Some people believe that positive freedom is truly valuable. Are they right? Or have they been misled by a mistaken belief In the existence of a ‘higher’ or ‘Ideal’ self? In this essay I will argue positive freedom Is valuable. This Is based on the belief that it is valuable, by which I mean something worth having, to be able to control ones Irrational desires In order to achieve rational goals. An end I will argue Is only achievable through adopting the notion of the ‘higher-self.
Given I will be arguing the existence of the higher-self is a logical entailment of achieving positive freedom, I will here fore be denying the belief in the existence ova higher-self Is mistaken. It should be noted that the higher-self I will be promoting in this essay, should not be conflated with the notion of the Ideal self. Berlin argued that man Is divided against himself. The higher-self is a part Inherent within him that acts rationally, calculating what will satisfy in the long-run, contrasted by the lower self that is a slave to Irrational Impulses and unbridled passions (Berlin 1969, pp. 75). This notion of the higher-self is categorically different from the notion of the ideal self which is metaphysically set apart from man (Miller 2006, pp. ). To present my argument I will begin by explaining what Is meant by positive freedom and why the existence of a higher-self is a logical entailment of this, before moving on to explain why it is valuable. I will then look at two potential threats to positive freedom’s status as valuable. The first threat is that it commits one to paradoxical conclusions about the way freedom can be Increased.
I will resolve the paradox, with support from Christmas, by clarifying what It is meant by a restraint I will then consider the concern that the promotion of self-realization seems to paradoxically lead to despotism. I will then refute this claim by dissociating positive freedom with monism. To reinforce my rebuttal I will show how even with the existence of monism, the prospect of a tyrannical state remainsunlikely. Before concluding by reinstating that positive liberty truly Is valuable. I shall now begin by explaining what positive freedom is and how the higher-self Is a logical entailment of realization.
Page 2 Some people believe positive freedom Essay
It is important to note the idea of positive freedom has been variously conceived. The notion of positive freedom Iwill promote argues an agent is positively free if they are self-governing, whereby the higher-self s exercising control over the irrational desires of the lower-self. Berlin argues that true freedom occurs upon the achievement of self-realization, whereby one have realized their own authentic desires (Berlin 1969, pp130). The true desires of an Individual are the desires rationally calculated by the higher-self to satisfy in the long-run.
Often the irrational desires of the lower-self prevent us from recognizing our true desires. True positive freedom, therefore, involves the higher-self exercising control over the Irrational desires of the lower-self in order to achieve self-realization Berlin 1969, pp. 135). For example, Sally wants to study for her exams but is identify her true rational desire is to study for her exam to ensure she performs well in it. However, because of her lower-self’s desire to watch TV, she finds herself seduced away from fulfilling her authentic desire.
Thus, in order for Sally to study for her exam requires her to control her lower-self’s desire to watch TV. Given that in order to be positively free the higher-self must calculate the individual’s true desires, the higher-self therefore becomes a logical entailment in achieving positive freedom. One can only be positively free, if and only if, one is acting in accordance with their higher true’ self. Having explained what positive freedom is and how the higher-self is a logical entailment in its attainment, I will now move on to explain why it is valuable.
The idea of being in control of ones desires is intuitively appealing. To show that self- governance is valuable I will use a thought experiment. Suppose there are two universes, in universe A an agent has a nicotine addiction, he wants to go to a concert but because of his nicotine addiction he feels compelled to stop at the local kiosk to ink up cigarettes. In doing so, he fails to make last entry into the concert. In this universe there is no such thing as a higher-self and so consequently he was unable to control his addiction.
Alternatively, in universe B the agent has access to the higher-self and so had the capacity to control his addiction. Resultantly, he was able to make it to the concert on time. Now I ask the reader, which universe would you rather be in, one where you can control your irrational desires to achieve rational goals, or one in which you cannot achieve goals because you are ruled by irrational compulsions? If the reader answers yes, then they must also concede that there is something valuable about positive freedom.
I would argue that it is undeniable that a world in which agents can control their desires in order to pursue rational goals, is something that is worth having. I will now move on to explain the first objection positive liberty faces, that it cannot be valuable because it commits one to implausible conclusions about the way freedom can be increased (christman, 1991 pp. 351). So far I have characterized self-realization to be achieved through self-governance, meaning to remove restraints, irrational sires, faced by one’s real wishes.
Thus, to increase one’s freedom, one removes irrational desires. However, as Berlin argued, this may not be the only way to increase one’s freedom. If being free means being unhindered from realmsing one’s desires, this seems to suggest one could paradoxically reduce one’s ‘unfreedom’ by coming to desire fewer things one is unfree to do. Furthermore, suggesting one can increase their freedom by absurdly holding less true desires (Christman, 2009 pp. 85). Berlin underscored this difficulty: ‘it is as if I were to say: I have a wounded leg.
There are two methods of freeing myself from pain. One is to heal the wound… but… the other is to get rid of the wound by cutting off my leg (Berlin, 1969 pp. 135-36). Here it appears one can be more free by retreating into the ‘inner citadel’ of the central wishes that form one’s true self. This is to suggest one could become free simply by becoming satisfied with one’s circumstance. Consider the case of two types of slave: one who despises their shackles and desires to do things slavery prevents and so is unhappy, unachievable.
Given that the slave is carrying out the desires that are truly his, then it must be concluded that the second slave is freer than the first (Christman, 1991 pp. 52). Yet this conclusion seems absurd since intuitively we often oppose the idea of freedom with the idea of being a slave. Furthermore, it appears if the positive theorist has to concede that a happy slave could be freer as the result of removing their desire to be free, then the status of positive freedom as valuable is challenged. I will now show how by clarifying what is meant by a restraint, this paradox can be solved.
Whilst negative theorists have argued that in order to resolve this paradox, means removing the relation between one’s freedom and one’s desires. I would argue, in agreement with Christan, that the air of paradox is not simply the structural form it takes: the presence of a desire and a restraint plus the removal of the desire equals an increase in freedom’ (Christman, 1991 pp. 352). Take for example Bob standing outside of a hall with the door unlocked. At first Bob desires to go into the hall, but due to a character change decides he no longer desires to go into hall.
After this character change takes place the door is locked, preventing Bob from fulfilling his previously discarded desire to go in the hall. Given that Bob independent of the new constraint decided not to go into the concert. hen this new restraint, the locked door, is of no restraint to Bob and has no effect on Bob’s freedom. The paradox, on the other hand, arises when there is suspicion that the preference change of Bob’s to go in the hall resulted from the presence of the new restraint, the door to the hall being locked.
It is calling these types of desire changes an increase in freedom that is absurd. What this exposes is that, while it can be admitted that freedom can be a function of desires, it cannot be that freedom is increased when desire changes take place as a direct effect of the forceful presence’ of a new barrier Christman, 1991 pp. 353). Thus, it appears if a person acts upon their desires that were not developed independent of the existence of new constraints, then the person is not acting freely (Christman, 1991 pp. 353).
It appears this paradox can be resolved by clarifying that for something to be a restraint, it must act as a barrier to the carrying out of the autonomously independently formed desire. Given that the ‘happy slave’ Jettisoned his desires for freedom only in response of the repressive existence of the constraints he faces, then he therefore was not freer after that change. For his change in desire to not be free was not formulated in an autonomous manner. The shackles he feels still constrain those desires to walk freely which were autonomously formed.
So they are still restraints and he is not freer after the change in desire. A conclusion I will agree with Christman is free of paradox and incoherence’ (Christman, 1991 pp. 354). Furthermore, by resolving the paradox of the happy slave through showing that the slave was never autonomously Jettisoned his desire to be free, I have shown that the positive conception of liberty is no longer subject to the inner citadel argument presented by Berlin. The upshot of this resolution is that the status of positive freedom as valuable can be maintained.
Having resolved the paradox of the happy slave that called the value of positive freedom into question, I will now move on to consider the objection that positive to Berlin the slippery slope towards this paradoxical conclusion begins with the idea of a divided-self; one is truly free when one is acting in accordance with their rational higher-self. The next step towards tyranny consists in the acceptance that some individuals are more rational than others and can therefore better know what is in he rational interests of the less rational.
Allowing for more rational individuals to say that by forcing the less rational than themselves to do what is rational and thus to realize their authentic selves, they are in fact freeing them from their less rational desires. Berlin warned once one adopts this view one can be in position to ignore and oppress the actual desires of men, acting on behalf of the individual’s true self, in the knowledge that whatever the true goal of man must be identical with his freedom (Berlin, 1969 pp132-33).
An example of this can clearly be seen in Plato’s philosopher ruler, who was assumed to have attained in part rational truth (positive freedom) and yet promotes “Wiping the slate of human society clean” (Plato 380bc, pp. 237). Positive liberty, therefore, seems to lead to despotism through endorse a dictatorial doctrine, which can easily involve immorality. Given that it seems the promotion of positive liberty may lead to a state of tyranny, a consequence that seems unattractive, the status of positive freedom as something worth having is made vulnerable.
I will now move on to show how the promotion of positive liberty need not lead to cranny, I will do this by denying Berlin’s assumption that positive liberty adopts monism. Berlin frequently identified positive freedom with monism – the view that there is one correct system of values to tell us how to live and thus leading to belief that there is one single rational way of life for all people (Swift, 2006 p. 86).
Whilst I agree that we identify freedom with rationality, I would deny that one must accept monism in the sense Berlin suggested Alternatively, I would argue we can think there to be different ways to live rationally, suited to different people. And so, rather than the state’s role as corrective: identifying the ‘right way for people to live and forcing them to live that way in the name of their liberty; the state’s role ought to be characterized as more passive: there to encourage its members towards freedom by enabling them to live their lives in a way that resonates with their rationale.
This is to recognize citizens as individuals. It should be noted that the state Just described seems to fall more in line with the idea of a pluralistic society, than it does with the monstrous monastic totalitarian state feared by Berlin (Swift, 2006 p. 5). Furthermore, given it is this monastic notion which lends supports to the first step of Berlin’s argument, that one can know better what is in the rational interest of another, by denying the necessary relation between positive liberty and monism, the upshot is that the slippery slope characterized by Berlin is cut short at the first step.
Alternatively it could be argued that even if one accepts the assumption that the doctrine of positive liberty does adopt monism, the doctrine of positive liberty need not necessarily lead to tyrannical state. On the contrary, Taylor suggested that the opus upon rational self-mastery suggests that if anything the totalitarian rule would involve submission to an individual who has achieved self-mastery, it does not by any means imply tyranny.
Furthermore, I would argue whether or not one accepts the assumptions Berlin makes to formulate his attack on positive liberty, there is good reason to believe the promotion of self-governance need not lead to despotism. The upshot being, Berlin’s tyrannical argument need not pose a threat to the value of positive freedom. In conclusion to my essay I have shown that positive freedom is truly valuable. This as done by first highlighting that a world in which we are able to control our irrational desires in order to achieve rational goals is one worth living in.
A goal I argued was only achievable through the existence of the higher-self and so I consequently denied that the belief in a higher-self was mistaken. I then showed that positive freedom can be considered valuable by considering two objections, before overcoming these objections. The first objection to the value of positive freedom I faced was that positive freedom has been accused of committing to paradoxical conclusions about the way freedom can be increased. I then saved the status of positive freedom by showing a resolution to the happy slave paradox.
I did this by clarifying that in order for something to be considered a restraint, it must act as a barrier to the autonomously formed desire. The content slave was not made freer by removing his desire to be free because this change in desire was not autonomously formed. The outcome of this was to remove the threat to the status of positive freedoms as valuable. I then moved on to face the objection that positive freedom cannot be considered valuable because it has the undesirable consequences of earing to a tyrannical state.
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