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Tu Ne Cede Malis

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The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science
Ludwig von Mises

Some Preliminary Observations
Concerning Praxeology Instead
of an Introduction

8. The Sciences of Human Action

The German language has developed a term that would have been expedient to denote the totality of the sciences dealing with human action as distinguished from the natural sciences, viz., the term Geisteswissenschaften. Unfortunately some authors have heavily loaded this term with metaphysical and mystical implications that detract from its usefulness. In English the term pneumatology (suggested by Bentham[2] as the opposite of somatology) would have served the purpose, but it was never accepted. The term moral sciences as employed by John Stuart Mill is unsatisfactory on account of its etymological affinity with the normative discipline of ethics. The term humanities is traditionally employed exclusively for the historical branches of the sciences of human action. Thus we are forced to employ the rather heavy term "sciences of human action."


[2] Bentham, "Essay on Nomenclature and Classification," Appendix No. IV to Chrestomathia (Works, ed. Bowring [1838-1843], VIII, 84 and 88).

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