Revolt against reason

What do Marxists and racists have in common? What can economics tell us about these systems - and why is economics unpopular with supporters of both sets of ideas? Ludwig Mises not only answers these questions in part of his book Human behavior. Extremely interesting chapter Economics and revolt against reason here you will find in the six-part series, the first part Revolt against reason is a historical window, an introduction to the series, where we will get acquainted, for example, with the term "polylogism". The source is a Czech translation, which he published in 2006 Liberal Institute. Translated by Josef Šíma and team.

Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig von Mises

It is true that some philosophers liked to overestimate the power of human reason. They believed that man could discover with his thinking the last causes of events, the inherent goals to which the primordial mover is heading by the creation of the world and the determination of its development. They wrote about the absolute, as if it were their pocket watch. They were not afraid to proclaim eternal absolute values ​​and to create moral codes valid for all people.

Then there was a long line utopian authors. They drew up patterns of paradises on earth in which only pure reason was to rule. They did not realize that what they call pure reason and obvious truth were only the imagination of their own minds. They lightly claimed infallibility and often advocated intolerance, the violent repression of all oppositionists and heretics. They wanted to achieve dictatorships for themselves, or for people who would put their plans into practice. In their view, there was no other salvation for suffering humanity.

Hegel and Comte

Hegel was here. Hegel was a deep thinker and his works are a treasure trove of stimulating ideas. However, he worked in false idea, that Spirit, absolutely, appears through his words. There was nothing in the world to hide from Hegel. It is a pity that his language is so ambiguous that it can be interpreted differently. Right-wing Hegelians they interpreted it as supporting the Prussian system of autocratic government and the dogmas of the Prussian Church. Left-wing Hegelians they read atheism, irreconcilable revolutionary radicalism, and anarchist doctrines.

He was here August Comte. He knew exactly what the future had for humanity. And, of course, he considered himself the supreme legislature. For example, he considered some astronomical studies unnecessary and wanted to ban them. He planned to replace Christianity with a new religion and chose a lady who was destined to be in this new church replacement for the Virgin Mary. Comta can be excused because he was mentally ill in the full sense of the word attributed to him by pathology. But what about the followers?

Many other similar facts could be mentioned. However, they do not represent any argument against reason, rationalism and rationality. These dreams have nothing to do with the question of whether reason is the right and only tool at one's disposal in one's effort to achieve the greatest possible knowledge. Honest and conscientious seekers of truth never pretend that reason and scientific research can provide answers to all questions. They are fully aware of the limitations of the human mind. They cannot be held responsible for the rudeness of Hegel's philosophy and the simplification of various material schools.

Rationalist philosophers themselves have always focused on revealing the boundaries of a priori theory and empirical research. The first representative of British political economy, David Hume, a utilitarian, and American pragmatists are certainly not guilty of exaggerating the power of man to attain the truth. It would be more a philosophy to blame the past two hundred years for excessive agnosticism and skepticism than for over-reliance on what human reason can achieve.

The revolt against reason, the characteristic mental attitude of our time, was not caused by a lack of modesty, caution, and self-questioning on the part of philosophers. Nor is it a consequence of the evolution of modern natural science. The amazing achievements of technology and therapeutics speak a language that no one can ignore. It is hopeless to attack modern science, whether from the position of intuitionism or mysticism or from any other point of view. The revolt against reason was aimed at another goal. She did not focus on the natural sciences, but on economics. The attack on the natural sciences was only a logically necessary result of the attack on the economy. It was impossible to depose reason in only one area and not question it at the same time in other branches of knowledge.

Karl Marx and the revival of communism

This great uprising was born in a historical situation that existed in the mid-nineteenth century. Economists have completely destroyed the fantastic illusions of socialist utopians. The shortcomings of the classical system prevented them from understanding why no socialist plan could be carried out. However, they knew enough to prove the futility of all the socialist schemes created up to their time. Communist ideas were settled. The Socialists have absolutely failed to raise any objections to the devastating criticism of their schemes and to find an argument in their favor. Socialism seemed to be dead forever.

Only one path could lead the Socialists out of this impasse. They could attack logic and reason and replace reasoning with mystical intuition. Designing this solution was a historic task Karl Marx. Based on Hegel's dialectical mysticism, he lightly attributed the ability to predict the future. Hegel pretended to know that Spirit when creating the world, he wanted to give rise to the monarchy of Bedřich Vilém III. However, Marx was better informed of his plans. He knew that the ultimate goal of historical development was the establishment of the socialist millennium. Socialism must come "with the inevitability of natural law." And since, according to Hegel, every other stage of history is a higher and better stage, there can be no doubt that socialism, the final and highest stage of human development, will be perfect in all respects. As a result, it is useless to discuss the details of the functioning of the socialist community. History organizes everything at the right time. He doesn't need the advice of mortal people to do that.

The main obstacle still remained insurmountable: devastating criticism from economists. Marx had a solution at hand. He argued that human reason was inherently unsuitable for the search for truth. The logical structure of the mind differs between different social classes. There is no such thing as universally valid logic. The mind produces nothing but "ideology," which in Marx's terminology is a set of ideas masking the selfish interests of the thinker's own social class. Therefore, the "bourgeois" mind of economists cannot create more than just the apology of capitalism. The teaching of "bourgeois" science, the fruit of "bourgeois" logic, is useless to the proletariat, a rising class designed to eliminate all classes and transfer the earth to the Garden of Eden.

Of course, the logic of the proletariat is not just class logic.

"The ideas of proletarian logic are not party thoughts, but an emanation of pure and simple logic."

Thanks to a special privilege, moreover, even the logic of some chosen bourgeoisie is not tainted by the original sin of belonging to the bourgeoisie. Karel Marx, the son of a successful lawyer, son - in - law of a Prussian nobleman and his collaborator Bedrich Engels, a rich textile manufacturer, never doubted that they themselves were above the law and regardless of their bourgeois origins, they are endowed with the power to expose the absolute truth.

It is the task of history to describe the historical conditions that popularized these primitive doctrines. Economics has a different task. He must analyze Marx's polylogism and other polylogisms created according to his model and show their errors and contradictions.