Hayek in Mind: Hayek's Philosophical Psychology: Volume 15

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Table of contents

(22 chapters)

Purpose – To show that Hayek's prescient concepts on the cerebral cortex have received substantial support from modern neuroscience.

Methodology – Update the terminology of The Sensory Order to adjust it to prevalent concepts of cognitive network, plasticity, association, connectivity, and cortical dynamics. Extend his concepts of perception to other cognitive functions, notably memory. Reveal significance of modern methods to study the formation and organization of cognitive cortical networks (cognits), applying the same basic methodologies that he applied to perception. He also applied those methodologies to knowledge transactions in economics and the social order.

Findings – As Hayek proposed or assumed in his theoretical monograph:•Cognitive networks are spontaneously formed by associations (connections) between neuronal assemblies representing simultaneous elementary sensations.•Perceiving is classifying the world into categories of objects defined by those associations, in accord with a relational code.•Networks are hierarchically organized, with smaller networks constituting, and nested within, larger ones.•After formed and organized, a network becomes memory, which will make and shape future perception.•The interactions between the organism and its environment are governed by the perception/action (PA) cycle, a concept intuited by Hayek. This is the cybernetic interplay between the mammalian organism and its environment that courses through perceptual and executive networks of the cortex.•The dialog with an interlocutor epitomizes the PA cycle of language, unique to the human.

Social Implications – The brain embodies structure and dynamics similar to those relating the individual to society. They include a complex adaptive system, the cerebral cortex, which engages the brains of others through the PA cycle. Language is the highest operation of that cycle at interpersonal level. Transactions of knowledge within the cortex are similar to those of the market place, with their attributes of spontaneity, self-organization, and incompleteness.

Originality/Value of paper – This paper is unusual in that it highlights: (a) the insight of Hayek in cognitive neuroscience, anticipating by several decades the verification of his thinking on the role of the cerebral cortex in knowledge utilization and storage; and (b) the value for brain science of the principles of organization of knowledge that Hayek successfully applied to social sciences.

Purpose – The conceptual ideas of Hebb, Heisenberg, and Feynman are embedded in the framework Hayek's so-called New Psychology. The present survey tries to bridge these concepts.

Methodology – A theoretical and empirical informed approach.

Findings – The theory of D. O. Hebb opened the way to “Neurobiology of Learning” in the past century. The S-Matrix theory of Werner Heisenberg and the so-called Feynman Diagrams that consider everything in the path-history of particles opened up new avenues to predict production of elementary particles. This as Hayek proposed or assumed in his theoretical monograph The Sensory Order.

Originality/value of paper – Besides Fuster and Edelman few (if any) currently practicing neuroscientists have any knowledge of or appreciation of Hayek's philosophical psychology.

Purpose – To better understand the relation between Friedrich Hayek's “theoretical psychology” and contemporary connectionist theories of mind.

Methodology/approach – There is much in The Sensory Order that recommends the oft-made claim that Hayek anticipated connectionist theories of mind. To the extent that this is so, contemporary arguments against and for connectionism, as advanced by Jerry Fodor, Zenon Pylyshyn, and John Searle, are shown as applicable to theoretical psychology. However, the final section of this chapter highlights an important disanalogy between theoretical psychology and connectionist theories of mind.

Findings – While Hayek can be construed as a connectionist, it is argued that Hayek's ontological presuppositions are not shared by contemporary theorists of mind. In particular, modern critiques of Hayek's theoretical psychology qua connectionism assume that he attempts to provide an account of the mind within the confines of scientific naturalism. This essay argues that this assumption is false. Hayek's ontological presuppositions are more akin to Kant's, implying that Hayek's question is importantly different from those asked by contemporary theorists of mind.

Originality/value of the chapter – At a certain level of abstraction, a Hayakian machine is not unlike certain versions of a connectionist machine. However, to adequately assess the significance of The Sensory Order on its own terms, Hayek's project must be disentangled from our own ontological preoccupations.

Purpose – To review the significance of Hayek's argument, in The Sensory Order, from a connectionist theory of mental architecture to descriptive and normative individualism.

Methodology/approach – The chapter reconstructs Hayek's argument, then replaces Hayek's premises about mental architecture with premises derived from the recent neuroscience of reward and consumption, and then explains why the argument no longer goes through.

Findings – Hayek's abstract mental architecture was closer to adequacy than most subsequent competing alternatives produced by philosophers. His argument from this architecture to individualism is valid. However, we must now supplement the abstract architecture with complexities drawn from recent neuroscience. These show the argument to be unsound. However, if commitment to descriptive individualism is abandoned, then a new argument from psychological premises to normative individualism is available.

Social implications – There is a good argument from psychological premises to normative individualism; but normative individualists should not try to defend their position by resting it on the supposed truth of descriptive individualism.

Originality/value – All the main arguments of the chapter are new to the literature.

Purpose – The chapter provides an exposition both of Hayek's causal theory of the mind (especially as applied to intentionality) and of Popper's critique of causal theories, argues that Hayek fails successfully to rebut Popper's critique, and shows how the dispute between Hayek and Popper is relevant to controversies in contemporary philosophy of mind.

Methodology/approach –The chapter elucidates Hayek's ideas and Popper's by situating them within the history of the mind/body problem and comparing them to the views of contemporary philosophers like Fred Dretske, Jerry Fodor, and Hilary Putnam.

Findings – Popper's critique has yet to be answered, either by Hayek or by contemporary causal theorists.

Originality/value of the chapter –The chapter calls attention to some important but neglected ideas of Hayek and Popper and examines some of their as-yet-unpublished writings.

Purpose – To explore lines of inquiry by Hayek and C. S. Peirce on sensation and cognition and Hayek's interest in Peirce.

Methodology – To compare Hayek and Peirce's relational interpretations of sensation and cognition.

Research limitations – The theories of both Hayek and Peirce on sensation and cognition are more extensive than can be addressed here. This exploration is more suggestive than comprehensive.

Findings – Both Hayek and Peirce emphasized the relational and abstract nature of human mental processes. Hayek viewed his contribution as overlapping with psychology while Peirce viewed his theory as being logically before psychology.

Social implications – The ideas of Peirce and Hayek imply that the traditional empiricist and rationalist epistemologies of cognition and sensation are limited and incomplete and thus embrace cognitive inefficiencies.

Originality/value of paper – Hayek's brief references and interest in the ideas of C. S. Peirce have not yet been explored to date.

Purpose – To answer the following questions: Is all knowledge based on “experience” in Hayek's view? Was he an “empiricist” or a “Kantian”? In what sense?

Methodology/approach – Starting from a thorough analysis of Hayek's explicit ideas about empiricism and experience in The Sensory Order and some related writings, I reconstruct his epistemology but also try to improve on it with the help of some other philosophers.

Findings – Empiricism has many meanings depending on how you define “experience.” Hayek is not a “sensationalist empiricist” because he does not believe that all knowledge is based on “sense experience.” However, given his ideas of “pre-sensory experience” and “experience of the race,” Hayek is a “post-positivist empiricist.” His empiricism can be improved upon by privileging what I call “selective experience.”

Research implications – The next step is to analyze Hayek's market economics and philosophy of science to see which kind of experience guides Hayekian entrepreneurs and scientists. If this line of research is continued, practical and social implications might follow.

Originality/value of the chapter – The question whether Hayek was an “empiricist” or a “Kantian” is an old question. However, this chapter is the first systematic analysis of his “empiricist” epistemology and his concept of “experience.” Moreover, it has value beyond Hayek scholarship since, in the general empiricism debate, epistemologists have almost ubiquitously assumed that “experience” means “sense experience.”

Purpose – The aim of this note is to explain what Hayek meant when in The Sensory Order he claimed that Mach was one of his fundamental readings in psychology while he was writing The Sensory Order.

Methodology/approach – A historical approach to show the different role Mach played in Hayek and Neurath/Carnap.

Findings•A parallelism between Mach–Kant and Hayek–Mach in psychology.•Hayek's rejection of Mach's final philosophical approach as well as his aversion against the Vienna Circle's positivism as forms of metaphysics, based on an awkward definition of isomorphism.

Research limitations/implications•The human sciences cannot be reduced to the natural sciences.•Any form of knowledge is knowledge of “how” rather than of “what”.

Originality/value of the paper•To show Mach's role in Hayek's psychology.•To consider The Sensory Order as a relevant part of Hayek's struggle against reductionism in psychology.

Purpose – (1) To show that Hayek's theory of spontaneous orders informs his theory of the mind in The Sensory Order (TSO), (2) to show that Hayek's apriorism – which makes its first appearance in the Beiträge of 1920 with the view that memory precedes neuronal interconnections – continues unchanged in TSO, (3) to show that the social phenomenon of intersubjectivity is presupposed in Hayek's account of how the mind develops, and (4) to present the scientific discovery of mirror neurons as evidence that intersubjectivity has a role in this development.

Design/methodology/approach – This is an analytical examination of Hayek's theory of the mind in TSO against the backdrop of his social theory.

Findings – (1) That the role of memory in Hayek's theory of mind can be characterized as aprioristic; (2) that Hayek is a metaphysical realist; (3) that Hayek presupposes intersubjectivity in the framework of social orders and the mind; (4) that Hayek may have been influenced by the it tradition; and (5) also that Hayek's TSO is not an argument belonging to biologism or Kantian epistemology.

Originality/value – This chapter rejects the commonly accepted view that The Sensory Order or its predecessor, the Beiträge, underlies all of Hayek's social theory. Instead, it presents the argument that spontaneous orders and intersubjectivity are not only presupposed but most likely imported to TSO from his social theory. Secondarily, this chapter rejects the view that Hayek's cognitive and social theories are characterized by the acceptance of biologism or Kantianism.

Purpose – To present Hayek's model of the sensory order, especially in relation to communication, classification and subjective knowledge, arguing for the necessity of a more articulated theory of the “inter-personal” dimension of the mind. We proposed then to integrate Hayek's model of the mind with the concept of “folk psychology” or “theory of mind” elaborated by modern philosophy.

Methodological approach – This chapter is philosophical but draws on the empirical.

Findings – Hayek proposed a model of the mind and the social order that explains how dispersed and fragmented knowledge can spread in a society of individuals [Hayek, F. A. (1945). The use of knowledge in society. The American Economic Review, 35(4), 519–530]. His social and psychological theories have been dedicated to the study of the spontaneous emergence of orders: institutional and mental orders are tightened together in his epistemology. However, we found that Hayek developed only in nuce the social dimension of the mind: behaviors are determined by mental events and his philosophical psychology is then “mentalistic,” that is focused on the understanding of individual inner psychological states, their relation with external stimuli and behaviors, without explaining how individuals interpret other people's mental states.

Research limitations/implications – Hayek seems not to explicitly consider the interaction between personal psychological events and other people's mental events, missing then a fundamental activity played by the mental order, that is the capacity to understand, interpret, and attribute other people's mental states, in a word to mentalize.

Originality/value of the paper – To read Hayek's philosophical psychology under a new light, which focus on the importance of the interpersonal dimension of mental processes.

Purpose – This chapter aims to critically examine how Hayek's philosophical psychology helps defend his liberalism.

Methodology/approach – It is commonly argued that The Sensory Order enables Hayek to strengthen the epistemological theses of his social philosophy against constructivist rationalism by demonstrating why the mind as a complex order can never fully explain itself and why only “explanation of the principle” is possible for complex phenomena. Building on this argument, the chapter attempts to show that we can reconstruct a liberal conception of man who is distinct, creative yet culturally embedded from Hayek's philosophical psychology.

Findings – This chapter contends that a better understanding of Hayek's liberal self not only can enrich our analysis of the strengths and problems of Hayekian liberalism but also help counter some of the major criticisms against The Sensory Order.

Research limitations/implications – The findings of this chapter suggest that while Hayek's epistemological defense of liberalism is both powerful and thought-provoking, there is a danger that he tends to treat individual liberty as an instrumental value without adequately taking into account the intrinsic value of individuality. This chapter tries to offer some preliminary analysis of this problem and points to the direction that thinkers sympathetic to Hayek's liberalism can further develop his defense by making good this inadequacy in future research.

Originality/Value of the chapter – This chapter attempts to reconstruct a liberal self from Hayek's philosophical psychology and subject such a conception to critical scrutiny in the light of Hayek's defense of liberalism. This is an area that is relatively neglected and needs to be better explored by Hayek scholars.

Purpose – To define the links between cognition and entrepreneurial behavior by highlighting the problem of complexity in the difficult trade-off between discovery of new opportunities and exploitation of current opportunities.

Methodology/approach – To interrelate Austrian tools (Hayek, Kirzner, Lachmann) with lessons from experimental economics.

Research limitations and implications – This contribution enters the world of entrepreneurship to show where the mental rigidities opposing discoveries lie.

Originality/value of paper – To use experimental economics to widen our understanding of entrepreneurship and invite the Austrian scholars to imagine other protocols that might deepen the analysis.

Purpose – To present the connection between modern network theory and Hayek's ideas on the brain and spontaneous orders.

Methodology/approach – To show that Hayek's ideas on the brain, spontaneous order, and why socialism cannot work are confirmed by network and self-organization theory, and to use network and self-organization theory to bridge Hayek's theory of the mind to his work on spontaneous orders.

Findings – Spontaneous orders are scale-free networks, but humans evolved a preference for hierarchical networks, which are typical of tribes and firms – and socialism. However, hierarchies only work for teleological organizations, not for ateleological spontaneous orders like economies. Part of the human preference for human-organized networks comes from our “intentional stance,” which automatically sees patterns as evidence of an organizer.

Research limitations/implications – This work acts as an introduction to possible directions in spontaneous order research. New work in bridging evolutionary and cognitive psychology (which includes Hayek's work) with self-organization and network theory acts as a promising development for neuro-Hayekians.

Social implications – Understanding there is an evolutionary bias for certain kinds of networks, even though those are not appropriate for certain kinds of social orders, and understanding the nature of these networks should help us understand the true relationships among individuals, organizations, and spontaneous orders.

Originality/value of chapter – This work brings Hayek “up to date,” with network theory and self-organization, showing to what extent Hayek was talking about these concepts. Seeing the similarities and differences between hierarchical and scale-free networks helps one understand how they come about, and in what contexts.

Cover of Hayek in Mind: Hayek's Philosophical Psychology
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Advances in Austrian Economics
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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