Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Chapter Four, Freedom, Reason, and Tradition; The Constitution of Liberty
ISBN 0-226-32084-7, University of Chicago Press | 1960 | Friedrich A. Hayek

Posted on 02/04/2003 6:56:26 PM PST by KC Burke

Nothing is more fertile in prodigies than the art of being free; but there is nothing more arduous than the apprenticeship of liberty…Liberty is generally established with difficulty in the midst of storms; it is perfected by civil discords; and its benefit cannot be appreciated until it is already old.

A. de Tocqueville


CHAPTER FOUR

Sub-chapters 1 - 5
1. Though freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization, it did not arise from design. The institutions of freedom, like everything freedom has created, were not established because people foresaw the benefits they would bring. But, once its advantages were recognized, men began to perfect and extend the reign of freedom and, for that purpose, to inquire how a free society worked. This development of a theory of liberty took place mainly in the eighteenth century. It began in two countries, England and France. The first of these knew liberty; the second did not.

As a result, we have had to the present day two different traditions in the theory of liberty: one empirical and unsystematic, the other speculative and rationalistic –the first based on an interpretation of traditions and institutions which had spontaneously grown up and were but imperfectly understood, the second aiming at the construction of a utopia, which has often been tried but never successfully. Nevertheless, it has been the rationalistic, plausible, and apparently logical argument of the French tradition, with its flattering assumptions about the unlimited powers of human reason, that has progressively gained influence, while the less articulate and less explicit tradition of English freedom has been on the decline.

This distinction is obscured by the fact that what we have called the “French tradition” of liberty arose largely from an attempt to interpret British institutions and that the conceptions which other countries formed of British institutions were based mainly on their descriptions by French writers. The two traditions became finally confused when they merged in the liberal movement of the nineteenth century and when even leading British liberals drew as much on the French as on the British tradition. It was, in the end, the victory of the Benthamite Philosophical Radicals over the Whigs in England that concealed the fundamental difference which in more recent years has reappeared as the conflict between liberal democracy and “social” or totalitarian democracy.

This difference was better understood a hundred years ago than it is today. In the year of the European revolutions in which the two traditions merged, the contract between “Anglican” and “Gallican” liberty was still clearly described by an eminent German-American political philosopher. “Gallican Liberty,” wrote Francis Lieber in 1848, “is sought in the government, and according to an Anglican point of view, it is looked for in the wrong place, where it cannot be found. Necessary consequences of the Gallican view are, that the French look for the highest degree of political civilization in organization, that is, in the highest degree of interference by public power. The question whether this interference be despotism or liberty is decided solely by the fact who interferes, and for the benefit of which class the interference takes place, while according to the Anglican view this interference would always be either absolutism or aristocracy, and the present dictatorship of the ouvriers would appear to us an uncompromising aristocracy of the ouvriers.”

Since this was written, the French tradition has everywhere progressively displaced the English. To disentangle the two traditions it is necessary to look at the relatively pure forms in which they appeared in the eighteenth century. What we have called the “British Tradition” was made explicit mainly by a group of Scottish moral philosophers led by David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson, seconded by their English contemporaries Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke and William Paley, and drawing largely on a tradition rooted in the jurisprudent of the common law. Opposed to them was the tradition of the French Enlightenment, deeply imbued with Cartesian rationalism: the Encyclopedists and Rousseau, the Physiocrats and Condorcet, are their best know representatives. Of course, the division does not fully coincide with national boundries. Frenchmen, like Montesquieu and, later, Benjamin Constant and, above all, Alexis de Tocqueville are probably nearer to what we have called the “British” than to the “French” tradition. And in Thomas Hobbes, Britian as provided at least on e of the founders of rationalist tradition, not to speak of a whole generation of enthusiasts for the French Revolution, like Godwin, Priestly, Price, and Paine, who (like Jefferson after his stay in France) belong entirely to it.

2. Though these two groups are now commonly lumped together as ancestors of modern liberalism, there is hardly a greater contrast imaginable than that between their respective conceptions of the evolution and functioning of a social order and the role played in it by liberty. The difference is directly traceable to the predominance of an essentially empiricist view of the world in England and a rationalist approach in France. The main contrast in the practical conclusions to which these approaches led has recently been put, as follows: “One finds the essence of freedom in spontaneity and the absence of coercion, the other believes it to be realized only in the pursuit and attainment of an absolute collective purpose”, and “one stands for organic, slow, half-conscious growth, the other for doctrinaire deliberativeness; one for trail and error procedure, the other for an enforced solely valid pattern.” It is the second view, as J. L. Talmon has shown in an important book from which this description is taken, that has become the origin of totalitarian democracy.

The sweeping success of the political doctrines that stem from the French tradition is probably due to their great appeal to human pride and ambition. But we must not forget that the political conclusions of the two schools derive from the different conceptions of how society works. In this respect, the British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the rationalist school was simply and completely wrong.

Those British philosophers have given us an interpretation of the growth of civilization that is still the indispensable foundation of the argument for liberty. They find the origin of institutions, not in contrivance or design, but in the survival of the successful. Their view is expressed in terms of “how nations stumble upon establishments which are indeed the result of human action but not the execution of human design.” It stresses that what we call political order is much less the product of our ordering intelligence than is commonly imagined. As their immediate successors saw it, what Adam Smith and his contemporaries did was “to resolve almost all that has been ascribed to positive institution into the spontaneous and irresistible development of certain obvious principles—and to show how little contrivance or political wisdom the most complicated and apparently artificial schemes of policy might have been erected.”

This “anti-rationalistic insight into historical happenings that Adam Smith shares with Hume, Adam Ferguson, and others” enabled them for the first time to comprehend how institutions and morals, language and law, have evolved by a process of cumulative growth and that it is only with and within this framework that human reason has grown and can successfully operate. Their argument is directed throughout against the Cartesian conception of an independently and antecedently existing human reason that invented these institutions and against the conception that civil society formed by some wise original legislator or an original “social contract.” The latter idea of intelligent men coming together for deliberation about how to make the world anew is perhaps the most characteristic outcome of thos design theories. It found its perfect expression when the leading theorist of the French Revolution, Abbe Sieyes, exhorted the revolutionary assembly “to act like men just emerging from the state of nature and coming together for the purpose of signing a social contract.”

The ancients understood the conditions of liberty better than that. Cicero quotes Cato as saying that the Roman constitution was superior to that of other states because it “was based upon the genius, not of one man, but of many: it was founded, not in one generation, but in a long period of several centuries and many ages of men. For, said he, there never has lived a man possessed of so great a genius that nothing could escape him, nor could the combined powers of all men living at one time possibly make all the necessary provisions for the future without the aid of actual experience and the test of time.” Neither republican Rome not Athens – the tow free nations of the ancient world—could thus serve as and example for rationalists. For Descartes, the fountainhead of the rationalist tradition, it was indeed Sparta that provided the model; for her greatness “was due not the pre-eminence of each of its laws in particular…but to the circumstance that, originated by a single individual, they all tended to the same end.” And it was Sparta which became the ideal of liberty for Rousseau as well as for Robespierre and Saint-Just and for most of the later advocates of “social” or totalitarian democracy.

Like the ancient, the modern British conception of liberty grew against the background of a comprehension, first achieved by the lawyers, of how institutions had developed. “There are many things specifically in laws and governments,” wrote Chief Justice Hale in the seventeenth century in a critique of Hobbes, “that mediately, remotely and consequentially are reasonable to be approved, though the reason of the party does not presently or immediately and distinctly see its reasonableness…Long experience makes more discoveries touching conveniences or inconveniences of laws than is possible for the wisest council of men at first to foresee. And that those amendments and supplements that through the various experiences of wise and knowing men have been applied to any law must needs be better suited to the convenience of laws, than the best invention of the most pregnant wits not aided by such a series and tract of experience…This add to the difficulty of the present fathoming of the reason of laws, which, though it commonly be called the mistress of fools, yet certainly it is the wisest expedient among mankind, and discovers those defects and supplies which no wit of man could either at once foresee or aptly remedy…It is not necessary that the reasons of the institution should be evident unto us. It is sufficient that they are instituted laws that give a certainty to us, and it is reasonable to observe them though the particular reason of the institution appear not.”

3. From these conceptions gradually grew a body of social theory that showed how, in the relations among men, complex and orderly and, in a very definite sense, purposive institutions might grow up which owed little to design, which were not invented but arose from the separate action of many men who did nto know what they were doing. This demonstration that something greater than man’s individual mind may grow from men’s fumbling efforts represented in some ways an even greater challenge to all design theories than even the later theory of biological evolution. For the first time it was shown that an evident order which was not the product of designing human intelligence, but that there was a third possibility—the emergence of order as the result of adaptive evolution.

Since the emphasis we shall have to place on the role that selection plays in this process of social evolution today is likely to create the impression that we are borrowing the idea from biology, it is worth stressing that it was from the theories of social evolution that Darwin and his contemporaries derived the suggestion for their theories. Indeed, one of those Scottish philosophers who first developed these ideas anticipated Darwin even in the biological field, and later application of these conceptions by the various “historical schools” in law and language rendered the idea that similarity of structure might be accounted for by a common origin a common place in the study of social phenomena long before it was applied to biology. It is unfortunate that at a later date the social sciences, instead of building on these beginnings in their own field, re-imported some of these ideas from biology and with them brought in such conceptions as “natural selection,” “struggle for existence,” and “survival of the fittest,’ which are not appropriate in their field; for in social evolution, the decisive factor is not the selection of the physical and inherited properties of the individuals but the selection by imitation of successful institutions and habits. Though this operates also through the success of individuals and groups, what emerges is not an inheritable attribute of individuals, but ideas and skills – in short, the whole cultural inheritance which is passed on by learning and imitation.

4. A detailed comparison of the two traditions would require a separate book; here we can merely single out a few of the crucial points on which they differ.

While the rationalist tradition assumes that man was originally endowed with both the intellectual and moral attributes that enabled him to fashion civilization deliberately, the evolutionists made it clear that civilization was the accumulated hard-earned result of trial and error; that it was the sum of experience, in part handed from generation to generation as explicit knowledge, but to a larger extent embodied in tools and institutions which had proved themselves superior—institutions whose significance we might discover by analysis, but which will also serve men’s ends without men’s understanding them. The Scottish theorists were very much aware of how delicate this artificial structure of civilization was which rested upon man’s more primitive and ferocious instincts being tamed and checked by institutions that he neither had designed not could control. They were very far from holding such naïve views, later unjustly laid at the door of their liberalism, as the “natural goodness of man,” the existence of “a natural harmony of interests,” or the beneficent effects of “natural liberty” (even though they did sometimes use the last phrase). They knew that it required the artifices of institutions and traditions to reconcile the conflicts of interest. Their problem was “that universal mover in human nature, self love, may receive such direction in this case (as in all others) as to promote the public interest by those efforts it shall make towards pursuing its own.” It was not “natural liberty” in any literal sense, but the institutions evolved to secure “life, liberty, and property,” which made these individual efforts beneficial. Not Locke, nor Hume, nor Smith, nor Burke, could have argued, as Bentham did, that “every law is an evil for every law is an infraction of liberty.” Their argument was never a complete laissez faire argument, which, as the very words show, is also part of the French rationalist tradition and in its literal sense was never defended by any of the English classical economists. They knew better than most of their later critics that it was not some sort of magic, but the evolution of “well constructed institutions,” where the “rules and privileges of contending interests and compromised advantages” would be reconciled, that had successfully channeled individual efforts to socially beneficial aims. In fact, their argument was never antistate as such, or anarchistic, which is the logical outcome of the rationalistic laissez faire doctrine; it was an argument that accounted both for the proper functions of the state and for the limits of state action.

The difference is particularly conspicuous in the respective assumptions of the two schools concerning individual human nature. The rationalistic design theories were necessarily based on the assumption of the individual man’s propensity for rational action and his natural intelligence and goodness. The evolutionary theory, on the contrary, showed how certain institutional arrangements would induce man to use his intelligence to the best effect and how institutions could be framed so that bad people could do least harm. The antirationalist tradition is here closer to the Christian tradition of the fallibility and sinfulness of man, while the perfectionism of the rationalist is in irreconcilable conflict with it. Even such a celebrated figment as the “economic man’ was not an original part of the British evolutionary tradition. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that, in the view of those British philosophers, man was by nature lazy and indolent, improvident and wasteful, and that it was only by the force of circumstances that he could be made to behave economically or could learn carefully to adjust his means to his ends. The homo oeconomicus was explicitly introduced, with much else that belongs in the rationalist rather than the evolutionary tradition, only by the younger Mill.

5. The greatest difference between the two views, however, is in their respective ideas about the role of traditions and the value of all the other product of unconscious growth proceeding throughout the ages. It would hardly be unjust to say that the rationalistic approach is here opposed to almost all that is the distinct product of liberty and that gives liberty its value. Those who believe that all useful institutions are deliberate contrivances and who cannot conceive of anything serving a human purpose that has not been consciously designed are almost of necessity enemies of freedom. For them freedom means chaos.

To the empiricist evolutionary tradition, on the other hand, the value of freedom consists mainly in the opportunity that it provides for the growth of the undesigned, and the beneficial functioning of a free society rests largely on the existence of such freely grown institutions. There probably never has existed a genuine belief in freedom, and there certainly has been no successful attempt to operate a free society, without a genuine reverence for grown institutions, for customs and habits and “all those securities of liberty which arise from regulation of long prescription and ancient ways.” Paradoxial as it may appear, it is probably true that a successful free society will always in a large measure be a tradition-bound society.

This esteem for tradition and custom, of grown institutions, and of rules whose origins and rationale we do not know does not, of course, mean – as Thomas Jefferson believed with a characteristic rationalist misconception – that we “ascribe to men of preceding age a wisdom more than human, and… suppose what they did beyond amendment.” Far from assuming that those who created the institutions were wiser than we are, the evolutionary view is based on the insight that the result of the experimentation of many generations may embody more experience than any on man possesses.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: hayek; libertarians; whig
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-137 next last
I have taken of late to damning "Totalitarian Rationalistic Democracy". I have taken of late of popping off to other posters with, "you haven't read the fourth chapter of Hayek's Constitution of Liberty." I have taken of late the habit of finding I am more concerned with a compadre's principles than their "ideology", that short-hand magic answer thing I love to deride.

We hurl around the names and snippets of these giants of conservative thought and sadly, allow commentators of today's political media to invoke them as well, all without knowing the depth and breadth of their very thought.

So the next time that someone tells you about the famed "libertarian" F. A Hayek's condemnation of "statism", his belief in pure ideology and contempt for tradition, his reliance upon Mill's simple principle and such other simplistic stuff meant to reinforce his position, link them to this thread.

Likewise, when condenming those who stridently talk of non-coercion, mention libertarian principles with a fond tone or who fail to say the word "conservative" with the right tone of reverence, you might want to observe that often classified among them is a great friend to "custom, convention" and all that.

Hey, I didn't know that Thomas Sowell (one of my heros), equally condenming of ideology, the Unconstrained and rationality in A Conflict of Visions descibes himself to interviewers as a "libertarian"

Names then, aren't all that important; princples are.

1 posted on 02/04/2003 6:56:26 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Bonaparte
Your posting of the essay The Liberalism/Conservatism Of Edmund Burke and F. A. Hayek: A Critical Comparison by Linda C. Raeder some years back was formative in my searching out much of Hayek's thoughts in these areas.

Thanks

2 posted on 02/04/2003 7:00:53 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
Likewise, your posting of Nisbet's: CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERTARIANS: UNEASY COUSINS has been a good guide as well.
3 posted on 02/04/2003 7:03:49 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
!
4 posted on 02/04/2003 7:04:57 PM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
I have read that Margaret Thatcher was an admirer of this work by Hayek.
5 posted on 02/04/2003 7:07:09 PM PST by Sam Cree
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: dblhlx
Often, there are those who use a short snippet, or even nothing but the title of the appendix/essay to The Constitution of Liberty entitled Why I am not a Conservative (which you were so good to post in full) and fail to point out that he ends by calling himself an "old Whig" as the only suitable classification.
6 posted on 02/04/2003 7:09:09 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Sam Cree
When Maggie was listening to formative talks about what the new conservative party was going to claim as their principles, prior to the time of her becoming the leader, she came to the podium, in her turn, after listening to others drone and dither and slammed a book upon it saying "THIS is what we believe!"

That book was The Constitution of Liberty.

7 posted on 02/04/2003 7:12:27 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Askel5; betty boop; TroutStalker
the usual suspects are summoned
8 posted on 02/04/2003 7:16:16 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
I'm glad it was helpful, KC.
9 posted on 02/04/2003 7:16:59 PM PST by Bonaparte
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: missileboy
I mentioned that I would ping you after putting this up...give it some time to digest.
10 posted on 02/04/2003 7:17:31 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
all without knowing the depth and breadth of their very thought

You say it with earnest and you say it well.

11 posted on 02/04/2003 7:26:27 PM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: betty boop; VadeRetro
“natural selection,”

Marbles.

12 posted on 02/04/2003 7:30:15 PM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Snuffington; amom; illstillbe; ouroboros; annalex; IronJack; Dumb_Ox; fod; Liberal Classic; ...
Just a little light reading for the nightstand.
13 posted on 02/04/2003 7:32:40 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Bonaparte
I have to get a scanner and OCR software at home....my pinkies are tired...I would have put in the balance of Cahpter Four, and may later on, but this was enough typing for a long while.
14 posted on 02/04/2003 7:34:38 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: JasonC
It would hardly be unjust to say that the rationalistic approach is here opposed to almost all that is the distinct product of liberty and that gives liberty its value

It takes a while for people to recognize this. They are obliged to read European writers, including the oldest of them, if not because our thought world is by and large their product. I read Levinas and learned from his struggle against rationalism.

15 posted on 02/04/2003 7:41:34 PM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: *libertarians; madfly
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
16 posted on 02/04/2003 7:42:36 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Libertarianize the GOP
getting past your screen-name, I like your tag line...R Weaver was another who doesn't fit easily outside of both camps due to the giant stature of his thought.
17 posted on 02/04/2003 7:45:12 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
how's youse doin'?
18 posted on 02/04/2003 7:47:11 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

It would hardly be unjust to say that the rationalistic approach is here opposed to almost all that is the distinct product of liberty and that gives liberty its value

Whew!

19 posted on 02/04/2003 7:48:53 PM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
this was enough typing for a long while

Thanks for doing so. For too long I've put off typing two articles, one from a Protestant (H. Dooyeweerd, The Roots of Western Culture) and another from a Catholic (F. Wilhelmsen, Christianity and Political Philosophy).

20 posted on 02/04/2003 7:51:25 PM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
I have four words for us: Optical Character Recognition Software.

I want it, I just don't need it.

21 posted on 02/04/2003 7:56:02 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
"Names then, aren't all that important; principles are."

Exactly. -- And one of my problems with Hayek is the way he uses names ['rationalist', - 'evolutionist' ] far to often, instead of stressing principle. -

That, and his method of writing in long, strung out, hard to decipher thoughts... I'll try to illustrate by spacing the below... IE:


"--- While the rationalist tradition assumes that man was originally endowed with both the intellectual and moral attributes that enabled him to fashion civilization deliberately,--

-- the evolutionists made it clear that civilization was the accumulated hard-earned result of trial and error;--

-- that it was the sum of experience, in part handed from generation to generation as explicit knowledge, but to a larger extent embodied in tools and institutions which had proved themselves superior—institutions whose significance we might discover by analysis, but which will also serve men's ends without men's understanding them.

The Scottish theorists were very much aware of how delicate this artificial structure of civilization was which rested upon man's more primitive and ferocious instincts being tamed and checked by institutions that he neither had designed not could control.
They were very far from holding such naïve views, later unjustly laid at the door of their liberalism, as the "natural goodness of man," the existence of "a natural harmony of interests," or the beneficent effects of "natural liberty" (even though they did sometimes use the last phrase).
They knew that it required the artifices of institutions and traditions to reconcile the conflicts of interest.

Their problem was "that universal mover in human nature, self love, may receive such direction in this case (as in all others) as to promote the public interest by those efforts it shall make towards pursuing its own."

It was not "natural liberty" in any literal sense, but the institutions evolved to secure "life, liberty, and property," which made these individual efforts beneficial. ---"
_________________________________

Thus, liberated a bit from Hayeks dense style, we can see that his 'rationalists' do indeed realise that 'self-interest', -- [his "self-love" just above], -- is the ~real~ basis for 'promoting the public interest'.

In other words, -- everyone wins by protecting maximum rights to life, liberty, and property, -- even at the expense of ignoring some of the orderly institutions demanded by the 'evolutionists'.



22 posted on 02/04/2003 8:01:38 PM PST by tpaine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tpaine
In the later half of this chapter he makes some points in direct agreement and also, in counter-point to what you are saying. If I get the time to add them this week, I will ping you.

Remember, english was his fourth language as I recall.

23 posted on 02/04/2003 8:06:34 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
KC Burke, to me your post (and subsequent remarks) is a thing of very great beauty. It comes late in the day for me. So I do need to "sleep on it," hopefully to speak with you again in the morning.

Thank you, KCB. May God ever bless you.

24 posted on 02/04/2003 8:15:24 PM PST by betty boop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
Thanks much - will enjoy reading it.

25 posted on 02/04/2003 9:45:55 PM PST by missileboy (Principio Obstate - Resist from the Beginning)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
“was based upon the genius, not of one man, but of many: it was founded, not in one generation, but in a long period of several centuries and many ages of men. For, said he, there never has lived a man possessed of so great a genius that nothing could escape him, nor could the combined powers of all men living at one time possibly make all the necessary provisions for the future without the aid of actual experience and the test of time.”

Memory. Critical.

That's why I smart somewhat at choosing either between the Gallic (I'm read: "revolutionary") precepts and those of the Anglican (I read: "Reformation").

There's that same hulking black hole of anti-Catholicism where memory ought to be. Catholicism has never held itself out to be the "third way" between any pair of competing ideologies (socialism and capitalism), philosophies or faiths.

But without the Church's clarity and gift for reconciling not only the horizontal nature of man (as equal in dignity) but also the vertical nature of man (as individual and a part -- always -- of one hierarchy or another as patterned on the Family that is the basis of human society), it's absolutely true that quests for Mythic Liberty will necessarily end in either totalitarianism or anarchy as he says.

(Thanks for the post ... I'll keep reading.)

26 posted on 02/04/2003 10:02:44 PM PST by Askel5
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
I've read it a couple times but I refuse to believe I'm understanding part 3. Can you thumbnail that for me?
27 posted on 02/04/2003 10:13:35 PM PST by Askel5
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
Really interesting read, KC. Thanks again for the flag. I did laugh out loud at a couple lines.

I may go post it among the atheists for whom wry (and bitter) irony has supplanted all notion of the paradoxical.

28 posted on 02/04/2003 10:19:51 PM PST by Askel5
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
"One finds the essence of freedom in spontaneity and the absence of coercion"

I worry that this is too empty a notion of freedom; while there is certainly some value in negative liberty, without more positive content, such as that which a good ethical system can provide, anomie threatens.

What's more, it seems to me that a freedom that is the absence of coercion must treat law as solely a check upon license. Law is for the wicked, liberty is for the good, and as Lincoln so pithily said, one cannot have a right to do a wrong.

(But now the question: what about laws that make one drive on the right side of the road? They are coercive, and a restraint on the liberty of the good. Yet they are also necessary for an ordered liberty. Hmm.)

They find the origin of institutions, not in contrivance or design, but in the survival of the successful.

Republican Rome and Democratic Athens, to which Hayek favorably alludes, both failed to survive. If I may reverse Plato's schema in the Republic, and use men as metaphors for states, both Christ and Socrates failed to survive. How is survival to be a reliable measure of political regimes in our fragile, mortal world?

It is not necessary that the reasons of the institution should be evident unto us. It is sufficient that they are instituted laws that give a certainty to us, and it is reasonable to observe them though the particular reason of the institution appear not.

How shall we evaluate the reasonability of the institution without knowing the particular reason?

I suspect an answer presents itself in this Stanley Hauerwas essay:

I can think of no more conformist message in liberal societies than the idea that students should learn to think for themselves. What must be said is that most students in our society do not have minds well enough trained to think. A central pedagogical task is to tell students that their problem is that they do not have minds worth making up. That is why training is so important, because training involves the formation of the self through submission to authority that will provide people with the virtues necessary to make reasoned judgment.

Alisdair MacIntyre's Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia, Geneaology, and Tradition further reflects on the importance of tradition in the formation of ethical(and thus political) reasoning, while further outlining the problems of overleaping rationalism. I do not know what Hayek has to say on this topic, though I'm certainly looking forward to learning.

29 posted on 02/04/2003 10:23:30 PM PST by Dumb_Ox
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
Not Locke, nor Hume, nor Smith, nor Burke, could have argued, as Bentham did, that every law is an evil for every law is an infraction of liberty. Their argument was never a complete laissez faire argument, which, as the very words show, is also part of the French rationalist tradition and in its literal sense was never defended by any of the English classical economists. They knew better than most of their later critics that it was not some sort of magic, but the evolution of well constructed institutions, where the rules and privileges of contending interests and compromised advantages would be reconciled, that had successfully channeled individual efforts to socially beneficial aims. In fact, their argument was never antistate as such, or anarchistic, which is the logical outcome of the rationalistic laissez faire doctrine; it was an argument that accounted both for the proper functions of the state and for the limits of state action.

Right on. "Proper functions," whodathunkit?

An objectivist totalibertarian would tend to try to grind this intuitively obvious idea down to meaninglessness. But "anti-state" doesn't quite give that view justice, to me. That view would set up government by state tribunal to inflict such an extreme version of "liberties" upon a people that it would severely oppress, in an inside-out fashion (until the inevitable coup rises from chaos, Rouseau begets Robespierre, as Ahrendt and Schaeffer point out).

30 posted on 02/04/2003 11:02:04 PM PST by unspun (Locke rocks.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
Nice scanners are practically dirt cheap these days. Thanks for all your hard work. Great article!
31 posted on 02/04/2003 11:44:33 PM PST by Bonaparte
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: tpaine
I also find that following Hayek's writing requires quite a bit of concentration, I had supposed that might be partly due to his foreign birth, or maybe just from his being a professor and economist. I am sure he could have had an even greater influence had he written in language that the "ordinary Joe" could handle with less effort.

Nevertheless, as he remains one of my primary inspirations and heroes, I remain grateful for his existence and his thinking.
32 posted on 02/05/2003 3:09:43 AM PST by Sam Cree
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Askel5
Re your #26 and the Catholic path....have you read Orestes Brownson? It is my understanding that his later work his helpful in resolving that path of showing a solid weld between the conservative tradition and RC. See the ISI book store for the right book of his, in his youth he wrote some off the wall stuff.
33 posted on 02/05/2003 4:20:10 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Askel5
As to part 3....I believe that Russell Kirk changed his wording of his first principle from beleif "in a Transcendant Moral Order" to "an Enduring Moral Order" to be able to encompass the seemingly agnostic Hayek and others with whom he felt a solid unity in the Old Whig camp.

This number 3 is Hayek's Mechanism or substitute for the active Divine, IMHO. Later in this chapter, and in following chapters, he addresses moral belief and ethical foundations. Here he is simply showing his unity with Burke on the issues of sophisters.

34 posted on 02/05/2003 4:31:19 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Dumb_Ox
I worry that this is too empty a notion of freedom; while there is certainly some value in negative liberty, without more positive content, such as that which a good ethical system can provide, anomie threatens.

Sub-chapter 6 deals with that, or at least makes his first start until later in the book.

35 posted on 02/05/2003 4:37:34 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: unspun
he does quote another in saying "Gallican liberty is sought in government...

This is a condition or contradiction I see for much of the rationalist approach.

36 posted on 02/05/2003 4:49:11 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Dumb_Ox
Alisdair MacIntyre's Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia, Geneaology, and Tradition

His Gifford Lectures. Very informative.

37 posted on 02/05/2003 5:58:56 AM PST by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke; cornelis; Askel5
Thank you for the effort. Excellent read; moreover, you mentioned to emphasize precisely the points I would have emphasized also.

I believe that as we witness a failure of constitutional republican government to safeguard freedom, a social theory that acknowledges, with the French, the objective and universal character of natural rights, and, with the British, the critical role of traditional well-constructed institutions of government, will emerge.

38 posted on 02/05/2003 8:30:24 AM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex
I believe that as we witness a failure of constitutional republican government to safeguard freedom, a social theory that acknowledges, with the French, the objective and universal character of natural rights, and, with the British, the critical role of traditional well-constructed institutions of government, will emerge.

Man-oh-man, there is a fruitful speculation worthy of its own thread sometime.

I would say that a small synthsis is possible. It exists in the Natural Law doctrine and applies only to animating the Legislative force.

39 posted on 02/05/2003 9:05:47 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
I see I have been given a homework assignment. ;-)

Thanks for thinking of me.
40 posted on 02/05/2003 9:14:00 AM PST by amom (* * * STS-107* * * *)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
applies only to animating the Legislative force.

Why do you say that? The Natural Law finds its implementation in the customary case law, not in the statutes.

41 posted on 02/05/2003 9:27:35 AM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: annalex
I agree the common law is an entrypoint as well. My oversight due to thinking about the issues on this old thread The Case For and Against Natural Law (or Bork's Side-step)

In that thread, the point is made that Executives, sworn to a specific oath; and Judges, judging under a statute, all are best kept free of the tempation of resorting to their transitory opinion of Natural Law to over rule thier sworn obligation as office holders.

42 posted on 02/05/2003 11:44:38 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
That is a thought-provoking thread, thanks for the link.

I have a counter-argument.

Consider that the statures are produced by politicians. Here's a breed that does nothing but resorting to the transitory opinion. Whose opinion? The majority's. So, are we better off under transitory opinion of Natural Law as held by students of law, or under transitory opinion of two wolves outvoting a sheep in preparation for dinner?

Is there a natural check to the judges' vanity under customary law? There are two. One is procedure: a judge who overturns a precedent better have all his procedural ducks in a row, or else his reputation would sink. The other, connected to the first, is something analogous to market mechanism operating in jurisprudence. At the root of justice is an agreement by the two parties to submit to a particular court. Well, under common law, there is a choice of venue, since no government is there to make rules pegging litigants to a venue. This creaters a mechanism that bypasses judges known for arbitrariness.

Are we going off topic?

43 posted on 02/05/2003 12:19:05 PM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: annalex
Off topic is not a problem as long as no one is posting to this big montster.

Your judges then, are the Philosopher-King of Plato as opposed to corruptible representatives.

I'm afraid that mankind is too dedicated to Participatory modes of government to ever retreat to that playing field.

The real rule for that transitory opinion issue is to restore a widely understood sense of Deliberative Representation as opposed to pliebisitory representation. Burke's speach to the Electors at Bristol, etc. George Will has written some excellent discourse on that as well in Restoration

The more power collected in the Judiciary, the more that avarice and personal whim will alway overwhelm the pride and reputation checks in many holding the office.

As Hayek says above in a number of ways, the variety and complexity of the institutions and forms of law themselves aid in their ability to withstand corruption and personal will.

44 posted on 02/05/2003 12:46:21 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke
Speaking of kings, I regret not substituting "hundred sheep outvoting the shepherd" for the banal reference to two wolves above. Yes, after some wandering around in libertarian pastures, I came to the conclusion that feudalism safeguards freedom better than constitutional republic.

Does progress toward freedom necessarily require going back? Modern life allows for multiple overlapping vassal-suzerain relationships that are not based on territorial proximity. These are relationships we form for physical protection (less and less locally centered; the Pentagon presently insists that my physical protection is to be found in skies over Bagdad), protection from fraud (where is Visa? where is FBI?), or insurance (where is Prudential?), or even, were I sufficiently rich, jurisprudence (where is Shapiro?). I don't want to control these professionals through the voting booth and of course I cannot. What I want is to switch providers, -- not only of justice, but of all these functions the government seems to be in charge of, when I feel like it. That is new feudalism, that is also freedom.
45 posted on 02/05/2003 1:25:34 PM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: unspun
"Ahrendt" ahrendt the right letters.
"Arendt" ahre.
46 posted on 02/05/2003 4:54:03 PM PST by unspun ("..in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven," was the Constitution signed)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
Those British philosophers have given us an interpretation of the growth of civilization that is still the indispensable foundation of the argument for liberty. They find the origin of institutions, not in contrivance or design, but in the survival of the successful. Their view is expressed in terms of “how nations stumble upon establishments which are indeed the result of human action but not the execution of human design.” It stresses that what we call political order is much less the product of our ordering intelligence than is commonly imagined. As their immediate successors saw it, what Adam Smith and his contemporaries did was “to resolve almost all that has been ascribed to positive institution into the spontaneous and irresistible development of certain obvious principles—and to show how little contrivance or political wisdom the most complicated and apparently artificial schemes of policy might have been erected.”
Natural selection.
47 posted on 02/05/2003 4:59:01 PM PST by VadeRetro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: annalex; B-Chan
You wouldn't believe it if I told you which site Monarchist you are beginning to sound like....
48 posted on 02/05/2003 5:16:32 PM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: missileboy
Let me know your thoughts this weekend, if you have time. Thanks.

I hope it is clear why I felt it pertained to comments on the other thread.

49 posted on 02/06/2003 6:33:47 AM PST by KC Burke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: KC Burke; B-Chan; Goetz_von_Berlichingen
Try me, I may believe you.

I was recently told that one James Dale Davidson, formerly from the National Taxpayers Union, has similar ideas.

Monarchism received a huge boost from Hans Helmut Hoppe, who noted that monarchy neatly resolves the Tragedy of the Commons, because under a monarchy the king owns the commons.

This doesn't make me primarily a monarchist, although I won't reject the label. "Feudalist" would be a better one. I believe that the Western Civilization got off track with the invention of absolute monarchy and nation-state circa 1500. The revolutions of 17 and 18 centuries were an attempt to slow down the erosion of freedom inherent in nationalist absolute monarchy by introducing democratic management of the commons. Some slowdown did occur, but the attempt has proven unsuccessful over time. At this point a restoration of even an absolute monarchy might be an improvement.
50 posted on 02/06/2003 7:35:53 AM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-137 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson