Category Archives: Freedom

Concerning freedom of speech, in theory and practice (it can be restricted by law or by oneself)

Thales of Miletus

This is about Thales of Miletus and what it means to study him. I am moved to ask what history is in the first place. It is a study of the freedom in which we face our conditions. Thales had his way of understanding the world, and we may benefit from trying to learn it.

“The Thaleses of the future are meeting in Didim, September 24, 2016”

“The Thaleses of the future are meeting in Didim,
September 24, 2016”

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35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016, part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

Between the composing of parts 1 and 2 of this account came the death of Prince, whose work had inspired Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red in It. Between the composing of parts 2 and 3 came the release of the four Turkish peace activists, whose imprisonment had given poignancy to The Demons and The Music of Strangers. There is a certain absurdity associated with each event.

Photo of book, Shakyamuni Buddha

Nikkyô Niwano, Shakyamuni Buddha: A Narrative Biography
(Tokyo: Kôsei Publishing Co., 1980; fifth printing, 1989)

On the cover, a modern copy by Ryûsen Miyahara,
owned by Risshô Kôsei-kai, of
“The Nirvana of the Buddha,”
painted in 1086 and owned by temple Kongôbu-ji,
Wakayama Prefecture, Japan

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Free Sevan Nişanyan

Note added July 17, 2018: Sevan Nişanyan is now free, in the sense of having escaped from prison—an open prison—and from Turkey. The story is told well in an article by Lauren Frayer on NPR, September 28, 2017. Alev Scott visited Sevan on the Greek island of Samos and wrote about it in the Times Literary Supplement, July 4, 2018; the article is behind a paywall, but there’s a free version. The friends and colleagues mentioned at the beginning of my own essay are not currently under detention, though trials of them and others continue. My essay remains as an expression of the value of freedom of speech.

We want freedom for our friends and colleagues who are being held in pre-trial detention for their supposed support of terrorism through advocating peace.

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

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On trial for pacifism

This is about the 1918 trial of American radical political cartoonist Art Young and others for conspiracy and interfering with enlistment. Most of the article is a quotation of Young’s own words. The words provide some perspective on today’s struggle for freedom of speech.

Capitalism, Art Young, private collection (reproduced in Harper's, Jan 2016, p. 64)

Capitalism, Art Young, private collection (reproduced in Harper’s, Jan 2016, p. 64)

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Academic Freedom

(See also other articles in the Freedom category.)

Yesterday (March 24, 2016) was the first day of the sixth Models and Groups Istanbul meeting. There were participants from the Middle East, Europe, and America. Kıvanç Ersoy was to speak about his own mathematics. He could not speak, because he was in prison. He, Esra Mungan, and Muzaffer Kaya were in prison, because the three of them had publicly insisted that the government of Turkey make peace in the southeast of the country. Absurd, but true. Continue reading

Kıvanç fêted in absentia

The birthday of one of our departmental colleagues was celebrated today, March 22, 2016. We were a day late, and the principal was away. His parents were present, but he himself had been imprisoned without bail since March 14.

MSGSÜ garden, 2016.03.22

The charge against Kıvanç and two others is spreading terrorist propaganda, as reported by Academic Freedom Monitor, Human Rights Watch and Nature. Continue reading

Liberation

This article is based on quotations from three writers, of three different nationalities, who share a spirit with which I am in sympathy:

Fukuoka
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
Pirsig
“The real cycle you’re working on is the cycle called ‘yourself.’ ”
Collingwood
“I thought that the democratic system was not only a form of government but a school of political experience coextensive with the nation.”

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Body and Mind

Does consciousness have a “physical basis” or “material basis”? I am provoked by the suggestion that it does; for the question itself is misleading, if not simply meaningless.

In the September, 2014, issue of Harper’s magazine, Edward O. Wilson begins an essay called “On Free Will” with the following paragraph. Continue reading

Inurement

This is about getting used to things, and things one should not get used to.

There is a free-speech crisis in Turkey now, brought on in part, but not exclusively, by the murders at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. See an editorial of the Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) for a list of issues.

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Freedom

How do our thoughts age?

Having written recently that natural science was not history of nature, I looked back at Collingwood’s posthumous Principles of History for his arguments about this. I read his discussion of freedom as what distinguishes history from natural science. I recalled that his earlier writing was more concerned with removing distinctions than drawing them.

This is something that I investigate here. I occasionally encounter denials that we have “free will.” I find such denials bizarre; but evidently some people believe them, or at least believe they are worthy of consideration. I find Collingwood’s own account of freedom to be worthy of consideration. But then, considering this along with the rest of his œuvre, I have to conclude that everything is free. This conclusion is not really new to me; I drew such a conclusion as an adolescent. It may be a common thought. Wordsworth seems to have had such a thought, according to his Ode:

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