The Problem of Freedom and Civil Society

The Problem of Freedom and Civil Society


Although San Agustin (354-430) is the
first author to deal more or less generally with the issue of civil
society, it is not until the 19th century (within a panorama characterized by an
accelerated scientific and technical development) that its model concept
originated, which was conceived by the Prussian philosopher Hagel (1772-1831), who, in addition to developing a fundamentally methodical philosophy, did
not want to expose an ideal State, but rehabilitate the real State. Hegel was
the first great modern philosopher who conceptualized in a complex way the term
“civil society”, taking up the naturalistic tradition and the conception that the
individual is holder of rights an agent of moral conscience. For this thinker,
civil society is the path that starts from the private sphere and culminates
in the public space. Thus, civil society is the meeting point between the
particular and the universal, individual and general interest, the private sphere and
the public sphere. Another of the most important thinkers of the 19th century
is John Stuart Mill, a Scottish philosopher and economist who stood out for his contributions to political philosophy, economics and methodology.
This philosopher, too, developed widely theories concerning the State and
freedom. For Mill, the basic principle of freedom is that each individual, group of
individuals and the government, refrain from meddling in the thought,
expression and action of others, so that freedom ends where the other begins. On
the other hand, the Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith (another
illustrious 19th century thinker), laid the foundations of economic science and, to a lesser extent, made contributions in the field of political philosophy, among which
his famous work, intrinsically political, about the principles of free enterprise
or liberal capitalism stands out. Many of his fundamental reflections are
contained in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which he exposes and
analyzes the characteristics of human nature and individual action. Smith
conceived the universe as a system whose purpose is expressed in terms of order,
stability, harmony and happiness. Likewise, this thinker stated emphatically that capital must serve to the development and progress of nations and individuals with
a well-governed government.

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