The Life and Works of Ludwig Von Mises

By Ebeling, Richard M. | Independent Review, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

The Life and Works of Ludwig Von Mises


Ebeling, Richard M., Independent Review


Ludwig von Mises ( 18 81 - 19 7 3) was one of the most important economists of the twentieth century. Even if he had made no other contribution over a professional lifetime that spanned seven decades, his place in the history of economic ideas would be assured by his devastating analysis of why socialist central planning is inherently "impossible." Besides this achievement, however, he also formulated a monetary theory of the business cycle that at one point in the 1930s rivaled even the emerging Keynesian Revolution for attention.

In addition, Mises was a leading contributor to the philosophy of the social sciences, building on the legacy of the classical economists, the early Austrian school, Max Weber's sociology of meaningful action, and the "intentionalist" tradition in continental philosophy. His major economic treatise Human Action ([1949] 1996a) is a work in the grand style of eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinkers. It lays before the reader not only a thorough analysis of the logic of human decision making and the market process, but also a theory of society and the social order with all of its philosophical, sociological, economic, and political dimensions. Though "Renaissance man" is a much misused and abused appellation, it may rightly be said that the breadth and depth of Mises's writings marked him truly as such a man even in an age of growing scientific specialization.

Finally, through his writings, teaching, and personal contacts, Mises cultivated new generations of both Austrian economists and classical liberals, beginning in the 1920s and 1930s. Indeed, if not for Mises's influence on a significant number of European and American scholars, writers, and even policymakers, the vision and the ideal of the liberal free-market order might have been lost in the dark decades of totalitarian collectivism and the rise of the interventionist welfare state. It is doubtful that a vibrant and growing Austrian school of economics would now exist if not for Mises's relocation to the United States, where he made a great personal and literary impact on a number of American scholars during the years of Keynesian domination in the 1950s and 1960s.

Although a number of his former students have pointed out that Mises was neither a great orator nor an especially dynamic speaker in the classroom, he fostered a deep devotion and following among groups of people beyond professional economists. Long before he came to the United States during World War II, this effect often irritated his critics, who sometimes referred rudely to a "cult" that had formed around him. (1)

In spite of this major influence on "Austrian" and classical-liberal thought, very few studies have been devoted to Mises's life and contributions, and, until recently, no detailed intellectual biography of the man and his ideas existed. (2) This scant attention stands in contrast to that devoted to the other twentieth-century giant of the Austrian school and classical liberalism, Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992). Indeed, in the decades that have followed Hayek's receiving the Nobel Prize in 1974, an intellectual "cottage industry" has grown up as writers across the political spectrum have devoted themselves to analyzing his ideas. Yet more than once Hayek pointed out that virtually all of his own contributions to monetary and business-cycle theory, his critique of socialism and planning, his analysis of competition and the market process, and his critical studies of scientism, positivism, and historicism were all deeply influenced, if not directly inspired, by Mises's earlier writings in every one of these areas of research.

The lack of an intellectual biography of Mises has reflected in part the paucity of knowledge about Mises the man. He was an extremely private individual who shared little about his personal life. His memoir Notes and Recollections ([1940] 1978), which was written in the autumn of 1940, shortly after he arrived in the United States, and not published until 1978, tells very little about his intellectual development or his family history. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Life and Works of Ludwig Von Mises
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.