Fredrich August von Hayek Quotes


I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.
Justice, like liberty and coercion, is a concept which, for the sake of clarity, ought to be confined to the deliberate treatment of men by other men.
Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant.
The discussions of every age are filled with the issues on which its leading schools of thought differ. But the general intellectual atmosphere of the time is always determined by the views on which the opposing schools agree. They become the unspoken presuppositions of all thought, and common and unquestioningly accepted foundations on which all discussion proceeds.
What a free society offers to the individual is much more than what he would be able to do if only he were free.
It is only because the majority opinion will always be opposed by some that our knowledge and understanding progress. In the process by which opinion is formed, it is very probable that, by the time any view becomes a majority view, it is no longer the best view: somebody will already have advanced beyond the point which the majority have reached. It is because we do not yet which of the many competing new opinions will prove itself the best that we wait until it has gained sufficient support.
Many of the greatest things man has achieved are not the result of consciously directed thought, and still less the product of a deliberately coordinated effort of many individuals, but of a process in which the individual plays a part which he can never fully understand.
Every change in conditions will make necessary some change in the use of resources, in the direction and kind of human activities, in habits and practices. And each change in the actions of those affected in the first instance will require further adjustments that will gradually extend through the whole of society. Every change thus in a sense creates a "problem" for society, even though no single individual perceives it as such; it is gradually "solved" by the establishment of a new overall adjustment.
All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.
...it is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual's use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.
...it is always from a minority acting in ways different from what the majority would prescribe that the majority in the end learns to do better.
...the ultimate decision about what is accepted as right and wrong will be made not by individual human wisdom but by the disappearance of the groups that have adhered to the "wrong" beliefs.
Human reason can neither predict nor deliberately shape its own future. Its advances consist in finding out where it has been wrong.
From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.
The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.

Back to main quotes

If you have quotation to add, please send it to me.