There Is a Difference Between Liberty And Freedom

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  1. GA Anderson profile image84
    GA Andersonposted 2 years ago


    1. GA Anderson profile image84
      GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      I also think there is a difference, but as you say, the difference is philosophical. So, in the living reality of perceiving the surface and not the depth, that difference isn't seen. And in most instances, it isn't relevant.

      Going back to the thought that measures of freedom are the degrees of liberty between free and not free, sometimes the absence of a choice is more important and more pertinent than the absence of the result of that unavailable choice. Having a Liberty to do something doesn't mean you have the freedom to do it. For instance, and in general, one has the liberty to decide to jump over a fence, but gravity and age could say you don't have the freedom to do it.

      Your view that liberty is limitless and freedoms aren't is how I take both Locke and Hegel's theories; the untouched State of Nature and the uncontacted Conscious Sphere are states of unlimited Liberty. But that's the only time it is unlimited. Each theorizes that from the very first human contact Liberty must become limited for that contact to continue. No rules, (limits), no society, (no human interaction).

      As a side note relative to your lenses of Liberalism and Classical Liberalism, I don't think they change anything basic about this perspective.  I think they are derivatives of it that will always change as societies change. The concept won't. It can only be invalidated, not changed.


      1. tsmog profile image83
        tsmogposted 2 years agoin reply to this

        Wow!!! The thread through Thur 06/02 ending with Nathan's YouTube video on American Liberty seems to have twists and turns in it. Interesting. I am speaking of it in the Chronological form. Below is some rambling for now. Bear in mind "Rambling".

        Yesterday, I purposefully did not go on a hunt at Google University nor my folder on my PC to look into Liberty and Freedom and just pondered. Remember I have an old guy mind prone to forgetting, yet like most the information is rolling around in my head somewhere, someplace.

        Let me first preface that when I wrote what the OP is it was off the cuff seeking to be succinct and inspired by that thread. At that time I first thought of why did Locke choose Liberty rather than Freedom with his infamous "Life, Liberty and Property"? And, why did Patrick Henry choose Liberty over Freedom with "Give me Liberty or Give me death"? And, since they are in modern day regular life synonymous why do we choose one over the other to make a statement? Surely within the recesses of our individual minds there is a difference between those two for who knows what reason. Thus, the OP statement I made.

        Upon reading your post above yesterday afternoon I again pondered. I see likeness and the same truth with your illustration of jumping a fence, which prompted me to wonder is Freedom the agency of Liberty? Or, is Freedom the action of Liberty? In those sense then what may be being said is first comes Liberty then is followed by Freedom. The former for the sake of a word is pure while the latter is taking into account restrictions. Again, just rambling and not having gone to Google U.

        And, with the introduction of Conscious Sphere I was led to ponder are we first introduced to Liberty once we have Consciousness as a being? In other words leading back to the other thread the liberty of choice contrast the freedom of choice like a baby first deciding to kick the left leg instead of the right one. Remembering consciousness is a state of or quality of conscious being that of being aware. That may be more primal than Locke's thoughts on the State of Nature where there is interactions with others in an uncivilized society. I dun'no . . .

        However, from my past studies I know modern philosophers share there is positive and negative liberties. Yet, they are in confines of governing, which itself is philosophy and not Law. Herein again we see Liberty in the sense of philosophy.

        The bottom line for now I am sticking with original thoughts in the OP statement while I follow this thread and go review my studies to mix up my brain some more smile

        1. GA Anderson profile image84
          GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

          We view this similarly tsmog. Hang in there I think you are on the right track.

          Your 'word choice' thought is a good one. Words make the message, so the choice of words also carries meaning. I would also go with the thought that freedom is the action of liberty rather than its agency, but like you, that needs some more thought.

          I would say that Hegel's Sphere of Consciousness does not have a consciousness of Liberty. Its limits are untested and unknown so that sphere cannot know that to do something is a liberty. That can only come after contact with another sphere when limitations are introduced and to make a choice does become a liberty.

          That first contact is also when that sphere of Consciousness becomes one of Self-Consciousness, (because limits become real). The same thought applies to Locke. I see his State of Nature as the same as Hegel's sphere, and the change to a degree of a State of War as Hegel's change to a sphere of self-consciousness.

          In plain-speak; our freedoms come from something that is the first fact; a fact that limits are recognized and freedom of action comes from that recognition. Before the recognition of liberty, everything is a possible choice. We might call that the ultimate "unlimited freedom,"  but I don't think it is. It can't be a measure if there is nothing to measure against.

          I'm sticking with a difference too.


          1. tsmog profile image83
            tsmogposted 2 years agoin reply to this

            Agreed, there is a difference, though are synonyms in language. There is an obvious difference as they have different meanings while consensus of dictionary definitions is liberty is a form of freedom or a state of. That counters my internal thoughts for now . . . Yet, they all have to do with as you suggested in the context of a people being two (Hegel) or a society(s) especially philosophically and with governing (Locke & Hobbes), which to me means established laws a result of politics or the meeting of minds.

            I went to my folder and re-read some of the articles I found earlier this year on liberty and notes too. One note a quote from a JSTOR article says of the usage of freedom and liberty is:

            Liberty tends to be used in legal and political contexts
            Freedom is used more with philosophical and general contexts

            That counters my thought of Liberty being philosophical. Oh well . . .

            On that thought I pondered Hegel. In his discussion of the Master-Slave relationship, self consciousness, and freedom a thought occurred similar to your fence metaphor. The slave's freedom is restricted, yet does he not have the liberty to walk away even if caught? In my mind he is not free to walk away. I guess it comes down to language, eh? So, do we only have freedom or liberty if there is language/communication. In other words without language/communication is there only a state of nature? Again, rambling . . .

            Edit: Another note from an article I just thought of is this:
            ""Freedom" is predominantly an internal construct. Viktor Frankl, the legendary Holocaust survivor who wrote Man's Search For Meaning, said it well: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way (in how he approaches his circumstances).”

            On the other hand, "liberty" is predominantly an external construct. It's the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views. The ancient Stoics knew this (more on that in a minute). So did the Founding Fathers, who wisely noted the distinction between negative and positive liberties, and codified that difference in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

            For info on negative and positive liberties they are viewed in this sense from Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy:

            "Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one’s life and realize one’s fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities."

            Edit: Also not the Bill of Rights are considered to be Negative Liberties

            1. tsmog profile image83
              tsmogposted 2 years agoin reply to this

              Just a quick note there is no edit link for me to correct the last Edit. It should read; Also note . . . and should not read Also not . . .

            2. GA Anderson profile image84
              GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

              Hells bells Tsmog. Things were complicated enough with just Locke and Hegel, and now you introduce the Stoics. . .

              A while back I tried to see if I could 'get into' checking them out. I couldn't.  Even though their points that you offered as leading to influence on the Founding Fathers seem right, (as supported by philosophies in the ages that followed), their "Sage" concept is deeper than I wanted to go.

              Your JSTOR explanation makes sense to me. I also think it supports my original Liberty vs. Freedom thought from way back when . . .

              In the context of legal or political use, it, (whatever the "it" is), must be something that can be defined and there must be a definition. I think Liberty is a more foundational thing and more basically defined. Freedom, as coming from a Liberty, is much harder. Instead of a simple 't is . . . ', it becomes an 'It is, but . . .'

              Relative to your thinking that it counters your gut feeling, consider JSTOR's 'legal and political' as referencing actions and determinations, not musings and discussions. And then think of "musings and discussions" to be essentially what philosophy is, although at a much shallower level than folks like the Stoa.

              Also, that Positive and Negative Liberties thing brings a grin. The kind you get when you are sitting in the bleachers and see someone walking on the floor stumble over cables crossing the aisle. (wait, the grin isn't that they stumbled, it is to my experience that every single time I see it happen, the stumbler looks around to see if anyone saw. Standing in front of a bleacher crowd and they are checking to see if anybody saw? C'mon now, that's worth a grin)

              Anyway, the stumble here is the instinctual thinking that "Positive" means added, not subtracted, when in this case it is just as you describe: an indication of absence or presence.


  2. Stephen Tomkinson profile image89
    Stephen Tomkinsonposted 2 years ago

    Do tell us more..

    1. GA Anderson profile image84
      GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      I did . . . I did . . . ;-)


      1. profile image0
        savvydatingposted 2 years agoin reply to this
        1. GA Anderson profile image84
          GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

          Ouch, that was a good one. I'll go sit in the back for a while.

          GA ;-)

          1. profile image0
            savvydatingposted 2 years agoin reply to this

            If someone compared me to Alice Cooper, I'd be all about it. I'd be like, "Yes, dammit."

            You gave me the perfect opportunity to have some fun at your expense given these serious times. We all appreciate your perspectives around here whether we agree or not, and even when we don't know what the hell GA is talking about!

            1. Nathanville profile image91
              Nathanvilleposted 2 years agoin reply to this

              Yep, I'm glad I'm not the only one who "don't know what the hell GA is talking about"!  And yeah "We all [do] appreciate [GA's] ...perspectives around here whether we agree or not,..."

              American Liberty

              1. GA Anderson profile image84
                GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

                Well damn Nathanville, Your video made my day. I agree with every quote in it. Thanks.


            2. GA Anderson profile image84
              GA Andersonposted 2 years agoin reply to this

              Yep, I don't know if the opportunity was perfect or not, but your use of it was. Your poke was a good one because it was double-edged. (I'm taking notes)

              Judging from the directions in some of my conversations I question whether even I know what the hell I'm talking about. ;-)


              1. Nathanville profile image91
                Nathanvilleposted 2 years agoin reply to this

                According to the Oxford English Dictionary – “Liberty is the freedom to live as you choose without too many limits from government or authority.”

                According to Wikipedia – “Liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege).”  It goes onto say “It is a synonym for the word freedom.”

                Two words spring to my mind in this context - “Laissez-faire” and “Anarchism”; both of which are undesirable forms of society in my mind.

                1. profile image0
                  savvydatingposted 2 years agoin reply to this

                  The Oxford English version works for me.


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