Louis Claude de Saint-Martin

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Saint-Martin, Louis Claude de


Born Jan. 18, 1743, in Amboise, Department of Indre-et-Loire; died Oct. 13, 1803, in Aulnay, near Paris. French philosopher and mystic. Used the pen name “the Unknown Philosopher” (lephilosophe inconnu).

An officer, Saint-Martin went into retirement in 1771 and began to publicize the teachings of the Portuguese mystic Martinez de Pasqualis, a cabalist and founder of the Martinists, a Masonic sect. Later, Saint-Martin was strongly influenced by J. Boehme and, to a lesser extent, by E. Swedenborg. He preached against the materialism and sensationalism of the French Enlightenment thinkers, but he was also an opponent of Catholic clericalism.

According to Saint-Martin, the key to understanding the universe lies in the mystical “essence” of man, for the human soul is a prototype of the entire invisible world, and the human body is a prototype of all that is visible. He regarded the French Revolution as a providential “judgment of god” (Letter to a Friend, or Political, Philosophical, and Religious Considerations about the French Revolution, 1795). Saint-Martin influenced German romantic thinkers, including F. von Baader and F. W. J. von Schelling, as well as Russian Masonry.


Des Erreurs el de la vérité. Edinburgh (Lyon), 1775.
L’Homme de désir. [Lyon, 1790.]
De L’Esprit des choses …, vols. 1–2. Paris [1800].
Le Ministère de l’homme-esprit. Paris. [1802].
Oeuvres posthumes, vols. 1–2. Tours, 1807.
Mon Portrait historique et philosophique, 1789–1803. Paris [1961].


Leman, B. Sen-Marten, Neizveslnyifilosof. Moscow, 1917.
Matter A. J. Saint-Martin le philosophe inconnu…. Paris, 1862.
Sekrecka, M. Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin…. Wrocław, 1968. (References.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Harvey opens with a chapter that reviews the careers of Martines de Pasqually and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, the two Martins who were founders of the movement.
For example, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, one of the most influential figures of the post-Enlightenment occult revival, was a major influence on the counterrevolutionary thinker Joseph de Maistre; Stanislas de Guaita, the founder of the revived Rosicrucian order of the fin-de-siecle, was a childhood friend of the writer Maurice Barres, a key figure in the integralist new Right of the late nineteenth century; and Gaston Mery, founder of the occult journal L'Echo du Merveilleux, was a former collaborator on La Libre Parole, a journal edited by the radical anti-Semite Edouard Drumont.
(2.) Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, Lettre a un ami, ou considerations politiques, philosophiques, et religieuses sur la Revolution francaise (Paris, 1795), 1.
referred to the followers of Martines de Pasqually" in Bates, "The Mystery of Truth: Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin's Enlightened Mysticism" Journal of the History of Ideas 61 (2000): 635-55.