Praxeology - Episode 3 - Purposeful Action

Author: Praxgirl. Link to original: (English).
Tags: praxeology, praxgirl Submitted by praxgirl 10.08.2011. Public material.

Translations of this material:

into Russian: Праксиология Эпизод 3 — Целеустремленная деятельность. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by IrinaChernykh 08.06.2015
into Polish: Prakseologia - Część 3 - Celowe działanie. Translation complete.
Submitted for translation by homearmy 14.11.2011 Published 5 years, 4 months ago.
into Hebrew: פרקסאולוגיה - פרק 3 - פעילות תכליתית. 94% translated in draft. Almost done, let's finish it!
Submitted for translation by Talz 28.10.2011
into Dutch: Praxeologie - Aflevering 3 - Doelgerichte Actie. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by chamullero 25.08.2011
into Spanish: Praxeología - Episodio 3 - Acción intencional. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by perogruyo 12.08.2011
into French: Praxéologie - Episode 3 - l'Action Intentionnelle. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by peter2100 11.08.2011


Hi guys, Praxgirl here.

In our last lesson, I explained the method that Praxeology uses in the study of human action. I introduced the concept of Axioms, and the foundational truth from which the entire science of Praxeology is derived: that is: "Human action is purposeful behavior".

In this lesson, I’d like to explain what Praxeology defines as purposeful behavior and distinguish it from all those categories of human behavior that could be mistakenly included in a critique of Praxeology.

The Action Axiom, “human action is purposeful behavior”, describes man’s conscious aiming at ends and goals. This is clearly different from man’s unconscious behavior, such as an involuntary reaction. If a doctor strikes just below my knee, and my leg spasms, this is unconscious behavior and outside of the realm of study of Praxeology.

Reflexes, or situations out of a man’s control like an illness, or the elements of nature that are beyond our control like the weather are all facts that a man must take into account when acting. There are situations where a man can succeed through the power of his will in overcoming sickness, or he can compensate for genetic or acquired physical inefficiencies, or he can train himself to suppress reflexes. As far as this is possible, the field of purposeful action is extended.

Praxeology studies action, not the psychological events which result in action. This distinguishes Praxeology from Psychology sharply. Psychology studies the conscious and subconscious factors that impel a man to act. Praxeology studies the action itself, and is thus not concerned with the underlying motives that Psychology studies. Therefore, the terms “unconscious” that Praxeology uses and “subconscious” that Psychology uses are completely separate because they belong to two different systems of thought and research.

When Praxeology uses the term “human action”, it doesn’t just speak of giving preference, but actually showing preference. There are situations in which man can show preference for things that are unavoidable like the weather. For example, John may prefer sunshine to a rainy day, because the weather is out of his control. Acting man chooses, determines, and tries to reach an end. If there are two things which a man cannot have at the same time, then he must select one give up the other. Therefore, action always involves both taking and renunciation.

Finally, I want to express that Praxeology doesn’t distinguish between “active” or “passive” action. There’s no difference between a cook who shows up to work everyday, or an unemployed college grad who chooses to stay home instead of looking for work. If you have the ability to change the future, it doesn't matter whether you do something or not, it is still an action

Human action is purposeful behavior, something that we are all in a position to understand, and it is the distinguishing characteristic of human beings. This is what Praxeology studies. I’ll see you in the next lesson.