The Emergence of the Mind: Hayek’s Account of Mental Phenomena as a Product of Spontaneous Physical and Social Orders

Extracts from Gloria’s chapter:

Friedrich Hayek’s social theory is well known for his articulation of the paradigm of spontaneous orders that challenges the traditional distinction between what is natural and what is artificial. The problem that Hayek saw is that language and other social objects do not fall under either heading completely. Language is, for example, seen as natural since it was not designed by man. At the same time, man has imposed rules of grammar on natural languages as these became formalized and documented. From this perspective, language falls under the category of artificial too. This distinction thus fails in its application not only to language but also to any other object that is, as Hayek puts it, the result of human action, but not of human design. The paradigm of spontaneous orders, which applies to all social objects, has thus become the hallmark of Hayek’s social theory.

However, what is lesser known is that Hayek also presents a similar paradigm of spontaneous orders in his theory of the mind. In The Sensory Order (TSO), Hayek defines the mind as a particular order arising from the cumulative sets of events taking place in the brain in response to stimuli. Although stimuli are also constituted by sets of events, Hayek observes that the relation between these two sets of events is at best one of imperfect correspondence, since stimuli do not always result in sense experiences.

What this means is that the mind does not emerge as a process of mapping of events external to the mind or, shall we say, reality; rather, the mind emerges, in part, from the interconnections that ensue between the electrical and chemical responses to stimuli. Central to this understanding of the mind is the role of memory in facilitating the conversion of these responses into sensations. According to Hayek, we do not first have sensations which are then preserved by memory, but it is as a result physiological memory that the physiological impulses are converted into sensations. The connexions between the physiological elements are thus the primary phenomenon which creates the mental phenomena. (TSO 2:50)

Memory, then, serves as an a priori mechanism that makes the emergence of the mind possible in the sense that it translates physical events of the brain into sense experiences that are unified. In a note for this passage, Hayek explains that this understanding of memory is already present in the Preface to his Beitrage zur Theorie der Entwicklung des Bewusstseins (the Beitrage). What this means is that this apriorism was present in Hayek’s theory of the mind by 1920 and that after he returned to this work in 1952, after more than three decades spent developing his social theory, Hayek did not change his mind in this regard. In TSO, Hayek develops more details to be added to the earlier view. Memory is not localized or passive, as it is understood in modular paradigms of memory, that is, stored in one discrete region until specifically recalled. Instead, it is distributed and dynamic, giving rise to neuronal activity that searches, with each new stimulus, for related networks of connections. This seems consistent with a description of spontaneous orders. A single neuron, for example, can participate in any number of networks, not just the one it is already in or one that engages only in its existing immediate surroundings. These interconnections between physiological events representing stimuli are what Hayek calls linkages. The view that memory is cortically distributed had already been set forth by the time TSO appeared, but it is not clear that Hayek was specifically aware of these findings. Hayek observes that, ‘‘It is difficult to see what other meaning ‘memory’ can have but the retention of connexions or relations.’’ However, an important consideration is that the interconnections between events can be as transient as the events themselves. The question thus arises, how does memory endure? One way to answer this within Hayek’s framework is that not only the structural basis but also the relational code that emerges from it is a continuant. Accordingly, memories endure even if any element of its structural basis is somewhat altered by entering into new interconnections. ‘‘In fact,’’ Hayek adds, ‘‘far from being diminished, the a priori element will tend to increase as in the course of this process the various objects are increasingly defined by explicit relations existing between them’’ (TSO 8.17). In other words, as memory increases, so does the mind. In this way, the mind emerges and continues to develop as a result of the role of memory in converting physical responses of the brain to external stimuli into an enduring and increasingly more sophisticated order of linkages supporting sensations that give us a finer grained picture of any new experiences.

The expression ‘‘we-mode intentions’’ is part of the growing scholarship on collective intentionality. The term ‘‘collective intentionality’’ has been made famous by John Searle and it first appeared in his 1995 book The Construction of Social Reality. But the investigations of this phenomenon are of much older lineage.18 Collective intentionality refers to the social phenomenon in which a number of individuals target the same intentional object in a coordinated way that is not necessarily deliberate. A bunch of people in a city theater watching a film, for example, all have the same intentional object, but they do not exemplify collective intentionality because they do not have a shared context in directing their attention to the film. For some, the film is a means for entertainment, for others an excuse to be near a particular person, and for yet others, it may just be an airconditioned escape from a hot summer’s day. However, a bunch of students in a classroom watching a film may exemplify collective intentionality since they have a shared context for their action. The students do not have to have a deliberate plan to arrive at a shared goal as perhaps the members of a string quartet would have in aiming at a flawless performance as their intentional target. Such collective intentions that we find in both the classroom and the string quartet examples Searle calls we-mode intentions.

According to one study, the discovery of mirror neurons may now provide evidence of a neurological basis for such we-mode intentions. Neurons identified as mirror neurons not only fire when an individual acts but also when an individual observes another individual performing the same action. Although mirror neurons were discovered in monkeys, scientists report that neuropsychological studies have shown that they exist also in the human brain. It must be clear that we-intentions can be understood at best as one aspect of the phenomenon of intersubjectivity but not as identical to it since the latter is not merely the experience of sharing intentional targets. Rather, it is the sharing an experience stream, which involves having a first-person experience of what another is experiencing, and this is not achieved by aiming at the same intentional target as the other person but, instead, by aiming at the experience of the other person. So, the we-mode intention interpretation of mirror neurons does not provide the missing explanation.

However, according to another interpretation of mirror neurons, they may constitute the neural substratum of a mechanism that enables us to resonate with others of our own kind, which would undoubtedly favor survival. This is more in line with the phenomenon of intersubjectivity as it offers an explanation for the realm of shared experiences so common in  human experience. Moreover, empirical data shows that mirror neurons match representations not only of actions but also of pains and emotions. In one experiment, the mirror phenomenon occurred in a pain-related neuron that responded to the patient’s pinprick in the same way as an observed pinprick on the examiner’s hand. In another experiment, mirror neurons responded to facial expression and sounds of disgust in the same way as if the experience of disgust had been a first-person experience.

What these studies show is that ‘‘mirror phenomena are not to be seen as limited to a particular group of motor neurons in the ventral cortex, but as a modality of functioning which is widespread in the brain’’ (Becchio & Bertone, 2004, p. 131). Or, as Hayek explains in TSO, ‘‘mental functions need not be localized in any particular part of the cortex’’ (TSO?). The applications AU :12 of these discoveries of modern neuroscience with regard to these linkages (to use Hayek’s term) not only offer evidence of the phenomenon of intersubjectivity and its mechanics in brain functions but are also potentially fruitful for studies that concern the phenomenon of empathy. Moreover, our understanding of mirror neurons can help to fuel interdisciplinary research on values, which is perhaps the next frontier in human social phenomena.


A Note on the Influence of Mach’s Psychology in the Sensory Order

Here are a couple of extracts from Giandomenica Becchio’s paper:

In the Preface of The Sensory Order, Hayek stated that this book was based on his readings in psychology during 1919–1920, when he was still a young student in Vienna interested in both psychology and economics. Among many others, Hayek explicitly cited Mach’s influence on him. Hayek’s contacts with the lively Viennese milieu during the 1920s and 1930s had a fundamental role in the story of the use of Mach in Hayek’s book. As Hayek himself explained, Mach had a great influence on Viennese students and scholars until the 1930s, because he represented ‘‘the only source of arguments against a metaphysical and nebulous attitude’’ that was spreading among scientists (Blackmore, Itagaki, & Tanaka, 2001, p. 124). The use of Mach’s philosophy as a tool against any metaphysical attitude was particularly strong inside the Vienna Circle, where scholars like Otto Neurath and Rudolph Carnap had founded the Ernst Mach Society (Verein Ernst Mach, 1927) to support their movement and to link Mach’s empiricism to their philosophical approach,which they later named ‘‘logical positivism’’ (Blumberg & Feigl, 1931). Hayek strongly criticized the Vienna Circle’s philosophical approach: he mainly rejected Neurath’s physicalism (the belief that all science ultimately reduces to the laws of physics, Neurath, 1931; Caldwell, 2004), even if he showed some interest in Carnap’s logical system (Carnap, 1928). When Hayek introduced the system of multiple classification in The Sensory Order, he cited Carnap as the one who provided ‘‘a somewhat similar statement of the problems of the order of sensory qualities’’ (Hayek, 1952, p. 51). Nevertheless, in the mid-1930s, when Carnap officially subscribed to Neurath’s physicalism, it culminated in the project of the unification of science (Stadler, 2001).1 Hayek’s aversion arose: From the fact that we shall never be able to achieve more than an ‘explanation of the principle’ by which the order of mental events is determined, it also follows that we shall never achieve a complete ‘unification’ of all sciences in the sense that all phenomena of which it treats can be described in physical term. (Hayek, 1952, p. 191)

And in the following footnote he specifically named both Carnap and Neurath: their physical language, since it refers to the phenomenal or sensory qualities of the objects, is not ‘‘physical’’ at all. Their use of this term rather implies a metaphysical belief in the ‘‘ultimate reality’’ and constancy of the phenomenal world for which there is little justification. (ibid.) In this passage Hayek accused them of having dropped their original antimetaphysical attitude – mediated through Mach – to propose a new form a metaphysical belief, based on the reduction of any reality to the empirical realm. Hayek’s j’accuse is significant: for 30 years the philosophers of the Vienna Circle claimed Mach’s philosophy as one of the main sources of their aversion to metaphysics and a pillar of their philosophical approach based on a new form of positivism.2 In the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Joergensen explained the three common traits between ‘‘Mach’s positivism’’ and the Vienna Circle philosophy: the idea that ‘‘human knowledge is a biological phenomenon’’; the rejection of any form of ‘‘thing-in-itself’’ (and for that matter, of any form of Kantianism) and the overlap between physical reality and physical elements (Joergensen, 1951, p. 853). To explain the link between Mach and Hayek on the one hand and Hayek’s aversion to the logical positivism (apparently and ‘‘officially’’ rooted in Mach’s philosophy) on the other hand, we need to consider what Hayek meant when he mentioned Mach’s influence in The Sensory Order.

As Hayek himself stated in the Preface of The Sensory Order, psychology is essentially ‘‘dealing with the problems of the methods of the social sciences [a] concern with the logical character of social theory’’ (Hayek, 1952, p. v). From a broader perspective, Hayek’s aversion to reductionism can be seen as the reverse side of the struggle for individualism he started in the late 1930s with the publication of ‘‘Economics and Knowledge’’ and culminated in Individualism and Economic Order (1949), which was published just few years before his decision to revise and finally publish The Sensory Order. During the early 1950s while working on The Sensory Order, Hayek composed ‘‘Within Systems and About Systems,’’ which dealt with the possible knowledge of our mental processes and with the relationship between knowledge and the external environment.

In the early 1930s, Hayek edited Carl Menger’s Collected Works (in German): he also wrote a well-known presentation of Menger’s thought and work. It was published in Economica, and it represented the introduction of Menger to the English-speaking world (Hayek, 1934). In this essay, Hayek stressed the centrality of individualism in Menger’s approach when he had described how markets work and how economic agents behave when they make an economic decision. In the same period Hayek started to work on the link between economic choice and individual knowledge, which culminated in his well-known paper Economics and Knowledge.

From Economics and Knowledge onward, Hayek introduced psychology into economics to explain the dynamics of a society in an individualistic perspective. In this view, Hayek’s decision to work back on revise and publish The Sensory Order can be regarded as the final step of his research project on the nature of individual choice.

After having described the role of knowledge in individual plans and the following mechanism of the market, as well as the use of knowledge in a competition as a discovery process, Hayek described the nature of human mind. The Sensory Order can be seen as Hayek’s tool to show how people know the internal and external reality, how they form their knowledge and how they can share it to make their own plans and coordinate them.

From Hayek’s presentation of Menger’s thought as a stronghold of individualism (1934) to the publication of The Sensory Order (1952), Hayek’s work can be regarded as a tentative to investigate how society works from an individualistic point of view and how the human mind knows from an antireductionist perspective; in opposition to a new kind of holistic and reductionist approach, supported by the predominant position inside the Vienna Circle, mainly by Neurath and Carnap.

The role of Mach in this story is important. Both Hayek and Neurath/Carnap considered Mach the most influential anti-metaphysical thinker. Nevertheless, Neurath/Carnap accepted Mach’s reductionism in psychology as well as his final philosophical approach as a direct development of his psychology. Furthermore, the unity between physics and psychology (between physical and sensorial orders) in Mach’s thought also opened the way to the Vienna Circle’s ideal of a unified science (from physics to social sciences), never accepted by Hayek.

Mach’s influence on Hayek is more complex, though.

Hayek started from Mach’s psychological inquiry, which was influenced by Kant’s research on the nature of knowledge; but, as Mach had refused the final stage of Kantism (the Dich an sich as a metaphysical residuals), Hayek refused the final stage of Machian philosophy (the isomorphism between physical and mental realm as a form of reductionism). Hayek refused Mach’s destruction of ‘‘the conception of elementary and constant sensations as ultimate constituents of the world’’ and he restored ‘‘the necessity of a belief in an objective physical world which is different from that presented to us by our senses’’ (Hayek, 1952, p. 176, 8.37). In a certain sense, Hayek went back to a sort of Kantian dualism, without introducing a negative concept, like Ding an sich. Hayek wrote: The conclusion towhich our theory leads is thus that to us not onlymind as a whole but also all individual mental processes must forever remain phenomena of a special kind, which. Although produced by the same principles which we know to operate in the physical world, we shall never be able fully to explain in terms of physical laws. (Hayek, 1952, p. 191)

It will derive its statements about some mental processes from its knowledge about other mental process, but it will never be able to bridge the gap between the realm of the mental and the realm of the physical. Such a verstehende psychology, which starts from our given knowledge of mental processes, will, however, never be able to explain why we must think thus and not otherwise, why we arrive at particular conclusions (Hayek, 1952, p. 192).


Hayek’s Post-Positivist Empiricism: Experience Beyond Sensation

Here is Jan Willem Lindemans‘ intro and conclusion to his chapter:

The philosophical foundations of Hayek’s works are not beyond dispute (Caldwell, 1992; Gray, 1984; Hutchison, 1992; Kukathas, 1989): was Hayek a rationalist or an empiricist; did he follow Kant or Hume, Mises or Popper? Difficulties arise because these questions touch upon social theory, political philosophy, methodology, and epistemology. Moreover, on different occasions, Hayek (intentionally) gave different definitions and evaluations of already complicated views such as ‘‘rationalism’’ and ‘‘empiricism.’’

In this chapter, I try to shed some light on the rationalism/empiricism issue by focusing on epistemology, where this issue really belongs. The debate there is mainly about the sources of knowledge (e.g., Markie, 2008). Empiricists argue that experience is the source of all our knowledge. This view was held by John Locke (1632–1704) and David Hume (1711–1776), but its roots go back to Francis Bacon (1561–1626) and even further to the ancient Greek Empiricist school in medicine (founded in the third century B.C. by Philinos of Kos or Serapion of Alexandria) and Aristotle (384–322 B.C.). In contrast with his teacher Plato, Aristotle believed in the ‘‘induction’’ (epago¯ge¯) of general knowledge from particular observations.

I will not have the space here to relate Hayek’s ideas to this long history of empiricism. But I will try to refer to David Hume now and then, because Hayek was a great admirer of Hume’s social and political philosophy and Hayek’s “Humeanism” is extensively discussed. I will also get back to the less well-known Empiricist school in medicine, because it has a very special conception of “experience,” which I believe to be useful to the discussion.

In contrast with empiricism, rationalism or “apriorism” is the idea that some knowledge is independent of experience or “a priori.” Traditionally, this meant that knowledge is based on rational intuition or embedded in our rational nature or the structure of the mind. If knowledge is embedded in our mind or nature, it is “innate,” which is why philosophers speak of “innatism” or ‘‘nativism.’’ Since this was Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) view, it is often called ‘‘Kantianism.’’ I will also use the term ‘‘Kantianism’’ rather than ‘‘rationalism’’ because Hayek most often defines the latter as the false view that social phenomena are rationally designed, which is a completely different issue. Kantianism goes back to the ‘‘innate ideas’’ of Rene´ Descartes (1596–1650) and the anamnesis of ideas in Plato’s philosophy (429–347 B.C.).

Many scholars have tried to position Hayek in the Kantianism/empiricism debate. Most scholars would probably agree with Connin (1990, p. 301) that ‘‘Hayek’s theory of knowledge is undoubtedly Kantian’’ (see also Feser, 2006, p. 300).However,many also understand that there is more to it (Caldwell, 2004, p. 273). Since ‘‘experience’’ is undeniably a basic concept in Hayek’s epistemology, some believe that his epistemology is a kind of synthesis between Kantianism and Humean empiricism (Horwitz, 2000, p. 25). De Vecchi (2003, p. 152) is less optimistic and says that ‘‘there is an unresolved tension between empiricism and anti-empiricism within the theory of the process of the formation of knowledge set out in The Sensory Order.’’ Moreover, some have made the link with ‘‘evolutionary epistemology’’ (Bartley, 1987, p. 21;Dempsey, 1996; Gray, 1984; Kukathas, 1989; Vanberg, 2002).

However, scholars have rarely wondered how Kantianism, empiricism, and evolutionism can be reconciled, and, more importantly, what ‘‘empiricism’’ and ‘‘experience’’ mean in such a context. Just as there are as many ‘‘rationalisms’’ as there are interpretations of the term ‘‘reason,’’ there are as many ‘‘empiricisms’’ as there are interpretations of the term ‘‘experience.’’ In this chapter, I will reconstruct Hayek’s epistemology based on a careful reading of The Sensory Order and some related writings. I will argue that Hayek’s epistemology is best characterized as a type of ‘‘post-positivist empiricism.’’

In the first paragraph, I review Hayek’s neurophysiological explanation of the mind in The Sensory Order. Hayek shows how the nervous system can perform the acts of classification characteristic of the working of the mind. Because the synaptic connections embody a kind of knowledge independent of ‘‘sense experience,’’ Hayek is not a ‘‘sensationalist empiricist.’’ The second paragraph discusses Hayek’s theory of the formation of synaptic connections. Connections are formed on the basis of what I will call ‘‘Hayek’s learning rule,’’ which boils down to the familiar idea that neurons that fire together wire together. Since this means that the knowledge embodied in the synaptic connections is in a sense the result of ‘‘experience,’’ be it ‘‘pre-sensory experience’’ rather than ‘‘sense experience,’’ Hayek is an empiricist after all, but one of the ‘‘post-positivist’’ kind. In the third paragraph, I analyze Hayek’s views on the evolution of the nervous system and the behavior it generates. There appear to be two kinds of ‘‘experience’’ Hayek’s Post-Positivist Empiricism: Experience Beyond Sensation at the basis of the synaptic connections: ‘‘experience of the individual’’ and ‘‘experience of the race.’’ Because Hayek denies that all knowledge is due to ‘‘experience of the individual,’’ he is not an ‘‘individualist empiricist.’’ However, since ‘‘experience of the race’’ is also ‘‘experience,’’ he is again an empiricist in the wider sense.

What Hayek failed to notice is that experience of the race is ‘‘postsensory’’ rather than ‘‘pre-sensory’’ and also in other aspects very different from individual experience. I will call it a kind of ‘‘selective experience,’’ which I contrast with ‘‘inductive experience.’’ Some links with Donald Campbell’s ‘‘evolutionary epistemology’’ are explored. In the last paragraph, I consider Campbell’s idea that all increases in knowledge are due to selection and make some suggestions for future research.

Very much like Campbell and Popper, Hayek should be read as an empiricist going beyond traditional empiricism, sensationalism, and positivism: with Hume beyond Hume. Rather than summarizing the whole argument from ‘‘sense experience’’ to ‘‘pre-sensory experience,’’ and from ‘‘individual experience’’ as ‘‘inductive experience’’ to ‘‘racial experience’’ as ‘‘selective experience,’’ I want to end, first, by taking Campbell’s evolutionary epistemology beyond Hayek and, second, by suggesting some possible lines of research. Hayek’s broad empiricism holds that knowledge is based on experience in the wider sense in which it includes individual sense experience, individual pre-sensory experience, and racial experience. However, from an evolutionary epistemological point of view, this empiricism is perhaps too broad.

Evolutionary epistemologists focus on the growth of knowledge and thus the source of increases in knowledge. The ‘‘Basic Selectionist Dogma’’ of Campbell’s ‘‘1960 model’’ (Campbell, 1997, p. 8) states that ‘‘A blindvariation- and-selective-retention process is fundamental to all inductive achievements, to all genuine increases in knowledge, to all increases in fit of system to environment’’ (Campbell, 1960, p. 380). The reason for this radical selectionism is that ‘‘real gains must have been the products of explorations going beyond the limits of foresight or prescience, and in this Learning rule + co-occurring impulses sense blind,’’ since ‘‘if such expansions had represented only wise anticipations, they would have been exploiting full or partial knowledge already achieved’’ (pp. 380–381). This basically means that ‘‘selective experience’’ is the source of all (increases in) knowledge. Hence, ‘‘evolutionary empiricism,’’ though also ‘‘post-positivist,’’ would be much stricter than Hayek’s broad empiricism.

Of course, this does not imply that Hayek’s pre-sensory experience based on the learning rule is nonsense from Campbell’s point of view. The second part of Campbell’s (1960, p. 380) Basic Selectionist Dogma says that ‘‘The many processes which shortcut a more full blind-variation-and-selectiveretention process are in themselves inductive achievements, containing wisdom about the environment achieved originally by blind variation and selective retention.’’ The evolution of Hayek’s learning rule itself is an ‘‘inductive achievement,’’ a ‘‘genuine increase in knowledge.’’ Hayek never reflects much on the fact that the learning rule is itself the result of the ‘‘experience of the race’’ and thus contains knowledge about (the regularity of) the environment. In contrast with the learning rule, the new connections that are the deterministic result of the learning rule are not (completely) ‘‘genuine increases in knowledge’’ since the knowledge was already achieved at the moment the learning rule evolved. Hence, the pre-sensory experience of the individual is still not the most fundamental kind of experience. The ‘‘experience of the race’’ that the learning rule works is a ‘‘pre-pre-sensory experience.’’

The empiricism/rationalism debate is not only about the sources of our beliefs and concepts but also about the justification of our knowledge. It is not only about how people do in fact acquire beliefs about the world but also about how they ought to acquire beliefs. Unfortunately, in The Sensory Order, Hayek was not particularly interested in the question whether knowledge ought to be based on experience. In contrast, Campbell’s evolutionary epistemology is clearly normative. While he sides with the skeptics against traditional epistemologists (Campbell, 1997, p. 12) and holds that ‘‘justification’’ is never complete (p. 13), he does construct a theory of ‘‘justification’’ on the basis of ‘‘Plausible co-selection of belief by referent’’ (p. 9). According to this theory, a belief – or a behavioral disposition other than a belief (cf. supra) – is ‘‘as justified as can be’’ if it is plausible that the belief has been systematically co-selected by the beliefindependent reality to which it refers. For instance, the beliefs we form about objects on the basis of seeing objects are justified if it is plausible that these objects were part of the environment that has selected the eye and the neural system that processes information coming from this eye. Campbell  calls this ‘‘competence of reference’’ selection (p. 10). If there is no such a plausible scenario, or if other co-selectors have probably been more influential, the belief is not justified. Campbell’s idea of co-selection by the belief-independent reality nicely illustrates that ‘‘selective experience’’ must be ‘‘immediate’’ (cf. supra).

Given what has been said, we can redefine ‘‘knowledge’’ as a behavioral disposition that has competence of reference because it was systematically coselected by its referent. Campbell’s theory is an externalist theory of justification because the knower does not necessarily have access to the grounds of justification. Campbell himself relates it to Alvin Goldman’s causal theory of knowledge (p. 9). Indeed, the referent causes the ‘‘belief’’ to survive. More specifically, Campbell’s theory is reliabilist because it claims that ‘‘competence of reference’’ selection processes are reliable sources of truth. Hence, Campbell also relates it to Goldman’s reliabilist theory of justification.

I believe that Campbell’s normative evolutionary epistemology is a welcome complement to Hayek’s epistemological ideas. Refining Hayek’s concept of ‘‘experience’’ and specifying the way in which we can call him an ‘‘empiricist’’ as well as what kind of empiricist he could have been are only the first steps, though. In this chapter, I have restricted the analysis to Hayek’s ‘‘empiricist’’ epistemology, that is, the theory of how people in general (should) acquire knowledge. The next step is to apply this epistemology to two specific classes of individuals, which are very important to Hayek: entrepreneurs and scientists. These are some questions that could be raised: What is the role of ‘‘experience’’ in Hayek’s market economics? Do (or should) entrepreneurs acquire knowledge on the basis of experience? What kind of experience? Can we use the concept of ‘‘selective experience’’ to justify entrepreneurial action? On the other hand, what is the role of ‘‘experience’’ in Hayek’s philosophy of science? Do (or should) scientists – psychologists as well as economists – acquire knowledge on the basis of experience? What kind of experience? Can we use the concept of ‘‘selective experience’’ to justify scientific theories? In that sense, I hope that this chapter is only the beginning.


C. S. Peirce and F. A. Hayek on the Abstract Nature of Sensation and Cognition

Here are some extracts from Jim Wibble’s fascinating paper, the full version available here.

When exploring ideas on philosophy of science and economic methodology, one of the most unusual articles that one can encounter is Hayek’s well-known piece, “The Primacy of the Abstract”. In a note in the article, Hayek tells us that he had thought of another title but it would not have had the shock effect which is the merit of the phrase chosen. What Hayek wanted to convey with the title was the intellectual novelty of the positions argued. Without getting into the details of his position, Hayek maintains that all sensation is preceded by mental operations of abstraction. He had expressed his views on the subject nearly two decades earlier in a much larger work. His views on the primacy of the abstract had already appeared in The Sensory Order (1952). In that book, Hayek had taken the position that the abstract nature of sensation and cognition was supported by what we would now call the neuroscience of his time. In other words, Hayek thought that the neurophysiological evidence concerning how human sensation and cognition function provided an empirical basis for questioning prevailing empiricist theories and philosophies of how those functions worked. Various versions of empiricism dominated much of science at that time. Also the empiricist psychology of abstract ideas from the British associationist school was widely known in both early 20th century philosophy and psychology. Among other things, Hayek was conveying his sharp disagreement with the prevailing empiricist conceptions of how abstract ideas were created and how science was understood. Such a different view of how human knowing functions also has profound implications for understanding how society can be governed, for how the economy works, and for understanding the evolutionary limits on human knowing in economic processes.

Since Hayek’s title, “The Primacy of the Abstract”, had its intended shock effect on this author, it created an intellectual sensitivity for like ideas. As it turns out, another intellect had come to a similar position on cognition and abstraction decades earlier than Hayek. The purpose here is not to identify a precursor as such, but rather to acknowledge both the similarities and the differences in their views. The other figure is the American scientist, mathematician, and philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. From a couple of references that Hayek has made to Peirce’s writings and the fact that Hayek’s good friend, Karl Popper, also knew of Peirce’s writings, it appears that Hayek must have read some of the volumes of Peirce’s Collected Papers. As quoted at the beginning of the paper, Popper called Peirce “one of the greatest philosophers of all time.” Peirce and Hayek were inquiring minds whose interests seem to range over many of the same disciplines but with varying degrees of intensity. Peirce may have had a greater knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy while Hayek had a deeper awareness of economics, linguistics, psychology, and political philosophy. Peirce like his well-known father Benjamin, also had a keen interest in economics, especially mathematical economics. Peirce the son kept in touch with economics through his life-long acquaintance Simon Newcomb whose second discipline of interest after astronomy was economics. Newcomb was a prominent antagonist of the founders of the American Economics Association in the late 1880s. Newcomb, who eventually joined the AEA, opposed the expansive view of government proposed by AEA founders such as Richard Ely and Edmund James. Peirce was also kept aware of developments in psychology by his lifelong friend William James. Hayek certainly seems to have been greatly aware of James’s contributions to cognitive psychology. So here is another avenue of connection between Peirce and Hayek.

Unlike Hayek, most modern economists have always kept their distance from psychology. Both disciplines separated from philosophy as autonomous social sciences in the late 19th century. Even though classical economics is dated from Adam Smith and political economy became a separate subject in its own right late in the 18th century, political economy was most often taught as a branch of moral philosophy until the late 19th century. It wasn’t until the neoclassical revolution and the creation of marginalist ideas that the name of the discipline changed from political economy to economics and it became a separate autonomous discipline. Whether economists agree or disagree with psychologists, it is important to understand the conceptions of psychology that previous generations of economists encountered. In the 19th and early 20th century, higher education was much more general than now and economists would have been much more exposed to the general ideas of psychology and philosophy than they are today. In our present time, it is possible, that someone could now get a doctorate in economics without ever having had any formal exposure to psychology or philosophy in terms of an organized university class. For those so narrowly educated, the intellectual breadth of earlier figures like Hayek and Peirce may be difficult to grasp. And the most important things they have to say could simply be beyond the appreciation of even those who have won Nobel Prizes in economics. With regard to very general psychological ideas, there is a distinction that pertains to cognition that is important to recognize in understanding both Hayek and Peirce. It permeates the outlook of The Sensory Order. That distinction seems to have been forgotten or is very unclear in modern economics. The distinction I have in mind is the difference between higher and lower mental processes. This is an evolutionary distinction that is still widely shared by those in many contemporary disciplines that are concerned with human intelligence and learning. It can be taken as part of the broad conceptual background of previous generations of economists especially those from around 1859 until 1950.

Decades before Hayek authored The Sensory Order and its reprise, ‘‘The Primacy of the Abstract’’, Charles Sanders Peirce created a similar view of sensation, perception, and cognition. Like Hayek, Peirce emphasized the general, abstract, and relational nature of sensation, perception, and cognition. In the late 19th century, Peirce helped create the new field of mathematical logic and emphasized the logic of relations as one of the key notions of that new discipline. Peirce went on to develop conceptions of logical relations for economics, for metaphysics, for his conception of evolution, and for human perception, sensation, and cognition. Like Hayek, Peirce held that perception, sensation, and cognition were much more abstract than empiricists had ever held. They both criticized the associationistic empiricism of abstract ideas of J. S. Mill. For Hayek and Peirce the processes of human knowing are due to the active application of human cognitive capacities in apprehending relational distinctions picked up through our physiological capacities usually called our senses. The contents of conscious awareness are constructed by these capacities even though this is the opposite of what our common sense seems to imply. Hayek’s views are more physiologically grounded while Peirce’s ideas benefit more from his knowledge of mathematics and logic. Both view human knowing as dealing with the relational properties of their subjects of inquiry. Both criticize the Mills associationistic empirical psychology. Both appeal to topology as a vehicle for understanding the relational logical properties of things, processes, and events as they are apprehended in sensation and cognition. And both view sensation as active relational construction. Thus sensation is predominantly abstract and general. Human cognition, sensation, and perception function like topological relations operators in conveying the most important relational details regarding our subjects of inquiry. For both Hayek and Peirce, the abstract nature of cognition and sensation has important economic dimensions. Other views of sensation and cognition essentially assume the equivalent of much less efficient processes of information search and knowledge acquisition. Humans continually construct abstract ideas making relational comparisons and inferences regarding the phenomena of their current and future circumstances. Humans do not readily waste the relational information regarding their environment.


Readers may want to know that the author was one of two economics graduate students that attended the Penn State conference on cognitive psychology in May of 1977 where Hayek’s The Sensory Order was given a central place in the sessions and the discussions. William Butos was the other student. We heard Walter Weimer (1982) deliver his long keynote address and appraisal of The Sensory Order and Hayek’s (1982) response. Weimer thought that Hayek’s views were more psychological and thus closer to Thomas Kuhn’s view of science than those of Popper or Lakatos. In the discussion which followed, I asked Hayek whether that was so. His response was I am still a Popperian (Weimer and Hayek, 1982, p. 323). Weimer was a member of the dissertation committees for both Butos and the author.


Hayek, Popper, and the Causal Theory of the Mind

Here are excerpts from Ed Feser’s essay.

In late 1952, F. A. Hayek sent his friend Karl Popper a copy of his recently published book The Sensory Order: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Theoretical Psychology. In a letter dated December 2, 1952, Popper acknowledged receipt of the book and responded as follows to what he had read in it:

I am not sure whether one could describe your theory as a causal theory of the sensory order. I think, indeed, that one can. But then, it would be also the sketch of a causal theory of the mind. But I think I can show that a causal theory of the mind cannot be true (although I cannot show this of the sensory order; more precisely, I think I can show the impossibility of a causal theory of the human language (although I cannot show the impossibility of a causal theory of perception). I am writing a paper on the impossibility of a causal theory of the human language, and its bearing upon the body-mind problem, which must be finished in ten days. I shall send you a copy as soon as it is & typed.

In a later letter dated January 19, 1953, Popper added, As to my comments on your book, they are, as far as criticism is concerned, implicit in my paper. I think you have made a splendid effort towards a theory of the sub-linguistic (¼ sub-human ((¼descriptive)) language) level of mind; but I believe that no physiological approach (although most important) can be sufficient to explain the descriptive and argumentative functions of language. Or in other words, there can be no causal or physiological theory of reason. The paper Popper was referring to is his short article ‘‘Language and the body-mind problem.’’ Hayek began a draft of a paper entitled ‘‘Within systems and about systems: A statement of some problems of a theory of communication,’’ which, as Jack Birner has suggested, appears to have been intended at least in part as a response to Popper’s criticisms. But it was never completed, and Hayek never addressed Popper’s arguments in any of his published work. The Sensory Order has, however unjustly, largely been forgotten outside the circles of Hayek specialists. Popper’s brief paper is perhaps even less well known. Neither Popper’s letters to Hayek nor Hayek’s unfinished draft have yet been published. So, this episode might seem rather insignificant in the history of thought and indeed of little significance even to our understanding of either Hayek’s thought or Popper’s. But, as I hope to show in what follows, nothing could be further from the truth. With respect both to its general themes and to some of the specific philosophical moves made by each side, the brief, private dispute between Hayek and Popper foreshadowed a more prominent debate within twentieth-century analytic philosophy that began in the 1970s and continues to this day. Moreover, both the dispute between Hayek and Popper and the later debate reflect a deep tension that has lain at the heart of Western thought since the time of the scientific revolution. On the one hand, there is the ‘‘mechanical world picture’’ according to which all natural phenomena can be explained entirely in terms of the mathematically describable behavior of matter in motion. On the other hand, there are rational human thought processes, including the philosophical and scientific theorizing that led to the mechanical world picture itself. It is far from obvious that the latter can be fitted comfortably into the former – that human rationality can be explained in terms of purely material processes – and from the time of Descartes until relatively recently, the dominant view was that it could not be. Hayek and Popper were writing at a time when this view began to give way to a new materialist orthodoxy. Hayek, though arguably more sensitive to the tension in question than most contemporary materialists, nevertheless thought it could be resolved in a way favorable to a broadly materialist or ‘‘naturalistic’’ understanding of the mind. Popper disagreed and believed the older, dualistic conception of the mind to be essentially correct, and as we will see, his reasons for doing so have in more recent years been regarded even by some non-dualist philosophers as posing a serious difficulty for materialism. In the next section, I will set the stage for the discussion of Hayek and Popper with a brief account of the nature and origins of the mind-body problem (or ‘‘body-mind problem,’’ as Popper preferred to call it). We will see that there are really at least three mind-body problems, and that while Hayek and most contemporary philosophers focus on the first of these, Popper was more concerned with the other two and believed that they pose a more serious difficulty for materialism than the former does. The third section will explain what a ‘‘causal theory of the mind’’ is and the respects in which Hayek’s account can be regarded as a causal theory. The fourth section will examine Popper’s main criticism of causal theories, which will be elucidated by comparison with the views of contemporary philosopher Hilary Putnam, who (apparently independently) developed a line of argument that parallels and extends the one presented by Popper. Finally, in the fifth section, I will consider the possible response to Popper suggested both by Hayek’s unpublished draft and by things Hayek had to say in some of his published work, relating it to the responses contemporary philosophers have given to arguments like those presented by Popper and Putnam. I will argue that none of these replies succeeds and that the Popperian critique remains a powerful and as yet unanswered challenge not only to dogmatic materialism but even to the more modest and critical form of materialism or naturalism defended by Hayek.

Hayek’s unfinished draft ‘‘Within Systems and About Systems’’ is a study of this problem and, as noted earlier, seems intended at least in part as a response to the difficulties raised by Popper. While he does not explicitly present it as such, he does say that he intends to reply to those who regard it as ‘‘futile’’ or ‘‘absurd’’ to analyze mental processes in terms of ‘‘causal systems,’’ and that of the various mental phenomena his focus will be on ‘‘communication and particularly description’’ – the latter being precisely one of the phenomena Popper said could not be explained causally.26 Moreover, he explicitly cites Buhler’s distinction between functions of language, which Popper had borrowed and adapted for the purposes of his own argument. Hayek’s central claim is that: [F]or any causal system there is a limit to the complexity of other systems for which the former can provide the analogon of a description or explanation, and that this limit necessarily excludes the possibility of a system ever describing or explaining itself. This means that, if the human mind were a causal system, we would necessarily experience in discussing it precisely those obstacles and difficulties which we do encounter and which are often regarded as proof that the human mind is not a causal system. The impossibility of the mind’s fully explaining itself is a recurring theme in Hayek’s writings on our subject. He takes it to follow from the complexity of any system capable of exhibiting mental properties, and in particular from the potentially infinite regress entailed by the mind’s reflection on its own operations. For when one group of mental operations becomes an object of thought for another, understanding the latter will in turn require that it be made an object of thought for yet another, and so on ad infinitum, as each meta-level of thought becomes an object-level for another meta-level. The parallel with Godel’s incompleteness theorems, Cantor’s set theory, and Russell’s theory of types is obvious, and Hayek took puzzles of self-referentiality of the sort studied by such thinkers to provide the key to understanding why a material mind should seem to us to be inexplicable in material terms. The trouble with this sort of move, considered as a reply to Popper, is that it assumes that it is the ‘‘self’’ in self-referentiality that is the problem, when in fact it is the ‘‘referentiality’’ that is. Once we have a system capable of referring at all – capable, that is, of intentionality or representation – then yes, puzzles of self-referentiality are going to arise if the system becomes sufficiently complex. But the question Popper is addressing is not whether a complex system already capable of intentionality can understand itself. The question he is addressing is whether a purely material system could exhibit intentionality of even a rudimentary, non-self-referential sort merely by virtue of bearing certain causal relations to other objects and events. Systems of the sort studied by Godel, Cantor, and Russell are completely irrelevant to this question, as should be obvious when we consider that these systems already presuppose the existence of intentionality insofar as they presuppose minds capable of interpreting otherwise meaningless physical marks as symbols of logic and set theory. What we need to know is how such intentionality enters the picture in the first place. That Hayek does not clearly understand what is at issue is evident from what he says in ‘‘Within Systems and About Systems.’’ Much of the draft recapitulates the theory of The Sensory Order, and like the book makes free use of terms like ‘‘classification,’’ ‘‘representation,’’ ‘‘models,’’ and ‘‘map’’ – terms the intentional connotations of which are precisely what need to be grounded. To be sure, Hayek says that he intends to explain ‘‘the property to which we refer by such terms as ‘intention,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘aim,’ ‘need,’ or ‘desire’’’ and acknowledges that ‘‘we must not use any of these ‘mental’ terms until we have succeeded in adequately defining them in terms of our causal system.’’


Hayek and Behavioral Economics

My chapter Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension is published in this collection today. The full line-up as follows:

Foreword; V.Smith
Introduction; R.Frantz & R.Leeson
Friedrich Hayek’s Behavioural Economics in Historical Context; R.Frantz
A Hayekian/Kirznerian Economic History of the Modern World; D.McCloskey
Was Hayek an Austrian Economist? Yes and No. Was Hayek a Praxeologist? No.; W.Block
Error is Obvious, Coordination is the Puzzle; P.Boettke, W.Caceres & A.Martin
Hayek’s Contribution to a Reconstruction of Economic Theory; H.Gintis
On the Relationships Between Friedrich Hayek and Jean Piaget; C.Chelini & S.Riva
Cognitive Autonomy and Epistemology of Action in Hayek’s and Merleau-Ponty’s Thought; F.Di Iorio
Hayek’s Sensory Order, Gestalt Neuroeconomics, and Quantum Psychophysics; T.Takahashi & S.Egashira
Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension; L.Marsh
Hayek’s Complexity Assumption, Ecological and Bounded Rationality, and Behavioural Economics; M.Altman
Subjectivism and Explanations of the Principle; S.Fiori
Satisficing and Cognition; Complementarities between Simon and Hayek; P.Earl
The Oversight of Behavioural Economics on Hayek’s Insight; S.Rizzello & A.Spada
Complexity and Degeneracy in Socio-Economic Systems; G.Steel & H.Hosseini


Hayek’s Speculative Psychology, The Neuroscience of value Estimation, and the Basis of Normative Individualism

An extract from the very excellent and versatile (economics and philosophy of mind) Don Ross.

In light of this history, it is not surprising that, as many commentators have noted, The Sensory Order was relatively neglected for a few decades, but has recently enjoyed a wave of scholarly appreciation. Much of this has centered on the ways in which Hayek’s philosophical psychology complements and completes his general model of adaptive complexity (Butos & Koppl, 1996; Horwitz, 2000, 2008; McQuade & Butos, 2005): both minds and markets are path-dependent incremental learning systems and distributed information processors that depend for their efficiency on freedom from executive planning bottlenecks. Thus the resistance of social processes to social engineering is reinforced by a kind of fractal reproduction of a ‘free market’ in information at the scale of the individual mind. Some cognitive scientists (Edelman, 1985; Fuster, 1995) have noted that Hayek’s high-level conception of mental architecture was substantively vindicated long after the fact. Regrettably, however, only occasional philosophers (e.g., Marsh, 2010) have drawn attention to his remarkable anticipation of sensible opinions that their profession spent decades groping toward, namely: that perception and conceptual filtering dynamically influence one another; that implicit procedural and explicit declarative knowledge form an epistemological continuum (Lycan, 1988; Wilson, 2006); that moderate functionalism is a sound view of the mind-brain relationship but radical functionalism that declares the brain irrelevant is nonsense (Clark, 1989); that consciousness is not the central planning commission of the mind (Dennett, 1991); and that Kant was right that categorical preconceptions structure mental experience, while empiricists were right that science can, does, and should ride roughshod over these preconceptions without limit (Humphreys, 2004; Ismael, 2007; Ladyman & Ross, 2007). As Marsh notes, Hayek even anticipated the ‘monochromeMary’ thought experiment (Jackson, 1996) that later distracted philosophers of consciousness (Dennett, 1991, 2006), but he immediately diagnosed its scientific idleness. [Some of the thought experiment’s philosophical proponents recognized the same thing eventually (Jackson, 2003).] No aspect of The Sensory Order is more impressive than its opening and closing philosophical framing, which remains fresh as paint.

Economic methodologists who study The Sensory Order tend to think that this issue is in turn important because the (relative) autonomy of intentional description and explanation is at the heart of the Austrian view of capital and of the principles by which the political economy best flourishes. Such an assumption is among the shared premises, animating lively debates over detailed implications, that is carried on by the authors collected in Butos (2010) when they take up a brief to explicate the significance of The Sensory Order for the study of the social order in both its positive and normative aspects. We might unpack the common premise in more detail as follows. Austrian social theory will enjoy a considerably shrunken pool of potential followers if it is thought to be hostage to the transcendental post-Kantian philosophy of human thought and action developed by von Mises (1966), because this underlying metaphysic of mind is uncongenial to most epistemological naturalists, and thus to most contemporary social scientists. In the current philosophical atmosphere, Austrian methodological and normative theory stands on much firmer ground if a semi-autonomous domain of intentionality is thought to spontaneously emerge from the interactions of brains and their physical environments. Happily (for pro-Austrians), such ideas are now widespread among scientists in a range of disciplines that study complexity. Still more happily, the aspects of this perspective that are derived from principles of neural organization and functioning were clearly and explicitly developed by Hayek in The Sensory Order; so we have evidence that Austrian social theorizing is not merely compatible with emergentist naturalism about intentionality, but is indeed part of its original intellectual context. This view is not wrong; Hayek indeed provides Austrian methodologists with a more satisfactory philosophy of mind than von Mises’s. However, many would be disappointed to think that all The Sensory Order does for them is show them that they don’t have to endorse von Mises’s declaration of independence from empirical behavioral science. I will argue, however, that Hayek’s philosophical psychology fails to provide any stronger support for Austrian economics or economic methodology. Two widespread, and interrelated, assumptions made by Hayek’s apologists have obscured this. First, there is a tendency to take for granted that the (relative) autonomy of intentional patterns from neuroelectrical and neurochemical patterns is directly associated with the (relative) autonomy of individual choices. If this is not the case, then rejection of neuro-reductionist foundations for economics yields no particular implications in favor of Austrian over neoclassical methodology or policy philosophy. Second, there is a tendency to assume that if brains implement distributed neural networks, then relative economic values must be computed by these networks through the sculpting of global vectors of weights in state spaces by conceptually mediated environmental contingencies. This assumption courts potential dialectical disaster, at least in the short run, for Austrian apologists, because the most flourishing current research programme in neuroeconomics is based precisely on denying it.


Hayek, Connectionism, and Scientific Naturalism

Here’s is an extract from Joshua Rust’s prize-winning essay from this volume.

The above criticisms look at The Sensory Order through the lens of nearly 60 years of work in the philosophy of mind. And it must be emphasized that Hayek’s text appears remarkably neoteric, anticipating both questions and answers in the field that would come to be known as cognitive science. However, I want to conclude on a cautionary note.

However, exegetically fruitful it may be to compare The Sensory Order to contemporary theories of mind, I wish to claim that such comparisons ultimately misconstrue the nature of Hayek’s project. In the end, Hayek’s question is importantly different from Searle’s or Fodor’s; Hayek’s ontological and epistemological presuppositions are not those of most contemporary theorists of mind.

In the previous section, I had assumed that both Searle and Hayek agree that there is a really-real physical order of atomic and subatomic facts. And we have assumed that Searle and Hayek share the task of reconciling the mental order with that ontologically basic physical order. Indeed, according to Searle (2010, p. 4), all ‘‘persistent philosophical questions’’ have the same characteristic structure: How is it possible in a universe consisting entirely of physical particles in fields of force that there can be such things as consciousness, intentionality, free will, language, society, ethics, aesthetics, and political obligations? Though many, perhaps most, contemporary philosophers do not address it directly, I believe that this is the single overriding question in contemporary philosophy.

On Searle’s view, philosophy’s aim is to reconcile the manifest image with the scientific image (Sellars, 1962) in the sense that consciousness, free will, language, and so on must be explained in terms of or shown to be consistent with the real, observer-independent world of brute facts. And there are passages in The Sensory Order, which suggest that Hayek’s question is not that different from Searle’s, even if the answer is. For example Hayek says, ‘‘A precise statement of the problem raised by the existence of sensory qualities must start from the fact that the progress of the physical sciences has all but eliminated these qualities from our scientific picture of the external world’’ (1.6). It is easy, then, to assume that, like Searle, Hayek is trying to locate mental qualities within the world as construed by our scientific picture.

But, appearances aside, Searle’s and Hayek’s questions are in fact quite different.


Hayek, Hebb, and Heisenberg: Toward an Approach to Brain Functioning

Here’s the second of the extracts from a bona fide neuroscientist (and friend of Fuster). Gerald Edelman of course is also someone who recognized Hayek’s genius in this area.

. . . the mind must remain forever in a realm of its own which we can now only directly experience it, but which we shall never be able fully to explain or to ‘reduce’ to something else (Hayek, 1952, 8. 98).

F. A. Hayek’s The Sensory Order must rate as one of the most creative books written on general philosophy of neuroscience. Though Hayek was a Noble-prize winner in economics, and was not educated as a neuroscientist his book opens up a new window on neuroscience, and this window certainly offers great possibilities to neuroscientists working on unifying aspects of neuroscience. Guided by the fundamental view of Fuster (1995) I have tried to suggestively interpret Hayek’s concepts firstly as a work on memory and brain dynamics (Başar, 2004), and more recently, as a more general work on the brain-body-mind relationship (Başar, 2010). Though a detailed description and interpretation of Hayek’s philosophical psychology is not possible because of space constraints, I will try to explain three concepts that are embedded in the work of Hayek: 1) D. O. Hebb’s learning theory (1949) 2) The S- Matrix concept of quantum dynamics developed by W. Heisenberg (1943), and 3) The Feynman Diagrams as a consequence of the S-Matrix theory.

In the first half of the twentieth century two important books introduced outstanding holistic and dynamic approaches to brain functioning. The first, Donald Hebb’s book (1949) related to the organization of behavior, inspired several neuroscientists in search of the “Hebb neuron.” According to Hebb, the functioning of the brain after learning is a “different” brain compared with the same brain before the learning process. Though Hayek developed his theory almost twenty years prior to the publication of Hebb’s book, The Sensory Order was published three years after Hebb’s book. The chain of ideas developed in this theory is highly pertinent to the dynamic nature of the living brain. Hayek states: We shall see that the mental and the physical word are in the sense two different orders in which the same element can be arranged; though ultimately we shall recognize the mental order as part of the physical order (Hayek, 1952, section). Hayek argues that it is the whole history of the organism that will determine its action with new factors contributing to this determination on later occasions that were not present on the first.

In The Sensory Order asked the question “what is mind?” and discussed the relationship between mind and body or between mental and physical events (Hayek, 1952, 1.49). Hayek classifies “emotion” as a special type of disposition for a type of actions which, in the first instance, are not necessitated by a primary change in the state of the organism, but which are complexes of responses appropriate to a variety of environmental conditions. “Fear,” “anger,” “sorrow” and “joy” are attitudes toward the environment, and particularly towards fellow members of the same species. This means that a great variety of external events, and also some condition of the organism itself, may evoke one of several patterns of attitudes or dispositions, which will affect the perception of, and the responses to, any external event. “Emotions” may thus be described as affective qualities similar to the sensory qualities and forming part of the same comprehensive order of mental qualities. Hayek further proposes that we must distinguish between two different kinds of physiological “memory” or traces left behind by the action of any stimulus. One is the semi-permanent change in the structure of connections or paths and which determines the courses through which any change of impulses can run (similar to Hebb’s principle). The other is the pattern of active impulses proceeding at any moment as results of a stimuli received in the present and past and perceived also as merely part of continuous flow of impulses of central origin, which never altogether ceases, even when no external stimuli are received.

The theory of brain functioning or the “new psychology” as described by Hayek in The Sensory Order still merits important attention as a general framework in stimulating brain-storming approaches to brain-body-mind integration. This essay has described some possibilities to bridge Hebb’s Theory and the quantum brain approach with the insights of Hayek.


Experts and Epistemic Monopolies

Having just received copies of the book in which our paper appears, here is another excuse to plug both our paper and the rest of the book’s contents. Here is an extract from Roger Koppl’s introduction:

This volume contains papers given at the third biennial Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies Conference on Austrian Economics. The conference was held at a beautiful waterfront facility of Simon Fraser University on October 15 and 16, 2010. In spite of all warnings to expect fog and rain in the Pacific Northwest, the weather was sunny and mild, as were the spirits of the conferees. Our topic title, ‘‘Austrian Views on Experts and Epistemic Monopolies,’’ was perhaps a bit misleading because some of the views represented were not ‘‘Austrian.’’ Indeed, the editorial mission of Advances in Austrian Economics has been to promote dialogue between the ‘‘Austrian’’ tradition of economics and other traditions both within in economics and beyond. Participants discussed the problem of experts from several Austrian and non-Austrian perspectives. While representing different points of view, the participants did tend toward the view that experts may pose a problem in one way or another, especially when they enjoy an epistemic monopoly.