Social Science and Natural Science by Ludwig von Mises Summarized by Tayyiba Mushtaq. Zhejiang University China. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)He was born on 29th Sep.1881 in Lemberg ( now Lvov) .Entering the University of Vienna at the turn of the century as a leftist interventionist, the young Mises discoveredPrinciples of Economics by Carl Menger, the founding work of the Austrian School of economics, and was quicklyconverted to the Austrian emphasis on individual action rather than unrealistic mechanistic equations as the unit ofeconomics analysis, and to the importance of a free-market economyHuman Action is the most important book on political economy you will ever own. It was (and remains) the mostcomprehensive, systematic, forthright, and powerful defense of the economics of liberty ever writtenEconomics does not allow any breaking up into special branches. It invariably deals with theinterconnectedness of all phenomena of acting and economizing. All economic facts mutually condition oneanother. Each of the various economic problems must be dealt with in the frame of a comprehensivesystem assigning its due place and weight to every aspect of human wants and desires. All monographsremain fragmentary if not integrated into a systematic treatment of the whole body of social and economicrelations.Economics deals with societys fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is themain and proper study of every citizen."Human Action
Part 1 The foundations of the modern social sciences were laid in the eighteenth century.Before eighteenth century the belief prevailed that in the field of human action no other criterion could be used than that of good and bad. In the eighteenth century the founders of Political Economy discovered regularity in the operation of the market.eg: a certain state of prices--This insight opened a new chapter in science Economic theory has for some time been a general theory of human action, of human choice and preference. HUMAN action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at ends and goals, is the ego’s meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person’s conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life. Action is not simply giving preference. Man also shows preference in situations in which things and events are unavoidable or are believed to be so. Thus a man may prefer sunshine to rain and may wish that the sun would (scatter) dispel the clouds. He who only wishes and hopes does not interfere actively with the course of events and with the shaping of his own destiny. But acting man chooses, determines, and tries to reach an end. Of two things both of which he cannot have together he selects one and gives up the other. Action therefore always involves both taking and renunciation (sacrificing)
Part 2The elements of social cognition( the act or process of knowing; perception) are abstract so to make them easier to visualize one has to use metaphorical (resemblance ,Simile, Compare) language. The writers like Lilienfeld overworked for it. Modern Mechanistic metaphor related with positivist view of social science.Positivism :a philosophical system founded by Auguste Comte, concerned with positive facts and phenomena. Positivism refers to a set of epistemological perspectives and philosophies of science which hold that the scientific method is the best approach to uncovering the processes by which both physical and human events occur. Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of western thought from the Ancient Greeks to the present day  the concept was developed in the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte.. Positivism asserts that the only authentic knowledge is that which is based on sense experience and positive verification . Epistemology• 1. A branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.• 2. Specialized the part of philosophy that is about the study of how we know things
Static Equilibrium• For the sake of grasping the consequences of change and the nature of profit in a market economy the economist constructs a fictitious system in which there is no change. Today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be like today. There is no uncertainty about the future, and activity therefore does not involve risk. But for the allowance to be made of interest, the sum of the prices of the complementary factors of production exactly equals the price of the product, which means there is no room left for profit. But this fictitious concept is not only unrealizable in actual life; it cannot even be consistently carried to its ultimate conclusions. The individuals in this fictitious world would not act, they would not have to make choices, they would just vegetate (to be passive or unthinking; to do nothing ). It is true that economics, exactly because it cannot make experiments, is bound to apply this and other fictitious concepts of a similar type. But its use should be restricted to the purposes which it is designed to serve. The purpose of the concept of static equilibrium is the study of the nature of the relations between costs and prices and thereby of profits. Outside of this it is inapplicable, and occupation with it vain.• Now all that mathematics can do in the field of economic studies is to describe static equilibrium. The equations and the indifference curves deal with a fictitious state of things, which never exists anywhere. What they afford is a mathematical expression of the definition of static equilibrium. Because mathematical economists start from the prejudice that economics has to be treated in mathematical terms they consider the study of static equilibrium as the whole of economics.• Occupation with static equilibrium is a misguided evasion .( an act or instance of escaping, avoiding, or shirking something: evasion of ones duty) of the study of the main economic problems.• The case is similar with the use of curves it is nothing more than a didactic (academic) means of rendering the theory graphic and hence more easily comprehensible.
Part 2• The mathematical economist is prone to consider the price either as a measurement of value or as equivalent to the commodity and In this sense we may say every transaction is for both parties a "bargain."
Part 3• Physicists do experiments to build up their thoery from the special to the more general ,from the concrete to the more abstract.• We have the knowledge of what goes on within acting men ,and the meaning attach to their actions.We know uneasiness is the ultimate incentive of changing conditions of human lives.• The radical difference between the social science and the natural science is –natural science possible is the power to experiment ,social science have the power to grasp or to comprehend the meaning of human action.• We have to distinguish the meaning of action :we conceive and we understand..We conceive the meaning of an action is the object of the theoretical science of human action by deductive system,which including economic science .We consider it as a purposeful endeavor to reach some goal ,and we do not regard the quality of the ends proposed and of the meanings applied.• Our experience of human action and social life is predicated on praxeological and ecnomic theory.The pure fact that set aside the epistemological question is open to different interpretations ,which elucidation by the theoretical insight.• Compare the technique of dealing with experience in the social science with that in the natural science is instructive.Social science verify the theory developed by an appeal to the fact.Natural science builds up theory in using experimentally established facts.• We have to inquire whether the special conditons of action which have implyed in our reasoning correspond to those we find in the segment of reality under consideration..
Part 4• We not only need to conceive the meaning of human action in theories , but also need to understand the meaning of human being.• In the specific method of historical research is understanding the meaning of action. Historian has two methods to establish facts: both by theoretical sciences and by the natural sciences. Furthermore, historian will study the individual and unique conditions of the case in question. But the specific understanding cannot be separated from the philosophy of the interpreter.• In the field of specific understanding, the degree of scientific objectivity can be reached in natural sciences, but cannot be reached in aprioristic sciences of logic and praxeology. History just can be rewritten. History cannot be representated in new way.• The author said that historical sciences are not purely rational, we may give an explanation of something irrational, but it should never be abused for the purpose.• It is not the task of history to reproduce the past. History is a representation of the past in terms of concepts. The specific concepts of historical research are type concept. Classification is valid in a logical sense if all the elements untied in one class are characterized by a common feature. Classes don’t exist actually, they are always a product of mind which in observing things discovers likenesses and differences. The same things have different classification. The understanding decides upon the classification, not the classification decides upon the understanding.• The type-concepts of historical or moral sciences ought not to be confused with the praxeological concept.
Part 5• There is a radical difference between the methods of social sciences and of natural sciences.• It is a fallacy to recommend to the social sciences the use of mathematics and to believe that they could in this way be made more “exact”. But it is different with praxeological propositions, these refer with all their exactitude and certainty to the reality of human action. Both the science of human action and human action itself have a common root——human reason.