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4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Paperback, Feb 16 2010
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1128 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund Inc.; Slp edition (Feb. 16 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865976317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865976313
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 11.4 x 25.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #462,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was a preeminent philosopher and economist during the twentieth century. He shared an intellectual friendship with literary giant Ayn Rand, and his theorems and philosophies have continued to influence the careers and ideas of politicians and economists alike.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Human Action is a rare type of book. It is a system of ideas, not just in economics, but in philosophy, sociology, scientific methodology, psychology, ideology, and politics. It is also a controversial book. Its divisive nature reflects not only profound disagreements over the subjects that it inquires into, but also the authors confrontational style of argumentation.
This book is at odds with the current mainstream of academia mainly because of its first principles. Mises sought to understand social orders on the basis of individual human action. The individualistic approach of von Mises puts him at odds with most academics outside of the economics profession. Notions of a collective will or purpose and individual irrationality still have much credibility among sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and other academics outside of economics. It is at odds with what many economists do for different reasons. Human action means perceiving ones current condition, imagining a better state of affairs, and acting to attain this state. This he separates from animal reactions or reflexes. The authors own purpose here is to escape determinism and its consequences. Economists who rigidly insist upon casting all economics in systems of mathematical equations do so without realizing that they have accepted a deterministic straightjacket. Other academics tend to be on the same page with Mises, in his rejection of deterministic math modeling. Mainstream economists who criticize Mises on these grounds tend to do so for pathetic reasons having to do with the fallacy of style.
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Format: Hardcover
There is no way I can say all that I want to say in this review. Murray Rothbard has aptly said: "Every once in a while the human race pauses in the job of botching its affairs and redeems itself by producing a noble work of the intellect. . . . To state that _Human Action_ is a 'must' book is a greater understatement. This is the economic Bible of the civilized man."
I would take Rothbard's praise further. This is not only the single most important economic tome ever, but also the most pathbreaking, definitive exposition of praxeology, the correct basis for social sciences and also necessarily the foundation for epistemology. Only a few living economists of the "Austrian" school of economics seem to have truly absorbed the true praxeological methodology forged by Mises.
Mises' contribution to economics cannot be understated. In basing economics on the axiomatic status of action, Mises established the ultimate foundation for economic science. The fact that humans act -- that is, human beings *act* purposively to reach subjectively chosen ends -- is, of course, irrefutable (to argue against the axiom of action is itself an action). This, however, may seem like a trivial observation. Humans act, big deal? Why is it so important? Its importance is in praxeological economics' methodology deductive chains of reasoning to realize the implications. In understanding what is implied by action - values, ends, means, choice, cost, preference, profit, and loss - economic science can be deduced logically, so it is a purely an a priori science where economic laws tell describe apodictically true relationships in the real world.
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Format: Paperback
This work towers above the mediocore garbage that currently passes for economic writing. (As late as 1989, Samuelson could say with a straight face that the Soviet economy was more productive than ours!) This book can be traced directly to the Austrian School of Classical Liberalism that attempts to define economic activity in terms of human activity, wants and needs. This is in direct contradiction to modern "economic speak" in which it is a given that the State play a vital if not pervasive role in individual human economic activity.
Von Mises, Hayek and Menger (among others) were diametrically opposed to a "middle way" between statism (socialism/fascism) and capitalism for one simple reason: Statism, once introduced, becomes the dominant force and eventually wins the contest since in a centrally-run economy all economic decisions become political ones.
Von Mises struggled his whole life to develop general rules for economic activity. There was (and is) a gray area in which economic theory and economic reality coexist in an uneasy relationship. Despite von Mises assertion that economics was basically a theoretical science - as opposed to physics or chemistry where axioms could be physically proven - he continued to maintain that economics was a rational science based upon human needs.
It is this latter point that exalts his work. For perhaps the first time since Adam Smith he set about demonstrating that Capitalism is the economic system most conducive to human nature, how it makes the most sense from a "human" point of view of wants and needs and rewards and - most important - how it delivers the goods and affects material life.
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