Quotations from some of the contributors to evolutionary economics !
Empirical Science & Ignorance (observation, theory, hypotheses, experiments, peer review) -
Xenophanes - ‘The Gods did not reveal, from the beginning, all things to us, but in the course of time through seeking we may learn & know things better. But as for certain truth no man knows it, nor shall he know it, neither of the Gods nor yet of all things that I speak. For even if by chance he were to utter The Final Truth, he would himself not know it: for all is but a woven web of guesses.’
Socrates - 'Admitting one's ignorance is the first step in acquiring knowledge' …'awareness of one’s ignorance is better than the illusion of knowledge'
Aristotle - 'The things best to know are first principles and causes, but these things are perhaps the most difficult for men to grasp, for they are farthest removed from the senses ...'. Metaphysics.
Arabic saying - 'Those who claim to foresee the future are lying, even if by chance they are later proved right'.
King Canute the Great - 'Let all men know how empty and powerless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey'. AD 1016.
Shakespeare - ‘If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces’. The Merchant of Venice.
Isaac Newton - 'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants'.
Adam Smith - 'He is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention'. The Wealth of Nations.
Adam Smith - 'This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts'.
Niels Bohr - 'Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation but as a question'.
Herbert Simon - 'We encounter many branches in the maze of life’s path, we follow now the left fork, now the right. The metaphor of the garden of forking paths is irresistible to anyone who has devoted their scientific career to understanding human choice'. Models of My Life.
George Shackle - ‘We are ignorant of what it is we do not know even though we know more than we can ever say'. Epistemtics and Economics.
Frank Knight - 'uncertainty is radically distinct from the familiar notion of risk, from which it has never been properly separated'. Risk, Uncertainty & Profit.
Jorge Luis Borges - 'I am not sure of anything, I know nothing . . . can you imagine that I don't even know the date of my own death?'.
Kenneth Boulding – ‘Humble, honest, ignorance is one of the finest flowers of the human spirit’. Evolutionary Economics and Human Nature.
Robert Solow - 'There is not some glorious theoretical synthesis of capitalism that you can write down in a book and follow. You have to grope your way'.
Douglass C North - 'To predict the future we would have to know today what we will learn tomorrow which will shape our future actions'. Understanding the Process of Economic Change.
Peter Bernstein - 'The Gods are unkind and deny us knowledge of what the future holds'. Against the Gods - the Remarkable Story of Risk.
Brian J Loasby - 'The unpredictability of emergent outcomes is the fundamental root of Knightian uncertainty'. 2006.
Alan Greenspan -
'Senator, if you think I was clear you must have misunderstood me, we are groping for understanding, the knowledge you assume I possess doesn't exist' - 'The only effective regulation lies in the propensity of customers to choose alternatives, of investors to move their funds elsewhere and of labour to acquire technical skills' - 'Senator, if I seem clear to you, you must have misunderstood me' - 'Unfortunately, Senator, nobody knows where the next innovative idea is coming from. Political decisions are never random and will always lose out to innovative alternatives'. Various Congressional Committees.
Alan Greenspan - 'Regulators have not been able to achieve the level of future clarity required to act pre-emptively. The problem is not lack of regulation but unrealistic expectations. What we confront in reality is uncertainty, some of it frighteningly so ...'. FT April 2008.
Alan Greenspan - 'Greenspan, who knew so much more than most, knew far less than most supposed ...'. FT September 2007.
Donald Rumsfeld - 'There are known knowns, there are known unknowns, there are unknown unknowns, and there are even unknown knowns, and of course there are errors, things you think you know but don't and finally denials, things too painful to know so you don't'. US Secretary of State for Defence 2003.
John Kenneth Galbraith - 'There are those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know'.
Peter Jay – ‘If economics is to have any claim to relevance it should be able to explain what is the greatest event in economic history; modern economic growth. It is a stupendous puzzle. The natural selection of innovations. Successful innovations are selected for survival by their own success'. The Road to Riches.
Martin Wolf - 'People who think they know what is going to happen next are fools. Surprises - or what the brilliant author Nassim Taleb calls 'Black Swans' - are inevitable. Some are likely to be desperately unpleasant too'. FT May 2007.
Janan Ganash - 'Millennia of evolutionary coding is stronger than technocratic fiat'. FT August 2017.
Thomas Carlyle - 'Social Science, is not a 'gay science' but rueful, which finds the secret of this universe in 'supply and demand' and reduces the duty of human governors to that of letting men alone. Not a 'gay science', no, a dreary, desolate, and indeed quite abject and distressing one; what we might call, the dismal science'. Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question.
Charles MacKay - 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'. 1841.
Vox Populi - 'Who knows ...'??
Keynes - 'Animal Spirits'
Natural Selection (copy/vary/select) -
Charles Darwin - 'It struck me that favourable variations would tend to be preserved and unfavourable ones tend to be destroyed'. 'I came to it by wondering why?'
Richard Dawkins - 'What really happens is that the gene pool becomes filled with genes that influence bodies in such a way that they behave 'as if' they made complex, if unconscious, cost/benefit calculations'. The Selfish Gene, 1976.
Richard Dawkins - 'Darwinism is a theory of random mutation plus non-random cumulative natural selection pushing towards improvement. Every generation has its many failures but every individual is descended only from previous generations' successful minorities. Why, I wonder, is it so hard for even sophisticated scientists to grasp this simple point'? Climbing Mount Improbable, 1996.
Richard Dawkins - 'It was Darwin who first spotted that you don't have to have a choosing agent. The choice can be made automatically by failure to survive. Only survivors reproduce and pass on the genes that helped them to survive'. The Greatest Show on Earth, 2009.
John Stuart Mill - ' It is useful while mankind is imperfect that there should be different opinions, so that there should be different experiments of living, that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others'. On Liberty.
Joseph Schumpeter - ‘The essential point to grasp is that in dealing with capitalism we are dealing with an evolutionary process'. Capitalism.
Joseph Schumpeter - ‘The perennial gale of creative destruction'. Capitalism.
Douglass C North - 'Economists have the correct insight that economics is a theory of choice, the key to the story is the variety of options and centralised political control limits the options. The best recipe is adaptive efficiency coping with novel uncertainty in a non-ergodic world, the maintenance of institutions which enable trial & error experiment to occur, and an effective means of eliminating unsuccessful solutions'. Understanding the Process of Economic Change.
Douglass C North - 'Conformity can be costly in a world of uncertainty which requires innovative institutional creation because no one can know the right path to survival. Over time, the richer the cultural context in terms of providing multiple experimentation and creative competition, the more likely the successful survival of the society'. Understanding the Process of Economic Change.
Richard A Posner - 'A diversity of approaches is necessary if there is to be a good chance of hitting on one that works. Progress is a social undertaking & achievement, because people see things differently'. Law, Pragmatism and Democracy.
Paul Romer - 'I am convinced that both markets and free trade are good, but the traditional answer that we give to students to explain why they are good, the one based on perfect competition and Pareto Efficiencyity, is becoming untenable. Something much more interesting and more complicated is going on here'.
Gary Cziko - 'By increasing variation, the probability of finding a variant with desired characteristics is increased'. Without Miracles.
Stephen Hawking - 'Some individuals are better able than others to draw the right conclusions about the world about them and act accordingly. These individuals will be more likely to survive and reproduce so their pattern of behaviour and thought will become dominant'. A Brief History of Time.
Fredrick Hayek - ‘Competition is like experimentation in science, a discovery process, and it must rely on the self interest of producers, it must allow them to use their knowledge for their purposes, because nobody else possesses the information’. The Road to Serfdom.
Max Planck – 'A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it'. Autobiography. 1949.
Martin Wolf - 'Cultural diversity and cultural change are desirable and inevitable. We are cultural animals, someone without a culture is not human. But the cultures we possess vary enormously. Indeed, the variability, over time and space is the great evolutionary advantage of humanity. Instead of changing biologically over millennia, human beings can change culturally over decades'. Muliticulturalism. FT 2005.
Steve Jones - 'Evolution is a political sofa which moulds itself to the buttocks of the last person to sit on it'. Darwin's Ghost. 1999.
Dr C J Morton - 'Pragmatic in extenso. If you think you know what's going on you must be God. Just try and understand what works and evolve from there. It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong'.
Susan Blackmore - 'Frighteningly, most people do not understand Darwin's great insight. What people miss is the sheer inevitability of the creative process. Once you see it —copy, vary, select; copy, vary, select —you see that design by natural selection simply has to happen. This is not like Isaac Newton's laws, or quantum physics, or any of the other great theories in science, where one can ask 'why is this so?'. It simply has to be the case. Then, the scary implications follow. If everyone understood evolution, then the tyranny of religious memes would be weakened, and we little humans might find a better way to live in this pointless universe' Guardian.
Charles Darwin - 'Slow though the
process of selection may be, if feeble man can do much by his powers of
artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the
beauty and infinite complexity of the co-adaptations between all organic
beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which
may be effected in the long course of time by nature's power of selection.
We are profoundly ignorant of the causes producing slight and unimportant variations; and we are immediately made conscious of this by reflecting on the differences in the breeds of our domesticated animals in different countries,—more especially in the less civilized countries where there has been but little artificial selection' Origin of Species.
Social Behaviour (Complexity/Change/Conflict/Scarcity) -
Emanuel Kant - 'out of the crooked timber of mankind no straight thing was ever made'
Lewis Carroll - ‘I can’t believe impossible things’, said Alice. ‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice’, surmised the Queen'. Alice through the Looking Glass.
Charles Darwin - 'It's an awful stretcher to believe that a peacock's tail was thus formed but ... most people just don't get it - I must be a very bad explainer'. Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Charles Darwin - ‘There is a grandeur in this view of life, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful are being evolved’. Origin of Species.
Charles Darwin - ‘In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Light will be thrown on the origins of man and his history’. Origin of Species.
Charles Darwin - 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change'. Origin of Species.
Richard Dawkins - 'Whether we like it or not, all reality is evolution, it is the only theory of complexity that we have. Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun'. The Selfish Gene. Unweaving the Rainbow.
Richard Dawkins - 'Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators. The watchmaker is blind '. T-shirt Slogans.
Daniel Dennett - 'Darwin's ideas are powerful enough to have done all the design work that is manifest in the world'. Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Daniel Dennett - 'The only answer to the endless chains of why, why, why is that the alternatives died'. Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Daniel Dennett – ‘In order to make a perfect and beautiful machine, it is not requisite to know how to make it. All the works of human genius can be understood in the end to be products of a cascade of generate-and-test procedures that are, at bottom, algorithmic and mindless’. Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Daniel Dennett – 'consciousness is an effect not a cause'
Stanley Metcalfe - 'Patterns of change have a coherence. We may measure at the macro level but the dynamics of change must be explained at the level of micro phenomena'. Evolutionary Economics.
Manuel De Landa - 'Emergent properties result from interactions between individual parts, so it follows that a top down analytical approach that begins with the whole and dissects it into its constituent parts is bound to miss precisely those emergent properties'. 1000 Years of Non Linear History.
Ilya Prigogine - 'Now we see evolutionary trends in a variety of areas ranging from atomic and molecular physics through fluid mechanics, chemistry and biology to large scale systems of relevance in environmental and economic sciences'. Is the Future Given?
Conan Doyle - ‘When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however implausible is probably the truth'. Sherlock Holmes.
Joshua Epstein/Robert Axtell – ‘A wide range of social, collective phenomena can be made to emerge from the interactions of autonomous agents operating to simple local rules’. Growing Artificial Societies.
Steven Pinker - 'Thinking is a physical process, the human brain is not exempt from evolution'. The Blank Slate.
Karl Popper - ‘Our aim must be to make our successive mistakes as quickly as possible. To speed up evolution.’ Popper.
Steve Jones - ‘We now ask of genetics and molecular biology the questions once asked of culture, religion, politics and the social sciences'. It's in the Blood.
Eric Beinhocker – ‘Wealth is knowledge and its origin is evolution’. The Origin of Wealth.
Cooperative Synergies (synergies of specialisation & scale) -
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 - 'Two are better than one, though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves … '
Robert Axelrod - ‘The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others but in eliciting their co-operation. Individuals don’t have to be rational; the evolutionary process alone allows the successful strategy to thrive, even if the players do not know why or how. Finally, no central authority is needed; co-operation based on reciprocity can be self policing’. The Evolution of Co-operation.
Adam Smith - 'How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it'. Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Adam Smith - 'No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable'. Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Richard Dawkins - 'The replicators that exist tend to be the ones that are good at manipulating the world to their own advantage. But other replicators are also successful otherwise they would not be common. The world therefore tends to become populated by mutually compatible sets of successful replicators, replicators that get on well together'. Extended Phenotype.
Francis Fukuyama - ‘Economic activity is carried out by individuals in organisations that require a high degree of social co-operation'. Trust.
Christopher Wills - 'Men who cannot exploit the co-operative benefits derived from institutions in modern knowledge economies are discriminated against by girls and so have fewer children'. University of Sandiego, California.
Gary Becker - ‘I am saying that the economic approach provides a valuable unified framework for understanding all human behaviour’. The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour.
Francis Fukuyama - ‘The desire for economic prosperity is itself not culturally determined but almost universally shared'. Trust.
Peter Jay - 'If they had they studied their economic textbooks more carefully they might have understood better that true advantage lies in playing positive sum games with your partners – as when economic exchange is free and competitive rather than controlled and rivalrous …'. The Road to Riches.
Milton Friedman - 'Free to choose'. Free to Choose.
David Eagleman - 'An enormous amount of brain circuitry has to do with other brains. We are deeply social creatures, families, friends, peers, business partners. Social neuroscience, we had no difficulty in assigning intention to inanimates, our brains are primed for group interaction. Folk cooperate irrespective of kinship. The brain comes with inborn instincts to detect who is a friend and who is a foe'.
Charles Darwin - 'As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races'. Descent of Man
Liberal Democracy (tort, trade, technology, parasites & predators)
Plato - 'Mob rule and emasculation of the wise' and ‘who will watch the guardians'?
Herodotus – ‘Free citizens are better warriors, since they fight for themselves, their families, their property, not for kings, aristocrats or priests’.
Sophocles - ‘A cunning fellow is man, inventive beyond all expectation, he reaches sometimes evil and sometimes good’.
Chief Justice Brian (1478) -'The intent of a man cannot be tried, for the devil himself knows not the intent of a man'.
John Stuart Mill - 'The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others’. On Liberty.
John Stuart Mill - 'The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it'. On Liberty.
John Stuart Mill - 'It would be a great misunderstanding of this doctrine to suppose that it is one of selfish indifference about the well-being of others'. On Liberty.
14th Amendment - 'No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny any person the equal protection of the laws'. US Constitution.
James Madison - ‘The protection of the diverse faculties of men is the first the first object of government. It is vain to say that enlighten statesmen will be able to adjust these interests and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. The majority must be rendered unable to carry into effect schemes of oppression'. Federalist Papers No.10 1787.
William Pitt - 'The poorest man in his cottage, may bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement'. Private Property under Common Law.
John Hampden - 'What an English King has no right to demand, an English subject has a right to refuse'. Ship Money & The Civil War.
Christopher Hill - ‘In common law the wisdom of our ancestors has established a perfectly balanced constitution, from which practice might deviate but which can be ascertained and restored. Common Law not only triumphed over Royal prerogative and the church courts but also over radical attempts to reform and rationalise it. A statute declared what the law was; it did not create it’. The Century of Revolution.
Winston Churchill - 'Here is common law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it'. 1956
Nathan Rosenberg - ‘The English practice of accommodating the rules of commercial law to commercial practice. The line of causation ran from economic need to legal response’. How the West Grew Rich.
Douglass North - ‘The supremacy of Parliament and the embedding of property rights in Common Law put political power in the hands of men anxious to exploit the new economic opportunities and provided the framework for a judicial system to protect and encourage productive economic activity’. The Rise of the Western World.
Peter Jay - ‘The democratic idea that the rights and interests of individuals should be protected was pregnant with economic significance’. The Road to Riches.
Andrei Sakharov - 'A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbours'. The Case for Democracy - Sharansky.
Voltaire - 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it'.
Jeremy Bentham - ‘The addability of the happiness of different subjects is a postulum without which all political reasonings are at a stand'. The Principles of Morals and Legislation.
Lord Clyde - ‘No man in this country is under the smallest obligation, moral or otherwise, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or his property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest shovel into his stores. The tax payer is entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue’. In judgment 1929.
Richard Dawkins - 'The trouble with conspiracies, even those that are to everybody's advantage in the long run, is that they are open to abuse. If manipulators really had the powers claimed, they could win the lottery every week. I prefer to point out that they could also win a Nobel Prize for discovering fundamental physical forces hitherto unknown to science'. www
Oliver Williamson - ‘Opportunism is self interest seeking with guile often involving subtle forms of deceit, especially calculated efforts to mislead, distort, disguise, obfuscate, or otherwise confuse. This vastly complicates the problems of economic organisation. Plainly if it were not for opportunism all behaviour could be rule governed'. The Economic Institutions of Capitalism.
John Atherton - ‘It is easy to be compassionate with other people’s money’. Canon Theologian, Manchester.
Ralf Harris - 'If it's free put me down for two … please'. IEA.
Xenophones - 'It is impossible for a man of many trades to do all of them well. In large cities, however, because many make demands on each trade, one alone is enough to support a man'.
Adam Smith - 'The division of labour was limited by the extent of the market'.
David Ricardo - 'It is here we come to the heart of the matter. The economic principle of comparative advantage', 'a country may, in return for manufactured commodities, import corn even if it can be grown with less labour than in the country from which it is imported'. Peter Jay on Principles of Political Economy.
Adam Smith - 'the propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals'. The Wealth of Nations.
Paul Samuelson - 'Thousands of important and intelligent men have never been able to grasp the principle of comparative advantage or believe it even after it was explained to them'. International Economic Relations.
David Landes - 'If the gains from trade in commodities are substantial, they are small compared to trade in ideas'. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.
Mat Ridley - 'It is not a zero sum game. The simple idea of the gains from trade lies at the heart of the modern and the ancient economy, not the power of capital. There is nothing else to it.' The Origins of Virtue.
Steven Pinker – ‘In a high tech world the cure for the tragic shortcomings and perilous fallacies of human intuition is education, but education in economics, evolutionary biology, probability and statistics – unfortunately most High School and College curricula have barely changed since Medieval times!’ – The Blank Slate.
Max Planck - 'Science advances funeral by funeral'.
Richard Dawkins - 'The river of my title is a river of DNA, a river of information, not a river of bones and tissues'. The River Out of Eden.
David Landes - 'It is the process of evolution which identifies innovative benefits from any source and selects them on merit without prejudice'. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.
Adam Smith - 'Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition'.
Adam Smith - 'The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation'.
Adam Smith - 'It is not by augmenting the capital of the country, but by rendering a greater part of that capital active and productive that banking can increase the industry of the country'.
Peter Jay - 'Technical innovation can eventually relax any supply constraint and so support perpetual economic growth at compound interest. Technology determines what counts as a valuable resource. For capital nothing is required but saving; and for saving nothing is required but income. Income we already have’. The Road to Riches.
Israel Kirzner - ‘Innovations until now conceived by no one at all'. Competition and Entrepreneurship.
Daniel Dennett - 'Cost is always an object - the second law of thermodynamics sees to that'. Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Richard Dawkins - 'If you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so'. www
David Landes - 'Scepticism and refusal of authority is at the heart of scientific endeavour. Scientific knowledge dictates economic possibilities'. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.
Ashok Ganguly – ‘Technology dominates every facet of human enterprise. Solow explained that it is technological innovation that drives economic growth. Technology is not available ‘off the shelf’, technology transfer is a complex process, the most precious knowledge is tacit and can neither be taught nor passed on’. Business Driven R & D.
Robert Lucas -'The consequences for human welfare involved in questions about human capital spillovers are simply staggering. Once one starts to think about them, it's hard to think of anything else'. Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations - Warsh.
Paul Romer – ‘Human material existence is limited by ideas, not stuff, people don’t need copper wires they need ways to communicate, oil was a contaminant, then it became a fuel’. www.
Nathan Rosenberg - ‘Experimentation has been the key factor in the success of Western capitalism'. Exploring the Black Box.
Markets (diversity & choice) -
Archbishop Cranmer - 'There was never anything so well devised by men which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted'. Book of Common Prayer, 1549.
Pope John Paul II - 'The Welfare State contradicts the principle of subsidiarity by intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility. This leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending'. Centesimus Annus, encyclical 1991.
Oliver Cromwell - ‘I beseech you from the bowels of Christ think that you may be wrong’.
Planning (fatal conceit)
Adam Smith - 'The man of system is apt to be very wise in his own conceit. In the great chess board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it'. The Wealth of Nations.
Silvan Sam Schweber - 'Darwin, by
August 1838, came to study, among others, Hume, Burke and Adam Smith. It is
his study of in particular of Adam Smith which reinforced his focus on the
individuals as the central element and unit in his theory and led him to
adopt the Scottish view of trying to understand the whole in terms of the
individual parts and their interactions.
I believe that by July 1839 Darwin had a unitary evolutionary view of everything around him: the planetary system, our own planet, its geology, its climate, its living organisms and their social organizations. More important, he had convinced himself that the mechanism of this evolutionary process was accounted for by the invariable laws of physics and chemistry and the principle of natural selection, without the necessity of divine intervention at any stage or level.' The Origin of Origin Revisited, 1977.
John Adams - 'I study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Power always thinks that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws. Because power corrupts society's demands for moral authority increase'. 1776.
Fredrick Hayek - ‘The idea that human kind can shape the world according to wish is what I call the fatal conceit'. The Fatal Conceit.
Adam Smith - 'The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence'. The Wealth of Nations.
David Buss - 'There can be no autonomous agent with unitary interests called 'society' that exerts causal influence. This is a logical impossibility'. The Myth of Culture as a Causal Explanation, University of Texas, 2001.
Edmund Burke - 'Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods'.
Mark Twain - 'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect'.
Margaret Thatcher - 'There is no such thing as 'society', there is a living tapestry of men and women and the beauty of that tapestry, and the quality of our lives, will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and to turn round and help, by our own efforts, those who are unfortunate. There's no such thing as entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation'. Women's Own magazine, October 31 1987.
Martin Wolf - 'There is no such thing as 'the people'; this is an imaginary entity. There are merely citizens whose choices change' FT December 2016.
Gertrude Himmelfarb on Adam Smith – ‘For Rousseau and Mandeville the absence of a moral instinct meant the laws of society had no moral validity, they were nothing but the inventions of the cunning and the powerful, in order to maintain or to acquire an unnatural and unjust superiority over the rest of their fellow creatures.’ Roads to Modernity, Vintage Books 2004.
Adam Smith - 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest'. The Wealth of Nations.
Adam Smith - 'People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices'. The Wealth of Nations.
Adam Smith - 'I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good'. The Wealth of Nations.
Adam Smith - 'Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience'. The Wealth of Nations.
Tony Blair - 'The problem with the old ideology was that it suppressed the individual by starting with society. But it is from a sense of individual duty that we connect the greater good and the interests of the community'. New Britain: My Vision of a Younger Country London, 1996.
Tony Blair - 'The socialism of centralised state control of industry and production, is dead. It misunderstood the nature and development of a modern market economy. It failed to recognise that the state and public sector can become a vested interest capable of oppression as much as the vested interests of wealth and capital. it was based on a false view of class that became too rigid to explain or illuminate the nature of class division today. Ethics, Marxism and True Socialism, Fabian Pamphlet 565, London, 1994.
Tony Blair - 'The understanding which has driven New Labour's reform is to put the individual citizen - the patient, the parent, the pupil, the law abiding citizen - at the centre of each public service, with the service reformed to meet their individual requirements'. A Third Term. January 13 2005 .
Gordon Brown - 'The vision of personalised public services - meeting the individual needs of all our citizens - requires continuing reform in the way services are delivered'. Social Market Foundation May 18th 2004.
William Boetcker, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan - 'You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves'.
Franklin D Roosevelt - 'It is the habit of the unthinking to turn to the illusions of economic magic. These unhappy times call for the building of plans that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid'. The Forgotten Man, April 7, 1932.
Winston Churchill - 'I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle'. www.
Charles De Gaulle - 'He who bets on government money bets against 6,000 years of recorded human history'.
The Cato Institute - 'Privatization has generally led to reduced costs, higher-quality services, and increased innovation in formerly moribund government industries'. 2009.
Sir Gilbert Longden - 'Whilst I make no value judgment about Eton or any other public school, may I ask my right hon Friend roundly to assert that the future of the country depends, as its past has depended, upon the defence of excellence against the ceaseless attacks of the the envious, and that the Socialist Party is the eradicator of excellence and the midwife of the second-rate?' 1974
Gerald Edelman - 'Evolution works by selection, not by instruction. There is no final cause, no teleology, no purpose guiding the overall process'. Wider than the Sky, a revolutionary view of consciousness.
John Searle - 'Many people mistakenly suppose that the essence of consciousness is that of a control mechanism'.
John Searle - 'Darwin's greatest achievement was to show that the appearance of purpose, planning, teleology (design), and intentionality in the origin and development of human and animal species was entirely an illusion. The illusion could be explained by evolutionary processes that contained no such purpose at all. But the spread of ideas through imitation required the whole apparatus of human consciousness and intentionality'. The Mystery of Consciousness, 1967.
Robert Nozick - 'Given the complexity of interpersonal relationships and institutions and the complexity of co-ordination of the actions of many people, it is enormously unlikely that, even if there were one ideal pattern for society, it could be arrived at in an a priori fashion. And even supposing that some great genius did come along with a blueprint, who could have the confidence that it could work'? Anarchy State and Utopia.
Richard Dawkins - 'It is almost as if the human brain were specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism, and to find it hard to believe'. www.
Richard Dawkins - 'Science dictates the economic opportunities which constrain all politics, religion & magic. Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any'. Unweaving the Rainbow. River Out of Eden.
Peter Jay - 'Government’s fatal deficiencies are the four i’s; information, incentives, investment and innovation. Government itself is a suspect and discredited instrument. Recognise that politics is not the answer … that people do the right thing not from command but for their own profit …'. The Road to Riches.
Friedrich Hayek – ‘The central problem of management is how spontaneous interaction of people within a firm, each possessing only bits of knowledge, can bring about the competitive success that could only be achieved by the deliberate direction of a senior management that possesses the combined knowledge of all employees and contractors’. IEA.
James Callaghan - 'We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step'.
Winston Churchill - ‘It is a good thing to look ahead but you can’t look further than you can see’.
Yogi Berra - 'Prediction is extremely difficult, especially about the future'.
Kenneth Arrow - ‘The MD is well aware that the forecasts are no good but he needs them for planning purposes ... '
Herbert Stein, 'If something cannot go on for ever, it will stop'. American Enterprise Institute.
Michael Goodhart, 'Extending the social guarantees of fundamental human rights beyond the familiar limits of the political as it has traditionally been understood to encompass all those conceptual domains, for instance, family, workplace, civil society and transnational spheres, where governance occurs and where domination & interference are thus likely. ‘Democratization’ does not mean creating majoritarian representative institutions; it means creating secure institutional guarantees for human rights'.
Innovation & Survival (flip flopping emotions discover 'know how' and memory & reason accumulate 'know how') -
Richard Dawkins - 'There is economics in biology, nothing is free, everything has to be paid for, there are costs as well as benefits to everything in life, for example, there was never sufficient natural selection pressure to develop better eyes, individuals could earn other things like smiley smiles rather than waste energy & time on better eyes ...'
John Hicks - ‘Every historical event has some aspect in which it is unique; but nearly always there are other aspects in which it is a member of a pattern. The individual may diverge from the norm without deterring us from the recognition of a statistical uniformity. This is what we do, almost all the time, in economics. We do this without implying any ‘determinism’, we make no question that each individual is perfectly free to choose’. A Theory of Economic History.
Michael Wood - 'Understand more about the whole story of the Iron Age farmers of the Berkshire Downs, their tale is important because the history of this small island off the shore of Europe became World history, its speech became world speech, and, perhaps more important, its social and economic experience also became that of the rest of the world’. A Search for the Roots of England.
Gordon Brown - 'There is a golden thread which runs through British history of the individual, standing firm against tyranny and then of the individual participating in his society'. Hugo Young Memorial Lecture 2005.
Peter Jay - ‘From 1688 the classic recipe for economic success. Macro economic stability and a liberal structure in which individuals can seek their own advantage in competitive market conditions’. The Road to Riches.
Carl Menger - ‘We are confronted by the appearance of social institutions (language, religion, law, markets, firms ... ) unintentionally created, vital for the welfare of society, which are not the result of reasoned planning'. Principles of Economics.
Oliver Wendell Holmes - 'Continuity with the past is only a necessity not a duty', Collected Legal Papers 1920.
Daniel Lord Smail - ‘We know that our own predisposition to view any complex structure 'as if' it were the product of someone’s intention, is an illusion. Applied to history, this illusion of teleology has tripped up more than one observer. The brain has a deep evolutionary history. But this is not a story of intentional change although there has been an illusion of direction and a sense of progress there is clearly no directing mind’. Deep History & the Brain.
Margaret Thatcher - 'The desire to achieve grand utopian plans often poses a grave threat to freedom', Statecraft.
John Maynard Keynes - 'The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood'. General Theory of Employment Interest and Money.
Fernand Braudel - ‘The companies only developed if the state did not intervene in the French fashion. If on the contrary a certain degree of economic freedom was the rule, capitalism moved in firmly and adapted itself to all administrative quirks and difficulties’. Civilisation and Capitalism.
Ben Bernake – ‘It is not the responsibility of the Federal Bank – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their decisions’. Jackson Hole 2007.
Walter Bagehot - 'free banking, the natural system, which would have sprung up if Government had let banking alone. As in all other trades competition would bring the traders to a rough approximate equality where no single bank would permanently obtain an unquestioned predominance. I shall have failed in my purpose if I have not proved that the system of entrusting all our reserves to a single board, like that of the Central Bank directors, is very anomalous; that it is very dangerous; that its bad consequences, though much felt, have not been fully seen; that they have been obscured by traditional arguments and hidden in the dust of ancient controversies'. Lombard Street 1873.
Frank Knight - 'Always history is being made; opinions attitudes and institutions change, and there is evolution in the nature of capitalism'. The Ethics of Competition.
Alfred Chandler - ‘The modern joint stock firm is the outcome of innumerable decisions made by individual entrepreneurs, owners and managers. For these decision makers the choices among alternatives were limited and the outcomes uncertain, but almost always there were choices. Despite the variability of these individual decisions, taken cumulatively they produced clear patterns of institutional change’. Scale & Scope.
Ludwig Bolzmann - 'The general struggle for existence of animate beings is not a struggle for raw materials, these for organisms are air water & soil, all abundantly available, nor for energy which exists in plenty in the sun and any hot body in the form of heat, but rather a struggle for entropy, which becomes available through the transition of energy from the hot sun to the cold earth.
Paul Krugman - 'Comparative advantage like natural selection is an idea that seems simple and compelling to those who understand it, but about which intelligent people somehow manage to get confused time and time again and find this particular idea impossible to grasp. Of course they say that they understand it but they regard it as oversimplified or invalid in the modern world. It is a harder concept than it seems, because like any scientific concept it is actually part of a dense web of linked ideas. It is truly, madly, deeply difficult. But it is also simple & compelling to those who understand it, utterly true, immensely sophisticated ... and extremely relevant to the modern world'.
Don't forget to send me your own favourite quotation ... here
back to evolutionary economics