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Here’s my latest animation: How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis. If you enjoy it, social media sharing i

It’s customary in politics to tout a candidate’s experience in government. As a bystander, I’ve never been impress

Many years ago when my son was about three I was chatting about plans for his schooling.  I planned to send my son to p

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  • Pete Sisco‘s article Suppose I’m a Voter has a new comment 26 minutes ago

    VoterMeme
  • Ken Jons-un posted an update 33 minutes ago

    William Wallace was killed on August 23rd. Here’s his statement at trial:

    “I can not be a traitor, for I owe him no allegiance. He is not my Sovereign; he never received my homage; and whilst life is in this persecuted body, he never shall receive it. To the other points where of I am accused, I freely confess them all. As Governor of my country…[Read more]

  • Ken Jons-un posted an update 1 hour, 12 minutes ago

    мои дороги!

    [Read more]

    • I regard smuggling to be one of the noblest of professions. Those who take the risks of defying governments to supply goods desired by the citizens of a country their own government would deprive them of deserve every dollar (or ruble) they earn.

      Reminds me of something Mencken said:

      “Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is…[Read more]

    • Smuggling? We’ll look the other way for a cut…
      Fixing “MUH ROADS”???…. There needs to be an investigation!!!

  • Sheldon Richman‘s article Conceived in Tyranny has a new comment 2 hours, 22 minutes ago

    assassin039s-creed-iii-george-washington-king-george-washington-the-king-throne-chair-caron-flag-america-wallpaper-1If the American Revolution was in some large measure a tax rebellion, we should appreciate the bitter irony that the U.S. Constitution was in some large measure a reaction to a tax rebellion. It’s another reason [Read story]
    • Another excellent piece.

    • Good backgrounder, thanks!

    • True, but isn’t the constitution also a result of a need for a bill of rights and better protection of individual liberty? Obviously, they got the tax powers wrong in the constitution, but they also got many things right that were critical, no?

    • The weak central govt. under the “Articles…” was no threat and therefor required no BOR. The newly proposed anti-American Revolutionary Spirit constitution was an attempt to strengthen a central authority for exploitation. It had no chance for ratification. To make it palatable the objections had to be overcome, or smoothed over by political manipulation (false promises). It was recognized that words can used to persuade, in the moment, but are not a hinderance, not binding later, without sufficient means to hold violators accountable. And so, the “words” were added, e.g., The Declaration of Independence as a preamble (for it’s high esteem?), and the BoR.

      This worked. It got the added power sought, somewhat, but was limited by general public sentiment and the armaments to back them up. But this was just the beginning of the relentless advance of the politically ambitious, the financially motivated, to use this public trust, this public delegation of power, for personal gain. It was the beginning of the end of the American Dream.
      The means, delegation of power, did not match the goal of rights’ protection.

    • @persephonek, hope you’ll take a peek and lend your thoughts: https://bananas.liberty.me/judge-agrees-the-constitution-is-a-sham/

    • Great! Thanks Sheldon. And when the nationalists got their power it wasn’t long before Washington used it like a sledge hammer to quash the western-frontier farmers’ resistance to federal taxes levied on their production of whisky, aka, the Whiskey Rebellion.

      Here is a good article on that travesty: http://voluntaryist.com/forthcoming/whiskeyrebellion.html#.VujSatBNpys

    • But, Ned the Whiskey Tax was Alexander Hamilton’s idea, and I believe it was he who convinced Pres.Washington to lead the troops and “stand up” for America. He tried it, and it was a mess. But the actual value from the “centralizing” details of the Constitution are (1) interState free trade, and (2) uniform national monetary system. Those built America, not any of the subsequent follies of the Ruling Class.

      Sheldon, each of the State legislatures had begun to pass protective economic laws and regulations; a tariff existed to prompt the Annapolis convention in 1786. The Constitution itself outlawed States from “emit Bills of Credit” but is strangely silent about the Congress doing it, as Lincoln proceeded to do.

      But The Bank Act established interState competition in currency among private banks and their bank notes. The private bank notes could be deposited into a Bank of the US and within days the issuing bank would have to deliver some gold or silver. Sounds good to me. The private banks in the States were all “crony capitalist,” granted various privileges by State legislatures and preventing competition.

      The Mint Act just set up the Silver Dollar (a genuine object), which became the Unit of Accounting for the government. It is better than having 50 different government currencies, I think, like they did before the Constitution.

    • Joe, I know, I know. Hamilton was a scoundrel.

      “It is better than having 50 different government currencies, I think, like they did before the Constitution.”

      Huh. You don’t like competition? Surely some of the 50 would be better than frns.

    • It is not “competition” when the State legislatures were creating 50 different government mandated, “official monopoly” currencies, required for tax payments, etc. This is totally different from Hayek’s proposal for PRIVATE financial currency-credit obligations by private banks, which freely circulate in common territory. Is it “competition” when State governments carve out “territories” for local electricity and water monopolies? Is the prohibition of buying medical insurance across State lines promoting “competition” among the States? (Instead we get the Abominable Care Act as a “solution” to the State-cartel system of health insurances.)

    • Well, Joe, I don’t suppose state governments’ several “monopoly” monies would necessarily all be worse than the federal government’s monopoly money, whereby the dollar has lost between 95% and 99% of its purchasing power since the Fed came into being. I just presume that with 50 currencies to choose from several would be better than the one forced upon us, and chances are if one of the states offered gold-backed money and a balanced state budget its currency would find acceptance throughout the world and perhaps become the reserve currency of many nations, maybe even the U.S. if its citizens demanded it. The federal government doesn’t allow competition because its money stinks so bad no one would use it if one had a choice.

    • Competition in currency is what I advocate, but that was not what was happening at the time of the Constitutional ratification. Instead a single Unit of Accounting was made the official one for the government to use, in courts and in bureaucracy. It was the object, a lump of silver called “The Dollar Coin” and they measured the ones made in Mexico and circulating throughout the Caribbean and North America, carefully for weight and fineness, before spelling out in law what the new Mint Director should manufacture. Congress did not get around to making the Mint into a monopoly until about the 1850s.

      All governments should STOP creating money and the private market can use whatever Units of Accounting would be acceptable to people as media of payments. I predict none of them would be accepted as a “Store of Value.” I would like to see the Gram of Gold become the most common and standard Unit of Accounting for payments and assets in the future. See my short essay on that idea at http://www.JoeCobb.com

    • Joe, have you read Peter Bos’ book, THE ROAD TO FREEDOM AND THE DEMISE OF THE NATION STATE. In it he envisions what, at least to me, is a novel and compelling monetary “system,” which would evolve in the absence of nation states. It is a bit too complex for me to explain it here, but the book is well worth it for anyone who may think that government is a necessary evil. His well-reasoned conclusion: it isn’t necessary.

    • I had not known of that book, but thank you for informing me. I would agree with his conclusion, it is not necessary – indeed it is toxic. I am an advocate for a SINGLE monetary “concept,” which would be that we do our accounting for prices and assets using the Gram of Gold. A “unit of accounting” is needed for economic calculation, which Mises regarded as the genius of double-entry bookkeeping, but we should not let the government nor its central bank control that key detail of human trade.

    • Joe, I read your article and I’ll give you my critique:

      It relies on government to implement it. ‘Nuff said.

      I believe the fiat money system of the Fed will eventually fail, most likely through hyper inflation. With the failure of the dollar, the federal government as we know it will fail as well. The current government will not be able to fix its monetary problem, so both it and its system will have to go the way of the dodo. What will replace the monetary system? The free market, freed by the failure of government from most outside interference, will determine that, and the most brilliant economists can only speculate at best, because the absence of government as we know it is so revolutionary no one can see the outcome.

      I used to be a firm believer that gold was the only money that would survive in a truly free market, but recently such innovations as Bitcoin have raised doubt.

    • Bitcoin is a very interesting new device, but the Blockchain is the important structure it created, not the “bits” that make up the information chain. Naming them “bitcoins” was perhaps more of a gimmick; they are transferable documents of ownership of whatever is attached, which might be just the quantity of bitcoin. But you can attach the deed of your house to a Satoshi unit (10^-8) and you have something registered publicly and permanently, until you trade it to a new owner. This masterful invention supersedes all need for government centralized deed registries, etc.

      But the “bit” units are not a “Store of Value” in themselves. To make that work you need some common fungible factual, objective “thing” to attach to a Satoshi unit. I nominate the Gram of Gold .9999 and I am just proposing this in my “Modest Proposal” for government bonds in Kg.gold denominations and in my “Not-so-Modest Proposal” for a complete change in “constitutional coinage.”

      I would like to sell the entire hoard in Ft.Knox and the N.Y. Fed, et al. But “dumping” gold on the market is problematic. Thus the idea of making it enter circulation through the existing credit mechanism appealed to me. Think it over again.

      Consider the arguments about the impossibility of financial planning with “dollars.” This is a serious problem for every Baby Boomer now. Click on “Gold as a Parallel Currency.”

      It is one thing to be a philosophical anarchist, as you and I both are, but it is another – and more playfully interesting – to think of ways to hijack the current system into a more libertarian system. Step by step.

    • It is one thing to be a philosophical anarchist, as you and I both are, but it is another – and more playfully interesting – to think of ways to hijack the current system into a more libertarian system. Step by step.

      You may be right, but as you say, “playfully interesting…[and]…Step by step.” The “playful” description implies there is not much chance of the necessary steps being taken to hijack the current system, because, I presume, those steps would have to be taken under the current system and by the people who rule it. So I prefer to think of ways the current system can be toppled and replaced by the free market.

    • “Toppled” and “replaced by” are great sentiments, but since you and I would need quite a success in recruitment and/or persuasion to get there in today’s misinformed world of Sanders&Trump-applauding morons, I look at our quest this way: a long, hard slog against ignorance and the status quo.

      We were born into this authoritarian world. The best we can personally do in our life is to cut as many weeds and clear as much trash as possible. We can make changes, but “toppling” and “replacing by” are not a high probability, although a worthy goal.

      Adam Kokesh, who has now moved to Arizona and attended a recent monthly meeting of the Maricopa LP, in a recent interview said he “was working to minimize the State’s impact on my life” and I agree with him entirely. He is totally a Voluntarist and philosophical Anarchist, and so am I. But “to minimize the State’s impact on my life” means that in practical terms, I must be a “Minarchist” in your labeling system.

    • I’m not much on labeling anyone other than myself. I have referred to myself as “Voluntaryist,” “Disciple of Jesus,” ergo, “Pacifist,” “Alcoholic,” “Cyclist,” and after yesterday’s NCAA Wrestling Tournament on ESPN, “College Wrestling Fan.” Unfortunately, I sometimes do succumb to using the labels statist, socialist, and progressive to refer to the likes.

      Joe, I’m sure we agree on so much more than we disagree on that our argument might be described as trivial–and mostly fun. Thanks for engaging.

  • Ken Jons-un posted an update 2 hours, 35 minutes ago

    You might not call this very ethical today but the man surely saved a lot of lives at no cost to the patient (parents)!

    The Man Who Ran a Carnival Attraction That Saved Thousands of Premature Babies Wasn’t a Doctor at…[Read more]

    • “You might not call this very ethical today.”

      Good grief, what do you think ethical is? Complying with the law?

    • @saunders Law? No. And according to the story he would have been arrested if they’d checked his credentials. I was referring to displaying premature children as a side show. To each their own but its similar to people with deformities being put up in such shows.

    • The “sideshow” was no more unethical than it would be for a TV documentary to show an incubator ward today. And to think that it raised enough money to care for thousands of premature babies. Amazing!

    • @kenj

      Roger is right about the babies and no one ever forced the “people with deformities,” (they often referred to themselves as freaks and geeks) to be part of side shows. They chose it as a means of survival and income. Think of it as show business and compare the “freaks” who are called celebrities today. The deformities are mental but just…[Read more]

    • Guys, I wasn’t trying to define or defend ethics, just saying it might be a concern. The overall point of posting the article is that outside of the medical system all these lives were saved. And the gentleman was responsible for training actual AMA doctors.

  • Joe Withrow published a new article, Monetary History in Ten Minutes, on the site Journal of a Wayward Philosopher 2 hours, 40 minutes ago

    monetary historysubmitted by jwithrow. Click here to get the Journal of a Wayward Philosopher by Email Journal of a Wayward Philosopher Monetary History in Ten Minutes August 23, 2016 Hot Springs, VA “Money, moreover [Read story]
  • Ken Jons-un posted an update 2 hours, 42 minutes ago

    Apparently it takes socialist president Jacob Zuma telling it like it is for the Economist magazine to figure out what mob rule is.

  •   Note:  This article was originally published on my steemit.com blog.   Many of you reading this are already familiar with the theories regarding private justice in a free society.  Inevitably, whe [Read story]
  • Randall Chester Saunders‘s article A Priori has a new comment 3 hours, 36 minutes ago

    mobius2There is no such thing as a priori knowledge. The term, “a priori,” supposedly refers to knowledge that can be derived by reason alone without reference to any evidence. It is used in contrast to, “a [Read story]
    • You sure write substantial and interesting posts on a wide range of important topics. Thanks!

    • @rogerribuck

      Thank you, Roger. Much appreciated because it comes from you.

    • This should make an excellent target for rebuttal, as it is full of fallacies and misunderstanding.

    • @reece

      “This should make an excellent target for rebuttal, as it is full of fallacies and misunderstanding.”

      Give it a shot, Matthew. If I’ve misunderstood something or used fallacious arguments I want to know what they are, so I can correct them.

      Randy

    • I only skimmed the second half of the article, but I have one thing to object to. You stated that language is the only way we can know things. This is not true. You can have thought and knowledge without language, you just can’t have long-term memory. In fact it’s impossible to think in a language – when we think, we are really having a thought wordlessly and then saying it to ourselves imaginatorily so that we can remember it. Pay close attention sometime and you’ll realize I’m right.

    • May I give rebutting a shot? Not really me, but no less a genius than Ludwig von Mises as long ago as 1940. Here is how he debunked radical empiricism in his 1948 masterpiece, HUMAN ACTION. The following quotation is taken from pgs. 34ff of the Scholars Edition.

      “A fashionable tendency in contemporary philosophy is to deny the existence of any a priori knowledge. All human knowledge, it is contended, is derived from experience. This attitude can easily be understood as an excessive reaction against the extravagances of theology and a spurious philosophy of history and of nature. Metaphysicians were eager to discover by intuition moral precepts, the meaning of historical evolution, the properties of soul and matter, and the laws governing physical, chemical, and physiological events. Their volatile speculations manifested a blithe disregard for matter-of-fact knowledge. They were convinced that, without reference to experience, reason could explain all things and answer all questions.
      “The modern natural sciences owe their success to the method of observation and experiment. There is no doubt that empiricism and pragmatism are right as far as they merely describe the procedures of the natural sciences. But it is no less certain that they are entirely wrong in their endeavors to reject any kind of a priori knowledge and to characterize logic, mathematics, and praxeology either as empirical and experimental disciplines or as mere tautologies.
      “With regard to praxeology the errors of the philosophers are due to their complete ignorance of economics and very often to their shockingly insufficient knowledge of history. In the eyes of the philosopher the treatment of philosophical issues is a sublime and noble vocation which must not be put upon the low level of other gainful employments. The professor resents the fact that he derives an income from philosophizing; he is offended by the thought that he earns money like the artisan and the farm hand. Monetary matters are mean things, and the philosopher investigating the eminent problems of truth and absolute eternal values should not soil his mind by paying attention to problems of economics.
      The problem of whether there are or whether there are not a priori elements of thought–i.e., necessary and ineluctable intellectual conditions of thinking, anterior to any actual instance of conception and experience–must not be confused with the genetic problem of how man acquired his characteristically human mental ability. Man is descended from nonhuman ancestors who lacked this ability. These ancestors were endowed with some potentiality which in the course of ages of evolution converted them into reasonable beings. This transformation was achieved by the influence of a changing cosmic environment operating upon succeeding generations. Hence the empiricist concludes that the fundamental principles of reasoning are an outcome of experience and represent an adaptation of man to the conditions of his environment.
      “This idea leads, when consistently followed, to the further conclusion that there were between our prehuman ancestors and homo sapiens various intermediate stages. There were beings which, although not yet equipped with the human faculty of reason, were endowed with some rudimentary elements of ratiocination. Theirs was not yet a logical mind, but a prelogical (or rather imperfectly logical) mind. Their desultory and defective logical functions evolved step by step from the prelogical state toward the logical state. Reason, intellect, and logic are historical phenomena. There is a history of logic as there is a history of technology. Nothing suggests that logic as we know it is the last and final stage of intellectual evolution. Human logic is a historical phase between prehuman nonlogic on the one hand and superhuman logic on the other hand. Reason and mind, the human beings’ most efficacious equipment in their struggle for survival, are embedded in the continuous flow of zoological events. They are neither eternal nor unchangeable. They are transitory.
      Furthermore, there is no doubt that every human being repeats in his personal evolution not only the physiological metamorphosis from a simple cell into a highly complicated mammal organism but no less the spiritual metamorphosis from a purely vegetative and animal existence into a reasonable mind. This transformation is not completed in the prenatal life of the embryo, but only later when the newborn child step by step awakens to human consciousness. Thus every man in his early youth, starting from the depths of darkness, proceeds through various states of the mind’s logical structure.
      Then there is the case of the animals. We are fully aware of the unbridgeable gulf separating our reason from the reactive processes of their brains and nerves. But at the same time we divine that forces are desperately struggling in them toward the light of comprehension. They are like prisoners anxious to break out from the doom of eternal darkness and inescapable automatism. We feel with them because we ourselves are in a similar position: pressing in vain against the limitation of our intellectual apparatus, striving unavailingly after unattainable perfect cognition.
      “But the problem of the a priori is of a different character. It does not deal with the problem of how consciousness and reason have emerged. It refers to the essential and necessary character of the logical structure of the human mind.
      “The fundamental logical relations are not subject to proof or disproof. Every attempt to prove them must presuppose their validity. It is impossible to explain them to a being who would not possess them on his own account. Efforts to define them according to the rules of definition must fail. They are primary propositions antecedent to any nominal or real definition. They are ultimate unanalyzable categories. The human mind is utterly incapable of imagining logical categories at variance with them. No matter how they may appear to superhuman beings, they are for man inescapable and absolutely necessary. They are the indispensable prerequisite of perception, apperception, and experience.
      They are no less an indispensable prerequisite of memory. There is a tendency in the natural sciences to describe memory as an instance of a more general phenomenon. Every living organism conserves the effects of earlier stimulation, and the present state of inorganic matter is shaped by the effects of all the influences to which it was exposed in the past. The present state of the universe is the product of its past. We may, therefore, in a loose metaphorical sense, say that the geological structure of our globe conserves the memory of all earlier cosmic changes, and that a man’s body is the sedimentation of his ancestors’ and his own destinies and vicissitudes. But memory is something entirely different from the fact of the structural unity and continuity of cosmic evolution. It is a phenomenon of consciousness and as such conditioned by the logical a priori. Psychologists have been puzzled by the fact that man does not remember anything from the time of his existence as an embryo and as a suckling. Freud tried to explain this absence of recollection as brought about by suppression of undesired reminiscences. The truth is that there is nothing to be remembered of unconscious states. Animal automatism and unconscious response to physiological stimulations are neither for embryos and sucklings nor for adults material for remembrance. Only conscious states can be remembered.
      “The human mind is not a tabula rasa on which the external events write their own history. It is equipped with a set of tools for grasping reality. Man acquired these tools, i.e., the logical structure of his mind, in the course of his evolution from an amoeba to his present state. But these tools are logically prior to any experience.
      “Man is not only an animal totally subject to the stimuli unavoidably determining the circumstances of his life. He is also an acting being. And the category of action is logically antecedent to any concrete act.
      “The fact that man does not have the creative power to imagine categories at variance with the fundamental logical relations and with the principles of causality and teleology enjoins upon us what may be called methodological apriorism.
      “Everybody in his daily behavior again and again bears witness to the immutability and universality of the categories of thought and action. He who addresses fellow men, who wants to inform and convince them, who asks questions and answers other people’s questions, can proceed in this way only because he can appeal to something common to all men–namely, the logical structure of human reason. The idea that A could at the same time be non-A or that to prefer A to B could at the same time be to prefer B to A is simply inconceivable and absurd to a human mind. We are not in the position to comprehend any kind of prelogical or metalogical thinking. We cannot think of a world without causality and teleogy.
      “It does not matter for man whether or not beyond the sphere accessible [p. 36] to the human mind there are other spheres in which there is something categorially different from human thinking and acting. No knowledge from such spheres penetrates to the human mind. It is idle to ask whether things-in-themselves are different from what they appear to us, and whether there are worlds which we cannot divine and ideas which we cannot comprehend. These are problems beyond the scope of human cognition. Human knowledge is conditioned by the structure of the human mind. If it chooses human action as the subject matter of its inquiries, it cannot mean anything else than the categories of action which are proper to the human mind and are its projection into the external world of becoming and change. All the theorems of praxeology refer only to these categories of action and are valid only in the orbit of their operation. They do not pretend to convey any information about never dreamed of and unimaginable worlds and relations.
      “Thus praxeology is human in a double sense. It is human because it claims for its theorems, within the sphere precisely defined in the underlying assumptions, universal validity for all human action. It is human moreover because it deals only with human action and does not aspire to know anything about nonhuman–whether subhuman or superhuman–action.”

      Three other books that may help dissuade you of radical empiricism are these: Epistemological Problems of Economics by Mises; The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, by Mises, and, Economic Science and the Austrian Method, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe,.

    • “We cannot think of a world without causality and teleogy.”

      We do it all the time in our daily lives…it’s called the Halting problem…that is, for example,before you install or run a computer program or app on your system, can you determine(or write a program that can determine) if that app will cause your device/system to crash/freeze?

      No…there is no program, no logical deductive method to arrive at the answer. So how do humans deal with it? Heuristically…that is, by best practice.

    • dk, it appears to me that heruistics is utterly dependent on causality.

      The following is from Mises’ HUMAN ACTION, scholars’ edition, pp. 22-30, available in PDF and HTML at Mises.org. Evidently he anticipated and resolved your objection back in 1940″

      “Causality as a Requirement of Action

      Man is in a position to act because he has the ability to discover causal relations which determine change and becoming in the universe. Acting requires and presupposes the category of causality. Only a man who sees the world in the light of causality is fitted to act. In this sense we may say that causality is a category of action. The category means and ends presupposes the category cause and effect. In a world without causality and regularity of phenomena there would be no field for human reasoning and human action. Such a world would be a chaos in which man would be at a loss to find any orientation and guidance. Man is not even capable of imagining the conditions of such a chaotic universe.

      Where man does not see any causal relation, he cannot act. This statement is not reversible. Even when he knows the causal relation involved, man cannot act if he is not in a position to influence the cause.

      The archetype of causality research was: where and how must I interfere in order to divert the course of events from the way it would go in the absence of my interference in a direction which better suits my wishes? In this sense man raises the question: who or what is at the bottom of things? He searches for the regularity and the “law,” because he wants to interfere. Only later was this search more extensively interpreted by metaphysics as a search after the ultimate cause of being and existence. Centuries were needed to bring these exaggerated and extravagant ideas back again to the more modest question of where one must interfere or should one be able to interfere in order to attain this or that end.

      The treatment accorded to the problem of causality in the last decades has been, due to a confusion brought about by some eminent physicists, rather unsatisfactory. We may hope that this unpleasant chapter in the history of philosophy will be a warning to future philosophers. [p. 23]

      There are changes whose causes are, at least for the present time, unknown to us. Sometimes we succeed in acquiring a partial knowledge so that we are able to say: in 70 per cent of all cases A results in B, in the remaining cases in C, or even in D, E, F, and so on. In order to substitute for this fragmentary information more precise information it would be necessary to break up A into its elements. As long as this is not achieved, we must acquiesce in what is called a statistical law. But this does not affect the praxeological meaning of causality. Total or partial ignorance in some areas does not demolish the category of causality.

      The philosophical, epistemological, and metaphysical problems of causality and of imperfect induction are beyond the scope of praxeology. We must simply establish the fact that in order to act, man must know the causal relationship between events, processes, or states of affairs. And only as far as he knows this relationship, can his action attain the ends sought. We are fully aware that in asserting this we are moving in a circle. For the evidence that we have correctly perceived a causal relation is provided only by the fact that action guided by this knowledge results in the expected outcome. But we cannot avoid this vicious circular evidence precisely because causality is a category of action. And because it is such a category, praxeology cannot help bestowing some attention on this fundamental problem of philosophy.

      6. The Alter Ego

      If we are prepared to take the term causality in its broadest sense, teleology can be called a variety of causal inquiry. Final causes are first of all causes. The cause of an event is seen as an action or quasi-action aiming at some end.

      Both primitive man and the infant, in a naive anthropomorphic attitude, consider it quite plausible that every change and event is the outcome of the action of a being acting in the same way as they themselves do. They believe that animals, plants, mountains, rivers, and fountains, even stones and celestial bodies, are, like themselves, feeling, willing, and acting beings. Only at a later stage of cultural development does man renounce these animistic ideas and substitute the mechanistic world view for them. Mechanicalism proves to be so satisfactory a principle of conduct that people finally believe it capable of solving all the problems of thought and scientific research. Materialism and panphysicalism proclaim mechanicalism as the essence of all knowledge and the experimental and mathematical methods of the natural sciences as the sole scientific mode of thinking. [p. 24]

      All changes are to be comprehended as motions subject to the laws of mechanics.

      The champions of mechanicalism do not bother about the still unsolved problems of the logical and epistemological basis of the principles of causality and imperfect induction. In their eyes these principles are sound because they work. The fact that experiments in the laboratory bring about the results predicted by the theories and that machines in the factories run in the way predicted by technology proves, they say, the soundness of the methods and findings of modern natural science. Granted that science cannot give us truth–and who knows what truth really means?–at any rate it is certain that it works in leading us to success.

      But it is precisely when we accept this pragmatic point of view that the emptiness of the panphysicalist dogma becomes manifest. Science, as has been pointed out above, has not succeeded in solving the problems of the mind-body relations. The panphysicalists certainly cannot contend that the procedures they recommend have ever worked in the field of interhuman relations and of the social sciences. But it is beyond doubt that the principle according to which an Ego deals with every human being as if the other were a thinking and acting being like himself has evidenced its usefulness both in mundane life and in scientific research. It cannot be denied that it works.

      It is beyond doubt that the practice of considering fellow men as beings who think and act as I, the Ego, do has turned out well; on the other hand the prospect seems hopeless of getting a similar pragmatic verification for the postulate requiring them to be treated in the same manner as the objects of the natural sciences. The epistemological problems raised by the comprehension of other people’s behavior are no less intricate than those of causality and incomplete induction. It may be admitted that it is impossible to provide conclusive evidence for the propositions that my logic is the logic of all other people and by all means absolutely the only human logic and that the categories of my action are the categories of all other people’s action and by all means absolutely the categories of all human action. However, the pragmatist must remember that these propositions work both in practice and in science, and the positivist must not overlook the fact that in addressing his fellow men he presupposes –tacitly and implicitly– the intersubjective validity of logic and thereby the reality of the realm of the alter Ego’s thought and action, of his eminent human character [p. 25] 8.

      Thinking and acting are the specific human features of man. They are peculiar to all human beings. They are, beyond membership in the zoological species homo sapiens, the characteristic mark of man as man. It is not the scope of praxeology to investigate the relation of thinking and acting. For praxeology it is enough to establish the fact that there is only one logic that is intelligible to the human mind, and that there is only one mode of action which is human and comprehensible to the human mind. Whether there are or can be somewhere other beings–superhuman or subhuman–who think and act in a different way, is beyond the reach of the human mind. We must restrict our endeavors to the study of human action.

      This human action which is inextricably linked with human thought is conditioned by logical necessity. It is impossible for the human mind to conceive logical relations at variance with the logical structure of our mind. It is impossible for the human mind to conceive a mode of action whose categories would differ from the categories which determine our own actions.

      There are for man only two principles available for a mental grasp of reality, namely, those of teleology and causality. What cannot be brought under either of these categories is absolutely hidden to the human mind. An event not open to an interpretation by one of these two principles is for man inconceivable and mysterious. Change can be conceived as the outcome either of the operation of mechanistic causality or of purposeful behavior; for the human mind there is no third way available9. It is true, as has already been mentioned, that teleology can be viewed as a variety of causality. But the establishment of this fact does not annul the essential differences between the two categories.

      The panmechanistic world view is committed to a methodological monism; it acknowledges only mechanistic causality because it attributes to it alone any cognitive value or at least a higher cognitive value than teleology. This is a metaphysical superstition. Both principles of cognition–causality and teleology–are, owing to the limitations of human reason, imperfect and do not convey ultimate knowledge. Causality leads to a regressus in infinitum which reason can never exhaust. Teleology is found wanting as soon as the question is raised of what moves the prime mover. Either method stops short at an ultimate given which cannot be analyzed and interpreted. Reasoning and scientific inquiry can never bring full ease of mind, apodictic certainty, and perfect cognition of all things. He who seeks [p. 26] this must apply to faith and try to quiet his conscience by embracing a creed or a metaphysical doctrine.

      If we do not transcend the realm of reason and experience, we cannot help acknowledging that our fellow men act. We are not free to disregard this fact for the sake of a fashionable prepossession and an arbitrary opinion. Daily experience proves not only that the sole suitable method for studying the conditions of our nonhuman environment is provided by the category of causality; it proves no less convincingly that our fellow men are acting beings as we ourselves are. For the comprehension of action there is but one scheme of interpretation and analysis available, namely, that provided by the cognition and analysis of our own purposeful behavior.

      The problem of the study and analysis of other people’s action is in no way connected with the problem of the existence of a soul or of an immortal soul. As far as the objections of empiricism, behaviorism, and positivism are directed against any variety of the soul-theory, they are of no avail for our problem. The question we have to deal with is whether it is possible to grasp human action intellectually if one refuses to comprehend it as meaningful and purposeful behavior aiming at the attainment of definite ends. Behaviorism and positivism want to apply the methods of the empirical natural sciences to the reality of human action. They interpret it as a response to stimuli. But these stimuli themselves are not open to description by the methods of the natural sciences. Every attempt to describe them must refer to the meaning which acting men attach to them. We may call the offering of a commodity for sale a “stimulus.” But what is essential in such an offer and distinguishes it from other offers cannot be described without entering into the meaning which the acting parties attribute to the situation. No dialectical artifice can spirit away the fact that man is driven by the aim to attain certain ends. It is this purposeful behavior–viz., action–that is the subject matter of our science. We cannot approach our subject if we disregard the meaning which acting man attaches to the situation, i.e., the given state of affairs, and to his own behavior with regard to this situation.

      It is not appropriate for the physicist to search for final causes because there is no indication that the events which are the subject matter of physics are to be interpreted as the outcome of actions of a being, aiming at ends in a human way. Nor is it appropriate for the praxeologist to disregard the operation of the acting being’s volition and intention; they are undoubtedly given facts. If he were to disregard it, he would cease to study human action. Very often–but not always–the events concerned can be investigated both [p. 27] from the point of view of praxeology and from that of the natural sciences. But he who deals with the discharging of a firearm from the physical and chemical point of view is not a praxeologist. He neglects the very problems which the science of purposeful human behavior aims to clarify.

      On the Serviceableness of Instincts

      The proof of the fact that only two avenues of approach are available for human research, causality or teleology, is provided by the problems raised in reference to the serviceableness of instincts. There are types of behavior which on the one hand cannot be thoroughly interpreted with the causal methods of the natural sciences, but on the other hand cannot be considered as purposeful human action. In order to grasp such behavior we are forced to resort to a makeshift. We assign to it the character of a quasi-action; we speak of serviceable instincts.

      We observe two things: first the inherent tendency of a living organism to respond to a stimulus according to a regular pattern, and second the favorable effects of this kind of behavior for the strengthening or preservation of the organism’s vital forces. If we were in a position to interpret such behavior as the outcome of purposeful aiming at certain ends, we would call it action and deal with it according to the teleological methods of praxeology. But as we found no trace of a conscious mind behind this behavior, we suppose that an unknown factor–we call it instinct–was instrumental. We say that the instinct directs quasi-purposeful animal behavior and unconscious but nonetheless serviceable responses of human muscles and nerves. Yet, the mere fact that we hypostatize the unexplained element of this behavior as a force and call it instinct does not enlarge our knowledge. We must never forget that this word instinct is nothing but a landmark to indicate a point beyond which we are unable, up to the present at least, to carry our scientific scrutiny.

      Biology has succeeded in discovering a “natural,” i.e., mechanistic, explanation for many processes which in earlier days were attributed to the operation of instincts. Nonetheless many others have remained which cannot be interpreted as mechanical or chemical responses to mechanical or chemical stimuli. Animals display attitudes which cannot be comprehended otherwise than through the assumption that a directing factor was operative.

      The aim of behaviorism to study human action from without with the methods of animal psychology is illusory. As far as animal behavior goes beyond mere physiological processes like breathing and metabolism, it can only be investigated with the aid of the meaning-concepts developed by praxeology. The behaviorist approaches the [p. 28] object of his investigations with the human notions of purpose and success. He unwittingly applies to the subject matter of his studies the human concepts of serviceableness and perniciousness. He deceives himself in excluding all verbal reference to consciousness and aiming at ends. In fact his mind searches everywhere for ends and measures every attitude with the yardstick of a garbled notion of serviceableness. The science of human behavior–as far as it is not physiology–cannot abandon reference to meaning and purpose. It cannot learn anything from animal psychology and the observation of the unconscious reactions of newborn infants. It is, on the contrary, animal psychology and infant psychology which cannot renounce the aid afforded by the science of human action. Without praxeological categories we would be at a loss to conceive and to understand the behavior both of animals and of infants.

      The observation of the instinctive behavior of animals fills man with astonishment and raises questions which nobody can answer satisfactorily. Yet the fact that animals and even plants react in a quasi-purposeful way is neither more nor less miraculous than that man thinks and acts, that in the inorganic universe those functional correspondences prevail which physics describes, and that in the organic universe biological processes occur. All this is miraculous in the sense that it is an ultimate given for our searching mind.

      Such an ultimate given is also what we call animal instinct. Like the concepts of motion, force, life, and consciousness, the concept of instinct too is merely a term to signify an ultimate given. To be sure, it neither “explains” anything nor indicates a cause or an ultimate cause.

      The Absolute End

      In order to avoid any possible misinterpretation of the praxeological categories it seems expedient to emphasize a truism.

      Praxeology, like the historical sciences of human action, deals with purposeful human action. If it mentions ends, what it has in view is the ends at which acting men aim. If it speaks of meaning, it refers to the meaning which acting men attach to their actions.

      Praxeology and history are manifestations of the human mind and as such are conditioned by the intellectual abilities of mortal men. Praxeology and history do not pretend to know anything about the intentions of an absolute and objective mind, about an objective meaning inherent in the course of events and of historical evolution, and about the plans which God or Nature or Weltgeist or Manifest [p. 29] Destiny is trying to realize in directing the universe and human affairs. They have nothing in common with what is called philosophy of history. They do not, like the works of Hegel, Comte, Marx, and a host of other writers, claim to reveal information about the true, objective, and absolute meaning of life and history.11

      Vegetative Man

      Some philosophies advise men to seek as the ultimate end of conduct the complete renunciation of any action. They look upon life as an absolute evil full of pain, suffering, and anguish, and apodictically deny that any purposeful human effort can render it tolerable. Happiness can be attained only by complete extinction of consciousness, volition, and life. The only way toward bliss and salvation is to become perfectly passive, indifferent, and inert like the plants. The sovereign good is the abandonment of thinking and acting.

      Such is the essence of the teachings of various Indian philosophies, especially of Buddhism, and of Schopenhauer. Praxeology does not comment upon them. It is neutral with regard to all judgments of value and the choice of ultimate ends. Its task is not to approve or to disapprove, but to describe what is.

      The subject matter of praxeology is human action. It deals with acting man, not with man transformed into a plant and reduced to a merely vegetative existence. “

    • “May I give rebutting a shot?”

      Absolutely.

      “Not really me, but no less a genius than Ludwig von Mises as long ago as 1940.”

      I would actually prefer that it was you. I have very little regard for Mises.

      I am not a radical empiricist, by the way. If you want to know what I am my two brief articles on the Mind and Knowledge should explain it.

      Mises, being heavily influenced by Kant did not have a good grasp of philosophy. For example, from what you provided he wrote: “There is no doubt that empiricism and pragmatism are right as far as they merely describe the procedures of the natural sciences.” Empiricism and pragmatism are contradictory views, and science is only empirical in the sense that what it studies is physical existence which can only be identified and known by means of objective reason. Observation only provides the ground in science, all progress is made by means of reason.

      “With regard to praxeology the errors of the philosophers are due to their complete ignorance of economic ….” Economics is not a branch of philosophy. If anything, it is a complete ignorance of philosophy that is the reason for Mises’ absurd views.

      Mises is right about this: “Only conscious states can be remembered.” Human beings can only remember what they have been conscious of. All human knowledge derived consciously by the objective rational identification of reality is stored in memory. Where would knowledge derived some other way (e.g. a prior) be stored? Mises never noticed that contradiction.

      I will not address everything wrong with this, so just a couple more:

      “There were beings which, although not yet equipped with the human faculty of reason, were endowed with some rudimentary elements of ratiocination.” Ratiocination means, “Form judgments by a process of logic; reason.” One either is capable of reason or they are not. There is no intermediate state. A chimera comprised partly of instinct and partly of reason would essentially be insane. There is no evidence for any such “beings” ever existing, except in Mises imagination. See Instinct.

      It is very bad to attempt to resolve philosophical issues on the basis of any science, especially an incomplete one like evolution. “Furthermore, there is no doubt that every human being repeats in his personal evolution not only the physiological metamorphosis from a simple cell into a highly complicated mammal organism but no less the spiritual metamorphosis from a purely vegetative and animal existence into a reasonable mind. This transformation is not completed in the prenatal life of the embryo, but only later when the newborn child step by step awakens to human consciousness. Thus every man in his early youth, starting from the depths of darkness, proceeds through various states of the mind’s logical structure.” This is one of the repudiated ideas of evolution, that embryonic development of an organism repeats the evolutionary development of that same organism. If human beings evolved, they did not evolve from tadpoles. The idea was a bad one which scientist now know, apparently some economists do not.

      “But the problem of the a priori is of a different character. It does not deal with the problem of how consciousness and reason have emerged. It refers to the essential and necessary character of the logical structure of the human mind.” What, “logical structure,” of the mind? The mind has a structure but it has nothing to do with determining how it functions, only with how one must use it.

      “The idea that A could at the same time be non-A or that to prefer A to B could at the same time be to prefer B to A is simply inconceivable and absurd to a human mind. … We cannot think of a world without causality and teleology.”

      The foundations of formal logic, the law of identity (A is A), the law of non-contradiction, (A cannot also be non-A) and the law of the excluded middle (A must either be true or false) were discovered and formulated by philosophers (Aristotle). That they are true seems obvious once one has learned them, but the vast majority of people have always and continue to think in violation of those principles all the time. But Mises seems to think it is impossible for the human mind to work in violation of these principles.

      Since his, “praxeology,” is supposedly based on the impossibility of human thought violating the, “logical structure,” of the mind, how is it possible there are so many views of economics that contradict his own. If his own views are determined by the basic principles of logic, wouldn’t other theories have to violate them? But how could they violate the minds “logical structure?” Certainly he would not grant that all theories are equally logically valid. There is nothing about the human mind that determines how an individual will think. “Man does not have the creative power to imagine categories at variance with the fundamental logical relations and with the principles of causality and teleology …” is just not true. There is a whole school of philosophy that denies the teleological called existentialism, and almost all religions contradict basic logical principles in some of their teachings.

      Now you do not have to agree with me about any of these things, Ned. I’m not trying to convince you, only showing why I find Mises totally unconvincing.

      Feel free to criticize any of my views, but do me one favor. Do it in your own words using your own thinking. I agree with H.L. Mencken:

      “The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over 80 percent of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought.”

      I’m not interested in what any expert or authority wrote or thought. If I were, I could read them. I want to know what you think.

      Randy

    • @yujiri

      “You can have thought and knowledge without language.”

      Please explain that to me without using language. If you cannot explain it to someone else, how do you explain it to yourself?

      “Pay close attention sometime and you’ll realize I’m right.”

      I’ve been paying attention for over 60 years, and when you have, you’ll discover the only real thoughts you have are verbal. Feelings, imagination, impressions are not thought.

    • Randy…totally agree with your “logic and reasoning”…and your conclusion if what is “true”.

      A few minor elaborations in (…) on your last comment:

      “Objective reason is not easy (inside a subjective mind…where there are no rules and anything can be), and takes time and tremendously ruthless attention to insure, (by observation of physical nature, its absolute rule, and its demonstration by cause and effect, to “know” what can be, and what cannot) that none of one’s (subjective beliefs) are contradictory, and all conform to the (reality of nature).

      But then, why does it even matter if what you know is true?

      Sweet survival…only to point out, that would be physical survival by the way.

  • Jai Khemani posted an update in the group Free State Project 3 hours, 59 minutes ago

    Hey guys I am a fellow Libertarian. Feel free to check out my blog.

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  • Jai Khemani posted an update in the group Epistemology 4 hours, 3 minutes ago

    Hey guys I am fellow Libertarian. check out my blog.

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  • Jai Khemani posted an update 4 hours, 41 minutes ago

    For more articles feel free to check put my blog

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