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A Short Historical Sketch on the Idea of Freedom (An Introduction by James P. Young)

Bibliographical Note

I include here some of the studies that have directly or indirectly influenced this essay. The idea of essentially contested concepts originated with the English philosopher W. B. Gallie and has been applied to freedom, power, and democracy itself by political scientist William E. Connolly in his book The Terms of Political Discourse, second edition. I have also found Orlando Patterson's Freedom: Volume I: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture to be helpful and very stimulating. It is a study in the historical sociology of freedom that does not slight the philosophical dimensions of the problem. The labels personal freedom and civic freedom are borrowed from Patterson, though the ideas themselves are commonplace in Western thought. For a very good short account of the organization of Athenian governmental institutions, see George Sabine, A History of Political Theory, third edition, pp. 6–11. See also Josiah Ober, "Learning from Athens," Boston Review (March/April 2006): pp. 13–17. The material on Rome owes a great deal to Sabine's History of Political Theory and Sheldon S. Wolin's Politics and Vision, chapter 3. On the continuing contemporary debate over universal cosmopolitanism, see the fascinating essay by Martha Nussbaum followed by an equally fascinating set of short papers commenting on it in For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism.

The survey of the breakup of the feudal order closely follows Michael Walzer, "Liberalism and the Art of Separation," Political Theory (August 1984), especially part one. A treatment of Hobbes's thought can be found in Michael Oakeshott's Hobbes and Civil Association. A standard edition of Leviathan with an important introduction was edited for Penguin Books by C. B. Macpherson. There is also a useful edition edited and abridged by Richard Flathman and David Johnston that contains a classic piece by Oakeshott and an excerpt from a brilliant article by George Kateb stressing Hobbes's ultimate commitment to preserve, at all costs, the ultimate natural right of free men to defend their lives. Two outstanding editions of Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government are those edited by Peter Laslett, who provides very important introductory materials, and Ian Shapiro, who includes some good commentaries. The chapter on Locke in my study Reconsidering American Liberalism should also be useful. More generally, that study offers fuller comments on all of the American materials discussed in this article than it is possible to develop here. There are many editions of Rousseau's Social Contract; I have used the Penguin edition translated and edited by Maurice Cranston. The edition edited by Roger Masters is also very good, and it contains some of Rousseau's other works.

The Declaration of Independence, an old but solid book by Carl Becker, is still the best introduction to the subject. Louis Hartz's Liberal Tradition in America is quite complex, but it is worth the effort. For the general idea try chapter 1. There are many editions of the Federalist Papers. Isaac Kramnick's is a good version with a fine introduction, and the new scholarly edition edited by J. R. Pole is very useful. The democratic failings of the Constitution are best discussed in the second edition of Robert A. Dahl, How Democratic Is the Constitution? The best translation of Democracy in America is by Arthur Goldhamer. The Lawrence translation is also acceptable, but the abridgment by Richard Hefner is not. The best, but very difficult, book on Tocqueville is Sheldon Wolin, Tocqueville Between Two Worlds. For an entirely different political perspective, see Harvey Mansfield, Tocqueville: A Short Introduction. For John Stuart Mill I have been influenced by A. D. Lindsay, ed., Utilitarianism, On Liberty, and Considerations on Representative Government. Lindsay's introduction is one of the best short pieces on Mill, but this is an old edition and may be hard to find. An outstanding modern edition of On Liberty is edited by David Bromwich and George Kateb. The literature on slavery and antislavery is immense. See, for example, Dwight Lowell Dumond, Antislavery, which is crotchety and controversial, but rich in quotations from otherwise hard-to-find abolitionist tracts; Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men; Ronald G. Walters, The Antislavery Appeal; and many of the essays in David Brion Davis, In the Image of God: Religion, Moral Values, and Our History of Slavery. For other samples of abolitionist writings, see William and Jane Pease, eds., The Anti-Slavery Argument, and Marion Lowance, Against Slavery: An Antislavery Reader. For an outstanding source on the new patterns of discrimination that emerged following the Civil War, see the important study by C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow. For a classic text of the progressive movement, see Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life, ed. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. The Warrior and the Priest by Joseph Cooper has influenced my treatment of Roosevelt and Wilson. The New Freedom speeches by Wilson and the New Nationalism speeches by Roosevelt are both available in book form. See also Eric Goldman, Rendezvous with Destiny, and Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform, which are standard accounts of the progressive movement and have influenced my discussion. On connected criticism I have been influenced by Michael Walzer, Interpretation and Social Criticism and Spheres of Justice. See also his later book, The Company of Critics. The closing reflections are based on Walzer's Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad. Some of the difficulties of adapting Western and particularly American conceptions of freedom to non-Western cultures are explored in David A. Bell, Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context.