Manifestation of the Mind

‘Production is not something physical, material, and external; it is a spiritual and intellectual phenomenon.


The “productive forces” are not material. Production is a spiritual, intellectual, and ideological phenomenon. It is the method that man, directed by reason, employs for the best possible removal of uneasiness. What distinguishes our conditions from those of our ancestors who lived one thousand or twenty thousand years ago is not something material, but something spiritual. The material changes are the outcome of the spiritual changes.

Production is alteration of the given according to the designs of reason. These designs—the recipes, the formulas, the ideologies—are the primary thing; they transform the original factors—both human and nonhuman—into means. Man produces by dint of his reason; he chooses ends and employs means for their attainment. The popular saying according to which economics deals with the material conditions of human life is entirely mistaken. Human action is a manifestation of the mind. In this sense praxeology can be called a moral science (Geisteswissenschaft).

Of course, we do not know what mind is, just as we do not know what motion, life, electricity are. Mind is simply the word to signify the unknown factor that has enabled men to achieve all that they have accomplished: the theories and the poems, the cathedrals and the symphonies, the motorcars and the airplanes.’

– Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

‘The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.’

– Sir Winston Churchill, speech at Harvard University, September 6, 1943

A New Kind of Science

‘A remarkable feature of the new kind of science in this book is that it makes genuine research accessible to people with almost no specific technical knowledge. For it is almost certain that experiments on, say, some specific cellular automaton whose rule has been picked at random from a large set will never have been done before. To conclude anything interesting from such experiments nevertheless requires certain scientific methodology and judgement–but from an educational point of view this represents a uniquely accessible environment in which to develop such skills.’

– Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science, page 855

..surprisingly young children are able to grasp many key ideas in this book..’

‘The new kind of science in this book represents a unique educational opportunity. For it touches an immense range of important and compelling everyday phenomena and issues in science, yet to understand its key ideas requires no prior scientific or technical education. So this means that it is potentially realistic to use as the basis for an overall introduction to the ideas of science. And indeed having understood its basic elements, it becomes vastly easier to understand many aspects of traditional science, and to see how they fit into the whole framework of knowledge.

..with good presentation, surprisingly young children are able to grasp many key ideas in this book—even if their knowledge of mathematics does not go beyond the simplest operations on numbers.

Over the past fifty or so years traditional mathematics has become a core part of education. And while its more elementary aspects are certainly crucial for everyday modern life, beyond basic algebra its central place in education must presumably be justified more on the basis of promoting overall patterns of thinking than in supplying specific factual knowledge of everyday relevance. But in fact I believe that the basic aspects of the new kind of science in this book in many ways provide more suitable material for general education than traditional mathematics. They involve some of the same kinds of precise thinking, but do not rely on abstract concepts that are potentially very difficult to communicate. And insofar as they involve the development of technical expertise, it is in the direction of computing—which is vastly more relevant to modern life than advanced mathematics.’

– Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science, page 855

‘..a partial return to more understandable physics..’

‘It is possible that this new era also means a partial return to more understandable physics. For the non-specialists four-dimensional relativity theory, and the indeterminism of atom structure have always been mystic and difficult to understand. I believe that it is easier to explain the 33 instabilities in plasma physics or the resonance structure of the solar system. The increased emphasis on the new fields mean a certain demystification of physics. In the spiral or trochoidal motion which science makes during the centuries, its guiding center has returned to those regions from where it started. It was the wonders of the night sky, observed by Indians, Sumerians or Egyptians, that started science several thousand years ago. It was the question why the wanderers – the planets – moved as they did that triggered off the scientific avalanche several hundred years ago. The same objects are now again in the center of science – only the questions we ask are different. We now ask how to go there, and we also ask how these bodies once were formed. And if the night sky on which we observe them is at a high latitude, outside this lecture hall – perhaps over a small island in the archipelago of Stockholm – we may also see in the sky an aurora, which is a cosmic plasma, reminding us of the time when our world was born out of plasma. Because in the beginning was the plasma.’

– Hannes Alfvén, Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1970