The Question: Assess the view that freedom is ‘freedom to self-realisation’.
Freedom is a frequently-used term whatever in the spheres of life or in the political realms, and it means by numerous different things. Roughly, freedom can be split up into two categories: positive freedom (freedom ‘to’) and negative freedom (freedom
‘from’). The separation of liberty into this binary framework could be at least traced back to Kant1, which was articulated by Fromm in his 1941 work, “Escape from
Freedom”2, then defended in depth and made famous by Berlin’s 1958 essay, “Two
Concepts of Liberty”3 and ultimately explored by Taylor4.
Speaking of the distinctions between Positive and Negative Freedom, here are two ways of dealing with liberty. On the one hand, one may regard liberty as the freedom to act and achieve and freedom for self-realisation. The interference of state is justified on the grounds that it is better to encourages personal development and individual participation in public life. On the other hand, common sense holds
“Immanuel Kant, (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a Prussian philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. His thought continues to have a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy.” Kant, Immanuel;
Kitcher, Patricia (intro.); Pluhar, W. (trans.) (1996). Critique of Pure Reason.
Indianapolis: Hackett. xxviii.
Funk, Rainer (2000).
Berlin, I. (1958).
Charles Margrave Taylor, is a Canadian philosopher from Montreal, Quebec best known for his contributions to political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, and intellectual history.
negative liberty to be the absence of obstacles and the free exercise of options. The only restrict of negative liberty involves the ‘Harm Principle’5 — as long as the detrimental outcomes of his/her behaviour is only felt by him/herself, that person is free if no one prevents him/her from doing whatever him/her wants. To be more vivid, the perspective of the former mainly focuses on going through the right doors for the right reasons, whereas on standpoint of the later, it is simply about how many doors are left open for people.
The freedom also relates to the self-realization. Self-realization is the fulfillment of people’s inherent potentials; and freedom in such a context is the exercise of natural freedom which enables people to stay away from obstacles that can prevent one’s selfrealisation. These restricts can be both immanent, like negative thoughts, poor body image and external, such as limited opportunity, poverty, etc. Here, we can see that self-realization somewhat links to both positive liberty and negative liberty. Followed by this, let us move on to briefly assess these two sorts of freedom.
There is a significant number of advantages associated with the positive liberty.
Primarily, positive liberty adheres to the equitable distribution of resources and wealth which enables individuals to fulfill their own potentials and also eliminates disparities and alienations by improving the infrastructure and expanding the welfare system.
Furthermore, the state will be relatively stable under the positive freedom as the centralised government is powerful enough to weather crises. Nevertheless, it permits the state to redefine people’s interests and thereby, deprives people of rights to live in accordance with their own wills. The positive freedom may also bring about some
John, M. (1859). On Liberty. Oxford University. pp. 21–22. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
adverse consequences to nation, such as laziness, reluctance to work hard and even corruptions. As for the negative liberty, it seeks to minimise interference and is considered as a ‘real freedom’, in particular on the moral level, which provides people independence and opportunities