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Ludwig von Mises: "Man is not, like the animals, an obsequious puppet of instincts and sensual impulses. Man has the power to suppress instinctive desires, he has a will of his own, he chooses between incompatible ends." - The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science


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 MisesIt is a widespread fallacy that skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything that the advertiser wants them to buy. The consumer is, according to this legend, simply defenseless against high-pressure advertising. If this were true, success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only.Human Action p. 317; p. 321Advertising
Ludwig von MisesThe tricks and artifices of advertising are available to the seller of the better product no less than to the seller of the poorer product. But only the former enjoys the advantage derived from the better quality of his product.Human Action p. 318; p. 321Advertising
Ludwig von MisesIt is an enormous simplification to speak of the American mind. Every American has his own mind. Theory and History pp. 191-92America
Ludwig von MisesUsed to the conditions of a capitalistic environment, the average American takes it for granted that every year business makes something new and better accessible to him. Looking backward upon the years of his own life, he realizes that many implements that were totally unknown in the days of his youth and many others which at that time could be enjoyed only by a small minority are now standard equipment of almost every household. He is fully confident that this trend will prevail also in the future. He simply calls it the American way of life and does not give serious thought to the question of what made this continuous improvement in the supply of material goods possible.Economic Freedom and Interventionism p. 7America
Ludwig von MisesThe most serious dangers for American freedom and the American way of life do not come from without.Economic Freedom and Interventionism p. 101America
Ludwig von MisesFull government control of all activities of the individual is virtually the goal of both national parties.Economic Freedom and Interventionism p. 157America
Ludwig von MisesThe nonhuman animals never proceed beyond instinctive urges and conditioned reflexes.The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science p. 49Animals
Ludwig von MisesIt was not the first time in French history that the nationalists put their anti-Semitism above their French patriotism. In the Dreyfus Affair they fought vigorously in order to let a treacherous officer quietly evade punishment while an innocent Jew languished in prison.Omnipotent Government p. 190Anti-Semitism
Ludwig von MisesThe Nazis have an ally in every town or village where there is a man eager to get rid of a Jewish competitor. The secret weapon of Hitler is the anti-Jewish inclinations of many millions of shopkeepers and grocers, of doctors and lawyers, professors and writers.Omnipotent Government p. 192Anti-Semitism
Ludwig von MisesThe consumers suffer when the laws of the country prevent the most efficient entrepreneurs from expanding the sphere of their activities. What made some enterprises develop into big business was precisely their success in filling best the demand of the masses.Planned Chaos p. 22AntiTrust Laws
Ludwig von MisesThose politicians, professors and union bosses who curse big business are fighting for a lower standard of living.Theory and History p. 147AntiTrust Laws
Ludwig von MisesIn the last hundred years many churches and even cathedrals were built and many more government palaces, schools, and libraries. But they do not show any original conception.... Only in apartment houses, office buildings and private homes have we seen something develop that may be qualified as an architectural style of our age.The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality p. 78Architecture
Ludwig von MisesThe enjoyment of art and literature presupposes a certain disposition and susceptibility on the part of the public. Taste is inborn to only a few. Others must cultivate their aptitude for enjoyment.Theory and History p. 63Arts
Ludwig von MisesUnder capitalism, material success depends on the appreciation of a mans achievements on the part of the sovereign consumers. In this regard there is no difference between the services rendered by a manufacturer and those rendered by a producer, an actor or a playwright.The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality p. 31Arts
Ludwig von MisesThere has never been an era in which the many were prepared to do justice to contemporary art. Reverence to the great authors and artists has always been limited to small groups.The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality p. 79Arts
Ludwig von MisesWhat characterizes capitalism is not the bad taste of the crowds, but the fact that these crowds, made prosperous by capitalism, became consumers of literatureof course, of trashy literature. The book market is flooded by a downpour of trivial fiction for the semibarbarians. But this does not prevent great authors from creating imperishable works.The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality p. 79Arts
Ludwig von MisesOnly 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 p. 63Arts
Ludwig von MisesArt is nothing more than a faltering and inadequate attempt to express what has been thus experienced and to give some form to its content. The work of art captures not the experience, but only what its creator has been able to express of the experience.Epistemological Problems of Economics p. 45Arts
Ludwig von MisesThe most primitive work of art also can express the strongest experience, and it speaks to us, if only we let it.Epistemological Problems of Economics p. 46Arts
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