Freedom as Creativity: On the Origin of the Positive Concept of Liberty

Boris DeWiel


The concept of positive liberty includes both the regulative autonomy to do what we will and the constitutive autonomy to become what we will. However, the latter represents the full meaning of the idea. Liberty in this meaning is a creative power: we are most free in the positive sense when we give our defining constitutive rules to ourselves. The original conceptual model for liberty as creativity did not belong to classical Greek tradition but came to us from Judaism. The religious idea of spontaneous, supra-natural, existential self-sufficiency provided the template for the idea of positive liberty, often described explicitly as a god-like power, by writers including Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Marx. The value of creativity became secularized in modernity as a core belief in politics, morality and the arts.


positive liberty, autonomy, creativity, Judaism, history of ideas, libertarianism, self-sufficiency

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