The Establishment of Freedom

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To act without reason and to do only as one pleases does not make a person free. Freedom cannot truly exist if we only view freedom as the ability to perform any action without a cause or reason. A person driven solely by their passions and nothing else is not free, and a person who uses reason to follows orders is not a slave. Spinoza describes freedom by writing that we are free only when the causes of our actions are solely based on our decisions, and we are only slaves when the causes of our actions are placed upon us by external forces. In this examination Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, I will first briefly explain Spinoza’s theory of the law of nature and then explain how it pertains to freedom. I will then discuss the natures of the subject and the slave and show how reason establishes freedom.
It is each person’s natural right to do everything in their power to obtain whatever it that they deem necessary for their own survival, while anyone who would prevent them from taking something would be considered an enemy. Spinoza writes that it is “Each person’s natural right therefore is determined not by sound reason but by desire and power.” The concept of self-interest is a fundamental law of human nature, and self-preservations causes human beings to seek power for themselves. A person driven by their own personal desire does not exist as a free person. Freedom is when that person follows a line of thinking that strives to continue their own existence. In order for a person to safeguard themselves from danger, a collective effort can be made to protect the group’s rights as a whole. Therefore, it is reasonable line of thinking to instill a single entity or group of entities to place and enforce laws to ensure th...

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... necessary to ensure that they obtain it. In this state, people are controlled by their passions and should be considered slaves. By introducing reason, people can see that a singular entity is weaker than a group. Reason allows for the individuals to control their actions and emotions and not be controlled by them. The need for a command structure within the group can give rise to the sovereign, and while the sovereign’s responsibility is to make decisions for the whole of the community, freedom is still present for the individual. Freedom exists, because the person knows how the decisions of the sovereign will benefit the community and also themselves. Freedom is obtained through the use of reason to decrease the power of self-enslaving passions. The person is guided by his reasoning when they obey the sovereign and controls their passions to do what is necessary.
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