Karl Pearson

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In existographies, Karl Pearson (98-19 BE) (1857-1936 ACM) (IQ:170|#391↑) (ID:2.15|79) (PR:7,325|65AE / statistician:4) (CR:56) (LH:25) (TL:83|#132) was an English mathematician, physicist, philosopher, lawyer, statistician, evolutionist, and Germanic literature scholar, noted for []


In 1892, Pearson, age 38, in his Grammar of Science, gave what might be called a school lesson to senior physicists about proper grammar, in which, in his chapter §9: Life, with noted sections such as §9.1: The Relation of Biology to Physics, gave a robust lesson on how the "language of life" will eventually be reformulated or "redefined", as he said, in the language of physics.[1] He says, however, that this task is slowed by intellectual inertia and a forest of human ignorance made by an overgrowth mythical trees. Pearson also question Darwinism, in respect to exactly how far down the chain of being into the physical and chemical realm this model will hold?


Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Pearson:

“The principle of inertia states that no physical corpuscle need be conceived as changing its motion except in the presence of other corpuscles, that there is no need of attributing to it any power of self-determination [pg. 287]. There are probably those who think some power of self-determination must be ascribed to the elementary organic corpuscle, but this seems very doubtful. Placed in a certain field, environed with other organic or inorganic corpuscles, the life-germ moves relatively to them in a certain manner, but there seems no reason to assert, indeed there are facts pointing in the exactly opposite direction, that any change of movement need be postulated were the life-germ entirely removed from this environment. Indeed, the whole notion of self-determination as an attribute of living organisms seems to have arisen from those extremely complex systems of organic corpuscles, where the environment in the form of immediate sense-impressions determines change through a chain of stored sense-impresses peculiar to the individual or self [pg. 124].”
— Karl Pearson (1892), Grammar of Science (pgs. 124, 287)
“If these terms: ‘unit-mass of living matter’, ‘resultant of organic forces’, ‘continuity of organic substance’, etc., biologists have adopted from physics, are used figuratively, we ought to find them redefined.”
— Karl Pearson (1892), Grammar of Science (§9.1: The Relation of Biology to Physics, pgs. 328-31)
“To the untrained minds of earlier ages this cloak to ignorance seemed natural enough, but in a scientific age it is only an excuse for intellectual inertia; it shows that we have given up trying to know, where to strive to know is the first duty of science. For many centuries a seven days creation of the world sufficed to screen our ignorance of the physical history of the earth, and of organic evolution, or the origin of species. On these points science is now perfectly definite, but it has had a hard struggle to get rid of the obstacles across the path of knowledge. The scrubby plantation by which mythology sought to screen human ignorance had become a forest, the special preserve of a caste, which it was sacrilege to hew down. Whether the battle will be now transferred to a ‘special creation’ of the ultimate element of life remains to be seen, but in saying that science is at present ignorant as to the ultimate origin of life, we must be careful to allow no metaphysical hypothesis of an ‘ultra-scientific cause’ to take root. We trust that light will come to science here, as it has come in equally difficult problems in the past.”
— Karl Pearson (1892), Grammar of Science (§9.10: The Origin of Life in an ‘Ultra-Scientific’ Clause, pgs. 352-54)
“There is a problem, however, with regard to natural selection which deserves special attention from both physicist and biologist, namely: Within what limits is the Darwinian formula a valid description ? Assuming the spontaneous generation of life as a plausible, if yet unproven, hypothesis, where are we to consider that selection as a result of the struggle for existence began?”
— Karl Pearson (1892), Grammar of Science (§9.12: Natural Selection in the Inorganic World, pgs. 356-58)

End matter


  1. Pearson, Karl. (1892). Grammar of Science (§9.1: The Relation of Biology to Physics, pgs. 328-31, re-defined, pgs. 305, 330). Adam, 1900.


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