Cato the Elder: Proto-Hayek?

"Rome is exemplary -- new and exemplary --in that it shows the limits of individual virtues. According to Scipio's report, Cato explained that there was never a genius so vast that he could miss nothing, nor could all the geniuses brought together in one place at one time foresee all the contingencies without the practical experience afforded by the passage of time.

"Thus one must ascribe to Cato the Elder one of the first formulations of the theory of spontaneous order and of Hayek's idea that the functioning of the social order rests on an immense amount of information that could not be mastered by any individual or group of individuals, however zealous and capable one might imagine them to be." -- Pierre Manent, The Metamorphoses of the City, p. 190

I must admit, finding Hayek popping up 190 pages into this book was as surprising as it would be to discover, say, that my landlord in Brooklyn was married to my high school prom date.


  1. I'm surprised to learn that you had a high school prom date.

    1. Metaphors can be fictional, can't they?


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