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Lec. 2, Sep.19th, Constant

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

Lecture 2 Constant and the Rise of Liberalism Benjamin Constant 1767-1830  Swiss born, French intellectual and politician  Fervent Liberal  Constant is conservative  Constant talks about ancient vs. modern society Context: French revolution and its aftermath All revolution happened since the French one have been seen through the French Revolution Lense Key question of the political - how should free people govern themselves? What is freedom better characterized as? A freedom from tyranny (Freedom from) OR Freedom to pursue your things (Freedom to) 2500 years ago, ancient Greece Liberty of ancients – Rejected Model of Freedom - Ancient politics was participatory - Participating in ruling and being ruled, ex legislation, public life. - People were willing to be a part of the great public, being a citizen meant to participate  It was direct. Direct involvement Individual vs. Collective freedom  Constant saw that liberty was not personal and individual.  It was the freedom of the collective.  Community not to be dominated.  Freedom was a collective, not an individual notion.  Freedom of the community – self government. Ex. Greek is free if Greece governs Greeks. Freedom is collective. According to the Greek definition Canada is not free. Canada is dominated by US - So from Constant’s or ancient Greeks’ point of view Canada is not free.  Dependent upon a class of people who didn’t engage in commerce or even work.  Householding – generating resources, making money, taking care of the house Slaves in the ancient Greece were different. They enjoyed personal freedoms, like owing business and education  Big decisions were decisions on war Different conceptions of freedom Isaiah Berlin - ‘’the fundamental sense of freedom is freedom of chains, from imprisonment, from enslavement by others.”  Not as much “freedom to” as “ freedom from” (Isaiah Berlin)  Legal Protections  Limited Government  Freedom is individual rather than communal  All driven by “commerce” and private property instead of war In the ancient world war was the drive of the world and nowadays it is commerce. Constant had a minimal notion of freedom. In Berlins and Constant’s point of view freedom is not money. “You cant reconcile liberty and equality” they are two different
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