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  • High Modernities

    Riccardo Baldissone

    Chapter from the book: Baldissone, R. 2018. Farewell to Freedom: A Western Genealogy of Liberty.


    As early modern constructions of freedom emerge from a clash of religious fundamentalisms, despite their claim of absolute novelty they often recast medieval theological notions. However, seventeenth-century English parliamentary debates also revive the Roman phraseology of slavery in order to articulate the concept of freedom as absence of dependence. This concept is reformulated by Hobbes on the model of the new physics: by conflating animate and inanimate realities, Hobbes extends to the sphere of human action Galileo’s construction of the physical world as an assemblage of geometrical bodies. In the eighteenth century, Montesquieu then subordinates freedom to his ideology of the state, and Rousseau follows Hobbes in reshaping medieval mystical bodies, albeit in the form of the general will: moreover, he redefines freedom as the obedience to a self-prescribed rule. Similarly, Kant claims absolute autonomy through a voluntary subsumption of the individual under the universal.

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    Baldissone, R. 2018. High Modernities. In: Baldissone, R, Farewell to Freedom. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book15.c

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    Published on July 23, 2018