Adam Smith and Charles Darwin

This brief entry from Cafe Hayek about the Scottish Enlightenment is, ah, enlightening, especially when read in the context of emergent behaviors.

About Stewart's intellectual biography of Adam Smith, Gould has this to say: "[Darwin] imbibed the basic belief of the Scottish economists that theories of overall social structure must begin by analyzing the unconstrained actions of individuals ... The theory of natural selection is a creative transfer to biology of Adam Smith's basic argument for a rational economy: the balance and order of nature does not arise from a higher, external (divine) control, or from the existence of laws operating directly upon the whole, but from struggle among individuals for their own benefits."

Read the whole thing; it's short and sweet. (I know a family of Scots, and let me tell you, the intelligence and creative thinking displayed by Smith and Adams has not dwindled over the intervening generations.)