Viviamo Summer School: Day 3 – Freedom

Wednesday: 3rd day at the Summer School

9am: The day starts with a session on human freedom and participants start to warm their brains up by working through set questions on the key text of the day: an essay on the two distinct understandings of human freedom. The atmosphere is suitably studious..

10am: Professor Porebski gives us a fantastic lecture on the philosophy of the human person. He gets us thinking deeply about the concept of human dignity and what it means. We move into a discussion on human rights which refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, natural law and positivist notions of rights.  After discussing the link between human dignity and human rights, we discuss whether rights are derivable from an ontological recognition of human dignity, and if so, which rights can be described in that way. We note with interest the sort of dignity and rights which depend on a particular state of maturity of the person e.g. political rights,  distinguishing these from those formerly discussed. We also discuss the notion of undignified behaviour and the characteristic of such behaviour.

12pm: The discussion moves into an exploration of the concepts of subsidiarity and of solidarity. We read together an extra of The Acting Person by Karol Wojtyla, and draw out the key concepts of solidarity, participation, common good, need, responsibility.  We reflect upon the way that the human person fulfills himself through recognising that through his action in pursuit of the common good of the community, the person also realises his own good and his social obligations.

1pm: We eat lunch together around an enormous table. Professor Porebski is bombarded with many questions from right and left.

3.30pm: Magdalena Rangosz leads a discussion on Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. We discuss the ways in which prisoners were degraded in concentration camps, and the actions which demonstrated the innate defense mechanisms of the human person living in degrading circumstances. We also reflect on the concept of human freedom in this context; we explore how this innate freedom was demonstrated through the actions and choices of prisoners and also the fundamental sense of meaning and purpose which kept the prisoners alive.

4.30pm: We return to the essay on Human Freedom; discussions are led by Kev.  He is accustomed to teaching British teenagers, so his style and humour is just right for this time of the afternoon. Our discussion gets complex: we nearly get lost in a semantic jungle whilst discussing whether there is any difference between liberty and freedom, making reference to different languages, derivatives and connotations. Professor Porebski rescues us and once again adds a few extra interesting thoughts to our discussions, throwing in an introduction of Arrow’s Theorum of Impossibility. We discuss how this relates to the concept of democracy and the ways it demonstrates the flawed nature of an Ockhamite notion of freedom.. We conclude that ‘freedom for excellence’ is the way forward for the human person.

9pm: After eating a dinner together, we watch a movie which exemplifies the ideas we have discussed.
11pm: Some of us go to a Karaoke bar. Others write up this report.