Infomotions, Inc.Human nature and morals according to Auguste Comte : with notes illustrative of the principles of positivism / by John K. Ingram. / Ingram, John K. (John Kells), 1823-1907

Author: Ingram, John K. (John Kells), 1823-1907
Title: Human nature and morals according to Auguste Comte : with notes illustrative of the principles of positivism / by John K. Ingram.
Publisher: London : A. And C. Black, 1901.
Tag(s): positivism; comte, auguste, 1798-1857; ethics; comte; cerebral; moral; positivist morals; phenomena; biology; intellect; intellectual; social; whilst; butler; abstract; science; scientific
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fEB 21 1950 


T N the Preface to my Outlines of the History of 
1 Religion I explained that, for all the essential 
ideas of that book, I was indebted to Auguste 
Comte. I have a similar statement to make with 
respect to the present publication. In Chapters II. 
and IV. of the portion of it entitled Human Nature 
and Morals I follow closely in substance, though 
not always in arrangement, his treatment of the 
subject in Chapter III. of the Politique Positive, 
borrowing additional materials from other parts of 
his writings. Chapter V. is in the main new, but 
the doctrine stated in it in contrast with that of 
Butler, is Comte s. In Chapter I. and the Notes a 
greater freedom is used, but their contents are also 
largely derived from him, various portions being 
founded on passages, not only in the Politique, but 
in the Philosophic and in the Discours Preliminaire, or 
(as it is called in Dr. Bridges translation, happily 
unlike the translation of the entire Politiqiu 

v i Preface. 

procurable by all English readers) General View 
of Positivism. The Notes, it may be added, at 
first intended as developments or explanations 
of particular passages in the Human Nature and 
Morals, are now placed on an independent basis 
as elucidations of fundamental points in the Philo 
sophy and Religion of Comte. 

His Cerebral Theory, explained in the present 
volume, may be regarded as a renovated form of 
the system of Gall. Those who can recall the 
forties and fifties of the nineteenth century will 
remember how much progressive intellects in these 
islands had been impressed by the Phrenological 
doctrine, which, for the first time, placed the 
study of the Moral and Mental nature of Man on 
the right basis. Never has greater injustice 
been done than has befallen the memory of its 
illustrious founder. He is, in many minds, con 
founded with the crowd of charlatans who once 
successfully traded on the popular interest he 
had awakened. And men of Science who have 
profited by his labours have often refused him the 
honour which was his due. It is true that his 
method was too purely empirical, not resting on a 
broad philosophic basis, his conclusions as to the 

Preface. vii 

localisation of functions too sporadically and, it 
would seem, accidentally arrived at, and his proofs 
often inadequate. But he is not to be estimated 
by his inevitable partial failures in a new and 
difficult enterprise, any more than are others who 
have yet made the most valuable contributions to 
our knowledge. It is his immortal merit to have 
established for ever the four propositions laid down 
in the Avertissement prefixed to his Fonctions du 
Cerveau : 
" i. That the moral qualities and the intellectual 

faculties are innate ; 

"2. That their exercise or manifestation is de 
pendent on our physical organisation ; 
"3. That the brain is the organ of all the incli 
nations (penchants), sentiments, and faculties; 
" 4. That the brain is composed of as many par 
ticular organs as there are penchants, 
sentiments, and faculties, which are essen 
tially distinct." 

All study of the moral and intellectual life of 
Man must be founded on these fundamental dis 
coveries. This is now more and more seen ; and 
it is not surprising to find Mr. Alfred Wallace 
regretting the neglect into which Phrenology has 

viii Preface. 

fallen, and seeking to recall public attention to it. 
But it is only with the more philosophical character 
given to it by Comte, and the particular modifica 
tions he has introduced, that it will take the place 
which it deserves. It is my conviction that Posi 
tivism is the subject which ought now, most of 
all, to engage the earnest study of thinking men; 
and this essential branch of it the Positive Theory 
of Human Nature calls for special attention. 

Comte had, long before the close of his career, 
projected as an element of the Subjective Synthesis 
which was to contain a view of the whole of 
science as co-ordinated by Religion a Treatise 
on Morals, to consist of two volumes, entitled, 
respectively, " Theoretic Morals, instituting the 
knowledge of Human Nature," and "Practical 
Morals, instituting the improvement of Human 
Nature." This treatise he unfortunately did not 
live to write ; but we find numerous anticipatory 
indications of its contents in his published works. 
For the present publication I have, as above men 
tioned, drawn largely on these anticipations so far 
as they relate to Theoretic Morals ; and it is my 
hope to follow it up by a book on the second 
branch of the subject, which is virtually the Positive 

Preface. ix 

Doctrine of Education. Whilst not professing to 
present a complete view of either side of the great 
theme, I have thought that I should do useful 
work in offering to my fellow-countrymen, in a 
brief and simple form, the leading ideas of Theo 
retical and Practical Morals, as Comte conceived 
them, so far as those ideas can be gathered from 
the partial treatment of the subject which he was 
able to place on record and to bequeath to us. 

What we possess of his, if rightly utilised, is 
sufficient, first, to supply the essential basis of 
the great religious and social regeneration which 
it was the labour of his life to prepare, and, 
secondly, to guide his disciples in the regulation 
of their individual lives. It will remain for some 
one of his sacerdotal successors in the future, 
adequately endowed by nature and with his heart 
and mind formed by the influences of the Religion 
of Humanity, as well as by mature encyclopedic 
studies, to produce the definitive volumes which 
will represent the Master s intended, but unwritten, 
contributions to the Subjective Synthesis. 





I. INTRODUCTORY, . . . . . I 


TUAL POWERS, ....... 39 

IV. _POSmVIST MORALS^ . . . 49 













MALS, . . .114 






THE object of the following pages is to give to 
English readers a brief, but it is hoped not 
altogether inadequate account of Auguste Comte s 
theory of the moral and intellectual constitution 
of Man, and the practical consequences deducible 
therefrom. The widespread and growing reputa 
tion of its illustrious author naturally attracts 
attention to his treatment of so important a 
theme ; and his doctrine on the subject appears to 
be by far the most satisfactory that has ever been 

It would indeed be desirable that the student 
should undertake the examination of the theory as 
a part of the entire philosophic system expounded 
in the Politique Positive, and in connexion with the 
investigations by which it is there preceded and 
followed. But copies of the English translation of 
the Politique are rarely to be procured, and, even 
if this were not so, many persons who may be 



specially interested in the subject here dealt with, 
might not have leisure or inclination to apply them 
selves to the integral study of that great work. 
It has therefore been thought expedient, before 
presenting the direct exposition of the theory, to 
supply some preliminary philosophical considera 
tions on Science generally, and particularly on the 
Sciences conversant with man, in order to guard 
the reader against certain common misconceptions, 
and to place him, as far as possible, at the same 
point of view which he would have occupied if he 
had approached Comte s doctrine of Human Nature 
in the course of a regular perusal of the Politique. 
It is not necessary to enlarge on what all rational 
intellects agree in recognising namely, the impor 
tance of right method as an essential condition of 
success in every scientific inquiry. 

Three different modes of philosophising on the 
phenomena of nature, whether material or moral, 
have been pursued in the past and are still more or 
less practised in the present. We may regard those 
phenomena as produced by the action of quasi- 
human supernatural beings, by whose wills the 
entire series of events is determined ; or we may 
conceive them as resulting from abstract forces or 
entities inherent in the various existences which 
exhibit them ; or, lastly, setting aside, as radically 
inaccessible, all inquiries as to the essential mode 
of production of phenomena, and to Causes First or 
Final, we may simply endeavour to ascertain the 


laws to which they conform, or, in other language, 
the invariable relations of similitude and succession 
to which an immense and unvarying induction 
shows them to be subjected. These three methods 
are those known respectively as the Theological, 
the Metaphysical, and the Positive. The first is 
provisional and preparatory ; it is that which arose 
spontaneously from the earliest contemplation of 
the world by our remote ancestors; the second, 
which is really a modification of the first,* his 
torically succeeded to and superseded it in each 
branch of research ; and the third represents the 
final and permanent point of view at which the 
human intellect arrives in the normal course of its 
development. This is the Law of the Three States, 
discovered by Comte, without the recognition of 
which it is impossible to understand the movement 
of thought in the past, or the several varieties of 

* The metaphysical stage is naturally transitional, because the 
entities which it recognises may be regarded either as emanations 
from the divine agents, enabling the objects in which they per 
manently reside to undergo the operations of those agents, which 
would be in accordance with the Theological view, or may be 
gradually subtilised so as to pass insensibly into the position of 
being merely abstract names for the phenomena, which would not be 
inconsistent with the mental attitude of the Positive stage. It is 
from its equivocal character and its consequent power of facilitating 
this transition, that the metaphysical mode of thinking derives its 
historic importance. Originally only a modification of Theology, it 
afterwards became its effectual solvent. But, though having been 
thus serviceable and even necessary in the past as a critical agency, 
it is henceforth both philosophically and socially useless, being 
incapable of construction and therefore impotent for organisation. 

B 2 


theoretic opinion which exist in the human family 
in our own time. 

But, though indispensable, this Law is in 
sufficient for the explanation of the general course 
of the history of Science. For, whether we regard 
different epochs in the past, or different co-existing 
forms of opinion in the present, we are led to the 
conclusion that the human mind, social or individual, 
does not pass with equal velocity in the several 
branches of inquiry through the two first of the 
three states above-mentioned, and therefore does 
not arrive equally soon at the third and definitive 
state. There is a hierarchy of the Sciences, founded 
on their fundamental dependences in relation to 
each other, and on the diminishing generality and 
increasing complexity* of those which succeed each 
other in the series ; and it is in accordance with 
this order that these Sciences respectively assume 
the characters of the three historic states, and thus 
attain the ultimate normal state, in which method 
and doctrine are alike positive. This Law of 
the Encyclopedic Scale, which is complementary to 
the former, and which also we owe to the genius 
of Comte, disposes the fundamental (or abstract) 
Sciences in the following order : Mathematics, 
Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Sociology, 

* It maybe added, though not necessary to our immediate purpose, 
that the phenomena of the later sciences are also, by reason of their 
complexity, the most modifiable, and therefore afford the largest 
sphere for human intervention. 


and Morals. We need not here enlarge on the 
earlier terms of the series ; but, with respect to the 
last three, some remarks are necessary. 

The position of Biology in the series sufficiently 
indicates its dependence on the Sciences of inor 
ganic Nature which precede it in the scale. Living 
bodies are subject to the laws of Physics and 
Chemistry, and, through them, to those of the earlier 
Sciences in the series. But, besides these, they have 
laws of their own which must be separately investi 
gated. These laws relate either, on the one hand, 
to structure, or, on the other, to life. And the true 
spirit of Biology consists in the constant harmony 
to be exhibited between Anatomical and Physio 
logical (or, in other words, Statical and Dynamical) 
considerations between the ideas of Organisation 
and of Vital Activity. In fact, the most general 
problem of Biology is given an organ to discover 
its function, or, reciprocally, given a function to 
determine the corresponding organ. 

Now, since the labours of Gall (though much 
of his work, as we shall see, was premature and 
transitory), it cannot be disputed that the study of 
the moral and intellectual constitution of man, as 
of all animals, is, in part though, as will appear, 
only in part a branch of Biology. The intellectual 
faculties have always been recognised as seated in 
the brain. The opinion long prevalent, and held 
even by Cabanis and the great Bichat, that the 
affective qualities the feelings and the inclina- 


tions have their seats in the principal organs of 
vegetative life, is now universally repudiated, and it 
is agreed on all hands that these, as well as the 
intellectual faculties, have their residence in the 
brain. The study of both is therefore the subject 
of Cerebral Physiology ; and the ideal of achieve 
ment in this department of research is the discovery 
of laws enabling us to connect each cerebral organ 
with the function which belongs to it, or vice versa. 

In thus seeking to establish a relation between 
the Anatomical and the Physiological characters of 
the brain, we are free to set out either from the con 
sideration of structure or that of function. Now 
the mere structure of an organic apparatus rarely 
indicates its function, and this is eminently true of 
the brain. Its descriptive anatomy, though pretty 
accurately known, aids us little in determining the 
functions of the several constituent parts. If we 
could divide the hemispheres into distinct and well- 
defined regions wearing the appearance of organs 
prior to the discovery of their functions, the task of 
ascertaining the latter would be much facilitated. 
But the surface of the hemispheres is continuous, 
and apparently similar throughout, and there are 
no obvious indications of the appropriation of 
different portions to special uses. It is there 
fore, not only expedient, but necessary, to begin 
with the study of the functions as more directly 
accessible to enumerate and classify these, leaving 
it to further inquiry to determine the corresponding 


organs. This is, in fact, what has been often 
attempted in the history of Mental Science in the 
metaphysical stage, but with little real success. 

The French, German, and Scottish schools 
have, in different ways, endeavoured to con 
struct schemes representing the primary pro- 
pensions and faculties of man. But there has been 
a prevailing disposition to study principally, or 
even exclusively, the Understanding, and to neglect 
or entirely subordinate the affective qualities, so 
that a decisive progress was marked by the title of 
Hume s early Treatise of Human Nature (1739). 
The notion, too, of the soul as an absolute unity 
long prevented, or, at least, obscured the recogni 
tion of the great variety of different powers and 
more or less discordant tendencies existing in the 
same individual, and led metaphysical thinkers to 
reduce all the human qualities to one or a very few 
principles, as, for example, to represent all the 
sentiments and affections as modes of self-love 
(Hobbes), and all the intellectual phenomena as 
transformed sensations (Condillac). 

When we approach the subject from the Positive 
point of view, we have to ask in the first place 
What resources has general Biology to offer, which, 
with due modifications, will be available for the 
study of the cerebral functions ? 

This question, indeed, will not arise if the 
pretension of the Psychologists can be maintained, 
that the one and sufficient organon for the study of 

8 Introductory. 

the moral and intellectual nature of Man is what is 
called internal observation* But the truth is, that 
such a process is, in general, radically impossible, 
and, even if possible, would be untrustworthy. It 
is, of course, true that only from our consciousness, 
as made known by memory, we can acquire the 
elementary notions of the several mental and moral 
impressions and acts ; but that their laws can be 
investigated and discovered by self- observation 
is certainly an error. The idea that a man can 
contemplate himself thinking is absurd ; the mind, 
like the eye, sees everything but itself. How 
could it, at the same time, pursue some train of 
thought and observe its behaviour in doing so? It 
must divide itself into two, in order to be thus 
simultaneously subject and object. In the case of 
feeling, the supposition of its observation by the 
intellect is not so absurd; but when the feeling has 
any considerable strength, the cerebral excitement 
produced is radically opposed to the work of obser 
vation; through memory we can receive some ideas 
of the nature of the several passions that is, of the 
meaning of their names but such vague notions, 
if not otherwise supplemented, must be of little 
scientific value. And, as we have said, if this 
internal observation could furnish any substantial 
results, they would be untrustworthy, because the 

* See the Note on Psychological Introspection in the present 


facts would necessarily be coloured by the idiosyn 
crasies of the individual, who would be led to erect 
his own constitution into a type of the whole 
species ; they would represent the mental pheno 
mena appropriate to a particular temperament, sex, 
age, state of local and contemporary civilization 
and scientific advance. It is no wonder that the 
psychologists during their prolonged study of Man 
have achieved so little solid success when they have 
followed so irrational a mode of inquiry. 

What, then, are the real resources available for 
the study ? We answer, all those Positive (that is, 
genuinely scientific) methods which can be used in 
general Biology. First, Observation, not of self, 
but of other men, and their normal intellectual and 
moral acts and products ; secondly, observation of 
pathological cases ; and, thirdly, the comparison of 
the like phenomena in other animals, especially 
those occupying the higher grades of the organic 
series, and therefore most resembling man. 

As to the first of these resources, we may add 
to the every-day observation of men, which con 
tributes so much to the formation of practical 
judgment and (in the best sense) " knowledge of 
the world," the many just delineations of our 
fundamental nature which are to be found in the 
poets and other imaginative writers ; and we may 
occasionally invoke the common sense of mankind, 
too much contemned or overlooked by systematic 
theorists. Science, in general, is only a prolongation 

I o Introductory. 

of popular good sense, which arrives at its con 
clusions by essentially similar, though less regular 
and guarded, processes. And this authority de 
serves to be treated with special respect in regard 
to the subject of human nature, so long and 
habitually the object of general contemplation and 
reflection. Many just notions respecting it are 
embodied in proverbs and other common sayings, 
and even in individual words, which often indicate 
a remarkable sagacity in the apprehension of real 

As to the second resource, bearing in mind the 
general biological principle of Broussais, that the 
morbid state does not differ radically from the 
normal, but is only an exaggeration or reduction 
of some of its elements beyond the limits of 
variation habitually proper to them, we see what 
important aid may be rendered by the study of 
insanity in its several forms and degrees. Such 
cases, in fact, supply spontaneous experiments, 
where we should be debarred from instituting 
artificial ones. And we are thus enabled to watch 
the manifestations of a particular faculty or moral 
tendency, acting in an intensified degree, and un 
controlled by thoughts and feelings by which it is 
habitually directed or restrained. And, as to the 
third resource, it being true that the higher animals 
present, in broad outline, though in various degrees, 
the same fundamental qualities and tendencies as 
man, their study offers the same advantages for the 

Introductory. 1 1 

investigation of his moral and intellectual nature 
as Comparative Physiology furnishes in general 
biological research. This comparison with the 
other members of the animal series will be especially 
useful in determining the really innate and universal 
attributes of Man, unmodified by systematic culti 
vation or social influences. Any moral propension 
or intellectual function alleged to be a constituent 
element of human nature, but totally absent in the 
other higher zoological types, must be disallowed 
as an elementary principle and regarded as a 
complex result of artificial culture or of the social 

It is to be remembered that the cerebral functions, 
from the biological point of view, with which we are 
here concerned, are regarded only with relation to 
the primary destination of animal life generally, as 
aiding and facilitating vegetative life, by procuring 
materials and avoiding dangers. Man has been 
described as "an intelligence served by organs" ; 
but he might more justly be characterised, with 
respect to his original and fundamental position, as 
" a group of organs served by an intelligence." This 
relation, it is true, afterwards tends to be inverted, 
at least in the higher human types ; but such in- 

* See the remarkable Lettres sur les Animaux of Georges 
Leroy, edition of 1862, with an excellent preface by Dr. Robinet. 
An English translation appeared in 1870. This work is in the 
Bibliotheque Positiviste, and Leroy s name is in Comte s Historic 

1 2 Introductory. 

version (never more than partial) is the result of 
the prolonged and continuous action of the social 
state on the individual members of the race. When 
we study Man under the head of Biology, we pro 
visionally abstract from those social influences, 
which remain to be considered at a later stage of 
our inquiries. They belong to the province of 
Moral Science, which is posterior to Sociology in 
the Encyclopedic scale, and presupposes its results. 
The principal importance, indeed, of the study of 
Cerebral Physiology lies precisely in the fact, that 
at least a first outline of it is a necessary pre 
liminary to Sociology, which requires as its foun 
dation this partial study of the units whose combined 
action and continuous development it has to exhibit. 
But even for such partial study the subsequent 
reaction of Sociology is most valuable; for, the 
nature and working of the propensions and faculties 
being identical in the individual and the species, 
they can be viewed on a larger scale, and therefore 
more distinctly seen in the history of the human 
race than by observation of their personal mani 
festations. When we come to construct moral 
theory on the basis of Sociology, we must return 
to the consideration of the affective and intellectual 
functions of Man, and we shall then be able to regard 
them from a higher than the merely biological point 
of view, as exercised, cultivated and enlarged by 
the social evolution. 

Though the primary object of the present study 

Introductory. 1 3 

is to exhibit a draught of our elementary powers 
and tendencies, as distinct from a determination 
of the corresponding cerebral organs, it must be 
always kept in view that the latter is indispensable 
to the scientific completeness of the biological 
theory of Human Nature. Every function which 
is proved to exist must have its own organ in the 
brain, the determination of which, though it may be 
postponed, is a task which cannot be indefinitely left 
unaccomplished. Here, as in every branch of Bio 
logy, a correspondence between organ and function 
must be established ; neither the anatomical nor the 
physiological aspect can permanently stand alone, 
whatever precious instruction either, especially the 
latter, can singly furnish. Gall, when laying the 
foundations of Cerebral Physiology, was forced to 
attempt a detailed scheme of localisation of the 
functions, in order to be able to propose a doctrine 
capable of general discussion. This was a perfectly 
legitimate exercise of the right of forming scientific 
hypotheses, which is limited only by the condition 
that they should be ultimately verifiable. But the 
effort was premature, and his scheme, as a whole, 
was certainly a failure, though it contains many 
elements likely in the end to find acceptance. What 
is now insisted on is that we must always carry with 
us the conviction that, to every elementary function 
of whose existence there is adequate proof, there cor 
responds in the cerebral apparatus a definite organ, 
real, though it may be at present unassignable. 

1 4 Introductory. 

We say " to every elementary function " ; for there 
can be no doubt that in cerebral action several 
organs habitually take part in producing a result, 
sometimes in the way of concurrence, and some 
times in that of conflict. This is obvious in the 
case of different affective impulses, and as between 
those impulses and intellectual acts. And it will 
be seen hereafter that the scholastic faculties 
reason, judgment, imagination, and the like are 
really composite, the result of the simultaneous 
operation of more organs than one. When we 
have arrived at a definite number of elementary (or 
irreducible) propensions and faculties, it will remain 
to show how, by their various combinations, states 
of feeling and thought are produced which a hasty 
speculator would be apt to attribute to the action 
of a single organ. The followers of Gall have 
undoubtedly multiplied, without necessity, hypo 
thetic organs, especially, as we shall see, in the 
department of intellect. For the rectification of 
these errors, we shall require a more thorough study 
than has yet been carried out of the sympathies 
and synergies as well as the antagonisms of the 
different constituents of our moral and intellectual 

Another preliminary observation must here be 
made as to the necessity of recognising the reaction 
of the vegetative viscera on the cerebral functions. 
This was not sufficiently attended to by Gall, and 
thus his construction was injured by its too great 

Introductory. \ 5 

separation from general Biology. Such a tendency 
was heightened by the adoption of the special title 
of Phrenology* for the study of the mental and 
moral attributes of Man a title which Gall himself 
never used. This name is now further objectionable 
on the ground of its appropriation by the vulgar 
Cranioscopists, who have compromised the theory 
in public estimation by their ignorance and charla 
tanism, though they could not destroy the abiding 
fame of its illustrious founder, based on the powerful 
impulse he gave, and the valuable contributions he 
made, to the scientific study of Man. 

* The term Phrenology, which was introduced by Spurzheim, 
has some advantages. It involves no ontological idea such as is im 
plied in Psychology. The Greek word, too, from which it is derived, 
includes the affective as well as the intellectual nature. Hence 
Comte, in the Philosophic Positive (Le9on 45), suggested the use of 
the name Phrenological Physiology, which would prevent the 
isolation of the study from general Biology ; but he did not in his 
later writings use this name. Cerebral Physiology seems the title 
least open to objection. 



WE now proceed to the actual analysis of the 
mental and moral nature of Man. We shall 
reduce our treatment of the subject to a series of 
comments founded throughout on the text of Comte, 
and relating to his final Table, which is reproduced at 
the end of this volume the " Tableau Systematique 
deTAme," otherwise entitled "Positive Classifica 
tion of the Eighteen internal functions of the Brain." 
With this Table the student should make himself 
thoroughly familiar, and should test it by frequent 

It is, in the first place, evident that these 
functions are divisible into the two primary classes 
of the Affective and the Intellectual. It is, further, 
obvious from observation, as well of man as of 
the animal kingdom in general, that the heart 
(understanding that word metaphorically, in accord 
ance with popular usage, to denote the affective 
tendencies collectively) preponderates over the 
intellect in determining the nature and life of the 
individual. These tendencies are instinctive ap 
petencies towards particular external ends, inde- 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 1 7 

pendent of any intellectual determination, and 
not implying a conscious and deliberate pursuit 
of the corresponding outward object, or even 
necessarily a distinct apprehension of such object. 
They are, in fact, blind propensions, stimulating to 
action in particular directions, but unable, apart 
from the intervention of the intellectual faculties, 
to judge of the eligibility of the desired ends or to 
indicate the means of attaining those ends. Each 
of them may exist in various degrees of strength or 
activity, from passions of great intensity to mere 
sentiments or modes of feeling. There are normal 
limits to their respective energies, and some of 
them may enhance or counteract others. All 
impulses to action must come from the affective 
elements of our constitution. The intellect can 
only appreciate facts, not supply motives. It may 
by its representations give occasion for the action 
of the emotions, may judge of the fitness of 
indulging them or point out the means of gratifying 
them ; but the practical stimulus lies wholly in the 
affective principles. \ The intellectual powers them 
selves require to be awakened or stimulated by 
those principles, which present to them more or less 
definite and permanent aims, and so disperse the 
torpor or concentrate the vague activity which 
would otherwise, in ordinary cases, benumb or 
distract theirs] There is, it is true, inherent in all 
our powers, bodily or mental, a demand for their 
appropriate exercise, leading, when unsatisfied, to 


1 8 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

ennui and sometimes even to life-weariness ; but 
this, though a real force, is indeterminate in its 
character, and is, in general, insufficient to produce, 
and still more, to maintain, either practical or 
theoretic effort, in the absence of a special emotive 

Besides the affective tendencies, properly so 
called, there are in our nature certain other 
qualities, in some sense intermediate between them 
and the intellectual faculties, rather aptitudes than 
impulses, which are popularly summed up in the 
word character, taken in its more limited application, 
as when we speak of a " strong character/ or note 
a case of the conjunction of a good heart or a 
superior intellect with a " weak character." These 
qualities it is that determine the more or less 
successful results of operations prompted by the 
affective tendencies and recommended by the 
intellect. These three elements of our being the 
affective motor, the intellectual monitor, the prac 
tical director are combined in every complete act ; 
and their joint operation, and the corresponding 
triplicity of our nature, are represented by Comte s 
"systematic verse" : 

" Agir par affection, et penser pour agir." 
(We act from affection, and think in order to act.) 

Thus we arrive at a broad general conception of 
our cerebral constitution. 

We next pass to the consideration of the several 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man . 1 9 

particular qualities comprised in the three classes 
already recognised. 

The Affective motors are evidently divisible into 
the personal and the social. The latter appear, more 
or less, in all the grades of animality above that at 
which the sexes are completely separated. The 
entire moral life of Man consists (as we shall see) in 
a permanent struggle between these two groups of 
motors ; and this struggle must not be regarded as 
foreign to the other animal species; it exists in 
the higher forms, though with less intensity, and 
especially with less continuity, than in the human 
type. The personal motors naturally tend to pre 
dominate, being inherently stronger than the social. 
It is necessary that it should be so ; for the animal 
life in general has for its destination in the indi 
vidual the maintenance and accommodation of his 
vegetative existence, and the needs of this existence 
which are always felt and cannot be evaded, domi 
nate the being, when his principles of conduct are 
found altogether within himself. This spontaneous 
prevalence of the egoistic instincts is true of Man, 
as well as of the other animals, when he is consi 
dered apart from Society. In the social state, 
whilst the demands of personal conservation are 
still indispensable to give a fixed direction to our 
activity and a determinate collective aim, there 
is a tendency to an inversion of the comparative 
energies of the self-regarding and the altruistic 
motors; the "great problem," how personality can 

c 2 

2O Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

be systematically subordinated to social feeling- 
self to the species is thus proposed. But this 
problem is peculiar to our race, and must be dealt 
with, not by Biology, but by Morals. 

Our next step must be to arrive at an enumera 
tion of the really simple and irreducible personal 
motors. Taking them in the order of decreasing 
energy and increasing dignity (by which last is 
meant their appearance only in the higher ranks of 
the animal series) we have successively the impulse 
which aims at the material conservation of the indi 
vidual, or ( i ) the nutritive instinct, where nutritive 
implies not the only, but the most obvious and 
habitual of its acts ; next, those which tend to con 
serve the species, namely, (2) the sexual and (3) the 
maternal instincts. 

The first of the three is the most indispensable, 
and is universal throughout the animal world. In 
man it is the most deeply seated and strongest of 
all. Comte quotes, in illustration of this, the cele 
brated sentence of Dante, in which he speaks of the 
parental feelings of Count Ugolino as overborne 
by the demands of hunger : - 

Poscia, piu che 1 dolor pote 1 digiuno. 

Inf. xxxiii. 76. 

The sexual instinct is stronger in the male than 
in the female sex of animals in general, and, taking 
our race as a whole, is certainly stronger in it than 
is required for its useful efficacy. It is satisfied by 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 2 1 

the possession of the desired person of the other 
sex, without any regard to his or her well being. 
We must not deceive ourselves by regarding the 
primary instinct as at all identical with the highly 
composite sentiment which social influences develop 
between worthy types of the sexes, in which a 
tender and reverent friendship becomes the princi 
pal element of the feeling. It is the nobleness and 
wisdom of Humanity that has made the coarse 
original passion the basis of the admirable moral 
progress resulting to both sexes from a well con 
stituted marriage. 

The maternal (or parental) instinct, too, essen 
tially belongs to the egoistic side of our nature. 
Not only in other animals, but also in man, we can 
see that it is in fact primarily a propension to con 
trol and manage, not to love, our offspring. But 
the sympathetic feelings, to be considered hereafter, 
are developed, as in the case of the sexual instinct, 
by the natural contacts arising from the relation, 
chiefly in the mother, but secondarily also in the 
father ; and there is thus associated with the instinct 
in the finer natures of several animal races a special 
tenderness noted and celebrated by the poets of all 
ages.* Here again, the providence of Humanity 

* Compare the "admirable picture of the moral existence of a 
bird," which, as Comte says, Dante has "placed amidst the sub 
limities of his Paradise " " Come 1 augello intra 1 amate fronde," 
Par. xxiii. i ; and the self-denial of the mother- bird, briefly, but 
beautifully, touched in Homer, //. ix. 324. 

2 2 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

has modified the relation, and so has elevated the 
feeling. Society, especially in modern times, has 
acted on the family ; and the child, originally a 
chattel, often exposed at birth, or sold, or other 
wise made an instrument of sordid cupidity, or 
subjected to cruel severity or wanton caprice, has 
become (though these vicious practices are far from 
being altogether obsolete*) more and more an object 
of fond devotion, calling out the most beautiful and 
noble efforts of self-sacrifice. In the absence of 
offspring, the feeling often leads to adoption, or 
shows itself in fondness for the children of others or 
even for the young of other sociable species. The 
early development of the instinct in the human 
female is seen in the behaviour of girls to younger 
children, and the pleasure they take in managing, 
dressing, and talking to their dolls. 

Next in the scale follow two, which are also 
primarily directed to personal satisfaction, but 
are capable, through the reaction of outward cir 
cumstances, of becoming promoters of the most 
important social ends. Man and the higher animals 
seek to improve their position, and this in two 
different ways by the destruction of obstacles and 
by the construction of means, or, in other words, 

* We have been startled of late by the great number of cases in 
which the Societies for the prevention of cruelty to children have had 
to restrain or punish the oppressive conduct of parents. Comte 
points to the influences of cupidity in determining for children their 
professional destination or matrimonial connexions, with little consi 
deration of their wishes or probable happiness, 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 23 

\ ; 

if we designate them by their most obvious social 
results, by (4) military-? (5) industrial action, which 
may properly furnish names for the corresponding 
instinctive tendencies. The destructive instinct is 
not peculiar to the carnivora, but shows itself in 
the herbivora also, who must destroy many objects 
for their subsistence, and sometimes even other 
animals, especially in struggles arising from want 
of food or from the sexual impulse. In man, it is 
chiefly, though with least useful efficacy, developed 
in the less advanced phases of social existence, 
where it does not lead, as at a later stage, to per 
manent conquest. It is, however, no less than the 
constructive instinct, a necessary function at every 
stage, and the two must always continue side by 
side, though the industrial element, in the course 
of human history, has tended, and still tends, to a 
decisive predominance ; for, however successful 
conviction and persuasion may be in preventing or 
abating social evils, compulsion will never cease to 
be required. And it is to be observed that the 
destructive tendency in man is not limited to the 
exercise of physical resistance or constraint, but 
may be seen in the energy of political or moral 
protestation or in the fire of an orator tearing a 
sophism to tatters. 

To this couple succeeds another, which works 
still more distinctly towards social ends ; seek 
ing, indeed, personal satisfaction, but indirectly, 
through the opinion of others respecting us, or their 

24 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

submission to our control. One of these is the desire 
of domination, the other the desire of approbation ; 
often known respectively as (6) Pride and (7) Vanity, 
though these are names belonging rather to their 
excessive than to their ordinary action. They are 
sometimes confounded with each other, but are in 
fact entirely different. Vanity is the higher, because 
the more social, of the two, seeking to establish 
personal ascendancy on the basis of opinion instead 
of on force. Pride is more connected with temporal 
power command ; Vanity with spiritual influence 
counsel. They are the special germs in our 
individual nature of the social institutions of the 
Patriciate and the Priesthood. 

Having now completed the series of the personal 
instincts, from the lowest to the highest, we arrive 
at the social, or altruistic, motors. Here dignity 
increases, whilst energy diminishes. The latter 
inferiority is compensated, to some extent, by the 
wider range open to them ; all can participate in 
them, not merely without mutual conflict, but to 
the greater satisfaction of each. These noble 
inclinations are common to several animal races, 
exhibiting sometimes in them greater intensity 
than in man. There, too, they are seen, free from 
the effects of intellectual development, and un 
affected by the peculiar influences which act upon 
them in human society ; and thus their innate 
character is unquestionably proved. Indeed, the 
most irresistible evidence of their natural existence 

Intellectual and Moral Poivers of Man. 25 

in man, which theological and metaphysical soph 
istry has often denied, is furnished by the con 
vincing proofs of their presence in those inferior 

The Altruistic impulses cannot, without con 
fusion, be reduced below the three recognised by 
Gall, namely (8) Attachment, (9) Veneration, and 
(10) Benevolence. In fact, such inclinations may 
first be divided into those which have a special 
application, and those having a general. The 
former are the more intense, but the less noble. 
One of them is that which is adapted to the most 
circumscribed relations principally, though not 
exclusively, to the domestic circle. It binds 
together most strongly two beings at a given time, 
and sometimes throughout life. It is the natural 
foundation of monogamy and of perpetual volun 
tary widowhood. It is developed, sometimes very 
strongly, among the lower animals. Veneration is 
of wider, but still of limited application. It consists 
essentially in voluntary submission, and it naturally 
has chiefs or leaders for its objects, whilst Attach- 
jnent prefers equality. Many animals are capable 
of the sentiment. The dog sometimes honours even 
his dead master.* The distinguishing character 

* This may recall to our memories Wordsworth s poem, entitled 
Fidelity "A barking sound the shepherd hears." The same poet 
finely touches the feelings of attachment and wider sympathy in the 
lower animals in his "Incident characteristic of a favourite dog," 
and his " Tribute to the memory of the same dog," See also 
Matthew Arnold s beautiful poem" Geist s Grave," 

26 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

of Benevolence otherwise goodness (bonte) or, in 
Christian phrase, Charity is its collective desti 
nation, as it has for its object a tribe, a popu 
lation (in Patriotism), or the whole race, or even 
all sentient beings. It becomes weaker, however, 
as its sphere extends. Compassion is a form of it. 
It is not peculiar to the human race ; but the lower 
animals participate in it less than in the two more 
special affections. It is so characteristic of humanity, 
that that word is equivocal, meaning sometimes 
the race, sometimes the affection. 

When we come to the study of Morals, the 
distinction of the three altruistic motors, previously 
established by Biology, becomes of great practical 
value, as indicating the true, because the natu 
ral, mode of educating the sympathetic feelings 
a discipline which is often,, particularly by the 
Socialists, misconceived, as if man were to pass at 
once to the supreme sentiment without the previous 
training of those which are more special and less 
elevated. Our individual lives are naturally and 
necessarily subordinated to the three collective 
existences Family, Country, Humanity ; and our 
highest wisdom and best happiness consist in the 
knowledge and practical recognition of these several 

One of the most important conclusions from the 
analysis of the affective tendencies which we have 
now completed, is the normal classification of 
individual natures to which it leads. In judging 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 27 

a man, we have to ask what are the motives that 
habitually determine his conduct, whatever may be 
the means his intellect devises for the attainment 
of his ends. The answer will be with respect to 
some men, the Altruistic ; with respect to others, 
the Egoistic ; and a man must be pronounced good 
or bad, according to this criterion, if the inclinations 
are well marked. But the majority fluctuate between 
these classes, which never contain very many indi 
viduals ; to the multitude, those strongly-distinctive 
epithets cannot be applied. There is a third type, 
directed chiefly by the inclinations intermediate 
between the altruistic and egoistic desire of 
power and desire of approbation. From this class, 
in the sociable species, most leaders are drawn. 
In human society, they seek to command others or 
to influence them by counsel, according as they are 
led respectively by the one or the other of these 
instincts. This classification is applicable, with 
due modifications, to all the important animal 
races, and the character of a species as well as 
of a social group or a nation is determined by 
the proportions of the several types which compose 

Whilst we thus classify individuals in relation to 
the affective motors only, which do really fix the 
general nature and life of each, we must bear in 
mind that the types thus discriminated will depend 
in part for their effective action on their possession 
of intellectual ability. Accordingly, we now pass 

28 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

to the consideration of the mental powers, which 
discover the proper means for satisfying the several 
affective inclinations. It is here that Comte differs 
most widely from Gall. The latter, notwithstanding 
his want of a definite scientific method, was kept 
substantially right as to the affections, partly by the 
indications of popular good sense and partly by the 
guidance supplied by animal comparison. But for 
the study of the intellect these aids are insufficient. 
Popular ideas with respect to it are too vague 
and confused to furnish much instruction, and the 
observation of animals, though it may confirm, 
cannot suggest a true theory. Biology alone is 
incompetent to deal successfully with the problem. 
Sociology must react on the inferior science; with 
out a Positive theory of the collective evolution of 
the human race, which was in fact its education, the 
nature and march of the intellectual functions can 
not be clearly brought to view, though, when thus 
apprehended, they can be verified not only in the 
human individual but in the more or less cognate 
animal species. Gall multiplied the intellectual 
powers unduly for want of the sociological inspira 
tion, through which alone a just analysis can be 
attained ; whilst a recoil from the extravagances of 
Condillac and others led him to restrict too much 
the domain of the external senses, transferring some 
of their operations to special cerebral organs. What 
is really strong in him, on this branch of our subject, 
is his critical discussion of the doctrines of the 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 29 

psychologists and ideologists.* He shows conclu 
sively that they err in representing judgment, 
memory, and imagination as elementary faculties ; 
but he is wrong in viewing them as modes of action 
common to all the cerebral organs, affective as well 
as intellectual. This last is a grave error. The 
powers in question, so prominent in the traditions 
of the schools and so familiar to us in ordinary 
language, whatever may be their nature otherwise, 
are purely intellectual. They are altogether foreign 
to the affective part of our constitution. The acts 
of the latter have always been justly regarded as 
blind, being restricted to feeling and desiring, though 
they influence the mental faculties, determining 
their destination and stimulating their exercise. 
Emotion and impulse are theirs, but these exhaust 
their domain ; they are incapable of judgment. Nor 
does memory belong to them ; we often cannot recall, 
though most desirous of doing so, emotions vivid in 
the past, unless they have left behind them traces 

* Sur les Fonctions du Cervea,2i et sur celle de chacune de ses 
parties, Paris, 1822-1825; see especially Vol. I. A similar criticism, 
marked by much acuteness and force, will be found in Broussais s 
L } irritation et la folie, Paris, 1828, Preface and Part I. 
chap. 5. Broussais at first rejected Gall s system, but became 
a convert to it, and, as Comte says, " honourably crowned 
his noble career by the conscientious energy with which he 
studied and disseminated a doctrine which he had previously 
misunderstood." The reference in these words is to Broussais 
Cours de Phrenologie, Paris, 1836, in which work, however, the 
illustrious physiologist, whilst treating the general foundations of 
the theory with great ability, adopts too indiscriminately the mental 
analyses and localisations of Gall and some of his successors. 

3O Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

which enable the intellect to present such images 
and signs as are fitted to reproduce the vanished 
feeling. Imagination, for like reasons, must be 
denied to the affective side of our nature. The 
only power attributed to the intellect by some meta 
physical thinkers, which really belongs to the 
affective province, is Will. It is the last state of 
desire, when the intellect has recognised a dominant 
impulse as one which should be allowed to pass into 
action. A true will, capable of determining action, 
can never emanate from the intellect ; it is always 
the product of an affective motor. 

Judgment, Memory, and Imagination being thus 
intellectual attributes, are we to regard them as 
Elementary functions? Not so; they are really 
composite results of several primary mental opera 
tions. In judging, the intellect is at once active 
and passive ; there is always a combination of 
observation and reasoning. The simplest appre 
ciation of an external fact is similar in principle 
to the solution of a scientific problem. It is an 
application of the universal precept of Positive 
logic to form the best hypothesis capable of 
representing the ascertained phenomena, or, in the 
present case, the immediate data of the senses. 
Still less possible is it to regard memory and 
imagination as elementary functions.* In order to 

* Sir M. Foster, in his learned and instructive " Lectures on the 
History of Physiology " (p. 299), says, we are "within measurable 
distance of being able to assign, not as feeble, short-lived hypo- 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 3 i 

recall past events, complex acts of the mind are 
often required, inductions and deductions founded 
on the mutual relations of things ; the only 
spontaneous part of the process is the tendency of 
impressions to reproduce themselves according to 
a general law of animal life. And in imagination 
there is always joint action of several speculative 
powers, and its pictures sometimes imply combina 
tions as profound as are involved in scientific 
thought, though not of equally abstract nature. A 
consideration confirming these conclusions is the 
following that all the classifications of the several 
branches of knowledge founded on these pretended 
faculties, such as those of Bacon and D Alembert,* 
are admittedly failures ; and the same may be 

theses, but as proved experimental results, to sensation its seat, to 
memory its seat, and even to imagination its seat." On this I may 
be permitted, first, to observe that the writer leaves out of account, as 
much as did the older physiologists, the affective elements of our 
nature, which he would not, I suppose, localise in the viscera, and, se 
condly, to venture the prediction that distinct organs of memory and 
imagination will never be assignable, but only organs whose com 
bined action produces the effects commonly attributed to those 
powers. I doubt the existence, which he implies, of a sensoritim 
commune, additional to the several ganglia of sensation. 

* Bacon says (Advancement of Learning, Book ii.): "The parts 
of human learning have reference to the three parts of Under 
standing, which is the seat of learning : History to his Memory, 
Poesy to his Imagination, and Philosophy to his Reason." D Alem- 
bert, in the Explication detaillee du Systeme des Connaissances 
humaineSy prefixed to the Encyclopedic, founds his classification, as 
Bacon did, on the supposed principal faculties of the understanding 
above-named, and indeed adopts the entire scheme of his prede 
cessor, introducing only minor modifications especially relative to 
the head of " Philosophy, or Science." 

3 2 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

confidently asserted with respect to classifications of 
individual intellects which it is attempted to base on 
them. The particular memories alleged by Gall -will 
be found, on thorough examination, to be results of 
situation or training, combined with special differ 
ences of energy in some of the universal faculties. 

In considering the question What are the 
primary or irreducible intellectual powers ? we have 
to keep in mind that all our real knowledge consists 
exclusively of facts and laws, that is, of phenomena, 
either particular or general. 

The irreducible operations must be abstract in 
their nature, so as to be applicable alike to all the 
products of our intelligence. The march of the 
intellect is always essentially the same, whether in 
practical combinations, or in theoretic compositions, 
aesthetic or scientific*; and we must therefore reject 
the too special faculties sometimes admitted by 
Gall s successors in cerebral physiology. 

There are, in the first place, two sorts of mental 
faculty, relative respectively to conception and 
expression. That these are distinct, their morbid 
affections prove. In the normal state the latter are 
subordinate to the former. In childhood the power 

* This subject of the fundamental similarity of the processes fol 
lowed by the human mind in its various labours is ably treated in Mile. 
Sophie Germain s posthumous treatise " Considerations generates 
sur 1 etat des Sciences et des Lettres." See her (Euvres Philoso- 
phiques, edited, with a biographical notice, by H. Stupuy, Paris, 
1879. Comte highly esteemed her philosophic powers, and gave her 
name a place in his Historic Calendar. 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 33 

of expression is earliest developed ; formulas are 
learned before they can be really understood. 
Different human types and different animals pos 
sess these two sorts of faculty in varying propor 

When, in the ascending order of the zoological 
series, the training of the young and a real domes 
tic life, with something of a social state, come into 
existence, the function of Conception, which at 
lower stages was probably single, is divided, and 
takes two separate forms, Contemplation and Me 
ditation. The one receives from without through 
the sensory organs the primitive materials of 
mental constructions. On the basis of these, Medi 
tation forms the more or less general combinations 
which are to direct habitual conduct.* _ Ideas, pro 
perly so called (that is, images), belong to Contem 
plation, while Meditation produces thoughts. It is 
an entire mistake to regard either of these faculties 
as a peculiar appanage of our species. In the higher 
grades of the animal kingdom, as we have said, 
they both exist in different degrees, being as neces 
sary there as they are for us in personal, family, 
and especially social life. The nutritive wants, the 
sexual relations, and the care of the young excite 
every day not only observations but reflections. 

* Contemplation is more developed in woman : meditation in man. 
And a similar difference between the sexes exists in relation to 
Inductive and Deductive meditation. 

3 4 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Me 


Sagacity, prevision, and invention cannot be rea 
sonably denied to several of the inferior animal 

Thus, so far, we have arrived, primarily, at a 
combination Conception and Expression and 
afterwards, by analyzing one of its members, at 
a progression which represents the natural march 
of the intellect first, Contemplation, then Medita 
tion, and, finally, Communication. We must further 
decompose the two former, following our general 
method of classification according to increasing 
speciality and decreasing importance, in order to 
obtain really elementary, that is, irreducible func 
tions. The communicative faculty, that of language, 
does not admit of division. But Contemplation, 
which observes facts, is twofold. It is either (n) 
Synthetic, Concrete consisting in the observation 
of beings, and therefore most subservient to Art ; or 
it is (12) Analytic, Abstract appreciating events, 
and therefore specially active in Science. Ideas, 
properly so called, emanate only from Concrete 
Contemplation, a true image being always of a 
being, never of a pure phenomenon. Meditation, 
which discovers laws, is also divisible, as either 
(13) Inductive, which compares, forms groups, and 
generalises; or (14) Deductive, which co-ordinates, 
forms hierarchies, and systematises. Thus Con 
templation observes (a) beings, then (6) events; 
Meditation (a) elaborates principles, (<) then 
derives consequences. 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 35 

As to (15) Language, it is the final issue, in 
domestic and social existence, of this mental series. 
It is also capable of employment by the human 
individual, as a test of the maturity of his concep 
tions, and a means of improving them. In the 
lowest animal species, where life is purely personal, 
expression results from acts themselves, which in 
voluntarily indicate the impulses from which they 
emanate. Elsewhere, a clearer and more direct 
transmission of feeling and thought is necessary 
for the establishment of concert between different 
beings with a view to obtaining sympathy or assist 
ance. Language, as an institution, begins with the 
imitation of natural signs. These are insufficient 
when relations become complex and frequent, and 
a more or less artificial language arises. Its first 
elements result from decomposition of spontaneous 
cries or gestures. It is gradually developed and 
systematised till it becomes the continuous depository 
of the collective sense of the community. The 
domestic transmission of the "mother tongue" is 
the most precious part of the heritage of each 
human individual, and is the first basis of all 

The essential office of the faculty the invention 
and learning of signs does not change when, 
instead of mimetic movements, vocal sounds come 
to be chiefly or exclusively employed. The uni 
versal preference of the latter as instruments of 
expression is not only determined by the greater 

D 2 

36 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

comprehensiveness and definiteness thus attained: 
it depends also on the spontaneous correspondence 
between the voice and hearing ; we can talk to 
ourselves, and this makes oral expression capable 
of continuous improvement. 

The importance of language for the solitary 
utterance, and so, either for the calming or ex 
altation, of sentiment is most appreciable when 
we consider religious practices. Its reaction on 
thought is universally recognised. For true lan 
guage, as distinct from empty verbiage, the cerebral 
faculty of expression must be subordinated to the 
four other intellectual powers to the two species 
of Contemplation, respectively, for names of sub 
stances and of properties ; to the two sorts of 
Meditation for means of comparison and processes 
of co-ordination. 

Now, having sufficiently dealt with the affective 
impulses and the consultative work of the Intellect, 
we have to pass in review the qualities of Character, 
properly so called, on which depends the final reali 
sation of the result wished for and prepared. These 
practical aptitudes evidently are (16) Courage (or 
Energy) to undertake an operation, (17) Prudence 
(or Circumspection) in executing it, and (18) Firm 
ness (or Perseverance) to carry it through. No 
practical success can, in general, be achieved 
without a sufficient combination of these three 
qualities. They are in themselves independent 
alike of the affective nature and the intellect ; their 

Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 37 

exercise, like that of the emotions, is blind ; they 
are as much disposed to assist bad designs as good, 
and obey the impulses alike of the higher, the mean, 
and the lower inclinations ; and they may be called 
into energetic exercise in pursuit of chimerical ends 
and impossible projects, though, of course, practical 
efficiency is much furthered by right feeling and 
sound thinking. 

Each of the eighteen cerebral functions which 
we have now completely enumerated can act apart, 
but our operations usually require the concurrence 
of several faculties. The synergy of the affective 
and active regions is scarcely denied ; it is only 
for the intellect that independence is claimed. But 
the truth is, that it can only choose between two 
masters, the personal inclinations and the social. 
When it believes itself free, it is in fact obeying the 
egoistic instincts. Every sort of intellectual opera 
tion is stimulated by a moral impulse. Attention, 
even in its lowest degree, depends on some affection ; 
and this is still more true of meditation. Again, 
the intellect is dependent on the character no less 
than on the heart, The theorician, as well as the 
practical man, requires courage, circumspection, 
and perseverance. Failure of the intellect is less 
frequently due to its own insufficiency than to an 
ill-regulated heart or an impotent character. This 
joint action of different cerebral faculties or qualities 
is the most important harmony in the animal con 
stitution ; but it should never be forgotten that the 

3 8 Intellectual and Moral Powers of Man. 

brain must also be studied in its relations with the 
whole organism, not only with the mechanisms of 
sensation and motion, but with the vegetative 
viscera. Without such a study we must fail to 
appreciate the consensus of the human system as 
an indivisible whole, and should not do justice to 
the synthetic character of Physiological Science.* 

* Comte always recognises the vitalistic school of Stahl and 
Barthez as compensating its ontological tendencies by its synthetic 
spirit. In estimating the merits of Stahl and fixing his position in 
the history of Science, his great philosophical service in this respect 
is sometimes not sufficiently considered. Justice can be done to him 
without depreciating the important work of the physico-chemical 
school, though it was affected by the opposite vice of a materialistic 



HAVING completed the theory of the moral and 
intellectual functions of human and animal 
nature, we turn to that of the corresponding organs. 
Whilst recognising the valuable practical results 
to be attained by the physiological study considered 
separately, and without entertaining an exaggerated 
notion of the importance of the anatomical comple 
ment, we must yet regard it as requisite for a com 
plete cerebral theory that a sufficient correlation 
should be established between the functions and 
the organs. 

Comte s anatomical theory of the brain is, he 
admits, less precise and less convincing than his 
physiological theory. He did not judge it possible 
to do more at present than to assign the situation of 
each organ, leaving indeterminate their respective 
forms and magnitudes. Even the situation is more 
or less hypothetical ; and it must be the work of 
anatomists in the future to ascertain the shape and 
size of the eighteen organs whose existence is 
inferred from the physiological investigation. One 

40 Cerebral Organs of the Moral 

day there must be brought to light such differences 
physical, chemical, or of minute structure be 
tween different portions of the brain as will indi 
cate the limits and the dimensions of the several 
organs; and then, the various applications of the 
Comparative Method will gradually supply a well- 
supported scheme of localisation. But even previous 
to this verifying process, the hypothetic arrange 
ment proposed by Comte will be found highly useful. 
It is the best concrete representation ever suggested 
of the entire nature of man and the higher animals, 
enabling us to recall readily, and to place in their 
proper relations to each other, the several faculties 
and tendencies which compose that nature. This 
operation of assigning situations to the several 
organs is, indeed, in Comte s view, founded 
altogether on the general principle, that their rela 
tive situations must be conformable to the true 
relations of the corresponding functions already 

The first application of this principle is in de 
termining the respective positions of the two groups 
of the intellectual and the moral organs (the latter 
comprehending the character as well as the heart]. 
Now, the former must be so placed as to be in con 
nexion with each sensory apparatus through which 
they appreciate the outer world, and must therefore 
have their seat in the frontal region a conclusion 
which agrees with the inspirations of ordinary good 
sense. The rest of the brain much its larger 

and Intellectual Powers. 4 1 

part will thus belong to the affective qualities and 
the practical aptitudes. 

The affective region has no direct apprehension 
of, or immediate action on, external things ; but it 
is in communication with the intellectual and prac 
tical regions, receiving from the former impressions 
which awaken its emotions, and transmitting to the 
latter impulses which emanate from its desires. The 
seat of the active aptitudes must be intermediate 
between those of the affective qualities and the 
intellect. The affective motors themselves blind 
require the intervention of the intellect, but only to 
judge of the fitness of their desires ; whilst the 
executive aptitudes need to be informed by the 
intellect of the whole outward situation in order to 
accomplish the wished-for result. The practical 
qualities are thus more closely connected with the 
intellectual functions, and their organs must be 
nearer to the frontal region than to the postero- 
inferior. This view represents to us in a pictorial 
form the general economy of human and higher 
animal nature the relations of its affective, specu 
lative, and active constituents heart, intellect, and 
character. The affective region is the essential 
centre of moral existence and animal spontaneity, 
and chiefly determines the nature and life of the 
being. The other two regions are in relation with 
external things the one to know, the other to 
modify them. Feeling, whilst inspiring and sus 
taining both these, has no direct cognisance of 

42 Cerebral Organs of the Moral 

what is without ; but it is acted on by the vege 
tative viscera, and, in its turn, reacts on them. 

It is obvious that some organs may be median , 
that is, occupying a continuous space divided be 
tween the right and left hemispheres ; or bi-lateral, 
consisting of two portions apart from each other, 
but similarly situated in the two hemispheres. In 
either case the symmetry recognised by Bichat as 
characteristic of the animal portion of the organism 
exists, and enables each organ, by intermittence of 
function of one of its two divisions, to alternate, 
without absolute cessation, periods of activity and 
repose. The entire organ will at times be quies 
cent. Comte, however, believed that, whilst the 
action of the intellectual and practical organs, con 
nected as it is with external impressions or move 
ments, may be entirely suspended, the affective 
region is never wholly dormant, and thus, even 
in sleep, the animal continuity is preserved, and 
the cerebral action on the vegetative functions is 

We shall first assign the most probable seats 
of the affective motors, beginning with the seven 
egoistic instincts. 

That which has for its province the material 
preservation of the organism, and is, as we have 
seen, the most indispensable and fundamental ele 
ment in the entire cerebral system, is best placed in 
the central portion of the cerebellum ; whilst that 
which has for its office the continuation of the 

and Intellectual Powers. 43 

species is to be regarded as residing in its double 
lateral expansion. The seat of the maternal instinct 
is above the cerebellum in the median part of the 
lower posterior brain ; this situation harmonising 
with the increased dignity and diminished energy 
of function. The higher, but still personal, impulses 
of the military and industrial instincts are to be 
conceived as lodged, the former in a bi-lateral 
organ, at the sides of the maternal instinct, the 
latter, in a median, above it. The desire of power 
and that of approbation, more elevated and social 
qualities than those hitherto enumerated, should be 
placed, the former at the sides of the industrial in 
stinct, the latter immediately above it on the median 
line. Thus is completed the group of organs cor 
responding to the egoistic motors, and the relatively 
great volume of this group is conformable to the 
natural ascendancy of these impulses in the animal 

Coming next to the three altruistic motors, we 
place the noblest of all the moral instincts that of 
Benevolence in the highest median portion of the 
frontal brain, in immediate proximity to the in 
tellectual region. Directly behind it is the seat of 
Veneration. To the rear of the latter we leave for 
the present a blank space, to be hereafter appropri 
ated to one of the practical organs. Attachment 
we conceive as adjoining Veneration on either side, 
and extending backwards so as to be in contact 
below with the Desire of Approbation ; and thus 

44 Cerebral Organs of the Moral 

the local continuity of the affective principles is 

The speculative region can now be considered, 
corresponding to the powerswhichjudge of the oppor 
tuneness of the affective impulses, and suggest the 
means of satisfying them. It contains, as the phy 
siological investigation has shown, five organs, four 
presiding over the processes of conception, and the 
fifth over the expression of the results. Passive Con 
ception (or Contemplation) must be in direct relation 
with the organs of sensory perception, and is there 
fore situated in the lower frontal region. The upper 
portion of the same region naturally belongs to 
Active Conception (or Meditation), which elaborates 
the materials transmitted by Contemplation. This 
disposition places in contiguity to the affective 
region that intellectual organ which, when furnished 
with information from without, gives the final deci 
sion on the impulses emanating from the several pro- 
pensions. But, as we saw in the preceding part of 
the present treatise, neither Contemplation nor Medi 
tation is an absolutely irreducible function. They 
are, each, divisible into two simpler operations. 
These are designated, in the case of Contempla 
tion, by the respective epithets " Concrete" and 
"Abstract," the former dealing with beings, the 
latter with events. The former is more, the latter 
less, directly connected with external impressions. 
Concrete Contemplation has a double organ, each 
of its parts above one of the eyes and extending 

and Intellectual Powers* 45 

towards the corresponding ear, whilst the seat of 
Abstract Contemplation is on the same level in the 
frontal median line. Meditation, again, as we have 
recognised, is twofold Inductive, acting by com 
parison, and Deductive, by co-ordination. The 
former resides in a double organ placed at the 
sides of the upper frontal region and touching the 
seat of Concrete Contemplation, whilst Deductive 
(or Systematizing) Meditation is situated in the 
middle of the same superior region, where it is in 
immediate contact with the noblest of the affective 
motors, to whose service it is especially devoted. 
The fifth and last intellectual function, that of 
Language the invention and use of signs has its 
double seat at the lateral extremities of the specu 
lative region, and is thus equi-distant from the eye 
and the ear, which are its chief auxiliaries, accord 
ing as expression is by gesture or by speech. It 
is also in contact with the practical region, with 
whose functions it specially co-operates, and is, in 
fact, the link which connects that region with the 
intellectual organs. 

We come lastly to the closer consideration of 
this practical region, which presides over the 
execution of projects originated by the affective 
motors and sanctioned by the intellect. Firmness 
(or Perseverance) is a median organ situated in the 
space formerly left vacant, behind Benevolence and 
in front of the Desire of Approbation. Prudence 
(or Circumspection) is a double organ at the sides 

46 Cerebral Organs of the Moral 

of Firmness, inclining forward towards the intel 
lectual region, and crossing, at its outset, Attach 
ment, which stretches in the opposite direction. 
The remaining practical aptitude, Courage, occu 
pies the sides of the double organ of the Desire of 
Approbation. By this arrangement, the practical 
region touches both the affective and the intellec 
tual, with which its offices are in relation at once 
receiving counsel and carrying wills into effect; 
and it is in contact alike with the nobler, middle, 
and lower affective motors, to all of which it is 
occasionally subservient. 

This completes Comte s scheme of localisation, 
which as we have already said is limited to the 
single question of relative situation, without seeking 
to fix the forms or magnitudes of the several organs. 
It is essentially founded on the relations of the 
functions, considered in themselves, apart from any 
but the most obvious anatomical suggestions. It is 
accordingly hypothetic, but conforms to the logical 
conditions of normal hypothesis by being ultimately 
verifiable, and representing best all the positive 
notions on the subject at present attained or avail 
able. It will be the work of anatomists in the future 
to test its conclusions, and to establish a complete 
harmony between the Subjective method of study, 
which must here, by the nature of the case, have 
the initiative, and the Objective, by which it is 
highly desirable, if not absolutely necessary, that it 
should be supplemented. The resources available 

and Intellectual Powers. 47 

for this anatomical study are mainly those of the 
Comparative Method, which is specially character 
istic of Biology. It admits of varied applications 
to different individuals, ages, sexes, nations, and 
animal races. Morbid phenomena those of intel 
lectual delusion and moral perversion, of insanity 
and of certain forms of crime, will also be subjects of 
study from this point of view, affording as they do- 
real experiments.* But the violent processes often 
resorted to, such as the removal or mutilation of 
portions of the living structure or such alterations 
of the medium as are destructive of the organism, are 
not only in the human case impossible, and in their 
application to the lower animals open to objection 
on moral grounds, but will commonly fail in cerebral 
research, owing to the general disturbance thus 
introduced into an economy which, more than any 
other, is characterised by an intimate consensus. 

In the meantime, until this further research is 
completed, the scheme above explained is certainly 
much superior to the first draught due to the founder 
of cerebral physiology, even as judiciously modified 
by some of his successors, and offers at least a 
sufficient synthesis of statical and dynamical con- 

* The true nature of scientific experiment does not lie in the 
artificial arrangement of the circumstances of a phenomenon, but in 
the rational selection of cases which are best adapted to bring" to 
light its essential character. The cases may be spontaneous or 
factitious, and the former may be as instructive as the latter. The 
one thing needful is a well-defined change of the conditions, leading 
to a corresponding variation in the phenomenon. 

48 Organs of the Moral and Intellectual Powers. 

ceptions to supply a working theory and to inspire 
rational general views bearing on Sociology and on 
practical Moral discipline. 

This last is really the final goal of all intellectual 
research ; and the doctrine here expounded enables 
us to state in complete form and in definite Positive 
terms the great Human Problem which must preside 
alike over thought and action, namely How to 
make the three altruistic organs, seconded by the 
five intellectual, habitually surmount the seven 
egoistic motors, so as to consecrate the three active 
powers to the continuous service of Humanity. 



IN seeking to construct a system of Morals we must 
set out from the conclusions arrived at in our 
Biological investigations. We recall the fact that 
there are in Man a number of affective instincts which 
impel him to action and determine the nature of 
his activity. A few of these and they intrinsically 
the less energetic incline us to love and serve our 
brother-men and our sentient fellow-beings gener 
ally ; whilst a larger group lead us to pursue certain 
outward objects without any regard to the welfare of 
others. The former we call the altruistic, the latter 
the egoistic, feelings. These are the only motor 
impulses which exist in our nature ; they alone 
prompt to action. Intellect suggests considerations 
which recommend or discountenance the gratification 
of those impulses, and devises means of attaining 
the ends at which they aim ; but it has no impelling 
power, and, in their absence or inertia, would leave 
us quiescent. Such is the multiplicity and variety 
of our affective principles that, if they were left free 
to work according to their respective energies, the 
individual would be impelled, at different times, not 


50 Positivist Morals. 

merely in different, but often in opposite directions, 
and no continuously predominant temper of the soul 
could be attained. The man would be the sport of 
every "random gust" of feeling within, and, as the 
result of this, his external activity would be marked 
by fluctuation, irresolution, and inefficiency. But 
the demand for internal harmony and outward con 
sistency and continuity is a real and abiding force. 
The poet justly speaks of "the weight of chance 
desires"; he is tired of an "unchastened freedom";* 
and in these words he gives expression to a universal 
consciousness out of which arises " the great Human 
Problem" how to establish and maintain a suffi 
cient unity in our being a sufficient convergence 
of our motor principles to a common destination, 
without which it is obvious, and is experimentally 
known to us, that we cannot be at peace with our 
selves, t 

It might at first be supposed that there are two 

* These phrases are quoted from Wordsworth s fine " Ode to 


fj. S. Mill is somewhat impatient of Comte s insistance on 
" unity." But surely its importance is recognised by all notable 
moral teachers. " How long halt ye between two opinions ? " " No 
man can serve two masters ... ye cannot serve God and Mammon." 
See St. James i. 6, 8. Or consider the following words from the 
Imitation : " Cui omnia unum sunt, et qui omnia ad unum trahit et 
omnia in uno videt, potest stabilis corde esse et in Deo pacificus 
permanere. . . . Quanto aliquis magis sibi unitus et interius sim- 
plificatus fuerit, tanto plura et altiora sine labore intelligit, quia 
desuper lumen intelligentise accipit." Positivism accepts fully the 
spirit of these sentences. 

Positivist Morals. 5 i 

different modes in which this unity could be attained, 
according as the personal or the altruistic impulses 
are habitually predominant ; and it is true that unity 
is reached on the former basis in the lower grades 
of the animal series, where the sexes are not separated 
and the nutritive instinct has almost undisputed 
control. As our observations ascend through the 
biological scale, we find germs of a unity founded 
on sympathetic feeling. In the highest animal 
races there are sometimes noble and beautiful 
examples of unselfish devotion, especially to their 
offspring, as well as of voluntary subordination and 
self-dedication to the service of Man. But, taken as 
.a whole, the basis of such unity as they possess is 
egoistic. In our own species, the consensus of the 
individual his inner harmony if it is to be 
thorough and abiding, must rest on the ascendancy 
of the altruistic instincts. Not only is the life of 
relation more fully developed in individual human 
nature, but the social state, domestic and civic, 
which, in any high degree, is peculiar to our race, 
demands a large development of sympathy, and 
also constantly tends to repress egoism and evoke 
altruism. It is the admirable property of the 
benevolent affections that, whilst intrinsically a 
source of the deepest and purest satisfaction and 
reproducing themselves by virtue of their inherent 
charm, they involve no conflict, such as the self- 
regarding feelings often create, between different 
individuals, but, on the contrary, awaken responsive 

E 2 

5 2 Positivist Morals. 

sentiments and propagate themselves by moral 

But though the influences of social life produce, 
in some degree, such an effect, nourishing our 
sympathetic and atrophying our selfish instincts, 
a more profound as well as systematic and con 
tinuous action on the heart is necessary to solve the 
Human Problem to invert the relative energies 
of those opposite motors, and subordinate the 
naturally stronger to the feebler but more noble 

To establish human unity is the work of 
Religion, and a complete solution of the problem of 
unity is for the first time reached in the final that 
is, the Positive religion, which makes known to 
us Humanity, not merely as an aggregate of in 
dividuals, but as a real collective Being, superior to 
ourselves whilst homogeneous with us, controlling 
our destinies and sympathising with our efforts, and 
to which we are indebted for immense benefits. In 
earlier social stages, mankind attributed to imaginary 
Powers, not only the phenomena of the outer world, 
but also the happy influences exerted on our lot by 
the collective life ; and, through willing subordina 
tion to these supposed benefactors, a certain unity 
was rendered possible, and was in fact increasingly 
realised. But that unity was necessarily imperfect 
and precarious imperfect, because those ideal 
existences were often conceived as not only diverse, 
but mutually hostile : and precarious, because the 

Positivist Morals. 53 

corresponding beliefs, even when rationalised to the 
utmost, being purely subjective, discrepant amongst 
themselves, and at variance with scientific fact, 
tended in process of time to be enfeebled and to 
disappear. A conviction of the subjection of all 
phenomena to invariable laws has been gradually 
reached, as the outcome of a vast induction ; and 
the theory of the government of the world by 
supernatural wills has become incredible. There 
has risen in its place as we have said the re 
cognition of Humanity as a perennial Power, 
submitted like all other beings to the unifor 
mities of co-existence and succession constituting 
the spontaneous order of the world, but modifying 
that order through Her acquired knowledge of 
natural laws, and inspired by the conscious per 
sistent aim of working out on our planet, so far 
as is consistent with our fatalities and limitations, 
a scheme of universal good. Using, then, the 
language of Religion, we say that the definitive 
unity of the individual will be reached through 
devotion to this true Great Being, whose existence 
and attributes no scepticism can dispute, and 
whose constant benefits, when rightly appreciated, 
must excite gratitude and love^ Religion, appeal 
ing to and fortifying the altruistic principles in 
our nature, calls upon us to suppress every in 
ternal movement and abstain from every act which 
is opposed to the maintenance and development 
of the life of Humanity, and to cultivate all 

54 Positivist Morals. 

the tendencies that promote Her well-being and 
further Her work. To know Humanity within 
the attainable limits becomes the task to which 
intellect should be consecrated, to serve Her 
the work to which our practical energies should 
be devoted ; and thus a profound harmony is 
established between the different elements of our 
nature Affection, Thought, and Action. And, 
whilst the altruistic impulses are made predominant, 
the personal instincts retain their due place; they 
are recognised as indispensable in the conditions of 
our life; their legitimate satisfaction is justified, 
and, though subordinated, they are dignified as the 
necessary basis and condition of useful social 

Except in some happily constituted natures, a 
perfect spiritual harmony, though always the ideal 
type or limit, is reached only in brief periods of 
exaltation and self- surrender. The characteristic 
fact of our ordinary moral life, as we have more 
than once indicated, is the recurring conflict 
between the personal instincts and the social 
affections. The former are felt to be the stronger 
in themselves; but the latter are always present 
and protest against the ascendancy of the others ; 
and the question is again and again debated which 
are to prevail; moral progress being marked by 
the more frequent and easier prevalence of the 
altruistic motors. This is the struggle which St. 
Paul recognised when he spoke of the Spirit and 

Positivist Morals. 55 

the Flesh of nature and grace as in constant 
antagonism.* Positivists differ from him only in 
this that the office which he attributed to super 
natural grace, they assign to natural agencies, 
which they seek by organised intervention to 
strengthen and generalise. 

It will be observed that, in our enumeration of 
the fundamental elements of human nature, the 
name of Conscience, or of the so-called Moral 
Sense, does not appear. There does not, in fact, 
exist in our constitution any principle which knows 
intuitively, and pronounces with decisive authority 
on, the duties of men. We have, indeed, spontane 
ous sentiments of moral approval and disapproval, 
but they are the result of indirect and composite 
actions of our cerebral nature. The instincts which 
impel us to benefit others, imply and contain within 
them a feeling of good will to those who manifest 
similar affections, and of sympathy with the actions 
prompted by those affections ; and, as liking 
implies disliking, we are repelled by sentiments and 
acts which are at variance with those affections. 
Our earliest moral appreciations are of the 
sentiments and acts of others. When our own are 
made objects of our contemplation, they necessarily 
affect us in the same way, unless self-partiality 

* So also the great Catholic Mystic : "Quis habet fortius certamen 
quam qui nititur vincere seipsum ? Et hoc deberet esse negotium 
nostrum : vincere videlicet seipsum et quotidie fortiorem fieri et in 
melius proficere, . . . Oportet ut discasteipsum in multis frangere." 

56 Positivist Morals. 

should dull, or violent passion distort, our feeling. 
When a vicious impulse has been gratified, and so 
becomes quiescent, regret, or even remorse, is felt, 
because the altruistic instincts, no longer silenced 
by passion, speak once more, and we are dissatisfied 
with ourselves. 

But whilst all morality has its origin in the social 
affections, these are far from supplying an adequate 
guidance to conduct. That can be found only in a 
rational study of the consequences of feelings and 
acts as affecting public or private welfare con 
sequences which are not, by any means, always 
obvious, for we must remember that benevolent in 
clinations are, in themselves, as blind as the egoistic, 
and may, in practice, sometimes defeat their own 
end. The altruistic impulses being supposed duly 
operative, the question remains What are the real 
tendencies of any act or habit in relation to the well- 
being of Humanity, which those impulses set before 
us as the aim of our action ? And this is matter for 
scientific investigation. Moral precepts are capable 
of demonstration, as resting on the knowledge of 
our personal arid social nature and the facts of our 
situation ; and convictions founded on that know 
ledge may be as strong as those based on scientific 
evidence in other provinces. Such convictions, if 
early formed and deeply impressed upon the mind, 
will be able to resist not only the persistent pressure 
of the selfish instincts, but what are more danger 
ous their sudden and unforeseen assaults. 

Positivist Morals. 57 

Whilst the determination of duties is a matter of 
scientific proof, there may, and perhaps always will, 
be persons incapable of apprehending, in some in 
stances, the demonstrations which establish moral 
rules; but under the Positive regime, they will be 
accepted on similar grounds to those on which, for 
example, the Earth s double motion is universally 
recognised. Moral beliefs, in fact, except in simple 
cases, where their foundations are obvious, will 
be just and beneficent social prejudices ; they will 
always be demonstrable, but seldom demonstrated. 
It is not by the teaching of moral theorems that 
virtue is to be so much promoted as by the direct 
expansion of the social sentiments, which must, 
therefore, be developed from the earliest age by all 
the artifices which a sound philosophy or a sagacious 
empiricism can suggest. The principal resource 
will be the cultivation of practical habits ; for in the 
moral art, as in all others, we learn to do things by 
doing them. 

The special feature which distinguishes Positivist 
Morality is its pervading social character, All moral 
questions are referred to the well-being of Humanity. 
The " duties to ourselves/ on which moral theorists 
sometimes dwell, have, as such, no meaning for the 
Positivist. The duties themselves, which are in 
tended, are indeed real ; but they are to be regarded, 
not from the personal, but from the social, point of 
view. The corresponding virtues are obligatory, 
because they adapt us for the better service of 

58 Positivist Morals. 

Humanity. Without the practice, for example, of 
sobriety and continence, we cannot perform our 
social functions aright. This way of regarding 
personal morality removes all that is arbitrary in 
the conduct of our individual lives, and leads us, in 
contemplating particular acts, even such as might at 
first seem indifferent, to look beyond them to the 
habits they form and the capacities they develop, 
which are generally more important than their im 
mediate consequences. And we are thus taught, 
not only to condemn undue self-indulgence, but to 
disapprove (whilst respecting the motives which 
sometimes dictate them) such excessive austerities 
as weaken forces which ought to be husbanded for 
social uses. 

Two further remarks are needed for the complete 
elucidation of Positivist Morals. 

i. " Right" and "Wrong" are commonly re 
garded as qualities inherent in actions, whatever the 
vague word "inherent" maybe supposed to mean. 
But it is plain that these qualities have relation to 
the contemplative and meditative action of an 
observing intellect, as well as to the sympathetic 
sentiment of an affective nature. This considera 
tion, whilst it renders it impossible for us to speak 
of Morality as "eternal" and "immutable," does 
not at all make it either arbitrary or dependent 
on the peculiarities of the individual. Its funda 
mental rules of conduct are indeed relative; but 
it is to collective Humanity that they are relative, 

Positivist Morals. 59 

and they are, therefore, valid so long as the essential 
nature and situation of man remain what they are, 
being the necessary outcome of the general con 
stitution of the species and its relation to the per 
manent environment. But the more detailed and 
special rules are relative also to the successive 
states of society arising from its dynamical laws. 
They become more numerous with the progress of 
social development and the growing complexity of 
social life, and are modified in their substance by 
our increasing knowledge of sociological, and even 
cosmological, laws. Obvious examples are supplied 
by the cases of Slavery and Polygamy, and by the 
altered duties imposed on individuals by changes in 
the system of civil government or by the evolution 
and recognition of a Spiritual Power. 

2. For Positivists, " rights" of individuals do 
not exist in the sphere of morals ; with the dis 
appearance of supernatural wills, from which alone 
they could originate, they lose their meaning. 
Apart from special prescriptions of human law, on 
which, no doubt, rights may be founded which in its 
sphere are valid, we recognise only duties, and this 
at once changes the spirit and tone in which ques 
tions of mutual obligation are approached. For 
stormy self-asserting controversy, peaceable im 
partial study is substituted. By a "duty" we 
understand a useful social function voluntarily dis 
charged. When it is so regarded, all that is vague 
and mystical in the notion of a " right" is cleared 

6o Positivist Morals. 

away ; and the claim of Humanity on our service 
takes its place. The one right (if we will persist in 
using the word) which any member of society can 
demand at the hands of his fellows is that of being 
free to do his duty, and being, within reasonable 
limits, enabled and assisted to do it. 

For the moral regeneration of society, which is 
the great aim on which Positivism seeks to con 
centrate human effort, the principal resource must 
lie in Education. And the Education of the future 
must be, principally and throughout, religious, not 
indeed in the old, but in the Positive sense. The 
modern intellect has revolted against this truth, 
when proclaimed especially by Catholicism, because 
it repudiated the ascendancy of the decadent faiths. 
But the Religion of Humanity re-asserts the claim, 
which lost its hold on progressive minds by being 
associated with retrograde beliefs. It will begin, in 
the domestic circle and under the guardianship of 
the mother, to train the heart of the child and dis 
cipline his habits, so as to prepare him for the 
future effective service of the true Great Being. 
The germs then deposited will be developed by the 
priesthood in the later systematic education of the 
youth, all knowledge, from the most elementary 
truths of science upward to its highest regions, 
being sanctified by this presiding destination. And 
these influences will be continued in the maturer 
life of the believer by the permanent consultative 
action of the Sacred Order, by the Social Sacra- 

Positivist Morals. 6 1 

ments which will be the moral landmarks of his life, 
by the regular practice of private prayer, and by 
the solemn and imposing festivals of the Church of 



THOUGH Positivists are generally averse to con 
troversy, especially to criticism directed 
against the best of the preparatory religious systems, 
it has been thought expedient, for the better under 
standing of the doctrine expounded in the present 
volume, to place beside it an authentic statement, 
with the necessary comments, of views which 
the Christian theologians of recent times have 
generally adopted, so that it might be easily seen 
how far the two bodies of opinion on the Nature of 
Man and the Foundation of Morals agree and in 
what respects they differ. We have chosen the writ 
ings of Bishop Butler as expressing the Theological 
doctrine, because he is regarded as the ablest writer 
on Morals who belongs to that School. He, says 
Stewart, " has gone farther towards a just explana 
tion of our moral constitution than any other modern 
philosopher"; and a similar judgment would, we 
believe, be expressed by the so-called "orthodox" 
British moralists with scarcely a single exception.* 

* The comparison here instituted will necessarily involve a certain 
amount of repetition of what occurs in the earlier part of the volume, 
the Positivist doctrines requiring to be re-stated. 

Comparison with Butler* s Moral System. 63 

Butler s Philosophy is not, however, uniformly 
and consistently theological ; this is, indeed, no 
more than can be said of all moralists of that 
school. But theological considerations predomi 
nate; in general, with him, what should deter 
mine conduct is the divine will. But the meta 
physical view also sometimes appears ; and we find 
that, after all, the will of God is not the ultimate 
determinant. Thus he says: "Hatred, malice, 
and revenge are not only directly contrary to the 
religion we profess, but to the nature and reason of 
the thing itself. The divine will is conformable to 
the law of truth, and in this the moral attributes 
of God consist" ; so that behind this Will stands 
an antecedent and independent rule, which is its 
regulator, and conformity to which is its justifica 
tion. In a well-known Note to the Analogy, he 
says, "it seems . . . inconceivable to suppose God to 
approve one course of action or one end preferably 
to another . . . without supposing somewhat prior 
in that end to be the ground of the preference," 
and he does not " deny that the will of God is 
determined by what is fit, by the right and reason 
of the case." This is the mode of treating Morals 
which Butler describes as that of inquiring into 
" the abstract relations of things." 

Positive conceptions are also found in him, but 
blended with these theologico- metaphysical ideas.* 

* Butler is not free from the common equivoque as to the meaning 
of the word law. In one the scientific sense, it signifies a 

64 Comparison with Butler s Moral System. 

He recognises the existence of a natural or spon 
taneous morality in man, prior to precepts or rules 
of life. " There is," he says, " a natural disposition 
to kindness and compassion, to do what is of good 
report, . . . that part of the nature of man which, 
with very little reflection, and of course, leads him 
to society, and by means of which he naturally acts 
a just and good part in it, unless other passions or 
interest lead him astray. There is a fellow-feeling 
which each individual has in behalf of the whole 
species as well as of himself." Here he is plainly 
right ; if there were not such a natural morality (or, 
as a Positivist would say, innate altruistic impulses) 
in man, education and discipline could never pro 
duce a systematic one. What we have to do is to 
strengthen and develop it. 

He wavers as to the question whether in human 
nature Benevolence (or, to speak more properly, the 

general fact in material or moral nature, without further implication ; 
in another, it means an ordinance respecting conduct, deriving 
authority from a power which imposes and enforces it. " Man," he 
says, " is a law to himself without the distinct consideration of the 
positive sanctions of that law, the rewards and punishments which 
we feel, and those which, from the light of reason, we have ground 
to believe annexed to it. ... Your obligation to obey this law is its 
being the law of your nature. ..." This sounds like an appeal to 
something in our constitution as, in itself, a sufficient basis for moral 
distinctions and obligations ; but no he presently subjoins "it is our 
natural guide, the guide assigned us by the author of our nature" 
which brings us back to the theological point of view. The equivoque 
here referred to is the same which leads to the Theistic argument 
"laws of nature imply a law-giver," which really begs the question 
at issue. 

Comparison with Butler* s Moral System. 65 

altruistic affections, which include Attachment and 
Veneration along with the more general affection) 
does, or does not, cover the whole field of virtue. 
"Vice, in general," he says, "consists in having 
an unreasonable and too great regard to ourselves 
in comparison to others " and "that mankind is 
a community, that we all stand in a relation to each 
other, that there is a public end and interest of 
Society, which each particular is obliged to promote, 
is the sum of Morals." These statements a Posi- 
tivist can accept, though, whilst recognising the 
facts, he does not proceed with Butler, going 
beyond the facts, to refer the felt obligation to a 
divine command, or to hold that, if we ought to do 
good to others, it is because we were " intended to 
do it." But in the Essay on Virtue (which is, in 
the opinion of the present writer, one of the 
weakest of his productions) he declares that 
" benevolence and the want of it . . . are in no 
sort the whole of virtue and vice" at the same 
time, however, securing for himself a retreat from 
this position by reserving the questions "how far, 
and in what sense, virtue is resolvable into bene 
volence, and vice into the want of it." However 
this may be, he, in the passages previously quoted, 
regards the instinctive social feelings as laying the 
foundations of human morality, which is, without 
doubt, the true conception. 

But there being, as he has abundantly shown, a 
great variety of conflicting propensions in our nature, 


66 Comparison with Butler* s Moral System. 

only a partial and precarious moral order will 
spontaneously exist ; they cannot be left to their 
unregulated play ; some permanent control will be - 
necessary. And Conscience (or Reason, as he some 
times calls it) he regards as a faculty placed within 
us, to govern those propensions. " Reason alone," 
he says, " whatever anyone may wish, is not in 
reality a sufficient motive of virtue in such a creature 
as man; but this reason, joined with those affections 
which God has impressed on his heart." Here his 
language conveys a decided misconception. The 
intellectual powers can never act as motors ; they 
cannot prompt to any line of action. Such impulse 
belongs only to the affective part of our nature. 
Apparently he came to see this ; for he elsewhere 
represents Conscience as not a distinct faculty, but 
a compound of intellect and feeling ; and both do in 
fact generally take part in moral action, but not 
intellect only feeling can impel, can ultimately 
determine our acts. Two offices, and two only, 
intellect can fulfil in relation to conduct. It can 
show us how to arrive at the ends at which our 
affections aim, and it can point out the consequences 
to ourselves and others which will certainly or 
probably arise from our action. The affective 
principles alone can move us to act ; reason can only 
present considerations which may awaken dormant, 
or stimulate languid feeling ; if the feeling were not 
there, we should remain passive. 

Stewart, too, speaks, as people habitually do, of 

Comparison with Butler s Moral Syst 



"yielding to the suggestions of Reason in opposition 
to the impulse of Passion" ; but though we may 
adopt this popular way of speaking, we must always 
remember that only feeling an affective instinct 
can impel to action or restrain us from it. When 
Reason seeks to influence conduct, it must do so by 
appealing to one of those instincts. If we say to a 
man contemplating an act " It will injure your 
reputation," we appeal to his love of approbation ; 
if we say " it will injure your family," to his parental 
affection; if we say, "it will cause you material 
loss," to his love of wealth (industrial instinct); if 
we say " it will ruin your health," to his self-preserv 
ing instinct; if we say, " you should not submit to 
tyranny," to his military instinct ; if we say, " it 
would be unkind," to his benevolence, and so of the 
other motors. 

Butler speaks of conscience as unerringly leading 
any plain honest man to solve aright every question 
of conduct.* This proposition he elsewhere modifies 
into " almost every fair man in almost any circum 
stances." But the Positivist does not believe that 
there is any such absolute principle in us, whether 

*As if there were no cases of conscience, or systems of casuistry ; 
as if Taylor and Sanderson, not to speak of Suarez or Escobar, had 
never treated them ; and as if some men had not much more delicate 
moral feeling than others. Besides he here leaves out of account the 
indisputable fact that moral opinion varies, within certain limits, in 
the course of the historical development of Society a fact, which as 
has been elsewhere shown, does not at all lead to the conclusion 
t that morality is arbitrary. 

F 2 

68 Comparison with Butler s Moral System. 

simple or composite, dictating our duties ex cathedra 
by a sort of intuition. Only by observation and 
reflection as to the results of conduct were the 
rules of duty ascertained, and only in the same way 
can further convictions respecting them be now 

Butler is not without occasional glimpses of the 
true account of Conscience. " To be a just, a 
good, a righteous man," he says, " plainly carries 
with it a peculiar affection, to or love of, justice, 
goodness, righteousness, when those principles are 
the objects of contemplation. Now, if a man 
approves of, or hath an affection to any principle, in 
and for itself, incidental things allowed for, it will be 
the same whether he views it in his own mind or in 
another in himself or in his neighbour. This is the 
account of our approbation, of our moral love and 
affection to good characters, which cannot but be 
in those who have any degree of real goodness in 
themselves, and who discern and take notice of the 
same principles in others. A Positivist would say 
All men, in proportion to the strength of their 
altruistic affections, love and esteem those affections 
in others, approve of the actions proceeding from 
them, and disapprove of those which are at 
variance with them ; this is what is real in the 
Moral Sense ; the thing so-called represents indirect 
results of the benevolent instincts. And the moral 
appreciations thus generated first and most directly 
apply to the feelings and conduct of others, and 

Comparison with Butler* $ Moral System. 69 

secondarily to our own, in which latter case^ they 
take the name of Conscience. 

By nothing are Butler s views so much confused 
as by his admission of another regulative principle 
besides Conscience, of what he calls " rational self- 
love." Often as the name Self-love is heard, 
no such principle exists in human nature. We 
have a number of appetencies or propensions which 
aim at particular ends. Some of them have relation 
to the good of others ; some the egoistic only to 
our own. One affection of the latter kind is the self- 
preserving (or, as Comte calls it from its chief 
action, the nutritive) instinct. But this is no rational 
principle, any more than, for example, the maternal 
instinct. It acts automatically. "Self-love," he 
says, may "set us on work" to gratify our affec 
tions, appetites, and passions. But this, as we have 
already pointed out, is an error. The only stimuli 
to action are these affections, appetites, and 
passions ; the self-love superadded is an imaginary 
appendage. The intellect, as we have said, may 
show us how to gratify these, or may recognise one 
of them, whether self-regarding or altruistic, as 
rightly protesting against such gratification ; but 
they alone can impel or "set us to work," and a 
principle of "self-love," distinct from them, has no 
meaning at all. "Every man," he says, "has the 
principle of self-love, which disposes him to avoid 
misery and consult his own happiness" ; but what 
is happiness ? It must lie in the gratification of 

7O Comparison with Biitler s Moral System. 

some of our inclinations, which do not require 
self-love to excite or strengthen them. When he 
says that because " the private interest of the 
individual would not be sufficiently provided for by 
reasonable and cool self-love, therefore the appetites 
and affections are placed within as a guard and 
further security," he inverts the true relations of 
things, for private interest would have no meaning 
in the absence of the affections and passions. He 
appears to have had a partial perception of this ; 
for he seeks in the Preface to distinguish between 
" cool or settled selfishness," and " passionate or 
sensual selfishness," giving to the first only the 
name of self-love. To this he adds what is plainly 
impossible, that the former may create the latter, 
that self-love, properly so called, may produce 
movements towards external objects. " All men," 
he says, "form a general notion of interest, some 
placing it in one thing, some in another, and have 
a considerable regard to it throughout the course 
of their life ; so, on the other hand, they are often 
set on work by the particular passions themselves, 
and a considerable part of life is spent in the actual 
gratification of them, i.e., is employed, not by self- 
love, but by the passions." He then goes on to 
present considerations which are really fatal to this 
view; as, indeed, it is obvious that if men place 
their interest (that is, as he himself explains, their 
happiness), some in one thing, some in another, 
what he calls " rational self-love " would consist in 

Comparison with Butlers Moral System. 71 

following the corresponding particular impulses, so 
far as they are not overborne by others. 

There is, indeed, in human beings, the practical 
quality of " prudence," but its nature is commonly 
mistaken. It is not a selfish principle; it has no 
necessary relation to the preservation or the interest 
of the individual. It only determines the character 
of our action as cautious and circumspective. It 
may give that character to the service, either of self 
or of others, of vice or of virtue. Its highest office 
is to secure a wise benevolence, and to remove 
obstacles from the path of well-doing. 

Butler affirms, that there is "no greater compe 
tition between benevolence and self-love than 
between any other particular affection and self- 
love." And he tells us that men, in general, have 
not the principle of self-love in excess, that it would 
be better for the world if it were stronger; yet, 
alongside of this, he speaks of the " overfondness " 
and "partiality for ourselves, which we are all so 
liable to," as leading us into evil. And elsewhere he 
admits that benevolence, " though natural in man 
to man," yet is " kept down by interest and competi 
tions." These paradoxes and inconsistencies arise 
from his assumption of a self-love which has no 
special relation to the egoistic, or self-regarding, 
instincts. When we see that no such motor really 
exists, we distinguish men as they are habitually 
under the control of those egoistic feelings, or 
under that of the altruistic affections. Thus, that 

72 Comparison with Butler* s Moral System. 

a man habitually devotes the aptitude which we call 
"prudence" to securing the objects which only 
gratify him personally, stamps him as an egoist, 
and places his nature more or less in opposition to 
that of a man who exercises his gift of circum 
spection in pursuing the good of society. Men s 
actions are prompted by their affections. The 
whole moral question is, what the predominant 
affections are. 

" Duty and interest," he says, "are perfectly 
coincident; they mutually carry on each other." 
As we understand from him that " interest " means 
merely " that an appetite or affection enjoys its 
object," these assertions imply that there is no real 
opposition, as to their effect on the conduct of the 
moral agent, between the self-regarding and the 
altruistic feelings. In that case the conflict indi 
cated by St. Paul would not exist, nor what Comte 
calls "the great human problem"; intelligent 
selfishness might be made the rule of life. What 
is really true is, not that these principles in our 
nature are harmonious, but that they may be 
harmonised only, however, on the basis of the 
permanent subordination of the one group to 
the other. On this subordination, according to 
Positivism, true happiness depends. 

On the fundamental question of the ultimate 
motive to virtue, Butler, as usual, fluctuates. Some 
times he distinctly puts forward the doctrine of 
personal Eudsemonism, "Nothing can be of con* 

Comparison with Butler* s Moral System. 73 

sequence to mankind or any creature but happiness." 
" Though virtue or moral rectitude does indeed 
consist in affection to, and pursuit of what is right 
and good as such ; yet, when we sit down in a cool 
hour, we can neither justify to ourselves this or any 
other pursuit, till we are convinced that it is for our 
happiness, or at least not contrary to it." This latter 
sentence has shocked some of Butler s admirers ; it 
might, indeed, have been written by a Hobbist. It 
is plain that he held no definite and clear opinion on 
the question. His intellect easily got entangled in 

He discourages the consideration of the general 
consequences of conduct (at least in the present 
life), as if it ought not to enter into our moral 
estimate of acts, and says, " The happiness of the 
world is the concern of him who is the head and 
proprietor of it" a proposition which must be 
emphatically denied. Quite independently of theistic 
belief, it is the business of all men, according to 
their capacities and opportunities indeed, with his 
habitual inconsistency he appears elsewhere to 
admit this. 

Positivists have a decided view as to both the 
questions, What is virtuous feeling ? and what is 

* Generally speaking, we may pronounce that his forte did not 
lie in analysis. In the first note on Sermon V., in replying to 
Hobbes, whose view he rightly rejects, he absurdly represents that 
philosopher as making the pity for friends equivalent to fearing our 

74 Comparison with Butler" s Moral System. 

right conduct ? According to them, Virtue consists 
in the habitual subordination of egoism to altru 
ism, or, in the language of their Religion, in the 
systematic service of Humanity. And it is the 
function of the intellect to discover how Humanity 
can be best served. Love must be the motor of 
virtuous action ; interpreted experience is its 
necessary guide. 






COMTE has the following sentence Tout est re- 
latif; voila la seule proposition absolue. He 
observes that so characteristic of his philosophy 
is the principle of relativity, that, if the name 
* Positivism did not offer superior advantages, it 
might be called Relativism. 

All our knowledge, in fact, being confined to 
phenomena, is purely relative. We can know 
nothing of things in themselves ; but only of their 
relation to us and to other things how they affect 
us, and how they modify other objects. The want 
of a single sense shuts out from us the knowledge 
of one whole class of physical facts ; and, no doubt, 
the acquisition of an additional sense would reveal 
to us another class now outside the range of our 

Further, all events depend on conditions, and 
are determined by them ; and, in this sense also, 
there is nothing absolute. Creations and first 
origins are inaccessible to us. Phenomena are 

* Absolute* and* Relative? 

simply changes ; and it is a uniform fact within the 
whole range of our experience that, previous to any 
given change, definite conditions must be satisfied, 
and that, when they exist, they render the change 

The Positivist does not consider perfect know 
ledge of the outer world, of society, or of human 
nature, to be either attainable by us or necessary 
for us. He thinks the right aim is to attain such 
knowledge as will be useful for real human needs, 
and he regards much that is accessible as valueless, 
and the labour spent on its acquisition as wasted. 
The true end of all knowledge he holds is to 
be the guide of practice whether in action on the 
physical world, or in the regulation of our hearts 
and lives ; and whatever cannot be shown, or does 
not appear likely, to tend directly or indirectly to 
that end may safely, and indeed ought to, be 
neglected. But of course, in applying this rule, 
we must beware of forming hasty or narrow judg 

Observation forms us to the habit of expecting 
and estimating degrees in the properties and acts 
of things and of persons. We do not find perfec 
tion anywhere, only different grades of approx 
imation to it. And hence the Positivist, whilst 
honouring all useful existences, especially such as 
are superior to himself in moral qualities, does not 
prostrate himself in spiritual self-effacement before 
any. In his aspirations towards goodness, he does 

Absolute and * Relative? 79 

not place before him a goal of flawless excellence ; 
but, impressing on himself a constant sense of his 
shortcomings, aims at daily becoming better. So 
also in social affairs, he is neither an optimist, nor 
a pessimist, but a " meliorist" ; recognising, with 
Leibnitz, the present as, in its essential features, 
the child of the past and parent of the future, 
he wishes for such a gradual progress as shall 
be " the development of order." For the re 
generation of society, to which he looks forward, 
sentiments and opinions, in his view, must come 
first ; then habits of action ; and lastly institutions, 
which may be prematurely, as well as too tardily, 
created. In his judgments respecting historical acts 
and institutions, he cultivates the same tendency 
to relativity, regarding them in the light of the 
character and circumstances of the times to which 
they belonged ; but he does not approve them 

These modes of thinking have their most import 
ant application with respect to Religion. Knowing 
that there is an ascertained law of ordered change 
in men s opinions, by which, in process of time, 
they regularly move from their primitive state 
towards the final Positive synthesis, he recognises 
the natural relation of the religions of the past to 
the contemporary and local civilizations, and there 
fore, instead of condemning them, seeks to under 
stand and explain them, and to appreciate their 
real, though only transitory, usefulness. But he 

8o Absolute and l Relative. 

gratefully acknowledges the progress which has 
taken place in passing from the earlier to the 
maturer systems, and proclaims the inferiority of all 
the preparatory syntheses to the final, which is alone 
adapted to the stage of civilization now attained by 
the most advanced communities. 

The relative character of Positivism is very 
clearly seen in its system of commemoration, as 
exhibited in the Historic Calendar constructed by 
Comte. In this, all who have from the earliest 
times made important contributions of whatever 
kind to the progress of Society, find their appropri 
ate places, none being excluded on the ground of 
their religious doctrines.* Such a comprehensive 
glorification of services rendered to Humanity was 
impossible under any of the theological creeds, and 
especially so under Monotheism, the most absolute 
of them all. 

* Even those who are not Positivists will find this Calendar most 
valuable as a concrete representation of the course of history, and 
may be advised to adopt its system of dates, in conjunction with that 
in present general use, as bringing frequently before their minds the 
immense benefits bequeathed to us by the Heroes, Saints, and Sages 
of the past. 



THERE is often a good deal of vagueness and 
confusion in the use of these words, and it 
is desirable that we should conceive distinctly the 
contrast which they imply. In the study of the 
natural order, we may adopt two different modes of 
proceeding. We may, firstly, examine the nature 
and manner of existence of a body inorganic or 
organized, taking into account all the properties it 
exhibits and all the influences which affect it. When 
we have a practical aim in such a research, it is 
usually that of improving this body or the circum 
stances under which it exists. Or, secondly, we 
may study, not a body, but an event, or, in scientific 
language, a phenomenon. This phenomenon must 
be, as far as possible, isolated from every other 
which in any real case coexists with it, in order so 
to ascertain the necessary and sufficient conditions 
of its manifestation. We separate it in idea from 
the body in which it appears, and group it, not 
with the other properties of that body, but with 


82 Abstract and l Concrete" 

phenomena similar to itself which are observable in 
other bodies or classes of bodies. And, if we have 
a practical object in ascertaining the law of the 
phenomenon, it is usually that of being able to 
foresee and thus to facilitate, prevent, or modify 
its accomplishment. Now, of these two modes of 
proceeding, the former is concrete, the second 

These considerations determine the distinction 
between Abstract and Concrete Sciences. A Science 
is abstract, if it discovers independently the laws 
of a distinct general order of phenomena ; whilst, 
if it derives its truths altogether from a com 
bination of the results of other sciences, and 
does not rest on special inductions of its own, it is 
Concrete. Thus, for example, Astronomy is an 
abstract Science, because it establishes the law of 
gravitation, which is not implied in the Mathematical 
laws of magnitude and motion ; and Biology is an 
abstract Science, because the vital laws cannot be 
wholly derived from those of inorganic nature. 
But Geology is a concrete Science, because it 
announces no new law respecting any mode of 
existence, but merely supplies a theoretic history of 
the action of laws already established on the 
condition of the Earth s surface. And Meteor 
ology is a concrete Science, the phenomena of the 
Atmosphere being composite results of simpler 
phenomena whose laws belong to almost all the 
Abstract Sciences. 

Abstract and Concrete. 83 

A complete systematisation of Concrete Science 
is impossible, as beyond our feeble powers of 
combination. It is only Abstract Science that we 
can truly systematise, and this not in an absolute 
sense, but sufficiently for our real needs. For 
philosophical ends, apart from industrial require 
ments for a right understanding of the general 
economy of nature for the construction of an 
intellectual and moral synthesis for the religious 
co-ordination of all our theoretic ideas round the 
central conception of Humanity, so as to supply 
a foundation for the conduct of life (which is 
the ultimate aim of all speculation), the Abstract 
Sciences, as a whole, are sufficient ; and hence 
these alone enter but they all enter into Comte s 
classification and into the synthesis which he 
constituted, and they will for ever form the basis of 
the Positive system of universal education. On the 
other hand, for industrial purposes, such combina 
tion of laws as is required for the solution of special 
problems must be committed to practical men ; 
and not only so, but for the conduct of practical 
.operations generally, even in the highest depart 
ments of human affairs, as for example in politics, 
we must mainly rely on special experience and the 
sagacity it develops, Abstract Science furnishing 
only such indications as may enable the practician 
to generalise and co-ordinate his conceptions. 
Abstraction, though necessary for these objects, 
always involves the omission of some of the features 

G 2 

84 Abstract and Concrete. 

which present themselves in any particular case, 
and therefore diminishes the reality of our scientific 
statements. When precision of actual fact is 
required, we have to re-introduce the omitted 
features. This is often a difficult and sometimes 
an impossible process ; and either the neglect of it, 
or the unsuccessful attempt to effect it, not unfre- 
quently leads to dangerous errors of practice, as in 
action founded on the (so-called) Science of 
Political Economy. In the art of morals alone it is 
true that all men are alike practicians ; and the 
philosopher, or, more properly, the priest, must 
teach not only the theory, but the practical applica 
tion of it. And this was provided for in Comte s 
scheme of education, as well as in the book which 
was to form the most important part of his 
4 Subjective Synthesis and of which unhappily his 
death deprived us ; the first volume of this book 
was to have had for its subject Theoretical Morals, 
or the Knowledge of Human Nature, and the 
second Practical Morals, or the Improvement of 
Human Nature. 

There are in Comte some uses of the word 
* abstract, in which it is "not fully explained by 
the above observations. Thus, in speaking of the 
elementary or irreducible intellectual powers, he 
says: " they must be abstract in their nature, so 
as to apply indifferently to all the varied products 
of the intellect." The meaning is, that in their 
application to different subjects of contemplation or 

Abstract and Concrete 85 

meditation, their processes are essentially identical. 
Afterwards, when enumerating the intellectual 
faculties, he recognises two modes of Contempla 
tion, one Synthetic, referring to objects, and more 
used in Art, the other Analytic, taking cognisance 
of events, and more used in Science ; and, of the 
latter, he adds, "its nature is, therefore abstract." 
As he had previously asserted the abstract nature 
of all the intellectual faculties, he does not intend 
(as indeed he expressly mentions) to discriminate 
between the two sorts of Contemplation as in 
volving the idea of different mental processes 
being followed in Science and Art ; both sorts are 
employed, though not equally, in the two domains ; 
but one regards objects, the other phenomena or 
the properties of objects. 





IT is known that Comte discountenanced the use of 
the word cause in relation to natural pheno 
mena. In his view, it was inseparably associated 
with pre-scientific conceptions. He repeatedly em 
ploys the phrase * the double causality to express 
the first two stages of thought respecting the facts 
of nature the Fetishistic and the Theological 
that which attributes them to direct volitions of 
the individual objects which present them, and that 
which refers them to the action of beings distinct 
from the objects, and presiding respectively over 
particular classes of phenomena. Most writers, 
however, have regarded it as possible to preserve 
the word cause/ giving it a purely scientific 
interpretation ; and J. S. Mill, in \i\sLogic, argues in 
favour of this course. If we thus positivise the term, 
it will mean a fact, which is invariably followed by 
another fact. This invariable conjunction, as Hume 
long since showed, is all that we can predicate as 
to the so-called causal connexion between two 

Laws and Causes. 87 

events, and, whenever it can be predicated, that 
one which precedes the other may properly enough 
be spoken of as its cause. There is no decisive 
objection to the use of the word in this way, so long 
as it is really emptied of any fictitious theory. 

Yet it may be questioned whether it does not, 
as Comte thought, almost inevitably suggest the 
exploded doctrine and tend to revive it in our 
intellects. We think of a cause as a sort of 
semi-personal agent enforcing the sequence of an 
effect. So long as the theological idea of nature 
subsisted, the cause, being, a spiritual volition, or 
an inherent entity, was essentially single. But when 
scientific analysis succeeds, we see that the cause is,, 
in general, multiple ; it is an assemblage of con 
ditions, sometimes numerous, that determines the 
effect. As J. S. Mill says, in his Logic (Bk. in., 
chap. 5), "the cause, philosophically speaking, is 
the sum total of the conditions, positive and nega 
tive, taken together; the whole of the contingencies 
of every description, which being realised, the con 
sequent invariably follows." And hence he goes 
into lengthened explanations as to when and how 
far one of these several conditions, even a negative 
one, may rightly be called the cause. It would 
perhaps be more accordant with reality and would 
prevent misconception, if we spoke of the collective 
conditions of a phenomena as its determinants/ 
and dispensed altogether, in philosophic discussion, 
with the use of the word cause. 

88 Laws and Causes. 

There appears to be a lingering notion that 
some degree of the mystery attaching to the mode 
of production of all phenomena alike, is removed 
by the resolution of a given law into a higher law. 
But this is not so ; it is only that one mystery 
is exchanged for another of wider range. It is 
indeed desirable that derivative laws should be 
reduced to more comprehensive ones, but the gain 
is only a simplification in relation to our memories 
and logical processes. All that we can attain in 
the way of explaining or * accounting for laws 
is of this nature, and even this sort of explana 
tion is restricted within narrow bounds, a fact 
which men of science do not always sufficiently 
keep in view. "Even when Science," says Comte, 
" has become aware of the inanity of [ontological] 
causes, and gradually establishes the reign of laws, 
it aspires, as much as Theology and Metaphysics, 
to complete objectivity, dreaming of a universal 
explanation of outward things by means of a single 
law as absolute as gods and entities, in accordance 
with the Academic Utopia." Such an objective 
unity is chimerical ; a subjective unity, founded on 
the moral destination of Science, is alone attain 
able, and has been constituted by Positivism. 

Whilst endeavouring to exhibit, as far as 
possible, the several uniformities which exist 
amongst phenomena as cases of more compre 
hensive laws, we must remember that the really vital 
questions respecting any law, derivative or other, 

Laws and Causes. 89 

are Is it true within the limits within which we 
have occasion to use it ? And does it really enable 
us, in a certain degree, to arrive at prevision, and so 
serve to guide our conduct ? By far the greatest 
number of those that are practically important to 
mankind are empirical in the sense that they are 
possibly, or even probably, derivative,* and that we 
do not know the laws from which they would be 
deducible. But we must not be prevented by any 
philosophic purism from valuing them as they 
deserve, and utilising them, though we have not 
succeeded, and may never succeed, in resolvin g 
them. The great desideratum is to find, in any 
attainable measure, unity amidst diversity. 

* Such are, as Mill mentions, the laws of chemical action, as at 
present known, the laws of vegetation and organic life, all truths of 
common experience, constituting a practical knowledge of mankind, 
and all the laws of human society, inferred from history. 



THE order of the Sciences in the encyclopedic 
scale may be fixed on two different principles. 
We naturally first arrange them as, in the in 
tellectual evolution of our race, they successively 
became subject to Positive (or genuinely scientific) 
treatment. This order was by no means either 
arbitrary or accidental ; it naturally and necessarily 
coincided with the line of least resistance, and 
therefore depended on the mutual relations of the 
several elements of the series, that is, on the 
diminishing generality and increasing complexity 
of the phenomena with which they deal. When we 
follow this ascending order, rising from Mathe 
matics to Sociology, it is natural to suppose that in 
this last we have reached the highest degree of 
speciality and complication. And this was at first 
Comte s view. But it was one of the results of his 
latest and best period that he added to the series 
a distinct science of individual human nature, for 
the study of which he had previously thought 

*" Objective"* and Subjective. gi 

sufficient provision was made in Biology (especially 
in the cerebral theory), and in the moral analyses 
necessarily introduced in Sociology. One reason for 
this addition is given in the Posit ivist Catechism ; and 
it is conclusive from the objective point of view. This 
reason is the necessity, in the interest of theoretic 
completeness, of having regard to the cerebral re 
actions of the vegetative viscera, which are not 
considered in the general theory of life, and which, 
since, by the diversities of individual temperament, 
their effects are neutralized when society is viewed 
as a whole, form no part of the proper subject-matter 
of Sociology. 

But there is another way of looking at the whole 
system of the sciences. The individual may set out 
from the standpoint of Practical Morals. Conscious 
of the conflicting tendencies of his being, and tired 
of the irresolution and inefficiency (not to speak 
of worse consequences) arising from this internal 
dissonance, he may propose to himself the question 
of self-discipline how the heart, and through it, 
the conduct is to be regulated ; how man can 
attain the harmony of feeling and the unity of aim 
which constitute the health of the spiritual nature. 
He will easily discover that not within himself is 
the solution of this question to be found, the 
random and undisciplined play of various and even 
opposite affective impulses which there exists 
being the very evil from which he seeks deliverance. 
His salvation must be in voluntary subordination to 

92 Objective* and Subjective? 

something outside and above himself, which, when 
theological fictions have lost their hold on him, 
must be the collective existence which rules his 
life. Thus he will be led to recognise the necessity 
of studying Humanity of learning the nature of 
the social medium in which he is plunged, and 
which incessantly modifies him in other words, he 
will see that Sociology must precede Morals in the 
scientific hierarchy. But Sociology will plainly 
require a previous knowledge of the general laws 
of life, which condition and dominate Society. 
Vital science leads us back to Cosmology, the 
outer world being the scene of the phenomena of 
life, and material laws influencing organic acts and 
structures. First, Chemistry, and then Terrestrial 
Physics are thus introduced into the scale ; and 
these must have for their basis Celestial Physics or 
Astronomy, which, again, pre-supposes Mathematics 
as teaching the general laws of universal existence 
those, namely, of motion, extension, and number. 
This completes the scientific system ; and thus is 
reproduced, from the Subjective and synthetic point 
of view, the same construction which the Objective 
method had previously created by dispersive and 
analytic efforts. But, in the second method, we 
reverse the process first pursued, and pass through 
the several steps of the scale, not in the ascending, 
but in the descending order; the members of the 
series taking the same respective places as be 
fore, but not on the ground of their increasing 

Objective and Subjective? 93 

complexity, but on that of the increasing closeness 
of their relation to Humanity. 

And, from this standpoint, looking back on the 
history of Science, we see that all the great 
theoretic minds, from Thales and Pythagoras to 
Bichat and Gall, were occupied, not perhaps always 
consciously, in preparing the materials necessary 
for the ultimate systematisation which was to be 
the guide of practical life. The result of their 
labours was the formation of a body of positive 
conceptions relating to the outward world and to 
social and individual man, which, when completed 
and properly co-ordinated, were to compose the 
dogma of the final Religion, and on the basis of 
which its discipline was to be constructed. 

We may justly say that there is, in reality, but 
one science Morals, or the Science of Man, which 
implies and potentially comprises all those below 
it in the hierarchy, since they deal with actual 
elements or conditions combined in Man, whose 
nature contains in itself all inferior forms of being, 
whence some of the ancients called him a micro 
cosm. If, notwithstanding the legitimacy of such 
a conception, we maintain the multiplicity of steps 
in the series, it is because the lower orders of 
phenomena cannot be directly studied in man ; 
logical necessities compel us to examine them in 
the simplest cases of their manifestation. And, 
ascending, one by one, the successive grades of 
the scale, we are thus at last brought back to 
Morals as the crown of the edifice, where, the 

94 l Objective* and l Subjective. 

abstract and the concrete at last coinciding, man is 
considered in his indivisible existence, all the pre 
ceding- sciences contributing their methods and their 
conclusions to this highest department of research 
with a view to the practical end of the adaptation 
of the individual to the service of the Great Being. 
Besides the methods best exemplified in the 
several simpler sciences Deduction in Mathe 
matics, Observation in Astronomy, Experiment in 
Physics, Nomenclature in Chemistry, Comparison 
in Biology, and Historic Filiation in Sociology, 
Morals has a method peculiarly appropriate to 
itself, namely, the Subjective, which proceeds not 
from the world to man, but from man to the world. 
It presides over construction, as distinct from 
deduction and induction ; and we have given an 
example of it in its mode of constructing the En 
cyclopedic hierarchy. We cannot admit the claim 
of Intellect divorced from Feeling, to the supreme 
control of our systematic thought. When, having 
traversed the inorganic and vital provinces, we come 
to the directly human domain, the social point of 
view becomes paramount ; and it is seen that intel 
lect must take for its function the enlightenment 
and service of the social sympathies, abandoning 
its tendency to speculative digressions which have 
no relation to the welfare of Humanity. It is the 
work of the Subjective Method, which succeeds to 
the Objective without superseding it, to direct the 
action of the latter, to supply the light in which 
the whole system of laws, and each order of them, 

Objective and Subjective? 95 

is to be regarded ; to set aside inaccessible or idle 
inquiries ; to propose the questions requiring 
solution in the human interest, and to suggest the 
lines of that solution ; and, where ascertained laws 
leave open a selection, to satisfy our aesthetic im 
pulses by framing the best mode of representing 
phenomena the best, that is, in relation to the 
improvement of our nature, as tending to the 
development of synthesis and sympathy. It has to 
keep in view what might otherwise be overlooked, 
and is habitually overlooked in the pursuit of 
the dispersive specialities of Knowledge (whether 
science or erudition) namely, the final religious 
purpose of all research as well as of all activity. 
Theology once inspired this conviction, and culti 
vated the corresponding mental habits ; but its 
action was vitiated by the search after chimerical 
causes. The Subjective method, the only one it 
used, could not arrive at solid results till it had 
been preceded by the entire development of the 
Objective, which was directed to the normal aim 
of the discovery of laws, but tended to subordinate 
unduly the spirit of generality to the spirit of detail. 
But, having now, from absolute and personal, 
become relative and social, it must again, in this 
amended shape, exercise the regulating and co 
ordinating office which rightly belongs to it, and 
present Science as an indivisible whole, disciplined 
and unified by social sentiment. 



THESE words are of course borrowed from Me 
chanical Science, and have relation primarily 
to the states of equilibrium and motion of a body or 
system of bodies. As applied in Biology, they 
indicate respectively the facts of organisation 
(Anatomy) and the phenomena of Life (Physi 
ology). By Comte their use was extended to 
Sociology, Social Statics being the title of that 
portion of the Science which describes the condi 
tions of existence common to all human societies, 
and persisting throughout the course of their 
development, or, in other words, the Theory of 
Order ; and Social Dynamics, the name of that 
portion which ascertains the laws of the evolution 
of Societies, or, in other words, the Theory of 
Progress. Both these studies are necessary for 
the constitution of a Positive Sociology. 

They are far from being absolutely independent 
of each other. As, in Mechanics, Dynamics is 
essentially connected with Statics; as, in Biology, 

Statical* and Dynamical? 97 

the doctrine of growth implies that of healthy 
existence ; so Social Statics and Social Dynamics 
are bound together by the general fact enunciated 
by Comte that " Progress is the development of 
Order."* In fact, in each of these Sciences the 
two points of view, while clearly distinguished, 
must be habitually combined. 

But here arises a question which cannot be over 
looked. In the study of Society there are plainly 
three distinct subjects to be considered first, its 
constitution as regards the several social forces co 
existing and working in it at a given time ; secondly, 
the play of these forces amongst themselves, their 
mutual action and counter-action ; and, thirdly, 
the changes which take place from time to time, 
whether by way of normal development or of de 
generation, in either the organs of the Society or 
the functions of those organs. Do, then, Social 
Statics and Dynamics, taken together, cover the 
whole of this ground ? Ought not the division of 
Sociology to be, not binary, but ternary ? Should 
Social Statics be regarded as dealing exclusively 
with structure, as the analogy of Anatomy might 
seem to indicate? Is the name of "Dynamical 
Laws" of Society to be applied only to those 
changes by which it passes to a higher or lower 
plane, and not also to those of the inter-action of 

* This may be regarded as analogous to D Alembert s Principle 
in Mechanics. 


9 8 Statical* and Dynamical? 

social elements in which its daily life at any period 
consists ? Comte, whom no question of method 
escaped, saw that this doubt arose, and gave it a 
definite solution.* " With regard to every living 
being," he says, " we must introduce, between the 
connected ideas of organisation and life, an inter 
mediate idea, hitherto too vaguely conceived, for 
which we must reserve the special name of exist 
ence. Applicable to all real substances, this word 
expresses always their proper and continuous 
activity. In Biology it corresponds to what is 
radically permanent in each system of vital phe 
nomena ; so that the life of a being consists in 
the series of modifications which its * existence 
successively undergoes in a series ending in death." 
. . . " In Sociology the term * existence expresses 
the fundamental economy of the great organism."* 
Social Statics must comprise the study, not only 
of structure, but of existence of the essential 
functions, which in fact conserve the structure, 
whilst Social Dynamics, on the other hand, deals 
with the life of a society in the large sense of that 
word the successive changes which in process of 
time modify, whether the social structure or the 
functions of the several organs composing that 
structure. These changes are indeed continually 
in progress, but in Social Statics, when considering 
the several elements of a Social state and their con- 

* Pol. Pos., II., chap. 6. 

Statical and Dynamical" 91 

sensus, we " abstract, as far as possible, from the 
fundamental movement which is perpetually modify 
ing them all." 

This conclusion as to Sociological method 
harmonises with the conception now universally 
accepted, that in Biology, Anatomy and ordinary 
Physiology should be kept in close relation, organ 
and function being thus studied combinedly ; whilst 
the study of Development, not in the individual life 
alone, but in the animal series (whether we adopt or 
reject the Darwinian hypothesis), forms a second 
great division of the subject. And, carrying back 
the same conception into Mechanics, we see that 
quite similar is the division between the study of 
the structure and ordinary activity of a system of 
bodies on the one hand, and that of its general 
modifications on the other as, in the Solar System, 
its constitution is in our view to be combined with 
its general movements regarded as permanent, 
whilst a separate study is made of the changes, 
whether constant or periodic, wrought in it by 
perturbations, and possibly in the past or the future 
by, e.g., the cooling of the Sun or of the several 




THERE are strong expressions in the writings of 
the most eminent philosophers as to the worth- 
lessness of the consideration of Final Causes. Bacon 
says, in often-quoted words, " Causarum finalium 
inquisitio sterilis est, et, tanquam virgo Deo con- 
secrata, nihil parit" (De Aug. Sc., in. 5). And, 
under the head of Idola Tribus (Ib. v. 4), he notes 
as a grave error "quod homo fiat quasi norma 
et speculum naturae; neque enim," he adds, 
"credibile est ... quantum agmen idolorum 
philosophise immiserit naturalium operationum ad 
similitudinem actionum humanarum reductio, hoc 
ipsum, inquam, quod putetur talia naturam facere 
qualia homo facit." And again, in Nov. Org., 
lm 4 8, "Causas finales, quae sunt plane ex natura 
hominis potius quam universi, atque ex hoc fonte 
philosophiam miris modis corruperunt." Similarly 
Descartes " Let us never found any of our reasons 
concerning physical phenomena on the ends which 
we may imagine God or nature had in view in the 

Final Causes. 101 

constitution of the universe" (Principia, i. 28); and 
" I am of opinion that the whole of this speculation 
concerning Final Causes is altogether useless, 
because I do not think that we can, without rash 
ness, presume to investigate the designs of God" 
(Meet. iv.). Stewart labours (Act. and Mor. Powers, 
Bk. in. chap. 2) to show that these objections were 
made only against the introduction of Final Causes 
m\o physical investigations ; but, if just, they plainly 
lie against the use of such considerations in the 
research into all sorts of natural facts. 

It has been argued against this exclusion of 
Final Causes from the domain of Positive Science 
that the consideration of ends or uses may lead 
and, in fact, has led to discovery, especially in 
Biology ; and the well-known case of Harvey and 
the circulation of the blood, as related by Robert 
Boyle, has been appealed to* (Stewart, op. et loc. 
cit.). But, in so far as the study of Final Causes 
can be made available for the discovery of Biological 
laws the principal province of its application- 
Positive philosophy replaces the theological dogma 
by the scientific principle of the conditions of ex 
istence, which, without involving any hypothetic 
element, recognises the simple fact that, as a given 
organ (or element of structure) enters into the com- 

* Harvey s discovery (or rather, demonstration) of the circulation 
did not, however, rest exclusively on the consideration of the direc 
tion of the valves in the bloodvessels. See Foster s Lectures on the 
History of Physiology, chap. n. 

IO2 Final Causes. 

position of a living body, it must necessarily concur, 
in a definite, though possibly, an unknown manner, 
in the series of acts which constitute the existence 
of the body ; and thus, that there is no more an 
organ without function than a function without 
organ* (see PhiL Pos., in., p. 459), When we have 
ascertained the existence of a function, we cannot 
be surprised to find, on anatomical examination, 
an organ (or a structural character) which enables 
the function to be exercised. But this principle 
leaves it open to us to argue on independent 
grounds, special to the case, that the organ is 
imperfectly constructed, or that the function is an 
unnecessary complication. Thus, for purposes of 
research into the laws of organic nature, it appears 
that the principle of "conditions of existence" 
effects all that the study of Final Causes has been 
alleged to do ; and its scientific usefulness is by no 
means limited to that department of things. 

This, however, does not exhaust all the questions 
that may be asked on the subject of design and 
adaptation. Any candid observer must admit that 
there are in nature many things that bear, at least 
on the surface, and at first view, the appearance of 
being the result of the design of a mind constructed 
like the human. But when we ask, Are they really 
the fruit of design ? the more the subject is 

*This principle is not to be taken as inconsistent with the existence 
of rudimentary organs however these are to be explained or of 
organs which have become atrophied by desuetude. 

Final Causes. 103 

considered, the more it will appear that we cannot 
arrive at a satisfactory answer to the question, 
whether in the affirmative or the negative. Positivists 
prefer to refrain from urging the considerations 
which are adverse to the theistic view, because they 
recognise the fact that the inquiry is radically in 
accessible to our means of exploration, and that, with 
respect to the facts of nature, we can sometimes 
answer the question How they occur, but never 
the question Why ? They contemplate the 
opinions which have existed on the subject from 
the historical point of view exclusively. 

Primitive men naturally supposed that the really 
inscrutable causes which produced phenomena 
were Wills similar to the human, either dwelling in 
the objects, as the Fetishist thought, or outside 
them, as the Theologist supposed. But these 
hypotheses must be taken simply as spontaneous 
imaginations, not admitting of proof, and inter 
esting to us only as marking temporary stages in 
the intellectual development of the race. 

Our true attitude in relation to the question is 
not to exhaust ourselves in endless debates, which 
cannot lead to any issue, but, recognising once 
for all that it is insoluble, to put it aside, and 
concentrate our attention on really accessible sub 
jects, which vitally affect our destiny. What is in 
fact at present leading mankind more and more 
to neglect such inquiries is our better understand 
ing of our situation and our real wants, and the 

IO4 Final Causes. 

consequent change in the direction of our specula 
tive efforts. When Science has once satisfied us 
that events do not depend on divine volitions, but 
take place according to invariable relations of simili 
tude and succession, the question of Theism loses all 
except a historical interest, because it ceases to have 
any practical importance for us, since we cannot, as 
the Theologist believed, influence events by appeals 
to supernatural intervention. The belief thus tends 
silently to disappear, surviving only in conven 
tional formulae, whilst the truth is increasingly 
recognised, that the one real Providence is that of 
Humanity, and what we have all to do is, in our 
several degrees, to regulate its exercise for the 
benefit of Society at large, present and to come. 

In these tendencies there is nothing common 
with Atheism, regarded, not as a mere phase of 
transition, but as a permanent doctrine either in 
its inherent character, or in its reaction on the heart 
and the intellect. Whilst Positivism transfers our 
allegiance from God to Humanity, and founds on 
voluntary subordination to the latter as presiding 
Power, and on the ascertained laws of the physical 
and the moral world, a definite scheme of de 
monstrable duties, which constitute its principal 
province, and absorb its chief attention, Atheism 
occupies itself with questions incapable of solution 
as to cosmical origins, the beginnings of animal 
life, and the like, drawing us away from the scienti 
fically accessible subjects, which are really inv 

Final Causes. 105 

portant for us, especially those dealing with the 
natural laws which regulate political and moral 

We do not enter into the question suggested by 
the somewhat obscure pronouncement of Renan, 
that " God is the category of the ideal," a ground 
on which some might rest the necessity of pre 
serving Theistic belief. For it is obvious that 
God cannot supply the human ideal. A being sup 
posed to transcend immensely our conceptions, 
and to exist under conditions if any either unin 
telligible to us, or utterly different from those to 
which men are subject, can never furnish an imitable 
type/or them. The recognition of this is implied, 
when the last and best of the decadent religions 
humanises its God, and presents to us, not the 
divine, but a supposed perfect human character, as 
the model for our imitation. 

Similar observations apply to the Future Life, 
as conceived in Theologism. Such a life is 
entirely incapable of proof, and we can make no 
affirmation or negation respecting it. The Positive, 
as distinguished from the Theological doctrine on 
the subject, is a statement of undeniable facts. 
Every servant of Humanity has two successive lives 
one objective and temporary, in which his direct 
work is done, the other subjective, a life in the 
minds and hearts of others, where he works in 
directly but permanently, the result of his labours 
and example being eternally preserved in the sum 

io6 Final Causes. 

of things, though his name may be forgotten. 
This is the true immortality, consisting in the 
perpetuity of service, not in personal survival. 

But, it may be said, must not the mere possi 
bility of a personal future life, or any, the smallest, 
ground for regarding its probability as prepon 
derating in the scales of judgment, have a potent 
effect in determining our conduct ? To suppose 
this would contradict all we know of human nature, 
which is little influenced by expectation of remote 
and dubious consequences. Now that Science has 
thoroughly undermined theological doctrines, re 
solutions overmastering our selfish instincts and 
directing our whole behaviour, often in trying 
circumstances, cannot be inspired by such vague 
and uncertain bases of belief. They must in future 
be -dictated by profound convictions, resting on 
rational study of the demonstrable results of 
different systems of conduct those convictions 
operating chiefly on the altruistic affections which 
Theology and Metaphysics have often denied, but 
which Science has proved to be amongst the real 
elements of our nature. 



ONE of the most important views presented by 
Comte relates to the nature of what is called 
Materialism. It is often regarded as consisting 
in a particular opinion as to the intimate essence 
respectively of matter and mind a subject quite 
inaccessible to our researches. Its true significance 
appears on an examination, from a special point of 
view, of the Encyclopedic Scale. Each science in 
that scale borrows conclusions from the preceding 
and simpler sciences. But each also requires inde 
pendent inductions of its own, which give it its 
individual character. Now Materialism consists in 
denying or overlooking the latter fact, and attempt 
ing to construct one of those sciences exclusively 
from the materials supplied by its predecessors. 
This vicious procedure may take place in relation 
to any science after the first in the series. It is 
Materialism to attempt ignoring the fundamental 
dualism of Inorganic and Organic bodies to seek 
to explain the facts of life from Cosmological laws 

I o 8 Materia liswi . 

alone. Especially is this true when the attempt is 
made with relation to the phenomena of Cerebral 
life. It is Materialism, again, to represent the 
science of society as a mere corollary of Biology, 
neglecting the historic inductions on which it is 
chiefly founded. So is it also to reduce Morals to 
Sociology, overlooking the laws of personal unity 
of the internal harmony of the individual. The 
general tendency of these errors is to compromise 
the originality and dignity of the higher fields of 
research and to degrade them to the level of the 
lower. The radical vice is everywhere the same, and 
it extends even to the internal repartition of each 
science, which, when rightly framed, is regulated 
by the same principles as the arrangement of the 
fundamental members of the Hierarchy namely, 
the diminution of generality and the increase of 
complexity of the corresponding phenomena. 

It is in relation to the noblest speculations that 
this tendency is most dangerous, and has been felt 
by the public instinct to be so. It would, indeed, 
be unjust to impute to those who have fallen into 
this error a moral culpability, or to suppose that 
their principles of conduct are necessarily perverted 
by it. On the contrary, the mode of thinking here 
described, by being associated with the insurrec 
tion against the oppressive domination of Theolog- 
ism, has been in many instances invested with a 
progressive character, and has been allied with 
generous inspirations. Still, it is undeniably true 

Materialism. 109 

that, especially since Negativism has ceased to be 
an instrument of progress, the mental tendency 
here characterised has usually the effect of dead 
ening the finer feelings and creating an habitual 
depreciation of the affective as compared with the 
intellectual life, the latter being regarded as more 
explicable by the materialistic hypothesis. Histori 
cally, an opposition has been offered to it by 
Spiritualism, which is, however, no less irrational. 
But now an adequate barrier against it is erected 
by the Encyclopedic Hierarchy, which gives the 
due weight in methodology, on the one hand, to 
deduction from earlier sciences, and on the other, 
to the original inductions belonging to each suc 
cessive stage in the order of research ; and which 
represents the final science as presiding over the 
whole system and repressing the effort at invasion 
of the lower elements into the higher domain. 



THE late Professor Huxley, both in a special Essay 
which he devoted to Auguste Comte, and in 
occasional references to him elsewhere, betrayed a 
spirit of what might almost be called malignity 
towards the memory of that great man, and assumed 
a de haut en das air which, to those who know what 
Comte really was, would be ridiculous if it were 
not offensive. One of the most curious, and even 
amusing, exhibitions of this feeling and tone 
appears in the volume on Hume, which Huxley 
contributed to the series entitled "English Men of 
Letters." It is well known that Comte attached 
little value to the introspective method of the so- 
called Psychologists, believing that the direct 
observation of one s own mind in the act of 
thought, or under the influence of emotion, could 
not lead to trustworthy results. Of course, he did 
not dispute that our knowledge of the general 
nature of thought and emotion of what is meant, 
for example, by such words as memory/ love, &c., 

Psychological Introspection. \ 1 1 

could only be had from consciousness ; but he 
maintained that the laws which regulate our mental 
operations and the phenomena of our moral nature 
could not be discovered by such a process. Here 
is the passage in which Huxley, after speaking of 
the combination in Comte of " scientific incapacity 
with philosophical incompetence," goes on to com 
ment on the view which we have just stated : 

" The Positivists, so far as they accept the 
teachings of their master, roundly assert, at any 
rate in words, that observation of the mind is a 
thing inherently impossible in itself, and that 
psychology is a chimera a phantasm generated 
by the fermentation of the dregs of theology." 

[It is scarcely necessary to say that no such 
words as these last were ever used by any Positivist. 
The mention of theology is introduced merely to 
create prejudice, and to conciliate the orthodox. ] 

Nevertheless, if M. Comte had been asked 
what he meant by physiologic cerebrale, except 
that which other people call * psychology, and how 
he knew anything about the functions of the brain 
except by that very observation interieure which 
he declares to be an absurdity it seems probable 
that he would have found it hard to escape the 
admission that, in vilipending psychology, he had 
been propounding solemn nonsense." 

He goes on to contrast with Comte s alleged 
error the sound judgment of Hume in hold 
ing that " the inquiry into the contents and 

1 1 2 Psychological Introspection. 

the operations of the mind must be conducted 
upon the same principles as a physical investiga 
tion, if what he calls the moral philosopher 
would attain results of as firm and definite a 
character as those which reward the natural 
philosopher. ! He then quotes with approbation 
a passage of some length from the Introduction 
to Hume s Treatise of Human Nature to show that 
the author agreed with him, in opposition to 
Comte, as to the usefulness and necessity of the 
method of internal observation. But, when we 
read the passage, we find with surprise and, as I 
have said, with amusement, that Hume really 
takes the contrary side and agrees with Comte. 
" Moral philosophy," he says, " has this peculiar 
disadvantage, which is not found in natural, that, 
in collecting its experiments, it cannot make them 
purposely, with premeditation, and after such a 
manner as to satisfy itself concerning every 
particular difficulty which may arise. When I 
am at a loss to know the effects of one body 
upon another in any situation, I need only put 
them in that situation and observe what results 
from it. But should I endeavour to clear up in the 
same manner any doubts in moral philosophy, by 
placing myself in the same case with that which I 
consider, tis evident this reflection and premedi 
tation would so disturb the operation of my natural 
principles, as must render it impossible to form any 
just conclusion from the phenomenon. We must, 

Psychological In trospection . 113 

therefore, glean up our experiments in this science 
from a cautious observation of human life, and take 
them as they appear in the common course of the 
world, by men s behaviour in company, in affairs 
and in their pleasures. When experiments of this 
kind are judiciously collected and compared, we 
may hope to establish on them a science which 
will not be inferior in certainty, and will be much 
superior in utility, to any other of human com 

Huxley seems to have discovered, on further 
considering the passage, that it really cut the 
ground from under his feet ; and so he subjoined 
to it the following note : " The manner in which 
Hume constantly refers to the results of the 
observation of the contents and processes of his 
own mind clearly shows that he has inadvertently 
overstated the case ; that is to say, Huxley 
understood better than Hume the opinion of the 
latter on the subject in hand. 



IT is not necessary to combat this theory, which 
has had no recent supporters. But we find in 
Comte the following excellent note (Phil. Pos. Legon 
45), which illustrates well the important and often 
misconceived subject of the place of Descartes in 
the history of thought " Perhaps nothing charac 
terises better the difficult situation in which the 
mind of Descartes was placed ; namely, that of 
a constant struggle between the Positive tendency 
which was so strong in him and the theologico- 
metaphysical impediments imposed by his epoch 
than the paradoxical conception to which he was, 
in my judgment, very naturally led, on the intelli 
gence and instinct of animals. Wishing to limit, 
as far as he believed it possible, the empire of the 
old philosophy, and yet not being able to conceive 
the extension of his fundamental method to such 
an order of phenomena, he took up the daring 
position of systematically denying their existence 
by his celebrated hypothesis of Animal Auto- 

Cartesian Theory of the Automatism of Animals. 1 1 5 

matism. Once arrived at Man, the evident 
impossibility of applying 1 to his case the same 
philosophical expedient forced him to come to a 
compromise so to say with metaphysics and 
theology by abandoning to them, or rather 
maintaining for them, by a sort of formal treaty, 
this last part of their original offices. Whatever 
may have been the real and grave inconveniences 
arising from this singular automatic theory, it 
is important to observe that it was precisely in 
order to its refutation that the physiologists, and 
especially the naturalists of the eighteenth cen 
tury, were gradually led to the demolition of the 
radical separation which Descartes had thus 
attempted to establish between the study of man 
and that of animals, which has finally brought 
about in our days the entire and irrevocable 
elimination of the whole theological or metaphysical 
philosophy in the most advanced intellects. Thus 
this strange conception has not really been by any 
means useless to the general progress of the human 
mind in recent times." 





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