… is from page 97 of volume 13 of the Collected Works of F.A. Hayek (Studies on the Abuse & Decline of Reason, Bruce Caldwell, ed., 2010):
Society as we know it is, as it were, built up from the concepts and ideas held by people; and social phenomena can be recognized by us and have meaning to us only as they are reflected in the minds of men.
DBx: Social sciences such as economics, history, and political science cannot be usefully done using the same methods as the physical sciences. Human meaning – human ideas and understanding – are at its core of what these sciences seek to explain. To treat prices and quantities, for example, in the same way that physicists treat molecules and planets reflects a complete failure of the economist to understand what it means to theorize usefully about human society.