September 3, 2012 at 1:25 am #17097mattmiglMember
I begin by quoting Dr. Herbener’s statement, in “Subjective Value and Market Prices”, concerning the axiom from which this science begins: “…this is an axiom, a self-evident proposition. And this is always a good thing to begin a deductive reasoning process with an axiom. SOMETHING WE CAN DEMONSTRATE IS TRUE.”
My questions: (A) Are you tying to demonstrate the axiom to be true? (B) Do you mean that what follows from the axiom can be demonstrated? If (A), then what follows below may be used as a proper objection.
Now any realist philosophy, claiming to be such, knows that a self-evident axiom cannot be demonstrated. See Aristotle Posterior Analytics. [72b18] and also primarily given in Metaphysics IV. 5, 1005a31-1005b8. St. Thomas Aquinas’s commentary on the above works by Aristotle gives further weight to the truth of indemonstrable axioms.
Once an attempt is made to demonstrate a self-evident axiom the principle of contradiction comes to the fore to demolish such an attempt.
These are suggested clarifications for the future teaching of Austrian economics. If I am wrong, please show me where I go astray. My purpose is to show the credibility of this school by giving crucial clarifications on the truth of axioms in philosophical reasoning.September 3, 2012 at 10:53 am #17098
Even a proposition that is self-evident, in the sense that the action axiom is, must be shown to be so. One way to do so involves an argument: the action axiom, persons act, must be assumed true in any attempt to demonstrate it false, therefore, it must be true. Alternatively, one could just start with the common sense claim that everyone knows action exists by their own experience.
Hans Hoppe advances the former:
David Gordon advances the latter:January 31, 2013 at 12:31 pm #17099negligible91Member
(Bumping up this thread because my question is a follow-up to Dr. Herbener’s response)
Although Dr. Gordon explains the axiom as a common sense claim that we know from experience, would he still say that economics starts off with reflective facts rather than observable ones like the natural sciences (here I am alluding to what you say in lecture 1) because we only bring meaning to action (action is purposeful; it applies a means to a given end, it is motivated by that end, etc.) by reflecting on it? I recently read Plato’s The Republic and I am reminded of a passage where Socrates in the dialogue explains that there is a difference between the seen and the understood. So in other words, we can see and observe action all around us, but because our reflection gives it meaning, the fact that human beings act would be considered a reflective one, not an observable one. Am I right in thinking this way about economics?February 1, 2013 at 8:41 am #17100
No one can understanding the meaning of human action by external observations. Empirical evidence is about activity, not meaning. For example, while I’m in Wal-Mart I see someone pick up a tube of toothpaste, put it in a cart, hand it to a clerk, who puts it in a bag, and so on. I interpret this activity as human action because I presume the someone I observe is a human person like me. So, I infer that this person has an end he is trying to achieve with this activity and that he is employing means to do so on the basis of assessments he has made in his mind about the value he perceives in different courses of action.
We don’t observe human action in others, we infer that the activity we observe others engaged in is human action and we interpret this activity according to the meaning of human action which we acquire, not by observing others, but by reflecting on our own human actions.February 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm #17101negligible91Member
Thanks as always!February 1, 2013 at 5:57 pm #17102miljacicMember
One of the main Indian religious texts, Bhagavad Gita, advocates as a high spiritual achievement the “action in inaction and inaction in action”, that is, action without regard for the result. If a human being would achieve this goal of acting not for any particular result but simply staying inside a flow of spontaneous movement, being aware in a normal human way but not at all caring and simply following “a spontaneous flow of inspiration” – would that be then “not a human action”?
Let me be a bit more precise… if such a human moves around doing things spontaneously, without regard of any conscious result, like whether he lives or dies. feels pleasure or pain, comfort or discomfort… and while doing that his natural/unconscious instincts (or some unaccountable metaphysical miracles) bring about a result of him actually putting some nearby food in his mouth and eating it automatically, without conscious regard of eating-to-stay-alive-or-avoid-hunger, would that than be “not a human action”?February 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm #17103
Mises addresses this in chapter one of Human Action:
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