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position is as follows : 'Society can only be regenerated
by the greater subordination of politics to morals, by
the moralisation of capital, by the renovation of the



COMTE. 379

family, by a higher conception of marriage, and so
on. These ends can only be reached by a heartier
development of the sympathetic instincts. The sym-
pathetic instincts can only be developed by the Reli-
gion of Humanity.' Looking at the problem in this
way, even a moralist who does not expect theology to
be the instrument of social revival, might still ask
whether the sympathetic instincts will not necessarily
be already developed to their highest point, before
people will be persuaded to accept the religion, which
is at bottom hardly more than sympathy under a
more imposing name. However that may be, the
whole battle — into which we shall not enter — as to
the legitimateness of Comtism as a religion turns upon
this erection of Humanity into a Being. The various
hypotheses, dogmas, proposals, as to the family, to
capital, etc. are merely propositions measurable by
considerations of utility and a balance of expediencies.
Many of these proposals are of the highest interest,
and many of them are actually available ; but there
does not seem to be one of them of an available kind
which could not equally well be approached from other
sides, and even incorporated in some radically anta-
gonistic system. Adoption, for example, as a practice
for improving the happiness of families and the wel-
fare of society, is capable of being weighed, and can
in truth only be weighed by utilitarian considera-
tions, and has been commended by men to whom the
Comtist religion is naught. The singiilarity of Comte's
construction, and the test by which it must be tried,



380 COMTE.

is the transfer of the worship and disci})lino of
Catholicism to a system in which ' the conception of
God is superseded ' by the abstract idea of Humanity,
conceived as a kind of Personality.

And when all is said, the invention does not help
us. We have still to settle what is for the good of
Humanity, and we can only do that in the old-fashioned
way. There is no guidance in the conception. No
effective unity, can follow from it, because you can
only find out the right and wrong of a given course by
summing up the advantages and disadvantages, and
striking a balance, and there is nothing in the Religion
of Humanity to force two men to find the balance on
the same side. The Comtists are no better off than
other utilitarians in judging policy, events, conduct.

The particularities of the worship, its minute and
truly ingenious re-adaptation of sacraments, prayers,
reverent signs, down even to the invocation of a new
Trinity, need not detain us. They are said, though
it is not easy to believe, to have been elaborated by
way of Utopia. If so, no Utopia has ever yet been
presented in a style so little calculated to stir the
imagination, to warm the feelings, to soothe the
insurgency of the reason. It is a mistake to present
a great body of hypotheses — if Comte meant them for
hypotheses — in the most dogmatic and peremptory
form to which language can lend itself. And there
is no more extraordinary thing in the history of
opinion than the perversity with which Comte has
succeeded in clothing a philosophic doctrine, so intrin-



COMTE. 381

sically conciliatory as his, in a shape that excites so
little sympathy and gives so much provocation. An
enemy defined Comtism as Catholicism mi7ius Chris-
tianity, to which an able champion retorted by calling
it Catholicism plus Science. Hitherto Comte's Utopia
has pleased the followers of the Catholic, just as little
as those of the scientific spirit.

The elaborate and minute systematisation of life,
proper to the religion of Humanity, is to be directed
by a priesthood. The priests are to possess neither
wealth nor material power ; they are not to command,
but to counsel; their authority is to rest on persuasion,
not on force. When religion has become positive and
society industrial, then the influence of the church
upon the state becomes really free and independent,
which was not the case in the Middle Age. The
power of the priesthood rests upon special knowledge
of man and nature ; but to this intellectual eminence
must also be added moral power and a certain great-
ness of character, without which force of intellect and
completeness of attainment will not receive the con-
fidence they ought to inspire. The functions of the
priesthood are of this kind : — To exercise a systematic
direction over education ; to hold a consultative influ-
ence over all the important acts of actual life, public
and private ; to arbitrate in cases of practical conflict ;
to preach sermons recalling those principles of gener-
ality and universal harmony which our special activities
dispose us to ignore ; to order the due classification
of society. To perform the various ceremonies ap-



382 COMTE.

pointed by the founder of the religion. The authority
of the priesthood is to rest wholly on voluntary adhe-
sion, and there is to be perfect freedom of speech and
discussion ; though, by the way, Ave cannot forget
Comte's detestable congratulations to the Czar Nicholas
on the ' wise vigilance ' Avith Avhich ho kept watch
over the importation of Western books.

From his earliest manhood Comte had been power-
fully impressed by the necessity of elevating the
condition of Avomen (see remarkable passage in his
letters to M. Valat, pp. 84-87). His friendship with
Madame de Vaux had deepened the impression, and
in the reconstructed society women are to play a
highly important part. They are to be carefully
excluded from public action, but they are to do many
more important things than things political. To fit
them for their functions, they are to be raised above
material cares, and they are to be thoroughly educated.
The family, which is so important an element of the
Comtist scheme of things, exists to carry the influence
of Avoman over man to the highest point of cultivation.
Through affection she purifies the activity of man.
'Superior in power of affection, more able to keep
both the intellectual and the active powers in continual
subordination to feeling, Avomen are formed as the
natural intermediaries betAveen Humanity and man.
The Great Being confides specially to them its moral
Providence, maintaining through them the direct and
constant cultivation of universal affection, in the midst
of all the distractions of thought or action, Avhich are



GOMTE. 383

for ever withdrawing men from its influence. . . .
Beside the uniform influence of every woman on every
man, to attach him to Humanity, such is the import-
ance and the difficulty of this ministry that each of
us should be placed under the special guidance of one
of these angels, to answer for him, as it were, to the
Great Being. This moral guardianship may assume
three types, — the mother, the wife, and the daughter;
each having several modifications, as shown in the
concluding volume. Together they form the three
simple modes of solidarity, or unity with contem-
poraries, — obedience, union, and protection, — as well
as the three degrees of continuity between ages, by
uniting us with the past, the present, and the future.
In accordance with my theory of the brain, each cor-
responds with one of our three altruistic instincts, ^ —
veneration, attachment, and benevolence.

How the positive method of observation and veri-
fication of real facts has landed us in this, and much
else of the same kind, is extremely hard to guess.
Seriously to examine an encyclopaedic system, that
touches life, society, and knowledge at every point, is
evidently beyond the compass of such an article as
this. There is in every chapter a whole group of
speculative suggestions, each of which would need a
long chapter to itself to elaborate or to discuss. There
is at least one biological speculation of astounding
audacity that could be examined in nothing less than
a treatise. Perhaps we have said enough to show
that after performing a great and real service to



384 COMTE.

thought, Comtc almost sacrificed his claims to grati-
tude by the invention of a system that, as such, and
independently of detached suggestions, is markedly
retrograde. But the world has strong self-protecting
qualities. It will take what is available in Comte,
while forgetting that in his work Avhich is as irrational
in one way as Hegel is in another.



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