How to Know: The Epistemology of Ludwig von Mises

IS_Phil_HKME — with David Gordon

Cost: $39   Length: 5 Lectures
Format: Independent Study
Status: Open for enrollment

About the Course

Ludwig von Mises held distinctive and original views about the philosophical foundations of economics. He maintained that economics forms part of praxeology, a science of human action deductively derived from the self-evident axiom that man acts. He presented this view in the first part of Human Action, and understanding it is essential to knowledge of Misesian economics.

Many readers, though, find what Mises says there hard to understand. This course has as its main aim to help you to grasp Mises’s meaning. If you complete this course, you will be able to follow the main lines of Mises’s ideas in this section of Human Action and his other philosophical works, including Epistemological Problems of Economics, Theory and History, and The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science. Also to be considered will be criticisms and defenses of these views, but the course will concentrate on explaining Mises in a way that you will find easy to follow.

Mises’s contributions to epistemology were not confined to his work on the nature of economic knowledge. He also had original and important things to say about historical knowledge, and the course will explore this topic in detail.

If you find the philosophical sections of Mises’s books puzzling, you may find this course helpful.

Dr. Gordon discusses the course here: Mises’s Epistemology

A brief outline of what to expect is below:

  • Lecture 1: Praxeology, A Commonsense Method of Economics
  • Lecture 2: Mises vs. the German Historical School and the Logical Positivists
  • Lecture 3 : Mises and the Philosophy of History
  • Lecture 4: Mises vs. Rand
  • Lecture 5: The Ultimate Given, Determinism, and Ethics


All readings for this course are free, available online, and provided to students in a fully-hyperlinked syllabus.

Independent Study

Independent study courses are courses that were presented live in the past. These courses are now offered at a discount to anyone who wants to study independently. All courses include lecture recordings, slides, a complete hyper-linked syllabus, automatically-graded quizzes, and a discussion forum. Professors are not available for academic support for these independent study courses.

Sample Certificate of Participation

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