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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (December 2005)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (December 2005)

Now that the holidays are over and a new year has begun, I am glad to say that I am refreshed and ready to take on some additional issues which interest me (and hopefully you, the reader as well). Before I do that, however, I need to recognize the three stand-out posts of December 2005.

Third Place goes to Kay Harrison (A.K.A Left Brain Female) writing for The Liberty Papers in a post titled: Is Tolerance the same as Acceptance? Kay insists that there is a difference; properly understood, most of us are tolerant of those things we do not agree with. I wrote a post on this topic awhile back and reached many of the same conclusions as Kay. I think that Kay does a better job of explaining the distinction between the two unequal terms, however.

Kay writes:

I personally find in the day to day world many things about which I am not and would not be accepting of - however, realizing that not everyone has had the same experiences to shape them as have I, I am tolerant of things in others that I would not accept of myself. So from that standpoint, I absolutely do not believe that acceptance and tolerance are the same thing. I tend to go more along with the older word definitions, because, frankly, I think our language has been bastardized and weakened considerably by poor education, political correctness, and just general laziness.


Social liberalism would lead one to believe that tolerance and acceptance are the same, that I must accept the religions and beliefs of others. Once again, acceptance means to receive with satisfaction or give a favorable reception. Tolerance, however, means that while I must *endure* (put up with) the beliefs of others, I do not have to give them a favorable reception - I simply have to let them BE.
Second Place goes to a post I ran across in Carnival of Liberty XXVI from a blog called OK, so I’m really not a cowboy. The post titled On Freedom explains the concept of freedom in a way I have not really thought about before: posititve liberty vs. negative liberty. Have you ever thought of Locke’s, Paine’s, or Madison’s explaination of liberty as being constructed of negative philosophy while FDR and his intellectual heirs construct their views of liberty from a positive construct? I certainly haven’t! After you read and consider the way the author explains this concept, you might be persuaded to think of competing philosophies on liberty in these terms.

The faux cowboy explains:

Jefferson espoused a government that acted in the negative, preventing the removal/erosion of liberty. The left, on the other hand, pushes for a government that acts in the positive, actively conferring ‘liberty’ upon you.


Liberty, then, has enjoyed a long tradition of being thought of in a rigorously defined ‘negative’ sense. Don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you. Government will make sure of that…


A much younger conception of ‘liberty’. One that seems to be pulled out of thin air and isn’t readily connected to the earlier conception. The important phrase here is ‘freedom from the ills of wants and fear.’ This changes liberty from a default state to one that must be actively maintained. On one hand, government just sits around in case liberty is impinged upon. On the other, government has to work its butt off to give you ‘positive liberty’…and in order to do so must restrict and manage the lives of all…kind of contradictory.

Contradictory? I’ll say! I think I’ll continue to promote the ‘negative liberty.’ The post also has some great illustrations to help the reader more easily visualize these ideas. A great touch!

And the winner is…

The Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month for December 2005 goes to Dan Melson of Searchlight Crusade with his post: The Basis of War. Don’t be fooled by the title, the post is not so much about war as it is about valuing what mankind has achieved—particularly over the past 200 or so years in the areas of personal liberty, philosophy, science, technology, and health.

Melson explains:

It's only been a couple hundred years since the notion of democracy really took root… The idea that perhaps the sum of everybody's wisdom was greater than any one person's is a profound conceptual change. The idea of patent and copyright, that someone who invented something that potentially made everyone's life easier was entitled to some of the good of their invention…


It's been less than a century since people first really began to practice the idea that perhaps we ought to give everyone those same chances, not merely those who happened to be of the ruling sex, race, class, or ethnicity. It's only been a few decades even here in the United States where it has really been practiced. It's only been a few decades that sciences from medicine to physics to chemistry started advancing rapidly.

These triumphs of Western Civilization are worth fighting, and even dying for to keep. This must be what Melson meant when he chose to title his post The Basis of War.

Melson continues:

[T]he point I'm trying to make is that the ideals and elements of western civilization, and the United States in particular…are worth defending. Hell, they are worth circling the wagons and retreating into the mountains and fighting guerilla style [for]…


[T]he entire idea of America, and western civilization in general, is supremely dangerous to those who are powerful in many areas of the world…The idea that anyone can become wealthy, important, one of our leaders if they only have good ideas, work hard, and stick to it, mocks and undercuts those who are wealthy and powerful because their family has owned the port concession for the past seven generations…


These people we threaten by spreading our ideas are not blind or stupid. If they were, they would have lost their positions of power and wealth and privelege [sic] in favor of a new leader who really is as inspired as grandpa was…
Congratulations to the December 2005 winners; excellent posts all around.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second place entry picks up on the ideas set down in Hayek's Road to Surfdom. Hayek presaged FDR when FDR proclaimed "freedom from want" a fundamental right. Hayek pointed out that a right like "equality under the law" can be guaranteed to all while "freedom from want" can only be achieved only by extending power to some at the expense others.

Keep up the good work.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Stephen Littau said...

Thanks for the kind words Kay. Hopefully my link generated some extra traffic for you. I think you nailed down the difference between 'tolerance' and 'acceptance' quite well.

Anonymous, I haven't read "Road to Surfdom" yet but it is definatley one I would like to read someday. The whole "freedom from want" idea is completely ridiculous. Everyone wants for something. Want is what inspires individuals to work and be productive and grow our economy. FDR's philosophy has done so much damage to the soul of this country. It is such a shame.

1:05 PM  

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