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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 142 of Frank A. Fetter’s 1927 paper “Clark’s Reformulation of the Capital Concept,” which is chapter 9 of Economic Essays Contributed in Honor of John Bates Clark (Jacob H. Hollander, ed., 1927):

It has been said, perhaps extremely, that the first time a new thought is expressed or an invention is made, the world simply pays no attention to it. Not until it is repeated independently and rediscovered a hundred times, and then only under peculiarly favoring conditions, does the world look up and say: yes, there is something in it, but nothing original – indeed it is very old. Until the world has received an idea in this way, its rediscovery for the hundredth time is as original as its discovery the first time, and its mere restatement by one aware of its earlier origin and rejection, calls, for that very reason, for as great vigor of thought, and for faith and conviction.

DBx: Experiencing the brain-activity of originating an idea is not sufficient to give that idea life, in the sense of arranging for that idea to make a net contribution to humankind’s well-being. What is also required for that idea to have life is that it be put in some form – which can range from the purely intellectual (as in Adam Smith’s explanation of a self-regulating market economy) to the physical (such as Thomas Edison’s lightbulb) – that many other human beings understand and accept in ways that enable them to improve their lives. And for this latter to occur, not only must the flesh-and-blood champion of the idea have entrepreneurial vision and courage, but society’s values and institutions must supply fertile-enough soil for the idea to take firm root and to blossom.


Pictured above is Frank A. Fetter.