Hayek's ChallengeAn Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek

Hayek's ChallengeAn Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek

Bruce Caldwell

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226091914

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Friedrich A. Hayek is regarded as one of the preeminent economic theorists of the twentieth century, as much for his work outside of economics as for his work within it. During a career spanning several decades, he made contributions in fields as diverse as psychology, political philosophy, the history of ideas, and the methodology of the social sciences. This book offers us an intellectual biography of this pivotal social theorist. The book 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. The second part of the book 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. The third part offers both an assessment of Hayek's arguments and, in an epilogue, an 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. The book's analysis situates 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.