I came to know that the father of modern Sociology “Auguste Comte” gave the term “social physics” to a discipline which later came to be known as Sociology. I liked this term: “social physics.” I think the founding fathers (in addition to Comte, the holy trinity are Durkheim, Weber, and Marx) were optimistic to find mathematical formulas to explain society as Newton has found success in the field of physics. Alas, that never came true.
It is far complicated to demystify the dynamics of how society works and discover the grand formula that can predict as output the expected behavior of a society given a set of inputs.
I understand why these scholars were optimistic to find such a grand formula. They smelled the air of humanist achievements in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Industrial revolution, French revolution and intellectual revolutions in this period made scholars of the time eager to unlock the mystery of the universe and subject it to the power of man.
They attempted to explain the historical progress and evolution of society as Darwin explained biological evolution of homo sapient. Comte suggested human beings graduating from theological to metaphysical to finally celebrating the scientific stage. Marx promoted historical materialism where the final graduating stage is communism coming out of the womb of imperial capitalism. Modern-day Francis Fokoyama -perhaps inspired by Weber- tried to celebrate -after the fall of Berlin wall- his “end of history” and the triumph of liberal democracy under a Protestant hegemony.
All these fantasies and (dis)utopian tales tell us that social “physics” is not as simple as “physics.” Even in the world of physics, we are infants. You can use mathematical formulas to understand the forces between two or three celestial bodies, like nearby planets. Increase that to 10 planets, and it is “chaos” 1. In any economics textbook, the supply-demand curve is always discussed in toy-setting ignoring real-life time and space considerations 2. The society can never work in toy-settings. Toys remain for kids, for adults’ society works by the “invisible” hands of Allah.
When society tried to force math too hard into governing everyday life through weapons of “math” destruction 3, we saw the result in the financial crisis of 2008. During the cold-war era, nerdy math graduates of elite schools used to join NASA and become rocket-scientists, however, when arms race ended with the collapse of Berlin wall, these rocket-scientists continued to use the same math weapons but in the Wall-Street laboratory, hence their attempt to “mathematicize” society as they do with physics.
Quranic verse 35:41 hints to this fact that only Allah is that force that holds this universe from collapsing. “Lo! Allah graspeth the heavens and the earth that they deviate not, and if they were to deviate there is not one that could grasp them after Him” ↩
I once watched Yanis Varoufakis explaining this very well in a lecture. Search it on youtube. I think it was on his book review “adults in the room” ↩