A Social Theory of Freedom (Intro and Chap 1)
Forthcoming in the book, A Social Theory of Freedom (Routledge 2016).
92 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2015
Date Written: September 14, 2015
What is it to be free? In academic philosophy, the concept of freedom is routinely defined by what it is not; it is set as a contrary either to metaphysical determinism or to political domination. These are two very different ideas. This book argues that there cannot be a single core that is shared between these two ideas, but also that there can be only one true center of gravity for the term “freedom”. Because the concept of freedom must be bound up with practical agency, it cannot serve as the contrary of metaphysical determinism. Instead, the concept of freedom must include an understanding of struggle against something that holds a person down. You will find here a re-conceptualization of the concept of freedom, one that is very much at home in the context of social and political topics, and especially at home in connection with questions of social identity: Freedom is Freedom-to-Be. Study of freedom must therefore engage with the social and political sciences—as do the latter chapters of the book. The book offers nonetheless a genuinely existential conception of freedom that draws inspiration from the work of Jean-Paul Satre and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as from the tradition of phenomenology, bridging the so-called “analytic-continental divide” in academic philosophy.
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