Bruxelles: H. Thiry-Van Buggenhoudt, 1866. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS OF A LARGE & IMPORTANT STUDY BY ADOLPHE QUETELET ON THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE IN BELGIUM. Quetelet was one of the founders of sociology and his “impact on nineteenth century thinking can in a certain sense be compared with Descartes's in the seventeenth century" (DSB XI, p.237).
Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) was a mathematician, astronomer, statistician, and sociologist known for his application of statistics and probability theory to social phenomena. He was the founder of the Brussels Observatory and the first to apply the statistical normal distribution to characteristics of human populations. His goal was to understand the statistical laws underlying such phenomena as crime rates, marriage rates or suicide rates. He wanted to explain the values of these variables by other social factors.
In 1835 Quetelet’s work ushered in a new era in statistics began. It presented a new technique of statistics or, rather, the first technique at all. The material was thoughtfully elaborated, arranged according to certain preestablished principles, and made comparable . Quetelet's average man became a slogan in nineteenth-century discussions on social science” (ibid).
NOTE: This copy bears a somewhat unusual inscription on the front wrap, one that we can only partially make out. The translation of it is “Homage from the __________ family in praise of Lagrange.” See photograph. Lagrange, of course, is likely Joseph-Louis Lagrange, the Italian mathematician (later naturalized French), physicist and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics. Item #1645
CONDITION & DETAILS: Bruxelles: H. Thiry-Van Buggenhoudt. 4to. Complete. Unusual in full original paper wraps. 754pp., fully indexed. Text in French. The text block is split and the spine paper is chipped. The interior is bright and clean. Wide margins. Good+ condition.