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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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Hayek's Challenge - An Intellectual Biography

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 11:28:36 -0400 (CLT)

(by Bruce Caldwell)

I'm 60 pages in and thoroughly enjoying this book.  It is divided into
three sections; I am still on the first which describes the economic and
social environment to which Hayek will respond - particularly German
economics of the 19th and 20th century.  That sounds incredibly tedious,
but it's fascinating - Caldwell very carefully identifies the main threads
and keeps reminding the reader of the cross-links.

So I keep reading and thinking "ah, so that is why Europeans tend to think
like that" or "oh, I never knew that - now things make much more
sense"....

Andrew

Amazon Review

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 16:56:26 -0400 (CLT)

This is one of the best non-fiction books I have read in a long time. I
have no idea how I came to buy this - I rarely read biographies, consider
myself left-wing, am a computer programmer who was educated as a physicist
(so have no background in economics), and only vaguely recognise his name
- so must assume someone recommended it to me. Whoever that person was:
Thank-you!

I think there are two things that makes this such a good read. Most
important is the subject matter - Hayek seems to have been a pretty smart
chap who was interested by, and contributed to, a wide range of subjects,
at a time (the latter 2/3s of the twentieth century) when a lot was
happening. And because he kept shifting fields and, to some extent,
revising his opinions, you get to watch the evolution of a wide range of
disciplines.

So this book touches on subjects like scientific methodology; emergent
behaviours; how money acts as a way to signal information; the foundations
of economics (do you have to assume everyone is "perfectly greedy", for
example?); models of consciousness; evolutionary biology and group
selection - interesting problems that are relevant today, presented in a
historical context that is extremely helpful in understanding their
peculiarities. Maybe it sounds crazy (or stupid), but until I read this
book I had no idea how history could be so useful, relevant and
informative.

Much credit must also go (my "second reason") to the author - I think this
is impressively well written. Caldwell is a very careful guide who takes
pains not only to justify what he says, but also gently directs you
through what could be a terribly confusing and complex journey by
identifying common threads, summarizing discussions, and repeatedly
placing everything within its proper context. Please write another book
(how about Popper?)!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0226091937

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