“We have built ourselves a grand castle of freedom but choose to live in a shack nearby”
In his first two books, Growth Fetish and Affluenza, Clive Hamilton began to unmask the prevailing philosophies of our time and expose the high price being paid for our unwitting enslavement to them. In his latest work Freedom Paradox: Towards a Post-Secular Ethics,
Beginning his journey with the father of modern liberalism John Stuart Mill,
Whereas modernity has conceptually enthroned the individual,
Having articulated some of the ways in which freedom has been compromised at the socio-political level,
Hamilton examines – in a brief digression – the question of the existence of God, taking issue with Dawkins (whom he criticises for his poor metaphysics), Kant (with his view of God as separate and remote from humanity), and attempts to equate the concept of God as expressed in words with the Supreme Being, abandoning the idea of a God as cosmic policeman (my term) for a “more sublime notion of eternal justice”.
The basis for morality is thus grounded no longer in rational ethics, or an external moral code, but the Universal Self – where our independent existence merges into the Universal Self, shared by all. Morality is therefore grounded in metaphysical empathy, in which we recognise our common humanity, not merely as independent selves sharing a common core, but united by participation in the being of each other. Here
“The freedom to do as we please is the most subtle form of unfreedom ever conceived,” he concludes. In seeking to reclaim access to the noumenon within the phenomenal world we experience,
The Freedom Paradox offers a healthy critique of modernity, post-modernity and institutional religion and seeks to point us back to the deeper reality of which the spiritual giants of history have sought to point towards. ‘Tis a pity that too often we have wrestled with the words rather than the reality.
Clive Hamilton, Freedom Paradox: Towards a Post-Secular Ethics,
Review by Gary Heard