Skip to content

“Philosophers are adults who persist in asking childish questions.” ―Isaiah Berlin

Dear Uncle Sam,

I have decided to pass up your offer to be President when I grow up. I want to be a philosopher and ponder the meaning of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe you could help.

“The very desire for guarantees that our values are eternal and secure in some objective heaven is perhaps only a craving for the certainties of childhood or the absolute values of our primitive past.

Isaiah Berlin

To me, freedom means I can pursue happiness. To my brother, freedom means getting loose from his rocking horse since I lassoed him with a lucky toss and tied him fast. It would help, Uncle, if you paid my tuition and board at philosophy school and sent a fast school bus for me, because my brother is gnawing the rope.

“The fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains, from imprisonment, from enslavement by others. The rest is extension of this sense, or else metaphor.”

—Isaiah Berlin

My brother thinks happiness is freedom from restraints, while I think freedom is the liberty to whack him upside the bean. It makes me very happy to exercise my freedom. But if he gets loose before the school bus arrives, will you pay my hospital bill?

“Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance – these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.”

Isaiah Berlin

Like most kids, except my brother, I say Why? a lot. My brother only said it once, when I told him that being untied is negative freedom, while liberty to pursue happiness is positive freedom. If both kinds of freedoms are inalienable rights, Why can’t I bean him?

“Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not.”

―Isaiah Berlin



No comments yet

Reply with your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: