Hayek in Context of Austrian School of Economics

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F. A. Hayek belonged to the so-called Austrian School of Economics. This school can be understood as a school of economic thought or a branch of libertarian ideology inspired by Austrian economists.

Many people associate the Austrian school mainly with such names as Mises and Rothbard. Hayek’s Austrian critics even claim that there are two branches of the Austrian school – the true Misesian and the left-wing Hayekian.

Does Hayek differ significantly from these authors? And what makes him inspiring? What does he mean for the Austrian School of Economics and science in general? What are his main contributions? How should we characterize Hayek?

How can Hayek’s theory of the self-organization of the human mind and the Hegelian concept of the spontaneous generation of man’s self-awareness be synthesized? Can there be an original synthesis of Hayek – one of the greatest anti-rationalists in the history of philosophy, with Hegel, the greatest rationalist ever? These are the questions to which answers may be found in the materials recommended in this article.

NOTE: The video is availabe in Czech and Slovak, with English subtitles

Tomáš Krištofóry has prepared useful links for all interested students, scholars, and researchers to substantiate claims in the video and for educational purposes.

The links are divided into two parts: “Place and originality of Hayek within the Austrian school” and “The relationship of Czech and Slovak scholars to Hayek and the Austrian school”.

The Place and Originality of Hayek Within the Austrian School

The Relationship of Czech and Slovak Scholars to Hayek and the Austrian School

The links explicitly show that there are deep roots and connections with Hayek and the Austrian school. Thus, we have a high potential to further creatively develop his legacy.

Recommended Reading

Ján Pavlík recommends reading:

  • Hayek: Individualism and Economic Order, 1948 (basic contributions by Hayek on division of knowledge in the economy, on the role of prices as information carriers and on the impossibility of central planning; some chapters of the book have been translated into Czech, e. g. in the collection of translations by Tomáš Ježek: The Foundations of the Liberal Order, 2001: this book is used in foreign study programs as the basis of Hayek’s economics).

  • Hayek: Counter-Revolution of Science, 1995 (volume 2, historically focused, gives the reader a cure against Comtian positivism and against the idea of the laws of social development – there is no inevitable destiny for a society; volume 1 is theoretically more demanding and presents a deeper view of man after the volume 2).

  • Hayek: Road to Serfdom, 1944 / Road to Serfdom, 2001, 2012, 2016 / Road to Serfdom, 1988, 1991, 2004 (Hayek’s bestseller against totalitarianism and central planning; helps appreciate the worth of freedom and other values that are lost under totalitarianism)

Pavel Potužák recommends reading (in the following order):

  • Hayek: The Road to Serfdom, 1991 (and skip the Counter-Revolution of Science),

  • Hayek: Law, Legislation and Liberty (3 parts, 1974, 1976, 1979) (Hayek’s Great Work on Freedom, economic forces and political institutions),

  • Rothbard: Man, Economy and State, 1962 (a decent introduction to Austrian economics, but read only after Hayek, since Rothbard closes a person intellectually)

  • Mises: Human Action, 1948 (the book laid the foundation of an Austrian school in the US, is a summary of Mises’ teachings) and then anything, for example:

  • Hayek: Prices and Production, 1931 (on prices, production and business cycle; after arriving in London Hayek made a breakthrough in the world of economics with this book, as well as with his criticism of Keynes) and the hardest book you’ll read over the holidays:

  • Hayek: Pure Theory of Capital, 1941. (Hayek’s last book on the purely economic theme and he expanded in it in terms of theory and the book is, therefore, very abstract and complex; when it became clear that Keynes had prevailed in economics, Hayek moved on to a wider political economy and to study the non-economic assumptions of the economics following the publishing of this book).

Ján Oravec recommends reading:

  • Read about Hayek’s life, since in his youth, it was just as fashionable to be totalitarian rather than advocating freedom as it is today. A historically oriented reader reads easily digestible books: Hayek on Hayek 1994 and

  • Eamonn Butler: Hayek: His Contribution to Political and Economic Thinking of Our Time, 1983. The book is available at the F. A. Hayek Foundation in Bratislava (in Slovak).


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