Friday, July 17, 2009

F.A. Hayek is Smarter than You

I present as evidence his classic work, The Sensory Order, which I am reading because (of course) I am a huge masochist. This post will naturally be written in the subconsciously condescending tone preferred by Hayek.

Note: I have only read through Chapter 3. I will probably post something actually related to the book at an as-yet-to-be-determined later date.

I think one of the awesome insights from this book is in the first chapter. In Hayek 1.20 (yes, he does use numbered chapters and verses, not sure if he meant to parallel the Bible), he talks about the fact that organisms use their minds to take the information they have about the world and project it so that they can have representations, or models if you prefer, of their environments within themselves.

Hayek gives away his background as an economist at two different points: in 2.1 he talks about an "order than appeared," a.k.a. spontaneous order, and in 3.49 he talks about collections of events that are interconnected and through webs we cannot see they bring about certain other collections of events.

I think Hayek's non-psychology is what allows him to write The Sensory Order. He is able to escape the traps that plague the behaviorists (who he absolutely rails on) and other schools of thought circa 1952. He also recognizes the interconnectedness of everything - every thought, every neural impulse; literally everything - with everything else. This insight derives itself, at least partially, from examining the interconnectedness of every event in an economy (and then praising the price system which allows us to synthesize it all).

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Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty