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Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Fragile LifeA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Mirror Is for ReflectionA Mirror Is for ReflectionA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Tapestry of ValuesA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst MarriageAgainst Moral 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EthicsCloningClose toYouCoercion as CureCoercive Treatment in PsychiatryCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy Comfortably NumbCommonsense RebellionCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentComprehending CareConducting Insanity EvaluationsConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConflict of Interest in the ProfessionsConsuming KidsContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContentious IssuesContesting PsychiatryCrazy in AmericaCreating CapabilitiesCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCritical Perspectives in Public HealthCritical PsychiatryCrueltyCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCurrent Controversies in BioethicsCurrent Controversies in Values and ScienceCutting to the CoreCyborg CitizenDamaged IdentitiesDeaf Identities in the MakingDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDebating ProcreationDebating Same-Sex MarriageDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecoding the Ethics CodeDefining DifferenceDefining Right and Wrong in Brain ScienceDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDelusions of GenderDementiaDemocracy in What State?Demons of the Modern WorldDescriptions and PrescriptionsDesert and VirtueDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDestructive Trends in Mental HealthDeveloping the VirtuesDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital HemlockDigital SoulDignityDignityDisability BioethicsDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDiscrimination against the Mentally IllDisordered Personalities and CrimeDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDoes Feminism Discriminate against Men?Does Torture Work?Double Standards in Medical Research in Developing CountriesDown GirlDrugs and JusticeDworkin and His CriticsDying in the Twenty-First CenturyEarly WarningEconomics and Youth ViolenceEmbodied 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UnconsciousEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics at the CinemaEthics at the End of LifeEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics for EveryoneEthics for PsychologistsEthics for the New MillenniumEthics in CyberspaceEthics in Everyday PlacesEthics in Health CareEthics In Health Services ManagementEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in EthicsExploding the Gene MythExploiting ChildhoodFacing Human SufferingFact and ValueFacts and ValuesFaking ItFalse-Memory Creation in Children and AdultsFat ShameFatal FreedomFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist TheoryFinal ExamFirst Do No HarmFirst, Do No HarmFlashpointFlesh WoundsForced to CareForgivenessForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and ReconciliationForgiveness and RetributionForgiveness is Really StrangeFoucault and the Government of DisabilityFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Forensic Mental Health AssessmentFree WillFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will and Reactive AttitudesFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree?Freedom and ValueFreedom vs. InterventionFriendshipFrom Darwin to HitlerFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Silence to VoiceFrom Valuing to ValueFrontiers of JusticeGender in the MirrorGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenocide's AftermathGetting 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DeliberationPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perfecting VirtuePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonalities on the PlatePersonhood and Health CarePersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPerspectives On Health And Human RightsPharmaceutical FreedomPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhysician-Assisted DyingPicturing DisabilityPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying God?Playing God?Political EmotionsPornlandPowerful MedicinesPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse 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The Freedom Paradox is an ambitious book by Clive Hamilton, who is deeply engaged in the social and moral problems of an era he calls programmatically "post-secular". The book is ambitious, firstly because it aims to solve, or better to take advantage of what is presented as paradoxical structure of freedom, expressed by Kant with this sentence: "a free will and a will under moral law are one and the same". Hamilton defines this aspect "the antinomian quality of freedom: to be free we must submit". There is but another paradoxical character of freedom Hamilton aims to solve: Western society has created the widest freedom possibilities ever experienced by humanity but their Western citizens are more and more depressed, discontented and scared of future. The author proposes his philosophically "strong" answer to these hard questions through a metaphysical approach that seemed precluded in modern and post-modern times, but which gains now new consistency in the post-secular society. So the highest ambition of the book has to be found where its philosophical relevance is at stake.
The first part of the book, Freedom reconsidered, is a very interesting critical discussion of the main liberal theories on freedom centered on Hayek's classic The Constitution of Liberty, used as reference point to criticize his most brilliant and influential scholar, Milton Friedman, and neoliberalism with him. Hayek himself, distinguishing different types of freedom, indicated not only the individual and the political one, as Mill already showed, but also the inner freedom, or metaphysical liberty, which is the center of interest for Hamilton in our capitalistic society: he assumes, with Hayek, that inner freedom "refers to the extent to which a person is guided in his actions by his own considered will" and that its opposite "is not coercion by others but the influence of temporary emotions, or moral or intellectual weakness". He analyzes how the capitalistic exercise of external freedoms has eroded our inner freedom, menaced by self-deception, akrasia and subtle coercion, being all more and more enhanced by the mass market. "It is a great irony that in a society created to give us more "choice" the most important choices are forbidden". After such a terrible diagnosis, what is left to Western society and to globalized humanity?
The strong answer developed by Hamilton in the four other parts of the book has its philosophical roots in the thought of Schopenhauer and consists of an ethical model neither relativist nor rationalist, but metaphysical: human beings are capable of understanding themselves as both an appearance and a thing-in-itself -- as phenomenon and noumenon, according to Kant's and Schopenahuer's language -- and this is the source of their moral sense. Considered metaphysically, according Hamilton all individuals have at their core the same inner nature, the noumenic one: the "subtle essence", the "universal Self", whose most immediate expression in the phenomenal world is the moral self. The moral self, core assumption of the entire book and of Hamilton's ethic, "is the innermost voice of conscience, where all personal interests, social conventions, duties and obligation are left behind". The moral self is to be intended more as a moral adviser than as a moral judge, as we can read in the fourth part, where Hamilton takes moral stance in a series of relevant topics such as suicide, sex and nature.
So in the last part, Freedom rediscovered, we can read what is a free moral life in a post-secular ethic: a life of detachment, but not of disengagement; it is a path involving intentional participation in the world, marked by "purity of passion and moderation of desire". Inner freedom is then the freedom to transcend one's own phenomenal self, one's own egoism and interest in a universal perspective, the one of the Universal Self. "Such a view gives value to the phenomenon: it is not merely a pale and otiose shadow of the noumenon; it is a partner in its own being, and this lend intrinsic value to the phenomenal existence of each human". Two aspects are in my opinion unsatisfying in this otherwise very interesting book: on one hand, the philosophical discussion of what noumenon is remains quite traditional in its final results, as noumenon is considered as the domain of first causes common to every human being, even if never totally knowable in a phenomenal life; on the other, the targeted public of the book is not so well identified: sometimes the essay has a popular style, sometimes an academic one, and in general some core concepts are presented too many times in both ways. The philosophical choice, to start from Schopenhauer's theory, notoriously a pessimistic one, to build up a strongly optimistic ethics, open to a daily possibility of attaining inner freedom and of finding one's own purpose, is a notably original one.
© 2012 Daria Dibitonto
Daria Dibitonto, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Post-Doc in Moral Philosophy at the Humanities Department of Avogadro University of East-Piedmont (Italy). Her books and main papers are about the theology of hope of Jürgen Moltmann and the theory of desire in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. From 2006 she researches also in the mental health field from a phenomenological perspective and carries out a philosophical practice in the Mental Health Department of ASL Turin 5 (Public Medical Service of the Turin Province, Italy
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