IN THE MAIL: Studies in the Abuse And Decline of Reason by F. A. Hayek, edited by Bruce Caldwell

Studies in the Abuse and Decline of Reason:  Text & Documents, The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek Vol. 13, edited by Bruce Caldwell.


Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason is a series of fascinating essays on the study of social phenomena. How to best and most accurately study social interactions has long been debated intensely, and there are two main approaches: the positivists, who ignore intent and belief and draw on methods based in the sciences; and the nonpositivists, who argue that opinions and ideas drive action and are central to understanding social behavior. F. A. Hayek’s opposition to the positivists and their claims to scientific rigor and certainty in the study of human behavior is a running theme of this important book.

Hayek argues that the vast number of elements whose interactions create social structures and institutions make it unlikely that social science can predict precise outcomes. Instead, he contends, we should strive to simply understand the principles by which phenomena are produced. For Hayek this modesty of aspirations went hand in hand with his concern over widespread enthusiasm for economic planning. As a result, these essays are relevant to ongoing debates within the social sciences and to discussion about the role government can and should play in the economy.

Table of Contents:

Editorial Foreword


Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason

Prelude                 Individualism: True and False

Part One: Scientism and the Study of Society

One                      The Influence of the Natural Sciences on the Social Sciences

Two                      The Problem and the Method of the Natural Sciences

Three                    The Subjective Character of the Data of the Social Sciences

Four                      The Individualist and ‘Compositive’ Method of the Social Sciences

Five                      The Objectivism of the Scientistic Approach

Six                        The Collectivism of the Scientistic Approach

Seven                    The Historicism of the Scientistic Approach

Eight                     ‘Purposive’ Social Formations

Nine                      ‘Conscious’ Direction and the Growth of Reason

Ten                       Engineers and Planners

Part Two: The Counter-Revolution of Science

Eleven                   The Source of the Scientistic Hubris: L’Ecole Polytechnique

Twelve                  The “Accoucheur d’Idées”: Henri de Saint-Simon

Thirteen                 Social Physics: Saint-Simon and Comte

Fourteen               The Religion of the Engineers: Enfantin and the Saint-Simonians

Fifteen                   Saint-Simonian Influence

Sixteen                  Sociology: Comte and His successors

Part Three: Comte and Hegel

Seventeen             Comte and Hegel

Appendix: Related Documents

Some Notes on Propaganda in Germany (1939)

Selected Correspondence, F. A. Hayek to Fritz Machlup (1940–41)

Preface to the U. S. Edition (1952)

Preface to the German Edition (1959)

Read Bruce Caldwell’s excellent introduction here.

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