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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

Negative Freedom is Not a Colon – Julie

From what I understand “negative liberty” is opportunity to act where as “positive liberty” action in itself. We are not always entitled to the opportunity, however we are to the action.

Negative liberty the freedom FROM others providing limitations is often what we view freedom as. The freedom to marry who we wish, practice religion we wish, and express ideas we wish are all examples of what I thought of what freedom was. I was taught freedom is not something I can control. “It is a gift.” We are often told by our superiors “… I am giving you freedom.” You’d expect that freedom is like a colon, something that you’re born with. We’d expect life and liberty as a packaged deal, like burgers and fries, but that’s not the case.

As children, negative freedom is seen as a gift, something we can’t control. It’s like a box of dog treats. Dogs have to lift their paws, dance around roll over for a bite. That’s what they expect. Do dogs ever wish for the whole box? You bet! But that doesn’t mean we give it to them, or else they get chubby. Limitations on our negative freedom as children is necessary to teach, us youngsters to not abuse our negative freedom and identify when it’s being abused. As much as we’d like to think freedom is a colon, it’s a gift like a tonka truck – the most necessary tonka truck ever. Everyone deserves a tonka truck, but they have to learn to take care of it. Freedom is indeed a gift, but did you know you can give gifts to yourself?

(Don’t give yourself a literal colon though. One is good enough. Unless you were unfortunately born without a colon, in which in that case, my condolences. Go get yourself a colon!)

What I mean by this is that the idea of positive freedom, which I find, is enlightening. It’s freedom you give yourself. Although we are taught the concepts of “tonka truck” freedom, we are never truly taught about our actual “colon” freedom. Positive freedom exists the moment we do. The limitations constraining our actions our self inflicted. We have the capacity for brilliance.

“… and that’s all I have to say about that”

-Forest Gump, 1994

http://curezone.com/upload/_A_Forums/Ask_MH/colon_diagram.jpg Not a proper gift to give yourself. A day off, a good book, a gym membership? Yes. Colon? No.



4 thoughts on “Negative Freedom is Not a Colon – Julie

  1. Glad to see your wit and relationship with metaphor make their way into Philosophy12, Julie – thought provoking and humourous post! I’m curious to see this idea taken further throughout the course (culminating in Ethics and Political Philosophy): “Positive freedom exists the moment we do.”

    Posted by bryanjack | September 9, 2013, 11:00 pm
  2. Is it entirely true to say that positive freedom exists the moment we do? Is not the lacking of the necessary resources, or even the will do use them, a kind of missing freedom in and of itself? What exactly is the distinction between a person or institution stopping you from doing something(the loss of negative freedom) and your own resources stopping you from doing that same thing? Are not both essentially the same thing, the former morphing into the latter because the lack the resources to overcome the institution limiting your freedom? In a sense, then, negative freedom is simply a sub-category of positive freedom – an obstacle is an obstacle, regardless of its form.

    Posted by Liam St.Louis | September 9, 2013, 11:39 pm

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