tisdag 1 juni 2010

Formulating the problem: Freedom

"From the platonic dialouge to Augustine's questioning, which specifies the ego as a putting in question (se querere, questio mihi factus sum), the Western valorization of questioning culminates in the Kantian affirmation of a spontaneous, sovereign, and in this sense liberatory understanding - though one that is not, for all that, without limits and traps.

Let us pause, if you will permit me, at this Kantian freedom, "cosmological" freedom on the whole, since it is the power of Reason to begin by itself that is posited. This power of autocommencement on the part of the universal Reason can be interpreted as a splendid valorization of the reasoning "self", simultaneously initiating and autonomous. To be sure, this "self" is itself generated by a Cause from which everything begins; man is dependent on this transcendental cause that goes beyond him. Nevertheless, although human freedom is "caused" by an externality on which it depends, it spreads and can become a "practical freedom" as long as it remains independent of sense perception.

This freedom, produced by a casuality, in this case, God, could just as well be produced by a casuality of natural and economic forces. Thus Max Weber, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904 - 1905), demonstrated the inversion of transcendence in the production of social goods. A casuality governs freedom, and freedom adapts to it, even as it achieves its own flourishing, by dominating all sensuality through understanding that is, ultimately, moral. This is the optimal model of productive and moralistic freedom. Even if it is transgressed or flouted - or simply ignored - it nonetheless governs liberal democracy. Its injunction amounts to this: adapt yourself to a cause (which, nowadays, is no longer either God or a transcendence, though these are more present than they are said to be, but is economic causality); adapt yourself to the economy; adapt yourself to the dollar - and you will be free... in that casuality. Thus freedom means the ability to produce causes and effects, and I am hardly simplifying when I say that freedom amounts to freedom of production, to the mastery of production. And so freedom is the power to produce - to produce objects of desire and consumption."

- Julia Kristeva Crisis of the European Subject s, 120-121

Inga kommentarer: