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October 10, 1973 — the Day Ludwig von Mises Died

Summary:
On this day in 1973, the Mets beat the Reds in the National League Championship to make the World Series, where they would eventually lose to the Oakland A's -- who featured several star pitchers Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers, and World Series MVP Reggie Jackson. Also on this day, Spiro Agnew, the Vice President of the United States, was forced to resign in the face of allegations of corruption and tax fraud. And, the world of economic scholarship and teaching lost ones of it towering intellects, as Ludwig von Mises passed away at the age of 92. As was pointed out many times, if judged by the scientific contributions of his students, Mises must be considered one of the greatest teachers of economics in the first half of the 20th century. Those include not only

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On this day in 1973, the Mets beat the Reds in the National League Championship to make the World Series, where they would eventually lose to the Oakland A's -- who featured several star pitchers Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers, and World Series MVP Reggie Jackson.

Also on this day, Spiro Agnew, the Vice President of the United States, was forced to resign in the face of allegations of corruption and tax fraud.

And, the world of economic scholarship and teaching lost ones of it towering intellects, as Ludwig von Mises passed away at the age of 92.

As was pointed out many times, if judged by the scientific contributions of his students, Mises must be considered one of the greatest teachers of economics in the first half of the 20th century. Those include not only Hayek, but Haberler, Machlup and Morgenstern.  His scientific peer from the Vienna days was Joseph Schumpeter and his closest peer in the US would have been Frank Knight.  A teacher of rare ability and a scholar of even rarer gifts, Mises played a major role in shaping directly and indirectly the development of property rights economics, law and economics, public choice economics, and of course market process economics.

I recently wrote a piece for The Independent Review discussing the contribution that Mises's great treatise Human Action has made, and continues to make, in the social sciences and social theory more generally.  I have in other places discussed his Socialism as well.  It is important to grasp the importance of his life and work. There is a new movie effort to do so.

But my sincere hope is not that we view Mises as a heroic figure from a bygone era, but instead we read him afresh and treat his ideas disembodied from the person and his time, and modify them and make them real and valuable for our time.  Mises himself argued that economics, and indeed liberalism, is not a fixed doctrine, but a living body of thought.  Just as he build upon the historical legacy left to him by the classical political economists from Smith to Mill, and the early neoclassical economists such as Menger and Bohm-Bawerk and Wicksell, we must appropriate from his work those concepts and theoretical structures that are most useful for understanding our world today and address the pressing policy issues of today.

Peter Boettke
Peter Joseph Boettke (January 3, 1960) is an American economist of the Austrian School. He is currently a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University; the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Vice President for Research, and Director of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU.

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