“Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là” ~ Pierre-Simon Laplace

October 20, 2008

Pierre-Simon Laplace

Filed under: Uncategorized — yowie3120 @ 10:51 am

“Laplace went in state to Napoleon to accept a copy of his work, and the following account of the interview is well authenticated, and so characteristic of all the parties concerned that I quote it in full. Someone had told Napoleon that the book contained no mention of the name of God; Napoleon, who was fond of putting embarrassing questions, received it with the remark, ‘M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.’ Laplace, who, though the most supple of politicians, was as stiff as a martyr on every point of his philosophy, drew himself up and answered bluntly, ‘Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.’ [‘I had no need of that hypothesis.’] Napoleon, greatly amused, told this reply to Lagrange, who exclaimed, ‘Ah! c’est une belle hypothèse; ça explique beaucoup de choses.’ [‘Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains so many things.’]

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