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The Bounds of Freedom

About the Eastern and Western Approaches to Freedom


Oded Balaban and Anan Erev

The Straniak Philosophy Prize 1995 awarded by the Hermann and Marianne Straniak Foundation Sarnen/Switzerland
This book explores Eastern and Western ideas of freedom and reveals the essential differences, as well as similarities, between Eastern and Western cultural values. Inspired by an ancient Greek myth recounted by Protagoras, the authors suggest that three important values tend to motivate human activity: achieving pleasure, achieving results, and obeying moral law. Then, drawing on intellectual sources ranging from traditional Hinduism to modern existentialism, the authors proceed to show how these values - pleasure, efficiency, and morality - determine the idea of freedom as it appears in various philosophical systems of East and West. In the course of their analysis, the idea of freedom is itself emancipated from the usual kinds of cultural boundaries that have so often limited both its usefulness and its timeliness.