Did the Enlightenment chance the meaning of freedom from what Aristotle envisioned it?

Nov 2014
Did the Enlightenment cause a change somewhat in the understand we have today of freedom, from the freedom to do what is right, to the freedom to do whatever we want to do, subject to some very limited limitations imposed by a government? I It seems that Aristotle still envisioned a "free" government that nevertheless still has a heavy degree of paternalism in terms of shaping its citizens morality, sort of like Singapore until the late 90s, or Spain under Franco, or even a Shariah state, a view which people in the West today would find paradoxical with liberal democracy now as we know it. What would Aristotle think of libertarians today and the 60s basically, particularly the sexual revolution,, and the Supreme Court decision which legalized pornography, and basically removed the right of government to legislate morality, aside from the non aggression principle. Basically what would Aristotle think of the philosophy of people like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Murray Rothbard?
Last edited:
Jan 2010
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Below is the link to a good article by Mogens Herman Hansen, "Democratic Freedom and the Concept of Freedom in Plato and Aristotle".

Great article. Thanks. I do think Locke and Mill would be horrified at the extent to which claims of personal liberty have been pressed. There is a difference between license and liberty and we are well into the age of license. That will, in my opinion, lead to the loss of real liberty. Abortion, pornography, etc. involve the pandering to material needs and, in the same way that bread and circuses led to the practical enslavement of the Roman people, these will lead to the practical enslavement of the 21st century people in the west.

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