Two Concepts of Freedom

Integral Axis

– Modern or liberal idea of freedom:

‘Freedom from…’ Lack of coercion, restraint or interference. Being permitted to act on your every whim is total freedom according to this view.

– Pre-modern and traditional idea of freedom:

‘Freedom for…’ Ability to fulfil one’s purpose (‘telos’ in Greek.) Also contains within it the idea of not being constrained by one’s lower self.

This difference in approach to freedom stems chiefly from a difference in their view of a man’s purpose or telos. Pre-modern cultures took it for granted that every man and woman had their own telos – modern Western deCivilization assumes no such thing exists.

Modernity says… “be yourself” or “do you own thing.”

Tradition says… “become who you are.”


Francis Fukuyama (in The End of History and the Last Man):

In the Anglo-Saxon liberal tradition familiar to us, there is a commonsense understanding of freedom…

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