just listened to a lecture on the philosophy of hegel and now begin to understand just how differently i conceive “freedom” from many of my german friends…
(from the teaching company “freedom: the philosophy of liberation” taught by professor dennis dalton)
  • Ilona Crispien likes this.
    • can you explain it to me (though i never listened to a hegel lecture) ? i am curious. freedom! big topic it should be. nonetheless they are talking about being or wanting to be safe (and not necessarily free) all the time here.

    • Jerry Hill first:
      Freedom for Hegel is a state of the highest consciousness, a capacity that enables us to know God in history and overcome self-alienation.
      1. This freedom must be acquired through a long process including obedience to law and observance of morality.

    • Jerry Hill next:
      Negative freedom, or the license of selfish desires, was distinguished from positive freedom which could be attained only by exercising our God-given freedom to know the truth.

    • Jerry Hill then:
      1. Only the states deemed worthy by God will grow to great political and military power.
      2. The march of history (God’s plan for the world) is carried on by states and their actions.
      3. Conflict was a way for individuals to overcome alienation , as members of a state carrying out a divine duty. In fact, the individuals belonged to the state as to an organic body.
      4. All the value that the individual has is as a member of a state. This notion became a crucial element in the theory and practice of nationalism.

    • Jerry Hill finally:
      1. He found that certain leaders of great states served to further God’s purpose and realization.
      2. Hegel believed that these “world historical individuals” who were both political and military leaders, advanced God’s plan for their state by furthering their state’s power.
      3. These heroes were, in particular, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon.
      4. They were capable of arousing to consciousness the spirit of their peoples and made them aware of the irresistible power of this spirit.
      5. Hegel’s heroes are charismatic leaders whom Hegel excuses from everyday morality, another theory that found its place in German nationalism.

    • comments taken from the lecture guide/outline
    • in short, freedom is found in conforming oneself to “god’s will” and authority

    • lastly from the outline:
      Hegel’s idea of freedom as the unfolding of God’s purpose in history was unprecedented.


now it is a day later. the lecturer has moved from the german philosopher hegel to the british philosopher john stuart mill.  mill had a strong influence on the founding fathers of america’s revolution and constitutional form or government.

  • “it’s the threat…of conformity, of a kind of social censorship, that oppresses creativity and individuality: that is the threat to human freedom…” according to john stuart mill.
    • my first thought (besides “wow, right on!”) upon hearing this was how depressed i feel when driving through a neighborhood and, in window after window after window, seeing the blue glow of the television
    • ‎”freedom means, mill says in his own words, to pursue our own good in our own way so long as we do not deprive others of their freedom or harm their efforts.”
    • ______________________________________________________________________
    • about as different as one can get from hegel’s notions, “All the value that the individual has is as a member of a state…” and “obedience to law and observance of morality…” are the means of acquiring freedom.
    • a crucial difference professor dalton explains between hegel and mill is regarding “truth.” hegel believes he “possesses” the truth whereas mill makes no such claim: for mill, truth emerges from the vigorous debate of different points of view in “the marketplace of ideas.”

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