Freedom. Are we free? As I said in the previous lecture, freedom is a relational concept, it is about the relations we have with our fellow man.
We can differentiate between two ways of freedom. We enjoy the freedom TO.... We are free to travel to wherever we like, to buy whatever we want, to say whatever we want...ok...within the limits of the law.
This leads to the second form of freedom: freedom FROM..... we are free from slavery, free from unjust treatment, free from all kinds of dangers, or at least protected from them.
The next question is, how did we get there? To begin with, what I just said is very Europe-centered. There are many places on this earth where these freedoms do not apply.
However, it is, at least, my opinion, that such freedom should apply to all people on this earth. If you see it as a historical process of growth and development,
you could have the hope, that this kind of freedom will become universal, but that would need another couple of centuries.
That is, when you agree that what we see as basic Human Rights should be the norm, but even on that is disagreement.
The world had a simple structure: King - Elites - The rest. The King ruled and pleased the elites to keep his head and everybody (except of course the rest) was happy.
However, due to revolutions society changed from closed to open. The monarch was decapitated and where previously the monarch stood as head,
was now a symbolically 'empty' place. No one can lay claim to it anymore. Symbolic successors to the monarch's head and body are the voting booth and parliament.
The booth, with a curtain, in which every vote counts. The parliament, in which the community of citizens sees itself reflected, in party struggles, changes between government and opposition, and endless debate. That is what we call our democracy.
The beginning of the 20th century introduced the thesis, that it wasn't a good idea to exploit the masses indefinitely and to listen to these masses before you get in trouble. This idea was called socialism.
Where do we stand now with respect to the safety of our freedom? If I only speak within the context of my own country, The Netherlands, I have no complaints. Just look at the map behind me.
I only can conclude that due to the rise of socialism we now live in a society in which basically everyone can have a say through voting. That is our democracy.
But this probably eternal conflict between greed and the willingness to fairly share the revenues continues to gnaw at the chair legs of our democracy..
To quote the American documentary maker Astra Taylor: The real worry right now is not tyranny of the majority.
If you look at the popular will in this country, the majority of people still want action on climate change, despite all of the disinformation
and all of the millions of dollars that have been poured into misleading the public about the scientific consequences, right?
People want better health care and public investment in health care. People want unions, et cetera. I think the problem is not the tyranny of the majority right now.
The problem is the tyranny of an elite minority. The Founding Fathers were very concerned with protecting minority rights. they were very concerned with the rights of the opulent. (..)
That is the history that these Republican figures are actually conjuring when they talk about the United States being a constitutional republic, not a democracy. -END QUOTE-
There still are these elites in this world, that is a threat to the rule of the people, to democracy. The biggest danger is of course totalitarianism.
Communism and Nazism reject modern democracy with its social divisions and aim to fill the void of power with one truth, one party, one man.
This totalitarian temptation can take on new forms. Just look at contemporary right-wing populism:
especially the claim of Putin, Trump, or Orban to be the true spokesperson of the people, which is truly anti-democratic, because anti-pluralist.
But don't despair. Even the most totalitarian regime on this earth sees some value in democracy as it calls itself officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
It is my freedom to declare hereby our project as accomplished and the gates opened to enjoy a happy summer break.
Thank you all.....it was a wonderful and inspiring year again.....
New Project starts 6 September
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
TABLE OF CONTENT -----------------------------------------------------------------
1 - 100 Philosophers 9 May 2009 Start of
2 - 25+ Women Philosophers 10 May 2009 this blog
3 - 25 Adventures in Thinking 10 May 2009
4 - Modern Theories of Ethics 29 Oct 2009
5 - The Ideal State 24 Febr 2010 / 234
6 - The Mystery of the Brain 3 Sept 2010 / 266
7 - The Utopia of the Free Market 16 Febr 2012 / 383
8. - The Aftermath of Neo-liberalism 5 Sept 2012 / 413
9. - The Art Not to Be an Egoist 6 Nov 2012 / 426
10 - Non-Western Philosophy 29 May 2013 / 477
11 - Why Science is Right 2 Sept 2014 / 534
12 - A Philosopher looks at Atheism 1 Jan 2015 / 557
13 - EVIL, a philosophical investigation 17 Apr 2015 / 580
14 - Existentialism and Free Will 2 Sept 2015 / 586
15 - Spinoza 2 Sept 2016 / 615
16 - The Meaning of Life 13 Febr 2017 / 637
17 - In Search of my Self 6 Sept 2017 / 670
18 - The 20th Century Revisited 3 Apr 2018 / 706
19 - The Pessimist 11 Jan 2020 / 819
20 - The Optimist 9 Febr 2020 / 824
21 - Awakening from a Neoliberal Dream 8 Oct 2020 / 872
22 - A World Full of Patterns 1 Apr 2021 / 912
23 - The Concept of Freedom 8 Jan 2022 / 965
**** SUMMER BREAK ****