Theory and History
An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution
Автор(и) : Ludwig von Mises
Издател : Liberty Fund, Inc.
Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA
Година на издаване : 2005
ISBN : 978-0-86597-569-9 PB
Брой страници : 276
Език : английски
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Theory and History is primarily a critique of Karl Marx, his materialism, and his prediction of the inevitability of socialism. Marx attributes the creation of tools and machines, as well as the economic structure of society, to undefined “material productive forces;” Mises rejects this materialistic view; he points out that tools and machines are actually created by individuals acting on the basis of non-materialistic ideas.
This book discusses the theory of economics, i.e., the study of purposive human action, and with history, the record of the past actions of individuals. All actions are determined by ideas. Thoughts and ideas are “real things,” Mises writes. “Although intangible and immaterial, they are factors in bringing about changes in the realm, of tangible and material things.” Rather than rejecting the study of historical change as a “useless pastime,” Mises considers it of the utmost practical importance. “History looks backward into the past, but the lesson it teaches concerns things to come.” History opens the mind to an understanding of human nature, increases wisdom, and distinguishes civilized man from the barbarian. Moreover, historical knowledge is of the utmost importance in helping to anticipate and plan for the future.
"The keystone of Western civilization is the sphere of spontaneous action it secures to the individual. There have always been attempts to curb the individual’s initiative, but the power of the persecutors and inquisitors has not been absolute. It could not prevent the rise of Greek philosophy and its Roman offshoot or the development of modern science and philosophy. Driven by their inborn genius, pioneers have accomplished their work in spite of all hostility and opposition. The innovator did not have to wait for an invitation or an order from anybody. He could step forward of his own accord and defy traditional teachings. In the orbit of ideas the West has by and large always enjoyed the blessings of freedom."
Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (1881-1973) was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises’ writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science which Mises called “praxeology”. He taught at the University of Vienna and later at New York University. Mises wrote many works on two related economic themes: 1. monetary economics, inflation, and the role of government, and 2. the differences between government-controlled economies and free trade. His influential work on economic freedoms, their causes and consequences, brought him to highlight the interrelationships between economic and non-economic freedoms in societies, and the appropriate role for government.