- This article is about the concept. For other meanings, see Liberty (disambiguation).
Image:Majestic Liberty Large.jpg
Liberty is generally thought of as a condition in which an individual has immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority; it often also implies the right to exercise political rights such as standing for office. It is often equated with freedom (as by Quentin Skinner(1998) Liberty before Liberalism, citing Hobbes's Leviathan), although some have argued a distinction (eg David Hackett Fischer (2005) Liberty and Freedom: a visual history of America's founding ideas).
- 1 Western civilization
- 2 Eastern civilization
- 3 Middle Eastern civilization
- 4 Political thought
- 5 Phrases
- 6 Quotes
- 7 Statues and monuments
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
Liberty was greatly prized by many classicalwriters such as Aristotle, Demosthenes, Ciceroand Tacitus, often in the context of democratic institutions. Christian theology developed elaborate ideas about the relationship between liberty and the morality of action, as is seen in the works of Duns Scotusand Thomas Aquinas.
The thinkers of the Enlightenmentreasonedthe assertion that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the kinghis power, rather than the king's power giving force to law. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by "Natureand Nature's God," which, in the ideal state, would be as expansive as possible. The Enlightenment created then, among other ideas, liberty: that is, of a free individual being most free within the context of a state which provides stability of the laws. Later, more radical philosophies articulated themselves in the course of the French Revolutionand in the 19th century.
The first half of the 19th centuryfor Western civilizationwas marked by a series of turbulent wars and revolutions, which gradually formed into an idea and doctrine now identified as individual liberty. The chief philosophicalground for "liberty" in this most recent period has been the idea of human rightsand that human beings are too valuable to be in slavery(as well as the idea that human beings ought to control their own destiny). Much of this philosophy stems from religious views, although Christians, Jews, Muslimsand followers of other religions have often practiced slaveryin the past.
The Chinese sage Lao Tsuwarned against over-reaching governments, in a way analogous to the development in the western world of post-Lockean ideas of negative liberty. He taught that government by example and "not doing" (w˙ wÚi) was superior to government by law and discipline.
Middle Eastern civilization
The Jewish religious tradition features several individuals who stood up to statist power at crucial moments, including of course Moses, who demanded that the Pharaohof Egypt"let my people go." The Maccabeesrebelled against mandatory assimilation to Greekculture and the Zealots(less successfully) rose against the Roman Empire.
Although the idea of liberty is largely underdeveloped in traditional Middle Eastern philosophy and, more importantly, theology, Muslim jurists have long held that the legal tradition initiated by the Qur'anincludes a principle of permissibility, or Ibahah, especially as applied to commercial transaction. "Nothing in them [voluntary transactions] is forbidden," said Ibn Taymiyyah, "unless God and His Messenger have decreed them to be forbidden." The idea is founded upon two verses in the Qur'an, 4:29 and 5:1.
Liberalismis a politicalcurrent embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that claim defence of individual liberty as the purpose of government. Two main strands are apparent. In continental Europe the term usually refers to economic liberalism, that is the right of individual to contract, trade and operate in a market free of constraint. In the United States it often refers to social liberalism, including the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or established authorities in political or religious matters. Both are core political issues, and highly contentious.
A school of thought popular among US libertariansholds that there is no tenable distinction between the two sorts of liberty -- that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists "life, liberty, and property" without making any distinctions within that troika.
Individualists, such as Max Stirner, demanded the utmost respect for the liberty of the individual. From a very similar perspective from North America, primitivistslike John Zerzanproclaimed that civilizationnot just the state would need to be abolished to foster liberty. David Humewrote "Of Civil Liberty", in his book "Essays Moral and Political" (first ed. 1741-2) Some in the US see protecting the ideal of liberty as a conservativepolicy, because this would conform to the spirit of individual liberty that they consider is at the heart of the American constitution. Some think liberty is almost synonymous with democracy, at least in one sense of that word, while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts.
See also: Libertarianism, Libertarian socialism, Positive liberty, Negative liberty
Liberty can refer to various concepts of freedom.
- "Liberty of opinion";
- "Liberty of worship";
- "Perfect liberty";
- See also Types of freedom
Some notable quotations that include liberty are:
- "The defining principle of democracy is liberty, one aspect of which is having a share in ruling." Aristotle, Politics
- "In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas" — Rupertus Meldenius
- "Give me liberty or give me death!" — Patrick Henry
- "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...." U.S. Constitution, Amendment V. "[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...." Id., Amendment XIV.
- "Every law is an infringement upon liberty." Jeremy Bentham
- "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." Thomas Jeffersonto Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819
- "That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
- "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Benjamin Franklin
Statues and monuments
A temple was erected to the goddess Libertyon the Aventine Hill in Rome by the father of Tiberius Gracchus during the second Punic War. A statue of the goddess Liberty was also put up by Clodius on the site of Cicero's house after it had been pulled down.
A Statue of Libertynow exists at the entrance to New York harbour in the United States. The copperstatueof the goddess of Liberty was a present from the Republic of France, as a centennial gift to the US and a sign of friendship between the two nations. The pedestal was constructed by the United States. The Statue of Liberty is often used as a symbol of the ideals of the United States, and in particular of liberty in general; as such it is a favored symbol of US libertarians.
The Liberty Memorialis dedicated to World War Iand World War IIvictories for liberty against the Axis.
- Christian libertarianism
- Liberty(as a goddess; she is the personificationof liberty)
- Freedom (political)
- John Locke
- Free spirit
- Gratis versus Libre
Wikiquotehas a collection of quotations related to:
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on negative and positive liberty
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty Wikipedia article Liberty.