vineri, 14 octombrie 2011

Hegel and Gorgias on Freedom

The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him in the offing, on which he depends, without his having made this foreign world for himself and therefore without being at home in it by himself as in something his own. The impulse of curiosity, from the lowest level up to the highest rung of philosophical insight arises only from the struggle to cancel this situation of unfreedom and to make the world one’s own in one’s ideas and thought.

It seems to be two kinds of freedom. Hegel himself admits that the freedom acquired by knowledge has different levels. The highest level would be occupied by the philosophical insights in virtue of their power to make the world one’s own.

However, the criteria for establishing the ownership of the world can differ. The philosophical possession of the world is not similar to the common sense of a possession. We do not posses world by ideas and thought as if we have some property. One’s property does not move from him by its nature and does not require that its owner confirms his title through a continuous activity. Differently, the owner of the world should confirm his property by the continuous possibility to bring all of his human thoughts and deeds in his world.

But how we can prove such activity, if it does not act on the level of language? If the language would be overlooked in a philosophical ownership of the world, it would be an incomplete possession.

Thus, we should posit a second kind of freedom, one that is closer to the use of language. We meet such freedom in Plato’s Gorgias. Without noticing the value of a philosophical freedom, Plato’s Gorgias is put to say that rhetoric is the source of freedom for humankind itself and it is for each person the source of rule over others in one’s own city (Gorgias 452d). Of course, rhetoric, as far from philosophy could be, is still a kind of knowledge and its progress is caused by an awareness of the things of the human world, which requires the curiosity mentioned by Hegel.

Gorgias does not speak about the capacity of rhetoric to transform the ‘alien’ world into one’s own world, but he emphasizes the power of ruling over others. However, there is a minimal difference: the world is deemed to be the world of human beings according to Gorgias, while Hegel extends the world above humans, but including them.

In spite of the poor knowledge belonging to rhetoric, it provides a more vivid possession of human reality than philosophy does as regards the reality as a whole. The rhetorician cannot stay apart from its possession and also cannot shorten the use of the language. The freedom he proves through his skill could not be shared by a philosophical account of the world, since it has to impose and afterward to obey to the conceptual structures on which he can build his own view of the world.

When the philosopher does not acknowledge his dependence on such structures which naturally slip away from his control, his search for freedom would be moved in the domain of rhetoric. And it is not only the case of Hegel’s philosophy. Any string of concepts takes the form of a musical theme. As a rhetorician, the philosopher becomes tented to rule over others.

Therefore, if we want to keep the idea of freedom through philosophy, it is necessary to refute the dependence on the world we build, too. Such recognition would cause a mild view of the ‘unfreedom’ of the ignorant man. His dependence on the world may have its legacy in the nature of the world itself, as it is reluctant to any control through language. The freedom is still preserved, if we conceive ourselves as inner parts of the ‘alien world’ that ceases to be alien in this way.