Intellectual Freedom


I do not want to make a habit of listing quotes, but this observation – from The Choice of Hercules – is in need of being shared.

“Autonomy – self-governance – is the kernel of freedom, and such reveals what is implied: that the mind is freedom’s first theatre.  No one can imprison it if it does not choose to be imprisoned, though of course most minds live in the narrowest of prisons – of convention, religion, ignorance, laziness.  As one acutely perspective observer of the human condition put it, “Most people are other people” - that is, most people live borrowed lives because they borrow their opinions, their emotions, their goals and beliefs, from others, for they either do not know how to make and have their own, or are too timid to venture making and having their own.  To dare to think for oneself, carefully; and to stand by one’s conclusions, bravely; and to change one’s mind in the face of better arguments or convincing evidence, honestly: these are the marks of freedom, the emblems of autonomy, and they are a constitutive part of meaning because they are its responsible and serious underpinning, which casts value on to the things chosen in that very endeavor.”

-A. C. Grayling

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Categories: Philosophy, Quote

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5 replies

  1. well said! man must be free to think for himself, and to live their own lives. there is just one of each of us, no point in being another person!

  2. This reminds me of my post here: http://tamarnajarian.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/as-the-sheep-fall-off-the-cliff-and-the-wolves-enjoy-their-spoils/

    The sheep are those who live another’s lives because all opinions, all thoughts and beliefs possessed are merely an imitation of another’s. It’s important to fall into that grey area, the place where one is free to think and to believe as they wish, with the creativity to move forwards without the shackles of being deemed a sly, deceitful and manipulative wolf.

  3. Awesome quote. After spending at least nine months in a “crisis of faith,” having to knock on doors and talk to people about my religion through most of it, after trying and hoping to find a reasonable way to keep my faith, but with an unwavering commitment to truth above tradition, I finally left my religion. There was SUCH a great feeling of having the intellectual freedom to now accept or reject anyone’s assertion without first having to send it through my religion’s filter. I can still remember the moment vividly and it is one of the high moments of my life, though it was also following an emotional break-up to the girl I was engaged to.

    I was now free . . . but there was also a little fear tickling the back of my conscience because I didn’t know where I’d end up. “What if I go off the deep end and start believing crazy shit?” or “What if I lose my faith in god entirely?” Well . . . I DID “lose” my faith, but with it have only gained more freedom to think without eternal consequence.

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