Liberalism and the Philosophical Thought of Freedom

The Philosophical Thought of Freedom

As a philosophical thought branch, liberalism is an ideology of freedom, equality of human rights, government approval, and a political tradition. Simply put, everything about human subjectivity and feelings is the principal political value. In addition to people often using liberal in free political arguments, thinkers and society have always understood how the use of the word liberal bases society’s welfare on providing social assistance by the government. In the New Deal policy by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he responded actively to the Great Depression. He provided opportunities for people to return to participate in employment. However, on the other hand, Europe interprets the word liberal in a literal but application in the economic and political fields. In essence, in the context associated with a thought, the concept of liberalism always refers to opposing government intervention.

John Locke

As a philosophical thought of freedom, liberalism has the application of principles in the country’s administration. Usually, this ideology resides in a democratic country. The beginning of the compounding liberalism principle emerged when John Locke strung a series of guides to spread liberalism from the ancient Greek period to the East’s Ming Song Dynasties. Locke is the 18th century English philosopher or well-known as the Father of Liberalism. Liberalism has become a rational modern ideology. However, it is coherent and describes court systems and governance scenarios that do not exist in community assemblies. A firm principle of one man for himself emerges where society must defend itself and safeguard property ownership. The point is, adversity and torture will happen to the community if there is no government.


Locke seeks to explain how the human process of obtaining knowledge comes from humans’ experiences and feelings themselves. On the other hand, he describes how induction rejects the opinion of rationalists. The source of human knowledge, especially from the human mind or ratio, also plays an essential role in the human process of acquiring knowledge. Thus, human experiences something; the mind, scope, and reason are not functioning. Humans only act to process human experiences into knowledge so that the primary source of knowledge comes from experience. External sensation and internal sense, two kinds of human experience, capture sensory activity where the five senses are a common thread or writing of inner experiences through the mind. In conclusion, humans have an awareness of their actions; remembering, believing, and wanting will form knowledge through a process.

According to Locke, if brought within the scope of state and political views, the state system should establish state power limitation. Likewise, it must be done by forming a constitution based on the principle of majority and power-sharing. The division of authority will make laws and Parliament in representing the wealthy and aristocratic groups where their wealth, at most, must be tied to the demands of the laws of nature. On the other hand, there are federations where they function to regulate and fix bilateral problems. For instance, they seek to control the upper party’s emergency in taking actions beyond the law’s authority. Still, there is the possibility of abuse of power by those in control over the people. Locke’s most straightforward answer is that people have the right to resist and remove the top by force. In other words, people must reclaim their respective rights.

Thomas Hobbes

Another liberal philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, also analyzes government as describing a life such as solitary, poor, short, nasty, and brutal. In short, he was trying to say that this society was in a lot of deprivation, cruelty, and harshness. His thinking encourages constant war where violent physical clashes between fellow citizens or race are the only instruments of justice in a society without government or justice. There is no security agency protecting property rights, and the stronger will surely beat the weaker. Hobbes’s view introduces a human concept from empiricism-materialism and the relationship between humans and the state system.

Hobbes’s thinking is rooted in empiricism which states that experience is the origin of all knowledge. Philosophy is a science of effects or consequences in the form of field facts. According to Hobbes, everything is determined by specific causes, following the laws’ exact and natural sciences. In contrast to Locke’s thought, human senses can perceive reality and are independent of human reason. The opposition to rationalism is only a matter of the purposes in which Hobbes claims a guarantee of truth. As a materialist, Hobbes believed that man consists of value. He had not explicitly stated that he had attacked opponents of his opposition and used an immaterial without any tangible form.


For Hobbes, man is merely mechanical. He thought that man was only a pile of material workers and a driving force according to natural science laws. He eliminates all kinds of metaphysical, moral assumptions about humans. Besides that, humans have a social nature, inner freedom, and immortality. For this reason, he considers that the soul and mind are only mechanical processes in the human body. The human working principle has a link between human psychic parts. Human self-defense is the passion of Hobbes’s premise; they also described this formulation through Middle Eastern mythology called Leviathan.

Similarly to Hobbes’ philosophy, Leviathan is an animal in Middle Eastern mythology where symbolism and analogy say that Leviathan is a state system. The state must rule absolutely, and all its people must fear it because, in this way, humans experience the downturn of order and the illusion of happiness. According to Hobbes, all human behavior has self-defense or fear of losing existence. Feeling able to answer how humans should behave, Hobbes suggests mastering their fear of death. Liberalism as a threat and anxiety will make humans control their emotions and desires so that social life can be guaranteed on the philosophical thought of freedom. In essence, the state must suppress the fear of death from its citizens.

Adam Smith and the State of Nature

The concept of State of Nature between John Locke and Thomas Hobbes has the final form of a ruler of what an absolute monarchy is and what a constitutional monarchy is. Apart from contradicting all of these things, they both contribute thought to the conception of individualism. The essence of the formation of the state, for Hobbes, is the public interest. At the same time, Locke said that the state’s power is limited. However, in the midst of the two of them, world economists, at the same time, judge that the thought of the classical school of economics is the basis of the economic system originating from capitalism. Adam Smith, one of the classical economic thinkers, finally underlies the whole classical school of thought in terms of views.

In addition to the issue of economic and political philosophy regarding society’s structure, Smith argues that politics and economics are inclusive and are divided into three groups of thought:

  1. Smith’s point of view cannot be separated from political philosophy.
  2. Attention to the identification of what factors and which forces determine value and price.
  3. Patterns and directions to support economic activity towards progress and social welfare.

The Liberal Framework

In short, market forces should regulate all economic forces in which humans’ position as individuals should be prioritized like politics. As a result, Smith’s mediator about individualism’s reasons is never free. In his essay, he summarizes the Wealth of Nations on the rise of industry and economic development in Europe. Smith’s thinking influenced economics’s modern academic discipline and provided rational, intellectual thinking about free trade and capitalism.

To sum up, freedom in the economic order is a component of liberty in a broad sense. In essence, space in the economy is also a goal. However, on the other hand, freedom in the economic field is a way to achieve political independence. Voluntary individual cooperation may be the only way as long as the freedom to establish a defense transaction system effectively, why not? Therefore, thinking about capitalism and its manifestations and following the liberal framework of thought becomes the most selfish interference. Is it liberalism nevertheless have the awe of philosophical thought about freedom?


About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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