When writing about the invisible hand, there is no way to avoid thinking about two other terms: spontaneous order and neurosis. All of these appear in the environment of the Scottish Enlightenment1 . Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and Friedrich August von Hayek’s Spontaneous Order have many points of overlap—one could argue that Spontaneous Order aggregates the idea of unintended beneficiaries of individual selfish actions for a social form into a naturalistic general perspective. This totalisation can be found in Hayek’s double definition: first, the Spontaneous Order appears as “natural formation, occurring independently of human action (…) the formation of crystals and galaxies”2 and then as “the outcome of human action but not of human design, such as, arguably, religion, morals, language, law, money and the market”3 . Here a binary classification (spontaneous vs planned) of organizational structures emerges, which also reflects Hayek’s struggle against the windmills of the “planned economy”. The main epistemological argument remains the following: due to the recursive complexity of spontaneous order, the single human is not able to grasp them completely. This bears a certain elegance and horror within and one is reminded of Eugene Thacker’s conceptualisation of a world-in-itself 4 which cannot be accessed by the human. The thought of these structures itself becomes infectious recursive. “Here is the neurotic paradox (…) Since neurosis does not exist, you can have nothing real to worry about, which makes your anxiety disproportionate (…) Really, there’s nothing wrong, and that is the whole of the syndrome.”5 The Invisible Hand is precisely that: a trap door into transcendental neurosis.

  1. See Nick Land, Neurosys: On Fictional Psychopathology of Abstract Horror for an in depth analysis of Neurosis as a Phänomen first described by William Cullen as “psychological excess” and its inherent relation to the Scottish Enlightenment. This text draws its main inspiration from there.
  2. Christina Petsoulas, Hayek’s Liberalism and its Origins His idea of spontaneous order and the Scottish Enlightenment, p. 11
  3. Ibid., 11.
  4. Eugene Thacker, In the Dust of This Planet (Horror of Philosophy Vol. 1)
  5. Nick Land, Neurosys: On Fictional Psychopathology of Abstract Horror, in Parasol: Journal