Physico-chemical social dynamics

In hmolscience, physio-chemical social dynamics, an early two cultures namesake synonym to: physicochemical sociology (Sorokin, 1943) and or physicochemical humanities (Thims, 2014), is the name to which Henry Adams in 1908 used to refer to his Gibbsian thermodynamics plus human molecular theory based social phase dynamical change model of history, conceptualized to describe the laws which govern animated beings, in a universal manner. [1]

The following 1863 to 1910 quotes are representative of Adams' "physico-chemical social dynamics theory", as he seems to have referred to his theory in the 27 Sep 1908 letter to Charles Gaskell, shown below:

“Everything in this universe has its regular waves and tides. Electricity, sound, the wind, and I believe every part of organic nature will be brought someday within this law. The laws which govern animated beings will be ultimately found to be at bottom the same with those which rule inanimate nature, and as I entertain a profound conviction of the littleness of our kind, and of the curious enormity of creation, I am quite ready to receive with pleasure any basis for a systematic conception of it all. I look for regular tides in the affairs of man, and, of course, in our own affairs. In ever progression, somehow or other, the nations move by the same process which has never been explained but is evident in the oceans and the air. On this theory I should expect at about this time, a turn which would carry us backward.”
— Henry Adams (1863), “Letter to Charles Gaskell” (Oct)

“Altogether, we go on with placidity unequalled, and the only question is what we live for. Nothing seems to come of it?”
— Henry Adams (1878), “Letter to Charles Gaskell” (Aug 21)

Social chemistry—the mutual attraction of equivalent human molecules—is a science yet to be created, for the fact is my daily study and only satisfaction in life.”
— Henry Adams (1885), “Letter to Clover Adams” (Apr 12)

“A period of about twelve years measured the beat of the pendulum. After the Declaration of Independence [4 Jul 1776], twelve years had been needed to create an efficient Constitution [17 Sep 1787]; another twelve years of energy brought a reaction against the government then created; a third period of twelve years was ending in a sweep toward still greater energy; and already a child could calculate the result of a few more such returns.”
— Henry Adams (1890), A History of the United States of America (Ѻ)

“An atom is a man and Maxwell’s demon, who runs the second law, ought to be made president.”
— Henry Adams (1903), “Letter to Brooks Adams”, May 2

“Gentle mathematicians and physicists still cling to their laws of thermodynamics, and are almost epileptic in their convulsive assurances that they have reached a generalization which will hold good. Perhaps it will. Who cares?”
Henry Adams (1903), “Letter to Charles Gaskell” (Jun 14)

“On the physico-chemical law of development and dynamics, our society has reached what is called the critical point where it is near a new phase or equilibrium.”
— Henry Adams (1908), “Letter to Charles Gaskell” (Sep 27) [1]

“The solution of mind is certainly in the magnet.”
— Henry Adams (1908), “Letter to Charles Gaskell” (Sep 27)

“I have run my head hard up against a form of mathematics that grinds my brains out. I flounder like a sculpin in the mud. It is called the ‘law of phases’, and was invented at Yale [by Gibbs]. No one shall persuade me that I am not a phase.”
— Henry Adams (1908), “Letter to Elizabeth Cameron” (Sep 29)

“I’m looking for a ‘young and innocent physico-chemist who wants to earn a few dollars by teaching an idiot what is the first element of theory and expression in physics.’”
— Henry Adams (1908), “Note to John Jameson” (Dec)

“My essay ‘The Rule of Phase [Applied to History]’ is a ‘mere intellectual plaything, like a puzzle’ [to Brooks]. I am interested in getting it into the hands of a ‘scientific, physico-chemical proofreader’ and I am willing to pay ‘liberally for the job’ [to Jameson].”
— Henry Adams (1909), Notes to Brooks Adams and John Jameson

“I have been studying science for ten years past, with keen interest, noting down my phrases of mind each year; and every new scientific method I try, shortens my view of the future. The last—thermodynamics—fetches me out on sea-level within ten years. I’m sorry Lord Kelvin is dead. I would travel a few thousand-million miles to discuss with him the thermodynamics of socialistic society. His law is awful in its rigidity and intensity of result.”
— Henry Adams (1909), “Letter to Charles Gaskell” (May 2)

(add discussion)

There is some suggestion (Ѻ) that Isaac Asimov’s 1942 to 1993 theory of “psychohistory”, a “science of human behavior reduced to mathematical equations”, as Asimov describes, as described by the fictional character Hari Seldon (Ѻ), in his seven-volume Foundation series, is similar to Adams 1908 “physico-chemical social dynamics”, as Adams calls it.

In 1944, Asimov, it seems, was passingly referring to Henry Adams (Ѻ), as the name of one of his characters, in his science fiction stories; so possibly, Asimov may have had some type Henry Adams model behind his character of Hari Sheldon.

1. (a) Adams, Henry. (1908). “Letter to Charles Gaskell”, Sep 27.
(b) Adams, Henry. (1992). Henry Adams: Selected Letters (editor: Ernest Samuels) (pg. 504-06). Harvard University Press.

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