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The Ludwig von Mises Institute

Tu Ne Cede Malis

Advancing the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School for 30 years

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The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science
Ludwig von Mises

8
Positivism and the Crisis of
Western Civilization

5. The Consequences

The outstanding fact about the contemporary ideological situation is that the most popular political doctrines aim at totalitarianism, the thorough abolition of the individual's freedom to choose and to act. No less remarkable is the fact that the most bigoted advocates of such a system of conformity call themselves scientists, logicians, and philosophers.

This is, of course, not a new phenomenon. Plato, who even more than Aristotle was for centuries the maestro di color che sanno, elaborated a plan of totalitarianism the radicalism of which was surpassed only in the nineteenth century by the schemes of Comte and Marx. It is a fact that many philosophers are utterly intolerant of any dissent and want to have any criticism of their own ideas prevented by the government's police apparatus.

As far as the empiricist principle of logical positivism refers to the experimental methods of the natural sciences, it merely asserts what is not questioned by anybody. As far as it rejects the epistemological principles of the sciences of human action, it is not only entirely wrong. It is also knowingly and intentionally undermining the intellectual foundations of Western civilization.

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