A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of the S

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of the S

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 4:36 am

A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of the System of Thought and Life
by Auguste Comte
Translated from the French by J.H. Bridges, M.B., Late Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford
A New Edition, with an Introduction, by Frederic Harrison 1908
Paris, 1848



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 Whole

Réorganiser, sans dieu ni roi, par le culte systématique de l’Humanité.
Nul n’a droit qu’à faire son devoir.
L’esprit doit toujours être le ministre du coeur, et jamais son esclave.

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.





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 appliesxvi 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 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.


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.


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 isxix 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 Past.


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 normalxx 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 4:37 am


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 Positiveviii 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 ofix 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,x 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 literaryxi 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 thexii 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 ofxiii 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.xiv 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 4:38 am


‘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, supplies2 the only logical and scientific link by which all our varied observations of phenomena can be brought into one consistent whole1. 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 and3 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 system4 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 the5 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 relations.

Although these questions cannot be treated fully in the present work, I hope to convince my readers that Positivism is more in accordance with the spontaneous tendencies 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. I6 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 concluding7 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 4:44 am

Part 1 of 2


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

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 representation9 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 nature

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,10 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 even11 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 conceptions12 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 which13 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. If14 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 is15 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 intrinsic17 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.18 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 I19 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 between20 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 to21 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 of22 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 Science

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 as23 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 system24 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 heart.

I have said that our conception of human unity must be totally inadequate, and, indeed, cannot deserve the name, so long as it does not embrace every element of our nature. But it would be equally fatal to the completeness of this great conception to think of human nature irrespectively of what lies outside it. A purely subjective unity, without any objective basis, would be simply impossible. In the first place any attempt to co-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 in25 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 instincts.

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 stimulus26 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 conception27 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 metaphysical28 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 social29 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 value

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 even30 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 which31 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 action

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 System32 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 who33 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 comprehensive34 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

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Part 2 of 2

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

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 is35 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 personified36 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 divisions2; 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 dynamical37 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 inorganic38 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 repeating39 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 which40 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,41 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 be42 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 supposing43 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 greater44 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;45 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 by46 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 without47 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, the48 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. Its49 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 regeneration

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 these51 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 illogical52 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 in53 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 philosophy54 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.55 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 all56 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.57 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,58 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 modifiable

The charge of Fatalism has accompanied every fresh extension of Positive59 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, where60 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 indiscriminately

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,61 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 merely62 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 significance

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 by63 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 Philosophy4. 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

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Part 1 of 3


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 their65 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 years5. It is the final issue of the vast transition through which we have been passing during the five previous centuries.

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

The strong reaction which was exercised upon the intellect by the first great shock of revolution was absolutely necessary to rouse and66 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 strong67 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 Progress.

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,68 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 development69 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 suppression70 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 understood71 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 afterwards72 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 for73 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 them.

For constructive purposes the revolutionary philosophy was valueless; except so far as it put forward a vague programme of the political future founded on sentiment rather than 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;74 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 debates75 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 thoroughly76 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 be77 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 Morals

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 acceptance78 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 naturally79 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,80 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 discredit

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 distinguish82 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 punishment83 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,84 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

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Part 2 of 3

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 present85 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, the86 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,87 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 to88 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,89 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 last90 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 question.

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,91 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 all92 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 recurrence93 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 power

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 reorganization95 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 always96 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 subordination97 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 the98 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 distinction99 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 impartial100 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 two101 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 Positivism

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 the102 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 and103 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 naturally104 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, paternal

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 Social105 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 the106 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 every107 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 personal108 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.109 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.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

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Part 3 of 3

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

The moral education of the Positivist is based both upon Reason and on Feeling, the latter having always the110 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 take111 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 People.

Organization of Public Opinion

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 influence112 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 weakness113 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,114 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 may115 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 Progress

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 upon116 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 improvement.

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 society117 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 rest.

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 of119 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, had121 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 provisional

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,122 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 they124 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 theological125 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 to126 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 perceiving127 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 discussion

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 despotism128 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 influence129 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 can130 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 these131 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 the132 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 ambition.

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, the134 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.135 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 succeed136 to the Academic offices held under the constitutional system by psychologists.

Order demands centralization

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 ultimately137 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 leads138 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,139 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 Man.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

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Part 1 of 3


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 social141 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 of144 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,145 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 by146 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 undoubtedly147 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,148 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,149 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 the150 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 government

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 the151 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 its152 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 anarchy.

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.153 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 has154 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 systematic155 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 questions156 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 against157 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 which158 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 reaction159 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 which160 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 tendencies161 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 revolutionary162 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-operation163 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 of164 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. All165 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.166 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 employment.
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Re: A General View of Positivism Or, Summary exposition of t

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Part 2 of 3

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 the167 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 political.

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 the168 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 of169 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 their170 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 upon171 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 an172 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 of173 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 for174 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 that175 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 co-operation

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 that176 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 has177 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 difficulties.

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 short178 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 any179 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.180 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,181 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 legally

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. By182 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 great183 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 therefore184 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 our185 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. Strikes

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 of186 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 teaching187 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 collective188 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 political189 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 Education

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 of190 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 the191 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 connected192 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 on193 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 most194 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 simple195 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.
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