Here are three liberty-minded philosophies worth studying
Anti-conceptual philosophies have infiltrated society, universities, and institutions of all kinds through decades of slow indoctrination. It is more important now than ever to not only be champions of freedom, but adopt well-rounded philosophies rooted in individualism to combat the slow erosion of freedom happening all around us.
Every time we read a book rooted in libertarian philosophy, create art showcasing the overcoming of suffering, or discover a new individualist thinker, we actively rebel against collectivism and the darkness that comes with it.
To aid in your beautiful, brilliant rebellion, here are a few liberty-minded philosophies emphasizing freedom, individualism, and the indomitable human spirit.
Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that has been around since about 340 B.C. It’s an action-oriented way of thinking with a focus on self-mastery. Though the term ‘stoic’ has come to mean emotionless in modern times, The Stoics are hardly an unemotional bunch. Famous Stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus were passionate, hard-working Roman citizens who left behind brilliant works, schools, and scores of wisdom for future generations studying Stoicism.
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” -Aurelius
Stoic philosophy was revolutionary in many ways. It was a field of study not just for emperors or kings, but for the everyday Roman citizen and serf as well.
It was also one of the early philosophies which painted the human spirit with a heroic brush, instead of one dripping with original sin.
Stoics value control over one’s own mind above everything else.
“You have power over your mind- not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” -Aurelius
A philosophy born from a merchant named Zeno who “made a prosperous voyage when I suffered a shipwreck,” there is a long history of healing within Stoic teachings. Zeno lost all of his belongings when his ship wrecked on a long journey to Athens. While there, in despair from losing everything and feeling completely alone, he came across two philosophers who would change his life. By learning the wisdom of Crates and Megarian, not only was Zeno able to transform his life and overcome devastation, he began developing the early teachings of Stoicism.
Throughout the modern age, many individuals have turned to Stoicism while going through hard times and searching for a way to empower their mind and find inner-strength. Via Stoic exercises (remember, the philosophy is action-oriented), students are able to work on detaching themselves from emotional connections to events outside of their control. They also develop the ability to recognize toxic situations and master their emotions so they can align them with empowering principles.
If you are interested in studying a philosophy that helped shape the west (Jefferson, Washington, and Smith were readers of Stoicism), visit The Daily Stoic for information, reading materials, and exercises.
“The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours.” -Ayn Rand
Objectivism is a modern philosophy founded by Atlas Shrugged author, Ayn Rand.
In her words, Objectivism is “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
It is a controversial philosophy because it is the only one who’s authors declare the individual has autonomy completely separate from any tribe.
To understand Objectivism’s principles, ethics, and values, one must first understand Logic. Logic underlies every part of Rand’s philosophy. The philosophy is grounded in objective reality, not subjective reality, therefore reason reigns supreme over emotion. Emotions are tools of cognition meant to be recognized and understood, but every action, thought, emotion, and belief must stand up to and be in harmony with Reason for it to be considered legitimate.
Because Objectivism deals so intricately with reason, the philosophy is Aristotelian in nature.
Aristotle is considered to be the father of logic. Rand continued his philosophical work.
The Objectivist philosophy is played out in story form in all of her novels. From Anthem and We The Living to The Fountainhead (my personal favorite) and Atlas Shrugged, principles of objective reality, absolute reason, individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism are interwoven throughout stories of love, man pitted against society, artists who refuse to sell out, and revolution.
If your mind is already in alignment with objective reality, studying Objectivism and reading Rand’s passionate work in regards to the heroic history of man will leave you inspired and hopeful.
For a full list of Ayn’s books related to Objectivism, click here.
Her heir, Leonard Peikoff, wrote the only book Rand ever approved of specifically on the philosophy of Objectivism as a whole. Buy it on Amazon here.
Transcendentalism isn’t considered to be an official philosophy, but the American movement of authors, writers, artists, and thinkers was deeply philosophical in nature.
The movement has German roots and was adopted by New England poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the 19th century.
An artistic philosophy of liberation, figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman became essential to its movement and brought the principle of Individualism to the forefront.
“It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” -Emerson
Transcendentalists believed in the importance of spending time in nature and meditating. Henry David Thoreau’s work Walden Pond, a collection of essays about his time spent living in the wilderness, is a popular work on Transcendentalist revelations.
Transcendentalism, like Objectivism, places a high value on the human spirit, and the artistic works of its sister movement, Romanticism, focus on the goodness of human nature as well. Because of this belief, this movement was deeply spiritual and broke away with conventional traditions of the time. Transcendentalist philosophy holds that spirituality comes from oneself, not from any kind of organized religion.
To get started with your study of American Transcendentalism, check out this book featuring a collection of the movement’s essential writings.
Is there a philosophy that has helped you on your journey towards freedom? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
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