Hayek on Individualism and Spontaneous Order

Course Outline

Hayek on Individualism and Spontaneous Order

Instructor: Tyler Cowen, George Mason University

The 1945 essay “Individualism: True and False” is the opening piece in Friedrich Hayek’s “Individualism and Economic Order.” In it, Hayek addresses two traditions of individualism, but he argues only one of these traditions, known as the skeptical tradition of individualism, will lead to liberty and civic order. This skeptical tradition embraces spontaneous order, which follows that institutions are the result of human action, but not of human design. Not everything can be planned – there are limitations to the human mind. Hayek believes that allowing spontaneous order to flourish is the essence of a free society.

Hayek also addresses the rationalist tradition which he warns leads to a false individualism. The rationalist tradition draws too much emphasis to the power of the human mind, and the individual’s ability to manipulate reality and make comprehensive plans. Hayek argues this can be dangerous – potentially leading to oppression, tyranny, coercion, and centralized control. While the rationalist tradition calls for movement toward collectivist thinking, the skeptical tradition of individualism calls for a better understanding of limits to knowledge, which ultimately leads to a healthier economy, better policies, and a better government.

Teacher Resources

Transcript

Subtitles

Verified Available Languages


Turn captions on or off:

  1. If captions are available the (CC) icon will be visible on the player.
  2. To turn captions on, tap (CC).
  3. To turn captions off, tap (CC) again.
     

Select caption language: 

  1. Click the settings icon (⚙) at the bottom of the video screen.
  2. Click Subtitles/CC.
  3. Select a language.
     


 

Contribute Translations!

Join the team and help us provide world-class economics education to everyone, everywhere for free! You can also reach out to us at support@mru.org for more info.


Submit subtitles

 

 

Accessibility

We aim to make our content accessible to users around the world with varying needs and circumstances.

Currently we provide:


Are we missing something? Please let us know at support@mru.org

Citations

Download