Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 8, 2017

in Complexity & Emergence

… is from page 146 of the 1985 NYU Press edition of the 1963 English-language translation of Carl Menger‘s 1883 Investigations Into the Method of the Social Sciences with Special Reference to Economics (Untersuchungen über die Methode der Sozialwissenschaften und der politischen Okonomie insbesondere) (footnote deleted; original emphasis):

Another portion of them [social phenomena], however, is not the result of agreement of members of society or of legislation, as we have already explained.  Language, religion, law, even the state itself, and, to mention a few economic social phenomena, the phenomena of markets, of competition, of money, and numerous other social structures are already met with in epochs of history where we cannot properly speak of a purposeful activity of the community as such directed at establishing them.  Nor can we speak of such activity on the part of the rulers.  We are confronted here with the appearance of social institutions which to a high degree serve the welfare of society.  Indeed, they are not infrequently of vital significance for the latter and yet are not the result of communal social activity.  It is here that we meet a noteworthy, perhaps the most noteworthy, problem of the social sciences:

How can it be that institutions which serve the common welfare and are extremely significant for its development come into being without a common will directed toward establishing them?

DBx: Yes.  Scholars competent in economics and the other social sciences reject secular creationism.  Such scholars understand that most features of society – and, certainly, society itself writ large – are the results of human action but not of human design.


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