Human Action: The Scholar's Edition

From Critiques Of Libertarianism
Jump to: navigation, search

Mises, Ludwig von. 2010. Human Action: The Scholar's Edition. Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Availability

Look up the TITLE using the links in the sidebar.

Search by TITLE:

Search by ISBN:

What is wrong with using Amazon? Browse with Amazon, but try to buy elsewhere. If you buy from Amazon, please donate towards unionization.

Description

(1940, originally) (The Scholar's Edition) Ludwig von Mises' enormous rant in favor of the pseudoscience of praxeology. A self-study course in convincing yourself you understand economics and all the academic and professional economists are mistaken.

From an anonymous Amazon review:

As shown by the reviews below, Human Action is the object of a libertarian cult, and regarded by some right-wingers as the greatest economic text of the 20th century (if not of all time). In reality, it's a mixed bag. Buried within the 800+ pages of text are worthwhile sections on entrepreneurship, monetary theory, inflation, and the business cycle. There's even an interesting section on monopoly, an issue that most right-wing economists gloss over. Unfortunately, to find these sections, the reader has to wade through hundreds of pages of repetitive, disorganized text, dubious historical asides, ponderous philosophizing, tirades against math (was Mises innumerate?), tirades against non-libertarian economists (was Mises jealous of their professional success?), and sheer nonsense.

One example of the latter is on pg. 314, where Mises rants that public education can't help the poor to get ahead in life because successful entrepreneurs learn their craft on the job and thus don't need schooling. (It's good to know that Harvard Business school grads aren't in demand in the marketplace.) There's more hilarity just eight pages later, where Mises argues that a ban on the advertising of quack medicines will lead to government regulation of religion and free speech. (Sure, that's what happened after the Food and Drug Act was passed.) And throughout the book Mises asserts that economics is an a priori science like logic or mathematics, as if markets or firms were concepts we analyze rather than things we find in the world. If Mises had thought of economics as an empirical discipline, about real-world institutions, he might have been inspired to do real empirical research. To judge by Human Action, he never did.

It's too bad that cranky stuff is found on almost every page of the book, since it undermines the force of the good sections (and makes the book twice as long as it needs to be). But the truth is that anyone with even an undergraduate knowledge of economics will have trouble taking seriously the whole Mises package. To my knowledge, Human Action isn't taught in any leading economics department in the country. Libertarians see this non-attention as a conspiracy to repress Mises' views. Just read a few sections of Human Action at random and you'll understand the real reason.

Links

Nothing in this index yet.

Quotations

There is, however, no such thing as natural law and a perennial standard of what is just and what is unjust. Nature is alien to the idea of right and wrong. “Thou shalt not kill” is certainly not part of natural law.
Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action: The Scholar's EditionHuman Action: The Scholar's Edition" p. 716.
The notion of right and wrong is a human device, a utilitarian precept designed to make social cooperation under the division of labor possible. All moral rules and human laws are means for the realization of definite ends. There is no method available for the appreciation of their goodness or badness other than to scrutinize their usefulness for the attainment of the ends chosen and aimed at
Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action: The Scholar's EditionHuman Action: The Scholar's Edition" p. 716.