NOTION OF FREEDOM AND LAW IN ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
NOTION OF FREEDOM AND LAW IN ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
1.0 THE GENERAL NOTION OF FREEDOM
The concept of freedom is analogous, predicated in various ways on creatures of various types. To some extent, the many forms of attribution are determined not by specifying the same precise content, but by establishing the same formal relationship. This relationship might be seen negatively or favourably.
Negatively, freedom involves not being bound to a particular entity or law, being independent of anything, and not being decided by a given principle of determination.
Because every finite being belongs to a world and is related to the other beings in the universe, this negative concept is likewise relative. It may be free of this or that direct link, but only because others have taken their place.
A creature entirely free in the negative sense could not exist in the world; without a wholly separated relationship, it would be founded on nothing and be nothing.1
As opposed to the negative, relative concept of freedom, there is a positive, absolute concept of freedom. A being is positively free insofar as it is in possession of itself and possesses the sufficient condition for all of its being and relations in this relationship. In this context, freedom means being entirely present to oneself and self-sufficient.
According to Maslaw,
The fundamental recognition is freedom.
that the person is more significant
than his culture.2
Human freedom, on the other hand, is plainly neither purely negative and relative, nor totally positive and absolute. Man has authority over himself and so over parts of the world. He is, nevertheless, a part of the world and is dependent on the beings with whom he interacts.
The fundamental way of human freedom is known as transcendental freedom, and it is the essential propriety of man by which he alone can claim to be.
As a result, man can never be stripped of his transcendental freedom, which is a necessary aspect of his life. However, its emptiness and significance lead to another way of freedom.
Man is not merely there, he does not simply grow; he has to be, he has to decide whether he will be himself or something else, and there is no way for him to avoid this decision.
This paradigm is known as decision freedom or existential freedom. This immediately implies freedom of choice because arbitrary freedom is not freedom; a guy free in this sense will leave his actions to the whims or chance of his mood.
In general, freedom can be defined as
the absence of impediments to realisation
1.1 WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN?
Freedom! Everyone desires it; it is what makes a man human; artists admire it; and politicians promise or proclaim it. Some have devoted their lives to win it for themselves or others, but what is it exactly?
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, it is the lack of coercion. Coercion or compulsion affects external action and is equivalent to the lack of external coercion. This is known by numerous names depending on the type of action engaged.
Thus, we have physical freedom, civil freedom, political freedom, self-realization freedom, choice freedom, and self-perfection freedom. Psychological freedom, often known as freedom of choice, is the absence of internal constraint, or the ability to will something or not.
External freedom is dependent on interior freedom because the former has no significance without the latter, but the opposite is not always true.
A survey of Yves R. Simons' work ‘Freedom of Choice,' which disagrees with St Thomas Aquinas' view of freedom to some extent. For example, he conducted research on freedom and voluntariness and concluded that “there is no unqualified voluntariness without freedom”4
1.2 KINDS OF FREEDOM
Man is a dynamic being, and his activities are no exception. As a result, his concept of freedom varies according to their various pursuits. Man's activities are not solely determined by external causes such as a moving stone or a computer game moved by the pads.
It sometimes stems from his understanding of his own freedom and ability to make his own decisions. Among all of these, freedom remains a difficult concept to grasp at any given time; yet, for clarity, I shall analyse the various types of freedom in the following order.
Accepting the Universe because you grasp its mathematical necessity is all that is required. When you finish this, you will have peace of mind, be free of passions, and be able to return good for evil.
This human freedom indicates that man has the innate potential to act for an extended period of time without causing harm to others.
Freedom of religion can be defined as a person's freedom to practise religion freely and without constraint or coercion.
He is free to worship whatever he wants, whenever he wants, according to his conscience. Murray stated that religious freedom is “…an immunity from coercion in what concerns personal relationship with God”5.
Many societies adopt religious freedom in order to ensure the legitimacy of religion.
The Right to Choose
This is the action principle that allows man to freely judge. Aside from that, Aquinas held that freedom of choice is a capacity that comes from man, not a habit. He referred to it as an election. He contrasted'man' and ‘animal,' claiming that man acts out of reason, whilst animals behave out of inherent instinct.
Because man acts out of comparism, he acts with free judgement and preserves the ability to be predisposed to various things. As a result, man possesses free will.
Freedom of choice can relate to either the act of will or the object of will. There is freedom of exercise in the first case, and freedom of specification in the second.
The will has the freedom to choose whether or not to choose, to operate or not to operate. The key element to remember here is that one is not forced to act.
St. Thomas believed and taught that man should tamper and train his Soul, and that man's dignity resides in self-mastery. Now, the nature of man is such that reason and will must always lead and steer his acts. In doing so, man demonstrates self-control, which is what distinguishes him as a person.
Any man who allows love, money, power, and so on to overtake him is not free, since he appears to be free on the outside but is inwardly bound to vice, greed, power, pride, and ambition.
Fulton Sheen emphasised in his book ‘On Being Human' that freedom is a long process that continues until one achieves the pinnacle. Man is not supposed to become an angel, because man cannot be flawless in an imperfect world, which is his ontological vocation.
Each man is a microcosm, or a miniature scale representation of himself. He holds a crucial and essential role in the entire cosmos. He is a being with a purpose in the world. And completing this task is the realisation of himself. Every man is a bundle of possibilities.
When these potentials are realised or actualized, they constitute the individual's contribution to the overall development of the human family.
According to Anthony Storr, self-realization is:
The most complete phrase in
the innate potentialities of life
the realisation of the individual
This individuality as a personality.6
It is characterised by productivity, spontaneous activity as opposed to compulsion, affection, and active solidarity with humans. Accepting oneself as the bearer of human potentialities and being willing to evolve through creative effort constitutes it.
The man who uses his abilities is the one who answers the fundamental question of his individual life. Self-realization freedom is only attainable in and through the facticity that surrounds each individual; it cannot be more than this. Height, colour, strength, intelligence, sex, race, and other characteristics are examples.
According to Karl Rahner:
Only freedom in the sense of
in a concrete sense, when all of those
Liberties are combined.7
Aquinas, for his part, stated,
Freedom is not synonymous with independence.
from an absolute standpoint, but as independent
From the family.8
Freedom has a special function in the history of philosophy and social thought as a moral and social notion to relate either to circumstances that develop in the relations of man to man or to certain conditions of social life.
The legitimacy or convenience of a particular application of the term is the focus of philosophical debate over the definition or nature of freedom.
Bertrand Russels frequently held that freedom in general means the lack of impediments to the fulfilment of one's aspirations.
1.3 AQUINAS' CONCEPT OF FREEDOM
This mediaeval theologian defined freedom as the concord of will and action. And the divine influence and will are taken into account. Freedom is implied by the relationship of harmony, divine influence, and will.
As a result, rather than a decision of the will, the assent of the will becomes a free act. It follows that this cannot be defined as freedom as self-determination.
Perhaps the closest Aquinas term in meaning and usage to the modern term freedom is liberty9.
But what about John Locke?
It is to be free from the constraints and brutality of others, which cannot be achieved in the absence of law10.
Freedom may be defined as the absence of limitation, which is appropriate for man. There is no rational person who would support limitations. Being liberated from limitation entails being liberated from choice incarceration.
1.4 LIMITS TO FREEDOM
While we reject the notion that man is not free or that freedom is an illusion, we must reject Sartre's overblown concept of freedom.
Man, according to Sartre's book ‘Being and Nothingness,' is completely free. He claimed that man is condemned to be free, and that man's actual existence is realised to the extent that he exercises his freedom.
Yes, man is free, but his freedom is restricted by factors such as his body, will, surroundings, desires and passions, pressures from genetics, society, and so on.
In his book ‘A Companion to Summa' vol.iii, Walter Farrel utilised the analogy of a wild bird banging its life against the windows of a forlorn house into which it has wandered in order to awaken sympathy on us. Also in man, who is restricted to a physical area and is imperfect and limited, striving day after day to be unlimited and free.
We find ourselves in this scenario as a result of science's constant discoveries to see if it can give meaning to human life, but what happens is that we still experience some sort of imperfection in all of this.
Also, as a social person who is required to be sociable by nature, man is compulsorily constrained to being where his body allows him to be. The existentialists emphasised this by claiming that man, as a social creature in the world, is subject to natural laws.
We cannot say that limitation is the essence of human freedom because man's insatiable desire for the absolute and good is infinite; rather, as an incarnate being, a being in the world, his body, which situates him in the world, limits his freedom. As a result, man is not completely free, as there are some constraints.
1.5 THE SOCIAL structure OF FREEDOM.
Freedom is inherently part of man since it is transcendental distance and transcendental spontaneity. However, this primordial freedom is only the foundation for existential freedom, the realisation of man as person, it is not yet this personal being in actual reality, transcendental and transcendental freedom are actuated only in the decision of existential freedom for its own essence – as basic form. However, R.S. Peters maintained:
Freedom is not being able to do everything one wants.
without limitations but accepting
the law or the community's true will.11
As a result, human freedom can never be a simple state of man or a specialised propriety, nor can it be merely the actuation of selfhood, nor pure act without history, as divine freedom is. Human freedom, on the other hand, is history by definition.
The activities to be done and the states to be attained completely claim man. He becomes a true person by stepping outside of himself and immersing himself in the task at hand.
Thus, human freedom is not a state of independence from this or that compulsion, as it is in things, nor is it a pure act of self-consciousness, as it is in God.
The history of a person's coming to terms with himself culminates in fully conscious self-possession. Only the individual is with himself in the strictest sense; self-possession can be predicted only analogously of a society or a people.
All of these criteria are repeated in the concept that governs the way of realising freedom, the freedom of subsidiary. Acting freely is synonymous with a person's personality. It is a person's way of being.
This state of existence is both individual and supra-individual, conditional and unconditional. Conscious selfhood, as an act possible only to the self, distinguishes the individual as a person.
These common works are expressions of self-realization, of the reality of freedom and the individual. However, there are forms that freedom has taken, and they preserve their meaning and purpose only through being referred back to the individual and its actuality.