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Fred,

Good catch. Happy Birthday Professor Kirzner.

These are the remarks I gave on the occasion of the SDAE awarding Professor Kirzner the Lifetime Achievement Award. He truly is an exceptional scholar/teacher/mentor.

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November 19, 2007

A Tribute to Israel M. Kirzner


It is a great honor for me to stand here before you tonight to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Israel M. Kirzner --- as an economist, as a teacher, and as a mentor to generations of young Austrian economists. When I was asked to do this my thoughts obviously turned to what I would say, what words I should choose. But only two words came to my mind --- integrity and dignity.

Israel’s life work in economics is defined by these words at the scholarly, professional, and personal levels. In his scholarship he never took intellectual shortcuts nor sneer at intellectual opponents. No, instead his work reflects a deep commitment to values of scholarship in economics and the most charitable reading of intellectual opponents one can provide. I have now been teaching for over 20 years and I have had the great fortune to hold appointments at schools such as GMU, NYU, LSE, Stanford, etc. and gotten to know and work with some truly outstanding scholars of economics and political economy. Very few individuals in those 20 years have taken the craft of teaching economics as seriously as Professor Kirzner. No shirking on his teaching duties --- whether to undergraduates or graduate students --- was permitted. Anyone involved with the NYU Colloquium will note how dedicated a reader Israel was of EVERY paper presented. His red pen marks covered each page and his questions and comments covered the back page --- week in and week out for close to 30 years. It didn’t matter if he was traveling the week before, or working to meet a deadline, he was always prepared. Professor Kirzner would always be prepared for his lectures. And finally, in his interactions with students, junior colleagues, and senior colleagues whether at summer seminars, interactions at the university, or at professional meetings, he treated everyone with respect and listened intently to their questions.

A few years ago, Princeton University held a conference to honor P. T. Bauer. During the conference there was a session that included Amartya Sen, Douglass North, James Buchanan, and Israel Kirzner. As Kirzner spoke I turned to Chris Coyne and I said, “You know among all the Austrians since Hayek, only Israel could hold his own with this crowd.” Chris agreed. We didn’t mean just at an intellectual level, but also the way that Kirzner carried himself, and practiced his craft. Even in retirement he set the standard that all the rest of us could only aspire to.

In his scholarship, in his teaching, in his organization of both the summer seminars and the weekly colloquium Kirzner served as the mentor to all of us who committed our careers to advancing a progressive research program in market process economics and scholarship in the tradition of the Austrian School of Economics. Israel’s long time colleagues at NYU have asked that I communicate their words on this occasion:

Dear Israel,

Regrettably, we are not able to join you and others on this memorable evening to celebrate your Lifetime Achievement Award. As the intellectual leader of the Austrian School of Economics, your contributions have profoundly changed the way economists around the world think about the market process. In building upon and especially in extending the insights of previous generations of Austrians, you have been a guiding light in educating scores of young scholars and in setting the highest standards of intellectual integrity, rigor and commitment. Over a long and productive career, your steadfast pursuit of knowledge has been undertaken with modesty and grace.

As long time members of the Austrian Colloquium at NYU, we thank you, in particular, for providing the guidance and inspiration in carrying forth Austrian Economics. Words cannot due justice to our deep respect and admiration for you and what you have accomplished. We thank you and congratulate you tonight on an award you so richly deserve.

Signed,

Mario Rizzo, David Harper, William Butos, Sanford Ikeda, Joseph Salerno, Roger Koppl, and Young Back Choi.

It is unthinkable that we would have this scholarly society without the contributions of Israel Kirzner. His Competition and Entrepreneurship was one of the pivotal works in the resurgence of the Austrian perspective, his Austrian Program at NYU served as the intellectual home to the tradition for the post-resurgence generation of Austrians, and the summer seminar he organized and directed provided an opportunity for likeminded and intellectual curious economists and social scientist to receive the formal exposure to the Austrian tradition that they were often denied in their traditional education.

Israel Kirzner --- scholar, teacher, mentor --- and the ideal example for all of us who hope to live the life of the mind in a meaningful, productive, and dignified manner --- it is a great privilege for me to give you this Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics.

I was priviled to join Israel Kirzer in 1994 - and I still profit from the ideas he presented. Mario&Peter: we also met at NYU - remember the Germman Research "Affiliate"?
All the best
Sven
sripsas@hwr-berlin.de

Better late than never.

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