Buchanan on Knight

James M. Buchanan says of Frank Knight:

There seems relatively little in this biographical account to suggest the origins of the intense critical spirit. To return to my original question: “Why was Knight so different from his peers?” my hypothesis is that he can be explained, phenomenologically, only through recalling his roots in evangelical Christianity. Only through an early experience of having wrestled with God, the source of the ultimate putative authority, and having at least held his own in the encounter, Frank Knight had no difficulty at all in taking on any or all of the lesser gods, as variously represented in the many small dogmas of science, art, politics, and history. His fascination with theological issues throughout his life can, I think, be explained by his implied acknowledgment that God had proved, indeed, to be the most difficult adversary to be faced. If man can use his own critical intelligence in wrestling God to a draw, why should he cower before any other claim to authority?

From an essay published in The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, vol. 19, p. 80.


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