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“Principles of Mechanics That Are Susceptible of Application to Society”: An Unpublished Notebook of Adolphe Quetelet at the Root of His Social Physics (2014)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.
Kolb, Margaret
Tafreshi, Donna
Santo Tessaroli
Paola Tessaroli
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Historia Mathematica
Journal of Social History
History of Psychology
History of European Ideas
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
VECMAS, impr.
Rowman & Littlefield
Oxford University Press
Cambridge University Press
Political science
Probability and statistics
Quetelet, Lambert Adolphe Jacques
Germain, Sophie
Gauss, Carl Friedrich
Fermat, Pierre de
Ward, Lester Frank
Wallace, William
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
Early modern
21st century
United States
Brussels (Belgium)
Florence (Italy)
North Africa
Statistical Society of London
Royal Statistical Society

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