Philosophical Essay On Probabilities as Masterpiece Of Time


philosophical essay on probabilities

Theory of probabilities is a branch of mathematics that studies the regularities of random phenomena such as random events, random variables, their properties and operations on them. This study appeared in Middle Ages and its aim was in analysis of games of chance. French scientist Pierre Simon Laplace made great impact in the studying of theory of probabilities. A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities is his book, which is dedicated to this branch of science. Achievements of Laplace and content of his book about the theories of probabilities will be discussed in this outline.

Main Achievements of Pierre Simon Laplace

Team of offers custom writing of papers. Today we are talking about the Pierre Simon Laplace. Birth of great scientist happened in Normandy, which is one of the French regions. His life was surprisingly long because he died at the age of 78 years old. However, he did not wasted his time for nothing. Pierre Simon Laplace was author of books and treatises:

  • The Presentation of The World System;
  • About The Cause Of Universal Gravitation And The Secular Inequalities Of The Planets, That Depend on It;
  • Analytical Theory of Probabilities;
  • Celestial Mechanics.

In his first book “The Presentation of World System”, he put forward a hypothesis about the origin of the solar system from a single incandescent rotating gas nebula. That is why, this hypothesis got name as “nebular” hypothesis. He put forward it knowing the theory of Buffon (1745) but not knowing the theory of Kant (1755). The planets were born on the border of the nebula by condensation of the chilled vapor in the equatorial plane and because of cooling nebula gradually shrank, spinning faster and faster. Centrifugal force became equal to the power of gravity and numerous rings were produced, which divided on new rings, with the help of condensing. These rings first created gas planets and after that central clot turned to Sun. In this theory, formation of all bodies in the Solar system, such as Sun, planet and satellites happened at the same time. There are enough information about the figures of planets and tides, theory of gravitation and history of astronomy in this book as about the rings of Saturn and atmospheres of planets.

He offers method for calculating the orbits of celestial bodies, replacing it in 1780 with a new way, in his first paper about celestial mechanics, which he did all his life. This treatise had name “About The Cause Of Universal Gravitation And The Secular Inequalities Of The Planets, That Depend on It” and was written in 1773. By optimizing the theory of Lagrange he showed that planets’ inequalities must be periodic. For example, Saturn’s slowdown has to be replaced by acceleration through certain time and the observed acceleration of Jupiter will be replaced by slowdown. This meant that Solar system is apparently stable.

In 1777, he created a dynamic theory of tides. On 24 June 1783, Laplace together with the chemist Lavoisier first synthesized water, by combining oxygen and hydrogen. In 1787, great scientist discovered the causes of the Moon’s acceleration, and determined the amount of Earth’s compression at the poles on the inequalities in the motion of Moon, as well as the length of latitude’s degree.

His “Analytical theory of probabilities”, in which he summarized and brought into the norm everything done before him, simplified the evidences and made his own conversion, was published in 1812, 1814, 1820. It can be found many latest discoveries of the theory of probabilities, made by other mathematicians in this paper. It covers some of the issues of the game theory, theorem of Bernoulli and its connection with the integral of the normal distribution and so on.

Briefly About The Theory of Probabilities

As it mentioned earlier in this outline, theory of probabilities became widespread as study in Middle Ages. It was first try to do mathematical analysis of games of chance such as craps and roulette. Initially, its basic concepts did not have strictly mathematical type, they could be treated as some empirical facts as to the properties of real events, and they were formulated in a visual representation. Jacob Bernoulli introduced an important contribution to the theory of probabilities. He gave the evidence of the large numbers’ law in the simplest case of independent trials. However, mainly Pierre Simon Laplace proved first limited theorem. Albert Einstein invented theorem of relativity later. You can read about him and his papers in essay on Albert Einstein. We know famous equation of Laplace, which concerned to partial derivatives.

Theory of probabilities arose as a science from the persuasion, which stated that deterministic laws were the heart of mass random events. This theory studies given patterns. For example, it is not possible to define clearly the result of appearance of “heads” or “tails” during the coin flip. However, the same amount of “heads” and “tails” falls with repeated tosses.

Test is called the implementation of certain set of conditions, which can be played an unlimited number of times. Set of conditions includes random factors. Its realization in every trial leads to the ambiguity of trial’s outcome. For example, coin flip can be as trial. The result of the test is event. They are divided on:

  • reliable (always occur in the result of test);
  • impossible (never happen);
  • equally probable (have equal opportunities to occur), less likely or more likely;
  • random (may or may not occur in the result of test)

For example, let us look on examples of events, looking at this occurrence. When we toss the cube, the impossible event of this action will be its fall on the edge, random event will be dropout of any edge, and equally probable event – its fall on the even edge. Theory of probability learns all these cases.

Philosophical Treatise Of Pierre Simon Laplace

Interesting paper of scientist was published in 1814 and served as continuation of previous treatise, which had name Analytical Theory of Probabilities. In the book, which was published in 1812, Laplace examined many effective results of statistics. Therefore, this book revealed scientific part of theory of probabilities. Book, which was published in 1814, had content that is more interesting for us. Let us examine it. We are talking about Philosophical Essay About Probabilities. This book is written about inductive method of thinking, which uses the theory of probabilities during it. An interesting fact, that Pierre Simon Laplace was mainly physicist and had no relation with philosophy. He was closely linked with physics and astronomy, as it is described in first paragraph. However, his impact in philosophy is huge. How could he make such impact?

The reason is in that Laplace was the representative of idea of determinism. This idea was central in the philosophy. He considered, that all is predictable in our world. Idea of Laplace’s determinism found logical explanation in astronomical and physical cores and in this treatise. As we already know, he worked hardly in these spheres of science. These branches of science showed that all in our world is obeyed to the certain laws.

Another certain question appears about the link of determinism and theory of probabilities. Thanks to astronomical and physical cores of Laplace’s determinism, he made conclusion, that one event could be the result of the second one. Theoretical opportunity exists in order to count any event, which is based from the previous event. All these principles in the form of theory of probabilities are described in this paper.

Another interesting moment is Laplace’s demon in the paper of scientist. It is possible to think, that he symbolizes the spirit of determinism in a stronger form. Laplace’s demon is the visionary mind, whose look can erase difference between the past and future, and therefore erase the idea of probabilities.


Pierre Simon Laplace can be rightly considered as not only great physicist and astronomer, but also great philosopher. He managed to link popular at that time theory of probabilities with idea of determinism. Laplace was first person, who managed to achieve scientific explanation of human fatalism. Scientist could not suspect that he did great impact in philosophy of that time. These ideas were marked in his philosophical treatise.

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