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

Gloria Zúñiga y Postigo’s intro from her excellent paper.

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.