- Paperback: 500 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 15, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226091937
- ISBN-13: 978-0226091938
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,289,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hayek's Challenge: An Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek
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"Hayek is fortunate in his biographer. Hayek's Challenge is a success, and Caldwell proves himself capable of presenting Hayek's ideas - in all fields - with both depth and clarity.... Hayek's challenge is worth remembering, and Bruce Caldwell has done a great service by reminding us of it." - Jason Steorts, National Review "Bruce Caldwell's intellectual biography of the great Austrian is a wonderful work." - Richard D. North, Independent (UK) "Hayek has spawned a burgeoning literature, often expressing polarized, jargon-laden views. This accessible introduction to Hayek's intellectual life and times is a refreshing exception." - Choice"
From the Inside Flap
Caldwell begins by providing the necessary background for understanding Hayek's thought, tracing the emergence, in fin-de-siècle Vienna, of the Austrian school of economics—a distinctive analysis forged in the midst of contending schools of thought. In the second part of the book, Caldwell follows the path by which Hayek, beginning from the standard Austrian assumptions, gradually developed his unique perspective on not only economics but a broad range of social phenomena. In the third part, Caldwell offers both an assessment of Hayek's arguments and, in an epilogue, an insightful estimation of how Hayek's insights can help us to clarify and reexamine changes in the field of economics during the twentieth century.
As Hayek's ideas matured, he became increasingly critical of developments within mainstream economics: his works grew increasingly contrarian and evolved in striking—and sometimes seemingly contradictory—ways. Caldwell is ideally suited to explain the complex evolution of Hayek's thought, and his analysis here is nothing short of brilliant, impressively situating Hayek in a broader intellectual context, unpacking the often difficult turns in his thinking, and showing how his economic ideas came to inform his ideas on the other social sciences.
Hayek's Challenge will be received as one of the most important works published on this thinker in recent decades.
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I'm an undergraduate student of Political Science, so, accordingly, I have taken one class on methodology--this, of course, was the application of Multi-Regressional Analysis in Political Science. The insight that this book offers, more than an understanding of Hayek, Mises, Menger or even Weber, is the insight that there is more than one valid way to approach research in the social sciences. That is the gist of this book--that Hayek, and the Austrian school approached the study of and the manner in which to explain the world differently than the garden-variety intellectual, and that these different approaches hold merit; they are worth understanding--regardless of their absence from curriculums.
I would like to thank Dr. Caldwell for this book; it has truly opened my eyes, and has given credence to my lure to the Austrians and Hayek. Make sure you don't skip the last chapter; it is worth the time and attention.
I have read Hayek (Road to Serfdom, Constitution of Liberty) and consider myself a fairly literate but amateur economist.
Even for me there are some sections on methodology and philosophy of science that require careful focus by the reader. But Professor Caldwell is a patient and gentle tutor, so I did not experience the problems that one reviewer reports.
Overall the book emphasizes the wide range of Hayek's thought; far beyond economics: psychology, evolutionary theory and the nature of mind. I loved Hayek before I began this book, but ended even more impressed by the man.
It's also heartening to notice that Hayek is getting recognition beyond the ranks of economists.
Stephen Pinker references Hayek in his magnificent "The Blank Slate"; Matt Ridley praises him in "The Rational Optimist".
Let's hope for more of same.
I think there are two things that makes this such a good read. Most important is the subject matter - Hayek seems to have been a pretty smart chap who was interested by, and contributed to, a wide range of subjects, at a time (the latter 2/3s of the twentieth century) when a lot was happening. And because he kept shifting fields and, to some extent, revising his opinions, you get to watch the evolution of a wide range of disciplines.
So this book touches on subjects like scientific methodology; emergent behaviours; how money acts as a way to signal information; the foundations of economics (do you have to assume everyone is "perfectly greedy", for example?); models of consciousness; evolutionary biology and group selection - interesting problems that are relevant today, presented in a historical context that is extremely helpful in understanding their peculiarities. Maybe it sounds crazy (or stupid), but until I read this book I had no idea how history could be so useful, relevant and informative.
Much credit must also go (my "second reason") to the author - I think this is impressively well written. Caldwell is a very careful guide who takes pains not only to justify what he says, but also gently directs you through what could be a terribly confusing and complex journey by identifying common threads, summarizing discussions, and repeatedly placing everything within its proper context. Please write another book (how about Popper?)!