Foundation of Honor and Knowledge
He studied with Mika Alas, continued his studies in Paris and Leipzig, and was succeeded at the Belgrade University by Milutin Milanković. He introduced the concept of entropy in economic analyses. He believed that social phenomena could be managed by thermodynamics and elaborated it in his study ”Interpretation of Physical and Social Phenomena”. He was minister in several Serbian governments and had a significant contribution in the restoration of economy. He sharply opposed corrupted political power players and harmful leaders. Thus, this man from Aleksinac is a role model for both his and our time

By: Gordana Simeunović

In the ”mysterious workshop of God”, as Goethe respectfully calls history, each nation has periods in which its potential is especially expressed. Those are often years immediately after conquering freedom. One of such periods in Serbs is the late XIX and early XX century, and one of the remarkable figures of the time was Kosta Stojanović.
He was engaged in philosophy, mathematics, physics, mechanics, sociology, economy. He translated Latin manuscripts and wrote poems. He was a versatile personality, equally interested in natural and social sciences. He was founder of mathematical economics and considered forerunner of the idea of cybernetics.
He was born on October 2, 1867 in Aleksinac. His family originated from Bitola county, from the village of Malovište. Father Stevan was a merchant, and his mother Malena was from a respected family. Her brother, Vasa Knežević Stošić, was parliament member for the town of Aleksinac for many years and one of the founders of the Radical Party. Her second brother, Kole Knežević, gave his life for his democratic convictions. Kosta Stojanović dedicated his memoirs Breakdown and Resurrection of Serbia to the memory of his uncles.


Kosta Stojanović went to school in Aleksinac and Niš. Already as a student of the Niš gymnasium and through his later education, he showed many talents and a great wish for knowledge. He graduated mathematics at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Great School in Belgrade, where he studied together with Mihajlo Petrović Alas. They were good friends and appreciated each other. They wrote the Proportional Representation tract together. Unfortunately, this is their only published joint work.
Kosta Stojanović further studied in Paris and Leipzig. He learned from leading French mathematicians: Picard, Appel, Lippmann. Henri Poincaré had the biggest impact on his future work. Kosta Stojanović became member of the French Historical and Astronomical Society. He cooperated with Serbian magazines Nastavnik (Teacher), Tehnički list (Technical Paper), Srpski književni glasnik (Serbian Literary Herald), La Serbia magazine from Geneva, and many others. He published a number of professional papers about solving equations, integrating with rows, new geometry, envelopes of reflected light rays, new theory of matter. One of his famous works is Atomic Theory – A Fragment from the Philosophy of Ruđer Josif Bošković. He introduced the concept of entropy in economic analyses. He believed that social flows could be managed with the support of thermodynamics. He elaborated this idea in his book Interpretation of Physical and Social Phenomena. He is thus considered founder of cybernetics, which later became one of the leading sciences of modern age. Perhaps that idea, which he intensely worked on, was one of the reasons for his involvement in politics.
After completing his studies, Kosta Stojanović was first teacher in the gymnasium in Niš, then in Belgrade, and in 1903 became associate professor at the new department of applied mathematics at the Belgrade University. His entering politics did not cease his scientific work. Natural and social sciences had to interlace in real life, to confirm the value of the idea. He was elected minister of national economy in Nikola Pašić’s government in 1906. He then left his job at the University. His department was taken over by great Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković.


Thanks to his excellent knowledge of the theory of economic policies and his carefully designed strategy, despite many interfering factors, Kosta Stojanović made Serbia winner of the Customs War imposed by Austro-Hungary. As minister of national economy, he did much for the recovery and advancement of Serbian economy.
He belonged to the Serbo-French free mason lounge ”Unification”, which he unveiled in 1902. As many reputable Serbian intellectuals of the time, he advocated the creation of a united state in the Balkans. He knew well and criticized the mentality of Balkan nations, but also believed that only united they can survive and move forward. In his afterword to the memoirs Breakdown and Resurrection of Serbia, Professor Slobodan Turlakov notices a bit cynically that Kosta Stojanović died of anger, seeing, both as statesman and scientist, that the common state created on the foundations of a great Serbian sacrifice has no future. First in Davidović’s government, then twice in Vesnić’s, finally in Pašić’s (he deceased the third day), he had the opportunity to see and experience the illusoriness of the idea of creating a common state. He became aware that the state, secretly before its official announcement and later very openly, was destroyed by its western parts, which entered it insincerely and calculatedly.


”Human passions, megalomania, vanity, harshness, arrogance, haughtiness, prestige, hegemony, domination of opposites in the economic interests of the nation and states, brought to a breakdown never seen in history before”, wrote Kosta Stojanović about World War I (in the foreword to his memoirs). He also announced the following war. ”Nations will collide again. (…) Duty, fear, lack of education, lack of organization, illusions, suggestions, will take crowds to slaughters for old ideals with new names…”
Kosta Stojanović possessed great knowledge, honesty, decisiveness and courage to publicly speak about bad moves of any politics. People say that he was righteous, but grumpy, features not characteristic for such a personality. He sharply criticized the politics of Nikola Pašić’s government before and during World War I. He criticized Serbian diplomacy managed by people with weak voices and weak authority. He believed sending students to the front was a terrible mistake. He demanded sending war profiteers and active officers staying in Switzerland to the front. He believed that the unprepared and confused government made many wrong moves. He was most bothered by the corruption the authorities have sunk into, money burning and cooperation with obscure characters. Kosta Stojanović believed that Nikola Pašić, his megalomania, egoism and ambitiousness, was the main cause of the breakdown of Serbia. In his memoirs published in 2012, he sharply criticizes Nikola Pašić and his politics: ”… A detailed analysis of his acts and actions would be a funny collection of gestures, if the history of our nation weren’t so sad… Pašić was the leader of people. Some stood up against him, some criticized him, but the moment came when he was marked as inevitable. Leaders of different nations and centuries have one feature in common: they match the environment they are leading. If one becomes prominent in it, agreeable with the instincts of the crowd, if he has its intellectual and ethical defects, he could become it’s leader in a given moment.”
During World War I, Kosta Stojanović first went to Corfu with the government, then to Italy, where he was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Rapallo. He founded the Club of National Parliament Members in 1916 in Nice and was its president. After the end of the war, he moved from the Radical Party to the Democratic Party in 1919. As member of the financial and economic delegation of the Kingdom of SCS, he participated at the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919. As minister of agriculture in Ljubomir Davidović’s government, he was one of the drivers for founding the Faculty of Agriculture.


For a long time, Kosta Stojanović was a neglected personality of Serbian history and science. Radio Television of Serbia deserves most credit for rescuing him from oblivion almost a hundred years later. The series Forgotten Minds of Serbia from 2008 includes an episode about Kosta Stojanović, written by Nataša Drakulić, directed by Petar Stanojlović. The leading role was played by Andrej Šepetkovski, actor from Aleksinac. Furthermore, an episode about Kosta Stojanović was made within the Serbian scientific digital series History of Science, written by Borislav Nikolić and directed by Ivan Milanović. Professor Aleksandar Petrović, PhD, great expert in the life and work of Kosta Stojanović, was the professional consultant and narrator.
Almost a hundred years since the death of Kosta Stojanović, in 2012, RTS, together with ”Dosije” publishing studio, published his memoirs Breakdown and Resurrection of Serbia. The manuscript of the memoirs is kept in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Archive. The book was published with a small circulation, in the bibliophile edition RARA, which publishes titles significant for the cultural heritage of Serbia. It was edited by Professor Slobodan Turlakov, PhD.
Kosta Stojanović has his street in his hometown of Aleksinac and in Belgrade. A small, quiet, beautiful street he lived in, in the center of Belgrade, in Palilula, from Stevana Sremca to Palmotićeva, was named after him.
”Serbian Post” published a postal stamp with his portrait on the 150th anniversary of Kosta Stojanović’s birth.
People such as Kosta Stojanović are great motivators and a real treasure of any nation. Serbian as well. For many reasons, he is an important man of both his and our age.


Poetry and Science
It is perhaps unusual that Kosta Stojanović, firstly a scientist and then politician, wrote verses. His friend Mihajlo Petrović Alas, great mathematician, explained it nicely in 1925: ”True poetry and genuine science have common points, as well as deep common features. One such feature, the one in which it is sometimes difficult to differ science from poetry, is discovering and using similarities among disparate elements and facts.”
Kosta Stojanović signed his poems with a pseudonym Konstantin Vlahov. The manuscripts of his poems and translations of classical Latin texts are kept in the Museum of the City of Belgrade.


Death and Its Shadows
Kosta Stojanović died on January 3, 1921 in Belgrade. Official cause of death: kidney and brain inflammation. The family suspected he was poisoned. Together with Milorad Drašković, minister of internal affairs, Kosta participated in preparing the Law on Investigating the Property of War Profiteers, which justified such suspicions. People who earned money in unacceptable ways in the most difficult moments for the Serbian nation, by adding sand to flour or selling boots with cardboard soles to the army, were certainly ready to defend their dirty money in every possible way.
Entire Belgrade attended Kosta Stojanović’s funeral.


Kosta Stojanović had three sons: Milan (1903–1987), Velimir (1905–2001) and Radmilo (1910–2002). Radmilo Stojanović was professor and great expert in Sanskrit, classical language of Euro-Arian literature and sacral tradition. He died at old age, entirely dedicated to the ancient language and its secrets. Some of his books are ”Man and Reality from the Aspect of Ancient East” (1993), ”Introduction to Sanskrit” (1997), ”Sanskrit Reading Book and Grammar” (2000)...


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