Léon Winiarski

Leon Winiarski newIn existographies, Léon Winiarski (1865-1915) (IQ:190|#41) (SN:4|55+) (CR:176) was a Polish mathematical physics based sociopolitical economist notable for teaching a course on "social mechanics" for six years (1894-1900) at the University of Geneva (see: human thermodynamics education), in which he utilized a a Lagrangian-Clausius based explanation of social and economic movement, using differential equations, in which he discusses advanced concepts such as sexual energy, aesthetic energy, among numerous others, in terms of energy and entropy. The bulk of his theory is captured in his 1898 book Essay on Social Mechanics and his teaching course is described in his 1900 report "The teaching of pure economics and politics of social mechanisms in Switzerland." In 1929, American sociologist Howard W. Odum describing Winiarski as the leader of the mechanistic school of sociology and described his theory as follows: [18]

Winiarski’s mechanistic interpretation posits society as a system of points, individuals in perpetual movement, with attraction as the primary cause of movement. This attraction is like chemical affinity which mechanical bases but with psychic force not present in the physical world, which, however, in turn is nothing more than a form of physico-chemical energy which in turn, in the form of life, may be transferred from potential to kinetic energy, and this transformation is primarily through the processes of alimentation and reproduction. Human masses transmute energies of hunger and sex into various social, economic, aesthetic or intellectual forms, the transformation proceeding entirely according to the laws of thermodynamics. Society and human beings will ultimately reach an equilibrium in some way as the physical world has reached its equilibrium and social science must devise objective units of studying this energistic system of humans in relation to their world.”

Odum's summary, in turn, was based on the earlier interpretation of Winiarski as given by Russian-born American sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, from his 1928 Contemporary Sociological Theories, who in turn devotes over fifteen pages to Winiarski's theories. [19]

Winiarski, in building his social mechanics theory, cites some big names: Joseph Lagrange, Emile Clapeyron, Robert Mayer, Rudolf Clausius, Cato Guldberg and Peter Waage (law of mass action), Hermann Helmholtz, Max Planck, Henri Poincare, Joseph Thomson, to name a few. [26]

Pareto | Walras
Vilfredo Pareto and Leon Walras had the following to say about Winiarski: [27]

“Winiarski is a socialist and in addition ignorant.”
— Vilfredo Pareto ()

“Winiarski est socialiste et de surcroit ignorant.”

“Winiarski is perfectly aware of this very new and very difficult science. It is mathematician, which is essential to penetrate as well and to teach correctly.”
— Leon Walras ()

“Winiarski est parfaitement au courant de cette science tres neuve et tres difficile. Il est mathematician, ce qui est indispensable pour as bien penetrer et pour l’enseigner correctement.”

(add discussion)

In 1886, at the age of twenty-one, Winiarski was a student at Warsaw University, where probably with the help of his brother Wolf Winiarski, tried to keep up the tradition of spreading Marxist ideas among the first Polish scientists. He authored two pamphlets of this kind: “About Crises and their Sources” and “On Supplementary Values”, being a popularization of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. [12]

Following his studies at Warsaw University, Winiarski then studied at Paris and London, before coming to Switzerland, where at the University of Geneva he began teaching a course on social mechanics, for at least six years (1894-1900), in which he utilized a a Lagrangian-Clausius based explanation of social and economic movement.
Essay on Social Mechanics (1967)
In 1967, Swiss sociologist Giovanni Busino published a 315-pg edition of Winiarski's collected works on social mechanics entitled Essay on Social Mechanics.

During this period, Winiarski published at least three books on theoretical sociology and economics. [23]

In 1903, Winiarski became professor of finance and statistics at the University of Lausanne (see also: Lausanne school). [22]

Of greatest influence, Winiarski a pupil of French-Italian engineer Vilfredo Pareto, one of the first to conceive of people as "human molecules", who himself had been a student of French economist Léon Walras, the first to conceive of people as "economic molecules". Walras and Winiarski exchanged letters in the discussion of ideas; at least in 1899. [7] Winiarski was a professor of finance and statistics at the University of Lausanne; was an ardent advocate of social mechanics, and it is said that he considered himself to be following in the footsteps of Walras. [17]

Winiarski took a view of “economics as social physics” on the model that the exchanges in human society studied by economists were seen as analogous to the exchanges that physics studies in nature. [21]

On sex, Winiarski states: [20]

“The psychology of sexual elements on one hand, seems to us quite right. It is between the sperm and egg that biological attraction, more or less, which is the same mechanics as the chemical attraction between the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen.”

In other words, what Winiarski seems to be saying is that the psychology of sexual attraction, which results ultimately in the biological attraction that draws the sperm and egg together, are both of the same mechanics of the operation of chemical affinity, or Gibbs free energy change (modern view), as that which draws the hydrogen and oxygen atoms together.

In 1894, Winiarski began teaching a class called “social mechanics”, at the University of Geneva, where he applied the dynamics of Italian mathematician Joseph Lagrange and the thermodynamics of German physicist Rudolf Clausius, through equation formulation, in sociology and economics. [1] Some aspects of these lectures began to be published in works such as Winiarski's 1898 "Essay on Social Mechanics", and post-humorous 313-page collected works, by the same name. To summarize, Winiarski held the view that: [10]

“A social aggregate is nothing but a system of points, i.e. individuals, who are in perpetual movement of approaching or withdrawing from one another.”

Winiarski treated human societies in terms of energy, discussed social systems in terms of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and used differential equations to describe certain social processes. [2] He has been classified as one of the representatives of “energetic theory” in sociology. [4] Most of his works were published in French (having limited translations), which may explain why he is not as well known in modern times.

In America, the work of Winiarski was very influential to American sociologist Lester Ward, who credits Winiarski as forming the basis of the third part of his 'system of sociology' (developed up until 1913), that of the “difference of potential” or transformative principle of sociology, as is said to be exemplified by the following quote:

“The forces of work, system kinetic energy will be equal to the differences of the potential energies. To ensure the transformation of the active forces of the biological energies, unrealised potential processing takes place, it must be between comprizing breeds in a social aggregate, where there is a difference in potential. All the differences in these potential energies go into energy kinetic—but the total energy remains unchanging during processing; there is only a change in form.” Leon winiarski quote (Ward 1918)

Through the application of the branches of mathematical physics to sociology, such as found in the above quote, according to Ward, Winiarski was the world's first mathematical sociologist. [3]

Name translations
Winiarski was born in Poland, but taught and worked at the primarily French-speaking University of Geneva, Switzerland, which is next to Italy and France, hence his publications seem to be only in French, Italian, and Polish, in descending order. [13] An English variant of his last name is "Winiarsky" (as used by Ward). A Spanish and Italian variant of his first name is "Leone". [8] In his 1900 biographical book on American sociologist William Morris, he goes by the name "Leona Winiarskiego". [11]

Social mechanics
To cite an overview of Winiarski’s teachings, at the 1900 Sociology at the Paris Exposition, after referring to the earlier works of Lagrange, and his general equations of motion, and to Walras, and his general theory of economic equilibrium, Winiarski gives the following synopsis of his teaching, over the previous six-years, of the application of mechanics and thermodynamics in the social science: [4]

“Having furnished the equations of social equilibrium, we have laid the foundations for social mechanics—on its static side—on the principle of Lagrange, that of least effort or greatest energy, i.e. on the principle that serves as the basis of cosmic mechanics. Passing to the dynamic side of the problem, we have given a definition of socio-biologic energy in the two following forms: Potential (hunger and love) and kinetic (economic, political, juridical, moral, esthetic, religious, and scientific). This led us to the application of the principles of thermodynamics, the third of which, that of Clausius, explains at the same time the gradual spiritualization of every closed social aggregate and the lowering of its potential. It is the dissipation of the entropy which takes place in the social world as in the physical world.”

Winiarski noted further that their researchers in social mechanics were published in the Revue Philosophique (March, 1898) under the title: “Essai sur la mechique sociale” ("Essay on Social Mechanics"), which consisted of three parts: [5]

(a) Equilibrium and social economics (L’equilibre economieque et social)
(b) The transformations of social energy (Les transformations of de l’energie sociale)
(c) Social dynamics (La dynamique sociale)

The second part referring to “transformations” would seem to indicate that Winiarski was utilizing Clausius’ logic of equivalence values of uncompensated transformations (transformation-equivalents), an early variation type of description of entropy.

The above quotation, to note, indicates that Winiarski had a well-advanced mind on the subject of human thermodynamics, more so than most modern researches on the same topic at present.

Aesthetic / biological / social energy
See main: Aesthetic energy
Winiarski seems to have had views on the relationships between aesthetics, energy, and equilibrium points in life, as published in his 36-page 1899 article "Aesthetic Equilibrium". [14] Winiarski argued that beauty, in respect to those nervous system movements that result in attraction movements, is a function of “aesthetic energy”, i.e. the energy correspondent to movements towards objects of beauty, and to “biological energy”. To cite an example, Winiarski affirmed that: [9]

“The prices of commodities represent nothing but the various conversion coefficients of biological energy: gold is therefore the general social equivalent, the pure personification and incarnation of socio-biological energy.”

In a sense, movements, such as the making of arms, dwellings, ornaments, sculpture, painting, music, or architecture, etc., as they connect to the possessions of strength, objects of wealth, or the development of skills in the arts or sciences, actuate such that the individual or race who wishes to attain a higher position in the class structure does so according to the intensity or duration of the pleasure given from the process. In an 1899 review of Winiarski’s work, an F. M. Winger states, according to Winiarski’s theory: [6]

“Periods of maximum pleasure are followed and preceded by a period of equilibrium, and just so much pleasure results as there has been energy expended.”

In a modern sense, it would seem that this period of maximum pleasure would correspond to the heightened energy state (activation energy) in the range of the transition state of reactants going to products, between two lower saddle points of minimal free energy (thermodynamic equilibrium).

In 1911, in commentary on Winiarski’s view that “selfishness and altruism are both manifestations of elementary biological energy as attraction and repulsion are of cosmic energy; biological energy is directed into each individual and each group of individuals by the tendency to maximize pleasure and happiness”, American sociologist Luther Lee Bernard comments that: [15]

Winiarski has gone to the metaphysically ridiculous in attempting to establish an identity between biologic energy and feeling consciousness, thus reducing ‘egoism’ and ‘altruism’ to actual social forces, akin to the physical forces, which will enable us to formulate an exact science of sociology.”

In 1954, Leslie White, in his “The Energy Theory of Cultural Development”, gave the following semi-down playing statement: [24]

Leon Winiarski, a European sociologist, treated human societies in terms of energy. He discusses social systems in terms of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and uses differential equations to describe certain social processes. But for all this, he seems merely to present social systems as analogous to physical systems, to describe them in the language of physics, rather than to apply physical concepts to gain new insights and understandings of socio-cultural systems.”

In 1991, Juan Martinez-Alier cites White's popular quote (above), and describes Winiarski as having absurd views, as follows: [25]

“Discussions about energy and the economy have included two mistaken views. One mistaken view is the ‘energy theory of value’ (Punti, 1988). Another mistaken view is based on the isomorphism between the equations of mechanics and the equations of economic equilibrium of neoclassical economics after 1870. It was believed that in economic exchange there is an exchange of psychic energy. Winiarski, at the turn of the century, was a spokesman for this absurd view.”


Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Winiarski:

Georgescu-Rogen, in his Entropy Law and the Economic Process (pg. 283), points out that ‘there have been sporadic suggestions that all economic value can be reduced to a common denominator of low entropy’ and mentions Helm (1887) and Winiarski (1900).”
Richard Adams (1988), The Eight Day (pg. 94)

Quotes | By
The following are noted quotes by Winiarski:

“The energy of social transformation is submitted to the same laws as the energy of the universe. These are the laws of thermodynamics. We can thus represent a primitive horde, as a material system in movement, the driving forces that cause the movement being hunger and love or attraction. Similar to how a cannonball meeting an obstacle transforms the energy contained in its mass movement into internal heat, energy of light, electricity, etc., so to do the members of the movement of the crude social mass transform when meeting barriers from the natural surroundings and other tribes, represented by economic, political, legal, moral, aesthetic, religious, and intellectual needs. There is transformation of the energy of the mass social movement in internal energies, psychologies, but there is no gain or loss of energy. Moreover this transformation is continuous across social system. Just as any movement of any mass of the universe is accompanied by production of heat, so to are the masses of biology and society transformed into mental phenomena of different kinds. Here we can apply the first principle of thermodynamics: that of the equivalence (the principle of Mayer).”
— Leon Winiarski (1898), “Essay on Social Mechanics: Social Energy and its Measurements.” [28]

1. (a) Winiarski, Leon (1865-1915) - L'enseignement de l'economie politique pure et de la mecanique sociale en Suisse (The teaching of pure economics and politics of social mechanisms in Switzerland) (1900). Paris: F. Alcan.
(b) Pareto, Vilfredo. (1896-97). Cours d’Économie politique… Tome premier [– second]. Lausanne, F. Rouge.
2. Ghurye, Govind S. and Kapadia, Kanaiyala M. (1954). Professor Ghurye Felicitation Volume (pg. 6). Popular Book Depot.
2. Ward, Lester F. (1907). Pure Sociology (keyword: “Léon Winiarski”, pgs. 145, 166, 388-89, 606). MacMillan.
3. Winiarsky, Léon. (1900). “The Teaching of Pure Political Economy and Social Mechanics in Switzerland”, Report of, (pgs. 1496-1500) in Ward, Lester F. (1901). Sociology at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Government Printing Office.
4. Anon. (1968). “Title” (pg. 162), East European Quarterly. Vol 2. University of Colorado (Boulder).
5. Sanger, C.P. (1898). “Work Reviewed: Winiarski, Dr. Léon, Essai sur la Mécanique Social (Essay on Social Mechanics)”. The Economic Journal (pgs. 387-88). MacMillan.
6. Winger, F. M. (1899). “Summary of Article: L’équilibre Esthétique (Aesthetic Equilibrium). Dr. Léon Winiarski.” Rev. Ph. 6, XXIV, (pgs. 569-605) in The Philosophical Review (pg. 649). Cornell University.
7. Walker, Donald A. (1983). William Jaffe’s Essays on Walras (pg. 201). Cambridge University Press.
8. Fernández-Galiano, Luis. (2000). Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy (pg. 192). MIT Press (written: 1982).
9. (a) Winiarski, Leon. (1900). “Essay on Social Mechanics: The Social and Energy Measurements” (Essai sur la Mecanique Sociale: L’energie Sociale et ses Mensurations), Part II, Revue Philosophique, XLIX, 265, 287.
(b) Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. (1971). The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (pg. 283). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
10. Mayer, Joseph. (1941). Social Science Principles in the Light of Scientific Method: with Particular Application to Modern Economic Thought (pg. 233). Duke University Press.
11. Winiarskiego, Leona. (1900). William Morris, 1844-1896. Warszawa.
12. Blit, Lucjan. (1971). The Origins of Polish Socialism: the History of Ideas of the First Polish Socialist Party, 1878-1886 (pgs. 128-29). Cambridge University Press.
13. Winiarski, Léone (1865-1915) – WorldCat Identities.
14. Winiarski, Leon. (1899). “L’équilibre Esthétique” (Aesthetic Equilibrium), Rev. Philos., xivii, pgs. 569-605.
15. Bernard, Luther Lee. (1911). The Transition to an Objective Standard of Social Control (Winiarski, pgs. 59-60). University of Chicago Press.
16. Ward, Lester F. (1918). Glimpses of the Cosmos (pg. vii), Volume 6. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
17. Anon. (1989). “Article” (pg. 186), Studies in History of Philosophy of Science, Volume 20.
18. Odum, Howard W. and Josher, Katherine C. (1929). An Introduction to Social Research (pg. 109). H.Holt and Co.
19. Sorokin, Pitirim. (1928). Contemporary Sociological Theories (Winiarsky, 15+ pgs). Harper & Brothers.
20. (a) Winiarski, Leon. (1967). Essais Sur la Mecanique Sociale: Textes reunis et presents par Giovanni Busino (Essay on Social Mechanics: Collected Works presented by Giovanni Busino) (atomes, 8+ pgs., esp. 195). Librairie Droz.
(b) French: La psychologie des elements sexuels laissee a part, ceci nous parait tout a fait juste. Il n’y a entre le spermatozoid et l’ovule qu’une attraction biologique, plus ou moins grande, qui est mecanique au meme titre que l’attraction chimique entre les atoms de l’hydrogene et de l’oxygene.
21. Dietz, Frank and van der Ploeg, Frederick. (1991). Environmental Policy and the Economy (pg. 120). North-Holland.
22. Walras, Leon. (1965). Correspondence of Leon Walras and Related Papers: 1884-1897 (pg. 720). North-Holland Publishing Co.
23. (a) Winiarski, Leon. (1894). La Methode Mathematique dans la Sociologie et dans l’Economie Politique. Publisher.
(b) Winiarski, Leon. (1895). Le Materialisme Economique et la Psychologie Sociale. Publisher.
(c) Winiarski, Leon. (c.1896). Essai d’une Nouvelle Interpretation de Phenomenes Sociologiques. Publisher.
24. White, Leslie. (1954). “The Energy Theory of Cultural Development”, in: Readings in Anthropology, Volume 2 (editor: Morton H. Fried) (pgs. 139-46; quote, pg. 144). New York: Crowell, 1959; in: The Energy Theory of Cultural Development (pg. 219). University of New Mexico Press, 1987.
25. (a) Martinez-Alier, Juan. (1991). “Ecological Perception, Environmental Policy and Distribution Conflicts: Some Lessons Form History” (§§: “Energy and the Economy: A Historical View”), in: Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability (editors: Robert Costanza and Lisa Wainger) (pgs. 119-120). Columbia University Press.
(b) Punti, Albert. (1988). “Energy Accounting: Some New Proposals”, Human Ecology, 16(1):79-86.
26. Winiarski, Leon. (1898). Essay on Social Mechanics (Essai sur la Mécanique Sociale) (editor: Giovanni Busino) (thermodynamique, 12+ pgs; Clausius, 6+ pgs; Clapeyron, pg. 221). Librairie Droz, 1967.
27. Renault, Michel. (2000). "Léon Winiarski et la mécanique sociale: un révélateur pour les sciences sociales à l'orée du XXe siècle." Les traditions économiques françaises 1848 (2000): 31-45.
28. Winiarski, Leon. (1898). “Essay on Social Mechanics - IV: Social Energy and its Measurements” (“Essai Sur La Mecanique Sociale - IV: L’Energie Sociale et Ses Mensurations”), Comp. Essai sur la mecanque sociale, Revute Philos., Avril 1898 et juin 1899. Differentes parties de cet Essai ont paru en allemande (Soc. Monatshefte, 1898-99), en italien (Rivista italiana de Sociologia, 1899), in russe (Rev. scientifique de St-Petersbourg, 1897), et en polonaise (Athenoeum de Varsovie, 1897-99); in: Essais Sur la Mecanique Sociale (editor: Giovanni Busino) (§10:244-90; quote, pg. 250-51; thermodynamique, 13+ pgs). Librairaie Droz, 1967.

Further reading
● Winiarski, Leon. (1894). "La Methode Mathematique dans la Sociologie et dans la Economic Politique" (“The Mathematical Methods in Sociology and Political Economics”), La Revue Socialiste, XX: 716-730.
● Winiarski, L. (1896). “Deux Theories d’Equilibre Economique” ("Two Theories of Economic Equilibrium"), Revue Internationale de Sociologie, December.
● Giard, V. and Briere E. (1896). Two Theories of Economic Equilibrium, Leon Winiarski (Deux théories d'équilibre économique, par Léon Winiarski). (27-pgs). French.
● Winiarski, L. (1897). “Etude critique sur le troisieme volume du Capital de Karl Marx” ("Critical Study of the Third Volume of Capital by Karl Marx"), Revue d’Economie Politique.
● Winiarski, Leon. (1900). “L’Energie Sociale et Ses Mensurations” (“Social Energy and its Measurements”). Revue Philosophique Tome XLIX: 113-34; 256-84.
● Winiarski, Leon. (1967). Essais sur la Mecanique Sociale (Essays on Social Mechanics). Geneva: Droz.
● Mirowski, Philip. (1989). More Heat than Light – Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics (Keywords: “Leon Winiarski”, pgs 267, 269-70, 382). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
● Steedman, Ian. (1995). Socialism and Marginalism in Economics (keyword: “Léon Winiarski”, pgs. 198-202, 263). Routledge.

External links
Leon Winiarski – Wikipedia.
Leon Winiarski – Encyclopedia WIEM (Polish → English translate)

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