Smith--Paper #2 - Daniel Zauderer History of Political...

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Daniel Zauderer History of Political Philosophy Professor Gregory B. Smith The Superiority of Metaphysical Freedom Western philosophy has espoused two wholly different notions of freedom. Locke and his successors spoke of freedom as the freedom of man to do as he desires, a freedom from externalities. According to the Lockean version of freedom, man is free to self-interestedly pursue property. This freedom is guaranteed because of the existence of certain natural laws. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, representing a major break in Western philosophy, took issue with such a freedom. He endorsed “metaphysical freedom,” or freedom of the species as a whole to be free from natural determination, the freedom to change and progress. Rousseau and his successors firmly believed that the Lockean notion of freedom present in the concept of liberal democracy was limited in comparison to metaphysical freedom and led to great inequality. The philosophies of Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and Karl Marx demonstrate that metaphysical freedom is superior to individual freedom and that liberal democracy has no future. The Lockean notion of individual freedom is severely flawed. If the notion of metaphysical freedom is supported, if people emancipate themselves from the self-interested pursuit of property on behalf of the species as a whole, humanity will progress. Rousseau begins his Second Discourse, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men , with a dedication to the Republic of Geneva, his “fatherland.” This dedication is immediately confusing as both Rousseau and his father were extremely disliked there. Rousseau praises Geneva most for its tough, armed citizens, for its great virtue, and for its courageousness. Such aspects of Geneva embody no Lockean qualities. To Rousseau, the self-interested pursuit of property present in Lockean democracies made people soft and weak. The ideal man in Rousseau’s mind is warlike and tough; he
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is certainly not a member of a property pursuing bourgeoisie. Yet Geneva, at the time Rousseau is writing, was a commercial republic; it embraced the pursuit of property. Above all, it was Calvinist, a religion which Rousseau seems to despise. It can therefore be said that Rousseau’s image of Geneva is really a depiction of his ideal state, his “wish list.” Even in his dedication, Rousseau implies his dislike for liberal democracy. Both of Rousseau’s discourses speak on how his ideal state, a certainly undemocratic state, can
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This essay was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course PHIL 337 taught by Professor Ryan during the Spring '08 term at Trinity College, Hartford.

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Smith--Paper #2 - Daniel Zauderer History of Political...

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