Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue

document Bruce Caldwellof and Hansjorg Klausingerof Hayek: A Life 1899 – 1950, With the first two-volume biography of Hayek coming out this October, I decided to read it Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue* To refresh my memory about the life of FA Hayek. This book, which has been criticized by many Hayek admirers, is an excellent overview of his life in his own words.

The book consists of fragments of interviews that Hayek gave to various people, and they are put together to present his life from his very early years in Austria to his later fame. He also has a radio broadcast at the University of Chicago. Two things that make it an engaging book for the reader: a) it is short- less than 200 pages which makes it a very quick read, and b) it is Hayek telling and you can see how he experienced different events in his life. In many cases it seems like an old relative will tell you stories of the past. The language is simple and straightforward and often humorous. The reader knows both Hayek the man and Hayek the economist.

Writing my thoughts on a book like this is a difficult task, as I don’t really know where to begin. Shall I write about Hayek’s life? Absolutely not, there are better biographies. David Henderson Have a nice biography of In Hayek Concise Encyclopedia of Economics Here at Econlib. Shall I review it like other books and point out its strengths and weaknesses? No, it is a very good autobiography and there is little to object to. Instead, I want to give my sincere thoughts about the book.

There are two things that really drew me into reading this book and made me finish it quickly. The first is about Hayek himself. It is very common that those who excelled in their field were perfect their whole life. They were born smart, excelled in school, were recognized by their professors at university for their unusual intelligence, and eventually, became pioneers in their fields. I believe a purpose of biography and autobiography should be to dispel such myths.

Hayek described himself as very humble and down to earth. He was a terrible student at school and studied little outside of biology, which had long been his passion. He inherited this love from his father August who was a botanist. He could barely pass his classes at school; He neglected homework and relied on what he could remember from class to help him. Initially, Hayek wanted to become a diplomat, but such a path did not become available after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WW1. His interest in political and economic affairs was sharpened during the military struggle on the Italian front. Being part of a multinational and multilingual army, he said, “I served in a war where eleven different languages ​​were spoken. It is bound to draw your attention to the problem of political organization”. Hayek looks back on his life praising his successes and pointing out where he went wrong or should have done more, including his criticisms. Friedmanof method And Keynesian Economics.

I was also struck by the way Hayek spoke about his fellow economists and the intellectual environment around him. It is exciting to “hear” such great statistics Keynes, Schumpeter, Wittgenstein (who was also Hayek’s cousin) and Schrodinger By someone who knows them first hand. Pre-WW1 and interwar Vienna was a vibrant city home to some of the best scientists and economists of the last century. Hayek’s memoirs of the University of Vienna are perhaps the most interesting. The way Viennese economists and philosophers did their work was very different from the way their American colleagues did it. It was quite common for economists to meet outside the university in various coffee houses or at each other’s homes and discuss their interests. An example was the Mises Kreis which included many brilliant minds Alfred Schutz, Gottfried von Haberler, Fritz matchloop, Carl Menger( By Carl Menger son), Felix Kaufman And of course mrs. They, although not mentioned in this book, even had their own collections song which was published by Kaufman. The introduction to this collection of songs states:

Formal meetings will begin at 7:30 pm and end by 10:00 pm Most members will then gather for dinner at Restaurant Ancora Verde, where discussions will be more lighthearted. Afterwards, they would continue for coffee at the Café Künstler opposite the University of Vienna until 1:00 a.m., when Mises usually left. Fritz Matchloop reports that when he left at 3:00 a.m., he usually had to say goodnight to the philosopher Alfred Schutz!

Among the many circles that existed in this city, there were other groups such as the Austro-Marxists, the Wiener Kreis, the Mathematical Colloquium and the Geist Kreis for which I unfortunately do not have room to speak. I wholeheartedly recommend this excellent book if anyone wants to learn more about the intellectual environment of interwar Vienna and how Austrian economists worked in it. By Erwin Decker Viennese student of civilization.

I am now eagerly awaiting the release of Professor Caldwell’s next book.

* I would like to thank the University of Chicago Press for a review copy of the book.


Chris Lucas was born in Greece and is an economic journalist and the youngest member of the Greek team at the 2022 International Economics Olympiad. His articles have been featured by the Foundation for Economic Education, Ms. Institute, and Adam Smith Works.

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