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Boettke v. Salerno v. White v. .....

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Tags Austrian Economics Overview

10/07/2007

The current 'civil war between Auburn & Fairfax' ( Mark Sunwall's apt description), was sparked off by Peter Boettke's judgment that "[Don Lavoie] understood Mises better than all but two other Austrian economists (Israel Kirzner and Richard Ebeling)." Naturally this proved intolerable to some 'Auburnites'. Let me now suggest a via media: let us begin with the intellectual system of Mises himself. In the assessment of someone who was "probably the oldest of [Mises'] pupils': Mises' "knowledge of [economics] surpassed that of most occupants of professorial chairs." But Mises' thinking was too far-reaching to stop at departmental boundaries: "[Mises] was never a real specialist— in that narrow sense. His thought was so far-ranging that "in the realm of the social sciences....he must be compared to thinkers like Voltaire or Montesquieu, Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill." In short, Mises was a multi-faceted thinker, whose intellectual system far surpassed the limited bounds of specific departmental (& other) interests. It seems appropriate, therefore, that people are able to specialise in only aspects or areas of Mises' global thought. I would suggest, therefore, that Lavoie, Kirzner, Ebeling, & even Rothbard, each took further & developed or worked on, a specific, distinct aspect of Mises' ideas. (Note that even Rothbard was compelled to separate the gold from the dross in Mises' Human Action, hence Rothbard's Man, Economy & State.) I believe some people would be prepared to allow even Hayek a small space on this list (perhaps at the bottom.) ------------------------------- The quotes are from Peter Klein, ed, The Fortunes of Liberalism, The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek Volume IV (London: Routledge 1992) pp. 129, 153.

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