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Ludwig von Mises: "Only stilted pedants can conceive the idea that there are absolute norms to tell what is beautiful and what is not. They try to derive from the works of the past a code of rules with which, as they fancy, the writers and artists of the future should comply. But the genius does not cooperate with the pundit." - Theory and History


Quotable MisesThis database of quotations from Mises was prepared for The Quotable Mises edited by Mark Thornton, available from the Mises Institute store for $20. Send corrections to the editor. Here is a source page on the editions of the books referenced.

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AuthorQuoteSourcePageSubject
Ludwig von MisesHuman action is purposeful behavior.Human Action p. 11; p. 11Action
Ludwig von MisesHuman life is an unceasing sequence of single actions.Human Action p. 45; p. 45Action
Ludwig von MisesAction is purposive conduct. It is not simply behavior, but behavior begot by judgments of value, aiming at a definite end and guided by ideas concerning the suitability or unsuitability of definite means. . . . It is conscious behavior. It is choosing. It is volition; it is a display of the will.The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science p. 34Action
Ludwig von MisesMan thinks not only for the sake of thinking, but also in order to act.Epistemological Problems of Economics p. 37Action
Ludwig von MisesEconomics, as a branch of the more general theory of human action, deals with all human action, i.e., with mans purposive aiming at the attainment of ends chosen, whatever these ends may be.Human Action p. 880; p. 884Action
Ludwig von MisesAction is a display of potency and control that are limited. It is a manifestation of man who is restrained by the circumscribed powers of his mind, the physiological nature of his body, the vicissitudes of his environment, and the scarcity of external factors on which his welfare depends.Human Action p. 70; p. 70Action
Ludwig von MisesAction is an attempt to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs for a less satisfactory one. We call such a willfully induced alteration an exchange.Human Action p. 97; p. 97Action
Ludwig von MisesMost actions do not aim at anybodys defeat or loss. They aim at an improvement in conditions.Human Action p. 116; p. 116Action
Ludwig von MisesThe vigorous man industriously striving for the improvement of his condition acts neither more nor less than the lethargic man who sluggishly takes things as they come. For to do nothing and to be idle are also action, they too determine the course of events.Human Action p. 13; p. 13Action
Ludwig von MisesMans striving after an improvement of the conditions of his existence impels him to action. Action requires planning and the decision which of various plans is the most advantageous.The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science p. 90Action
Ludwig von MisesAll rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.Socialism p. 97Action
Ludwig von MisesThe fundamental thesis of rationalism is unassailable. Man is a rational being; that is, his actions are guided by reason.Theory and History p. 269Rational Action
Ludwig von MisesRational and irrational always mean: reasonable or not from the point of view of the ends sought. There is no such thing as absolute rationality or irrationality.Omnipotent Government p. 113Rational Action
Ludwig von MisesThe assertion that there is irrational action is always rooted in an evaluation of a scale of values different from our own. Whoever says that irrationality plays a role in human action is merely saying that his fellow men behave in a way that he does not consider correct.Epistemological Problems of Economics p. 33Rational Action
Ludwig von MisesRational conduct means that man, in face of the fact that he cannot satisfy all his impulses, desires, and appetites, forgoes the satisfaction of those which he considers less urgent.Human Action pp. 17172; p. 172Rational Action
Ludwig von MisesAction is, by definition, always rational. One is unwarranted in calling goals of action irrational simply because they are not worth striving for from the point of view of ones own valuations.Epistemological Problems of Economics p. 35Rational Action