John Locke And Kant 's Theory On Liberty Thinking Essay

John Locke And Kant 's Theory On Liberty Thinking Essay

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The concept of liberty was reestablished around the 17th century in the line of Modern Philosophy with John Locke as the father of such thinking. With “Natural Law” and the “Social Contract” as the foundation that expound individual rights, the extent of power and purpose of the government, the rule of law and the separation of powers, etc., he establishes the basis for early classical theory on liberty thinking. In the history of Western philosophy, some thinkers are just as crucial as Locke. Rousseau and Kant are two of the most outstanding figures: one being a forerunner during the French Revolution, and one being the pioneer of classical German philosophy; they both were celebrated for their keen thoughts, sagacious insights, and profound analysis. Through thorough study on their ideologies, it is not difficult to find some apparent connection between the two. While presenting their philosophical ideas of freedom, as Rousseau focuses on the political, civil aspects and Kant on the more internally and morally-driven, they differ in their ideological approaches when discussing freedom and liberty; however Kant’s philosophy also resembles, and was influenced by Rousseau’s ideology at the same time, on which Kant adds new perspectives and makes transcendental improvements.
Rousseau on Freedom
In the 18th century, Rousseau, as a representative figure of the French school on freedom, based his theory upon the British school that was led by Locke. At the beginning of the Social Contract, Rousseau states that, “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” (Rousseau, 1762). This sentence perhaps shows the perplexed state of Rousseau’s subject under discussion: men supposedly are born to have certain right, but men cannot leave t...

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... peculiar kind. Physical necessity is a heteronomy of the efficient causes, for every effect is possible only according to this law, that something else determines the efficient cause to exert its causality. (Kant, 1785)
When making a decision based on desires, circumstances, or other external factors, we are affected by something other than ourselves, and thus, we are not free. It can be concluded that the freedom Kant advocates here is linked with autonomy,which is a property of the will of being a law to itself, in other words, the ability to give ourselves our own law. However, autonomy, as the highest principle of morality, can only be achieved by the means of categorical imperative. Freedom is actualized by following the universal maxim and most importantly upholding the categorical imperative,which is strongly associated with moral conduct and morality.

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