What figures and their approaches towards liberty, as

What is liberty exactly? This question is
being raised from the times of Plato, which is known as one of the most
influential philosophers in Classical Greece. Along with Plato such prominent
thinkers as Edmund Burke, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Alexis de Tocqueville,
Jean Jacque Rousseau and many others continually debated on the topic, trying
to underscore their own notable perception. In this essay the main focus will
be directed on the understanding of the notion of liberty, although on Thomas
Hobbes and Edmund Berlin’s figures and their approaches towards liberty, as
those are intersected to the certain extend. Both philosophers shed some light
on this concept, dividing it on two ideas.

            In the first place, the
definition of liberty may vary depending on field in which it is used.  For instance, while Macmillan dictionary of
English defines it as ‘the freedom to think or behave in the way that you want
and not be controlled by a government or by other people’ (Macmillan Dictionary
2017), and in the second explanation it states that liberty is ‘a particular
kind of freedom, especially one that you have a legal right to’ (Macmillan
Dictionary 2017). Thus, one may be completely confused what it exactly means. On
one hand, in philosophy liberty involves free will, as ‘the noun liberty has
its roots in the Latin “libertas”. This can refer to political or civil freedom
in the sense of being a free person, as defined by “the absence of control or
restraint”‘ (Macmillan Dictionary 2017). On another hand, in politics liberty
is ‘the state or condition of those who are invested with the right effectually
to share in framing and conducting the government under which they are
politically organized’ (Merriam-Webster 2017), this means shearing of some
political and social principles to which all community members are attached. Thomas
Jefferson, the third President of the United States being one of the Founding
Fathers and key author of the Declaration of Independence, used the essential
idea of will, explaining political liberty ‘… rightful liberty is
unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by
the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’;
because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the
right of an individual’ (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
2017).

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            It is quite important
to tackle the difference between liberty and freedom, as those terms might seem
to be the same. In fact, they are often interpreted in the similar way,
however, do not have identical meaning. As it was already mentioned above,
liberty is the state or condition, where individuals take full responsibilities
for their behavior. In contrast, freedom is ‘the condition or right of being
able or allowed to do whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited’
(Cambridge English Dictionary 2017), which means to enjoy various liberties
without any restraints such as natural, social, civil, individual, economic or
religious one. According to the Article three of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty
and security of person’ (The United Nations 1948). Despite the fact that in the
same document in the Article one is stated ‘All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights …’, the state can imprison the individual because
of the breaking of the law.

            To begin with, Thomas
Hobbes is one of the most remarkable philosophers of the seventeenth century who
made an exceptional contribution in modern political philosophy and liberal
society. What is interesting, his perception of the world is still relevant and
applicable in the contemporary politics even nowadays. Being a great believer
of the freedom through the limited government, Hobbes wrote his best known book
Leviathan (1651) and draw first full exposition of the concept of the social
contract – the central approach both in political and moral philosophy. Moreover,
Thomas Hobbes determined nineteenth laws of nature (Hobbes & Oakeshott
1997), explaining natural law. Along with that he developed the concept of
self-interested cooperation, which leads to the above mentioned social contact.
This is a vast part of the right of self-preservation as a fundamental right.
Liberty itself Hobbes analyses from different perspectives, undermining the
fact that for the sake of security people are ready to give up their liberties.
‘Presented in Leviathan is the belief that that there is a naturally-present
quality of liberty in every human being, defined by his or her strength and individual
inclinations, which is restricted only insofar as external forces restrict it’ (The
Cambridge Diaries 2015). In Chapter XXXVII of Leviathan the author highlights
the right of individual ‘A private man has always the liberty, because thought
is free, to believe or not believe in his heart those acts that have been given
out for miracles, according as he shall see what benefit can accrue, by men’s
belief, to those that pretend or countenance them, and thereby conjecture whether
they be miracles or lies’ (The Millenium Project 2017).