lIBERTIES - Steven Vidor 24 April 2008 PSCI 2024 Professor...

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Steven Vidor 24 April 2008 PSCI 2024 Professor Mewes Modern Liberties, Society and Government Intro: What are Modern Liberties A topic of much scholarly research through recent history has focused on what Benjamin Constant refers to as modern liberties. In order to understand why they are modern, one must first look at what he coined as the "liberty of the ancients." Ancient civil liberties were characterized by their importance in public life. They had the liberty to participate and contribute to the betterment of the whole society, but had little liberty in the way every day privacy. Modern liberties, in contrast, focus more on the individual need for self-fulfillment through the provision of individuality and privacy. Government, according to this viewpoint, should be a function of modern liberties that are shaped by the desires of individuals and formulated into a whole for the further betterment of private liberties. Emerson, however, deviates from his contemporaries by dismissing the importance of society in individuality. He depicts his self-reliant man as one who displays complete refusal to adhere to society. Despite his claims, it would seem as though liberty and society maintain an interesting interdependency that provide welcome outcomes for both. The Individual and Society While Emerson seems to believe that conformity to a society is in itself an evil end, it would appear rather that society actually serves the need for modern liberties. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay on Self-Reliance, says that; "the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." In
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short, he champions the non-conformist who stands tall in a society that demands conformity. However, in his claims, he overlooks the good in being an active member of society may bring to further ones modern liberties. Being a member of society, even the self-reliant individual is exposed to the rational set of norms and values created by such a group. It must be assumed that in many modern societies, the values of modern liberties are a priority to the people. Thus, by being active in society and expressing the collective
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This note was uploaded on 05/20/2008 for the course PSCI 2024 taught by Professor Mewes during the Spring '08 term at Colorado.

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lIBERTIES - Steven Vidor 24 April 2008 PSCI 2024 Professor...

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