Economy, Society, and History

1. The Nature of Man and the Human Condition: Language, Property, and Production

Economy Society and History
Hans-Hermann Hoppe

What condition does mankind find itself in? Language, property and production are elements unique to mankind. Humans are social animals. Cooperation is normal. Language permits direct communication. Animals can’t abstract in the way humans can. They can form sounds but not words. Animals cannot make inferences explicitly. Animals do not have what we call self-consciousness (reflection).

Men learn that some goods are immediately satisfying (consumer goods), but most things are only indirectly useful (producer goods). The concept of property begins with the self. Appropriating objects creates a unique relationship. Property is a natural idea. That man is a producer is the third unique element of man. Man adds to the endowment of the world. Man must transform nature by using brains and hands. He does not have specialized organs or instincts to survive. Only intelligent actions help him. Man creates substitute materials. Technology has been logically developed. This process took three logical stages: at first, the tools still had to be wielded by man; the machines in the second stage no longer needed the force of man; the third automaton stage makes man of minor importance.

Lecture 1 of 10 from Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Economy, Society, and History.