Claude Henri de Rouvroy Saint-Simon, comte de

Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de (klōd äNrē də rōvrwäˈ kôNt də săN-sēmôNˈ) [key], 1760–1825, French social philosopher; grand nephew of Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon. While still a young man, he served in the American Revolution as a volunteer on the side of the colonists. He took no part in the French Revolution, but used the opportunity to make a fortune through land speculation. He lavished his wealth on a salon for scientists and spent his later years in poverty, sustained by the faith that he had a message for humanity. Foreseeing the triumph of the industrial order, Saint-Simon called for the reorganization of society by scientists and industrialists on the basis of a scientific division of labor that would result in automatic and spontaneous social harmony. In Le Nouveau Christianisme [the new Christianity] (1825), he proclaimed that the concept of brotherhood must accompany scientific organization. His writings contain ideas foreshadowing the positivism of Auguste Comte (for a time his pupil), socialism, federation of the nations of Europe, and many other modern trends. Around him gathered a small group of brilliant young men. After his death, they modified and elucidated his principles into a system of thought known as Saint-Simonianism. Partly because of their eccentricities, the Saint-Simonians achieved brief fame. Led by Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin and Saint-Amand Bazard, they organized a series of lectures (published in 1828–30 as L'Exposition de la doctrine de Saint-Simon ), calling for abolition of individual inheritance rights, public control of means of production, and gradual emancipation of women. Although the movement developed into a moral-religious cult and had split and was disintegrated by 1833, it exerted much influence, especially on later socialist thought.

See Saint-Simon's Social Organization, The Science of Man and Other Writings, ed. and tr. by F. Markham (1964); Historical Memoirs, ed. and tr. by L. Norton (3 vol., 1969–72); studies by M. M. Dondo (1955), E. Durkheim (tr. 1958), and F. E. Manuel (1956, repr. 1963).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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