A wise man looks back on a life forgotten – economist William H. Hutt at 88 in the mid-1980s

With wit, humor, and a salutary sense of what’s what and what’s not.

In the mid-1980s, I [economist Richard M. Ebeling] had the good fortune to be teaching at the University of Dallas with Professor William H. Hutt as a colleague. By that time he was already in his mid-80s and held the title of “emeritus.” Though stricken with an increasingly debilitating case of arthritis, Professor Hutt would be in his office most days of the week working on some article or reading the latest literature on economic theory and policy.

I would ask him to deliver one or two guest lectures in some of my classes each semester, and he almost always graciously consented. In one class I recall Hutt’s starting his remarks, in a slightly stammering voice, “Most economists have their works forgotten after they’re dead. I’ve the unique distinction in having had all my works forgotten while I’m still alive.”

Bingo.

In the same vein, the “angelic doctor” Thomas Aquinas:

All that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.

  • Remarks on being requested to resume writing, after a mystical experience while saying mass on or around 6 December 1273, as quoted in A Taste of Water : Christianity through Taoist-Buddhist Eyes (1990) by Chwen Jiuan Agnes Lee and Thomas G. Hand
  • Variant translations:
  • All that I have written seems like straw to me.
    • As quoted in The Thought of Thomas Aquinas (1993), by Brian Davies, p. 9
  • Everything I have written seems like straw by comparison with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.
    • As quoted in Sacred Games : A History of Christian Worship (1997) by Bernhard Lang, p. 323

The wise man has nothing to add to that.

See: William H. Hutt: A Centenary Appreciation – Foundation for Economic Education

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