I Bok VII, kapitel 30 av Augustinus' bok City of God fann jag mig föranledd att skriva 'den osynliga handen' som kommentar i marginalen. Själv skrev han bland annat om Gud:
He has in his hands the causes of all that exists; and all those causes are within his knowledge and at his disposition. ... He supplies seed and nourishment, whether dry or liquid, to all living creatures, distributing what is appropriate to the needs of each. He gives to the earth its stability and fertility; he lavishes its fruits upon animals and men.
Eftersom Gud inte syns direkt kan man säga att det är en osynlig hand som opererar och fixar allt till det bästa (ibland via konstiga omvägar som föranleder Augustinus till krystade bortförklaringar). Alla levande varelser får vad som är passande för dem. Gud kan ses som liberalernas eviga, oföränderliga och heliga 'marknad' som vet och kan allt och alltid 'har rätt', som inte kan påverkas men som kan påverka allt själv enligt sina outgrundliga men alltid rättvisa planer. Den som syndar mot 'marknadens' krav kan räkna med att förr eller senare få ett kännbart straff! Den sant troende tar ont och gott från marknaden med lugn och förtröstan och förväntar sig belöning i himmelriket för sin trohet.
Adam Smith använde uttrycket 'osynlig hand' ett par gånger, men han lär inte ha kommit på det själv utan hämtat det från sin föregångare som professor i moralfilosofi i Glasgow. Det var en som hette Ferguson. - Här följer det kända textcitatet från 1776 där Smith nämner en osynlig hand, i Wealth of Nations, Bok fyra, kap II:
But the annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry, or rather is precisely the same thing with that exchangeable value. As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.
Och så tar vi det mindre kända textcitatet som kom åratal tidigare, nämligen 1759, i Smiths avhandling The Theory of Moral Sentiments. För det var ju professor i moralfilosofi i Glasgow han var, Adam Smith. Här ett citat från del IV, kapitel 1, och det religiösa tonläget (med 'Försynen' inblandad) är ännu tydligare:
The produce of the soil maintains at all times nearly that number of inhabitants which it is capable of maintaining. The rich only select from the heap what is most precious and agreeable. They consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency, though the sole end which they propose from the labours of all the thousands whom they employ, be the gratification of their own vain and insatiable desires, they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species. When Providence divided the earth among a few lordly masters, it neither forgot nor abandoned those who seemed to have been left out in the partition. These last too enjoy their share of all that it produces. In what constitutes the real happiness of human life, they are in no respect inferior to those who would seem so much above them. In ease of body and peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly upon a level, and the beggar, who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for.
Och så till slut ett lyssningstips. Katrin Kielos och Lars P. Syll får komma till tals om bland annat just Adam Smith, 'handen', och mänsklig moral.