Foundations of The Economics of Time and Ignorance
Mario J. Rizzo
Published online: 13 January 2013
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
Abstract The Economics of Time and Ignorance grew out of the need to reinvigorate the
Austrian School in light of the challenges of contemporary economics. It did this by re-
examining the foundations of the Austrian tradition and by making explicit many of its
hidden assumptions and implications. The book also attempted to make Austrian eco-
nomics more of an open system than it had been in the conservationist decades of the
1950s, 60s, and 70s. The degree to which it has been successful is examined in this essay.
Keywords History of Economic Thought
JEL Codes B2
M. Jourdain: What? When I say: “Nicole, bring me my slippers, and give me
my night-cap,” is that prose?
Philosophy Teacher: Yes, sir.
M. Jourdain: Good heavens! For more than 40 years I have been speaking prose
without knowing it.
Molière, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 1671
“Yet the moment we have produced…theories, they create new, unintended and
unexpected problems, autonomous problems, problems to be discovered.”
Karl R. Popper (1979:161)
There are two very general ideas that underlie The Economics of Time and
Ignorance. The first is the startled statement of M. Jourdain in Molière’s play, “The
Would-Be Gentleman.” He said, “…I have been speaking prose without knowing it.”
The second is actually related. This is the philosopher Karl Popper’sideaof
“objective knowledge” or World Three. Once ideas are promulgated to the world,
they have certain objective implications—independent of the subjective intentions of
those who developed the ideas in the first place at a certain time in history and point
in space. These implications are the results of human action but not of human design.
Rev Austrian Econ (2013) 26:45–52
M. J. Rizzo (*)
Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, 6FL, New York, NY 10012, USA