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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7856/an-early-hazlitt-book/

An Early Hazlitt book

February 29, 2008 by

Henry Hazlltt’s The Way to Will Power (1922) is darn near impossible to find, so we are grateful to Gil Guillory for giving us this PDF of the book. The scan is awful but that is not Gil’s fault. It is a mucky edition.

If I recall correctly, Hazlitt was later a bit embarrassed by this book, and it was never reprinted. I’m not sure he was right to embarrassed at all. I’ve not spent much time with it, but it seems like an effort to apply the Stoic system of ethics and virtue to modern life. Interestingly, he touches on Austrian themes, such as using the standard of preference to be what is actually demonstrated in action, as versus what is merely pondered and hoped for. Also he has a keen sense of understanding on the relationship between time and value. In fact, this book might have a subtitle along the lines of: “How to Lower Your Time Preference.” I don’t need to point out that it is super well written. So, have a look. I don’t think we will be printing this but it sure makes a nice online read.

Here are a few paragraphs that struck me, but the book is chock full of interesting things:

Moral courage is the rarest of all the rare things of this earth. The war has shown that millions have physical courage. Millions were willing to face rifle and cannon, bombardment, poison gas, liquid fire, and the bayonet; to trust themselves to flying machines thousands of feet in air, under the fire of anti-aircraft guns of enemy planes; to go into submarines, perhaps to meet a horrible death. But how many had the courage merely to make themselves unpopular? The bitter truth must be told: the many enlisted or submitted to the draft on both sides of the conflict not because they were convinced that they were helping to save the world, not because they had any real hatred for the enemy, not to uphold the right, but simply that they hadn’t the moral courage to face the stigma of “slacker” or “conscientious objector.” … Fear of death? No; the soldiers faced death bravely. But they feared unpopularity. the dreaded the suspicion of their fellows. What was needed in war is needed no less urgently in peace. How many persons in  public or even in private life have the courage to say the thing that people do not like to hear?…

What can it profit a man to be able to think if he does not dare to? One must have the courage to go where the mind leads, no matter how startling the conclusion, how shattering, how much it may hurt oneself or a particular class, no matter how unfashionable or how obnoxious it may at first seem. This may require the courage to stand against the whole world. Great is the man who has that courage, for he indeed has achieved will-power.

{ 5 comments }

Gil Guillory February 29, 2008 at 10:55 am

Some of my comments on this book can be found here:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/019388.html

Ricardo Flores February 29, 2008 at 9:02 pm

What about the book ” Thinking as Science”. is it hard to find?

Geoffrey Lea March 1, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Thinking as a Science was reprinted by Kessinger a couple years ago. It’s an interesting read, but like some of this book–as Jeff Tucker points out–Hazlitt came to repudiate later in life, especially the relative de-emphasis of reading compared to on-your-own critical thinking.

Sag March 5, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Gil,

What a great blog post on LRC. I noticed the same thing about Rothbard in Walter Block’s reminiscence. Thanks for the linking it all up. I want to read this Hazlitt book now.

Scott Lahti March 6, 2008 at 4:45 pm

No Way!

Way!

No blog post gives me greater pleasure to link than this one, as I see my dream dating from 1999 come to life at last.. Well done, lads.

Few reading the post, though, or the book it liberates into the online daylight after 86 years from the catacombs of utmost rarity, will know of the odd backstory of the book, unique in the vast Hazlitt archive, as chronicled vividly in Sheldon Richman’s note from 2004,

http://www.fee.org/pdf/the-freeman/richman1104.pdf

which came as catnip to this Henrician cultural historian and curator of two of the last surviving copies in private hands; happy I am Gil took my hint to heart:

http://bkmarcus.com/blog/2008/01/rothbard-on-hazlitt-on-keynes#comment-18741

Those hot to hit their local libraries for interlibrary loans, click here:

http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1903425&referer=brief_results

My work here is done [extends arms skyward, rockets off in whoosh toward next self-appointed Austro-bibliographical rescue mission]…

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