Front Page Titles (by Subject) Hayek as a Skeptical Kantian - Literature of Liberty, Winter 1982, vol. 5, No. 4
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Hayek as a Skeptical Kantian - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Winter 1982, vol. 5, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Hayek as a Skeptical Kantian
Hayek is a Kantian, then, in disavowing in science or in philosophy any Aristotelian method of seeking the essences or natures of things. We cannot know how things are in the world, but only how our mind itself organizes the jumble of its experiences. He is Kantian, again, in repudiating the belief, common to empiricists and positivists such as David Hume and Ernst Mach, that there is available to us a ground of elementary sensory impressions, untainted by conceptual thought, which can serve as the foundation for the house of human knowledge. Against this empiricist dogma, Hayek is emphatic that everything in the sensory order is abstract, conceptual and theory-laden in character: “It will be the central thesis of the theory to be outlined that it is not merely a part but the whole of sensory qualities which is...an ‘interpretation’ based on the experience of the individual or the race. The conception of an original pure core of sensation which is merely modified by experience is an entirely unnecessary fiction.”4 Again, he tells us that “the elimination of the hypothetical ‘pure’ or ‘primary’ core of sensation, supposed not to be due to earlier experience, but either to involve some direct communication of properties of the external objects, or to constitute irreducible mental atoms or elements, disposes of various philosophical puzzles which arise from the lack of meaning of these hypotheses.”5 The map or model we form of the world, in Hayek's view, is in no important respect grounded in a basis of sheer sense-data, themselves supposed to be incorrigible. Rather, the picture we form of the world emerges straight from our interaction with the world, and it is always abstract in selecting some among the infinite aspects which the world contains, most of which we are bound to pass by as without interest to us.
Three Influences on Hayek's Skeptical Kantianism: Mach, Popper, and Wittgenstein
Hayek's theory of knowledge is Kantian, we have seen, in affirming that the order we find in the world is given to it by the organizing structure of our own mind and in claiming that even sensory experiences are suffused with the ordering concepts of the human mind. His view of the mind, then, is Kantian in that it accords a very great measure of creative power to the mind, which is neither a receptacle for the passive absorption of fugitive sensations, nor yet a mirror in which the world's necessities are reflected.
[4.] Hayek, µB-10Õ, Sensory Order, p. 42, para. 2.15.
[5.] Hayek, µB-10Õ, Sensory Order, p. 165, para. 8.2.