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Šimon Franěk
Friedrich Hayek portrait.jpg
Born (1899-05-08)8 May 1899
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died 23 March 1992(1992-03-23) (aged 92)
Freiburg, Germany
Nationality Austrian, British
Institution University of Freiburg (1962–1968)
University of Chicago (1950–1962)
London School of Economics (1931–1950)
Field Economics, political science, law, philosophy, psychology
School or
Austrian School
Alma mater University of Vienna, (Dr. jur. 1921, Dr. rer. pol 1923)
Influences Wieser · Menger · Frank Fetter · Mach · Böhm-Bawerk · Mises · Mandeville · Wittgenstein · Burke · Sidney · Mill · Tocqueville · Popper · Eucken · A. Smith · Spann
Contributions Economic calculation problem, catallaxy, extended order, dispersed knowledge, price signal, spontaneous order, Hayek–Hebb model
Awards Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1974)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (1991)
Friedrich von Hayek signature.gif

Friedrich August Hayek CH (German: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈaʊ̯ɡʊst ˈhaɪ̯ɛk]; 8 May 1899 – 23 March 1992), born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek and frequently known as F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian, later British,[1] economist[2] and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism. In 1974, Hayek shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (with Gunnar Myrdal) for his "pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and ... penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena".[3]

Hayek served in World War I and said that his experience in the war and his desire to help avoid the mistakes that had led to the war led him to his career. Hayek lived in Austria, Great Britain, the United States and Germany, and became a British subject in 1938. He spent most of his academic life at the London School of Economics (LSE), the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

Early life[edit]

Hayek was born in Vienna (then the capital of Austria-Hungary), and was the son of August von Hayek, a doctor in the municipal health service. Hayek's grandfathers were prominent academics working in the fields of statistics and biology. His paternal line had been raised to the ranks of the Bohemian nobility for its services to the state.[4] Similarly, a generation before his maternal forebears had also been raised to the lower noble rank. However, after 1919 titles of nobility were banned by law in Austria, and the "von Hayek" family became simply the Hayek family. Hence, after 1919, Hayek's legal name became "Friedrich Hayek", not "Friedrich von Hayek". Hayek's father turned his work on regional botany into a highly esteemed botanical treatise, continuing the family's scholarly traditions.[citation needed]

Education and career[edit]

At the University of Vienna, he earned doctorates in law and political science in 1921 and 1923 respectively, and he also studied philosophy, psychology, and economics. For a short time, when the University of Vienna closed, Hayek studied in Constantin von Monakow's Institute of Brain Anatomy, where Hayek spent much of his time staining brain cells. Hayek's time in Monakow's lab, and his deep interest in the work of Ernst Mach, inspired Hayek's first intellectual project, eventually published as The Sensory Order (1952). It located connective learning at the physical and neurological levels, rejecting the "sense data" associationism[clarification needed] of the empiricists and logical positivists. Hayek presented his work to the private seminar he had created with Herbert Furth called the Geistkreis.[5]

Initially sympathetic to Wieser's democratic socialism, Hayek's economic thinking shifted away from socialism and toward the classical liberalism of Carl Menger after reading Ludwig von Mises' book Socialism. It was sometime after reading Socialism that Hayek began attending Ludwig von Mises' private seminars, joining several of his university friends, including Fritz Machlup, Alfred Schutz, Felix Kaufmann,and Gottfried Haberler, who were also participating in Hayek's own, more general, private seminar. It was during this time that he also encountered and befriended noted political philosopher Eric Voegelin, with whom he retained a long-standing relationship.[6]

Economists who studied with Hayek at the LSE in the 1930s and the 1940s include Arthur Lewis, Ronald Coase, John Kenneth Galbraith, Abba Lerner, Nicholas Kaldor, George Shackle, Thomas Balogh, Vera Smith, L. K. Jha, Arthur Seldon, Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, and Oskar Lange.[7][8][9] Hayek also taught or tutored all sorts of other L.S.E. students, including David Rockefeller.[10]

Unwilling to return to Austria after the Anschluss brought it under the control of Nazi Germany in 1938, Hayek remained in Britain and became a British subject in 1938. He held this status for the remainder of his life, but he did not live in Great Britain after 1950. He lived in the United States from 1950 to 1962 and then mostly in Germany but also briefly in Austria.[11]

The Road to Serfdom[edit]

Hayek was concerned about the general view in Britain's academia that fascism was a capitalist reaction to socialism and The Road to Serfdom arose from those concerns. It was written between 1940 and 1943. The title was inspired by the French classical liberal thinker Alexis de Tocqueville's writings on the "road to servitude".[12] It was first published in Britain by Routledge in March 1944 and was quite popular, leading Hayek to call it "that unobtainable book", also due in part to wartime paper rationing.[13] When it was published in the United States by the University of Chicago in September of that year, it achieved greater popularity than in Britain.[14] At the arrangement of editor Max Eastman, the American magazine Reader's Digest also published an abridged version in April 1945, enabling The Road to Serfdom to reach a far wider audience than academics.

The economist Walter Block observed critically that while The Road to Serfdom is "a war cry against central planning", it does show some reservations with a free market system and laissez-faire capitalism,[15] with Hayek even going so far as to say that "probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez-faire".[16] In the book, Hayek writes that the government has a role to play in the economy through the monetary system, work-hours regulation, institutions for the flow of proper information, and other principles on which most members of a free society will tend to agree. These are contentions associated with the point of view of ordoliberalism. However, when central planning reaches into areas on which people will probably not agree, the tendency is created for dictatorship and totalitarianism (i.e. "serfdom"), as a means of coercing implementation of one's plan.

Through analysis of this and other of Hayek's works, Block purports, "in making the case against socialism, Hayek was led into making all sort of compromises with what otherwise appeared to be his own philosophical perspective – so much so, that if a system was erected on the basis of them, it would not differ too sharply from what this author explicitly opposed".[15] Notwithstanding such criticisms, the book is still widely popular and is prominent among works advocating individualism and classical liberalism.

Nobel laureate[edit]

On 9 October 1974, it was announced that Hayek would be awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, along with Swedish socialist economist Gunnar Myrdal. The reasons for the two of them winning the prize are described in the Nobel committee's press release.[17] He was surprised at being given the award and believed that he was given it with Myrdal in order to balance the award with someone from the opposite side of the political spectrum.[18]

Later years[edit]

Influence on central European politics[edit]

US President Ronald Reagan at his time listed Hayek as among the two or three people who most influenced his philosophy, and welcomed Hayek to the White House as a special guest.[19] In the 1970s and 1980s, the writings of Hayek were also a major influence on many of the leaders of the "velvet" revolution in Central Europe during the collapse of the old Soviet Empire. Here are some supporting examples:

I was 25 years old and pursuing my doctorate in economics when I was allowed to spend six months of post-graduate studies in Naples, Italy. I read the Western economic textbooks and also the more general work of people like Hayek. By the time I returned to Czechoslovakia, I had an understanding of the principles of the market. In 1968, I was glad at the political liberalism of the Dubcek Prague Spring, but was very critical of the Third Way they pursued in economics.[20]
Václav Klaus (former President of the Czech Republic)


In 1980, Hayek, a non-practicing Roman Catholic,[21] was one of twelve Nobel laureates to meet with Pope John Paul II, "to dialogue, discuss views in their fields, communicate regarding the relationship between Catholicism and science, and 'bring to the Pontiff's attention the problems which the Nobel Prize Winners, in their respective fields of study, consider to be the most urgent for contemporary man'".[22]

In 1991, US President George H. W. Bush awarded Hayek the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the two highest civilian awards in the United States, for a "lifetime of looking beyond the horizon". Hayek died in 1992 in Freiburg, Germany, and was buried in the Neustift am Wald cemetery in the northern outskirts of Vienna.[23] In 2011, his article The Use of Knowledge in Society was selected as one of the top 20 articles published in the American Economic Review during its first 100 years.[24]

The New York University Journal of Law and Liberty holds an annual lecture in his honor.


Spontaneous order[edit]

Hayek viewed the free price system not as a conscious invention (that which is intentionally designed by man), but as spontaneous order or what he referred to as "that which is the result of human action but not of human design". Thus, Hayek put the price mechanism on the same level as, for example, language.

Hayek attributed the birth of civilization to private property in his book The Fatal Conceit (1988). He explained that price signals are the only means of enabling each economic decision maker to communicate tacit knowledge or dispersed knowledge to each other, in order to solve the economic calculation problem.

Social and political philosophy[edit]

In the latter half of his career Hayek made a number of contributions to social and political philosophy, which he based on his views on the limits of human knowledge,[25] and the idea of spontaneous order in social institutions. He argues in favor of a society organized around a market order, in which the apparatus of state is employed almost (though not entirely) exclusively to enforce the legal order (consisting of abstract rules, and not particular commands) necessary for a market of free individuals to function. These ideas were informed by a moral philosophy derived from epistemological concerns regarding the inherent limits of human knowledge. Hayek argued that his ideal individualistic, free-market polity would be self-regulating to such a degree that it would be 'a society which does not depend for its functioning on our finding good men for running it'.[26]


New Right critiques[edit]

Alain de Benoist of the Nouvelle Droite (New Right) produced a highly critical essay on Hayek's work in an issue of Telos, citing the flawed assumptions behind Hayek's idea of "spontaneous order" and the authoritarian, totalizing implications of his free-market ideology.[27][further explanation needed][page needed]

Influence and recognition[edit]

Hayek's influence on the development of economics is widely acknowledged. Hayek is the second-most frequently cited economist[citation needed] (after Kenneth Arrow) in the Nobel lectures of the prize winners in economics, particularly since his lecture was critical of the field of orthodox economics and neo-classical modelization. A number of Nobel Laureates in economics, such as Vernon Smith and Herbert A. Simon, recognize Hayek as the greatest modern economist.[citation needed] Another Nobel winner, Paul Samuelson, believed that Hayek was worthy of his award but nevertheless claimed that "there were good historical reasons for fading memories of Hayek within the mainstream last half of the twentieth century economist fraternity. In 1931, Hayek's Prices and Production had enjoyed an ultra-short Byronic success. In retrospect hindsight tells us that its mumbo-jumbo about the period of production grossly misdiagnosed the macroeconomics of the 1927–1931 (and the 1931–2007) historical scene".[28] Despite this comment, Samuelson spent the last 50 years of his life obsessed with the problems of capital theory identified by Hayek and Böhm-Bawerk, and Samuelson flatly judged Hayek to have been right and his own teacher, Joseph Schumpeter, to have been wrong on the central economic question of the 20th century, the feasibility of socialist economic planning in a production goods dominated economy.[29]

Hayek's greatest intellectual debt was to Carl Menger, who pioneered an approach to social explanation similar to that developed in Britain by Bernard Mandeville and the Scottish moral philosophers in the Scottish Enlightenment. He had a wide-reaching influence on contemporary economics, politics, philosophy, sociology, psychology and anthropology. For example, Hayek's discussion in The Road to Serfdom (1944) about truth, falsehood and the use of language influenced some later opponents of postmodernism.[30]

Hayek and conservatism[edit]

Hayek received new attention in the 1980s and 1990s with the rise of conservative governments in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. After winning the United Kingdom general election, 1979, Margaret Thatcher appointed Keith Joseph, the director of the Hayekian Centre for Policy Studies, as her secretary of state for industry in an effort to redirect parliament's economic strategies. Likewise, David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's most influential financial official in 1981 was an acknowledged follower of Hayek.[31]

In Why F A Hayek is a Conservative,[32] British policy analyst Madsen Pirie believes Hayek mistakes the nature of the conservative outlook. Conservatives, he says, are not averse to change – but like Hayek, they are highly averse to change being imposed on the social order by people in authority who think they know how to run things better. They wish to allow the market to function smoothly and give it the freedom to change and develop. It is an outlook, says Pirie, that Hayek and conservatives both share.

Personal life[edit]

In August 1926, Hayek married Helen Berta Maria von Fritsch, a secretary at the civil service office where Hayek worked. They had two children together.[33] Friedrich and Helen divorced in July 1950 and he married Helene Bitterlich[34] just a few weeks later, moving to Arkansas in order to take advantage of permissive divorce laws.[35]

On Hayek's religious views, he was an agnostic.[36]

Legacy and honours[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

Even after his death, Hayek's intellectual presence is noticeable, especially in the universities where he had taught: the London School of Economics, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg. A number of tributes have resulted, many posthumous:

Selected bibliography[edit]

Volume I. Rules and Order, 1973.[40]
Volume II. The Mirage of Social Justice, 1976.[41]
Volume III. The Political Order of a Free People, 1979.[42]
  • The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, 1988. Note: The authorship of The Fatal Conceit is under scholarly dispute.[43] The book in its published form may actually have been written entirely by its editor William W. Bartley, not by Hayek.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hayek's daughter-in Law, Esca Hayek, stated that he had "chosen to be British": "Hayek". Masters of Money. Episode 2. 16 October 2012. 40 minutes in. BBC. 
  2. ^ Steven Pressman, Fifty major economists (2nd edition), Routledge, 2006, p. viii
  3. ^ Bank of Sweden (1974). "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1974". 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Viennese Connection: Alfred Schutz and the Austrian School" by Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard.
  6. ^ Federici, Michael. Eric Voegelin: The Restoration of Order, ISI Books, 2002, p. 1
  7. ^ Galbraith, J. K. (1991). "Nicholas Kaldor Remembered". Nicholas Kaldor and Mainstream Economics: Confrontation or Convergence?. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312053568. 
  8. ^ "Sir Arthur Lewis Autobiography". Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  9. ^ Ebenstein, Alan (2001). Friedrich Hayek: a biography (1st ed.). Palgrave, New York: University Of Chicago Press. pp. 62, 248, 284. ISBN 978-0-312-23344-0. 
  10. ^ Interview with David Rockefeller[dead link]
  11. ^ Samuel Brittan, 'Hayek, Friedrich August (1899–1992)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 28 April 2009.
  12. ^ Ebenstein, p. 116.
  13. ^ Ebenstein, p. 128.
  14. ^ A. J. Tebble, F.A. Hayek, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010, p. 8
  15. ^ a b Block, Walter (1996). "Hayek's Road to Serfdom" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies. Center for Libertarian Studies. 12 (2): 339–365. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  16. ^ Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents (University Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 71
  17. ^ "The Prize in Economics 1974 – Press Release". 1974-10-09. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  18. ^ Ebenstein, p. 263.
  19. ^ Martin Anderson, "Revolution" (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), p. 164
  20. ^ Vaclav Klaus, “No Third Way Out: Creating a Capitalist Czechoslovakia”, Reason, 1990, (June): 28–31.
  21. ^ "CATO INSTITUTE BOOK FORUM – FRIEDRICH HAYEK: A BIOGRAPHY" (PDF). 2001-05-08. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  22. ^ Ebenstein, p. 301.
  23. ^ Ebenstein, p. 317.
  24. ^ Cite error: The named reference top was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  25. ^ "The Use of Knowledge in Society – A selected essay reprint". Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  26. ^ Individualism and Economic Order, p. 11
  27. ^ de Benoist, Alain (1998). "Hayek: A Critique". Telos (110). 
  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ The collected scientific papers of Paul A. Samuelson, Volume 5, p. 315.
  30. ^ e.g., Wolin 2004
  31. ^ Kenneth R. Hoover, Economics as Ideology: Keynes, Laski, Hayek, and the Creation of Contemporary Politics (2003), p. 213
  32. ^ "Why F A Hayek is a Conservative" Eamonn Butler and Madsen Pirie (eds) Hayek on the Fabric of Human Society (Adam Smith Institute, 1987)
  33. ^ Ebenstein, p. 44.
  34. ^ Ebenstein, p. 169.
  35. ^ Ebenstein, p. 155.
  36. ^ Ebenstein, p. 224.
  37. ^ "Hayek Fund for Scholars | Institute For Humane Studies". Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  38. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  39. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 885. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  40. ^ Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume ... – Google Books. 1978-02-15. ISBN 978-0-226-32086-1. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  41. ^ Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume ... – Google Books. 1978-10-15. ISBN 978-0-226-32083-0. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  42. ^
  43. ^ Alan Ebenstein: Investigation: The Fatal Deceit. Liberty 19:3 (March 2005)
  44. ^ Ian Jarvie (Editor), Karl Milford (Editor), David Miller (Editor) (2006), Karl Popper: a Centenary Assessment Vol. 1: Life and Times, and Values in a World of Facts, p. 120. pp. 295, ISBN 978-0754653752


  • Birner, Jack (2001). "The mind-body problem and social evolution," CEEL Working Paper 1-02.
  • Birner, Jack, and Rudy van Zijp, eds. (1994). Hayek: Co-ordination and Evolution: His legacy in philosophy, politics, economics and the history of ideas
  • Wapshott, Nicholas (2011). Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics, (W.W. Norton & Company) 382 pages ISBN 978-0-393-07748-3; covers the debate with Keynes in letters, articles, conversation, and by the two economists' disciples.
  • Weimer, W., and Palermo, D., eds. (1982). Cognition and the Symbolic Processes. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Contains Hayek's essay, "The Sensory Order after 25 Years" with "Discussion."
  • Wolin, Robert. (2004). The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Category:1899 births Category:1992 deaths Category:Austrian writers