Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evaluation

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Overview


Ludwig von Mises was the leading exponent of the Austrian School of economics throughout most of the twentieth century. He has long been regarded as a most knowledgeable and respected economist, even though his teachings were generally outside the “mainstream.”

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 ...

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Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evaluation

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Overview


Ludwig von Mises was the leading exponent of the Austrian School of economics throughout most of the twentieth century. He has long been regarded as a most knowledgeable and respected economist, even though his teachings were generally outside the “mainstream.”

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.

Though Theory and History may not be studied as often as other, more popular Mises works, it provides great insight into Mises’s fundamental thoughts and is a fascinating exploration of human action. 

Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) was the leading spokesman of the Austrian School of Economics throughout most of the twentieth century. He earned his doctorate in law and economics from the University of Vienna in 1906. In 1926, Mises founded the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research. From 1909 to 1934, he was an economist for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. Before the Anschluss, in 1934 Mises left for Geneva, where he was a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies until 1940, when he emigrated to New York City. From 1948 to 1969, he was a visiting professor at New York University.

Bettina Bien Greaves is a former resident scholar, trustee, and longtime staff member of the Foundation for Economic Education. She has written and lectured extensively on topics of free market economics. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Human Events, Reason, and The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. A student of Mises, Greaves has become an expert on his work in particular and that of the Austrian School of economics in general. She has translated several Mises monographs, compiled an annotated bibliography of his work, and edited collections of papers by Mises and other members of the Austrian School.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865975699
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Series: Lib Works Ludwig Von Mises CL
  • Pages: 281
  • Sales rank: 1,024,506
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents


Editor’s Note xi

Introduction 1
1 Methodological Dualism 1
2 Economics and Metaphysics 2
3 Regularity and Prediction 3
4 The Concept of the Laws of Nature 4
5 The Limitations of Human Knowledge 5
6 Regularity and Choosing 6
7 Means and Ends 8

Part 1 Value 11

Chapter 1 Judgments of Value 13
1 Judgments of Value and Propositions of Existence 13
2 Valuation and Action 14
3 The Subjectivity of Valuation 15
4 The Logical and Syntactical Structure of Judgments of Value 16

Chapter 2 Knowledge and Value 18
1 The Bias Doctrine 18
2 Common Weal versus Special Interests 19
3 Economics and Value 22
4 Bias and Intolerance 23

Chapter 3 The Quest for Absolute Values 24
1 The Issue 24
2 Conflicts within Society 25
3 A Remark on the Alleged Medieval Unanimity 29
4 The Idea of Natural Law 30
5 Revelation 33
6 Atheistic Intuition 34
7 The Idea of Justice 34
8 The Utilitarian Doctrine Restated 37
9 On Aesthetic Values 41
10 The Historical Significance of the Quest for Absolute Values 42

Chapter 4 The Negation of Valuation 46

Part 2 Determinism and Materialism 47

Chapter 5 Determinism and Its Critics 49
1 Determinism 49
2 The Negation of Ideological Factors 50
3 The Free-Will Controversy 51
4 Foreordination and Fatalism 53
5 Determinism and Penology 55
6 Determinism and Statistics 56
7 The Autonomy of the Sciences of Human Action 61

Chapter 6 Materialism 63
1 Two Varieties of Materialism 63
2 The Secretion Analogy 65
3 The Political Implications of Materialism 66

Chapter 7 Dialectical Materialism 69
1 Dialectics and Marxism 69
2 The Material Productive Forces 72
3 The Class Struggle 75
4 The Ideological Impregnation of Thought 82
5 The Conflict of Ideologies 87
6 Ideas and Interests 89
7 The Class Interests of the Bourgeoisie 95
8 The Critics of Marxism 98
9 Marxian Materialism and Socialism 103

Chapter 8 Philosophy of History 106
1 The Theme of History 106
2 The Theme of the Philosophy of History 108
3 The Difference between the Point of View of History and That of Philosophy of History 110
4 Philosophy of History and the Idea of God 113
5 Activistic Determinism and Fatalistic Determinism 117

Part 3 Epistemological Problems of History 121

Chapter 9 The Concept of Historical Individuality 123
1 The Ultimate Given of History 123
2 The Role of the Individual in History 124
3 The Chimera of the Group Mind 126
4 Planning History 131

Chapter 10 Historicism 133
1 The Meaning of Historicism 133
2 The Rejection of Economics 137
3 The Quest for Laws of Historical Change 141
4 Historicist Relativism 143
5 Dissolving History 146
6 Undoing History 151
7 Undoing Economic History 156

Chapter 11 The Challenge of Scientism 160
1 Positivism and Behaviorism 160
2 The Collectivist Dogma 166
3 The Concept of the Social Sciences 170
4 The Nature of Mass Phenomena 172

Chapter 12 Psychology and Thymology 176
1 Naturalistic Psychology and Thymology 176
2 Thymology and Praxeology 180
3 Thymology as a Historical Discipline 181
4 History and Fiction 182
5 Rationalization 186
6 Introspection 187

Chapter 13 Meaning and Use of the Study of History 189
1 The Why of History 189
2 The Historical Situation 190
3 History of the Remote Past 191
4 Falsifying History 193
5 History and Humanism 194
6 History and the Rise of Aggressive Nationalism 196
7 History and Judgments of Value 197

Chapter 14 The Epistemological Features of History 201
1 Prediction in the Natural Sciences 201
2 History and Prediction 202
3 The Specific Understanding of History 205
4 Thymological Experience 207
5 Real Types and Ideal Types 209

Part 4 The Course of History 213

Chapter 15 Philosophical Interpretations of History 215
1 Philosophies of History and Philosophical Interpretations of History 215
2 Environmentalism 216
3 The Egalitarians’ Interpretation of History 217
4 The Racial Interpretation of History 220
5 The Secularism of Western Civilization 224
6 The Rejection of Capitalism by Antisecularism 226

Chapter 16 Present-Day Trends and the Future 230
1 The Reversal of the Trend toward Freedom 230
2 The Rise of the Ideology of Equality in Wealth and Income 232
3 The Chimera of a Perfect State of Mankind 239
4 The Alleged Unbroken Trend toward Progress 243
5 The Suppression of “Economic” Freedom 245
6 The Uncertainty of the Future 250

Index 251

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