Liberty: Its Meaning and Scope

Liberty: Its Meaning and Scope

Liberty: Its Meaning and Scope

Liberty: Its Meaning and Scope

Synopsis

The history of mankind is fraught with clashes in the quest for liberty--in the name of often contradictory ideals of freedom. Roshwald explores the diverse understandings of the term "liberty" and its spectrum of application, in order to achieve a coherent and consistent definition of the concept in respect to both the individual and society. The issue of liberty is examined not only from the traditional angle of political philosophy but also from a philosophical-anthropological perspective. After analyzing examples of specific approaches to freedom, and describing a theoretically and practically viable definition of liberty, the book suggests the possibility and ways of attaining the ideal.

Excerpt

Liberty, the word, or the concept of freedom has been in wide usage for a long time. The principle has been resorted to in various places and in different epochs. Liberty has been claimed under diverse situations and conditions -- occasionally by people of opposite views and interests. Oppressed women, abused children, persecuted minorities, and subjugated peoples have demanded liberty. So have individuals living under a repressive government or dependent on a cumbersome bureaucracy. Yet freedom has also been demanded by workers in developed democratic countries who, for instance, resented the monotony of the assembly line in an industrial plant. It has been demanded by children in affluent conditions who objected to duties imposed by education and discipline imposed by adults. Liberty has been demanded by churches restricted by the control of atheistic regimes, and freedom of worship has been claimed by sects facing a traditional monolithic church. Liberty has been demanded by individuals and by nations, by small groups and by vast populations. Sometimes this claim has been for a specific liberty, such as freedom of speech, or national selfdetermination; sometimes the demand has been for freedom as such: "Give me liberty, or give me death."

Can there be one meaning, one fundamental sense, to the notion of liberty or freedom? Is there one liberty underlying the diverse, partial liberties? Is liberty a basic concept, related to the human condition or to certain conditions in which humanity all too often finds itself and thus addressable in a universal manner? Can there be a unified definition of liberty if it has served so many for so long in such a diverse manner?

The answer to this question could be attempted in a variety of ways. One . . .

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