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Freedom and Impermanence - Recovering the Liberal Ideal from the Metaphysics of Modernity

  • Author(s): Radheshwar, Jovian
  • Advisor(s): Robinson, Cedric
  • et al.


Freedom and Impermanence - Recovering the Liberal Ideal from the Metaphysics of Modernity

by Jovian Radheshwar

Liberalism, the political philosophy created in the name of freedom, has, because of its complicity with structures of power organized for the production of permanence, in the history of the modern west, been transformed into an ideological template for the rationalization of moralized power politics, thus abrogating prior fundamental commitments to the freedom of humanity. From ancient to contemporary, with a special focus on the middle-modern milieu, this project traces through western concepts of liberty and their connection to structures of power and authority, both within the west and beyond it, as well, for example through the use of liberty as the handmaiden of power politics in the sphere of international relations and the politics of economic development.

Following this historical and philosophical study of the phenomenology of freedom, encompassing in division one a study of the structure of the idea of freedom in liberal thought and in division two a consideration of its effects in recent histories of international relations, division two thereafter concludes with an alternative conceptualization of freedom inspired by a thorough-going ethical embrace of impermanence as a linchpin in a fundamental and ontological notion of being-in-the-world.

A newly-enriched and imaginative liberalism offers a possibility for an ethical ground for politics organized for the greatest freedom of each person in a complex age. The onslaught of technological rationality has resulted in an enframed world of power underscored by the ubiquitous manipulation of technique and gesture, leaving the human-animal at the mercy of thoughtlessness in the service of technologically-manufactured permanences now merged with being. This complexity has become an illusory end-in-itself, obscuring our collective and individual experiences of being, and the contingency, and impermanence, of being. As such, we must, as beings whose existences are at issue, determine, through critical rethinking, how political thought should proceed in freeing beings for the possibility of evolution, survival, and the ongoing practice, of being free.

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