conza: Epistemology: Hume, Kant, and the Misesian Solution
Kant, in the course of his critique of classical empiricism, in particular that of David Hume, developed the idea that all our propositions can be classified in a two-fold way:
- On the one hand they are either analytic or synthetic,
- and on the other they are either a priori or a… Read More
If anyone gives a crap, I’ll attempt a refutation of this. I was once a libertarian, but never found their philosophical meanderings very impressive even as a libertarian. If you would like to know why, here is some of the reasons in regards to this post and libertarian philosophy in general.
We’re discussing epistemology. Specifically the status of economic propositions. Austrian Economics technically has nothing to do with libertarianism. Your “critique” is really not off to a good start.
First and foremost the Kantian distinction has been attacked by many modern philosophers, unbeknownst to Hoppe it seems, many people did read and take Kant seriously, only they did so in the negative, none of which is addressed here. Most notably Willfred Sellars and Willard Van Orman Quine attacked both definitions in the “Kantian” dichotomy and Quines at least is generally seen as the best attack on the analytic half of the distinction, if you’re feeling brave and ornery you can try to attempt to refute his propositions regarding this matter here: http://www.ditext.com/quine/quine.html
Hoppe is definitely aware. In fact:
- “…Lomasky [or aurochz] also has some specific nits to pick. As might be expected from an intimidated low roader, they are either unsystematic cheap shots, or they display a complete miscomprehension of the problem.
I am criticized for not paying enough attention to Quine, Nozick, and entire bodies of philosophic thought. Maybe so, though Nozick, if only in a footnote as Lomasky notes indignantly, is actually systematically refuted. However, one would like to know why that should have made a difference for my argument. Mere reading suggestions are all too easy to come up with in these times…”
— Hans-Hermann Hoppe, EEPP, p. 410
Hoppe explicitly indicates “I cannot go in to great detail here to explain how Kant justifies this view. A few remarks will have to suffice.” Why? It’s not the point of the passage and would be a digression — as Mises was more interested in economics rather than epistemology, that then is what Hoppe goes onto discuss. Why don’t you instead endeavour to read the source?
-  A brilliant interpretation and justification of Kant’s a prioristic epistemology is to be found in F. Kambartel, Erfahrung und Struktur. Bausteine zu einer Kritik des Empirismus und Formalismus (Frankfurt/M.: 1968), esp. chapter 3; see also Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Handeln und Erkennen (Bern: 1976)
The last note of the excerpt also indicates where further analysis can be found:
Instead of ironically throwing out accusations of ignorance, you should probably read the above which elucidates at length against both Hermeneutics, Empiricism, and the arguments you put forward later in your “critique” which touches upon language and dualism. More to the point though, all you have read is an excerpt from Economic Science and the Austrian Method. The arguments put forward by Hoppe are not only confined to the text posted. Had you read more widely you might have realized your proposition — the red herring you link to — does not address Mises position at all.
In regards to analytical philosophy it is one of the most well known papers of all time. What does it say about Hoppe’s analysis that this wasn’t even mentioned in that regard? I’ll let you decide that.
After I skip over the fact that if the above were true it would cripple the whole mission of Mises in Hoppe in one swoop, there are other problems with this paper.
Quine isn’t addressing Mises solution, “given all that will be necessary for his argument is that the denial of it is self-contradictory. Whether it’s “analytic” or “synthetic” is quite frankly uninteresting. I’d recommend you read Laurence BonJour’s In Defense of Pure Reason as he lays into Quine pretty heavily and has some very interesting arguments on rationalist epistemology’s behalf.” There is also Henry Babcock Veatch’s Two Logics: the Conflict between Classical and Neo-Analytic Philosophy, and Blanshard’s Reason and Analysis.
For one, most people wouldn’t interpret Kant’s synthetic view of math as being an empirical view of math, even with Hoppe’s reaching statements like:
- “Kant had hinted at this solution. He thought mathematics, for instance, had to be grounded in our knowledge of the meaning of repetition, of repetitive operations. And he also realized, if only some what vaguely that the principle of causality is implied in our understanding of what it is and means to act.”
Most philosophers write one or two things that go against the general flow of their arguments and intentions. Kant’s view was that despite being Synthetic-apriori math was still a pure body of knowledge that we can predicate truths on.
Fortunately for Kant and not so fortunate for foundationalists in general. He didn’t live to see the day when major contradictions to his view started to slowly but surely come to be true. I have mentioned one, here are a few others:
Euclid’s geometry was destabilized with the advent of non-euclidean Geometry. Thus making our faith in seemingly strong axiomatic truths extremely shakey. A destabilization, that Kant didn’t know about. Something we believed true for over two-thousand years and at that, a fundamental truth, was shown to be wrong. No single piece of knowledge was ever as fundamental in making us have collective doubt as to our ability to make a foundation as this. So I think it is definitely relevant in this regard.
I’m amused that you think you’re striking some kind of blow here.
“The whole controversy is, however, meaningless when applied to praxeology. It refers essentially to geometry. Its present state, especially its treatment by logical positivism, has been deeply influenced by the shock that Western philosophy received from the discovery of non-Euclidian geometries. Before Bolyai and Lobachevsky, geometry was, in the eyes of the philosophers, the paragon of perfect science; it was assumed that it provided unshakable certainty forever and for everybody. To proceed also in other branches of knowledge more geometrico was the great ideal of truth-seekers. All traditional epistemological concepts began to totter when the attempts to construct non-Euclidian geometries succeeded.
Yet praxeology is not geometry. It is the worst of all superstitions to assume that the epistemological characteristics of one branch of knowledge must necessarily be applicable to any other branch. In dealing with the epistemology of the sciences of human action, one must not take one’s cue from geometry, mechanics, or any other science.
The assumptions of Euclid were once considered as self-evidently true. Present-day epistemology looks upon them as freely chosen postulates, the starting point of a hypothetical chain of reasoning. Whatever this may mean, it has no reference at all to the problems of praxeology.
The starting point of praxeology is a self-evident truth, the cognition of action, that is, the cognition of the fact that there is such a thing as consciously aiming at ends. There is no use cavilling about these words by referring to philosophical problems that have no bearing upon our problem. The truth of this cognition is as self-evident and as indispensable for the human mind as is the distinction between A and non-A.”
— Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, p.5