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Human Action

Ludwig Von Mises

...economics deals with the problems man has to face on account of the fact that his life is conditioned by natural factors. It deals with action, i.e., with the conscious endeavors to remove as far as possible felt uneasiness...For the primary task of reason is to cope consciously with the limitations imposed upon man by nature, to fight against scarcity. Acting and thinking man is the product of a universe of scarcity in which whatever well-being can be attained is the prize of toil and trouble, of conduct popularly called economic
— Von Mises

I really can’t recommend this unless you’re an economics nerd, in which case, I’d highly recommend it. It’s huge and dense, but Von Mises, more so than most economists of recent generations, tries to ground his economic vision within a broader vision of human existence, and the general unfolding of the universe.

The O.G. of Austrian economics. I read his massive book, Human Action, while studying economics in Barcelona. I didn’t understand a word of what I read, but highlighted a lot, because despite knowing I failed to grasp his ideology, his ideas stuck with me, incipiently, the way subconsciously planted seeds do.

In this passage, he defines production as a fundamentally spiritual act, and the mind as the most fundamental productive force:

“Production is a spiritual, intellectual, and ideological phenomenon. It is the method that man, directed by reason, employs for the best possible removal of uneasiness. What distinguishes our conditions from those of our ancestors who lived one thousand or twenty thousand years ago is not something material, but something spiritual. The material changes are the outcome of the spiritual changes.

Production is alteration of the given according to the designs of reason…they transform the original factors - both human and nonhuman - into means.”