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:
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.