Human Action by Ludwig Von Mises
  • Title: Human Action
  • Subtitle: A Treatise on Economics
  • Author(s): Ludwig Von Mises
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute
  • Year: 2021-10-08
  • ISBN-10: 1610161459
  • ISBN-13: 9781610161459


“Human Action” is a magnum opus written by Ludwig Von Mises, an influential economist of the 20th century. In this weighty treatise, Mises presents a comprehensive and systematic analysis of human action and its fundamental role in shaping society and the economy. Through a thorough examination of praxeology, the study of human action based on the laws of human behavior, Mises elucidates the core principles of economics and delves into various topics including money, entrepreneurship, market dynamics, and the unintended consequences of government intervention.

Mises argues that human action is purposeful and guided by individual desires and subjective values, which he asserts cannot be quantified or measured, challenging the traditional mathematical approach to economics. He emphasizes the importance of free markets as the most efficient and fair system for promoting coordination and prosperity. Throughout the book, Mises presents a robust defense of capitalism, illustrating that it not only allocates resources efficiently but also fosters individual freedom and human flourishing. “Human Action” remains an essential work for economists, historians, and those seeking a deep understanding of the mechanisms that drive human behavior and shape the social order.

Book Review

In “Human Action,” Ludwig Von Mises provides an extensive exploration of the profound relationship between human action and the functioning of society and the economy. Mises’s central argument revolves around the idea that human action is purposeful and is driven by individual choices and subjective values that cannot be quantified or measured using traditional economic methods. Instead, he introduces the concept of praxeology, which aims to analyze the logical implications of human action.

Mises’s book offers a comprehensive examination of various topics within economics. One of the significant aspects he delves into is the role of entrepreneurship in driving economic development and progress. Mises argues that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind innovation and economic growth. He discusses how entrepreneurs identify opportunities that others overlook and undertake calculated risks to capitalize on these prospects. Mises asserts that entrepreneurship is essential for discovering new technologies, improving productivity, and creating wealth.

Furthermore, Mises provides a compelling critique of government intervention in the economy. He advocates for the protection of individual freedoms and stresses the importance of voluntary exchange, arguing that free markets promote efficiency and prosperity better than any alternative system. Mises meticulously analyzes the negative consequences of government intervention, such as price controls, subsidies, and regulations, that distort market signals and hinder economic coordination. He points to historical examples, such as the inefficiencies of centrally planned economies, to illustrate how government interventions often lead to unintended consequences, including resource misallocation and diminished economic growth.

Moreover, Mises’s examination of money and its role in the economy is another notable aspect of the book. He highlights the importance of understanding the nature of money and presents a thorough critique of inflationary policies. Mises explains how an increase in the money supply distorts price signals, leading to malinvestments and economic instability. His analysis of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory explains how boom-bust cycles arise from monetary expansion and credit creation, underscoring the importance of maintaining sound money.

One of the strengths of “Human Action” lies in Mises’s ability to provide a comprehensive and interconnected analysis of economics and individual action. Consequently, the book offers readers a profound understanding of economic principles and their wider implications for individual freedom, prosperity, and the overall functioning of society. Although dense and scholarly, “Human Action” remains a seminal work that continues to shape economic thinking and policymaking.

In conclusion, “Human Action” by Ludwig Von Mises is a groundbreaking and in-depth exploration of the relationship between human action and the economy. Mises’s arguments, supported by historical examples, provide a staunch defense of free markets, entrepreneurship, and individual liberty. This book is a must-read for economists, historians, and those interested in grasping the intricacies of human behavior within the economic domain.

Word Count: 451

Target Audience

The book “Human Action” by Ludwig Von Mises is targeted at a broad audience interested in economics, philosophy, and the social sciences. While it is a scholarly work, it is accessible to students, academics, policymakers, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the principles underlying human action and its impact on society.

The book is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Economists and Students of Economics “Human Action” is a foundational text in the study of economics, presenting a comprehensive examination of economic principles that challenge conventional economic theory. It offers a unique perspective on the role of individual action, entrepreneurship, and free markets in fostering economic coordination and prosperity.

  • Philosophers and Social Scientists The book delves into the philosophical and methodological underpinnings of economics, exploring topics such as causality, the limits of knowledge, and the nature of human choice. It offers insights into the relationship between individual values, subjective preferences, and the societal implications of human action.

  • Historians and Social Historians Mises’s analysis of economic history provides valuable insights into the impact of government interventions, such as price controls and monetary policy, on economies throughout time. The book presents a robust defense of free markets and offers critical perspectives on historical events and their economic consequences.

  • Advocates of Individual Liberty “Human Action” offers a compelling case for the protection of individual freedoms and limited government intervention. It champions the idea that individual action and voluntary cooperation, rather than central planning, are the most effective mechanisms for fostering societal well-being and progress.

In conclusion, “Human Action” is recommended reading for a wide range of audiences due to its detailed exploration of economics, philosophy, and the impact of human action on society. Whether one is interested in understanding economic principles, exploring the relationship between individual choice and societal outcomes, or examining the role of government intervention, Mises’s work offers profound insights and a thought-provoking perspective.