Praxeology - Episode 8

Translations of this material:

into Russian: Праксиология Эпизод 8 — Время. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by IrinaChernykh 11.06.2015
into Spanish: Praxeología - Episodio 8. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by inmanez 29.01.2012
into French: Praxéologie - Episode 8 . Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by briquolo 26.01.2012


Hi guys, Praxgirl here.

In our last lesson, I spoke of the Praxeological category of a man’s Scale of Values. I showed how Praxeology determines what a man actually prefers.

In this lesson I would like to introduce the next Praxeological category of action, Time. The concept of time is crucial to understanding the universal laws of action. Time is the concept that separates the science of Praxeology from all other schools of thought that deal with human action. Without time, the treatment of action would be the same as mathematics. It would mean that all the relations and implications of the science of Praxeology would be coexistent. 1 plus 1 does not make a thing 2, it’s merely another way of describing what makes two. But with action, time is a crucial function in that once thing must follow another, and they must be understood in terms of cause and effect or in other words……change.

Action is a real agency that produces change in our universe. A man acts to satisfy some desire; to seek change. The concept of change implies the concept of time. When we speak of an action, we reference the time before the action (the past), the time absorbed by the action (the present), and the time after the action (the future).

Acting provides man with the awareness of time. He can think of the way things were and the way he desires things to be.

Action is always directed towards the future. It is the desire to remove the uneasiness that would continue if a man did not act. In planning to change our situations, we become aware of time.

Our awareness of time is always conditioned by our actions. It makes our perception of time differ from that of the way a machine measures time. The time we measure using watches and clocks is always the past. The time we measure through action involves identifying our uneasiness, planning to remove that uneasiness, and doing something to remove it. Action always occurs in the present, and the present in terms of an action is much different than when we refer to the movements of atoms or planets through space.

Time is also scarce for us. From the moment we start acting we have to economize our time just like we economize other scarce factors.

Time differs from the physical goods and services we economize in our lives in that it can logically never be superabundant with reference to action.

Even if you were in the Garden of Eden, and had unlimited resources, you would still have to economize your time. You would have to choose to do one thing before the other. Although anything you desired could be provided to you without any expenditure of labor, you still would have to plan what you want to consume first, as there are states of satisfaction, which are incompatible to each other. For example, you can’t sleep and read at the same time.

Because of the incompatibility of states of satisfactions, actions of an individual cannot happen at the same instant. They can happen in rapid succession or one action can serve multiple purposes, but between two actions, one must always follow the other. It would then also be inappropriate to refer to an action that satisfies various purposes as a coincidence of various actions.

The fact that two actions cannot be performed at the same time by one individual implies the logical necessity that actions are independent of each other with respect to their Scale of Value. The Scale of Value is only a tool that outsiders use to make sense of an action. It would be incorrect to call an action irrational by comparing an individual’s real action with what he earlier planned to do.

Take for example this reasoning:

If John prefers A to B and B to C, logically, he should prefer A to C. But if he actually prefers C to A, then some would argue that this is not consistent and therefore it’s not rational.

These critics fail to see that because these two actions do not happen at the same time, it is not appropriate to construct one uniform scale of value where A precedes B and B precedes C. Two actions demonstrate two different scales of value.

Hopefully you can see the importance time has in understanding action. Action brings about change, and the implications of the idea of action necessitate a truly human concept of time. It shows that devising mathematical models to predict human behavior is outright bogus. In acting we are is essentially and necessarily always planning and acting for a better future and this makes time a truly a definite and undeniable truth.

I’ll see you guys in the next lesson.