Saint-Martin, Louis Claude de

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.