Sunday, February 6, 2011

I wish I had a bit more to say. Unfortunately, unlike most of you, I found the content of this week's reading a bit lacking. If you haven't yet begun to read chapter two, I would recommend skipping it. It is a meander from empty statement to aimless philosophizing and "insights" into the human condition. Stoner philosophy seems as useful to me. For example: Hayek takes a full half paragraph run-on sentence to say "You can't know what the next discovery will be" (33). Anyone who has the education necessary to even be able to get through Hayek's somewhat dense and vague style likely already gets this idea. If he was trying to make some point further than this, then it is likely that I lack the education to get through his dense style to find it (don't tell the graduation office).

Would it kill him to give an example or two of what's he talking about or how it's relevant when he makes these very general statements? If you don't want to use any examples, that's fine, but don't expect me to take you seriously when you say that we should apply this armchair system to something real without ever having done so before. Perhaps he will address some of these things later, but attempting to make valid his system first seems...tricky. I'll have more to say on that Thursday.

Chapter three is a little better. While some sections to have the same issue, many actually have coherent points, if ones that could be restated in a quarter of the word-count more clearly. He even mentions Japan's attempts to imitate American technology!

It does leave me a little confused when he simultaneously seems to view the idea of "progress" as an ambiguous good (41) while rabidly defending it from those darn egalitarians, though. "The question whether, if we had to stop at our present stage of development, we would ... be better off than ... a hundred or a thousand years ago is probably unanswerable." Countering that with "Progress is movement for movement's sake ... having learned something new, that man enjoys the gift of his intelligence" is not exactly convincing. I would say he didn't even want to address or consider what "Progress" is, but then what were all those pages about what "Progress" is, then? Fluff?

I'm going to take some more time to think on this, and maybe reread for things I missed. See you Thursday!


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  2. I completely agree with your analysis Ben, the entire premise of Chapter 2 leaves its intellectual audience in the philosophical weeds of the left field, in the third dimension..but he seems to be making the point that to seek the completion of knowledge using the scientific method leads to elitism and the abuse of liberty. I believe Garette made this point in his blog about Hayek's distrust of the scientific method of profession in society.

    It seems that he is distrustful because of the proven effects of the scientific progression, that all we really know is a result of our "institutions" and "traditions" - our personal experiences and he doesn't trust this to be an accurate depiction of the best system of development..a rough sketch at best.