Wednesday , July 28 2021
Home / Peter Boettke /“At the end of the day I think I am a teacher” — Steve Horwitz (1964-2021)

“At the end of the day I think I am a teacher” — Steve Horwitz (1964-2021)

Summary:
My dear friend, co-author, partner in so many educational and scholarly efforts since the mid 1980s passed away early Sunday morning (June 27, 2021) after a long and courageous battle with an aggressive form of cancer that to be honest with you I never heard of before he told me he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  Steve was an optimist to the end, and he fought his disease with courage and curiosity (yes, he was fascinated by the science) that was awe-inspiring.  Obviously my heart is broken for the loss of my friend, but my deepest sympathy are for Sarah and the entire family.  A husband, a father, a brother, a son was taken from them way too soon.  Life is full of chapters, Steve had many chapters yet to be written in his personal life as well as his professional life. Cancer

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My dear friend, co-author, partner in so many educational and scholarly efforts since the mid 1980s passed away early Sunday morning (June 27, 2021) after a long and courageous battle with an aggressive form of cancer that to be honest with you I never heard of before he told me he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  Steve was an optimist to the end, and he fought his disease with courage and curiosity (yes, he was fascinated by the science) that was awe-inspiring.  Obviously my heart is broken for the loss of my friend, but my deepest sympathy are for Sarah and the entire family.  A husband, a father, a brother, a son was taken from them way too soon.  Life is full of chapters, Steve had many chapters yet to be written in his personal life as well as his professional life.

Cancer took our beloved professor Don Lavoie 20 years ago this fall, and cancer has impacted my own family and now taken my dear friend. Cancer is a horrible disease that takes too many from us too early.  Science has made much progress in treatment in my lifetime, but there is so much more that must be done.  Steve understood the intimate connection between science and progress, and a large part of his teaching and public intellectual work was in communicating to others how entrepreneurship and technological innovation resulting not only in producing more with less, but producing new and fascinating products and services that immensely improved the human condition.  For his work, Steve was justly awarded the Julian Simon Memorial Award in 2020.  

We had jointly met the great Julian Simon in 1994, and had a memorable day with him and especially a boat ride discussing ideas (Steve, Dave Prychitko and myself).  Julian, himself, was charming, optimistic, and a razor sharp mind -- Steve was a lot like him.  I know among Steve's many richly deserved awards for teaching and scholarship through his career, he very much cherished the Simon Award, as he should.  Here is an interview with Steve, as well as his award lecture, from September 30, 2020. My title comes from the interview as Steve is asked to describe himself.  When asked, I describe myself this way as well.  We didn't coordinate on that answer.  But Steve I think captures the reason why we both settled on that answer in a description of our teacher to Nathan Goodman (a freshly minded PhD from GMU, now moving on to NYU where he will join Mario Rizzo and David Harper), when Nathan was starting his serious study of economics and the work of Don Lavoie. "I am so very much a product of Don -- his ideas, , his temperament, and his interest in reaching out to the left -- that I cannot be objective about him and his work."  . It was not a derogatory term in our universe, never was.  Lavoie students are teacher/scholars.  In fact, we were taught we had a moral obligation to be dedicated and effective teachers.  Steve exemplified that. Always curious, always learning, always perfecting his craft.  Steve says of Don to Nathan, "not a week goes by in which something doesn't make me miss him." This now will be said of him by his numerous 'students', including me.

Yesterday as I was processing the news, despite my gnawing skepticism born of living a professional life within secular institutions, I was thinking wouldn't it be wonderful if Steve and Don were once again united in deep and meaningful conversation about methodology of the social sciences, the development of market process analysis, the central role of money in the operation of the market economy and more generally a free society, and the outer boundaries of the liberal society.  In my picture, Mises and Hayek, as well as Marx, Veblen and Keynes would be there with them. And the free and uncoerced discourse would roam widely and the mutual understanding of minds would emerge.  Of course, the Mises, Hayek, Lavoie and Horwitz perspective would more or less emerge as the consensus position of this free discourse.  But in my picture, after that conversation Steve would effortlessly and enthusiastically discuss with Neil Peart fine points of music and learn where the best concerts were at, and I don't know who he would find this out from but he would find the best places to eat as well.  Steve loved life, he loved his family, he loved his job, he loved the community of friends and life long learners he cultivated over the past decade on social media.  And, as Dave Prychitko put it, he loved laughter and celebrating humorous in the human experience.  And, those of us who knew him loved him deeply for all of this.

I will write more about Steve in the days to come, but for now, watch this interview  and listen to his lecture.  He truly was not just a teacher, but a GREAT teacher.  

Peter Boettke
Peter Joseph Boettke (January 3, 1960) is an American economist of the Austrian School. He is currently a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University; the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Vice President for Research, and Director of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU.

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