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Friedrich Hayek

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Friedrich Hayek

Friedrich August von Hayek (May 8, 1899 - March 23, 1992) was an economist of the Austrian School noted for his defense of free-market capitalism against a rising tide of socialism thought in the mid-20th century. He also made important contributions to the fields of jurisprudence and cognitive science.

In The Road to Serfdom (1944) and subsequent works, Hayek said that socialism had a strong probability of leading towards totalitarianism as central planning overrode individual preferences in economic and social life. Hayek contended that in Centrally Planned Economies, an individual or a group of individuals decided the allocation of resources for the whole country and suffered from the economic calculation problem. This accumulation of power led to misuse and growth of fascism. In The Use of Knowledge in Society (1945), he sought to show how the price mechanism serves to share and synchronise local and personal knowledge in achieving diverse ends among society's members through a principle of self-organization. Hayek coined the term catallaxy for a "self-organizing system of voluntary co-operation".

Hayek viewed the price mechanism, not as a conscious invention, but as an evolved habit. Such thinking led him to speculate how the human brain could accommodate such evolved behaviour and, in The Sensory Order (1952), he proposed, independently of Donald Hebb, the connectionist hypothesis that forms the basis of the technology of neural networks and much modern neurophysiology.

Table of contents
1 Hayek and conservatism
2 Recognition
3 Quotation
4 See also
5 External links

Hayek and conservatism

Though an academic outcast for much of his career, Hayek's work gained new attention in the 1980s and 1990s with the triumph of economically liberal right-leaning governments in the United States and the United Kingdom (Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister from 1979 to 1990, was an outspoken devotee of Hayek's writings). After Thatcher had become Leader of the Conservative Party, she "reached into her briefcase and took out a book. It was Friedrich von Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty. Interrupting [the speaker], she held the book up for all of us to see. 'This', she said sternly, 'is what we believe', and banged Hayek down on the table."

However, Hayek sought to distance himself from the political right. In his essay Why I am not a Conservative (1960) [1], he criticized conservatism as being essentially directionless, authoritarian, and unable to join in polity with others of different values. Hayek describes his own views as those of an "Old Whig", which may be safely read as classical liberalism.

Recognition

In 1947, Hayek was the primary organizer of the Mont Pelerin Society.

Hayek, who taught at the London School of Economics, has, even after his death, continued to maintain a significant presence in its intellectual corridors. A student-run group - the LSE Hayek Society - has even been created in his honour.

Hayek shared the prize for Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1974.

Hayek is often referred to as F. A. Hayek, and sometimes by his full name.

Quotation

From A Conversation with Friedrich A. von Hayek, AEI, Washington D.C., 1979:
I have arrived at the conviction that the neglect by economists to discuss seriously what is really the crucial problem of our time is due to a certain timidity about soiling their hands by going from purely scientific questions into value questions. This is a belief deliberately maintained by the other side because if they admitted that the issue is a scientific question, they would have to admit that their science is antiquated and that, in academic circles, it occupies the position of astrology and not one that has any justification for serious consideration in scientific discussion. It seem to me that socialists today can preserve their position in academic economics merely by the pretense that the differences are entirely moral questions about which science cannot decide.

See also

External links