Chapter

Introduction

Edited by Bruce Caldwell

in Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226321097
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226321127 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226321127.003.0001
Introduction

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This chapter outlines the Austrian economist Friedrich A. Hayek's experience and ideas behind his big research project, a wide-ranging historical investigation that would incorporate intellectual history, methodology, and an analysis of social problems, all aimed at shedding light on the consequences of socialism. It examines not only Hayek's progress but also how his plan for the project was beginning to change. Hayek had begun his book just as Europe was going to war. Western civilisation itself was at stake, and given that the British government would not allow him to participate directly, writing a treatise on how the world had come to such an awful state was to be his war effort, the best he could do “for the future of mankind.” Hayek's work entails a series of case studies on problems of methodology, especially the relationship between the method of natural science and social problems, leading to the fundamental scientific principles of economic policy and ultimately to the consequences of socialism. The series forms the basis of a systematic intellectual historical investigation of the fundamental principles of the social development of the last hundred years.

Keywords: Friedrich A. Hayek; methodology; natural science; social phenomena; social interactions; positivists; social behavior; human behavior; economic planning

Chapter.  22107 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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