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Open words have the power to inspire, whenever mentioned. They include freedom, equality, and order. They inspire since they communicate to mankind exactly what people like to hear. These words are powerful since they do not have precise definitions. Different political philosophers and social psychologists, such as Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, and Nietzsche, among others, have divergent ideologies concerning the above listed three terms. These are revealed through various political theories developed by them
The conception of freedom is so complicated a matter that has raised wars among various phenomenologists and scientists all over the world. According to Aristotle (1982), liberty is the basis of democratic state. Freedom is one of the most crucial philosophical daily problems. Aristotle wondered whether man has a true ability to find out the course of volitions and thoughts, or genuine moral freedom. Aristotle considered four different dimensions of freedom, that is, constitutive freedom, freedom as a choice, freedom and virtue, and social freedom (Aristotle). Freedom gives man the most valuable account of his significant nature. Indeed, it is one of the defining things for people. One is said to have freedom when he is free from the innermost part of his being.
Aristotle defined constitutive freedom as an interior space that is inviolable. Intimacy is described as confidential necessity of human being, that is inwardness. This is the most important aspect of the individual. This constitutive freedom is the basis of human rights. They are the important rights entitled to everyone. These include the right to liberty and life and other forms of freedom, such as speech, thought, freedom to assembly and equality before the state law. This form of freedom cannot be given out, bartered, granted, or bestowed. This freedom is limitless with regards to the actions and knowable objects that can be done to attain them. Hence, it tends to activities that help to achieve self-fulfillment (Aristotle).
Aristotle argued that the existence of free will, destiny and providence could be considered freedom of choice. The capacity to exercise choice, for example, all afternoon we have freedom to do what want, is indeed freedom. This is known as freedom of exercise where one can exercise freedom. The other name for this kind of freedom is psychological freedom of free will. The other important element of freedom, according to Aristotle, is the growth of freedom. Man improves his capacity for self-sufficiency to the desired freedom by acquiring virtues (habits). It is through fulfilling acts of generosity that one would claim to be liberal. Liberation from misery to Aristotle is social freedom. Such misery may include hatred, political oppression, insecurity, unemployment, and many other vices.
Apart from Aristotle, John Locke also contributed his ideas to this conception of freedom, that is so complex a matter. Locke considered freedom as a rational self-control that makes it possible for one to subdue his emotions, as well as to govern his passions. He dismissed Aristotle’s reasoning that freedom requires moral reasoning, but instead argued that it has cognitive results which are governed by the subject matter (Wardy). In his writings, Locke stated that human beings exist as prescribed by principles of self-preservation, equality and liberty. Since there is no existence of government in the state of nature to provide protection or control the distribution of goods and benefits, every person is entitled to self-preservation that should be exercised on equal footing with all other people.
According to Locke (1821), the right described above includes the freedom to wealth and properties, enjoy a peaceful life, and satisfy desires and personal requirements consistent with the vital freedom of others. Ultimately, the state of nature proves to be unfulfilling according to Locke. Freedom of human beings is neither protected nor equally fulfilled. Human safety is endangered by practices such as narcissism, greed, and self-interest. In short, Locke concluded that law of nature forced people to develop a government that is mandated to guard liberty, life, and property (Locke).
In attempt to discuss liberal freedom, Nietzsche insisted that a man is free when in those things that by his strength and his wit he has ability to do, he is not hindered from doing what he has a will to do. Definition of freedom in this context brings us to a concept of negative liberty. For instance, it is regarded as freedom from the disruption of others, an absence of external limitations. Negative freedom is shown in the statement, “free as bird”. Animals are considered to enjoy unlimited percentage of negative liberty since they are unlimited by laws, conventions, and social ties to which human being is subject. Birds are commonly used as examples because they can fly, and hence are not confined by geography, compared to other animals. Nietzsche showed that willing could actually be true only in virtue of an activity other than willingness itself (Arnold).
In short, freedom begins with self-control principle. In society with freedom, each individual has ownership (legal control) of his or own and body. It defines a form of political empowerment. In fact, it is equal empowerment. In simple terms, free society is one in which there is an equal distribution of legal rights. In such a setting, everyone possesses as many legal rights as possible. Therefore, freedom involves political equality; for example, it is only logical when freedom entails same amount and compatible legal rights to each person in a society without biasness.
Concept of equality illustrates that rights belong to all human beings, irrespective of whether one is wise or foolish, poor or rich, white or black. According to Aristotle, equality in a society is only fully achieved when equality is addressed in the four areas: moral, political, social, and legal. Morally, human value or worth should be equal. Each and every person should be subjected to the same law for there to be legal equality. Politically, all people should have equal voice in selecting political leaders and making laws. Finally, everyone should have equal access to those essential facilities required to leading good or decent life.
Human rights are not mere merits. Merits may hinder one or more rights. A question commonly asked is “should all human beings be equal? “Some people fight for equality by claiming that there is “common humanity” that makes everyone valuable and equal. Suffering and pain is not equal. Some people are more vulnerable to suffering than others, for instance. Justice is equality, though only for who are equals; and injustice is inequality for unequal (Aristotle).
Social psychologist and political philosopher, Locke, believed that the legitimacy of government depended on the consent from its people that is provided on the foundation of equality. He advocated for the natural rights of human beings, such as the right to liberty, property, and life. He insisted that it is the responsibility of every government to protect and secure the rights for its citizens. Locke said that equality was not confined to the political realm, but instead should include religious toleration, with an exception of only atheism. He advocated general toleration of other religion beliefs but supported the ex-communication of atheists. According to Locke, analysis of equality follows a chronological order. It starts with existence of equality in the nature of state. Men enter into a society after the natural equality. Finally, when the government is in existence, the purpose of equality can be evaluated from a social view, that is when the concept of religious toleration comes into consideration.
Equality is the main concern of Locke’s political theory. According to his theory, equality is the foundation for our consensual contribution to society, which is a requisite for the formation of any state. It is not just the establishment of government but is a requisite in sustaining a stable and peaceful nation. The preservation of the community and its entire people is the role of the government (Locke). The government has the obligation of providing safety, as well as equally protecting its nationals. Despite government guarding each person, conflict must always come up, among the people themselves, if not between a government and its people. Locke was very serious with the behavior of people with regards to their religious beliefs, especially their “intemperate zeal” (Daiches).
Friedrich Nietzsche appreciated establishing equality in a society; however, in some cases, equality seems to be continually elusive. Justice and equality began among people who were almost equally powerful (Hollingdale). What comes to mind when we perceive equality as a form of fairness is power. Everyone must come to understanding and negotiation for equality or fairness to be achieved. This means that the least powerful individual in a society, in most cases, will often fall short of attaining equality or justice. For instance, if a suspect criminal is on trial, it would not be proper to maintain that this is only a way of balancing the interest of the accused in being alienated from the interest of society in punishing him.
Several political philosophers present different views with regards to the meaning of order. Order also forms one of the controversial concepts that gives problems to philosophers all the time. With respect to order, the ideologies of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes concerning law of nature differ. According to Hobbes, nature law may entail two phases. He said that the first nature law is to seek peace and follow it. When this advice proves not beneficial for mankind, human beings have to defend themselves through violence. On the other hand, Locke indicates that law of nature presupposes that men are created independent and equal. It revealed that nobody should seek to harm others in his or her life, possessions, liberty, and health. Locke asserted that turning to violence is unacceptable conduct for human beings, unless freedom of individuals is endangered by termination.
Locke and Hobbes’ perspective does not only differ with respect to natural law, but also on natural characteristics of mankind as well. According to Hobbes, human is self-centered, and therefore life is a situation of war of every person against every person. He claimed that people are in a constant opposition with each other due to a lack of trust and jealousy for one another. Human left alone in nature creates a government and uses war to sustain a sense of belonging in society. Locke, on the other hand, viewed mankind highly optimistically because he felt that freedom from any other superior authority on earth is the natural liberty of mankind. Peace will always prevail among mankind, provided that human beings maintain a sense of freedom in society.
The structure and function of government exposes another difference between the ideologies of Locke and those of Hobbes. Because nature pulls the community from the natural state, Hobbes stated that government is a necessity and nature is a state of war. He felt that human beings are incapable of employing reasoning faculties so as to provide solutions to pressing problems, but instead resort to forming government within the societies headed by an absolute leader. Locke writings are characterized by individual freedom. He felt that monarchies hinder freedom to mankind. Locke insisted that no one is entitled to control anyone else’s freedom without the approval and willing consent that is manifested in suffrage form.
These arguments reveal different ideologies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, significantly with regards to human beings’ natural characteristics, function and order of government, as well as natural law. With respect to natural law, Hobbes felt that mankind was always involved in violent acts against one another, while Locke felt that the act of violence is unacceptable due to freedom that everyone is entitled to. With regards to mankind’s characteristics, Hobbes stated that people are evil and continuously oppose each other, contrary to Locke, who insisted that man possesses a sense of optimism with other human beings in relation to his interactions with the rest of mankind. Lastly, Locke and Hobbes expressed divergent opinion regarding government. Hobbes believed in the existence of a leader with absolute powers, whereas Locke stated that it should be a democratic government that does not deny people their freedom in society.
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