The Many Faces of ‘Freedom’
At first blush, we might define ‘freedom’ in negative terms – as Thomas Hobbes did in 1651 – in terms of the absence of ‘constraints’. But this is only a small first step, and leaves many questions unanswered:
What qualifies as a ‘constraint’? Is the Law of Gravity a constraint?
Are we ever fully unconstrained?
If not, then which constraints curtail our freedom and which ones don’t?
Freedom means different things to different people. Are constraints different too?
And how might we define ‘freedom’ in positive terms?
In this short talk, I retrace the evolution of the concept of ‘freedom’ since Hobbes; from Locke, Bentham & Hegel to J. S. Mill, Thomas Green & Charles Taylor.
About the speaker:
Tibor Molnar originally studied Chemical Engineering at UNSW, but then forged a career in IT and information science. He came to philosophy late in life - after his retirement in 2003 - and now teaches Philosophy of Science at Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education and the WEA. With a particular interest in introducing philosophy to a wider audience, Tibor is an active member of three philosophy salons, and has addressed numerous Philosophy Cafe events. His primary areas of inquiry include ontology, epistemology, foundations of physics and theory of mind; and a book is on the way.
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