The Results of Human Action but not of Human Design

Résultats de l'action des hommes mais non de leurs desseins.” In: Les Fondements Philosophiques des Systèmes Economiques. Textes de Jacques Rueff et essais rédiges en son honneur. (Paris 1967).


“The belief in the superiority of deliberate design and planning over the spontaneous forces of society enters European thought explicitly only through the rationalist constructivism of Descartes. But it has its sources in a much older erroneous dichotomy which derives from the ancient Greeks and still forms the greatest obstacle to a proper understanding of the distinct task of both social theory and social policy. This is the misleading division of all phenomena into those which are ‘natural’ and those which are ‘artificial.’ Already the Sophists of the fifth century BC has struggled with the problem and stated it as the false alternative that institutions and practices must either be due to nature or due to convention; and through Aristotle’s adoption of this division it has become an integral part of European thought.”

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