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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Adolphe Quetelet and social physics


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Joseph-Arnold Demannez


Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) was a Belgian sociologist and sociologist best known for proposing that society operate according to social laws. Sociologist Frank Hamilton Hankins said,


"The most important of Quetelet's statistical principles... include the conception of the Average Man as a type, the significance for social science of the regularities found in the moral actions of man, and the theoretical basis of the distribution of group phenomena about their type." (Adolphe Quetelet as Statistician, 1908)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Quetelet.




"It has seemed to me that the theory (calcul) of probability ought to serve as the basis for the study of all the sciences, and particularly of the sciences of observation." (Instructions populaires sur le calcul des probability, 1825)


"It may be seen, in my work, that the course which I have adopted is that followed by the natural philosopher, in order to grasp the laws that regulate the material world. By the seizure of facts, I seek to rise to an appreciation of the causes whence the spring." (A Treatise on Man and the Development of his Faculties, 1842)


Social physics


"The collection of the laws, which exist independently of time and of the caprices of man, form a separate science which I have considered myself entitled to name social physics." (Quoted in Adolphe Quetelet Statistician by Frank Hamilton Hankins)


"I believe that I have achieved to some extent what I have achieved to some extent what I have long said about the possibility of founding a social mechanics on the model established by celestial mechanics... to find there again the same properties and laws of conservation." (Astronomie elementaire? 1834)


"We are struck with the inflexible constancy of the laws which regulate the march of worlds and which preside over the succession of human generations. (Letter to H. R. H. the Grand Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha)


"Moral phenomena, when observed o a great scale, are found to resemble physical phenomena." (A Treatise on Man and the development of His Faculties, 1842)


Human nature


"The time is come for studying the moral anatomy of also, and for uncovering its most afflicting aspects with the view of providing remedies." (A Treatise on Man and the development of His Faculties, 1842)


"...we are under the domination of our habitudes, our wants, our social relations and a host of causes which, all of them, draw us in a hundred different ways." (A Treatise on Man and the development of His Faculties, 1842)