Dialectical Spiritualism: Auguste Comte, Part 3


Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

Auguste Comte (1798 - 1857)

Hayagriva dasa: Comte felt that it was the working man, the sudra, who is most apt to be the arbiter of Positivism, not the scientist or philosopher. He writes: "The occupations of working men are evidently far more conducive to philosophical views than those of the middle classes, since they are not so absorbing as to prevent continuous thought, even during the hours of labor."

Srila Prabhupada: How can the working man become an arbiter? Every working man requires some manager to direct him, and in Communist countries we have seen that there is a managerial class as well as a working class. If this is the case, how can the worker help us? He is always subordinate to some manager.

Hayagriva dasa: Comte wanted to form working men's clubs that would be dedicated to the philosophy of Positivism. These would form "a provisional substitute for the church of old times, or rather to prepare the way for the religious building of the new form of worship, the worship of humanity."

Srila Prabhupada: His conception of humanity i s not very clear. What does he mean by humanity? What does the working class know of humanity? If by "humanity" he means the totality of all human beings, he must still admit that every human being has some individuality. Even if you consider all humanity to be the same, how will you account for individuality?

Hayagriva dasa: Well, it is his contention and that of Communism in general that all men are basically the same in relation to the state.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, they are all under the laws of the state, but their thinking, feeling, and willing are not under the state. Men think, feel, and will differently. How, then, can they be one? Of course, human beings have two arms, two legs, and one head, but the working of the brain differs according to the individual. It is not possible to adjust these differences and reconcile all humanity as a whole. Everyone will not be in total agreement. People have their own tastes even in eating, sleeping, mating, and defending — to say nothing of thinking, feeling, and willing. If you try to force uniformity, you will create dissatisfaction.

Hayagriva dasa: Comte felt that Positivism and Communism — which was then in its formative stage — could go hand in hand. He writes: "Positivism has nothing to fear from Communism; on the contrary, it will probably be accepted by most Communists among the working classes "

Srila Prabhupada: He speaks of a working class but not a managerial class. He wants a classless society, but he wants it populated only by working men. But the fact is that working men require direction, just as the legs and hands require directions from the brain. That is quite natural. It is not possible for the working classes not to be under someone's direction.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning the different qualities of men and women, Comte wrote: "In all kinds of force, for the physical, intellectual or practical, it is certain that men surpass women, in accordance with a general law which prevails throughout the animal kingdom If there were no thing else to do but to love... women would be supreme."

Srila Prabhupada: This is a natural distinction between men and women. How can it be changed? Women are meant for certain activities, just as men are. You may try to change this artificially, but basically it cannot be changed. A woman becomes pregnant, but a man does not. How can this be changed?

Hayagriva dasa: Well, from this he concludes that women, being dominated by love, are morally superior to men. He envisioned woman as "the spontaneous priestess of humanity. She personifies in the purest form the principle of love upon which the unity of our nature depends. "

Srila Prabhupada: This is Comte's imagination. When a woman is misguided, she becomes dangerous, and there is no question of love. According to the Vedic conception, women and children are on the same level, and they should both be protected by men. In childhood a woman is protected by her father, in youth by her husband, and in old age by her grown sons. Women should never be given independence, but they should be given protection. In this way, their natural love for father, husband, and children will develop very smoothly. Thus the relationship between women and men should be established very happily so that both can execute their real function: cooperative spiritual life. The woman should look after the comfort of the man, and the man, who works hard, should also look after her comfort. Then both will be satisfied, and their spiritual lives will progress. A man is meant to work hard, and a woman is meant to give comfort and love in the home. In this way, man and woman can combine so that both can progress in spiritual life.