Saint Simon (1760 – 1825) was a nobleman by birth but renounced his title after the French revolution. He participated in the American Revolution and wrote actively on politics and society. For a short period of time, he indulged in business which he left after a feud with his partner. Then he studied physiology and surrounded himself with intellectuals and started developing his profound ideas. He was also the patron of Auguste Comte who worked as his secretary. Later on, both had a conflict which separated them. One can find similar ideas in their philosophy. As I see it, the goal of Saint Simon was set an adequate path for the advancement of industrialist society.
Saint Simon proposed that society is organic and evolves under particular laws on the same patterns as a living organism. To explain these principles, he argued, there was a need of a systemic science to unravel these social rules. According to Saint Simon, science and rationality were of utmost importance in the post-enlightenment societies. However, like many other contemporary philosophers, he wanted to preserve society and social institutions yet he did not want a return to the medieval age. Surprisingly, his idea of historical development of social order are identical with Ibn-e-Khaldun’s. He suggested that there is a particular period in which a social order emerges to reach its peak and then starts declining to disappear. He published a periodical named Industrie.
Saint Simon endorsed industrialization and advancement of technology as a mean to create an international community. For the management of society, he proposed, leadership must be in the hands of reasonable people. According to him, scientists and industrialists must lead the society based on their intellectual superiority. Indeed, he advocated meritocracy. He also said that to create a new society, there must be unity in the realm of thought of intellectual principles in the form of rational consensus.
In fact, he was one of the earliest positivist. He even devised earliest form of Scientology. His religion was devoted to Newton, commanded by God himself and required everyone to work. Yet, later on – some say to flatter the industrialists – he showed reverence of Jesus and Christianity. In addition to that Saint Simon is also seen as one of the first socialist. Though he did not proposed takeover of society by peasants and workers, he idealized that a technocrat government of scientists and will be able to alleviate poverty from the society. Like Immanuel Kant, he believed that rational ideas must be transmitted to the society by artists and scholars.
Claude Henri Saint Simon was first of his kind and his legacy continued in the in the shape is his prodigy, Comte who then founded a systematic science of society – known as Sociology, today. Saint Simon had a great faith in reason to transform the world he lived in. And yes, the world – we live in – has actually evolved into a rational community with supremacy of science over mythology.