Item 81 - Richard Jones to William Whewell

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Add. MS c/52/81


Richard Jones to William Whewell


  • 17 May 1843 (Creation)

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8 pp.

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Haileybury - RJ is unable to lecture due to a 'visitation of the nerves of the face'. RJ thinks that the common character of Fourier, Comte and John S. Mill is St. Simonianism - they 'began with speculating on induction and well then they applied their instrument of discovery to history and politics. T hey found out that preceding states of mankind[,] religious and intellectual followed each other in a sort of necessary sequence in which [Jove?] and [J.C.?] found their proper places while the course of events urged on by a fluid and unreasoning necessity was even now producing new forms of religion and policy also in their proper place of which novelties they the great inductors were to be the prophets[,] expounders and administrators - and having the present and future thus in their hands they set no limits to the practical profligacy they meant to indulge in and having preached a community of women and goods they perished because it was quite clear they did not mean to share fairly'. RJ gives a synopsis of Fourier's book - 'published at the common expense of a society of Frenchmen associated for the purpose of disseminating his doctrines and if possible trying his plans. I see nothing of the inductive part but he takes up mathematically and astronomically the theory of successive cycles distinguished by different religious and political systems of these some are better some worse we are near the close of the very worst which is only to last 5000 years and near the opening of the very best which is to last 15000. He of course reveals its regime and becomes at once more disgustingly profligate than the St. Simonians because more elaborately and systematically'. Further, 'every woman is to be allowed 5 lovers - besides casual professors - by two of the lovers only is she to have children. and towns and buildings are to be constructed with a view to carry out all this in winter and summer by night and by day with the greatest possible comfort and convenience'. 'Very mad you say - good[,] in what sort of atmosphere moral[,] political and intellectual could all this be generated and wonderful to tell inculcated in an expensive form and with a confidence of finding readers and adherents?' RJ has nothing to say about the morals of Comte's books - 'Though there are significant indications of a new code of his own. But he too is an inductor (a very bad one) and is going to bring politics and religion to obedience to the laws of the positive sciences and whatever becomes of morals all that there is theological feudal or metaphysical in public institutions or ideas is to fall crushed beneath the power of the new positive philosophy and its revelations. With him too all the past has obeyed a set of laws acting quite independently of any will human or divine and so will the proximate future - the exact regime of that future he does not disclose - all existing institutions and opinions are to be chased away and as a practical preliminary step he proposes a committee of 30 sitting permanently at Paris consisting of 8 Frenchmen[,] 7 Englishmen and made up by the rest of the Continent who are to preach against all the past and proclaim the coming era till the nations of the earth are willing to receive new laws[,] manners[,] institutions and morals from the hand of a wise legislator Mr. Comte of course or his disciples - the change of institutions though compleat is to be less important than the equally compleat change in morals and manners from which again every thing theological[,] feudal or metaphysical is to be excluded and positive science is to preside and dictate'. Comte 'is a child of the St. Simonians without either their philosophical cleverness or their bold unblushing profligacy'. Just as Comte dedicates his book to Fourier, Mill dedicates his book to Comte: 'Whatever Mill may think of their morals his book we must admit steers clear of their profligacy but he of all men is unlucky in being linked with such a man at all. But as a philosopher Comte has done a great deal towards mystifying him'.

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