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Comte And Mill On Sexual Equality: Context And Problems

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Chapter Summary

Although the topic of sexual equality quickly became a crucial element of the discussion between Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill, many other questions were addressed in their letters, and it is likely that their willingness to correspond with one another was motivated by other reasons than the expected benefit of a discussion on women's condition. This chapter demonstrates the issue of sexual equality was a primary concern of both thinkers and that they both considered a scientific approach to the problem as a necessary ingredient of its resolution. It shows that they radically differed about the nature of this scientific approach and its practical consequences. The chapter introduces the various problems associated with Comte's and Mill's respective ways of solving the issue of sexual equality. For Comte, the debate about divorce was one symptom of the "modern anarchy" characterizing the transitional nature of the post-revolutionary era.

Keywords: Auguste Comte; divorce; John Stuart Mill; sexual equality



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