Sunday, March 15, 2015

Eric Hoffer: two types of freedom

No. 57

To some, freedom means the opportunity to do what they want to do; to most it means not to do what they do not want to do.  It is perhaps true that those who can grow will feel free under any condition.

-- Eric Hoffer --
from Reflections on the Human Condition

Are these the only types of freedom?

It strikes me that one is positive--able to do what one wants-- and one is negative--not having to do what one does not want to do.  I can see how someone with a positive view can feel free to grow, but how would someone who can grow feel free under the negative view.

Something's missing here.  .  .


  1. "It is perhaps true that those who can grow will feel free under any condition."
    I'm not sure if I grasp exactly what this means.

  2. Perhaps this is pointing to choice as freedom -- i.e., the freedom to choose behaviors and actions (and the good sense to understand the responsibilities associated with choice). Anyone who simply does what he wants is not free; he is selfish. Anyone who makes responsible decisions -- and chooses not to do some things -- embraces the freedom of choice. That is existential freedom. Does this make any sense at all? Probably not. There is a reason I never became a philosopher. Thinking is too difficult.

  3. R. T.,

    A responsible person chooses to do some things and chooses not to do other things. I would say that is freedom.