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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