Article ID: CBB001214154

“Principles of Mechanics That Are Susceptible of Application to Society”: An Unpublished Notebook of Adolphe Quetelet at the Root of His Social Physics (2014)


Aubin, David (Author)

Historia Mathematica
Volume: 41, no. 2
Issue: 2
Pages: 204-223

Founder of the Brussels Observatory, Adolphe Quetelet (1796--1874) is especially well known for his theory of the average man. Like the average position of a star obtained through a large quantity of observed data, the average man was, according to Quetelet, subject to fixed causal laws. Published in 1835, his book On Man: Essay of Social Physics is one of the founding works of sociology and mathematical statistics. The sources of the analogy between astronomy and social physics have been debated by historians. To shed light on this question and the conditions of application of mathematics in the 19th century, we publish for the first time a manuscript that is kept in Quetelet's papers at the Royal Academy of Belgium, and give an English translation of it.

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Authors & Contributors
Del Centina, Andrea
Craik, Alex D. D.
Drolet, Michael
Rafferty, Edward C.
Droesbeke, Jean-Jacques
Armatte, Michel
Historia Mathematica
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
History of European Ideas
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Chinese Journal for the History of Science and Technology
Rowman & Littlefield
Cambridge University Press
VECMAS, impr.
Oxford University Press
Political science
Probability and statistics
Social sciences
Quetelet, Lambert Adolphe Jacques
Germain, Sophie
Abel, Niels Henrik
Tocqueville, Alexis de
Ward, Lester Frank
Bortkiewicz, Ladislaus von
United States
Brussels (Belgium)
Florence (Italy)
Great Britain
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century, late
17th century
Royal Statistical Society
Statistical Society of London

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