December 12, 2006
TEN POINT SECTION
The Grand Synthesis
, McInerny; freedom from v. freedom for
The terms “freedom for” and “freedom from” seemingly denote similar things.
thinking about the terms, one may conceptualize the disassociation desired by humans from
things that bind us to things we do not desire.
This, however, is strongly an American version of
While this idea may indicate freedom from something, it does not encapsulate freedom
To be free from something indicates a negative, that there is something that
otherwise would bind us, tell us what to do, indicate the direction in which our life should go, but
in this circumstance (the one governed by the “freedom from”) that something can not bind us,
because we are free
it and if we are not yet, we desire to be so. As McInerny says,
underlying “freedom from” is “the notion that we ought to be free from all obstacles, and thus
free to do what we will, with a minimum of restrictions” (39.)
But, to have freedom
something is a different concept.
The term “freedom for” has no negative, restrictive connotations.
Instead, it suggests that
we are free to achieve an end.
It suggests a final cause. McInerny says, “free action is one way of
an end or purpose
that is given” (40.)
The root of having freedom for something is that
whatever highest good exists, whether it be God’s will or some other good, man has the freedom
for achieving it.
Having freedom for something suggests that humans have a natural purpose.
The problem with having freedom from things is that the ultimate good is unattainable.
People will not argue about what is good, as good things are what individuals desire.
becomes not good when man does not have the freedom to attain it, freedom being limited
because the attainment must impinge on the rights of others to fulfill their desires.
in the US are limited by our freedom because we do not have the freedom to achieve an ultimate
good, if that good stops others from attaining their desires. According to Plato and Aristotle then,
we would be missing “what perfects or completes or fulfills the human person” (40), that right to
decide what to achieve and how.