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The meaning of "liberal," "liberty"

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november3rd Donating Member (653 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:19 AM
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The meaning of "liberal," "liberty"
The definitions are the familiar to everyone:


1) Of, relating to or based on the liberal arts {the studies -- as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science--in a college or university intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop the general intellectual capacities --as reason and judgment--as opposed to professional or vocational skills};

2) GENEROUS; OPENHANDED; Given or provided in a generous or openhanded way;


4) Not literal or strict;

5) BROADMINDED, esp. not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy or traditional forms.


One who is liberal: as

1) one who is openminded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways;

2) an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights.


The etymology is the root in which the original meaning of the word lives. It is interesting to note, without going into great detail, that liber, the Latin root meaning free, is akin to the Old English leodon, meaning to grow.

Liber is the same root shared by our word, liberty.

Interestingly, this root is also shared by our word library, although in this context the root has the meaning, book.

Could it be that orthodoxy and closed-mindedness are the signs of a lack of reading or of not developing the elevated human qualities of reason and judgment?

Certainly the earliest free societies in history -- the Greek city-states, notably, Athens and her allies -- valued reason and judgment (along with learning) as much as any other quality in human development as the highest virtue.

I would go so far as to say there cannot be liberality of mind without political freedom. Nor can there be political freedom without an educated, reasonable and willingly non-traditional body politic.

Source: Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary; MERRIAM-WEBSTER INC., Springfield, MA; 1987; p. 688.
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Smirking_Chimp Donating Member (213 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 11:04 AM
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1. Ben Franklin said "Democracy is 2 wolves and a rabbit...
deciding whats for dinner. Liberty is a well armed rabbit willing to renegotiate."
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