Human Action: A Treatise on Economics

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics

In the foreword to Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Mises explains complex market phenomena as "the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could under the circumstances to attain various wants and ends and to avoid undesired consequences." It is individual choices in response to personal subjective value judgments that ultimately determine market phenomena—supply and demand, prices, the pattern of production, and even profits and losses. Although governments may presume to set "prices," it is individuals who, by their actions and choices through competitive bidding for money, products, and services, actually determine "prices". Thus, Mises presents economics—not as a study of material goods, services, and products—but as a study of human actions. He sees the science of human action, praxeology, as a science of reason and logic, which recognizes a regularity in the sequence and interrelationships among market phenomena. Mises defends the methodology of praxeology against the criticisms of Marxists, socialists, positivists, and mathematical statisticians.

Mises attributes the tremendous technological progress and the consequent increase in wealth and general welfare in the last two centuries to the introduction of liberal government policies based on free-market economic teachings, creating an economic and political environment which permits individuals to pursue their respective goals in freedom and peace. Mises also explains the futility and counter-productiveness of government attempts to regulate, control, and equalize all people's circumstances: "Men are born unequal and ... it is precisely their inequality that generates social cooperation and civilization."

Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) was the leading spokesman of the Austrian School of Economics throughout most of the twentieth century. He earned his doctorate in law and economics from the University of Vienna in 1906. In 1926, Mises founded the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research. From 1909 to 1934, he was an economist for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. Before the Anschluss, in 1934 Mises left for Geneva, where he was a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies until 1940, when he emigrated to New York City. From 1948 to 1969, he was a visiting professor at New York University.

Bettina Bien Greaves is a former resident scholar, trustee, and longtime staff member of the Foundation for Economic Education. She has written and lectured extensively on topics of free market economics. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Human Events, Reason, and The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. A student of Mises, Greaves has become an expert on his work in particular and that of the Austrian School of economics in general. She has translated several Mises monographs, compiled an annotated bibliography of his work, and edited collections of papers by Mises and other members of the Austrian School.

Title:Human Action: A Treatise on Economics
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780809297436
Format Type:

    Human Action: A Treatise on Economics Reviews

  • Paul

    One of the most important books of the 20th century, not yet as influential as it deserves to be.I was brought to this book in 2009 after a growing feeling of dissatisfaction with "expert" explanation...

  • Patrick Peterson

    This book is one of the greatest of the 20th century and will endure as a bright beacon of wisdom for centuries to come.I began this book in a curious, but still recommended fashion, in college. Becau...

  • Clif

    Ludwig von Mises is a major contributor to what is called the Austrian School of economics. Human Reason is his magnum opus, a thorough-going look at the way that the innate human desire to decrease u...

  • Brian Michels

    There cannot be a serious conversation about economics without Mise's. Human Action is the definition of Free Market and delivers the goods for a just economy while cutting down to size any alternati...

  • Kevin Cole

    I used to hate economics because I thought it related to nothing in my life. Certain others then began showing me, in flashes, that I was wrong. But it was Mises who not only showed, but--to my mind--...

  • Monica Perez

    The best work on economics ever written. If Mises had been an anarchist he'd have been perfect....

  • Ross

    Human Action is considered by many to be the definitive theoretical work for what is known as the Austrian school of economics. Reading it was 10 weeks of brain-stretching concentration, peppered libe...

  • Gary

    Von Mises was a psychopath. The evil Mises Foundation has an article actually saying that in Dicken's A Christmas foundation Carol Scrooge BEFORE his transformation had the right ideas....

  • David

    There are so many problems with this work. The fundamental is a rejection of empirical observations. He dismisses all attempts to understand Economics by looking at historical data or using mathematic...

  • Jacob Aitken

    All deductive systems are dangerous if formulated incorrectly. Their appeal lies in their power, and Mises’s system is powerful indeed. Mises advances Praxeology, an economic doctrine emerging from ...