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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Human Action

I was browsing through a book on Budhhist philosophy the other day and found: "Human action has an aim. That which is aimed at is an object, i.e., that which is desired."

This Misesian style of analyzing action is common in the history of philosophy -- you can find it in Aristotle, in Kant, in Augustine, in Aquinas, and, apparently, in Buddhism. It is only those indoctrinated in the scientistic philosophy trendy at the moment who find Mises's approach quirky or idiosyncratic.

8 comments:

  1. I'm curious, which text of Buddhist philosophy were looking at? It is standard Buddhist philosophy of mind (in India and Tibet, at least) that most mental states and all actions have intentional structure (i.e., are object-directed)and that the object need not exist. One big debate was over whether or not one must account for intentionality in terms of structured internal representations (akara).

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  2. Buddhist Logic, Vol 2. The specific text was Indian.

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  3. That isn't what I find quirky. I find the insistence that he is using a-priori knowledge quirky. All the time he is using what are essentially emirical methods.

    The Austrian economists didn't just blindly know what the started with, and then deduce to the Austrian explanation of the business cycle. They worked from assumptions about agency that were initially created by a process of trial and error. They would not even have known about the business cycle were it not for the fact of empirical observation. There were plenty of fits and starts in the path to get to Austrian economics and there are sure to be more in the future.

    The methodologies used by Darwin are also very different than those used the physics. Given certain assumptions you can derive evolution as surely as any mathematical theorem. Yet Darwin didn't make a point about his theories somehow being a-priori. He realized that the assumptions needed to fit the reality, and that logical deduction alone was not enough.

    The very first problem I run up against when claiming to be of the Austrian camp is this nonsense about it not being empirical. If it isn't empirical than neither is the Theory of Natural Selection.

    BTW. Who's doing those Austrian computer models you spoke of.

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