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Human Action: The Scholar's Edition Paperback – November 29, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (November 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610161459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610161459
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. W. MacKenzie on July 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Human Action is one of the ten most insightful books on economics ever written. This is impressive, but even more impressive that Mises has more than one book on this list (in my opinion). Human Action is the most recent (hopefully not the last) great treatise on political economy. While some treatises compile the ideas of others, there are many original and important insights to this book. Perhaps the most important insight of this book concerns economic calculation. Mises sees economic calculation as the most fundamental problem in economics. The economic problem to Mises is that of action. We act to dispel feelings of uneasiness, but can only succeed in acting if we comprehend causal connections between the ends that we want to satisfy, and available means. Mises is drawing upon Menger's brilliant 1871 book here, but he has his own ideas as well. The fact that we live in a world of causality means that we face definite choices as to how we satisfy our ends. Human Action is an application of Human Reason to select the best means of satisfying ends. The reasoning mind evaluates and grades different options. This is economic calculation.

Economic calculation is common to all people. Mises insisted that the logical structure of human minds is the same for everybody. Of course, this is not to say that all minds are the same. We make different value judgments and posses different data, but logic is the same for all. Human reason and economic calculation have limitations, but Mises sees no alternative to economic calculation as a means of using scarce resources to improve our well being.

Human Action concerns dynamics. The opposite to action is not inaction. Rather, the opposite to action is contentment.
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Format: Paperback
HUMAN ACTION is the most important work of economic or social theory written in the twentieth century. It is also the most important defense of laissez faire capitalism ever written.

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was born in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. A prolific writer, he wrote two seminal works (SOCIALISM and THEORY OF MONEY AND CREDIT) before fleeing the Nazis. While living in Switzerland, he published an early version of this work in German in 1940. Over time, Mises added to it and rewrote it in English. Yale University Press published HUMAN ACTION in 1949.

This book isn't just a work of economics, but a full-orbed "science of human action." Starting from a few principles that Mises believed to be a priori, he deduces an entire body of economic theory. The first 200 pages of this 900-page work are heavily philosophical. I would not recommend readers skip this section. You can't understand what Mises was for unless you understand why he was for it. Mises' final work, THE ULTIMATE FOUNDATIONS OF ECONOMIC SCIENCE, deals with these methodological issues on a more elementary level.

HUMAN ACTION is a difficult work to read, particularly for those with minimal training in economics. Murray Rothbard's MAN, ECONOMY, AND STATE covers similar ground (at least as far as economics is concerned) but is more suitable for the beginner. Israel Kirzner has written the best introductory work on Mises.
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Format: Paperback
This new edition is, obviously, more affordable and portable than prior editions. This is helpful, as one can now take this classic book to read most anywhere. It is a long and complicated book, so finding enough time to read it is problematic.

Human Action is one of the ten most insightful books on economics ever written. This is impressive, but even more impressive that Mises has more than one book on this list (in my opinion). Human Action is the most recent (hopefully not the last) great treatise on political economy. While some treatises compile the ideas of others, there are many original and important insights to this book. Perhaps the most important insight of this book concerns economic calculation. Mises sees economic calculation as the most fundamental problem in economics. The economic problem to Mises is that of action. We act to dispel feelings of uneasiness, but can only succeed in acting if we comprehend causal connections between the ends that we want to satisfy, and available means. Mises is drawing upon Menger's brilliant 1871 book here, but he has his own ideas as well. The fact that we live in a world of causality means that we face definite choices as to how we satisfy our ends. Human Action is an application of Human Reason to select the best means of satisfying ends. The reasoning mind evaluates and grades different options. This is economic calculation.

Economic calculation is common to all people. Mises insisted that the logical structure of human minds is the same for everybody. Of course, this is not to say that all minds are the same. We make different value judgments and posses different data, but logic is the same for all.
Read more ›
11 Comments 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
There is no way I can say all that I want to say in this review. Murray Rothbard has aptly said: "Every once in a while the human race pauses in the job of botching its affairs and redeems itself by producing a noble work of the intellect. . . . To state that _Human Action_ is a `must' book is a greater understatement. This is the economic Bible of the civilized man."
I would take Rothbard's praise further. This is not only the single most important economic tome ever, but also the most pathbreaking, definitive exposition of praxeology, the correct basis for social sciences and also necessarily the foundation for epistemology. Only a few living economists of the "Austrian" school of economics seem to have truly absorbed the true praxeological methodology forged by Mises.
Mises' contribution to economics cannot be understated. In basing economics on the axiomatic status of action, Mises established the ultimate foundation for economic science. The fact that humans act -- that is, human beings *act* purposively to reach subjectively chosen ends -- is, of course, irrefutable (to argue against the axiom of action is itself an action). This, however, may seem like a trivial observation. Humans act, big deal? Why is it so important? Its importance is in praxeological economics' methodology deductive chains of reasoning to realize the implications. In understanding what is implied by action - values, ends, means, choice, cost, preference, profit, and loss - economic science can be deduced logically, so it is a purely an a priori science where economic laws tell describe apodictically true relationships in the real world.
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