Front Page Titles (by Subject) Preambles to Freedom - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1
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Preambles to Freedom - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Preambles to Freedom
“The Bodyguards of Truth.” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (USA), 50 (1976): 125–133.
The reader can garner illuminating insights from studying the philosophic tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas.
As an example from political and economic philosophy, we can see how such insights reconcile the apparent antagonism between liberty and equality. Should we violate individual freedom to achieve complete equality of condition? Or should we tolerate inequalities of condition to maximize individual liberty? Aristotelian-Thomistic thought resolves this dilemma by eliminating either liberty or equality as a supreme, absolute value. We must subordinate both liberty and equality to the standard of justice. We may not maximize liberty or equality in a way that trespasses on justice, and thus violate the just claims of other individuals.
Further insights from Aristotle and Aquinas cast light on liberty and other values. These insights, “the bodyguards of truth,” are central if we are to avoid the many errors to which modern philosophy has succumbed. These insights fall into two major categories: (1) psychology and the theory of knowledge; and (2) moral and political philosophy. These insights are important to liberty for several reasons. No justification of man's right to liberty can proceed unless we clearly and realistically understand man's nature, his consciousness, and epistemology. Further, we need the aid of these insights to relate liberty to such issues as the common good; and within eudaimonistic ethics, we must carefully distinguish freedom between various ends (and desires) and right desires.
To gain the central insight for the first major category (of psychology and the theory of knowledge), we need to realize that an “idea” is not that which we apprehend but rather that by which we apprehend whatever we do apprehend. This holds true for both perceptions as well as conceptions, that is, for both sensible and intelligible orders of knowing. Once we comprehend this, we no longer need to regard the contents of consciousness as mythical inventions. Even more importantly, we no longer need to consider perceptions and conceptions as mere subjective “ideas” (merely private creations) which have no secure connection to reality. If our ideas do not bring us valid knowledge of the actual world, such concepts as good, evil, and freedom must remain arbitrary and unjustified.
It makes sense to deny that “ideas” are the objects of consciousness (despite the contrary views of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant's Copernican Revolution). It makes equal sense to affirm that ideas are rather the means which make awareness possible. Both these commonsensical positions come to us as unique epistemological contributions of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. This same framework allows us to solve many psychological, epistemological, and semantic puzzlements.
Aristotelian-Thomistic insights contribute importantly to the second major category (of moral and political philosophy). First, the state is both natural and conventional. It is natural in terms of the purpose it serves since it fulfills a real need for man; it is conventional in terms of how it is established. We do not need, contra John Rawls or Robert Nozick, to imagine the origin of the state by fabricating a myth about men living in a “state of nature.”
Second, there are two distinct senses of “common good.” On the one hand, the public good is common because members of an organized community participate in it; on the other hand, the private good is common because it is the same in all men. The public good is the aim of just governments; the private good is eudaimonia or happiness, the individual's natural end and aim. At least in principle, this distinction supports the view that the public good together with private virtue serve as the means to one's natural end.
Third, we can draw a vital distinction between happiness as an end that we reach and enjoy in a given moment (terminal end), and happiness as an end that characterizes the temporal whole of our entire life (normative end). If we blur this distinction we erroneously come to regard happiness in purely psychological terms as satisfying any individual's desire, and tend to ignore happiness understood in terms of satisfying right desire. The latter view of happiness gives rise to Mill's injunction: “better a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied fool.” Unfortunately Mill's utilitarianism precluded his systematically availing himself of this moral view of happiness. Mill could not connect the general happiness of others to the individual's happiness as a moral end.