In the article Refraction it is shown that a ray of light traversing a homogeneous medium is deviated from its rectilinear path when it enters a medium of different refractive index; it is therefore readily seen that the path of a ray through continuously varying media is necessarily curvilinear, being compounded of an infinite number of infinitesimally small rectilinear deviations.
In this he gave equations resulting from the hypothesis that the magnetism of a ship is partly due to the permanent magnetism of hard iron and partly to the transient induced magnetism of soft iron; that the latter is proportional to the intensity of the inducing force, and that the length of the needle is infinitesimally small compared to the distance of the surrounding iron.
A curve came to be treated as a sequence of infinitesimal straight lines; a tangent as the extension of an infinitesimal chord; a surface or area as a sequence of infinitesimally narrow strips, and a solid as a collection of infinitesimally small cubes (See Infinitesimal Calculus).
To study the laws of history we must completely change the subject of our observation, must leave aside kings, ministers, and generals, and study the common, infinitesimally small elements by which the masses are moved.
At any one of the m 2 -26 - 3K points the variable curve and the consecutive curve have tangents distinct from yet infinitesimally near to each other, and each of these two tangents is also infinitesimally near to one of the n 2 -2T-3t common tangents of the two curves; whence, attending only to the variable curve, and considering the consecutive curve as coming into actual coincidence with it, the n 2 -2T-3c common tangents are the tangents to the variable curve at the m 2 -26-3K points respectively, and the envelope is at the same time generated by the m 2 -26-3K points, and enveloped by the n2-2T-3c tangents; we have thus a dual generation of the envelope, which only differs from Pliicker's dual generation, in that in place of a single point and tangent we have the group of m2-26-3K points and n 2 -2T-3c tangents.
Only by taking infinitesimally small units for observation (the differential of history, that is, the individual tendencies of men) and attaining to the art of integrating them (that is, finding the sum of these infinitesimals) can we hope to arrive at the laws of history.
But originally they existed in infinitesimally small fragments of themselves, endless in number and inextricably combined throughout the universe.