Freedom  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
"Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains." --The Social Contract [...]

If we can't be free, at least we can be cheap. --Zappa

This page Freedom is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
Enlarge
This page Freedom is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Freedom, generally, is having an ability to act or change without constraint. A thing is "free" if it can change its state easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosophy and religion, it is associated with having free will and being without undue or unjust constraints, or enslavement, and is an idea closely related to the concept of liberty. A person has the freedom to do things that will not, in theory or in practice, be prevented by other forces. Outside of the human realm, freedom generally does not have this political or psychological dimension. A rusty lock might be oiled so that the key has freedom to turn, undergrowth may be hacked away to give a newly planted sapling freedom to grow, or a mathematician may study an equation having many degrees of freedom. In mechanical engineering, "freedom" describes the number of independent motions that are allowed to a body or system, which is generally referred to as degrees of freedom."

Contents

Free will

Free will

In philosophical discourse, freedom is discussed in the context of free will and self-determination, balanced by moral responsibility.

Advocates of free will regard freedom of thought as innate to the human mind, while opponents regard the mind as thinking only the thoughts that a purely deterministic brain happens to be engaged in at the time.

Personal and Social freedom or liberty

In political discourse, political freedom is often associated with liberty and autonomy in the sense of "giving oneself their own laws", and with having rights and the civil liberties with which to exercise them without undue interference by the state. Frequently discussed kinds of political freedom include freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of choice, and freedom of speech.

In some circumstances, particularly when discussion is limited to political freedoms, the terms "freedom" and "liberty" tend to be used interchangeably. Elsewhere, however, subtle distinctions between freedom and liberty have been noted. John Stuart Mill, differentiated liberty from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.

Another distinction that some political theorists have deemed important is that people may aspire to have freedom from limiting forces (such as freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom from discrimination), but descriptions of freedom and liberty generally do not invoke having liberty from anything. To the contrary, the concept of negative liberty refers to the liberty one person may have to restrict the rights of others.

Other important fields in which freedom is an issue include economic freedom, academic freedom, intellectual freedom, and scientific freedom.

Namesakes

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Freedom" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools