Why liberty is good for human functioning…

The-Statue-of-Liberty-at-the-1878-Paris-Worlds-Fair.

Most people are of the opinion that individual freedom is a good thing, and must be defended at all costs. For many, however, this is an assumption. This is my attempt at providing reasoning for why I believe that individual freedom is good for human functioning:

Liberty is the right of an individual to think, act and live, in whatever way one chooses. Liberty is therefore freedom of choice. The ability to choose, however, requires cognition. Cognition is a characteristic that sets human beings apart from all other creatures. In a free society, cognition is enhanced due to the need of individuals to make good decisions. People make choices based on assumptions about how the world works. This decision making process is determined by many factors such as different starting points, goals, education, beliefs, personalities, and outlooks etc. Therefore one’s assumptions about reality can often include errors. This means people make mistakes. Mistakes, however, provide the impetus for better decision making. Liberty is thus good in that it leads to more-rapid development of knowledge, personal responsibility and to the setting and attaining of higher goals for the improving of one’s life. Converse to individual liberty is prescription or coercion. This is when people are forced to think and live according to an imposed set of values or practices. In this case, people are reduced to functioning as puppets, robots or animals. Therefore it is logical to conclude that individual liberty is the more humanizing option. The right of every individual, however, requires reciprocity. For one person’s expression of liberty should not infringe upon the same rights of others. Dialogue is thus required to establish which individual rights require protection, and which require restraint, for the greater good of society. As Immanuel Kant put it: “Freedom is the alone unoriginated birthright of man, and belongs to him by force of his humanity; and is in dependence on the will and co-action of every other in so far as this consists with every other person’s freedom” (The Metaphysics of Ethics. 1886, trans. J.W. Semple. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).

Image: The Statue of Liberty at the 1878 Paris Worlds Fair.

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High-Five

Today we walked down (up?) Church St. and got high-fived by Ghandi…

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All the best for 2016!

May continual prosperity in the things of God, be yours! This (below) is (most of) us seeing the new year in, at Pholela Hut, Drakensberg. image

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Discover who you really are…

image The good news is that it’s now cheaper to discover who you really are.

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Redemption by George Herbert

Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford,
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old.

In Heaven at his manor I him sought,
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.

I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth

Of thieves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, “Your suit is granted”, said, & died.

George Herbert was appointed Archbishop the same year that the King James Bible was published (1611).

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Ben’s Plan of Conduct

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The Ben referred to in the title is Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of America, and an all round interesting fella. The Art of Manliness recently posted his brief plan to becoming a more virtuous man. They intro’d it like this: “In 1726, Benjamin Franklin found himself on an 11-week voyage from London back to Philadelphia. He had spent some time in England learning the printing business, and was now, at age 20, ready to return home and strike out for himself. Young Ben was on the threshold to adulthood, and his thoughts turned to the kind of man he wanted to be. For the first time in his life, he set out some rules for his self-improvement, calling them his “Plan of Conduct.” Soon after, he would create a whole program designed to motivate himself to become more virtuous.”

So here it is: Benjamin Franklin’s Plan of Conduct:

“Those who write of the art of poetry teach us that if we would write what may be worth the reading, we ought always, before we begin, to form a regular plan and design of our piece: otherwise, we shall be in danger of incongruity. I am apt to think it is the same as to life. I have never fixed a regular design in life; by which means it has been a confused variety of different scenes. I am now entering upon a new one: let me, therefore, make some resolutions, and form some scheme of action, that, henceforth, I may live in all respects like a rational creature.

1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe.

2. To endeavour to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action — the most amiable excellence in a rational being.

3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.

4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.”

Blimey. Those are good. Resolved to make them mine own.

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People of my City

I often hear complaints about Pietermaritzburg. It lacks the artistic vitality of Cape Town. It doesn’t have the balmy beaches of Durban. Joburg is where it’s happening for business. Whilst all of these are true, Maritzburg does have something that we often overlook. People. Van Gogh apparently said that there’s nothing more truly artistic than to love people. If that’s true, then Maritzburg has the potential to be an authentically artistic city.

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