The word “freedom” is full of ambiguities. An
unemployed man is free, because he is not restricted to behave in a
by the schedule of a factory, job, or the burden of daily servitutes.
unemployed man is, still, a slave because he is submitted to
misery, or the restrictions that his needs impose on him. So he is free
for and find a job, but his employers are free to offer fim nothing.
Consequently, the unemployed man is not free to live any longer. Many
unemployed people commit suicide being free to choose not to live. All
frredom supposes ambiguities.
speaking, people have
associated the notion of freedom with their being free to impose on the
their own will, while the others were “slaves”, or imposed upon. This
meaning was challenged when certain people discovered that we are born
free – all of us - ; consequently, the individual and the community
fully aware of their social and political rights as free people.
path opened by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, some philosophers such as John
David Hume, Edmund Burke, Thomas Hobbes defined “natural state” as a
“perfect freedom” of man to decide upon their actions and make choices
according to their will. This meant political and juridical equality
people: they are equal in front of the law and in front of the
institution. But these considerations refer to political philosophy,
demonstrating that fear and freedom are compatible (we do something out
but we may refuse to do it; for example, paying taxes – we are free not
them, but we still do it for fear that we might get sanctions). Liberty is also
compatible with necessity.
speaking, we need to
adopt a form of negative definition so as to apply it to all form of
freedom is the absence of constraints, or restrictions. So, we can
existence of types of freedom. For example, in Physics, we speak about
fall. In Politics, we speak about freedom of association opinion (being
independent of the authority of the government), in Economy, we refer
economic change, meaning trade free from customs taxes, or imposes
definition, the metaphysical philosophers created the concept of
freedom. This idea opposes nature, consisting a kind of passage to the
we represent our free action as successively “free” from any types of
But this type of freedom is the power of acting independently not only
connection with outer, or exterior restrictions, but also in connection
any inner determination. This is called the free will of the
philosophy, and refers to the misterious power of carrying out actions
not previously determined by my ideas, my instincts or my aptitudes.
the free will, we find
out that we can not demonstrate the existence of such a type of
freedom. To do
so, we have to come back to necessity, and liberty or freedom supposes
contingency, or the absence of necessity.
a piece of evidence of
freedom would kill freedom.
if we can not
demonstrate the existence of freedom, we could experience it under the
the French philosopher,
Leibnitz, the German philosopher, speak about the “vivid inner feeling”
If we refer
to Descartes, he states
that we experience an infinite type of free will, similar to God’s free
“We think, so we exist” means that I believe what I see clearly and
with the light of my intellectual mind. But I see only what I watch and
what I want. The evidence of truth is submitted to the free benevolence
attention. And this interpretation is debatable, because my power of
within my mental life can not be isolated; on the contrary, the power
attention is determined by my mental life.
action” should be tested in
such circumstances in which we would not have a reason to make us have
preference or motivation. This gratuity of the action would be what
distinguishes man from the animal. Otherwise, all the actions are
interest, curiosity, passion – a possible cause. The “free action” is
determined by the very reason that we need to behave unconventionally.
our unconscious mind is
able to dictate to us actions that are motivated by secret frustrations
complexes of inferiority. The “inner feeling”, the experience have no
conclusion, it is absurd to accept
“the arguments in favour of a pure free will action”, because we would
accept irrational behaviour in the course of the human actions.
philosophy of necessity ( stoical
philosophy or Spinoza’s system) states that man is a were element of
world, a small part determined by the whole. According to it, freedom
attribute of necessity: hormones and chemical changes determine our
our childhood gives reasons for our adult behaviour; Sociology explains
actions by our social and educational background. That is why there is
universal determination of our actions ( of biological, psychological
in the light of stoical
of Spinozian philosophy, means that, if we want to be free, it is
consent to necessity; freedom means submission to the divine necessity,
adopting determinism willingly means being free. Men’s actions seem
because they depend on our wishes and, equally, on external causes. We
and afraid of what might happen to us, we are initially slaves,
because our actions are not reflections of our own will.
commit suicide because
they feel they have failed, even if our most ardent wish is to survive.
the mean person obsessed by gold deprines himself of the most
forgelting that gold has the only advantage of satisfying our needs.
originary servitude of the human
coardition may be converted into freedom by man’s actions depending an
internal nature and not on external causes.
concretely, Spinoza proposes a
solution called “of ancient wisdom”: to be free in the universe, we
accept the universe. We break free if we accept what is happening to
Everything that happens to us is necessary and if something bad happens
I am completely free from sufference and I will feel relieved from my
exactly because I will have understood the nature of this necessity.
could be reduced to modern
rationalism resignation in front of the divine will.
with this stoical
attitude (we do not attend an examination because we know we will fail
20th century states that: we are free not when we take
without a reason, but when we do what we satisfy our most profound
In other words, when we think free , we think with our own mind,
action is the most
profoundly thought over action, the most profoundly mativated. The free
is considered, according to modern rationalism, as an modern
rationalism, as an
intelligent solution to a problem.
freedom is not inborn,
not something that characterized human nature, but something that is
the result of a liberation of some kind. It is something that should be
probably an original solution to a problem I am confrunted with.
free action is not only
an action that solves a problem raised by our relationship with the
it underlines the problem of freedom of the human being in connection
world. The 20th century is no longer the 17th
when man was crushed by the universe. At the beginning of its history,
the slave of the universe, being “estranged” in a hostile world. In the
run, man has progressively conquered the forces of the universe,
master instead of a slave. Man will learn the laws of the universal
and will use these laws for his benefit. That is why the apprehension
use of necessity will be the instrument of the liberation of Man.
one should not reduce
the triumph of man to mastering nature by technical and scientifical
is true that technique and technology frees man from nature.
has become the slave of his own technique. This is because we, the
not know enough in the field of mechanism of human societies, or of
behaviour; this explains the rise of so many dictator-ships in the very
century; Hitler, Stalin, Mao-Tze-Dun are such regretable examples.
International relationships are being affected by the limitations in
of Economy and Politics, of distribution of resources.
not anarchy; on the
contrary, it supposes rational organization. Otherwise, the weak one
destroyed by the strong one, and no freedom would be possible.
liberalism”, or market economy, only guarantees a type of abstract
freedom; that is why man needs a progressive knowledge and command of
and social determinism.
moment – a critical
one, in fact – in defining freedom, was French existentialism,
rationalism, but essentially a philosophy of freedom (1945-1968). Its
theses are: existance precedes essence; existentialism appears as a
on human condition; existentialism is a humanism.
condamned or doomed to be
free, and our choices may be made any moment of our lives.
Also, man is
defined by consciousness
and there is no psychological uncousciousness. Whenever we faint (in
front of a
furious tiger), we do not suppress the danger in a rational, objective
do it in a subjective, magical way; so we suppress the consciousness of
danger, not the danger itself.
To sum up,
the three great statements
of existentialism are: the role of consciousness; the stress laid on
interpreted as the fight of freedom in situation with what it is
it human transcendence. All of them are systematically rejected by
is represented by “the
three musqueteers”, in fact four, of structuralism: Claude Levy –
Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foncault. This trend takes
scientific modern logics and linguistics as its fundamental pillars;
opposes existentialism by three points of view: firstly, history is
in importance, because successive civilizations are discountinous and
their own language and way of organization.
the reality of the uncounscious mind and its importance for the freedom
structuralism is essentially
antihumanistic, because structureas wipe away the human being. Language
impersonal concept and essential and prior to acts of speech, so
speaking as a
human action is subsidiary.
conclusion, man has become a were
object of knowledge, and his very essence, that is unconscious for
free to be decoded in the structure of his language. Man is no longer a
of transcedence, but an object of study by rational and logical
In the most
enlarged meaning, freedom
is the absence of constraints, so there are as many types of freedom as
constraints there are for us to fight against: freedom of religion,
speech, freedom of living a happy life, freedom to choose what is best
freedom is an abstract
concept that may be called an illusion, or an ideal to struggle for.