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Rothbard vs. the Philosophers

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You get both Rothbard's perspective and a clear look at Polanyi, Hayek, Strauss, Mises, and other great thinkers of his time.
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Here is Rothbard's stunning mind at work on some of the most serious topics in philosophy, economics, and politics, originally crafted as private memos. The advantage here is that you get super-candid evaluations of the thought of the giants while avoiding the appartus of formal papers. The result is more like a series of expansive letters to the reader rather than a collection drawn from a scholarly journal.

These important essays have never been published before. In fact, they were not written for publication. They were written on assignment by a foundation that employed Rothbard to read and review books. In many ways, then, the tone is unguarded, even reckless in a wonderful way, but this serves the reader's advantage.

The payoff here is that you get both Rothbard's perspective and a clear look at the thoughts of Polanyi, Hayek, Strauss, Mises, and other great thinkers of his time.

Some of his judgements are surprising. His initial review of Hayek's Constitution of Liberty, for example, is brutal in its criticism. But once the book came out, Rothbard moderated his opinion and called the book extremely important. Both essays appear herein. The same is true of his judgement of Leo Strauss: at once blistering where he is wrong and congratulatory where he is right. Meanwhile, Rothbard is effusive in his praise of the work of Lionel Robbins.

There is one additional benefit from reading this volume: it shows a master critic at work. We can all be supremely grateful that a book like this exists at all. It gives us another glimpse into the mind of one of the great intellectual innovators of the 20th century.


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  • Preface By David Gordon
  • Introduction: Law And Nature In The Work Of Murray N. Rothbard by Roberta Modugno
  • Rothbard’s Unpublished Writings
  • Rothbard On Leo Strauss
  • Criticism Of The Subjectivism Of Values
  • Criticism Of Hayek: Historical Rights And Natural Rights
  • Criticism Of The Concept Of Coercion In Hayek

Reviews and Comments By Murray Newton Rothbard

  • 1. Letter On Rugged Individualism By George B. Cutten
  • 2. Confidential Memo To The Volker Fund On F.A. Hayek’s Constitution Of Liberty
  • 3. Letter On The Constitution Of Liberty By F.A. Von Hayek
  • 4. Review Of Lionel Robbins, The Great Depression
  • 5. Letter On The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman By Caroline Robbins
  • 6. Letter On What Is Political Philosophy? By Leo Strauss
  • 7. Letter On Thoughts On Machiavelli By Leo Strauss
  • 8. Letter On On Tyranny By Leo Strauss
  • 9. The Symposium On Relativism: A Critique
  • 10. On Polanyi’s The Great Transformation

Final Matter

  • Chronology Of The Life And Works Of Murray Newton Rothbard
  • References And Bibliography
  • References
  • Bibliography
  • Selected Writings By Murray N. Rothbard
  • Writings On Murray N. Rothbard
  • Writings Of A General Nature
  • Index
ISBN 9781933550466
Publisher Ludwig von Mises Institute
Publication Date 2009
Binding PB
Page Length 176
Dimensions 6" x 9"

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