Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Concrete experience, not argumentation, is the source of philosophical truth

I have said this before: If someone, by some train of argument, seems to prove that the tree right in front of you is not really there, you do not necessarily need to become entangled in this fallacious, complicated argument: the best answer is often, "But there it is!"

Eric Voegelin makes what I understand to be the same point here:

"We should also note the change of meaning in the term Revelation: from the irruption of transcendental reality in religious experience and its expression in symbols (of which the meaning must be regained through faith concretely by every believer) into a body of propo­sitions of which the meaning is not to be recovered by faith but to be examined critically by Reason.

"In brief: with this change we are in the jungle of enlightenment jargon in which discussion becomes impossible because the terms are no longer rooted in the concreteness of experience."


  1. I am afraid this is unrelated to your post, but I hope you might be charitable enough to answer a quick question for me.

    I have been reading the relevant section of your book Economics for Real People as part of some readings on clarifying Austrian price theory.

    You say:

    “The market process will tend to establish a price that clears the market: all sellers willing to sell at the market price will be able to do so, and all buyers willing to buy at that price will also be able to do so. …. If these dynamics of supply and demand change, the market process will adjust the price to the new realities.” (Callahan 2004: 76).

    In your understanding of it, is it fair to say that (1) Austrian economists would say that the equilibration of a market economy that is not significantly hampered by government price controls or regulation or trade unions -- even though agents have imperfect knowledge and make mistakes and most prices are false disequilibrium prices -- nevertheless involves a strong *tendency* for prices to move towards their market clearing levels, -- even if the economy never reaches a general equilibrium state (or Mises's "final state of rest" or the ERE).

    (2) Austrians understand the "market clearing price" as that price in a given product market where the quantity of the good demanded by buyers equals the quantity offered or sale by sellers and, the supply quantity offered is sold.

    Is that in your opinion a fair summary of what Austrians would say?


    1. Yes, I think so, although "Austrians" say different things! Kirzner and Lachmann debated equilibrium for some time.

    2. Thanks, I am grateful for this reply.


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