3

It is sufficient to say that though the proof was invalid, the proposition remained true, and carried with it the truth of such of Carnot's deductions as were based solely upon it.

I had some difficulties in trying to decipher the of such of part.

I think the key resides in understanding the part that comes after the first of

It is sufficient to say that though the proof was invalid, the proposition remained true, and carried with it the truth of [such of Carnot's deductions as were based solely upon it].

But the construction inside the brackets doesn't make much sense either. What does such of even mean?

Full context:

After the invention of the steam-engine in its present form by James Watt, the attention of engineers and of scientific men was directed to the problem of its further improvement. With this end in view, the young Sadi Carnot, in 1824, published the Reflexions sur la Puissance Motrice du Feu, of which this translation is given in this volume. In this really great memoir, Carnot examined the relations between heat and the work done by heat used in an ideal engine, and by reducing the problem to its simplest form and avoiding all special questions relating to details, he succeeded in establishing the conditions upon which the economical working of all heat engines depends. It is not necessary here to animadvert upon the use made by Carnot of the substantial theory of heat, and the consequent failure of the proof of his main proposition when the true nature of heat was appreciated. It is sufficient to say that though the proof was invalid, the proposition remained true, and carried with it the truth of such of Carnot's deductions as were based solely upon it.

Source:The second law of thermodynamics; memoirs by Carnot, Clausius, and Thomson. Written by William Francis Magie. The book can be found here, the quote above lies in the first page of the preface, first paragraph.

  • What is the source of these quotes please. – James K Jan 8 at 20:44
3

The formula such . . . . . as is a rather old-fashioned one. It means those . . . which or those . . . who.

"Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary." [Acts 28:10]

In the following example there is no noun between 'such' and 'as', though 'men' or 'people' is implied:

"Hee had a plat of ground neere his house, and in it a pit of corrupt and stinking water, wherein he bound such as were mad to a stake [...] till they seemed sound." [Brathwait's English Gentleman, 1633]

It is rarely used nowadays, though it might appear in a re-enactment of a an event in history:

Please evacuate! Leave your homes. Hurry! Go to the nearest town. Take with you only such things as you will need for the journey.

Today we would be more likely to say, "Take only what you'll need for the journey."

So your excerpt means "...and carried with it the truth of whichever of Carnot's deductions were based solely upon it."

We might ignore "carried with it" and say, "...the proposition remained true, and so did any of Carnot's deductions which were based solely upon it."

1

As Old Brixtonian's very good answer says,

such [PLURAL NOUN] as ...

basically means

those [PLURAL NOUN] that ...

It is not clear to me, however, your question is about the "such ... as" construction itself. The construction that you are actually faced with

of such of X ... as

The sentence is awkward because it is verbose to start with and uses a construction that must be modified from the norm because "Carnot's propositions" does not start with a plural noun. So the meaning here is

The proposition itself is valid despite the defects in the proof, and consequently the consequences of that proposition, provided that they did not also depend in part on the invalid aspects of the proof, were also correct.

If I remember correctly Carnot's analysis of how a steam engine worked was derived from a theory of heat later proved to be incorrect, but his analysis did not depend on that theory of heat and was consistent with a theory of heat more in accord with experimental validation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.