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Author Topic: Ludwig von Mises  (Read 988 times)

freeman4liberty

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Ludwig von Mises
« on: July 28, 2009, 10:59 AM NHFT »

The Creative Genius

Far above the millions that come and pass away tower the pioneers, the men whose deeds and ideas cut out new paths for mankind.  For the pioneering genius to create is the essence of life.  To live means for him to create. 

The activities of these prodigious men cannot be fully subsumed under the praxeological concept of labor.  They are not labor because they are for the genius not means, but ends in themselves.  He lives in creating and inventing.  For him there is no leisure, only intermissions of temporary result, but the act of producing it.  The accomplishment gratifies him neither mediately nor immediately.  It does not gratify him mediately because his fellow men at best are unconcerned about it, more often even greet it with taunts, sneers, and persecution.  Many a genius could have used his gifts to render his life agreeable and joyful; he did not even consider such a possibility and chose the thorny path without hesitation.  The genius wants to accomplish what he considers his mission, even if he knows that he moves toward his own disaster. 

Neither does the genius derive immediate gratification from his creative activities.  Creating is for him agony and torment, a ceaseless excruciating struggle against internal and external obstacles; it consumes and crushes him.  The Austrian poet Grillparzer has depicted this in a touching poem "Farewell to Gastein."  We may assume that in writing it he thought not of a much greater man, of Beethoven, whose fate resembled his own and whom he understood, through devoted affection and sympathetic appreciation, better than any other of his contemporaries.  Nietzsche compared himself to the flame that insatiably consumes and destroys itself.  Such agonies are phenomena which have nothing in common with the connotations generally attached to the notions of work and labor, production and success, breadwinning and enjoyment of life. 

The achievements of the creative innovator, his thoughts and theories, his poems, paintings, and composition, cannot be classified praxeologically as products of labor.  They are not the outcome of the employment of labor which could have been devoted to the production of other amenities for the "production" of a masterpiece of philosophy, art, or literature.  Thinkers, poets, and artists are sometimes unfit to accomplish any other work.  At any rate, the time and toil which they devote to creative activities sometimes doom to sterility a man who would have had the power to bring forth things unheard of; they may leave him no alternative other than to die from starvation or to use all his forces in the struggle for mere physical survival.  But if the genius succeeds in achieving his goals, nobody but himself pays the "costs" incurred.  Goethe was perhaps in some respects hampered by his functions at the court of Weimar.  But certainly he would not have accomplished more in his official duties as minister of state, theater manager, and administrator of mines if he had not written his plays, poems, and novels. 

It is, furthermore, impossible to substitute other people's work for that of the creators.  If Dante and Beethoven had not existed, one would not have been in a position to produce the Divina Commedia or the Ninth Symphony by assigning other men to these tasks.  Neither society nor single individuals con substantially further the genius and his work.  The highest intensity of the "demand" and the most peremptory order of the government are ineffectual.  The genius does not deliver to order.  Men cannot improve the natural and social conditions which bring about the creator and his creation.  It is impossible to rear geniuses by eugenics, to train them by schooling, or to organize their activities.  But, of course, one can organize society in such a way that no room is left for pioneers and their path-breaking. 

The creative accomplishment of the genius is an ultimate fact for praxeology.  It comes to pass in history as a free gift of destiny.  It is by no means the result of production in the sense in which economics uses this term.   

Ludwig von Mises
From:  Human Action
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Lloyd Danforth

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Re: Ludwig von Mises
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 11:02 AM NHFT »

Back before I could spell ekanomiks, I was in a room with Von Mises.
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freeman4liberty

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Re: Ludwig von Mises
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2009, 11:04 AM NHFT »

He taught you to spell well!!!

That's really cool!!!
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toowm

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Re: Ludwig von Mises
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2009, 08:29 PM NHFT »

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito
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TackleTheWorld

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Re: Ludwig von Mises
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2009, 12:31 AM NHFT »

Wow, he's putting geniuses in a non-human category.  They create and don't even get happiness from it?  Come on, they must get some pleasure or at least relief from creating things. 
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freeman4liberty

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Re: Ludwig von Mises
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2009, 01:30 PM NHFT »

He didn't say that they were non human.  He only claims that the work they do cannot be classified as labor in the sense of what an economist calls labor. 

I don't know about pleasure derived from creation.  Was Beethoven happy by writing his symphonies, or dragged down by the symphonies that he didn't write?

In any case, I find the quote interesting. 

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