The Many Faces of
‘Freedom’
Tibor G. Molnar
Philosophy Corner, 2nd
July, 2013.
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 2
What is ‘Freedom’?
At first blush, we might say that we feel ‘free’ – in so...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 3
What is ‘Freedom’?
For example: when we are presented at the candy store wi...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 4
What is ‘Freedom’?
But… (in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… this doesn’...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 5
‘Physical’ Freedom
Let’s start with the easy one – the scientific/physics a...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 6
‘Physical’ Freedom
Similarly, ‘real freedom-to-choose’ entails the actual a...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 7
‘Physical’ Freedom
Thus on any physical interpretation, ‘choice’, ‘freedom’...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 8
‘Physical’ Freedom
Undeterred by physical ‘reality’, some libertarian think...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 9
‘Metaphysical’ Freedom
The metaphysical account avoids all these ‘physical’...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 10
Freedom – the Absence of External Interference
Michel Foucault held a simi...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 11
Freedom – the Absence of External Interference
The English philosopher Joh...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 12
Freedom – the Absence of External Interference
So, according to Locke,
(a)...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 13
Freedom – the Absence of External Interference
Our hopes, dreams and aspir...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 14
Freedom – the Absence of External Interference
Bentham accepted that the W...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 15
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
But… (and in philosophy the...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 16
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
First, ‘interference from/b...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 17
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
Immanuel Kant echoed Plato,...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 18
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
At a minimum, deciding how ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 19
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
Or, indeed, one woman’s pas...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 20
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
Second, interference from/b...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 21
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
It was this relegation of G...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 22
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
So, freedom cannot simply b...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 23
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
Indeed, for Nietzsche,
“[…]...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 24
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
The Danish philosopher and ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 25
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
By 1843, Kierkegaard worked...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 26
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
But this much is certain: w...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 27
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
Much more recently, Martin ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 28
Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference
And third, interference fro...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 29
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 30
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
Hegel maintained that human nature is ‘nor...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 31
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
Today, it seems as unlikely as ever that t...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 32
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
For Hegel, ‘Freedom’ is not an all-or-noth...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 33
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
The English ‘Idealist’ philosopher, Thomas...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 34
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
In other words, says Green, freedom (of wi...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 35
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
Thus, for Green, “freedom” is constituted ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 36
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
The other, Augustinian, view 36
is that th...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 37
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
“The only kind”, said the German-born Amer...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 38
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
The Canadian ‘Idealist’ philosopher, Charl...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 39
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
In his 1991 Massey Lecture 40
– The Malais...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 40
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
Following Heidegger and Wittgenstein, Tayl...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 41
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 42
Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’
No, said Taylor, ‘positive freedom’ is not...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 43
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 44
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
Hence freedom entails positive ‘independence’ ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 45
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
And, on this interpretation, one is ‘unfree’ i...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 46
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
One is also ‘unfree’ if one is the subject of ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 47
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
Until the Declaration of Independence in 1776,...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 48
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
And one is also often “unfree” if one is a wom...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 49
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
Contemporary examples of dependence on arbitra...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 50
Freedom – as ‘Independence’
But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 51
So, what does ‘Freedom’ Mean to Us?
Quentin Skinner (2012)
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 52
So, What is ‘Freedom’?
First, at a minimum, we might say this:
If we perce...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 53
So, What is ‘Freedom’?
But note that on this interpretation, ‘freedom’ is ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 54
So, What is ‘Freedom’?
However, libertarian freedom of a causally ‘under-d...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 55
So, What is ‘Freedom’?
Even the self-declared “compatibilist”,55
Daniel De...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 56
So, What is ‘Freedom’?
So, perhaps Spinoza was right, and should have the ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 57
Acknowledgement
This presentation draws heavily on a lecture by Professor
...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 58
Thank You
Tibor G. Molnar
Centre for Continuing Education
University of Sy...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 59
Endnotes
1.: John Locke: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd
Treatise,...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 60
inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man: as freedom ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 61
unless it be to aggravate it. The only difference is, great robbers punish...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 62
created to his fellow subjects; that is, any part of mankind: from whence ...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 63
with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, an...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 64
candidates and electors, and new-model the ways of election, what is it bu...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 65
see, that he, who has once attempted any such thing as this, cannot any lo...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 66
Adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre [1905-1980], major
philo...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 67
“Authenticity” is the condition of significant, emotionally appropriate li...
© 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 68
My personal view is that existentialism is not a philosophical “movement” ...
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"The Many Faces of Freedom:" by Tibor Molnar

  1. 1. The Many Faces of ‘Freedom’ Tibor G. Molnar Philosophy Corner, 2nd July, 2013.
  2. 2. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 2 What is ‘Freedom’? At first blush, we might say that we feel ‘free’ – in some-or-other ‘meaningful’ way – when/where a) we are presented with multiple ‘real’ (actual) alternative courses of action, from which we may choose, and b) we are at liberty, and able, to choose one (or none) of them. Conversely, we typically feel that we are not free – constrained, “unfree” – when/where a) we have no choice – i.e., we have no ‘real’ alternatives to choose from, or b) we are not at liberty, or unable, to choose.
  3. 3. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 3 What is ‘Freedom’? For example: when we are presented at the candy store with a choice of, say, caramels and liquorice allsorts, we are (at least in principle) free to choose between them. And even if the store had only caramels, say, we would still be free to choose between buying and not buying them. This line of thinking led Jean-Paul Sartre to conclude that: a) we always have a choice (even if it is only a “Hobson’s choice”), and b) we always exercise a choice, even when we choose not to choose; and hence that we are always fully responsible for all our actions (and inactions) all of the time. In Sartre’s own words, “we are condemned to be free.” 1 1 Jean-Paul Sartre [1905-1980]: Existentialism and Humanism, tr. Philip Mairet (Methuen, 1948)
  4. 4. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 4 What is ‘Freedom’? But… (in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… this doesn’t explain what it means to be free. So, what is “freedom”? Or, more particularly, What does it mean to have a “choice”? Are our ‘choices’ real, or are they illusory? What does it mean to be ‘free’ to choose? What does it take to exercise a ‘choice’? There are two very different ways of approaching these questions: 1) via Physics – i.e., via neuroscience and physical laws and 2) via Metaphysics – i.e., via psychological, social & political norms.
  5. 5. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 5 ‘Physical’ Freedom Let’s start with the easy one – the scientific/physics approach. ‘Real choice’ entails the actual possibility of multiple (different and mutually exclusive) events/outcomes issuing from one single physical circumstance or state-of-affairs. In other words, ‘real choice’ requires that events/outcomes be less than fully determined/constrained by their circumstances/initial conditions – i.e., that there must be real, one-to-many pathways between spatio-temporally adjacent, physical states-of-affairs. (After all, if different events/outcomes required different circumstances, then for any one actual circumstance/state-of-affairs only one event/outcome (commensurate with that actual circumstance) would ever be actually possible; and other, albeit apparent/imaginable alternatives would not be realisable.)
  6. 6. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 6 ‘Physical’ Freedom Similarly, ‘real freedom-to-choose’ entails the actual ability of an agent to select one action/outcome from among the multiple ‘real choices’ that are actually available to it – via a selection process that is driven solely by, say, its own ‘Free Will’; where that ‘Will’ is: a) less than fully constrained by the agent’s external circumstances, and b) less than fully determined/constrained by its internal, physical state. (After all, if enacting different selections required that the agent be in different circumstances/states, then only one action/outcome at a time would ever actually be available to it, and its ‘freedom-to-choose’ other, albeit apparent/imaginable alternative would not be realisable.) Hence ‘freedom-to-choose’ also requires there be real, one-to-many pathways between the agent’s own internal spatio-temporally adjacent, physical states.
  7. 7. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 7 ‘Physical’ Freedom Thus on any physical interpretation, ‘choice’, ‘freedom’ and ‘freedom-to-choose’ all entail actual, physical one-to-many pathways between spatio-temporally adjacent states-of-affairs. both within agents’ brains and elsewhere. This is something that classical, ‘Lagrangian’ physics specifically denies! In the 18th century Pierre-Louis Maupertuis derived, and later Joseph-Louis Lagrange formalised, the Principle of ‘Least Action’; which shows that from any one physical state-of-affairs, only one event can ever be first to arise.2 3 2 Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis [1698-1759]: Derivation of the laws of motion and equilibrium from a metaphysical principle (1746). 3 Joseph-Louis Lagrange [1736-1813]: Mécanique Analytique (1788).
  8. 8. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 8 ‘Physical’ Freedom Undeterred by physical ‘reality’, some libertarian thinkers still maintain that we inhabit a ‘one-to-many’ physical world. For example, John Searle, Professor of Philosophy at UCB, believes that the answer lies deep in Quantum Mechanics – that actual, physical indeterminacy on the quantum scale presents us with physically under-determined and under- constrained ‘choices’, and that this provides the one-to-many physical environment in which we locate our ‘freedom-to- choose’.4 But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… Searle himself struggles to shore up this argument – for to the extent that quantum indeterminacy enables ‘freedom of choice’, it also defeats our power to enact those choices. 4 John R. Searle [1932-]: Freedom and Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power (Columbia University Press, 2008) pp.74-78.
  9. 9. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 9 ‘Metaphysical’ Freedom The metaphysical account avoids all these ‘physical’ difficulties by simply ignoring them! ‘Metaphysicians’ of freedom simply assume that ‘choice’ and ‘freedom-to-choose’ are self-evidently and uncontroversially the case; and then set about describing the psychological, social and political environments in which various kinds of freedom are played out. In the English-speaking philosophical literature, the ‘freedom’ debate started with the Scottish philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who described freedom as the “absence of interference”: “Liberty, or FREEDOME, signifieth (properly) the absence of Opposition; (by Opposition, I mean externall Impediments of motion;) and may be applyed no lesse to Irrational, and Inanimate creatures, than to Rationall.” 5 5 Thomas Hobbes [1588-1679]: Leviathan (1651), Ch. XXI.
  10. 10. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 10 Freedom – the Absence of External Interference Michel Foucault held a similar view. He described the state of “unfreedom” as the result of ‘disempowerment’ – the result of active interference by an external agent upon the body of an individual, such that the individual’s power to act is prevented by force, rendering alternative action impossible.6 But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… When a highwayman holds a gun to your head and demands “Your money or your life!”, and you choose to hand over your money (very willingly!), Sartre and Foucault insist that this is a “free” choice – i.e., you are not physically restrained, and you do choose. You could always choose to act otherwise, they say, even if at great personal cost. And perhaps this is so, but would you be choosing ‘freely’? 6 Michel Foucault [1926-1984]: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975).
  11. 11. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 11 Freedom – the Absence of External Interference The English philosopher John Locke answered with an emphatic “No!” For Locke, there are two aspects to ‘freedom’, and they must both be met: “The natural liberty of man in is to be free from any superior power on earth – to be under no restraint except the law of nature.” “The liberty of man in society is to have a standing rule to live by (enacted by the legislature in accordance with its mandate), a liberty to follow one’s own will in anything that isn’t forbidden by that rule, and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man.” 7 7 John Locke [1634-1704]: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise, ch. 4, para. 22 (paraphrased for brevity, see Endnote 1).
  12. 12. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 12 Freedom – the Absence of External Interference So, according to Locke, (a) freedom is denied by the coercion of one’s Will, just as it is by the physical coercion of one’s Body;8 and (b) not only threats, but solicitations, bribes and promises are also taken to be ‘coercive’, in the sense that they “bend one’s Will”.9 But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… this can’t be quite right either… Threats can be coercive, but bribes and promises can only ever tempt us. And, as Sartre pointed out, we are forever ‘free–to-choose’ whether we are allow ourselves to be tempted by them. So, how can temptations be coercive? 8 ibid., ch. 15, para. 176. (Full text at Endnote 2.) 9 ibid., ch. 19, para. 222. (Full text at Endnote 3.)
  13. 13. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 13 Freedom – the Absence of External Interference Our hopes, dreams and aspirations are the very essence of our Will – indeed our Will is not merely “bent”, but formed, by them. Surely, then, the liberty to follow our Will – to seek that which tempts us, to pursue those outcomes that appeal to us – is the very essence of ‘freedom’! And if this is so, then in what sense can the “bending of our Will” – by temptations, promises, bribes, offers and/or solicitations – be considered coercive? The English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham,10 argued that it cannot. 10 Jeremy Bentham [1748-1832] was a contemporary of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, and is widely acknowledged as the father of ‘utilitarianism’ – the doctrine that ethical behaviour should be weighed with a calculus that, on balance, will result in the greatest social good or the least social harm, even at the cost of individual discomfort.
  14. 14. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 14 Freedom – the Absence of External Interference Bentham accepted that the Will may be ‘bent’ by both threats of punishment and promises of reward, but added the following qualifications: (a) the threat must be credible, serious and immediate – i.e., there must be no escape, and hence that alternatives must be ‘ineligible’ (though not necessarily impossible); and (b) the promise must be ‘alluring’, though not necessarily coercive.11 This was also the view adopted by the Russian-born British philosopher, Isaiah Berlin.12 11 The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham (J.H. Burns and H.L.A. Hart, eds.), (London: University of London, Athlone Press, 1970). 12 Isaiah Berlin [1909-1997]: The Two Concepts of Liberty (1958).
  15. 15. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 15 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… John Stuart Mill thought that there was more to be said about what we find “alluring”. Threats, bribes and promises are all varieties of interference by external agents, Mill noted, but: What about internal temptation/allure – i.e., interference from within, by one’s own self? 13 After all, “bending of the Will” can also take the form of involuntary compulsion/repulsion – as, perhaps, in acts of: (a) overwhelming passion (b) inauthenticity (c) false consciousness or (d) phobias and many other neurological/psychological mechanisms. 13 J.S. Mill [1806-1873]: On Liberty (1859) (Harvard Classics, P.F.Collier and Son, 1909) ch. 3.
  16. 16. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 16 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference First, ‘interference from/by the self’ may arise from an overwhelming Passion – a powerful urge that overrides our Reason. As Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam recounted: “In his Timaeus, Plato describes a two-part ‘soul’ – one part immortal and divine, the other subject to various disorders such as pain, fear, anger, lust, love, passion, and desire for pleasure. Reason can be overthrown by passion and the other weaknesses, but true happiness in life consists in repressing these disorders and letting the highest part of the soul – reason – rule over the mortal part, especially the digestive and sexual appetites, the parts most likely to rebel against reason.” 14 14 Desiderius Erasmus [c.1467-1536]: “Of the Outward and Inward Man”, Enchiridion militis Christiani (tr. as ‘Handbook of a Christian Knight’), (England: William Tyndale, 1503), ch.4.
  17. 17. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 17 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference Immanuel Kant echoed Plato, describing Passion as “an illness of the mind […] that can hardly, or not at all, be controlled by Reason”.15 Acts of passion are not ‘free’, Kant explained, because Passion overrides the freedom of the selection process whereby a ‘reasoned’ decision or choice might be made. But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… is Passion really an “illness of the mind”? Isn’t this a bit extreme? Well, yes and no… A little passion is probably a good thing… but ‘freedom-to- choose’ is difficult to reconcile with an obsession, say – with an excess of passion. So, how much passion is OK; and where do we draw the line? 15 Immanuel Kant [1724-1804]: Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798), ed. Robert E. Louden (Cambridge University Press, 2006), italics added.
  18. 18. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 18 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference At a minimum, deciding how much passion is “too much” is a matter of perspective: What felt to Ernesto “Che” Guevara [1928-1967], from the inside, like a passionate fight for freedom and equality, appeared to the US authorities, from the outside, as crazy! For, as the old saying goes, “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”. Similarly, one man’s passion (for food, drink, gambling, or even trainspotting) is another man’s addiction, obsession, or compulsive behaviour (mental illness).
  19. 19. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 19 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference Or, indeed, one woman’s passion… … for how else might we describe Imelda Marcos’s ‘passion’ for shoes? 16 16 Filipino politician and widow of the former Philippine President (1965-1986) Ferdinand Marcos [1917-1989], Imelda R. Marcos (née Romuáldez) [1929-] is variously reported as owning/having owned between 1,200 and 2,700 pairs of shoes.
  20. 20. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 20 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference Second, interference from/by the ‘self’ may also be due to ‘inauthenticity’ – to failing to be “true to oneself”. Even when exercising our ‘freedom-to-choose’, our choice is only truly ‘free’ when it is authentic – when it is fully in accord with our own moral and aesthetic sense. And somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, the quest for this ‘authenticity’ became the central force behind a new movement in Continental European philosophy, now called “existentialism”.17 Partly as a reaction to the Church’s failure to save us from ourselves, the principal doctrine of ‘existentialism’ is that human existence matters most of all, and hence that we are accountable for our actions primarily to ourselves and to each other, rather than to God. 17 Emerging from the theological musings of Søren Kierkegaard [1813-1855] and the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl [1859-1938], ‘existentialist’ thought reached its zenith in the 1940s and 1950s, amid the philosophical despair of post-WWII Europe. Main exponents include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. (See Endnote 4.)
  21. 21. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 21 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference It was this relegation of God to second place that moved Friedrich Nietzsche to lament that “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” 18 And, in a Godless, otherwise indifferent world, moral responsibility ultimately falls to us! What matters is what we do; and while we are free (at liberty) to do whatever we wish, we are also responsible for everything we do. 18 Friedrich Nietzsche [1844-1900]: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (1882), tr. as “The Gay Science” by Walter Kaufmann, sect. 125.
  22. 22. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 22 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference So, freedom cannot simply be about choosing to do whatever takes our fancy: “[…] free will, and freedom more generally, is not characterized by the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want; because if it were, it would be a meaningless concept. One who indulges their every whimsy is really just one who is a slave to her own impulses.19 Rather, we must act responsibly, and courageously: “Freedom is the will to be responsible for ourselves. It is to preserve the distance which separates us from other men. To grow more indifferent to hardship, to severity, to privation, even to life itself.” 20 19 Cody Gray [online at philosophy.stackexchange.com], paraphrasing from Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols (1888) and On the Genealogy of Morality (1887). 20 Friedrich Nietzsche: Twilight of the Idols (1888)
  23. 23. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 23 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference Indeed, for Nietzsche, “[…] true free will is more accurately characterized by ambition and achievement. It is the ability to set a goal and act in such a way as to achieve it. […] This is ‘agency’ free will rather than ‘deserts-based’ free will: it is the expression of one’s ‘Will to Power’ – striving to reach the highest possible position in life.” 21 Nietzsche’s ‘übermensch’ (“superman”) does just this! Neither master nor slave, he is his own God – free from all external constraints and/or interference – a master of self-discipline, acting passionately and independently in accord with the highest values and moral standards as he himself deems these to be. Like so much of Nietzsche, this is powerful, impassioned, stuff! So, what should we do? 21 Cody Gray: ibid.
  24. 24. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 24 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference The Danish philosopher and theologian, Søren Kierkegaard, had no idea… at least not in 1835: “What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.” 22 But then again, he was only 22… and how many 22-year-olds know what they really want to do? 22 Søren Kierkegaard [1813-1855], widely acknowledged as the founder of ‘existentialist’ thought, writing in his Journal, 1st August, 1835.
  25. 25. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 25 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference By 1843, Kierkegaard worked out that “The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen; but, if one will, are to be lived.” 23 but this did little to quell his ‘existential angst’: “If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the bottom of everything there were only a wild ferment, a power that twisting in dark passions produced everything great or inconsequential; if an unfathomable, insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything, then what would life be but despair?” 24 Yet, for poor Kierkegaard, an answer was still not forthcoming… 23 Søren Kierkegaard: Either/Or (1843), italics added. 24 Søren Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (1843)
  26. 26. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 26 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference But this much is certain: whatever it is that we feel we must do, it must at least be ‘authentic’ – true to our selves; to our own moral and aesthetic sensibilities. For it is ‘inauthentic’ to submit to the opinions/customs/mores of another person – or of the broader society – even for the sake of a more comfortable/congenial existence. Pericles said as much, back in c.440 BCE: “Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.” 25 25 The Funeral Oration of Pericles [c.495-429 BCE], recounted in Thucydides [c.460-395 BCE]: The Peloponnesian War (431 BCE) (Penguin, 1954), 2.34-2.46. (Painting by Philipp von Foltz.)
  27. 27. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 27 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference Much more recently, Martin Heidegger said it again: “Anyone can achieve their fullest potential: who we are might be predetermined, but the path we follow is always of our own choosing. We should never allow our fears or the expectations of others to set the frontiers of our destiny. Your destiny can't be changed but, it can be challenged.” 26 Amen to that! 26 Martin Heidegger [1889-1976]: The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to Philosophy (1930, 1982), paraphrased.
  28. 28. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 28 Freedom – the Absence of Internal Interference And third, interference from/by the ‘self’ may also arise through ‘false consciousness’ – through having a false/misguided account of one’s own interests. This may arise, in extremis, via brainwashing or even capture- bonding;27 but occurs most commonly through simple seduction by propaganda or advertising. As both Karl Marx [1818-1883] and Jürgen Habermas [1929-] would surely agree, ‘consumerism’ – in the sense of shopping behaviour altered/distorted by advertising – cannot be considered truly ‘free’. 27 Also known as Stockholm Syndrome (after the robbery in 1973 of Kreditbanken at Norrmalstorg in Stockholm), capture-bonding is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages become emotionally attached to their captors. Examples include the development of Patty Hearst’s relationship with her abductors, the Symbionese Liberation Army.
  29. 29. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 29 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… So far, this discourse on ‘freedom’ has focused primarily on (variants of) the negative interpretation of Freedom – of ‘freedom from’ – of freedom understood as the “absence of interference”. The German “idealist” philosopher, Georg Hegel [1770-1831], called this into account. He asked, What is the positive of the dialectic of Freedom? Rather than Freedom from […], what is Freedom for? And what about Freedom to […]? What does it mean to be free to do and be?
  30. 30. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 30 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ Hegel maintained that human nature is ‘normative’ – that there is within each of us an essential ‘self’ that determines how we ought to live. Thus, to have freedom is to be acting in accord with the essence of our (inner) nature; and ‘history’ is the record of our struggle to overcome the impediments (both human and otherwise) that prevent us from becoming what/how we feel we ought to be: “The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom.” 28 Or “the consciousness of the absence of freedom”, perhaps? 28 Georg Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1837), tr. J. Sibree (Dover, 1956), p.19.
  31. 31. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 31 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ Today, it seems as unlikely as ever that this “progress” is ever going to arrive at its ultimate goal. Hegel must have been at his ‘idealist’ best when he wrote: “At the end of history, there is universal acknowledgement not that some are free and others in bondage but that man as such is free. […] freedom is gained only by exchanging the mastery of some over the lives of others for humankind’s presumed freedom over history itself.” 29 I’m not holding my breath… 29 Leslie P. Thiele paraphrasing Hegel in “Heidegger on Freedom: Political not Metaphysical”, in The Amer. Pol. Sci. Rev., vol. 88, No.2 (1994), p.289
  32. 32. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 32 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ For Hegel, ‘Freedom’ is not an all-or-nothing affair – it is present by degrees. It emerges not via the absence, but via the self-transcending, of constraints:30 “Freedom grows with comprehensiveness, and with ever higher degrees of realized self-determination. Thus, an animal is freer than a physical object, a man freer than an animal, the family freer than the individual, the State freer than the family […]” On this interpretation, freedom is a kind of “capacity”: describable (and perhaps even quantifiable) in terms of the number of “degrees of freedom” that an agent is able to exercise. Hence, “Freedom is the fundamental character of the will […] That which is free is the will. Will without freedom is an empty word.” 31 30 Georg Hegel: Science of Logic (1812), tr. A.V. Miller (Humanity Books, 1989), p.146. 31 Georg Hegel: Philosophy of Right (1821).
  33. 33. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 33 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ The English ‘Idealist’ philosopher, Thomas Green, also argued that a man’s ‘will’ is necessarily free: “… since in all willing a man is his own object to himself, the object by which the act is determined, the will is always free … [that is] willing constitutes freedom.” 32 In other words, for Green, self-satisfaction is always free, and is always the object of the will. 32 Thomas Hill Green [1836-1882]: Different Senses of ‘Freedom’ as Applied to Will and the Moral Progress of Man (published posthumously), p.1. The essay appears in P. Harris and J. Morrow (eds.), T. H. Green: Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation and Other Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).
  34. 34. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 34 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ In other words, says Green, freedom (of will, to act) arises out of self-motivated self-determination; where a) the motive for an “act of will” is neither arbitrary nor externally determined; it lies within the person himself. b) self-determination is the identification of the self with such a motive. c) willing entails deliberation. In willing, an individual seeks “to realise an idea of his own good which he is conscious of presenting to himself”.33 d) action which occurs without deliberation – unthinking action – is not an act of will and hence is not free. 33 T.H. Green: Prolegomena to Ethics, ed. A.C. Bradley (Oxford: Clarendon, 1883) §106.
  35. 35. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 35 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ Thus, for Green, “freedom” is constituted not by our supposed ability to do whatever we choose, but in our power to identify our ‘selves’ with what our reason reveals to us to be our ‘true nature’: “To be free is to have realised that which you have within you to become.” 34 This is all very well, but what is our “true nature”? In the Western tradition, we have inherited two ways of thinking about this: The classical, Aristotelian, view 35 is that the essence of human nature is social/political; and most fully realised when we are acting in the public arena exercising the talents and capacities that society and politics requires. 34 T.H. Green: Prolegomena to Ethics, ed. A.C. Bradley (1884). 35 Aristotle [384-322 BCE]: Politics, 1252b.
  36. 36. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 36 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ The other, Augustinian, view 36 is that the true essence of human nature is Divine – it still plays out in the social arena (as in the classical view), but is only fully realised when we are acting in the service of God. But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… Here we have a clear paradox: On either view, freedom entails an element of servitude – either in the form of service to the community, or in service to God. Now, what kind of ‘freedom’ is that? 36 St Augustine of Hippo [354-430]: De libero arbitrio (tr. as “On Free Choice of the Will”).
  37. 37. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 37 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ “The only kind”, said the German-born American political theorist, Hannah Arendt, perhaps the most vocal exponent of “freedom as politics” in contemporary philosophy: “Freedom is politics. […] only in doing politics are we truly free.” 37 And it’s true… Only through our social interactions – through our engaging with others in some-or-other political discourse – does the question of “freedom” ever arise. 37 Johanna “Hannah” Arendt [1906-1975]: “What is Freedom”, in Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought (New York: Viking, 1961).
  38. 38. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 38 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ The Canadian ‘Idealist’ philosopher, Charles Taylor,38 agreed: “Freedom resides at least in part in collective control of the common life, because it is in the exercise of such control that the essence of our humanity is most fully realised.” 39 38 Charles Mulgrave Taylor [1931-], is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Philosophy at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. 39 C.M. Taylor: Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Harvard University Press, 1989).
  39. 39. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 39 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ In his 1991 Massey Lecture 40 – The Malaise of Modernity – Taylor argued that “[…] individuals arise within the context of a society; and hence that understanding the ‘self’ entails understanding the social framework in which human actions gain relevance and meaning.” 41 ‘Positive’ freedom, he said, is primarily concerned with “agency”: our capacity and/or ability to act independently according to our will – to make our own (free) choices – given our social (and physical) situation/circumstances. 40 The Massey Lectures are an annual series of lectures on a cultural, political or philosophical topic delivered in Canada. Co-sponsored by CBC Radio and Massey College in the University of Toronto, te lectures were founded in 1961 in honour of the Right Honourable Vincent Massey [1887-1967], Governor-General of Canada (1952-1959). 41 Charles Taylor: The Malaise of Modernity (House of Anansi Press, 1991). Reprinted in the US as The Ethics of Authenticity (Harvard University Press, 1991).
  40. 40. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 40 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ Following Heidegger and Wittgenstein, Taylor argued that our understanding of the world – the knowledge that we acquire through living and for living – is not composed of premises, propositions and rules, but makes sense to us only against an unarticulated ‘sense of things’, or ‘background’.42 Taylor associates our interpreting and understanding of the world with this unarticulated ‘sense’, which dwells within us in the form of habits, dispositions, and tendencies. Thus, as Wittgenstein said, “Obeying a rule is not a choice, but a practice.43 42 Charles Taylor: To Follow a Rule. 43 Ludwig Wittgenstein [1889-1951]: Philosophical Investigations () (italics added).
  41. 41. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 41 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… Isn’t there an element of circularity in this positive dialectic of ‘freedom’? After all, as Isaiah Berlin observed,44 a) “I am a slave to no man” is a statement about freedom in the negative sense – as freedom from interference by others, while b) “I am my own master” is the same statement expressed in the positive sense – as freedom to choose one’s own destiny.45 44 Isaiah Berlin [1909-1997]: The Two Concepts of Liberty (1958). 45 Charles Taylor [1931-]: “What’s wrong with Negative Liberty” (1985), in Law and Morality, 3rd ed. (University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 359-368.
  42. 42. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 42 Freedom – as ‘Self-Realisation’ No, said Taylor, ‘positive freedom’ is not just the opposite of ‘negative freedom’: •••• Negative freedom is an “opportunity-concept”: one possesses negative freedom if one is not enslaved by external forces, and has equal access to a society’s resources. •••• Positive freedom is an “exercise-concept”: possessing this positive freedom might mean one is not internally constrained either – it is the ability to act according to one’s higher self – as directed by one’s reason.46 But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… As before, One man’s self-realisation is another man’s compulsion! 46 Charles Taylor: “What’s wrong with Negative Liberty” (1985), op. cit.
  43. 43. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 43 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… According to Professor Quentin Skinner,47 something is still missing from this story: the concept of ‘freedom’ not as opposed to interference, but in contrast to slavery: A slave is ‘unfree’ ex hypothesi; but not necessarily because of coercion or interference. After all, a slave who willingly does his master’s bidding may never suffer any actual interference at all! Rather, a slave is ‘unfree’ because of the sheer fact of having a master – of living dependent on, and/or under the arbitrary will/power of, some master. 47 Quentin Robert Duthie Skinner [1940-] is Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London (2008-); and former Professor (1979-2008) and Pro-Vice Chancellor (1999) of Cambridge University.
  44. 44. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 44 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ Hence freedom entails positive ‘independence’ – i.e., “non-dependence” – which is somehow more than just the absence of interference. For the mere fact of your dependence takes away your freedom – in at least two ways: (a) you have no autonomy – you are in a position of servitude, and (b) the mere awareness of your dependence causes you to exercise self- censorship. In other words, you are ‘unfree’ – i.e., somehow ‘enslaved’ – if you are denied full autonomy in both thought and deed.
  45. 45. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 45 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ And, on this interpretation, one is ‘unfree’ if, for example, one lives under a dictatorship (or any ersatz dictatorship, e.g., a monarchy). Dictators/monarchs often have wide-ranging discretionary powers; hence true independence/freedom is only possible in a republic. It was this line of thinking that gave rise to the classical republicanism of the English Civil War (1642-1651).48 49 History abounds with examples of such civil uprisings; for example the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu in the Romanian Revolution in 1989. 48 James Harrington [1611-1677]: The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656). Painting by Peter Lely. 49 John Milton [1608-1674]: The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660).
  46. 46. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 46 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ One is also ‘unfree’ if one is the subject of a state colonised by a foreign power. For example, the American War of Independence 50 (1775- 1783) was a revolt by the “Thirteen Colonies” of the newly-formed United States of America against their colonist, Great Britain. 50 Painting by John Trumbull [1756-1843], c.1795.
  47. 47. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 47 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ Until the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the ‘Colonies’ were “enslaved” by Britain – entirely at the mercy of the British Parliament with respect to the levels of taxation imposed upon them. History abounds with such struggles for independence. 51 51 John Trumbull [1756-1843]: “Declaration of Independence” (1795).
  48. 48. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 48 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ And one is also often “unfree” if one is a woman. Women often live – at least economically – at the mercy of men; upon whose goodwill they are dependent for their livelihood. 52 Indeed, as J. S. Mill to wrote, “I see no difference between the condition of a woman in England now, and a bond-slave.” 53 52 Mary Wollstonecraft [1759-1797]: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). 53 J.S. Mill [1806-1873]: The Subjection of Women (1869), Ch. 1.
  49. 49. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 49 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ Contemporary examples of dependence on arbitrary power are abundant even in modern-day democracies: •••• domination by bosses – e.g., in the treatment of non-unionised labour, or of illegal immigrants. •••• domination by the State – e.g., in the invocation of “emergency powers”, sedition laws, etc. •••• domination of the State by large corporations – via lobbying, securing permits, preventing unfavourable legislation, etc. – and the exercise of self-censorship by the State for fear of what corporations might do. Recent examples include Australia’s MRRT legislation (2012), and Rupert Murdoch in the UK press scandal.
  50. 50. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 50 Freedom – as ‘Independence’ But… (and in philosophy there’s always a “but”)… Multiple different ‘unfreedoms’ can prevail simultaneously, so the outcome of the struggle for freedom from one form of oppression often ends up as another kind of ‘unfreedom’. Again, examples abound – present-day Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Egypt, and even South Africa. For, here’s the rub: In a world with finite resources, one man’s independence is often dependent on another man’s dependence. So, as a final step, let’s put this whole story together…
  51. 51. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 51 So, what does ‘Freedom’ Mean to Us? Quentin Skinner (2012)
  52. 52. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 52 So, What is ‘Freedom’? First, at a minimum, we might say this: If we perceive (rightly or wrongly) (a) that in some situation we were presented with multiple options – i.e., with more than one possible courses of action, each of which was a ‘real’ (actual) candidate for enactment, and we are aware (again, rightly or wrongly) (b) that we could and did ‘deliberate’ – i.e., that we considered the alternatives and evaluated them without impediment against our personal preferences, then it seems reasonable to us to conclude/declare that our ‘choice’ of action is/was a “free” act.
  53. 53. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 53 So, What is ‘Freedom’? But note that on this interpretation, ‘freedom’ is an attribution – a perceived phenomenon, an artefact – and not necessarily an inherent property/quality of any actual (physical) action or agent. Second, we seem readily to acknowledge that ‘freedom’ entails all of the following: •••• the absence of interference, •••• the absence of coercion, •••• the exercise of self-realisation (i.e., self-expression), •••• independence, and •••• autonomy in thought and deed. Take away any one of these, and we would not be ‘free’.
  54. 54. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 54 So, What is ‘Freedom’? However, libertarian freedom of a causally ‘under-determined’ sort – of the sort that assumes a one-to-many physical world and claims that “we really could always have acted otherwise” – remains an illusion. To imagine that our so-called “free will” (a) is a causal agent in the physical world and (b) is itself uncaused – i.e., disconnected from the causal chain of worldly events – is to mistake an attribution for a cause. It simply has to be an error – an error of reification – for, as Arthur Schopenhauer argued, “Where there is Will, there is no Freedom.” 54 54 Arthur Schopenhauer [1788-1860]: On the Freedom of the Will (1839)
  55. 55. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 55 So, What is ‘Freedom’? Even the self-declared “compatibilist”,55 Daniel Dennett,56 solves the ‘free will’ problem only by effectively defining ‘freedom’ out of existence: “Free will is not the capacity to do something, but the capacity to know that something is being done in your name.” 57 55 Compatibilism – the doctrine that the freedom of the Will is compatible with the strictures of causal determinism. 56 Daniel Clement Dennett III [1942-] is Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. 57 D.C. Dennett: Freedom Evolves (Viking, 2003), italics added.
  56. 56. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 56 So, What is ‘Freedom’? So, perhaps Spinoza was right, and should have the last word: “[…] men believe themselves free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.” 58 58 Benedict de Spinoza [1632-1677]: The Ethics (1677), tr. R.H.M. Elwes (Digireads.com, 2008) Part III, Postulates, Proposition II.
  57. 57. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 57 Acknowledgement This presentation draws heavily on a lecture by Professor Quentin Skinner – delivered on 30th August 2012 at the University of NSW – entitled: “So, What Does Freedom Mean to Us?” The lecture is available online at: audio: http://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/so-what/lecture-23-prof-quentin-skinner/ video: http://tv.unsw.edu.au/5442FC80-FAE0-11E1-ABFD0050568336DC
  58. 58. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 58 Thank You Tibor G. Molnar Centre for Continuing Education University of Sydney email: info@brainwaves.com.au
  59. 59. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 59 Endnotes 1.: John Locke: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise, Chapter 4, Paragraph 22. THE natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it. Freedom then is not what Sir Robert Filmer tells us, Observations, A. 55. a liberty for every one to do what he lists, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws: but freedom of men under government is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the
  60. 60. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 60 inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man: as freedom of nature is, to be under no other restraint but the law of nature.59 2. John Locke: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise, Chapter 15, Paragraph 176. That the aggressor, who puts himself into the state of war with another, and unjustly invades another man's right, can, by such an unjust war, never come to have a right over the conquered, will be easily agreed by all men, who will not think, that robbers and pyrates have a right of empire over whomsoever they have force enough to master; or that men are bound by promises, which unlawful force extorts from them. Should a robber break into my house, and with a dagger at my throat make me seal deeds to convey my estate to him, would this give him any title? Just such a title, by his sword, has an unjust conqueror, who forces me into submission. The injury and the crime is equal, whether committed by the wearer of a crown, or some petty villain. The title of the offender, and the number of his followers, make no difference in the offence, 59 John Locke [1634-1704]: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise Ch.4, Para.22
  61. 61. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 61 unless it be to aggravate it. The only difference is, great robbers punish little ones, to keep them in their obedience; but the great ones are rewarded with laurels and triumphs, because they are too big for the weak hands of justice in this world, and have the power in their own possession, which should punish offenders. What is my remedy against a robber, that so broke into my house? Appeal to the law for justice. But perhaps justice is denied, or I am crippled and cannot stir, robbed and have not the means to do it. If God has taken away all means of seeking remedy, there is nothing left but patience. But my son, when able, may seek the relief of the law, which I am denied: he or his son may renew his appeal, till he recover his right. But the conquered, or their children, have no court, no arbitrator on earth to appeal to. Then they may appeal, as Iephtha did, to heaven, and repeat their appeal till they have recovered the native right of their ancestors, which was, to have such a legislative over them, as the majority should approve, and freely acquiesce in. If it be objected, This would cause endless trouble; I answer, no more than justice does, where she lies open to all that appeal to her. He that troubles his neighbour without a cause, is punished for it by the justice of the court he appeals to: and he that appeals to heaven must be sure he has right on his side; and a right too that is worth the trouble and cost of the appeal, as he will answer at a tribunal that cannot be deceived, and will be sure to retribute to every one according to the mischiefs he hath
  62. 62. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 62 created to his fellow subjects; that is, any part of mankind: from whence it is plain, that he that conquers in an unjust war can thereby have no title to the subjection and obedience of the conquered.60 3. John Locke: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise, Chapter 19, Paragraph 222. The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a legislative, is, that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power, and moderate the dominion, of every part and member of the society: for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making; whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war 60 John Locke [1634-1704]: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise Ch.15, Para.176
  63. 63. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 63 with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence. Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society; and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and, by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society. What I have said here, concerning the legislative in general, holds true also concerning the supreme executor, who having a double trust put in him, both to have a part in the legislative, and the supreme execution of the law, acts against both, when he goes about to set up his own arbitrary will as the law of the society. He acts also contrary to his trust, when he either employs the force, treasure, and offices of the society, to corrupt the representatives, and gain them to his purposes; or openly preengages the electors, and prescribes to their choice, such, whom he has, by sollicitations, threats, promises, or otherwise, won to his designs; and employs them to bring in such, who have promised before-hand what to vote, and what to enact. Thus to regulate
  64. 64. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 64 candidates and electors, and new-model the ways of election, what is it but to cut up the government by the roots, and poison the very fountain of public security? for the people having reserved to themselves the choice of their representatives, as the fence to their properties, could do it for no other end, but that they might always be freely chosen, and so chosen, freely act, and advise, as the necessity of the commonwealth, and the public good should, upon examination, and mature debate, be judged to require. This, those who give their votes before they hear the debate, and have weighed the reasons on all sides, are not capable of doing. To prepare such an assembly as this, and endeavour to set up the declared abettors of his own will, for the true representatives of the people, and the law- makers of the society, is certainly as great a breach of trust, and as perfect a declaration of a design to subvert the government, as is possible to be met with. To which, if one shall add rewards and punishments visibly employed to the same end, and all the arts of perverted law made use of, to take off and destroy all that stand in the way of such a design, and will not comply and consent to betray the liberties of their country, it will be past doubt what is doing. What power they ought to have in the society, who thus employ it contrary to the trust went along with it in its first institution, is easy to determine; and one cannot but
  65. 65. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 65 see, that he, who has once attempted any such thing as this, cannot any longer be trusted.61 4. Existentialism. Rather less than a philosophical ‘movement’ in its own right, Existentialism was more a cultural phenomenon – a philosophical lament, a gesture of protest against academic (analytical) philosophy, and a flight from the “iron-cage” of reason. 62 Existentialism emerged from the ‘phenomenology of consciousness’ developed by Edmund Husserl [1859-1938]; evolved through the writings of Søren Kierkegaard [1813-1855], Friedrich Nietzsche [1844-1900] and Martin Heidegger [1889-1976]; and eventually flourished in the 1940s and 1950s, in the philosophical despair of post-WWII Europe. 61 John Locke [1634-1704]: Two Treatises on Government (1689), 2nd Treatise Ch.19, Para.222 62 Crowell, Steven: “Existentialism”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2010), Edward N. Zaita (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/existentialism/
  66. 66. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 66 Adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre [1905-1980], major philosophers identified as “existentialists” also include Martin Buber [1878- 1965], Karl Jaspers [1883-1969], Maurice Merleau-Ponty [1908-1961] and Simone de Beauvoir [1908-1986]. What distinguishes Existentialism is not its concern with “existence” in general, but rather the claim that thinking about human existence requires new categories not found in the conceptual repertoire of ancient or modern thought: human beings can be understood neither as substances with fixed properties, nor as subjects interacting with a world of objects. On the existential view, to understand what a human being is it is not enough to know all the truths of natural science. Existentialism does not deny the basic categories of physics, biology, psychology and the other sciences; it claims only that human beings cannot be fully understood in terms of them. Mind/body dualisms and moral categories are also deemed inadequate. Rather, Existentialism holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of ‘authenticity’ – of self-identity/self-definition through freedom, choice and commitment – is necessary to grasp human existence.
  67. 67. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 67 “Authenticity” is the condition of significant, emotionally appropriate living; as contrasted (especially in Heidegger) with “inauthenticity” or “alienation”: a state in which life, stripped of purpose and responsibility, is depersonalised and dehumanised.63 Acting ‘authentically’ was interpreted as meaning to act in the full light of the open space of possibilities that the world allows. In Heidegger, this theme turns into scholastic ontology; in Sartre, into an exploration of choice and stress; and in the theologians Rudolf Bultmann [1884-1976], Paul Tillich [1886-1965], and Karl Barth [1886-1968], into a device for reinventing the relationship/s between people and God. Existentialism never took firm root outside continental Europe; and many philosophers have voiced mistrust with, for example, the libertarian flavour of its analysis of free will.64 63 Blackburn, Simon: Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (OUP, 1996) 64 ibid.
  68. 68. © 2013 Tibor G Molnar – All rights reserved. 68 My personal view is that existentialism is not a philosophical “movement” as such, but a “rebound psychology” 65 – an anti-authoritarian reaction to the despair and devastation of two World Wars. 65 M.K.C. Chan (2013).

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