Lawrence Henderson

Lawrence HendersonIn existographies, Lawrence Henderson (1878-1942) (IQ:180|#102) (SN:8) (EvT:19|21+) (CR:250) was an American physical chemist, biochemist, and physiologist noted for his 1910s to late 1930s efforts to outline and teach how matter and energy evolve physicochemical systems in general, not just living [reactive] organisms, nor man specifically, the culmination of which was his "Sociology 23" a physicochemical sociology and physical science based sociology course taught at Harvard.

Overview
The following seems to be an apt truncation of Henderson's overall philosophy:

Matter and energy have an original property, assuredly not by chance, which organizes the universe in space and time.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1913), The Fitness of the Environment [19]

A sophisticated version of his philosophy is said to be found in his The Order of Nature (1917). Henderson, however, is best known for having been the head of the so-called Harvard Pareto circle (1932-1939), noted in for his 1935 book Pareto’s General Sociology: a Physiologists Interpretation, in which he explains French-Italian engineer Vilfredo Pareto’s 1916 four-volume Treatise on General Sociology, and Pareto’s view of society as a system of “human molecules”, via of the logic of Gibbsian thermodynamics, using what Henderson calls Gibbsian "analogies", where a social system is said to contains individuals roughly analogous to "Gibbs’ components". [1] Henderson was also influenced by the equilibrium physiology work of Claude Bernard. [16]

Goethe
In 1917, Henderson, in his The Order of Nature, a book which he seems to devote to what he calls the "riddle of voluntary action", stated has the following views of Goethe: [24]

Goethe, who stands far above any of Kant's successors in wisdom and an almost instinctive recognition of the truth. In judgment he surpassed his scientific contemporaries like Humboldt almost as much as in philosophical intuition he surpassed Schelling.”

While admirable, Henderson, amid his history of the development of teleology theory, Aristotle, to Bacon, to Kant, to Leibniz, etc., up into the late 19th century mechanistic philosophy rise, prior to jumping into Gibbs, states the following incorrect discernment:

“On the whole neither Goethe nor Lotze, nor indeed Mill, Spencer, or Comte, seriously modified the development of scientific thought, which now becomes our principal concern.”

In other words, Henderson, amid his gropings to dismiss teleology as defunct, is seemingly unaware that Goethe's human chemical affinity work, via Hermann Helmholtz's 1882 thermodynamic theory of affinity proof, is the forerunner to what the Gibbs-based socioeconomic theories he will come to develop in the two decades to follow, via his Harvard Pareto circle.

Henderson physicochemical sociology
Left: Henderson's 1935 isolated five component liquid and gas phase physico-chemical system example model, wherein he shows how equilibrium of the system, according to Le Chatelier's principle (and Gibbs methods), shifts when carbon dioxide CO2 is added, and goes on to assert that these reactive shifting equilibrium models apply universally to the social sciences, namely to connective semi-permeable boundaried (migrative) social systems. [2] Right: a Romany nomadic family immigrating into England, photo from Our waifs and Strays (1902) (Ѻ), who, according to Henderson, are akin to the CO2 molecules, pushed into England from the over pressurized Romania when the concentration increases. Note: similar chemical-to-social equilibrium adjusting examples are found in the works of: Julius Davidson (1916), Frederick Rossini (1971), Christopher Hirata (2000), and Thomas Wallace (2009).
Equilibrium | Le Chatelier | Gibbs | Pareto
Henderson, in his appendix notes 3 and 4, gives a rather ripe Le Chatelier’s principle type example of a isolated five component liquid and gas phase physico-chemical system, in which he steps though calculations to show how the addition of some 100 units of the gas phase shifts the original unperturbed chemical equilibrium of the entire system into a new second chemical equilibrium, after which he concludes rather boldly:

“This simple example illustrates logical principles that find almost universal application in the physical, biological, and social sciences.”

The one person, prior to statement, that Henderson cites, to have made similar assertions, albeit without the reaction example, is American physical chemist Wilder Bancroft (1910). [23]

Henderson also states, in his example, that he is using the Le Chatelier model, over that of Gibbs, in that the former is simpler and easier to illustrate; though, as he goes on to discuss, Gibbs is the more accurate, albeit more complex description. The isolated physico-chemical system he employs in his example is a gas phase of carbon dioxide CO2 in contact with a four component liquid phase system, namely an aqueous solution of carbonic acid H2CO3, sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3, monosodium phosphate NaH2PO4, and disodium phosphate Ha2HPO4, as depicted adjacent. Henderson assumes the concentration of water and system temperature to be constant, as a first approximation. The equilibrium chemical reaction for the liquid phase is:

 H_2CO_3 + Na_2HPO_4  \rightleftharpoons NaHCO_3 + NaH_2PO_4

The chemical equilibrium for this reaction, per ratio of concentration ratio of products over reactant is, according to Henderson, is:

 \frac{[NaHCO_3][NaH_2PO_4]}{[H_2CO_3][Na_2HPO_4]} = 3

The equilibrium of the gas phase carbon dioxide shifting into free carbonic acid in the liquid phase is:

 [CO_2]_g = [H_2CO_3]_{aq}

Henderson then defines the condition of equilibrium as reaction condition or state in which the velocity of a process in one direction, namely forward reaction, is equal to the velocity in the opposite direction, namely reverse reaction, so that there is no net change and therefore no observable change in the composition of the system.

He then goes through an algebraic type of concentration calculation wherein he adds a 100 units of carbon dioxide CO2 gas to the the system, shows how so much carbon dioxide converts into liquid carbonic acid H2CO3, after which all the individual species concentrations adjust, at the end of which the second state equilibrium concentration ratio becomes 3.011, i.e. the original state equilibrium reaction velocities. On systems, Henderson explains:

“Isolation may be regarded as the case where exchanges between the system and the environment have the value zero. If these exchanges have some other known value, the requirements for logical analysis are likewise fulfilled, and the analysis ay not present any serious inconvenience. Thus a metal bar one end of which is being heated at a constant rate, or a country with constant immigration rate, may for certain purposes be treated as a system, without regard to the properties of the source of heat, or of the countries from which the immigrants come.”

Moreover, in rather telling postulation, which juxtaposes the earlier century Le Chatelier principle based sociology of Vilfredo Pareto with the later century free energy minimization bases sociologies of the late 20th century burgeoning human free energy theorists (e.g. Christopher Hirata, 2000), we fine the following very excellent statement:

“Another characteristic of many ideal systems that is, in general, indispensable in order that conditions shall be determinate is the establishment and use of some definition of equilibrium or some criterion of equilibrium, whether in the case of statical equilibrium or in the case of dynamical equilibrium. This criterion is often of such a character that some function like entropy or energy assumes a maximum or a minimum value or, as in the case of the derivatives or variations of such functions, vanishes. In the case of Pareto’s social system the definition of equilibrium takes a form that closely resembles the theorem of Le Chatelier in physical chemistry, which expresses a property of physico-chemical equilibrium, and which may be deduced from the work of Gibbs.”

Here we are reminded of Irish physicist Philip Moriarty’s infamous 2009 bend over backwards incorrect comment, spurted amid the prolonged Moriarty-Thims debate:

“Where did Gibbs state that ‘a society is one such material system’? He didn't - that is your particular (incorrect) reading of the application of thermodynamics.”

Here, without going into detail, we see a rather telling look inside the likely to become growing battleground of physical science base humanities (physical humanities), namely a comparison between the way a physicist (Moriarty) sees things as compared to a physical chemist (Henderson) and chemical engineer (Thims) sees thing.

Education
Henderson completed his BS in physical chemistry at Harvard in circa 1899. It was during this period, according to Cynthia Russett, that Henderson had come to know or learn about Willard Gibbs and his work in thermodynamics. [16]

Henderson then went on to completed his MD at Harvard Medical School in 1902. He then continued his studies in biological chemistry at Strasbourg for four semesters and then returned to a lectureship at Harvard College, and the following year (1904) to teach biochemistry at both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School until his death (reaction end) in 1942. [13] During this period, he established the first laboratory of physical chemistry. [5] In 1927, he also established the Fatigue Laboratory at Harvard Business School to discover physiological norms for human biological processes and to study the physiological changes that cause fatigue in workers. [3]

In 1928, Henderson was was introduced to the French version of Pareto's work by his colleague entomologist William Morton Wheeler, whose studies of insect societies hand prompted him to take an interest in the structure of human societies. [16]

In circa 1926, Henderson’s friend and colleague myrmecological entomologist William Wheeler—whose studies of insect societies had prompted him to take an interest in the structure of human societies—introduced Henderson to Vilfredo Pareto’s Treatise on General Sociology, the 1917 French version. Henderson, supposedly, resisted at first because he did not think much of sociology, but the agreed to read the book on Wheeler’s recommendation. [16]

By 1928, Henderson, in his Blood: a Study in General Physiology, was already quoting Pareto on over seven pages. [21] At some point, in or around this growing Pareto assimilation period, Henderson began to hold the following views in mind: [20]

“As my familiarity with the work [of Pareto] has increased, I have become convinced that my acquaintance with Pareto’s analysis of facts, with his synthesis of results, with his methods, and with some of his theorems is at present indispensable for the interpretation of a wide range of phenomena, whenever and whatever men act and react upon one another.”
Pareto circle
The key players in Henderson's so-called Harvard Pareto circle, a group which held from 1932 to the early 1940s, or till the start of WWI, where after focus switched to Marxism-based sociology.

In 1932, Henderson began to offer his now-famous seminar at the Harvard sociology department on “Pareto and the Methods of Scientific Investigation”. The seminar members were chiefly Henderson’s colleagues, e.g. sociologist Talcott Parsons, historian Crane Brinton, and advanced graduate students. [17]

In 1938, Henderson developed another seminar entitled “Concrete Sociology”, which was aimed primarily at undergraduates. The first few meetings were devoted to lectures on Pareto’s social theory; the rest of the semester was comprised of 25-guest lectures, from Talcott Parsons, George Homans, two anthropologists, two historians, a physiologist, among others. [17]

Harvard Pareto circle
American sociologist Barbara Heyl, in her 1968 “The Harvard ‘Pareto Circle’”, argues that the so-called "Pareto period" or Harvard Pareto circle, as it seems to have increasingly been called, in American sociology, fell off and or ended in the 1940s, at least in part to the second world war, during which America became allies with Russian, and a switch or change of direction to a sociology focus on the less innocuous Marxian historical materialism resulted. [15]

Early theories
In his early researches on the acid-base balances of organisms, Henderson was "strongly influenced" by American engineer Willard Gibbs and French mathematician Philbert d'Ocagne. [5]

American equilibrium historian Cynthia Russett argues that the two main equilibrium models Henderson employed were that of Gibbs, in physical chemistry, and Claude Bernard, in physiology. [14]

In the 1920s, Henderson wrote two philosophical works, The Fitness of the Environment (1913) and The Order of Nature (1917), in which he argued, supposedly (check), that the planet’s natural environment is perfectly suited for the development of life; felt that “unique physical properties of matter” made a steadily increasing variety of chemical interactions inevitable; thus, chemical evolution, the creation of life, and biological evolution proceed by design and not accidentally. [11]

The title of his 1917 Order of Nature, seems to derive from the following quote by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, which Henderson’s preface: [12]

Nature is an order ... which together constitute an unalterable power in its essence, subject in all its acts, and constantly acting on all parts of the universe." . . . "an order ... able to give successively the existence of so many different things." . . "that power which did so much, and yet is constantly confined to only do those.”

Henderson, the follows this “one simple question”, as he calls it, which he says sound be borne in mind when reading his work:

“What are the physical and chemical origins of diversity among inorganic and organic things, and how shall the adaptability of matter and energy be described? He may then see his way through all the difficulties which philosophical and biological thought have accumulated around a problem that in the final analysis belongs only to physical science, and at the end he will find a provisional answer to the question.”

This, we see, is pretty decent—a question that would not begin to find resolution until the early 21st century: defunct theory of life (2009), life terminology upgrades (2012), sociology terminology upgrades (2013).

Students
A noted student of Henderson was American sociologist Talcott Parsons who learned the concept of equilibrium, as taught to him by Henderson, thus believing that without equilibrium, a society would display no order. [4] Henderson had intensive discussions with Parsons during the writing of the manuscript for his 1937 The Structure of Social Action. Henderson’s influence can also be seen in Parsons’ 1951 work. [6] Other students of Henderson influenced by his teaching of systems theory and the equilibrium concept include George Homans and Charles Curtis (1934) and James Miller (1978). [7] Homans and Curtis belonged to a discussion group at Harvard called the Pareto Circle, led by Henderson and inspired by the work of Pareto.
Pareto-Henderson theory (1935)
A power point synopsis of Henderson's Gibbs-Pareto envisaged chemical economic equilibrium theory, from American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims's UPESW 2013 talk: “Econoengineering and Economic Behavior.” [10]

Gibbs and Pareto systems
See also: Socio-physical chemistry
In a footnote, at the end of his book, in commentary on his view of the physical chemistry origin of Pareto’s sociological theories, in respect to the chemical thermodynamics work of American engineer Willard Gibbs, Henderson concludes:

“It is very unlikely that the general characteristics of Gibbs’ system had anything to do with Pareto’s construction of his social system. In other words it is very probable, I think nearly certain, that Pareto did not keep Gibbs’ work in mind and a fortiori that he did not imitated it, when he worked out his social system; so that Pareto’s system is not the result of the application of the theories of physical chemistry to sociology.”

In comment on the possible incorrectness of this conclusion, Pareto, we note, first published his Treatise, in Italian, in 1916 under the title Trattato di Sociologia Generale (translated in French in 1917). Gibbs Equilibrium had been translated in French in 1899 by French chemist Henry Le Chatelier. Hence, Pareto, being part French, may have possibly known about the works of Gibbs and been influenced by him?

Quotes | On
The following are praise and or tribute quotes on Henderson:

Henderson may have given greater impetus to the diffusion of equilibrium concepts among American social scientists than any other single individual.”
Cynthia Russett (1966), The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought (Ѻ)

Henderson’s role in this transmission of concepts was essentially prismatic. His was a clear instance of what might be called the refractive phase of concept transmission—the point at which several different sources of an idea meet, are synthesized briefly into a new form, and are then scattered over a wider area than before.”
Cynthia Russett (1966), The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought [21]

Gibbs’ work is so foreign to most sociologists that it is doubtful that they would ever have adopted his interest in the equilibrium concept had it not been through Henderson’s teaching.”
Kenneth Bailey (1990), Social Entropy Theory [8]

Quotes | By
The following are popular quotes by Henderson:

Pavlov's researches on the glands of digestion, the study of internal secretions and hormones, Sherrington's investigation of the integrative action of the nervous system, Cannon's study of the emotions, and many other independent lines of investigation have cleared the ground, and at the present moment the physico-chemical treatment of the problem of organization is widely if somewhat vaguely recognized as the ultimate goal of physiological research.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1917), The Order of Nature (pg. 80)

Science owes more to the steam engine than the steam engine owes to science.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1917), The Order of Nature [9]

“No one, not even the vitalist, doubts that the organism is a Gibbs system.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1917), The Order of Nature [22]

“The theory of the organism is more than a philosophical generalization; it is a part of the working equipment of the physiologist, fulfilling a purpose not unlike that of the second law of thermodynamics.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1927), “The Process of Scientific Discovery” [25]

“All knowledge can be divided into two classes: subjects that study the interrelations of two or more persons (history, literature, economics, sociology, law, politics, theology, education, etc.) and those that do not (logic, mathematics, physics, biology, and other natural sciences, grammar, harmony, etc.); [the former are slower] in setting in motion activity that becomes the most important and influential in the world.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1935), on Machiavelli's studies vs. Galileo's studies [2]

“The social system thus defined and characterized is clearly an instrument that may be employed, within limits, similar to those explained [by Gibbs] for the physico-chemical system, in studying all the subjects of the first class (history, literature, economics, sociology, law, politics, theology, education, etc.). For like history, literature, law, and theology, all these subjects are conversant with the interactions of individuals in their manifold relations, with their sentiments and interests, with their sayings and doings, while none can dispense with considerations of the mutual dependence of many factors.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1935), Pareto’s General Sociology: a Physiologist’s Interpretation (pg. 18)

“The actions, thoughts, and feelings of individuals depend upon the present condition, the past condition, the rate of change, etc., of society and of its parts. They also depend upon other factors, e.g. age, sex, concentration of alcohol in the blood, body temperature, external temperature, weather, mental complexes, and, notably, conditioning that has been received in early years.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1935), “Note 2: Durkheim’s Study of the Sentiments” [2]

“When societies are too unstable, individuals suffer.”
— Lawrence Henderson (1941), “What is Social Progress?” [26]

References
1. (a) Cannon, Walter B. (1943). “Biographical Memoir of Lawrence Joseph Henderson 1878-1942”, US National Academy of Science, Vol XXIII, Second Memoir.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2008). The Human Molecule, (preview) (pg. 20). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
2. Henderson, Lawrence J. (1935). Pareto’s General Sociology: a Physiologists Interpretation (keyword: thermodynamics, pgs. 10, 47, 82, 90, 92; note 5: “The Sources of Pareto’s Social System”, pgs. 91-93; "all knowledge", pgs. 8-9; actions quote, pgs. 70-71; §:Note 3, pgs. 74-81; §:Note 4, pgs. 81-90). Harvard University Press.
3. Guides to Archival Collections – Harvard Business School Library.
4. Bailey, Kenneth D. (1994). Sociology and the New Systems Theory: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis (Section: Henderson, pg. 104, also pg. 75). SUNY Press.
5. Mayer, Jean. (1968). “Lawrence Joseph Henderson: A Biographical Sketch”, The Journal of Nutrition. Vol. 94.
6. Parsons, Talcott. (1951). The Social System. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press.
7. (a) Homans, George C. and Curtis, Charles P. (1934). An Introduction to Pareto: His Sociology. Alfred A. Knopf.
(b) Miller, James G. (1978). Living Systems. McGraw-Hill.
8. Bailey, Kenneth D. (1990). Social Entropy Theory (pg. 53). New York: State University of New York Press.
9. (a) Henderson, Lawrence J. (1917). The Order of Nature. Harvard University Press.
(b) Moore, Walter J. (1969). Physical Chemistry (pg. 69). Prentice-Hall.
(c) Harrison, Lionel G. (2011). The Shaping of Life: the Generation of Biological Pattern (pg. 29). Cambridge University Press.
(d) Groysman, Alec. (2011). “Use of Art Media in Engineering and Scientific Education” (§3.4: Human Chemistry), Generative Art Conference, XIV.
10. Thims, Libb. (2013). “Econoengineering and Economic Behavior: Particle, Atom, Molecule, or Agent Models?” (video, 1:33-min) (article, 40-pgs) (PowerPoint, 36-slides), Key speaker talk delivered at the University of Pitesti Econophysics and Sociophysics Workshop (UPESW) / Exploratory Domains of Econophysics News (EDEN V) (organizer: Gheorghe Savoiu). University of Pitesti, Pitesti, Romania, Jun 29.
11. Lawrence Henderson – Encyclopedia Britannica.
12. Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste. (1815-22). Natural History of Invertebrate Animals (Histoire naturelle des animaux sans vertèbres). Publisher.
13. Weintraub, E. Roy. (1991). Stabilizing Dynamics: Constructing Economic Knowledge (pgs. 63-64). Cambridge University Press.
14. (a) Russett, Cynthia. (1966). The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought (two equilibrium types, pg. 334; Gibbs, 18+ pgs). Yale College.
(b) Weintraub, E. Roy. (1991). Stabilizing Dynamics: Constructing Economic Knowledge (pgs. 63-64). Cambridge University Press.
15. (a) Heyl, Barbara. (1968). “The Harvard ‘Pareto Circle’.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 4:316-34; in: Talcott Parsons: Critical Assessments, Volume 1 (§2, pgs. 29-) (editor: Peter Hamilton). Publisher.
(b) Weintraub, E. Roy. (1991). Stabilizing Dynamics: Constructing Economic Knowledge (pgs. 63-64). Cambridge University Press.
16. Russett, Cynthia. (1966). The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought (Wheeler, pgs. 111-12; world of systems, Bernard, pg. 113; prismatic, pg.117). Yale College.
17. (a) Parascandola, John. (1992). “L. J. Henderson and the Mutual Dependence of Variables: From Physical Chemistry to Pareto”, in: Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspective (editors: Clark Elliott and Margaret Rossiter) (pgs. 167-; esp. 176-80; §: Pareto and the Social System, pgs. 181-84). Lehigh University Press.
(b) Russett, Cynthia. (1966). The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought (pg. 113). Yale College.
18. Parascandola, John. (1992). “L. J. Henderson and the Mutual Dependence of Variables: From Physical Chemistry to Pareto”, in: Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspective (editors: Clark Elliott and Margaret Rossiter) (pgs. 167-; esp. 176-80; §: Pareto and the Social System, pgs. 181-84). Lehigh University Press.
19. (a) Henderson, Lawrence. (1913). The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter (quote, pg. 308; matter and energy, 25+ pgs). MacMillan Company.
(b) Parascandola, John. (1992). “L. J. Henderson and the Mutual Dependence of Variables: From Physical Chemistry to Pareto”, in: Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspective (editors: Clark Elliott and Margaret Rossiter) (quote, pg. 174). Lehigh University Press.
20. (a) Henderson, Lawrence J. (1935). Pareto’s General Sociology: a Physiologists Interpretation (pg. vi). Harvard University Press.
(b) Russett, Cynthia. (1966). The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought (pg. 114). Yale College.
21. Henderson, Lawrence J. (1928). Blood: a Study in General Physiology (Pareto, 7+ pgs). Yale University Press.
22. (a) Henderson, Lawrence J. (1917). The Order of Nature (pg. 131). Harvard University Press.
(b) Russett, Cynthia. (1966). The Concept of Equilibrium in American Social Thought (pg. 113). Yale College.
23. Bancroft, Wilder D. (1910). “A Universal Law” (abs), Address of the retiring President of the American Chemical Society, Minneapolis, Dec 28; in: Journal of the American Chemical Society (1911), 33:91-120; in: Science (1911), 33:159-79.
24. Henderson, Lawrence J. (1917). The Order of Nature (Goethe, pgs. 72-73). Harvard University Press.
25. (a) Henderson, Lawrence. (1927). “The Process of Scientific Discovery”, in: An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (translator: H.C. Greene) (introduction, pgs. v-xii). Henry Schuman, 1949.
(b) Barber, Bernard. (1970). L.J. Henderson on the Social System (§2:149-58; quote, pg. 153). University of Chicago Press.
26. (a) Henderson, Lawrence. (1941). “What is Social Progress?”, Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 73:457-63.
(b) Barber, Bernard. (1970). L.J. Henderson on the Social System (§9:246-60, quote, pg. 259). University of Chicago Press.

Further reading
● Henderson, Lawrence. (1934). “Science, Logic, and Human Intercourse”, Harvard Business Review, 12 (Apr):317-27.
● Henderson, Lawrence. (1935). “The Physician and Patient as a Social System”, New England Journal of Medicine, 212:819-23.
● Henderson, Lawrence. (1936). “Concrete Sociology”, Introductory Lectures, Sociology 23 (second edition, 1938), mimeographed for private distribution and available at the Baker Library of the Harvard Business School.
● Parscandola, John. (1968). Lawrence J. Henderson and the Concept of Organized Systems (molecules, 3+ pgs; Gibbs, 8+ pgs; Pareto, 28+ pgs). University of Wisconsin-Madison.
● Henderson, Lawrence J. (1970). L. J. Henderson on the Social System: Selected Writings (editor: Bernard Barber). University of Chicago Press.

External links
Lawrence Joseph Henderson – Wikipedia.

TDics icon ns

More pages