Four Essays on Liberty

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Adı:
Four Essays on Liberty
Baskı tarihi:
7 Haziran 1990
Sayfa sayısı:
286
Format:
Karton kapak
ISBN:
9780192810342
Dil:
English
Yayınevi:
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Focusing on related aspects of individual liberty, this volume contains the essays Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Historical Inevitability, Two Concepts of Liberty, and John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life.
Kitaba henüz inceleme eklenmedi.
If, as I believe, the ends of men are many, and not all of them are in principle compatible with each other, then the possibility of conflict - and of tragedy - can never wholly be eliminated from human life, either personal or social. The necessity of choosing between absolute claims is then an inescapable characteristic of the human condition. This gives its value to freedom as Acton conceived of it - as an end in itself, and not as a temporary need, arising out of our confused notions and irrational and disordered lives, a predicament which a panacea could one day put right.
It is true that Kant insisted, following Rousseau, that a capacity for rational self-direction belonged to all men; that there could be no experts in moral matters, since morality was a matter not of specialised knowledge (as the Utilitarians and philosophes had maintained), but of the correct use of a universal human faculty; and consequently that what made men free was not acting in certain self-improving ways, which they could be coerced to do, but knowing why they ought to do so, which nobody could do for, or on behalf of, anyone else. But even Kant, when he came to deal with political issues, conceded that no law, provided that it was such that I should, if I were asked, approve it as a rational being, could possibly deprive me of any portion of my rational freedom. With this the door was opened wide to the rule of experts. I cannot consult all men about all enactments all the time. The government cannot be a continuous plebiscite.
What troubles the consciences of Western liberals is, I think, the belief, not that the freedom that men seek differs according to their social or economic conditions, but that the minority who possess it have gained it by exploiting, or, at least, averting their gaze from, the vast majority who do not.
If I save myself from an adversary by retreating indoors and locking every entrance and exit, I may remain freer than if I had been captured by him, but am I freer than if I had defeated or captured him?
Knowledge liberates, as Epicurus taught long ago, by automatically eliminating irrational fears and desires. (…) Knowledge liberates not by offering us more open possibilities amongst which we can make our choice, but by preserving us from the frustration of attempting the impossible. (…) That is the metaphysical heart of rationalism. The notion of liberty contained in it is not the 'negative conception of a field (ideally) without obstacles, a vacuum in which nothing obstructs me, but the notion of self-direction or self-control. I can do what I will with my own.
For if I am not so recognised, then I may fail to recognise, I may doubt, my own claim to be a fully independent human being. For what I am is, in large part, determined by what I feel and think; and what I feel and think is determined by the feeling and thought prevailing in the society to which I belong, of which, in Burke's sense, I form not an isolable atom, but an ingredient (to use a perilous but indispensable metaphor) in a social pattern. I may feel unfree in the sense of not being recognised as a self-governing individual human being; but I may feel it also as a member of an unrecognised or insufficiently respected group: then I wish for the emancipation of my entire class, or community, or nation, or race, or profession.

Kitabın basım bilgileri

Adı:
Four Essays on Liberty
Baskı tarihi:
7 Haziran 1990
Sayfa sayısı:
286
Format:
Karton kapak
ISBN:
9780192810342
Dil:
English
Yayınevi:
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Focusing on related aspects of individual liberty, this volume contains the essays Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Historical Inevitability, Two Concepts of Liberty, and John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life.