Learning about liberty

An esteemed philosopher offers a vision for the central role of one of our most cherished—and controversial—ideas. In this rigorous distillation of his political philosophy, Philip Pettit, author of the landmark work Republicanism, champions a simple standard for our most complex political judgments, offering a challenging ideal that nevertheless holds out a real prospect for social and democratic progress.

Whereas many thinkers define freedom as the absence of interference—we are left alone to do as we please—Pettit demands that in their basic life choices free persons should not even be subject to a power of interference on the part of others. This notion of freedom as non-domination offers a yardstick for gauging social and democratic progress and provides a simple, unifying standard for analyzing our most entangled political quandaries.

Pettit reaffirms the ideal, already present in the Roman Republic, of a free citizenry who enjoy equal status with one another, being individually protected by a law that they together control. After sketching a fresh history of freedom, he turns to the implications of the ideal for social, democratic, and international justice.

Should the state erect systems for delivering mandatory healthcare coverage to its citizens? Should voting be a citizen’s only means of influencing political leaders? Are the demands of the United Nations to be heeded when they betray the sovereignty of the state? Pettit shows how these and other questions should be resolved within a civic republican perspective.

Concise and elegant in its rhetoric and ultimately radical in its reimagining of our social arrangements, Just Freedom is neither a theoretical treatise nor a practical manifesto, but rather an ardent attempt to elaborate the demands of freedom and justice in our time.

From the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry to president Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package to the highly controversial passage of federal health-care reform, conservatives and concerned citizens alike have grown increasingly fearful of big government. Enter Nobel Prize–winning economist and political theorist F. A. Hayek, whose passionate warning against empowering states with greater economic control, The Road to Serfdom, became an overnight sensation last summer when it was endorsed by Glenn Beck. The book has since sold over 150,000 copies.

The latest entry in the University of Chicago Press’s series of newly edited editions of Hayek’s works, The Constitution of Liberty is, like Serfdom, just as relevant to our present moment. The book is considered Hayek’s classic statement on the ideals of freedom and liberty, ideals that he believes have guided—and must continue to guide—the growth of Western civilization. Here Hayek defends the principles of a free society, casting a skeptical eye on the growth of the welfare state and examining the challenges to freedom posed by an ever expanding government—as well as its corrosive effect on the creation, preservation, and utilization of knowledge. In opposition to those who call for the state to play a greater role in society, Hayek puts forward a nuanced argument for prudence. Guided by this quality, he elegantly demonstrates that a free market system in a democratic polity—under the rule of law and with strong constitutional protections of individual rights—represents the best chance for the continuing existence of liberty.

Striking a balance between skepticism and hope, Hayek’s profound insights are timelier and more welcome than ever before. This definitive edition of The Constitution of Liberty will give a new generation the opportunity to learn from his enduring wisdom.

At least since the publication of Isaiah Berlin's famous essay "Two Concepts of Liberty" nearly half a century ago, political philosophers have argued vigorously over the relative merits of "positive" and "negative" accounts of freedom. Matthew Kramer writes squarely within the negative-liberty tradition, but he incorporates a number of ideas that are quite often associated with theories of positive liberty. Much of The Quality of Freedom is devoted to elaborating the necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of particular freedoms and unfreedoms; however, the book's cardinal objective is to establish the measurability of each person's overall freedom and of each society's aggregate freedom. On the one hand, Kramer contends that the existence of any particular instance of liberty or unfreedom is a matter of fact that can be confirmed or disconfirmed without any reliance on evaluative or normative considerations. On the other hand, he argues that the extent of each person's overall freedom or unfreedom cannot be ascertained entirely in the absence of evaluative assumptions. By combining those two positions and developing them in detail, Kramer pits himself against all positive accounts of liberty and most negative accounts. In the course of so doing, he aims to demonstrate the rigorous measurability of overall liberty - something that many writers on freedom have casually dismissed as impossible. Although Kramer concentrates principally on constructing a systematic analysis of sociopolitical freedom, he engages critically with the work of many of the leading contemporary writers on the topic.
Liberty, one of the most consequential words in our language, is one of the most treasured concepts in American thought--and one of the most intensely debated. Its meaning is constantly shifting, changing not only from one culture to another but also, over time, within the same culture. No two definitions of liberty seem alike.

In this subtle and illuminating work Michael Kammen traces the evolving concept of liberty throughout American history and provides a solid framework for understanding the meaning of the term today. He shows that by the early seventeenth century a tension between liberty and authority was well recognized. Throughout the eighteenth century and especially during the American Revolution a bond between liberty and property was asserted. By the end of the eighteenth century this concept of liberty was so well established that it remained dominant throughout the nineteenth. By the early twentieth century, as the notion of social justice gained prominence, liberty and justice were paired frequently, and by midcentury the two had become allied to general American values. Since the 1960s the union of liberty and equality has been the prevailing notion, and achieving them has proved a major objective.

In a lively and learned manner Kammen also shows that Americans have subscribed to different definitions of liberty concurrently. Above all, there has been a steady expansion of what is embraced by the concept of liberty. This expansion has created difficulties in public discourse, causing groups to misunderstand one another. On the other hand, interpretations of liberty have broadened to include such concepts as constraints on authority, a right to privacy, and the protection of personal freedoms.

In a new preface for this Banner Books edition Kammen responds to evaluations of earlier editions and places his views within the context of more recent studies.

Michael Kammen, a professor of American history and culture at Cornell University, is the author of "American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century" and "In the Past Lane: Historical Perspectives on American Culture."

Of all of his works, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path is the one that Steiner himself believed would have the longest life and the greatest spiritual and cultural consequences. It was written as a phenomenological account of the "results of observing the human soul according to the methods of natural science.

This seminal work asserts that free spiritual activity--understood as the human ability to think and act independently of physical nature--is the suitable path for human beings today to gain true knowledge of themselves and of the universe. This is not merely a philosophical volume, but rather a warm, heart-oriented guide to the practice and experience of living thinking.

Readers will not find abstract philosophy here, but a step-by-step account of how a person may come to experience living, intuitive thinking--"the conscious experience of a purely spiritual content."

During the past hundred years since it was written, many have tried to discover this "new thinking" that could help us understand the various spiritual, ecological, social, political, and philosophical issues facing us. But only Rudolf Steiner laid out a path that leads from ordinary thinking to the level of pure spiritual activity--intuitive thinking--in which we become co-creators and co-redeemers of the world.

"When, with the help of Steiner's book, we recognize that thinking is an essentially spiritual activity, we discover that it can school us. In that sense--Steiner's sense--thinking is a spiritual path" (Gertrude Reif Hughes).

Contents:
Translator's Introduction Introduction by Gertrude Reif Hughes Preface to the Revised Edition, 1918
Part 1: Theory: The Knowledge of Freedom Conscious Human Action The Fundamental Urge for Knowledge Thinking in the Service of Understanding the World The World as Percept Knowing the World Human Individuality Are There Limits to Cognition?
Part 2: Practice: The Reality of Freedom The Factors of Life The Idea of Freedom Freedom--Philosophy and Monism World Purpose and Life Purpose (Human Destiny) Moral Imagination (Darwinism and Ethics) The Value of Life (Pessimism and Optimism) Individuality and Genus
Final Questions: The Consequences of Monism Appendixes Bibliography Index

This volume is arguably the most essential of Steiner's works. The thoughts in this book establish the foundation for all of Anthroposophy.

Other translations: The Philosophy of Freedom and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. German edition: Die Philosophie der Freiheit
Learn how to set yourself free with the philosophies of one of the twentieth century’s greatest spiritual teachers in Freedom: The Courage to Be Yourself.

In Freedom, Osho outlines three stages of freedom. The first is “freedom from,” which is a freedom that comes from breaking out of what he calls the “psychological slavery” imposed by outside forces such as parents, society, or religion. The next stage is “freedom for,” a positive freedom that comes from embracing and creating something—a fulfilling relationship, for example, or an artistic or humanitarian vision. And lastly there is “just freedom,” the highest and ultimate freedom. This last freedom is more than being for or against something; it is the freedom of simply being oneself and responding truthfully to each moment.

This book helps readers to identify the obstacles to their freedom, both circumstantial and self-imposed, to choose their battles wisely, and to find the courage to be true to themselves.

Osho challenges readers to examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices that limit their capacity to enjoy life in all its richness. He has been described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the “1000 Makers of the 20th Century” and by Sunday Mid-Day (India) as one of the ten people—along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha—who have changed the destiny of India. Since his death in 1990, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

Osho, one of the greatest spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century, explores the connections between ourselves and others in Love, Freedom, and Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships.

In today’s world, freedom is our basic condition, and until we learn to live with that freedom, and learn to live by ourselves and with ourselves, we are denying ourselves the possibility of finding love and happiness with someone else.

Love can only happen through freedom and in conjunction with a deep respect for ourselves and the other. Is it possible to be alone and not lonely? Where are the boundaries that define “lust” versus “love”...and can lust ever grow into love? In Love, Freedom, and Aloneness you will find unique, radical, and intelligent perspectives on these and other essential questions. In our post-ideological world, where old moralities are out of date, we have a golden opportunity to redefine and revitalize the very foundations of our lives. We have the chance to start afresh with ourselves, our relationships to others, and to find fulfillment and success for the individual and for society as a whole.

Osho challenges readers to examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices that limit their capacity to enjoy life in all its richness. He has been described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the “1000 Makers of the 20th Century” and by Sunday Mid-Day (India) as one of the ten people—along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha—who have changed the destiny of India. Since his death in 1990, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

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