UCL European Institute


Conceptions of Freedom

Conceptions of Freedom

Conceptions of Freedom is a three-year project that aims to generate discussion and debate over the meaning of the essentially contested concept of freedom.

"Freedom" is usually thought of as a self-explanatory concept, as well as the central principle and moral good embraced by advanced democratic societies today. But it is hardly a unitary category, and neither its social forms nor its subjective experience are always and everywhere the same. The series of public conversations organised under this umbrella proceed from the premise that the theories we have to talk about freedom often don't capture either the lived experience of "being free," or the complex relationship between external liberty and internal autonomy. The project thus encourages us to think about the various meanings and templates of freedom, as these are conceived in various bodies of thought and practice: psychoanalytic, religious, scientific or artistic, as well as the more familiar traditions of political philosophy.

Speakers in this series include famous exponent of psychoanalytic ideas Adam Phillips, author of The Private Life, Josh Cohen, and internationally-renowned neuroscientist Daniel Levitin.

Conceptions of Freedom is conceived and chaired by Eva Hoffman, Visiting Professor at the UCL European Institute, between 2015 and 2018. It is hosted by the UCL European Institute in collaboration with the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies.