Views from a Bridge

  • Malcolm R. Westcott


In this chapter I will review some work, primarily by anthropologists, which views the issue of human freedom in concrete contexts. This view contrasts with the more abstract philosophical treatments. Another contrast will be seen in that the philosophical emphasis tended to be on an absence of constraint, while the anthropological views emphasize the necessity of constraints in the support of free action. Some writers, not clearly anthropologists, are included — Eric Fromm and G. B. Shaw — because their views of freedom are clearly rooted in historical and cultural process. There does not seem to be any natural progression in the views to be presented, and they tend simply to stand side by side — similar, but rarely representing refinements of each other. The views, however, share a strong concern with cultural constraints, forms, and instrumentalities as being the very mechanisms through which freedom is possible. This is a significant departure from the focus on capacity and particularly on non-interference noted in the preceding chapter. This new focus represents an elaboration of the feature of discipline. Once again, all three of these — capacity, non-interference, and discipline — are mentioned in various forms, but they are explored in a complex, interactive manner.


Cultural Context Social Good Human Freedom Negative Freedom Preceding Chapter 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm R. Westcott
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityNorth YorkCanada

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