|American economist Irving Fisher's famous 1892 mechanics-to-economics variables table, wherein, being supervised directly by the great engineer Willard Gibbs and economist William Sumner at Yale, he specifically defines a person as a particle (see: human particle). |
See main: TranslatabilityIn 1997, Swedish physical chemist Sture Nordholm, in his famous Journal of Chemical Education article “In Defense of Thermodynamics: an Animate Analogy”, wherein an outline of the subject he termed "animate thermodynamics", or thermodynamics applied to the study of human behavior, was given, the first formulation step of which, in the scale up or extrapolate up process, according to Nordholm, proper translation of terms and concepts is requisite:
“Thermodynamics great generality and power remains hidden by layers of abstraction and axiomatic rigor. Must this be so? Could we not gain much by loosening the strictures and bringing the main point home by more qualitative applications of thermodynamics to the widest range of everyday experiences? An attempt, at the same time loose and seriously meant, follows. I will argue that given the proper translation of terms and concepts from the inanimate to the animate world the laws of thermodynamics can be seen at work in our everyday lives. No proofs will be offered.”
Original version (1892) Fisher's translations (Mirowski's 1989 version)
|Given a certain number of solids, we study their relations of equilibrium and movement abstracted from the other properties. We obtain thus a study of mechanics.|
The science of mechanics is divided into two others. If we consider inextensibly connected material points we obtain a pure science, rational mechanics, which studies in an abstract way the forces of equilibrium and movement. The easiest part of science is equilibrium. D’Alembert’s principle, considering the forces of inertia, enables the reduction of the dynamic problem to a static one.
From rational mechanics comes applied mechanics, which is a little closer to reality, considering elasticity, friction, etc.
Real solids not only have mechanical properties of the phenomena caused by light, electricity and heat. Chemistry studies other properties. Thermodynamics, like other sciences, studies some of these properties in detail. All these sciences constitute the physical-chemical sciences.
| Given a society, we study the relations of production and wealth between men, abstracted from other circumstances. We obtain thus the study of political economy.|
The science of political economy is divided into two others. If we consider the homo economicus who acts only as a result of economic forces, we obtain political economy, which studies in abstract terms ophelimity. The only part of this which is well known is static equilibrium. There may be a principle for economic systems analogous to D’Alembert’s, but at present our knowledge is very poor. The theory of economic crisis offers an example of dynamic study.
From pure political economy comes applied political economy, which does not consider solely homo economicus, but also other models of humankind closer to reality.
Men and women have other characteristics which are studies by other particular sciences, such as law, religion, aesthetics, the organization of society, and so on. Some of these have quite a high level of development, others on the contrary, have not. As a whole they constitute the social sciences.
|If we wish to consider a concrete fact, all these sciences must be taken into account because they have been separated through a process of abstraction.|
|In reality, solids with only mechanical properties do not exist. It is a mistake to assume the existence of concrete phenomena subject only to mechanical forces, abstracted form chemical ones, as it is to assume that concrete phenomena may be subtracted from the laws of rational mechanics.||In reality, persons who are subject only to economic stimuli do not exist. It is a mistake to assume the existence of the concrete phenomenon subject only to economic motivations, abstracted from other considerations, just as it is to assume that a concrete phenomenon may be subtracted from the laws of pure economics.|
|The practice differs from the theory precisely because practice must take into account a quantity of secondary characters which are not studied in the theory. The relative importance of primary and secondary characters is not the same from the general point of view of science and from the particular point of view of a practical operation. Syntheses have sometimes been attempted. An attempt has been made to find the cause of all phenomena in:|
|The attraction of atoms. An attempt has been made to reduce to all physical and chemical forces from a fundamental unity.||Utility, of which ophelimity is simply a type. An attempt has been made to explain all phenomena in terms of biological evolution.|
|These are all interesting studies. But we must not resist these hypotheses and not go far from the solid basis of experience.|
“Progress in the purely scientific sense of political economy are considerable. Books such as Mathematical Psychics, F. L. Edgeworth, Principii di economia pura [Pure Economics], Maffeo Pantaleoni, Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices, Irving Fisher, etc., are written in a purely scientific point of view. A similar attempt is one of my courses, in the first volume, published in 1896, I said: "In all treatises on political economy, the main part is formed by the science of ophélimité and utility.”
"It seems to me, that if this [economic-thermodynamic] analogy can be worked out at all, the analogon of ‘entropy’ must be sought in the direction of ‘liquidity’. To be more specific: if the analogon of ‘energy’ is ‘value’ of the estate of an economical subject, then analogon of its thermodynamic ‘free energy’ should be its ‘cash value’."
This equivalence table, technically, seems to be one of the first printed "human thermodynamics variables tables" known. While some of these "assumed equivalences" may be correct, e.g. process energy barrier equated with activation energy (if the human chemical reaction view is assumed), technology equated with catalysis, etc., many of these speculative assignments, however, seem to be incorrect, such as enthalpy being equated to work, or entropy equaling negentropy, etc. One assignment here that may have merit to it could possibly be Gibbs free energy change ΔG being equated to "value", being that what is favored evolutionary wise, tends to be something that has a future to it, and Gibbs free energy change is what predicts the future or favorability of chemical reactions or processes.
This step, again, being a more tricky aspect of thermodynamics applied to human behavior.
“A not exact differential (δY) may be turned into an exact differential (dF) by an integrating factor (1/λ):dF = δY/λ
F may be called production function. The law corresponds to the second law of thermodynamics, dS = δQ /T. The production function (F) is called entropy in physics.”
“Whether two molecules will bind is determined by the free energy change of the interaction, composed of both enthalpic and entropic terms.”
“The fundamental Gibbs-Pfaﬀ equation of thermodynamics dU − TdS + PdV + ∑µkdNk = 0 is changed into fundamental Gibbs-Pfaﬀ equation of economics dG − IdE + PdQ + ∑νkdNk = 0.”