Authentic Liberty & Conscience: Christ the Way, the Truth, The Life
- Authentic Liberty vs licentiousness
Often when discussing terms of nuanced meaning, such as liberty, a useful starting point is the dictionary, which gives a standardized definition. Liberty can be defined as 1. the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views or 2. the power or scope to act as one pleases. Some synonyms for liberty are autonomy, choice, independence, and unconstraint. Antonyms for liberty are imprisonment, restraint, and captivity. Associated terms for liberty would include self-determination, preference, and license to do what one wants. The etymology of the word liberty is from Latin libertas, the root being liber meaning to be free. From the ancient definition of liberty, the notion of freedom is at its core.
Philosophy can be roughly broken into four time periods: Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, and Contemporary Philosophy with all time frames fluid. See link to History of Philosophy.
The fourth period of Philosophy from 1800 AD to the present is known as Contemporary Philosophy with Fredrich Nietzsche being a famous philosopher of this period. Philosophy is totally unchained from an absolute idea, including God. There are no fixed principles. Without an objective norm to measure, human beings can make any claim about their existence without one being able to say that one was true or better than another. Though Nietzsche did not kill God, as his famous quote states, he did observe quite rightly that the Enlightenment thinking had already done so. Man was at last free to get rid of Thou Salt Not and to replace it with I will. Universal concepts of what was true and what was freedom is now both a product of each individual’s choosing and having no objective measure of value to these choices. Liberty & licentiousness are used interchangeably.
No norms, no definitions, I am determinate factor outside my will, ability to discuss terms breaks down. Enlightenment contrary philosophy everything materialists (atomists) subjectivist (forms, ideas) pre-Socratic philosophies.
Plato truth beauty exterior not within, language perfectly subjective. Opinion of freedom, licentious power of personality. Power to will determines the definition.
- Consider SOCTUS Justice Kennedy, an heir to this idea, definition of the phrase the heart of liberty. All men are a result in some fashion are a result of the times in which they live, and such is the case with Justice Kennedy’s statement. This line of thinking would resonate in modern society, resulting in its application to society’s questions.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of life.”
Sara counters Kennedy is not stunning nor an original phrase. Descartes phrase writ large. Bastardized original meaning, reading most charitable way.
How can thought precede being? Farcical. How does one define mystery? Mystery of life, unmysterious.
Freedom went from the pursuit of virtue rooted in an objective reality to the notion that liberty meant doing what one could envision measured by the individual. A recent article from The Standard shows the quagmire in which a notion of liberty rooted in a subjective definition has found itself. A young man in critical condition had persistent signs of brain death. His parents want to harvest his sperm for future grandchildren. Without an objective norm for guiding ethical decisions, the court is left to decide whose personal concept of liberty should govern: the young man’s whose wishes are unknown, his parents and their natural desire for (potential) grandchildren, or society in general. It is time to return to the ancients’ understanding of freedom in these modern, complicated times and thus find the true heart of liberty.
Consequences from no objective truth helps us to see the need. Gobsmacking want to do something free to do it. People become without realizing Machiavellian. People think they are not because they think their ideas are good as opposed to the evil connotation of Machiavelli. Ends justify the means. No one permitted to discern a Now every benefit projected to future and thus no thought to price. Grandchildren are a good but the means matter.
 Oxford Dictionaries, “Liberty,” http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/liberty?region=us&q=liberty (accessed November 21, 2012)