Freedom is one of the central philosophic categories in characterizing the essence of man and his existence. In the history of philosophic idea this conception got over a long evolution process- from “negative” (meaning freedom from) up to “positive” (freedom for) theory. The philosophy of freedom was the subject of consideration of I. Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, A. Schopenhauer, J.P. Sartre, F.W. Nietzsche, K.T. Jaspers. The range of insights on this notion – starting from the complete negation of the free choice possibility (in the conception of behavior science) up to argumentation escape from freedom in the conditions of modern society – is quite wide.
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It is impossible to underestimate the influence of Hume’s work on world philosophy. David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of the Scottish Enlightenment and Western philosophy.
The opinion of David Hume, presented in the book – “A Treatise of Human Nature” appeals to the modern investigations of freedom. Besides, it is considered to be one of the most important books in the history of philosophy. According to the Book II, Part 3, of the Treatise of Human Nature and in section VIII of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, “Of Liberty and Necessity” Hume sets out his views concerning freedom of the will. The philosopher holds to an opinion of compatibilism, by it he states that all human actions are caused and that all people possess liberty of action. Hume endows humans with the other kind of freedom – freedom of will, which occurs to be very complicated, “impossible to define” notion and gives the following explanation: by the will he means nothing but the inner impression we feel and are conscious of, when we purposefully originate any new motion of our body. One more question worth to be touched is the necessity which makes an essential part of causation, and accordingly liberty by extracting necessity totals the chance. Liberty or chance in its deep understanding are nothing but a demand of determination, and a certain uncertainty we feel in passing or not passing from the idea of one to that of the other. We have a feeling that our actions are mostly regulated by our will and by thinking that our will itself is subject to nothing we make a big mistake, as by denial of will we are provoked to try we feel and it moves easily every way and makes an impression of itself even on that side on which it didn’t settle. The image we persuade ourselves couldn’t have been completed into the thing itself. Despite all our caprices and incorrect actions we may perform, the desire of demonstration our liberty is the sole motive of our actions, we can never free ourselves from the bonds of necessity.
Hume initiates this discussion between the notions of necessity and freedom by proposing that ambiguities in language have kept interlocutors in the disputes over freedom of the will talking past one another. Actually, according to Hume, all mankind, both learned and illiterate, have always shared the same opinion with regard to this subject, and several intelligible definitions would immediately have set the limit to the whole arguing. Hume sets out to clarify what we can best be understood to mean when we talk about liberty and necessity, and to show that so understood, there is no conflict between them. Discussing the necessity, Hume argues that all our actions are first and foremost caused by necessity, and all our operations are caused by a necessary force, in addition to it every natural effect is dictated by the energy of its cause. It is commonly recognized that the actions of people are mostly uniform and the human nature remains the same according to its principles. It closely coincides with the events in the natural world that we draw inferences concerning them. Analyzing our interaction with other people and how we reflect on human activities it seems almost impossible to make our own opinion without recognition of philosophy of necessity. When it refers to liberty of human beings actions, Hume discloses that we shouldn’t believe that actions have so little connection with motives, inclinations, and circumstances that one does not link with the other. Any such view of liberty would set at defiance of common and philosophical ways of thinking about human’s behavior.
Contrariwise, the meaning of liberty is very simple as it is determined by power of acting or not taking actions; according to the determinations of the will; that is, if we choose to remain in the shade, we vice versa; if we choose to move, we also may. Every person who is independent, not a prisoner has this liberty. Hume proves that his opinion on liberty and necessity do not only correspond with each other but also correspond with moral and legal standards. We are too condemning a man for an act caused by a durable trait than a person who behaved under the influence of passing impulsion. And definitely it would be pointless to accuse someone for an action the cause of which lies beyond him or her. Analyzing Hume’s point on liberty I have come to conclusion we can be free only we have a necessity of determination ourselves in this life. We have a liberty to choose of whether to take actions or to keep out. And in such a way we get our determination, our life principles.
It’s worth to take into account the opinion of one more eminent philosopher of that time – Immanuel Kant. The best idea in Kant’s philosophy is directed to the study of freedom concept. The detailed research of freedom is given in his book “Critique of Pure Reason, the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and the Critique of Practical Reason”. Kant believed that morality is directly connected with freedom. According to his dogmas: “To be free is to follow our own rational principles instead of just our desires — to follow our own legislation — to act on maxims that we will to be universal laws.” Resuming all above said to be free is to be moral. In this way freedom and morality are finally the same enigma. His standpoint is opposed to Hume’s view that both natural and moral actions must be regarded as part of a single chain of causes, effects and explanations. As a matter of fact, if they were regarded in such a way, and on the assumption that we accept natural causal laws as global and deterministic, there could be no freedom at all according to Kant’s moral philosophy. Speaking about free will Kant considered that people are able only to accept it. Judging from his principles I have reached a conclusion that we can only be free by in a positive sense as this freedom is controlled by our morality principles. Those principles will never force us to do bidding of our emotions.
In the historic development of freedom notion the idea of creative freedom is gradually replacing the concept of liberty from obstructions – casualty, fate. There are a number of points on the question of whether freedom exists, namely, whether people possess a power to make a choice, making a selection from several alternatives or when an act of free will is a case of agent-causation: whereby a person generates an event.
The concept of incompatibilism was closely developed by Peter van Inwagen who is an American analytic philosopher and the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. His monograph “An Essay on Free Will” (1983) illustrates the philosophic understanding of incompatibilism about free will and determinism. Van Inwagen’s central evidence for this view says that “If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of those things (including our present acts) are not up to us.” Van Inwagen gave a profound explanation to what he called a mind argument. It is developed by identifying indeterminism with chance and by debating that if an act that happens by chance is not controlled by a man then it couldn’t be completed freely. If free will and determinism co-exist, then someone has a chance to do something not contained in that one possible future that is connected both with the past and the laws of nature – that is the most important argument presented in the “Free Will” monograph by Van Inwagen. Resuming on Inwagen’s conclusions I would like to point out that a person can only be free, “has free will” when he has to choose between two or more mutually incompatible courses of action – such that he can, or is able to, or has it within his power to accomplish. It is proved that free will is closely connected with determinism as quite simply the thesis that the past determines a unique future.
To my mind, freedom is the present ability of choice from a variety of variants and realization of the event outcome. The lack of such choice and choice realization is equal to the absence of freedom. Analyzing the freedom concept I confine myself with liberalistic approach. In my opinion it implies the deficiency of enforcement from the side of other individuals. Freedom is one of kinds of haphazard manifestation, directed by a free will (purposefulness of the will, recognized freedom) or by the stochastic law (unpredictability of an outcome of event, unconscious freedom). In this sense, the concept of liberty is opposed to the notion of necessity. According to moral philosophy, freedom is connected with the availability of person’s free will. The free will imposes an individual with responsibility and imputes his words and actions in a merit. The action is considered ethic if it is conducted by free will, and appears to be a free will’s expression of a person. I am fully concerned that the demand for freedom reveals as a biological response of a human’s organism. This point could be supported by the fact that in the whole field of our history people and classes contested against its oppressors without consideration whether there was any hope or not. Properly speaking, the history of mankind turns to be the history of struggle, history of revolution, starting from the liberation war of Israelites against Egyptian people, from national rebellions against the Roman Empire and up to revolutions in the United States of America, France, Russia, China and so on. The hypothesis about a congenital struggle for freedom impulse of a person is supported with the freedom as a background for evolution of all the human abilities, its physical and mental health and, of course, balance. Freedom is the vital biological factor for the person’s life, which determines the unobstructed development of the organism. I am upholding to the opinion of Erich Fromm, who considered freedom to be the sense of human’s happiness. But if to ponder in the essence of these words, freedom is not a fact, it is surely a process which is impossible without a subject of freedom. If a person does not realize his freedom, he does not possess it. That is why we can be free if we have a choice, an opportunity to realize our choice, when we are independent of the other person’s opinion, when we subject to our personal outputs performing a decision making. We can be free when we live our life the way we want and we do not permit anyone else to take a decision in our stead.