I like the intro, and hopefully I can say the same for the entire book once I am finished.
The way I interpret the intro is almost of a critique to the current day liberty advocate.He claims that much of the writings on liberty have to do with appeals to emotion and Hayek understands why they appeal to emotion. The writings on liberty (in a libertarian or classical liberalist point of view) is often very powerful. In a sense, they get us ‘pumped up.’ Or as Hayek states, “[I]n writing about liberty the temptation to appeal to emotion is often irresistible (p. 6).” Nevertheless, Hayek wants to talk about liberty from a different point of view, specifically in a more intellectual point of view. The emotions on liberty might be desirable, and very well need be to nourish, but “…the strong instincts on which the struggle for liberty has always nourished itself are indispensable support, they are neither a safe guide nor a certain protection against error. The same noble sentiments have been mobilized in the service of greatly perverted aims. Still more important, the arguments that have undermined liberty belong mainly to the intellectual sphere, and we must therefore counter them… (p 6)”
I agree with this and what I think where Hayek was going with this was that the classical liberals/libertarians need to become more practical in what they want to see happen. Don’t get me wrong, it is all fun and games when I get together with libertarians and come up with hypothetical situations, like assuming a stateless society or assuming a completely non regulated free market, etc. and debating on what to do given specific issues, or what is the most libertarian thing to do (under the given hypothetical situation), but I only look at these talks as fun mind games. These hypothetical situations assume away much of reality. What Hayek offers here is a start of a way to think about liberty in a more practical, intellectual view. Of course, this is not to say that the emotional aspect is pointless, its not, but we have to take into consideration other aspects in what makes liberty a philosophy that society should strive for.
A side note: I have mentioned this but just to be clear, ‘liberty’ is meant in a general classical liberal point of view and is defined throughout the book as implied on page 7.