Re: The "Group-Entity" Illusion

Freespeak (
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 12:10:11 -0700

Smith's "invisible hand" is a metaphor. The utilization of a metaphor to "explain" some phenomenon, does not imply the existence of an entity.

Similarly, Thomas Szasz argues (convincingly, in my opinion) that so-called "mental illness" is a myth. Szasz explains that the myth arose from using physical illness as a metaphor in attempting to describe improper functioning of the mind. See #TL05T: Thomas Szasz and Slavespeak <>.

Frederick Mann

At 09:04 AM 1/20/99 -0700, wrote:
>Ian writes:
> The ordering of individuals in a system
> creates a de facto collective entity, be
> that entity real or an illusion. The main
> actor in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations"
> was in fact a collective entity that's
> widely know as "the invisible hand."
>"Collective entity" seems to involve a contradiction, since a collection of
>objects can't itself be a physical object, it exists solely as a concept.
>But I suspect we're once again embroiled in more a semantic than a
>substantive disagreement here. It all hinges on your definition of
>"entity". To me an entity is a "thing", a physical existent that can be
>perceived via the senses (or extensions of the senses). Apparently you wish
>to include concepts such as sets, relations and systems under the
>definition of "entity". But this usage generates confusion, since there are
>obvious basic differences between physical things on the one hand and
>arrangements of things on the other, and grave errors ensue from failing to
>distinguish different categories.
>Smith's famous invisible hand - virtually synonymous with the extropian
>principle of spontaneous organisation - is the internal organizing
>principle of a complex relational nexus. It is not by any stretch of the
>imagination a "thing". As evidence that Smith himself had no illusions
>about it being an entity in the strict sense, observe that he used the
>phrase in a simile (" if by an invisible hand") and not as a metaphor
>as in common usage nowadays.

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