Lost in Translation

Written by Josie Olsen on October 28th, 2009

“[W]hat the spontaneous order of society provides for us is more important for everyone, and therefore for the general welfare, than most of the particular services which the organization of government can provide, excepting only the security provided by the enforcement of the rules of just conduct” (pp. 132-133).

As argued by Hayek, the emerged conflicting views of society are either a made order or a grown order, which he refers to as taxis and cosmos. The emerged system, or cosmos, is the natural inclination of society, and the made order, or taxis, is an order that is decided on and then enforced. I found it interesting that even forty years ago some, like Hayek, recognized that our principles which have founded this great country do not always translate. He said that freedom has been preserved for so long because such principles have governed public opinion, but that “the institutions by which the countries of the Western world have attempted to protect individual freedom against progressive encroachment by government have always proved inadequate when transferred to countries where such traditions did not prevail.” (p 55) We have even more examples today that support this claim and I agree with Erica/Lance that it is because of the cultural diversity of the inhabitants of this earth. In architecture I believe that there is no formulaic design that will work across the board for any given function. Each region, each climate, each culture must be taken into account before designing a masterpiece lest it fall to destruction in a short period of time. And so it is with made-orders, or taxis, unless perhaps they are so abstract that they can be molded and “specked’ out.

Hayek connects the two orders to laws and legislation: law proper, or “nomos” coinciding somewhat with the concept of natural laws formed by social interaction– and legislation (“thesis”), which he calls the “chief instrument of deliberate change in modern society,” and is limited to confine of government services.

In response to this excerpt: “law is…to consist of abstract rules which make possible the formation of a spontaneous order by the free action of individuals through limiting the range of their actions” (i.e., through preventing coercion), and it is not to be “the instrument of arrangement or organization by which the individual is made to serve concrete purposes,” (p. 71), I must agree. Something I did not realize until I joined Koch Scholars and listened to everyone’s inspiring wisdom (wink, wink) is that laws, while important, can cause havoc if created without foresight. Hayek maintained, “Few facts show more clearly how prevailing conceptions will bring about a continuous change, producing measures that will in the beginning nobody had desired or foreseen but which appear inevitable in due course, than the process of the change of law.” (p. 65)… I concur.


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