quality indispensable to the task. "Without women this controlling 
power would be deficient in purity and spontaneous impulse ; 
without philosophers, in wisdom and coherence ; without the 
people, in energy and activity. The philosophic element, although 
neither the most direct nor the most efficient, is yet the distinctive 
feature of this power, because its function is to organize its consti- 
tution and direct its operations in accordance with the true laws of 
Social life. As being the systematic organ of the spiritual power 
it has become identified with it in name. This, however, may lead 
to an erroneous conception. The moral aspect of the spiritual 
power is more important than the intellectual While retaining 
the name as an historical tradition of real value, Positivists attach 
a somewhat different meaning to it. It originated in a time when 
theories of society were unknown, and when Intellect was con- 
sidered as the central principle of human nature. 

Spiritual power, as interpreted by Positivism, begins with the 
influence of women in the family ; it is afterwards moulded into a 
system by thinkers, while the people are the guarantees for its 
political efficiency. Although it is the intellectual class that insti- 
tutes the union, yet its own part in it, as it should never forget, is 
less direct than that of women, less practical than that of the 
people. The thinker is socially powerless except so far as he is 
supported by feminine sympathy and popular energy. 

Thus the necessity of associating women in the movement of 
social regeneration creates no obstacle whatever to the philosophy 
by which that movement is to be directed. On the contrary, it 
aids its progress, by showing the true character of the moral force 
which is destined to control aU the other forces of man. It involves 
as perfect an inauguration of the normal state as our times of transi- 
tion admit. Por the chief characteristic of that state will be a 
more complete and more harmonious union of the same three 
classes to whom we are now looking for the first impulse of reform. 
Already we can see how perfectly adapted to the constitution of 
man this final condition of Humanity will be. Feeling, Eeason, 
Activity, whether viewed separately or in combination, correspond 
exactly to the three elements of the regenerative movement, Women, 
Philosophers, and People. 

Verification of this theory may be found more or less distinctly 
in every period of history. Each of the three classes referred to 
have always borne out the biological law that the life of relation or 
animal life, is subordinated to the life of nutrition. Still more 



160 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, iw 

striking is tke application to this case of another general principle, 
namely, that Progress is the development of Order ; a principle 
which, as I showed in the second chapter, connects every dynamical 
c[uestion in Sociology with the corresponding statical conception. 
For with the growth of society, the modifying influence of moral 
force is always increasing, hoth by larger scope being given to each 
of its three elements specially, and also by the more perfect consoli- 
dation of their union. Eobertson has made an important remark 
on the gradual improvement in the condition of women, which is 
but a particular case of this sociological law. The general principle 
on which progress in all three classes depends, is the biological law, 
that the preponderance of vegetable life over animal life diminishes 
as the organism is higher in the scale and is more perfectly 
\ developed. 

\l During the various phases of ancient Polytheism, the controlling 
power consisted simply of the moral influence exerted by women 
in the Family. In public life the influence of thinkers had not 
made itself independent of the governmental authority, of which 
it was sometimes the source, sometimes the instrument. Mediaeval 
Catholicism went a step further, and took the first step in systema- 
tizing moral force. It created an independent spiritual authority 
to which political governments were subordinated, and this 
authority was always supported by women. But the complete 
organization of moral force was reserved for modem times. It is 
only recently that the working classes have begun to interfere 
actively in social questions ; and, as I have shown in the preceding 
chapter, it is from their co-operation that the new spiritual power 
will derive its practical efficiency. Limited originally to the sphere 
of Feeling, and subsequently extended to the intellectual sphere, it 
henceforward embraces the sphere of Activity ; and this without 
losing its spiritual character, since the influences of which it consists 
are entirely distinct from the domain of practical politics. Each 
of its three elements persuades, advises, judges ; but except in 
isolated cases, never commands. The social mission of Positivism 
is to regulate and combine their spontaneous action, by directing 
each to the objects for which it is best adapted. 

And this mission, in spite of strong prejudices to the contrary, 
it will be found well calculated to fulfil. I have already shown its 
adaptation to the case of the people and of the philosophic body, 
whether regarded separately or in combination : I have now to 
show that it is equally adapted to the case of women. 

In proof of this I have but to refer to the principle on which, as 
stated in the first chapter, the whole system of Positivism is based; 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 161 

the preponderance of affection in our nature. Such a principle is 
of itself an appeal to women to associate themselves with the 
system, as one of its essential elements. In Catholicism, their co- 
operation, though valuable, was not of primary importance, because 
Catholicism claimed a divine origin independent of their assistance. 
But to Positivism they are indispensable, as being the purest and 
simplest embodiment of its fundamental principle. It is not 
merely in the Family that their influence will be required. Their 
duty wiU often be to call philosophers and people back to that 
unity of purpose which originated in the first place with themselves, 
and which each of the other elements is often disposed to violate. 

All true philosophers wiU no doubt accept and be profoundly 
influenced by the conviction, that in all subjects of thought the 
social point of view should be logically and scientifically prepon- 
derant. They will consequently admit the truth that the Heart 
takes precedence of the Understanding. Still they require some 
more direct incentive to universal Love than these convictions can 
supply. EJaowing, as they do, how slight is the practical result of 
purely intellectual considerations, they wiU welcome so precious an 
incentive, were it only in the interest of their own mission. I 
recognised its necessity myself, when I wrote on the 11th of March, 
1846, to her who, in spite of death, will always remain my constant 
companion : " I was incomplete as a philosopher, until the experi- 
ence of deep and pure passion had given me fuller insight into the 
emotional side of human nature"- Strong affection exercises a 
marvellous influence upon mental effort. It elevates the intellect 
at once to the only point of view which is really universal. Doubt- 
less, the method of pure science leads up to it also ; but only by a 
long and toilsome process, which exhausts the powers of thought, 
and leaves little energy for following out the new results to which 
this great principle gives rise. The stimulation of affection under 
feminine influence is necessary, therefore, for the acceptance of 
Positivism, not merely in those classes for whom a long preliminary 
course of scientific study would be impossible. It is equally 
necessary for the systematic teachers of Positivism, in whom it 
checks the tendency, which is encouraged by habits of abstract 
speculation, to deviate into useless digressions ; these being always 
easier to prosecute than researches of real value. 

Under this aspect the new spiritual system is obvi- Superiority 

•ouslj- superior to the old. By the institution of °Ji^t^^^i'o 

celibacy, which was indispensable to Catholicism, its the ou^ seif- 

priests were entirely removed from the beneficial infiu- denSes^ot Ca- 

ence exercised by women. Only those could profit thouc doctrine. 

11 



162 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [CHAP. nr. 

from it who did not belong to the ecclesiastical hody ; the members 
of that body, as Ariosto has remarked in his vigorous satire, were 
excluded. J^or could the evil be remedied, except in very rare 
cases, by irregular attachment, which inevitably corrupted the 
priest's character by involving the necessity of perpetual hypocrisy. 

And when we look at the difference of the spirit by which the 
two systems are pervaded, we shall find still more striking evidence 
that the new system offers a far larger sphere of moral influence to 
women than the old. 

Both are based upon the principle of affection ; but in Positivism 
the affection inculcated is social, in Catholicism it is essentially 
personal. The object of Catholic devotion is one of such stupen- 
dous magnitude, that feelings which are unconnected with it are 
in danger of being crushed. The priesthood, it is true, wise 
interpreters in this respect of a general instinct, brought aU the 
more important social obligations within the compass of religion, 
and held them out as necessary for salvation. Indirectly, the 
nobler feelings were thus called into action ; but at the same time 
they were rendered far less spontaneous and pure. There could be 
no perfectly disinterested affection under a system which promised 
eternal rewards for all acts of self-denial. For it was impossible, 
and indeed it would have been thought sinful, to keep the future 
out of sight ; and thus all spontaneous generosity was unavoidably 
tainted by self-interest. Catholicism gave rise to an ignoble 
theory of morals which became very mischievous when it was 
adopted by the metaphysicians ; because, while retaining the vicious 
principle, they swept away the checks by which the priesthood had 
controlled it. But even when we look at the purest form in which 
the love of God was exhibited, we cannot call it a social feeling, ex- 
cept in so far as the same object of worship was held out simultane- 
ously to all. Intrinsically, it is anti-social, since, when attained in 
absolute perfection, it implies the entire sacrifice of aU other lova 
And in the best representatives of Christian thought and feeling, 
this tendency is very apparent. No one has portrayed the Catholic 
ideal with such sublimity and pathos as the author of the Imitation, 
a work which so well deserved the beautiful translation of CorneUle. 
And yet, reading it as I do daily, I cannot help remarking how 
grievously the natural nobleness of Thomas A' Kempis was impaired 
by the Catholic system, although in spite of all obstacles he rises 
at times to the purest ardour. Certainly those of our feelings 
which are purely unselfish must be far stronger and more spon- 
taneous than has ever yet been supposed, since even the oppressive 
discipline of twelve centuries could not prevent their growth. 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUBKCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 163 

Positmsm, from th.e fact of its conformity with The spirit ot 
the constitution of our nature, is the only system th?*oaaSar? 
calculated to develop, both in puhlic and in private Ja essentially 
life, those high attributes of Humanity which, for want Heart and tte 
of adequate systematic culture, are still in their rudi- intellect mu- 
mentary stage. Catholicism, while appealing to the then'' ° ^^h 
Heart, crushed Intellect, and Intellect naturally strug- °^^^'^' 
gled to throw off the yoie. Positivism, on the contrary, brings 
Season into complete harmony with Feeling, without impairing 
the activity of either. 

Scientific study of the relation which each individual bears to 
the whole race is a continual stimulijs to social sympathy. With- 
out a theory of society, it is impossible to keep this relation 
distinctly and constantly in view. It is only noticed in a few 
exceptional cases, and unconnected impressions are soon effaced 
from the memory. But the Positivist teacher, taking the social 
point of view invariably, will make this notion far more familiar 
to us than it has ever been before. He will show us the impossi- 1 
bility of understanding any individual or society apart from the] 
whole life of the race. Nothing but the bewilderment caused by I 
theological and metaphysical doctrines can account for the shallow 
explanations of human affairs given by our teachers, attributing as 
they do to Man what is really due to Humanity. But with the 
sounder theory that we now possess, we can see the truth as it 
really stands. We have but to look each of us at our own life/ 
under its physical, intellectual, or moral aspects, to recognize whan 
it is that we owe to the combined action of our predecessors audi 
contemporaries. The man who dares to think himself independeM 
of others, either in feelings, thoughts, or actions, cannot even pun 
the blasphemous conception into words without immediate selfy 
contradiction, since the very language he uses is not his own. The 
profoundest thinker cannot by himself form the simplest language ; 
it requires the co-operation of a community for several generations. 
Without further illustration, the tendency of Positive doctrine is 
evident. It appeals systematically to our social instincts, by con- 
stantly impressing upon us that only the Whole is real ; that the 
Parts exist only in abstraction. 

But independently of the beneficial influence which, in this final 
atate of Humanity, the mind wUl exercise upon the heart, the 
direct culture of the heart itself wiU be more pure and more 
vigorous than under any former system. It offers us the only 
means of disengaging our benevolent affections from all calculations 
of self-interest. As far as the imperfection of man's nature admits, 



164 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

these affections will gradually become supreme, since they give 
deeper satisfaction than all others, and are capable of fuUer 
development. Setting the rewards and punishments of theology 
aside, we shall attain at last to that which is the real happiness of 
man, pure and disinterested love. This is truly the Sovereign 
Good, sought for so long by former systems of philosophy in vaiu. 
That it surpasses all other good one fact will show, known to the 
tender-hearted from personal experience ; that it is even better to 
• love than to be loved. Overstrained as this may seem to many, it 
is yet in harmony with a general truth, that our nature is in a 
healthier state when active than when passive. In the happiness 
of being loved, there is always some tinge of self-love ; it is impos- 
sible not to feel pride in the love of one whom we prefer to all 
others. Siace, then, loving gives purer satisfaction than being 
loved, the superiority of perfectly disinterested affection is at once 
demonstrated. It is the fundamental defect of our nature, that 
intrinsically these affections are far weaker than the selfish propen- 
sities connected with the preservation of our own existence. But 
when they have once been aroused, even though the original 
stimulus may have been personal, they have greater capacity of 
growth, owing to the peculiar charm inherent in them. Besides, 
in the exercise of these feelings, aU of us can co-operate with and 
encourage one another, whereas the reverse is the case with the 
selfish instincts. There is, therefore, nothing unreasonable in 
supposing that Positivism, by regulating and combining these 
natural tendencies, may rouse our sympathetic instincts to a 
condition of permanent activity hitherto unknown. When the 
heart is no longer crushed by theological dogmas, or hardened by 
metaphysical theories, we soon discover that real happiness, whether 
public or private, consists in the highest possible development of 
the social instincts. Self-love comes to be regarded as an incurable 
infirmity, which is to be yielded to only so far as is absolutely 
necessary. Here lies the universal adaptability of Positivism to 
every type of character and to aU circumstances. In the humblest 
relations of life, as in the highest, regenerate Humanity wUl apply 
the obvious truth, It is better to give than to receive. 

The Heart thus aroused wiU in its turn react beneficially upon 
the Intellect ; and it is especially from women that this reaction 
will proceed. I have spoken of it so fuUy before, that I need not 
describe it further. It is in Feeling that I find the basis on which 
the whole structure of Positivism, intellectually as well as morally 
considered, rests. The only remark I have now to add is, that by 
foUfiwing out this principle, philosophical difiBculties of the most 



CHAP. IT.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 165 

iformida'ble kind are at once surmounted. From inoral considera- 
tions, the intellect may be readily induced to submit to scientific 
restrictions, the propriety of which would remain for a long time 
matter of debate, were philosophical discussions the only means of 
indicating it. Attempt, for instance, to convince a pure mathema- 
tician, however conscientious and talented, that Sociology is both 
logically and scientifically superior to all other studies. He would 
not readily admit this ; and severe exertion of the inductive and 
deductive faculties can alone convince him of it. But by the aid 
of Feeling, an artisan or a woman can, without education, readily 
grasp this great encyclopiBdic principle, and apply it practically to 
the common affairs of life. But for this, the larger conceptions of 
philosophy would have but a limited range, and very few woiild 
be capable of the course of study which is yet so important on 
social grounds for all. Comprehensiveness of mind is no doubt 
favourable to sympathy, but is itself more actively stimulated by 
it. When the Positivist method of education is accepted, moral 
excellence will be very generally regarded as a guarantee of real 
intellectual capacity. The revolutionist leaders of the Convention 
showed their sense of this connection by allowing, as they did 
sometimes, republican ardour to outweigh scientific attainment. 
Of course, so long as men remain without a systematic theory of 
morals, such policy would be likely to fail of its object, and indeed 
would become positively mischievous. But the reproach is usually 
that it was a retrograde policy, a reproach far more applicable to 
the present system, in which the standard of fitness for any office 
is regulated exclusively by intellectual considerations, the heart 
being altogether disregarded. Historically we can explain this 
practice by the fact that the religious faith in which our moral 
nature has hitherto been trained has been of a most oppressive 
character. Ever since the Middle Ages, the intellect and the heart 
have been unavoidably at issue. Positivism is the only system 
which can put an end to their antagonism, because, as I have before 
explained, while subordinating Eeason to Feeling, it does so in such 
a way as not to impair the development of either. With its 
present untenable claims to supremacy, Intellect is in reality the 
principal source of social discord. Until it abdicates in favour of 
the Heart, it can never be of real service in reconstruction. But 
its abdication will be useless, unless it is entirely voluntary. Now 
this is precisely the result which Positivism attains, because it 
takes up the very grotmd on which the claims of intellect are 
defended, namely, scientific demonstration, a ground which the 
defenders of intellect cannot repudiate without suspicion at once 



156 A GENESAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [=hap. it. 

attaching to tteir motives. But theological or metaphysical 
remedies can only exasperate the disease. By. oppressing the intel- 
lect they provoke it to fresh insurrection against the heart. 

inteiieotnai ^°^ ^^ these reasons, women, who are tetter judges 
and moral affi- of moral questions than ourselves, will admit that Posi- 
men with Po-" tivism, incontestahly superior as it is to other systems 
sitivism. intellectually, surpasses them yet more in dealing with 

the affections. Their only objection arises from confounding Positive 
Philosophy itself with its preliminary course of scientific study. 

Women's minds no doubt are less capable than ours of genera- 
lizing very widely, or of carrying on long processes of deduction. 
They are, that is, less capable than men of abstract intellectual 
exertion. On the other hand, they are generally more alive to that 
combination of reality with utility which is one of the character- 
istics of Positive speculation. In this respect they have much in 
common intellectually with the working classes ; and fortunately 
they have also the same advantage of being untrammelled by the- 
present absurd system of education. Nor is their position fat 
removed from what it should be normally ; being less engaged than 
men in the business of life, their contemplative faculties are called 
into activity more easily. Their minds are neither preoccupied nor 
indifferent ; the most favourable condition for the reception of 
philosophical truth. They have far more affinity intellectually 
with philosophers who truly deserve the name, than we find in the- 
scientific men of the present day. Comprehensiveness of thought 
they consider as important as positivity, whereas our savants care 
for nothing but the latter quality, and even that they understand' 
imperfectly. Molifere's remarkable expression, des clartSs de tout, 
which I applied in the last chapter to popular education, was used 
by him in reference to women. Accordmgly we find that women 
took a vivid interest in the very first attempt made to systematize 
Positive speculation ; the Cartesian philosophy. No more striking 
proof could be given of their philosophical affinities ; and the more 
so that in the Cartesian system moral and social speculations were 
necessarily excluded. Surely, then, we may expect them to receive- 
Positivism far more favourably, a system of which the principal 
subject of speculation is the moral problem in which both sexes are 
aUke interested. 

Women, therefore, may, like the people, be counted among the 
future supporters of the new philosophy. Without their combined 
aid it could never hope to surmount the strong repugnance to it 
which is felt by our cultivated classes, especially in France, where 
the question of its success has first to be decided. 



CHAP. IT.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 167 

, But when women have sufficient acquaintance with Catholicism 
Positivism, to see its superiority to Catholicism in purified love, 
questions of feeling, they will support it from moral dkeoUy'* ""* 
sympathy even more than from intellectual adhesion, strengthen it. 
It will be the heart even more than the mind which will incline 
them to the only system of philosophy which has fully recognised 
the preponderance of Feeling. They cannot fail to be drawn 
towards a system which regards women as the embodiment of this 
principle ; the unity of human nature, of which this principle is 
the basis, being thus entrusted to their special charge. The only 
reason of their regret for the past, is that the present fails to satisfy 
.their noblest social instincts. ISTot that Catholicism ever really 
satisfied them ; indeed in its general character it is even less adapted 
to women than to men, since the dominant quality of woman's 
nature is in direct contradiction with it. Christianity, notwith- 
standing its claims to moral perfection, has always confounded the 
quality of tenderness with that of purity. And it is true that 
love cannot be deep unless it is also pure. But Catholicism, 
although it purified love from the animal propensities which had 
been stimulated by Polytheism, did nothing otherwise to strengthen 
it. It has given us indeed too many instances of purity, pushed 
to the extent of fanaticism, without tenderness. And this result 
is especially common now, because the austerity of the Christian 
spirit is not corrected, as it used to be, by the inspiring influences 
of Chivalry. Polytheism, deficient as it was in purity, was really 
far more conducive than Christianity, to tenderness. Love of God, 
the supreme affection round which Catholicism endeavoured to 
concentrate aU other feelings, was essentially a self-regarding 
principle, and as such conflicted with woman's noblest instincts. 
2fot only did it encourage monastic isolation, but if developed to 
the fuU extent, it became inconsistent with love for our fellow 
men. It was impiety for the knight to love his Lady better than 
his God ; and thus the best feelings of his nature were repressed 
by his religious faith. Women, therefore, are not really interested 
in perpetuating the old system ; and the very instincts by which 
their nature is characterised, wiU soon incline them to abandon it. 
They have only been waiting until social life should assume a less 
material character ; so that morality, for the preservation of which 
they justly consider themselves responsible, may not be compromised. 
And on this head Positivism satisfies their heart no less than their 
understanding with all the guarantees that they can require. Based 
as it is upon accurate knowledge of our nature, it can combine the 
simple affectionate spirit of Polytheism with the exquisite purity 



168 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

of Catholicism, without fear of taint from the subversive sophisms 
engendered by the spiritual anarchy of our times. Ifot however 
that purity is to be placed on the same level with tenderness. 
Tenderness is the more essential of the two qualities, because more 
closely connected with the grand object of all human effort, the 
elevation of Social Feeling over Self-Love. In a woman without 
tenderness there is something even more monstrous than in a man 
without courage. Whatever her talents and even her energy may 
be, they will in most cases prove mischievous both to herself and 
to others, unless indeed they should be nullified by the restraint of 
theological discipline. If she has force of character it wiU be 
wasted in a struggle against all legitimate authority ; while her 
mental power will be employed only in destructive sophisms. Too 
many cases of this kind present themselves in the social anarchy of 
the present time. 

Such is the Positivist theory on the subject of Women. It 
marks out for them a noble field of social usefulness. It extends 
the scope of their influence to public as well as private life, and yet 
in a way thoroughly in harmony with their nature. Without 
leaving the family, they will participate in the controlling power 
exercised by philosophers and workmen, seeking even in their own 
domestic sphere rather to modify than to govern. In a word, as I 
, shall show more fully in the last chapter of this introductory work, 
|Woman is the spontaneous priestess of Humanity. She personifies 
m the purest form the principle of Love upon which the unity of 
pur nature depends ; and the culture of that principle in others is 
\lher special function. 

All classes, therefore, must be brought under women's women's iu- 
influence ; for all require to be reminded constantly of fluence over 
the great truth that Eeason and Activity are subordi- oiMseT" ani 
nate to Feeling. Of their influence upon philosophers their teachers. 
I have spoken. If they are men worthy of their mission, they wiU. 
be conscious of the tendency which their life has to harden them 
and lead them into useless speculation ; and they will feel the need 
of renewing the ardour of their social sympathy at its native source. 
I Feeling, when it is pure and deep, corrects its own errors, because 
they clash with the good to which it is ever tending. But er- 
roneousnose^oftheintelieotual of'practical faculties, caniiot be even 
recognised, much less corrected, without the aid of Affection, which 
is the only part of our nature that suffers directly from such errors. 
Therefore whenever either the philosopher or the people deviate 
from duty, it will be the part of women to remonstrate with them 
gently, and recall them to the true social principles which aro 
entru-sted to their special charge. 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON 'WOMBN. 169 

With the working classes, the special danger to he contended 
against is their tendency to abuse their strength, and to resort to 
iorce for the attainment of their objects, instead of persuasion. 
But this danger is after aU less than that of the misuse of intellec- 
tual power to which philosophers are so liable. Thinkers who try- 
to make reasoning do the work of feeling can very seldom be 
■convinced of their error. Popular excitement, on the contrary, 
has often yielded to feminine influence, exerted though it has been 
hitherto without any systematic guidance. The difference is no 
doubt partly owing to the fact that there are now few or none who 
■deserve the name of philosophers. For we cannot give that name 
to the superficial sophists and rhetoricians of our time, whether 
psychologists or ideologists, men wholly incapable of deep thought 
on any subject. Independently of this, however, the difference is 
explained by the character of the two classes. Women will always 
find it harder to deal with intellectual pride than with popular 
violence. Appeals to social feeling are their only weapons ; and 
the social feelings of the workman are stronger than those of the 
philosopher. Sophistry is far more formidable to them than 
passion. In fact, were it not that the working classes are even 
now so amenable to female influence, society would be in extreme 
danger from the disorder caused by intellectual anarchy. There 
Are many sophisms which maintain themselves in spite of scientific 
refutation, and which would be destructive of all order, were it not 
for our moral instincts. Of this the Communists offer a striking 
example, in avoiding, with that admirable inconsistency to which I 
have already called attention, the extension of their principle to 
the Family. Surrounded by the wildest theories, such as, if they 
were put in practice, would utterly destroy or paralyse society, we 
see large numbers of working men showing in their daily life a 
degree of affection and respect for women, which is unequalled by 
any other class. It is well to reflect on facts like these, not only 
because they lead us to judge the Communist school with more 
justice, but because, occurring as they do in the midst of social 
anarchy, they show what powerful agencies for good will be at our 
disposal in more settled times. Certainly they cannot be attributed 
to theological teaching, which has rather had the effect of streng- 
thening the errors which it attacks by the absurdity of its refuta- 
tions. They are simply the result of the influence which women 
have spontaneously exercised on the nobler feelings of the people. 
In Protestant countries where their influence is less, the mischiev- 
•ous effects of Communistic theories have been far greater. We 
owe it to women that the Family has been so little, injured by the 



170 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM, [OSAR nr. 

retrograde spirit of those republican reformers, whose ideal of 
modern society is to absorb the Family into the State, as was done 
by a few small tribes in ancient Greece. 

The readiness shown by women in applying practical remedies to 
erroneous theories of morality is shown in other cases where the 
attractiveness of the error would seem irresistible to the coarser 
nature of men. The evils consequent on divorce, which has been 
authorized in Germany for three centuries, have been much lessened 
by women's instinctive repugnance to it. The same may be said 
of recent attacks upon marriage, which are stiU more serious, 
because the anarchy of modern life revives all the extravagances of 
the metaphysical spirit in ancient times. In no one case has a 
scheme of society hostile to marriage met with any real favour 
from women, plausible as many of them seemed. Unable in their 
ignorance -of social science to see the fallacy of such schemes them- 
selves, our revolutionary writers cannot conceive that women will 
not be convinced by them. But happily women, like the people, 
judge in these matters by the Tieart rather than by the head. In 
the absence of any guiding principle to direct the understanding 
and prevent the deviations to which it is always exposed, the heart 
is a far safer guide. 

There is no need at present of pursuing these remarks farther. 
It is abundantly clear that women are in every respect adapted for 
rectifying the moral deviations to which every element in the social 
organism is liable. . And if we already feel the value of their 
influence, springing as it does from the unaided inspirations of the 
heart, we may be sure it will become far more consolidated and will 
be far more widely felt, when it rests on the basis of a sound 
philosophical system, capable of refuting sophisms and exposing 
fallacies from which their unassisted instinct is insufficient to 
preserve us. 

Their social Thus the part to be played by women in public life 
influence in is not merely passive. Not only will they give their 
sanction individually and collectively to the verdicts 
of public opinion as formed by philosophers and by the people ; 
but they wifl. themselves interfere actively in moral questions. It 
will be their part to maintain the primary principle of Positivism, 
which originated with themselves, and of which they will always 
be the most natural representativesi 

But how, it may be asked, can this be reconciled with my 
previous remark that women's life should stiU be essentially 
domestic ? 

Por the ancients, and for the greater part of the human race at 



CBAP, IT.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 171 

the present time, it •would he irreconcilable. But in Western 
Europe the solution has long ago been found. From the time 
when women acquired, as they did in the Middle Ages, a fair 
measure of domestic freedom, opportunities for social intercourse 
arose, which combined most happily the advantages of private and 
of public life, and in these women presided. The practice after- 
wards extended, especially in France, and these meetings became 
the laboratories of public opinion. It seems now as if they had 
died out, or had lost their character. The intellectual and moral- 
anarchy of our times is most unfavourable to free interchange of 
thoughts and feelings. But a custom so social, and which did such 
good service in the philosophical movement preceding the Eevolu- 
tion, is assuredly not destined to perish. In the more perfect social 
state to which we are tending, it will be developed more fully than 
ever, when men's minds and hearts have accepted the raUying-point 
offered by the new philosophy. 

, This is then, the mode in which women can with propriety 
participate in public life. Here all classes will recognize their 
authority as paramount. Under the new system these meetings 
will entirely lose their old aristocratic character, which is now 
simply obstructive. The Positivist salon will complete the series 
of social meetings, in which the three elements of the spiritual 
power will be able to act in concert. First, there is the religious 
assemblage in the Temple of Humanity. Here the phUosopher 
wiU naturally preside, the other two classes taking only a secondary 
part. In the Club again it is the people who will take the active 
part ; women and philosophers would support them by their 
presence, but without joining in the debate. Lastly, women in 
their salons wiU promote active and friendly intercourse between 
all three classes ; and here aU who may be qualified to take a 
leading part will find their influence cordially accepted. Gently 
and without effort a moral control will thus be established, by 
which acts of violence or foUy may be checked in their source: 
Kind advice, given indirectly but earnestly, will often save the> 
philosopher from being blinded by ambition, or from deviating; 
through intellectual pride, into useless digressions. Working men 
at these meetings wiU. learn to repress the spirit of violence or envy 
that frequently arises in them, recognizing the sacredness of the 
care thus manifested for their interests. And the great and the 
wealthy will be taught from the manner in which praise and blame 
is given by those whose opinion is most valued, that the only 
justifiable use of power or talent is to devote it to the service of 
the weak. 



172 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

But, however important the public duties that 
mUy'S'th^t women will ultimately be called upon to perform, 
s"ereS*iction *^® Family is after all their highest and most distinc- 
spereo ac on. ^^^^ gpjjeve of work. It was in allusion to their 
domestic influence that I spoke of them as the originators of 
spiritual power. Now the Family, although it is the basis of all 
human society, has never been satisfactorily defended by any 
received system of society. AU the corrosive power of metaphy- 
sical analysis has been employed upon it; and of many of the 
sophisms put forward no rational refutation has been given. On 
the other hand, the protection of the theologians is no less 
injurious. For they still persist in connecting the institutions of 
the Family with their obsolete dogmas, which, however useful they 
may have been formerly, are now simply dangerous. From the 
■close of the Middle Ages the priesthood has been powerless, as 
the licentious songs of the troubadours prove, to protect the 
sanctity of marriage against the shallow but mischievous attacks 
which even then were made against it. And afterwards, when 
these false priuciples became more generally prevalent, and even 
royal courts disgraced themselves by giving pubHo approval to them, 
the weakness of the priests became still more manifest. Thus 
nothing can be more monstrous than these ignorant assertions that 
theological doctrines have been the safeguard of the Family. They 
have dons nothing to preserve it from the most subversive attacks, 
under which it must have succumbed, but for the better instincts 
of society, especially of the female portion of it. "With the 
exception of a foolish fiction about the origin of Woman, theology 
has put forward no systematic defence of marriage ; and as soon as 
' theological authority itself fell into discredit, the feeble sanction 
which it gave to domestic morality became utterly powerless against 
[ sophistical attacks. But now that the Family can be shown on 
Positive principles to rest on scientific laws of human nature or of 
society, the danger of metaphysical controversy and theological 
I feebleness is past. These principles will be discussed systematically 
in the second volume of the larger Treatise to which this work is 
the Introduction. But the few remarks to which I must at present 
limit myself, will, I hope, at least satisfy the reader as to the 
capability of Positivism to re-establish morality upon a firm basis. 

Woman's According to the lower views of the subject, such as 

wifTconhiKa* thosc coarsely expressed by the great hero of reaction, 

j love an educa- Napoleon, procreation and maternity are the only social 

I veraai°sympal functions of Woman. Indeed many theorists object 

I *''y- even to her rearing her children, and think it preferable 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 17$ 

to leave them to the abstract henevolence of the State. But in the 
Positivist theory of marriage, the principal function of Woman is 
one quite unconnected veith procreation. It is a function depen- 
dent on the highest attributes of our nature. 

Vast as is the moral importance of maternity, yet the position of 
•wife has always been considered even more characteristic of 
woman's nature ; as shown by the fact that the words woman and 
wife are in many languages synonymous. Marriage is not always 
followed by children ; and besides this, a bad wife is very seldom 
indeed a good mother. The first aspect then, under which Positi- 
vism considers Woman, is simply as the companion of Man, 
irrespective of her maternal duties. 

Viewed thus. Marriage is the most elementary and yet the most 
perfect mode of social life. It is the only association in which 
entire identity of interests is possible. In this union, to the moral 
completeness of which the language of all civilised nations bears 
testimony, the noblest aim of human life is realised, as far as it 
ever can be. For the object of human existence, as shown in the 
second chapter, is progress of every kind; progress in morality, 
that is to say in the subjection of Self-interest to Social Peeling, 
holding the first rank. Now this unquestionable principle leads us 
by a very sure and direct path to the true theory of marriage. 

Different as the two sexes are by nature, and increased as that 
difference is by the diversity which happily exists in their social 
position, each is consequently necessary to the moral development 
of the other. In practical energy and in the mental capacity 
which usually accompanies it, Man is evidently superior to Woman. 
Woman's strength, on the other hand, lies in Peeling. She excels 
Man in love, as Man excels her in force. It is impossible to 
conceive of a closer union than that which binds these two beings, 
to the mutual service and perfection of each other, saving them 
from all danger of rivalry. The voluntary character too of this 
union gives it a still further charm, when the choice has been on 
both sides a happy one. In the Positive theory, then, of marriage, 
its principal object is considered to be that of completing and 
confirming the education of the heart by calling out the purest and 
strongest of human sympathies. 

It is true that sexual instinct, which, in man's case at all events, 
was the origin of conjugal attachment, is a feeling purely selfish. 
It is also true that its absence would in the majority of cases, 
diminish the energy of affection. But woman, with her more 
loving heart, has usually far less need of this coarse stimulus than 
man. The influence of her purity reacts on man, and ennobles his 



174 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. IV. 

afTeotion. And affection is in itself so sweet, that when once it 
has been aroused by whatever agency, its own charm is sufficient to 
maintain it in activity. When this is the case, conjugal union 
becomes a perfect ideal of friendship ; yet still more beautiful than 
friendship, because each possesses and is possessed by the other. 
For perfect friendship, difference of sex is essential, as excluding 
the possibility of rivalry. No other voluntary tie can admit of 
such full and unrestrained confidence. It is the source of the most 
unalloyed happiness that man can enjoy ; for there can be no 
greater happiness than to live for another. 

But independently of the intrinsic value of this sacred union, we 
have to consider its importance from the social point of view. It 
is the first stage in our progress towards that which is the final 
object of moral education, namely, universal love. Many writers 
of the so-called socialist school, look upon conjugal love and 
universal benevolence, the two extreme terms in the scale of 
•affections, as opposed to each other. In the second chapter, I 
pointed out the falseness and danger of this view. The man who 
is incapable of deep affection for one whom he has chosen as his 
partner in the most intimate relations of life, can hardly expect to 
be believed when he professes devotion to a mass of human beings 
of whom he knows nothing. The heart cannot throw off its 
original selfishness, without the aid of some complete and enduring 
■affection. And conjugal love, concentrated as it is upon one object 
exclusively, is more enduring and complete than any other. From 
personal experience of strong love we rise by degrees to sincere 
affection for all mankind ; although, as the scope of feeling widens, 
its energy must decrease. The connection of these two states of 
feeling is instinctively recognised by all ; and it is clearly indicated 
Tjy the Positive theory of human nature, which has now placed it 
beyond the reach of metaphysical attacks. When the moral 
empire of Woman has been more firmly established by the diffusion 
of Positivist principles, men wiU see that the common practice of 
looking to the private life of a statesman as the best guarantee of 
his public conduct had deep wisdom in it. One of the strongest 
symptoms of the general laxity of morals to which mental anarchy 
has brought us, is that disgraceful law passed in France thirty 
years ago, and not yet repealed ; the avowed object of which was 
to surround men's lives with a " wall " of privacy ; a law introduced 
by psychologist politicians who no doubt needed such a wall.* 



* This law was introduced by Eoyer-Collard. It forbids discussion of the private 
-affairs of public men. 



■CHAP. IV.] THE IKFLUENE OP POSITIVISM UPOX WOMEST. 175 

The purpose of marriage once cleariy understood, it Conditions of 
^becomes easy to define its conditions. The interven- ™issXbie mo- 
tion of society is necessary ; but its only object is to nogamy. 
confirm and to develop the order of things which exists naturally. 

It is essential in the first place to the high purposes for which 
marriage has been instituted, that the union shall be both exclusive 
\and indissoluble. So essential indeed are both conditions, that we 
frequently find them even when the connection is illegal. That 
any one should have ventured to propound the doctrine that human 
happiness is to be secured by levity and inconsistency in love, is a 
fact which nothing but the utter deficiency of social and moral 
principles can explain^ Love cannot be deep unless it remains 
constant to a fixed object. The very possibility of change is a 
temptation to it. So differently constituted as man and woman 
are, is their short life too much for perfect knowledge and love of 
one another ? Yet the versatility to which most human affection 
is liable makes the intervention of society necessary. "Without 
some check upon indecision and caprice, life might degenerate into 
a, miserable series of experiments, each ending in failure and 
-degradation. Sexual love may become a powerful engine for good : 
but only on the condition of placing it under rigorous and permar 
nent discipline. Those who doubt the necessity for this, have only 
.to cast a glance beyond "Western Europe at the countries where no 
such discipline has been established. It has been said that the 
adoption or rejection of monogamy is a simple question of climate. 
But for this hypothesis there is no ground whatever. It is as . 
•contrary to common observation as to philosophic theory. Mar-V 
riage, like every other human institution, has always been im- ' 
proving. Beginning in all countries with unrestricted polygamy, 1 
it tends in all to the purest monogamy. Tracing back the history 
■of Northern Europe, we find polygamy there as well as in the 
■South ; and Southern nations, like Northern, adopt polygamy as 
their social • life advances. "We see the tendency to it in those 
parts of the East which come into contact with "Western civiliza- 
■■tion. 

Monogamy, then, is one of the most precious gifts which the 
Middle Ages have bequeathed to Western Europe. The striking 
■superiority of social life in the "West is probably due to it more 
than to any other cause. Protestant countries have seriously 
impaired its value by their laws of divorce. But this aberration 
wiU hardly be permanent. It is alien to the purer feelings of 
women and of the people, and the mischief done by it is limited to 
ithe privileged classes. France is now threatened with a revival of 



176 A GENERAL V1E\T OP POSITIVISM. [CHAP. it. 

the metapliysical delusions of the Eevolution, and. it is feared by 
some that the disastrous example of Germany in this respect will 
be imitated. But all such tendencies, being utterly inconsistent 
■with the habits of modern life, -will soon be checked by the sounder 
philosophical principles which have now arisen. The mode of 
resistance to these errors which Positivism adopts will render the 
struggle most useful in hastening the adoption of the true theory 
of marriage. The spirit of Positivism being always relative, 
concessions may be made to meet exceptional cases, without 
weakening or contradicting the principle ; whereas the absolute 
character of theological doctrine was incompatible with concession. 
The rules of morality should be general and comprehensive ; but 
in their practical application exceptions have often to be made. 
By no philosophy but the Positive can these two conditions be 
reconciled. 

Perpetual To the spirit of anarchy, however, Positivism yields 

widowhood, nothing. The unity essential to marriage, it renders 
more complete than ever. It develops the principle of monogamy, 
by inculcating, not as a legal institution, but as a moral duty, the 
perpetuity of widowhood. Affection so firmly concentrated has 
always been regarded with respect even on man's side. But 
hitherto no religion has had sufficient purity or influence to secure 
its adoption. Positivism, however, from the completeness of its 
synthesis, and from the fact that its rules are invariably based on 
tiae laws of nature, will gain such influence, and we find little 
difficulty in inducing all natures of delicate feeling to accept this 
additional obligation. It follows from the very principle which to 
the Positivist is the object of all marriage, the raising and purifying 
of the heart. Unity of the tie which is already recognised as 
necessary in life, is not less so in death. Constancy in widowhood 
was once common among women ; and if its moral beauty is less 
appreciated now, it is because all systematic moraUty has been 
forgotten. But it is none the less, as careful study of human 
nature will show, a most precious source of moral good, and one 
which is not beyond the reach of nobler natures, even in their 
youth. Voluntary widowhood, while it offers all the advantages 
which chastity can confer on the intellectual and physical as well 
as ■ on the moral nature, is yet free from the moral dangers of 
celibacy. Constant adoration of one whom Death has implanted 
more visibly and deeply on the memory, leads all high natures, and 
especially philosophers, to give themselves more umreservedly to 
the service of Humanity ; and thus their public life is animated by 
the ennobling influence of their innermost feelings. Alike from a 



CHAP. ,lv.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 177 

sense of their own truest happiness and from devotion to public 
duty, they will be led to this result. 

Deep as is the satisfaction in this prolongation of the sacredness 
of marriage, it may be carried by those who recognise its value yet 
further. As the death of one did not destroy the bond, so neither 
should the death of both. Let, then, those whom death could not 
divide be laid in the same grave together. A promise of this 
solemn act of perpetuation might be given beforehand, when the 
organs of public opinion judged it merited. A man would find a 
new motive for public exertion, if it were felt to be a pledge that 
the memory of her whom he loved should be for ever coupled with 
his own. We have a few instances where this union of memories 
has taken place spontaneously, as in the case of Laura and 
Petrarch, and of Dante and Beatrice. Yet these instances are so 
exceptional, that they hardly help us to realise the full value of the 
institution proposed. There is no reason for limiting it to cases of 
extraordinary genius. In the more healthy state of society to 
which we are tending, where private and public life will be far 
more closely connected than they have been hitherto, this recom- 
pense of service may be given to all who have deserved it, by those 
who have come within their circle of influence. 

Such, then, are the consolations which Positivist sympathy can 
give. They leave no cause to regret the visionary hopes held out 
by Christianity, hopes which now are as enfeebling to the heart as 
to the intellect. Here, as in all other respects, the moral superio- 
rity of Positivism is shown, for the comfort which it gives to the 
bereaved implies a strengthening of the tie. Christian consolation, 
of which so much has been said, rather encourages a second union. 
By so doing it seriously impairs the value of the institution ; for a 
division of affection arises, which indeed seems hardly compatible 
with the vague utopia of a future life. The institutions of per- 
petual widowhood and of union in the tomb have found no place 
in any previous system, though both were wanting to make 
monogamy complete. Here, as elsewhere, the best reply which the 
the new philosophy can give to ignorant prejudice or malignant 
calumny, is to take new steps forward in the moral advancement 
of Man. 

Thus the theory of marriage, as set forward by the Positivist, 
becomes totally independent of any physical motive. It is regarded 
by him as the most powerful instrument of moral education ; and 
therefore as the basis of public or individual welfare. It is no 
overstrained enthusiasm which leads us to elevate the moral purity 
of marriage. We do so from rigorous examination of the facts of 

12 



178 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

human nature. All the best results, whether personal or social, of 
marriage may follow, when the xmion, though more impassioned, 
is as chaste as that of brother and sister. The sexual instinct has 
no doubt something to do in most cases with the first formation of 
the passion ; but it is not necessary in all cases to gratify the 
instinct. Abstinence, in cases where there is real ground for it on 
both sides, wiU but serve to strengthen mutual affection. 

Woman's ^^ have examined the position of Woman as a wife, 

mission as a without supposing her to be a mother. We shall find 
™° "' that maternity, while it extends her sphere of moral 

influence, does not alter its nature. 

As a mother, no less than as a wife, her position will be improved 
by Positivism. She wiU have, almost exclusively, the direction of 
household education. Public education given subsequently, wiU 
be little but a systematic development of that which has been 
previously given at home. 

Education of ^°^ i* ^^ * fundamental principle that education, in 
children be- the normal condition of society, must be entrusted to 
Ss. "nEey the spiritual power ; and in the family the spiritual 
^ly can guide power is represented by Woman. There are strong 
ment of cha- prejudices against entrusting the education of children 
'^'*''' to mothers : prejudices springing from the revolution- 

ary spirit of modern times. Since the close of the Middle Ages, 
the tendency has been to place the intellect above the heart We 
have neglected the moral side of education, and have given undue 
importance to its intellectual side. But Positivism having 
superseded this revolutionary phase by demonstrating the prepon- 
derance of the heart over the intellect, moral education wiU resume 
its proper place. Certainly the present mode of instruction is not 
adapted for Woman's teaching. But their influence over the 
education of the future will be even greater than it was in the 
Middle A^es. For in the first place, in every part of it, moral 
considerations wUl be paramount; and moreover, until puberty, 
nothing wiU be studied continuously except Art and Poetry. The 
knights of old times were usually brought up in this way under 
feminine guidance, and on them most assuredly it had no enervating 
influence. The training can hardly be supposed less adapted to a 
pacific than to a warlike state of society. For instiuction, theo- 
retical and practical, as distinguished from education, masters are 
no doubt necessary. But moral education will be left entirely to 
women, until the time arrives for systematic teaching of moral 
science in the years immediately preceding majority. Here the 
philosopher is necessary. But the chief duties of the philosopher 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMBN. 179 

lie -with adults ; his aim being to recall them, individually or 
collectively, to principles impressed on them in childhood, and to 
enforce the right application of these principles to special cases as 
they may arise. That part of education vrhich has the greatest 
influence on Ufe, what may be called the spontaneous traiining of 
the feelings, belongs entirely to the mother. Hence it is, as I have 
already observed, of the greatest importance to allow the pupil to 
remain with his family, and to do away with the monastic 
seclusion of our public schools. 

The peculiar fitness of women for incukatitig these elementary 
principles of morality is a truth which every true philosopher will 
fully recognise. "Wonien, having stronge* sympathies than men, 
must be better able to call out sympathies in others. Men of good 
Sense have always felt it more important to train the heart than the 
head; and this is the view adopted by Positive Philosophy, 
There is a danger of exaggerating the importance of system and of 
forgetting the conditions on which its utility depends ; but the 
Positivist is preserved from this danger by the peculiar reality of 
his philosophy. In morals, even more than in other subjects, we 
can only systematize what has existed previously without system. 
The feelings must first be stimulated to free and direct action, 
before we attempt to bring them under philosophic discipline. 
And this process, which begins with birth, and lasts during the 
whole period of physical growth, should be left for women to 
superintend. So specially are they adapted for it, that failing the 
mother, a female friend, if Well chosen, and if she can make herself 
sufficiently a member of the family, wiU in most cases do better 
than the father himself. The importance of the subject can only 
be appreciated fey minds dominated, as women's minds are, by 
feeling. Women can see, what men can seldom see, that most 
actions, and certainly the actions of youth and childhood, ought not 
to be judged in themselves so much as by the tendencies which 
they show or by the habits to which they lead. Viewed with 
reference to their influence on character, no actions are indifferent. 
The simplest events in a child's life may serve as an occasion for 
enforcing the fundamental principle by Which the early as well as 
later stages of Positivist education should be directed ; the streng- 
thening of Social Feeling, the weakening of Self-love. In fact, 
actions of an unimportant kind are precisely those in which it is 
easiest to appreciate the feelings which prompted them ; since the 
mind of the observer, not being occupied with the consequences of 
such actions, is more free to examine their source. Moreover, it is 
Only by teaching the child to do right in small things that he can 



180 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. it. 

be trained for the hard inward struggle that lies before him in life ; 
the struggle to bring the selfish instincts more and more completely 
under the control of his higher sympathies. In these respects the 
best tutor, however sympathetic his nature, will be always far 
inferior to a good mother. A mother may often not be able to 
explain the reason of the principle on which she acts, but the 
wisdom of her plans wiU generally show itself in the end. Without 
formal teaching, she will take every opportunity of showing her 
children, as no other instructor could show them, the joy that 
springs from generous feelings, and the misery of yielding to sel- 
fishness. 

From the relation of mother we return by a natural transition to 
Woman's position as a wife. The mother, though her authority of 
course tends to decrease, continues to superintend the growth of 
character until the ordinary age of marriage. Up to that time 
feminine influence over Man has been involuntary on his part. 
By marriage he enters into a voluntary engagement of subordination 
to Woman for the rest of his life. Thus he completes his moral 
education. Destined himself for action, he finds his highest 
happiness in honourable submission to one ia whom the dominant 
principle is affection. 

Positivism holds out to woman a most important sphere of public 
and private duty. This sphere, as we may now see, is nothing but 
a larger and more systematic development of the qualities by which 
she is characterised. Her mission is so uniform in its nature and 
so clearly defined, that there seems hardly room for much uncer- 
tainty as to her proper social position. It is a striking instance of 
the rule which apples universally to aU human efi'ort ; namely, that 
the order of things instituted by man ought to be simply a consoli^ 
dation and improvement of the natural order. 

In aU ages of transition, as in our own, there have 
rtiisms about been false and sophistical views of the social position 
ri S™'° The °^ Woman. But we find it to be a natural law that 
domesticity of Woman should pass the greater part of her life in the 
fromthe'prto- family ; and this law has never been affected to any 
cipieofSepara- important extent. It has always been accepted in- 
stinctively, though the sophistical arguments against 
it have never yet been adequately refuted. The institution of the 
family has survived the subtle attacks of Greek metaphysics, which 
then were in all the vigour of their youth, and which were acting 
on minds that had no systematic principles to oppose to them. 
Therefore, profound as the intellectual anarchy of the present day 
may be, we need not be seriously alarmed when we see that 



■CHip. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. J81 

nothing worse comes of it than shallow plagiarisms from ancient 
Utopias, against which the vigorous satire of Aristophanes was 
quite enough to rouse general indignation. True, there is a more 
complete absence of social principles now, than when the world was 
passing from Polytheism to Monotheism; but our intellectual 
powers are more developed than they were then, and in moral 
culture our superiority is even greater. Women in those times 
were too degraded to offer even the opposition of their silence to 
the pedants who professed to be taking up their cause ; the only 
resistance offered was of a purely intellectual kind. But happily 
in modern times the women of the "West have been free ; and have 
consequently been able to manifest such unmistakable aversion 
for these ideas, and for the want of moral discipline which gives 
rise to them, that, though stiU unrefuted philosophically, their 
mischievous effects have been neutralised. Nothing but women's 
antipathy has prevented the practical outrages which seem logically 
to follow from these subversive principles. Among our privileged 
classes the danger is aggravated by indolence ; moreover, the 
possession of wealth has a bad influence on women's moral nature. 
Yet even here the evil is not really very deep or widely spread. 
Men have never been seriously perverted, and women still less so, 
by flattery of their bad propensities. The really formidable 
temptations are those which act upon our better instincts, and give 
them a wrong direction. Schemes which are utterly offensive to 
female delicacy will never really be adopted, even by the wealthier 
classes, who are less averse to them than others. The repugnance 
shown to them by the people, with whom the mischief that they 
would cause would be irreparable, is far more decided. The life 
which working people lead makes it very clear to both sexes what 
the proper position of each should be. Thus it will be in the very 
class where the preservation of the institution of the family is of 
the greatest importance, that Positivists will find the least difficulty 
in establishing their theory of the social position of women, as 
■consequent on the sphere of public and private duty which has been 
here assigned to them. 

Looking at the relation of this theory to other parts of the 
Positive system, we shall see that it follows from the great principle 
which dominates every other social problem, the principle of 
■separating spiritual and temporal power. That Woman's life 
should be concentrated in her family, and that even there her 
influence should be that of persuasion rather than that of command, 
is but an extension of the principle which excludes the spiritual 
power from political administration. Women, as the purest and 



182 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

most spontaneous of the moral forces of society, are bound to fulfil 
■with rigorous exactness aU the conditions which the exercise of 
moral force demands. Effectually to perform their mission of 
controlling and guiding our affections, they must abstain altogether 
from the practical pursuits of the stronger sex. Such abstinence, 
even when the arrangements of society may leave it optional, is still 
more desirable in their case than in the case of philosophers. 
Active life, incompatible as it is with the clearness and breadth of 
philosophic speculation, is even more injurious to delicacy of 
feeling, which is women's highest claim to our respect and the true 
secret of their influence. The philosophic spirit is incompatible 
with a position of practical authority, because such a position 
occupies the mind with c[uestions of detail. But to purity of 
feeling it is even more dangerous, because it strengthens the instincts 
of power and of gain. And for women it would be harder to avoid 
the danger of such a position than for men. Abounding as they 
do in sympathy, they are generally deficient in energy, and are 
therefore less able to withstand corrupting influences. The more 
we examine this important subject, the clearer it becomes that the 
present condition of women does not hamper them in their true 
work ; that, on the contrary, it is well calculated to develop and 
even improve their highest qualities. The natural arrangements of 
society in this as in other respects are far less faulty than certain 
blind declaimers would have us believe. But for the existence of 
strong material forces, moral force would soon deteriorate, because 
its distinctive purpose would be gone. Philosophers and prole- 
taries would soon lose their intellectual and moral superiority by 
the acquisition of power. On women its effect would be still more 
disastrous. From instances in the upper classes of society, where 
wealth gives them independence, and sometimes unfortunately even 
power, we see but too clearly what the consequences would be. 
And this is why we have to look to the poorer classes for tho 
highest type of womanly perfection. With the people sympathy is 
better cultivated, and has a greater influence upon life. Wealtli 
has more to do with the moral degradation of women among the 
privileged classes than even idleness and dissipation. 

The position Progress, in this respect as in every other, is only a 
of the sexMi more complete development of the pre-existing Order. 
ferentiation ' Equality in the position of the two sexes is contrary to 
SenHt ""^ their nature, and no tendency to it has at any time 
been exhibited. All history assures us that with the 
growth of society the peculiar features of each sex have beconui 
not less but more distinct. By Catholic Feudalism the social 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 183 

condition of women in Western Europe was raised to a far higher 
lev«L But it took away from them the priestly functions which 
they had held under Polytheism ; a religion in which the priesthood 
was more occupied with Art than with Science. So too with the 
gradual decline of the principle of Caste, women have been excluded 
moi?e and more rigidly from royalty and from every other kind of 
political authority. Again, there is a visible tendency towards the 
removal of women from all industrial occupations, even from those 
which might seem best suited to them. And thus female life^ 
instead of becoming independent of the Family, is being more and 
morfl concentrated in it ; while at the same time their proper sphere 
of moral influence is constantly extending. The two tendencies, 
so far from being opposed, are inseparably connected. 

Without discussing the absurd and retrograde schemes which 
have been recently put forward on the subject, there is one remark 
which may serve to illustrate the value of the order which now 
exists. If women were to obtain that equality in the affairs of li& 
which their so-caUed champions are claiming for them without their 
wish, not only would they suffer morally, but their social position 
would be endangered. They would be subject in almost every 
occupation to a degree of competition which they would not be able 
to sustain. Moreover, by rivalry in the pursuits of life, mutual 
affection between the sexes would be corrupted at its source. 

Leaving these subversive dreams, we find a natural woman to 
principle which, by determining the practical obliga- be maintained 
tions of the Active to the Sympathetic sex, averts this ^^ f *°' 
danger. It is a principle which no philosophy but Positivism has 
been sufficiently real and practical to bring forward systematically 
for general acceptance. It is no new invention, however, but a 
universal tendency, confirmed by careful study of the whole past 
history of Man. The principle is, that Man should provide for 
Woman. It is a natural law of the human race ; a law connected 
with the essentially domestic character of female life. We find it 
in the rudest forms of social life; and with every step in the 
progress of society its adoption becomes more extensive and 
complete. A still larger application of this fundamental principle 
will meet aU the material difficulties under which women are now 
labouring. All social relations, and especially the question of 
wages, will be affected by it. The tendency to it is spontaneous ; 
but it also follows from the high position which Positivism has 
assigned to Woman as the sympathetic element in the spiritual 
power. The intellectual class, in the same way, has to be supported 
by the practical class, in order to have its whole time available foi 



184 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

the special duties imposed upon it. But in the case of women, the 
obligation of the other sex is still more sacred, because the sphere 
of duty in which protection for them is required, is the home. 
The obligation to provide for the intellectual class, affects society 
as a whole ; but the maintenance of women is, with few exceptions, 
a personal obligation. Each individual should consider himself 
bound to maintain the woman he has chosen to be his partner in 
life. There are cases, however, in which men should be considered 
collectively responsible for the support of the other sex. Women 
who are without husband or parents should have their maintenance 
guaranteed by society ; and this not merely from compassion for 
their dependent position, but with the view of enabling them to 
render public service of the greatest moral value. 

The direction, then, of progress in the social condition of woman 
is this : to render her life more and more domestic ;. to diminish as 
far as possible the burden of out-door labour ; and so to fit her more 
completely for her special office of educating our moral nature. 
Among the privileged classes it is already a recognised rule that 
women should be spared all laborious exertion. It is the one point 
in the relations of the sexes in which the working classes would do 
well to imitate the habits of their employers. In every other 
respect the people of "Western Europe have a higher sense of their 
duties to women than the upper classes. Indeed there are few of 
them who would not be ashamed of the barbarity of subjecting 
women to their present burdensome occupations, if the present state 
of our industrial system allowed of its abolition. But it is chiefly 
among the higher and wealthier classes that we find those degrading 
and very often fraudulent bargains, connected with unscrupulous 
interference of parents in the question of marriage, which are so 
humHiating to one sex and so corrupting to the other. Among the 
working classes the practice of giving dowries is almost extinct ; and 
as women's true mission becomes more recognised, and as choice in 
marriage becomes less restricted, this relic of barbarism, with all its 
debasing results, will rapidly die out. With this view the apphca- 
tion of our theory should be carried one step further. Women 
should not be allowed to inherit. If inheritance be allowed, the 
prohibition of dowries would be evaded in a very obvious manner 
by discounting the reversionary interest. Since women are to be 
exempt from the labour of production, capital, that is to say, the 
instruments of labour produced by each generation for the benefit 
of the next, should revert to men. This view of inheritance, so far 
from making men a privileged class, places them under heavy 
responsibilities. It is not from women that any serious opposition 



OHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 185 

to it will proceed. "Wise education will show them its value to 
ttiemselves personally, as a safeguard against unworthy suitors. 
But, important as the rule is, it should not he legally enforced until 
it has hecome estahlished on its own merits as a general custom, 
which every one has felt to conduce to the healthy organization of 
the Family as here described. 

: Coming pow to the subject of female education, we The eduoa- 
have only to make a further application of the theory tion of women 
which has guided us hitherto. ?J°l?3j J^ 

Since the vocation assigned by our theory to women *''** °' ™™- 
is that of educating others, it is clear that the educational system 
which we have proposed in the last chapter for the working classes, 
applies to them as well as to the other sex with very slight altera- 
tions. Unencumbered as it is with specialities, it will be found, 
even in its more scientific parts, as suitable to the sympathetic 
element of the moderating power, as to the synergic element. We 
have spoken of the necessity of diffusing sound historical views 
among the working classes; and the same necessity applies to 
women; for social sympathy can never be perfectly developed, 
without a sense of the continuity of the Past, as well as of the 
solidarity of the Present. Since then both sexes alike need historical 
instruction as a basis for the systemati^ation of moral truth, both 
should alike pass through the scientific training which prepares the 
way for social studies, and which moreover has as intrinsic a value 
for, women as for men. Again, since the first or spontaneous stage 
of education is entirely to be left to women, it is most desirable that 
they should themselves have passed through the second or syste- 
matic stage. The only department with which they need not 
concern themselves, is what is called professional education. But 
this, as I have before observed, is not susceptible of regular organi- 
zation. Professional skill can only be acquired by careful practice 
and experience, resting upon a sound basis of theory. In ail other 
respects women, philosophers, and working men will receive the 
same education. 

But while I would place the sexes on a level in this respect, I do 
not take the view of my eminent predecessor Condorcet, that they 
should be taught together. On moral grounds, which of course are 
the most important consideration, it is obvious that such a plan 
would be equally prejudicial to both. In the church, in the club, 
in the salon, they may associate freely at every period of life. But 
at school such intercourse would be premature ; it would check the 
natural development of character, not to say that it would obviously 
have an unsettling influence upon study. Until the feelings on 



186 A GENBEAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. it. 

both sides are suffieiently matured, it is of the greatest importance 
that the relations of the two sexes should not be too intimate, and 
that they should be superintended by the watchful eye of their 
mothers. 

As, however, the subjects of study are to be the same for both, 
the necessity of separating the sexes does not imply that there 
should be special teachers for women. Ifot to speak of the increased 
expenditure that would thus be incurred, it would inevitably lower 
the standard of female education. It would always be presumed 
that their teachers were men of inferior attainments. To ensure 
that the instruction given is the same for both sexes, the instructors 
must be the same, and must give their lectures alternately to each 
sex. These conditions are perfectly compatible with the scheme 
described iu the last chapter. It was there mentioned that each 
philosopher would be expected to give one, or, in some cases, two 
lectures every week. Now supposing this were doubled, it would 
still come far short of the intolerable burdens which are iiliposed 
upon teachers in the present day. Moreover, as the Positivist 
educator will pass successively through the seven stages of scientific 
instruction, he wUl be 'able so to regulate his work as to avoid 
wearisome repetition of the same lectures in each year. Besides, 
the distinguished men to whom our educational system will be 
entrusted will soon discover that their two audiences require some 
difference in the manner of teaching, and that this may be done 
without in any way lowering the uniform standard which their 
method and their doctrines require. 

But independently of the importance to female education of this 
identity of teachers, it wiU react beneficially on the intellectual and 
moral character of the philosopher who teaches. It will preclude 
him from entering into useless details, and will keep him involun- 
tarily to the broad principles of his subject. By coming into 
contact simultaneously with two natures, in one of which thought, 
and in the other emotion, is predominant, he wUl gain clearer 
insight into the great principle of subordinating the intellect to the 
heart. The obligation of teaching both sexes wiU complete that 
universality of mind which is to be required of the new school of 
philosophers. To treat with equal abihty of all the various orders 
of scientifi.c conceptions, and to interest two audiences of so different 
a character, is a task which will demand the highest personal quali- 
fications. However, as the number required by the conditions is 
not excessive, it wUl not be impossible to find men fit for the pur- 
pose, as soon as the proper means are taken to procure their services, 
and to guarantee their material subsistence. It must be borne in 



CHAP. IV.] IHB INELDBNCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 187 

mind, too, that the corporation of teachers is not to he recruited 
ficom any one nation for itself, but from the whole of Western 
Europe ; so that the Positivist educator will change his residence, 
when required, even more frequently than the priests of the Middle 
Ages. Putting these considerations together, we shall find that 
Positivist education for both sexes may be organized on a sufficient 
scale for the whole of Western Europe, with less than the useless, 
or worse than useless, expenditure incurred by the clergy of the 
AngHcan church. This would give each functionary an adequate 
maintenance, though none of them would be degraded by wealth. 
A body of twenty thousand philosophers would be enough now, 
and probably would always suffice, for the spiritual wants of the 
five Western nations. This would imply the establishment of tho 
septennial system of instruction in two thousand stations. The 
influence of women and of working men will never become so sys- 
tematic as to enable them to dispense with philosophic assistance 
altogether. But in. proportion as they become more effectually 
incorporated as elements of the spiritual power, the necessity of 
enlarging the purely speculative class wiU diminish. Under theo- 
logical systems it has been far too numerous. The privilege of 
living in comfort without productive labour will be ultimately so 
rare and so dearly earned, that no rational ground of objection to it 
win be left. It will be generally felt that the cost of maintaining 
these philosophic teachers, like that of maintaining women, is no 
real burden to the productive classes ; on the contrary, that it con- 
duces to their highest interest, by ensuring the performance of 
intellectual and moral functions which are the noblest characteristics 
of Humanity. 

It appears, then, that the primary principle laid down at the 
beginning of this chapter enables us to solve all the problems that 
offer themselves on the subject of Woman. Her function in society 
is determined by the constitution of her nature. She is spontane- 
ously the organ of Feeling, on which the unity of human nature 
entirely depends. And she constitutes the purest and most natural 
element of the moderating power; which, while avowing its own 
subordination to the material forces of society, purposes to direct 
them to higher uses. As mother and as wife, it is her office to- 
conduct the moral education of Humanity. In order the more 
perfectly to fulfil this mission, her life must be connected even more- 
closely than it has been with the FamUy. At the same time she 
must participate, to the full extent that is possible, in the general 
system of instruction. 



188 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [ckap. iv. 

Women'apri- A few remarks on the privileges which the fulfilment 
•riieges. Theu- of this vocation will trine, will complete this part of 

mission IS in ^' ^ *■ 

itself a privl- my SUDject. 

lege- Women's mission is a striking illustration of the 

truth that happiness consists in doing the work for which we are 
naturally fitted. That mission is always the same ; it is summed up 
m one word, Love. But Love is a work in which there can never 
be too many workers ; it grows by co-operation ; it has nothing to 
fear from competition. Women are charged with the education of 
Sympathy, the source of human unity ; and their highest happiness 
is reached when they have the full consciousness of their vocation, 
and are free to follow it. It is the admirable feature of their social 
mission, that it invites them to cultivate qualities which are natural 
to them ; to call into exercise emotions which all allow to be the 
most pleasurable. All that is required for them in a better organi- 
zation of society are certain improvements in their external condition. 
They must be relieved from out-door labour ; and other means must 
be taken to prevent their moral influence from being impaired. 
Both objects are contemplated in the material, intellectual, and 
moral ameliorations which Positivism is destined to efiect in female 
life. 

But besides the pleasure inherent in their vocation, 
coive honour Positivism oifers a recompense for their services, which 
from i^n™'"^ Catholic Feudalism foreshadowed but could not realise. 
As men become more and more grateful for the blessing 
of their moral influence, they will give expression to this feeling in 
a systematic form. In a word the new doctrine will institute the 
Worship of Woman, publicly and privately, in a far more perfect 
way than has ever before been possible. It is the first permanent 
step towards the worship of Humanity ; which, as the concluding 
•chapter of this introductory work will show, is the central principle 
of Positivism, viewed either as a Philosophy or as a Polity. 

Our ancestors in chivalrous times made noble efforts 
•of medisBTai in this direction, which, except by women, are now no 
chivalry. longer appreciated. But these efforts, however admir- 

able, were inadequate ; partly owing to the military spirit of society 
in those times, partly because their religious doctriaes had not a 
sufiiciently social character. Nevertheless, they have left memories 
which will not perish. The refinement of life in Western Europe 
is in great part due to them, although much of it is already effaced 
by the anarchy of the present time. 

Chivalry, if we are to believe the negative philosophers of the 
last century, can never revive ; because the religious beliefs with 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 189 

which, it was connected have become obsolete. But the connection 
was never very profound, and there is no reason whatever for its. 
continuance. Far too much has been made of it by recent apologists 
for Catholicism; who, while laying great stress on the sanction 
which Theology gave to Chivalry, have failed to appreciate the 
sympathies to which this admirable institution is reaUy due. The 
real source of Chivalry lies most unquestionably in the feudal 
spirit. Theological sanction for it was afterwards sought for, as 
the only systematic basis that offered itself at that time. But the 
truth is that Theology and Chivalry were hardly compatible. 
Theology fixed men's thoughts upon a visionary future ; Chivalry 
concentrated his energies upon the world around him. The knight 
of the Middle Ages had always to choose between his God and his 
Lady ; and could therefore never attain that concentrated unity of 
purpose, without which the full result of his mission, so generously 
undertaken, could never be realised. 

Placed as we are now, near the close of the revolutionary period, 
we are beginning to see that Chivalry is not destined to extinction; 
that, on the contrary, when modern life has assumed its normal 
character, its influence will be greater than ever, because it will 
operate on a more pacific society, and will be based on a more 
practical religion. For Chivalry satisfies an essential want of 
society, a want which becomes more urgent as civilization advances ; 
it institutes a voluntary combination of the strong for the protec- 
tion of the weak. The period of transition from the offensive 
military system of Eome to the defensive system of Feudalism, 
was naturally the time of its first appearance, and it received the 
sanction of the religion then dominant. But society is now 
entering upon a period of permanent peace; and when this, the- 
most striking political feature of modern times, has become fiirmly 
established, the influence of Chivalry will be greater than ever. 
Its procedure will be different, because the modes of oppression are 
happily not now what they were formerly. The instruments of 
material force are now not arms, but riches. It is no longer the 
person that is attacked, but his means of subsistence. The advan- 
tages of the change are obvious : the danger is less serious, and 
protection from it is easier and more effectual. But it wUl. always 
remain most desirable that protectors should come forward, a.nd 
that they should form an organized association. The destructive 
instinct will always show itself in various ways, wherever there are 
the means of indulging it. And therefore as an adjunct to the 
spiritual organization. Positivism will encourage . a systematic 
manifestation of chivalrous feeling among the leaders of industry. 



190 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. it. 

Those among them who feel animated, with the nohle spirit of the 
heroes of the Middle Ages, will devote not their sword, hut their 
wealth, their time, and, if need be, their whole energies to the 
defence of the oppressed in aU classes. The objects of their 
generosity will principally be found, as in the Middle Ages, among 
the classes specially exposed to material suffering, that is to say, 
among women, philosophers, and working men. It would be 
strange indeed for a system like Positivism, the main object of 
"which is to strengthen the social spirit, not to appropriate the 
institution which is the noblest product of that spirit. 

So far, then, the restoration of Chivalry is merely a reconstruc- 
tion of the mediaeval institution in a shape adapted to the altered 
state of ideas and feelings. In modern as in mediaeval times, 
devotion of the strong to the weak follows as a natural consequence 
from the subordination of Politics to Morals. Now, as then, the 
spiritual power wiU be nobly seconded by members of the 
governing class in the attempt to bring that class to a stricter sense 
of social duty. But besides this, Feudal Chivalry had a deeper 
and more special purpose in reference to women. And in this 
respect the superiority of Positivism is even more complete and 
obvious. 

Feudalism introduced for the first time the worship of "Woman. 
But in this it met with little support from Catholicism, and was in 
many respects thwarted by it. The habits of Christianity were in 
themselves adverse to real tenderness of heart ; they only streng- 
thened it indirectly, by promoting one of the indispensable contK- 
tions of true affection, purity of Uf e. In all other respects Chivalry 
was constantly opposed by the Catholic system; which was so 
austere and anti-social, that it could not sanction marriage except 
as an infirmity which it was necessary to tolerate, but which was 
hazardous to personal salvation. Even its rules of purity, valuable 
as they were, were often weakened by interested motives which 
seriously impaired their value. Consequently, notwithstanding all 
the noble and long-continued efforts of our mediaeval ancestors, 
the institution of the worship of Woman was very imperfectly 
effected, especially in its relation to public Ufe. Whatever Catholic 
apologists may say, there is every reason to believe that if Feudalism 
-could have arisen before the dechne of Polytheism, the influence 
of Chivalry would have been greater. 

It was reserved for the more comprehensive system of Positivisin, 
in which sound practice is always supported by sound theory, to 
give full expression to the feeling of veneration for women. In 
the new religion, tenderness of heart is looked upon as the first of 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 191 

"Woman's attributes. But purity is not neglected. On the 
contrary its true source and its essential value, as the first condition 
■of happiness and of moral growth, are pointed out more distinctly 
than before. The shallow and sophistical views of marriage 
maintained in these unsettled times by men of narrow minds and 
coarse feelings, will be easily refuted by a more careful study of 
human nature. Even the obstacles presented by scientific material- 
ism wUl rapidly disappear before the spread of Positivist morality. 
A physician of great sagacity, Hufeland, has remarked, with truth, 
that the well-known vigour of the knights of old times was a 
sufficient answer to men who talked of the physical dangers of 
continence. Positivism, dealing with this question in all its 
aspects, teaches that while the primary reason for insisting on purity 
is that it is essential to depth of affection, it has as close a connec- 
tion with the physical and intellectual improvement of the 
individual and the race as with our moral progress. 

Positivism then, as the whole tendency of this chapter indicates, 
encourages, on intellectual as well as on moral grounds, full and 
systematic expression of the feeling of veneration for Women, in 
public as well as in private life, collectively as well as individually. 
Born to love and to be loved, relieved from the burdens of practical 
life, free in the sacred retirement of their homes, the women of the 
West will receive from Positivists the tribute of deep and sincere 
admiration which their life inspires. They will feel no scruple in 
accepting their position as spontaneous priestesses of Humanity ; 
they wiU. fear no longer the rivalry of a vindictive Deity. Prom 
childhood each of us will be taught to regard their sex as the 
principal source of human happiness and improvement, whether in 
public life or in private. 

The treasures of affection which our ancestors wasted upon 
mystical objects, and which these revolutionary times ignore; wiU 
then be carefully preserved and directed to their proper purpose. 
The enervating influence of chimerical beliefs wUl have passed 
away; and men in all the vigour of their energies, feeling them- 
selves the masters of the known world, will feel it their highest 
happiness to submit with gratitude to the beneficent power of 
womanly sympathy. In a word, Man will in those days kneel to 
Woman, and to Woman alone. 

The source from which these reverential feelings for the sympar 
thetic sex proceed, is a clear appreciation in the other sex of 
benefits received, and a spirit of deep thankfulness for them. The 
Positivist will never forget that moral perfection, the primary 
condition of public and private happiness, is principally due to the 



192 A GEXEEA.L VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHAP. IV. 

influence of "Woman over Man, first as mother, then as wife. Such 
a conviction cannot fail to arouse feelings of loving veneration for 
those with whom, from their position in society, he is in no danger of 
rivalry in the afifairs of lite. When the mission of woman is better 
understood, and is carried out more fully, she will be regarded by 
Man as the most perfect impersonation of Humanity. 

The practice Originatiug in spontaneous feelings of gratitude, the 
of Prayer, so worship of "Woman, when it has assumed a more syste- 
pMiriog, "^^S matic shape, will be valued for its own sake as a new 
purified and instrument of happiness and moral growth. Inert as 
in Positive re- the tender sympathies are ia Man, it is most desirable 
^°°- to strengthen them by such exercise as the public and 

private institution of this worship will afford. And here it is that 
Positivists vrill find all the elevating influences which CathoHcism 
derived from Prayer. 

It is a common but very palpable error to imagine that Prayer 
is inseparable from the chimerical motives of self-interest in which 
it first originated. In Catholicism there was always a tendency to 
rise above these motives, so far at least as the principles of theo- 
logy admitted. From St. Augustine downwards, all the nobler 
spirits have felt more and more strongly, notwithstanding the self- 
absorbing tendencies of Christian doctrine, that Prayer did not 
necessarily imply petition. When sounder views of human nature 
have become prevalent, the value of this important function wiU 
be more clearly appreciated; and it wUl ultimately become of 
greater importance than ever, because founded on a truer principle. 
In the normal state of Humanity, the moral efficacy of Prayer will 
no longer be impaired by thoughts of personal recompense. It 
will be simply a solemn out-pouring, whether in private or in 
public, of men's nobler feelings, inspiring them with larger and 
more comprehensive thoughts. As a daily practice, it is inculcated 
by Positivism as the best preservative against the selfish and 
narrow views which are so apt to arise in the ordinary avocations 
of life. To men its value is even greater than to women ; their 
life being less favourable to large views and general sympathies, it 
is the more important to revive them at regular periods. 

But Prayer would be of little value unless the mind could form 
a clear conception of its object. The worship of Woman satisfies 
this condition, and is so far of greater efficacy than the worship of 
God. True, the ultiniate object of Positivist Prayer, as shown in 
the concluding chapter of this volume, is Humanity. But some of 
its best moral effects would hardly be realised, if it were at once- 
and exclusively directed to an object so difficult to conceive clearly. 



OHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCB OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 193 

It is possible that Women with, their stronger sympathies may be 
able to reach this stage without intermediate steps. However this 
may be, men certainly would not be able to do so ; even the 
intellectual class, with all its powers of generalization, would find 
it impossible. The worship of Woman, begun in private, and 
afterwards publicly celebrated, is necessary in man's case to prepare 
Mm for any efiectual worship of Humanity. 

"No one can be so unhappy as not to be able to find some woman 
worthy of his peculiar love, whether in the relation of wife or of 
mother ; some one who in his solitary prayer may be present to 
Mm as a fixed object of devotion. Nor wUl such devotion, as 
might be thought, cease with death ; rather, when its object has 
been rightly chosen, death strengthens it by making it more pure. 
The principle upon wMch Positivism insists so strongly, the union 
of the Present with the Past, and even with the Future, is not 
Hmited to the life of Society. It is a doctrine which unites all 
individuals and aU generations ; and when it has become more 
familiar to us, it will stimulate every one to call his dearest 
memories to life ; the spirit of the system being that the private 
life of the very humblest citizen has a close relation to his public 
duty. We all know how intellectual culture enables us to live 
with our great predecessors of the Middle Ages and of Antiquity, 
almost as we should do with absent friends. And if intellect can 
do so much, will it not be far easier for the strong passion of Love 
to effect this ideal resurrection ? We have already many instances 
where whole nations have shown strong sympatMes or antipatMes 
to great historical names, especially when their influence was still 
sensibly felt. There is no reason why a private life should not 
produce the same effect upon those who have been brought into 
contact with it. Moral culture has been conducted hitherto on 
such imsatisfactory principles, that we can hardly form an adequate 
notion of its results when Positivism has regenerated it, and has 
concentrated the affections as well as the thoughts of Man upon 
human life. To live with the dead is the peculiar privilege of 
Humanity, a privilege which wiU extend as our conceptions vnden 
and our thoughts become more pure. Under Positivism the 
impulse to it mil become far stronger, and it wiU be recognised as 
a systematic principle in private as weU as in public life. Even 
the Future is not excluded from its application. We may live 
with those who are not yet bom ; a thing impossible only tiU a 
true theory of history had arisen, of scope sufficient to embrace at 
one glance the whole course of human destiny. There are number- 
less instances to prove that the heart of Man is capable of emotions 

13 



194 A GENEHAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. it. 

■wMcli have no outward basis, except what Imagination has 
supplied. The familiar spirits of the Polytheist, the mystical 
desires of the Monotheist, all point to a general tendency in the 
Past, which, with our better principles, we shall be able in the 
Future to direct to a nobler and more real purpose. And thus even 
those who may be so unfortunate as to have> no special object of 
love need not, on that account, be precluded from the act of 
worship : they may choose from the women of the past some type 
adapted to their own nature. Men of powerful imagination might 
even form their own more perfect ideal, and thus open out the path 
of the future. This, indeed, is what was often done by the knights 
of chivalrous times, simple and uninstructed as they were. Surely 
then we, vrith our fuller understanding and greater familiarity with 
the Past, should be able to idealise more perfectly. But whether 
the choice lie in the Past or in the Puture, its efficacy would be 
impaired unless it remained constant to one object ; and fixed 
principles, such as Positivism supplies, are needed to check the 
natural tendency to versatility of feeling. 

Theworahip ■'■ ^^'^^ dwelt at some length upon the personal 
of Woman a adoration of Woman under its real or ideal aspects, 
forthe^cmhip because upon it depends nearly all the moral value of 
^ of Humanity, any public celebration. Public assemblage in the 
temples of Humanity may strengthen and stimulate feelings of 
devotion, but cannot originate them. Unless each worshipper has 
felt in his own person deep and reverential love for those to whom 
our highest affections are due, a public service in honour of women 
would be nothing but a repetition of unmeaning formulas. But 
those whose daily custom it has been to give expression to such 
feelings .in secret, will gain, by assembling together, all the benefit 
of more intense and more exalted sympathy. In my last letter to 
her who is for ever mine, I said : " Amidst the heaviest anxieties 
which Love can bring, I have never ceased to f«el that the one 
thing essential to happiness is that the heart shall be always nobly 
occupied". And now that we are separated by Death, daily 
experience confirms this truth, which is moreover- in exact accord- 
ance with the Positive theory of human nature. Without personal 
experience of Love no public celebration of it can be sincere. 

In its public celebration the superiority of the new Eeligion is 
even more manifest than in the, private worship. A system in 
which the social spirit is unifonnly preponderant, is peculiarly 
adapted to render homage for the social services of the sympathetic 
sex. When the knights of the Middle Ages met together, they 
might give vent to their personal feeUngs, and express to one 



CBAE. IV.] THE ISTFLTJENCB OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMElSr. 195 

another the reverence which each felt for his own mistress ; but 
farther than' this they could not go. And such personal feelings 
will never cease to he necessary. Still the principal ohject of 
public celebration is to express gratitude on the part' of the people 
for the social blessings Conferred by Woman, as the organ' of that 
element in our nature on which its unity depends, and as the 
original source of moral power. In the Middle Ages such con- 
sidetations were impossible, for want of a rational theory embracing 
the whole circle of social relations. Indeed the received faith was 
incompaitible with any such conception, since God in that faith 
oofiupfed the place really due to Humanity. 

Inhere are women whose career has been altogether Exceptional 
exceptional ; and 'these, like the rest, meet with their women, joau 
due tlibute of praise in the Positive system. The chief "' ■^°" 
motive, doubtless, for public and private veneration is the mission 
of sympathy, which is "Woman's peculiar vocation. But there have 
been remarkable instances of women whose life has been one of 
speculation, or even, what is in 'most cases still more foreign to 
their nature, of ■ political activity. They have rendered real service 
to Humanity, and they should' receive the honour that is due to 
them. Theology, from its' absolute character, could not make such 
concessions ; they would have weakened the efficiency of its most 
important social rules. Consequently, Catholicism was compftlled, 
though at first with sincere regret, to leave some of the noblest 
women 'without commemoration. A signal instance is the Maid of 
Orleans, whose heroism saved France in the fifteenth century. 
Our great king Louis XI. applied very properly to the Pope for 
her canonizfition, and no objection was made to Ms request. Yet, 
practically, it was never carried into efiect. It was ^gradually 
forgotteti; and the clergy soon came to feel a sort of dislike to her 
memory, which reminded them of toothing but their o'vm social 
weakness. It is easy to account' for this result; nor is anyone 
reklly tO'lilame for it. It was feared, not without reason, that to 
consider Joan of Arc as a saint might have the efiect of spreading' 
false atid dangerous ideas of feminine duty. The di'ffieulty was 
insuperable for any absolute system, in which to sanction the 
exception is to compromise the rule. But in a relative system the 
case is different. It is even more inconsistent with Positive 
principles than it is with Catholic, for women to lead a military 
life, a 'life which of aU others is the least compatible •with their 
Jroper functions. ' And yet PositivistS will be the fest to do justice 
to' this extraordinary heroine, whom theologians have been afraid 
to recognize, and whom metaphysicians^ even in fcajice, have had 



196 A GENERAl VIEW OP POSITIVISM. li.o«.. iv. 

the hardihood to insult. The anniversary of her glorious martyr- 
dom will be a solemn festival, not only for France, but for Western 
Europe. For her work was not merely of national importance : 
the enslavement of France would have involved the loss of all the 
influence which France has exercised as the centre of the advanced 
nations of Europe. Moreover, as none of them are altogether clear 
from the disgrace of detracting, as Voltaire has done, from her 
character, all should aid ia the reparation of it which Positivism 
proposes to institute. So far .from her apotheosis having an 
injurious effect on female character, it wiU afford an opportunity 
of pointing out the anomalous nature of her career, and the rarity 
of the conditions which alone could justify it. It is a fresh proof 
of the advantages accruing to Morality from the relative character 
of Positivism, which enables it to appreciate exceptional cases 
■without weakening the rules. 

The subject of the worship of Woman by Man raises a question 
of much delicacy ; how to satisfy the analogous feelings of devotion 
in the other sex. We have seen its necessity for men as an inter- 
mediate step towards the worship of Humanity ; and women, 
stronger though their sympathies are, stand, it may be, in need of 
similar preparafion. Yet certainly the direction taken should be 
somewhat different. What is wanted is that each sex should 
strengthen the moral qualities in which it is naturally deficient. 
Energy is a characteristic feature of Humanity as well as Sympathyj 
as is well shown by the double meaning of the word Heart. In 
Man Sympathy is the weaker element, and it requires constant 
exercise. This he gains by expression of his feelings of reverence 
for Woman. In Woman, on the other hand, the defective quality 
is Energy ; so that, should any special preparation for the worship 
of Humanity be needed, it should be such as to strengthen courage 
rather than sympathy. But my sex renders me incompetent to 
enter farther into the secret wants of Woman's heart. Theory indi- 
cates a blank hitherto unnoticed, but does not enable me to fiU it. 
It is a problem for women themselves to solve ; and I had reserved 
it for my noble colleague, for whose premature death I would fain 
hope that my own grief may one day be shared by all. 

Throughout this chapter I have been keenly sensible of the philo- 
sophic loss resulting from our objective separation. True, I have 
been able to show that Positivism is a matter of the deepest con- 
cern to women, since it incorporates them in the progressive move- 
ment of modem times. I have proved that the part allotted to 
them in this movement is one which satisfies their highest aspirations 
for the Family or for Society. And yet I can hardly hope for 



■CHiP. IV,] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM 0PON WOMEN. 197 

mucli support from them until some -woman sh.aU come forward to 
interpret what I have said into language more adapted to their 
nature and hahits of thought. TiU. then it will always be taken 
for granted that they are incapable even of understanding the new 
philosophy, notwithstanding all the natural affinities for it which-I 
^ave shown that they possess. 

All these difficulties had been entirely removed by the noble 
and loving friend to whom I dedicate the treatise to which this 
work is introductory. The dedication is unusual in form, and some 
may think it overstrained. But my own fear is rather, now that 
five years have past, that my words were too weak for the deep 
gratitude which I now feel for her elevating influence. Without 
it the moral aspects of Positivism would have Iain very long 
latent. 

Clotilde de Vaux was gifted equally in mind and heart : and she 
tad already begun to feel the power of the new philosophy to raise 
feminine influence from the decline into which it had fallen, under 
the revolutionary influences of modem times. Misunderstood 
everywhere, even by her own family, her nature was far too noble 
for bitterness. Her sorrows were as exceptional as they were un- 
deserved ; but her purity was even more rare than her sorrow ; and 
it preserved her unscathed from aU sophistical attacks on marriage, 
even before the true theory of marriage had come before her. In 
the only writing which she published, there is a beautiful remark, 
■which to those who know the history of her life is deeply affecting: 
*' Great natures should always be above bringing their own sorrows 
upon others ". In this charming story, written before she knew 
anything of Positivism, she expressed herself most characteristically 
'on the subject of Woman's vocation : " Surely the true sphere of 
Woman is to provide Man with the comforts and delights of home, 
receiving in exchange from him the means' of subsistence earned 
by his labours. I would rather see the mother of a poor family 
washing her children's linen, than see her earning a livelihood by 
her talents away from home. Of course I do not speak of women 
of extraordinary powers whose genius leads them out of the sphere 
of domestic duty. Such natures should have free scope given to 
them : for great minds are kindled by the exhibition of there 
powers." These words coming from a young lady distiuguished no 
less for beauty than for worth, show her antipathy to the subversive 
ideas so prevalent in the present day. But in a large work which 
she did not live to finish, she had intended to refute the attacks 
upon marriage, contained in the works of George Sand, to whom 
«he was intellectually no less than morally superior. Her nature 



198 A GENERAIj view of positivism. [chap.. IV. 

Was of rare endowment, moved by noble impulse, and yet allowing 
its due influence to reason. When she was beginning to study 
Positivism she wrote to me : " No one knows better than myself 
how weak our nature is> unless it has some lofty aim beyond the 
reach of passion "- A short time afterwards, writing with all the 
graceful freedom of friendship, she let fall a phrase of deep meaning, 
almost unawares : " Our race is one which must have duties, in 
order to form its feelings ". 

With such a nature my Saint Clotilda was, as may be supposed, 
fuUy conscious of the moral value of Positivism, though she had 
only one year to give to its study. A few months before her death, 
she wrote to me : " If I were a man, I should be your enthusiastic 
disciple ; as a woman, I can but offer you my cordial admiration ". 
In the same letter she explains the part which she proposed to take 
IQ diffusing the principles of the new philosophy : " It is always 
weU for a woman to follow modestly behind the army of renovators, 
even at the risk of losing a little of her own originality". She 
describes our intellectual anarchy in this charming simile : " We 
are all standing as yet with one foot in the air over the threshold 
of truth ". 

It is for wo- With such a colleague^ combining as she did qualities 
men to intro- hitherto shared amongst the noblest types of woman- 
ism into^'the hood, it would have been easy to induce her sex to 
tions''^™ ^''' co-operate in the regeneration of society. For she gave 
a perfect example of that normal reaction of Feeling 
upon Eeason which has been here set forward as the highest aim of 
Woman's efforts. When she had finished the important work on 
which she was engaged, I had marked out for her a definite yet 
spacious field of co-operation in the Positivist cause : a field which 
her intellect and character were fuUy competent to occupy. I 
mention it here, to illustrate the mode in which women may help 
to spread Positivism through the West; giving thus the first example 
of the social influence which they wUl afterwards exert permanently. 
What I say has special reference to Italy and to Spain. In other 
countries it only applies to individuals who, though living in an 
atmosphere of free thought, have not themselves ventured to think 
freely. Success in this latter case is so frequent, as to make me 
confident that the agencies of which I am about to speak may be 
applied collectively with the same favourable result. 

The intellectual freedom of the West began in England and 
Germany ; and it had all the dangers of original efforts for which 
at that time no systematic basis could be found. With the legal 
establishment of Protestantism, the metaphysical movement stopped. 



CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 199 

Protestantism, by consolidating it, seriously impeded subsequent 
progress, and is still, in the countries where it prevails, the chief 
obstacle to aU efficient renovation. Happily France the normal 
centre of Western Europe, was spared this so-called Eeformation. 
She made up for the delay, by passing at one stride, under the 
impulse given by Voltaire, to a state of entire freedom of thought ; 
and thus resumed her natural place as leader of the common move- 
ment of social regeneration. But the French while escaping the 
inconsistencies and oscillations of Protestantism, have been exposed 
to all the dangers resulting from unqualified acceptance of revolu- 
tionary metaphysics. Principles of systematic negation have now 
held their ground with us too long. Useful as they once were in 
preparing the way for social reconstruction, they are now a hindrance 
to it. It may be hoped that when the movement of free thought 
extends, as it assuredly will, to the two Southern nations, where 
Catholieism has been more successful in resisting Protestantism and 
Deism, it will be attended with less injurious consequences. If 
France was spared the Calvinistic stage, there seems no reason why 
Itdly and even Spain should not be spared Voltairianism. As a 
compensation for this apparent stagnation, they might pass at once 
from CathoKcism to Positivism, without halting. for any length of 
time at the negative stage. These countries could not have origin- 
ated the new philosophy, owing to their insufficient preparation ; 
but as soon as it has taken root in France, they will probably accept 
it with extreme rapidity. Direct attacks upon Catholicism will not 
be necessary. The new religion will simply put itself into com- 
petition with the old by performing in a better way the same func- 
tions that Catholicism fulfils now, or has fulfilled in past times. 

AH evidence; especially the evidence of the poets, goes to prove 
that before Luther's time, there was less belief in the South of 
Europe, certainly less in Italy, than in the North. And Catholic- 
ism, with all its resistance to the progress of thought, has never 
been able really to revive the belief in Christianity. We speak of 
Italy and Spain as less advanced ; but the truth is that they only 
eling to Catholicism because it satisfies their moral and social wants 
better than any system with which they are acquainted. Morally 
they have more affinity to Positivism than other nations ; because 
their feelings of fraternity have not been weakened by the. industrial 
development which has done so much harm in Protestant countries. 
Intellectually, too, they are less hostile to the primary principle of 
Positive Polity; the separation of spiritual and temporal power. 
And therefore they will welcome Positivism as soon as they see 
that in all essential features it equals and surpasses the mediaeval 



200 A GBNBEAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. iv. 

church. Now as this question is ahnost entirely a moral one, their 
convictions in this respect will depend far more upon Feeling than 
upon argument. Consequently, the work of converting them to 
Positivism is one for which women are peculiarly adapted. Posir 
tivism has been communicated to England by men. . HoUand, too, 
which has been the vanguard of Germany ever since the Middle 
Ages has been initiated in the same way stiU more efficiently. But 
its introduction in Italy and Spain wUl depend upon the women of 
those countries ; and the appeal to them must come, not from a 
Frenchman, but from a Frenchwomen; for heart must speak to 
heart. Would that these few words might enable others to appro- , 
ciate the inestimable worth of the colleague whom I had intended 
to write such an appeal ; and that they might stimulate some one 
worthy to take her place ! 

Already, then, there is ground for encouragement. Already we 
have one striking instance of a woman ready to co-operate in the 
philosophical movement, which assigns to her sex a mission of the 
highest social consequence as the prelude to the function for which 
in the normal state they are destined. Such an instance, though 
it may seem now exceptional, does but anticipate what wUl one 
day be universal. Highly gifted natures pass through the same 
phases as others ; only they undergo them earlier, and so become 
guides for the rest. The sacred friend of whom I speak had 
nothing that specially disposed her to accept Positivism, except the 
beauty of her mind and character, prematurely ripened by sorrow. 
Had she been an untaught working woman, it would perhaps have 
been still easier for her to grasp the general spirit of the new phi- 
losophy and its social purpose. 

The result of this chapter is to show the affinity of the systemar 
tic element of the modifying power, as represented by philosophers, 
with women who form its sympathetic element ; an affinity not less 
close than that with the people, who constitute its synergic element. 
The organization of moral force is based on the alliance of philoso- 
phers with the people ; but the adhesion of women is necessary 
to its completion. With the union of all three, the regeneration of 
society begins, and the revolution is brought to a close. But more 
than this : their union is at once an inauguration of the final order 
of society. Each of these three elements will be acting as it will 
be called upon to act in the normal state, and wiU be occupying its 
permanent position relatively to the temporal power. The philo- 
sophic class whose work it is to combine the action of the other 
two classes, will find valuable assistance from women in every family, 
as well as powerful co-operation from the people in every city. 



■CHAP. IV.] THE INFLUENCE OP POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN. 201 

The result will be a union of all who are precluded from political 
administration, instituted for the purpose of judging all practical 
measures by the fixed rules of universal morality. Exceptional 
cases wiU arise when moral influence is insufficient : in these it will 
be necessary for the people to interfere actively. But philosophers 
and women are dispensed from such interference. Direct action 
would be most injurious to their powers of sympathy or of thought. 
They can only preserve these powers by keeping clear of aU posi- 
tions of political authority. 

But while the moral force resulting from the combined action of 
women and of the people, wUl be more efficient than that of the 
Middle Ages, the systematic organs of that force wUl find their 
work one of great difficulty. High powers of intellect are required ; 
and a heart worthy of such intellect. To secure the support of 
women, and the co-operation of the people, they must have the 
Bympathy and purity of the firstj the energy and disinterestedness 
of - the second. Such natures are rare ; yet without them the new 
spiritual power cannot obtain that ascendency over society to which 
Positivism aspires. And with aU the agencies, physical or moral, 
which can be brought to bear, we shall have to acknowledge that 
the exceeding imperfections of human nature form an eternal 
obstacle to the object for which Positivism strives, the victory of 
social sympathy over seU-love. 



CHAPTEE V. 
THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO AET. 

Positivism '^^^ essential principles and the social purpose of the 
when complete only philosophy hy ■which the revolution can be brought 
toteiagiiiation^ to a close, are now before us. We have seen too that 
com Te ™ *« ^iisfgetic support from the People and cordial sympathy 
was unfavour- from Women are necessary to bring this philosophic 
able to It. movement to a practical result. One further condition 
yet remains. The view here taken of human life as regenerated 
by this combination of effortsj would be incomplete if it did not 
include an additional element, with which Positivism, as I have 
now to show, is no less competent to deal. We have spoken abeady 
of the place which Eeason occupies in our nature; its function 
being to subordinate itself to Feeling for the better guidance of the 
Active powers. But in the normal state of our nature it has also 
another function ; that of regulating and stimulating Imagination, 
without yielding passive obedience to it. The esthetic faculties are 
far too important to be disregarded in the normal state of Humanity; 
therefore they must not be omitted from the system which aims to 
introduce that state. There is a strong but groundless prejudice 
that in this respect at least Positivism will be found wanting. 
Yet it furnishes, as may readily be shown, the only true foundation 
of modem Art, which, since the Middle Ages, has been cultivated 
without fixed principles or lofty purpose. 

The reproach that Positivism is incompatible with Art arises 
simply from the fact that almost every one is in the habit of con- 
founding the philosophy itself with the scientific studies on which 
it is based. The charge only applies to the positive spirit in its 
preliminary phase of disconnected specialities, a phase which 
scientific men of the present day are making such mischievous 
efforts to prolong. Nothing can be more fatal to the fine arts than 
the narrow views, the overstraining of analysis, the abuse of the 
reasoning faculty, which characterize the scientific investigation 
of the present day ; to say nothing of their injurious effects upon 
moral progress, the first condition of esthetic development. But 
all these defects necessarily disappear when the Positive spirit 
becomes more comprehensive and systematic ; which is the case as 



CHAP, v.] THE RELATION OP POSITIVISM TO AET. 203 

soon as it embraces the higher subjects in the encyclopedic scale of 
sciences.' When it reaches the study of Society, which is its true 
and ultimate sphere, it has to deal with the conceptions of Poetry, 
as well as with the operations of Feeling : since its object must. 
then be to give a faithful and complete representation of human 
nature under its individual, and still more under its social, aspects. 
Hitherto Positive Science has avoided these two subjects : biit their- 
charm is such that, when the study of them has been once begun, 
it cannot fail to be prosecuted with ardour ; and their proper place 
in the constitution of Man and of Society will then be recognised. 
Eeason has been divorced for a long time from Feeling and Imagina- 
tion. But, with the more complete and systematic culture here pro- 
posedf they will be re-united. 

To those who have studied the foregoing chapters with attention,, 
the, view that the new philosophy is unfavourable to Art, wiH be 
obviously unjust. Supposing even that there were no important 
•functions specially assigned to the fine arts in the Positive system, 
yet indirectly, the leading principles of the system, its social pur- 
pose, and the influences by which it is propagated, are all most, 
conducive to the interests of Art. To demonstrate, as Positivism 
^alone of all philosophies has done, the subordination of the intellect 
to the heart, and the dependence of the unity of human nature 
upon Feeling, is to stimulate the esthetic faculties, because Feeling 
is their true source. To proj)ound a social doctrine by which the 
Revolution is brought to a close, is to remove the principal obstacle 
to the growth of Art, and to open a wide field apd a firm foun- 
dation for it, by establishing fixed principles and modes of life 5 
in the absence of which Poetry can have nothing noble to narrate 
or to inspire. To exhort the working classes to seek happiness in 
calling their moral and mental powers into constant exercise, and to 
.^ve them an education, the principal basis of which is esthetic, is 
to place Art under the protection of its natural patrons. 

But one consideration is of itself sufficient for our purpose. "We 
have but to look at the influence of Positivism upon "Women, at its 
tendency to elevate the social dignity of their sex, while at the same 
time strengthening all family ties. Now of all the elements of 
which society is constituted, "Woman certainly is the most esthetie, 
alike from her nature and her position ; and both her position and 
her nature are raised and strengthened by Positivism. "We receive 
from women, not only our first ideas of Goodness, but our first 
sense of Beauty ; for their own sensibility to it is equalled by their 
/power of imparting it to others. "We see in them every kind of 
ibeauty combined ; beauty of mind and character as well as of 



204 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

person. All their actions, even those which are unconscious, 
•exhibit a spontaneous striving for ideal perfection. And their life 
at home, when free from the necessity of labouring for a livelihood, 
favours this tendency. Living as they do for affection, they cannot 
faU to feel aspirations for all that is highest, in the world around 
them first, and then also in the world of imagination. A doctrine, 
then, which regards women as the originators of moral influence in 
society, and which places the groundwork of education under their 
charge, cannot be suspected of being unfavourable to Ait. 

Leaving these prejudices, we may now examine the mode in 
which the incorporation of Art into the modern social system will be 
promoted by Positivism. In the first place systematic principles of 
Art will be laid down, and its proper function clearly defined. The ' 
result of this will be to call out new and powerfvd. means of ex- 
pression, and also new organs. I may observe that the position 
which Art will occupy in the present movement of social regenera- 
tion is already an inauguration of its final function ; as we saw in the 
analogous cases of the position of women and of the working classes. 

Esthetic ta- But before touching on this question, it will be well 
lent is for the iq rectify a prevalent misconception on the subiect, one 

adornment of j. ,, •' ^ /^ x i j i 

life, not for its 01 the many consequences oi our mental and moral 
goTemment anarchy. I refer to the exaggeration of the influence 
of Art ; an error which, if uncorrected, would vitiate all our views 
■with regard to it. 

All poets of real genius, from Homer to Comeille, have always 
considered their work to be that of beautifying human life, and so 
far, of elevating it. Government of human life they had never 
supposed to fall within their province. Indeed no sane man would 
lay it down as a proposition that Imagination should control the 
other mental faculties. It would imply that the normal condition 
of the intellect was insanity ; insanity being definable as that state 
of mind in which subjective inspirations are strcmger than objective 
judgments. It is a static law of our nature, which has never been 
permanently suspended, that the faculties of Kepresentation and 
Expression should be subordinate to those of Conception and Co- 
ordination. Even in cerebral disturbances the law holds good. 
The relation with the external world is perverted, but the original 
correlation of the internal mental functions remains unaffected. 

The foolish vanity of the later poets of antiquity led some of 
them into errors much resembling those which now prevail on this 
point. StUl in Polytheistic society artists were at no time looked 
upon as the leading class, notwithstanding the esthetic character of 
Greek and Eoman religion. If proofs were necessary, Homer's 



CHAP, v.] THE EBLATION OP POSITIVISM TO ABT. 205- 

poems, especially the Odyssey, would show how secondary the 
influence of the fine arts was upon society, even when the priest- 
hood had ceased to control them. Plato's Utopia, written when 
Polytheism was in its decline, represented a state in which the 
interference of poets was systematically prevented. Medieval 
Monotheism was still less disposed to overrate the importance of 
Art, though its true value was recognised more generally than it 
had ever been before. But with the decline of Catholicism, germs 
of errors showed themselves, from which even the extraordinary 
genius of Dante was not free. The revolutionary influences of the 
last five centuries have developed these errors into the delirium of' 
self-conceit exhibited by the poets and literary men of our time. 
Theology having arrived at its extreme limits before any true con- 
ception of the Positive state could arise, the negative condition of 
the Western Kepublic became aggravated to an unheard-of extent. 
Eules and institutions, which had formerly controlled the most 
headstrong ambition, fell rapidly into discredit. And as the princi- 
ples of social order disappeared, artists and especially poets, the 
leading class among them, stimulated by the applause which 
they received from their uninstruoted audience, fell into the error 
of seeking political influence. Incompatible as all mere criticism 
must be with true poetry, modern Art since the fourteenth century 
has participated more and more actively in the destruction of the- 
old system. Until, however, iJfegativism had received its distinct 
shape and character from the revolutions of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, the influence of Art> for destructive purposes- 
was secondary to that exercised by metaphysicians and legists. 
But in the eighteenth century, when negativism began to be propa- 
gated boldly in a systematic form, the case was changed, and lite- 
rary ambition asserted itself more strongly. The speculative thinkers 
who had hitherto formed the vanguard of the destructive movement,, 
were replaced by mere litterateurs, men whose talents were of a 
poetical rather than philosophical kind, but who had, inteUectuaUy 
speaking, no real vocation. When the crisis of the Eevolution 
came, this heterogeneous class took the lead in the movement, and 
naturally stepped into all political offices ; a state of things whicL 
wiU continue until there is a more direct and general movement of 
reorganization. 

This is the historical explanation, and at the same ThepoHticai 
time the refutation, of the subversive schemes so pre- uiauence of- 
valent in our time, of which the object is to establish a depiorabSs^n 
sort of aristocracy of literary pedants. Such day-dreams and source of. 
of unbridled self-conceit find f ayour only with the meta- *°*'^° ^' 



206 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

physical minds who cannot sanction exceptional cases without 
making them into an absolute rule. If philosophers are to be ex- 
cluded from political authority) there is still greater reason for 
excluding poets. The mental and moral versatility which makes 
them so apt in reflecting the thoughts and feelings of those around 
them, utterly unfits them for being our guides. Their natural 
defects are such as nothing but rigorous and systematic education 
-can correct ; they are, therefore, certain to be peculiarly prominent 
in times like these when deep convictions of any kind are so rare. 
Their real vocation is to assist the spiritual power as accessory mem- 
bers ; and this involves their renouncing all ideas of government, 
even more strictly than philosophers themselves. Philosophers, 
though not themselves engaging in politics, are called upon to lay 
down the principles of political action ; but the poet has very little 
to do with either. His special function is to idealise and to stimulate ; 
and to do this well, he must concentrate his energies exclusively 
upon it. It is a large and noble field, amply sufficient to absorb 
men who have a real vocation for it. Accordingly, in the great 
artists of former times we see comparatively few traces of this 
■extravagant ambition. It comes before us in a time when, owing 
to the absence of regular habits of life and fixed convictions, art 
of the highest order is impossible. The poets of our time either 
-have not realised or have mistaken their vocation. When Society 
is again brought under the influence of a universal doctrine, real 
poetry will again become possible ; and such men as those we have 
been speaking of wiU. turn their energies in a different direction. 
Till then they will continue to waste their efforts or to ruin their 
■character in worthless political agitation, a state of things in which 
mediocrity shines and real genius is left in the background. 

In the normal state of human nature, Imagination is subordinate 
to Keason as Eeason is to Feeling. Any prolonged inversion of 
this natural order is both morally and intellectually dangerous. 
The reign of Imagination would be stiU more disastrous than the 
reign of Eeason ; only that it is even more incompatible with the 
practical conditions of human life. But chimerical as it is^ the 
mere pursuit of it may do much individual harm by substituting 
artificial excitement, and in too many cases affectation of feeling, 
in the place of deep and spontaneous emotion. Viewed politically, 
nothing can be worse than this undue preponderance of esthetic 
considerations caused by the uncontrolled ambition of artists and 
litterateurs. The true object of Art, which is to charm and elevate 
human life, is gradually lost sight of. By being held out as the 
aim and object of existence, it degrades the artist and the public 



CHAP. V,] THE RELATION OP POSITIVISM TO AET. 207 

equally, and is therefore certain to degenerate. It loses all its 
higher tendencies, and is reduced either to a sensuous pleasure, or 
to a mere display of technical skill. Admiration for the arts, 
which, when kept in its proper place, has done so much for modern 
life, may become a deeply corrupting influence, if it becomes the 
paramouat consideration. It is notorious what an atrocious custom 
prevailed in Italy for several • centuries, simply for the sake of 
improving men's voices. Art, the true purpose of which is to 
strengthen our sympathies, leads when thus degraded to a most 
a'bjeGt;fQrm of selfishness ; in which enjoyment of sounds or forms ■ 
is held out as the highest happiness, and utter apathy prevails as to 
aU questions of social interest. So dangerous is it' inteliectuajly, 
and stiU more so morally, for individuals, and above all; for societies 
to fallow esthetic considerations to become unduly preponderant; 
even when they spring from a genuine impulse. But the invariable 
consequence to which this violation of the first principles of social 
order leads, is the success of mediocrities who acquire technical skill 
by long practice. 

Thus it is that wehaye gradually fallen under the discreditable 
influence of men who were evidently- not competent for any but 
.subordinate positions,, and whose preponderance has proved as ia- 
jurious to Art as it has been to Philosophy and Morality. A fatal 
facOity of giving expression to what is neither believed- nor felt, 
gives temporary reputation to men who are as incapable of originality 
. in Art as they are of grasping any new principle in science. It is 
the mosti remarkable of all the political anomalies caused by our 
revolutionary position; and the moral results- are most deplorable, 
unless when, as rarely happens,, the possessor of these undeserved 
honours has a nature too noble to be injured by them. Poets are 
more exposed to these dangers than other artists, because their 
sphere is more general and gives wider scope for ambition. But in 
the special arts we find the same evU in a still more degrading 
form ; ithat of avarice, a vice by which so much of our highest 
talent is now tainted. Another signaLproof of the childish vanity 
and uncontrolled ambition of the class is, that those who are merely 
interpreters of other men's productions claim the same title as those 
who have produded. original works. 

Such are the results of the extravagant pretmtions which artists 
and literary men have gradually developed during the last five 
ceuituries. I have dwelt upon them because they constitute^ at 
present serious; impediments to aU' sound views of the nature and 
purposes -of Art. My strictures KrilLnotbe thought too severe by 
r-eally esthetic natures, who know from personal experience how 



208 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

fatal the present system is to all talent of a high order. Whatever 
the outcry of those personally interested, it is certain that in the 
true interest of Art the suppression of mediocrity is at least as 
important as the encouragement of talent. True taste always 
implies distaste. The very fact that the object is to foster in us 
the sense of perfection, implies that all true connoisseurs will feel a 
thorough dislike for feehle work. Happily there is this privilege 
in all masterpieces, that the admiration aroused by them endures in 
its full strength for all time ] so that the plea which is often put 
forward of keeping up the public taste by novelties which in reality 
injure it, falls to the ground. To mention my own experience, I 
may say that for thirteen years I have been induced alike from 
principle and from inclination, to restrict my reading almost entirely 
to the great Occidental poets, without feeling the smallest curiosity 
for the works of the day which are brought out in such mischievous 
abundance. 

Theory of Guarding ourselves, then, against errors of this kiad,. 
'^''*' we may now proceed to consider the esthetic character 

of Positivism. In the first place, it furnishes us with a satisfactory 
theory of Art; a subject which has never been systematically explain- 
ed ; all previous attempts to do so, whatever their value, hav- 
ing viewed the subject incompletely. The theory here offered 
is based on the subjective principle of the new philosophy, on its 
objective dogma, and on its social purpose ; as set forward in the- 
two first chapters of this work. 

Art may be defined as an ideal representation of 
idealized re- I'act ; and its object is to cultivate our sense of per- 
of Fact""™ faction. It sphere therefore is co-extensive with that 
of Science. Both deal in their own way with the world 
of Fact ; the one explains it, the other beautifies it. The contem- 
plations of the artist and of the man of science follow the same 
encyclopedic law ; they begin with the simple objects of the ex- 
ternal world ; they gradually rise to the complicated facts of human 
nature. I pointed out in the second chapter that the scientific scale, 
the scale, that is, of the True, coincided with that of the Good : 
we now see that it coincides with that of the Beautiful. Thus 
between these three great creations of Humanity, Philosophy, 
Polity, and Poetry, there is the most perfect harmony. The first 
elements of Beauty, that is to say, Order and Magnitude, are visible 
in the inorganic world, especially in the heavens ; and they are 
there perceived with greater distinctness than where the phenomena 
are more complex and less imiform. The higher degrees of Beauty 
will hardly be recognised by those who are insensible to this its- 



CHAP, v.] THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 209 

simplest phase. But as in Philosophy we only study the inorganic 
world as a preliminary to the study of Man; so, but to a still 
greater extent, is it with Poetry. In Polity the tendency is similar 
but less apparent. Here we begin with material progress ; we 
proceed to physical and subsequently to intellectual progress ; but 
it is long before we arrive at the ultimate goal, moral progress. 
Poetry passes more rapidly over the three preliminary stages, and 
rises with less difficulty to the contemplation of moral beauty. 
Feeling, then, is essentially the sphere of Poetry. And it supplies 
not the end only, but the means. Of all the phenomena which 
relate to man, human affections are the most modifiable, and there- 
fore the most susceptible of idealization. Being more imperfect 
than any other, by virtue of their higher complexity, they allow 
greater scope for improvement. Now the act of expression, how- 
ever imperfect, reacts powerfully upon these functions, which from 
their nature are always seeking some external vent. Every one 
recognizes the influence of language upon thoughts : and surely it 
cannot be less upon feelings, since in them the need of expression 
is greater. Consequently all esthetic study, even if purely imitative, 
may become a useful moral exercise, by calling sympathies and 
antipathies into healthy play. The effect is far greater when the 
representation, passing the limits of strict accuracy, is suitably 
idealised. This indeed is the characteristic mission of Art. Its 
function is to construct types of the noblest kind, by the contem- 
plation of which our feelings and thoughts may be elevated. That 
the portraiture should be exaggerated follows from the definition 
of Art ; it should surpass realities so as to stimulate us to amend 
them. Great as the influence is of these poetic emotions on indi- 
viduals, they are far more efficacious when brought to bear upon 
public life : not only from the greater importance of the subject 
matter, but because each individual impression is rendered more 
intense by combination. 

Thus Positivism explains and confirms the view poetryisin- 
ordinarily taken of Poetry, by placing it midway be- teruiediirtebe- 
tween Philosophy and Polity ; issuing from the first, sophy and 
and preparing the way for the second. Pouty. 

Even Peeling itself, the highest principle of our existence, 
accepts the objective dogma of Philosophy, . that Humanity is 
subject to the order of the external world. And Imagination on 
still stronger grounds must accept the same law. The ideal must 
always be subordinate to the real ; otherwise feebleness as well as 
extravagance is the consequence. The statesinan who endeavours 
to improve the existing order, must first study it as it exists. And 

14 



210 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. tCHAP. v. 

the poet, although his improvements are hut imagined, and are not 
supposed capahle of realization, must do likewise. True in his 
fictions he will transcend the limits of the possible, while the 
statesman will keep within those limits ; hut both have the same 
point of departure ; both begin by studying the actual facts with 
which they deal. In our artificial improvements we should never 
aim at anything more than wise modification of the natural order ; 
we should never attempt to subvert it. And though Imagination 
has a widet range for its pictures, they are yet subject to the same 
fundamental law, imposed by Philosophy upon Polity and Poetry- 
alike. Even in the most poetic ages this law has always been re- 
cognised, only the external world was interpreted then in a way 
very differently from now. We see the same thing every day in 
the mental growth of the child. As his notions of fact change, 
his fictions are modified in conformity with these changes. 

But while Poetry depends upon Philosophy for the principles on 
which its types are constructed, it influences Polity by the direction 
which it gives to those types. In every operation that man under- 
takes, he must imagine before he executes, as he must observe 
before he imagines. He can never produce a result which he has 
not conceived first in his own mind. In the simplest application 
of mechanics or geometry he finds it necessary to form a mental 
type, which is always more perfect than the reality which it precedes 
and prepares. Now none but those who confound poetry with 
verse-making can fail to see that this conception of a type is the 
same thing as esthetic imagination, under its simplest and most 
general aspect. Its application to social phenomena, which con- 
stitute the chief sphere both of Art and of Science, is very im- 
perfectly understood as yet, and can hardly be said to have begun, 
owing to the want of any true theory of society. The real object 
of so applying it is, that it should regulate the formation of social 
Utopias ; subordinating them to the laws of social development as 
revealed by history. Utopias are to the Art of social life what 
geometrical and mechanical types are to their respective arts. In 
these their necessity is universally recognised; and surely the 
necessity can not be less in problems of such far greater intricacy. 
Accordingly we see that, notwithstanding the empirical condition 
in which political art has hitherto existed, every great change has 
been ushered in, one or two centuries beforehand, by an Utopia 
bearing some analogy to it. It was the product of the esthetic 
genius of Humanity working under an imperfefct sense of its con- 
ditions and requirements. Positivism, far from laying an interdict 
on Utopias, tends rather to facilitate their employment and their 



CHAP, v.] THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 211 

on Utopias, tends rather to facilitate their employment and. their 
influence, as a normal element in society. Only, as in the case of 
all other products of imagination, they must always remain sub- 
ordinated to the actual laws of social existence. And thus by 
giving a systematic sanction to this the Poetry, as it may b6 called, 
of Politics, most of the dangers which now surround it will dis- 
appear. Its present extravagances arise simply from- the absence 
of some philosophical principle to control it, and therefore there 
is no reason for regarding them with great severity. 

The whole of this theory may be summed up in the double 
meaning of the word so admirably chosen to designate our esthetic 
functions. The word Art is a remarkable instance of the popular 
instinct from which language proceeds, and which is far more en- 
lightened than educated persons are apt to suppose. It indicates, 
however vaguely, a sense of the true position of JPoetry, midw;ay 
between Philosophy and Polity, but with a closer relation to the 
latter. True in the case of the technical arts the improvements 
proposed are practically realised, whUe those of the fine arts remain 
imaginary. Poetry, however, does produce one result of an indirect 
but most essential kind ; it does actually modify our moral nature. 
If we include oratory, which is only Poetry in a simpler phase, 
though often worthless enough, we find its influence exerted in a 
most difficult and critical task, that of arousing or calming, our 
passions ; and this not arbitrarily, but in accordance with the fixed 
laws of their action. Here it has been always recognised as a 
moral agency of great power. On every ground, then. Poetry 
seems more closely related to practical than to speculative life. iFor 
its practical results are of the most important and comprehefisive 
nature. Whatever the utility of other arts, material, physical, or 
intellectual, they are only subsidiary or preparatory to that Which 
in Poetry is the direct aim, moral improvement. In the middle 
Ages it was common in all Western languages to speak of it as a 
Science, the proper meaning of the word Science being then very 
imperfectly understood. But as soon as both artistic and scientific 
genius had become more fully developed, their distinctive features 
were more clearly recognised, and finally the name of Art was 
appropriated to the whole class of poetic functions. The fact is, 
at aU events^ an argument in favour of the Positive theory of 
idealization, as standing midway between theoretical inquiry and 
practical result. 

Evidently, then, it is in Art that the unity of human Art calls each 
natures finds its most complete and most natural repre- ^t™™* °^^ 
sentation. For Art is in direct relation with the three tinnonious 
orders of phenomena by which human nature is charao- *° "^ 



212 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. ». 

terised ; Feelings, Thoughts, and Actions. It originates in Feel- 
ing ; the proof of this is even more obvious than ia the case of 
Philosophy and Polity. It has its basis in Thought, and its end 
is Action. Hence its power of exerting an influence for good alike 
on every phase of ova existence, whether personal or social. Hence 
too its peculiar attribute of giving equal pleasure to all ranks and 
ages. Art invites the thinker to leave his abstractions for the 
study of real life ; it elevates the practical man into a region of 
thought where self-love has no place. By its intermediate position 
it promotes the mutual reaction of Affection and Reason. It stimu- 
lates feeling in those who are too much engrossed with intellectual 
questions : it strengthens the contemplative faculty in natures 
where sympathy predominates. It has been said of Art that its 
province is to hold a mirror to nature. The saying is usually 
applied to social life where its truth is most apparent. But it is 
no less true of every aspect of our existence ; for under every 
aspect it may be a source of Art, and may be represented and 
modified by it. Turning to Biology for the cause of this sociolor 
gical relation, we find it in the relation of the muscular and 
nervous systems. Our motions, involuntary at first, and then 
voluntary, indicate internal impressions, moral impressions more 
especially ; and as they proceed from them, so they react upop 
them. Here we find the first germ of a true theory of Art 
Throughout .the animal kingdom language is simply gesticulation of 
a more or less expressive kind. And with man esthetic developr 
ment begins in the same spontaneous way. 

Three stages With this primary principle we may now complete 
in the esthetic our statical theory of Art, by indicating in it three dis- 
teti^ Ideal- tinct degrees or phases. The fine arts have been divi- 
ization. Ex- jjgd into imitative and inventive ; but this distinction 
has no real foundation. Art always imitates, and 
always idealizes. True, as the real is in every case the source of 
the ideal, art begins at first with simple Imitation. In the child- 
hood, whether of man or of the race, as also with the lower animals, 
servile imitation, and that of the most insignificant actions, is the 
only symptom of esthetic capacity. No representation, however, 
has at present any claim to the title of Art (although from motives 
of puenle vanity the name is often given to it), except so far as it 
is made more beautiful, that is to say, more perfect. The represen- 
tation thus becomes in reality more faithful, because the principal 
features are brought prominently forward, instead of being obscured 
by a mass of unmeaning detail. This it is which constitutes 
Idealization; and from the time of the great master-pieces of 



•CHiP. v.] THE RELATION OP POSITIVISM TO ART. 213 

antiqiiity, it has become more and more the characteristic feature 
of esthetic productions. But in recognising the superiority of 
Idealization as the second stage of Art, we must not forget the 
necessity of its first stage, Imitation. Without it neither the 
origin nor the nature of Art could be correctly understood. 

In addition to the creative process, which is the chief character- 
istic of Art, there is a third function which, though not absolutely 
necessary in its imitative stage, becomes in its ideal stage. I mean 
the function of Expression strictly so called, without which the 
product of imagination could not be communicated to others. 
Language, whether it be the Language of sound or form, is the last 
stage of the esthetic operation, and it does not always bear a due 
proportion to the inventive faculty. When it is too defective, the 
sublimest creations may be ranked lower than they deserve, owing 
to the failure of the poet to communicate his thought completely. 
Great powers of style may, on the other hand, confer unmerited 
reputation, which however does not endure. An instance of this 
is the preference that was given for so long ft time to Eacine over 
Comeille. 

So long as Art is confined to Imitation, no special language is re- 
quired ; imitation is itself the substitute for language. But as soon as 
the representation has become idealized by heightening some features 
and suppressing or altering others, it corresponds to something which 
exists only in the mind of the composer ; and its communication to 
the world requires additional labour devoted exclusively to Expres- 
sion. In this final process so necessary to the complete success of 
his work, the poet moulds his signs upon his inward type ; just as 
he began at first by adapting them to external facts. So far there 
is some truth in Gr^try's principle that song is derived from speech 
by the intermediate stage of declamation. The same principle has 
been applied to all the special arts ; it might also be applied to 
Poetry, oratory being the link between verse and prose. These 
-views, however, are somewhat modified by the historical spirit of 
Positive Philosophy. We must invert Gr^try's relation of cause 
and effect ; at least when we are considering those primitive times, 
when Art and Language first arose together. 

The origin of all our faculties of expression is invariably 
esthetic; 'for we do not express tiU after we have felt 
strongly. Eeeling had, in primitive times at aU events, far more 
to do with these faculties than Thought, being a far stronger 
stimulant to external demonstration. Even in the most highly 
wrought languages, where, in consequence of social requirements, 
reason has to a great extent encroached upon emotion, we see evi- 



314 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. r. 

4en.Be of tMs truth. There is a musical element in the most 
ordinary conversation. Listening carefully to a lecture on the 
iROst abtruse mathematical problem, we shall hear intonations which 
proceed obviously from the heart rather than the head, and which 
are indications of character even in the most unimpassioned speaker. 
Biology at once explains this law, by teaching that the stimulus to 
the muscles used in expression, whether vocal or gesticulatory, 
comes principally from the affective region of the brain ; the specu- 
region being too insert to produce muscular contractions for which 
there is no absolute necessity. Accordingly, Sociology regards 
every language as containing in its primitive elements aU that is 
spontaneous and universal in the esthetic development of Humanity; 
enough, that is, to satisfy the general need of communicating 
emotion. In this common field the special arts commence, and 
they ultimately widen it. But the operation is the same in its 
nature, whether carried on by popular instinct or by individuals. 
The final result is always more dependent on feeling than on reason, 
even in times like these, when the intellect has risen in revolt 
against the heart. Song, therefore, comes before Speech ; Painting 
before Writing; because the first things we express are those 
which move our feelings most. Subsequently the necessities of 
social life oblige us to employ more frequently, and ultimately to 
develop, those elements in painting or in song, which relate to 
our practical wants and to our speculative faculties so far as they 
are required for supplying them ; these forming the topics of ordi- 
nary communication. Thus the emotion from which the sign had 
originally proceeded becomes gradually effaced ; the practical object 
is alone thought of, and expression becomes more rapid and less 
emphatic. The process goes on until at last the sign is supposed 
to have originated in arbitrary convention ; though, if this were 
the case, its universal and spontaneous adoption would be inexpli- 
cable. Such, then, is the sociological theory of Language, on 
which I shall afterwards dwell more fuUy. I connect it with the 
whole class of esthetic functions, from which in the lower animals 
it is not distinguished. For no animal idealizes its song or gesture 
so far as to rise to anything that can properly be called Art. 

To complete our examination of the philosophy of 
of ae'arts'ou -^rt, statically viewed, we have now only to speak of the 
the principle order in which the various arts shoiild be classified, 
generaiity.avid Placed as Art is midway between Theory and Practice, 
tensity'"^ ""' ^* ^ classified on the same principle, the principle, that 
is of decreasing generality, which I have long ago 
shown to be applicable to all Positive classifications of whatever 



CHAP, v.] THB BELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 215 

kind. We have already obtained from it a scale of the Beautiful, 
answering in most points to that which was first laid down for the 
True, and which we applied afterwards to the Good. By following 
it in the present instance, we shall be enabled to range the arts in 
the order of their conception and succession, as was done in my 
Treatise on Positive Philosophy for the various branches of Science 
and Industry. 

The arts, then, should be classified by the decreasing generality 
and the increasing intensity, which involves also increasing techni- 
cality, of their modes of expression. In its highest term the esthetic 
scale connects itself with the scientific scale ; and in its lowest, with 
the industrial scale. This is in conformity with the position assigned 
to Art intermediate between Philosophy and Practical life. Art 
never becomes disconnected from human interests ; but as it becomes 
less general and more technical, its relation with our higher attributes 
becomes less intimate, and it is more dependent on inorganic Nature, 
so that at last the kind of beauty depicted by it is merely material. 

On these principles of classification we must give the 
first place to Poetry properly so called, as being the 
most general and least technical of the arts, and as being the basis 
on which all the rest depend. The impressions which it produces 
are less intense than those of the rest, but its sphere is evidently 
vnder, since it embraces every side of our existence, whether indi- 
vidual, domestic, or social. Poetry, like the special arts, has a 
closer relation with actions and impulses than with thoughts. Yet 
the most abstract conceptions are not excluded from its sphere ; for 
not merely can it improve the language in which they are expressed, 
but it may add to their intrinsic beauty. It is, on the whole, the 
most popular of all the arts, both on account of its wider scope, 
and also because, its instruments of expression being taken directly 
from ordinary language, it is more generally intelligible than any 
other. True, in the highest kind of poetry versification is neces- 
sary; but this cannot be called a special art. The language of 
Poetry, although distinct in form, is in reality nothing but the 
language of common men more perfectly expressed. The only 
technical element in it, prosody, is easily acquired by a few days' 
practice. A proof of the identity of the language of Poetry with 
that of common life, is the fact that no poet has ever been able to 
write with effect in a foreign or a dead language. And not only is 
this noblest of Arts more comprehensive, more spontaneous, more 
popular than the rest, but it surpasses them in that which is the 
characteristic feature of all art, IdeaHty. Poetry is the art which 
idealises the most, and imitates the least, Eqi t^iese reasons it has 



216 A GBNERiLL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

always held the first place among the arts ; a view which will be 
strengthened in proportion as we attach greater importance to ideal- 
ization and less to mere expression. In expression it is inferior to 
the other arts, which represent such subjects as fall within their 
compass with greater intensity. But it is from Poetry that these 
subjects are usually borrowed. 

„ . The first term of the series being thus determined, 

the other arts may at once be ranked according to the 
degree of their affinity with Poetry. Let us begin by distinguish- 
ing the dififerent senses to which they appeal ; and we shall find 
that our series proceeds on the principle which biologists, since Gall's 
time, have adopted for the classification of the special senses, the 
principle of decreasing sociability. There are only two senses which 
can be called esthetic ; namely, Sight and Hearing : the others 
having no power of raising us to Idealization. The sense of smell 
can, it is true, enable us to associate ideas ; but in man it exists 
too feebly for artistic effects. Hearing and Sight correspond to the 
two modes of natural language, voice and gesture. From the first 
arises the art of Music ; the second, which however is less esthetic, 
includes the three arts of form. These are more technical than' 
Music ; their field is not so wide, and moreover they stand at a 
greater distance from poetry ; whereas Music remained for a long 
time identified with it. Another distinction is that the sense to 
which music appeals performs its function involuntarily ; and this 
is one reason why the emotions which it calls forth are more spon- 
taneous and more deep, though less definite, than in the case where 
it depends on the will whether we receive the impression or not. 
Again, the difference between them answers to the distinction of 
Time and Space. The art of sound represents succession ; the arts 
of form, co-existence. On all these grounds music should certainly' 
be ranked before the other special arts, as the second term of the 
esthetic series. Its technical difficulties are exaggerated by pedants,-: 
whose interest it is to do so ; in reality, special training is less' 
needed for its appreciation, and even for its composition, than in' 
the case of either painting or sculpture. Hence it is in every respect 
more popular and more social. i 

Painting. Of the three arts which appeal to the voluntary sense 

sei^ture. of sight, and which present simultaneous impressions, i 

Painting, on the same principle of arrangement, holds 
the first rank, and Architecture the last ; Sculpture being placed 
between them. Painting alone employs all the methods of visual 
expression, combining the effects of colour with those of form. 
Whether in public or private life, its sphere is wider than that of 



™«'- ▼•] THE EELATION OP POSITIVISM TO AET. 217 

the other two. More technical skill is required in it than in music, 
and it is harder to obtain ; but the difficulty is less than in 
Sculpture or in Architecture. These latter idealise less, and imitate 
more. Of the two. Architecture is the less esthetic. It is far more 
dependent on technical processes; and indeed most of its productions 
are rather works of industry than works of art. It seldom rises 
above material beauty : moral beauty it can only represent by arti- 
fices, of which the meaning is often ambiguous. But the impres- 
sions conveyed by it are so powerful and so permanent, that it will 
always retain its place among the fine arts, especially in the case of 
great public buildings, which stand out as the most imposing record 
of each successive phase of social development. Never has the 
power of Architecture been displayed to greater efi'ect than in our 
magnificent cathedrals, in which the spirit of the Middle Ages has 
been idealised and preserved for posterity. They exhibit in a most 
striking manner the property which Architecture possesses of bring- 
ing all the arts together into a common centre. 

These brief rem arks will illustrate the method adopted The condi- 
by the new philosophy in investigating a systematic biTtoArth"^' 
theory of Art under all its statical aspects. We have never yet been 
now to speak of its action upon social life, whether in ™™''i"«'i. 
the final state of Humanity, or in the transitional movement through 
which that state is to be reached. 

The Positive theory of history shows us at once, in spite of strong 
prejudices to the contrary, that up to the present time the progress 
achieved by Art has been, like that of Science and Industry, only 
preparatory ; the conditions essential to its f uU development never 
having yet been combined. 

Too much has been made of the esthetic tendencies Neither in 
of the nations of antiquity, owing to the free scope I'o'yUieism. 
that was given to Imagination in constructing their doctrines. In 
fact Polytheism, now that the belief in its principles exists no 
longer, has been regarded as simply a work of art. But the long 
duration of its principles would be sufficient proof that they were 
not created by the poets, but that they emanated from the philoso- 
phic genius of Humanity working spontaneously, as explained in 
my theory of human development, in the only way that was then 
possible. All that Art did for Polytheism was to perform its proper 
function of clothing it in a more poetic form. It is quite true that 
the peculiar character of Polytheistic philosophy gave greater scope 
for the development of Art than has been afforded by any subse- 
quent system. It is to this portion of the theological period that 
we must attribute the first steps of esthetic development, whether 



218 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [ohap. r. 

in society or in the individual. Yet Art was never really incor- 
porated into the ancient order. Its free growth was impossible so 
long as it remained under the control of Theocracy, which made 
use of it as an iustrument, but which, from the stationary char- 
acter of its dogmas, shackled its operations. Moreover, the social 
life of antiquity was highly unfavourable to Art. The sphere of 
personal feelings and , domestic affections was hardly open to it. 
PubUc life in ancient times had certainly more vigorous and more 
permanent features, and here there was a wider field. Yet even in 
such a case as that of Homer, we feel that he would hardly have 
spent his extraordinary powers upon descriptions of military life,, 
had there been nobler subjects for his genius. The only grand 
aspect, viewed socially, that war could offer, the system of incor- 
poration instituted by Kome after a succession of conquests, could 
not then be foreseen. When that period arrived, ancient history 
was drawing to a close, and the only poetical tribute to this nobler 
policy was contained in a few beautiful lines of Virgil's jEneid, 
ending with the remarkable expression, 

" Pacisque imponere rnorem," 
(Impose the law of peace,) 

Nor under Mediaeval society, notwithstanding irrational pre- 
the MedisBvai judices to the contrary, would have been far more 
ays em. favourable to the fine arts, could it have continued 

longer. I do not speak, indeed, of its dogmas ; which were so 
incompatible with Art, as to lead to the strange inconsistency of 
giving a factitious sanction to Paganism in the midst of Christianity. 
By holding personal and chimerical objects before us as the end of 
life. Monotheism discouraged all poetry, except so far as it related 
to our individual existence. This, however, was idealised by the 
mystics, whose beautiful compositions penetrated into our inmost 
emotions, and wanted nothing but greater perfection of form. All 
that Catholicism effected for Art in other respects was to secure a. 
better position for it, as soon as the priesthood became strong enough 
to counteract the intellectual and moral defects of Christian doctrine.. 
But the social life of the Middle Ages was far more esthetic than, 
that of antiquity. War was stUl the prevailing occupation ; but 
by assuming a defensive character, it had become far more moral,, 
and therefore more poetic. Woman had acquired a due mecisure of 
freedom ; and the free development of home affections was thus no 
longer restricted. There was a consciousness of personal dignity 
hitherto unknown, and yet quite compatible with social devotion, , 
which elevated individual life in aU its aspects. All these qualities- 



CHAP, v.] THE BBLATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 219 

were summed up in the noble institution of Chivalry; which 
gave a strong stimulus to Art throughout western Europe, and dif- 
fused it more largely than in any former period. This movement 
was in reality, though the fact is not recognised as it should be, the 
source of modern Art. The reason for its short_^duration is to be found 
in the essentially transient and provisional character of medieval 
society under all its aspects. By the time that its language and 
habits had become sufficiently stable for the esthetic spirit to pro- 
duce works of permanent value, Catholic Feudalism was already 
undermined by the growing force of the negative movement. The 
beliefs and modes of life offered for idealization were seen to be 
declining : and neither the poet nor his readers could feel those 
deep convictions which the highest purposes of Art require. 

During the decline of Chivalry, Art received indirectly Much leas in 
an additional impulse from the movement of social de- """"iem times. 
composition which has been going on rapidly for the last five cen- 
turies. In this movement all mental and social influences gradually 
participated. Negativism, it is true, is not the proper province of 
Art ; but the dogmas of Christianity were so oppressive to it, that 
its efforts to shake off the yoke were of great service to the cause of 
general emancipation. Dante's incomparable work is a striking illus- 
tration of this anomalous combination of two contradictory influences. 
It was a situation unfavourable for art, because every aspect of life 
was rapidly changing and losing its character before there was time 
to idealize it. Consequently the poet had to create his own field 
artificially from ancient history, which supplied him with those 
fixed and definite modes of life which he could not find around 
Mm. Thus it was that for several centuries the Classical system 
became the sole source of esthetic culture ; the result being that 
Art lost much of the originality and popularity which had pre- 
viously belonged to it. That great master-pieces should have been 
produced at all under such unfavourable circumstances is the best 
proof of the spontaneous character of our esthetic faculties. The 
value of the Classical system has been for some time entirely ex- 
hausted ; and now that the negative movement has reached its 
extreme limits, there only remained one service (a service of groat 
temporary importance) for Art to render, the idealization of Doubt 
itself. Such a phase of course admitted of but short duration. 
The best examples of it are the works of Byron and Gothe, the 
principal value of which has been, that they have initiated Protes- 
tant countries into the unrestricted freedom of thought which 
emanated originally from French philosophy. 

Thus history shows that the esthetic development of Humanity 



220 A GENEEAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

has been the result of sportaneous tendencies rather than of syste- 
matic guidance. The mental conditions most favourable to it have 
never been fulfilled simultaneously with its social conditions. At 
the present time both are alike wanting. Yet there is no evidence 
that our esthetic faculties are on the decline. Not only has the 
growth of art proceeded in spite of every obstacle, but it has become 
more thoroughly incorporated into the life of ordinary men. In 
ancient times it was cultivated only by a small class. So little was 
it recognised as a component part of social organization, that it did 
not even enter into men's imaginary visions of a future existence. 
But in the Middle Ages the simplest minds were encouraged to 
cultivate the sense of beauty as one of the purest delights of human 
life ; and it was held out as the principal occupation of the celestial 
state. From that time all classes of European society have taken 
an increasing interest in these elevating pleasures, beginning with 
poetry, and thence passing to the special arts, especially music, the 
most social of all. The influence of artists, even when they had 
no real claim to the title, has been on the increase ; until at last the 
anarchy of the present time has introduced them to political power, 
for which they are utterly unquahfied. 

„ , p . All this would seem to show that the greatest epoch 
tivismthecon- of Art has yet to come. In this respect, as in every 
be^favo^rabie! Other, the Past has but supplied the necessary materials 
There will be for future reconstruction. What we have seen as yet 
piel anJano- is but a Spontaneous and immature prelude ; but in the 
bier moral oui- manhood of our moral and mental powers, the culture 
of Art will proceed on principles as systematic as the 
culture of Science and of Industry, both of which at present are 
similarly devoid of organization. The regeneration of society will be 
incomplete until Art has been fully incorporated into the modern 
order. And to this result all our antecedents have been tending. 
To renew the esthetic movement so admirably begun in the Middle 
Ages, but interrupted by classical influences, will form a part of the 
great work which Positivism has undertaken, the completion and 
re-establishment of the Mediaeval structure upon a firmer intellectual 
basis. And when Art is once restored to its proper place, its future 
progress will be unchecked, because, as I shall now proceed to show, 
all the influences of the final order, spontaneous or systematic, will 
be in every respect favourable to it. If this can be made clear, the 
poetic capabilities of Positive Philosophy will require no further 
proof. 

As being the only rallying point now possible for fixed convic- 
tions, without which life can have no definite or permanent char- 



^■HAP. v.] THE EBLATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 221 

acter, Positivism is on this ground alone indispensable to all further 
development of modern Art. If the poet and his readers are alike 
devoid of such convictions, no idealization of life, whether personal, 
domestic, or social, is in any true sense possible. No emotions are 
fit subjects for Art unless they are felt deeply, and unless they 
come spontaneously to all. When society has no marked intel- 
lectual or moral feature. Art, which is its mirror, can have none 
either. And although the esthetic faculty is so innate in us that it 
never can remain inactive, yet its culture becomes in this case vague 
and objectless. The fact therefore that Positivism terminates the 
Revolution by initiating the movement of organic growth is of itself 
enough to prove its beneficial influence upon Art. 

Art, indeed, would profit by any method of re-organization, 
whatever its nature. But the principle on which Positivism pro- 
poses to reconstruct is peculiarly favourable to its growth. The 
opinions and the modes, of life to which that principle conducts 
are precisely those which are most essential to esthetic development. 

A more esthetic system caimot be imagined than one which teaches 
that Feeling is the basis on which the unity of human nature rests ; 
and which assigns as the grand object of man's existence, progress 
in every direction, but especially moral progress. It may seem 
at first as if the tendency of the new philosophy was merely to 
make us more systematic. And systematization is assuredly indis- 
pensable j but the sole object of it is to increase our sympathy and 
our synergic activity by supplying that fixity of principle which 
alone can lead to energetic practice. By teaching that the highest 
happiness is to aid in the happiness of others. Positivism invites 
the poet to his noblest function, the culture of generous sympathies, 
a subject far more poetic than the passions of hatred and oppression 
which hitherto have been his ordinary theme. A system which 
regards such culture as the highest object cannot fail to incorporate 
Poetry as one of its essential elements, and to give to it a far higher 
position than it has ever held before. Science, although it be the 
source from which the Positive system emanates, wiU be restricted 
to its proper function of supplying the objective basis for human 
prevision ; thus giving to Art and Industry, which must always be 
the principal: objects of our attention, the foundation they require. 
Positivism, substituting in every subject the relative point of view 
for the absolute, regarding, that is, every subject in its relation to 
Humanity, would not prosecute the study of the True beyond what 
is required for the development of the Good and the Beautiful 
Beyond, this point, scientific cTilture is a useless expenditure of 
time, and a diversion from the great end for which Man and Society 



222 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHAP. v. 

exist. Subordinate as the ideal must ever be to the real, Art will 
yet exercise a most salutary influence upon Science, as soon as we 
cease to study Science in an absolute spirit. In the very simplest 
phenomena, after reaching the degree of exactness which our wants 
require, there is always a certain margin of liberty for the imagina- 
tion ; and advantage may very well be taken of this to make our 
conceptions more beautiful and so far more useful StUl more 
available is this influence of the Beautiful on the True in the 
highest subjects, those which directly concern Humanity. 
Minute accuracy being here more difficult and at the same time less 
important, more room is left for esthetic considerations. In repre- 
senting the great historical types, for instance. Art has its place as 
well as Science. A society which devotes aU its powers to making 
every aspect of life as perfect as possible, will naturally give 
preference to that kind of intellectual culture which is of all others 
the best calculated to heighten our sense of perfection. 
Predisposing '^^^ tendency of Positivism to favour these the most 
infiuencs of energetic of our intellectual faculties and the most 
uca ion, (iiosely related to our moral nature, is apparent 
throughout its educational system. The reader will have seen in 
the third chapter that in Positive education more importance is 
attached to Art than to Science, as the true theory of human 
development requires. Science intervenes only to put into syste- 
matic shape what Art, operating under the direct influence of 
affection, has spontaneously begun. As in the history of mankind 
esthetic development preceded scientific development, so it wiU be 
with the individual, whose education on the Positive method is but 
a reproduction of the education of the race. The only rational 
principle of our absurd classical system is its supposed tendency to 
encourage poetical training. The futnity, however, of this profes- 
sion is but too evident : the usual result of the system being to 
implant erroneous notions of aU the fine arts, if not utter distaste 
for them. A striking illustration of its worthlessness is the 
idolatry with which for a whole century our French pedants 
regarded BoUeau ; a most skilful versifier, but of all our poets 
perhaps the least gifted with true poetic feeling. Positivist 
•education will effect what classical education has attempted so 
imperfectly. It wfll familiarise the humblest working man or 
woman from childhood with all the beauties of the best poets ; not 
those of his own nation merely, but of all the West. To secure the 
genuineness and efficiency of esthetic development, attention must 
first be given to the poets who depict our own modem society. 
Afterwards, as I have said, the young Positivist wiU be advised to 



CHAP, v.] THE EELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 223 

complete his poetical course, by studying the poets ^ who have 
idealised antiquity. But his education will not be limited to 
poetry, it will embrace the special arts of sound and form, by 
which the principal effects of poetry are reproduced with greater 
intensity. Thus the contemplation and meditation suggested by 
Art, besides their own intrinsic charm, will prepare the way for 
the exercise of similar faculties in Science. For with the indivi- 
dual, as with the species, the combination of images will assist the 
combination of signs : signs in their origin being images which, 
have lost their vividness. As the sphere of Art includes every 
subject of human interest, we shall become familiarised, during the 
esthetic period of education, with the principal conceptions that are 
afterwards to be brought before us systematically in the scientific 
period. Especially will this be true of historical studies. By the 
time that the pupil enters upon them, he will be already familiar 
with poetic descriptions of the various social phases, and of the men 
who played a leading part in them. 

And if Art is of such importance in the education Relation of 
of the young, it is no less important in the afterwork Art to Eeii- 
of education ; the work of recalling men or classes of ^'™' 
men to those high feelings and principles which, in the daily 
business of life, are so apt to be forgotten. In the solemnities, 
private or public, appointed for this purpose, Positivism will rely 
far more on impressions such as poetry can inspire, than on 
scientific explanations. Indeed the preponderance of Art over 
Science will be stiU greater than in education properly so called. 
The scientific basis of human conduct having been already laid 
down, it will not be necessary to do more than refer to it. The 
philosophic priesthood will in this case be less occupied with new 
conceptions, than with the enforcement of truth already- known, 
which demands esthetic rather than scientific talent. ' 

A vague presentiment of the proper function of Art in regulating 
public festivals was shown empirically by the Eevolutionists. 
But all their attempts in this direction proved notorious failures ; a 
signal proof that politicians should not usurp the office of spiritual 
guides. The intention of a festival is to give public expression to 
deep and genuine feeling; epohtaneousness therefore is its first 
condition. Hence it is a matter with which political rulers are 
incompetent to deal ; and even the spiritual power should only act 
as the syBteraatic organ of impulses which abeady exist. Since the 
decline of Catholicism we have had no festivals worthy of the 
name ; nor can we have them lintil Positivism has become 
generally accepted, All that govetftments could do at present is to 



224 A GENEEAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

exhibit unmeaning and undignified shows before discordant crowds, 
who are themselves the only spectacle worth beholding. Indeed 
the usurpation of this function by government is in many cases as 
tyrannical as it is irrational ; arbitrary formulas are often imposed, 
which answer to no pre-existing feeling whatever. Evidently the 
direction of festivals is a function which more than any other 
belongs exclusively to the spiritual power, since it is the spiritual 
power which regulates the tendencies of which these festivals are 
the manifestation. Here its work is essentially esthetic. A fes- 
tival even in private, and still more in public life, is or should be a 
work of art ; its purpose being to express certain feelings by voice 
or gesture, and to idealise them. . It is the most esthetic of all 
functions, since it involves usually a complete combination of the 
four special arts, under the presidence of the primary art, Poetry. 
On this ground governments have in most cases been willing to 
waive their official authority in this matter, and to be largely guided 
by artistic counsel, accepting even the advice of painters and 
sculptors in the default of poets of real merit. 

The esthetic tendencies of Positivism, with regard to institutions 
of this kind, are sufficiently evident in the worship of Woman, 
spoken of in the preceding chapter, and in the worship of Hu- 
manity, of which I shall speak more particularly afterwards. From 
these, indeed, most Positivist festivals, private or public, wiU 
originate. But this subject has been already broached, and wiU be 
discussed in the next chapter with as much detail as the limits of 
this introductory work allow. 

"While the social value of Art is thus enhanced by the import- 
ance of the work assigned to it, new and extensive fields for its 
operation are opened out by Positivism. Chief amongst these is 
History, regarded as a continuous whole; a domain at present, 
almost untouched. 

Idealization Modem poets, finding little to inspire them in their 
of hifltoricai own times, and driven back into ancient life by the 
^^^' classical system, have already idealised some of the 

past phases of Humanity. Our great CorneUle, for instance, is. 
principally remembered for the series of dramas in which he has so 
admirably depicted various periods of Eoman history. In oui own 
times where the historical spirit has become stronger, novelists, like 
Scott and Manzoni, have made similar though less perfect attempts 
to idealize later periods. Such examples, however, are but spon- 
taneous and imperfect indications of the new field which Positivism 
now offers to the artist; a field which extends over the whole- 
region of the Past and even of the Future. Until this vast domaia 



CHAP, v.] THE EBLATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 225 

had teen conceived of as a whole by the philosopher, it would have 
been impossible to bring it within the compass of poetry. Now 
theological and metaphysical philosophers were prevented by the 
absolute spirit of their doctrines from understanding history in all 
its phases, and were totally incapable of idealizing them as they 
deserved. Positivism, on the coiitrary, is always relative ; and its 
principal feature is a theory of history which enables us to appre- 
ciate and become familiar with every mode in which human society 
has formed itself. H"o sincere Monotheist can understand and 
represent with fairness the life of Polytheists or Fetichists. But 
the Positivist poet, accustomed to look upon all past historical 
stages in their proper filiation, wUl be able so thoroughly to identify 
himself with all, as to awaken our sympathies for them, and revive 
the traces which each individual may recognise of corresponding 
phases in his own history. Thus we shall be able thoroughly to 
enter into the esthetic beauty of the Pagan creeds . of Greece and 
Eome, without any of the scruples which Christians could not but 
feel when engaged on the same subject. In the Art of the Future 
all phases of the Past will be recalled to life with the same distinct- 
ness with which some of them have been already idealized by 
Homer and CorneUle. And the value of this new source of 
inspiration is the greater that, at the same time that it is being 
opened out to the artist, the public is being prepared for its enjoy- 
ment. An almost exhaustless series of beautiful creations in epic 
or dramatic art may be produced, which, by rendering it more easy 
to comprehend and to glorify the Past in all its phases, will form 
an essential element, on the one hand, of our educational system, 
and on the other, of the worship of Humanity. 

Lastly, not only will the field for Art become wider. Art requires 
but its organs will be men of a higher stamp. The eJucatim^tat 
present system, in which the arts are cultivated by little special 
special classes, must be abolished, as being wholly alien ">=*ru<=*">"- 
to that synthetic spirit which always characterises the highest 
poetic genius. 

Eeal talent for Art cannot fail to be called out by the educational 
system of Positivism, which, though intended for the working 
classes, is equally applicable to all others. "We can only idealize 
and portray what has become familiar to us ; consequently poetry 
has always rested upon some system of belief, capable of giving a 
fixed direction to our thoughts and feelings. The greatest poets, 
from Homer to Comeille, have always participated largely in the 
best education of which their times admitted. The artist must 
have clear conceptions before he can exhibit true pictures. Even 

15 



226 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. {chap. v. 

in these anarchic times, when the system of specialities is being 
carried to such an irrational extent, the so-called poets who imagine 
that they can save themselves the trouble of philosophical training, 
have in reality to borrow a basis of belief from some worn-out 
metaphysical or theological creed. Their special education, if it 
can be called so, consists merely in cultivating the talent for ex- 
pression, and is equally injurious to their intellect and their heart. 
Incompatible with deep conviction of any kind, while giving 
mechanical skill in the technical department of Art, it impairs the 
far more important faculty of idealization. Hence it is that we are 
at present so deplorably over-stocked with verse-makers and literary 
men, who are wholly devoid of real poetic 'feeling, and are fit for 
nothing but to disturb society by their reckless ambition. As for 
the four special arts, the training for them at present given, being 
stiU more technical, is even more hurtful in every respect to the 
student whose education does not extend beyond it. On every 
ground, then, artists of whatever kind should begin their career 
with the same education as the rest of society. The necessity for 
such an education in the case of women has been already recog- 
nised ; and it is certainly not less desirable for artists and poets. 

Indeed, so esthetic is the spirit of Positive education, that no 
special training for Art will be needed, except that which is given 
spontaneously by practice. There is no other profession which 
requires so Httle direct instruction ; the tendency of it in Art being 
to destroy originality, and to stifle the fire of genius with teohnicid 
erudition. Even for the special arts no professional education is 
needed. These, like industrial arts, should be acquired by careful 
practice under the guidance of good masters. The notorious failure 
of public institutions established for the purpose of forming 
musicians and painters, makes it unnecessary to dwell further upon 
this point. Not to speak of their injurious effects upon character, 
they are a positive impediment to true genius. Poets and artists, 
then, require no education beyond that which is given to the public, 
whose thoughts and emotions it is their office to represent. Its 
want of speciality makes it all the more fit to develop and bring 
forward real talent. It will strengthen the love of all the fine arts 
simultaneously ; for the connection between them is so intimate 
that those who make it a boast that their talent is for one of them 
exclusively will be strongly suspected of having no real vocation for 
any. All the greatest masters, modern no less than ancient, havo 
shown this universality of taste. Its absence in the present day is but 
a fresh proof that esthetic genius does not and cannot exist in times 
like these, when Art has no social purpose and rests on no philo- 



CHAP, v.] THE EBLATION OP POSITIVISM TO AST. 227 

Sophie principles. If even amateurs are expected to enjoy Art in 
all its forms, is it likely that composers of real genius will restrict 
their admiration to their own special mode of idealization and 
expression 1 

Positivism then, while infusing a profoundly esthetic Artists as a 
spirit into general education, would suppress all special class wm dis- 
sehools of Art on the ground that they impede its true ? JnSn '^m 
growth, and simply promote the success of mediocri- ''Ih^'th'^'Si' 
ties. When this principle is carried out to its fuU oeophiopnest^ 
length, we shall no longer have any special class of '''""*■ 
artists. The culture of Art, especially of poetry, will he a spon- 
taneous addition to the functions of the three classes which 
constitute the moral power of society. 

Under theocracy, the system hy which the evolution of human 
society was inaugurated, the speculative class absorbed all functions 
except those relating to the common business of life. No distinc- 
tion was made between esthetic and scientific talent. Their 
s'iparation took place afterwards : and though it was indispensable 
to the full development of both, yet it forms no part of the 
permanent order of society, in which the only well-marked division 
is that between Theory and Practice. Ultimately all theoretic 
faculties will be again combined even more closely than in primitive 
times. So long as they are dispersed, their full influence on 
practical life cannot be realized. Only it was necessary that they 
should remain dispersed until each constituent element had attained 
a sufficient degree of development. For this preliminary growth 
the long period of time that has elapsed since the decline of 
theocracy was necessary. Art detached itself from the theoretical 
system before Science, because its progress was more rapid, and 
from its nature it was more independent. The priesthood had lost 
its hold of Art, as far back as the time of Homer: but it still 
continued to be the depositary of science, until it was superseded 
at first by philosophers strictly so called, afterwards by mathema- 
ticians and astronomers. So it was that Art first, and subsequently 
Science, yielded to the specializing system which, though normal 
for Industry, is in their case abnormal. It stimulated the growth 
of our speculative faculties at the time of their escape from the yoke 
of theocracy : but now that the need for it no longer exists, it is 
the principal obstacle to the final order, towards which all their 
partial developments have been tending. To recombine these 
special elements on new principles is at present the primary condi- 
tion -of social regeneration. 

Looking at the two essential functions of the spiritual power, 



228 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

education and counsel, it is not difficult to see that what they 
require is a comhination of poetic feeling with scientific insight. 
"We look for a measure of both these qualities in the public ; there- 
fore men who are devoid of either of them cannot be fit to be its 
spiritual guides. That they take the name of philosophers in 
preference to that of poets, is because their ordinary duties are more 
connected with Science than with Art ; but they ought to be 
equally interested in both. Science requires systematic teaching, 
whereas Art is cultivated spontaneously, with the exception of the 
technical branches of the special arts. It must be remembered that 
the highest esthetic functions are not such as can be performed 
continuously. It is only works of rare excellence which are in the 
highest sense useful : these, once produced, supply an unfailing 
■source of idealization and expression for our emotions, whether in 
public or in private. It is enough, if the interpreter of these works 
and his audience have been so educated as to appreciate what is 
perfect, and reject mediocrity. Organs of unusual power wUl arise 
occasionally, as in former times, from all sections of society, when- 
ever the need of representing new emotions may be felt. But they 
will come more frequently from the philosophic class, in whose 
character, when it is fully developed, Sympathy wiU be as promi- 
nent a feature as System. 

Identity of There is, in truth, no organic distinction between 
soim^o *ge^ Scientific and poetic genius. The difference lies merely 
nius. ia their combinations of thought, which are concrete 

and ideal in the one case, abstract and real in the other. Both 
employ analysis at starting ; both alike aim ultimately at synthesis. 
The erroneous belief in their incompatibility proceeds merely from 
the absolute spirit of metaphysical philosophy, which so often leads 
us to mistake a transitory phase for the permanent order. If it is 
the fact, as appears, that they have never been actually combined 
in the same person, it is merely because the two functions cannot 
be called into action at the same moment. A state of society that 
calls for great philosophical efforts cannot be favourable to poetry, 
because it involves a new elaboration of first principles ; and it is 
essential to Art that these should have been already fixed. This is 
the reason why in history we find periods of esthetic growth 
succeeding periods of great philosophical change, but never co- 
existing. If we look at instances of great minds who were never 
able to find their proper sphere, we see at once that had they risen 
at some other time, they might have cultivated either poetry or 
philosophy, as the case might be, with equal success. Diderot 
would no doubt have been a great poet in a time more favourabl© 



CHAP. Tj THE BELATION OF POSITIVISM TO AST. 229 

to art; and GSetiie, under different political influences, migM have 
been an eminent philosopher. AU scientific discoverers in whom 
the inductive faculty has been more active than the deductive, have 
.given manifest proof of poetic capacity. Whether the powers of 
invention take an abstract or a concrete direction, whether they are 
employed in discovering truth or in idealizing it, the cerebral func- 
tion is always essentially the same. The difference is merely in the 
objects aimed at ; and as these alternate according to the circum- 
stances of the time, they cannot both be pursued simultaneously. The 
remarkably synthetic character of Buffon's genius may be looked on 
historically as an instance of fusion of the scientific and esthetic 
spirit. Bossuet is even a more striking instance of a mind equally 
capable of the deepest philosophy and of the sublimest poetry, had 
the circumstances of his life given him a more definite impulse in 
either direction. 

It is ■ then not unreasonable to expect, notwithstanding the 
opinion usually maintained, that the philosophical class wUl furnish 
poets of the highest rank when the time calls for them. To pass 
from scientific thought to esthetic thought will not be difficult for 
minds of the highest order ; for in such minds there is always a 
natural, inclination towards the work which is most urgently reqniredi 
by their age. To meet the technical conditions of the arts of sound 
and form, it will be necessary to provide a few special masters, 
who, in consideration of the importance of their services to general 
education, will be looked upon as accessory members of the new 
spiritual power. But even here the tendency to specialities will be 
materially restricted. This exceptional position Will only be given 
to men of sufficient esthetic power to appreciate all the fine arts ; 
and they should be capable of practising at least the three arts 
of form simultaneously, as was done by Italian painters ia the 
sixteenth century. 

As an ordinary rule, it is only by their appreciation and power of 
explaining ideal Art in all its forms that our philosophers wiU ex- 
hibit their esthetic faculty. They wUl not be actively engaged in 
esthetic functions, except in the arrangement of public festivals. 
But when the circumstances of the time are such as to call for great 
epic or dramatic works, which implies the absence of any philoso- 
phical question of the first importance, the most powerful minds 
among them wUl become poets in the common sense of the word. 
As the work of Co-ordination and that of Idealization will for the 
future alternate with greater rapidity, we might conceive them, were 
man's life longer, performed by the' same organ. But the shortness 
of life, and the necessity of youthful vigour for all great under- 



230 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. t. 

takings, excludes this hypothesis. I only mention it to illustrate 
the radical identity of two forms of mental activity which are often 
supposed incompatible. 

Women's An additional proof of the esthetic capacity of the 
^°^ ^' moderating power in works of less difficulty, but ad- 

niitting of greater frequency, will be furnished by its feminine 
element. In the special arts, or at least in the arts of form, but 
little can be expected of them, because these demand more technical 
knowledge than they can well acquire, and, moreover, the slow pro- 
cess of training would spoil the spontaneousness which is so admir- 
able in them. But for all poetic composition which does not 
require intense or prolonged effort, women of genius are better 
qualified than men. This they should consider as their proper 
department intellectually, since their nature is not well ' ada'pted 
for the discovery of scientific truth. When women have become- 
more systematically associated with the general movement of society 
under the influence of the new system of education, they will do 
much to elevate that class of poetry which relates to personal feel- 
ings and to domestic life. Women are already better judges of 
such poetry than men ; and there is no reason why they should not 
excel them in composing it. For the power of appreciating and 
that of producing are in reality identical ; the difference is in degree 
only, and it depends greatly upon culture. The only kind of com- 
position which seems to me to be beyond their powers is epic or 
dramatic poetry in which public life is depicted. But in all its 
other branches, poetry would seem their natural field of study; 
and one which, regarded always as an exceptional occupation, is- 
quite in keeping with the social duties assigned to them. The 
affections of our home life cannot be better portrayed than by those 
in whom they are found in their purest form, and who, without 
training, combine talent and expression with the tendency to 
idealize. Under a more perfect organization, then, of the esthetic 
world than prevails at present, the larger portion of poetical and 
perhaps also of musical productions, will pass into the hands of the 
more loving sex. The advantage of this will be that the poetry of 
private life will then rise to that high standard of moral purity of 
which it so peculiarly admits, but which our coarser sex can never 
attain without struggles which injure its spontaneity. The simple- 
grace of Lafontaine and the delicate sweetness of Petrarch will then 
be found united with deeper and purer sympathies, so as to raise 
lyrical poetry to a degree of perfection that has never yet heek 
attained. 



CHAP, v.] THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 231 

The popular element of the spiritual power has not People's 
so ■well marked an aptitude for art, since the active 
nature of their occupations hardly admits of the same degree of 
intellectual life. But there is a minor class of poems, where energy 
of character and freedom from worldly cares are the chief sources 
of inspiration, for which working men are hetter adapted than 
women, and far more so than philosophers. "When Positivist edu- 
cation has extended sufficiently to the People of the West, poets 
and musicians will spontaneously arise, as in many cases they haye 
already risen, to give expression to its own special aspirations. 
But independently of what may be due to individual efforts, the 
People as a whole has an indirect hut most important influence 
upon the Progress of Art, from the fact of being the principal 
source of language. 

Such, then, is the position which Art will finally assume in the 
Positive system. There will be no class at at present, exclusively 
devoted to it, with the exception of a few special masters. But 
there wiU he a general education, enabling every class to appreciate 
all the modes of idealization, and encouraging their culture among the 
three elements which constitute the moral force of society and which 
are excluded from political government. Among these there vidll 
be a division of esthetic labour. Poetry descriptive of public life 
will emanate from the philosophic class. The poetry of personal or 
domestic life will be written by women or working men, according 
as affection or energy may be the source of inspiration. Thus the 
form of mental activity most appropriate to Humanity will be more 
specially developed among those classes in which the various features 
of our nature are most prominently exhibited. The only classes who 
cannot participate in this pleasant task are those whose life is occu- 
pied by considerations of power or wealth, and whose enjoyment 
of Art, though heightened by the education which they in common 
with others will receive, must remain essentially passive. Our 
idealizing powers will henceforth be directly concentrated on 
a work of the highest social importance, the purification of our 
moral nature. The speciality by which so much of the natural 
charm of Art was lost will cease, and the moral dangers of a life 
exclusively devoted to the faculty of expression, will exist no 
longer. 

I have now shown the position which Art will vaUieofArt 
occupy in the social system as finally constituted. I in ae present 
have yet to speak of its influence in the actual move- ™ °' 
ment of regeneration which Positivism is inaugurating. We have 
already seen that each of the three classes who participate in this 



232 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

movement, assumes functions similar to those for virMch it is ulti- 
mately destined ; performing them in a more strenuous, though less 
methodic way. This is obviously true of the philosophic class who 
head the movement ; nor is it less true of the proletariate, from 
whom it derives its vigour, or of women, whose support gives it a 
moral sanction. It is, therefore, at first sight probable that the 
same will hold good of the esthetic conditions which are necessary 
to the completeness of these three functions of the social organism. 
On closer examination we shall find that this is the case. 

Construction The principal function of Art is to construct types on 
pes"""^ ^e *^® ^^^^® furnished by Science. N"ow this is precisely 
basiafurnisbed what is required for inaugurating the new social system, 
by pbuosopby. jjgwever perfectly its first principles may be elaborated 
by thinkers, they will still be not sufficiently definite for the prac- 
tical result. Systematic study of the Past can only reveal the Future 
in general outline. Even in the simpler sciences perfect distinctness 
is impossible without overstepping the limits of actual proof. Still 
more, therefore, in Sociology will the conclusions of Science fall 
always far short of that degree of precision and clearness, without 
which no principle can be thoroughly popularised. But at the 
point where Philosophy must always leave a void. Poetry steps in 
and stimulates to practical action. In the early periods of Poly- 
theism, Poetry repaired the defects of the system viewed dogma- 
tically. Its value will be even greater in idealizing a system founded, 
not upon imagination, but upon observation of fact. In the next 
chapter I shall dwell at greater length on the service which Poetry 
will render in representing the central conception of Positivism. It 
wUl be easy to apply the same principle to other cases. 

Pictures of III ^is efforts to accomplish this object, the Positivist 
tte Future of poet will naturally be led to form prophetic pictures of 

""■ the regeneration of Man, viewed in every aspect that 

admits of being ideally represented. And this is the second ser- 
vice which Art will render to the cause of social renovation ; or 
rather it is an extension of the first. Systematic formation 
of Utopias will in fact become habitual ; on the distinct under- 
standing that, as in every other branch of art, the ideal shall be 
kept in subordination to the real. The unlimited license which is 
apparently given to Utopias by the unsettled character of the time 
is in reality a bar to their practical influence, since even the wildest 
dreamers shrink from extravagance that oversteps the ordinary con- 
ditions of mental sanity. But when it is once understood that the 
sphere of Imagination is simply that of explaining and giving life 
to the conclusions. of Eeason, the severest thinkers will welcome its 



<;hap. v.] the relation OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 233 

influence ; because so far from obscuring truth, it -will give greater 
distinctness to it than could be given by Science unassisted. 
Utopias have, then, their legitimate purpose, and Positivism will 
strongly encourage their formation. They form a class of poetry 
which, under sound sociological principles, will prove of material 
service in leading the people of the West towards the normal state. 
Each of the five modes of Art may participate in this salutary 
influence ; each in its own way may give a foretaste of the beauty 
and greatness of the new life that is now offered to the individual, 
to the family, and to society. 

From this second mode in which Art assists the 2^^^ t 
great work of reconstruction we pass naturally to a " ^*° ' 

third, which at the present time is of equal importance. To 
remove the spell under which the Western nations are still blinded 
to the Future by the decayed ruins of the Past, all that is necessary 
is to bring these ruins into comparison with the prophetic pictures 
of which we have been speaking. Since the decline of Catholicism 
in the fourteenth century, Art has exhibited a critical spirit alien to 
its true nature, which is essentially synthetic. Henceforth it is to 
be constructive rather than critical ; yet this is not incompatible 
with the secondary object of contending against opiuions, and still 
more against modes of life, which ought to have died out with the 
Catholic system, or with the revolutionary period which followed 
it. But resistance to some of the most deeply-rooted errors of the 
Past will not interfere with the larger purpose of Positivist Art. 
No direct criticism will be needed. Whether against theological 
or against metaphysical dogmas, argument is henceforth needless, 
even in a philosophical treatise, Inuch more so in poetry. All that 
is needed is simple contrast which in most cases would be implied 
rather than expressed, of the procedure of Positivism and Catholi- 
cism in reference to similar social and moral problems. The scienti- 
fic basis of such a contrast, is already furnished ; it is for Art to do 
the rest, since the appeal should be to Peeling rather than to 
Eeason. At the close of the last chapter I mentioned the principal 
case in which this comparison would have been of service, the 
introduction, namely, of Positivism to the two Southern nations. 
It was the task that I had marked out for my saintly f ellow-worker^ 
for it is one in which the esthetic powers of w^omen would be pecu- 
liarly available. 

In this, the third of its temporary functions, Positivist Art 
approximates to its normal character. We have spoken of its 
idealization of the Future, but here it will idealize the Past also. 
Positivism cannot be accepted untU it has rendered the fullest and 



234 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. v. 

most scrupulous justice to Catholicism. Our poets, so far from 
detracting from the moral and political worth of the mediaeval 
system, will begin by doing all the honour to it that is consistent 
with philosophical truth, as a prelude to the stUl higher beauty of the 
system which supersedes it. It will be the inauguration of their 
permanent office of restoring the Past to life. For it is equally in 
the interest of systematic thought and of social sympathy that the 
relation of the Past to the Future should be deeply impressed upon 
aU. 

But these three steps towards the incorporation of Art into the 
final order, though not far distant, cannot be taken immediately. 
They presuppose a degree of intellectual preparation which is not 
yet reached either by the public or by its esthetic teachers. The 
present generation under which, in France, the great revolution is 
now peacefully entering upon its second phase, may diffuse Posi- 
tivism largely, not merely amongst qualified thinkers, but among 
the people of Paris, who are entrusted with the destinies of Western 
Europe, and among women of nobler nature. The next generation, 
growing up in the midst of this movement, may, before the expira- 
tion of a century from the date of the Convention, complete 
spontaneously the moral and mental inauguration of the new 
system, by exhibiting the new esthetic features which Humanity in 
her regenerate condition wiU assume. 

Let us now sum up the conclusions of this chapter. We have 
found Positive Philosophy peculiarly favourable to the continuous 
development of all the fine arts. A doctrine which encourages 
Humanity to strive for perfection of every kind, cannot but foster 
and assimilate that form of mental activity by which our sense of 
perfection is so highly stimulated. It controls the Ideal, indeed, 
by systematic study of the Eeal ; but only in order to furnish it 
with an objective basis, and so to secure its coherence and its moral 
value. Placed on this footing, our esthetic faculties are better 
adapted than the scientific, both to the nature and range of our^ 
understanding, and also to that which is the object of all intellec- 
tual effort, the organization of human unity. For they are more 
immediately connected with Feeling, on which the unity of our 
nature must rest. Next to direct culture of the heart, it is in ideal 
Art that we shall find the best assistance in our efforts to become 
more loving and more noble. 

Logically, Ait should have a salutary influence upon our intellec- 
tual faculties, because it familiarises us from childhood with the 
features by which all constructive efforts of man should be charac- 
terised. Science has for a long time preferred the analytic method. 



CHAP. T,] THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART. 235 

whereas Art, even in these times of anarchy, always aims at 
Synthesis, which is the final goal of all intellectual activity. Even 
when Art, contrary to its nature, undertakes to destroy, it cannot 
do its work, whatever it be, without constructing. Thus, by 
implanting a taste and faculty for ideal construction. Art enables 
lis to build with greater effect than ever upon the more stubborn 
soil of reality. 

On all these grounds Art, ia the Positive system, is made the 
primary basis of general education. In a subsequent stage educa- 
.tion assumes a more scientific character, with the object of supplying 
systematic notions of the external world. But in after life Art 
resumes its original position. There the ordinary functions of the 
spiritual power will be esthetic rather than scientific. The three' 
elements of which the modifying power is composed will become 
spontaneously the organs of idealization, a function which will 
henceforth never be dissociated from the power of philosophic 
synthesis. 

Such a combination implies that the new philosophers shall have 
a true feeling for all the fine arts, In ordinary times passive 
appreciation of them will suffice ; but there will occasionally be 
periods where philosophic effort ceases to be necessary, and which 
call rather for the vigour of the poet ; and at these times the more 
powerful minds among them should be capable of rising to the 
loftiest creative efforts. Difficult as the condition may be, it is 
essential to the full degree of moral influence of which their office 
admits and which their work requires. The priest of Humanity 
wUl not have attained his full measure of superiority over the priest 
of God, until, with the intellect of the Philosopher, he combines 
the enthusiasm of the Poet, as well as the tenderness of Woman, 
and the People's energy. 



CHAPTEE VI. 
CONCLUSION. THE EELIGION OF HUMANITY. 

Recapituia- LovB, then, is our principle ; Order our basis ; and 
tion nf the re- Progress our end. Such, as the preceding chapters 
have shown, is the essential character of the system of 
life which Positivism offers for the definite acceptance of society ; a 
system which regulates the whole course of our private and public 
existence, by bringing Feeling, Reason, and Activity into perman- 
ent harmony. In this final synthesis, all essential conditions are 
far more perfectly fulfilled than in any other. Each special 
element of our nature is more fully developed, and at the same time 
the general working of the whole is more coherent. Greater 
distinctness is given to the truth that the affective element pre- 
dominates in our nature. Life in all its actions and thoughts is 
brought under the control and inspiring charm of Social Sym- 
pathy. 

By the supremacy of the Heart, the Intellect, so far from being 
crushed, is elevated ; for all its powers are consecrated to the 
service of the social instincts, with the purpose of strengthening 
their influence and directing their employment. By accepting its 
subordination to Feeling, Eeason adds to its own authority. To it 
we look for the revelation of the laws of nature, of the established 
Order which dictates the inevitable conditions of human life. The 
objective basis thus discovered for human effort reacts most bene- 
ficially on our moral nature. Forced as we are to accept it, it 
controls the fickleness to which our affections are liable, and acts as 
•a direct stimulus to social sympathy. Concentrated on so high an 
office, the intellect wiU be preserved from useless digression ; and 
will yet find a boundless field for its operations in the study of all 
the natural laws by which human destinies are affected, and 
especially those which relate to the constitution of man or of 
society. The fact that every subject is to be regarded from the 
sociological point of view, so far from discouraging even the most 
abstract order of speculations, adds to their logical coherence as well 
■as to their moral value, by introducing the central principle round 
which alone they can be co-ordinated into a whole. 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE HBLIGION OF HUMANITY. 237 

And whilst Eeason is admitted to its due share of influence on 
human life, . Imagination is also strengthened and called into 
constant exercise. Henceforth it will assume its proper function, 
the idealization of truth. For the objective basis of our concep- 
tions scientific investigation is necessary. But this basis once 
obtained, the constitution of our mind is far better adapted to 
esthetic than to scientific study, provided always that imagination 
never disregard the truths of science, and degenerate into extrava- 
gance. Subject to this condition, Positivism gives every encourage- 
ment to esthetic studies, being as they are so closely related to its 
guiding principle and to its practical aim, to Love namely, and to 
Progress. Art will enter largely into the social life of the Future, 
and will be regarded as the most pleasurable and most salutary 
exercise of our intellectual powers, because it leads them in the 
most direct manner to the culture and improvement of our moral 
nature. 

Origiuating in the first instance from practical life, Positivism 
will return thither with increased force, now that its long period of 
scientific preparation is accomplished, and that it has occupied the 
field of moral truth, which henceforth will be its principal domain. 
Its principle of sympathy, so far from relaxing our efforts, wlU. 
stimulate all our faculties to universal activity by urging them 
onwards towards perfection of every kind. Scientific study of the 
natural Order is inculcated solely with the view of directing all the 
forces of Man and of Society to its improvement by artificial effort. 
Hitherto this aim has hardly been recognised, even with regard to 
the material world, and but a very small proportion of our energies 
has been spent upon it. Yet the aim is high, provided always that 
the view taken of human progress extend beyond its lower and 
more material stages. Our theoretical powers once concentrated on 
the moral problems which form their principal field, our practical 
energies wUl not fail to take the same direction, devoting themselves 
to that portion of the natural Order which is most imperfect, and 
at the same time most modifiable. With these larger and more 
systematic views of human life, its best efforts will be given to the 
improvement of the mind, and still more to the improvement of the 
character and to the increase of affection and courage. Public and 
private life are now brought into close relation by the identity of 
their principal aim, which, being kept constantly in sight, ennobles 
every action in both. Practical questions must ever continue to 
preponderate, as before, over questions of theory ; but this condi- 
tion, so far from being adverse to speculative power, concentrates 
it upon the most difficult of all problems, the discovery of moral 



238 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

and social laws, our knowledge of which will never he fully ade- 
quate to our practical requirements. Mental and practical activity 
of this kind can never result in hardness of feeling. On the 
■contrary, it impresses us more strongly with the conviction that 
Sympathy is not merely our highest happiness, but the most 
effectual of aU our means of improvement ; and that without it, all 
•other means can he of little avil. 

Thus it is that in the Positive system, the Heart, the InteUeet, 
and the Character mutually strengthen and develop one another, 
hecause each is systematically directed to the mode of action for 
which it is by nature adapted. Public and private life are brought 
into a far more harmonious relation than in any former time, 
hecause the purpose to which both are consecrated is identical ; the 
•difference being merely in the range of their activities. The aim 
in both is to secure, to the utmost possible extent, the victory 
of Social feeling over Self-love ; and to this aim all our powers, 
whether of affection, thought, or action, are in both unceasingly 
■directed. 

This, then, is the shape in which the great human problem comes 
definitely before us. Its solution demands all the appliances of 
•Social Art. The primary principle on which the solution rest's, is 
the separation of the two elementary powers of society ; the moral 
power of counsel, and the political power of command. The 
necessary preponderance of the latter, which rests upon material 
force, corresponds to the fact that in our imperfect nature, where 
the coarser wants are fhe most pressing and the most continuously 
felt, the selfish instincts are naturally stronger than the unselfish. 
In the absence of all compulsory authority, our action even as 
individuals would be feeble and purposeless, and social life stiU 
more certainly would lose its character and its energy. Moral force, 
therefore, by which is meant the force of conviction and persua- 
sion, is to be regarded simply as a modifying influence, not as a 
means of authoritative direction. 

Moral force originates in Feeling and in Eeason. It represents 
the social side of our nature, and to this its direct influence is 
limited. Indeed by the very fact that it is the expression of our 
highest attributes, it is precluded from that practical ascendancy 
which is possessed by faculties of a lower but more energetic kind. 
Inferior to material force in power, though superior to it in dignity, 
it contrasts and opposes its own classification of men according to 
the standard of moral and intellectual worth, to the classification 
by wealth and worldly position which actually prevails. True, the 
higher standard wUl never be adopted practically, but the effort to 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OP HUMANITY. 2J': 

iiphold it will react boneficially on the natural order of society. 1 
will, inspire those larger views, and reanimate that sense of duty, 
which are so apt to become obliterated in the ordinary current of 
life. 

The means of effecting this important result, the need of which 
is so generally felt, will not be wanting, when the moderating 
power enters upon its characteristic function of preparing us for 
joractical life by a rational system of education, throughout which, 
■even in its intellectual department, moral considerations will 
predominate. This power will therefore concentrate itself upon 
theoretical and moral questions ; and it can only maintain its 
position as the recognised organ of social sympathy, by invariable 
abstinence from political action. It wiU be its first duty to 
contend against the ambitious instincts of its own members. True, 
•such instincts, in spite of the impurity of their source, may be of 
use in those natures who are really destined for the indispensable 
business of government. But for a spiritual power formal renun- 
ciation of wealth and rank is at the very root of its influence ; it is 
the first of the conditions which justify it in resisting the encroach- 
ments to which political power is always tempted. Hence the 
classes to whose natural sympathies it looks for support are those 
who, like itself, are excluded from political administration. 

Women, from their strongly sympathetic nature, are the 
original source of aU. moral influence ; and they are peculiarly 
qualified by the passive character of their life to assist the action 
of the spiritual power in the family. In its essential function of 
education, their co-operation is of the highest importance. The 
education of young children is entrusted to their sole charge ; and 
the education of more advanced years simply consists in giving a 
more systematic shape to what the mother has already inculcated in 
'childhood. As a wife, too. Woman assumes still more distinctly 
the spiritual function of counsel ; she softens by persuasion where 
the philosopher can only influence by conviction. In social 
meetings, again, the only mode of public life in which women can 
participate, they assist the spiritual power in the formation of 
Public Opinion, pf which it is the systematic organ, by applying 
the principles which it inculcates to the case of particular actions 
or persons. In aU these matters their influence wiU be far more 
■cfiectual, when men have done their duty to women by setting 
them free from the necessity of gaining their own livelihood j and 
when women on their side have renounced both power and wealth, 
.as we see so often exemplified among the working classes. 

The affinity of the People with the philosophic power is less 



i40 A GBNERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

Jirect and less pure ; but it will prove a vigorous aUy in meeting 
the obstacles which the temporal power will inevitably oppose. 
The working classes having but little spare time and small indivi- 
dual influence, cannot, except on rare occasions, participate in the 
practical administration of government, since all efficient govern- 
ment involves concentration of power. Moral force, on the 
contrary, created as it is by free convergence of opinion, admits of, 
and indeed requires, the widest ramification. Working men, 
owing to their freedom from practical responsibilities and their 
unconcern for personal aggrandisement, are better disposed than 
their employers to broad views and to generous sympathies, and 
will therefore naturally associate themselves with the spiritual 
power. It is they who will furnish the basis of a true public 
opinion, so soon as they are enabled by Positive education, which 
is specially framed with a view to their case, to give greater 
definiteness to their aspirations. Their wants and their sympathies 
wiU alike induce them to support the philosophic priesthood as the 
systematic guardian of their interests against the governing classes. 
In return for such protection they will bring the whole weight of 
their influence to assist the priesthood in its great social mission, 
the subordination of Politics to Morals. In those exceptional cases 
where it becomes necessary for the moderating power to assume 
political functions, the popular element will of itself suffice for the 
emergency, thus exempting the philosophic element from partici- 
pating in an anomaly from which its character could hardly fail to 
suffer, as would be the case also in a still higher degree with the 
feminine character. 

The direct influence of Reason over our imperfect nature is so 
feeble that the new priesthood could not of itself ensure such res- 
pect for its theories as would bring them to any practical result. 
But the sympathies of women and of the people operating as they 
will in every town and in every family, will be sufficient to ensure its 
efficacy in organizing that legitimate degree of moral pressure 
which the poor may bring to bear upon the rich. Moreover, we 
may look, as one of the results of our common system of education, 
for additional aid in the ranks of the governing classes themselves ;. 
for some of their noblest members will volunteer their assistance to 
the spiritual power, forming, so to speak, a new order of chivalry. 
And yet, with all this, comprehensive as our organization of moral 
force may be, so great is the innate strength of the selfish instincts, 
that our success in solving the great human problem wiU always fall 
short of what we might legitimately desire. To this conclusion we 
must come, in whatever way we regard the destiny of Man j but it 



UHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE BELIGION OF HUMANITY. ^41 

should only encourage us to combine our efforts still more stroncrly 
in order to ameliorate the order of Nature in its most important, 
that is, in its moral aspects, these heing at once the most modifiable 
and the most imperfect. 

The highest progress of man and of society consists in gradual 
increase of our mastery over all our defects, especially the defects 
of our moral nature. Among the nations of antiquity the progress 
in this direction was hut small ; all that they could do was to pre- 
pare the way for it by certain necessary phases of inteUectual and 
social development. The whole tendency of Greek and Eoman 
society was such as made it impossible to form a distinct conception 
(if the great problem of our moral nature. In fact, Morals were with 
them invariably subordinate to Politics. Nevertheless, it is moral 
progress which alone can satisfy our nature ; and in the Mddle 
Ages it was recognised as the highest aim of human effort, not- 
withstanding that its intellectual and 'social conditions were as yet 
very imperfectly realised. The creeds of the Middle Ages were too 
unreal and imperfect, the character of society was too military and 
aristocratic, to allow Morals and Politics to assume permanently 
their right relation. The attempt was made, however ; and, inade- 
quate as it was, it was enough to allow the people of the West to 
appreciate the fundamental principle involved in it, a principle des- 
tined to survive the opinions and the habits of life from which it 
arose. Its full weight could never be felt until the Positive spirit 
had extended beyond the elementary subjects to which it had been 
so long subjected, to the sphere of social truth; and had thus 
reached the position at which a complete synthesis Isecame possible. 
Equally essential was it that in those countries which had been 
incorporated into the "Western Empire, and had passed from it into 
Catholic Eeudalism, war should be definitely superseded by indus- 
trial activity. In the long period of transition which has elapsed 
since the Middle Ages, both these conditions have been fulfilled, 
whUe at the same time the old system has been gradually decom- 
posed. Eiually the great crisis of the Eevolution has stimulated 
all advanced minds to reconsider, with better intellectual and social 
principles, the same problem that Christianity and Chivalry had 
attempted. The radical solution of it was then begun, and it is 
now completed and enunciated in a systematic forni by Positivism. 

All essential phases in the evolution of society _. .. . 

J. J- \. ■ i-L ii- i! J.1, Humanity IS 

answer to corresponding phases in the growth oi tne the centre to 

individual, whether it has proceeded spontaneously or ^IpertofpS 

under systematic guidance, supposing always that his tiviam oonver- 

development be complete. But it is not enough to ^^^' 

16 



242 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. ti. 

prove the close connection which exists between all modes and 
degrees of human regeneration. "We have yet to find a central 
point- round which all will naturally meet. In this point consists 
the unity of Positivism as a system of life. Unless it can be thus 
condensed, round one single principle, it wOl never wholly supersede 
the synthesis of Theology, notwithstanding its superiority in the 
reality and stability of its component parts, and in their homogene- 
ity and coherence as a whole. There should be a central point in 
the system, towards which Feeling, Eeason, and Activity alike 
converge. The proof that Positivism possesses such a central point 
wiU remove the last obstacle to its complete acceptance, as the 
guide of private or of public life. 

Such a centre we find in the great conception of Humanity, to- 
wards which every, aspect of Positivism natuiially converges. 
By it the conception of God wiU be entirely superseded, and a syn- 
thesis be formed, more complete and permanent than that provision- 
ally established by the old religions. Through it the new doctrine 
becomes at once accessible to men's hearts in its full extent and 
application. From their hearts it will penetrate their minds, and 
thus the immediate necessity of beginning with a long and difficult 
course of study is avoided, though this must of course be always 
indispensable to its systematic teachers. 

This central point of Positivism is even more moral than intel- 
lectual in character ; it represents the principle of Love upon which 
the whole system rests. It is the peculiar characteristic of the 
Great Being who is here set forth, to be compounded of separable 
elements. Its existence depends therefore entirely upon mutual 
Love knitting together its various parts. The calculations of self- 
interest can never be substituted as a combining infl.uenoe for the 
sympathetic instincts. 

Yet the belief in Humanity, while stimulating Syinpathy, at the 
same time enlarges the scope and vigour of the Intellect. For it 
requires high powers of generalization to conceive clearly of this 
vast organism, as the result of spontaneous co-operation, abstraction 
made of all partial antagonisms. Eeason, then, has its part in this 
central dogma as well as Love. It enlarges and completes our con- 
ception of the Supreme Being, by revealing to us the external and 
internal conditions of its existence. 

Lastly, our active powers are stimulated by it no less than our 
feelings and our reason. For since Humanity is so far more com- 
plex than any other organism, it wiU. react more strongly and more 
continuously on its environment, submitting to its influence and so 



■CHJip. ,vi.] (CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 243 

modifying it. Hence results Progress wHch is simply the develop- 
ment of Order, under the influence of Love. 

Thus, in the conception of Humanity, the three essential aspects 
of /Positivism, its subjective principle, its objective dogma, and its 
practical object, are united. Towards Humanity, who is for us the 
only true Great Being, we, the conscious -elements of whom she is 
composed, shall henceforth, ditect every aspect of our life, individ- 
ual or collective. Our thoughts will be devoted to the knowledge 
of Humanity, our affections to her love, our actions to her service. 

Positiviste then may, more truly than theological believers of 
-whatever creed, regard life as a continuous and earnest act of wor- 
ship ; worship which will elevate and -purify our feelings, enlarge 
and enlighten our thoughts, ennoble and invigorate our actions. It 
silpplies a direct solution, so far as a solution is possible, of the 
great problem of the Middle Ages, the -subordination of Politics to 
Morals. -For this follows at once from the consecration now given 
to the principle that soci^-l sympathy should preponderate over 
self-love. 

Thus Positivism becomes, in the true sense of the word, a Eeli- 
gion ; the only religion which is real and complete ; de.stined 
therefore to replace all imperfect and provisional systems resting 
on the primitive basis of theology. 

For even the synthesis established by the old theocracies of Egypt 
land India was insufficient, because, being based on purely subjective 
principles, it could never embrace practical life, which must always be 
, subordinated to the objective realities of the external world. Theo- 
cracy was thus limited at the outset to the spbere of thought and 
of jfeeling; and part even of this field was soon lost when Art 
bepame emancipated from theocratical control, showing a spontan- 
eous tendency to its natural vocation of ideaUztng real life. Of 
science and of morality the priests were still left sole aibiteis ; 
ibut here, too, thrar influence materially diminished so soon as the 
discovery of the simpler abstract truths of Positive science gave 
birth to Greek Philosophy. Philosophy, though as yet necessarily 
restricted to the metaphysical-stage, yet already stood forward as the 
rival of the sacerdotal system. Its attempts to -construct were in 
themselves fruitless; but they overthrew Polytheism, and ultimately 
transformed it iuto Monotheism. In this the last phase of theo- 
logy, the inteUeOtual -authority of the priests was undJermined no less 
deeply ithen the principle of their doctrine. They lost their hold 
upon Science, as long ago they had lost their hold upon Art. All 
that remained to them wasrthe moral guidance of society ; and even 
,this was soon compromised by the progress of free thought; 



244 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

progress really due to the Positive spirit, although its systematic 
exponents still belong to the metaphysical school. 

With the dis- When Science had expanded sufficiently to exist 
oio|i^i° laws! apart from Philosophy, it showed a rapid tendency 
the °SS^ 0° to'^ards a synthesis of its own, alike incompatible with 
Science be- metaphysics and with theology. It was late in appear- 
SJ^Ml'Titag ing, because it required a long series of preliminary 
now coucen- efforts : but as it approached completion, it gradually 

trated on the •, , , ,i ■!-> -j • ■ -i ^ -l ii, • 

study of Hu- brought the Positive spirit to bear upon the orgam- 
manity. zation of practical life, from which that spirit had 

originally emanated. But thoroughly to effect this result was 
impossible until the science of Sociology had been formed ; and 
this was done by my discovery of the law of historical development. 
Henceforth all true men of science will rise to the higher dignity 
of philosophers, and by so doing will necessarily assume something 
of the sacerdotal character, because the final result to which their 
researches tend is the subordination of every subject of thought 
to the moral principle ; a result which leads us at once to the 
acceptance of a complete and homogeneous synthesis. Thus the 
philosophers of the future become priests of Humanity, and their 
moral and intellectual influence will be far wider and more deeply 
rooted than that of any former priesthood. The primary condition 
of their spiritual authority is exclusion from political power, as a 
guarantee that theory and practice shall be systematically kept 
apart. A system in which the organs of counsel and those of 
command are never identical cannot possibly degenerate into any 
of the evils of theocracy. 

By entirely renouncing wealth and worldly position, and that 
not as individuals merely, but as a body, the priests of Humanity 
will occupy a position of unparalleled dignity. For with their 
moral influence they will combine what since the downfall of the 
old theocracies has always been separated from it, the influence of 
superiority in art and science. Keason, Imagination, and Feeling 
will be brought into unison : and so united will react strongly 
on the imperious conditions of practical life ; bringing it into 
closer accordance with the laws of universal morality, from which 
it is so prone to deviate. And the influence of this new modifying 
power wUI be the greater that the synthesis on which it rests wiU 
have preceded and prepared the way for the social system of the 
future ; whereas theology could not arrive at its central principle, 
until the time of its decline was approaching. All functions, then, 
that co-operate in the elevation of man wUI be regenerated by the 
Positive priesthood. Science, Poetry, Morality, will be devoted to 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HCMANITT. 245 

the study, the praise, and the love of Humanity, in order that 
under their comhined influence, our political action may he more 
unremittingly given to her service. 

With such a mission, Science acquires a position of unparalleled 
importance, as the sole means through which we come to know the 
nature and conditions of this great Being, the worship of whom 
should he the distinctive feature of our whole life. For this all- 
important knowledge, the study of Sociology would seem to suffice : 
hut Sociology itself depends upon preliminary study, first of the 
outer world, in which the actions of Humanity take place ; and 
secondly, of Man, the individual agent. 

The otjject of Positivist worship is not like that of theological 
helievers, an absolute, isolated, incomprehensible Being, whose 
existence admits of no demonstration, or comparison with anything 
real. ^ The evidence of the Being here set forward is spontaneous, 
and is shrouded in no mystery. Before we can praise, love, and 
serve Humanity as we ought, we must know something of the 
laws which govern her existence, an existence more complicated 
than any other of which we are cognizant. 

And by virtue of this complexity. Humanity possesses statical as- 
the attributes of vitality ia a higher degree than any p«<=*? f Hu- 
other organization ; that is to say, there is at once more 
intimate harmony of the component elements, and more complete 
subordination to the external world. Immense as is the magnitude I 
of this organism measured both in Time and Space, yet each of its 1 
parts carefully examined will show the general consensus of the ; 
whole. At the same time it is more dependent than any other upon 
the conditions of the outer world ; in other words, upon the sum of 
the laws that regulate inferior phenomena. Like other vital organ- 
isms, it submits to mathematical, astronomical, physical, chemical, 
and biological conditions ; and, in addition to these, is subject to 
special laws of Sociology with which lower organisms are not *' 
•concerned. But as a further result of its higher complexity it 
reacts upon the world more powerfully ; and is indeed in a true 
sense its chief. Scientifically defined, then, it is truly the Supreme 
Being : the Being who manifests to the fullest extent all the 
highest attributes of life. 

But there is yet another feature peculiar to Humanity, and one 
of primary importance. That feature is, that the elements of which 
she is composed must always have an independent existence. In 
other organisms the parts have no existence when severed from the 
whole ; but this, the greatest of aU organisms, is made up of lives I . 
which can really be separated. There is, as we have seen, harmony I 



\, 



246 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM.. [chap. v.l 

of parts as well as independence, hut the last of these conditions 
is as indispensable as the first. Humanity would cease to be 
superior to other beings were it possible for her elements to become- 
inseparable. The two conditions are equally necessary : but the 
difficulty of reconciliiig them is so great as to account at once for 
the slowness with which this highest of all organisins has been 
developed. It must not, however, be supposed that the new 
Supreme Being is, like the old, merely a subjective result of our- 
powers of abstraction. Its existence is revealed to us, on the 
contrary, by close investigation of objective fact. Man indeed, a& 

* an individual, cannot properly be said to exist, except ia the 
exaggerated abstractions of modem metaphysicians. Existence in 
the true sense can only be predicated of Humanity ; although the 
complexity of her nature prevented men from forming a systematic 
conception of it, until the necessary stages of scientific initiation 
had been passed. Bearing this conclusion in mind, we shall be able 
now to distinguish in Humanity two distinct orders of functions t 

* those by which she acts upon the world, and those which bind 
together her component parts. Humanity cannot herself act 
otherwise than by her separable members ; but the efficiency of 
these members depends upon their working in co-operation, whether 
instinctively or with' design. We find, then, external functions 
relating principally to the material existence of this organism ; and 
internal functions by which its moveable elements are combined. 
This distinction is but an application of the great theory, due to 
Bichat's genius, of the distinction between the life of nutrition and 
the life of relation which we find in the- individual organism. 
Philosophically it is the source from which we derive the great 
social principle of separation of spiritual from temporal power. 
The temporal power governs : it originates in. the personal instincts, 
and it stimulates activity. On it depends social Order. The 
spiritual power can only moderate : it is the exponent of our social 
instincts, and it promotes co-operation, which is the guarantee of 
Progress. Of these functions of Humanity the first corresponds to 
the function of nutrition,- the second to that of innervation in the 
individual organism. 

Dynamical Having now viewed our subject statically, we may 
aspects. come to its dynamical aspect ; reserving more detailed 
discussion for the third volume of this treatise, which deals with 
my fundamental theory of human development. The Great Being 
whom we worship is not immutablb any more than it is absolute. 
Its nature is relative ; and, as such, is eminently capable of growth. 
In. a word it is the most vital of all living beingg known to us. It 



CHAP. VI.] COiSfCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 247 

extenda and becomes more complex by the continuous successions 
of generations. But in its progressive changes as well as in its 
permanent functions, it is subject to invariable laws. And these "^ 
laws considered, as we may now consider them, as a whole, form a 
more sublime object of contemplation than the solemn inaction of 
the old Supreme Being, whose existence was passive except when 
interrupted by acts of arbitrary and unintelligible volition. Thus 
it is only by Positive science tha,t we can appreciate this highest of 
all destinies to which all the fatalities of individual life are subor- 
dinate. It is with this as with subjects of minor importance : 
systematic study of the Past is necessary in order to determine the j / 
Future, and so explain the tendencies of the Present. Let us then ( 
pass from the conception of Humanity as fully developed, to the 
history of its rise and progress ; a history in which all other modes 
of progress are included. In ancient times the conception was in- 
compatible with the theological spirit and also with the military 
character of society, which involved the slavery of the productive 
classes. The feeling of Patriotism, restricted as it was at first, was 
the only prelude then possible to the recognition of Humanity. 
Prom this narrow nationality there arose in the Middle Ages the 
feeling of universal brotherhood, as soon as military life had entered 
on its defensive phase, and all supernatural creeds had spontaneously 
merged into a monotheistic form common to the whole West. The 
growth of Chivalry, and the attempt made to effect a permanent 
separation of the two social powers, announced already the subordi- 
nation of Politics to Morals, and thus showed that the conception 
of Humanity was in direct course of preparation. But the unreal 
and anti-social nature of the mediaeval creed, and the military and 
aristocratic character of feudal society, made it impossible to go 
very far in this direction. The abolition of personal slavery was 
the most essential result of this important period. Society could 
now assume its industrial character ; and feelings of fraternity were 
encouraged by modes of life in which all classes alike participated. 
Meanwhile, the growth of the Positive spirit was proceeding, and 
preparing the way for the establishment of Social Science, by which 
alone all other Positive studies could be systematized. This being 
done, the conception of the Great Being became possible. It was 
with reference to subjects of a speculative and scientific nature that 
the conception first arose in a distinct shape. As early as two 
centuries ago, Pascal spoke of the human race as one Man.* 

* Toute la suite des hommes, pendant le cours de tant de siocles. doit etre consid^r^e 
comme un nieniu houime qui siibsiste toujours et qui apprend continuellement. — Pascal, 
Pena^ea.Part 1., Art. I. 



248 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

Amidst the inevitable decline of the theological and military system, 
men became conscious of the movement of society, which had now 
advanced through so many phases ; and the notion of Progress as a 
distinctive feature of Humanity became admitted. Still the 
conception of Humanity as the basis for a new synthesis was 
impossible until the crisis of the French devolution. That crisis 
on the one hand proved the urgent necessity for social regeneration, 
and on the other gave birth to the only philosophy capable of 
effecting it. Thus our consciousness of the new Great Being has 
advanced co-extensively with its growth. Our present conception 
of it is as much the measure of our social progress as it is the 
summary of Positive knowledge. 

inorganioand ^^ Speaking of the dignity of Science when regene- 
organic sci- rated by this lofty application of it, I do not refer 

ences elevated iij_j.i • ^ • rci-iT_ i-j. 

by their con- solely to the Special science of Social phenomena, but 
neotion with aigg to the preliminary studies of Life and of the In- 
scienee of Hu- Organic World, both of which form an essential portion 
mamty. ^j Positive doctrine. A social mission of high impor- 

tance will be recognised in the most elementary sciences, whether 
it be for the sake of their method or for the value of their scientific 
results. True, the religion of Humanity will lead to the entire 
abolition of scientific Academies, because their tendency, especially 
in France, is equally hurtful to science and morality. They 
encourage mathematicians to confine their attention exclusively to 
the first step in the scientific scale ; and biologists to pursue their 
studies without any solid basis or definite purpose. Special studies 
carried on without regard for the encyclopedic principles which 
determine the relative value of knowledge, and its bearing on human 
life, will be condemned by aU men of right feeling and good sense. 
Such men will feel the necessity of resisting the morbid narrowness 
of mind and heart to which the anarchy of our times inevitably 
leads. But the abolition of the Academic system will only ensure 
a larger measure of respect for all scientific researches of real value, 
on whatever subject. The study of Mathematics, the value of 
which is at present negatived by its hardening tendency, will now 
manifest its latent moral efficacy, as the only sure basis for firm 
conviction ; a state of mind that can never be perfectly attained in 
more complex subjects , of thought, except by those who have 
experienced it in the simpler subjects. When the close connection 
of all scientific knowledge becomes more geuerallj' admitted, 
Humanity will reject political teachers who are ignorant of 
Geometrj-, as well as geometricians who neglect Sociology. Biology 
meanwhile will lose its dangerous materialism, and will receive all 



■CH4P. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE KELIGION OF HUMANITY. 249 

the respect due to its close connection with, social science and its 
important hearing on the essential doctrines of Positivism. To 
attempt to explain the life of Humanity without first examining 
the lower forms of life, would he as serious an error as to study 
Biology without regard to the social purpose which Biology is 
intended to serve. Science has now hecome indispensahle to the 
■establishment of moral truth, and at the same time its subordination 
to the inspirations of the heart is fully recognised ; thus it takes its 
place henceforward among the most essential functions of the 
priesthood of Humanity, The supremacy of true Feeling will 
^strengthen Eeason, and will receive in turn from Eeason a syste- 
matic sanction. Natural philosophy, besides its evident value in 
regulating the spontaneous action of Humanity, has a direct 
tendency to elevate human nature ; it draws from the outer world 
that basis of fixed truth which is so necessary to control our 
various desires. 

The study of Humanity therefore, directly or indirectly, is for 
the future the permanent aim of Science ; and Science is now in a 
true sense consecrated, as the source from which the universal 
religion receives its principles. It reveals to us not merely the 
nature and conditions of the Great Being, but also its destiny and 
the successive phases of its growth. The aim is high and arduous ; 
it requires continuous and combined exertion of all our faculties ; 
but it ennobles the simplest processes of scientific investigation by 
■connecting them permanently with subjects of the deepest interest. 
The scrupulous exactness and rigorous caution of the Positive 
method, which when applied to unimportant subjects seem almost 
puerile, will be valued and insisted on when seen to be necessary 
for the efficacy of efforts relating to our most essential wants. 
Eationalism, in the true sense of the word, so far from being 
incompatible with right feeling, strengthens and develops it, by 
placing all the facts of the case, in social questions especially, in 
their true light. 

But, however honourable the rank which Science jj^^"!^^™; 
■when regenerated will hold in the new religion, the more favour- 
sanction given to Poetry will be even more direct and J^J^ ^^ U 
unqualified, because the function assigned to it is one ence. 
which is more practical and which touches us more nearly. Its 
function will be the praise of Humanity. All previous efforts 
of Art have been but the prelude to this, its natural mission; 
.a prelude often impatiently performed, since Art threw off the 
yoke of theocracy at an earlier period than Science. Polytheism 
•was the only religion under which it had free scope : there 



250 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [OHAP. vl. 

it could idealize all tke passions of our nature, no attempt 
being made to conceal the similarity of the gods to the human 
type. The change from Polytheism to Monotheism was unac- 
ceptable to, Art, because it narrowed its field ; but towards the 
close of the Middle Ages it began to shake off the influence of 
obscure and chimerical beliefs, and take possession of its proper 
sphere. The field that now lies before it in the religion of 
Humanity is inexhaustible. It is' called upon to idealize the social 
life of Man, which, in the time of the nations of antiquity, had not 
been sufficiently developed to inspire the highest order of poetry. 

In the first place it will be of the greatest service 
traiture oi the in enabling men to realize the conception of Humanity,, 
Betag 1"^"'™! subject only to the condition of not overstepping the 
trast with the fundamental truths of Science. Science unassisted 
"^'^ cannot define the nature and destinies of this Great 

Being with sufficient clearness. In our religion the object of 
worship must be conceived distinctly, in order to be ardently loved 
and zealously served. Science, especially in subjects of this nature, 
is confined within narrow limits ; it leaves inevitable deficiencies- 
which esthetic genius must supply. And there are certain qualities 
in Art as opposed to Science, which specially qualify it for the 
representation of Humanity. For Humanity is distinguished from 
other forms of life by the combination of independence with 
co-operation, attributes which also are natural to Poetry. Por 
while Poetry is more sympathetic than Science, its productions have 
fax more individuality ; the genius of their author is more strongly 
marked in them, and the debt to his predecessors and contempo- 
raries is less apparent. Thus the synthesis on which the inaugura- 
tion of the final religion depends, is one in which Art will 
participate more than Science, Science furnishing merely th& 
necessary basis. Its influence will be even greater than in the 
times of Polytheism ; for powerful as Art appeared to. be in those- 
times, it could in reality do nothing but embellish the fables to 
which the confused ideas of theocracy had given rise. By its aid 
we shall for the first time rise at last to a really human point of 
view, and be enabled distinctly to understand the essential attri- 
butes of the Great Being of whom we are members. The material 
power of Humanity, and the successive phases of her physical, her 
intellectual,, and, above all, her moral progress, will each in turn be 
depicted. "Without the difficulties of analytical study, -we shall 
gain a clear knowledge of her nature and her conditions, by the- 
poet's description of her future destiny, of her constant struggle 
against painful fatalities, which have at last become a source of 



CHAP. VI,] CONCLUSION. THE EBLIGION OF HUMANITY. 251 

Happiness and greatness, of the slow growth of her infancy, of her 
lofty hopes now so near fulfilment. The history of universal Love, 
the soul by which this Great Being is animated ; the history, that 
is, of the marvellous advance of man, individually or socially, from 
brutish appetite to pure unselfish sympathy, is of itself an endless 
theme for the poetry of the future. 

Comparisons, too, may be instituted, in which the poet, without 
specially attacking the old religion, will indicate the superiority of 
the new. The attributes of the new Great Being may be forcibly 
illustrated, especially during the time of transition, by contrast 
with the inferiority of her various predecessors. All theological- 
types are absolute, indefinite, and immutable ; consequently in none 
of them has it been possible to combine to a satisfactory extent the 
attributes of goodness, wisdom, and power. Nor can we conceive 
of their combination, except in a Being whose existence is a matter 
of certainty, and who is subject to invariable laws. The gods of 
Polytheism were endowed with energy and sympathy, but possessed 
neither dignity nor morality. They were superseded by the sub- 
lime deity of Monotheism, who was sometimes represented as inert 
and passionless, sometimes as impenetrable and inflexible. But the 
new Supreme Being, having a real existence, an existence relative 
and modifiable, admits of being more distinctly conceived than the 
old ; and the influence of the conception will be equally strong 
and far more elevating. Each one of us wUl recognise in it a 
power superior to his own, a power on which the whole destiny of 
his life depends, since the life of the individual is in every respect I , 
subordinate to the evolution of the race. But the knowledge of I 
this power has not the crushing effect of the old conception of 
omnipotence. For every great or good man will feel that his own 
life is an indispensable element in the great organism. The 
supremacy of Humanity is but the result of individual co-operation ; 
her power is not supreme, it is only superior to that of all beings 
whom we know. Our love for her is tainted by no degrading fears^ 
yet it is always coupled with the most sincere reverence. Perfec- 
tion is in no wise claimed for her ; we study her natural defects 
with care, in order to remedy them as far as possible. The love 
we bear to her is a feeling as noble as it is strong ; it calls for no 
degrading expressions of adulation, but it inspires us with unremit- 
ting zeal for moral improvement. But these and other advantages 
of the new religion, though they can be indicated by the philo- 
sopher, need the poet to display them in their full light. The 
moral grandeur of man when freed from the chimeras that oppress 
him, was foreseen by Goethe, and still more clearly by Byron. 



252 A GEXBEA.L VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ti. 

But the work of these men was one of destruction ; and their types 
could only embody the spirit of revolt. Poetry must rise above 
the negative stage in which, owing to the circumstances of the 
time, their genius was arrested, and must embrace in the Positive 
spirit the system of sociological and other laws to which human 
development is subject, before it can adequately portray the new 
Man in his relation to the new God. 

. ,. There is yet another way in which Art may serve 

Organization ., j' ,. . ,i , - - • ■ it. j? x* 

of festivals, re- the cause of religion ; that is, in organizing tne lesti- 
SSTnd"dy^- ■vals; whether private or public, of which, to a great 
micai aspects extent, the worship of Humanity will consist. For 
o umani y. ^-^^^ purpose esthetic talent is far more required than 
scientific, the object in view being to reveal the nature of the 
great Organism more clearly, by presenting all aspects of its exis- 
tence, static or dynamic, in idealized forms. 

These festivals, then, should be of two kinds, corresponding to 
the two essential aspects of Humanity ; the first illustrating her 
existence, the second her action. Thus we shall stimulate both the 
elements of true social feeling ; the love of Order, namely, and the 
love of Progress. In our static festivals social Order and the 
feeling of Solidarity, will be illustrated ; the dynamic festivals will 
explain social Progress, and inspire the sense of historical Con- 
tinuity. Taken together, their periodic recurrence wUl form a 
continuation of Positive education. They will develop and confirm 
the principles instilled in youth. But there wiU be nothing 
didactic in their form ; since it is of the essence of Art not to 
instruct otherwise than by giving pleasure. Of course the regular 
recurrence of these festivals will not prevent any modifications 
which may be judged necessary to adapt them to special incidents 
that may from time to time arise. 

The festivals representing Order will necessarily take more 
abstract and austere forms than those of Progress. It will be their 
object to represent the statical relations by which the great Organ- 
ism preserves its unity, and the various aspects of its animating 
principle. Love. The most universal and the most solemn of these 
festivals wiU be the feast of Humanity, which will be held through- 
out the West at the beginning of the new year, thus consecrating 
the only custom which stiU remains in general use to relieve the 
prosaic dullness of modem life. In this feast, which celebrates the 
most comprehensive of all unions, every branch of the human race 
will at some future time participate. In the same month there 
might be three festivals of a secondary order, representing the 
minor degrees of association, the Nation, the Province, and the 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE EBLIQION OP HUMANITY. 253 

Town. Giving this first month to the direct celebration of the 
social tie, we might devote the first days of the four succeeding 
months to the four principal domestic relations, Connubial, Paren- 
tal, Filial, and Fraternal. In the sixth month, the honourable 
position of domestic service would receive its due measure of 
respect. 

These would be the static festivals ; taken together they would 
form a representation of the true theory of our individual and 
social nature, together with the principles of moral duty to which 
that theory gives rise. No direct mention is made of the personal 
instincts, notwithstanding their preponderance, because it is the 
main object of Positive worship to bring them under the control of 
the social instincts. Personal virtues are by no means neglected in 
Positive education ; but to make them the objects of any special 
celebration, would only stimulate egotistic feeling. Indirectly their 
value is recognised in every part of our religious system, in the 
reaction which they exercise upon our generous sympathies. Their 
omission, therefore, implies no real deficiency in this ideal portrait- 
ure of human faculties and duties. Again, no special announcement 
of the subordination of Humanity to the laws of the External 
World is needed. The consciousness of this external power 
pervades every part of the Positive system ; it controls our desires, 
directs our speculations, stimulates our actions. The simple fact of 
the recurrence of our ceremonies at fixed periods, determined by the 
Earth's motion, is enough to remind us of our inevitable subjection 
to the fatalities of the External World. 

As. the static festivals represent Morality, so the dynamic festi- 
vals, those of Progress, will represent History. In these the 
worship of Humanity assumes a more concrete and animated form ; 
as it will consist principally in rendering honour to the noblest 
types of each phase of human development. It is desirable, how- 
ever, that each of the more important phases should be represented 
in itself, independently of the greatness of any individual belonging 
to it. Of the months unoccupied by static festivals, three might 
be given to the principal phases of the Past, Fetichism, Polytheism, 
and Monotheism ; and a fourth to the celebration of the Future, 
the normal state to which all these phases have been tending. 

Forming thus the chain of historical succession, we may conse- 
crate each month to some one of the types who best represent the 
various stages. I omit, however, some explanations of detail given 
in the first edition of this General View, written at the time when 
I had not made the distinction between the abstract and concrete 
worship sufficiently clear. A few months after its publication, in 



25i A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ti. 

1843, the circumstances of the time induced me to frame a complete 
system of commemoration applicable to Western Europe, under the 
title of "Positivist Calendar". Of this I shall speak more at 
length in the fourth volume of the present treatise. Its success has 
fully justified me in anticipating this part of my subject. To it I 
now refer the reader, recommending him to familiarize himself with 
the provisional arrangement of the new Western year then put 
forward and already adopted by most Positivists. 

Worship o£ ^^^ '^^ practice need not be restricted to names of 
the dead. European importance. It is applicable in its degree to 
tion™f"Sr each separate province, and even to private life. Catho- 
service. licism ofifers two institutions in which the rel^ion of 

the family connects itself with public worship in its most compre- 
hensive sense. There is a day appointed in Catholic countries in 
which all are in the habit of visiting the tombs of those dear to 
them ; finding consolation for their grief by sharing it with others. 
To this custom' Positivists devote the last day of the year. The 
working classes of Paris give every year a noble proof that complete 
freedom of thought is in no respect compatible with worship of the 
dead, which in their case is unconnected with any system. Again 
there is the institution of baptismal names, which though little 
thought of at present, will be maintained and improved by Positi- 
vism. It is an admirable mode of impressing on men the connec- 
tion of private with public lifQ, by furnishing every one with a type 
for his own personal imitation. Here the superiority of the new 
religion is very apparent ; since the choice of a name wiU not be 
limited to any time or country. In this, as in other cases, the 
absolute spirit of Catholicism proved fatal to its prospects of 
becoming universal. 

These brief remarks will be enough to illustrate the two classes 
of festivals instituted by Positivism. In every week of the year 
some new aspect of Order or of Progress will be held up to public 
veneration; and in each the link connecting public and private 
worship wiU be found in the adoration of Woman. In this 
esthetic side of Positive religion everything tends to strengthen its 
fundamental principle of Love. All the resources of Poetry, and 
of the other arts of sound and form, wiU be invoked to give fuU 
and regular expression to it. The dominant feeling is always "that 
■of deep reverence proceeding from sincere acknowledgment of 
benefits received. Our worship wiU be alike free from mysticism 
and from affectation. While striving to surpass our ancestors, we 
ahall yet render due honour to all their services, and look with 
respect upon their systems of life. Influenced no longer by 



f-HAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 255 

chimeras which though comforting to former times are now 
"degrading, we have now no ohstacle to becoming as far as possible 
incorporate with the Great Beiag whom we wprship. By comme- 
moration of past services we strengthen the desire inherent in all 
of us to prolong our existence in the only way which is really in 
our power. The fact that all human affairs are subject to one 
fundamental law, as soon as it becomes familiarly known, enables 
and encourages each one of us to live in a true sense in the Past 
and even iu the Future ; as those cannot do who attribute the 
■events of life to the agency of an arbitrary and impenetrable Will. 
The praise given to our predecessors will stimulate a noble rivalry ; 
inspiring aU with the desire to become themselves incorporate into 
this mighty Being whose life endures through all time, and who is 
formed of the dead far more than the living. When the system of 
commemoration is fully developed, no worthy co-operator will be 
excluded, however humble his sphere ; whether limited to his 
family or town, or extending to his country or to the whole West. 
The education of Positivists will soon convince them that such 
recompense for honourable conduct is ample compensation for the 
imaginary hopes which inspired their predecessors. 

To live in others is, in the truest sense of the word, life. Indeed 
the best part of our own life is passed thus. As yet this truth has 
not been grasped firmly, because the social point of view has never 
yet been brought systematically before us. But the religion of 
Humanity, by giving an esthetic form to the Positivist synthesis, 
win make it intelligible to minds of every class : and will enable 
us to enjoy the untold charm springing from the sympathies of 
union and of continuity when allowed free play. To prolong our 
life indefinitely in the Past and Future, so as to make it more 
perfect in the Present, is abundant compensation for the Ulusions 
of our youth which have now passed away for ever. Science which 
deprived us of these imagiaaiy comforts, itself in its maturity 
supplies the solid basis for consolation of a kind unknown before ; 
the hope of becoming incorporate into the Great Being whose static 
and dynamic laws it has revealed. On this firm foundation Poetry 
raises the structure of public and private worship ; and thus all are 
made active partakers of this universal life, which minds still 
fettered by theology cannot understand. Thus imagination, while 
accepting the guidance of reason, will exercise a far more efficient 
and extensive influence than in the days of Polytheism. For the 
priests of Humanity the sole purpose of Science is to prepare the 
field for Art, whether , esthetic or industrial. This object once 
attained, poetic, study or composition will form the chief occupation 



256 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

of our speculative faculties. The poet is now called to his true 
mission, which is to give beauty and grandeur to human life, by- 
inspiring a deeper sense of our relation to Humanity. Poetry -will 
form the basis of the ceremonies in which the new priesthood will 
solemnise more efficiently than the old, the most important events 
of private life : especially Birth, Marriage, and Death ; so as to 
impress the family as well as the state with the sense of this rela- 
tion. Forced as we are henceforth to concentrate all our hopes and 
efforts upon the real life around us, we shall feel more strongly than 
ever that all the powers of Imagination as well as those of Eeason, 
Feeling, and Activity, are required ia its service. 

Poetry once raised to its proper place, the arts of 
may co-operate souiid and f orm, which render in a more vivid way the 
S region'™* subjects which Poetry has suggested, wUl soon follow. 
Their sphere, like that of Poetry, wiU be the celebra- 
tion of Humanity ; an exhaustless field, leaving no cause to regret 
the chimeras which, ia the present empirical condition of these arts, 
are still considered indispensable. Music in modern times has been 
limited almost entirely to the expression of individual emotions. 
Its full power has never been felt in public life, except in the 
solitary instance of the Marseillaise, in which the whole spirit of 
our great Eevolution stands recorded. But in the worship of 
Humanity, based as it is on Positive education, and animated by 
the spirit of Poetry, Music, as the most social of the special arts, 
win aid in the representation of the attributes and destinies of 
Humanity, and in the glorification of great historical types. 
Painting and Sculpture will have the same object ; they will enable 
us to realise the conception of Humanity with greater clearness and 
precision than would be possible for Poetry, even with the aid of 
Music. The beautiful attempts of the artists of the sixteenth 
century, men who had very little theological belief, to embody the 
Christian ideal of Woman, may be regarded as an unconscious 
prelude to the representation of Humanity, in the form which of 
all others is most suitable. Under the impulse of these feelings, 
the sculptor will overcome the technical difficulties of representing 
figures in groups, and will adopt such subjects by preference. 
Hitherto this has only been effected in bas-reliefs, works which 
stand midway between painting and sculpture. There are, how- 
ever, some splendid exceptions from which we can imagine the 
scope and grandeur of the latter art, when raised to its true position. 
Statuesque groups, whether the figures are joined or, as is prefer- 
able, separate, will enable the sculptor to undertake many great 
subjects from which he has been hitherto debarred. 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OP HUMANITY. 257 

In Architecture the influence of Positivism will be felt less 
rapidly ; but ultimately this art like the rest -will be made 
available for the nrew religion. The buildings erected for the 
service of God may for a time suffice for the worship of Humanity, 
ill the same way that Christian worship was carried on at first in 
Pagan temples as they were gradually vacated. But ultimately 
buildings will be required more specially adapted to a religion in 
which all the functions connected with education and worship, are 
so entirely different. What these buildings will be it would be 
useless at present to enquire. It is less easy to foresee the Positi - 
vist ideal in Architecture than in any other arts. And it must 
remain uncertain until the new principles of education have been 
generally spread, and until the Positi vist religion, having received 
all the aid that Poetry, Music, and the arts of Form can give, has 
become the accepted faith of Western Europe. When the more 
advanced nations are heartily engaged in the cause, the true temples 
of Humanity will soon arise. By that time mental and moral 
regeneration will have advanced far enough to commence the 
reconstruction of all political institutions. UntU then the new 
religion will avail itself of Christian churches as these gradually 
become vacant. 

Art then, as well as Science, partakes in the rege- Positivism is 
nerating influence which Positivism derives from its of Christianity 
synthetic principle of Love. Both are called to their and surpasses 
proper functions, the one to contemplate, the other to ' ' 
glorify Humanity, in order that we may love and serve her more 
perfectly. Yet while the intellect is thus made the servant of the 
heart, far from being weakened by this subordinate position, it finds 
in it an exhaustless field, in which the value of its labours is amply 
recognised. Each of its faculties is called directly into play, and 
is supplied with its appropriate employment. Poetry institutes the 
forms of the worship of Humanity ; Science supplies the principles 
on which those forms are framed, by connecting them with the 
laws of the external world. Imagination, while ceasing to usurp 
the place of Eeason, yet enhances rather than diminishes its 
original influence, which the new philosophy shows to be as bene- 
ficial as it is natural. And thlis human life at last attains that 
state of perfect harmony which has been so long sought for in vain, 
and which consists in the direction of all our faculties to one 
common purpose under the supremacy of Aff'ection. At the same 
time aU former efforts of Imagination and Eeason, even when they 
clashed with each other, are fully appreciated ; because we see that 
they developed our powers, that they taught us the conditions of 

17 



258 A GEXEP.AL VIHW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

their equilibrium, and. made it manifest that nothing but that 
equilibrium was wanting to allow them to work together for our 
welfare. Above all do we recognise the immense value of the 
mediaeval attempt to form a complete synthesis, although, notwith- 
standing all the results of Greek and Eoman civilization, the time 
was not yet ripe for it. To renew that attempt upon a sounder 
basis, and with surer prospects of success, is the object of those 
who found the religion of Humanity. Widely different as are their 
circumstances and the means they employ, they desire to regard 
themselves as the successors of the great men who conducted the 
progressive movement of Catholicism. For those alone are worthy 
to be called successors, who continue or carry into effect the under- 
takings which former times have left unfinished ; the title is utterly 
unmerited by blind followers of obsolete dogmas, which have long 
ceased to bear any relation to their original purpose, and which 
their very authors, if now living, would disavow. 

But while bearing in mind our debt to Catholicism, we need not 
omit to recognise how largely Positivism gains by comparison with 
it. Full justice wiU be done to the aims of Catholicism, and to 
the excellence of its results. But the whole effect of Positivist 
worship wUl be to make men feel clearly how far superior in every 
respect is the synthesis founded on the Love of Humanity to that 
founded on the Love of God. 

Christianity satisfied no pait of our nature fully, except the 
affections. It rejected Imagination, it shrank from Reason ; and 
therefore its power was always contested, and could not last. Even 
in its own sphere of affection, its principles never lent themselves 
to that social direction which the Catholic priesthood, with such 
remarkable persistency, endeavoured to give to them. The aim 
which it set before men, being unreal and personal, was ill-suited to 
a life of reality and of social sympathy. It is true that the univer- 
sality of this supreme affection was indirectly a bond of union; 
but only when it was not at variance with true social feeling. And 
from the nature of the system, opposition between these two 
principles was the rule, and harmony the exception ; since the Love 
of God, even as viewed by the best Catholic types, required in 
almost all cases the abandonment of evety other passion. The 
moral value of such a synthesis consisted solely in the discipline 
which it established ; discipline of whatever kind being preferable 
to anarchy, which would have given free scope to all the lowest 
propensities. But notwithstanding all the tender feeling of the 
best mystics, the affection which to them was supreme admitted of 
no real reciprocity. Moreover, the stupendous nature of the rewards 



CHAP. Ti.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 259 

and penalties by which every precept in this arbitrary system was 
enforced, tended to weaken the character and to taint our noblest 
impulses. The essential merit of the system was that it was the 
first attempt to exercise systematic control over our moral nature. 
The discipline of Polytheism was usually confined to actions : 
sometimes it extended to habits ; but it never touched the affections 
from which both habits and actions spring. Christianity took the 
beat means of effecting its purpose that were then available ; but it 
was not successful, except so far as it gave indirect encouragement 
to our higher feelings. And so vague and absolute were its prin- 
ciples, that even this would have been impossible, but for the 
wisdom of the priesthood, who for a long time saved society from 
the dangers incident to so arbitrary a system. But at the close of 
the Middle Ages, when the priesthood became retrograde, and lost 
at once their morality and their freedom, the doctrine was left to 
its own impotence, and rapidly degenerated till it became a chronic 
source of degradation and of discord. 

But the synthesis based upon Love of Humanity has too deep a 
foijndation in Positive truth to be liable to similar decline ; and its 
influence cannot but increase so long as the progress of our race 
endures. The Great Being, who is its object, tolerates the most 
searching enquiry, and yet does not restrict the scope of Imaginar 
tion. The laws which regulate her existence are now known to us ; 
and the more deeply her nature is investigated, the stronger is our 
consciousness of her reality and of the greatness of her benefits. 
The thought of her stimulates aU the powers of Imagination, and 
thus enables us to participate in a measure in the universality of 
her life, throughout the whole extent of Time and Space of which 
we have any real knowledge. All our intellectual results, whether 
in art or science, are alike co-ordinated by the religion of Humanity; 
for it furnishes the sole bond of connection by which permanent 
harmony can be established between our thoughts and our feehngs. 
It is the only system which without artifice and without arbitrary 
Eestriction, can establish the preponderance of Affection over 
Thought and Action. It sets forth social feeling as the first 
principle of morality ; without ignoring the natural superiority in 
strength of the personal instincts. To live for others jt- bcdds, to, be 
the highest happiness. To became incorporfite with Humanity, to 
§ympathize with all her former phases, to foresee her destinies in 
the future, and to do what lies in, us to f or:ysrarid them ; this is what 
it puts before us as the constant aim of life. Self-lqve in the 
iPositive system is regarded as the great infirmity of our nature : an 
infirmity which unremitting discipline on the part of each indiid- 



260 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ti. 

dual and of society may materially palliate, but wiU never radically 
cure. The degree to which this mastery over our own nature is 
attained is the truest standard of individual or social progress, since 
it has the closest relation to the existence of the Great Being, and 
to the happiness of the elements that compose it. 

Inspired as it is by sincere gratitude, which increases the more 
carefully the grounds for it are examined, the worship of Humanity 
raises Prayer for the first time above the degrading influence of 
self-interest. We pray to the Supreme Being ; but only to express 
our deep thankfulness for her present and past benefits, which are 
an earnest of stUl greater blessings in the future. Doubtless it is 
a fact of human natirre, that habitual expression of such feelings 
reacts beneficially on our moral nature ; and so far we, too, find in 
Prayer a noble recompense. But it is one that can suggest to us 
no selfish thoughts, since it cannot come at aU unless it come 
spontaneously. Our highest happiness consists in Love ; and we 
know that more than any other feeling love may be strengthened 
by exercise ; that alone of all feelings it admits of, and increases 
with, simultaneous expansion in alL Humanity wiU become more 
familiar to us than the old gods were to the Polytheists, yet with- 
out the loss of dignity which, in their case, resulted from famUiaiity, 
Her nature has in it nothing arbitrary, yet she co-operates with us 
in the worship that we render, since in honouring her we receive 
back " grace for grace ". Homsige accepted by the Deity of former 
times laid him open to the charge of puerile vanity. But the new 
Deity wUl accept praise only where it is deserved, and will derive 
from it equal benefit with ourselves. This perfect reciprocity of 
afiection and of influence is peculiar to Positive religion, because in 
it alone the object of worship is a Being whose nature is relative, 
modifiable, and perfectible ; a Being of whom her own worshippers 
form a part, and the laws of whose existence, being more clearly 
known than theirs, allow her desires and her tendencies to be more 
distinctly foreseen. 

. .^ The morality of Positive religion combines all the 
of PoaitiTe mo- advantages or spontaneousness with those of demon- 
"^*y- stration. It is so thoroughly human in aU its parts, 

as to preclude all the subterfuges by which repentance for trans- 
gression is so often stifled or evadei By pointing out distinctly 
the way in which each individual action reacts upon society, it 
forces us to judge our own conduct without lowering our standard.. 
Some might think it too gentle, and not sufficiently vigorous ; yet 
the love by which it is inspired is no passive feeUng, but a principle 
which strongly stimiilates our energies to the full extent compatible 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OP HUMANITY. 261 

with the attainment of that highest good to which it is ever 
tending. Accepting the truths of science, it teaches that we must 
look to our own unremitting activity for the only providence hy 
which the rigour of our destiny can be alleviated. We know well 
that the great Organism, superior though it be to all beings known 
to us, is yet under the dominion of inscrutable laws, and is in no 
respect either absolutely perfect or absolutely secure from danger. 
Every condition of our existence, whether those of the external 
world or those of our own nature, might at some time be compro- 
mised. Even our moral and intellectual faculties, on which our 
highest interests depend, are no exception to this truth. Such 
contingencies are always possible, and yet they are not to prevent 
us from living nobly ; they must not lessen our love, our thought, 
or our efforts for Humanity; they must not overwhelm us with 
anxiety, nor urge us to useless complaint. But the very principles 
which demand this high standard of courage and resignation, are 
themselves weU calculated to maintain it. For by making us fuUy 
conscious of the greatness of man, and by setting us free from the 
degrading influences of fear, they inspire us with keen interest in 
our efforts, inadequate though they be, against the pressure of 
fatalities which are not always beyond our power to modify. And 
thus the reaction of these fatalities upon our character is turned at 
last to a most beneficial use. It prevents alike overweening 
anxiety for our own interests and dull indifference to them; 
whereas, in theological and metaphysical systems, even when 
inculcating self-denial, there is always a dangerous tendency to 
concentrate thought on personal considerations. Dignified re- 
signation to evils which cannot be resisted, wise and energetic 
action where modification of them is possible ; such is the moral 
standard which Positivism puts forward for individuals and for 
society. . 

Catholicism, notwithstanding the radical defects of its doctrine, 
has unconsciously been influenced by the modem spirit ; and at the 
close of the Middle Ages was tending in a direction similar to that 
here described, although its principles were inconsistent with any 
formal recognition of it. It is only in the countries that have been 
preserved from Protestantism that any traces are left of these faint 
efforts of the priesthood to rise above their own theories. The 
Catholic God would gradually change into a feeble and imperfect 
representation of Humanity, were not the clergy so degraded socially 
as to be unable to participate in the spontaneous feelings of the 
community. It is a tendency too slightly marked to lead to a,ny 
itnportant result; yet it is a striking proof of the new direction 



262 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [CHAP. vi. 

which men's minds and hearts are unconsciously taking in countries 
which are often supposed to be altogether left behind in the march 
of modern thought. The clearest indication of it is in their accept- 
ance of the worship of Woman, which is the first step towards the 
worship of Humanity. Since the twelfth century, the influence of 
the Virgin, especially in Spain and Italy, has been constantly on 
the increase. The priesthood have often protested against it, but 
without effect; and sometimes they have found it necessary to 
sanction it, for the sake of preserving their authority. The special 
and privileged adoration which this beautiful creation of Poetry has 
received, could not but produce a marked change in the spirit of 
Catholicism. It may serve as a connecting link between the religion 
of our ancestors and that of our descendants, the Virgin becoming 
gradually regarded as a personification of Humanity. Little, how- 
ever, will be done in this direction by the established priesthood, 
whether in Italy or Spain. We must look to the purer agency of 
women, who wUl be the means of introducing Positivism among our 
Southern brethren. 

AU the points, then, in which the morality of Positive science 
excels the morality of revealed religion are summed up in the sub- 
stitution of Love of Humanity for Love of God. It is a principle 
as adverse to metaphysics as to theology, since it excludes aU 
personal considerations, and places happiness, whether for the 
individual or for society, in constant exercise of kindly feeling. 
To love Humanity may be truly said to constitute the whole duty 
of Man ; provided it be clearly understood what such love really 
implies, and what are the conditions required for maintaining it. 
The victory of Social Feeling over our innate Self-love is rendered 
possible only by a slow and dififioult training of the heart, in which 
the intellect must co-operate. The most important part of this 
training consists in the mutual love of Man and Woman, with 
all other family affections which precede and follow it. But 
every aspect of morality, even the personal virtues, are included 
in love of Humanity. It furnishes the best measure of their 
relative importance, and the surest method for laying down 
incontestable rules of conduct. And thus we find the principles 
of systematic morality to be identical with those of spontaneous 
morality, a result which renders Positive doctrine equally accessible 
to all. 

Bise of the Scienco, therefore, Poetry, arid Morality, will alike 
new Spiritual be regenerated by the new religion, and will ultimately 
power. form one harmonious whole, on which the destinies of 

Man wiU henceforth rest. With women, to whom the first germs 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE EELIGION OF HUMANITY. 263 

of spiritual power are due, this consecration of the rational and 
imaginative faculties to the source of feeling hag always existed 
spontaneously. But to realise it in social life it must be brought 
forward in a, systematic form as part of a general doctrine. This is 
what the mediseval system attempted upon the; basis of Monotheism. 
A moral power arose composed of the two elements essential to such 
a power, the sympathetic influence of women in the family, the 
systematic influence of the priesthood on public life. As a preli- 
minary attempt the Catholic system was most beneficial ; but it 
could not last, because the synthesis on which it rested was 
imperfect and unstable. The Catholic doctrine and worship 
addressed themselves exclusively to our emotional nature, and even 
horn, the moral point of view their principles were uncertain and 
arbitrary. The field of intellect, whether in art or science, as well 
as that of practical life, would have been left almost untouched but 
for the personal character of the priests. But with the loss of their 
political independence, which had been always in danger from the 
military tendencies of the time, the priesthood rapidly degenerated. 
The system was in fact premature ; and even before the industrial 
era of modem times had set in, the esthetic and metaphysical 
growth of the times had already gone too far for its feeble power of 
control ; and it then became as hostile to progress as it had for- 
merly been favourable to it. Moral qualities without intellectual 
superiority are not enough for a true spiritual power ; they will not 
enable it to modify to any appreciable extent the strong prepon- 
derance of material considerations. Consequently it is the primary 
condition of social reorganization to put an end to. the state of utter 
revolt which the inteEect maintains against the heart ; a state which 
has existed ever since the close of the Middle Ages, and the source 
of which may be traced as far back as the Greek Metaphysicians. 
Positivism has at last overcome the immense difficulties of this task. 
Its solution consists in the foundation of social science on the basis 
of the preliminary sciences, so that at last there is unity of method 
in our conceptions. Our active faculties have always been guided 
by the Positive spirit : and by its extension to the sphere of 
Feeling, a complete synthesis, alike spontaneous and systematic in 
its nature, is constructed ; and every part of our nature is brought 
under the regenerating influence of the \?.orship of Humanity. 
Thus a new spiritual power will arise, complete and homogeneous 
in structure ; coherent and at the s^me time progressive ; and 
better calculated than Catholicism to engage the support of women 
which is so necessary to its efficient action on society. 



264 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHAP. VI. 

Were it not for the material necessities of human 
power win ai- life, nothing further would be required for its guidance 
^y! ''but°°ite t^^ ^ spiritual power such as is here described. We 
action will be should have in that case no need for any laborious 
Se spMtuai. ^ exertion ; and universal benevolence would be looked 
upon as the sovereign good, and would become the 
direct object of all our efforts. All that would be necessary would 
be to call our reasoning powers, and still more, our imagination 
into play, in order to keep this object constantly in view. Purely 
fictitious as such an hypothesis may be, it is yet an ideal limit, to 
which our actual life should be more and more nearly approximated. 
As an Utopia, it is a fit subject for the poet : and in his hands it 
will supply the new religion with resources far superior to any that 
Christianity derived from vague and unreal pictures of future bliss. 
In it we may carry out a more perfect social classification, in which 
men may be ranked by moral and intellectual merit, irrespectively 
of wealth or position. For the only standard by which in such a 
state men could be tried would be their capacity to love and to 
please Humanity. 

Such a standard will of course never be practically accepted, and 
indeed the classification in question would be impossible to effect : 
yet it should always be present to our mmds ; and should be con- 
trasted dispassionately with the actual arrangements of social rank, 
with which power, even where accidentally acquired, has more to 
do than worth. The priests of Humanity with the assistance of 
women will avail themselves largely of this contrast in modifying 
the existing order. Positivist education will fully explain its moral 
validity, and in our religious services appeal will frequently be made 
to it. Although an ideal abstraction, yet being based on reality, 
except so far as the necessities of daily life are concerned, it will be 
far more efficacious than the vague and uncertain classification 
founded on the theological doctrine of a future state. When society 
learns to admit no other Providence than its own, it will go so far 
in adopting this ideal classification as to produce a strong effect" on 
the classes who are the best aware of its impracticability. But 
those who press this contrast must be careful always to respect tire 
natural laws which regulate the distribution of wealth and rank. 
They have a definite social function, and that function is not to be 
destroyed, but to be improved and regulated. In order, therefore, 
to reconcile these conditions, we must limit our ideal classification 
to individuals, leaving the actual subordination of office and posir 
tion unaffected. Well-marked personal superiority is not very 
common ; and society would be wasting its powers in useless and 



CHAP. VI,] CONCLUSION. THE BELIGION OF HUMANITY. 265 

intenninable controversy if it undertook to give each function to its 
best organ, thus dispossessing the former functionary without taking' 
into account the conditions of practical experience. Even in the 
spiritual hierarchy, where it is easier to judge of merit, such a course 
would be utterly subversive of discipline. But there would be no 
political danger, and morally there would be great advantage, in 
pointing out all remarkable cases which illustrate the difference 
between the order of rank and the order of merit. Eespect may be- 
shown to be noblest without compromising the authority of the 
strongest. St. Bernard was esteemed more highly than any of the 
Popes of his time ; yet he remained in the humble position of an 
abbot, and never failed to show the most perfect deference for the " 
higher functionaries of the Church. A still more striking example 
was furnished by St. Paul in recognizing the official superiority of 
St. Peter, of whose moral and mental inferiority to himself he must 
have been well aware. All organised corporations, civil or military, 
can show instances on a less important scale where the abstract 
order of merit has been adopted consistently with the concrete order 
of rank. "Where this is the case the two may be contrasted with- 
out any subversive consequences. The contrast wUl be morally 
beneficial to all classes, at the same time that it proves the imper- 
fection to which so compKcated an organism as human society must 
he ever liable. 

Thus the religion of Humanity creates an intellectual and moral 
power, which, could human life be freed from the pressure of. 
material wants, would sufiice for its guidance. Imperfect as our 
nature assuredly is, yet social sympathy has an intrinsic charm 
which would make it paramount, but for the imperious necessities' 
hj which the instincts of self-preservation are stimulated. So 
urgent are they, that the greater part of life is necessarily occupied 
with actions of a self-regarding kind, before which Eeason, 
Imagination, and even Feeling, have to give way. Consequently 
this moral power, which seems so well adapted for the direction of ' 
society, must only attempt to act as a modifying influence. Its 
sympathetic element, in other words, women, accept this necessity 
without difiiculty ; for true affection always takes the right course 
of action, as soon as it is clearly indicated. But the intellect is far : 
more unwilling to take a subordinate position. Its rash ambition 
is far more unsettling to the world than the ambition of rank and 
wealth, against which it so often inveighs. It is the hardest of 
social problems to regulate the exercise of the intellectual powers, 
while securing them their due measure of influence j the object 
-■being that theoreticaLpower should be able really' to modify, and 



206 A GENBEAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

yet should never be permitted to govern. For the nations of 
antiquity this problem was iusoluble ; with them the intellect was 
always either a tyrant or a slave. The solution was attempted in 
the Middle Ages ; but without success, owing to the military and 
theological character of the times. Positivism relies for solving it 
on the reality which is one of its principal features, and on the fact 
that Society has now entered on its industrial phase. Based on 
accurate inquiry into the past and future destinies of man, its aim 
is so to regenerate our political action, as to transform it ultimately 
into a practical worship of Humanity ; Morality being the worship 
rendered by the affections, Sciencq and Poetry that rendered by the 
intellect. Such is the principal mission of the Occidental priest- 
hood, a mission in which women and the working classes will 
actively co-operate. 

Substitution ''-^® most important object of this regenerated polity 
ot duties for will be the substitution of DutieS for Eights; thus 
"^ ^' subordinating personal to social considerations. The 

word Right should be excluded from political language, as the word 
Cause from the language of philosophy. Both are theological and 
metaphysical conceptions; and the former is as immoral and 
subversive as the latter is unmeaning and sophistical. Both are 
alike incompatible with the final state ; and their value during th& 
revolutionary period of modern history has simply consisted in their 
solvent action upon previous systems. Eights, in the strict sense 
of the word, are possible only so long as power is considered as 
emanating from a superhuman will. Eights, under all theological 
systems, were divine; but in their opposition to theocracy, the 
metaphysicians of the last five centuries introduced what they called 
the rights of Man; a conception, the value of which consisted 
simply in its destructive effects. Whenever it has been taken as 
the basis of a constructive policy, its anti-social character, and its 
tendency to strengthen individualism have always been apparent. 
In the Positive state, where no supernatural claims are admissible, 
the idea of Bight will entirely disappear. Every one has duties, 
duties towards all ; but rights in the ordinary sense can be claimed 
by none. Whatever security the individual may require is found 
in the general acknowledgement of reciprocal obligations ; and this 
gives a moral equivalent for rights as hitherto claimed, without the 
serioas political dangers which they involved. In other words, no 
one has in any case any Eight but that of doing his Duty. The 
adoption of this principle is the one way of realising the grand ideal 
of the Middle Ages, the. subordination of Politics to Morals. In 
those times, however, the vast bearings of the question were but 



CHAP. yi.]i CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 26T 

very imperfectly apprehended; its solution is incompatible with 
every form of theology, and is only to be found in Positivism. 

The solution consists ia regarding our political and social actioiL 
as the service of Humanity. Its object should be to assist by 
conscious effort all functions, whether relating to Order or to Pro- 
gress, which Humanity has hitherto performed spontaneously.. 
This is the ultimate object of Positive religion. Without it aU. 
other aspects of that religion would be inadequate, and would soon 
cease to- have any value. True affection does not stop short at 
desire for good; its strains every effort to attain it. The elevation 
of soul arising from the act of contemplating and adoring Humanity 
is not the sole object of religious worship. Above and beyond this, 
there is the motive of becoming better able to serve Humanity ; 
unceasing action on our part being necessary for her preservation, 
and development. This indeed is the most distinctive feature of 
Positive religion. The Supreme Being of former times had really 
little need of human services. The consequence was, that with aU. 
theological believers, and with monotheists especially, devotion 
always tended to degenerate into quietism. The danger could only 
be obviated when the priesthood had sufficient wisdom to take 
advantage of the vagueness of these theories, and to draw from them 
motives for practical exertion. Nothing could be done in this 
direction unless the priesthood retained their social independence. 
As soon as this was taken from them by the usurpation of the 
temporal power, the more sincere amongst Catholics lapsed into the 
quietistic spirit which for a long time had been kept in check. In. 
Positivism, on the contrary, the doctrine itself, irrespective of the 
character of its teachers, is a direct and continuous incentive to 
e-xertion of every kind. The reason for this is to be found in the 
relative and dependent nature of our Supreme Being, of whom her 
own worshippers form a part. 

In this, which is the essential service of Humanity, consensus or 
and which infuses a religious spirit into every act of the social oi> 
life, the feature most prominent is co-operation oi effort; saii'sm- 
co-operation on so vast a scale that less complicated organisms 
have nothing to compare with it. The consensus of the social 
organism extends to Time as well as Space. Hence the two distinct 
aspects of social sympathy : the feeling of Solidarity, or union with 
the Present ; and of Continuity, or union with the Past. Careful 
iavestigation of any social phenomenon, whether relating to Order 
or to Progress, always proves convergence, direct or indirect, of all 
contemporaries and of aU former generations, within certain geograr 
phical and- chronological limits; and those limits recede as the- 



268 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHAP. TI. 

development of Humanity advances. In our thoughts and feelings 
such convergence is unquestionable ; and it should be still more 
evident in our actions, the efficacy of which depends on co-operation 
to a still greater degree. Here we feel how false as well as immoral 
is the notion of Right, a word which, as commonly used, implies 
absolute individuality. The only principle on which Politics can 
be subordinated to Morals is, that individuals should be regarded, 
not as so many distinct beings, but as organs of one Supreme Being. 
Indeed, in all settled states of society, the individual has always 
been considered as a public functionary, filling more or less 
efficiently a definite post, whether formally appointed to it or not. 
So fundamental a principle has ever been recognised instinctively 
up to the period of revolutionary transition, which is now at length 
■coming to an end ; a period in wliich the obstructive and corrupt 
character of organized society roused a spirit of anarchy which, 
though at first favourable to progress, has now become an obstacle 
to it. Positivism, however, wUl place this principle beyond reach 
of attack, by giving a systematic demonstration of it, based on the 
sum of our scientific knowledge. 
Continuity of ^"^^ ^^^ demonstration will be the intellectual basis 
the past with on which the moral authority of the new priesthood 

the present. ^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^_^^ ^^ ^^ -^ ^^ ^t^^^ ^j^g 

dependance of each important question, as it arises, upon social 
■co-operation, and by this means to indicate the right path of duty. 
Por this purpose all their scientific knowledge and esthetic power 
will be needed, otherwise social feeling could never be developed 
sufficiently to produce any strong effect upon conduct. It would 
never, that is, go further than the feeling of mere solidarity with 
the Present, which is only its incipient and rudimentary form. 
We see this unfortunate narrowness of view too often in the best 
socialists, who, leaving the present without roots in the past, would 
•carry us headlong towards a future of which they have no definite 
conception. In aU social phenomena, and especially in those of 
modern times, the participation of our predecessors is greater than 
that of our contemporaries. This truth is especially apparent in 
industrial undertakings, for which the combination of efforts 
required is so vast. It is our filiation with the Past, even more 
than our connection with the Present, which teaches us that the 
■only real life is the collective life of the race ; that individual life 
has no existence except as an abstraction. Continuity is the feature 
"which distinguishes our race from all others. Many of the lower 
races are able to form a union among their living members ; but it 
was reserved for Man to conceive and realise co-operation of 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 26& 

successive generations, the source to which the gradual growth of 
civilization is to be traced. Social sympathy is a barren and imper- 
fect feeling, and indeed it is a cause of disturbance, so long as it 
extends no further than the present time. It is a disregard for 
historical Continuity which induces that mistaken antipathy to all 
forms of inheritance which is now so common. Scientific study of 
history would soon conviuce those of our socialist writers who are 
sincere of their radical error in this respect. If they were more 
familiar with the collective inheritance of society, the value of 
w;hich no one can seriously dispute, they would feel less objection 
to inheritance in its application to individuals or families. Practical 
experience, moreover, bringing them into contact with the facts of 
the case, will gradually show them that without the sense of 
continuity with the Past they cannot really understand their 
solidarity with the Present. For, in the first place, each individual 
in the course of his growth passes spontaneously through phases 
corresponding in a great measure to those of our historical develop- 
ment ; and therefore, without some knowledge of the history of 
society, he cannot understand the history of his own life. Again, 
each of these successive phases may be found amongst the less 
advanced nations who do not as yet share in the general progress of 
Humanity : so that we cannot properly sympathize with these 
nations, if we ignore the succesive stages of development in Western 
Europe. The nobler socialists and communists, those especially 
who belong to the working classes, will soon be alive to the error 
and danger of these inconsistencies, and will supply this deficiency 
in their education, which at present vitiates their efforts. With 
women, the purest and most spontaneous element of the moderating 
power, the priests of Humanity will find it less difficult to intro- 
duce the broad principles of historical science. They are more 
inclined than any other class to recognise our continuity with the 
Past, being themselves its original source. 

Without a scientific basis, therefore, a, basis which ^^^^^i^y ^t 
must itself rest on the whole sum of Positive specula- a spiritual 
tion, it is impossible for our social sympathies to Sd teach these 
develop themselves fully, so as to extend not to the traths^^ and^^ 
Present only, but also and still more strongly to the men by peraua- 
Past. ' And this is the first motive, a motive founded '^™'„j^|J^^i,°^ 
alike on moral and on intellectual considerations, for 
the separation of temporal from spiritual power in the final organi- 
zation of society. The more vigorously we concentrate our efforts 
iipon social progress, the more clearly shall we feel the impossibility 
of 'modifying social phenomena without knowledge of the laws that 



270 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

regulate tliem. This involves the existence of an intellectual class 
specially devoted to the study of social phenomena. Such a class 
v?ill be invested with the consultative authority for vrhich their 
knowledge qualifies them, and also with the function of teaching 
necessary for the diffusion of their principles. In the minor arts 
of life it is generally recognised that principles should be investigated 
and taught by thinkers who are not concerned in applying them. 
In the art of Social Life, so far more difficult and important than 
any other, the separation of theory from practice is of far greater 
moment. The wisdom of such a course is obvious, and all opposi- 
tion to it will be overcome, as soon as it becomes generally 
recognised that social phenomena are subject to invariable laws ; 
laws of so complicated a character and so dependent upon other 
sciences as to make it doubly necessary that minds of the highest 
order should be specially devoted to their interpretation. 

But there is another aspect of the question of not less importance 
in sound polity. Separation of temporal from spiritual power is as 
necessary for free individual activity as for social co-operation. 
Humanity is characterised by the independence as well as by the 
convergence of the individuals or families of which she is composed. 
The latter condition, convergence, is that which secures Order ; 
but the former is no less essential to Progress. Both are alike 
urgent : yet in ancient times they were incompatible, for the reason 
that spiritual and temporal power were always in the same hands ; 
in the hands of the priests in some cases, at other times in those of 
the military chief. As long as the State held together, the inde- 
pendence of the individual was habitually sacrificed to the conver- 
gence of the body politic. This explains why the conception of 
Progress never arose, even in the minds of the most visionaiy 
schemers. The two conditions were irreconcilable until the Middle 
Ages, when a remarkable attempt was made to separate the modify- 
ing power from the governing power, and so to make Politics 
subordinate to Morals. Co-operation of efforts was now placed on 
a different footing. It was the result of free assent rendered by the 
heart and understanding to a religious system which laid down 
general rules of conduct, in which nothing was arbitrary, and which 
were applied to governors as strictly as to their subjects. The 
consequence was that Catholicism, notwithstanding its extreme 
defects intellectually and socially, produced moral and ipolitical 
results of very great value. Chivalry arose, a type of life, in which 
the most vigorous independence was combined with the most intense 
devotion to a common cause. Every class in Western Society was 
elevated by this union of personal dignity with universal brother- 



«HAP. VI.] coNCLCsio:;?. the religion of humanity. 271 

hood. So Well is human nature adapted for this combination, that 
it arose under the first religious system of which the principles were 
not incompatible with it. "With the necessary decay of that religion, 
it became seriously impaired, but yet was preserved instinctively, 
especially in countries untouched by Protestantism. By it the 
mediaeval system prepared the way for the conception of Humanity; 
since it put an end to the fatal opposition' in which the two 
characteristic attributes of Humanity, independence and co-opera- 
tion, had hitherto existed. Catholicism brought unity into theo- 
logical religion, and by doing so, led to its decline ; but it paved 
the way long beforehand for the more complete and more real 
principle of unity on which human society will be finally organised. 
But meritorious and useful as this premature attempt was, it was 
no real solution of the problem. The spirit and temper of the 
period were not ripe for any definite solution. Theological belief 
and military life were alike inconsistent with any permanent 
separation of theoretical and practical powers. It was maintained 
only for a few centuries precariously and inadequately, by a sort of 
natural balance or rather oscillation between imperialism and 
theocracy. But the positive spirit and the industrial character of 
modern times tend naturally to this division of power ; and when 
it is consciously recognised as a principle, the difficulty of reconciling 
co-operation with independence wUl exist no longer. For in the 
first place, the rules to which human conduct will be subjected, will 
Test, as in Catholic times, but to a still higher degree, upon persua- 
sion and conviction, instead of compulsion. Again, the fact of the 
new faith being always susceptible of demonstration, renders the 
spiritual system based on it more elevating as well as more durable. 
The rules of Catholic morality were only saved from being arbitrary 
by the introduction of a supernatural Will as a substitute for mere 
human authority. The plan had undoubtedly many advantages; 
hut liberty in the true sense was not secured by it, since the rules 
remained as before without explanation ; it was only their source 
that was changed. Still less successful was the subsequent attempt 
of metaphysicians to prove that submission to government was the 
ioundation of virtue. It was only a return to the old system of 
arbitrary wills, stripped of the theocratic sanction to which all its 
claims to respect and its freedom from caprice had been due. The 
•only way to reconcile independence with social union, and thereby 
to reach true liberty, lies in obedience to the objective laws of the 
world and of human nature ; clearing these as far as possible of all 
that is subjective, and thus rendering them amenable to scientific 
demonstration. Of such immense consequence to society will it be 



272 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vr. 

to extend tlic scientific method to the complex and important 
phenomena of human nature. Man will no longer be the slave of 
man ; he yields only to external Law ; and to this those who 
demonstrate it to him are as submissive as himself. In such 
obedience there can be no degradation even where the laws are 
inflexible. But, as Positivism shows us, in most cases they are 
modifiable, and this especially in the case of our mental and moral 
constitution. Consequently our obedience is here no longer passive 
obedience : it implies the devotion of every faculty of our nature to 
the improvement of a world of which we are in a, true sense masters. 
The natural laws to which we owe submission furnish the basis for 
our intervention ; they direct our efibrts and give stability to our 
purpose. The more perfectly they are known, the more free will 
our conduct become from arbitrary command or servile obedience. 
True, our knowledge of these laws will very seldom attain such 
precision as to enable us to do altogether without compulsory 
authority. When the intellect is inadequate, the heart must take 
its place. There are certain rules of Hfe for which it is difficult to 
assign the exact ground, and where affection must assist reason in 
supplying motives for obedience. "Wholly to dispense vnth arbit- 
rary authority is impossible ; nor will it degrade us to submit to it, 
provided that it be always regarded as secondary to the uniform 
supremacy of external Laws, and that every step in the development 
of our mental and moral powers shall restrict its employment. 
Both conditions are evidently satisfied in the Positive system of 
life. The tendency of modern industry and science is to make us 
less dependent on individual caprice, as well as more assimilable to 
the universal Organism. Positivism therefore secures the liberty 
and dignity of man by its demonstration that social phenomena, 
like all others, are subject to natural laws, which, within certain 
limits, are modifiable by wise action on the part of society. Totally 
contrary, on the other hand, is the spirit of metaphysical schemes 
of polity, in which society is supposed to have no spontaneous 
impulses, and is handed over to the will of the legislator. In these 
degrading and oppressive schemes, union is purchased, as in ancient 
times, at the cost of independence. 

In these two ways, then, Positive religion ifcfluences the practical 
life of Humanity, in accordance with the natural laws that regulate 
her existence. First, the sense of Solidarity with the Present is 
perfected by adding to it the sense of Continuity with the Past ; 
secondly, the co-operation of her individual agents is rendered 
compatible with their independence. Not tiU this is done can 
Politics become really subordinate to Morals, and the feelin" of 



CHAP, vr.] CONCLUSION. THE EELIGION OP HDMANITT. .273 

Duty be substituted for that of Eight. Out active powers will he 
modified by the combined influence of feeling and reason, as 
expressed in indisputable rules which it wUl be for the spiritual 
power to make known to us. Temporal government, whoever its 
administrators may be, will always be modified by morality. 
Whereas in all metaphysical systems of polity nothing is provided 
for but the modes of access to government and the limits of its 
various departments ; no principles are given to direct its applica- 
tion or to enable us to form a right judgment of it. 

From this general view of the practical service of , Nutritive 
Humanity, we pass now to the two leading divisions Humanity, per- 
of the subject ; with the view of completing our con- plSws*'^ tte 
ception of the fundamental principle of Positive temporal 
Polity, the separation of temporal from spiritual power, p""™- 

The action of Humanity relates either- to her external circum- 
stances, or to the facts of her own nature. Each of these two great 
functions involves both Order and Progress ; but the first relates 
more specially to the preservation of her existence, the second to 
her progressive development. Humanity, like every other organ- 
ism, has to act unceasingly on the surrounding world in order to 
maintain and extend her material existence. Thus the chief object 
of her practical life is to satisfy the wants of our physical nature, 
wants which necessitate continual reproduction of materials in 
sufficient quantities. This production soon comes to depend more 
on the co-operation of successive generations than on that of con- 
temporaries. Even in these lower but indispensable functions, we 
work principally for our successors, and the results that we enjoy 
are in great part due to those that have gone before us. Each 
generation produces more material wealth than is required for its 
own wants ; and the use of the surplus is to facilitate the labour 
and prepare the maintenance of the generation following. The 
agents in this transmission of wealth naturally take the lead in the 
industrial movement ; since the possession of provisions and instru- 
ments of production gives fin advantage which can only be lost by 
unusual incapacity. And this will seldom happen, because capital 
naturally tends to accumulate with those who make a cautious and 
skilful use of it. 

Capitalists then will be the temporal chiefs of modern society. 
Their ofiice is consecrated in Positive religion as that of the nutritive 
organs of Humanity ; organs which collect and prepare the materials 
necessary for life, and which also distribute them, subject always to 
the influence of a modifying central organ. The direct and palpable 
importance of their functions is a stimulus to pride; and in every 



274 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. vi. 

respect they are strongly influenced by personal instincts, which are 
necessary to sustain the vigour of their energies. Consequently, if 
left to themselves, they are apt to abuse their power, and to govern 
by the ignoble method of compulsion, disregarding all appeals to 
reason and to morality. Hence the need of a combination of moral 
forces to exercise a constant check upon the hardness with which 
they are so apt to use their authority. And this leads us to the 
second of the two great functions of Humanity. 

These are This function is analogous to that of Innervation in 
modified by individuals. Its object is the advancement of Huma- 

the cerebral , . . . -, -n • • j_ n t i 

tunctionB.pei^ nity, whether in physical or still more in mteUectual 
spirihfai''' "^^ and moral aspects. It might seem at first sight re- 
power, stricted, as in lower organisms, to the secondary office 
of assisting the nutritive function. Soon, however, it develops 
qualities peculiar to itself, qualities on which our highest happiness 
depends. And thus we might imagine that life was to be entirely 
given up to the free play of reason, imagination, and feeling, were 
we not constantly forced back by the necessities of our physical 
nature to less delightful occupations. Therefore this intellectual 
and moral function, notwithstanding its eminence, can never be 
."iupreme in our nature ; yet independently of its intrinsic charm, it 
forms our principal means, whether used consciously or otherwise, 
in controlQng the somewhat blind action of the nutritive organs. 
It is in women, whose function is analogous to that of the aifective 
organs in the individual brain, that we find this modifying influence 
in its purest and most spontaneous form. But the fuU value of 
their influence is not realised until they act in combination with the 
philosophic class ; which, though its direct energy is small, is as 
indispensable to the collective Organism as the speculative functions 
of the brain are to the individual. Besides these two essential 
elements of moral power, we find, when Humanity reaches her 
maturity, a third element which completes the constitution of this 
power and furnishes a basis for its political action. This third 
element is the working class, whose influence may be regarded as 
the active function in the innervation of the social Organism. 

It is indeed to the working class that we look for the only pos- 
sible solution of the great human problem, the victory of Social 
feeling over Self-love. Their want of leisure, and their poverty, 
excludes them from political power ; and yet wealth, which is tie 
basis of that power, cannot be produced without them. They are 
allied to the spiritual power by the similarity of their tastes and of 
their circumstances. Moreover, they look to it for systematic 
education, of the importance of which not merely to their happiness, 



■CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE EKLIGION OP HUMANITY. 275 

but to their dignity and moral culture, they are deeply conscious. 
The u?iture of their occupations, though absorbing so large a portion 
of their time, yet leaves the inind for the most part free. Finding 
little in the specialities of their work to interest them, they are the 
more inclined to rise to general principles, provided always that 
such principles combine utility with reality. Being less occupied 
than other classes with considerations of rank and wealth, they are 
the more disposed to give free play to generous feelings, the value 
and the charm of which is more strongly impressed on them by their 
experience of life. As their strength lies in numbers, they have a 
greater tendency,>to union than capitalists, who, having in their own 
bands a power which they are apt to suppose • resistless, have no 
such motive -for association. They wiU give their energetic support 
to the priesthood in its efforts to control the abuse of the power of 
wealth, and in every, respect they are prepared to accept and enforce 
its moral influence. Being at once special and general, practical 
and speculative, and at the same time always animated by strong 
sympathies, they form an intermediate link between the practical 
and theoretical powers ; connected with the one by the need of 
education and counsel, and with the other by the necessities of 
labour and subsistence. The people represent the activity of the 
Supreme Being, as women represent its sympathy, and philososphers 
its intellect. 

But in the organized action of these three organs of innervation 
upon the organs of social nutrition, it must be borne in mind that 
the latter are not to be impeded in their functions. The control 
exercised is to be of a kind that will ennoble them by setting their 
importance in its true light. True, we are not to encourage the 
foolish and immoral pride of modern capitalists, who look upon 
themselves as the creators and sole arbiters of their material power, 
the foundations of which are in reality due to the combined action 
of their .predecessors and contemporaries. They ought to be 
regarded simply as public functionaries, responsible for the adminis- 
.tration of capital and the direction of industrial enterprise. But at 
the same time we must be careful not to underrate the immense 
value of their function, or in any way obstruct its performance. All 
this follows at once from the policy of Separation of Powers. The 
responsibility under which it is here proposed to place capitalists is 
purely moral, whereas metaphysicians of the revolutionary school 
have always been in favour of political coercion. In cases where 
the rich, neglect their duty, the Positive priesthood wiU resort in 
the first instance to every method of conviction and persuasion that 
can be suggested by t^^ education which the rich have received, in 



276 A GENERAI, VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chaf- »i- 

common with other classes. Should this course fail, there remains 
the resource of pronouncing formal condemnation of their conduct ; 
and supposing this to be ratified by the working men of every city, 
and the women of every family, its effect will be difficult to with- 
stand. In very heinous cases it might be necessary to proceed to 
the extreme length of social excommunication, the efficacy of which, 
in cases where it deserved and received general assent, would be 
even greater than in the Middle Ages ; the organization of the 
spiritual power in those times being very imperfect. But even in 
this case the means used for repression are of a purely moral kind. 
The increasingly rare cases that call for political measures belong 
exclusively to the province of the temporal power. 

Hereditary transmission of wealth has been strongly condemned 
by metaphysical writers. But it is after all a natural mode of 
transmission, and the moral discipline above described will be a 
sufficient check upon its worst abuses. "When the sense of Duty is 
substituted for the sense of Right, it matters little who may be the 
possessor of any given power, provided it be well used. Inheri- 
tance, as Positivism shows, has great social advantages, especially 
when applied to functions which require no extraordinary capacity, 
and which are best learnt in the training of domestic life. Taking 
the moral point of view, we find that men who have been always 
accustomed, to wealth are more disposed to be generous than those 
who have amassed it gradually, however honourable the means 
used. Inheritance was originally the mode iu which all functions 
were transmitted ; and in the case of wealth there is no reason why 
it should not always continue, since the mere preservation of wealth, 
without reference to its employment, requires but little special 
ability. There is no guarantee that, if other guardians of capital 
Were appointed, the public would be better served. Modern 
industry has long ago proved the administrative superiority of 
private enterprise in commercial transactions ; and all social func^ 
tions that admit of it will gradually pass into private management, 
always excepting the great theoretic functions, in which combined 
action wiU ever be necessary. Declaim as the envious will 
against hereditary wealth, its possessors, when they have a good 
disposition moulded by a wise education and a healthy state of 
public opinion, will in many cases rank amongst the most useful 
organs of Humanity. It is not the class who constitute the moral 
force of society, that will give vent to these idle complaints, or' at 
least they will be confined to those individuals among them who 
fail to understarid the dignity and value of their common mission 
6i elevating man's affections, intellect, and' energies. 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OP HUMANITY. 277 

The only cases in -which, the spiritual power has to priestatohaye 
interfere specially for the protection of material in- their material 
terests fall under two principles, which are very plainly luarantaed. 
Mdicated by the natural order of society. The first 
principle is, that Man should support Woman ; the second, that the 
Active class should support the Speculative class. The necessity 
of both these conditions is evident ; without them the affective and 
speculative functions of Humanity cannot be adequately performed. 
Private and public welfare are so deeply involved ia the influence 
exercised by Feeling over the iatellectual and active powers, that 
we shall do well to secure that influence, even at the cost of 
removing one half of the race from industrial occupations. Even 
in the lowest tribes of savages we find the stronger sex recognising 
some obligations towards the weaker ; and it is this which distin- 
guishes human love, even in its coarser forms, from animal appetite. 
With every step in the progress of Humanity we find the obligation 
more distinctly acknowledged, and more fuUy satisfied. In Posi- 
tive religion it becomes a fundamental duty, for which each 
individual, or even society, when it may be necessary, will be held 
responsible. As to the second principle, it is one which has been 
already admitted by former systems ; and, in spite of the anarchy in 
which we live, it has never been wholly discarded, at least iu coun- 
tries which have been unaffected by the individualist tendencies of 
Protestantism. Positivism, however, while adopting the principle 
as indispensable to the theoretic functions of Humanity, will employ 
it far more sparingly than Catholicism, the decay of which was 
very much hastened by its excessive wealth. If temporal and 
spiritual power are really to be separated, philosophers should have 
as little to do with wealth as with government. Eesembling women 
in their exclusion from political power, their position as to wealth 
should be like that of the working classes, proper regard being had 
to the requirements of their office. By following this course, they 
may be confident that the purity of their opinions and advice will 
never be called in question. 

These two conditions then. Capitalists, as the normal adminis- 
trators of the common fund of wealth, will be expected to satisfy. 
Tliey must, that is, so regulate the distribution of wages, that 
women shall be released from work; and they must see that 
proper remuneration is given for intellectual labour. To exact the 
performance of these oohditions seems no easy task ; yet until they 
are satisfied, the equilibrium of our social economy will remain 
imstable. The institution of property can be maintained no longer 
upon the untenable ground of personal right. Its present possessors 



278 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap, vi; 

may probably decline to accept these principles. In that case their 
functions will pass in one way or another to new organs, until 
Humanity finds servants who will not shirk their fundamental 
duties^ but who will recognise them as the first condition of their 
tenure of power. That power, subject to these limitations, will 
then be regarded with the highest respect, for all will feel that the 
existence of Humanity depends on it. Alike on intellectual and on 
moral grounds, society wUl repudiate the envious passions and 
subversive views which are aroused at present by the unfounded 
claims of property, and by its repudiation, since the Middle Ages, 
of every real moral obligation. Eich men wiU. feel that principles 
like these, leaving as they do so large a margin of voluntary action 
to the individual, are the only method of escaping from the political 
oppression with which they are now threatened. The free concen- 
tration of capital will then be readily accepted :as necessary to its 
social usefulness ; for great duties imply great powers. 

, . This, then, is the way in which ithe priests of 
tion of priests, Humanity may hope to regenerate the material power 
rapS^ts.™'* °^ wealth, and bring the nutritive functions of society 
into harmony with the other parts of the body politic. 
The contests for which as yet there are but too many motives "will 
then cease ; the People without loss of dignity will give free play 
to their natural instincts of respect, and wUl be as willing to accept 
the authority of their political rulers as to place confidence in their 
spiritual guides. They will feel that true happiness has no necessary 
connection with wealth; that it depends far more on free play being 
given to their intellectual, moral, and social qualities; and that in 
this respect they are more favourably situated than those above 
them. They will cease to aspire to the enjoyments of wealth and 
power, leaving them to those whose political activity requires that 
strong stimulus. Each man's ambition will be to do his work weU; 
arid after it is over, to perform his more general function of assisting 
the spiritual power, and of taking part in the formation of Public 
Opinion, by giving his best judgment upon passing events. Of the 
limits to be observed by the spiritual power the People wiU be well 
aware ; and they will accept none which does not subordinate the 
intellect to the heart, and guarantee the purity of its doctrine by 
strict abstinence from political power. By an appeal to the principles 
of Positive Polity, they will at once check any foolish yielding on 
the part of philosophers to political ambition, and will restore the 
temporal power to its proper place. They will be aware that 
though the general principles of practical life rest upon Science, it 
is not for Science to direct their application. The incapacity Of 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 279 

theorists to apply their theories practically has long been recognised 
in minor matters, and it will now be recognised as equally appli- 
cable to political questions. The province of the philosopher is 
education ; and as the result of education, counsel : the province of 
the capitalist is action and authoritative direction. This is the only 
right distribution of power ; and the people wUl insist on main- 
taining it in its integrity, seeing, as they will, that without it the 
' harmonious existence of Humanity is impossible. 

Fi'om this view of the practical side of the religion „ • 
of Humanity taken in connection with its intellectual yetripefortho 
and moral side, we may form a general conception of sutThe ^^toI 
the final reorganization of political institutions, by i""on "f isis 
which alone the great Kevolution can be brought to a wards^t.^ 
close. But the time for effecting this reconstruction 
has not yet come. There must be a previous reconstruction of 
opinions and habits of life upon the basis laid down by Positivism, ; 
and for this at least one generation is required. In the interval, all 
|)oritical measures must retain their provisional character, although 
in framing them the final state is always to be taken into account. 
As yet nothing can be said to have been established, except the 
moral principle on which Positivism rests, the subordination of 
Politics to Morals. For this is in fact implicitly involved in the 
' proclamation of a Eepublic in France ; a step which cannot now be 
recalled, and which implies that each citizen is to devote all his 
' faculties to the service of Humanity. But with regard to the social 
organization, by which alone this principle can be carried into elFect, 
although its basis has been laid down by Positivism, it has not yet 
received the sanction of the Public. It may be hoped, however, 
that the motto which I have put forward as descriptive of the new 
political philosophy, Order and Progress, wUl soon be adopted 
spontaneously. 

In the first or negative phase of the Ee volution, all i^ttevoiu- 
that was done was utterly to repudiate the old political tionary motto; 
system. No indication whatever was given of the state Equity. °'° 
of things which was to succeed it. The motto of the 
time, Liberty and Equality, is an exact representation of this state 
of things, the conditions expressed in it being utterly contradictory, 
and incompatible with organization of any kind. For obviously, 
Liberty gives free scope to superiority of all kinds, and especially 
to moral and mental superiority ; so that if a uniform level of 
Equality is insisted on, freedom of growth is checked. Yet incon- 
sistent as the motto was, it was admirably adapted to the destructive 
temper of the time ; a time when hatred of the Past compensated 



280 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. VI. 

the lack of insight into the Future. It had, too, a progres-iive 
tendency, vrhich partly neutralised its subversive spirit. It inspired 
the first attempt to derive true principles of polity from general views 
of history ; the memorable though unsuccessful essay of my great 
predecessor Condorcet. Thus the first intimation of the future 
influence of the historical spirit was given at the very time when 
tho anti-historical spirit had reached its climax. 

The long period of reaction which succeeded the first crisis gave 
rise to no political motto of any importance. It was a period for , 
which men of any vigour of thought and character could not but 
feel secret repugnance. It produced, however, a universal conviction 
that the metaphysical policy of the revolutionists was of no avail 
for constructive purposes. And it gave rise to the historical works 
of the Neo-Catholic school, which prepared the way for Positivism 
by giving the first fair appreciation of the Middle Ages. 

Second mot- ^^^^ ^^^ Countcr-revolution, begun by Eobespierre, 
to ; Liberty carried to its full length by Bonaparte, and continued 
by the Bourbons, came to an end in the memorable 
outbreak of 1830. A neutral period of eighteen years followed, 
and a new motto, Liberty and Public Order, was temporarily 
adopted. This motto was very expressive of the political condition " 
of the time ; and the more so that it arose spontaneously, without 
ever receiving any formal sanction. It expressed the general 
feeling of the public, who, feeling that the secret of the political 
future was possessed by none of the existing parties, contented 
itself with pointing out the two conditions essential as a preparation 
for it. It was an improvement on the first motto, because it indi- 
cated more clearly that the ultimate purpose of the revolution was 
construction. It got rid of the anti-social notion of Equality. All 
the moral advantages of Equality without its political dangers 
existed already in the feeling of Fraternity, which, since the Middle 
Ages, has become sufiiciently diffused in Western Europe to need 
no special formula. Again, this motto introduced empirically the 
great conception of Order ; understanding it of course in the limited 
sense of material order at home and abroad. No deeper meaning 
was likely to be attached to the word in a time of such mental and 
moral anarchy. 

Third mot- •'^"* '^'*^ ^^ adoption of the Eepublican principle in 
to; Order and 1848, the utility of this provisional motto ceased. For 
Progress. ^j^^ Kevolution now entered upon its positive phase ; 

which indeed, for aU philosophical minds, had been already 
inaugurated by my discoveiy of the laws of Social Science. But 
the fact of its having fallen into disuse is no reason for going back 



CHAP. Tl] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUJIANITY. 281 

to the old inotto, Liberty and Equality, which, since the crisis of 
1789, has ceased to be appropriate. In the utter absence of social 
convictions, it has obtained a sort of official resuscitation ; but this 
will not prevent men of good sense and right feeling from adopting 
spontaneously the motto Order and Progress, as the principle of all 
political action for the future. In the second chapter I dwelt at 
some length upon this motto, and pointed out its political and 
philosophical meaning. I have now only to show its connection 
with the other mottoes of which we have been speaking, and the 
probability of its adoption. Each of them, like aU combinations, 
whether in the moral or physical world, is composed of two ele- 
ments ; and the last has one of its elements in common with the 
second, as the second has in common with the iirst. Moreover, 
Liberty, the element common to the two first, is in reality contained 
in the third ; since all Progress implies Liberty. But Order is put 
foremost, because the word is here intended to cover the whole field 
that properly belongs to it. It includes things private as well as 
public, theoretical as well as practical, moral as well as political. 
Progress is put next, as the end for which Order exists, and as the 
mode in which it should be manifested. This conception, for which 
the crisis of 1789 prepared the way, will be our guiding principle 
throughout the constructive phase of the Western Kevolution. The 
reconciliation of Order and Progress, which had hitherto been 
impossible, is now an accepted fact for aU advanced minds. For 
the public this is not yet the case; but since the close of the 
CJounter-revolution in 1830, all minds have been tending unconsci- 
ously in this direction. The tendency becomes stiU more striking 
by contrast with an opposite movement, the increasing identity of 
principles between the reactionary and the anarchist schools. 

But even if we suppose accomplished what is yet 
only in prospect, even if the fundamental principle of p„iicy''™r'ttie 
our future polity were accepted and publicly ratified by p.^<"1 "* tf*"- 
the adoption of this motto, yet permanent reconstruc- 
tion of political institutions would still be premature. Before this 
can be attempted, the spiritual interregnum must be terminated. 
For this object, in which all hearts and minds, especially among 
the working classes and among women, must unite their efforts with 
those of the philosophic priesthood, at least one generation is 
required. During this period governmental policy should be 
avowedly provisional ; its one object should be to maintain what is 
80 essential to our state of transition. Order, at home and abroad. 
Here, too. Positivism suffices for the task ; by explaining on histo- 
rical principles the stage that we have left, and that at which we 



282 A GKNERAL VIBW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. Tt ■. 

shall ultimately arrive, it enables us to understand the character of 
the intermediate stage. 

Po uiardic- ^^® solution of the problem consists in a newrevolu- 
tatorshipwith tionaiy government, adapted to the Positive phase of 
i^ecK° "' *^e Eevolution, as the admirable institutions of the 
Convention were to its negative phase. The principal 
features of such a government would be perfect freedom of speech 
and discussion, and at the same time political preponderance of the 
central authority with proper guarantees for its purity. To secure 
perfect freedom of discussion, various measures would be taken. All 
penalties and fines which at present hamper its action would be 
abolished, the only check left being the obligation of signature. 
Again, all difficulties in the way of criticising the private character of 
public men, due to the disgraceful legislation of the psychologists, 
would be removed. Lastly, all official grants to theological and 
metaphysical institutions would be discontinued ; for while these 
remain, freedom of instruction in the true sense cannot be said to exist. 
"With such substantial guarantees there wUl be little fear of reac- 
tionary tendencies on the part of the executive.; and consequently 
no danger in allowing it to take that ascendency over the electoral, 
body which, in the present state of mental and moral anarchy, is 
absolutely necessary for the maintenance of material order. On this 
plan the French assembly would be reduced to about two hun- 
dred members ; and its only duty would be ,to vote the budget 
proposed by the finance committee of government, and to audit the 
accounts of the past year. All executive or legislative measures 
would come within the province of the central power ; the only 
condition being that they should first be submitted to free dis- 
cussion, whether by journals, public meetings, or individual 
thinker's, though such discussion should not bind the government * 
legally. The progressive character of the government thus guaran- 
teed, we have next to see that the men who compose it shall be 
such as are likely to carry out the provisional and purely practical [ 
purpose with which it is instituted. On Positive principles, it is 
to the working classes that we should look for the only statesmen 
worthy of succeeding to the statesmen of the Convention. Three 
of such men would be required for the central government. They 
would combine the functions of a ministry with those of monarchy, 
one of them taking the direction of Foreign affairs, another of 
Home affairs, the third of Finance. They would convoke and dis- 
solve the electoral power on their own responsibility. Of this body ' 
the majority would in a short time, without any law to that effect, 
consist of the larger capitalists ; for the office would be gratuitous, 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. IHB RELIGION OF HTTMANITT. 283 

and the duties would be of a kind for which their ordinary avoca- 
tions fitted them, i Changes would occasionally be necessary in the 
central goremment ; but since it would consist of three persons, its 
continuity rdight be maintained, and the traditions of the previous 
generation, as well as the tendencies of the future, and the position 
actually existing, might all be represented. 

Such a government, though of course retaining some revolutionary 
features, would 'come as near to the normal state as is at present prac- 
ticable. For its province 'would be entirely limited to material 
questions, and the only anomaly of importance would be the fact 
of choosing rulers from the working classes. Normally, this class 
is excluded from political administration, which falls ultimately into 
the hands of capitalists. But the anomaly is so obviously de- 
pendent simply on the present condition of affairs, and will be so 
restricted in its application, that the working classes are not likely 
to be seriously demoralised by it. The primary object being to 
infuse morality into practical life, it is clear that working men, 
whose minds and hearts are peculiarly accessible to moral influence, 
are for the present best qualified for political power. No check 
meantime is placed on the action of the capitalists ; and this provi- 
sional policy prepares the way .for their ultimate accession to power, 
by convincing them of the urgent need of private and public 
regeneration, without which they can never be worthy of it. By 
this course, too, it 'becomes easier to bring ithe consultative influence 
of a spiritual power to bear upon modern government. At first such 
influence can oiily'be exercised spontaneously ; but it will become 
more and more systematic with every new step in the great philo- 
sophical renovation on which ihe final reorganization of society is 
based. 

The propriety 6i the provisional policy here recommended is 
further illustrated by the wide scope of its application. Although 
"suggested by the difficulties peculiar to the position of France, it is 
equally adapted to other nations who are sufficiently advanced to 
take part in the great revolutionary crisis. Thus the second phase 
of the Eevolution is at once distinguished from the first, by having 
an Occidental, as opposed to a purely National, character. And 
the fact of the executive government being composed of working 
men, points in the same direction ; since of all classes working 
men are the most free from local prejudices, and have the strongest 
tendencies, both intellectually and morally, to universal union. 
Even should this form of government be limited for some years to 
France, it would be enough to remodel the old system of diplomacy 
throughout the "West, 



284 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [CHAP. Ti 

Such are the advantages which the second revolutionary govern- 
ment will derive from the possession of systematic principles ; 
whereas the government of the Convention was left to its empirical 
instincts, and had nothing but its progressive instincts to guide it. 

A special Eeport was published iu 1848 by the Positivist Society, 
in which the subject of provisional government wUl be found 
discussed in greater detail. 

Positive Quiet at home and peace abroad being secured, we 

WMtern'°°Eu- ^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^> notwithstanding the continuance of men- 
rope, tal and moral anarchy, to proceed actively with the vast 
work of social regeneration, with the certainty of full liberty of 
thought and expression. Eor this purpose it will be desirable to 
institute the philosophical and political association to which I 
alluded in the last volume of my " Positive Philosophy " (published 
in 1842), under the title of " Positive Occidental Committee ". Its 
sittings would usually be held in Paris, and it would consist, in the 
first place, of eight Frenchmen, seven Englishmen, six Germans, 
five Italians, and four Spaniards. This would be enough to 
represent fairly the principal divisions of each population. Ger- 
many, for instance, might send a Dutchman, a Prussian, a Swede, a 
Dane, a Bavarian, and an Austrian. So, too, the Italian members 
might come respectively from Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany, the 
Roman States, and the two Sicilies, Again, Catalonia, CastUle, 
Andalusia, and Portugal would adequately represent the Spanish 
Peninsula. 

Thus we should have a sort of permanent Council of the new 
Church. Each of the three elements of the moderating power 
should be admitted into it ; and it might also contain such members 
of the governing class as were sufficiently regenerated to be of use 
in forwarding the general movement. There should be practical 
men in this councU as well as philosophers. Here, as elsewhere, it 
will be principally from the working classes that such practical 
co-operation will' come ; but no support, if given sincerely, wUl be 
rejected, even should it emanate from the classes who are destined 
to extinction, It is also most important for the purposes of this 
Council that the third element of the moderating power, women, 
should be included in it, so as to represent the fundamental prin- 
ciple of the preponderance of the heart over the understanding. 
Six ladies should be chosen in addition to the thirty members above 
mentioned : of these, two would be French, and one from each of 
the other nations. Besides their ordinary sphere of influence, it 
will be their special duty to disseminate Positivism among our 
Southern brethren. It is an office that I had reserved for my 



CHAP. VI.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 285 

saintly colleague, who, but for her premature death, would have 
rendered eminent service in such a Council. 

While material order is maintained by national governments, 
the members of the Council, as pioneers of the final order of society, 
wiU be carrying on the European movement, and gradually terminat- 
ing the spiritual interregnum which is now the sole obstacle to 
social regeneration. They will forward the development and 
diffusion of Positivism, and make practical application of its 
principles, in all ways that are honourably open to them. Instruc- 
tion of all kinds, oral or written, popular or philosophic, will fall 
within their province ; but their chief aim will be to inaugurate the 
worship of Humanity so far as that is possible. And already a 
beginning is possible, so far at least as the system of commemora- 
tion is concerned. Politically they may give a direct proof of the 
international character of the Positive system, by bringing forward 
several measures, the utility of which has long been recognised, 
but which have been neglected for want of some central authority 
placed beyond the reach of national rivalry. 

One of the most important of such measures would nav^.°°"^™*^ 
be the establishment of a Western naval force, with 
the twofold object of protecting the seas, and of assisting geogra- 
phical .and scientific discovery. It should be recruited and sup- 
ported by all five branches of the Occidental family, and would 
thus be a good substitute for the admirable institution of maritime 
Chivalry which fell with Catholicism. On its flag the Positivist 
motto would naturally be inscribed, and thus would be for the first 
time publicly recognised. 

Another measure, conceived in the same spirit, would 
soon follow, one which has been long desired, but i^*^^**'°°*' 
which, owing to the anarchy prevalent throughout the 
West since the decline of Catholicism, has never yet been carried 
out. A common monetary standard will be established, with the 
consent of the various governments, by which industrial transac- 
tions wiU be greatly facilitated. Three spheres made respectively 
of gold, silver, and platinum, and each weighing fifty grammes, 
would differ sufficiently in value for the purpose. The sphere 
should have a small flattened base, and on the great circle parallel 
to it the Positivist motto would be inscribed. At the pole would 
be the image of the immortal Charlemagne, the founder of the 
Western Eepublic, and round the image his name would be en- 
graved, in its Latin form, Carolus; that name, respected as it is 
by all nations of Europe alike, would be the common appellation 
of the universal monetary standard. 



286 A GENERAL VIEW OP POSITIVISM, tCSAP. n. 

The adoption of such measures would soon bring 
BchooL °" the Positivist Committee into favour. Many others 
might be suggested, relating directly to its fundamen- 
tal purpose, which need not be specially mentioned here. I will 
only suggest the foundation, by voluntary effort, of an Occidental 
School, to serve as the nucleus of a true philosophic class. The 
students would ultimately enter the Positivist priesthood ; they 
would in most instances come from the working class, withopt, 
however, excluding real talent from whatever quarter. By their 
agency the septennial course of Positive teaching might be intro- 
duced in all places disposed to receive it. They would besides 
supply voluntary missionaries, who would preach the doctrine 
everywhere, even outside the limits of Western Europe, according 
to the plan hereafter to be explained. The travels of Positivist 
workmen, in the ordinary duties of their calling,, would greatly 
facilitate this work. 

A more detailed view of this provisional system of instruction 
will be found in the second edition of the " Eeport on the Subject 
of a Positive School," published by the Positivist Society in 1849. 

Flag for the There is another step which might be taken, relating 
Western Ee- not merely to the period' of transition, but also to the 
P" °' normal state. A flag suitable to the Western Repub- 

lic might be adopted, which, with slight alterations, would also be 
the flag for each nation. The want of such a symbol is already 
instinctively felt. What is wanted is a substitute for the old 
retrograde symbols, which yet shall avoid all subversive tendencies. 
It would be a suitable inauguration of the period of transition 
which we are now entering, if the colours and mottoes appropriate 
to the final state were adopted at its outset. 

To speak first of the banner to be used in rehgious services. It 
should be painted on canvass. On one side the ground would be 
white ; on it would be the symbol of Humanity, personified by a 
woman of thirty years of age, bearing her son in her arms. The 
other side would bear the religious formula of Positivists : L<me is 
our Principle, Order is our Basis, Progress our End, upon a ground 
of green, the colour of hope, and therefore most suitable for 
emblems of the future. 

Green, too, would be the colour of the political flag, common to 
the whole West. As it is intended to float freely, it does not 
admit of painting ; but the carved image of Humanity might be 
placed at the banner-pole. The principal motto of Positivism will, 
in this case, be divided into two, both alike significant. One side 
of the flag wiU have the political and scientific motto. Order and 



CHAP, v.] CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. ' 287 

Progress ; the other, the moral and esthetic motto, Live for Others. 
The first will be preferred by men; the other is more specially 
adapted to women, who are thus invited to participate in these 
public manifestations of social feeling. 

This point settled, the question of the various national flags 
becomes easy. In these the centre might be green, and the national 

' colours might be displayed on the border. Thus, in France, where 
the innovation wiU be first introduced, the border would be 
tricolour, with the present arrangement of colours, except that 
more space should be given to the white, in honour of our old royal 

■ flag. In this way uniformity would be combined with variety; 
and, moreover, it would be shown that the new feeling of Occiden- 
tality is perfectly compatible with respect for the smallest nationa- 
lities. Each would retain the old signs in combination with the 
common symbol. The same principle would apply, to all emblems 
of minor importance. 

The question of these symbols, of which I have spoken during 
the last two years in my weekly courses of lectures, illustrates the 
most immediate of the functions to which the Positive Committee 
will be called. I mention it here; as a type of. its general action 
upon European society. 

Without setting any limits to the gradual increase of the Associa- 

' tion, it is desirable that the central nucleus should always remain 
limited to the original number of thirty-six, with two additions, 
which will shortly be mentioned. Each member might institute a 
more numerous association in his own country, and this again might 
be the parent of others. Associations thus affiliated may be 
developed to an unlimited extent ; and thus we shall be able to 
maintain the unity and homogeneity of the Positive Church, with- 
out impairing its coherence and vigour. As soon as Positivism has 
gained in every country a sufficient number of voluntary adherents 
to constitute the preponderating section of the community, the 
regeneration of society is secured. 

The numbers assigned above for the different nations, only re- 
present the order in which the advanced minds in each will 
oo-operate in the movement. The order in which the great body of 
each nation will join it, will be, as far as we can judge from their 
antecedents, somewhat different. The difference is, that Italy here 
takes the second place, and Spain the third, while England descends 
to the last. The grounds for this important modification are 
indicated in the third edition of my " Positive Calendar ". They 
wLU be discussed in detail in the fourth volume of this Treatise.* 

• The relative position here assigned to England and Sermany is revetaed in the tourth 
volume of the " Politique PositiTe ". 



288 A QBNERAI. VIEW OF POSITIVISM. [chap. ti. 

Colonial and ^"roin Europe the movement -will spread ultimately- 
foreign Asso- to the whole race. But the first step in its progress 
Committee, the 'Will naturally be to the inhabitants of our colonies, 
actio" of ■"Woh -^iiQ^ though politically independent of Western 
extend to the Europe, still retain their filiation with it. Twelve 
race?* '^""*° Colonial members may be added to the Council ; four 
for each American Continent, two for India, two for 
the Dutch and Spanish possessions in the Indian Ocean. 

This gives us forty-eight members. To these twelve foreign 
associates will gradually be added, to represent the populations 
whose growth has been retarded ; and then the Council will have 
received its full complement. For every nation of the world is 
destined for the same ultimate conditions of social regeneration 
as ourselves, the only difference being that Western Europe, 
under the leadership of France, takes the initiative. It is of great 
importance not to attempt this final extension too soon, an error 
Which would impair the precision and vigour of the renovating 
movement. At the same time it must never be forgotten that the 
existence of the Great Being remains incomplete until all its 
members are brought into harmonious co-operation. In ancient 
times social sympathy was restricted to the idea of Ifationality ; 
between this and the final conception of Humanity, the Middle 
Ages introduced the intermediate conception of Christendom, or 
Occidentality ; the real bearing of which is at present but little 
appreciated. It will be our first political duty to revive that con- 
ception, and place it on a firmer basis, by terminating the anarchy 
consequent on the extinction of Catholic Feudalism. While 
occupied in this task, we shall become impressed with the convic- 
tion that the union of Western Europe is but a preliminary step to 
the union of Humanity ; an instinctive presentiment of which has 
existed from the infancy of our race, but which, as long as theo- 
logical belief and military life were predominant, could never be 
carried out even in thought. The primary laws of human develop- 
ment which form the philosophical basis of the Positive system, 
apply necessarily to all climates and races whatsoever, the only 
difference being in the rapidity with which evolution takes place. 
The inferiority of other nations in this respect is not inexplicable ; 
and it will now be compensated by a growth of greater regularity 
than ours, and less interrupted by shocks and oscillations. 
Obviously in our case systematic guidance was impossible, since it 
is only now that our growth is complete that we can learn the 
general laws common to it and to other cases. Wise and generous 
intervention of the West on behalf of our sister nations who are 



CHAE. VI.] CONOLUSIOK. THE KBLIGION OF HUMANITY. 289 

less advanced, will form a noHe field for Social Art, when based 
on sound scientific principles. Kela^ive without being arbitrary, 
zealous and yet always temperate; such should be the spirit of 
this intervention ; and thus conducted, it will form a system of 
moral and political action far nobler than the proselytism of theo- 
logy or the extension of military empire. The time will come when 
it wiU engross the whole attention of the Positive Council ; but for 
the present it must remain secondary to othpr subjects of greater 
urgency. 

The first to joui the Western movement will necessarily bp the 
remaining portion of the White race : which in all its branches is 
superior to the other two races. There are two Monotheist nations, 
and one Polytheist, which will be successively incorporated. Taken 
together, the three represent the propagation of Positivism in 
the East. 

The vast population of the Eussiain empire was left outsid^e the 
pale of Catholic Feudalism. By virtue of its Christianity, hojvever, 
notwithstanding its entire confusion of temporal and spiritual 
power, it holds the first place among the Monotheistic nations of 
the East. Its initiation into the Western movement will be con- 
ducted by two nations of intermediate position ; Greece, connected 
■with Eussia by the tie of religion ; and Poland, united with her 
politically. Though neither of these nations is homogeneous in 
structure with Eussia, it would cause serious delay in the propaga- 
tion of Positivism shpuld the connection be altogether terminated. 

The next step wUl be to Mohammedan Monotheism ; first in 
Turkey, afterwards in Persia. Here Positivism will find points of 
sympathy of which Cathohcism could not admit. Indeed these are 
already perceptible. Arab civilization transmitted Greek science to 
us : and this will always secure for it an honourable pl^ce among 
the essential elements of the mediseval system, regarded as a,-.prep^ 
jation for Positivism. 

Lastly, we come to the Polytheists of India ; and with them the 
incorporation of the White race jvill be complete. Already we see 
some spontaneous tendencies in this direction. Although from 
exceptional causes Theocracy has been preserved in India, there 
exist real points of contact with Positivism ; and in this respect the 
assistance of Persia will be of service. It is the peculiar privilege 
of the Positive doctrine that, taking so complete a view of human 
development, it is always able to appreciate the most ancient 
forms of social life at their true worth. - 

In these three stages of Positivist propagation, the Council -wUl 
have elected the .first half of its- foieign ;associates ; admitting ,:suc- 
' - ' 19 



290 A QENEEiJ. VIEW OP POSITIVISM. Ichap. vi. 

cessively a Greek, a Eussian, an Egyptian, a Turk, a Persian, and 
finally, a Hindoo. 

The Yellow race has adhered firmly to Polytheism. But it has 
been considerably modified in all its branches by Monotheism, 
either in the Christian or Mohammedan form. To some extent, 
therefore, it is prepared for further change ;- and a sufficient number 
of adherents may soon be obtained for Tartary, China, Japan, and 
Malacca to be represented in the Council. 

With one last addition the organization of the Council is com- 
plete. The black race has yet to be included. It should send two 
representatives ; one from Hayti, which had the energy to shake off 
the iniquitous yoke of slavery, and the other from central Africa, 
which has never yet been subjected to European influence. 
European pride has looked with contempt on these African tribes, 
and imagines them destined to hopeless stagnation. But the very 
fact of their having been left to themselves renders them better 
disposed to receive Positivism, the first system in which their 
Fetichistic faith has been appreciated, as the origin from which the 
historical evolution of society has proceeded. 

It is probable that the Council will have reached its limit of 
sixty members, before the spiritual interregnum in the central 
region of Humanity has been terminated. But even if political 
reconstruction were to proceed so rapidly in Europe as to render all 
possible assistance to this vast movement, it is hardly conceivable 
that the five stages of which it consists can be thoroughly effected 
within a period of two centuries. But however this may be, the 
action of the Council wiU become increasingly valuable, not only for 
its direct influence on the less advanced nations, but also and more 
especially, because the proofs it will furnish of the universality of 
the new religion wiU strengthen its adherents in the Western 
family. 

Conclusion. But the time when Positivism can be brought into 
ttre'poStiTist direct contact with these preliminary phases is far 
ideiri. distant, and we need not wait for it. The features of 

the system stand out already with sufficient clearness to enable us 
to begin at once the work of mental and social renovation for which 
our rev^utionary predecessors so energetically prepared the way. 
They however were blinded to the Future by their hatred of the 
Past* With us, on the contrary, social sympathy rests upon the 
historical spirit, and at the same time strengthens it. Solidaiity 
with our contemporaries is not enough for us, unless we combine 
it with the sense of Continuity with former times ; and while we 
press on toward the Future, we lean apon the Past, every phase ot 



CB4P, VI.] CONCLUSION, THE RELIGION OP HUMANITY. 291 

which our religion holds in honour. So far from the energy of our 
progressive movement heing hampered hy such feelings, it is only 
by doing full justice to the Past, as no system but ours can do con- 
sistently, that we can obtain perfect emancipation of thought; 
because we are thus saved from the necessity of making the 
slightest actual concession to systems which we regard as obsolete. 
Understanding their nature and their purpose better than the 
sectaries who stUl empirically adhere to them, we can see that each 
was in its time necessary as a preparatory step towards the final 
system, in which all their partial and imperfect services will be 
combined. 

Comparing it especially with the last synthesiu by which the 
Western family of nations has been directed, it is clear even from 
the indications given in this prefatory work, that the new synthesis 
is more real, more comprehensive, and more stable. All that we 
fitid to admire in the mediaeval system is developed and matured in 
Positivism. It is the only system which can induce the intellect 
to accept its due position of subordination to the heart. We recog- 
nise the piety and chivalry of our ancestors, who made a noble 
application of the best doctrine that was possible in their time. We 
believe that were they living now, they would be found in our 
ranks. They would acknowledge the decay of their provisional 
phase of thought, and would see that in its present degenerate 
state it is only a symbol of reaction, and a source of discord. 
• And now that the doctrine has been shown to rest on a central 
principle, a principle which appeals alike to instinct and to reason, 
we may carry our comparison a step further, and convince all clear- 
seeing and honest minds that it is as superior to former systems in 
its influence over the emotions and the imagination, as it is from 
the practical and intellectual aspect. Under it. Life, whether 
private or public, becomes in a still higher sense than under Poly- 
theism, a continuous act of worship, performed under the inspiration 
of universal Love. All our thoughts, feelings, and actions flow 
spontaneously to a common centre in Humanity, our Supreme 
Being ; a Being who is real, accessible, and sympathetic, because 
she is of the same nature as her worshippers, though far superior 
to any one 'of them. The very conception of Humanity is a con- 
densation of the whole mental and social history of man. For it 
implies the irrevocable extinction of theology and of war ; both of 
which are incompatible with uniformity of belief and with co- 
operation of all the energies of the race. The spontaneous morality 
of the emotions is restored to its due place; and Philosophy, 
Poetry, and. Polity are thereby regenerated. Each is placed in. its 



292 A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. tOHAP, ru 

due relation to the others, and is consecrated to the study, the 
praise, and the service of Humanity, the most relative and the most 
perfectible of all beings. Science passes from the analytic to the 
synthetic state, being entrusted with the high mission of founding 
an objective basis for man's action on the laws of the external 
world and of man's nature ; a basis which is indispensable to control 
the oscillation of our opinions, the versatility of our feelings, and 
the instability of our purposes. Poetry assumes at last its true 
social function, and will henceforth be preferred to all other studies. 
By idealizing Humanity under every aspect, it enables us to give fit 
expression to the gratitude we owe to her, both publicly and as 
individuals ; and thus it becomes a source of the highest spiritual 
benefit. 

But amidst the pleasures that spring from the study and the 
praise of Humanity, it must be remembered that Positivism is 
characterised always by reality and utility, and admits of no 
degeneration into asceticism or quietism. The Love by which it is 
inspired is no passive principle ; while stimulating Eeason and 
ImagLuation, it does so only to give a higher direction to our prac- 
tical activity. It was in practical life that the Positive spirit first 
arose, extending thence to the sphere of thought, and ultimately to 
the moral sphere. The grand object of human existence is the 
constant improvement of the natural Order that surrounds us : of 
our material condition first; subsequently of our physical, intel- 
lectual, and moral nature. And the highest of these objects is 
moral progress, whether in the individual, in the family, or in 
society. It is on this that human happiness, whether in private or 
public life, principally depends. Political art, then, when subordi- 
nated to morality, becomes the most essential of all arts. It 
consists in concentration of all human effort upon the service of 
Humanity, in accordance with the natural laws which regulate her 
existence. 

The great merit of ancient systems of polity, of the Roman 
system especially, was that precedence was always given to public 
interests. Every citizen co-operated in the manner and degree 
suited to those early times. But there were no means of providing 
proper regulation for domestic hfe. In the Middle Ages, when 
Catholicism attempted to form a complete system of morality, 
private life was made the principal object. All our affections were 
subjected to a most beneficial course of discipline, in which the 
inmost springs of vice and virtue were reached. But owing to the 
inadequacy of the doctrines on which the system rested, the solution 
of the problem was incoherent. The method by which Catholicism 



CHAP- VI.]! CONCLUSION. THE EBLIQION OF HUMANITY. 293 

controlled the selfish propensities was one which turned men away 
trom public life, and cencentrated them on interests which were at 
once chimerical and personal. The immediate value of this great 
effort was, that it brought about for the. first time a separation 
between moral and political power, which in the systems of 
antiquity had always been confounded. But the separation was 
due rather to the force of circumstances than to any conscious efforts ■ 
and It could not be fully carried out, because it was incompatible 
with the spirit of the Catholic doctrine and with the mUitary 
character of society. Woman sympathized with Catholicism, but 
the people never supported it with enthusiasm, and it soon sank 
under the encroachments of the temporal power, and the degeneracy 
of the priesthood. 

Positivism is the only system which, can renew this premature 
effort and bring it to a satisfactory issue. Combining the spirit of 
antiquity with that of Catholic Feudalism, it proposes to carry out 
the political programme put forward by the Convention. 

Positive religion brings before us in a definite shape the noblest 
of human problems, the permanent preponderance of Social feel- 
ing over Self-love. As far as the exceeding imperfection of our 
nature enables us to solve it, it will be solved by calling our home 
affections into continuous action ; affections which stand half way 
between self-love and universal sympathy. In order to consolidate 
and develop this solution. Positivism lays down the philosophical 
and social principle of separation of theoretical from practical 
power. Theoretical power is consultative; it directs education,, 
and supplies general principles. Practical power directs action by 
Special and imperative rules. All the elements of society that are 
excluded from political government become guarantees for the pre- 
servation of this arrangement. The priests of Humanity, who are 
the systematic organs of the moderating power, will always find 
themselves supported, in their attempts to modify the governing 
power, by women and by the people. But to be so supported, 
they must be men who, in addition to the intellectual power ne- 
cessary for their mission, have the moral qualities which are yet 
more necessary; who combine, that is, the tenderness of women 
with the energy of the people. The first guarantee for the posses- 
sion of such qualities is the sacrifice of political authority and even 
of wealth. Then we may at last hope to see the new religion 
taking the place of the old, because it will fulfil in a more perfect 
way the mental and social purposes for which the old religion 
existed. Monotheism will lapse like Polytheism and Fetichism, 
into the, domain of history ; and will, like them, be incorporated 



29i A GENERAL VIEW OF POSITIVISM. Ichap. yi 

into the system of universal commemoration, in -which Humanity 
will render due homage to all her predecessors. 
Coiraptionof It is not, then, merely on the ground of speculative 
Monotheism, ^j^j-jj ^^^ Positivists would urge all those who are 
still halting between two opinions, to chose between the absolute 
and the relative, between the fruitless search for Causes and the 
solid study of Laws, between submission to arbitrary Wills and 
submission to demonstrable Necessities. It is for Feeling still 
more than for Eeason to make the decision ; for upon it depends 
the establishment of a higher form of social life. 

Monotheism in Western Europe is now as obsolete and as 
injurious as Polytheism was fifteen centuries ago. The discipline 
in which its moral value principally consisted has long since 
decayed; and consequently the sole effect of its doctrine, which 
has been so extravagantly praised, is to degrade the affections by 
unlimited desires, and to weaken the character by servile terrors. 
It supplied no field for the Imagination, and forced it back upon 
Polytheism and Fetichism, which, under Theology, form the only 
possible foundation for poetry. The pursuits of practical life 
were never sincerely promoted by it, and they advanced only by 
evading or resisting its influence. The noblest of all practical 
pursuits, that of social regeneration, is at the present time in 
direct opposition to it. For by its vague notion of Providence, it 
prevents men from forming a true conception of Law, a conception 
necessary for true prevision, on which all wise intervention must 
be based. 

Sincere believers in Christianity will soon cease to interfere with 
the management of a world, where they profess themselves to be 
pilgrims and strangers. The new Supreme Being is no less jealous 
than the old, and will not accept the servants of two masters. 
But the truth is, that the more zealous theological partizans, 
whether royalists, aristocrats, or democrats, have now for a long 
time been insincere. God to them is but the nominal chief of a hypo- 
critical conspiracy, a conspiracy which is even more contemptible 
than it is odious. Their object is to keep the people from all great 
social improvements by assuring them that they vrill find compen- 
sation for their miseries in an imaginary future life. The doctrine 
is already falling into discredit among the working classes every- 
where throughout the West, especially in Paris. All theological 
tendencies, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Deist, really serve to 
prolong and aggravate our moral anarchy, because they hinder the 
diffusion of that social sympathy and breadth of view, without 
which we can never attain fixity of principle and regularity of life. 



CHAP. TL] CONCLUSION^ THE KBLIGION OF HUMANITY. 295 

Every subversive scheme now afloat has either originated in Mono- 
theism or has received its sanction. Even Catholicism has lost its 
power of controlling revolutionary extravagance in some of its own 
most distinguished members. 

It is for the sake of Order therefore, even more than of Progress, 
that we caU on all those who desire to rise above their present 
disastrous state of oscillation in feeling and opinion, to make a 
distinct choice between Positivism and Theology. For there are 
now but two camps : the camp of reaction and anarchy, which 
acknowledges more or less distinctly the direction of God: the 
camp of construction and progress, which is whoUy devoted to 
Humanity. 

The Being upon whom all our thoughts are concentrated is one 
whose existence is undoubted. We recognise that existence not in 
the Present only, but in the Past, and even in the Future : and we 
find it always subject to one fundamental Law, by which we are 
enabled to conceive of it as a whole. Placing our highest happi- 
ness in universal Love, we live, as far as it is possible, for others ; 
and this in public life as well as in private; for the two are 
closely linked together in our religion ; a religion clothed in all the 
beauty of Art, and yet never inconsistent with Science. After 
having thus exercised our powers to the full, and having given a 
charm and sacredness to our temporary life, we shall at last be for 
ever incorporated into the Supreme Being, of whose life aU noble 
natures are necessarily partakers. It is only through the worship 
of Humanity that we can feel the inward reality and inexpressible 
sweetness of this incorporation. It is unknown to those who 
being still involved in theological belief, have not been able to form 
a clear conception of the Future, and have never experienced the 
feeling of pure self-sacrifice. 



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