Mapping the Social World: From Aggregates to Individuals | Limn

Belgian astronomer Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) introduced to the human sciences the idea of the average man, of the regularity and predictability of average behaviors, as opposed to individual behaviors, which are random and especially unpredictable. When human traits, such as size, become “normally” distributed, say according to a bell curve, their average supposedly represents a superior ontological reality, a whole comprised of specific properties, distinct individual cells. This idea would be the basis of future quantitative social sciences, Emile Durkheim’s Le Suicide being the prototype: sociology is not the uniting of individual psychologies.

via Mapping the Social World: From Aggregates to Individuals | Limn.