Israel Kirzner Presents the Foundations of Austrian Economics

There is so much to learn and figure about economics.

Steven Horowitz points to lectures of Prof Israel Kirzner on Austrian economics.

When people ask me to describe what kind of economist I want to be when I am in my 70s or 80s, I tell them a story about Israel Kirzner. For a number of years, I watched Professor Kirzner give the opening lecture at the Advanced Austrian Economics summer seminar for graduate students at the Foundation for Economic Education. The basic content of the lecture was the same each year, but each one was different in important details. You could tell that Kirzner was, to some degree, unsatisfied with his own presentation the previous year and had tinkered with it to try to make it clearer and more persuasive this time around. The fact that such a brilliant scholar was perpetually self-critical in this way, and that it mattered to him to make it better and get it right, makes him a role model for scholars of all backgrounds.

Just as important, however, was the passion he brought to that talk each year. I knew watching those lectures that he had given a version of this talk hundreds of times over the years to both his own students and audiences across the world. Yet every year, I felt like he was giving it for the first time, mostly because he spoke with such passion and urgency, as if understanding the basics of economics was a task that bore the weight of civilization on its shoulders. And, as he has argued, it in fact does. We should all aspire to the level of intellectual humility and passion that he demonstrated in those lectures.

This should be interesting stuff…

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