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Political arithmetics. Rare or unpublished texts (1767-1789). Critical edition annotated by Bernard Bru and Pierre Crépel. (Arithmétique politique. Textes rares ou inédits (1767-1789). Édition critique commentée par Bernard Bru et Pierre Crépel.) (French) Zbl 0910.01006
Librairie du Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française. Paris: Institut National d’Études Démographiques. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, xxix, 746 p. (1994).
This impressive volume is based on two sources: Condorcet’s (1743-1794) manuscripts and the Archives of the French Academy of Sciences. The two editors Bru and Crépel explain how and why they selected the manuscripts which they published or reprinted in a chronological order and which were written between 1776 and 1789. Hence they arranged the writings in six chapters.
The first chapter comprehends the correspondence (17 letters), published writings and academic activities of the “period of preparation” (1776-1783). The correspondents are P. Frisi, C. Beccaria, A. R. J. Turgot, P. Veri, J.-F. La Harpe, John II Bernoulli. The writings are obituaries, reviews of mathematical and astronomical publications (Pascal, Lalande, Lagrange etc.), comments on projects.
The second chapter comprehends unpublished writings of the same period: articles on the calculus of probabilities and political arithmetic of the Encyclopédie, on analysis, fragments concerning the probabilities, whose calculus is completely based on the combinatorial art (p. 283), articles on games, as well as on the soul.
The third chapter is dedicated to the years 1783 to 1787. While the very long “Essay on the application of analysis to the probability of decisions etc.” (more than 300 pages) is not published, but only its general plan and an analysis of its different parts, the editors published the “Memoir on the calculus of probabilities and other fragments dealing with actuarial theory.
The last three rather short chapters include manuscripts especially dealing with lotteries, Nicolas Bernoulli’s thesis, further letters to and from S.-F. Lacroix. The Appendix emphasises that certain published texts help to modify the traditional image of Condorcet. There are various indices and bibliographies which help to open up the content of this most valuable book.
MSC:
01A75 Collected or selected works; reprintings or translations of classics
01A50 History of mathematics in the 18th century
60-03 History of probability theory
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