Skip to main content

Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy

SAINT-SIMON, CLAUDE HENRI DE ROUVROY

Social philosopher and reformer; b. Paris, Oct. 17, 1760; d. Paris, May 13, 1825. He is said to have been educated by D'Alembert. He visited America, fought at Yorktown, suggested a linking of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Nicaragua, was during his later life in France rich and poor in turn, and attempted suicide in 1823 because he had failed to impress the men in power with his schemes of social reconstruction.

Saint-Simon's thought, which was not without fluctuations, was based on belief in a general law of history and the conviction that society, which in the past had been organized for war, would in the future be organized for production and peace. He saw his own day as a period of transition, mankind's "crisis of puberty." The feudal nobility had steadily declined; the industrial class had progressively developed and was ready to assume the responsibility of the state and society. Defining the industrial class as including both employers and workers, Saint-Simon understated the distinction, soon to be emphasized by Marx, between the propertied and the propertyless strata. He saw all engaged in industry (including agriculture) as bound together by a common interest in technical progress and rising standards of living. Thus he was not, properly speaking, a socialist. Rather, he envisioned a society led by a managerial élite.

In its detail, Saint-Simon's system was characterized by many ideas of the age, notably egalitarianism, representative government, liberalism, and utilitarianism. In domestic politics Saint-Simon expected "domination over men" to be replaced by a noncontentious "administration of things"; in international affairs he recommended supranational parliaments to look after common concerns. In philosophy of science, he started as a nearrationalist, seeing the laws of physics as the model of all true scientific insights, but he changed after 1814 to a more romantic position and tended increasingly to set biology up as the master science. Finding "critical" periods, such as the 18th century, lacking an inner principle of spiritual coherence, he advocated a nondogmatic and moralistic Nouveau Christianisme to do for the coming "organic" period of industrialism what Catholicism had done for the Middle Ages.

Owing to the presence of disparate strains in his thought, Saint-Simon fathered at least three dissimilar movements. One, developed by Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin and Saint-Amand Bazard, was quasi-religious, producing a sect and a cult that went beyond Saint-Simon's own position. The second brought out the more scientific implications of Saint-Simon's thought; Auguste comte based his attempt to create a positivist (i.e., unmetaphysical) social science on the inspirations of his master. Finally, Saint-Simon influenced men of action such as Ferdinand de Lesseps, creator of the Suez Canal, and the brothers Jacob Émile and Isaac Péreire, founders of the Crédit Mobilier. The fervor with which they pursued their projects owed much to Saint-Simon's messianic belief that concentration on the task of production, in a humanitarian spirit, would remove most of the evils from which humanity was suffering.

Bibliography: m. leroy, La Vie véritable du Comte Henri de Saint-Simon (17601825) (Paris 1925). h. g. gouhier, La Jeunesse d'Auguste Comte et la formation du positivisme, 3 v. (Paris 193341), esp. v. 2. f. e. manuel, The New World of Henri Saint-Simon (Cambridge, Mass. 1956). m. m. dondo, The French Faust: Henri de Saint-Simon (New York 1955). The Doctrine of Saint-Simon: An Exposition, tr. g. g. iggers (Boston 1958), a course of lectures given in Paris in 182829 by the Enfantin-Bazard circle.

[w. stark]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/saint-simon-claude-henri-de-rouvroy

"Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/saint-simon-claude-henri-de-rouvroy

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.