"Unlimited" "Act" Philosophy/Economics

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    The purpose of this post is to correctly respond to a request given to me by Dr. Woods in the email below. Directly below the Woods email request is my very unclear and philosophically composed attempt at a proper reply. I am unsatisfied with my current ability to to so! My question for this post is found therein. May my failed endeavor be scorned and rebuked ( with extreme background-radiation-like-rabble ) echoing from the corners of the now known Universe.

    Mr. Migl:

    In general, we prefer that questions be posed in the discussion forums rather than through this mechanism, which is primarily for problems with the site, queries from potential members, etc.

    Can you pose the question without the philosophical jargon?

    Tom Woods

    Dr. Woods,

    Philosophical problems are communicated in terms of philosophical language. Economics is no different on this fact. I am unfortunately not bright enough to invent my own jargon outside of the philosophical kind criticized earlier. Yet if I may so attempt to simplify the meaning, I would say: Does the axiom that unreceived act is unlimited, as stated in Thomistic metaphysics, have any relation to the unlimited character of the Free-Market in Austrian economics?

    Of course I am assuming that an understanding of the above mentioned Thomistic philosophy is within one’s repertoire. Forgive me if my assumption presumes too much. I am still trying to understand these things myself. Most likely I am trying to compare two lines of thinking which are actually on two different levels of being.

    As you requested in the last email, I will post this in the forum.

    Matthew MIgl


    As I understand it, the axiom that unreceived act is unlimited refers to the claim that one aspect of what it means for God to be infinite is that he exists as pure actuality lacking any potentiality. Therefore, He needs nothing to actualize His potential.

    I’ve never heard the phrase “unlimited character of the free market” before so I’m unsure what it means. By it clearly cannot mean that the free market is pure actuality since the free market is merely part of the nexus of voluntary interactions among human beings.

    Economists sometimes refer to the universal character of economic laws, but this refers to the conceptual meaning of human action and not actions themselves.


    Secunda Pars

    Aristotle and Aquinas walk along the streets of the Liberty Classroom Forum, with questions abounding as their conversation reduces itself to the terms “production”, “power”, “end”, and yes, “act”; similar terms which they are contemplating will be seen below. The philosopher and the Dr. of Angles seem to have mastered these terms when considering the subject’s ( here Aquinas ) productive powers, and related to the soul as its accidents. Both of these immortal thinkers have also stressed the fact that the subject ( Aquinas ) must be in act and distinguished from his own accidental productions, or operative powers, so to speak. Let us notice the latter as operations of “intellect” and “will”. Hence voluntary action between individuals and the ends they pursue are implied.

    We interlocutors are now witnessing Aquinas’s and Aristotle’s noble presentation of a very real metaphysic of human action. Yes, this is a very cursory overview which doesn’t do justice to their fuller treatment of the issue, but nevertheless points us into the realm of what they were thinking. At this point Aristotle and Aquinas ask one another “We both see the use of the terms “productive” or “production”, “power(s)”, “act”, “actuality”, “voluntary” or “free-will”, “end(s)” or “teleology”, all being employed within modern economics. We confess, the two exclaim, this science (economics) is one interesting system of thought, yet one which we unfortunately don’t posses at the moment. Our questions are simple:

    1) In everyday language, please relate how the common terms mentioned above are different, if in fact they are different, from the way we understand them. Are they being used equivocally, univocally, or analogically in comparison to our doctrine?

    2) Does your system of economics impact, or influence, our own ways of looking at human productive activities, which are voluntarily chosen interpersonal acts (activities) stemming from intellection, and presupposing the primary act of the human soul?

    Aquinas and Aristotle ask the economists to “please let us learn the differences between us, thus enabling our two lines of thought to gain a most profitable return from these interactions.” Aristotle “wishes”, while Aquinas “prays”, that any future collaboration may bring prosperity and truth to all interested parties.


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