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Freedom from Reality

Freedom from Reality

The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty

D. C. Schindler

It is commonly observed that behind many of the political and cultural issues that we face today lies an impoverished conception of freedom, which, according to D. C. Schindler, we have inherited from the classical liberal tradition without a sufficient awareness of its implications. Freedom from Reality presents a critique of the deceptive and ultimately self-subverting character of the modern notion of freedom, retrieving an alternative view through a new interpretation of the ancient tradition. While many have critiqued the inadequacy of identifying freedom with arbitrary choice, this book seeks to penetrate to the metaphysical roots of the modern conception by going back, through an etymological study, to the original sense of freedom.

Schindler begins by uncovering a contradiction in John Locke’s seminal account of human freedom. Rather than dismissing it as a mere “academic” problem, Schindler takes this contradiction as a key to understanding the strange paradoxes that abound in the contemporary values and institutions founded on the modern notion of liberty: the very mechanisms that intend to protect modern freedom render it empty and ineffectual. In this respect, modern liberty is “diabolical”—a word that means, at its roots, that which “drives apart” and so subverts. This is contrasted with the “symbolical” (a “joining-together”), which, he suggests, most basically characterizes the premodern sense of reality. This book will appeal to students and scholars of political philosophy (especially political theorists), philosophers in the continental or historical traditions, and cultural critics with a philosophical bent.

“This is a brilliant, incredibly erudite, and rigorously argued book. D. C. Schindler’s fundamental contribution is the working out of autonomy described as the flight from reality. Nobody has defended this account of the trajectory of modern liberalism more ably than he has. It is a huge and complete accomplishment by one of the most magnificent thinkers of our time.” — Peter Lawler, Dana Professor in Government, Berry College

“D.C. Schindler is probably the best Catholic philosophical theologian of his generation in the Anglophone world. In short, this book is an account and diagnosis of the rise of a modern concept of ‘liberty’ . . . and of an alternative vision drawn from classical and Christian tradition. It makes a better and more controlled case than any other book I know of dealing with these issues, and opens new perspectives on Locke and whole heritage of modern moral and political history.” — David Bentley Hart, Templeton Fellow, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study

ISBN: 978-0-268-10261-6
488 pages
Publication Year: 2017

D. C. Schindler is associate professor of metaphysics and anthropology at the John Paul II Institute. He is the author of a number of books, including The Catholicity of Reason.

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Freedom from Reality

The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty

D. C. Schindler

 Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty
Cloth Edition

It is commonly observed that behind many of the political and cultural issues that we face today lies an impoverished conception of freedom, which, according to D. C. Schindler, we have inherited from the classical liberal tradition without a sufficient awareness of its implications. Freedom from Reality presents a critique of the deceptive and ultimately self-subverting character of the modern notion of freedom, retrieving an alternative view through a new interpretation of the ancient tradition. While many have critiqued the inadequacy of identifying freedom with arbitrary choice, this book seeks to penetrate to the metaphysical roots of the modern conception by going back, through an etymological study, to the original sense of freedom.

Schindler begins by uncovering a contradiction in John Locke’s seminal account of human freedom. Rather than dismissing it as a mere “academic” problem, Schindler takes this contradiction as a key to understanding the strange paradoxes that abound in the contemporary values and institutions founded on the modern notion of liberty: the very mechanisms that intend to protect modern freedom render it empty and ineffectual. In this respect, modern liberty is “diabolical”—a word that means, at its roots, that which “drives apart” and so subverts. This is contrasted with the “symbolical” (a “joining-together”), which, he suggests, most basically characterizes the premodern sense of reality. This book will appeal to students and scholars of political philosophy (especially political theorists), philosophers in the continental or historical traditions, and cultural critics with a philosophical bent.

“This is a brilliant, incredibly erudite, and rigorously argued book. D. C. Schindler’s fundamental contribution is the working out of autonomy described as the flight from reality. Nobody has defended this account of the trajectory of modern liberalism more ably than he has. It is a huge and complete accomplishment by one of the most magnificent thinkers of our time.” — Peter Lawler, Dana Professor in Government, Berry College

“D.C. Schindler is probably the best Catholic philosophical theologian of his generation in the Anglophone world. In short, this book is an account and diagnosis of the rise of a modern concept of ‘liberty’ . . . and of an alternative vision drawn from classical and Christian tradition. It makes a better and more controlled case than any other book I know of dealing with these issues, and opens new perspectives on Locke and whole heritage of modern moral and political history.” — David Bentley Hart, Templeton Fellow, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study

ISBN: 978-0-268-10261-6

488 pages

Catholic Ideas for a Secular World