The Understanding of Liberty

free essayNumerous political and cultural processes in people’s lives arise from their ideas and visions, their understandings and perceptions. Ideas give raise to actions. However, sometimes ideas are neglected by people who should attend them. Ideas and actions of people should be analyzed from the philosophical points of view in order to understand the causes and reasons of some particular events. In his work “Two Concepts of Liberty”, Berlin (1958) stated that political theory should be considered as a sufficient part of moral philosophy. It should be understood through description and analysis of moral notions within political relations, because particularly these relations give rise to such events as conflicts and movements.

The understanding of political theory and the term of liberty is based on the understanding of why some particular person should obey the laws and regulations established by others. It should always be based on understanding of how, why and by whom this observance should be and can be controlled. Moreover, one should understand what punishment could be applied to a person who does not obey the above-mentioned rules and regulations, and one should know the background and final purpose of establishment of the above-mentioned rules and regulations.

On one hand, any person has freedom to do everything he wants; on the other hand, his actions are coerced, for example, personal freedom is limited in modern society by different rules established by political authorities. This essay will provide the understanding of a reason why any political or social force can coerce personal freedom and of different ways of obstruction of personal freedom by society or a group of people.

Nowadays, any person has so-called political liberty, for example, some part of freedom that is not obstructed by others. That means that some part of personal freedom is limited and interfered with and some personal goals cannot be reached. The width of political liberty or freedom is determined by the width of area where a person is not interfered by others. It should be noted that a person should have some extent of political freedom for self-development and self-reflection. That is why some regulations and laws should protect individuals from intervention of a government in their personal life. It should be noted that different people need different extent of personal freedom. This extent depends on numerous factors, for example, personal needs for living. In any case, freedom of people is limited for some extend for the purpose of granting equality for all the members of society.

Therefore, the balance between necessity of having some freedom and necessity of its limitation can be found in establishment of some kind of recognizable frontier. This frontier, on the one hand, will grant observance of non-interference into personal life, and, on the other hand, will preserve rights of other members of society and will protect society from the evil caused by bad sides of human nature. These bad sides stipulate human beings to pursuit immediate pleasure even by harming society. In addition, any human being has so-called good sides that make people strive for the ideal and gain satisfaction within long-term period. The above-mentioned frontier will protect society from lower human desires and will help to obtain general social benefits and, at the same time, will enable human being to feel as personal master who does not depend on anyone.

In the work “Two Concepts of Liberty” the author states that an individual always searches for some kind of security reflected in personal or national freedom, for example, independence (Berlin, 1958). At the same time, the term freedom is understood as control of desires, but nor their elimination. A person or a group of people can clearly understand that not all of their wishes can be reached because some of them are simply unreal and irrational. At the same time, some of the desires can be controlled and any intervention in personal or group actions should be eliminated in order to grant freedom, which is reflected by low level of influence of external forces of an individual or a society. Therefore, freedom is understood by the obedience of those rules that are established by a personality, but not the rules established by others, which is reflected in manipulation and can cause to personal degradation by followers. Rousseau in his works stated that the person could be considered as truly free when he “wants only what he can do and does what he pleases” (Nichols, 1985).

As it was mentioned above, the process of obtaining freedom is closely connected with the process of control of desires. A person can control his desires when he thoroughly understands their nature and criticizes them or, in other words, separates necessities from wishes. This can be reached by using knowledge that automatically eliminates irrational fears and desires from rational feelings and thoughts, prevents an individual from frustration, and attempts to obtain impossible things. A person should clearly understand what is rational and what is irrational. He obtains an ability to perform reasonable planning of his life according to personal rules and perceptions, obey these rules, and present these rules to other members of society. A person becomes self-directed and self-controlled. At the same time, freedom is not considered as freedom for doing irrational actions.

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The author of “Two Concepts of Liberty” stated the idea that in society where all the individuals perform rational actions and have rational thoughts, there are no conflicts, as individuals do not want to hurt or exploit each other (Berlin, 1958). In such societies, “liberty coincides with law: autonomy with authority” (Berlin, 1958).

Rational visions and actions are based on knowledge that can be obtained through education. Education helps to understand and analyze personal needs and wishes, and it leads to abidance of personal interests by the rest of the members of society. That is why an individual should obey laws that enforce his education. At the same time, not all people have similar understanding of rationality. That is why even highly rational regulations and actions, for example, those that are established by political authorities with the aim to provide benefit to the whole society may be met with misunderstanding from the side of some members of society. In such cases, political authorities cannot wait until the moment when all of the members of society become rational enough to accept these initiatives. Therefore, some repressions can be applied to irrationalists who do not accept these initiatives in order to stipulate realization of above-mentioned actions.

In addition, it should be mentioned that any person attributes himself to some particular social group with a set of certain characteristics. Lack of recognition, ignoring and pressuring this group of people by other groups can lead to increasing personal feeling of lack of freedom. At the same time, each person wants to be recognized as an individual with certain outstanding features even through recognition of group of people to which he attributes himself. This recognition can be both popular and unpopular. Therefore, it is one of the reasons of why a group of people can choose a leader that can limit their personal freedom for increasing recognition and freedom of the whole group. This leader is chosen as a representative of interests of each member of the whole group. The leader can be presented as one single person or as a group of individuals. That means that the power can be accumulated in the hand of an individual or in the hands of a group of people. In both situations, freedom of a group of people is considered a power to be governed by themselves of by their individuals, and only these individuals can establish frontiers of freedom through setting rules that should be observed by all the members of society.

This essay provides the understanding of personal freedom and freedom of a group of people as a set of rules that establish and secure special frontiers. These frontiers divide personal freedom that in no way can be interfered by society and the government and part of freedom that can be limited in order to secure freedoms of other representatives of society and protect them from lower human nature. These rules should be established by a leader or leaders who represent interests of each member of society.
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