True belief will always stop short of penetrating its sacred mystery. In revealed religion, this disposition often takes form in prohibitions against any naming of God. In theoretical materialism, the equivalent prohibitions forbid all hope of solution to the very problem conjured by the words ‘economic science’, viz.: a mathematically precise synthesis of the mutually necessary interrelationships among physical quanta, money, and prices that control an economic system’s efficient approach to stasis.
Economists have variously labeled this problem as their ‘Vienna’, ‘socialist calculation’, or ‘economic computation’ problem. By whatever name, this problem's solution would presumably be just what any science calling itself ‘economics’ has nominated itself to do. That being the case, it is certainly worth noting that entry into the economists’ guild requires a professed belief that objective demonstrata of what the economy does are beyond the scope of human intellect:
It will be evident, even in the socialist society, that 1,000 hectolitres of wine are better than 800, and it is not difficult to decide whether it desires 1,000 hectolitres of wine rather than 500 of oil. There is no need for any system of calculation to establish this fact: the deciding element is the will of the economic subjects involved. But once this decision has been taken, the real task of rational economic direction only commences, i.e. economically, to place the means at the service of the end. That can only be done with some kind of economic calculation. The human mind cannot orientate itself properly among the bewildering mass of intermediate products and potentialities of production without such aid. It would simply stand perplexed before the problems of management and location.1
Ludwig von Mises delivered himself of these sentiments in 1920 with what were certainly the best of intentions, viz.: to warn against mankind's imminent adoption of command socialism. Unfortunately for the Twentieth Century, his warnings were not heeded. And, unfortunately for economic science, the residual import of Mises' work has been to transect economics' development as an observational science in the Western tradition. Where the writings of Menger, Walras, and Pareto have economic science developing in parallel to the great engineering disciplines during the Nineteenth Century, after 1920 economics became . . . a pure theory of action and Choice 2 such that Trying to ‘empirically test’ an economic law involves a category mistake and is a sign of confusion.3 Thus . . .
One of the most challenging and important jobs for an economics professor is to teach students how little we know and can possibly know.4_______________________