04 September 2017

He Said It: Knight

"I must say, dogmatically if you like, that prediction or control, or both, do not and cannot apply in a literal sense to social science; that is, knowledge cannot be used in social science in anything like the same way as in man's dealing with natural objects. This is one of the great difficulties. Science in this sense--knowledge used for prediction and control--simply does not apply in a society with freedom and equality. I take it as self-evident that one does not know oneself in the main through sense observation and induction, nor control oneself by manipulation of matter, which is the only way in which many has any control over nature. Nor does one person know others primarily by observation and induction, nor control others by literal manipulation. These statements are argued vehemently back and forth, and round and round; but I submit them all the same as self-evident. One both knows and influences others primarily by meaningful intercommunication, which we do not have with natural objects and which they do not have with each other. It is essentially a mutual relation, where that of men to nature is unidirectional. Physical objects do not know or use men, or strive to do so."

--Frank H. Knight (1885-1972), "The Economic Order: Structure," in Intelligence and Democratic Action (Harvard University Press, 1960), p. 69

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