Ethical Freedom : A Comparative Reading of the Political Thought of Hannah Arendt and Aung San Suu Kyi
Khin, Jasmine Khin Oo
The author writes, “The central questions of my SIP: what does it mean to be free and how is freedom connected to political action? What are the responsibilities of those who are seeking freedom and of those who are free? Why is it (if it is) important to engage in speech and action in the political sphere? In using the term political action, I am not referring solely to the activity of those who make a career out of politics in government, for profit or non-profit institutions. I am using it in the general sense of being involved in the public activity of doing something together that is in the interest of all those involved. The freedom that I am concerned with is inextricably linked up with political action in this sense. As such, this is also freedom within the social realm. As political theorist Hannah Arendt puts it, “freedom is the raison d’etre of politics”3. We strive to realize it in our everyday affairs. To ask what entails freedom is to ask what are the tasks of freedom for it is only in doing something that we realize it in the field of experience. In parsing out this conception of freedom, I will be focusing on the writings of two central thinkers—Aung San Suu Kyi and Hannah Arendt. I will first compare how they conceptualize freedom within the social world. In doing so, I would like to engage in the activity of thinking through Arendt and Suu Kyi who offer us a way of looking at our world with a critical eye as well as with hope. My primary concern in this essay is making sense of political action and what it means to participate in it. “
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