Monday, September 24, 2012

Austrian Economics Forum Fall 2012 #1--Caldwell on Hayek

Sadly, this year started off with me getting rather sick, and as a consequence, I have not been able to update the blog as I would like.  Fortunately I am on the mend and new posts will be forthcoming soon.

The first AEF event at NC State University had Hayekian expert Bruce Caldwell as the speaker.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend, however Alex Gill, graduate student and coordinator of the AEF, was able to write up his notes of the event.  Here are his words...

Talk on "How to do Archival Research" with Caldwell's work on Hayek as the motivating example...

Caldwell began by explaining how his interest in methodology led to an interest in the Austrian school, which led to the Hayek's challenge project.  He became interested in the Austrians because disputes with socialism and positivism shaped their arguments.
As part of the Hayek's Challenge project, he went to the Hayek archives at the Hoover Institute at Stanford and met then current general editor for Hayek, Bartley and his partner Stephen Kresge.  He quickly learned the importance of personal relationships, both between the researcher and those he encounters as well as the relationships between the subject of research and the people the researcher interviews or otherwise encounters in the course of research.  
When Bartley died, the editorship of Hayek's collected works moved to Kresge, who soon requested that Caldwell take it over.  Caldwell's position changes from having to ask for permission to quote unpublished material to being in charge of who has said permission (and for what). 
Dr. Douglas Pearce at this point asked Caldwell to clarify rules on quoting from unpublished letters.
Caldwell explained that one can paraphrase unpublished material without the editor's permission, but to quote directly or extensively one needs the general editor's permission.
Prof. Caldwell went on to explain that being general editor requirs fundraising (for instance, to hire volume editors), a skill he learned by doing.  He credits part of his career success to fundraising talent.
Caldwell then began discussing Hayek's divorce, both to reinforce the point about personal relationships and to make a point about following through to correspondents' archives (to get the other halves of conversations).  He learned that Hayek's father (a medical doctor and botanist) was highly nationalistic and embraced many of the opinions associated with Nazism, as did Hayek's brother.  His mother blamed his father for making F.A. a liberal, as she believed said liberalism was a reaction to the father's nationalism.  Without following through to correspondents' archives, Caldwell never would have found this fact out (and others), which would have changed the story he will end up telling in the forthcoming biography, especially with regard to Hayek's family relationships.
Hayek's archives include notecards he made while studying the literature (where he would list quotes from others and citations, etc.)  Through the painstaking process of reading many boxes of these notecards, Caldwell gained insight into Hayek's thinking about his Nobel prize and the person he shared it with (Gunnar Myrdal).  Caldwell was previously curious about Hayek's apparent change of tone beginning in this period (from relatively passive and softspoken to more aggressive and willing to attack others), and he realized that Hayek in this period was incensed that he had to share the prize with Myrdal, and that furthermore Myrdal disparaged him (Hayek) and later Nobel recipient Friedman publicly, which to Hayek displayed a complete lack of class and professionalism.  Hayek was furthermore upset that his Nobel address was refereed when submitted to Economica, a journal Hayek used to edit while he was at LSE.  He was offended that it was not accepted as is without an editing process.  So in this period (1970s) Hayek struck back, and began, for instance, attacking Mill (unfairly, according to Caldwell's interpretation) and Mill's interpreters (more fairly, perhaps).
Caldwell met with Hayek's children Larry and Christine, and obtained much of interest from them.
Dr. Lee Craig then asked, "Were Hayek's children or wives ever interested in his work/economics?"
Answer (paraphrased): No

Dr. Roy Cordato asked, "Where did Hayek place himself intellectually among other Austrians?"
Answer: He was a student of Weiser, but called Mises his "mentor."  He wasn't too close personally with Mises and Popper, though intellectually these two were the closest to Hayek.
Dr.Roy Cordato then asked, "Are Hayek's mentions of public goods, welfare economics and the like an artifact of his studying under Weiser?"
Answer: Not that I see.
Tim G. then asked, "Is there a connection between Hayek's economics and The Sensory Order?"
Answer: There is not a connection between Sensory Order and Misesian economics.  There is a similarity between Hayek's capital and cognitive theories, though (both self-organizing systems).  Current science is  largely in accord with Hayek's psychological theories.  Read the book and see what you think (the book is hard to understand).


Post a Comment