Ronald Hamowy

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Ronald Hamowy ( /həˈmi/ ; April 17, 1937 – September 8, 2012) [1] was a Canadian academic, known primarily for his contributions to political and social academic fields. At the time of his death, he was professor emeritus of Intellectual History at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Hamowy was closely associated with the political ideology of libertarianism and his writings and scholarship place particular emphasis on individual liberty and the limits of state action in a free society. [2] He is associated with a number of prominent American libertarian organizations.

Intellectual history refers to the historiography of ideas and thinkers. This history cannot be considered without the knowledge of the humans who created, discussed, wrote about, and in other ways were concerned with ideas. Intellectual history as practiced by historians is parallel to the history of philosophy as done by philosophers, and is more akin to the history of ideas. Its central premise is that ideas do not develop in isolation from the people who create and use them, and that one must study ideas not as abstract propositions but in terms of the culture, lives, and historical contexts that produced them.

University of Alberta university in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The University of Alberta is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta, and Henry Marshall Tory, its first president. Its enabling legislation is the Post-secondary Learning Act.

Edmonton Provincial capital city in Alberta, Canada

Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta's central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor".

Contents

Hamowy was personally acquainted, to varying degrees, with many leading classical liberal and libertarian thinkers who lived during the latter half of the 20th century.[ citation needed ]

Biography

Hamowy was born in Shanghai, China. His family was Jewish; his father was from Syria and his mother was from Egypt. [3] He was raised in New York City. He did his undergraduate studies in economics and history at Cornell University and at City College of New York. In 1960 he was admitted to the doctoral program at the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago and did his doctorate under the supervision of Professor Friedrich Hayek. He did postgraduate work at Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied under Sir Isaiah Berlin and did further postgraduate work at the University of Paris.

Shanghai Municipality in Peoples Republic of China

Shanghai is one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of the central government of the People's Republic of China, the largest city in China by population, and the second most populous city proper in the world, with a population of 24.18 million as of 2017. It is a global financial centre and transport hub, with the world's busiest container port. Located in the Yangtze River Delta, it sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the East China coast. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the north, south and west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

He returned to the United States in 1968 to become an instructor in and later assistant director of the History of Western Civilization Program at Stanford University. In 1969, he accepted a position as assistant professor in the History Department at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Western Canada's largest university. He taught there until 1975, when he took a position in the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia; after two years at Simon Fraser, he returned to the University of Alberta where he remained until his retirement from active teaching in 1998. He lived near Washington, DC.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 18 megadiverse countries.

Stanford University private research university located in Stanford, California, United States

Leland Stanford Junior University is an American private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world's top universities.

Simon Fraser University Canadian public research university in British Columbia

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is a public research university in British Columbia, Canada with campuses in Burnaby, Surrey, and Vancouver.

Academic life

Hamowy adopted a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and scholarship. His seminar discussions moved freely across the breadth of the humanities and social sciences, including history, philosophy, law, political theory, social theory, pure economic theory, literature, medicine, and psychiatry.

History past events and their record

History is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Law system of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Although he shared the multidisciplinary approach with Rothbard, ten years his senior, on that point, one might too quickly overemphasize Rothbard's influence or Hamowy's time spent that was doing postgraduate work in Europe. Hamowy is best understood as the product of a unique scholarly era in America that was heavily influenced by thinkers immersed in the continental style, many of whom arrived, directly or indirectly, from Europe to the United States from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The best of the scholars gravitated to three American universities: the New School for Social Research in New York City; the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana; and most importantly, a cluster of these scholars formed at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where Hamowy had done his doctoral work in the 1960s.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, often called New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

University of Notre Dame Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, United States

The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a private, non-profit Catholic research university in Notre Dame, Indiana. The main campus covers 1,261 acres (510 ha) in a suburban setting and it contains a number of recognizable landmarks, such as the Golden Dome, the Word of Life mural, the Notre Dame Stadium, and the Basilica. The school was founded on November 26, 1842, by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president.

South Bend, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

South Bend is a city in and the county seat of St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, on the St. Joseph River near its southernmost bend, from which it derives its name. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total of 101,168 residents; its Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 318,586 and Combined Statistical Area of 721,296. It is the fourth-largest city in Indiana, serving as the economic and cultural hub of Northern Indiana. The highly ranked University of Notre Dame is located just to the north in unincorporated Notre Dame, Indiana and is an integral contributor to the region's economy.

The continental émigrés who most directly influenced his intellectual development were Hans Kohn, Ludwig von Mises, and Hayek. That influence predated Hamowy's arrival in Chicago and began in New York City while he was an undergraduate.

He admired his City College intellectual history professor Kohn, who had arrived to America in the 1930s and later taught at City College for many years, beginning in the late 1940s. Indeed, it was Kohn who first interested him in intellectual history after he returned to New York City from Ithaca, New York, in 1956. At about the same time, he also began to attend open seminars and lectures offered by the outstanding Austrian economist Von Mises, who had also arrived to America in the 1940s.

Mises greatly influenced a generation of American thinkers in addition to Hamowy including Ralph Raico, Leonard Liggio, George Reisman, Israel Kirzner, and Rothbard. Hamowy first met Hayek when Hamowy arrived to Chicago in the fall of 1960 to do doctoral work under Hayek's supervision.

At the time, Hayek had been at the University of Chicago for ten years and remained there for another two years before he returned to Europe. Hayek had a substantial impact on the Committee on Social Thought and on Hamowy's intellectual development as a free market scholar.

Despite the breadth of Hamowy's political and social thought, there were streams of particular emphasis that were discernible to his students at Alberta and are emphasized in his scholarship.

One of the areas of emphasis and interest in his scholarship is the theory of "spontaneous order." That refers to the notion that important and complex social arrangements can arise through the spontaneous actions of countless individuals rather than from deliberate choice or central planning. Hamowy is considered an expert on the theory of spontaneous order.[ citation needed ]

Libertarianism

Hamowy's first brush with libertarianism was through George Reisman who was an early classmate. By the mid-1950s Hamowy was associated with Ralph Raico and Murray Rothbard.

The group of younger libertarians that formed around Rothbard in the 1950s began to call themselves the Circle Bastiat, so named after the French classical liberal Frédéric Bastiat. The group's core included Hamowy, Rothbard, Raico, Reisman, Leonard Liggio, and Robert Hessen. Regular meetings and all night discussions at Rothbard's Manhattan apartment were routine. The close association and friendship between Hamowy and Rothbard continued unabated until Rothbard's death in January 1995, at the age of 68.

After he arrived at the University of Chicago in the fall of 1960, one year after Raico, who had departed New York for Chicago the previous year, Hamowy was appointed book review editor of the seminal libertarian student publication, the New Individualist Review. Soon after he joined Raico as co‑Editor in Chief. The Review, though only a student publication, received important scholarly contributions from numerous famous scholars including future Nobel Prize winners Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, and Ronald Coase. In addition to his editing responsibilities, Hamowy engaged in a friendly debate in print with his doctoral supervisor Hayek, and a perhaps less friendly though entertaining rapportage with the conservative columnist William F. Buckley Jr.

He continued to make contributions to libertarian think tanks and journals throughout his career, including The Independent Institute, Institute for Humane Studies, The Cato Institute, Rampart College, the Journal of Libertarian Studies , and the Cato Journal .

During his years in Canada, he contributed to furthering the cause of the free society, particularly in Western Canada. He was published by the Fraser Institute and contributed to various student clubs and student seminars dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty and political freedom.

Publications

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References

  1. "Ronald Hamowy, RIP | Cato @ Liberty". Cato-at-liberty.org. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  2. "Ronald Hamowy, Fellow in Social Thought", Cato Institute. Accessed: March 14, 2012
  3. Cox, Stephen (9 September 2012). "Ronald Hamowy, R.I.P." Liberty.