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Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution (LvMI) by [Mises, Ludwig von, Rothbard, Murray]
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About the Author

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was a preeminent philosopher and economist during the twentieth century. He shared an intellectual friendship with literary giant Ayn Rand, and his theorems and philosophies have continued to influence the careers and ideas of politicians and economists alike.

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 742 KB
  • Print Length: 394 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (8 Jan. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0033AHEHQ
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #385,466 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bae6408) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad0427c) out of 5 stars Theory Explains History 3 April 2008
By D. W. MacKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Theory and History aims at explaining social and economic evolution. Evolution is by its very nature unpredictable. Hegel and Marx believed in their own omniscience. Marx stood outside of history and (allegedly) saw how the historical process would unfold. Of course, Marx did not describe the actual workings of the future workers paradise. But Marx "knew" where we are headed. As such, Mises is criticizing the determinism of Historicism, and Marxism in particular. True evolution is unpredictable, particularly if it is the result of action based on free will. Indeed, the existence of free will is incompatible with any theory of history that proceeds in stages.

Theory and History is a first rate critique of Historicist type socialism. This book does differ in tone from some of Mises' earlier works. By 1957 professional economists had moved away from Marxism and towards `Market Socialism'. The Market Socialists (Lange, Lerner, Dickinson, Taylor, Durbin) were not historicists, so they do not belong in this book. Mises was obviously still troubled by Marxism in the 1950's. The general public was still open to the influence of Marxist ideas. Hence Mises wrote a book critiquing Marxist/Historicist ideas that is short and relatively easy (as compared to his other books).

Theory and History is an excellent work, well reasoned and clearer than many of his other writings. You can learn much from this book, even if you have read his other works. Marxian state socialism is now dead, but the "ideology of equal wealth and income" that Mises attacks in this book is alive and well. Theory and History therefore is more than relevant in the twenty-first century. It is vitally important in the defense of free and prosperous societies.
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad042d0) out of 5 stars The Methodology Of Individualism 9 Oct. 2003
By Steve Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ludwig von Mises wrote four masterpieces: THE THEORY OF MONDEY AND CREDIT, SOCIALISM, HUMAN ACTION, and THEORY AND HISTORY. THEORY AND HISTORY was published in 1957 and is the easiest of the four books, and a good starting point to understand the philosophical underpinnings of Mises' thought.

THEORY AND HISTORY is an outstanding work on the methodology of the social sciences. As usual, Mises uses economics and sociology to criticize all varieties of leftism. The starting point for von Mises is the acting individual. Man acts rationally to achieve certain ends. What appears to be collective action is simply the action of numerous individuals. Based on this, Mises shows that collectivist theories fail to take into account the essentially individualist nature of human action. Marx claimed to be a scientist of the inevitable forces of human action, yet he inconsistently involved himself in day-to-day politics. Engles went so far as to say that had Napoleon died when he was young, history would have produced another Napoleon. Mises then discusses theories of history such as those advanced by Buckle, Spengler, and Toynbee.

One of the most exciting things about reading von Mises is how socialist fallacies fall page after page. Not only does he refute their fallacies, but he has a way of seeing right through them. For example, how can one criticize modern capitalist society for being "materialistic'" when it allows the common man to attend Beethoven concerts?

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8addb6fc) out of 5 stars A Methodological Framework 2 Jun. 2011
By Paul Rantanen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I often sat on the terrace of my favorite bar reading this book; many would (jokingly) ask:
"So is that a book on the history of theory, or the theory of history?"

My usual answer was:

For some reason it took me quite a while to get through the book, but I vividly remember the first thought that came to mind when I reached the last paragraphs. That thought was that I need to read this again at some point.

It is truly amazing how Mises manages to go through so many things in this relatively short book. Not only that, but the way Mises presents his arguments is absolutely brilliant. Every ten pages or so I had to literally stop and think about how someone was able to explain something so clearly. This is how a creative genius thinks and writes.

There is no way for me to list everything Mises goes through in this book, but simply put you will learn about how to think about society, economics and much more, how others have thought you should think about these things and why they are wrong. Mises dismantles his opponents in a way that leaves you thinking how anyone could've thought otherwise on this issue.

As this book is already over 50 years old and some of the arguments Mises deals with are much older, this book will also serve as a small and limited crash course to the history of intellectual thought.

Want to read Mises and don't know where to start? I'm sure someone might disagree, but in my opinion this isn't a bad place to start at all.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8addb8b8) out of 5 stars Please read! Free copy! 27 Aug. 2013
By C. Somers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
So unless you just have to have the paperback copy on your bookshelf, there is a completely free and legitimate copy of this book in .pdf form at the Mises Institute's website: <[...]>.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad04798) out of 5 stars An under-appreciated work all free market supporters should acquire and absorb 5 July 2013
By Hunter Hastings - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Theory and History may be an under-appreciated work in the Von Mises oeuvre, but it is well worth the attention of the supporters of freedom and free markets.. It lays out patiently the Austrian definition of economics, compares Praxeology and History debunks the popular contemporary theories of Von Mises' day, especially Marxism and what Von Mises refers to as "Marxian materialism". It is Von Mises at this logical best.
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