“For it has always been the recognition of the limits of the possible which has enabled man to make full use of his powers.” (Law, Legislation and Liberty. Vol. 1 : Rules and Order)
“A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.” (Law, Legislation and Liberty. Vol. 2 : The Mirage of Social Justice)
“We must shed the illusion that we can deliberately ‘create the future of mankind’… This is the final conclusion of the forty years which I have now devoted to the study of these problems…” (Law, Legislation and Liberty. Vol. 3 : The Political Order of a Free People)
Friedrich A. Hayek, Nobel laureate economist and political philosopher, published his great work Law, Legislation and Liberty in 1973. In these volumes, he builds upon the themes addressed by his earlier works, notably, The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty. Hayek’s central concern is laying out the distinction between the view that society is a designed and man-made order or rather an emergent, growing system.
The Austrian-born economist had first become interested in his field while serving as an artillery officer in World War I, and the year 1918 found him at the University of Vienna where he received degrees in law and economics. He began teaching at the London School of Economics in 1932 and later taught at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, among other institutions. Along the way, he helped organize the young scholars who became known as the Vienna Circle, was president of the London Economics Club (1936), and founded (1947) and was president of the Mont Pelerin Society. In 1974, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, and the year before he died the United States gave him the Medal of Freedom. This last honor was deeply fitting, freedom having been central to Hayek’s thinking throughout his long career.
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