Holbach’s geometrician

In hmolscience, Holbach’s geometrician refers to []

Overview
In 1770, Baron d'Holbach, in his §4: “Of the Laws of Motion common to all the Beings of Nature—of Attraction and Repulsion—of Inert Force—of Necessity”, stated the following very-ripe anti-chance (or non-chance) view of a dust storm and a political revolution: [1]

“Two examples will serve to throw the principle here laid down, into light—one shall be taken from physics, the other from morals. In a whirlwind of dust, raised by elemental force, confused as it appears to our eyes, in the most frightful tempest excited by contrary winds, when the waves roll high as mountains, there is NOT a single particle of dust, or drop of water, that has been placed by ‘chance, that has not a cause for occupying the place where it is found; that does not, in the most rigorous sense of the word, act after the manner in which it ought to act; that is, according to its own peculiar essence, and that of the beings from whom it receives this communicated force. A geometrician exactly knew the different energies acting in each case, with the properties of the particles moved, could demonstrate that after the causes given, each particle acted precisely as it ought to act, and that it could not have acted otherwise than it did.

In those terrible convulsions that sometimes agitate political societies, shake their foundations, and frequently produce the overthrow of an empire; there is not a single action, a single word, a single thought, a single will, a single passion in the agents, whether they act as destroyers, or as victims, that is not the necessary result of the causes operating; that does not act, as, of necessity, it must act, from the peculiar essence of the beings who give the impulse, and that of the agents who receive it, according to the situation these agents fill in the moral whirlwind. This could be evidently proved by an understanding capacitated to rate all the action and re-action, of the minds and bodies of those who contributed to the revolution.”

Here we see Holbach, in his jettisoning of Greek chance-based version of atomic theory, stating what would later become the basis of Laplace's demon, as formulated by Pierre Laplace, after studying the works of Holbach.

References
1. d’Holbach, Baron. (1770). The System of Nature: Laws of the Moral and Physical World (notes by Denis Diderot; translator: H.D. Robinson) (pg. 32). J.P. Mendum, 1889.

TDics icon ns

More pages