Friedrich  von Hayek (1983) - Evolution and Spontaneous Order

Friedrich von Hayek (1983)

Evolution and Spontaneous Order

Friedrich von Hayek (1983)

Evolution and Spontaneous Order

Comment

Friedrich von Hayek received The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences to the Memory of Alfred Nobel together with Gunnar Myrdal in 1974. It was an interesting combination of two ideological opponents, von Hayek representing classical liberalism and free-market capitalism and Myrdal a much more socialist view on economic questions. It is reported that Myrdal did not appreciate having von Hayek as a co-recipient, which might be a reason that Myrdal didn’t give his Prize lecture together with von Hayek, but only several months later. At the Nobel banquet in 1974, von Hayek gave a speech in which he voiced his doubts about the still relatively new prize in economic sciences. One reason, he said, is that a recipient of the prize “is even made to feel it a public duty to pronounce on problems to which one may not have devoted special attention”. But in Lindau 1983, in his lecture originally entitled “Entwicklung und spontane Ordnung”, von Hayek brings up questions that he had given much thought and also written extensively about. We know that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is accepted by most natural scientists. It describes how biological systems spontaneously tend to evolve towards more rational construction and behaviour by the mechanism of natural selection. But is a similar spontaneous evolution taking place in areas of social construction and cultural behaviour? Friedrich von Hayek argues that this is the case. He underlines the complexity of the social systems and gives an historic overview reaching all the way back to Aristotle. Since von Hayek not only was an economist but also a well renowned political philosopher, every word in his lecture seems to be of importance. But one has to concentrate hard, since he delivers the lecture in English with a rather strong accent.

Anders Bárány

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