Józef Maria Hoene-Wronski

 

 

A note 1915 by David Eugene Smith

J. Hoëné Wronski (1778-1853) served, while yet a mere boy, as an artillery officer in Kosciusko's army (1791-1794). He was imprisoned after the battle of Maciejowice. He afterwards lived in Germany, and (after 1810) in Paris. For the bibliography of his works see S. Dickstein's article in the Bibliotheca Mathematica, vol. VI (2), page 48.

A BUDGET OF PARADOXES (1872) by Augustus de Morgan
Chicago, London : Open Court 1915, Vol. I, p. 250.

 

From HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS, 1925 by David Eugene Smith

   Wronski.   In the 19th century Poland produced only one mathematician who succeeded in attracting much attention abroad, and this was Hoëné Wronski.1 He spent most of his life in France and wrote on the philosophy of mathematics. His Introduction to a Course in Mathematics appeared in London in 1821.

[A picture of Wronski reproduced — ( by the way : http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/PictDisplay/Wronski.html )— with the following caption : ]

After an etching by Mme Frédérique O'Connell and autographed by Wronski

1   Born August 24, 1778 ; died August 9, 1853. Since he wrote chiefly in French, the French spelling of his name is used. S. Dickstein has various references to and articles upon him in the second series of the Bibliotheca Mathematica, particularly VI (2), 48. See also his Catalogue des œuvres imprimées et manuscriptes de Hoëné Wronski, Cracow, 1896.

Boston, New York, etc., etc. :
Ginn and Company 1951,
Vol. I, p. 531.

 

From Encyclopedia of The Unexplained, 1974 by Richard Cavendish (with J. B. Rhine)

Jósef Maria Hoene-Wronski
[1776-1853]

Hoene-Wronski was born at Wolsztyn in Poland, the son of the court architect Antoine Hoene. During the Polish rebellion of 1794 Wronski was captured by the Russians, with whom he then enlisted. After leaving the Russian army, he studied Kant in Germany and afterwards obtained a subsidy from the French Academy to study at the Observatory of Marseilles. This subsidy was withdrawn soon after the publication of Wronski’s first work, and the hapless man of science was forced to look for funds. He inveigled a gullible business man called Pierre Arson into signing a contract with him on the condition of revealing philosophical secrets ; when this money ran out he proceeded to London in pursuit of a reward offered by the British Board of Longitude for a correction he had made to their theory of refractions. Despite petitions to Parliament and appeals to the Lord Mayor, Wronski remained penniless until 1833. In that year he signed a contract with a French company for the manufacture of a system of steam engines which he had invented. Wronski himself insisted on publishing the results of his experiments, and the company withdrew their offer. Only towards the end of his life did he find another patron, and he died complaining of his bitter lot.

Wronski was a mathematician of some eminence and a fertile inventor — he projected a tank. His philosophy of ‘Messianism’ owes something to his native tradition of POLISH MESSIANISM {That is incorrect, it was Wronski who had coined ‘Messianism’, the term was later undertaken by Mickiewicz but without Wronski’s approval. (WPT)] But although his supporters try to derive his theories from Kant, the real roots lie in the CABALA, GNOSTICISM and Jacob Boehme. [This all may be partially incorrect. (WPT)] Wronski’s hoped-for ‘Messianism’ might consist, he thought, in an ‘Absolute Reform of Human Knowledge’ and he himself claimed in 1800 to have discovered through his rational intelligence the ‘Absolute’, or Truth. [The ‘Absolute’ was a mathematical formula and could not for that reason be that ‘absolutely’ absolute. It seems to have contained a ‘vanishing quantity’, such a notion could with some justice be called ‘absolute’—(WPT)], or Truth. His long-awaited synthesis was never achieved, nor was he called to Russia by the Tsar, as he daily expected [?]. His chief legacy was a small band of readers and disciples, which included Baudlaire and the Emperor Pedro of Brazil. Chief among these was Wronski’s personal pupil Alphonse Louis Constant, or Eliphas LÉVI, who always looked on his Polish master as one who had ‘defined the essence of God’. [Constant had eventually showed himself ungrateful, some of his irresponsible statements seem to have influenced Augustus De Morgan. (WPT)].   J. W.

New York, etc. : McGraw-Hill 1974, p. 113.

 

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Last updated 19 April 2004

W. Paul Tabaka
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