Freedom and the Good Life Most people believe that freedom is one of the most important things in the world. Freedom is not only mandatory for a good life but it also seems to be essential for morality . In his discussion of moral philosophy and freedom, Immanuel Kant wrote that “Ought implies can”. It is often said that without freedom there cannot be morality and there would not be much worth living for. Two very important questions related to are raised that are frequently overlooked. These are; What is so important about freedom to us? And; what exactly is ‘freedom’?
There are a vast number of definitions of freedom. ‘Freedom’ is generally defined as the lack of all the unreasonable restraints in our speech, movement, activity and beliefs. But this definition begins to seem vague when related to various issues relating the issue of freedom. Frithjof Bergmann outlined what he called our “schizophrenic view of freedom” in his book On Being Free, which consisted of two sides. The first being that freedom is a wonderful thing that not only gives us humans a distinguished status thus separating us from nature, but also assumed to be a main human goal.
However, the other view is that freedom is a horrible thing that humans desperately try to escape. In this view people are glad that they may easily escape the authority on a matter that seems difficult and too painful to face. This can be referred to as ‘bad faith’, coined by the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Freedom is so often a negative concept that it becomes a problem to define freedom and mention its good qualities. When people are constantly suffering under a particular oppressive leader, the meaning of freedom means ‘free form’.
When something is imposed on a person and the person does it unwillingly, then relief from this imposition would be considered freedom. However, this becomes more difficult when there is no evident oppressor or nothing definite to react against. The context does not justify the conclusion at times. Freedom cannot simply be thought of as ‘freedom form’ some undesirable imposition, but also a freedom that allows one to do or have something also. Since the eighteenth century, these two concepts have been called negative freedom and positive freedom, both used together and always assuming the other when stated separately.
Leaving out the positive concept of freedom would result in people demanding freedom from everything. This absolute freedom does not work since there are various situations where a certain amount of restraint is necessary in order for there to be a justifiable claim for this freedom. On the other hand, looking at only the negative concept of freedom, interference by imposing parties leads to absurd conclusions that the people who do not have anyone to impose on them are the most free, which is not necessarily the case.