Human Action

By Ludwig von Mises

Synopsis: The magnum opus of Ludwig von Mises, the great shining light of the Austrian school of economics and perhaps the greatest economist of all time, this large volume called Human Action systematically covers virtually every issue important to the realm of economics. The fundamental idea of the book is that economics is a study of human action, which is enacted to fulfill subjective human desires, and as such is not reducible to mathematical equations. The study of human action (praxeology) is thus the best method to determine if certain means are appropriate for reaching desired ends.

Strong Points: This book is quite impressive in that it is very well thought out in its reasoning and arguments, and in its dissection of economic problems and issues. The reader will be astonished that so much insight could come from the mind of one man. There is such a depth and breadth of topics covered, that the reader will find a discussion of almost every conceivable economic issue (as well as some issues seemingly unrelated). It does an excellent job of defending the free market, and is the fundamental and primary text referred to by the Austrian school.

Weak Points: This is rather advanced reading, and so the reader will want to forego reading this book until they have read sufficient introductory materials. Also, the author advanced some philosophies in underlying premises that I found it necessary to depart from, most notably the acceptance of organic evolution, the non-acceptance of the divine origin of rights, and the rejection of the idea of natural law. Thankfully, none of these errors in judgment materially effected the arrival at the correct conclusions within the book: that the free market is the optimal system of social organization to satisfy the desires of the masses and raising the standard of living.

Interesting: 3.2/5

Must Read: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

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