A freedom greater than freedom Essay

A freedom greater than freedom Essay

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It is a common misconception that those in power necessarily have more liberty than their less powerful counterparts. Intuitively, a country’s king has the freedom to act in more ways than the peasant, the rich have more options than the poor, the slave owner rules while the slave is ruled, and a government official often treads above the laws they pen for the people. However, there is a hidden assumption in this way of thought— that liberty is proportional to quality of life. From a pragmatic point of view, most would choose the life of the king over the life of the slave, the rich over the poor, the slave owners over the slaves, or the above the law status to the law abiding one, simply because the quality of life of one is so much greater than the quality of life of the other. This is not the same as having a greater amount of liberty. I contend, in fact, that if one group does have a greater amount of liberty than the other does, it is by a small amount and hardly decidable as to who has more liberty.
In this discussion, I will use freedom and liberty interchangeably, with the intended meaning of both to be that which one is able and allowed to choose to do. For instance, I am able and allowed to vote in congressional election this year, therefore I have the freedom or liberty to vote. However, while I am able to set fire to an orphanage, I am not allowed to, therefore I do not have the freedom or liberty to commit arson. Additionally, I will make a distinction between freedoms and what I call mini-freedoms. A freedom is what one is able or allowed to do by law, or in public. A mini-freedom is what one can do on the level of gestures, speech, habits, posture, eating style; it is anything that concerns an individuals slightes...

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...implicitly or explicitly, certain prejudices, then we can not hold them responsible for acting in accordance to those prejudices. Should they break the law, though, then we have no choice but to hold them accountable.
In his introduction to The Philosophy of History, Hegel writes that “the history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom.” Maybe, then, the next stage of historical (or political) evolution will be the recognition of our lack of freedom on so fundamental a level as the way we talk, eat or think. For if these mini-freedoms can be obtained, then the arbitrary boundaries of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, heritage, political affiliation, geography or language, will be lost with the rest of the multitude of stereotypes based upon us all being slaves to an unknown ruler who commands are slightest movements.

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