Henri de saint-simon was an intellectual eccentric. He was a member of an aristocratic family who abandoned his title of Comte with a dramatic gesture in the French Revolution and spent most of his life in penury; a rationalist and a moralist; a man of letters who never succeeded in writing or completing any coherent exposition of his ideas; and, after his death, the eponymous father of a sect devoted to the propagation of his teaching, which enjoyed a European reputation. Saint-Simon lacked most of the traditional attributes of the great man. It is never easy to distinguish between what he himself thought and the much more coherent body of doctrine, some of it astonishingly penetrating, some not less astonishingly silly, which the sect built up round his name. It is certain that posterity has read back into some of his aphorisms a greater clarity and a greater significance than he himself gave to them. But the study of Saint-Simon often seems to suggest that the great French Revolution, not content with the ideas which inspired its leaders and which it spread over the contemporary world, also projected into the future 2a fresh ferment of ideas which, working beneath the surface, were to be the main agents of the social and political revolutions of one hundred years to come.