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A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature
was the reincarnation of the old Roman notion of a “Code of Nature” (fitting, since Asimov’s Foundation series was modeled on the Roman Empire’s decline and fall). As interpreted much later, that code supposedly captured the essence of human nature, providing a sort of rule book for behavior. It was not a rule book in the sense of prescribing behavior, but rather a book revealing how humans naturally behave. With the arrival of the Age of Reason in the 18th century, philosophers and the forerunners of social scientists sought in earnest to discover that code of codes—the key to understanding the natural order of human interaction. One of the earliest and most influential of those efforts was the economic system described in The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.