Essay on the Concept of Liberty. A philosophical view of the topic.
Admittedly, all the divine religions have defined the scope, conditions and perspectives of liberty, yet the modern trend and debate traces its beginning from the period of French Revolution which was led by the followers and advocates of the famous French philosopher Rousseau who opposed the unjust and atrocious class system of France. The excessively quoted maxim of his writings is: “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains”.
The thought has enchanted the hearts of many in Europe that participated, advocated and supported equality and the freedom a man has inborn right to. It really impacted the European history so gravely that all the European nations followed the idea and put it in practice not only in literary but also in the socio-political spheres. The disastrous results of French Revolution carved the way of opposing ideas which asserted that sheer freedom can not and should not be permitted as it would make “peaceful existence of man impossible”.
Concept of Liberty: “To renounce one’s liberty is to renounce one’s humanity”, was the belief of Rousseau but the modern day philosophers believe that the liberty of the one may hurt the liberty of another. Therefore, personal freedom or liberty is might be permissible subject to the condition that one’s liberty is live on the expense of the other. Some restraints on freedom of action are necessary and inevitable. Virtually all codes of action recognise that basic limitation. Liberty is defined in such terms as the right of individuals to act without restraint as long as their actions do not interfere with the equivalent rights of others; acts that do violate the rights of others are rejected.
West is said to have a liberal or “enlightened” opinion and practice of liberty. Though they have maintained the best of human right records yet their policies are hypocritical towards attaining liberty in the true sense of this word. The class distinction and the double standards in dealing with the Europeans and the recently freed colonies are fully exposed: they put the poor under subjugation and let the rich grind them under their influential power. Allowing a giant to contest “freely” with a lean mortal on terms of liberty would mean nothing but exploitation. Arthur Miller has described all this as “a rat race”. There is an intense competition which would go against the poor and the weak if they arc not provided with a cushion but this liberty would engulf the feeble.
Islam, a divine religion, gives us a unique idea of liberty and man. It states that man is free only within the circle of a perfect code of life: the code of life is offered in the holy book ‘The Quran’ and the examples of the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It wants man to kill his inner animal and gain liberty from want, lust, injustice, cruelty and thus liberating all the humanity from the sufferings it has been up to for a longer period of time. ft puts the question to all of us what we think liberty should be and how it should be achieved.
Conclusion: Man lives no longer in caves and is interdependent upon each other, today even the slightest of actions affect and mould the lives of others greatly. No doubt one must not he persecuted as it is done in the third world countries: his basic rights ought to be acknowledged and advanced: it should also not be forgotten that the brutality is also not to be permitted. Man is a homosapien: a superior animal in biological sense and in the social sense. Man is a civilised being who must consider his duties to others before demanding his rights.
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Further Reading and Research to the concept of Liberty:
- Liberty in Islam
- Two Concepts of Liberty
- Individual Liberty
- Positive and Negative Liberty
- Key Concepts of Liberty