Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Praxis, Common Praxis, and Praxeology

Praxis is action; common praxis is the action common to a group who must act as they do to cooperate and coordinate their actions. Mathematics has a common praxis. So, too, does physics, chemistry, and biology. The arts and humanities almost do not have a common praxis -- though the overlaps are themselves interesting. Between the simple sciences and the arts & humanities is the complex sciences, the social -- or humane -- sciences. This of course includes psychology, economics, and sociology. There are some aspects in which the social sciences have common praxis, with considerable divergence. This is perhaps not surprising, given the complexity of what is being studied. Complexity implies more perspectives are possible. The arts and humanities, of course, are highly perspectivist in nature. The more values come into play, the less likely one is to share a common praxis, too. Math and physics do not bring many values into play other than the values of truth and accuracy. But what values come into play when making an economic analysis? Or in analyzing a poem?

Where does this leave praxeology? One can certainly study human action, and determine what would be the best action to accomplish a particular goal. One can even recommend a common praxis if one is to work with others to accomplish a common goal. To achieve coordination of plans, there has to be a common praxis. With a common praxis, you can get people to cooperate and coordinate -- this is true in a business or in collaborations, be they online or in the real world. Which implies that the internet will be good for engaging in business and in engaging in the simple sciences -- but will be less helpful in making advances in areas where there is less of a shared praxis.

One possibility is that the internet will actually help those who do share a common praxis in more complex endeavors to get together -- not just online, but in the real world. Want to be a Marxist and live in a Marxist country? By all means, get all of those who share that common world view, find a place to move to, and move everyone there. Want to live in a Keynesian economy? Get all your fellow Keynesians, move someplace, and get to work setting it up. This, I think, is the future. When we get over the idea that there must be a state, once we accept that there can be a variety of governments, and once we get it into our heads that the free movement of people is a good, not a bad, thing, then we will be in a situation where we can peacefully divide up like this, set up areas of common praxis, and have true societal competition. Then we will see which society is, truly, the best. Through competition, we will discover which common praxes are best.
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