Between Freedom and Necessity

An Essay on the Place of Value


This extended essay joins an old conversation at the intersection of freedom and necessity. Though it takes place at the beginning of the twenty-first century by the “Christian” reckoning that has become an integral part of European identity, it will at times read like a conversation between classical Greece and nineteenth-century Europe. The cast consists of characters drawn from Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Plato as well as the authors themselves - Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, MacIntyre, and Nussbaum. Some of these writers have been associated with displaced, displacing claims of universality; but each is in place and in time in ways that are instructive for ethics. Myth, the matter of stories, becomes also the matter of critical reflection, which in turn is subjected to critical reflection. Every fragment of philosophy is a contribution to the reflection, and it is nothing if it is separated from the matter - the stories, the myths, and the characters (including us) who both make them and live in them.


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Biographical Note

Steven Schroeder lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of three previous books, including Metaphysics of Cooperation: A Study of F.D. MauriceVolume 84 in the Value Inquiry Book Series.

Table of contents

FOREWORD by Thomas Magnell PREFACE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ONE Walking Backwards 1. From Is to Ought: The Place of Value 2. Freedom and Necessity 3. Orientation TWO A Labor Theory of Value 1. Alienation and Objectification 2. Symbols and Signs 3. Possibility and Play THREE The End of Ethics 1. A Principle of Utility 2. Silence 3. Activity, State, and Habit FOUR Virtue in Action 1. Two Arts 2. A Science of Measurement 3. Living Life and Saving It 4. Numbering and Knowing 5. Knowledge and Desire FIVE The Shape of Character 1. Prudence 2. The Order of That Which Has Parts 3. Vulnerability 4. Active Desire 5. Perception and Passion 6. The Necessity of Experience SIX The Shape of the City 1. A Hunt 2. A Poetics of Particulars 3. Culture and Nature 4. Entropy and Art SEVEN Nature and Human Nature 1. The Way of Revolution 2. The Language of Rights EIGHT Cultivating Rules 1. Practical Reason 2. Moral Development NINE Rule and Relationship 1. The Soul of Tragedy 2. The Temptation of Knowledge TEN Confession and Community 1. Status Confessionis 2. Profession ELEVEN Practicing Value 1. Kenosis 2. Reading the West 3. Embracing the World REFERENCES ABOUT THE AUTHOR INDEX