A Treatise on Economics
LUDWIG VON MISES
LUDWIG VON MISES INSTITUTE
The Ludwig von Mises Institute gratefully dedicates this
restored Human Action to all its Members who aided in this
historic project, and in particular to the following Patrons:
Mark M. Adamo
Thomas K Armstrong
Richard B. Bleiberg
Dr. John Bratland
Jerome V Bmni
The Bwni Foundation
Sir John and Lady Dalhoff
John A. Halter
Mary and George Dewitt Jacob
The Kealiher Family
William Lowndes, 111
Ellice McDonald, Jr., CBE, and Rosa Laird McDonald, CBE
W i i m W. Massey, Jr.
Joseph Edward Paul Melville
Richard W. Pooley, MD
Gary G. Schlarbaum
Loronzo H. and Margaret C. Thornson
Quinten E. and Marian L. Ward
Keith S. Wood
The Ludwig von Mises Institute thanks Bettina Bien Greaves for permission to reissue
the first edition of Human Action.
Copyright O 1998 by Bettina Bien Greaves
Introduction Copyright O 1998 by The Ludwig von Mies Institute
Produced and published by The Ludwig von Mises Institute, 518 West Magnolia
Avenue, Auburn, Alabama 36832, (334) 844-2500; fax (334) 844-2583;
All rights reserved.
T O THE SCHOLAR'S EDITION
NCE in a great while, a book appears that both
dramatically extends centuries of accumulated wisdom in a
particular discipline, and, at the same time, radically challenges the
intellectual and political consensus of the day. Human Action by
(1881-1973) is such a book, and more: a comprehensive treatise on economic science that would lay the foundation
for a massive shift in intellectual opinion that is still working itself
out fifty years after publication. Not even such milestones in the
history of economic thought as Adam Smith's Wealth ofNations,
Alfred Marshall's Principles, Karl Marx's Capital, or John Maynard
Keynes's General The09 can be said to have such enduring significance and embody such persuasive power that today's students and
scholars, as much as those who read it when it first appeared, are
so fully drawn into the author's way of thinking. For this reason,
and others discussed below, this Scholar's Edition is the original
1949 magnum opus that represents such a critical turning point in
the history of ideas, reproduced (with a 1954 index produced by
Vernelia Crawford) for the fiftieth anniversary of its initial appearance.
When Human Action first appeared, its distinctive Austrian
SchooI approach was already considered a closed chapter in the
history of thought. First, its monetary and business cycle theory,
pioneered by Mises in 1912' and extended and applied in the 1920s
and 193O S , ~ been buried by the appearance of Keynes's General
1. T h e archives a t Yale University Press, Grove City College, and the
Ludwig von Mises Institute provided source material.
2. The Theory ofMonqand Credit, trans. by H.E. Batson (Indianapolis, Ind.:
Liberty Classics, [19 121 1980).
3. Essays can be found in On the Manipulation ofMonq and Credit, trans.
by Bettina Bien Greaves (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Free Market Books, 1978).
Theory, which gave a facile but appealing explanation of the lingering
global depression. Second, Mises's 1920 demonstration that a socialist
economy was incapable of rational economic calculation4sparked a
long debate in which the "market socialists" had been widely
perceived to be the eventual victors5 (in part because it became a
debate among Walrasians6).Third, and fatal for the theoretical core
of the Austrian School, was the displacement of its theory of price,
as originated by Carl Menger in 1871' and elaborated upon by Eugen
von Bohm-Bawerk, John Bates Clark, Philip H. Wicksteed, Frankk
Another strain had begun to
Fetter, and Herbert J. D a ~ e n ~ o r t . ~
develop along the lines spelled out by Menger's other student
Friedrich von Wieser, who followed the Walrasian path of developing price theory within the framework of general equilibrium.
Wieser was the primary influence on two members of the third
generation of the Austrian School, Hans Mayer and Joseph A.
Members of the fourth generation, including Oskar Lhlorgenstern,
Gottfi-ied von Haberler, Fritz Machlup, and Friedrich k von Hayek,
also tended to follow the Wieserian approach. T h e crucial influence on this generation had been Schurnpeter's treatise Das Wesen
und der Hauptinhalt dm Theoretischen Nationalokonomie, published in
4. Economic Cakulation in the Socialist Commonwealth, trans. by S. Adler
(Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, [I9201 1990).
5. Trygve J.B. Hoff, E c m i c Cahhtion in the Socialist Sociq, trans. by M A
Michael (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Press, [I9491 1981).
6. Murray N. Rothbard, "The End of Socialism and the Calculation
Debate Revisited," Review ofAustrian Economics, 5, no. 2 (1991), 51-76.
7. Carl Menger. Principles ofEconmics. trans. by James D i n p a l l N e w
York: New York University Press, [I8711 1976).
8. Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk, "Grundziige der Theorie des winschaftlichen
Giiterwertes," Jahrhiichw @ r Nationaliikonmie und Statistik 13 (1886), 1-82,
477-541; John Bates Clark, The Dirtribution of Wealth: A Theory of Wages,
Interest, and Profits (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, [I8991 1965); Philip H.
Wicksteed, The Alphabet ofEconmic Sense, Pt. I: Elements o the Theory o Value
or Worth (London: Macmillan, 1888); Frank A. Fetter, Eonomic Principler
(New York: T h e Century Co., 1915); Herbert J. Davenport, The Economics o
Enterprise (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, [I9131 1968).
9. T h e two economists for whom Schumpeter felt the "closest affinity"
were Walras and Wieser; see Fritz Machlup, "Joseph Schumpeter's
Economic Methodology," in idem., Methodology o Economics and Other Social
Sciences (New York: Academic Press, 1978), p. 462.
Introduction to the Scholar's Edition
1908."This bookwas a general treatment ofthe methodological and
theoretical issues of price theory from a Walrasian perspective. Apart
from Wieser's writings, it was the only "Austrian" workofpure theory
to appear prior to Mises's Nationalokonomie, the German-language
predecessor to Human Action. For the young economists studying
in Vienna, and despite criticisms by Bohrn-Bawerk, Schumpeter's
book became a guide to the future of the science. As Morgenstern said,
"the work was read avidly in Vienna even long after the First World
War, and its youthful freshness and vigor appealed to the young
students.... [Llike many others in my generation I resolved to read
everything Schumpeter had written and would ever write.""
After Bohm-Bawerk's death in 1914, no full-time faculty member
at the University of Vienna was working stricdy within a Mengerian
framework, while Mises's status as a Privatdozent diminished his
academic standing. Prior to the geographical dispersal of the school
in the mid-1930s,12moreover, none of the members of these latter
generations had achieved international recognition, particularly
among English-speaking economists, on the order of Bohm-Bawerk. After the retirement of Clark, Wicksteed, Fetter, and Davenport
from the debate on pure theory by 1920, the School's influence on
the mainstream of Anglo-American economics declined precipitously. This left the field of high theory, particularly in the United
States, completely open to a Marshallian ascendancy.
In Germany, the long night of domination by the anti-theoretical German Historical School was coming to an end, but the book
that reawakened the theoretical curiosityof German economistsafter
the First World War was Gustav Cassel's Theoretische Sozialokonomie,
which offered a verbal rendition of Walrasian price theory.13 In the
Romance countries of France and Italy, Mengerian price theory never
10. Schumpeter's translation of the title: The hTatzlre b m c e o Theoretical
Econumics(Munichand Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1908). This book coins
the phrase "methodological individualism."
11. SelectedEconomicWritingsofOskarMmgenstern,ed. Andrew Schotter (New
York: New York University Press, 1976), p. 196.
12. Earlene Craver, "The Emigration of ,4ustrian Economists," Histoly o
Political Economy, 18 (Spring 1987), 1-3 0.
13. Gustav Cassel, The Theory ofsocial Economy (2d ed. New York Harcourt,
Bracc and Company, 1932). As Mises wrote, "The decade-long neglect of
theoretical studies had led to the remarkable result that the German public
achieved a fr foothold and, by the 1920s, it had been shunted
aside by the Lausanne School and Marshallian-style neoclassicism.
By the rnid- 193Os, the Austrian School had melted away in Ausma as
more attractive prospects abroad or the looming National Socialist
threat drove the leading Austrian economists to emigrate to Great
Britain (Hayek), the United States (Machlup, Haberler, and LMorgenstern),and Switzerland (Mises). Hayek was well positioned to spark
a revival of Mengerian theory in Great Britain, but having been a
student of Wieser rather than ~ i i h m - ~ a w e r k , ' ~ saw the core of
economics as the "pure logic of choice," which could be represented
by the timeless equations of general equilibrium.15In the end,
Walrasian general equilibrium theory was imported into Great
Britain by John R. Hicks under Hayek's influence.'"
In addition, analytical deficiencies internal to the pre-Misesian
approach contributed to the sharp decline of the Austrian School
after the First World War. T h e Austrians themselves lacked the
analyucal wherewithal to demonstrate that the timeless and moneyless general equilibrium approach and the one-at-a-time Marshallian approach-the
analytical pyrotechnics of the 1930s
notwithstanding-are both plainly and profoundly irrelevant to a
must look to a foreigner, the Swede Gustav Cassel, for a principled explanation
of the problems of economic life." Ludwig von Mises, "Carl Menger and the
Austrian School of Economics," Azmian Economire An Antholo , ed. Bettina
Bien Greaves Qrvington-on-EIudsoi~, N.Y.: Foundation or Economic
Education, 1996), p. 52.
14. Hayek himself explicitly distinguished between "the two original
branches of the Austrian School," the Bohm-Bawerkian and the Wieserian,
and characterized himself as an adherent of the latter branch. See F.A. Hayek,
"Coping with Ignorance" in idem, Knowledge, Evolution, and Society (London:
Adam Smith Institute, 1983), pp. 17-18; and The Collected Works of F.A.
Hayek, vol. 4: The Fortunes o Liberalism: Ersays on Awwian Economics and the
Ideal of Freedom, ed. Peter
Klein (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1992), p. 157.
15. See F A Hayek, "Economics and Knowledge," in idem, Individmlljrn and
LGonmic Ordw (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, [I9481 1972),pp. 33-56.
16. See Bruna Ingrao and Giorgio Israel, The Invkible Hand: Economic
&ilibrium in the Hhory $Science (Boston: M I T Press, 1990), for a perceptive
description of Hayek's crucial role in the early development of the
Anglo-American version of general equilibrium theory (pp. 232-235). Hayek
himself regarded the analysis of value theory in Hick's Valueand Capital in terms
of marginal rates of substitution and indifference curves as "the ultimate
statement of more than a half a century's discussion in the tradition of the
Austrian School." The Fortunes of LiberalIjm, pp. 53-54.
Introduction to the Scholar-'sEdition
central problem of economic theory: explaining how monetary
exchange gives rise to the processes of economic calculation that are
essential to rational resource allocation in a dynamic world." Thus,
after a period of remarkable development and influence from 1871
to 1914, by the early 1930s the Austrian School was on the edge of
Mises was fully cognizant of this unfortunate state of affairs
when he emigrated to Switzerland in 1934. Ensconced at the
Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, for the first
time he could fully focus his attention on academic research. Mises
used this opportunity to write Nntionalokonmie, a book that intended to revive the Mengerian approach and elaborate it into a
complete and unified system. As evidence of the importance that
Mises attached to this book, and of the time and energy he poured
into it, he wrote very little else in the years leading up to its
publication in 1940. Previously an enormously prolific writer, the
extent of his output from 1934 to 1939 was comparatively meager:
in addition to book reviews, short memos, newspaper and magazine articles, notes, and introductions, there was only one substantial article for an academic audience.18
Retrospectively describing his purpose in writing XatimaZokonomie, Mises left no doubt that he sought to address the two burning
issues left unresolved by the founders of the Austrian School: the
status of the equilibrium construct and the bifurcation of monetary
and value theory. "I try in my treatise," Mises wrote, "to consider
the concept of static equilibrium as instrumental only and to make
use of this purely hypothetical abstraction only as a means of approaching an understanding of a continuously changing world.""
Regarding his effort to incorporate money into the older Austrian
theoretical system, - i s e s identified his immediate inspiration as his
17. See Joseph T. Salerno, "The Place of Human Action in the History of
Economic 'Thought," Quarterly3oumal ofAwtrian Economics, 2, no. I (1999).
18. See Bettina Bien Greaves and Robert W. McGee, comps., Mises: An
Annotated Biblio apby (Inington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic
Education, 1 9 6 , pp. 4 1 4 1 , for a listing of Mires's published and
unpublished writings in these years.
19. Y/Iv Contributions to Economic Theory," in Mises, Planning fur
Freedom and Sixteen Other fisays and Addruses (4th cd. South Holland, 111.:
Libertarian Press, 1980), pp. 2 3 0-23 1.
opponents in the socialist calculation debate of the 1930s. These
economic theorists, under the influence of the general equilibrium
approach, advocated the mathematical solution to the problem of
socialist calculation. As Mises argued: "They failed to see the very
first challenge: How can economic action that always consists of
preferring and setting aside, that is, of making unequal valuations,
be transformed into equal valuations, and the use of equations?'do
But without an adequate theory of monetary calculation, which
ultimately rests upon a unified theory of a money-exchange economy, Mises realized that there could be no definitive refutation of
the socialist position. Accordingly, Mises revealed: "LVationalokonomie finally afforded me the opportunity to present the problems
of economic calculation in their full significance.... I had merged
the theory of indirect exchange with that of direct exchange into
a coherent system of human a~tion."~'
Thus, Nationalb2onomie marked the culmination of the Austrian
theoretical approach, and, in a real sense, the rebirth of the
Austrian SchooI of economics. It was designed to play a decisive
role in reconstructing the whole of economic science in its moment
of crisis, including reformulating and unifylng price theory, monetary theory, and business cycle theory, and at the same time
establishing the correct methodological foundations of the social
sciences. Using this mighty architectonic of economic theory,
Mises formulated a radical and impermeable defense of laissezfaire policy conclusions that were distinctly unfashionable when
the book first appeared.
was uniquely prepared to undertake such a radical task
Beginning in 1912, during a long tenure as economic advisor
and chief economist of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, Mises
produced a steady stream of works in economic and political
theory. T h e publication of his first treatise, Theorie des Geldes und
20. Notes and Recolkctim, trans. by Hans F. Sennholz (South Holland, Ill.:
Libertarian Press, 1978), p. 112.
2 1. Ibid.
Introdzlttiim to the Scholar's Edition
der Umlaufmittel(19 12) was followed by Nation, Staat und Wirtschafi (19 19), Die Gemeinwirtschaf2 (1 922), Liberalismw (192 7),
Geldwertstabilisierzlngand Konjunktulpolitik (192 €9,Kritik des Interventionism~(1929), and Grundprobleme der Nationaliikonomie
(1933).*' Among the professional public, these works earned Mises a
reputation as a leading monetary theorist and defender of the gold
standard, and as an outstanding critic of socialism and proponent of
laissez-faire capitalism. In academia, he was also recognized as the
heir to the intellectual tradition of ~Menger Bohrn-Bawerk, and
a leading defender of the deductive method in the social sciences
against the claims of historicists. However, outside the circle of the
participants in his Privatsmina7; the ('Misq-Ki-eis,''j the philosophical
depth and systematic breadth of Mises's work was rarely acknowledged or recognized. Even his students and friends, who beginning
in 1920 met regularly every two weeks in his Chamber of Commerce office, had at best only an inkling of ,Wses's systematic
ambition. From book to book, they witnessed the appearance of the
successive building blocks of a Misesian system. But when Mises left
Vienna in 1934 to move to Geneva, even they could not have had
more than a vague notion of how to fit these pieces into a unified
whole. Mises was fifty-eight years old when Nationalbkonomie:
appeared. I t was Mises's
Theorie des Handelm and Wirts~haftens~~
crowning intellectual achievement and the sum of his scholarly
life. At long last, this book should have established him as the
foremost German-language economist and social theorist of his
22. The Theory $Money and Credit; Nation, State, and Economy, trans. by
Leland B. Yeager (New York: New York University Press, [I9191 1983);
Socialism: An Economic and SocioIopcalAm&sk,trans. by J. Kahane (Indianapolis,
Ind.: Liberty Classics, [I9221 1981); Liberah:In the CWTr*,
Ralph Raico (lrvmgton-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education,
[I9271 1985); "Monetary Stabilization and Cyclical Policy," in Mises, On the
Manipulation o Monq and Credit; A Critique of Internentionism, trans. by
Hans F. Sennholz (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, [I9291 1977);
EpistemologicalProblems o Economics, trans. by George Reisman (New York:
New York University Press, [I9331 1976).
23. Which included such outstanding scholars as Gotdried von Haberler,
F.A. Hayek, Felix Kaufmann, Fritz Machlup, Oskar Morgenstern, Paul N.
Rosenstein-Rodan, Alfred Schiitz, Richard von Strigl, and Erich VoegeIin.
24. (Munich: Philosophia Verlag, [I9401 1980).
Mises's masterwork, however, appeared in the midst of political and
personal crisis. After the Anscblzlss on March 12, 1938, Mises could
no longer travel to Austria. His apartment in Vienna had been
ransacked by National Socialists and his library and personal papers
c~nfiscated.~' June 1940, German troops had virtually encircled
Switzerland, and, urged by his wife, Mises decided to leave Geneva
and emigrate to the United States. "I could no longer bear," he
explained in his Erinnmngen written shortly after his arrival in New
York City on August 4, 1940, "to live in a country that regarded
my presence as a political burden and danger to its security."26
From the outset, the book was cut off almost completely from
the German market, and its Swiss publisher would become one of
the countless economic casualties of war. Meanwhile, almost all
members of the former Afises-kieis had likewise left Austria and
emigrated to other countries. In their new, foreign, and uncertain
environment, they paid little or no attention to it. Thus, Nationalokonomie remained virtually unread." What should have been a
moment of immense satisfaction and even triumph, a moment
which might have brought about a shift away from the growing
consensus, and even inoculated the profession against the positivist onslaught of later decades, became for LI/Iisesa moment of tragedy and likely the lowest
point in his career.
Nine more years would pass until, with the publication of
Human Action, Mises would reap some of the rewards that had
2 5. Long thou ht to be lost,the paperswere rediscoveredin 1991in a formerly
secret Soviet arckve in Moscow. The initial discoverers were two German
researchers assGc-a:ed -$iL$ a Gem-,n !, o ufiion
and Susanne Hein, DaszentraleStaatsarcbivin Moskau (Diisseldorf, Germany:
Hans-Blijckler-Stiftung, 1993). Following up on their workwere,two Austrian
historians Gerhard Jagschitz and Stefan Karner, Beuteakten aur Osterreicb: D m
Ostmeichbestand im W c h e n "Sondm-archiv" Moskau (Graz, Austria: Ludwig
26. I s e s ' s Erinnerclngen was published posthumously (Stuttgart, Germany:
Gustav Fischer, 1978), p. 88; translated as Notes and Recollections.
27. Only two members ofthe formerMises-fieisreviewed the book, Hayek
(Economic Journal, April 1941) and Walter Sulzbach (Journal of Social
Philosophy andJurisprudence, October 1941). Greaves and McGee, Mises: An
Annotated Bibliography, list only two other reviews, one by Hans Honegger in
a Swiss newspaper, and the other by Frank H. Knight (Economica, November
Introduction to the Scholar's Edition
escaped him in 1940.~'Yale University Press, headed by Eugene
Davidson, had published Mises's Omnipotent Government and Bureaucracy in 1944, on the recommendation of Henry Hazlitt, who
was then working for the New York Times as an editorial writer. The
success of these works prompted Davidson to send a note to Mises
in mid-November that would set the process in motion. Mises and
Davidson met on Monday, December 4, at the Roosevelt Hotel
for lunch, and made plans for a translation of Nationalokonornie,
under the working title Treatise in Economics. Davidson found the
idea enticing and solicited further opinions on the matter from a
variety of economists and public figures.
Hazlitt recommended immediate publication, as did John V.
Van Sickle of Vanderbilt University ("I hope you will decide on
publication"*^, Ray Bert Westerfield of Yale University ("a firstrate bookn3?,Hayek ("the general standard of the workis of a kind
that it will do credit to any University Pressn3'), Machlup (who,
with effusive praise for Mises, encouraged Davidson to ignore all
protests against publication; any book "out of sympathy with the
New Deal in economics" would be opposed by the same people'2).
Haberler, however, wrote, "It is a little embarrassing for me to
answer your question because Professor Mises is a good friend of
mine. Please do keep the contents of this letter strictly confidential.
The book you are considering for translation is a very big one. It
contains Professor Mises's life work in economics. It is well written
and interesting but I must say for my taste it is very extreme, and
I am pretty sure it will not be well accepted in academic quarters....
May I suggest that you ask Professor Knight of the University of
Chicago for his opinion?"33
28. As the result of the continued success of Human Action, forty years
after its initial publication Mises's Natimliikmumie was reprinted (Munich:
Philosophia, 1980). Unlike the original, the reprint received widespread
attention, includingreviews in the two leadin German language newspapers,
the Frankfirter All emeine Zeitung (by Wilhe m Seuss) and the Neue Zuercher
Zeimng (by Egon 'fuchtfeldt).
29. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, February 12,1945.
30. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, February 13, 1945.
31. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, March 3,1945.
32. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, February 22,1945.
3 3. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, January 23, 1945.
Yale then consulted Frank H. Knight, who wrote back that Mises
is "no doubt the last of the great Austrian or Viennese school, since
other members of comparable standing turned their scientific along
with their political coats, if they did not leave Ausaia and Germany,
and started work on new problems under new auspices.... It is my
impression-not based on adequate knowledgethat the author's
views on monetary and cycle problems are more important than those
on general theory." In an addendum,Knight says he in turn consulted
Oskar Lange (one of Mises's leading opponents in the socialist
calculation debate) who was "surely not more in favor of the project.
He thinks vonMises did some pioneering at one time in the monetary
field but that is old and long available in ~ n ~ l i s h . " addition, B.H.
Beckhart, a former student of Mises's teaching at Columbia University, wrote a terse reply to Davidson: "I doubt if Professor Mises's work
would have a sufficiently wide sale to justify its translation or publication. Professor Mises's theories are developed rather fully in his
works which have already appeared in English."35
Despite the protests, Yale's Committee on Publications voted to
approve the publication March 5, 1945, under the working title
National Economy, which would become Human Action just prior
to publication.36The publisher received the final manuscript on
October 1,1948.By the time the English-language version appeared,
circumstances were no longer conducive to an early renewal of the
Austrian School. ~ e a d e r s hin pure economic theory had passed
from Europe to the United States, in part because of the migration
of many Central European economiststo America. Marshallian price
theory in various forms had dominated the textbook literature and
undergraduate teaching in the United States since the 1920s, and this
dominance was strengthenedby the widespread interest in the doctrine
of imperfect competition in the journals. In addition, the general
equilibrium approach had secured a firm foothold in the United
34. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, January 29, 1945.
35. Private correspondence to Eugene Davidson, February 9,1945.
36. Mises suggested the following as possible titles: (1) Economics: A Treatise
on Human Artion, ( 2 ) Man and Reality: A Treatise on Human Action, (3) Means
and En&: A Tmtise on Eccmomics, (4) Man in the Pumit of a Better Life: A
Treatie on Economics, and (5) Human Action: A Treatzie on Economics. Next to
this final suggestion, Davidson wrote "I like this" but worried that it "doesn't
make the subject immediately clear."
Introduction to the Scholar's Edition
States economics profession with the publication of Paul Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis in 1947. 3 7
In the decades following the appearance of Human Action, it was
left to Mises's own students, who studied with him while he served as
an unsalaried professor at New York University from 1945-1969, to
take u p the task of developing, propagating, and extending Austrian
School theory. Preeminent among these students was Murray N.
Rothbard, whose Man, Economy, and State in 1962 ,j8America's Great
Depression in 1963, and a long series of theoretical and historical
prepared the groundwork for a full-scale revival of the
Austrian School in the 1970s (precipitated by F.A. Hayek's Nobel
Prize in 1974) and the 1980s.~ h e revival became firmly entrenched and internationalized4'in the 1990swith the establishment
of scholarlyjournals dedicated to advancingMisesian economics, and
a vast and continuing series of papers, conferences, books, teaching
seminars, and professional meetings."
UMAN ACTION Nationaliikonmie have the same overall
structure of seven parts, and the bulk of the English edition
consists of material directly translated from the German. However,
significant differences exist. Human Action is considerably longer,
and contains numerous additions to its predecessor. There are also
passages, sections, and chapters in Nationalakonomie which were
either omitted, shortened, or significantly altered in Human Action.
3 7. (New York: Atheneum,  1967).
38. (Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute [I9621 1993).
39. (New York: Richardson and Snyder, [I9631 1983); also, Power and
Market (Kansas City: Sheed bdrews and McMeel, 1970); The Lo ic ofAction
(Brookfield, Vt.: Edward Elgar, 19977); see David Gordon, bumzY N.
Rothbard: A Scholar In Defense of Freedom (Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises
40. Rothbard's efforts culminated in a monumental two-volume history of
economic thought, Economic Thou ht Before Adam Smith, vol. 1 and Classical
Economics, vol. 2 (Brookfield, Vt.: fidward Elgar, 199.5).
41. As further evidence, Human Actzon has been translated into Spanish,
French, Italian, Clunese, Portuguese,Japanese, and Rumanian.
42. For a sample of this output, see The Awtrian Economics Study Guide
(Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von fises Institute, 1998; and continuouslyupdated).
The most important addition in Human Ahon is Chapter V on
uncertainty. This chapter does not appear in its predecessor, nor is
its subject matter discussed elsewhere. Here, ,Mses further clarifies
his earlier epistemological investigations through the introduction of the categorical distinction between apodictic certainty (the
realm of praxeology), class probability (the realm of the natural
sciences), and case probability (the realm of history). Several
commentators have noted the similarity of Mises's distinction
between class probability and case probability and that between risk
and uncertainty introduced by Knight in Risk, Uncertaintyand Profit
Yet, it does not appear that Mises was influenced by
Knight in this regard. Mises had been long familiar with Knight's
work, and had already made reference to R s , Uncefiainty and
Profit in Nationalokonomie in conjunction with his discussion of
profit and uncertainty? Rather, it appears more likely that MisesS
Chapter VI was stimulated and influenced by his younger brother,
Richard von Mises (1883-1953). A professor of aerodynamics and
applied mathematics at Harvard University, Richard von Mises's
most outstanding theoretical achievement was his contribution,
from 1919 onward, to the frequency theory of probability.4s In
principle, Ludwig accepted Richard's frequency interpretation of
probability, but Ludwig provided a new definition of randomness,
and thus significantlyimproved on Richard's
Apart from the addition of Chapter VI, all other changes or
additions to Human Adon from its predecessor can be described as
non-substantial. Some material is reorganized,the discussion of some
subjects is expanded or further applications are provided, and there
are some changes in emphasis or perspective. Most reorganization
concerns the book's first philosophical parts, i.e., Chapters I and
1 .Thus, i