Thomas Hobbes Positive Liberty Analysis

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Liberty as defined by Thomas Hobbes means the ability to act as one’s wish without outer physical dominance or interference but then true liberty doesn’t exist in real state as we have to abide by some laws in society to live in peace with others. Here, Isiah Berlin argues about the existence of two concepts of liberty: - Negative and positive liberty. He then tries to differentiate between the two concepts but then the idea of positive liberty he defines has been further illustrated more by other modern philosophers. Thus, the idea of positive liberty seems partially problematic with the reasons he has provided in the essay but then his argument is further questioned as both the concepts seem to overlap sometime and positive liberty is something…show more content…
He has given example of minority group who participate in majority democratic process but they are not free and oppressed and he says even majority might be oppressed in this in the name of liberty. He claims how he has witnessed how positive freedom has been twisted in those cold war of dictatorship and the main reason was due to divided-self. He talks about higher self which is the rational and lower self which includes passions, irrational impulses. According to him one is free when one is able to control their irrational impulses and desires with rational thoughts and one should learn to coerce into their interest in order to learn what real freedom is and to be liberated. But the negative theorists argue that even if one realize their desires but they are not free to do what they desire in case of a slave then what is liberty? Theorists from positive camp responded by saying they should then remove their desires which they can’t fulfill to…show more content…
Humboldt and mill argument sounded more like positive one than negative liberty which shows both the liberty collides and both seem to have their gray sides which makes their definition unclear. Berlin argument of positive liberty being problematic can be supported from John Christman statement saying “positive liberty concerns the ways in which desires are formed” but then the content of an individual’s desires is not regarded. (Cited from the article). The positive liberty has been criticized by many other scholars from eighteen century for being in favor of elite group but then it is one of the important value which is needed for a free society as per Berlin. By admitting closer to negative concept and stating that he will be free even if he lives under dictatorship if dictator doesn’t happen to me, Berlin has brought out his narrow view of liberty and freedom. You cannot call yourself free if you are under dictatorship. His division of the two concepts has given more insight about liberty but then his statements seem to contradict sometimes. To define what is liberation or freedom is not easy as one has to view from different perspectives so one just can’t just conclude with the understanding of Berlin viewpoints. Positive liberty might seem unrealistic or difficult to achieve but then one should always have broader vision as negative liberty means absence of external factors. So I partially agree with
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