Auguste Comte Quote

“Social positivism only accepts duties, for all and towards all. Its constant social viewpoint cannot include any notion of rights, for such notion always rests on individuality. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. These obligations then increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service. ... Any human right is therefore as absurd as immoral. Since there are no divine rights anymore, this concept must therefore disappear completely as related only to the preliminary regime and totally inconsistent with the final state where there are only duties based on functions.”

~ Auguste Comte

Le catéchisme positiviste (1852), reproduit in Alain Laurent, L'Individu et ses ennemis (Paris: Hachette, 1987), pp. 255-256.

Ratings and Comments

Joe, Rochester, MI

The state gives you your duties. When you are unable or unwilling to perform to their expectations, they may do whatever they want to you, including torturing you to death. Human rights absurd? No, socialist is absurd and immoral.

Dick, Fort Worth

This is gobbledygook of the worst order, mixed with total ignorance of socialism.

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Garp    5/2/06
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Anonymous    7/21/06

you're got to be kiddin' me.

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Anonymous    2/25/09

I disagree with Comte, but I just want to point out that this quote is not talking about socialism, but rather social positivism, which are two entirely different things.

J. B. Wulff, Bristol

I am most happy to find out that I am not alone in my reaction to this quote. He's ready for some Kool-Aid of the Johnson variety. I've held minor positions of responsibility to the citizens of my community, so I know the obligations. I also know that those "inalienable rights" of each and every person do not go away. We have pretty much done away with the "divine right rulers," but that does not mean that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is a dead issue.

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Anon    10/7/09

"Since there are no divine rights anymore..." Heh heh heh, Ha ha ha, This made me laugh so hard I doubled up on the floor. Every individual's rights are of divine nature.

J Carlton, Calgary

Bite me!

Heather, Frankfort

When were these comments written? Our rights, which we once considered "divine" (see below) are being stripped by this, dare I say it? Regime, which currently inhabits the White House. HE decides what is best for the people, not the people themselves, or their elected representatives. HE decides what will be, and woe betide the man or company who opposes the Great and Powerful O. Divine -- adjective 1. of or pertaining to a god, esp. the Supreme Being. 2. addressed, appropriated, or devoted to God or a god; religious; sacred: divine worship. 3. proceeding from God or a god: divine laws.

Mike, Norwalk

Natural law's codex, as was recognized as the foundation of American jurisprudence confessed rights to be inalienable as a faculty of birth. Right(s) is an eternally omnipresent warrant that lawfully enables inalienable and laissez-faire affairs, interests, and issues. "Right is the correlative of duty, for, wherever one has a right due to him, some other must owe him a duty." (Bouvier■s Law Dictionary) The sovereign heir to the King of the universe owes no burden, duty, obligation, or inferior position of any kind to a predecessor(s), a successor(s), a contemporary(ies), an individual, a concert of individuals, groups, government, etc. Man's servants, representatives, and deputies have no rights, but duties and obligations only.

Veda, Bangalore

Yes - thia debate as to whether the 'society' should insist on rights or duties is quite a universal tussel. Comte's stand that it is 'duties' that the society in concerned about is quite logical because .. the individual psychological tendency is more readily inclined towards entitiling and empowering oneself as 'indidviduals' and that at the neglect or the expense of the others around - particularly those who have rendered their 'duties' towards the indidviduals in questionm. In other words those wjo are insisting upon 'others duties' are in other words asking for their own rights or that of the family/communeighborhood or community vis a vis the 'excessive or ahead of time claims'' of rights by those individuals.

E Archer, NYC

"Social positivism" is obviously 'statism' whether socialist, communist, fascist, or collectivist.

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    Anon    10/12/09

    Social positivism is corralment and the current statist mutation (it changes daily) further centralizes its power over the various corporate powers of the world debt has made them vulnerable to, and by extension to every living being on earth. We not only misuse the moral principles of natural law that (good for some not for others) are beyond shadow of doubt self evident eternal truths, we also misuse physical natural law and of course disrespect of the first naturally leads to disrespect of the second affecting the balance of natural effects in a negative way in not fully appreciating the FACT that it is finite in its creation and so if invention be free then if it benefits one man and harms no other by its invention if love thy neighbor as thyself is the rule of thumb, (morality) and helping others helps oneself then how is one's labor robbed if his every effort is to help others and their efforts are to help him and all others to cooperate WITHOUT ANY GOVERNMENT (centralization centers ripe for infiltration even when limited as our administrations once were) other than the family and the community to see that no one needs or wants more than the natural balance of the earth can provide for. It's always been about where things equalize and harmonize to keep things running smooth and since morals (instructions showing list of respecting rights never been

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      Anon    10/12/09

      and since morals (ideals) show us the perfection of being god like in loving all life created by life because in essence all that's created IS good it is only choices by mankind that carry consequence that create bad, error, or sinful events that hurt our own development into higher life forms and in fact harm us. When mankind once again decides to seek moral truth and put its power into effect as law on earth as was once done with the american constitution, If mankind somehow sees the light again, heaven can still be created here on earth as it is with god. The one. The first and eternal individual the powers of which we can't even fathom lest a new truth set you right and remind of your lack of knowledge regarding his unlimited abilities. Those abilities that are his are ours as well and use them rightly, in all aspects of life, peace and heaven is created on earth and the opposite creates hell. This is an immutable law of god's nature or nature's god and because this truth is unknown to the many the decay of world society, particularly American, is a natural inevitible event. These events of moral breakdown by both citizenry and public officials in our lives IS the decay of society purposely targeted by world government advocates with the influencial financial power to cause loss of faith in the constitutional structure of our form of self government justifying the growth of more controls and the need for an international union that in law, will have no bounds regardless of physical boundaries. Simply, the world is being set up. Individual morality is the answer and there is no other one that will change the damage done and turn things around.

      Robert, Somewhere in Europe

      Wow! as a Liberal I must agree! what a first!

      Ronw13, Yachats OR

      " Does not even nature teach you " notice the use of little " d " divine. divine rights. ( divine service, first, belief. of What ? Divine Sovereignty of God. divining also as, learning through experience. In God's nature the ( secular ) divine rule of atomic weight. If we know the action of a certain substance, then our knowledge never changes. But side by side with the unchangeable truth there is the constant discovery of new truths. Every important element is a multiple of either 4 or 7. An experiment also within God's separate written word. Following our Founding Fathers along the same path of Divine foot prints in the sands of knowledge and understanding. Written and codified for our admonition and learning while in divine service to God. from the Greek, II Peter 1:3 and 1:4 ( Divine, Theios, it is used of the power of God, and of His nature, 1:4.) the fist mention, Gen 44:15 concerning ones ability to divine, ( divine, Nachash, learn by experience, and to, diligently observe. prudent. ) denoting the " hidden hand " of nature. Qacam, and Qecem ( divining, witchcraft, soothsaying,) divination, also as a pagan socialistic parallel to prophesying.This type of divination is one of mans attempts to know and control the world and the future, apart from the true God. It is the opposite of true prophecy, the Submission to God's Sovereignty. Due 18:14.

      E Archer, NYC

      Mike, I like your take on this, "Man's servants, representatives, and deputies have no rights, but duties and obligations only."

      Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

      This individual does appear to bring a good point here. We in the social realm are not too concerned with our rights to remain stupid, but concerned how our actions hopefully positively effect the whole growth process in the general sense.  Socialism is the challenge of social abilities to create growth.


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