Freedom of the Individual

Freedom of the Individual

Stuart Hampshire
Copyright Date: 1975
Edition: REV - Revised
Pages: 142
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  • Book Info
    Freedom of the Individual
    Book Description:

    Stuart Hampshire's essay on human freedom offers an important analysis of concepts surrounding the central idea of intentional action.

    The author contrasts the powers of animals and of inanimate things; examines the relation between power and action; and distinguishes between two kinds of self-knowledge. Explaining human freedom by means of this distinction, he focuses his attention on self-knowledge gained by introspection. He writes: " individual who acquires more systematic knowledge of the causes of states of mind, emotion, and desires, insofar as these are not the outcome of his decision, thereby becomes more free than he previously was to control and direct his own life:...there will in general be a closer correlation between that which he sets himself to do and that which he actually achieves in his life."

    In a postscript on determinism and psychological explanation, the author provides a detailed account of some of the ways in which explanation of states of mind differs from explanation of physical states.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6852-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
    (pp. 9-10)
    (pp. 11-33)

    I first consider two pairs of propositions: their implications, and the kind of observation and argument by which their truth or their falsity would normally be established, if they were challenged.

    The first pair

    (a1) ‘It will not happen now’

    (a2) ‘It cannot happen now’

    The second pair

    (b1) ‘He will not do it now’

    (b2) ‘He cannot do it now’

    To bring out the contrast between the pairs, one might choose more specific propositions as examples of the two types:

    (A1) ‘The gas will not escape now’

    (A2) The gas cannot escape now’

    (B1) ‘Jones will not escape now’...

  5. Chapter 2 DESIRE
    (pp. 34-52)

    The argument has proceeded as follows: (1) powers to act in specific ways at specific moments are attributable to creatures who may, or may not, want to act in those specific ways at those specific moments, and who may identify, and declare, their wants. (2) Such powers to act may be known to exist at specific moments, and may be identified, independently of the methods by which we identify the corresponding powers of things, e.g. machines, and of animals. When we definitely, and without qualification or conflict, want to do something at a particular moment, sincerely make the attempt in...

    (pp. 53-103)

    We have two sharply distinguishable kinds of knowledge of the future. Secondly, these two kinds of knowledge are mutually dependent; it is not possible that we should possess one kind without possessing the other. There is the knowledge of the future that we possess in virtue of having formed firm intentions to act in certain ways in the immediate future, and sometimes also in the relatively remote future. I very often know, when I am speaking to you, what I am going to say next; I know how the sentence, which I am at the moment uttering, will end; and...

  7. Chapter 4 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 104-112)

    Reviewing ‘I can do it,’ ‘I want to do it,’ and, with appalling brevity, the states of mind that are discriminated by the thought of an object, we have returned in each case to the distinction between that which I discover, and observe, about my desires and interests, emotions and thoughts, and about my actions, at a particular time, and that which, stepping back from these observed facts, I decide. It seems inconceivable that we should dispense with this distinction between two kinds of knowledge in our thinking about ourselves and our own actions; the two kinds of knowledge are...

    (pp. 113-142)

    So prolific is the recent literature around this topic, and so various and detailed are the arguments used in it, that it may seem foolhardy to confront the issue directly once again: and in a summary form, as a postscript. But I need to write more about the familiar issue of deterministic explanation, as applied to mental states, if my suggestions about the issue in this book are to be understood and assessed. Criticisms of the first edition ofFreedom of the Individualshowed this to be necessary and showed the gaps and obscurities in my account.

    I list familiar...