Claude Henri de Rouvroy Saint-Simon

1760-1825. French social philosopher. Although he came from a noble family in Paris, he was convinced by the French Revolution and industrialization that the end of the Catholic and aristocratic era had come. After an undistinguished military career and life as a titled profligate, he abandoned his titles of nobility in support of the Revolution. He engaged in intensive reflection (from 1797), culminating in a brief period (1814-25) in which he formulated his new societal and cultural ideas. Especially important were the periodicals L'Industrie (from 1816), and its successor L'Organisateur (1819-20). He considered the new industriels as the hope for the future, for they could administer society and arrange production for the good of all, whose life would be devoted to productive work of all kinds, for which they would receive just reward. The plan rested on the conviction that science-first physics, later biology-could point the way to social reconstruction. Positive science and industry, he believed, had replaced medieval Christianity and feudalism, as historical evolution had progressed. In Nouvelle Christianisme (1825) he argued that the ethics of Christianity could be useful to insure the solidarity of the new society, but it had to be stripped of its dependence on elements he considered metaphysical, supernatural, and dogmatic. Auguste Comte, a younger collaborator of Saint-Simon from 1817-24, later developed positivism as an implication of his teacher's scientific treatment of social organization. A group of Saint- Simonians, including Barthélemy Enfantin, developed his incipient biological organicism more romantically into a “utopian” socialism.

See F.E. Manuel, The New World of Henri Saint-Simon (1956).