A Great Scholar Leaves the Scene, but Leaves His Mark on It, Nonetheless

Aaron Director, one of the more influential and interesting intellectual figures of the twentieth century, has died. The Washington Post obituary (requires very simple registration) is pretty straightforward, but the University of Chicago obituary has more interesting quotes. That said, the Washington Post obituary contains his wonderful note to his sister, now Rose Friedman, before her wedding to Milton Friedman in 1938:

“Tell him I shall not hold his very strong New Deal leanings — authoritarian to use an abusive term — against him.”

Director was a great pioneer in the field of “law and economics” (often pronounced “lawn economics,” which brings to mind optimal fertilization of front yards), a discipline that has done a great deal to help us to understand the world. (Newcomers to the field could look to the work of Ronald Coase and of David Friedman for very useful introductions.)

I note that I can no longer refer to Ludwig von Mises as “the greatest Ukrainian economist” (Mises was born in Lwow, or Lvov, or Lviv, or Lemberg, in what used to be Galicia, a part of the Austrian Empire, and is now in Ukraine), since Director was born in 1901 in Charterisk, which was then a part of Russia and now is in Ukraine. It’s hard to know whether one was greater than the other; both were brilliant and both were great advocates of science and of freedom.