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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Subjection of Self-Love to Social Love
By Auguste Comte (1798–1857)
 
From the ‘Positive Polity’

IT is one of the first principles of Biology that organic life always preponderates over animal life. By this principle the sociologist explains the superior strength of the self-regarding instincts, since these are all connected more or less closely with the instinct of self-preservation. But although there is no evading the fact, Sociology shows that it is compatible with the existence of benevolent affections which Catholicism asserted were altogether alien to our nature, and entirely dependent on superhuman grace. The great problem, then, is to raise social feeling by artificial effort to the position which in the natural condition is held by selfish feeling. The solution is to be found in another biological principle; viz., that functions and organs are developed by constant exercise and atrophied by long inaction. Now the effect of the social state is, that while our sympathetic instincts are constantly stimulated, the selfish propensities are restricted; since if free play were given to them, human intercourse would very soon become impossible. Both of the tendencies naturally increase with the progress of humanity, and their increase is the best measure of the degree of perfection that we have attained. Their growth, however spontaneous, may be materially hastened by organized intervention both of individuals and of society; the object being to increase all favorable influences and to diminish unfavorable ones. This is the aim of the science of Morals. Like every other science, it is restricted within certain limits.  1
  The first principle of Positive morality is the preponderance of social sympathy. Full and free expansion of the benevolent emotions is made the first condition of individual and social well-being, since these emotions are at once the sweetest to experience, and the only feelings which can find expression simultaneously in all. This doctrine is as deep and pure as it is simple and true. It is essentially characteristic of a philosophy which by virtue of its attribute of reality subordinates all scientific conceptions to the social point of view, as the sole point from which they can be co-ordinated into a whole.  2
 
 
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