Contributions from Mature Scholars

27 April 2011 at 9:35 am 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

Following up my earlier post on Austrian longevity: Rafe Champion notes that Max Weber died suddenly of pneumonia, in 1920, at age 56. What important further contributions might he have made if he had lived longer?

This prompts the thought, what would have been lost if some long-lived Austrians [and fellow travelers] had died at 56? For Mises, that was 1937, before his masterwork was completed (later translated as Human Action) and before he was a living presence in the US.

For Hayek, that was 1954. No Constitution of Liberty and later works, no Nobel Prize.

For Popper, 1958, before The Logic of Scientific Discovery appeared in English and a dozen other books apart from The Open Society and The Poverty of Historicism.

Coase turned 56 in 1966, with several important contributions still to come: the 1970 paper on durable-goods monopoly, the 1974 paper on the lighthouse, and his recent papers on Fisher Body, not to mention the Nobel Prize and his crowning achievement, the 2002 CORI Lecture. What other examples come to mind?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Austrian Economics, New Institutional Economics, People.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Randy  |  27 April 2011 at 10:44 pm

    No Lord of the Rings…

  • 2. David Hoopes  |  28 April 2011 at 11:08 am

    Around turning 40 Shakespeare had a pretty sweet run:

    All’s Well That Ends Well
    King Lear
    Measure For Measure
    Antony and Cleopatra

    Dostoyevsky finished, “The Brothers Karamazov” when he was about 60 (probably my all time favorite novel–to hell with Nabokov). If he had died in prison in Siberia we would have missed his greatest works. Written after he was 40 and out of jail includes :
    Notes from Underground,
    Crime and Punishment,
    The Idiot,
    The Brothers Karamazov.

    I often wonder what Jimi Hendrix might have done had he lived longer. He was rumored to be beginning a collaboration with the great jazz arranger Gil Evans (worked with Miles Davis). Hendrix only recorded for three years and only put out three albums while alive (he was a perfectionist).

    The incredible blues guitarist Robert Johnson died when he was 27 leaving behind a few dozen recordings (big hero to Eric Clapton and Keith Richards).

  • 3. Dick Langlois  |  30 April 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I must say that I increasingly take solace in these tales of long life and late-age productivity. Doug North is 90 and Jim Buchanan is 91.

  • 4. Rafe Champion  |  30 April 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Jacques Barzun is 103 and still lucid!

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