Matthew WilsonApr 8, 2022
Richard Congreve, Positivist Politics, the Victorian Press, and the British Empire
Palgrave MacMillan 2021
Richard Congreve, Positivist Politics, the Victorian Press, and the British Empire (Palgrave MacMillan, 2021) is about the life and times of Richard Congreve. This polemicist was the first thinker to gain instant infamy for publishing cogent critiques of imperialism in Victorian Britain. As the foremost British acolyte of Auguste Comte, Congreve sought to employ the philosopher’s new science of sociology to dismantle the British Empire. With an aim to realise in its place Comte’s global vision of utopian socialist republican city-states, the former Oxford don and ex-Anglican minister launched his Church of Humanity in 1859. Over the next forty years, Congreve engaged in some of the most pressing foreign and domestic controversies of his day, despite facing fierce personal attacks in the Victorian press. Congreve made overlooked contributions to the history of science, political economy, and secular ethics. In this book Matthew Wilson argues that Congreve’s polemics, ‘in the name of Humanity’, served as the devotional practices of his Positivist church.
Cresa Pugh is a PhD Candidate in sociology and social policy at Harvard University. For more information see scholar.harvard.edu/cresa and follow her on Twitter @CresaPugh.