Freeman

ARTICLE

Reason

SEPTEMBER 01, 1981 by LUDWIG VON MISES

Man has only one tool to fight error: reason. Man uses reason in order to choose between the incompatible satisfactions of conflicting desires.

Reason is an ultimate given and cannot be analyzed or questioned by itself. The very existence of human reason is a non-rational fact. The only statement that can be predicated with regard to reason is that it is the mark that distinguishes man from animals and has brought about everything that is specifically human.

To those pretending that man would be happier if he were to renounce the use of reason and try to let himself be guided by intuition and instincts only, no other answer can be given than an analysis of the achievements of human society. In describing the genesis and working of social cooperation, economics provides all the information required for an ultimate decision between reason and unreason. If man considers freeing himself from the supremacy of reason, he must know what he will have to forsake.

Reasoning and scientific inquiry can never bring full ease of mind. He who seeks this must apply to faith and try to quiet his conscience by embracing a creed or a metaphysical doctrine.

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September 1981

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December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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