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The Counter-Revolution of Science


The Counter-Revolution of Science

The Counter-Revolution of Science
Author Friedrich Hayek
Country United States
Language English
Subject Political economy
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Liberty Fund Inc.
Publication date
1952, 1980
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 415
OCLC 265949

The Counter-Revolution of Science: studies on the abuse of reason is a book by Nobel laureate economist Friedrich Hayek, published in 1952. It addresses the problem of scientism in the social sciences, where researchers and reporters attempt to apply the methodology and claims of objective certainty from hard science, despite the fact that these attempt to eliminate the human factor from study, yet these "soft" sciences center around attempting to understand human action.[1]


  • Synopsis 1
  • Publishing History 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


This book is divided into three parts. The first is a reworking of Hayek's essay, Scientism and the Study of Society. The second is an analysis of the doctrine of Saint-Simon, essentially forming the foundation of scientism and the movement to silence objection to its assertions.[2] Hayek lifts the title of the compiled book, The Counter-Revolution of Science, from Saint-Simon, who essentially asserted that the relative freedom of expression and thought of the "revolution" in France was no longer necessary, that using the force of law to impose "scientific" conclusions on everyone was now necessary. The last segment examines Comte and Hegel, and their similar takes on the philosophy of history. The first two sections were both originally published in the peer-reviewed magazine Economica, in the early 1940s.

Hayek observes that the hard sciences attempt to remove the "human factor" in order to obtain objective, strictly controlled results:

[T]he persistent effort of modern Science has been to get down to "objective facts," to cease studying what men thought about nature or regarding the given concepts as true images of the real world, and, above all, to discard all theories which pretended to explain phenomena by imputing to them a directing mind like our own. Instead, its main task became to revise and reconstruct the concepts formed from ordinary experience on the basis of a systematic testing of the phenomena, so as to be better able to recognize the particular as an instance of a general rule.
— Friedrich A. Hayek, The Counter-Revolution of Science (II: The Problem and the Method of the Natural Sciences)

Meanwhile the soft sciences are attempting to measure human action itself:[1]

The social sciences in the narrower sense, i.e., those which used to be described as the moral sciences, are concerned with man's conscious or reflected action, actions where a person can be said to choose between various courses open to him, and here the situation is essentially different. The external stimulus which may be said to cause or occasion such actions can of course also be defined in purely physical terms. But if we tried to do so for the purposes of explaining human action, we would confine ourselves to less than we know about the situation.
— Friedrich A. Hayek, The Counter-Revolution of Science (III: The Subjective Character of the Data of the Social Sciences)

He notes that these are mutually exclusive: Social sciences should not attempt to impose positivist methodology, nor to claim objective or definite results:[3]

This book was lauded by Hayek's own mentor and master of Philosophy of Science, Ludwig von Mises, for its analysis of the topic.[4]

Publishing History

Parts of this book were published in Economica Magazine in the early 1940s. The book itself was compiled and printed in 1952. It eventually fell out of print, but was re-published in the US in 1980, and remained available since.



  1. ^ a b Greaves 1 April 1981.
  2. ^ Goodreads.
  3. ^ Röpke 2002, p. 59.
  4. ^ MisesBookstore.


  • "Counter-Revolution of Science Paperback". MisesBookstore. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  • Greaves, Bettina Bien (1 April 1981). "Book Review: The Counter-revolution of Science: Studies on the Abuse of Reason by F. A. Hayek". The Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  • "The Counter-Revolution Of Science". Goodreads. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 


  • Röpke, Wilhelm (2002). The Moral Foundations of Civil Society. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.  

External links

  • Full text in PDF and plain text formats.
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