Prometheus didn’t ask permission for Zeus to bring fire to the humans. It cost him dearly, as Zeus punished him in a rather vicious manner. But human beings were made infinitely better off with fire. Art Diamond relays this story to us precisely because he wants us to understand the great benefits that entrepreneurial innovation deliver for mankind, and yet how the true innovator is often despised and disrespected by the prevailing orthodox establishment. If Prometheus had to get permission before giving fire to man, then man would have never gotten the benefits of fire. Similarly, if our entrepreneurial innovators had to get permission prior to introducing their innovation, we would still be walking around or perhaps at best riding on the backs of beasts but I doubt we would have seen the benefits of automobiles, let alone planes, and we would very well not have modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing, let alone air travel, cell phones, and the world wide web.
Peter Boettke, Professor of Economics & Philosophy, George Mason University; Director F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center.
Boettke’s advance praise is for:
Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming June 2019.