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Questioning Subjectivism

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 2:44 PM

Of course it's a pathology, of course it's abnormal, of course the brain is working in a very peculiar manner, but there's no reason to seperate this behavior from "human action".

Pathological behavior need not, and should not, be removed from market/moral calculation.

Very bizarre pathological values and goals do occasionally have a significant effect on markets and moral behavior. If not, how do you explain Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and idolization of central authority the world over? These are pathological values that are self-destructive for the sole purpose of being self-destructive (Even though those holding these values haven't the slightest idea that they are self-destructive.).

Huge groups of people can act pathologically, so what? It's part of the human condition. You might say that these people are different because they percieve a goal, but people can rationalize doing anything you can imagine. That doesn't make it any less pathological.

Sorry if you're not trying to make that destinction, but that's how I understand it.

I'm working from the definition of "any deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition."

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These are pathological values that are self-destructive for the sole purpose of being self-destructive (Even though those holding these values haven't the slightest idea that they are self-destructive.).

 

These groups, along with loopy left subsidized philosophers can "deconstruct" all they want.  Anybody can do that.  The probelm arises is that there is no way to "reconstruct" anything sociological in any conceivable way.  Certainly not in anyway they are speaking of, as we claim they are simply not making sense.  

If it comes down to "I'm going to annhilate this, just because" and those deliberate destructive socal signals becomes a fashion, there is only so much you can do.  If they are that obsessed with either Platonic Politcal Positions and they try to be "good anarchists", "good nihilists", "good leftists","good nazis","good progressives", "good scientists", or whatever or if they are so obsessed with social pecking order that promotes nihilistic baviour; you have to kind of just figure out how the hell not to get burnt too badly.

They are not doing philosophy, economics, sociology, within any meaningful context. 

As Shumpeter says "Science progresses when the old professors die out".

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 4:03 PM

The probelm arises is that there is no way to "reconstruct" anything sociological in any conceivable way.

That's where I fundamentally disagree. One can not only understand society and markets while including pathological behavior, but some parts of society and markets can only be explained by pathology. Trying to seperate pathological actions out of the society makes the society inexplicable.
There are small groups of pathological thinkers that can disseminate into healthy minds, thereby bringing about self destructive cults such as democratic, communistic, and cannibalistic societies. (Historically progressing in that order, haha.)
On the subject of economics, and on a smaller scale, one person buying a product for solely pathological reasons (IE, buying battery acid in order to drink it.) has a a real effect on market prices. It doesn't make sense to remove pathological activities from the equation.

I don't understand why it's necessary to separate pathological behavior from the rest of society in order to make accurate economic and sociological observations.

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Trying to seperate pathological actions out of the society makes the society inexplicable

I think you're looking too much into what "pathological" is.  It is a clinical term in the health field

All we can say in social theory is the empty set "pathology is antisocial behavior", which tells me nothing.

As far as seperating it'seconomic activity, we can't do it.  It would be impossible

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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 4:21 PM

Huge groups of people can act pathologically, so what? It's part of the human condition. You might say that these people are different because they percieve a goal, but people can rationalize doing anything you can imagine. That doesn't make it any less pathological.

Not really. I'm using the word "pathological" slightly loosely and only in analogy to its medical use. A behavior is pathological when it is not according to the manifest function of the organism. A bee that stings itself is behaving pathologically in that the manifest function of the bee's stinger is to sting something other than itself. There innumerable examples that could be given from biology and medicine. A pathology is almost by definition something that affects a small minority of the population unless it has become an epidemic. Is there really an epidemic of people putting needles in their backside??

In humans, pathological behavior is much more difficult to specify precisely because humans can intentionally choose to thwart the manifest function of their physiology for some purpose or other. What is constant in all human behavior, however, is that it has a purpose. If an individual is not acting for a purpose (perhaps because he is fevered, deluded or psychotic), then he is exhibiting pathological behavior. Specifically, if he is inflicting pain or harm on himself for no other reason, then he is not acting with purpose and is, therefore, behaving pathologically. I'm not saying that this can be determined objectively... it cannot in many cases because purposing is itself subjective. But I'm saying that the fact that people can act without purpose does not disprove the action axiom, it only says that humans can suffer from pathological conditions that impair their ability to act.

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 9:18 PM

Right, but behaviors like drinking battery acid and sticking needles in oneself are not only done by people that are unable to control themselves, or at least there's no evidence to suggest that they are less in control of themselves than anyone else.
I just don't see why it's necessary to remove these types of people from the "action axiom" to make correct observations about society.

What is the function of categorizing them in this way or is it entirely pathological? cheeky

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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 10:36 PM

behaviors like drinking battery acid and sticking needles in oneself ... I just don't see why it's necessary to remove these types of people from the "action axiom" to make correct observations about society.

I've explained this a half-dozen times so far... because it serves no purpose (cannot lead to one's own satisfaction) and action is purposeful behavior. All human behavior is purposeful behavior, that is, all human behavior except for pathological behavior (behavior that is the result of a malfunction of the mind, whether because of physiological or psychological factors). For example, advanced Alzheimer's patients do not act. Braindead people and people in comas do not act. Someone with a high fever and delusional does not act. Someone who is paranoid schizophrenic - despite exhibiting complex "control" over himself in many ways - does not act, at least, not insofar as his behavior results from the schizophrenia. Someone who has an obsession with masochistic behaviors for the sake of inflicting pain and for no other sake - be it cutting, beating, whatever - is exhibiting pathological behavior in exactly the same sense as those pathologies already mentioned.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 10:44 PM

From the Wiki on Albert Fish, "None of the jurors doubted that Fish was insane."

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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 10:45 PM

@Seraiah: How much of Human Action have you read?

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Seraiah replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 11:30 PM

Clayton:
From the Wiki on Albert Fish, "None of the jurors doubted that Fish was insane."


That's funny, because from what I remember the juror convicted him of first degree murder, and had him executed. I didn't think they did that to insane people.
As the story goes, he jumped up on the electric chair, excited to try something new, and then shorted out the chair due to all the pins in him, then they had to do it again, and he died.

I'm being somewhat facetious, the jury likely voted him sane just so that they could kill him but you're changing the subject. What's your argument for drinking battery acid and sticking needles in a person as being a non-purposeful act?

This is all part of human action and needn't be separated from it.

Remember, this whole conversation started because you were positing that no human being would ever willingly drink battery acid. I said that's absurd, people have done similar things before, like someone putting needles in himself. You agreed that was a similar action but you're saying that they're not purposeful or directed towards an end. I said it absolutely is purposeful and directed towards an end; Masochism.

So what differentiates drinking battery acid and putting needles in oneself from masochism? You insist you've answered this question, but I haven't seen it.

Edited while next post was placed-
People act in masochistic, sadistic, and altruistic ways that aren't apparently geared toward any normal human need. It's all still part of human action in a society.

Apparently sane people not under duress will willingly sign up to kill people in a foreign country that they've never met, having their friends killed and getting dismembered in the process. One can easily argue that this is an extremely masochistic and sadistic act with very little monetary value returned, and yet we don't remove this from sociological observations for being pathological or some uncontrollable action.

Or how about the man that goes out into the woods and devotes himself to God and dies alone? Or one that goes to Africa to help the poor and eventually dies on his knees? Pathological, uncontrollable?

People do baffling stuff, even though they have the same capacity to control their actions as anyone else does. They still have an effect on societies and markets, so again, why the destinction?
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Clayton:
How much of Human Action have you read?

Perhaps you can quote the relevant portion so that I can understand better.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Jul 12 2012 11:42 PM

*sigh

I shouldn't but I'll do it anyway. Here's one last shot. From Human Action:

Chapter 1. Acting Man.

1. Purposeful Action and Animal Reaction


Human action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at ends and goals, is the ego's meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person's conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life. Such paraphrases may clarify the definition given and prevent possible misinterpretations. But the definition itself is adequate and does not need complement of commentary.

Conscious or purposeful behavior is in sharp contrast to unconscious behavior, i.e., the reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli. People are sometimes prepared to believe that the boundaries between conscious behavior and the involuntary reaction of the forces operating within man's body are more or less indefinite. This is correct only as far as it is sometimes not easy to establish whether concrete behavior is to be considered voluntary or involuntary. But the distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness is nonetheless sharp and can be clearly determined.

The unconscious behavior of the bodily organs and cells is for the acting ego no less a datum than any other fact of the external world. Acting man must take into account all that goes on within his own body as well as other data, e.g., the weather or the attitudes of his neighbors. There is, of course, a margin within which purposeful behavior has the power to neutralize the working of bodily factors. It is feasible within certain limits to get the body under control. Man can sometimes succeed through the power of his will in overcoming sickness, in compensating for the innate or acquired insufficiency of his physical constitution, or in suppressing reflexes. As far as this is possible, the field of purposeful action is extended. If a man abstains from controlling the involuntary reaction of cells and nerve centers, although he would be in a position to do so, his behavior is from our point of view purposeful.

The field of our science is human action, not the psychological [p. 12] events which result in an action. It is precisely this which distinguishes the general theory of human action, praxeology, from psychology. The theme of psychology is the internal events that result or can result in a definite action. The theme of praxeology is action as such. This also settles the relation of praxeology to the psychoanalytical concept of the subconscious. Psychoanalysis too is psychology and does not investigate action but the forces and factors that impel a man toward a definite action. The psychoanalytical subconscious is a psychological and not a praxeological category. Whether an action stems from clear deliberation, or from forgotten memories and suppressed desires which from submerged regions, as it were, direct the will, does not influence the nature of the action. The murderer whom a subconscious urge (the Id) drives toward his crime and the neurotic whose aberrant behavior seems to be simply meaningless to an untrained observer both act; they like anybody else are aiming at certain ends. It is the merit of psychoanalysis that it has demonstrated that even the behavior of neurotics and psychopaths is meaningful, that they too act and aim at ends, although we who consider ourselves normal and sane call the reasoning determining their choice of ends nonsensical and the means they choose for the attainment of these ends contrary to purpose.

The term "unconscious" as used by praxeology and the terms "subconscious" and "unconscious" as applied by psychoanalysis belong to two different systems of thought and research. Praxeology no less than other branches of knowledge owes much to psychoanalysis. The more necessary is it then to become aware of the line which separates praxeology from psychoanalysis.

Action is not simply giving preference. Man also shows preference in situations in which things and events are unavoidable or are believed to be so. Thus a man may prefer sunshine to rain and may wish that the sun would dispel the clouds. He who only wishes and hopes does not interfere actively with the course of events and with the shaping of his own destiny. But acting man chooses, determines, and tries to reach an end. Of two things both of which he cannot have together he selects one and gives up the other. Action therefore always involves both taking and renunciation.

To express wishes and hopes and to announce planned action may be forms of action in so far as they aim in themselves at the realization of a certain purpose. But they must not be confused with the actions to which they refer. They are not identical with the actions they announce, recommend, or reject. Action is a real thing. [p. 13] What counts is a man's total behavior, and not his talk about planned but not realized acts. On the other hand action must be clearly distinguished from the application of labor. Action means the employment of means for the attainment of ends. As a rule one of the means employed is the acting man's labor. But this is not always the case. Under special conditions a word is all that is needed. He who gives orders or interdictions may act without any expenditure of labor. To talk or not to talk, to smile or to remain serious, may be action. To consume and to enjoy are no less action than to abstain from accessible consumption and enjoyment.

Praxeology consequently does not distinguish between "active" or energetic and "passive" or indolent man. The vigorous man industriously striving for the improvement of his condition acts neither more nor less than the lethargic man who sluggishly takes things as they come. For to do nothing and to be idle are also action, they too determine the course of events. Wherever the conditions for human interference are present, man acts no matter whether he interferes or refrains from interfering. He who endures what he could change acts no less than he who interferes in order to attain another result. A man who abstains from influencing the operation of physiological and instinctive factors which he could influence also acts. Action is not only doing but no less omitting to do what possibly could be done.

We may say that action is the manifestation of a man's will. But this would not add anything to our knowledge. For the term will means nothing else than man's faculty to choose between different states of affairs, to prefer one, to set aside the other, and to behave according to the decision made in aiming at the chosen state and forsaking the other.

-------------

Mises would categorize insanity as a kind of sicknes - it is a sickness of the mind not the tissues, but a sickness no less - and to the extent that a man cannot influence or control his sickness, he is incapacitated, unable to act. Human action is not the involuntary twitching of a comatose body, it is the purposeful, planned action of an individual attempting to attain an end by the application of means, even if that means is doing nothing. Mises is using the word "action" in a specialized sense, not in the ordinary sense of "any kind of physical motion."

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Seraiah replied on Fri, Jul 13 2012 12:07 AM

Mises:
It is the merit of psychoanalysis that it has demonstrated that even the behavior of neurotics and psychopaths is meaningful, that they too act and aim at ends, although we who consider ourselves normal and sane call the reasoning determining their choice of ends nonsensical and the means they choose for the attainment of these ends contrary to purpose.

This is exactly what I've said and the exact opposite of what you've said.

Mises:
We may say that action is the manifestation of a man's will. But this would not add anything to our knowledge. For the term will means nothing else than man's faculty to choose between different states of affairs, to prefer one, to set aside the other, and to behave according to the decision made in aiming at the chosen state and forsaking the other.

This is a perfectly rational definition for human action that makes perfect sense to me. Mises doesn't remove pathological or abberrant behavior from Human Action, he does the exact opposite. He includes any human that can do anything beyond uncontrollable reflexes. He talks like he's going to add or remove something to the term of Human Action and then the quote ends. lol?

A twitching comatose body is not the same as a person that puts needles in himself or drinks battery acid. The former is an involuntary action, the latter are voluntary purposeful actions.

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AJ replied on Fri, Jul 13 2012 9:24 AM

Two words: time preference.

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