The Virtues of Freedom by Paul Guyer download in iPad, ePub, pdf
Self-rule means mastery over desire. If I desire a college degree, I must sacrifice four years of my independence. Their imagination conceives a government which is unitary, protective, and all-powerful, but elected by the people. The self-ruled man seeks to impose a theme on the muddle of sensations, on the random dislocated moments that add up to a life. Feudal monarchies required an interlocking set of dependent relationships.
He loathes debt, and will pay off his credit card bill each month. The curious thing is, we wanted to reason our way to an explanation of self-reliance. The self-reliant person works not for lust of money, but for a wealth of choices inaccessible to the idle. The self-ruled man knows that desires can be noble or base, and turns one kind of desire, lever-like, against the other.
Self-rule, in a sense, is the art of yielding discriminately to temptation. Centralization is combined with the sovereignty of the people.
This is my second post on the virtues that, together, add up to a morality of freedom. Only virtue engenders freedom.
The values to which we are attached by unyielding emotions are a matter of choice, rather than reason or interest. He rebels against favor-currying, and would rather do without than go, hat in hand, to trade away his independence for a mess of potage. This, I would add, is particularly true of self-reliance, a virtue that demands much sacrifice. Nothing more than command over immediate desires. He can pursue the long view, the general interest.
Our system of government, our constitutional rights and protections, would not last a day without a standard of behavior shared by the entire community. The question is as old as morality itself, but posing it is also the starting-place of human freedom. The first focused on self-rule.
Self-reliance equals adulthood, in politics but also in social and family life. Self-reliance is considered a peculiarly American virtue. If I want to be a good worker but am sometimes slack, that is a venial failing. To endure, our system of government requires self-reliance of its citizens.
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