Goodwill and Freedom

#philosophy #justice #harvard


As a student, one of my favourite professors is Michael Sandel. He is teaching the most populated class at Harvard University. His class has gone through the walls of the prestigious university to the global community. Justice is probably the most controversial class in the international community.


Justice has no exact definition, which makes it a complicated topic to study. Many have their own opinion of what is Justice, but one of the most renowned philosophers caught the interest of many. This person is Immanuel Kant, an 18th-century philosopher who tried to answer the question, "what is freedom?".


For many people, freedom is the absence of obstacles; but for Kant, the sense is more profound. It would probably take me years to explain to other people what his ideas are. But for one purpose, he thinks we are not genuinely owners of freedom if a goal drives us because the goal becomes our master.


Let us take the story of a business owner and a kid. The kid came to the business owner's store to purchase a water bottle. The kid gave him a $50 bill, but the water was only $1. The owner was tempted to provide the kid with the wrong change to gain more profit. It's a kid anyway he may think. But he decided that it is unethical to do, so he gave the kid the correct change.


The owner understands that he may generate more income by deceiving his customers, but in the long run, people will find out and will destroy his reputation. He chooses to do the right thing. However, for Immanuel Kant, morality in this scenario is questionable. The merchant does not have true freedom as the fear of having damage to his reputation is his leader.


Kant can be challenging to understand; during our class, Professor Michael Sandels mentioned that Kant is the most challenging philosopher in the course. For example, for Kant, freedom is not about doing things because of the sake of something else. That something else can be for something else, and so on.


To simplify things, Kant denotes that to be genuinely free, instead of being driven by a goal, we can do things out of goodwill. At least that is how I understood him. For him, we should not be instruments of other reasons, but instead, we do things just out of goodwill. For him, goodwill is the closest answer to the controversial question: "What is freedom?".

Question: Why are we paying taxes if we have no choice but to pay it? Answer: Goodwill
This sunset photo is taken from the top of Lady Macdonald in mid-November 2019 in Canmore. It was a very challenging hike with Peter O'Shea who is a very talented videographer.

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#blog to be continued.


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