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The Essence of Hayek 1st Edition Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0817980122
ISBN-10: 0817980121
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A well-edited selection of 21 papers, essays, and speeches that reflect the diversity, complexity, and coherency of Hayek's system of thought."

About the Author

Chiaki Nishiyama is professor of economics at Rikkyo University in Tokyo and a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Kurt R. Leube is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and additionally is a guest professor at several leading European and South American universities and serves as academic director of the European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, based in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Educated in Germany and Austria, he is internationally recognized as one of the closest disciples of the late F. A. von Hayek (Nobel Prize 1974).
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Product Details

  • Series: Hoover Institution Press Publication (Book 301)
  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press; 1st Edition edition (August 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817980121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817980122
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,945,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This collection of essays by Friedrich Hayek provides a great overview of his thought. The essays include early pieces on economic issues, essays on the history of economic thought, psychology, epistemology, political theory, and personal reflections. Hayek is best known for "The Road to Serfdom," a cold war anti-socialist tract which I consider his least interesting work. In this collection one discovers the Hayek who developed the analysis of how the diffuse nature of information in society reveals on the one hand why socialism failed, and on the other why entrepreneurship and creativity are critical to the well-being of society. His essay "Competition as a Discovery Procedure," included in this volume, should be required reading on college campuses across the nation. His essay "Why I Am Not a Conservative" provides a clear distinction between the views of a classical liberal (of which Hayek is perhaps the best 20th century examplar) vs. those of a conservative. Because "liberals" in the U.S. have been hostile to free enterprise and because "conservatives" have been relatively supportive of it in the U.S., the classical liberal position has become an esoteric oddity known only to a few. For those of us who believe that the most powerful basis for a just and flourishing society may be found in classical liberalism, its relative obscurity in popular perception is a serious tragedy in the history of thought. There is no better single author from who one can learn an intelligent statement of contemporary classical liberalism than F.A. Hayek. This volume is a comprehensive, digestible introduction to his thought.
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Format: Paperback
This book is one in a series of compilations of publications by eminent scholars issued by the Hoover Institution (subsequent volumes in the series are of George J. Stigler, Milton Friedman, and Gary S. Becker). With an oeuvre as far-reaching and as extensive as Hayek's, it is inevitable that some works are not included. A notable omission is any excerpts from The Road to Serfdom, but chances are if you are interested in The Essence of Hayek, you may have already read that one. Another nitpick would be that two chapters, "Principles of a Liberal Social Order" (ch. 20) and "Whither Democracy?" (ch. 19), make for a comprehensive summary exposition of the ideas in all three volumes of Law, Legislation, and Liberty (vols. 1-2 and vol. 3, respectively), so Essence could have done without the three chapters from that trilogy, which would have freed up space for quite a few other papers, of which in Hayek's case there is an almost endless number from which to choose.

Having said all that, like the other volumes in the Essence series, this one provides as good a representation of Hayek's corpus as can probably be made in a single volume (it was published before the release date of The Fatal Conceit, but ch. 17 of Essence ["The Origins and Effects of our Morals: A Problem for Science"] is a 1983 lecture that summarizes the ideas in The Fatal Conceit pretty well). If you are new to Hayek and his political writings are your main interest, you may be better off first reading The Constitution of Liberty and/or The Road to Serfdom. But after those, this book makes for terrific sampling of Hayek's other writings.

All selections in Essence are eminently readable; e.g., there are no complex equations in the papers on economics. I am not sufficiently familiar with Hayek's writings to know whether this is characteristic of his works in general, or whether the editors deliberately made their selections this way, but either way the result is most enjoyable.
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Format: Paperback
Friedrich August Hayek (1899-1992) was an economist of the Austrian School (and once a student of Ludwig von Mises) who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974. This 1984 book selects 21 papers from the full range of Hayek's thought: Hayekian Economics; Refutation of Socialism; History of Ideas; Theoretical Basis of the Hayekian System; and Hayek's Political Economy.

He says that the Keynsian theory (that unemployment is predominantly due to an insufficiency of aggregate demand), which "happens to be the only one which can be tested quantitatively, is nevertheless false." But he adds that his own explanation "cannot by its very nature be tested by statistics." (Pg. 7)

He says that "I wish I could share the confidence of my friend Milton Friedman who thinks that one could deprive the monetary authorities ... of all discretionary powers by prescribing the amount of money they may and should add to circulation in any one year." He rejects Friedman's sharp distinction between what is to be regarded as money and what is not. Hayek concludes, "This distinction does not exist in the real world." (Pg. 15)

In evaluating Keynes, he says that "I am fully aware that, in effect, I am claiming that perhaps the most impressive intellectual figure I have ever encountered and whose general intellectual superiority I have readily acknowledged, was wholly wrong in the scientific work for which he is chiefly known." (Pg. 48-49)

In discussing the theory of competition, he admits that the capacity to predict is necessarily limited to predicting the kind of pattern, or the abstract character of the order that will form itself, but that it "does not extend to the prediction of particular facts." (Pg. 256)

This collection will be an excellent introduction to ALL of Hayek's lines of thought.
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