Do all people desire freedom? If we look at the history of civilization and at popular political movements over the last hundred years, argues Onkar Ghate, the answer is definitely no. The fact that freedom’s value is not self-evident underscores the importance of understanding its actual nature and value, especially for those interested in living free.
This lecture surveys the philosophical foundations of freedom as a moral and political ideal and offers a philosophical analysis of liberty’s rise and decline as a Western ideal. Focusing on the Age of Enlightenment, Ghate argues that the essence of Enlightenment philosophy inspired its leading figures to define and embrace political liberty. Among the questions answered in this course:
- Why is the Enlightenment best understood as championing reason and rejecting obedience to authority?
- What is the basic Enlightenment argument for liberty?
- Why couldn’t this argument withstand increasing attacks from nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers?
- Does Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism provide a new case for the ideals of the Enlightenment?
This lecture should be of interest to students of all levels, especially students interested in advocating liberty.