Two Concepts Of Liberty Quotes

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So what are Isaiah Berlin’s two concepts?” the lecturer asked. Nearly everyone raised a hand. The lecturer called on the student who had studied at Oxford. “Negative liberty,” he said, “is the freedom from external obstacles or constraints. An individual is free in this sense if they are not physically prevented from taking action.
Tara Westover (Educated)
To preserve our absolute categories or ideals at the expense of human lives offends equally against the principles of science and of history; it is an attitude found in equal measure on the right and left wings in our days, and is not reconcilable with the principles accepted by those who respect the facts.
Isaiah Berlin (Two Concepts of Liberty)
Williams created the first government in the world which broke church and state apart. Because those who had linked the two believed that political authority came from God, this led to a fission whose fallout included the new and equally explosive concept that the state derives its authority from and remains subject to its citizens.
John M. Barry (Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty)
The major premises of Christian religions are (1) the idea of Original Sin and (2) the belief in salvation through faith. Deists totally opposed these two basic Christian principles. Instead, they espoused the eighteenth-century philosophy that defined human beings as (1) essentially good, and (2) capable of progress through knowledge, reason, justice, and liberty. Deists denied the dogmas of the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ, the concept of heaven and hell, and all ideas of damnation and redemption. Deism was, in fact, the origin of what is now called “secular humanism,” and it was the practicing philosophy of the men who conducted and won the American Revolution, and became the “Founding Fathers” of the American government.
Monica Sjöö (The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth)
Two centuries ago, the United States settled into a permanent political order, after fourteen years of violence and heated debate. Two centuries ago, France fell into ruinous disorder that ran its course for twenty-four years. In both countries there resounded much ardent talk of rights--rights natural, rights prescriptive. . . . [F]anatic ideology had begun to rage within France, so that not one of the liberties guaranteed by the Declaration of the Rights of Man could be enjoyed by France's citizens. One thinks of the words of Dostoievski: "To begin with unlimited liberty is to end with unlimited despotism." . . . In striking contrast, the twenty-two senators and fifty-nine representatives who during the summer of 1789 debated the proposed seventeen amendments to the Constitution were men of much experience in representative government, experience acquired within the governments of their several states or, before 1776, in colonial assembles and in the practice of the law. Many had served in the army during the Revolution. They decidedly were political realists, aware of how difficult it is to govern men's passions and self-interest. . . . Among most of them, the term democracy was suspect. The War of Independence had sufficed them by way of revolution. . . . The purpose of law, they knew, is to keep the peace. To that end, compromises must be made among interests and among states. Both Federalists and Anti-Federalists ranked historical experience higher than novel theory. They suffered from no itch to alter American society radically; they went for sound security. The amendments constituting what is called the Bill of Rights were not innovations, but rather restatements of principles at law long observed in Britain and in the thirteen colonies. . . . The Americans who approved the first ten amendments to their Constitution were no ideologues. Neither Voltaire nor Rousseau had any substantial following among them. Their political ideas, with few exceptions, were those of English Whigs. The typical textbook in American history used to inform us that Americans of the colonial years and the Revolutionary and Constitutional eras were ardent disciples of John Locke. This notion was the work of Charles A. Beard and Vernon L. Parrington, chiefly. It fitted well enough their liberal convictions, but . . . it has the disadvantage of being erroneous. . . . They had no set of philosophes inflicted upon them. Their morals they took, most of them, from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Their Bill of Rights made no reference whatever to political abstractions; the Constitution itself is perfectly innocent of speculative or theoretical political arguments, so far as its text is concerned. John Dickinson, James Madison, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, and other thoughtful delegates to the Convention in 1787 knew something of political theory, but they did not put political abstractions into the text of the Constitution. . . . Probably most members of the First Congress, being Christian communicants of one persuasion or another, would have been dubious about the doctrine that every man should freely indulge himself in whatever is not specifically prohibited by positive law and that the state should restrain only those actions patently "hurtful to society." Nor did Congress then find it necessary or desirable to justify civil liberties by an appeal to a rather vague concept of natural law . . . . Two centuries later, the provisions of the Bill of Rights endure--if sometimes strangely interpreted. Americans have known liberty under law, ordered liberty, for more than two centuries, while states that have embraced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, with its pompous abstractions, have paid the penalty in blood.
Russell Kirk (Rights And Duties: Reflections On Our Conservative Constitution)
How are prisons supposed to produce stability through controlling what counts as crime? Four theories condense two and a quarter centuries of experience into conflicting and generally overlapping explanations for why societies decide they should lock people out by locking them in. Each theory, which has its intellectuals, practitioners, and critics, turns on one of four key concepts: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation. Let’s take them in turn. The shock of retribution—loss of liberty—supposedly keeps convicted persons from doing again, upon release, what sent them to prison. Retribution’s specter, deterrence, allegedly dissuades people who can project themselves into a convicted person’s jumpsuit from doing what might result in lost liberty. Rehabilitation proposes that the unfreedom of
Ruth Wilson Gilmore (Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (American Crossroads Book 21))
We are here this afternoon to mourn the passing of two good friends, Terrence Dace and Felix Beider. They were homeless. Their ways were not those we most desire for ourselves, but that didn’t make them wrong. We seem determined to save the homeless, to fix them, to change them into something other than what they are. We want them to be like us, but they are not. The homeless do not want our pity, nor do they deserve our scorn. Our judgments about them, for good or for ill, negate their right to live as they please. Both the urge to rescue and the need to condemn fail to take into account the concept of their personal liberty, which they may exercise as they see fit as long as their actions fall within the law. The homeless are not lesser mortals. For Terrence and Felix, their battles were within and their victories hard-won. I think of these two men as soldiers of the poor, part of an army of the disaffiliated. The homeless have established a nation within a nation, but we are not at war. Why should we not coexist in peace when we may be in greater need of salvation than they? This is what the homeless long for: respect, freedom from hunger, shelter from the elements, safety, the companionship of the like-minded. They want to live without fear. They want to enjoy the probity of the open air without the risk of bodily harm. They want to be warm. They want the comfort of a clean bed when they are ill, relief from pain, a hand offered in friendship. Ordinary conversation. Simple needs. Why are their choices so hard for us to accept? What you see before you is their home. This is their dwelling place. This grass, this sunlight, these palms, this mighty ocean, the moon, the stars, the clouds overhead though they sometimes harbor rain. Under this canopy they have staked out a life for themselves. For Terrence and for Felix, this is also the wide bridge over which they passed from life into death. Their graves will be unmarked but that does not mean they are forgotten. The Earth remembers them, even as it gathers them tenderly into its
Sue Grafton (W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone #23))
The spirit of revolution and the power of free thought were Percy Shelley's biggest passions in life.” One could use precisely the same words to describe Galois. On one of the pages that Galois had left on his desk before leaving for that fateful duel, we find a fascinating mixture of mathematical doodles, interwoven with revolutionary ideas. After two lines of functional analysis comes the word "indivisible," which appears to apply to the mathematics. This word is followed, however, by the revolutionary slogans "unite; indivisibilite de la republic") and "Liberte, egalite, fraternite ou la mort" ("Liberty, equality, brotherhood, or death"). After these republican proclamations, as if this is all part of one continuous thought, the mathematical analysis resumes. Clearly, in Galois's mind, the concepts of unity and indivisibility applied equally well to mathematics and to the spirit of the revolution. Indeed, group theory achieved precisely that-a unity and indivisibility of the patterns underlying a wide range of seemingly unrelated disciplines.
Mario Livio (The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry)
I wish my life and decisions to depend on myself, not on external forces of whatever kind. I wish to be the instrument of my own, not of other men's, acts of will. I wish to be a subject, not an object; to be moved by reasons, by conscious purposes, which are my own, not by causes which affect me, as it were, from outside. I wish to be somebody, not nobody; a doer - deciding, not being decided for, self-directed and not acted upon by external nature or by other men as if I were a thing, or an animal, or a slave incapable of playing a human role, that is, of conceiving goals and policies of my own and realising them. This is at least part of what I mean when I say that I am rational, and that it is my reason that distinguishes me as a human being from the rest of the world. I wish, above all. to be conscious of myself as a thinking, willing, active being, bearing responsibility for my choices and able to explain them by reference to my own ideas and purposes. I feel free to the degree that I believe this to be true, and enslaved to the degree that I am made to realise that it is not.
Isaiah Berlin (Two Concepts of Liberty)
The ethic of autonomy is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, autonomous individuals with wants, needs, and preferences. People should be free to satisfy these wants, needs, and preferences as they see fit, and so societies develop moral concepts such as rights, liberty, and justice, which allow people to coexist peacefully without interfering too much in each other’s projects. This is the dominant ethic in individualistic societies. You find it in the writings of utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill and Peter Singer11 (who value justice and rights only to the extent that they increase human welfare), and you find it in the writings of deontologists such as Kant and Kohlberg (who prize justice and rights even in cases where doing so may reduce overall welfare). But as soon as you step outside of Western secular society, you hear people talking in two additional moral languages. The ethic of community is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, members of larger entities such as families, teams, armies, companies, tribes, and nations. These larger entities are more than the sum of the people who compose them; they are real, they matter, and they must be protected. People have an obligation to play their assigned roles in these entities. Many societies therefore develop moral concepts such as duty, hierarchy, respect, reputation, and patriotism. In such societies, the Western insistence that people should design their own lives and pursue their own goals seems selfish and dangerous—a sure way to weaken the social fabric and destroy the institutions and collective entities upon which everyone depends. The ethic of divinity is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, temporary vessels within which a divine soul has been implanted.12 People are not just animals with an extra serving of consciousness; they are children of God and should behave accordingly. The body is a temple, not a playground. Even if it does no harm and violates nobody’s rights when a man has sex with a chicken carcass, he still shouldn’t do it because it degrades him, dishonors his creator, and violates the sacred order of the universe. Many societies therefore develop moral concepts such as sanctity and sin, purity and pollution, elevation and degradation. In such societies, the personal liberty of secular Western nations looks like libertinism, hedonism, and a celebration of humanity’s baser instincts.13
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
In the short term, as liberal economies floundered in the early 1930s, fascist economies could look more capable than democracies of performing the harsh task of reconciling populations to diminished personal consumption in order to permit a higher rate of savings and investment, particularly in the military. But we know now that they never achieved the growth rates of postwar Europe, or even of pre-1914 Europe, or even the total mobilization for war achieved voluntarily and belatedly by some of the democracies. This makes it difficult to accept the definition of fascism as a “developmental dictatorship” appropriate for latecomer industrial nations. Fascists did not wish to develop the economy but to prepare for war, even though they needed accelerated arms production for that. Fascists had to do something about the welfare state. In Germany, the welfare experiments of the Weimar Republic had proved too expensive after the Depression struck in 1929. The Nazis trimmed them and perverted them by racial forms of exclusion. But neither fascist regime tried to dismantle the welfare state (as mere reactionaries might have done). Fascism was revolutionary in its radically new conceptions of citizenship, of the way individuals participated in the life of the community. It was counterrevolutionary, however, with respect to such traditional projects of the Left as individual liberties, human rights, due process, and international peace. In sum, the fascist exercise of power involved a coalition composed of the same elements in Mussolini’s Italy as in Nazi Germany. It was the relative weight among leader, party, and traditional institutions that distinguished one case from the other. In Italy, the traditional state wound up with supremacy over the party, largely because Mussolini feared his own most militant followers, the local ras and their squadristi. In Nazi Germany, the party came to dominate the state and civil society, especially after war began. Fascist regimes functioned like an epoxy: an amalgam of two very different agents, fascist dynamism and conservative order, bonded by shared enmity toward liberalism and the Left, and a shared willingness to stop at nothing to destroy their common enemies.
Robert O. Paxton (The Anatomy of Fascism)
Fair or unfair, however, globalization has not been kind to Confucius. The Western ideas that have seeped into East Asian society over the past two hundred years have caused many in the region to rethink the value of their Confucian heritage. Western political and social philosophies brought in very different concepts of family and gender relationships, systems of government and education, and methods of corporate governance. Democracy has taken hold, as have American notions of gender equality, personal freedoms, and the rule of law. East Asian nations are being profoundly altered by these new ideas. Democracy movements have toppled authoritarian regimes across East Asia. Women are increasingly fighting for their proper place in politics and the corporate world. For much of the past two centuries, East Asians have equated progress with westernization, striving to copy its economic, political, and social systems. Capitalism and industrialization became the tools to end poverty and gain clout on the world stage, electoral politics the ideal for choosing leaders and navigating divisions in society. The route to success no longer passed through Confucian academies, but through Harvard and Yale. Being westernized, in language, dress, and social life, has been the mark of being modern and competitive. Politicians and reformers across East Asia have sought to uproot Confucian influence, at times violently, in their quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Many East Asians no longer wished to be Confucius, as they had for centuries on end. They wished to forget him.
Michael A. Schuman (Confucius: And the World He Created)
But as soon as you step outside of Western secular society, you hear people talking in two additional moral languages. The ethic of community is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, members of larger entities such as families, teams, armies, companies, tribes, and nations. These larger entities are more than the sum of the people who compose them; they are real, they matter, and they must be protected. People have an obligation to play their assigned roles in these entities. Many societies therefore develop moral concepts such as duty, hierarchy, respect, reputation, and patriotism. In such societies, the Western insistence that people should design their own lives and pursue their own goals seems selfish and dangerous—a sure way to weaken the social fabric and destroy the institutions and collective entities upon which everyone depends. The ethic of divinity is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, temporary vessels within which a divine soul has been implanted.12 People are not just animals with an extra serving of consciousness; they are children of God and should behave accordingly. The body is a temple, not a playground. Even if it does no harm and violates nobody’s rights when a man has sex with a chicken carcass, he still shouldn’t do it because it degrades him, dishonors his creator, and violates the sacred order of the universe. Many societies therefore develop moral concepts such as sanctity and sin, purity and pollution, elevation and degradation. In such societies, the personal liberty of secular Western nations looks like libertinism, hedonism, and a celebration of humanity’s baser instincts.13
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
The Founding and the Constitution WHAT GOVERNMENT DOES AND WHY IT MATTERS The framers of the U.S. Constitution knew why government mattered. In the Constitution’s preamble, the framers tell us that the purposes of government are to promote justice, to maintain peace at home, to defend the nation from foreign foes, to provide for the welfare of the citizenry, and, above all, to secure the “blessings of liberty” for Americans. The remainder of the Constitution spells out a plan for achieving these objectives. This plan includes provisions for the exercise of legislative, executive, and judicial powers and a recipe for the division of powers among the federal government’s branches and between the national and state governments. The framers’ conception of why government matters and how it is to achieve its goals, while often a matter of interpretation and subject to revision, has been America’s political blueprint for more than two centuries. Often, Americans become impatient with aspects of the constitutional system such as the separation of powers, which often seems to be a recipe for inaction and “gridlock” when America’s major institutions of government are controlled by opposing political forces. This has led to bitter fights that sometimes prevent government from delivering important services. In 2011 and again in 2013, the House and Senate could not reach agreement on a budget for the federal government or a formula for funding the public debt. For 16 days in October 2013, the federal government partially shut down; permit offices across the country no longer took in fees, contractors stopped receiving checks, research projects stalled, and some 800,000 federal employees were sent home on unpaid leave—at a cost to the economy of $2–6 billion.1 39
Benjamin Ginsberg (We the People (Eleventh Core Edition))
Lying deep within the French Revolution were the seeds of its own destruction because the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity are mutually exclusive. A society can be formed around two of them, but never all three. Liberty and equality, if they are strictly observed, will obliterate fraternity; equality and fraternity must extinguish liberty; and fraternity and liberty can only come at the expense of equality. If extreme equality of outcome is the ultimate goal, as it was for the Jacobins, it will crush liberty and fraternity.
Andrew Roberts (Napoleon: A Life)
I remember how surprised I was to discover that Isaiah Berlin's famous essay on the two concepts of liberty, which once inspired many Polish intellectuals, myself included, was nothing more than a collection of platitudes and falsehoods that further prevented rather than encouraged any serious reflection on freedom.
Ryszard Legutko (The Cunning of Freedom: Saving the Self in an Age of False Idols)