A Libertarian Looks at Human Accomplishment in the Arts and Sciences

Libertarianism.org, October 1, 2003.


Six years ago, for reasons unknown, it popped into my head that a cool title for a book would be An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Human Accomplishment. My immodest idea was to do for human accomplishment what Adam Smith did for economic growth in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations—explain how, where, and why it happens. The title did not survive, and I am under no illusion that the book is in the same league with Wealth of Nations, but it did get written. It will appear in October as Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 (HarperCollins).

I expect libertarians to read Human Accomplishment as I read books by libertarians who have strayed from policy issues into other fields, curious about how the author’s political philosophy affects his analysis.