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Chapter 8

SOAN 2112 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Positivism, Bourgeoisie, Class Conflict

Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2112
Linda Hunter

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Chapter 8: Saint-Simon (1960-1825)
- sometimes been regarded as a founder of socialism
- Marx called him “utopian socialist” – this meant Saint-Simon lived and wrote
before industrial development had reached the critical point at which the
‘contradictions’ of capitalism had become clear that is, before class conflict
between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat had become a normal
- For the most part Saint-Simon was self-educated except for the help of some
private tutors
- He had fought with distinction in the American Revolution and had been
among the first to advance a scheme for a canal to join the Atlantic with the
- Scholars have now firmly established that Saint-Simon developed before
1814 all the major ideas which later theorists called their own
o Positivism, industrialism, internationalism, a ‘new religion’
- Growth of science, emergence of an industrial and commercial bourgeoisie,
the Protestant Revolution and the negative-critical philosophical movement
of the Enlightenment, all served to undermine the Catholic Church and hence
the unity of medieval society
- The study of human conduct, which Saint-Simon called “social physiology”,
must become a positive science in much the same way as the study of
physical phenomena had become scientific
- Science in the new order must fulfill the function of religion in the old order.
How? By means of positivism, or the application of scientific principles to all
natural and human phenomena
- Religion would now be replaced by science
- The class structure in short consists of the intellectuals, the ‘haves’ and the
‘have nots’
- The revolution occurred because the haves could no longer contain the
movement, could no longer control the have-nots.
o The reason for that was the loss of cultural and intellectual superiority
on the part of the old elite consisting of monarch, priests, and nobles
(essentially just saying science took over religion)
- In his projection of the ‘new society’, Saint-Simon leaves the class structure,
and hence, the institution of private property intact; the only change he
advocates is the compensation of tenants for improving the land they
worked. Equality is a foreign idea having no place in European civilization
(what Saint-Simon believed)
- Saint-Simon views of economics are clearly laissez fair differs from
Classical economists in several important respects
- In his work, Organisateur, he outlines a plan for an industrial parliament or
planning body composed of three chambers: invention, examination and
- Saint-Simon could not conceive of a society governed by anyone but an
educated elite
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