To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.
Friedrich August von Hayek
The mind cannot foresee its own advance.
We know, in other words, the general conditions in which what we call, somewhat misleadingly, an equilibrium will establish itself: but we never know what the particular prices or wages are which would exist if the market were to bring about such an equilibrium.
Why should we, however, in economics, have to plead ignorance of the sort of facts on which, in the case of a physical theory, a scientist would certainly be expected to give precise information?
Intellects whose desires have outstripped their understanding.
He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants.
We must face the fact that the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice.
If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.
We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
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