The Survivor and the Savant: Two Schemes for Civil Religion Compared

Terence Ball

in Reappraising Political Theory

Published in print November 1994 | ISBN: 9780198279952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598753 | DOI:
 The Survivor and the Savant: Two Schemes for Civil Religion Compared

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This chapter compares and contrasts the schemes for a civil religion advanced by Auguste Comte and James Mill, which contrasts the former's illiberal and priestly views with the latter's liberal and low‐church conception of the role of religion in a modern and largely secular society. The purpose of Mill's civil religion is pedagogical: it seeks to impart civically useful knowledge and to instil a sense of civic responsibility and restraint. This stands in stark contrast to Comte's civil religion, which seeks to stifle criticism, manipulate the emotions, and procure assent to an authoritarian and undemocratic system of priestly rule.

Keywords: authoritarianism; Auguste Comte; church; civic responsibility; civil religion; James Mill; John Stuart Mill; positivism; restraint; secular society

Chapter.  10159 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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