MAN’S QUEST FOR FREEDOM by Rainer R.A.

Ibana

“Do not worry about the butterflies that escaped, there are more caterpillars in my tree.” -my cousin Marcelina, age 5 Prologue: The thesis of this paper is very simple. It is an attempt to say that freedom is important. For the sake of freedom whole nations are conquered. For the sake of freedom, whole nations unite and defend their land. Saints pray for freedom. Poets sing songs for freedom. Heroes and martyrs live and die for freedom. And philosophers ask: What is freedom? Why is freedom important? How id freedom possible? This paper hopes to address these questions. What is Freedom? The definition of freedom has traditionally been delimited by proponents of determinism. Hard determinists even contend that there is no freedom. They claim that human behavior can be programmed and manipulated as if man is only one of the objects around the environment. Event as far back as the time of Anaxagoras (500-428 B.C.), Socrates and Plato already complained of such delimitation to freedom. Plato tells us the Socrates’ choice to accept the death penalty would have been interpreted by Anaxagoras as determined by the finitube of Socrates’ skin, flesh and bones rather than as the latter’s choice to do what is right and honorable. 1 Socrates refuted Anaxagoras by distinguishing “the cause of a thing and the condition without which led him to feed on the “husks of being”. 2 These “husks” belong to the exterior parts of man: Socrates’ skin, flesh and bones which are obviously just the condition of his being in prison. But the primary cause of Socrates’ condition is be-cause of the more spiritual principle in man, which Max Scheler aptly described as: ….its existential liberation from the organic world-its freedom and detach-ability from the belongs and pressure of life. Man is therefore not determined by the physical world. He can control his bodily movements. Tan through his body, man controls the physical the world. And since man is the one in charge of physical world through his body, then, man, must be freeform the physical world itself. As in the case of Socrates, he has chosen to be in prison because of spiritual principles, he was not pre-determined to be there just because of the limitations imposed by his body.

All that can be required for man is to join the “cultural engineer’s” community. . and then there must be something wrong with Skinner’s assumptions. such a situation could only be a life a life worthy of a herd of sheep. freedom must be a necessary presupposition.However. As human being. If Skinner was correct. Broad are then quick to utilize this Kantian distinction to claim that in order to account for any kind of responsible human behavior. their conditions were not improved and even when the rich were already over-exposed to poverty. And even if Frazier could organize other people (while unable to organize himself). Libertarians such as C. what is to be rewarded and what is to be punished were not chosen by the cultural engineer. fools and tyrants. a lot of social problems could have been easily solved. But since even if the poor were relocated. The first problem with Skinnerian determinism is whether an enlightened Skinnerian can indeed be found. Skinner claims that human freedom is irrelevant to the development of the human person because human behavior can ultimately be conditioned by means of rewards and punishments. Skinnerian’s claim that hey can produce saints.F Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity and Walden Two. Walden Two would have become a totalitarian community whose policies were all pre-determined by its planners.D. Like pigeons and monkeys which can be trained to choose levers and buttons in response to rewards and punishments. man is not an animal. Animal conditioning could never be fully applied to man precisely because Skinnerian conditioning can only work in the determinate world of nature. Determinists could soften their stance and claim that “even if man is free to choose. man can only refuse to follow the stimulus-response mechanism which Skinner assumed. while the rich could become charitable by merely exposing them to the plight of the poor. the platonic refutation of determination may not be enough. Basically. The poor could improve their plight by merely relocating them to better environment. An even if the members of such a community were brain-washed in such a way that they can become fully satisfied with life in Walden Two. If this is possible at all. Skinner’s ideal could become a very important method to understand the animal aspects of human behavior. The more philosophical refutation of soft-determinism could be accomplished by introducing the Kantian distinction between determination by natural necessity and the freedom attributed to man. In the second place. but not a community of human beings. Unlike hard determinists who appear to merely physiological factors to refute the existence of freedom. But Skinner himself disclosed that Frazier. he is not free to choose what he wants to choose. they did not become charitable. This refusal to be determined by stimulusresponse mechanisms can only be understood under the postulate of the existence of freedom. the founder of the Skinnerian community could not even organize his own private room.A Campbell and C. This position has traditionally been called “soft determinism”. Fortunately. Skinner’s use of rewards and punishments will not become possible if in the first place. then life itself would have been easier. wise men and heroes instead of sinners. The most contemporary representative of soft determinism is B.

Like water-filled dam that could generate energy if it remains enclosed in it self. From this pre-conceived essence. In the first place. Husserl decried that: . homo-ludens are only some examples of them. To argue for determinism presupposes that the determinists could have been libertarians. In order to resolve these conflicts. Yet the homofaber and the homo-sapiens are both human being. Otherwise. Consequently. Potential freedom would never become actualized if its powers were not released. homo-faber. would then presuppose that the human agent was free to do so. Thus. What is good or true for homo-sapiens may be denied by homo-faber. Otherwise. But this degree of responsibility entails. And finally. To choose whether to participate or not participate. Freedom is therefore the cause that determines human behavior. freedoms will only remain as a potential power.the degree of rewards and punishments must also correspond to the degree of responsibility. in making a judgment on a crime. that the human agent could have done otherwise or have done more or less towards the accomplishment of the crime. but have to be chosen to be otherwise. homo-theos. then this choice is not free at all. how much or how little to participate in a crime. Hence. freedom must be presupposed by determinists. And the worst choice is that choice which contradicts the pre-conceived essence. The best choice for them is that choice which promotes the essence of man. freedom must then be directed to conform to it. philosophers today are in an embarrassing situation because they could not seem to agree on the best course of action for man. Why is freedom important? While it is essential to define the scope of freedom in contradistinction with determinism. The tendency of classical philosophers in their discussions of the proper direction of freedom is to first ascertain the essential nature of man. the more interesting question to ask is the concrete direction on which this power to choose is aimed. to argue for determinism presupposes that the determinist is free to argue for determinism. the history of philosophy has exhibited too many different ways of conceiving the essence of man: man as homo-sapiens. Without the concrete embodiment of an actual choice. Unfortunately. Some natural law philosophers even claim that if a choice is made in contradiction with the natural essence of man. judges first try to determine the degree of responsibility contributed by criminal to the accomplishment of the crime. The plague of relativism lurks behind anyone who takes history of philosophy seriously since the many ways of conceiving the essence of man ultimately lead to different and seemingly incommensurable norms that determine man’s choice. the more modern philosophers attempted to start all over again and postponed their prejudgment on the essence of man. it will be absurd to argue for determinism if in the first place man is also determined to be determined. the argument falls under the trap of self-refutation.

It is perhaps the legacy of Karl Marx to have announced as early as his works of 184446. This radical turn in the history of philosophy could no longer be dismissed as faddish by anyone who would like to come to grips with the problem of freedom.Blinded by naturalism (no matter how verbally oppose it). in the history of the Western world. rather that to a characteristic of human nature. from labor. Unfortunately. when properly used. Because of this essential preconception. Dewey echoed a similar sentiment when he wrote: The fundamental postulate of the discussion (of freedom) is that isolation of any one factor. Existentialists also resonates this claim whenever they emphasizing that: …freedom. But even if Marx may have been correct in identifying the human problem as a problem alienation. in his essay on “the individual and Common Good: Toward a theory of Participation”. alienation itself need not be reduced to only one essential determination. no matter how strong its working at a given time. After that historical period. even if he did try to make distinctions between the different levels of alienation (alienation of man from himself. And those who did not belong nor sympathize with this class must be “swept out of the way and made impossible”. Western man became more conscious of his own freedom from many kinds of superstitions and magic. CLOSENESS. the history of the West was never the same. but must be achieved by transforming the alienating conditions of human life by means of human labor. from the product of his labor and from man’s fellowman). . and the relevant assimilation of people in humanity as the basic community. At least. but fulfilled by means of praxis. that human liberation could not be expected to merely descend from the sky. is fatal to understanding and to intelligent action. the determinant of Marxist kind of social transformation could only be the laboring class. this radical cry for freedom can even be traced back to the “absolute Freedom”-and the Terror of the Enlightenment. From that time on. fellowman. The starting point for the attainment of freedom is therefore not to be found by contemplating abstract essences. the whole problem was narrowed down “in conceptual terms as alienated labor”. western man will seek to be free from nature. refers to the condition of human existence. Thus. society and God. restated the problem in terms of a broader dimension. the practitioners of humanistic science have completely neglected even to pose the problems of a universal and pure science of the spirit and to seek a theory of the essence of the spirit as spirit. Karol Wojtyla. when the struggle to be free was unleashed with impunity. Marx himself fell under the trap of essentialist thinking when he reduced his idea of man to the essence of homo-faber. He said that: The root alienation of human beings by human beings is contained in the neglect of the depth of participation contained in the subject.

it is perhaps more desirable to treat the human being from the more synoptic vision of his being as Being. a Wojtylan political methodology would propose the more positive affirmation of the human being qua Being in terms of solidarity and participation. Variation of perspectives and stand points can even be encouraged in order to attain more inclusive aims and better methods to attain truth and goodness. Marx’s essentialist thinking (and other forms of essentialist thinking) need not be taken as the second premise. Thus Wojtyla wrote that: Experience with diverse forms of opposition…teaches that people who oppose do not wish to leave the community because of their opposition. . A more inclusive kind of liberation can therefore be brought about not only by emancipating the conditions of those who belong to only one class as determined by an essence. No one essential class can monopolize truth and goodness. Wojtyla’s theory of solidarity and participation is an attempt to grasp a more wholistic conception and richer experience of humanity. Instead of this narrow conception of man form the point of view of an essence. but by and of the whole human community. In fact. Rather. ( it is interesting to note at this point of the discussion that the Filipino conceptual registers of bayanihan. it is clear that while it is quite possible to borrow Marx’s concept of alienation as a starting point in understanding the importance of freedom.Instead of analyzing human beings by conflict. They searching for participation and such a definition of the common good that would permit them to participate more fully and effectively in the community. And instead of the consumption of morality to the interest of the revolution. opposition can become a very authentic form of participation. Opposition is a very valuable part of solidarity. From a Wojtylan perspective. but also in accordance with the innermiost depths of man’s being as being. The broader vision of all men can be directed to transforming social structures. Like Hegelian Aufhebung that hopes to preserve previously help perspectives under a higher syntheis. The wholeness of this humanity does not only include the broader membership of all human beings. pakikipag-kapwa tao and pakikisama do harmonize with Wojtyla’s frame of mind. This shift of emphasis does not mean that everyone will be nice to everyone else. Instead of negating alienation by means of a revolutionary struggle waged by a most essential class. the aim of Wojtylan political program is to simultaneously transform its individual members and social structures from “objective totalisms” toward what he called “participatory and communal membership”. each individual and class must contribute towards the attainment of the whole. a Wojtylan vehicle for social transformation would then be mediated by “Solidarity Movements” and “Participatory Democracies”. while the consideration of the depths of man’s being can be aimed at the renewal of the human soul. Wojtla’s synthetic mind attempts to solidify the inherent CLOSENESS between human beings.) Instead of class struggle. It therefore does not necessarily follow that the one and only way to attain liberation is by means of a revolutionary overthrow of those who do not share in the essence of man as homo-faber.

extensive scope. The dignity of the individual person is consequently protected while at the same time. In treating man as a human being. to violate this objective order will turn “sour” if indeed the higher values were sacrificed at the expense of the higher values. the human being who conforms to the objectivity of these values benefits from the liberation offered by being able to attain higher and higher levels of . his freedom is preserve because he is allowed to exist as he is. longer endurance. his fellowmen and the world of nature whenever he refuses to acknowledge their real values. An each individual contribution to the common good can be received without necessarily becoming totalitarian. wrong. man’s free affirmation of his fellowman as another free human being is made possible because the affirmation is not made from a preconceived essentialist standpoint. Each individual person has his own unique contribution to the common good of man. Instead of accepting the holiness of the holy. saints and sinners intend the values of the holy and unholy. vulgar. these above –stated values could not just be arbitrarily chosen. sensations. He thereby commits an injustice to himself. Freedom is therefore intimately connected with man’s being. On the other hand. The psychological example called “sour grapes” is grounded on this metaphysical principle. He will be distracted by his thoughts. every human being is called upon to participate in the process of liberation. man must be willing to be with his being. Wise men and fools intend the values of rightness and wrongness. while not necessarily becoming individualistic. the man who is afflicted with resentment perverts his conception of these values and consequently. and whatever intentional content that may be present in his being. There are objective standards which make the holy man preferable over the genius. endurance. and not predetermined by any essentialist doctrine. These standards were enumerated by MAX SCHELER in his monumental work on Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of values as depth. the genius over the hero and the hero over the bon vivant.The consequence of this theory form the perspective of freedom is indeed tremendous. Thus. the source of this dignity could be located from the individual’s participation with the common good. feelings. Heroes and tyrants intend the values of the noble and the vulgar. the nobility of the noble. Each individual’s intentionality is definitely not the whole of his being. But these intentionalities must recognized and accepted as a legitimate part of man’s being. However. emotions. Before this more experiential approach to being can occur. to be and to know himself. But the whole personality structure of a human being can be constituted by the combination of intentionality in his being. At first. the well integrated human being prefers the value which could lead to deeper fulfillment. An intensive awareness of an intentional content within man’s personality structure even sharpens man’s selfknowledge. that priestess who taught Socrates about the ultimate mysteries first asked Socrates to “strain every nerve” to follow what she was about to reveal. ugly. mislabels these corresponding values as unholy. On the other hand. By the same token. the agreeable of the agreeable. it will be difficult for an ordinary man to be with his own innermost being. For example. the righteousness of the righteous. Even Diotima. and uncouth. the beauty of the beautiful. more individuality and broader extension. Instead of just one essential class. divisibility and extension.

.actualization. In classical terms. The bridge that connects the objective order of values and matrix of personality structures of human beings is the act of willing.He finds his real self within the matrix of possibilities of this order of values.W. bon vivants spend their money to taste the pleasures of the world. the contemporary scene depicts the good in terms of the more pedestrian “goods” being advertised in billboards and walls as economic merchandise or political propaganda.F. or the affairs of the state. in his Reason and History incisively remarked that: World history represents the development of the Spirit’s consciousness of freedom and the consequent realization of that freedom. Not only does it allow human being to focus his energies toward the one highest value attainable by the matrix of his personality structure. they will usurp the energies of the higher levels of intentionality. or business transactions. it will also make him more effective in the accomplishment of his well-focused goals. G. Only when he has linked these parts together in well tempered harmony and has mad himself one man instead of many. Scheler’s notion of justice also takes the lower values into account. But they must be in their proper place. wisemen prefer to spend long hours in the pursuit of wisdom. by self-master and discipline. coming to be at peace with himself. and bringing into tune those three parts. these “goods” lure human freedom to create these goods within his personality structure. he is indeed one who sets his house in order. Instead of being dispersed by a disorderly competition of values inside and outside of his being. he orders the intentional life of his being in such a way that his choices are harmonious with objective order of values not only himself. the highest and lowest note and the mean between them. Moreover. to absolutely love finite goods can lead to”corruption”. Hegel. whether it be making money and satisfying bodily wants. Unfortunately. with all the intermediate intervals. And human freedom is oriented is oriented precisely by this will for the good. will be ready to go about whatever he may do. the choices he makes will all be geared toward the integration of his most supreme value. heroes dies for their cause. The power of freedom can be demonstrated by showing its effects on human behavior. Freedom is therefore always intentional because it is always intending. Plato pointedly described this insight in the republic: The just man does not allow the several elements of his soul to usurp one another’s function. striving for the good. reaching out. Once man becomes conscious of the objective goods desired by his will. Otherwise. Being a good Platonist. Thus. like the terms in the proportion of a musical scale. saints prefer to worship God. this is known as the radical will for the good. he is driven to realize the freedom to will the good in his concrete acts of choosing. And human freedom is oriented precisely by this will for the good. By manipulating man’s sense faculties. In its first and . Unfortunately. but of his fellowmen and the worlds of nature.

it is interesting to note that the words deliberate and equilibrate stem from the same root word: libra the balancing instrument held up by the muse of justice. “corruption” could refer to man’s moral degeneration along with his apparently undying desire for the finite good. In short. It is important to emphasize that in this classic “order of values”. Freedom conditions justice and a justice in the condition of freedom If the human being is to keep his freedom. The social structures of such a society will thereby be directed in such a way that the exchange of economic goods and the distribution of the foci of political power is geared towards the enhancement of the human being. he would need an objective sense of justice. At this point. then he must assess his real needs with respect to the available goods around his world and equally real needs of his fellowman.primary meaning. And the practical norm for such an ideal. corruption could refer to the changeableness and destructibility of these objects of desire. can be found in the Act of the Apostles: …to each according to his needs (Acts 2:45) …from each according to his means ( Acts 11: 29)) Freedom conditions justice and justice in the condition of freedom . In the more secondary and ordinary meaning. freedom need not be in contraindication with justice and vice-versa.

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