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Title: A General View of Positivism - Or, Summary exposition of the System of Thought and Life
Author: Comte, Auguste
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Notes:

Italicized text is enclosed in _underscores_.

Narrow text within square brackets are sidenotes; numbers within square
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“V^e” in Footnote 3 indicates that the “e” is a superscript.

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    The New Universal Library



    Translated from the French of

    By J. H. BRIDGES, M.B.
    _Late Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford_

    A New Edition, with an Introduction (1908), by

    And the Additional Notes in the last French
    Edition (Paris, 1907)



_Published by the kind consent of Mrs. Bridges and the Positivist
Committee, to whom the copyright of this translation belongs._

    Republic of the West
    Order and Progress




  Adapted to the Great Western Republic, formed of the Five Advanced
  Nations, the French, Italian, Spanish, British and German, which,
  since the time of Charlemagne, have always constituted a Political

  Réorganiser, sans dieu ni roi, par le culte systématique de

  Nul n’a droit qu’à faire son devoir.

  L’esprit doit toujours être le ministre du coeur, et jamais son

  Reorganisation, irrespectively of God or king, by the worship of
  Humanity, systematically adopted.

  Man’s only right is to do his duty.

  The Intellect should always be the servant of the Heart, and should
  never be its slave.


    _Author of_ ‘_System of Positive Philosophy_’
    PARIS, 1848



Although Positivism has been pretty widely discussed of late, not only
by those interested in philosophy and religion, but by the general
reader and the public press, perhaps but few of them, whether readers
or critics, have exactly grasped the full meaning of it as a system at
once of thought and of life. The vast range of the ground it covers and
the technical, allusive, and close style of Comte’s writings in the
original have made it difficult to master the subject as a whole. It
has accordingly been thought that the time has come to add to the ‘New
Universal Library’ a translation of _The General View of Positivism_,
i.e., the careful summary of the _Positive Polity_ which Auguste Comte
prefixed to the four volumes of his principal work. The translation
which was published by Dr. J. H. Bridges in 1865 is at the same time
a most accurate version by one of Comte’s earliest followers, and
also it is turned in an easy and simpler style, with the references
and allusions explained, marginal headings to the paragraphs, and a
complete analysis of the contents.

Positivism is not simply a system of Philosophy; nor is it simply a new
form of Religion; nor is it simply a scheme of social regeneration.
It partakes of all of these, and professes to harmonize them under
one dominant conception that is equally philosophic and social.
‘Its primary object,’ writes Comte, ‘is twofold: to generalize our
scientific conceptions and to systematize the art of social life.’
Accordingly Comte’s ideal embraces the three main elements of which
human life consists--Thoughts, Feelings and Actions.

Now it is clear that no such comprehensive system was ever before
offered to the world. Neither the Gospel nor any known type of religion
undertook to give a synthetic grouping of the Sciences. No synthetic
scheme of philosophy ever attempted to correlate religion, politics,
art, and industry. No system of Socialism, ancient or modern, started
with mathematics and led up to an ideal of a human devotion to duty,
with a ritual of worship, both public and private.

Now Comte’s famous _Positive Polity_ did attempt this gigantic task.
And the novelty and extent of such a work explains and accounts for the
extreme difficulty met with by readers of the original French, and also
for the fascination which it has maintained more than fifty years after
the author’s death. It has been talked about, criticized, and even
ridiculed, with an ignorance of its true character which can only be
excused by the abstract and severe form in which Comte thought right to
condense his thoughts. Comte was primarily a mathematician, and neither
Descartes nor Newton troubled themselves about ‘the general reader’.
Kepler, they say, declared himself satisfied if he had one convert
in a century; and philosophers have seldom had justice done them
until some generations have passed. The difficulties presented by the
scientific form of Comte’s works have been obviated for English readers
by the versions of his English followers, which are at once literal
translations, analyses, and elucidations. For the ‘general reader’
nothing could be more serviceable than Bridges’ clear presentation of
Comte’s own ‘general view’, or summary of his system.

The translation itself is a literary masterpiece. It renders an
extremely abstract and complex French type of philosophical dogmatism
into easy and simple English, whilst at the same time preserving and
even elucidating the somewhat cryptic allusions and _nuances_ of the
original. The thought in the French is full, pregnant, and suggestive,
at once subtle and abstract, and rich with words of a new coinage--such
as _altruism_, _sociology_, _dynamics_ (i.e., history), and old
words used in a special sense. This difficulty Dr. Bridges surmounts
by breaking up the involved sentences, supplying names and facts
indirectly referred to, and by transferring technical language into
popular English. The success of the translation has been proved by the
thousands of copies sold in the original 12mo edition of 1865, in the
8vo edition of 1875, and in the stereotyped reprint of 1881.

A pathetic interest attaches to the history of the translation. In
1860 Dr. Bridges, just settled as a physician in Melbourne, lost his
young wife by fever. He at once returned to England, bringing the
remains of his wife for interment in the family graveyard in Suffolk.
In those days of sailing vessels the voyage home round Cape Horn
occupied at least three months. Dr. Bridges resolved to conquer his
sorrow, shut himself in his cabin during the voyage home and completed
the translation (in 430 pages of print) within the time at sea:--

    The sad mechanic exercise,
    Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

Auguste Comte always spoke of the _Positive Polity_ as ‘his principal
work’. The _Discours sur l’Ensemble_, or _General View of Positivism_,
formed the introduction to the four volumes. It forms a summary of the
entire work, and it is indeed a systematic application of the doctrine
to the actual condition of society. As the _Polity_, taken as a whole,
professes to embody a set of doctrines for the regulation of thought
and life, the present _Introduction_ is designed to show the need of
such a body of doctrine, the result that they would produce, and the
mode in which they are likely to work. Thus, one who desires to see in
one view the social purpose which Positivism proposes to effect would
find it in no single volume better than in this treatise.

The work consists of six chapters, treating Positivism respectively
in its intellectual aspect, its social aspect, its influence on the
working classes, on women, on art, and on religion. In other words it
illustrates the application of the system to Philosophy, Politics,
Industry, The Family, Poetry and The Future. It opens with a comparison
of Positivist doctrines with those of the leading extant philosophies.
It closes with a picture of society should those doctrines be realized.
It is thus both a criticism of current theories, and an utopia of a
possible Future. Of the intermediate chapters, the first deals with the
principal changes proposed in our actual political system: the next
chapter deals with the changes proposed in our present social system.
Then come the last two chapters, dealing with the principal agents,
Art, Poetry and Religion, by which those changes may be promoted. The
book is therefore a practical introduction to the subject as a whole;
for it sets forth the _aim_ of Positivism as a system, and then how it
seeks to effect that aim.



    INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OF POSITIVISM                               8

  The object of Philosophy is to present a systematic view of
  human life as a basis for modifying its imperfections--The
  Theological Synthesis failed to include the practical side of
  human nature--But the Positive spirit originated in practical
  life--In human nature, and therefore in the Positive system,
  Affection is the preponderating element--The proper function
  of Intellect is the service of the Social Sympathies--Under
  Theology the Intellect was the slave of the Heart; under
  Positivism, its servant--The subordination of the Intellect to
  the Heart is the subjective principle of Positivism--Objective
  basis of the system: Order of the external World, as revealed
  by Science--By it the selfish affections are controlled; the
  unselfish strengthened--Our conception of this External Order
  has been gradually growing from the earliest times, and is but
  just complete--Even where not modifiable, its influence on the
  character is of the greatest value--But in most cases we can modify
  it; and in these the knowledge of it forms the systematic basis
  of human action--The chief difficulty of the Positive Synthesis
  was to complete our conception of the External Order by extending
  it to Social Phenomena--By the discovery of sociological laws
  social questions are made paramount; and thus our _subjective
  principle_ is satisfied without danger to free thought--Distinction
  between Abstract and Concrete laws. It is the former only
  that we require for the purpose before us--In our Theory of
  Development the required Synthesis of Abstract conceptions already
  exists--Therefore we are in a position to proceed at once with
  the work of social regeneration--Error of identifying Positivism
  with Atheism, Materialism, Fatalism, or Optimism. Atheism, like
  Theology, discusses insoluble mysteries--Materialism is due to the
  encroachment of the lower sciences on the domain of the higher,
  an error which Positivism rectifies--Nor is Positivism fatalist,
  since it asserts the External Order to be modifiable--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--The word _Positive_ connotes all
  the highest intellectual attributes, and will ultimately have a
  moral significance.


    THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF POSITIVISM                                   64

  The relation of Positivism to the French Revolution--The
  negative or destructive phase of the Revolution stimulated
  the desire of Progress, and consequently the study of social
  phenomena--The constructive phase of the Revolution. The first
  attempts to construct failed, being based on destructive
  principles--Counter-revolution from 1794 to 1830--Political
  stagnation between 1830 and 1848--The present position, 1848-1850.
  Republicanism involves the great principle of subordinating
  Politics to Morals--It gives prominence to the problem of
  reconciling Order and Progress--It brings the metaphysical
  revolutionary schools into discredit--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--The need of a spiritual power is common
  to the whole Republic of Western Europe--This Republic consists
  of the Italian, Spanish, British, and German populations,
  grouped round France as their centre--Relation of Positivism
  to the mediæval system, to which we owe the first attempt
  to separate Spiritual from Temporal power--But the mediæval
  attempt was premature; and Positivism will renew and complete
  it--The Ethical system of Positivism--Subjection of Self-love
  to Social love is the great ethical problem. The Social state
  of itself favours this result; but it may be hastened by
  organized and conscious effort--Intermediate between Self-love
  and universal Benevolence are the domestic affections: filial,
  fraternal, conjugal, paternal--Personal virtues placed upon a
  social basis--Moral education consists partly of scientific
  demonstration of ethical truth, but still more of culture of the
  higher sympathies--Organization of Public Opinion--Commemoration
  of great men--The political motto of Positivism: Order and
  Progress--Progress, the development of Order--Analysis of Progress:
  material, physical, intellectual, and moral--Application of our
  principles to actual politics. All government must for the present
  be provisional--Danger of attempting political reconstruction
  before spiritual--Politically what is wanted is Dictatorship, with
  liberty of speech and discussion--Such a dictatorship would be a
  step towards the separation of spiritual and temporal power--The
  motto of 1830, _Liberty and Public Order_--Liberty should be
  extended to Education--Order demands centralization--Intimate
  connexion of Liberty with Order.



  Positivism will not for the present recommend itself to the
  governing classes, so much as to the People--The working man who
  accepts his position is favourably situated for the reception
  of comprehensive principles and generous sympathies--This the
  Convention felt; but they encouraged the People to seek political
  supremacy, for which they are not fit--It is only in exceptional
  cases that the People can be really ‘sovereign’--The truth
  involved in the expression is that the well-being of the people
  should be the one great object of government--The People’s
  function is to assist the spiritual power in modifying the action
  of government--Their combined efforts result in the formation
  of Public Opinion--Public opinion involves, (1) principles of
  social conduct, (2) their acceptance by society at large, (3) an
  organ through which to enunciate them--Working men’s clubs--All
  three conditions of Public Opinion exist, but have not yet
  been combined--Spontaneous tendencies of the people in a right
  direction. Their Communism--Its new title of Socialism--Property
  is in its nature social, and needs control--But Positivism
  rejects the Communist solution of the Problem. Property is to
  be controlled by moral not legal agencies--Individualization
  of functions as necessary as co-operation--Industry requires
  its captains as well as War--Communism is deficient in the
  historical spirit--In fact, as a system it is worthless, though
  prompted by noble feelings--Property is a public trust, not to
  be interfered with legally--Inheritance favourable to its right
  employment--Intellect needs moral control as much as wealth--Action
  of organized public opinion upon Capitalists. Strikes--Public
  Opinion must be based upon a sound system of Education--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--The second part consists of public lectures
  on the Sciences, from Mathematics to Sociology--Travels of
  Apprentices--Concentration of study--Governmental assistance
  not required, except for certain special institutions, and
  this only as a provisional measure--We are not ripe for this
  system at present; and Government must not attempt to hasten its
  introduction--Intellectual attitude of the people. Emancipation
  from theological belief--From metaphysical doctrines--Their
  mistaken preference of literary and rhetorical talent to real
  intellectual power--Moral attitude of the people. The workman
  should regard himself as a public functionary--Ambition of power
  and wealth must be abandoned--The working classes are the best
  guarantee for Liberty and Order--It is from them that we shall
  obtain the dictatorial power which is provisionally required.


    THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVISM UPON WOMEN                           227

  Women represent the affective element in our nature, as
  philosophers and people represent the intellectual and practical
  elements--Women have stood aloof from the modern movement, because
  of its anti-historic and destructive character--But they will
  sympathize with constructive tendencies; and will distinguish
  sound philosophy from scientific specialities--Women’s position
  in society. Like philosophers and people, their part is not to
  govern, but to modify--The united action of philosophers, women,
  and proletaries constitutes Moral Force--Superiority of the
  new spiritual power to the old. Self-regarding tendencies of
  Catholic doctrine--The spirit of Positivism, on the contrary,
  is essentially social. The Heart and the Intellect mutually
  strengthen each other--Intellectual and moral affinities of women
  with Positivism--Catholicism purified love, but did not directly
  strengthen it--Women’s influence over the working classes and their
  teachers--Their social influence in the _salon_--But the Family
  is their principal sphere of action--Woman’s mission as a wife.
  Conjugal love an education for universal sympathy--Conditions of
  marriage. Indissoluble monogamy--Perpetual widowhood--Woman’s
  mission as a mother--Education of children belongs to mothers.
  They only can guide the development of character--Modern sophisms
  about Woman’s rights. The domesticity of her life follows from
  the principle of Separation of Powers--The position of the sexes
  tends to differentiation rather than identity--Woman to be
  maintained by Man--The education of women should be identical
  with that of men--Women’s privileges. Their mission is in
  itself a privilege--They will receive honour and worship from
  men--Development of mediæval chivalry--The practice of Prayer, so
  far from disappearing, is purified and strengthened in Positive
  religion--The worship of Woman a preparation for the worship of
  Humanity--Exceptional women. Joan of Arc--It is for women to
  introduce Positivism into the Southern nations.


    THE RELATION OF POSITIVISM TO ART                                304

  Positivism when complete is as favourable to Imagination, as, when
  incomplete, it was unfavourable to it--Esthetic talent is for the
  adornment of life, not for its government--The political influence
  of literary men a deplorable sign and source of anarchy--Theory
  of Art--Art is the idealized representation of Fact--Poetry is
  intermediate between Philosophy and Polity--Art calls each element
  of our nature into harmonious action--Three stages in the esthetic
  process: Imitation, Idealization, Expression--Classification of
  the arts on the principle of decreasing generality, and increasing
  intensity--Poetry--Music--Painting. Sculpture. Architecture--The
  conditions favourable to Art have never yet been combined--Neither
  in Polytheism--Nor under the Mediæval system--Much less in
  modern times--Under Positivism the conditions will all be
  favourable. There will be fixed principles, and a nobler moral
  culture--Predisposing influence of Education--Relation of Art
  to Religion--Idealization of historical types--Art requires the
  highest education; but little special instruction--Artists as
  a class will disappear. Their function will be appropriated by
  the philosophic priesthood--Identity of esthetic and scientific
  genius--Women’s poetry--People’s poetry--Value of Art in the
  present crisis--Construction of normal types on the basis furnished
  by philosophy--Pictures of the Future of Man--Contrasts with the


    CONCLUSION. THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY                             355

  Recapitulation of the results obtained--Humanity is the centre
  to which every aspect of Positivism converges--With the
  discovery of sociological laws, a synthesis on the basis of
  Science becomes possible, science being now concentrated on
  the study of Humanity--Statical aspects of Humanity--Dynamical
  aspects--Inorganic and organic sciences elevated by their connexion
  with the supreme science of Humanity--The new religion is even
  more favourable to Art than to Science--Poetic portraiture of
  the new Supreme Being, and contrast with the old--Organization
  of festivals, representing statical and dynamical aspects of
  Humanity--Worship of the dead. Commemoration of their service--All
  the arts may co-operate in the service of religion--Positivism
  the successor of Christianity, and surpasses it--Superiority of
  Positive morality--Rise of the new Spiritual power--Temporal power
  will always be necessary, but its action will be modified by the
  spiritual--Substitution of duties for rights--Consensus of the
  Social Organism--Continuity of the past with the present--Necessity
  of a spiritual power to study and teach these truths, and thus
  to govern men by persuasion, instead of by compulsion--Nutritive
  functions of Humanity, performed by Capitalists, as the temporal
  power--These are modified by the cerebral functions, performed
  by the spiritual power--Women and priests to have their material
  subsistence guaranteed--Normal relation of priests, people, and
  capitalists--We are not yet ripe for the normal state. But the
  revolution of 1848 is a step towards it--First revolutionary motto;
  Liberty and Equality--Second motto; Liberty and Order--Third
  motto; Order and Progress--Provisional policy for the period of
  transition--Popular dictatorship with freedom of speech--Positive
  Committee for Western Europe--Occidental navy--International
  coinage--Occidental school--Flag for the Western Republic--Colonial
  and foreign Associates of the Committee, the action of which will
  ultimately extend to the whole human race--Conclusion. Perfection
  of the Positivist ideal--Corruption of Monotheism.


  ‘We tire 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 be effected; and
I conclude by describing certain additional features indispensable to
its completeness. My treatment of these questions will of course be
summary; yet it will suffice, I hope, to overcome several excusable but
unfounded prejudices. It will enable any competent reader to assure
himself that the new general doctrine aims at something more than
satisfying the Intellect; that it is in reality quite as favourable to
Feeling and even to Imagination.


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[1]. 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 fortuitous. At the very time when
the theory of society is being laid down, an immense sphere is opened
for the application of that theory; the direction, namely, of the
social regeneration of Western Europe. For, if we take another point of
view, and look at the great crisis of modern history, as its character
is displayed in 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 spontaneously
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 civilized 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 connexion with each other. Both will combine to prepare the
advanced portion of humanity for the acceptance of a true spiritual
power, a power more coherent, as well as more progressive, than the
noble but premature attempt of mediaeval Catholicism.

The primary object, then, of Positivism is two-fold: 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 connexion 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 question. The regenerating
doctrine cannot do its work without adherents; in what quarter should
we hope to find them? 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 and in disputes for the possession of the useless
remnants of the old theological and military 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 left
unimpaired by our vicious system of education, and whose generous
sympathies are allowed to develop themselves freely. It is among
women, therefore, and among the working classes that the heartiest
supporters of the new doctrine will be found. It is intended, 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 maintenance 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 modern history 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 and
develop the natural tendencies of the people, make it, even from the
intellectual point of view, more coherent and complete.

But there is another and a more unexpected source from which Positivism
will obtain support; and not till then will its true character and
the full extent of its constructive power be appreciated. I shall
show in the fourth chapter how eminently 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 comprehended as a whole. For the
only basis on which a system really embracing all the requirements
of life can be formed, is the subordination of intellect to social
feeling: a subordination which we find directly represented in the
womanly type of character, whether regarded in its personal or social

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 of the people and of women than Catholicism,
and is therefore better qualified to institute a spiritual power. It
should be observed that the ground on which the support of both these
classes is obtained is, that Positivism is the only system which can
supersede the various subversive schemes that are growing every day
more dangerous to all the relations of domestic and social life. Yet
the tendency of the doctrine 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 in 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 universality 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 exercise. 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, will lead me by a natural transition to speak in 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 reality, 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 humanity, 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 Positivism cannot be manifested at present. We must wait
until 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 will
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 therefore to the imaginative
faculties, because in every sphere with which they deal they stimulate
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 will 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 with women, and lastly, to its esthetic power.
In concluding this work, which 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 us to the conception of Humanity, which implicitly
involves and gives new force to each of them. Rightly interpreting this
conception, we view Positivism at last as a complete and consistent
whole. The subject will naturally 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.



 [The object of Philosophy
 is to present a systematic
 view of human life, as a
 basis for modifying its

The object of all true Philosophy is to frame a system which shall
comprehend human life under every aspect, social as well as individual.
It embraces, therefore, the three kinds of phenomena of which our life
consists, Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions. Under all these aspects, the
growth of Humanity is primarily spontaneous; and the basis 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 disastrous 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 philosopher, whose business it is to define and amend
the principles on which it is conducted. With this object in view the
philosopher endeavours 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 complete representation of the relations naturally existing. The
first condition is therefore that these relations be carefully studied.
When the philosopher, instead of forming such a synthesis, attempts
to interfere more directly with the course of practical life, he
commits the error of usurping the province of the statesman, to whom
all practical measures exclusively belong. Philosophy and Politics are
the two principal functions of the great social organism. Morality,
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, unless it embraces
every department of human nature, whether speculative, effective, 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
 failed to include the
 practical side of human

The theological synthesis depended exclusively upon our affective
nature; and this is owing its original supremacy and its ultimate
decline. For a long time its influence over all our highest
speculations was paramount. This was especially the case during the
Polytheistic period, when Imagination and Feeling 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 to some extent, but the effects of this
were in most cases far more apparent than real. There was a natural
antagonism between them, which though at first hardly perceived, went
on increasing till at last it brought about the entire destruction
of the theological fabric. A system so purely subjective could not
harmonize 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
practical life men were led more and more clearly to the conception of
invariable Laws. For 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 problems 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. Metaphysicians, 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 abstractions, 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 I have clearly proved that it constitutes
only a transitory phase of mind, and is totally inadequate for any
constructive purpose. For a time it was supreme; but its utility lay
simply in its revolutionary 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 Positive spirit
 originated in practical life]

But all Positive speculations owe their first origin to the occupations
of practical life; and, consequently, they have always given some
indication of their capacity 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 isolated 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 Positive 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 mathematics and astronomy, it has always shown its tendency to
systematize 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. All that remained was to complete the
range of its influence by including the study of social phenomena. For
this study metaphysics had proved incompetent; by theological thinkers
it had only been pursued indirectly 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 regulate 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 in which they had hitherto been wanting, by supplying the
only connecting link of which they all admit.

This conception is already adopted by 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 shall be included. But such
a system would still be far from realizing that universal character
without which Positivism would be incompetent to supersede Theology in
the spiritual government of Humanity. For the element which really
preponderates in every human being, that is to say, Affection, would
still be left untouched. This element 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, useless studies, and the other in barren or even dangerous
contention. With this immense deficiency 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
stability. The failure would be even greater than the failure of
Theology in dealing with practical questions; for the unity of human
nature cannot really be made to 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 feeling. 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 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 modern synthesis 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
from Feeling. Then, and not till then, can the claims of theology 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 systematization 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 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, quite unfit to deal with questions of morality.

 [In human nature, and
 therefore in the Positive
 system, Affection is the
 preponderating element]

But on closer examination they will see reason to rectify their
judgment. They will see that the hardness with which Positive science
has been justly reproached, is due to the speciality and want of
purpose with which it has hitherto been pursued, and is not at all
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 sufficiently 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 Affection 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. Ratifying,
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 will convince us that the only basis on which they can be
brought into harmonious union, is the preponderance of Affection over
Reason, 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 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 realized, result
simply in the most deplorable disorder.

Even with the individual, 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 obtaining
satisfaction; and our active faculties are then called into requisition
to apply those means. But common experience proves that after all the
principal condition of right action is the benevolent impulse; with
the ordinary amount of intellect and activity that is found in men
this stimulus, if well sustained, is enough to direct our thoughts and
energies 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 far as affection preponderates over
intellect and activity.

 [The proper function of
 Intellect is the Service of
 the Social Sympathies]

True as this fundamental principle is for the individual, it is in
public life that its necessity can be demonstrated most irrefutably.
The problem is in reality the same, nor is any different solution of
it 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 condition 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
antagonists 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 Humanity. But the intellect may do much to confirm
their influence. It may strengthen social feeling by diffusing juster
views of the relations in which the various parts of society stand to
each 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 realized. Their only value lay in their solvent
action on the theological system when it had become hostile to
progress. The intellect is intended for service, not for empire; when
it imagines itself supreme, it is really only obeying the personal
instead of the social instincts. It never acts independently 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 passion 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 philosopher
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 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.

 [Under Theology the
 intellect was the slave of
 the heart; under Positivism,
 its servant]

It is true that this doctrine, which is the only basis for establishing
harmony in our nature, had been, as I before remarked, instinctively
accepted by theological systems. But it was one of the fatalities of
society 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 reduced 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 stimulate metaphysical and
scientific pride, and to promote views subversive of all social order.
But Positivism, while systematically adopting the principle here spoken
of as the foundation of individual and social discipline, interprets
that principle in a different way. It teaches that while it is for the
heart to suggest our 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, all 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 between 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 restoration 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 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 attention 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 organization,
Positivism, proves more efficient than Theology, it at the same time
terminates the disunion which has existed so long between the intellect
and the heart. For it follows logically from its principles, and also
from the whole spirit of the system, that the intellect 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 intellect should devote itself
exclusively to the problems which the heart suggests, the ultimate
object being to find proper satisfaction for our various wants.
Without this limitation, experience has shown too clearly that it
would almost always follow its natural bent for useless or insoluble
questions, which are the most plentiful 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 results obtained. Its province is to inquire 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 them, both will be interested
in maintaining it. The fact that Reason in modern times has become
habituated to revolt, is no ground for supposing that it will always
retain its revolutionary character, even when its legitimate claims
have been fully satisfied. Supposing the case to arise, however,
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 system will involve 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 to sound thought
as to wise activity.

 [The subordination of the
 intellect to the heart is
 the _Subjective Principle_
 of Positivism]

Our doctrine, therefore, is one which renders hypocrisy and oppression
alike impossible. And it now stands forward as the result of all the
efforts of the past, for the regeneration of order, which, whether
considered individually or socially, is so deeply compromised by the
anarchy of the present time. It 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 Humanity 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 still 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
energetic character.

 [_Objective basis_ of the
 system; External Order of
 the World, as revealed by

The spirit and the principle of the synthesis which all true
philosophers should endeavour to establish, have now been defined. I
proceed to explain the method that should be followed in the task, and
the 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 departments
as well as the intellectual. But these three departments cannot be
dealt with simultaneously. They follow an order of succession 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 systematized before Feelings, Feelings before Actions.
It is doubtless, owing to a confused apprehension of this truth, that
philosophers hitherto, in framing their systems of human nature, have
dealt almost exclusively, with our intellectual faculties.

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 efficiently performed, it is the foundation
of all the rest. In what remains no very serious difficulty 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 subject may
seem at first sight inconsistent with the proposition just laid down,
that the strength of the intellectual faculties is far inferior to that
of the other elements of our nature. It is quite certain that Feeling
and Activity have much more to do with any practical step that we take
than pure Reason. 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 produce
convergence amid the heterogeneous and often antagonistic tendencies of
so complex an organism as ours. But this first condition, 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 to the intellect in the Positive synthesis; in
this sense it is that it should be consecrated to the service of the

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-ordinate man’s moral nature, without regard
to the external world, supposing the attempt feasible, would have very
little permanent influence on our happiness, whether collectively or
individually; since happiness depends so largely upon our relations
to all 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 influence which at the same time checks the power of the selfish

 [By it the selfish
 affections are controlled;
 the unselfish strengthened]

To understand this economy aright; we must remember that it embraces
not merely the inorganic world, but also the phenomena of our own
existence. The phenomena of human life, though more modifiable than
any others, are yet equally subject to invariable laws; laws which
form the principal objects of Positive speculation. 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
still 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 intellect; 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 realized. Moreover, this conception of the order of
nature evidently supplies the basis for a synthesis of human action;
for the efficacy of our action 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 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 principle 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 synthesis 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 confused
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.

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

This fundamental doctrine of Positivism is not to be attributed in the
full breadth of its meanings to any single thinker. It is the slow
result of a vast process carried out in separate departments, which
began with the first use of our intellectual powers, and which is only
just completed in those who exhibit those powers in 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. Deductive 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 authorized by sound logic
to assert the existence of laws of weather; though most of these are
still, and, perhaps, always will be, unknown. For it is clear that
meteorological phenomena result from a combination of astronomical,
physical 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 reasoning; for a
principle which is the basis of all deduction cannot be itself deduced.
Hence it is that the doctrine, being so entirely foreign as it is to
our primitive mental state, requires such a long course of preparation.
Without such preparation even the greatest thinkers could not
anticipate it. It is true that in some cases metaphysical conceptions
of a law have been formed before the proof really required had 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 simpler
phenomena. Besides, such assertions always remained very doubtful and
very barren in result, until they were based upon some outline of a
really Positive theory. Thus, in spite of the apparent potency of
this metaphysical method, to which modern intellects are so addicted,
the conception of an External Order is still extremely imperfect in
many of the most cultivated minds, because they have not verified it
sufficiently in the most intricate and important class of phenomena,
the 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 subjects. A proof of this
is the utter delusion into which most geometricians of the present day
have 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 firmly
established 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
few thinkers who have risen to the level of their age, we have at last
a firm objective basis on which to establish the harmony of our moral
nature. That basis is, that all events whatever, the events of 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 reach of our interference.

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

This, then, is the external basis of our synthesis, which includes
the moral and practical faculties, as well as the speculative. It
rests at every point upon the unchangeable Order of the world. The
right understanding of this order is the principal subject of our
thoughts; its preponderating influence determines the general course
of our feelings; its gradual improvement is the constant object of
our actions. To form a more precise notion of its influence, 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 extravagancies, would sink rapidly into incurable sloth; our
nobler feelings would be unable to prevent the ascendancy of the
lower instincts; 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 affections. 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 by
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 would 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 possession 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 diminishing the vacillation, 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 a basis of support in the external world, which
is unaffected by 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 submit 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 will
always continue to be the source from which we obtain the clearest and
most impressive 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 disposing us to submit with resignation
to all evils which are absolutely insurmountable.

 [But in most cases we can
 modify it; and in these the
 knowledge of it forms the
 systematic basis of human

In other parts of the external economy, invariability in all primary
aspects is found compatible with modifications in points of secondary
importance. These modifications become more numerous and extensive as
the phenomena are more complex. The reason of this is that the causes
from a combination of which the effects proceed being more varied and
more accessible, offer greater facilities to our feeble powers to
interfere with advantage. But all this has been fully explained in my
_System of Positive Philosophy_. The tendency of that work was to show
that our intervention 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 admits,
go far to keep up the common mistake that social phenomena are not
subject to any constant law.

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 is a valuable but
very inadequate compensation. Both features alike result from the
increase of complexity. Even the laws of the Solar System are very far
from perfect, notwithstanding their greater simplicity, which indeed
makes their defects more perceptible. The existence of these defects
should be taken into careful consideration; not indeed with the hope
of amending them, but 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
these defects we are less likely to waste our time in seeking for
absolute perfection, and so neglecting the wiser course of looking for
such improvements as are really possible.

In all other phenomena, the increasing imperfection of the economy
of nature becomes a powerful stimulus to all our faculties, whether
moral, intellectual or practical. Here we find sufferings which can
really be alleviated to a large extent by wise and well-sustained
combination of efforts. This consideration should give a firmness and
dignity of bearing, to which Humanity could never attain during her
period of infancy. Those who look wisely into the future of society
will feel that the conception of man becoming, 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 impresses us more strongly with the importance
of high intellectual culture, 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 appreciated rightly, except so far as we could anticipate
the future of society by the light of sound historical principles.
Art, so far as it is yet organized, does not include that part of the
economy of nature which, being the most modifiable, the most imperfect,
and the most important of all, ought on every ground to be regarded as
the principal object of human exertions. Even Medical Art, specially
so called, is only just beginning to free itself from its primitive
routine. And Social Art, whether moral or political, is plunged in
routine so deeply that few statesmen admit the possibility of shaking
it off. Yet of all the arts, it is the one which best admits of being
reduced to a system; and until this is done it will be impossible to
place on a rational basis all the rest of our practical life. All these
narrow views are due simply to insufficient recognition of the fact,
that the highest phenomena are as much subject to laws as others. When
the conception of the Order of Nature has become generally accepted
in its full extent, the ordinary definition of Art will become as
comprehensive and as homogeneous as that of Science; and it will 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 revealing
the existence of an external Economy, and the necessity of submission
to its sway. If the theory is to have any influence upon our active
powers, it should include an exact estimate of the imperfections
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 theology 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 apparent when applied to the case of our own
nature, for true morality requires a deep and habitual consciousness of
our natural defects.

 [The chief difficulty of
 the Positive Synthesis was
 to complete our conception
 of the External Order, by
 extending it to Social

I have now described the fundamental condition of the Positive
Synthesis. Deriving its subjective principle from the affections, it
is dependent ultimately on the intellect for its objective basis. This
basis connects it with the Economy of the external world, the dominion
of which Humanity accepts, and at the same time modifies. I have left
many points unexplained; but enough has been said for the purpose of
this work, which is only the introduction to a larger treatise. We
now come 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 fundamental doctrine of an universal system, for
which the whole course of modern progress has been preparing the way.
For 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 phenomena. And now that 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 modern 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 our
time successfully, to complete and at the same time co-ordinate 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, characterized
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 modifying or rather a solvent influence,
which qualifies it for regulating the transition from the first stage
to the third. We begin with theological 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 application 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 complexity of the
phenomena; the more complex being naturally dependent upon those that
are more simple and less special. Arranging the sciences according to
this mutual relation, we find them grouped naturally in six primary
divisions[2]; Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology,
and Sociology. Each passes through the three phases of developments
before the one succeeding it. Without continuous reference to this
classification the theory of development would be confused and vague.

The theory thus derived from the combination of this second or
statical law with the dynamical law of the three stages, seems at
first sight to include nothing but the intellectual movement. But my
previous remarks will have shown that this is enough to guarantee
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 connexion between
the development of Activity and that of Speculation; on the combined
influence of these depends the development of Affection. 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 connexion of these states with
the preponderance of the theological, then metaphysical, or the
positive spirit leads at once to a complete explanation of history. It
reproduces in a systematic form the only historical conception which
has become adopted by universal consent; the division, namely, of
history into Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern.

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 to practical life. All knowledge is now brought within
the sphere of Natural Philosophy; and the provisional 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. All 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 all sound
Philosophy has ever tended, but which the want of adequate materials
has hitherto made impossible.

 [By the discovery of
 Sociological laws social
 questions are made
 paramount; and thus our
 _subjective principle_ is
 satisfied without danger to
 free thought]

It will be felt, I think, that the principal difficulty of the Positive
Synthesis was met by my discovery of the laws of development, if
we bear in mind that while that theory completes and co-ordinates
the objective basis of the system, it at the same time holds it in
subordination to the subjective principle. It is under the influence
of this moral principle that the whole philosophical construction
should be carried on. The inquiry 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 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 recognize no limit,
we should only be repeating in a scientific form many of the worst
results of theological 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 also 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 therefore
also the easiest. While its probationary period lasted, it was natural
to investigate all accessible problems without distinction; 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 sufficiently 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 exercises. 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 conditions
which seem, at first sight, incompatible. On the one hand we must
allow the intellect to be free, or else we shall not have the full
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 include Sociology. But
as soon as the Positive spirit extends to the treatment of social
questions, these at once take precedence of all others, and thus the
moral point of view becomes paramount. Objective science, proceeding
from without inwards, falls at last into 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 satisfaction of every true thinker, that
the social point of view is logically and scientifically supreme
over all others, being the only point from which all our scientific
conceptions can be regarded as a whole. Yet 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 introduction to the final science.
Indeed the Positive system gives the highest sanction and the most
powerful stimulus to all preliminary sciences, by insisting on the
relation which each of them bears to the great whole, Humanity.

Thus the foundation of social science bears out the statement made at
the beginning of this work, that the intellect would, under Positivism,
accept its proper position of subordination to the heart. The
recognition of this, which is the subjective principle of Positivism,
renders the construction of a complete system of human life possible.
The antagonism which, since the close of the Middle Ages, has arisen
between Reason and Feeling, was an anomalous though inevitable
condition. It is now for ever at an end; and the 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 sympathy are brought into
active co-operation. Separately, their influence in our imperfect
organization is very feeble; but combined it may extend indefinitely.
It will never, indeed, be able to do away with the fact that practical
life must, to a large extent, be regulated by interested motives; yet
it may introduce a standard of morality inconceivably higher than any
that has existed in the past, before these two modifying forces could
be made to combine their action upon our stronger and lower instincts.

 [Distinction between
 Abstract and Concrete laws.
 It is the former only that
 we require for the purpose
 before us]

In order to give a more precise conception of the intellectual basis
on which the system of Positive Polity should rest, I must explain the
general principle by which it should be limited. It should be confined
to what is really indispensable to the construction of that Polity.
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 affections 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
sufficient 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 phenomena; 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 evidently combinations of astronomical, physical, chemical,
biological, 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.

Now the investigation of the economy of nature here contemplated 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 connexion that exists between all, requires a separate inductive
process; for the existence of laws cannot 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 life, will none the less be
attained. For this groundwork of abstract knowledge would introduce
harmony between all our mental conceptions, and thereby would make it
impossible 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
_philosophia 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 systematically 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 in 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 systematizing 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 will 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 in which the science of the future
will reap its richest harvest. But such knowledge is not indispensable
for our present purpose, which is to form a complete synthesis of
life, effecting for the final state of humanity what the theological
synthesis effected for its primitive state. For this purpose Abstract
philosophy is undoubtedly sufficient; so that even supposing that
Concrete philosophy should never become so perfect as we desire, social
regeneration will still be possible.

 [In my Theory of
 Development, the required
 Synthesis of Abstract
 conceptions already exists]

Regarded under this more simple aspect, our system of scientific
knowledge is already so far elaborated, that all thinkers whose nature
is sufficiently sympathetic may proceed without delay to the problem
of moral 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 speculations 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 sense 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 first astronomical
discoveries of antiquity. Natural Philosophy was completed by the
modern science of Biology, of which the ancients possessed nothing 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 too 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
connecting 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 intellectual
synthesis. 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 fancies
of astrology were employed, though of course quite valueless except
for this temporary purpose. In the seventeenth century, however, the
science of Physics specially so called, was founded; and a satisfactory
arrangement of scientific conceptions began to be formed. Physics
included a series of inorganic researches, the more general branch of
which bordered on Astronomy, the more special on Chemistry. To complete
our view of the scientific hierarchy we have now only to go back to
its origin, Mathematics; a class of speculations so simple and so
general, that 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 growth. From them it extends step 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 in complication. We see the reason for the
introduction of each member of the series, and the mutual connexion
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 conception, on which, as we have
seen, the whole synthesis of human life depends. That co-ordination
at once establishes unity in our intellectual operations. It realizes
the desire obscurely expressed by Bacon for a _scala intellectûs_,
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 connexion in nature.
Each of the six terms of which our series is composed is in its central
portion quite distinct from the two adjoining links; 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
continuity of the system is that the same principle of classification,
when applied more closely, enables us to arrange the various theories
of which each science consists. 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 development of this series. Each term in
it requires its own special processes 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 will 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 historical clearness and its
philosophical force strengthen each other, for we cannot understand
the connexion of our conceptions except by studying the succession of
the phases through which they pass. And on the other hand, but for the
existence of such a connexion, it would be impossible to explain the
historical phases. So we see that for all sound thinkers, History and
Philosophy are inseparable.

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

A theory which embraces the statical as well as the dynamical aspects
of the subject, and which fulfils the conditions here spoken of, may
certainly be regarded as establishing the true objective basis on
which unity can be established in our intellectual functions. And
this unity will be developed and consolidated as our knowledge of its
basis becomes more satisfactory. But the social application of the
system will 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 all 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
should 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 out that the synthesis of Affection
and of Action may be at once attempted; that is, that we may begin
at once to construct that system 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.

 [Error of identifying
 Positivism with Atheism,
 Materialism, Fatalism,
 or Optimism. Atheism,
 like Theology, discusses
 insoluble mysteries]

I have now described the general spirit of Positivism. But there are
two or three points on which some further explanation is necessary, as
they are the source of misapprehensions too common and too serious to
be disregarded. Of course I only concern myself with such objections as
are made in good faith.

The fact of entire freedom from theological belief being necessary
before the Positive state can be perfectly attained, has induced
superficial 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 still remain in it, it is a radical obstacle to all sound
social and even intellectual organization. I have long ago repudiated
all philosophical or historical connexion between Positivism and what
is called Atheism. But it is desirable to expose the error somewhat
more clearly.

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 invariable 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 formation 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 intellectual 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 childhood 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
efforts. 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 Wills dwelling in them
or outside them; an hypothesis which assimilates them to the effect
produced by the desires which exist within ourselves. Were it not for
the pride induced by metaphysical and scientific studies, it would
be inconceivable that any atheist, modern 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 Will than with
that of a blind mechanism. Persistent atheists therefore would seem
to be most illogical of theologists: because they occupy themselves
with theological problems, and yet reject the only appropriate
method of handling them. But the fact is that pure Atheism even in
the present day is very rare. What is called Atheism is usually a
phase of Pantheism, which is really nothing but a relapse disguised
under learned terms, into a vague and abstract form of Fetichism.
And it is not impossible that it may lead to the reproduction 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 Reason. 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 a view of disclosing the
future. Atheism, therefore, is not likely 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 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 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. Persistence 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 the
Atheism maintained by many metaphysicians and scientific men of the
present day, Positivism, instead of wholesome rivalry of this kind,
will meet with nothing but barren resistance. Anti-theological 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.

 [Materialism is due to the
 encroachment of the lower
 sciences on the domain of
 the higher: an error which
 Positivism rectifies]

The charge of Materialism which is often made against Positive
philosophy is of more importance. It originates in the course of
scientific study upon which the Positive system is based. In answering
the charge, I need not enter into any discussion of impenetrable
mysteries. Our theory of development will 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 encroachments 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 controlling influence
of sound philosophy be established 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
Materialism is a danger inherent in the mode in which the scientific
studies necessary as a preparation for Positivism were pursued.
Each science tended to absorb the one next to it, on the ground of
having reached the Positive stage earlier and more thoroughly. The
evil then is really deeper and more extensive than is imagined 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, Mathematics, is
no exception, though its position would seem at first sight to exempt
it. To a philosophic eye there is Materialism in the common 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 cases it is the same fundamental error:
that is, an exaggerated use of deductive reasoning; and in all it is
attended with the same result; that the higher studies are in constant
danger of being disorganized by the indiscriminate application of the
lower. All scientific specialists at the present time are more or less
materialists, according as the phenomena studied by them are more or
less simple 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 made to regulate all the rest. But the biologists who
resist this encroachment most energetically, are often guilty of the
same mistake. They not unfrequently attempt, for instance, to explain
all sociological facts by the influence of climate and race, which
are purely secondary; thus showing their ignorance of the fundamental
laws of Sociology, which can only be discovered by a series of direct
inductions from history.

This philosophical estimate of Materialism explains how it is that
it has been brought as a charge against Positivism, and at the same
time proves the deep injustice of the charge. Positivism, far from
countenancing 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 have
been carried too far; and Positivism satisfies these tendencies in
their due measure. Hitherto the evil has remained unchecked, except by
the theologico-metaphysical spirit, which, by giving rise to what is
called Spiritualism, has rendered a very valuable service. But useful
as it has been, it could not arrest the active growth of Materialism,
which has assumed in the eyes of modern thinkers 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 in 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 encyclopædic scale, in which each science
retains its own proper sphere of induction, while 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
fundamental 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 all confusion, I have laid no stress upon the
charge of immorality that is so often brought against Materialism.
The reproach, even when made sincerely, is constantly belied by
experience, indeed it is inconsistent with all 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 has been provisionally connected
with the whole movement of emancipation, and it has therefore often
been found in common with the noblest aspirations. That connexion,
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 unexplained by its crude hypothesis. Cabanis gave a striking
example of this tendency in his unfortunate attack upon mediaeval
chivalry.[3] Cabanis was a philosopher whose moral nature was as pure
and sympathetic as his intellect was elevated and enlarged. Yet 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.

 [Nor is Positivism
 fatalist, since it asserts
 the External Order to be

The charge of Fatalism has accompanied every fresh extension of
Positive science, from its first beginnings. Nor is this surprising;
for when any series of phenomena passes from the dominion of Wills,
whether 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 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 spontaneous 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, unchangeable
as the Order of Nature is in its main aspects, yet all phenomena,
except those of Astronomy, admit of being modified in their 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. Now that it embraces Social phenomena,
the reproach, however it may have been once deserved, should be heard
no longer, since these phenomena, which will 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 encouraging 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 of Optimism
 applies to Theology rather
 than to Positivism. The
 positivist judges of
 all historical actions
 _relatively_, but
 does not justify them

For the charge of Optimism there is even less ground than for that
of Fatalism. The latter was, to a certain extent, connected with
the rise of the Positive spirit; but Optimism is simply a result
of Theology; and its influence has always been decreasing with the
growth of Positivism. Astronomical laws, it is true, suggest the idea
of perfection as naturally as that of necessity. On the other hand,
their great simplicity places the defects of the Order of Nature in so
clear a light, 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
development on which the Positive synthesis is here made to rest,
Optimism is discarded as well as Fatalism, in the direct proportion
of 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 phenomena, the most
complex of all, 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 spontaneous wisdom than might have been
expected from their complexity. It would be a mistake, however, to
suppose this wisdom perfect. The phenomena in question are those of
intelligent beings who are always occupied in amending the defects
of their economy. It is obvious, therefore, that they will show less
imperfection than if, in a case equally complicated, the agents could
have been blind. 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 all historical positions and changes must have at
least some grounds of justification; otherwise they would be totally
incomprehensible, because inconsistent with the nature of the agents
and of the actions performed by them. Now this naturally fosters a
dangerous tendency to Optimism in all thinkers, who, whatever their
powers may be, have not passed through any strict scientific training,
and have consequently never cast off metaphysical and theological modes
of thought in the higher subjects. Because every 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 facts; 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.

 [The word _Positive_
 connotes all the highest
 intellectual attributes, and
 will ultimately have a moral

On reviewing this brief sketch of the intellectual character of
Positivism, it will be seen that all its essential attributes
are summed up in the word _Positive_, which I applied to the new
philosophy at its outset. All the languages of Western Europe agree in
understanding by this word and its derivatives the two qualities of
_reality_ and _usefulness_. Combining these, we get at once an adequate
definition of the true philosophic spirit, which, after all, is nothing
but good sense generalized and put into a systematic form. The term
also implies in all European languages, _certainty_ and _precision_,
qualities by which the intellect of modern nations is markedly
distinguished from that of antiquity. Again, the ordinary acceptation
of the term implies a directly _organic_ tendency. Now the metaphysical
spirit is incapable of organizing; it can only criticize. 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.

But the word will bear yet a further meaning. The organic character
of the system leads us naturally to another of its attributes, namely
its invariable _relativity_. Modern thinkers will never rise above
that critical position which they have hitherto taken up towards the
past, except by repudiating all absolute principles. This last meaning
is more latent than the others, but is really contained in the term.
It will 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 modern progress makes it certain
that the conception implied by the word Positive, will ultimately have
a more direct reference to the heart than to the understanding. For
it will soon be felt by all that the tendency of Positivism, and that
by virtue of its primary characteristic, reality, is to make Feeling
systematically supreme over Reason as well as over Activity. After all,
the change consists simply in realizing the full etymological value of
the word _Philosophy_[4]. 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.



As the chief characteristic of Positive Philosophy is the paramount
importance that is given, and that on speculative grounds, to social
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 life. 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 inquiries to degenerate into
useless digressions. But this general connexion 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 satisfying the wants of the time. By thus arousing
public sympathies and showing that the success of Positivism is a
matter of permanent and general importance, the coherence of the system
as well as the elevation of its aims will be placed beyond dispute.
We have hitherto been regarding Positivism as the issue in which
intellectual 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.

 [The relation of Positivism
 to the French Revolution]

And to do this, all that is here necessary is to point out the close
relation in which the new philosophy stands to the whole course
of the French Revolution. This revolution has now been agitating
Western nations for sixty years[5]. It is the final issue of the vast
transition through which we have been passing during the five previous

In this great crisis there are naturally two principal phases; of
which only the first, or negative, phase has yet been accomplished. In
it we gave the last blow to the old system, but 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 ultimate result to
the formation of a sound philosophical system; and by this system the
second phase will be directed. It is this twofold connexion which we
are now to consider.

 [The negative or destructive
 phase of the Revolution
 stimulated the desire of
 Progress, and consequently
 the study of social

The strong reaction which was exercised upon the intellect by the
first great shock of revolution was absolutely necessary to rouse and
sustain our mental efforts 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 remnants of the old.
And the shock was especially necessary 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 sufficient 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 resembles 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 increased perfection. It was then seen by all
that Catholicism was superior to Polytheism and Judaism; and this
was afterwards confirmed by the corresponding 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 metaphysical 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 been 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
fundamental principle of human society. To demonstrate any kind of
progression, at least three terms are requisite. Now the absolute
character of theological philosophy, by which the comparison between
Polytheism and Catholicism was instituted, prevented men from
conceiving the bare 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 Christian Utopia of a future
life. The decline of mediaeval 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 unfavourable 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 mediaeval
system; and it was only among the untaught masses, especially in the
countries preserved from Protestantism, that any real feeling of this
superiority was retained. It was not till the middle of the seventeenth
century that modern thinkers began to dwell on the conception of

It re-appeared then under a new aspect. Conclusive evidence had by
that time been furnished that the more civilized 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 than any other, Progress seemed
more doubtful than it had been in the Middle Ages.

But this condition of opinion was changed by the revolutionary 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 mediaeval system it was seen to be an advance as
great as that which justified our ancestors of chivalrous times in
asserting superiority to their predecessors of antiquity. Until the
destruction of Catholic Feudalism became an overt fact, its effete
remnants had concealed the political future, and the fact of continuous
progress in society had always remained uncertain. Social phenomena
have this peculiarity, that the object observed undergoes a process
of development as well as and simultaneously with the observer. Now
up to the time of the Revolution, political development, on which the
principal argument for the theory of Progress must always be based,
corresponded in its imperfection 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 Humanity, as they thought, was destined to move in
circles or in oscillations. But under the influence of the Revolution 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 therefore of all Positive
Philosophy; since it is only from the social aspect that Positive
Philosophy admits of being viewed as a connected 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, shows that
Order cannot be fully manifested without Progress. The dependence
of Positivism upon the French Revolution 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 realized
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 modern times; a feeling which had once been necessary to induce us
to abandon 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 differs too widely from the first to admit
of any direct comparison with it. Right 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 separation between
ancient and modern history. Now it was quite impossible to do this as
long as the excitement of the first years of the revolution lasted. In
this respect the philosophical reaction, organized 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 necessary 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 in no
other could the true spirit of 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 conditions
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 the recognition of
its social value. For it guaranteed free exposition and discussion of
opinion: and it led the public to look to Positivism as the system
which contained in germ the ultimate solution 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 Revolution, we have now to consider it as the future
guide of the second phase.

 [The constructive phase of
 the Revolution. The first
 attempts to construct
 failed, being based on
 destructive principles]

It is often supposed that the destruction of the old regime was brought
about by the Revolution. But history when carefully examined points to
a very different conclusion. It shows that the Revolution was not the
cause but the consequence of the utter decomposition of the mediaeval
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 Revolution, far from
protracting the negative movement of previous centuries, was a bar to
its further extension. It was a final outbreak in which men showed
their irrevocable purpose of abandoning the old system altogether,
and of proceeding at once to the task of entire reconstruction. 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 Revolution 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 Revolution. The impulse which the
Revolution 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 available instruments of construction.
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 familiar 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

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 conviction, 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 all, 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 in 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 still left undetermined.

 [Counter-revolution from
 1794 to 1830]

In this condition of philosophical and political opinion, the necessity
of Order was felt to be paramount, and a long period of reaction
ensued. Dating from the official Deism introduced by Robespierre, 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 modern metaphysics, while at the same time
their intellectual weakness was being proved by the successful attempts
of Cabanis, and still 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 fruitless efforts
at reconstructing a system which had become so entirely obsolete, that
even those who were labouring to rebuild it no longer understood its
character or the conditions of its existence.

A re-awakening of the revolutionary spirit was thus inevitable; 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 stagnation
 between 1830 and 1848]

The apparent indifference of the public, to whom all the existing
parties seemed equally devoid of insight 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 public; 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. All the opinions of the day had
become alike utterly incompatible both with Order and with Progress.
The Conservative school undertook to reconcile the two; but it had no
constructive power; and the only result of its doctrine was to give
equal encouragement to anarchy and to reaction, so as to be able always
to neutralize the one by the other. The establishment of Constitutional
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
recently established 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 little. 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 distinct refutation had been given
of the false assertion so authoritatively made that the parliamentary
system was the ultimate issue of the Revolution. This notion once
destroyed, the work of spiritual reorganization should be left entirely
to the free efforts of independent thinkers. In these respects our last
political change (1848) will have accomplished all that is required.

 [The present position,
 1848-1850. Republicanism
 involves the great principle
 of subordinating Politics to

Thanks to the instinctive sense and vigour of our working classes, the
reactionist leanings of the Orleanist government, which had become
hostile to the purpose for which it was originally instituted, have
at last brought about the final abolition of monarchy in France. The
prestige of monarchy had long been lost, and it now only impeded
Progress, without being of any real benefit to Order. By its fictitious
supremacy it directly hindered the work of spiritual reformation,
whilst the measure of real power which it possessed was insufficient to
control the wretched political agitation maintained by animosities of a
purely personal character.

Viewed negatively, the principle of Republicanism sums up the first
phase of the Revolution. It precludes the possibility of recurrence
to Royalism, which, ever since the second half of the reign of Louis
XIV, has been 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
all 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 feeling 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 normal state. Without the intervention of any theological
system, she has asserted the true principle on which society should
rest, a principle which originated in the Middle Ages under the impulse
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 Republic is to sanction the fundamental
principle of Positivism, the preponderance, 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 prominence to the
 problem of reconciling Order
 and Progress]

The whole position brings into fuller prominence the fundamental
problem previously proposed, of reconciling Order and Progress. The
urgent necessity of doing so is acknowledged by all; but the utter
incapacity of any of the existing schools of opinion to realize it
becomes increasingly evident. The abolition of monarchy removes 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 imperfectly, 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 organ capable of systematically defending it. Yet
experience should have taught us how extremely fragile every government
must be which is purely material, that is, which is based solely upon
self-interest, and is destitute 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 political value of which we cannot
always rely: for when not based on some definite principle, it not
unfrequently becomes source of disturbance. Hence we are driven back
to the continuance of a material system of government, although its
inadequacy is acknowledged by all. 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 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 call 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; and 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. Retrograde 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 recognized. It is not to
the monarchical party, however, that we must look for conservative
principles; for in this 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 Revolution
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 all its old convictions, and which
had apparently become extinct before the Republic began. Positivism
and Positivism alone can disentangle and terminate this anomalous
position. The principle on which it depends is manifestly this: As
long as Progress tends towards anarchy, so long will Order continue to
be retrograde. 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 all resistance; and then the reason
of its present stagnation will be patent to all.

 [It brings the metaphysical
 revolutionary schools into

And for this Theologism is, unawares, preparing the way. Its apparent
preponderance places Positivism in precisely that position which
I wished for ten years ago. The two organic principles can now be
brought side by side, and their relative strength tested, without the
complication of any metaphysical considerations. For 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 hollowness 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 the people. But even they cannot win back
the confidence reposed in them during the great Revolution, 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 complete exception
to the general rule. True republican convictions were impossible
with men who had been schooled in parliamentary intrigues, 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 unnatural alliance. I allude to the Roman expedition of 1849;
a detestable and contemptible act, for which just penalties will
speedily be imposed on all who were accessory to it; not to speak of
the damnatory verdict of history. But precisely the same hypocritical
opposition to progress has been exhibited by the other class of
Deists, the disciples, that is, of Rousseau, who profess to adopt
Robespierre’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
present 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 Guillotine, as they may be called,
whose superficial sophisms would reduce exceptional outbreaks 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 working classes, from being so entirely taken
up 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 maintaining 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, incapable and
unworthy though they be of their position. But their credit is rapidly
declining; and it is not likely to become 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
improbable that these foolish levellers will 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 already withdrawn it from theology. In this general
discredit of all 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.

 [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]

In this explanation of the recent position of French affairs one point
yet remains to be insisted on. We have seen from the general course
of the philosophical, and yet more of the political, movement, the
urgent necessity for a universal doctrine capable of checking erroneous
action, and of avoiding or moderating popular outbreaks. But there is
another need equally manifest, the need of a spiritual power, without
which 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 especially since the rise of
Protestantism. It originated in repugnance to the mediaeval system.
The so-called philosophers of our time, whether psychologists 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
theological principles, and practical life still retained its military
character. This separation of powers, on which the final organization
of society will principally depend, is understood and valued nowhere
but in the new school of philosophy, if we except the unconscious and
tacit admiration for it which still exists in the countries from which
Protestantism has been excluded. From the outset of the Revolution,
the pride of theorists has always made them wish to become socially
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 their 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 ambition
corroborate, then, the view urged so conclusively by the adherents 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 will henceforth be judged irrespectively of
the religious doctrines with which it was originally connected. Men
will involuntarily contrast it with other systems, and will see more
and more clearly that Positive principles afford the only basis for
true freedom as well 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, will
react strongly upon philosophers, and keep them strictly to their
sphere of moral and intellectual influence. The slightest tendency
towards the assumption of political power will be checked, and the
desire for it will be considered as a certain sign of mental weakness,
and indeed of moral deficiency. Now that royalty is abolished, all
true thinkers are secure of perfect freedom of thought, 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 family; 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 will 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
will 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 have 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 will receive the same licence, if, like myself, he
offers the intellectual 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 in to
the assistance of public order. For order will not be able to exist
much longer without the sanction of some rational principle.

 [The need of a spiritual
 power is common to the whole
 Republic of Western Europe]

The result, then, of the important political changes which have
recently taken place is this. The second phase of the Revolution, which
hitherto has been restricted to a few advanced minds, is now entered
by the public, and men are rapidly forming juster views of its true
character. It is becoming recognized that the only firm basis for a
reform of our political institutions, is a complete reorganization 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, we 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 Roman empire had prepared
them, and which was finally organized by the incomparable genius of
Charlemagne. In spite of national differences, embittered as they were
afterwards by theological discord, this great Republic has in modern
times shown intellectual and social growth both in the positive and
negative direction, to which 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 under new
forms. It rests now, though the basis is inadequate, upon the feeling
of community in industrial development, in esthetic culture, and in
scientific 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
the distinguishing feature of the counter-revolution, of course checked
the feeling of union on both sides. But so deeply was it rooted in
all 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 still 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

And this is the point of view which displays the character of the
second phase of the Revolution 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
will be the 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 accepted by all. This
want satisfied, the reconstruction of governments may be carried out in
accordance with the special requirements of each nation. Difference in
this respect is legitimate: it will not affect the essential unity of
the Positivist Republic, which will be bound together by more complete
and durable ties than the Catholic Republic of the Middle Ages.

Not only then do we find from the whole condition of Western Europe
that the movement of opinion transcends in importance all 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 temporal 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, efforts as dangerous as
they are fruitless.

 [This Republic consists
 of the Italian, Spanish,
 British, and German
 populations, grouped round
 France as their centre]

My work on Positive Philosophy contains a detailed historical
explanation of what I mean by the expression, Western Europe. But the
conception is one of such importance in relation to the questions of
our time, that I shall now proceed to enumerate and arrange in their
order the elements of which this great family of nations consists.

Since the fall of the Roman empire, and more especially from the time
of Charlemagne, France has always been the centre, socially as well as
geographically, of this Western region which may be 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 eleventh
and twelfth century, it was evidently France 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 negation. 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 doctrines. But it was reserved for
France to co-ordinate these doctrines into a consistent system and to
propagate them 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 will in all probability retain,
as in fact it is only a recurrence to the normal organization of the
Western Republic, which had been temporarily modified to meet special
conditions. A fresh displacement 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 Protestant. It comprises, first, the
great Germanic body, with the numerous nations that may be regarded
as its offshoots; especially 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 Republic 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 theological. The
rupture of the mediaeval system is due to the decadence of theology:
but the direct agency in the rupture was the solvent force of the
metaphysical spirit. Neither the one nor the other 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 systematic form, its competence for the
work is even more unquestionable. It alone can effectually remove the
national antipathies which still exist. But it will do this without
impairing the natural qualities of any of them. Its object is by a wise
combination of these qualities, to develop under a new form the feeling
of a common Occidentality.

 [Relation of Positivism
 to the mediaeval system,
 to which we owe the first
 attempt to separate
 spiritual from temporal

By extending the social movement to its proper limits, we thus exhibit
on a larger scale the same features that were noticed when France
alone was being considered. Abroad or at home, every great social
problem that arises proves that the object of the second revolutionary
phase is a reorganization of principles and of life. By this means
a body of public opinion will 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
superintendence of the spiritual power, from whom our fundamental
principles will have proceeded. The general spirit of these principles
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 will be the rendering full justice to the past in all 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 appreciation 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 human
development; and thus many confused and incoherent notions suggested by
the arbitrary beliefs hitherto prevalent will finally disappear. The
growth of public opinion in this respect is aided by the increasing
strength of social feeling. Both combine to encourage the historical
spirit which distinguishes the second period of the Revolution, as we
see indicated already in so many of the popular sympathies of the day.

Acting on this principle, Positivists will always acknowledge the
close relation between their own system and the memorable effort of
mediaeval 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 of the noble effort of
her youth, an effort made when intellectual and social conditions
precluded the possibility of success. We are too 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 theocratic 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 government which has shaken
off the fetters of that religion more completely 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 due the general feeling that men should be judged
by their intellectual and moral worth, irrespectively of social
position, yet without upsetting that subordination of classes which
is rendered necessary by the requirements of practical life. And this
has accustomed all classes to free discussion of moral and even of
political questions; since every one feels it a right and a duty to
judge actions and persons by the general principles which a common
system of education has inculcated alike on all. I need not enlarge on
the value of the mediaeval church in organizing the political system
of Western Europe, in which there was no other recognized principle
of union. All these social results are usually attributed to the
excellence of the Christian doctrine; but history when fairly examined
shows that the source from which they are principally derived is the
Catholic principle of separating the two powers. For these effects
are nowhere visible except in the countries where this separation
has been 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 modern life, they have been
neutralized 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,
as 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
realized, except in the conceptions of a few leading men among both the
spiritual and temporal class. Its brief success was principally caused
by a temporary combination of circumstances. It was for the most part a
condition of very unstable equilibrium, oscillating between theocracy
and empire.

 [But the mediaeval attempt
 was premature; and
 Positivism will renew and
 complete it]

But Positive civilization will accomplish what in the Middle Ages
could only be attempted. We are aided, not merely by the example of
the Middle Ages, but by the preparatory labours of the last five
centuries. New modes of thought have arisen, and practical life has
assumed new phases; and all are alike tending towards the separation
of powers. What in the Middle Ages was but dimly foreseen by a few
ardent and aspiring minds, becomes now an inevitable and obvious
result, instinctively felt and formally recognized by all. 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 civilization. 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 harmony,
it seems clear that theoretical and practical power are so totally
distinct in origin and operation, whether in relation to the heart, or
intellect, 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 retrograde and visionary, and if successful would lead to
the intolerable 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 polity; and the opposition to it proceeds
almost entirely from its connexion with the doctrines of the mediaeval
church which have now become deservedly obsolete. But there will 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 school, which has verified inductively all
the minor truths implied in it. The only direct attacks against it
come from the metaphysicians, whose ambitious aspirations for absolute
authority would be thwarted by it. It is they who attempt to fasten
on Positivism the stigma of theocracy: a strange and in most cases
disingenuous reproach, seeing that Positivists are distinguished from
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 alive 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 former employs direct compulsion, based upon
superiority of physical 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 preliminary steps are now
sufficiently 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. Reconstruction will begin at the points
where demolition began previously. The dissolution of the old organism
began in the fourteenth century by the destruction of its international
character. Conversely, reorganization begins by satisfying the
intellectual and mental wants common to the five Western nations.

 [The Ethical system of

And here, since the object of this character is to explain the social
value of Positivism, I may show 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 and Catholicism.

 [Subjection of Self-love to
 Social love is the great
 ethical problem. The Social
 state of itself favours
 this result; but it may be
 hastened by organized and
 conscious effort]

To the Positivist the object of Morals is to make our sympathetic
instincts preponderate as far as possible over the selfish instincts;
social feelings over personal feelings. This way of viewing the subject
is peculiar to the new philosophy, for no other system has included
the more recent additions to the theory of human nature, of which
Catholicism gave so imperfect 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 developed 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 intercourse 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, while Self-love
meets inevitably with a more or less efficient check. Both these
tendencies 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 diminish 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 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 scientific 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 Christian 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 all 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 compensated 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 connexion with the rest of our
knowledge, the sphere of natural morality is widened by bringing human
life, individually and collectively, under the direct and continuous
influence of Social Feeling.

 [Intermediate between
 self-love and universal
 benevolence are the domestic
 affections: filial,
 fraternal, conjugal,

I have stated that Positive morality is brought into a coherent and
systematic form by its principle of universal love. This principle must
now be examined first in its application to the separate aspects of the
subject, and subsequently as the means by which the various parts may
be co-ordinated.

There are three successive states of morality answering 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 forms 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 attachment, 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 perverted 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. Filial love is the starting-point of our moral
education: from it springs the instinct of Continuity, and consequently
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. Relationships 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 affection, the most important of all, in which perfect
fullness of devotion is secured by the reciprocity and indissolubility
of the bond. It is the highest type of all sympathetic instincts,
and has appropriated 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 us 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
development, 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
constituent element of the body politic, the inverse order should be
followed. In that case conjugal attachment would come first, as being
the feeling through which the family comes into existence as a new
social unit, which in many cases consists simply of the original pair.
Domestic sympathy, when once formed by 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 social affections; it is, indeed, the
natural type to which all social sympathies conform. But there is yet
another intermediate relation, 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 all 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 household
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 efficacy of the
Positive method in moral questions by applying it to the most important
of all moral theories, the theory of the Family. For more detailed
proof, I must refer to my treatise on _Positive Polity_, to which
this work is introductory. I would call attention, however, to the
beneficial influence of Positivism on personal morality. 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.

 [Personal virtues placed
 upon a social basis]

Feelings are only to be developed by constant exercise; and exercise is
most necessary when the 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 ought as far as
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 difference
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. Positivism, guided
by a truer estimate of the facts, entirely remodels this elementary
part of Ethics. Its appeal is to social 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 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 them 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 vigorously as the
rest, because without these virtues they cannot perform their social
duties rightly. Even in the commonest of personal virtues, cleanliness,
this alteration in the point of view may be made with advantage. A
simple sanitary regulation is thus ennobled by knowing that the object
of it is to make each one of us more 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.

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, neither theological nor metaphysical morality can bear
comparison with Positivism. Its precepts are adapted without difficulty
to the special requirements of each case, because they are ever in
harmony with the general laws of society and of human nature. But on
these obvious characteristics of Positivism I need not further 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 foundations 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 life. 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.

 [Moral education consists
 partly of scientific
 demonstration of ethical
 truth, but still more of
 culture of the highest

The moral education of the Positivist is based both upon Reason and on
Feeling, the latter having always the preponderance, in accordance
with the primary principle of the system.

The result of the rational basis is to bring moral precepts to the test
of rigorous demonstration, and to secure them against all danger from
discussion, by 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 knowledge will be as
deep as any that are formed in the present day from the strictest
scientific evidence, with the excess of intensity due to their higher
importance and their close connexion 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 carry 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 their respective arts, even in cases where the greatest
interests are at stake. And similar assent will certainly be accorded
to moral rules when they, like the rest, shall be acknowledged to be
susceptible of scientific proof.

But while using the force of demonstration to an extent hitherto
impossible, Positivists will take care not to exaggerate its
importance. Moral education, even in its more systematic parts, should
rest principally upon Feeling, as the mere statement of the great
human problem indicates. The study of moral questions, intellectually
speaking, is most valuable; but the effect it leaves is not directly
moral, since the analysis will refer, not to our own actions, but to
those of others; for all scientific investigations, to be impartial
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 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 in this direction, that it would be totally
inconsistent 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 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

 [Organization of Public

But however efficient the training received in youth, it will not
be enough to regulate our conduct in after years, amidst all 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 will be to recall individuals, classes,
and even nations, when the case requires it, to principles which they
have forgotten or misinterpreted, 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 Reason. 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 community of
principles and feelings. But its strength will be far greater under 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.

 [Commemoration of great men]

And these advantages are brought forward very prominently by the
Positive system of commemoration. Commemoration, when regularly
instituted, is a most 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 universal religion. In spite of all its efforts, its
system of commemoration 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 the full 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 will be
celebrated. Thus every moral precept will be supported by the influence
of posterity; and this in private life as well as in 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 important aspect
of Positivism; an illustration which probably will be the first step in
the practical application of the system. I would propose 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-Roman civilization, of Mediaeval Feudalism, and of Catholicism,
which forms the link between the two periods. The services of these
illustrious men have never yet been adequately recognized, for want of
a sound historical theory enabling us to explain the prominent part
which they played in the development of our race. Even in St. Paul’s
case the omission is noticeable. 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 influence of Positive
principles is even more necessary. For Caesar has been almost equally
misjudged by theological and by metaphysical writers; and Catholicism
has done very little for the appreciation of Charlemagne. However,
notwithstanding 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 still further, I may observe that history
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 injurious. Yet strong condemnation is
occasionally desirable. It strengthens social feelings and principles,
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 principal 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 joining in this damnatory verdict.[6]

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 educators 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 will 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, will naturally accept
the same intellectual 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 motto of
 Positivism: Order and

It will now not be difficult to show all the characteristics of
Positivism are summed up in the motto, _Order and Progress_, a motto
which has a philosophical 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 significance
to these two conceptions, whether regarded from their scientific
or their social aspect. With regard to Progress, the assertion
will hardly be 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 in the first chapter, it is no less profoundly
true. All previous philosophies had regarded Order as stationary, a
conception which rendered it wholly 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 all danger from subjective
chimeras. The Positivist regards artificial Order in Social phenomena,
as in all others, as resting necessarily upon the Order of nature, in
other words, upon the whole series of natural laws.

 [Progress, the development
 of Order]

But Order has to be reconciled with Progress: and here Positivism is
still more obviously without a rival. Necessary as the reconciliation
is, no other system has even attempted it. But the facility with
which we are now enabled, by the encyclopædic 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
existence and movement, which we find indicated in the inorganic
world, and which becomes still more distinct in Biology. Finding it
in all the lower sciences, we are prepared for its appearance in a
still 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 is 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 on all their changes, not as new Creations,
but as new Evolutions. And we find this principle fully 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 all subsequent

 [Analysis of Progress:
 material, physical,
 intellectual, and moral]

Progress then is in its essence identical with Order, and may be looked
upon as Order made manifest. Therefore, in explaining this double
conception on which the Science and Art of society depend, we may at
present limit ourselves to the analysis of Progress. Thus simplified it
is more easy to grasp, especially now that the novelty and importance
of the question of Progress are attracting so much attention. For the
public is becoming instinctively alive to its real significance, as the
basis on which all sound moral and political teaching must henceforth

Taking, then, this point of view, we may say that the one great object
of life, 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, will 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 time. It stirs up
influences that tend to the 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 which 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, Intellectual, 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 well-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 improvements in our modes of travelling by land or
water, in which birds will probably always have a great advantage over
us. However, as I said before, physical progress is not exclusively
confined to Man. Some of the animals, for instance, advance as far as
cleanliness, which is the first step in the progressive scale.

Intellectual and Moral 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
between 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 all 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 the 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 connexion it may be regarded as their representative;
since it involves them all implicitly and stimulates them to increased
activity. Keeping then to the question of moral perfection, we find
two qualities standing above the rest in practical importance, namely,
Sympathy and Energy. Both these qualities are included in the word
_Heart_, which in all European languages has a different meaning for
the two sexes. Both will be developed by Positivism, more directly,
more continuously, 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. For it removes a heavy weight of superstition, it reveals
the true dignity of man, and it supplies an unceasing motive for
individual and collective action. The very acceptance of Positivism
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 conclusion is the same in both. Both alike indicate the
supremacy of social considerations; both point to universal Love as the
highest ideal.

I have now explained the principal purpose of Positive Philosophy,
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 mediaeval 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 Revolutionary 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 harmonized 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.

 [Application of our
 principles to actual
 politics. All government
 must for the present be

I have spoken of the moral and mental reorganization of Western
Europe as characterizing the second phase of the Revolution. Let us
now see what are its relations with the present state of politics. Of
course the development of Positivism will not be much affected by the
retrograde tendencies of the day, whether theological or metaphysical.
Still the general course of events will 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 points in which action may be taken at once. In the
fourth volume of this treatise the question of a transitional policy
will be carefully considered, with the view of facilitating 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 life, would be hopeless. Until 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 Convention, 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 time 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 settle the government on any permanent
basis. Again, amidst all the wild extravagance of the principles in
vogue, the necessity of a strong government to resist foreign invasion
counteracted many of their worst effects. On the removal of this
salutary pressure, the Convention fell into the common error, though to
a less extent than the Constituent Assembly. It set up a constitution
framed according to some abstract model, which was supposed to be
final, 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
government 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 recognized. 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
reconstruction. This of course was not recognized, 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
school, who were not absorbed by the urgent question of defending
the Republic. 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 destitute 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 maintained.

 [Danger of attempting
 political reconstruction
 before spiritual]

And in this respect the situation is still unchanged. It still retains
its revolutionary character; and any immediate attempt to reorganize
political administration 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 still so new
and undeveloped, and besides are understood by so few, that they cannot
exercise much influence at present on political life. Ultimately, and
by slow degrees, they will mould the institutions of the future; but
meanwhile they must work their way freely into men’s minds and hearts,
and for this at least one generation will be necessary. Spiritual
organization is the only point where 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 agree 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 have been weakened, too, by
theological concessions which their supporters, in order to carry on
the government at all, were obliged to make. Consequently the policy
with which they are at present connected is one which oscillates
between reaction and anarchy, or rather which is at once despotic and
destructive, from the necessity of controlling a society which has
become almost as diverse to metaphysical as to theological rule. In
the utter absence, then, of any general convictions, the worst forms
of political 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 lamentable disorder, and would at all events be
utterly useless. Quiet at home depends now, like peace abroad, simply
on the absence of disturbing forces; a most insecure basis, since it
is itself a symptom of the extent to which the disorganizing movement
has proceeded. This singular condition must necessarily continue until
the _interregnum_ which at present exists in the moral and intellectual
region comes to an end. As long 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 internal disorder. The existing equilibrium has arisen
so spontaneously that it is no doubt less unstable than is generally
supposed. Still it is sufficiently precarious to excite continual
panics, both at home and abroad, which are not only very irritating,
but often exercise a most injurious influence over our policy. Now
attempts at immediate reconstruction of political institutions, instead
of improving this state of things, make it very much 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 restoring them to official authority will be to deter the
public, and even the thinking 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 retain 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 doctrines. 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 Revolution. It will 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 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
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 discussion on the
subject would defeat its own object; since free discussion is the
natural consequence of our intellectual and social position.

 [Politically what is
 wanted is Dictatorship,
 with liberty of speech and

The same conditions which require our policy to be provisional while
the spiritual interregnum lasts, point also to the mode in which
this provisional policy should be carried out. Had the revolutionary
government of the Convention continued till the end of the 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 monarchy, 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 the reaction, the central power was thoroughly undermined by
the legal opposition of the parliamentary or local power. The central
government still 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 proper functions, but was legally destroyed; that is the local
power as represented by parliament took the place of the central power.
All pretentions to spiritual influence were abandoned by both; their
thoughts being sufficiently occupied with the maintenance of material
order. The intellectual anarchy of the time 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 considerations. The 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 grievous error for either of them to attempt to imitate
the dictatorial style of the Conventional government. Unsuccessful in
any true sense as the attempt would be, it might occasion very serious
disturbances, which like the obsolete metaphysical principles in which
they originate, would be equally dangerous to Order and to Progress.

We see, then, that in the total absence of any fixed principles on
which men can unite, the policy required is one which shall be purely
provisional, and limited almost entirely to the maintenance of material
order. If order be preserved, the situation is in all other respects
most favourable to the work of mental and moral regeneration which
will 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. Meantime there is nothing irrevocable
in the republic itself, except the moral principle involved in it,
the absolute and permanent preponderance of Social Feeling; in other
words, the concentration 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 connexion;
it would be compatible with many different 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, which is the noblest
feature of republicanism, is strongly opposed to any immediate attempts
at political finality, as being incompatible with conscientious
endeavours to find a real solution of social problems. For before the
practical solution can be hoped 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 philosopher 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 official patronage. Republicanism
then, will do far more to protect free thought, and resist political
encroachment, than was done during the Orleanist government by the
retrograde instincts of 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 experience the inevitable failure of these incoherent
attempts to realize metaphysical Utopias. The only danger of the
position is lest it divert the public, even the more reflective portion
of it, from deep and continuous thought, to practical experiments based
on superficial and hasty considerations. It must be owned that the
temper of mind which now prevails would have been most unfavourable for
the original elaboration of Positivism. That work, however, had already
been accomplished under the Constitutional system; which, while not so
restrictive as the preceding government, was yet sufficiently so to
concentrate our intellectual powers, which of themselves would have
been too feeble, upon the task. The original conception had indeed been
formed during the preceding reign; but its development and diffusion
took place under the parliamentary system. Positivism now offers
itself for practical application to the question of social progress,
which has become again the prominent question, and will ever remain
so. Unfavourable as the present political temper would have been to
the rise of Positivism, it is not at all so to its diffusion; always
supposing its teachers to be men of sufficient dignity to avoid the
snare of political ambition into which thinkers are now so apt to fall.
By explaining, as it alone can explain, the futility and danger of the
various Utopian schemes which are now competing with each other for
the reorganization of society, Positivism will soon be able to divert
public attention from these political chimeras, to the question of a
total reformation of principles and of life.

 [Such a dictatorship would
 be a step towards the
 separation of spiritual and
 temporal power]

Republicanism, then, will offer no obstacle to the diffusion of
Positivist principles. Indeed, there is one point of view from which
we may regard it as the commencement of the normal state. It will
gradually lead to the recognition of the fundamental principle that
spiritual power must be wholly independent of every kind of temporal
power, whether central or local. It is not merely that statesmen will
soon have to confess their inability to decide on the merits of a
doctrine which supposes an amount of deep 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
themselves to their proper function as philosophers. Thus Republicanism
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 carry their theories into
immediate application. The principle seems, no doubt, in opposition
to all our revolutionary prejudices. But the public, as well as the
government, will be brought to it by experience. They will find it the
only means of saving society from the consequences of metaphysical
Utopias, by which Order and Progress are alike threatened. Thinkers
too, those of them at least who are sincere, will cease to regard
it with such blind antipathy, when they see that while it condemns
their aspirations to political influence, it opens out to them a
noble and most extensive sphere of moral influence. Independently of
social considerations, it is the only way in which the philosopher can
maintain the dignity to which his position entitles him, and which is
at present so often compromised by the very success of his political

 [The motto of 1830, _Liberty
 and Public Order_]

The political attitude which ought for the present to be assumed is so
clearly indicated by all the circumstances of the time, that practical
instinct has in this respect anticipated theory. The right view is
well expressed in the motto, _Liberty and Public Order_, which was
adopted spontaneously by the middle class at the commencement of the
neutral period in 1830. It is not known who was the author of it; but
it is certainly far too progressive to be considered 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 principal conditions required by the
situation. Positivism, while accepting it as an inspiration of popular
wisdom, makes it more complete by 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 fully
in the fourth volume of this treatise.

 [Liberty should be extended
 to Education]

Positivism is now the only consistent advocate of free speech and
free inquiry. Schools of opinion which do not rest on demonstration,
and would consequently 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 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 harmonizing
men’s convictions can become generally known. To legalize 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
teaching 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 organization 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 valuable when the problem of reorganizing general
education comes before us. But all the institutions abolished by the
Convention 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.
Government should no doubt exercise constant vigilance over all private
educational institutions; but this should have nothing to do with their
doctrines, but with their morality, a point scandalously neglected
in the present state of the law. These should be the limits of state
interference in education. With these exceptions 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 grants to theological or metaphysical societies,
leaving each man free to support the religion and the system of
instruction which he 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 feeling. 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 allow ideologists to succeed to the Academic offices held under
the constitutional system by psychologists.

 [Order demands

But Positivism will have as beneficial an influence on Public
Order as on Liberty. It holds, in exact opposition 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, until it
degenerated and became retrograde towards the end of the seventeenth
century. Our present preference for the local power is therefore an
historical anomaly, which is sure to cease as soon as the fear of
reaction has passed away. And as Republicanism secures us against
any dangers of this kind, our political sympathies will 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 in any sense
qualified for doing so. Its preponderance would, then, in most cases be
injurious to intellectual freedom, which, as it feels instinctively,
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 all political prospects, and who are devoting
themselves wholly to the work of spiritual reorganization, need not
be afraid to take this course; 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 all 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
contingency, of which there is now so little fear. As soon as the
central power has given sufficient proof of its progressive intentions,
there will be no unwillingness on the part of the French public to
restrict the powers 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,
will easily modify. It is inconsistent with the whole course of French
history; and only leads us into the mistake of imitating the English
constitution, which 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 futile and subversive in
practice as philosophy had represented it to be in theory.

 [Intimate connexion of
 Liberty with Order]

Such, then, is the way in which Positivism would interpret these two
primary conditions of our present policy, Liberty and Public Order.
But besides this, it explains and confirms the connexion 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 opinion. 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, on 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 with 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
all who would claim to guide them. That problem is this; to reorganize
human life, irrespectively of god or king; recognizing the obligation
of no motive, whether public or private, other than Social Feeling,
aided in due measure by the positive science and practical energy of



 [Positivism will not for the
 present recommend itself to
 the governing classes, so
 much as to the People]

Positivism, whether looked at as a philosophical system or as an
instrument of social renovation, cannot count upon much support
from any of the classes, whether in Church or State, by whom the
government of mankind has hitherto been conducted. There will be
isolated exceptions of great value, and these will 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
recognize 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 Revolution, 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 which it is used, or the objects
to which it is directed. They were quite convinced that the Revolution
had found a satisfactory issue in the parliamentary system instituted
during the recent period of political 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 republican institutions admitted of it. That policy is now the only
means by which retrogression is still possible. Ignoble as it is, there
are two motives for adopting it; it secures respect and submission 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 philosophy that was then in vogue; it removed many
obstacles, it was an easy path to reputation, and it imposed no great
sacrifice. But we can hardly hope from this precedent that the wealthy
and literary classes of our own time will be equally willing 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 governing classes. The
classes to which it must appeal are those who 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 will find their
most energetic allies. They are the two extreme terms in the social
series as finally constituted; and it is only through their combined
action that social regeneration can become a practical possibility.
Notwithstanding 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
real, the same preference for the useful, and the same tendency to
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 will
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 will 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
will look with similar feelings upon the intermediate or capitalist
class. As that class is necessarily the possessor of material power,
the pecuniary existence of both will as a rule be independent upon it.

 [The working man who accepts
 his position is favourably
 situated for the reception
 of comprehensive principles
 and generous sympathies]

These affinities follow as a natural result from their respective
position and functions. The reason of their not having been recognized
more distinctly is, that at present we have nothing that can be called
a philosophic class, or at least it is only represented by a few
isolated types. Workmen worthy of their position are happily far less
rare; but hitherto it is only in France, or rather in 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 conducive 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 besides having more time for thinking, 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 harassing the capitalist. Their
difference in this respect 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 his intellect
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 capitalist, on the contrary, and even
to the man of science, that system, however rigidly and consistently
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 give him the desire and the ability
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
success, 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, depends far
more on character than on intellect or affection. The 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 will
not prevent his taking advantage of favourable chances; chance being
usually a very important element in worldly success. Indeed it would
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 opinions have been brought under the influence of
systematic principles, the true character of this class, which forms
the basis of modern society, will 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 domestic 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
Solidarity between contemporaries; for all are conscious of the support
that they derive from union, support which is not at all incompatible
with strong individuality of character. The sense of Continuity with
the past has not, it is true, been sufficiently developed; but this
is a want which can only be supplied by systematic culture. It will
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 systematic 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
considered imaginary; and at present it is only in Paris that it can
be fully 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 spontaneous tendencies are
placed under the systematic guidance of Positivism.

 [This the Convention felt;
 but they encouraged the
 People to seek political
 supremacy, for which they
 are not fit]

These remarks will prepare us to appreciate the wise and generous
instincts of the Convention in looking to the Proletariate as the
mainspring of its policy; and this is not merely on account of the
incidental danger of foreign invasion, but in dealing with the larger
question of social regeneration, which it pursued so 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 undoubtedly 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 for 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 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 recognize it as final would lead at once to anarchy,
were it not so utterly impossible to realize.

 [It is only in exceptional
 cases that the People can be
 really ‘sovereign’]

Positivism rejects the metaphysical doctrine of the Sovereignty of the
people. But it appropriates all that is really sound in the doctrine,
and this with 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, scientifically, as a sort of reparative
crisis, of which societies stand in 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 allowing 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 political questions and
the choice of rulers to judges who are obviously incompetent; and who,
under the influence of Positivism, will of their own free will abdicate
rights which are subversive of order.

 [The truth involved in the
 expression is that the
 well-being of the people
 should be the one great
 object of government]

The metaphysical doctrine of the Sovereignty of the people, contains,
however, a truth of permanent value, though in a very confused form.
This truth Positivism separates very distinctly from its dangerous
alloy, yet without weakening, on the contrary, with the effect of
enforcing, its social import. There are two distinct conceptions in
this doctrine, which 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 will 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 instance, would be
enactments, very often of great importance, 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 experience of this feeling.

There is, however, another truth implied in the expression,
Sovereignity 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 provisionally the guardian of this
great social precept. Positivism now finally appropriates it, and
purifies it for the future from all taint of anarchy. Revolutionists,
as we should expect from their characteristic dislike to the separation
of the two powers, had treated the question politically. Positivism
avoids all danger by shifting it to the region of morality. I shall
show presently that this very salutary change, so far from weakening
the force of the principle, increases its permanent value, and at the
same time removes the deceptive and subversive tendencies which are
always involved in the metaphysical mode of regarding it.

 [The People’s function is to
 assist the spiritual power
 in modifying the action of

What then, it will be asked, is the part assigned to the Proletariate
in the final constitution of society? This similarity of position which
I pointed out between themselves and the philosophic class suggests the
answer. They will be of the most essential service to the spiritual
power in each of its three social functions, judgment, counsel, and
even education. All the intellectual and moral qualities that we have
just indicated in this class concur in fitting them 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 philosophers 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 spontaneous instincts of the people. The working class, then,
is better qualified than any other for understanding, and still more
for sympathizing 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 intellectual or moral,
the necessities of their daily life serve to impress them with respect
for the great rules of morality, which in most cases were framed for
their own protection. To secure the application of these rules in daily
life is a function of the spiritual 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
more disposed to give it their hearty support if they have nothing to
do directly with political administration. Habitual participation in
temporal power, to say nothing of its unsettling influence, would
lead them away from the best remedy for their sufferings of which the
constitution of society admits. Popular sagacity will soon detect the
utter hollowness of the off-hand solutions that are now being obtruded
upon us. The people will rapidly become convinced that the surest
method of satisfying all legitimate claims lies in the moral agencies
which Positivism offers, though it appears to them at the same time to
abdicate political power which either yields them nothing or results in

So natural is this tendency of the people to rally round the spiritual
power in defence of morality, that we find it to have been the
case even in mediaeval times. Indeed this it is which explains the
sympathies which Catholicism still retains, notwithstanding its
general decline, in the countries where Protestantism has failed to
establish itself. Superficial observers often mistake these sympathies
for evidence of sincere attachment to the old creeds, though in point
of fact they are more thoroughly undermined in those countries than
anywhere else. It is an historical error which will, however, soon be
corrected by the reception which these nations, so wrongly imagined
to be in a backward stage of political development, will give to
Positivism. For they will soon see its superiority to Catholicism in
satisfying the primary necessity with which their social instincts are
so justly preoccupied.

In the Middle Ages, however, the relations between the working classes
and the priesthood were hampered by the institution of serfage, which
was not wholly abolished until Catholicism had begun to decline. In
fact a careful study of history will show that one of the principal
causes of its decline was the want of popular support. The mediaeval
church was a noble, but premature attempt. Disbelief in its doctrines,
and also retrograde tendencies in its directors, had virtually
destroyed it, before the Proletariate had attained sufficient social
importance to support it successfully, supposing it could have deserved
their support. But we are now sufficiently advanced for the perfect
realization of the Catholic ideal in Positivism. And the principal
means of realizing it will be the formation of an alliance between
philosophers and the working classes, for which both are alike prepared
by the negative and positive progress of the last five centuries.

 [Their combined efforts
 result in the formation of
 Public Opinion]

The direct object of their combined action will be to set in motion the
force of Public Opinion. All views of the future condition of society,
the views of practical men as well as of philosophic thinkers, agree
in the belief that the principal feature of the state to which we
are tending, will be the increased influence which Public Opinion is
destined to exercise.

It is in this beneficial influence that we shall find the surest
guarantee 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
compensates 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 right
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 prominence 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
recognized; because the objects upheld as the highest aims of life 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 intellectual
anarchy in which we live. Neutralized as it is in most cases by the
wide divergences of men’s convictions, yet it shows itself 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 will prove when
used legitimately, and when it is formed by systematic accordance in
general principles instead of by a precarious 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 reorganization of opinion and of life. The
spiritual basis is necessary not merely to determine the character
of the temporal reconstruction, 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 reorganization is completed. We find in mediaeval 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.

 [Public opinion involves,
 (1) principles of social
 conduct, (2) their
 acceptance by society at
 large, (3) an organ through
 which to enunciate them]

Having defined the sphere within which Public Opinion should operate,
we shall find little difficulty in determining the conditions requisite
for its proper organization. These are, first, the establishment of
fixed principles of social action; secondly, their adoption by the
public, and its consent to their application in special cases; and,
lastly, a recognized organ to lay 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 well to
explain each of them somewhat more fully.

The first condition, that of laying down fixed principles, is, in fact,
the extension to social questions of that separation between theory
and practice, which in subjects of less importance is universally
recognized. 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 upon
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 outer 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 these laws will corroborate even those
which are not immediately deduced from them. By connecting all our
rules of action with the fundamental conception of social duty, we
render their interpretation in each special case clear and consistent,
and we secure it against the sophisms of passion. Principles such as
these, based on reason, and rendering our conduct independent of the
impulses of the moment, are the only means of sustaining the vigour
of Social 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 public 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 conduct 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, when her retrograde leader began
his seductive appeal to selfish passions. Inverse cases are still more
common; and they illustrate the connexion 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
public 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 by the nobler thinkers of his own country; but it still gives
the show of scientific 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 for
the exercise of Public Opinion is the existence of a strong body of
supporters sufficient to make the weight of these principles 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 order, which, as I
have before shown, will receive the influential support of the working
classes. And the need of such assistance is as certain as the readiness
with which it will be yielded. For though the intrinsic efficacy 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 Reason
exercises over it is not by any means so great as this supposition
would imply. Even Social Feeling, though its influence is far greater
than that of Reason, would not in general be sufficient for the right
guidance of practical life, if Public 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 Reason would be almost
inadequate to their task. In the working class we find the requisite
conditions. They will, as we have seen, form the principal source of
opinion, not merely from their numerical superiority, but also from
their intellectual and moral qualities, as well as from 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 already exist in the very structure of the
social organism.

 [Working men’s clubs]

Working men, whether as individuals or, what is still more important,
collectively, are now at liberty to criticize all the details, and
even the general principles, of the social system 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 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 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 will 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 there has been a fair measure of individual
training. No one at present has any idea of the extent of the
advantages which will one day spring from these spontaneous meetings,
when there is an adequate system of general principles to direct
them. Spiritual reorganization will find them its principal basis
of support, for they secure its acceptance by the people; and this
will have the greater weight, because it will always be 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 Revolution. 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
attempts 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 noble prospect which
is thus held out to them by Positivism, a prospect far more inviting
than any of the metaphysical illusions of the day. 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 to
be described. A philosophic organ is necessary to interpret the
doctrine; the influence of which would otherwise in most cases be
very 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 have 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, followed his own interpretation of a
doctrine which needed no special teachers, because its function was
not to construct but to criticize. 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 to 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?
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 interpreter 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 acquainted with the true character of the doctrine as
the philosopher who teaches it, it is even more certain that none is
so likely as himself to possess the moral qualifications of purity,
of exalted aims, and of freedom from party spirit, without which his
counsels could have but little 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 Each, which, as we
have seen, is of such indispensable importance to practical morality.
Philosophers are not indeed the principal source of Public Opinion,
as intellectual 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 some recognized 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 philosophers are mutually necessary, not merely in the creation
of Public 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 always been felt, even amidst the
spiritual anarchy which at present surrounds us, on every occasion in
which such opinion has played any important part. For its effect 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
more important claims, such entire absence of systematic intervention
could 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 present anarchy of feelings and convictions, Public
Opinion cannot dispense with guides and interpreters. Only it has to
be content with men who at the best can only offer the guarantee of
personal responsibility, without any reliable security either for
the stability of their convictions or the purity of their feelings.
But now that the problem 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 social
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 specializing influence would soon impair their
speculative capacity. And 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 Positivism as the only doctrine with which
they can sympathize. 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 disliked 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 proletary class, who have more aptitude for
general views and for social sympathy. In France especially they are
less under the delusion of metaphysical sophisms and of aristocratic
prestige than any other class; and the Positivist view of this primary
condition of social regeneration will find a ready entrance into their
minds and hearts.

 [All three conditions of
 Public Opinion exist, but
 have not yet been combined]

Our theory of Public Opinion shows us at once how far we have already
gone in organizing this great regulator of modern society; how far we
still fall short of 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 regeneration depends,
then, on one ultimate condition; the formation 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.

Of these advantages, the principal, and that by which the rest 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 alteration 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 duties. It supersedes useless disputes for the possession
of power, by inquiring into the rules that should regulate its wise

 [Spontaneous tendencies
 in the people of a right
 direction. Their Communism]

A superficial observer of the present state of things might imagine our
working classes to be as yet very far from this frame of mind. But he
who looks deeper into the question will see that the very experiment
which they are now 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 still more efficacious
plan of indifference. Positivism will readily convince them that
whereas spiritual power, in order to do its work, must ramify in every
direction, it is essential to public order that political power should
be as a rule concentrated. And 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

One step in this direction they have already taken of their own accord,
though its importance 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 Revolution has not yet wholly 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
neutralized 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 difficult 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 circumstances. 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 all purely political questions in the background.
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. Still
it is owing to them that the question of property 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 sympathies
by which it is inspired, not at the shallow theories in which those
sympathies find expression provisionally, until circumstances 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 way of bringing forward the points on
which they have such legitimate claims, they will very soon adopt the
clear and practical conceptions 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 appeal 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. However, now that we have
happily passed from monarchy to republicanism, the name of _Communist_
is no longer indispensable; the word _Republican_ expresses the meaning
as well, and without the same danger. Positivism, then, has nothing to
fear from Communism; on the contrary, it will probably be accepted by
most Communists among the working classes, especially in France where
abstractions have but little influence on minds thoroughly emancipated
from theology. The people will gradually find that the solution of
the great social problem which Positivism offers is better than the
Communistic solution.

 [Its new title of Socialism]

A tendency in this direction has already shown itself since the first
edition of this work was published. The working classes have now
adopted a new expression, _Socialism_, thus indicating that they accept
the problem of the Communists while rejecting their solution. Indeed
that solution would seem to be finally disposed of by the voluntary
exile of their leader. Yet, 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. Consequently the rapid spread of Socialism very naturally
alarms the upper classes; and their resistance, blind 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 mediaeval 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 Rich. It is a final
solution of our difficulties which will make the titles of which we
have been speaking unnecessary. 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. For the opinions, manners, and even institutions of
future society, _Positivist_ is the only word suitable.

 [Property is in its nature
 social, and needs control]

The peculiar reality of Positivism, and its invariable tendency to
concentrate our intellectual powers upon social questions, are
attributes, both of which involve 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, irrespectively of
the good or bad use made of it. This view is instinctively felt by
the working classes to be unsound, and all 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
individual; an interest which, instead of diminishing with the progress
of civilization, has been always on the increase, especially in modern
times, now that the connexion of each member of society with the whole
is becoming more apparent. The practice of confiscation, which also is
in universal use, shows that in certain extreme cases the community
considers itself authorized 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; and 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
error, 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 recognizes the subordination of social phenomena 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 themselves 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 departments 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 efforts to modify society, should rather lead to
a 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 fundamental 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 republican spirit to the continuous service of the community.
The long period of revolution which has elapsed since the Middle
Ages has encouraged individualism in the moral world, as in the
intellectual it has fostered the specializing tendency. But both are
equally inconsistent with the final order of modern 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 principle.
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 ennobling to its
possessor, does not exclude a due measure of freedom. It will in fact
place his position on a firmer basis than ever.

 [But Positivism rejects the
 Communist solution of the
 problem. Property is to be
 controlled by moral not
 legal agencies]

But the agreement here pointed out the between sociological science
and the spontaneous inspirations of popular judgment, goes no farther.
Positivists accept, and indeed enlarge, the programme of Communism;
but we reject its practical solution on the ground that it is at
once inadequate and subversive. The 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 the system of modern renovators, will be found in
every one of the important problems of our time to be the sole possible
issue. In the present 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 minds,
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 universally adopted by
other classes.

I need 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 distinguished. In modern Communism, moreover, there is one fatal
inconsistency, which while it proves the utter weakness of the system,
testifies at the same time to the honourable character of the motives
from which it arose. Modern Communism differs 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 our consideration, are
nobly inconsistent in this respect. Indivisible as their erroneous
system is, they only adopt that side of it which touches on their
social requirements. The other side is repugnant to all their highest
instincts, and they utterly repudiate it.

Without discussing these chimerical schemes in detail, it will be 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 will be easy to extend the bearing
of my remarks to all the rest.

 [Individualization of
 functions as necessary as

The ignorance of the true laws of social life under which Communists
labour is evident in their dangerous tendency to suppress
individuality. Not only do they 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 connexion 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.
Extravagant as this supposition is, it may illustrate the fact that in
social life individuality cannot be dispensed with. It is necessary
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 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 substantially
the strictures which they have passed upon Communism; especially those
of Dunoyer, their most advanced writer.

 [Industry requires its
 captains as well as War]

There is another point in which Communism is equally inconsistent with
the laws of Sociology. Acting under false views of the constitution
of our modern 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 modern 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 undertakings: each fresh step leads at
once to still further extension. Now this tendency, so far from being
opposed to the interests of the working classes, is a condition which
will most seriously facilitate 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, when
rightly used, form our principal resource in dealing with grave social

 [Communism is deficient in
 the historical spirit]

The motives, therefore, from which modern Communism has arisen,
however estimable, lead at present, 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 boast of
their spirit of social union; but they limit it to the union of the
present generation, stopping short of historical continuity, which yet
is the principal characteristic of Humanity. When they have matured
their moral growth, and have followed out in Time that connexion which
at present they only recognize in Space, they will at once see the
necessity of these general conditions which at present they would
reject. They will understand the importance of inheritance, as the
natural means by which each generation transmits to its successor
the result of its own labours and the means of improving them. The
necessity of inheritance, as far as the community is concerned, is
evident, and its extension to the individual is an obvious consequence.
But whatever reproaches Communists 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 ancestors; and this, although their own
ideas for the most part can have no bearing except upon posterity.

 [In fact, as a system, it is
 worthless, though prompted
 by noble feelings]

Serious as these errors are, a philosophic mind will treat the
Communism of our day, so far as it is adopted in good faith, with
indulgence, whether he look at the motives from which it arose, or at
the practical results which will follow from it. It is hardly fair to
criticize 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 greatest of social
problems; and, if we except the recent Positivist explanation, its
mode of stating it has never been surpassed. And let no one suppose
that it would have been enough simply to state the problem, without
hazarding any solution of it. Those who think so do not understand
the exigencies of man’s feeble intellect. In far 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 venturing 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 hardly likely that we should be
able to evade this condition of our mental faculties in subjects 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 dangerous
than the absurd and chimerical notion which was accepted in France for
a whole generation, and is still upheld by so many political teachers;
the notion that the great Revolution has found its final issue in the
constitutional system of government, a system peculiar to England
during her stage of transition? 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 for ever
trying to make legislation do the work of morality. Accordingly we see
the governing classes nowadays upholding institutions of a thoroughly
Communist character, such as alms-houses, foundling hospitals, etc.;
while popular feeling strongly and rightly condemns such institutions,
as being incompatible with that healthy growth of home affection which
should be common to all ranks.

Were it not that Communism is provisionally useful in antagonizing
other doctrines equally erroneous, it would 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 motives, 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 republican system seems at first 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 mischievous illusions. In France,
at all events, where property is so easy to acquire and is consequently
so generally enjoyed, the doctrine cannot lead to much practical harm;
rather its reaction will be beneficial, because it will fix men’s
minds more seriously on the just claims of the People. The danger is
far greater in other parts of Western Europe; especially in England,
where aristocratic influence 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 all social delusions, by offering the true solution
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 a public trust,
 not to be interfered with

That philosophy, abandoning all useless and irritating discussion as
to the origin of wealth and the extent of its possession, proceeds at
once to the moral rules which should regulate it as a social function.
The distribution 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
disputes. 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 efforts 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 will, under the influence of their
education. Thus their obedience, while steadily maintained, will 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 degrading to
man’s character. Indeed, the comparison of proprietors with public
functionaries will 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 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 conditions requisite for these two
objects are, a recognized Code of principles, 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 itself. Human frailty is such that
Government, in the ordinary sense of the word, will have as before
to repress by force the more palpable and more dangerous class of
delinquencies. 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.

 [Inheritance favourable to
 its right employment]

Positivism, being more pacific and more efficacious than Communism,
because more true, is also broader and more complete in its solution
of great social problems. 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 really 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 without 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 are already in course of removal, and which
admit of conversion to a most beneficial purpose.

 [Intellect needs moral
 control as much as wealth]

Again, another feature in which the Positivist solution surpasses the
Communist, is the remarkable completeness of its application. Communism
takes no account of anything but wealth; as if wealth were the only
power in modern society badly distributed and administered. In reality
there are greater abuses connected with almost every other power that
man possesses; and especially with the powers of intellect; yet these
our visionaries make not the smallest attempt to rectify. 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. Identification, in a 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 proprietor;
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 individual, 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 the application. The extension of
the principle 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 distinction. Intellectual effort, to be of any
value, must be spontaneous; and it is doubtless an instinctive sense
of this truth which prevents Communists from subjecting intellectual
faculties to their utopian regulations. But Positivism can deal with
these faculties which stand in the most urgent need of wise direction,
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 phase of 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 evident, 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 preponderating over that of governmental regulations.

 [Action of organized public
 opinion upon Capitalists.

The method which is peculiar to Positivism of solving our great
social problems by moral agencies, will be found applicable also to
the settlement of industrial disputes, 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; especially when they are seen to be consistent with principles
which are freely accepted by all, and when they are supported by
a philosophic body of known impartiality and enlightenment. This
spiritual 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 will all alike be penetrated with the general
principles on which these special obligations will rest. And these
weapons, derived from no source but that of Feeling and Reason, and
aided solely by Public Opinion, will wield an influence over practical
life, of which nothing in the present day can give any conception. 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 which it inspired, rather than to
the energy with which praise and blame were distributed. With the new
spiritual power praise and blame will form the only resource; but it
will be developed and consolidated 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 antagonism of
employer and employed has not yet been pushed to its full 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 intellectually or morally, to make such use of the
power as would be the case in France. When French workmen are allowed
to concert their plans as freely as their employers, the antagonism
of interests that will then arise will make both sides feel the need
of a moral power to arbitrate between them. Not that the conciliating
influence of such a power will ever be such as to do away entirely with
extreme measures; but it will greatly restrict their application, and
in cases where they are unavoidable, will mitigate their excesses. Such
measures should be limited on both sides to refusal of co-operation; 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 teaching 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
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 philosophic 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 organism
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, will
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 modern Society, 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
irrespectively of Education. It may seem as if we are making too much
of a mere question of arrangement; yet the difference is one which
affects the whole character and method of social reconstruction. 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 attempts 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 and 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 postponement of the organization of Labour to the
organization of Education.

 [Public Opinion must be
 based upon a sound system of

This conclusion involves a brief explanation of the general system of
education which Positivism will introduce. This the new spiritual power
regards as its principal function, and as its most efficient means of
satisfying the working classes in all reasonable demands.

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 value, it
has left us one imperishable principle, namely that in all education
worthy of the name, moral training should be regarded as of greater
importance than scientific teaching. Catholic education, 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 efforts to
an object unconnected with social life, and which taught that all the
phenomena of nature were regulated by an impenetrable Will. Catholic
Education was consequently 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 conscious of intellectual and social wants which
Catholicism was wholly incapable of satisfying.

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; and which offered little more than
the special instruction previously given to the 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 professed theologian. All this
metaphysical and literary instruction was of 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 development 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 different kind of training. And thus,
while 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 priest.

The theological method being obsolete, 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 securing
the supremacy of the heart over the understanding more efficiently
than Catholicism, will yet put no obstacle in the way of intellectual
growth. The function of Intellect, in education as in practical life,
will be to regulate Feeling; the culture of which, beginning at 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 in which the 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 of 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 Organism
with 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, while at the same time it will render
them more efficient in their own special duties.

 [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]

Presuming that Education extends from birth to manhood, we may divide
it into two periods, the first ending with puberty, that is, at the
beginning of industrial apprenticeship. Education here should be
essentially spontaneous, and should be carried on as far as possible
in the bosom of the family. The only studies required should be of
an esthetic kind. In the second period, Education takes a systematic
form, consisting chiefly of a public course of scientific lectures,
explaining the essential laws of the various orders of phenomena.
These lectures will be the groundwork of Moral Science, which will
co-ordinate the whole, and point out the relation of each part to
the social purpose common to all. Thus, at about the time which long
experience has fixed as that of legal majority, and when in most
cases the term of apprenticeship closes, the workman will be prepared
intellectually and morally for his public and private service.

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 development 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 will
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 still 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
pupil will become familiar with the principal Western languages, which
are included in the study of Poetry, since modern 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
general, and the natural affinities of the five advanced nations are
brought fully into play, a common Occidental language will 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 development
of the individual, corresponding to that of the race, will carry
him from the simple Fetichism with which he began to the state 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 spontaneous 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 familiarizing 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 consists
 of public lectures on the
 Sciences, from Mathematics
 to Sociology]

The second part of Positivist Education cannot be conducted altogether
at home, since it involves public lectures, in which of course the
part taken by the parent can only be accessory. But this is no reason
for depriving the pupil of the advantages of family 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. Recognition
of this truth would do much to facilitate and improve popular
education; and it applies to all cases, except perhaps to some special
professions, 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 obviously be
that indicated by the encyclopædic law of Classification, 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 pair; 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 will now co-ordinate all his previous
knowledge by the direct study of Sociology, statically and dynamically
viewed. On this subject also forty lectures will be given, in which the
structure and growth of human societies, especially those of modern
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
understood 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

In the course of these seven years the philosophic development of the
individual, preserving its correspondence with that of the race, will
pass through its last phase. As the pupil passed before 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 discussion. No interference should be
offered to this metaphysical transition, which is the homage that he
pays to the necessary conditions under which mankind arrives at truth.
There is something 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. Under their 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 will
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 sympathize
with his ancestors and contemporaries, while devoting his practical
energies to the good of his successors.

 [Travels of Apprentices]

There is an excellent custom prevalent among the working men of France
and creditable to their good 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 workman 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 Encyclopædic 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
discouraging the travelling system, Positivism will give it a new
character, intellectually and socially, by extending the range of
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 will then be no obstacle. Not only would the
sense of fraternity among Western nations be strengthened 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.

 [Concentration of study]

Judging by our present practice, it would seem 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 unphilosophical 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
voluntary 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 appropriately 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 Revolution could have
no conception.

Little attention has hitherto been given to the didactic value of
Feeling. 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 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 habits of mind will have been formed,
as will give grace and beauty to the whole life.

 [Governmental assistance not
 required, except for certain
 special institutions, and
 this only as a provisional

When I speak of this education as specially destined for the people,
I am not merely using words to denote its comprehensiveness and
philosophic character. It is, in my opinion, the only education,
with the exception of certain special branches, for which public
organization is needed. It should be looked on as a sacred 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. Therefore if the general training be sound,
most people will 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 Polytechnic School,
the Museum of Natural History, etc. Their value, like that of all
good institutions of modern times, is purely provisional. 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 instance, as a School of Comparative Philology, the
object of which would be to range all human languages according to
their true affinities. This would compensate the suppression of Greek
and Latin professorships, which is certainly an indispensable measure.
But the 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 necessity
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 authorities of Western Europe can
supply. And every true philosopher will take pride in such teaching,
when it becomes generally understood 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 cases regard teaching
as their principal occupation, for at least a considerable portion of
their public life.

 [We are not ripe for this
 system at present; and
 Government must not attempt
 to hasten its introduction]

What has been said makes it clear that any organization of such
education as this at the present time would be impossible. However
sincere the intentions of governments to effect this great result
might be, any premature attempt to do it would but injure the work,
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. Till then the organization 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. Assuming 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 artificial 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, primary
education, and special instruction in certain higher 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
all annual grants whatsoever for theological or metaphysical purposes.
Until some universal faith has been accepted on its own merits, all
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 bringing
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 full 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 government, 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 all
who can contribute efficiently to this great preliminary work; their
services being essentially gratuitous. It is a result which no system
but Positivism 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 will be prepared 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 connexion 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 Present; so that 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 realized,
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 affection
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 controlling or directing its action. Philosophers will
never, indeed, be able to manage the working classes as they please,
as some unprincipled 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.

 [Intellectual attitude of
 the people. Emancipation
 from theological belief]

To complete this view of the political attitude which Positivism
recommends to the working class, I have now to speak of the
intellectual and moral conditions 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 shown 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.

The emancipation of the working classes from theology is complete, 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 unversed 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 preventing, 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 Robespierre 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 banishment, and that we ought to take as little interest
in it as possible. A prompt answer may be given to such instructors
as these. They should be requested to follow out their principle
consistently, and to cease to interfere in the management of a world
which is so alien to what, in their ideas, is the sole aim of life.

 [From metaphysical doctrines]

Metaphysical principles have more hold on our working classes than
theological; yet their abandonment is 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 prejudice 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 the one great obstacle to their social action. One
reason for it is that they fall 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 modern 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 intellects 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 would 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.

 [Their mistaken preference
 of literary and rhetorical
 talent to real intellectual

And now we come to another and a deeper reason for the prejudice of
which I am speaking. It is that they make no distinction between
one kind of instruction and another. The unfortunate confidence
which they still bestow on literary men and lawyers shows that the
prestige of pedantry lingers among them 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 incapacitate 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
presupposes 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 higher interests. Reverence for superiors is doubtless
indispensable to a well-ordered state; only it needs to be better
guided than it is now.

What then, working men may ask, is the proper training for themselves,
and consequently for those who 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 Positive 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 characterized, than most of our scientific men.
The speciality of their employment is 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 really are;
knowledge which is obviously necessary in every other subject. They
will then feel how impossible 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 will 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 conceptions, 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.
All that it claims is to present in a systematic form principles which
they already hold instinctively. By co-ordinating these principles of
morality and good sense, their value, whether in public or in private
questions, is largely increased; and the union of the two forms of
wisdom, 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 questions;
and before these their learned puerilities fade into insignificance.
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, _des clartés de tout_, as
Molière 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
specializing system of which they are so proud. Positivism explains
the mystery, by showing that, since the necessity for the specializing
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 Philosophy projected by Bacon and Descartes. But as soon
as the groundwork was sufficiently finished to admit of the formation
of true Science, that is, of Science viewed relatively to Humanity,
the specializing method became retrograde. It ceased to be of any
assistance to the modern spirit; and indeed it is now, especially in
France, a serious obstacle to its diffusion and systematic working.
The wise revolutionists of the Convention were well aware of this
when they took the bold step of suppressing the Academy of Sciences.
The beneficial results of this statesman-like policy will soon be
appreciated by our workmen. The danger lest, in withdrawing 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 science with more respect.
But the people will be 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.

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

This, then, should be the attitude of the working class,
intellectually. Morally, what is required is, that they should have
a sufficient sense of the dignity of labour, and that they should be
prepared for the mission that now lies before them.

The workman must learn to look upon himself, 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 sufficiently 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 republican 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 suspended
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 France, where
the metaphysical theory of Right 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 be permanently 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 for another,
or that mere modifications of any kind in the administration should be
looked on as the final issue of the great Revolution, 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 essentially
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 prominently organized. So entirely does the
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 offer no impediment to social speculations which do
not profess to be susceptible of immediate application; and thus the
normal state may be prepared for in the future without disturbance,
and yet without neglecting the present. Practical statesmen meanwhile,
no longer interfered with by pretentious sophists, will 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.

 [Ambition of power and
 wealth must be abandoned]

For the people to rise to the true level of their position, they have
only to develop and cultivate certain 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 recognized the value
of their services, and encouraged what is the chief compensation for
their condition of poverty, their participation in public life. All
subsequent governments, whether retrograde or constitutional, have, on
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 own class, but not on others.
Without saving, capital could not be accumulated 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 wages, 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 Economists, 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 wine-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
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 Positivism
will arouse among the people in public questions, will lead to the
substitution of the club for the wine-shop. In these questions, 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 offices untouched,
each functionary will be judged by the intrinsic worth of his mind and
heart, without servility and yet without any encouragement to anarchy.
It must always be obvious that the political importance which high
position gives, is out of all proportion 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 character 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, will 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
burdened with constant care. There are men whose talents call them to
these 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 nature;
more compatible with that harmonious exercise of the faculties of
Thought, Feeling, and Action, which is most conducive to happiness.
The immediate pressure of poverty once removed, the highest reward of
honourable conduct will be found in the permanent 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 organized that its theoretical and practical directors, with all
their personal advantages, will 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
possibility of combining public and private life will be open to all.
The humblest citizen will be able to influence not by command but by
counsel, in proportion to his energy and worth.

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 constituted, 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.

 [The working classes are the
 best guarantee for Liberty
 and for Order]

Liberty of thought and speech is enjoyed in France, and especially in
Paris, to an extent impossible in any other country, and it is due
principally to the intellectual emancipation of our workmen. They have
rid 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 submissiveness 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 doctrines 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 all 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; institutions most conducive both to its culture and to
the protection of its interests. It will 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 inclinations 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 our armies the officers are the only volunteers.
Again, the working class is more free than any other from international
prejudices, which still disunite the great family of Western nations,
although they are very much weaker than formerly. They are strongest in
the middle classes, a fact principally due to industrial competition.
But working men feel how similar their wants and their conditions
are in all countries, and this feeling checks their animosity. And
the consciousness of union will become far stronger, now that the
great social problem of their incorporation into modern society is
being raised everywhere. 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 conducive
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 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
will always turn instinctively to the dictatorial rather than to the
parliamentary branch of the administration; feeling that from its
practical character and the directness of its action, it is more likely
to meet their wants. Useless discussions 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 all 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 government that deserves it; especially in France,
where political passions have already yielded to the superior and more
permanent interest of social questions. And while strengthening the
government 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

 [It is from them that we
 shall obtain the dictatorial
 power which is provisionally

But a more striking proof of the political influence to be exercised
by the people is this. The dictatorship which our transitional policy
requires as long as the spiritual interregnum lasts must arise in the
first instance from their ranks.

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 will be required as a preliminary condition,
that the holder of dictatorial power shall have first received the
political training which is given by the exercise of authority in his
own business. In a settled state of society, Government, 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 skill. But they
are not competent as yet for dictatorial power, the power which has to
supply the place of royalty. Individual exceptions, of course, there
may be, though none have appeared hitherto, and at least they are
not enough for our provisional system to rely on. As yet the wealthy
classes have shown themselves too debased in thought and feeling for
an office of such importance. Nor do we find greater aptitude for
it outside the industrial class. Scientific men are most assuredly
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 which 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 all the diversified
elements of modern 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 popular 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

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

In examining the mode in which this anomalous policy should 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 on motives
of self-interest, which has grown up during the last generation,
of insisting on parliamentary experience as an apprenticeship for
executive power; executive power being always the real object of
ambition. We have found from experience what we 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 offers almost insurmountable obstacles;
and even supposing these obstacles to be overcome, we may be sure
that they would lose the straightforwardness and native vigour which
constitute their best claim to the exceptional position proposed for

It is best, then, that they should reach the position assigned to them
at once, without the circuitous process of a parliamentary career.
Our transition towards the normal state will then exhibit its true
character. It will be tranquil and yet decisive; for it will 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, will 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 realized, if, as its founders
contemplated, it had lasted till 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 Revolution 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 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 philosophers, 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 important
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, will do much to overcome the ambitious
instincts which weaken and distract their energies in the common cause
of social renovation.



 [Women represent the
 affective element in our
 nature, as philosophers
 and people represent the
 intellectual and practical

In their action, then, upon society, philosophers may hope for the
energetic support of the working classes. But the regenerating movement
requires still the co-operation of a third element, an element
indicated by our analysis of human nature, and suggested also by
historical study of the great crisis of modern times.

The moral constitution of man consists of something more than Intellect
and Activity. These are represented in the constitution of society by
the philosophic body and the proletariate. 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 realized, 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.
Roused as he will 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 will yet be not less necessary for him than
for others. Intercourse with the working classes will 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
pure and not so lasting. From the pressure of daily necessities it is
difficult for them to maintain the same consistent and disinterested
character. Great as are the moral advantages which will result from
the incorporation of the people in modern society, they are not enough
by 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. Philosophers 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 regeneration
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 will be kept in due subordination
to universal Love. The digressions of intellect, and the subversive
tendencies of our active powers will be as far as possible prevented.

 [Women have stood aloof from
 the modern movement, because
 of its anti-historic and
 destructive character]

Indispensable to Positivism as the co-operation of women is, it
involves one essential condition. Modern progress must rise above its
present imperfect character, before women can thoroughly sympathize
with it.

At present the general feeling amongst them is antipathy to the
Revolution. They dislike the destructive character which the Revolution
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 Humanity, 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 still regard the irrevocable decay of mediaeval society.

They do not disregard the progress which modern 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 Roman 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 subordinated to
Morality; and this upon a more intelligible, more comprehensive, and
more permanent 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 will 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 Revolution itself that women feel antipathy,
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,
will 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 will 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 it superseded by coarse and egotistic
feelings, which are now no longer counterbalanced by revolutionary
enthusiasm. Instead of blaming their antipathies, we should learn
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 will sympathize
 with constructive
 tendencies; and will
 distinguish sound philosophy
 from scientific specialities]

Women will gladly associate themselves with the Revolution as soon as
its work of reconstruction is fairly begun. Its negative phase must not
be prolonged too far. It is difficult enough for them to understand how
such a phase could ever be necessary; therefore they cannot be expected
to excuse its aberrations. The true connexion of the Revolution
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 mediaeval system first placed
it. Women will feel enthusiasm for the second phase of the Revolution,
when they see republicanism in the light in which Positivism presents
it, modified by the spirit of ancient chivalry.

Then, and not till 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 affections. On philosophers rests the duty
of giving logical coherence to this principle, and saving it from
sophistical attacks. Its practical working depends upon the proletary
class, without whose aid it would almost always 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 social life had
better be abandoned. But if the theory stated in my first chapter be
true, Positivism will have even greater influence 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.

Nor is it surprising that the new philosophy should possess such
qualities. They follow 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 scientific studies arises almost entirely from want of
purpose and from irrational speciality, 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 questions.
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

 [Women’s position in
 society. Like philosophers
 and people, their part is
 not to govern, but to modify]

The social mission of woman in the Positive system follows as a natural
consequence from the qualities peculiar to her nature.

In the most essential attribute of the human race, the tendency to
place social above personal feeling, she is undoubtedly superior to
man. Morally, therefore, and apart from all material considerations,
she merits always our loving veneration, as the purest and simplest
impersonation of Humanity, who can never be adequately represented in
any masculine 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 accordance with a general law which prevails
throughout the animal kingdom. Now practical 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, Women 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 goodwill, although this last condition reacts strongly
upon the others.

Thus the three elements of our moral constitution do not act in perfect
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 life, 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 combined action
which constitutes the moral or modifying force of society.

Philosophers are excluded from political power by the same fatality
as women, although they are apt to think that their intellectual
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 almost inert had they not been needed to
guide our energies; the constitution of the brain not being such as to
favour their spontaneous development. Whereas the affective principle
is dependent 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 all
its pretensions, intellectual force is not in 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? In practical life
precedence must always depend upon superior energy. Reason, 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 availed
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 Feeling; 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 philosophers 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 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 concentrated 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 will 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, affects 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 will 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, _Paucis nascitur humanum genus_,
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 action of
 philosophers, women, and
 proletaries constitutes
 Moral Force]

Such, in outline, is the Positive theory of Moral Force. By it the
despotism of material force may be in part controlled. It rests upon
the union of the three elements in society who are excluded from the
sphere of politics strictly so called. In their combined action lies
our principal hope of solving, so far as it can be solved, 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 constitution 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
considered 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
institutes 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 all the other forces of man. It involves as perfect an
inauguration of the normal state as our times of transition admit.
For 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, Reason, 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 striking is
the 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 question in Sociology with
the corresponding statical conception. For with the growth of society,
the modifying influence of moral force is always increasing, both by
larger scope being given to each of its three elements specially, and
also by the more perfect consolidation of their union. Robertson 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.

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 systematizing 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 modern 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;
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 will 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 will 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 preponderant. 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. Knowing, as
they do, how slight is the practical result of purely intellectual
considerations, they will welcome so precious an incentive, were it
only in the interest of their own mission. I recognized 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[7]: ‘I was
incomplete as a philosopher, until the experience of deep and pure
passion has 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. Doubtless, the method of pure science leads
up to it also; but only by a long and toilsome process, which exhausts
the power 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.

 [Superiority of the new
 spiritual power to the old.
 Self-regarding tendencies of
 Catholic doctrine]

Under this aspect the new spiritual system is obviously superior to
the old. By the institution of celibacy, which was indispensable to
Catholicism, its priests were entirely removed from the beneficial
influence exercised by women. Only those could profit from it who
did not belong to the ecclesiastical body; the members of that body,
as Ariosto has remarked in his vigorous satire, were excluded. Nor
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 stupendous
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 all 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, except in so far as the same object of worship was held out
simultaneously to all. Intrinsically, it is anti-social, since, when
attained in absolute perfection, it implies the entire sacrifice of
all other love. 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
Corneille. 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 spontaneous than ever
has yet been supposed, since even the oppressive discipline of twelve
centuries could not prevent their growth.

 [The spirit of Positivism,
 on the contrary, is
 essentially social. The
 Heart and the Intellect
 mutually strengthen each

Positivism, from the fact of its conformity with the constitution of
our nature, is the only system calculated to develop, both in public
and in private life, those high attributes of Humanity which, for want
of adequate systematic culture, are still in their rudimentary stage.
Catholicism, while appealing to the Heart, crushed Intellect, and
Intellect naturally struggled to throw off the yoke. Positivism, on the
contrary, brings Reason 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 stimulus to social sympathy. Without 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 impossibility of understanding any individual
or society apart from the whole life of the race. Nothing but the
bewilderment caused by 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 what
it is that we owe to the combined action of our predecessors and
contemporaries. The man who dares to think himself independent of
others, either in feelings, thoughts, or actions, cannot even put the
blasphemous conception into words without immediate self-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 constantly impressing
upon us that only the Whole is real; that the Parts exist only in

But independently of the beneficial influence which, in this final
state of Humanity, the mind will exercise upon the heart, the direct
culture of the heart itself will 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, these affections will
gradually become supreme, since they give deeper satisfaction than all
others, and are capable of fuller 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 vain. 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 impossible not to feel
pride in the love of one whom we prefer to all others. Since, 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 propensities connected with
the preservation of our own existence. But when they have been once
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, all 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 all circumstances. In the humblest relations of life,
as in the highest, regenerate Humanity will apply the obvious truth, It
is better to give than to receive.

The Heart thus aroused will 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 fully 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 following out this
principle, philosophical difficulties of the most formidable kind are
at once surmounted. From moral considerations, 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 mathematician, 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 encyclopædic 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 would 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 connexion 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 Reason 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 ground on which the claims of intellect are defended,
namely, scientific demonstration, a ground which the defenders of
intellect cannot repudiate without suspicion at once attaching to their
motives. But theological or metaphysical remedies can only exasperate
the disease. By oppressing the intellect they provoke it to fresh
insurrection against the heart.

 [Intellectual and moral
 affinities of women with

For all these reasons, women, who are better judges of moral questions
than ourselves, will admit that Positivism, incontestably superior
as it is to other systems 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 generalizing
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 characteristics 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 far 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. Molière’s remarkable expression,
_des clartés de tout_, which I applied in the last chapter to popular
education, was used by him in reference to women. Accordingly 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
alike 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.

 [Catholicism purified
 love, but did not directly
 strengthen it]

But when women have sufficient acquaintance with Positivism, to see its
superiority to Catholicism in questions of feeling, they will support
it from moral sympathy even more than from intellectual adhesion. It
will be the heart even more than the mind which will incline them
to the only system of philosophy which has fully recognized 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. Not 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, notwithstanding 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 all other feelings, was essentially a self-regarding
principle, and as such conflicted with woman’s noblest instincts. Not
only did it encourage monastic isolation, but if developed to the
full 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
characterized, will 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 of Catholicism, without fear
of taint from the subversive sophisms engendered by the spiritual
anarchy of our times. Not 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 will 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 in the purest form the principle
of Love upon which the unity of our nature depends; and the culture of
that principle in others is her special function.

 [Women’s influence over the
 working classes and their

All classes, therefore, must be brought under women’s influence; for
all require to be reminded constantly of the great truth that Reason
and Activity are subordinate to Feeling. Of their influence upon
philosophers I have spoken. If they are men worthy of their mission,
they will 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. Feeling, when it is pure and deep, corrects its own errors,
because they clash with the good to which it is ever tending. But
erroneous use of the intellectual or practical faculties, cannot be
even recognized, 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 are
entrusted to their special charge.

With the working classes, the special danger to be contended against
is their tendency to abuse their strength, and to resort to force for
the attainment of their objects, instead of persuasion. But this danger
is after all less than that of the misuse of intellectual 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 strengthening
the errors which it attacks by the absurdity of its refutations. 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 mischievous effects of Communistic
theories have been far greater. We owe it to women that the Family has
been so little injured by the 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 still 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 themselves, 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 heart 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 influence in
 the _salon_]

Thus the part to be played by women in public life 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 will 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 representatives.

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

For the ancients, and for the greater part of the human race at the
present time, it would be 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 afterwards 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 Revolution, 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 rallying 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 philosopher will naturally preside, the other two
classes taking on 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 will promote active and friendly intercourse
between all three classes; and here all 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 folly 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 will 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.

 [But the Family is their
 principal sphere of action]

But, however important the public duties that women will ultimately
be called upon to perform, the Family is after all their highest and
most distinctive sphere 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.
All the corrosive power of metaphysical 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 principles
became more generally prevalent, and even royal courts disgraced
themselves by giving public 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 done 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
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 mission as a wife.
 Conjugal love an education
 for universal sympathy]

According to the lower views of the subject, such as those coarsely
expressed by the great hero of reaction, Napoleon, procreation and
maternity are the only social functions of Woman. Indeed many theorists
object even to her rearing her children, and think it preferable
to leave them to the abstract benevolence of the State. But in the
Positivist theory of marriage, the principal function of Woman is one
quite unconnected with procreation. It is a function dependent 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 Positivism 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 civilized nations bears
testimony, the noblest aim of human life is realized, 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 Feeling, 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 Feeling. 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 affection. 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 connexion of these two states of feeling
is instinctively recognized by all; and it is clearly indicated by 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
will 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

 [Conditions of marriage.
 Indissoluble monogamy]

The purpose of marriage once clearly understood, it becomes easy to
define its conditions. The intervention of society is necessary; but
its only object is to 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 connexion 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
permanent 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. Marriage, like every other human
institution, has always been improving. Beginning in all countries with
unrestricted polygamy, 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 civilization.

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 will 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 the privileged classes. France is now threatened with
a revival of the metaphysical delusions of the Revolution, 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 widowhood]

To the spirit of anarchy, however, Positivism yields 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 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 the
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 recognized 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 morality 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 unreservedly to the
service of Humanity; and thus their public life is animated by the
ennobling influence of their innermost feelings. Alike from a 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 recognize 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 realize
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
recompense 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 superiority
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 perpetual 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 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 human nature. All the best
results, whether personal or social, of marriage may follow, when the
union, 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, will but serve to strengthen mutual

 [Woman’s mission as a mother]

We have examined the position of Woman as a wife, 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 will have, almost exclusively, the direction of
household education. Public education given subsequently, will be
little but a systematic development of that which has been previously
given at home.

 [Education of children
 belongs to mothers.
 They only can guide the
 development of character]

For it is a fundamental principle that education, in the normal
condition of society, must be entrusted to the spiritual power; and
in the family the spiritual power is represented by Woman. There are
strong prejudices against entrusting the education of children to
mothers: prejudices springing from the revolutionary 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 I have given undue importance to its intellectual
side. But Positivism having superseded this revolutionary phase by
demonstrating the preponderance of the heart over the intellect, moral
education will resume its proper place. Certainly the present mode of
instruction is not adopted for Woman’s teaching. But their influence
over the education of the future will be even greater than it was in
the Middle Ages. For in the first place, in every part of it, moral
considerations will be paramount; and moreover, until puberty, nothing
will 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 instruction, theoretical 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 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 which has the greatest influence
on life, what may be called the spontaneous training 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

The peculiar fitness of women for inculcating these elementary
principles of morality is a truth which every true philosopher will
fully recognize. Women, having stronger 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, will in most
cases do better than the father himself. The importance of the subject
can only be appreciated by 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 strengthening 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 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 will 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 selfishness.

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
in 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
characterized. Her mission is so uniform in its nature and so clearly
defined, that there seems hardly room for much uncertainty as to her
proper social position. It is a striking instance of the rule which
applies universally to all human effort; namely, that the order of
things instituted by man ought to be simply a consolidation and
improvement of the natural order.

 [Modern sophisms about
 Women’s rights. The
 domesticity of her life
 follows from the principle
 of Separation of Powers]

In all ages of transition, as in our own, there have been false and
sophistical views of the social position of Woman. But we find it
to be a natural law that Woman should pass the greater part of her
life in the family; and this law has never been affected to any
important extent. It has always been accepted instinctively, 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 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 still unrefuted
philosophically, their mischievous effects have been neutralized.
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 most spontaneous of the moral
forces of society, are bound to fulfil with rigorous exactness all 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 questions 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 proletaries 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 the
highest type of womanly perfection. With the people sympathy is better
cultivated, and has a greater influence upon life. Wealth has more to
do with the moral degradation of women among the privileged classes
than even idleness and dissipation.

 [The position of the sexes
 tends to differentiation
 rather than identity]

Progress, in this respect as in every other, is only a more complete
development of the pre-existing Order. Equality in the position of the
two sexes is contrary to 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 become not less but
more distinct. By Catholic Feudalism the social condition of women in
Western Europe was raised to a far higher level. 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 more 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
more 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 life which
their so-called 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.

 [Woman to be maintained by

Leaving these subversive dreams, we find a natural principle which, by
determining the practical obligations of the Active to the Sympathetic
sex, averts this 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 all 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 for 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 recognized 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 humiliating 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 recognized, 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 application 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 to it will proceed. Wise education will show them its value
to themselves personally, as a safeguard against unworthy suitors. But,
important as the rule is, it should not be legally enforced until it
has become established 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.

 [The education of women
 should be identical with
 that of men]

Coming now to the subject of female education, we have only to make a
further application of the theory which has guided us hitherto.

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 alterations. 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 systematization 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 systematic 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
organization. Professional skill can only be acquired by careful
practice and experience, resting upon a sound basis of theory. In all
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 both sides are sufficiently
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. Not 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 in 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 imposed upon teachers in the present day. Moreover, as the
Positivist educator will pass successively through the seven stages of
scientific instruction, he will 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

But independently of the importance to female education of this
identity of teachers, it will 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 involuntarily
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 will gain clearer insight into the
great principle of subordinating the intellect to the heart. The
obligation of teaching both sexes will complete that universality
of mind which is to be required of the new school of philosophers.
To treat with equal ability of all the various orders of scientific
conceptions, and to interest two audiences of so different a character,
is a task which will demand the highest personal qualifications.
However, as the number required by the conditions is not excessive,
it will not be impossible to find men fit for the purpose, as soon as
the proper means are taken to procure their services, and to guarantee
their material subsistence. It must be borne in mind, too, that the
corporation of teachers is not to be recruited from 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 Anglican 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 the septennial
system of instruction in two thousand stations. The influence of women
and of working men will never become so systematic 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 will diminish. Under theological 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 will 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 conduces 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 spontaneously
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 Family.
At the same time she must participate, to the full extent that is
possible, in the general system of instruction.

 [Women’s privileges. Their
 mission is in itself a

A few remarks on the privileges which the fulfilment of this vocation
will bring, will complete this part of my subject.

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 in 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 organization 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 effect in female life.

 [They will receive honour
 and worship from men]

But besides the pleasure inherent in their vocation, Positivism offers
a recompense for their services, which Catholic Feudalism foreshadowed
but could not realize. 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.

 [Development of mediaeval

Our ancestors in chivalrous times made noble efforts in this
direction, which, except by women, are now no longer appreciated.
But these efforts, however admirable, were inadequate; partly owing
to the military spirit of society in those times, partly because
their religious doctrines had not a sufficiently 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

Chivalry, if we are to believe the negative philosophers of the last
century, can never revive; because the religious beliefs with which
it was connected have become obsolete. But the connexion 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 really 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 realized.

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 protection of the weak. The period of
transition from the offensive military system of Rome 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 firmly
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 advantages of the change
are obvious: the danger is less serious, and protection from it is
easier and more effectual. But it will always remain most desirable
that protectors should come forward, and 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. Those among them who feel animated with the noble
spirit of the heroes of the Middle Ages, will devote not their sword,
but their wealth, their time, and, if need be, their whole energies
to the defence of the oppressed in all 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 reconstruction
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 will 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 strengthened
it indirectly, by promoting one of the indispensable conditions of
true affection, purity of life. 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 life.
Whatever Catholic apologists may say, there is every reason to believe
that if Feudalism could have arisen before the decline of Polytheism,
the influence of Chivalry would have been greater.

It was reserved for the more comprehensive system of Positivism, 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 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 materialism will 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 connexion 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
will fear no longer the rivalry of a vindictive Deity. From 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

The treasures of affection which our ancestors wasted upon mystical
objects, and which these revolutionary times ignore, will then
be carefully preserved and directed to their proper purpose. The
enervating influence of chimerical beliefs will have passed away; and
men in all the vigour of their energies, feeling themselves 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 sympathetic
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 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
affairs of life. 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 of Prayer, so
 far from disappearing, is
 purified and strengthened in
 Positive religion]

Originating in spontaneous feelings of gratitude, the worship of Woman,
when it has assumed a more systematic shape, will be valued for its
own sake as a new instrument of happiness and moral growth. Inert as
the tender sympathies are in 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 will find all the
elevating influences which Catholicism 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 theology
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 will be more clearly appreciated;
and it will 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 ultimate 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 realized, if it were at once and
exclusively directed to an object so difficult to conceive clearly.
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 him for any effectual worship of

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 him as a fixed
object of devotion. Nor will 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 which
Positivism insists so strongly, the union of the Present with the Past,
and even with the Future, is not limited to the life of Society. It is
a doctrine which unites all individuals and all 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 sympathies or antipathies 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 unsatisfactory 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 will extend as our
conceptions widen and our thoughts become more pure. Under Positivism
the impulse to it will become far stronger, and it will be recognized
as a systematic principle in private as well as in public life. Even
the Future is not excluded from its application. We may live with those
who are not yet born; a thing impossible only till a true theory of
history had arisen, of scope sufficient to embrace at one glance the
whole course of human destiny. There are numberless instances to prove
that the heart of Man is capable of emotions which 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, with our fuller understanding and greater familiarity with
the Past, should be able to idealize more perfectly. But whether the
choice lie in the Past or in the Future, 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.

 [The worship of Woman a
 preparation for the worship
 of Humanity]

I have dwelt at some length upon the personal adoration of Woman under
its real or ideal aspects, because upon it depends nearly all the moral
value of 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 feel
that the one thing essential to happiness is that the heart shall be
always nobly occupied’.[9] And now that we are separated by Death,
daily experience confirms this truth, which is moreover in exact
accordance 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 Religion is even
more manifest than in the private worship. A system in which the social
spirit is uniformly 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
feelings, and express to one 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 be necessary. Still the principal
object 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 considerations
were impossible, for want of a rational theory embracing the whole
circle of social relations. Indeed the received faith was incompatible
with any such conception, since God in that faith occupied the place
really due to Humanity.

 [Exceptional women. Joan of

There are women whose career has been altogether exceptional; and
these, like the rest, meet with their due tribute 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 compelled,
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 canonization, and
no objection was made to his request. Yet, practically, it was never
carried into effect. It was gradually forgotten; and the clergy soon
came to feel a sort of dislike to her memory, which reminded them
of nothing but their own social weakness. It is easy to account for
this result; nor is any one really to blame for it. It was feared,
not without reason, that to consider Joan of Arc as a saint might
have the effect of spreading false and dangerous ideas of feminine
duty. The difficulty 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 all others is the least compatible
with their proper functions. And yet Positivists will be the first to
do justice to this extraordinary heroine, whom theologians have been
afraid to recognize, and whom metaphysicians, even in France, have had
the hardihood to insult. The anniversary of her glorious martyrdom 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
in the reparation of it which Positivism proposes to institute. So far
from her apotheosis having an injurious effect on female character,
it will 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 intermediate step
towards the worship of Humanity; and women, stronger though their
sympathies are, stand, it may be, in need of similar preparation.
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 Sympathy; 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 indicates
a blank hitherto unnoticed, but does not enable me to fill 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 philosophic
loss resulting from our objective separation. True, I have been able
to show that Positivism is a matter of the deepest concern to women,
since it incorporates them in the progressive movement of modern
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 much support from them
until some woman shall come forward to interpret what I have said into
language more adapted to their nature and habits of thought. Till
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 have 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 lain very long latent.

Clotilde de Vaux was gifted equally in mind and heart: and she had
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 modern times. Misunderstood everywhere,
even by her own family, her nature was far too noble for bitterness.
Her sorrows were as exceptional as they were undeserved; but her
purity was even more rare than her sorrow; and it preserved her
unscathed from all sophistical attacks on marriage, even before the
true theory of marriage had come before her. In the only writing
which she published[10], 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 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 their powers’. These
words coming from a young lady distinguished no less for beauty than
for worth, showed 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 she was intellectually no less than
morally superior. Her nature 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 Clotilde was, as may be supposed, fully
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 in diffusing the
principles of the new philosophy: ‘It is always well 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 women to
 introduce Positivism into
 the Southern nations]

With such a colleague, combining as she did qualities hitherto shared
amongst the noblest types of womanhood, it would have been easy to
induce her sex to co-operate in the regeneration of society. For she
gave a perfect example of that normal reaction of Feeling upon Reason
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 fully 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 will
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. Protestantism, by
consolidating it, seriously impeded subsequent progress, and is still,
in the countries where it prevails, the chief obstacle to all efficient
renovation. Happily France, the normal centre of Western Europe, was
spared this so-called Reformation. 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 movement 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 revolutionary 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 Catholicism 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 Italy and even Spain should not be spared Voltairianism. As a
compensation for this apparent stagnation, they might pass at once from
Catholicism to Positivism, without halting for any length of time at
the negative stage. These countries could not have originated 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 competition with the old by
performing in a better way the same functions that Catholicism fulfils
now, or has fulfilled in past times.

All 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 Catholicism,
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 cling 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 church. Now as this question is
almost 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. Positivism has been communicated to England by men. Holland,
too, which has been the vanguard of Germany ever since the Middle Ages
has been initiated in the same way still more efficiently. But its
introduction in Italy and Spain will depend upon the women of those
countries; and the appeal to them must come, not from a Frenchman, but
from a Frenchwoman; for heart must speak to heart. Would that these few
words might enable others to appreciate 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 will 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 philosophy and its social purpose.

The result of this chapter is to show the affinity of the systematic
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 philosophers
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 will be occupying its permanent
position relatively to the temporal power. The philosophic 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.

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
will 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 all positions of political

But while the moral force resulting from the combined action of women
and of the people, will be more efficient than that of the Middle Ages,
the systematic organs of that force will 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 sympathy and purity of the first,
the energy and disinterestedness of the second. Such natures are rare;
yet without them the new spiritual power cannot obtain that ascendancy
over society to which Positivism aspires. And with all 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 self-love.



 [Positivism when complete
 is as favourable to
 imagination, as, when
 incomplete, it was
 unfavourable to it]

The essential principles and the social purpose of the only philosophy
by which the revolution can be brought to a close, are now before us.
We have seen too that energetic support from the People and cordial
sympathy from Women are necessary to bring this philosophic movement to
a practical result. One further condition yet remains. The view here
taken of human life as regenerated by this combination of efforts,
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 already of the place which Reason 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 modern 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 confounding 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 soon as it embraces the higher subjects in the encyclopædic
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: but 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 recognized. Reason has
been divorced for a long time from Feeling and Imagination. But, with
the more complete and systematic culture here proposed, they will be

To those who have studied the foregoing chapters with attention,
the view that the new philosophy is unfavourable to Art, will 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 purpose,
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 propound 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 and a firm foundation for it, by establishing
fixed principles and modes of life; 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 give 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 esthetic, 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 beauty combined; beauty of mind
and character as well as of 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 fail 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 Art.

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 powerful means of expression, and also new
organs. I may observe that the position which Art will occupy in the
present movement of social regeneration 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 talent is for the
 adornment of life, not for
 its government]

But before touching on this question it will be well to rectify a
prevalent misconception on the subject, one of the many consequences
of our mental and moral 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 Corneille, 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 stronger than objective judgments. It is a static law
of our nature, which has never been permanently suspended, that the
faculties of Representation 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

The foolish vanity of the later poets of antiquity led some of them
into errors much resembling those which now prevail on this point.
Still in Polytheistic society artists were at no time looked upon
as the leading class, notwithstanding the esthetic character of
Greek and Roman religion. If proofs were necessary, Homer’s poems,
especially the Odyssey, would show how secondary the influence of
the fine arts was upon society, even when the priesthood 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. Mediaeval Monotheism was still less disposed
to overrate the importance of Art, though its true value was recognized
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 conception of the Positive state could arise, the negative
condition of the Western Republic became aggravated to an unheard-of
extent. Rules and institutions, which had formerly controlled the
most headstrong ambition, fell rapidly into discredit. And as the
principles of social order disappeared, artists and especially poets,
the leading class among them, stimulated by the applause which they
received from their uninstructed 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, Negativism 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 propagated boldly in a systematic
form, the case was changed, and literary 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, intellectually speaking, no real vocation. When the crisis
of the Revolution came, this heterogeneous class took the lead in the
movement, and naturally stepped into all political offices; a state of
things which will continue until there is a more direct and general
movement of reorganization.

 [The political influence of
 literary men a deplorable
 sign and source of anarchy]

This is the historical explanation, and at the same time the
refutation, of the subversive schemes so prevalent in our time, of
which the object is to establish a sort of aristocracy of literary
pedants. Such day-dreams of unbridled self-conceit find favour only
with the metaphysical minds who cannot sanction exceptional cases
without making them into an absolute rule. If philosophers are to be
excluded 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 members; 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 idealize 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 artist 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 realized 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 will 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
Reason as Reason is to Feeling. Any prolonged inversion of this natural
order is both morally and intellectually dangerous. The reign of
Imagination would be still more disastrous than the reign of Reason;
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 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 paramount 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 abject form of
selfishness; in which enjoyment of sounds or forms is held out as
the highest happiness, and utter apathy prevails as to all questions
of social interest. So dangerous is it intellectually, and still more
so morally, for individuals, and above all, for societies to allow
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 we have gradually fallen under the discreditable
influence of men who were evidently not competent for any but
subordinate positions, and whose preponderance has proved as injurious
to Art as it has been to Philosophy and Morality. A fatal facility 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 most 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 evil
in a still more degrading form; that of avarice, a vice by which so
much of our highest talent is now tainted. Another signal proof 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 produced original works.

Such are the results of the extravagant pretensions which artists and
literary men have gradually developed during the last five centuries.
I have dwelt upon them because they constitute at present serious
impediments to all sound views of the nature and purposes of Art. My
strictures will not be thought too severe by really esthetic natures,
who know from personal experience how 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 feeble 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 Art]

Guarding ourselves, then, against errors of this kind, 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 explained; all previous attempts to
do so, whatever their value, having 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 is the idealized
 representation of Fact]

Art may be defined as an ideal representation of Fact; and its object
is to cultivate our sense of perfection. Its 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
contemplations of the artist and of the man of science follow the same
encyclopædic law; they begin with the simple objects of the external
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 uniform. The higher
degrees of Beauty will hardly be recognized by those who are insensible
to this its 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 therefore 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, however 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 idealized. This indeed is the characteristic mission of
Art. Its function is to construct types of the noblest kind, by the
contemplation 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 individuals, 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.

 [Poetry is intermediate
 between Philosophy and

Thus Positivism explains and confirms the view ordinarily taken of
Poetry, by placing it midway between Philosophy and Polity; issuing
from the first, and preparing the way for the second.

Even Feeling 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 statesman who endeavours to improve the existing order, must first
study it as it exists. And the poet, although his improvements are
but imagined, and are not supposed capable 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; but 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 wider 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 recognized, 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 undertakes, 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 constitute the chief sphere both of Art and of
Science, is very imperfectly 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 recognized; and surely the necessity
cannot 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
imperfect sense of its conditions and requirements. Positivism, far
from laying an interdict 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 subordinated to the actual laws of social existence. And thus by
giving a systematic sanction to this the Poetry, as it may be called,
of Politics, most of the dangers which now surround it will disappear.
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 enlightened than educated
persons are apt to suppose. It indicates, however vaguely, a sense of
the true position of Poetry, midway 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 realized,
while 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
always been recognized as a moral agency of great power. On every
ground, then, Poetry seems more closely related to practical than to
speculative life. For its practical results are of the most important
and comprehensive 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 recognized, and finally the name of Art was appropriated
to the whole class of poetic functions. The fact is, at all events, an
argument in favour of the Positive theory of idealization, as standing
midway between theoretical inquiry and practical result.

 [Art calls each element of
 our nature into harmonious

Evidently, then, it is in Art that the unity of human natures finds its
most complete and most natural representation. For Art is in direct
relation with the three orders of phenomena by which human nature
is characterized; Feelings, Thoughts, and Actions. It originates in
Feeling; the proof of this is even more obvious than in 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 our 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 stimulates 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
sociological 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 upon 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 development begins in the same spontaneous way.

 [Three stages in the
 esthetic process: Imitation,
 Idealization, Expression]

With this primary principle we may now complete our statical theory
of Art, by indicating in it three distinct degrees or phases. The
fine arts have been divided 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 childhood, whether of
men 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 puerile vanity the name
is often given to it), except so far as it is made more beautiful, that
is to say, more perfect. The representation 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 masterpieces of antiquity, it has become more and more the
characteristic feature of esthetic productions. But in recognizing 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 characteristic
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 a time to Racine over Corneille.

So long as Art is confined to Imitation, no special language is
required; 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 Expression.
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 Grétry’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 Grétry’s relation of cause and effect; at least when we are
considering those primitive times, when Art and Language first arose

The origin of all our faculties of expression is invariably esthetic;
for we do not express till after we have felt strongly. Feeling had,
in primitive times at all 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 evidence of this truth. There is a musical element
in the most ordinary conversation. Listening carefully to a lecture
on the most abstruse 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 inert to produce muscular contraction for which there is
no absolute necessity. Accordingly, Sociology regards every language
as containing in its primitive elements all 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 ordinary
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 inexplicable. Such, then, is the
sociological theory of Language, on which I shall afterwards dwell
more fully. 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.

 [Classification of the
 arts on the principle of
 decreasing generality, and
 increasing intensity]

To complete our examination of the philosophy of Art, statically
viewed, we have now only to speak of the order in which the various
arts should be classified. Placed as Art is, midway between Theory
and Practice, it is 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 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 technicality,
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 wider, since it embraces
every side of our existence, whether individual, 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 necessary; 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, Ideality. Poetry is the art which idealizes the
most, and imitates the least. For these reasons it has always held
the first place among the arts; a view which will be strengthened in
proportion as we attach greater importance to idealization 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


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 distinguishing the different 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
spontaneous 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.


Of the three arts which appeal to the voluntary sense of sight, and
which present simultaneous impressions, 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 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 idealize 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
artifices, of which the meaning is often ambiguous. But the impressions
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 effect than in our magnificent
cathedrals, in which the spirit of the Middle Ages has been idealized
and preserved for posterity. They exhibit in a most striking manner the
property which Architecture possesses of bringing all the arts together
into a common centre.

 [The conditions favourable
 to Art have never yet been

These brief remarks will illustrate the method adopted by the new
philosophy in investigating a systematic theory of Art under all its
statical aspects. We have now to speak of its action upon social life,
whether in 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 full development never
having yet been combined.

 [Neither in Polytheism]

Too much has been made of the esthetic tendencies of the nations of
antiquity, owing to the free scope 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 philosophic 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
subsequent system. It is to this portion of the theological period that
we must attribute the first steps of esthetic development, whether in
society or in the individual. Yet Art was never really incorporated
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
instrument, but which, from the stationary character 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. Public 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 incorporation instituted by Rome 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 _Æneid_, ending with the remarkable expression,

    Pacisque imponere morem,
    (Impose the law of peace.)

 [Nor under the Mediaeval

Mediaeval society, notwithstanding irrational prejudices to the
contrary, would have been far more 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 idealized 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 still the prevailing occupation; but by assuming
a defensive character, it had become far more moral, and therefore
more poetic. Woman had acquired a due measure of freedom; and the free
development of home affections were 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 all its aspects. All these qualities were summed up in the noble
institution of Chivalry; which gave a strong stimulus to Art throughout
Western Europe, and diffused it more largely than in any former period.
This movement was in reality, though the fact is not recognized 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 mediaeval society under all its aspects. By the time that its
language and habits had become sufficiently stable for the esthetic
spirit to produce 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.

 [Much less in modern times]

During the decline of Chivalry, Art received indirectly an additional
impulse from the movement of social decomposition which has been going
on rapidly for the last five centuries. 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 illustration 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 him. 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
previously belonged to it. That great masterpieces 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 exhausted; and now
that the negative movement has reached its extreme limits there only
remained one service (a service of great 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 Goethe, the principle value of which has been, that they
have initiated Protestant countries into the unrestricted freedom of
thought which emanated originally from French philosophy.

Thus history shows that the esthetic development of Humanity has
been the result of spontaneous tendencies rather than of systematic
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 recognized
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

 [Under Positivism the
 conditions will all be
 favourable. There will be
 fixed principles, and a
 nobler moral culture]

All this would seem to show that the greatest epoch of Art has yet to
come. In this respect, as in every other, the Past has but supplied the
necessary materials for future reconstruction. What we have seen as yet
is but a spontaneous and immature prelude; but in the 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

As being the only rallying point now possible for fixed convictions,
without which life can have no definite or permanent character,
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 intellectual 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 reorganization, whatever its
nature. But the principle on which Positivism proposes 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 cannot 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 indispensable; 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, will 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 culture is
a useless expenditure of time, and a diversion from the great end for
which Man and Society 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
imagination; and advantage may very well be taken of this to make our
conceptions more beautiful and so far more useful. Still 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 representing the great historical types,
for instance, Art has its place as well as Science. A society which
devotes all 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 influence of

The tendency of Positivism to favour these the most energetic of our
intellectual faculties and the most closely 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
systematic 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 will
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 futility, however, of this profession
is but too evident: the usual result of the system being to implant
erroneous notions of all 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 Boileau;
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 will familiarize
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 modern
society. Afterwards, as I have said, the young Positivist will be
advised to complete his poetical course, by studying the poets who
have idealized 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 individual, 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 familiarized, 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.

 [Relation of Art to Religion]

And if Art is of such importance in the education of the young, it is
no less important in the afterwork 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 still 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 Revolutionists. 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; spontaneousness 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 systematic
organ of impulses which already exist. Since the decline of Catholicism
we have had no festivals worthy of the name; nor can we have them
until Positivism has become generally accepted. All that governments
could do at present is to exhibit unmeaning and undignified shows
before discordant crowds, who are themselves the only spectacles 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
festival 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 idealize 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 Humanity, of which
I shall speak more particularly afterwards. From these, indeed, most
Positivist festivals, private or public, will originate. But this
subject has been already broached, and will be discussed in the next
chapter with as much detail as the limits of this introductory work

While the social value of Art is thus enhanced by the importance of the
work assigned to it, new and extensive fields for its operations are
opened out by Positivism. Chief amongst these is History, regarded as a
continuous whole; a domain at present almost untouched.

 [Idealization of historical

Modern poets, finding little to inspire them in their own times, and
driven back into ancient life by the classical system, have already
idealized some of the past phases of Humanity. Our great Corneille, for
instance, is principally remembered for the series of dramas in which
he has so admirably depicted various periods of Roman history. In our
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 spontaneous
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 domain had been 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
contrary, is always relative; and its principal feature is a theory of
history which enables us to appreciate and become familiar with every
mode in which human society has formed itself. No 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, will be able so thoroughly
to identify himself with all, as to awaken our sympathies for them, and
revive the traces which each individual may recognize 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 Rome,
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 distinctness with which
some of them have been already idealized by Homer and Corneille. 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 enjoyment. 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.

 [Art requires the highest
 education; but little
 special instruction]

Lastly, not only will the field for Art become wider, but its organs
will be men of a higher stamp. The present system, in which the arts
are cultivated by special classes, must be abolished, as being wholly
alien to that synthetic spirit which always characterizes the highest
poetic genius.

Real 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 Corneille,
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 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 themselves save 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 expression, 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
still 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 recognized; 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 little direct instruction; the tendency of it in Art being to
destroy originality, and to stifle the fire of genius with technical
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
connexion 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, have 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 philosophic 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?

 [Artists as a class will
 disappear. Their function
 will be appropriated by the
 philosophic priesthood]

Positivism, then, while infusing a profoundly esthetic spirit into
general education, would suppress all special schools of Art on the
ground that they impede its true growth, and simply promote the
success of mediocrities. When this principle is carried out to its
full length, we shall no longer have any special class of artists. The
culture of Art, especially of poetry, will be a spontaneous addition to
the functions of the three classes which constitute the moral power of

Under theocracy, the system by which the evolution of human society
was inaugurated, the speculative class absorbed all functions except
those relating to the common business of life. No distinction was made
between esthetic and scientific talent. Their separation 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 mathematicians
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 condition of social regeneration.

Looking at the two essential functions of the spiritual power,
education and counsel, it is not difficult to see that what they
require is a combination of poetic feeling with scientific insight. We
look for a measure of both these qualities in the public; therefore
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 will arise occasionally, as in former times, from all sections of
society, whenever 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 will be as prominent a
feature as System.

 [Identity of esthetic and
 scientific genius]

There is, in truth, no organic distinction between scientific and
poetic genius. The difference lies merely in 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 favourable to art; and Goethe,
under different political influences, might have been an eminent
philosopher. All 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 function is always essentially the
same. The difference is merely in the objects aimed at; and as these
alternate according to the circumstances 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 will 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 required 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 in 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 will
exhibit their esthetic faculty. They will 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 philosophical
question of the first importance, the most powerful minds among them
will 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 undertakings, 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 poetry]

An additional proof of the esthetic capacity of the moderating power
in works of less difficulty, but admitting 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 process of training would spoil the
spontaneousness which is so admirable 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
adapted 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 feelings
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 composition which seems to me
to be beyond their power 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 been attained.

 [People’s poetry]

The popular element of the spiritual power has not 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 better adapted than women, and far more so than philosophers.
When Positivist education has extended sufficiently to the People of
the West, poets and musicians will spontaneously arise, as in many
cases they have 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 but 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 present, exclusively devoted
to it, with the exception of a few special masters. But there will be
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 will 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 occupied 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

 [Value of Art in the present

I have now shown the position which Art will occupy in the social
system as finally constituted. I have yet to speak of its influence in
the actual movement of regeneration which Positivism is inaugurating.
We have already seen that each of the three classes who participate
in this movement, assumes functions similar to those for which it is
ultimately 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 of normal
 types on the basis furnished
 by philosophy]

The principal function of Art is to construct types on the basis
furnished by Science. Now this is precisely what is required for
inaugurating the new social system. However perfectly its first
principles may be elaborated by thinkers, they will still be not
sufficiently definite for the practical 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
popularized. But at the point where Philosophy must always leave a
void, Poetry steps in and stimulates to practical action. In the early
periods of Polytheism, Poetry repaired the defects of the system
viewed dogmatically. 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 will be easy to apply the same principle to other cases.

 [Pictures of the Future of

In his efforts to accomplish this object, the Positivist 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 service 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
understanding 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
conditions 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 Reason, the severest thinkers will welcome its
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

 [Contrasts with the past]

From this second mode in which Art assists the 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 opinions, 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, much 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 Catholicism in reference to similar social and moral problems.
The scientific basis of such a contrast, is already furnished; it is
for Art to do the rest, since the appeal should be to Feeling rather
than to Reason. 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 fellow-worker, for it is
one in which the esthetic powers of women would be peculiarly 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 until it has rendered the fullest
and 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 still 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 all.

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 Positivism
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 expiration 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 will 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
Real; 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 intellectual 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, Art should have a salutary influence upon our intellectual
faculties, because it familiarizes us from childhood with the features
by which all constructive efforts of man should be characterized.
Science has for a long time preferred the analytic method, 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 us to build with greater effect than ever
upon the more stubborn soil of reality.

On all these grounds Art, in the Positive system, is made the primary
basis of general education. In a subsequent stage education 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 will 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.



 [Recapitulation of the
 results obtained]

Love, then, is our principle; Order our basis; and 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 permanent 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
predominates in our nature. Life in all its actions and thoughts is
brought under the control and inspiring charm of Social Sympathy.

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, Reason 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 beneficially 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 will
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.

And whilst Reason 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 conceptions
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 extravagance. Subject to this
condition, Positivism gives every encouragement 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.

Originating 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,
will 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 recognized, 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 will not fail
to take the same direction, devoting themselves to that portion of the
natural Order which is most imperfect, and at the 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 condition, so far from being adverse to speculative power,
concentrates it upon the most difficult of all problems, the discovery
of moral and social laws, our knowledge of which will never be fully
adequate 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 all our means
of improvement; and that without it, all other means can be of little

Thus it is that in the Positive system, the Heart, the Intellect, and
the Character mutually strengthen and develop one another, because
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, because 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 rests, is
the separation of the two elementary powers of society; the moral
power of counsel, and the political powers 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 the 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 still more certainly would lose
its character and its energy. Moral force, therefore, by which is meant
the force of conviction and persuasion, is to be regarded simply as a
modifying influence, not as a means of authoritative direction.

Moral force originates in Feeling and in Reason. 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
will never be adopted practically, but the effort to uphold it will
react beneficially on the natural order of society. It 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 practical
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 recognized
organ of social sympathy, by invariable abstinence from political
action. It will 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 renunciation 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 encroachments 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

Women, from their strongly sympathetic nature, are the original source
of all 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, of which it is the systematic organ, by
applying the principles which it inculcates to the case of particular
actions or persons. In all these matters their influence will be far
more effectual, when men have done their duty to women by setting them
free from the necessity of gaining their own livelihood; 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 direct
and less pure; but it will prove a vigorous ally in meeting the
obstacles which the temporal power will inevitably oppose. The working
classes, having but little spare time and small individual influence,
cannot, except on rare occasions, participate in the practical
administration of government, since all efficient government 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
will 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 participating
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

The direct influence of Reason over our imperfect nature is so feeble
that the new priesthood could not of itself ensure such respect 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 will always fall short of what we
might legitimately desire. To this conclusion we must come, in whatever
way we regard the destiny of Man; but it should only encourage us to
combine our efforts still more strongly in order to ameliorate the
order of Nature in its most important, that is, in its moral aspects,
these being 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 but small; all that they could do was to prepare the
way for it by certain necessary phases of intellectual and social
development. The whole tendency of Greek and Roman society was such
as made it impossible to form a distinct conception of 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 Middle Ages it was recognized as the
highest aim of human effort, notwithstanding that its intellectual and
social conditions were as yet very imperfectly realized. 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, inadequate as it was, it was enough to allow the people
of the West to appreciate the fundamental principle involved in it, a
principle destined 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 became possible. Equally
essential was it that in those countries which had been incorporated
into the Western Empire, and had passed from it into Catholic
Feudalism, war should be definitely superseded by industrial activity.
In the long period of transition which has elapsed since the Middle
Ages, both these conditions have been fulfilled, while at the same time
the old system has been gradually decomposed. Finally the great crisis
of the Revolution 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
form by Positivism.

 [Humanity is the centre
 to which every aspect of
 Positivism converges]

All essential phases in the evolution of society answer to
corresponding phases in the growth of the individual, whether it has
proceeded spontaneously or under systematic guidance, supposing always
that his development be complete. But it is not enough to prove the
close connexion 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 will never wholly supersede the synthesis of Theology,
notwithstanding its superiority in the reality and stability of its
component parts, and in their homogeneity and coherence as a whole.
There should be a central point in the system towards which Feeling,
Reason, and Activity alike converge. The proof that Positivism
possesses such a central point will remove the last obstacles to its
complete acceptance, as the guide of private or of public life.

Such a centre we find in the great conception of Humanity, towards
which every aspect of Positivism naturally converges. By it the
conception of God will be entirely superseded, and a synthesis be
formed, more complete and permanent than that provisionally 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 heart 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 intellectual
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 influence for the sympathetic instincts.

Yet the belief in Humanity, while stimulating Sympathy, 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. Reason, then, has its part in this central
dogma as well as Love. It enlarges and completes our conception 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 complex than
any other organism, it will react more strongly and more continuously
on its environment, submitting to its influence and so modifying it.
Hence results Progress which is simply the development 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 direct every aspect of our life, individual or
collective. Our thoughts will be devoted to the knowledge of Humanity,
our affections to her love, our actions to her service.

Positivists then may, more truly than theological believers of whatever
creed, regard life as a continuous and earnest act of worship; worship
which will elevate and purify our feelings, enlarge and enlighten our
thoughts, ennoble and invigorate our actions. It supplies 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 social
sympathy should preponderate over self-love.

Thus Positivism becomes, in the true sense of the word, a Religion; the
only religion which is real and complete; destined therefore to replace
all imperfect and provisional systems resting on the primitive basis of

For even the synthesis established by the old theocracies of Egypt and
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.
Theocracy was thus limited at the outset to the sphere of thought
and of feeling; and part even of this field was soon lost when Art
became emancipated from theocratical control, showing a spontaneous
tendency to its natural vocation of idealizing real life. Of science
and of morality the priests were still left sole arbiters; but here,
too, their 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
into Monotheism. In this the last phase of theology, the intellectual
authority of the priests was undermined no less deeply than 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
was the moral guidance of society; and even this was soon compromised
by the progress of free thought; progress really due to the Positive
spirit, although its systematic exponents still belong to the
metaphysical school.

 [With the discovery of
 sociological laws, a
 synthesis on the basis
 of Science becomes
 possible, science being now
 concentrated on the study of

When Science had expanded sufficiently to exist apart from Philosophy,
it showed a rapid tendency towards a synthesis of its own, alike
incompatible with metaphysics and with theology. It was late in
appearing, because it required a long series of preliminary efforts:
but as it approached completion, it gradually brought the Positive
spirit to bear upon the organization 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. Reason, 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 will be the greater that the
synthesis on which it rests will 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 will be
regenerated by the Positive priesthood. Science, Poetry, Morality, will
be devoted to the study, the praise, and the love of Humanity, in order
that under their combined influence, our political action may be 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 be
the distinctive feature of our whole life. For this all-important
knowledge, the study of Sociology would seem to suffice: but 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 object of Positivist worship is not like that of theological
believers 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

 [Statical Aspects of

And by virtue of this complexity, Humanity possesses the attributes of
vitality in a higher degree than any 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 of this organism measured both in Time and Space, yet
each of its 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 organisms,
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 all organisms, is made up of lives which can really
be separated. There is, as we have seen, harmony of parts as well as
independence, but 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 reconciling them is so great
as to account at once for the slowness with which this highest of all
organisms 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, as an
individual, cannot properly be said to exist, except in the exaggerated
abstractions of modern 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: 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 movable 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 aspects]

Having now viewed our subject statically, we may 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 immutable 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 beings known to us. It extends 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 that we can appreciate this highest
of all destinies to which all the fatalities of individual life are
subordinate. It is with this as with subjects of minor importance:
systematic study of the Past is necessary in order to determine the
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 incompatible 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. From 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 subordination 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 should 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.[11] 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
Revolution. 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.

 [Inorganic and organic
 sciences elevated by their
 connexion with the supreme
 science of Humanity]

In speaking of the dignity of Science when regenerated by this lofty
application of it, I do not refer solely to the special science of
Social phenomena, but also to the preliminary studies of Life and
of the Inorganic World, both of which form an essential portion
of Positive doctrine. A social mission of high importance will be
recognized 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 encyclopædic principles which determine the relative
value of knowledge, and its bearing on human life, will be condemned
by all 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
connexion of all scientific knowledge becomes more generally admitted,
Humanity will reject political teachers who are ignorant of Geometry,
as well as geometricians who neglect Sociology. Biology meanwhile will
lose its dangerous materialism, and will receive all the respect due to
its close connexion with social science and its important bearing on
the essential doctrines of Positivism. To attempt to explain the life
of Humanity without first examining the lower forms of life, would be
as serious an error as to study Biology without regard to the social
purpose which Biology is intended to serve. Science has now become
indispensable to the establishment of moral truth, and at the same time
its subordination to the inspirations of the heart is fully recognized;
thus it takes its place henceforward among the most essential functions
of the priesthood of Humanity. The supremacy of true Feeling will
strengthen Reason, and will receive in turn from Reason a systematic
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. Rationalism, 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.

 [The new religion is even
 more favourable to Art than
 to Science]

But, however honourable the rank which Science when regenerated will
hold in the new religion, the sanction given to Poetry will be even
more direct and unqualified, because the function assigned to it is
one 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 it could idealize all the 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 unacceptable 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.

 [Poetic portraiture of the
 new Supreme Being, and
 contrast with the old]

In the first place it will be of the greatest service in enabling men
to realize the conception of Humanity, subject only to the condition
of not overstepping 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. For while Poetry is more sympathetic than
Science, its productions have far more individuality; the genius of
their author is more strongly marked in them, and the debt to his
predecessors and contemporaries is less apparent. Thus the synthesis on
which the inauguration of the final religion depends, is one in which
Art will participate more than Science, Science furnishing merely the
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 attributes 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 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 sublime 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 will recognize
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 subordinate to the evolution of the race. But the knowledge
of 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. Perfection 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 unremitting zeal for moral improvement. But these and
other advantages of the new religion, though they can be indicated by
the philosopher, 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. 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

 [Organization of festivals,
 representing statical
 and dynamical aspects of

There is yet another way in which Art may serve the cause of religion;
that is, in organizing the festivals, whether private or public, of
which, to a great extent, the worship of Humanity will consist. For
this 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 existence, 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 Continuity.
Taken together, their periodic recurrence will form a continuation
of Positive education. They will develop and confirm the principles
instilled in youth. But there will 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 Organism preserves
its unity, and the various aspects of its animating principle, Love.
The most universal and the most solemn of these festivals will be
the feast of Humanity, which will be held throughout the West at the
beginning of the new year, thus consecrating the only custom which
still remains in general use to relieve the prosaic dullness of modern
life. In this feast, which celebrates the most comprehensiveness 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 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, Parental, 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
recognized 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 portraiture 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 festivals,
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, however, 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 consecrate
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 1848,
the circumstances of the time induced me to frame a complete system
of commemoration applicable to Western Europe, under the title of
_Positivist Calendar_[12]. 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 of the dead.
 Commemoration of their

But the practice need not be restricted to names of European
importance. It is applicable in its degree to each separate province,
and even to private life. Catholicism offers two institutions in which
the religion of the family connects itself with public worship in
its most comprehensive 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 Positivism. It is
an admirable mode of impressing on men the connexion of private with
public life, 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 will 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 will 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, will be invoked to give full and regular expression to it. The
dominant feeling is always that of deep reverence proceeding from
sincere acknowledgment of benefits received. Our worship will be alike
free from mysticism and from affectation. While striving to surpass our
ancestors, we shall yet render due honour to all their services, and
look with respect upon their systems of life. Influenced no longer by
chimeras which though comforting to former times are now degrading, we
have now no obstacle to becoming as far as possible incorporate with
the Great Being whom we worship. By commemoration 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 in 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 all 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, will 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 illusions of our youth which have now passed away
for ever. Science which deprived us of these imaginary 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 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 relation. 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 Reason, Feeling, and Activity, are required in its service.

 [All the arts may co-operate
 in the service of religion]

Poetry once raised to its proper place, the arts of sound and form,
which render in a more vivid way the subjects which Poetry has
suggested, will soon follow. Their sphere, like that of Poetry, will be
the celebration of Humanity; an exhaustless field, leaving no cause to
regret the chimeras which, in 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 Revolution 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, will 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 realize 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,
however, 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 preferable,
separate, will enable the sculptor to undertake many great subjects
from which he has been hitherto debarred.

In Architecture the influence of Positivism will be felt less rapidly;
but ultimately this art like the rest will be made available for the
new religion. The buildings erected for the service of God may for
a time suffice for the worship of Humanity, in 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 inquire. It is
less easy to foresee the Positivist 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 Positivist
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. Until then the new
religion will avail itself of Christian churches as these gradually
become vacant.

 [Positivism is the successor
 of Christianity, and
 surpasses it]

Art then, as well as Science, partakes in the regenerating influence
which Positivism derives from its synthetic principle of Love. Both
are called to their 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 recognized. 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 Reason, yet enhances rather than diminishes its original
influence, which the new philosophy shows to be as beneficial as it
is natural. And thus 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 Affection. At the same time all former efforts of
Imagination and Reason, 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 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 recognize the immense
value of the mediaeval attempt to form a complete synthesis, although,
notwithstanding all the results of Greek and Roman 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 undertakings
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 recognize how largely Positivism gains by comparison with it. Full
justice will be done to the aims of Catholicism, and to the excellence
of its results. But the whole effect of Positivist worship will 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 part 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 universality 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 every 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 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 best
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 principles,
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

But the synthesis based upon Love of Humanity has too deep a foundation
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
inquiry, and yet does not restrict the scope of Imagination. 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 all 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 real intellectual results, whether in art or science, are
alike co-ordinated by the religion of Humanity; for it furnishes the
sole bond of connexion by which permanent harmony can be established
between our thoughts and our feelings. It is the only system which
without artifice and without arbitrary restriction, 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 it holds to be the highest happiness. To become incorporate
with Humanity, to sympathize with all her former phases, to foresee
her destinies in the future, and to do what lies in us to forward
them; this is what it puts before us as the constant aim of life.
Self-love in the Positive system is regarded as the great infirmity of
our nature: an infirmity which unremitting discipline on the part of
each individual and of society may materially palliate, but will 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 still greater blessings in the future. Doubtless it is a
fact of human nature, 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 all 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 will become more familiar to us than the old gods were to
the Polytheists, yet without the loss of dignity which, in their case,
resulted from familiarity. 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’. Homage accepted by
the Deity of former times laid him open to the charge of puerile
vanity. But the new Deity will accept praise only where it is deserved,
and will derive from it equal benefit with ourselves. This perfect
reciprocity of affection 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.

 [Superiority of Positive

The morality of Positive religion combines all the advantages of
spontaneousness with those of demonstration. It is so thoroughly
human in all its parts, as to preclude all the subterfuges by which
repentance for transgression is so often stifled or evaded. 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 feeling,
but a principle which strongly stimulates our energies to the full
extent compatible 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
by 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 compromised. 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 well calculated to maintain
it. For by making us fully 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 reaction
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 modern 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 any important result; yet it
is a striking proof of the new direction 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 acceptance 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,
however, 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 will be the means of introducing Positivism among our Southern

All the points, then, in which the morality of Positive science excels
the morality of revealed religion are summed up in the substitution
of Love of Humanity for Love of God. It is a principle as adverse
to metaphysics as to theology, since it excludes all 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 difficult 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.

 [Rise of the new Spiritual

Science, therefore, Poetry, and Morality, will alike be regenerated
by the new religion, and will ultimately form one harmonious whole,
on which the destinies of Man will henceforth rest. With women, to
whom the first germs of spiritual power are due, this consecration
of the rational and imaginative faculties to the source of feeling
has always existed spontaneously. But to realize it in social life
it must be brought forward in a systematic form as part of a general
doctrine. This is what the mediaeval 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 preliminary
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 from 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 modern 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 formerly 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 preponderance of material considerations. Consequently it is the
primary condition of social reorganization to put an end to the state
of utter revolt which the intellect 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 worship of Humanity. Thus a new spiritual
power will arise, complete and homogeneous in structure, coherent and
at the same time progressive; and better calculated than Catholicism
to engage the support of women which is so necessary to its efficient
action on society.

 [Temporal power will always
 be necessary, but its action
 will be modified by the

Were it not for the material necessities of human life, nothing further
would be required for its guidance than a spiritual power such as is
here described. We should have in that case no need for any laborious
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 minds; and should be contrasted
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 the 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 position unaffected. Well-marked personal
superiority is not very common; and society would be wasting its powers
in useless and interminable 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. Respect
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
organized 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 without any subversive consequences. The
contrast will be morally beneficial to all classes, at the same time
that it proves the imperfection to which so complicated an organism as
human society must be 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 suffice 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 by 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 Reason, 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 difficulty; 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; the object being
that theoretical power should be able really to modify, and yet should
never be permitted to govern. For the nations of antiquity this problem
was insoluble; 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, Science and
Poetry that rendered by the intellect. Such is the principal mission
of the Occidental priesthood, a mission in which women and the working
classes will actively co-operate.

 [Substitution of duties for

The most important object of this regenerated polity will be the
substitution of Duties for Rights; 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 the revolutionary period of modern history
has simply consisted in their solvent action upon previous systems.
Rights, in the strict sense of the word, are possible only so long
as power is considered as emanating from a superhuman will. Rights,
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 _Right_ 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 acknowledgment of reciprocal obligations; and this gives a
moral equivalent for rights as hitherto claimed, without the serious
political dangers which they involved. In other words, no one has
in any case any Right but that of doing his Duty. The adoption of
this principle is the one way of realizing 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 very imperfectly
apprehended; its solution is incompatible with every form of theology,
and is only to be found in Positivism.

The solution consists in regarding our political and social action as
the service of Humanity. Its object should be to assist by conscious
effort all functions, whether relating to Order or to Progress, which
Humanity has hitherto performed spontaneously. This is the ultimate
object of Positive religion. Without it all 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; it 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 all 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 exertion 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.

 [Consensus of the social

In this, which is the essential service of Humanity, and which infuses
a religious spirit into every act of life, the feature most prominent
is co-operation of effort; 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 investigation of any social phenomenon, whether relating to
Order or to Progress, always proves convergence, direct or indirect,
of all contemporaries and of all former generations, within certain
geographical and chronological limits; and those limits recede as the
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-operations 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 recognized instinctively up to the period
of revolutionary transition, which is now at length coming to an end;
a period in which 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, will
place this principle beyond reach of attack, by giving a systematic
demonstration of it, based on the sum of our scientific knowledge.

 [Continuity of the past with
 the present]

And this demonstration will be the intellectual basis on which the
moral authority of the new priesthood will rest. What they have to do
is to show the dependence of each important question, as it arises,
upon social co-operation, and by this means to indicate the right
path of duty. For 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 feelings 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 all 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 connexion
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 realize co-operation of successive generations, the source
to which the gradual growth of civilization is to be traced. Social
sympathy is a barren and imperfect 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 convince 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 which 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 development; 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 successive
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 introduce the broad principles of historical science.
They are more inclined than any other class to recognize our continuity
with the Past, being themselves its original source.

 [Necessity of a spiritual
 power to study and teach
 these truths, and thus to
 govern men by persuasion,
 instead of by compulsion]

Without a scientific basis, therefore, a basis which must itself
rest on the whole sum of Positive speculation, it is impossible for
our social sympathies to develop themselves fully, so as to extend
not to the Present only, but also and still more strongly to the
Past. And this is the first motive, a motive founded alike on moral
and on intellectual considerations, for the separation of temporal
from spiritual power in the final organization of society. The more
vigorously we concentrate our efforts upon social progress, the more
clearly shall we feel the impossibility of modifying social phenomena
without knowledge of the laws that regulate them. This involves the
existence of an intellectual class specially devoted to the study of
social phenomena. Such a class will be invested with the consultative
authority for which 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 recognized 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 opposition to it will be overcome, as soon as it becomes generally
recognized 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 characterized 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 independence of the
individual was habitually sacrificed to the convergence of the body
politic. This explains why the conception of Progress never arose, even
in the minds of the most visionary schemers. The two conditions were
irreconcilable until the Middle Ages, when a remarkable attempt was
made to separate the modifying 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 political 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 brotherhood. 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-operation, had hitherto existed. Catholicism brought unity into
theological 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 organized.

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
recognized as a principle, the difficulty of reconciling co-operation
with independence will exist no longer. For in the first place, the
rules to which human conduct will be subjected, will rest, as in
Catholic times, but to a still higher degree, upon persuasion 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; but 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 foundation 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 to extend the 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 efforts 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 life for which it is difficult to
assign the exact ground, and where affection must assist reason in
supplying motives for obedience. Wholly to dispense with arbitrary
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

In these two ways, then, Positive religion influences 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 till this is done can Politics become really
subordinate to Morals, and the feeling of Duty be substituted for that
of Right. Our active powers will be modified by the combined influence
of feeling and reason, as expressed in indisputable rules which it will
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 application or to
enable us to form a right judgment of it.

 [Nutritive functions of
 Humanity, performed by
 Capitalists, as the temporal

From this general view of the practical service of Humanity, we pass
now to the two leading divisions of the subject; with the view of
completing our conception of the fundamental principle of Positive
Polity, the separation of temporal from spiritual power.

The action of Humanity relates either to her external circumstances,
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 organism, 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 contemporaries. 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 instruments
of production gives an 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

Capitalists then will be the temporal chiefs of modern society. Their
office 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
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 modified by
 the cerebral functions,
 performed by the spiritual

This function is analogous to that of Innervation in individuals.
Its object is the advancement of Humanity, whether in physical or
still more in intellectual and moral aspects. It might seem at first
sight restricted, 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 supreme in our nature; yet
independently of its intrinsic charm, it forms our principal means,
whether used consciously or otherwise, in controlling the somewhat
blind action of the nutritive organs. It is in women, whose function is
analogous to that of the affective organs in the individual brain, that
we find this modifying influence in its purest and most spontaneous
form. But the full value of their influence is not realized 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 possible
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 the 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, but to their dignity and moral
culture, they are deeply conscious. The nature of their occupations,
though absorbing so large a portion of their time, yet leaves the mind
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 hands a power which they are apt to suppose
resistless, have no such motive for association. They will 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 philosophers its

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 administration 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 will resort in the first instance to every method
of conviction and persuasion that can be suggested by the education
which the rich have received in 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
would be difficult to withstand. 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. Inheritance, 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 in 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 functions that admit of it will gradually pass into private
management, always excepting the great theoretic functions in which
combined action will 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 understand
the dignity and value of their common mission of elevating man’s
affections, intellect, and energies.

 [Women and priests to have
 their material subsistence

The only cases in which the spiritual power has to interfere specially
for the protection of material interests fall under two principles,
which are very plainly indicated 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 effective and
speculative function of Humanity cannot be adequately performed.
Private and public welfare are so deeply involved in the influence
exercised by Feeling over the intellectual 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 recognizing some obligations
towards the weaker; and it is this which distinguishes 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 fully satisfied. In Positive 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 in countries 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. Resembling 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 administrators of
the common fund of wealth, will be expected to satisfy. They 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 conditions seems
no easy task; yet until they are satisfied, the equilibrium of our
social economy will remain unstable. The institution of property can be
maintained no longer upon the untenable ground of personal right. Its
present possessors 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 recognize 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 will 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. Rich men will 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 concentration
of capital will then be readily accepted as necessary to its social
usefulness; for great duties imply great powers.

 [Normal relation of priests,
 people, and capitalists]

This, then, is the way in which the priests of Humanity may hope to
regenerate the material power of 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 will 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 connexion 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 well; and
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 will 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 theorists to apply their
theories practically has long been recognized in minor matters, and it
will now be recognized as equally applicable 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 will insist on maintaining it in its integrity, seeing,
as they will, that without it the harmonious existence of Humanity is

 [We are not yet ripe for
 the normal state. But the
 revolution of 1848 is a step
 towards it]

From this view of the practical side of the religion of Humanity
taken in connexion with its intellectual and moral side, we may
form a general conception of the final reorganization of political
institutions, by which alone the great Revolution can be brought to
a 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 political 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 Republic 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 effect, 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_, will soon be adopted

 [First revolutionary motto,
 Liberty and Equality]

In the first or negative phase of the Revolution, all that was done
was utterly to repudiate the old political system. No indication
whatever was given of the state 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 inconsistent as the motto was, it was admirably adapted
to the destructive temper of the time; a time when hatred of the
Past compensated the lack of insight into the Future. It had, too, a
progressive tendency, which partly neutralized 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[13]. Thus the first intimation of the
future influence of the historical spirit was given at the very time
when the 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 motto, Liberty and

But the Counter-revolution, begun by Robespierre, 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 indicated 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 danger existed already in
the feeling of Fraternity, which, since the Middle Ages, has become
sufficiently 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 motto, Order and

But with the adoption of the Republican principle in 1848[14], the
utility of this provisional motto ceased. For the Revolution now
entered upon its Positive phase; which indeed, for all philosophical
minds, had been already inaugurated by my discovery of the laws of
Social Science. But the fact of its having fallen into disuse is no
reason for going back to the old motto, 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
connexion with the other mottoes of which we have been speaking, and
the probability of its adoption. Each of them, like all combinations,
whether in the moral or physical world, is composed of two elements;
and the last has one of its elements in common with the second, as the
second has in common with the first. 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 Revolution. The reconciliation of Order and Progress,
which had hitherto been impossible, is now an accepted fact for all
advanced minds. For the public this is not yet the case; but since the
close of the Counter-revolution in 1830, all minds have been tending
unconsciously in this direction. The tendency becomes still more
striking by contrast with an opposite movement, the increasing identity
of principles between the reactionary and the anarchist schools.

 [Provisional policy for the
 period of transition]

But even if we suppose accomplished what is yet only in prospect,
even if the fundamental principle of our future polity were accepted
and publicly ratified by the adoption of this motto, yet permanent
reconstruction 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 so
essential to our state of transition, Order, at home and abroad. Here,
too, Positivism suffices for the task; by explaining on historical
principles the stage that we have left, and that at which we shall
ultimately arrive, it enables us to understand the character of the
intermediate stage.

 [Popular dictatorship with
 freedom of speech]

The solution of the problem consists in a new revolutionary government,
adapted to the Positive phase of the Revolution, 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 criticizing 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 will be little fear of
reactionary 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 hundred members;
and its duty only 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 discussion, whether by journals, public meetings,
or individual thinkers, though such discussion should not bind the
government legally. The progressive character of the government thus
guaranteed, 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 dissolve 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, and the duties would be of a kind for
which their ordinary avocations fitted them. Changes would occasionally
be necessary in the central government; but since it would consist of
three persons, its continuity might 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
practicable. 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 dependent 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
demoralized 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 provisional 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 the consultative influence of a spiritual power to bear upon
modern government. At first such influence can only be exercised
spontaneously; but it will become more and more systematic with every
new step in the great philosophical renovation on which the final
reorganization of society is based.

The propriety of 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
Revolution 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.

Such are the advantages which the second revolutionary government
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 report was published in 1848 by the Positivist Society[15],
in which the subject of provisional government will be found discussed
in greater detail.

 [Positive Committee for
 Western Europe]

Quiet at home and peace abroad being secured, we shall be able,
notwithstanding the continuance of mental and moral anarchy, to
proceed actively with the vast work of social regeneration, with the
certainty of full liberty of thought and expression. For 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_[16]. 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. Germany, 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, Castille,
Andalusia, and Portugal would adequately represent the Spanish

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 council
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, will 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 principle 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 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,
will be carrying on the European movement, and gradually terminating
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. Instruction 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 commemoration 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 recognized, but which have been neglected for want of some
central authority placed beyond the reach of national rivalry.

 [Occidental navy]

One of the most important of such measures would be the establishment
of a Western naval force, with the twofold object of protecting the
seas, and of assisting geographical and scientific discovery. It should
be recruited and supported 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 recognized.

 [International coinage]

Another measure, conceived in the same spirit, would soon follow,
one which has long been desired, but 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 transactions will 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 Republic,
and round the image his name would be engraved, 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.

 [Occidental school]

The adoption of such measures would soon bring the Positivist Committee
into favour. Many others might be suggested, relating directly to
its fundamental 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, without,
however, excluding real talent from whatever quarter. By their agency
the septennial course of Positive teaching might be introduced 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 _Report on the Subject of a Positive
School_, published by the Positivist Society in 1849[17].

 [Flag for the Western

There is another step which might be taken, relating not merely to the
period of transition, but also to the normal state. A flag suitable to
the Western Republic 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 religious services. It
should be painted on canvas. 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: _Love 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 will
have the political and scientific motto, _Order and Progress_: the
other, the moral and esthetic motto, _Live for Others_. The first will
be preferred by men; the other is more especially 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
will 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 Occidentality is perfectly compatible with respect
for the smallest nationalities. 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 Association,
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, without 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 represent
the order in which the advanced minds in each will co-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 will be discussed in detail in the fourth
volume of this Treatise[18].

 [Colonial and foreign
 Associates of the Committee,
 the action of which will
 ultimately extend to the
 whole human race]

From Europe the movement will spread ultimately to the whole race. But
the first step in its progress will naturally be to the inhabitants of
our colonies, who, though politically independent of Western Europe,
still retain their filiation with it. Twelve 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
Nationality; 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
conception, 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 conviction 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 theological belief and military
life were predominant, could never be carried out even in thought.
The primary laws of human development 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 less
advanced, will form a noble field for Social Art, when based on sound
scientific principles. Relative 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 theology or the extension
of military empire. The time will come when it will engross the whole
attention of the Positive Council; but for the present it must remain
secondary to other subjects of greater urgency.

The first to join the Western movement will necessarily be 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 Russian empire was left outside the pale
of Catholic Feudalism. By virtue of its Christianity, however,
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 conducted by two
nations of intermediate position; Greece, connected with Russia by
the tie of religion; and Poland, united with her politically. Though
neither of these nations is homogeneous in structure with Russia, it
would cause serious delay in the propagation of Positivism should the
connexion be altogether terminated.

The next step will be to Mohammedan Monotheism; first in Turkey,
afterwards in Persia. Here Positivism will find points of sympathy
of which Catholicism could not admit. Indeed these are already
perceptible. Arab civilization transmitted Greek science to us: and
this will always secure for it an honourable place among the essential
elements of the mediaeval system, regarded as a preparation for

Lastly, we come to the Polytheists of India; and with them the
incorporation of the White race will 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 will
have elected the first half of its foreign associates; admitting
successively a Greek, a Russian, 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 edition the organization of the Council is complete. 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 historic 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 will
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 will strengthen
its adherents in the Western family.

 [Conclusion. Perfection of
 the Positivist ideal]

But the time when Positivism can be brought into direct contact with
these preliminary phases is far 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 revolutionary 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. Solidarity 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 upon the Past, every phase of which our religion
holds in honour. So far from the energy of our progressive movement
being hampered by such feelings, it is only by doing full justice to
the Past, as no system but ours can do consistently, 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 still 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 synthesis 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 find 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 recognize 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 Polytheism, 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 condensation 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 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 characterized 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 Reason and Imagination, it does so only to give a
higher direction to our practical 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, intellectual, 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 subordinated 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

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 life. 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 controlled the selfish propensities was one which
turned men away from public life, and concentrated 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 military 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 feeling over
Self-love. As far as the exceeding imperfection of our nature enables
us to solve it, it would 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 preservation 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
necessary 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 possession of such
qualities is the sacrifice of political authority and even of wealth.
Then we may at least 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 into the system of universal
commemoration, in which Humanity will render due homage to all her

 [Corruption of Monotheism]

It is not, then, merely on the ground of speculative truth that
Positivists would urge all those who are still halting between two
opinions, to choose 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 Reason 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 partisans, whether royalists, or aristocrats,
or democrats, have now for a long time been insincere. God to them
is but the nominal chief of a hypocritical 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 will find compensation for their miseries in an imaginary
future life. The doctrine is already falling into discredit among the
working classes everywhere 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. Every subversive scheme now afloat has either originated in
Monotheism 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 call 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 wholly devoted to Humanity.

The Being upon whom all our thoughts are concentrated is one whose
existence is undoubted. We recognize 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 happiness 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 all noble natures are necessarily partakers. It is only
through the workers 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.


    Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.


[1] The establishment of this great principle is the most important
result of my _System of Positive Philosophy_. This work was published
1830-1842, with the title of _Course of Positive Philosophy_, because
it was based upon a course 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

[2] [Comte afterwards added a seventh science, Ethics, (see vol. ii of
_System of Positive Polity_).]

[3] [See Cabanis, _Rapports du physique et du moral de l’homme_, V^e
memoire, where he speaks of ‘_les restes de l’esprit de chevalerie,
fruit ridicule de l’odieuse féodalité_.’]

[4] Philosophy--the _love_ of wisdom.

[5] [Written in 1848.]

[6] On reconsideration, Comte saw fit to withdraw this proposal. See
_Positive Polity_, vol. iv, ch. 5, p. 351.

[7] [Clotilde de Vaux, see _Testament d’Auguste Comte_, p. 550].

[8] This law was introduced by Royer-Collard. It forbids discussion of
the private affairs of public men.

[9] [_Testament d’Auguste Comte_, p. 556].

[10] [This story _Lucie_ is republished in Vol. i of _System of
Positive Polity_.]

[11] Toute la suite des hommes, pendant le cours de tant de siècles,
doit être considérée comme un même homme qui subsiste toujours et qui
apprend continuellement.--Pascal, _Pensées_, Part I, Art. I. [The whole
succession of men during the course of so many centuries should be
considered as one Man ever living and constantly learning.]

[12] [See _The Positivist Calendar_, edited by H. G. Jones (W. Reeves,

[13] [_Tableau Historique des progrès de l’Esprit Humain_, Paris, 1900.]

[14] [The Republic of 1848.]

[15] [This report was republished in _Revue Occidentale_, July 1889;
see also an article and a document published by M. Pierre Laffitte in
the same review in January, 1890.]

[16] [This committee was formed in 1903.]

[17] This report was republished in _Revue Occidentale_, September,

[18] The relative position here assigned to England and Germany is
reversed in the fourth volume of the _Politique Positive_.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Page 320: “the creative process” was misprinted as “the creature
process”; changed here.

Page 399: “one of its principal features” was misprinted as
“principle”; changed here.

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