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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 375 of Liberty Fund’s 1976 edition of Adam Smith’s 1759 book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

That wisdom which contrived the system of human affections, as well as that of every other part of nature, seems to have judged that the interest of the great society of mankind would be best promoted by directing the principal attention of each individual to that particular portion of it, which was most within the sphere both of his abilities and of his understanding.

(A copy of the original 1853 printing of this edition is available on-line from Liberty Fund here.)

This lesson – both starkly simple yet profoundly important for peace, civility, and freedom – is, sadly, one that that wisdom which contrived the system of human affections failed to impart to far too many politicians, pundits, professors, preachers, and popes.  Scores of such people, impressed by their own good intentions and intoxicated by the attention and applause they get from their audiences, fancy that they know vastly more than they, or any other human beings, can possibly know.  They mistake their impressions, notions, presumptions, textbook models, and visions of better worlds as being actual and useful knowledge of reality.  These arrogant worthies routinely inflict their ignorance on a gullible public, itself filled with far too many people who wish to escape reality by believing that supermen and superwomen are at the ready to serve and perform wonders as secular saviors.