Praxeology - Episode 4 - Prerequisites of Action
Translations of this material:
- into Russian: Праксиология Эпизод 4 — Предпосылки действия. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by IrinaChernykh 09.06.2015
- into Polish: Prakseologia - Część 4 - Przesłanki działań. 82% translated in draft. Almost done, let's finish it!
Submitted for translation by homearmy 23.11.2011
- into Hebrew: פרקסאולוגיה - פרק 4 - דרישות הקדם לפעולה. 92% translated in draft. Almost done, let's finish it!
Submitted for translation by Talz 07.11.2011
- into French: Praxéologie - Episode 4 - Les Pré-requis à l'Action. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by briquolo 08.09.2011
- into Dutch: Praxeologie - Aflevering 4 - Vereisten van Actie. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by chamullero 25.08.2011
- into Spanish: Praxeología - Episodio 4 - Requisitos previos de la Acción. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by perogruyo 13.08.2011
Hi guys, Praxgirl here.
In our last lesson, we elaborated on all those human actions that can be described as purposeful behavior, which are Praxeology’s area of focus. We separated human action sharply from reflexive behavior, wishful thinking, and psychological concepts. We showed that every human action, even the most menial ones, can be thought of as an exchange between the things we could have done, and that what we actually do.
In this lesson I’d like to define the prerequisites of human action, that is to say, the fundamental and logically necessary conditions required for a man to act purposefully.
A man acts when he is eager to remove some uneasiness. His environment is in some unsatisfactory state, and he wishes to change it into a more satisfactory state. His mind imagines conditions that could suit him better, and his action aims at bringing about this desired state. If a man believes that his action can bring about a better state of affairs, he can act.
Here we have defined the 3 prerequisites of action:
1. A state of uneasiness.
2. An imagined world without this uneasiness.
3. The belief that action can achieve this change.
These are the conditions under which man lives. If you remove one of the conditions, you logically break the concept of purposeful action. For example, if you remove a man’s uneasiness, you destroy his incentive for acting. You’re no longer talking about a real man, but a perfectly happy individual with no reason to change his state. The remaining conditions become irrelevant. If you remove the second or third condition, you have a man with uneasiness, but no ability to either imagine change, or believe that his actions can change the future. In this world, a man would have to yield to the inevitable; to submit to destiny.
Action therefore, is always a man’s attempt to achieve happiness. We will be using the word “happiness” to mean those subjective goals that a man tries to achieve when he acts. Praxeology doesn’t concern itself with what “should” make a man happy.
To Praxeology, the only concern the performed action and the logic that governs it, not what makes a man feel uneasy or less uneasy. In this sense, the ultimate goals of action are of no difference to Praxeology as a science. Its findings are valid for all purposeful behavior.
No matter how minute or extreme the situation, if the action can be defined as purposeful, the prerequisites of action are necessary, and a choice is demonstrated. Like the dichotomy between the active and passive man from our previous lesson, man decides, determines and chooses even in those times when we would colloquially refer to an action as an impulse or an instinct.
Man chooses even when emotions are high. Unlike animals, man is not a slave to the characteristics of “instincts”, but is capable of subduing his instincts, emotions and impulses. What distinguishes an emotional action from other actions is only valuation of input and output by the actor. Inflamed by ridicule, George may see a the goal of hitting John as more desirable and the price he has to pay for it as less burdensome than he would in cool deliberation. It may be that George’s impulse is so strong, that he can see no disadvantage which hitting John may cause. Nevertheless, if we reflect on the logical prerequisites that George had to follow in order to achieve the end of hitting John, we know that he arranged his wishes and desires into a scale—that he chose –in short, that he acted.
I’ll see you in the next lesson.