The Psychology of Liberty
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: THE EVOLUTION OF THE SPECIES
CHAPTER TWO: THE IDEA OF INDIVIDUAL ENLIGHTENMENT
CHAPTER THREE: THE IDEA OF POLITICAL ENLIGHTENMENT
THE HISTORICAL SOCIETAL PROBLEM
CHAPTER FOUR: IMPLICATIONS OF LOGIC FOR THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY
COGNITIVE FACTORS IN REASONING
CHAPTER FIVE: THE FORMATION AND IMPACT OF THE IDEAL SOCIETY
CHAPTER SIX: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FREEDOM
CHAPTER SEVEN: KEY MORAL AND SOCIAL TRANSITIONS
Essentially, this book seeks to portray the ideal political system, one that has never before existedbut one that will exist at some point in the future. Discovering the fundamental ties between psychology and political philosophy is a necessary part of this portrayal. Psychology is inextricably tied to philosophy and vice versa. They both involve study of the mind, mental processes, and subsequent behavior. Both disciplines enable us to make our life and society more comprehensible and thus enable us to change ourselves and our society for the better. Philosophy is an indispensable tool for coming to grips with where we are, who we are, and what we should do as a consequencethe major life issues. And psychology specifically allows us to make human motivation and behavior explicable.
Political liberty of course involves economic systems, environments where people interact with numerous values, goods, and services. Capitalism necessarily is the system of economics most referred to when discussing liberty. However, the sort of capitalism that is witnessed today bares only a slight resemblance to the truly free market we will discover. "Capitalism" in the context of this book represents a novel political/economic system.
Of course, we will have to venture far from the inaccurate, inadequate, or vague social and political interpretations prominent in our culture. We will distance ourselves somewhat from popular political debates too, which can leave one lost in a jungle of nonessentials. To become adept at avoiding this jungle, in the words of nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, "One must be skilled in living on mountainsseeing the wretched babble of politics and national self-seeking beneath oneself."
Since what follows is an integration of science, psychology, and philosophy, the topics covered may at times seem far from political and psychological theory. Science (evolution, biology, and physics), psychology (in all its complexitiesand yet, essential simplicity), and philosophy (its four main branches: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics), were all needed to convey a vision of the political system of liberty.
Like every literary work, this one was not created in an intellectual vacuum. The main intellectual debts I owe are to the late novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand and to psychologist/psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden for their extraordinary identifications in the realms of philosophy and psychology, respectively. Ayn Rand was the person who declared finally, with the moral certainty it requires, that a human being has the right to exist on this planet for his or her own sakeand that a persons highest moral purpose is happiness. She went on to devise a philosophy based on reason and objectivity, which mostly opposes every other mainstream philosophy. Nathaniel Branden has helped move this philosophical system of individualism from an abstraction sometimes difficult to actualize (primarily due to entrenched patterns of prior mental functioning and negative environmental influences) to a beautifully tangible reality of what is possible for people through perseverance and effort. A proper formulation and understanding of the value and dynamics of self-esteem reside at the core of his achievements. The works of both individuals offer unprecedented value to the humanities, which is a field of study that has been dominated by all sorts of calamitous ideologies.
Since so few individuals are familiar with Rands philosophy (called Objectivism), this book will aid in illuminating Objectivisms prominent points. It will also clarify and remedy a troublesome area of conflict in the philosophys political branch.
Ultimately, in order to get moving in the right direction, we need to know our final destination. As a society and as individuals, we need to know our main political and cultural goals, no matter how difficult to achieve they may seem to be at times.
Actually, we are closer than ever before to achieving the ideal society. Essentially, we need to bring the spirituality of the human race up to date with its material and technological progress. This of course entails realizing more of our psychological and political potential.