Abstract

In the aftermath of the French Revolution, as self-governing republics began to emerge across Europe, the search for new forms of fraternity became almost an obsession. Especially influential was the proposal of August Comte that societies should transcend egoism and greed by forging a “religion of humanity” consisting of intense sentiments of compassionate altruism. This essay examines Comte’s proposal, arguing that it has many valuable elements but is ultimately defective in its emphasis on control and homogeneity. It then turns to two of Comte’s shrewdest critics, John Stuart Mill in England and Rabindranath Tagore in India, each of whom, independently, reinvents the religion of humanity in a way that allows scope for liberty, emotion, and imagination.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2052
Print ISSN
0042-5222
Pages
pp. 7-34
Launched on MUSE
2012-03-08
Open Access
No
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