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Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism$
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Naomi Beck

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226556000

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226556147.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The Road to Evolution

The Road to Evolution

(p.10) Chapter One The Road to Evolution
Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism

Naomi Beck

University of Chicago Press

The first chapter traces the origins of Hayek’s interest in the natural sciences and in questions of epistemology, dating back to his formative years. The presumed transformation that took place in Hayek’s thought around the time of World War II, with a shift away from technical economics and toward studies in the philosophy of science, psychology, and cultural evolution, was in reality a return to his deeper and long-lasting interests. The chapter explores the factors that led Hayek to study economics, and the circumstances under which he met Ludwig von Mises, who convinced him of the superiority of the free market over socialism. The young scholar remained, however, skeptical of his mentor’s rationalist-utilitarian view of economics. In the 1940s, Hayek developed a critique of rationalism, which would accompany his work from that moment onward, and inform his perception of cultural evolution. It formed the basis for his attack on positivism, which he deemed to be the dangerous offshoot of eighteenth-century rationalism, and the overuse of statistical and mathematical tools in economic analysis. The chapter closes with a review of Hayek’s Chicago years and their contribution to his search for an alternative methodology for the social sciences.

Keywords:   F. A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, economics, free market, philosophy of science, rationalism, positivism, epistemology, methodology, Chicago

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