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Charles Irénée Castel Saint-Pierre, Abbé de

Saint-Pierre, Charles Irénée Castel, Abbé de (shärl ērānāˈ kästĕlˈ äbāˈ də săN-pyĕrˈ) [key], 1658–1743, French social philosopher. An advocate of natural religion and toleration, he favored the economic theories of the physiocrats. His ideas combined utilitarian and philanthropic motives; he felt that the state should institute an equitable tax system, including a graduated income tax, and that the services of the state should include free public education, for women as well as men, and improved transportation to further commerce. In Projet de paix perpetuelle (1713) he described his plan for an international court and league of states. His Discours sur la polysynodie (1718), which advocated a constitutional monarchy, to be aided by a system of councils and an academy of experts, caused him to be expelled from the French Academy, of which he had been a member from 1694. He was a founder of the Club de l'Entresol (c.1720–1734), which furthered interest in direct action to improve social conditions. Saint-Pierre's numerous writings were all animated by faith in human nature, progress, and bienfaisance [benevolence], a word he coined.

See study by M. L. Perkins (1959).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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