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Author Barry Linetsky

Part 10: Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas, Unsplash.com)

The Unique Qualities of the Human Mind (10/20)

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

In his life-long search for truth in, and exposition of, economic science, Mises recognized that “it is not possible to question the real existence of matter, of physical objects and of the external world.” In building an inductive scientific basis for a science of human action (and for all human knowledge) – which Mises called praxeology (the logic of human action) – he recognized that humans are born with a unique evolved faculty, a capability of the human brain, which we colloquially call the mind, that allows for man’s conscious conduct and ability to influence to some extent the course of events.

“Mind or reason,” wrote Mises, “is contrasted with matter, the will with self-acting impulses, instincts, and physiological processes” (The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, 11), and is “equipped with a set of tools for grasping reality” (Human Action, Chpt. 2, Sec. 2, 35). These tools are part of the logical structure of the human mind, were acquired naturally over the long course of evolution, and are “logically prior to any experience” (ibid, 35). Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Part 4: Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas, Unsplash.com)

 

A Distinct Methodology for Human Action (4/20)

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

Unlike the method of discovery applied to the natural world that is governed by unchanging laws of nature that we seek to discover, the method of discovery is different when it comes to human action and the centrality of human action in the social sciences. The way one economist puts it is that “Actions are the field of phenomena which constitutes what we regard as the subject matter of the social sciences” (Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Economic Science and the Austrian Method, 35).

Nature is an endless succession of necessitated events, of cause and effect of entities that are incapable of seeking a specific goal or end. Wherever humans are involved, things are different because humans possess volitional consciousness, are goal-directed, and act purposefully in pursuit of self-chosen ends.

In this respect, human beings are not like billiard balls or the weather. Humans have the capacity to make choices and strive to achieve goals through self-initiated purposeful, goal-directed, action. At the same time, humans are constrained by, and have no escape from conforming to, the causal laws of nature that govern the universe, the same natural laws that are applicable to all entities. Read more