Principium Volume II, Book 10, Quote 983 and 987

983. (11-23-2010) Our definition of liberty depends upon the meaning of the concept of coercion, and it will be precise until we have similarly defined that term. In fact, we shall also have to give a more exact meaning to certain closely related ideas, especially arbitrariness and general rules and laws….But before asking the reader to follow us further in what may appear to be the barren task of giving precise meaning to terms, we shall endeavor to explain why the liberty we have defined is so important….At this point a few observations anticipating the results of the more systematic discussion of coercion should be sufficient….By “coercion” we mean such control of the environment or circumstances of a person by another that, in order to avoid greater evil, he is forced to act not according to a coherent plan of his own but to serve the ends of another. Except in the sense of choosing the lesser of two evils in a situation forced on him by another, he is unable either to use his own intelligence or knowledge or to follow his own aims and beliefs. Coercion is evil precisely because it thus eliminates an individual as a thinking and valuing person and makes him a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of another. Free action, in which a person pursues his own aims by the means indicated by his own knowledge, must be based on data which cannot be shaped at will by another. It presupposes the existence of a known sphere in which the circumstances cannot be so shaped by another person as to leave one only that choice prescribed by the other.

- Friedrich A. Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty, 1978


987. (11-23-2010) Most of the advantages of social life, especially in its more advanced forms which we call “civilization,” rest on the fact that the individual benefits from more knowledge than he is aware of. It might be said that civilization begins when the individual in the pursuit of his ends can make use of more knowledge that he has himself acquired and when he can transcend the boundaries of his ignorance by profiting from knowledge he does not himself possess.

- Friedrich A. Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty, 1978

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