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Title: George Eliot and the religion of humanity
Author: Wright, T. R.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1977
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Auguste Comte and George Eliot were both typical of their time but this thesis contend& that many of the elements of his system found expression in her novels. It contains three parts: a study of Comte's ideas, a short history of their propagation in England, and an analysis of Eliot's novels. An appendix examines the previous critica1 recognition of her Positivism. In Part One, a brief consideration of Comte's life and philosophical context leads to a thematic treatment of his ideas; in philosophy his development from the positive to the subjective method and his modified determinism, in history and sociology his law of the three states and his political utopia. in ethics his cerebral theory, and in religion his worship of women. A final chapter illustrates George Eliot's close study of Comte. Part Two traces the reception of Comte's ideas in England, from the eariy enthusiasm of Mill and Lewes to the more orthodox discipleship of the Wadham Positivists. George Eliot's position in the whole spectrum of Positive thought is assessed in relation to these writers and to the widespread discussion of Comte in mid-Victorian England. Part Three passes from George Eliot's religious development prior to her reading of Comte to her discussion of Positivism in her notebooks, essays and letters. Her novels are considered under the same thematic divisions as Comte's ideas. Her philosophy sought the same subjective synthesis of Positive knowledge and taught Comte's balance of resignation and activity. Positive elements are detected in her treatment of solidarity in Felix Holt, utopianism in Middlemarch, history in Romola, and continuity in Daniel Deronda. Her ethics revolved around a Comtean development of altruism through the famiiy and the worship of women. The extent to which she accepted or modified Comte's Religion of Humanity is the subject of the final chapter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available