By Vincent Guillin

ISBN-10: 9004174699

ISBN-13: 9789004174696

Vincent Guillin makes use of the problem of sexual equality as a prism during which to check very important changes - epistemological, methodological and theoretical - among Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill. He succeeds in displaying how their differing conceptions of technology and human nature impact and have an effect on their respective ways to philosophy and to the research of girl (in)equality particularly. Guillin shines a vibrant searchlight into long-neglected facets of either men's considering - for instance, Mill's idea to build an 'ethology', or technological know-how of character-formation, and Comte's probably extraordinary curiosity in phrenology - and the ways that those formed their perspectives of women's highbrow and political capacities. Guillin's wide-ranging examine examines either men's significant and minor works, their correspondence with each other, and the explanations for the ultimate acrimonious holiday among of the 19th century's most unusual and significant thinkers.

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Extra info for Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill on Sexual Equality: Historical Methodological and Philosophical Issues (Studies in the History of Political Thought)

Example text

But he also regarded his w ork as a systema tic endeavour, which would soon materialize for the public in the System of Logic, the originality of which he was eager to defend. 5 D eeply moved by Mill’s concern, C omte replied that he was sure his correspondent would eventually surrender to the views he first presented in the Cours: As for our lack of agreement in the matter of divorce, I am convinced that, in spite of my personal case, which fortunately is exceptional though not as rare as it ought to be today, it will not take me long to persuade you to adopt my view, for it is of great import to society that marriage be indissoluble.

Accordingly, if one wants to refute his a rgument, perhaps it would be worth le aving aside t he fi rst p remise (w hich is no t en tirely co unterintuitive and benefits from some empirical support) and taking the second as the primary target. What Comte needs in order for his argument to be sound is a premise establishing that men a re endowed with specific character traits enabling them to ca rry o ut su pervision d uties in wa ys una vailable to women. The hierarchical organization should be based on natural differences in ca pacities, if such diff erences exist.

Given Mill’s empiricist and associationist leanings, one can conjecture that the best candidate would consist in an environmentalist theory of human capacities, stating that under normal conditions (for instance, the absence of any inborn physical deficiency affecting one’s intellectual faculties), men and women subjected to a similar range of psychological stimulations (affective, moral, rational) display on average the s ame ca pacities a nd tha t a ny diff erence obs erved in their achievements is due to unrecorded environmental stimulations.

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Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill on Sexual Equality: Historical Methodological and Philosophical Issues (Studies in the History of Political Thought) by Vincent Guillin

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