Order without intent

Adam Ferguson (1723 – 1816) was a moral philosopher and historian. He was a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. In his An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) he observed:

“Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.”

The claim is that sometimes order emerges from the actions of the collective without there being some master plan that was being followed. The term “spontaneous order” describes that well: “the emergence of various kinds of social orders from a combination of self-interested individuals who are not intentionally trying to create order through planning. The evolution of life on Earth, language, crystal structure, the Internet and a free market economy have all been proposed as examples of systems which evolved through spontaneous order.” (wiki) Continue reading “Order without intent”