By Vincent Guillin
Vincent Guillin makes use of the problem of sexual equality as a prism wherein to envision vital variations - epistemological, methodological and theoretical - among Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill. He succeeds in exhibiting how their differing conceptions of technology and human nature impression and impact their respective ways to philosophy and to the research of woman (in)equality particularly. Guillin shines a vivid searchlight into long-neglected features of either men's pondering - for instance, Mill's concept to build an 'ethology', or technological know-how of character-formation, and Comte's doubtless weird and wonderful curiosity in phrenology - and the ways that those formed their perspectives of women's highbrow and political capacities. Guillin's wide-ranging research 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 unique and significant thinkers.
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Extra resources for Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill on Sexual Equality: Historical Methodological and Philosophical Issues (Studies in the History of Political Thought)
If it is not, a cause must be found to this inequality. Here the pattern of reasoning is the o ne typically used by Radicals: individuals should be treated equally unless good cause can be shown to do otherwise. Now, the decisive step is taken when Mill argues that there is no na tural inequality between the sexes. In fact, Mill does not say that the natural fact of equality is the source of positive normative considerations on women (what a woman “ought to be” in the sense of, say, what are the values she must conform to), but rather that the natural fact of equality disqualiﬁes a cer tain number of actions or institutions b ecause the y a re detrimen tal t o the ha ppiness o f w omen.
According to Mi ll, ra ther tha n t ackling the issue o f the na ture o f social a rrangements (a nd esp ecially ma rriage) head-ﬁ rst, on e s hould rather turn to the social agents on which they depend in order to deﬁne what suits their nature best: The question is not what marriage ought to be, but a far wider question, what woman ought to be. Settle that ﬁ rst, and the other will s ettle itself. 47 One should not be misled by Mill’s somewhat confusing terminology. 48 The ambiguity can be dispelled if one clearly identiﬁes Mill’s goal in that instance and rephrases his a rgument.
233). 39 For Comte’s as one of sociology’s forefathers, see for instance J. Heilbron, The Rise of Social Theor y. For Heilbron, Comte’s distinctive conception of sociology matters “not because C omte’s s ociological insight were of suc h great signiﬁ cance, but b ecause he introduced a ne w theoretical orientation. Comte was the ﬁ rst to advocate an uncompromising scientiﬁc approach without taking refuge in any of the established sciences. He developed a theory of science in which the idea of relative autonomy played a central role.