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Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution

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Tags Philosophy and MethodologyPraxeology

01/01/1957Ludwig von Mises

Like Hayek, Mises moved beyond economics in his later years to address questions regarding the foundation of all social science. But unlike Hayek's attempts, Mises's writings on these matters have received less attention than they deserve. Theory and History, writes Rothbard in his introduction, "remains by far the most neglected masterwork of Mises.

Here Mises defends his all-important idea of methodological dualism: one approach to the hard sciences and another for the social sciences. He defends the epistemological status of economic proposition. He has his most extended analysis of those who want to claim that there is more than one logical structure by which we think about reality. He grapples with the problem of determinism and free will. And presents philosophy of history and historical research. Overall, this is a tremendously lucid defense of the fundamental Misesian approach to social philosophy.

It is Mises's great methodological work, explaining the basis of his approach to economics, and providing scintillating critiques of such fallacious alternatives as historicism, scientism, and Marxian dialectical materialism.... Austrian economics will never enjoy a genuine renaissance until economists read and absorb the vital lessons of this unfortunately neglected work.

Theory and History should be required for any student of 20th century ideas.

Author:

Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian school of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises's writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that he called praxeology.

References

Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1985 [1957].

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