F.A. Hayek as an Intellectual Historian
Peter J. Boettke
George Mason University - Department of Economics
THE CONSTRUCTION OF DISCIPLINARY MEMORY, pp. 117-128, Steve Medema and Warren Samuels, eds., Routledge, 2001
Hayek is known primarily as an economic theorist and classical liberal political economist. A few scholars have delved deeply into the connection between Hayek's analytical contributions to economics and his visionary political economy of liberalism, but most prefer to divide Hayek's career into two distinct stages: an early stage as an economist primarily concerned with monetary theory and business fluctuations, and a later stage as a social theorist concerned with the critique of socialism and the advocacy of classical liberalism. It is not my purpose to counter this argument in this chapter with an argument for unity in the corpus of Hayek's work. Instead, what I want to emphasize is not so much his analytical unity (which I do believe is largely present), but an attitudinal unity with regard to the way one makes an argument in politics, philosophy, and economics. Throughout his career, Hayek possessed a profound respect for the intellectual history of the various disciplines within which he chose to write. He read far into the past of the discipline in order to place contemporary disputes in context and to borrow from older ideas in order to make innovative contribution. For Hayek, saying something old often represented saying something extremely fresh and new. Hayek was part of a generation of economists who believed that knowledge of history of the discipline was not simply an antiquarian interest, but a vital component of the education and training of any economist.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
JEL Classification: B31, B53
Date posted: January 18, 2010