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821
Comte

secure to the utmost possible extent the victory of the social feeling over self-love, or Altruism over Egoism.[1] This is the key to the regeneration of social existence, as it is the key to that unity of individual life which makes all our energies converge freely and without wasteful friction towards a common end. What are the instruments for securing the preponderance of Altruism? Clearly they must work from the strongest element in human nature, and this element is Feeling or the Heart. Under the Catholic system the supremacy of Feeling was abused, and the Intellect was made its slave. Then followed a revolt of Intellect against Sentiment. The business of the new system will be to bring back the Intellect into a condition, not of slavery, but of willing ministry to the Feelings. The subordination never was, and never will be, effected except by means of a religion, and a religion, to be final, must include a harmonious The Religion of humanity. synthesis of all our conceptions of the external order of the universe. The characteristic basis of a religion is the existence of a Power without us, so superior to ourselves as to command the complete submission of our whole life. This basis is to be found in the Positive stage, in Humanity, past, present and to come, conceived as the Great Being.

"A deeper study of the great universal order reveals to us at length the ruling power within it of the true Great Being, whose destiny it is to bring that order continually to perfection by constantly conforming to its laws, and which thus best represents to us that system as a whole. This undeniable Providence, the supreme dispenser of our destinies, becomes in the natural course the common centre of our affections, our thoughts, and our actions. Although this Great Being evidently exceeds the utmost strength of any, even of any collective, human force, its necessary constitution and its peculiar function endow it with the truest sympathy towards all its servants. The least amongst us can and ought constantly to aspire to maintain and even to improve this Being. This natural object of all our activity, both public and private, determines the true general character of the rest of our existence, whether 1n feeling or in thought; which must be devoted to love, and to know, in order rightly to serve, our Providence, by a wise use of all the means which it furnishes to us. Reciprocally this continued service, whilst strengthening our true unity, renders us at once both happier and better."

The exaltation of Humanity into the throne occupied by the Supreme Being under monotheistic systems made all the rest of Comte's construction easy enough. Utility remains Remarks on the religion.the test of every institution, impulse, act; his fabric becomes substantially an arch of utilitarian proposition, with an artificial Great Being inserted at the top to keep them in their place. The Comtist system is utilitarianism crowned by a fantastic decoration. Translated into the plainest English, the position is as follows: " Society can only be ref generated by the greater subordination of politics to morals, by the moralization of capital, by the renovation of the 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 sympathetic instincts can only be developed by the Religion 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 the 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, &c., 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 antagonistic system. Adoption, for example, as a practice for improving the happiness of families and the welfare of society, is capable of being weighed, and can in truth only be weighed, by utilitarian considerations, and has been commended by men to whom the Comtist religion is naught. The singularity of Comte's construction, and the test by which' it must be tried, is the transfer of the worship and discipline 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 indging policy, events, conduct. ~

The particularities of the worship, its minute and truly ingenious re-adaptations of sacraments, prayers, reverent signs, down even to the invocation of a New Trinity, need The worship and discipline. 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 intrinsically conciliatory as his, in a shape that excites so little sympathy and gives so much provocation. An enemy defined Comtism as Catholicism minus Christianity, to which an able champion retorted by calling it Catholicism plus Science. Comte's Utopia has pleased the followers of the Catholic, just as little as those of the scientific, spirit.

The elaborate and minute systematization of life, proper to the religion of Humanity, is to be directed by priesthood. The priests are to possess neither wealth nor material power; they The priesthood. 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 ages. 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 greatness of character, without which force of intellect and completeness of attainment will not receive the confidence they ought to inspire. The functions of the priesthood are of this kind:-To exercise a systematic direction over education; to hold a consultative influence over all the important acts of actual life, public and private; to arbitrate in cases of practical conliict; to preach sermons recalling those principles of generality and universal harmony which our special activities dispose us to ignore; to order the due classification of society; to perform the various ceremonies appointed by the founder of the religion. The authority of the priesthood is to rest wholly on voluntary adhesion, and there is to be perfect freedom of speech and discussion. This provision hardly consists with Comte's congratulations to the tsar Nicholas on the "wise vigilance" with which he kept watch over the importation of Western books.

From his earliest manhood Comte had been powerfully impressed by the necessity of elevating the condition of women.Women. (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 lit 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 woman over man to the highest point of cultivation. Through affection she purifies the activity of

  1. For Comte's place in the history of ethical theory see Ethics.