Anthony de Jasay (1925 – 2019) – In Memoriam
All the members of the Austrian Economics Center and the Hayek Institut lament the recent death of Anthony de Jasay. With him, the classical liberal tradition has lost one of its most profound and original thinkers.
In the words of Gerard Radnitzky, Mr. de Jasay was “the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century because his oeuvre permits us to make decisive cognitive progress and for the first time to discern the essential features of an alternative to the modern state. In the intellectual field, very few have done more for the cause of liberty than de Jasay.”
A good friend of both the AEC and the Hayek Institut, Mr. de Jasay paid his last visit to Vienna in April 2013 when he gave a talk titled Philosophische Betrachtungen (Philosophical Considerations). There were plans to have him once more in 2017, but his failing health truncated the project.
Anthony de Jasay was born in Aba, Hungary, in 1925. (The original Hungarian spelling of his name is Jaszay). He was educated in Szekesfehervar and Budapest, taking a degree in Agriculture. In 1947-48, he worked as a freelance journalist. This activity would force him to flee from the country in 1948. After two years in Austria, he emigrated to Australia in 1950 and took a part-time course in Economics at the University of Western Australia. Winning a Hackett Studentship, he went to Oxford in 1955 and was elected a research fellow of Nuffield College where he stayed till 1962, publishing papers in the Economic Journal, the Journal of Political Economy, and other learned journals.
In 1962, he moved to Paris and worked there as a banker, first in an executive capacity and then on his own account till 1979, doing investment business in several European countries and the United States. In 1979, he retired to the coast of Normandy, where he passed away in 2019, leaving behind a wife and three children.
While his initial interest and training were in economics, he later turned to political philosophy, and his writings draw on both. He published five books, several of which have been translated into a total of six languages, as well as numerous articles, mainly in English but also in French and German. He is widely considered as one of the foremost liberal philosophers.
He also wrote a monthly column for the Library of Economics and Liberty between 2002 and 2018.