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Quotation of the Day…

Posted By Don Boudreaux On July 21, 2012 @ 7:38 am In Complexity & Emergence,Hayek,Hubris and humility,Man of System,Myths and Fallacies,Scientism,Seen and Unseen | Comments Disabled

… is from pages 149-150 of the 1979 Liberty Fund edition of Hayek’s 1952 study, The Counter-Revolution of Science [1] (footnote excluded):

We flatter ourselves undeservedly if we represent human civilization as entirely the product of conscious reason or as the product of human design, or when we assume that it is necessarily in our power deliberately to re-create or to maintain what we have built without knowing what we are doing.  Though our civilization is the result of a cumulation of individual knowledge, it is not by the explicit or conscious combination of all this knowledge in any individual brain, but by its embodiment in symbols which we use without understanding them, in habits and institutions, tools and concepts, that man in society is constantly able to profit from a body of knowledge neither he nor any other man completely possesses.  Many of the greatest things that man has achieved are the result not of consciously directed thought, and still less the product of a deliberately coordinated effort of many individuals, but of a process in which the individual plays a part which he can never fully understand.  They are greater than any individual precisely because they result from the combination of knowledge more extensive than a single mind can master.

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[1] The Counter-Revolution of Science: http://www.amazon.com/Counter-Revolution-Science-F-HAYEK/dp/0913966673/ref=sr_1_23?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342870634&sr=1-23

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