A wide-ranging essay linking 18th-century politics and mathematics!

I just read a fascinating account of 18th century politics, philosophy, romantic intrigues, and mathematical physics. I thought of posting in Cafe Society: This long essay touches on a variety of topics as well as mathematics and physics. (Some will want to skim the math; others will want to skim the political intrigues.) It offers perspective on the Newton vs Leibniz controversy, e.g. explaining why Voltaire wanted to ridicule Leibniz with Pangloss’ “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”

Here’s a brief excerpt showing how deep the essay goes into personal intricacies:

Not only does the essay mention the great mathematicians of that era, but it mentions Richelieu, Voltaire, Bach, and Benj. Franklin.

The title of the essay is “The Courage of Gauss: A Case Study of the Best of All Possible Worlds.” Gauss wasn’t even born during the events described in the essay but the essayist regards Gauss as the great genius-hero who finally rescued Europe from Maupertuis’ intrigues by restoring attention to Leibnizian truths!

The essay is a very dense 33 pages; I’m going to print it off and reread it before I can discuss it properly. I’m posting this here to ask for opinions: Is the essay fun to read? Enlightening? Valid? The author—David Shavin—doesn’t seem to even have a Wikipedia page; Who is he?

A long-time activist on behalf of Lyndon LaRouche. If the site hosting the article didn’t make you twig, a couple of fawning footnotes in it probably should have.

:smack: I’d forgotten the name LaRouche, of whom I’d only vaguely heard, decades ago.

But let’s not reject an interesting or valid message just because the messenger is a pimp or a loon! :smiley:

Admittedly the LYM have provided some useful translations and analyses of important works in early modern mathematical sciences. However, their historiographic approach is weirdly locked into an idea of LaRouche’s that he termed the “Narrow Path”

As you can see in the OP’s linked article, the primary characteristic of this historiography is to elevate this particular subset of important thinkers to semidivine status while demonizing any of their colleagues, rivals or successors who disagreed with them or criticized them about anything. A few sentences from the second page of that article should reveal the peculiar nature of this approach:

Is that a load of paranoid speculative gibberish, or are you merely failing to grasp its insightful profundity? I know which way I’d vote.

A friend ran across the above exchange, found it somewhat laughable, and called it to my attention. It does appear a curious dialogue.

It appears that:
a) an initial fascination with my article indicated a re-reading may be helpful to discuss it properly; and then
b) the boogie-man “LaRouche” was invoked (even though, I must admit, I don’t know what it is to “twig”); which prompted
c) the defense that the article be taken seriously, at the inexpensive price of classifying me as “a pimp or a loon”; ending with
d) a citation from the introduction (properly making a general outline, to be developed in the body of the work) which is judged “a load of paranoid speculative gibberish”.

Perhaps before going back to step a), a perusal of “U.S.A. vs. Lyndon LaRouche: He’s a Bad Guy, But We Can’t Say Why” will help deal with the nervousness that interrupts a proper discussion. Perhaps not. Good luck.

Wow. Just wow.