Can we have an axiomatic theory of psychology?
A bit of background: since at least the time of Spinoza, up until the present day, a limited number of people have made attempts at creating an axiomatic approach to understanding and studying the human psyche.
They have all failed to gain any traction or respect. The most likely reason, in my assessment, is quite simply having way too many axioms.
An axiom is supposed to be a clear, “self-evident” truth, from which one can then logically derive other truths. The most famous use of axioms is by Euclid, where he used 5 very simply stated axioms (like “The whole is greater than the part”) to derive a few hundred pages of geometry. Modern mathematical economics also uses a handful of axioms, while the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises only required one axiom (“Human action is purposeful behavior”) to understand the world.
However, modern attempts at axiomatizing psychology include dozens of axioms. For example, the “pyscho-logic” approach has over 50 axioms. What’s worse, is that many of these axioms have been expressed mathematically.
To me, this is unnecessarily complicated analysis. So below, I have attempted to give a start to a new kind of axiomatic psychology, using only one axiom:
Axiom: Thinking is the ability of a brain to observe, analyze, and decide.
Continue reading “Axiomatic Psychology”
More economics in one-syllable words, this time Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth by Ludwig von Mises. Here is a two-paragraph summary:
Cash is the one thing that all of us in the world want. This trait of cash is what lets us use it with math: if the cash I pay to build a good is less than the cash I will get when I sell it, I can make the choice to build the good in a clear way. For cash to have this trait, though, it must trade among all goods in the world, and each trade must be a free choice. This way, each price lets us know how much a thing is worth to all the folks in the world.
But in a world where all a large chunk of the goods are owned by one group, then that group can’t trade what it owns with things that it also owns to get a cash price. It would be mad. Since these goods can’t be priced in cash, we can’t know how what they’re worth to the world! Thus, to use math to learn if our yield to build a thing is good or bad would be vain. This is bad!
And a longer, section-by-section summary of the whole essay:
Continue reading “The Impossibility of Economic Calculation, in One-Syllable Words”
Bureaucracy, by Ludwig von Mises, summarized in one-syllable words:
Folks on both the left and the right claim to hate the thing this book is named for. The word has rude tinge to it. The gripes are that they’re slow, with lots of fault in how they’re run, and who they’re run by: lots old guys — way more than there ought to be.
Yet they keep on their path of growth. Strange, right? Do they even know what it is that they’re mad at? I don’t think they know. But I know what’s got their goat. Read on to find out.
Continue reading “Mises’ Bureaucracy, in One-Syllable Words”
It always struck me as strange that such a great and important thinker as Ludwig von Mises, whose last posthumous work was published in 2012, did not have a dedicated and comprehensive anthology. Since I personally have a significant interest in “what Mises said” on this or that topic, it also frustrated me that there was no simple online resource available where I could do this—despite so much of Mises’s works being available online.
Thus, I’ve used my time during the COVID-19 lockdown to create this compendium: over 8600 pages, 36 separate volumes, 200 megabytes.
Find it under the Free eBooks section of this website, or simply click here. This version was last updated May 12th, 2020.
The list of titles of the collected works include:
Pages of the PDF
A Critique of Interventionism
Economic Freedom and Intervention
Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow
Human Action (Scholar’s Edition)
Interventionism: An Economic Analysis
Liberty and Property
Money, Method, and the Market Process
Nation, State, and Economy
Notes and Recollections, with the Historical Setting of the Austrian School
Planning for Freedom (and other essays)
Profit and Loss
Selected Works Vol I
Selected Works Vol II
Selected Works Vol III
Socialism: An Economic Analysis
The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality
The Clash of Group Interest and Other Essays
The Free Market and Its Enemies
The Theory of Money and Credit
The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science
On the Manipulation of Money and Credit
The “Austrian” Theory of the Trade Cycle
Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth
Money and Inflation
Epistemological Problems of Economics
Entries for the Encyclopedia Britannica
Theory and History
Human Action (Liberty Fund Edition, volumes 1-3)
A Critique of Bohm-Bawerk’s Reasoning
Glossary (“Mises Made Easier”)